Saturday, January 7, 2017

End of a Year, End of an Era, and a New Year is born

I haven't written in awhile and I have plenty of excuses. I'm not someone who usually says, "Oh this has been a terrible year and I hope the new year is better." I realize every year has good and bad. The end of 2016 was probably my worst ever year ending. But too many good things happened to me and for me earlier in the year for me to feel much like "Out with the old! In with the new!" Although I've always loved a new year, because I love beginnings. For me, New Years are the mile markers of life.

For my faithful friends and followers, here's a glimpse into my very personal life, more personal than I've ever written in a blog, just so you know what's going on with me.

Mom and I at Carnival in Cuenca.

In November, my mom and I made a trip back to the old country. To meet a new family member, my neice, and see as much of the family as we could squeeze into 10 days. It was slightly bittersweet, as my mom said goodbye to everyone. She told them all, "This is my last trip back, if you want to see me, you'll have to come to Ecuador." She loved her new home. Something no one, not even my mom expected to happen.
And then, just 15 hours after we returned home, drinking coffee and talking about the future, my mother suffered a massive fatal heart attack. It was shocking and devastating. She was 72 years old, diabetic and had heart issues, but she was SO full of life, it was hard for everyone to wrap their heads around her being gone. It still is. My mom was my biggest fan. She talked the ears off of two poor ladies on the plane about me, my books, and Ecuador. It was kind of embarrassing at the time and I wish I had told her how much I appreciated her for that. I hope she knew because I didn't get the chance.

Mischevious Mom at a New Year's celebration- I believe this is 2014 in Cuenca.

Two weeks later we held a fabulous New Orleans Jazz style memorial service for her at her favorite restaurant in town with a live Jazz Trio. We danced. We sang. There were enough flowers to cause allergy attacks for miles. Almost everyone at the service had something to say, about her love of life, her grace, her sense of humor, her love of family but above all else, her beautiful smile. And then, we ate and we drank. My great friends here wove a hammock of support and a shawl of loving arms around me for the weeks following her death. I knew I had more friends here than I've had since probably my college days and maybe more. But I never dreamed or imagined what they could do when needed, and how comforting that would be. Or in how many ways they would find to cradle me.

But then when my son returned home from traveling to her memorial service in the States, he found one of his dogs was critically ill and we also lost our beloved KitKat to cancer. I still can't write any more about that.

And then my besties Sandra and Wayne- who had been with me daily since my return from the States, who made sure I ate- even if it was pie for lunch, and helped me get through the daily chores that seemed like mountains, suffered their own crisis. Wayne had a massive heart attack. After 5 days in ICU and then triple bypass surgery, he made it home in time to ring in the new year. I thank them for allowing me to include their personal story to help account for a couple of weeks in my life.

See Wayne's New Year Video- really you don't want miss this!

So the end of the year for me was exhausting and sad and terrifying, heartwarming and joyful. And I'm looking forward to 2017.

I'm still finding my new normal and getting my legs back underneath me, but here are my goals for 2017 and what you can hope to see from me.

I just can't work all the time. Because I have this network of beautiful people who are my rocks, and my shawl of love. I need to have coffee with them, walk along the river, and share a piece of cake or two along the way. And you know sometimes they have challenges and catastrophes too and I'll of course, be there for them.

But I am also beginning to help writers. Think of me as a personal assistant for writers, taking care of the annoying and/or overwhelming parts of the business so they can continue to write more and faster.

And I haven't stopped writing. Well, okay, honestly I haven't written much the last two months, but here is what's on the horizon from Scarlett Braden (not necessarily in this order):

Book 4 of The Providence In Ecuador series: Find out what happens when the Ecuador Roses discover a wanted expat in their midst.

7 Degrees of Wisdom: I'm participating in this project, the brainchild of writer Joss Burnel, and am very excited to be included. More about that later.

The Frangapani Venture - A crime series of shorts for when there's nothing on tv.

And a new fantasy series, Paisley Cove- for women who wish they could wiggle their noses and the vacuuming commence and believe in the concept that there is still life to live, friends to make and knowledge to gain at any age.

Please stick around to see what other adventures are looming around the next mountain. And thank you all for your love and support.

Abrazos y Besos
(Hugs and kisses),
 Loving life in Cuenca!