Falling in Love Has Nothing to Do With It

“You have to make a conscious decision to love someone.”

My mother told me this at some point in my young adult years. At the time I remember thinking that sounded like something an old person would say. It really poked all the fun out of ‘falling in love,’ something I experienced again and again and rarely acted on until I was nearly thirty.

I’ve reflected on those words many times in the years since she said it. In fact, my novel, Practicing Normal, explores that very idea. It holds up the concept of falling in love, against the reality of choosing to continue to love even when it isn’t easy. I’ve come to believe my mom is right. Love does require a conscious decision.

No more so than in marriage. I’ve been married now for twenty-two years. I’m here to tell you it’s not all fun and games. There are plenty of times when it requires serious work. And when you are bogged down in parenting or building a career you simply cannot coast on that euphoria of new love any longer. You have to make an effort. Even if you feel you’re carrying the larger load. Even when the bills and the laundry pile up, you still have to consciously decide to love this person who drives you batty at times.

The day we got married, I had a stomach flu that leveled me so badly my friends and sister-in-law had to dress me, do my nails, hair, and makeup. The limo didn’t show up and we all crammed in a friend’s mini-van to get to the church. The service started nearly twenty minutes late. Anything that could fall out of the sky, did fall out of the sky that November day – rain, sleet, snow, hail. My bridesmaids had barf bags wrapped around their bouquets, just in case.

And yet, my wedding was perfect. All the obstacles, whittled the event down to one thing for me. All I focused on, all I cared about, was being able to stand up and say my vows. Instead of worrying about my appearance and the million details I’d obsessed over for months, our wedding was about what it should have been about – making a conscious decision, even a declaration, to love each other. Forever.

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In Practicing Normal, Cassie, a hospice nurse expounds on my mother’s words:

“Love isn’t romance. It’s a grind. It’s being there every day, even when you don’t want to be. I see it all the time. I watch these people who sit with their dying spouse or friend or parent. They clean up their shit, spoon feed them their dinner, bathe them, read to them, take care of them—because they love them. It’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not something you’d ever find in a romance novel. Love isn’t some grand thing that you luck into; there’s not magic chemistry involved. It’s a decision. A conscious decision. You have to decide you’re going to love someone and then you have to make that decision every day, every hour, again and again. Even when it sucks.”

I’m pretty sure my husband is forced to make the conscious decision to keep loving me much more often than I debate my own love for him. I know I’m not easy, and maybe that’s one of the things that makes me grateful for him. He tolerates my moods and whims and unilateral decisions about how many animals to bring home.

Just like sunscreen and thank you notes, mom was right. Loving someone is a conscious decision. One we all make every day, every hour, and if we’re lucky, for a lifetime.

Best,

Cara

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my writing and books, please visit CaraWrites.com, or connect with me on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram. You can win great stuff, get book recommendations & a monthly most awesome recipe, be bombarded with puppy pictures, and keep up with all my adventures, by signing up for my newsletter.

 

 

 

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Playing the Peacemaker

“There might be another way to say that,” I suggest to my child who has just bluntly announced an opinion about another child in a semi-public setting.

“It’s no big deal. It’s only one evening,” I tell my spouse when our son want to invite ten loud young adults over to hang out before they return to school when we had planned to watch a movie.

“I think we’ll have to agree to disagree,” I say to a relative with very different political leanings.

More and more, Continue reading “Playing the Peacemaker”

Write.

It’s summer.

The kids are underfoot.

The house is a mess; it’s noisy, too.

The garden is a tangle of weeds and the blueberry bushes are so full, the berries are bending the branches low enough for the mice to feast.

I drank too much wine last night; I can’t think clearly.

I’m not feeling it.

I’m tired.

I’m sick of this story.

I’ll just take today off.

What’s the point?

That’s just a small sampling of my excuses. What are yours?

There’s never a good time to write, but if you’re a writer that really doesn’t matter—write.

Some days the words circle your head like invisible gnats, and while you can hear them buzzing, you can’t catch them—write.

Other times the grocery list and the thank you notes are nagging around the edges of your brain; they can wait another day—write.

Even when you have nothing to say and what you do want to say is everything you wish you’d said to someone who belittled your belief yesterday – write.

