Yes, I said y’all LOL because I am, after all, from Alabama, born and raised.
For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful holiday, and for those of you who don’t celebrate that holiday, then I hope you’re having a very wonderful November.
I am writing this blog post to say this: Thanksgiving 2016 was AMAZING and let me tell you why.
I have SO MUCH to be thankful for. Not just on that one day, but for every day.
It took me a while to write up this post because I couldn’t see through the tears of gratitude, and this blog post may not be all that coherent or well written but I want to share this because it serves as my inspiration.
I have two amazing people in my life that have helped shape me into who I am—someone strong, a fighter, a believer.
You may or may not know this because I don’t think I talk about it a lot—I think I might’ve mentioned it here or there in previous posts—(I should definitely talk about this MORE) but my grandmother is the reason I am a writer. She is the one who raised me. She took me to the library ALL THE TIME when I was growing up and she inspired my imagination. I have always wanted to be a writer and an author, and she has encouraged that dream. She’s read all of my books and she’s reading the new version of Pretty in Black right now, even as I am writing this. She has been my number one reader, supporter, and fan since day one. I simply would not be doing this if it wasn’t for her. On days when I want to quit, she gets mad at me and lets me have it GOOD. She makes it very clear in her own little way that I better not quit, dammit.
But between 2013 and 2014, I thought I was going to lose her. I was so incredibly scared. She’s like my mom and my best friend. She had to have back-to-back heart surgeries, and then she developed a massive hematoma that engorged her leg in loads of blood. If the paramedics would’ve been a single minute late, she wouldn’t’ve made it. She was stabilized at the local hospital and then MedFlighted to the hospital that was equipped to perform the surgery.
She remained calm and strong throughout the whole thing.
I have no idea how she did it, I would’ve died right then and there. She is so strong and I want to grow up to be just like that. She’s seriously my hero.
And that’s why 2013 and 2014 were so hard on me and why I didn’t write nearly as much as I would’ve other wise. I was with her, helping her through her recovery. Nothing mattered to me but her recovery. I would’ve given up writing forever if it meant keeping her well, safe, and alive.
And I am so THANKFUL because she has gotten so much better and she is still here with me and give me a minute because I am still crying. She is here and she is encouraging me to WRITE and she is reading my books and this feels like a miracle because it IS, it’s a tremendous blessing and my heart swells with gratitude every second I think about it. I don’t think I would’ve made it without her.
And I have so much more to be grateful for this year too. My aunt, the one who used to swim with me in the pool when I was little and dress me up like I was her doll, and the one who took me to see Candyman (I wasn’t even 10 years old!) against my grandmother’s wishes because she knew I loved horror movies, you know, The COOL aunt who let me get away with stuff, she beat cancer this year.
Earlier, when I got the news that she’d been diagnosed, I refused to tell anyone or post about it or spread it around, and I got really mad at anyone in the family who knew and kept talking about it, you see, because I am believer in this thing called ENERGY and like attracts like, and the MORE you talk about something, the MORE of that thing—whether good or bad—you’re going to get. I basically made them shut the hell up because I felt like spreading around the news of this would somehow make what she was going through grow because there would be more people talking about it and thinking about her illness instead of her health and tossing a lot of fearful, negative energy around that she simply did not need.
I told them that disease means a body that is not at ease. And she had been going through a LOT of stress. Everything had been extremely turbulent for her to the point that it made her sick.
I felt like the best way to help her was by keeping her happy, making sure she laughed a lot and was surrounded by pleasant things and that she ate right and took her vitamins, and just forget that she had ever been diagnosed and let the doctors take care of the rest.
Her daughter, and my cousin, was just as scared as I was, but everyone pulled together and this family got our miracle. She is now cancer free. We all knew the statistics, but I refused to listen to that. When I thought about her, I didn’t think about her dying, I thought about her healing and living. And she was a true champion too, keeping that beautiful smile of hers on her face the whole time. I am sure there were days when she secretly cried, but I know one thing, she didn’t succumb to it.