Maybe the only coherent thought you have is, I hate this. Write.

As Elmore Leonard, arguably one of the most successful, working class writers, puts it—

“I don’t believe in writer’s block or waiting for inspiration. If you’re a writer, you sit down and write.”

What are you waiting for?

Sit down and write.

The Unshiny Parts of My Holiday Season

The holidays aren’t just bad for my weight, they’re also not too great for my writing. At least this year I didn’t set any serious writing goals for December. The great thing about this is that any writing I get done (like this post!) is a bonus. The really hard part is that story ideas, snatches of dialogue, and essays wander aimlessly through my mind and I never have time to grab them and pin them to the page.

The other hard part is that when I’m not creating, I’m not happy. I feel anxious. Luckily, this holiday season I have puppies to distract me. Although right now they more closely resemble moles than puppies. They ‘swim’ around with their stubby useless arms flailing, their eyes shut tight, Their little spock ears are basically horns at this point for all the good they do them.

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Still, they’re puppies. So, you know, who can complain?

Not me. Nope.

A big part of being an author is social media and platform. It’s not the fun, shiny, exciting part, though, it’s the stressful, time-devouring, awkward part. Of course, you can be a writer and never even go near the internet, but if publishing is on your list, platform is paramount and begging for ratings and reviews is a painful reality. Sure, I wish I could just hole up on my hillside and write. But as my mother would tell you, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

So, this month, hoping that the holiday happy and the presence of puppies will counter it, I’m focusing a bit on my platform and social media efforts. These tasks require short bursts of energy – chores like tidying up the website, responding to blog comments, getting involved in passionate debates on Facebook, visiting Linked In to see what the adults are doing, experimenting with the timing of tweets, looking for connections with other authors, and even venturing into new realms like Instagram.

These are tasks that I never seem to have time to tackle, but I’m on it. I’m even making an effort to unearth the Tumblr blog I created several years ago and abandoned. I’ve been reading other blogs, commenting on posts, and last week I spent nearly forty minutes trying to figure out how to change a few things on my Amazon author page (I never did manage it). December is basically spring cleaning time for me as a writer. And who actually likes spring cleaning? Me, neither.

This week’s goal is to apply for a residency somewhere, submit a few pitches to magazines, and seek out an opportunity to guest blog. Oh, and investigate the possibilities of goodreads a bit more, experiment with my blog template, organize my pictures for social media, and finally finish reading The Fire in Fiction (which I started more than a year ago). My list is long and for the most part, boring.

Luckily, I’ve got a silly 13-foot Christmas tree that makes me giggle every time I pass by it on my way to the kitchen to make more tea.

Plus, puppies. Super cute. Always available.

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So I’m slogging through. Hope your holiday season is unraveling/unfolding just as nicely!

p.s. Last week I finally put out my very first NEWSLETTER! That ones been migrating from to-do list to to-do list for over 2 years, so yeah, big accomplishment. If you didn’t recieve it, you better sign up (just in case I ever write another one!). And if you’re interested, you can read it here.

 

Sometimes Stuff Happens

 

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On Monday morning, I walked up the hill to the barn in the dark. We’ve definitely crossed the line in terms of why-hasn’t-daylight-savings-time-begun-yet, and it was the first morning I really needed a flashlight. I know my way pretty well, so instead of going back inside for a light, I continued up the hill to the pump and turned on the water so I could fill the water trough. I have one horse who likes to spend his downtime dragging the water trough around the paddock until it dumps over and creates a puddle to splash in. So, most mornings I try to top off the trough so it’s too heavy for him to move.

As I dragged the hose towards the trough, I saw a movement outside the paddock fence. It was something large. In fact, at first glance it looked like two somethings. I could make out two white splotches in the dark.

Before I could truly panic, the white splotches snorted and trotted a few feet away, kicking the fence board in its own panic at the sight of me. It was a horse. Outside the fence. But it wasn’t my horse. I could just make out the shape of a paint horse—brown and white. I’ve always wanted a paint horse, and for just a moment I thought, maybe it’s a magical gift!

I took a step towards the horse. “Hey buddy,” I called quietly. He retreated further. Continue reading “Sometimes Stuff Happens”