And she is my other hero because no matter what happens to her, she always makes the best of it and keeps a smile on her face no matter what, and I think she got hit the worst this year.
She had a lot of not so awesome things happen to her: her house got robbed, her husband walked out on her and her daughter, and she was even houseless last year or the year before (somewhere in there) and was having to stay with another family member until she found a house, and she did find a house, but had to move out of that house due to reasons I’m still unclear about, but you know what? She has an even more beautiful house now, and more smart TVs than you can imagine, and lots of lovely furniture; her Christmas tree is already up, the house is already decorated, and she has an amazing boyfriend who helped her not only fix up her new house but he was there helping her through her illness too. He is really, really sweet to her, like, I can’t even believe. You think guys like him don't exit, but HE EXISTS! Which gives me hope! And which is why I write about love and guys like that because I believe I will have one like that one day too, but this is sooooo off topic so back to the point.
She is my inspiration because she has taught me and showed me that no matter what you’re going through, if you think positively and keep looking forward and continue getting out of bed in the morning despite every reason not to, things WILL GET BETTER. Every time she has fallen down, she has somehow grown wings. She has an incredible bounce back rate.
And this is why Thanksgiving 2016 was amazing, because I got to go eat with her and my cousin, and my grandmother and brother, and all of their friends, and there we all were, better than we were, stronger, and all I kept doing the entire time was counting my blessings because I too, almost lost my house this year, the one I grew up in. But God and the Universe intervened and I was given a way to pay what was owed and I got to keep this house, which may not be the prettiest or nicest of places but it is mine, it’s where I made a lot of good memories and it keeps me warm and safe and it’s where I write my books, and I got to unpack all of my belongings and put them back where they went.
My grandmother, who is the engine of this family, usually cooks every holiday meal, but this year, my aunt cooked at her new house with the assistance of her boyfriend and her best friend. I wanted really bad to contribute a dish or two but couldn’t because I was broke this week and couldn’t even afford groceries which made me feel bad, but I was thankful that she invited me over. We had just enough food, not too much or too little.
And new things are happening: my brother and his beautiful fiance are having a baby next year! I think it’s due in April. It’s going to be a girl and they are gonna name it Scarlet Lenore so I will be an aunt in 2017!
And yes, I TOTALLY suggested the Lenore part because I am a major Poe fan.
And right now I am over here kicking ass on these books and continuing to count my blessings. God and the Universe have done so much for me. I have been given both 2015 and 2016 to write, Write, WRITE.
In 2015, I made a pretty good amount of money from book sales that I was able to use to subsist off of (by penny pinching, believe me) during this year so I could really throw myself into my writing and give this my all, give it everything I’ve got. Yes, I am running low of cash, obviously, but I know that I will be okay. I will make a bounce back. I’ve spent all of 2015 and 2016 making up for lost time and teaching myself how to write a book that readers will (hopefully) love.
I never thought I could write like this, and I’m not even going to take all the credit because I know it’s not all me. There’s some divine source out there who is making this possible and I couldn’t do it without my belief in the higher being.
I never thought I could ever love anything as much as I love these books, (the books that received enough hateful reviews, comments, and messages that made me hate them for a while; at one of my lowest points, I really did believe that these books were the worst thing I could’ve ever done in my life and I deserved to be punished for writing them. For a while, they were the bane of my existence.) But now, and for once, in a very long time, I am truly proud of myself for what I've accomplished by refusing to give up or listen to the negativity. I'm even more grateful for the “negative” comments and reviews because they've helped me pinpoint my weaknesses as a writer and it was from those particular reviews that I found my strength; I've developed a really thick skin and more confidence in myself.
I am so thankful that I kept going when I wanted to give up.
And I owe the most THANK YOUs to YOU—my readers and fans and to all of you who have supported me and who continue supporting me while I get this author thing together.
I want to give back to you for being so incredibly patient with me.
And I want to one day be able to give back to my grandmother and my aunt and let them know how special they are to me. I want to do something for them. Maybe one day, I can afford to cook a nice dinner in a nice house and invite them over to celebrate the holidays.
(I still love my tiny little house though!)