Down. Not Out.

FACES. HARSH. AND GRIM.

Countenances from every lifestyle.

Frozen in time. The daunted old. The impulsive young.

Uncertain of tomorrow. Unsure of today.

Did they come from broken homes? Torn marriages? Abusive relationships? Addictions?

How did I get here?

As I waited in the line that stretched out the door into the hot sun, I swallowed what dignity I had left. When my turn came, the woman behind the window shoved stacks of papers my way.

“Next,” she called out in a gruff voice.

“You know, I’ve never been here before. Just need some help.”

She rolled her eyes. “Next.”

I scuttled away to find a chair, and thought, Lord, give me the grace to endure, or get me outta here.

Reluctantly, with trembling hands, I filled out the food-stamp forms.

 

(excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
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The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” – Kath Cross (blogger).

 

 

 

 

 

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No Guts, No Glory

When he drank, my husband became an overwhelming monstrosity. One drink was one too many, ten never enough. The more I tried to be supportive, the more he was in denial, declaring, “I can quit anytime I want.”

Emotions carved a hole in me like the machete Donny used to slice at the shrubs, vines and lurking snakes. I hated seeing my husband in a drunken stupor, losing touch with reality. But when he was sober and in his right frame of mind, I became goo-goo eyed, in love with him all over again.

The paradox of my heart.

One foot in front of the other—that’s how I kept my sanity intact. Much too encumbered to mull over my plight, I tended to my girls and even began thinking about babysitting other children for extra income.

By then, Donny threatened much, delivered less. I tried to ignore his childish ways whenever he became too tipsy to do anything but slur and stumble about.

Except for maybe once . . . or twice.

I opened the door and knew full well what to expect. Glassy-eyed, with his newly grown mustache over a silky smirk, Donny was swaying back and forth. My Prince Charming had turned into a frog. He mumbled and staggered in. His pores reeked of booze and a sour odor permeated the air.

“Where have you been all night?”

A snicker and a sneer, his only response.

“You’re drunk as a skunk,” I said in disgust. I watched him trip over his own feet and throw himself on the sofa. “Do you know what time it is?” I persisted.

“Shut up, woman!” he slurred, rolled over and sprawled on the couch, out cold.

Enough is enough. I’ll show him. I’ll teach him if it’s the last thing I do! 

I went into the bathroom. Donny’s shaving-kit beckoned.

Images of a masterpiece ran wild in my head. With purpose in mind and a razor in hand, I stood over my prince-turned-toad, still snoring. Most likely, he dreamt he was a young Nimrod, back in Antigua chasing skirts, for all I knew.

Ever so cautiously, I leaned forward and began to give him a wee bit of a trim . . .

Come morning, I sat across the kitchen table from Donny, my gaze fixed on his slouched frame, forehead glistening, eyes blood-shot, hands trembling with white knuckles as he gripped the coffee pot. Suffering from another painful hangover, I observed while he poured.

I glared, poker-faced, amazed by my own bravado. Suspense was killing me.

“How’s your mustache?” I asked.

Nonchalantly, he brushed his fingers over his lip and started to rise. “It’s fine,” he croaked, and downed his coffee. He refilled his cup and headed out, slamming the door behind him.

Oh well . . . I did try to clue him in. I went into the kitchen to make breakfast.

An hour later, I answered the phone to the anticipated call. “Hello?”

“I’ll give you this one,” my husband retorted. “You’re getting to be a gutsy broad. I’m getting picked on here by all the guys at work.”

I snickered to myself. “Kinda surprised you didn’t notice anything this morning, Donny.”

“Well, you got me. Have to admit, this is a good one.”

I placed the receiver down and sat back on the recliner. A smile twisted the corners of my mouth as I replayed the events of the night before . . .

I’d bent to my task but had frozen when he stirred and muttered something. I backed away and ditched the idea of finishing. I left him asleep in the living room and crawled into bed.

Over coffee this morning, I figured he’d take a hint. Instead, he went straight to work with half a mustache.

I confess: such rare acts of sweet revenge gave a natural high.

(excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
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“The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” –  Kath Cross (blogger).

 

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” -Kath Cross (blogger).

If you like Kindle, you can now save 80% on my memoir –
it’s just .99c at the moment, was $4.99.

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Run the Race

Hadn’t my grandparents always said, “nothing worthwhile comes easy”?

At the track and field events, I earned each of my awards and ribbons. I’d raced along, my eyes on the mark. Momentum building as my arms pumped with energy and my long legs pounded the grassy field. The warmth from the sun’s rays kissed my face, and the breeze caressed my long, flowing hair. My mind, clear and free from worries, centered my concentration one goal: crossing the finish line.

We took our places and lined up in a row, waiting for Coach’s command.

“ON YOUR MARK . . .”

Nerves hit the pit of my stomach.

“GET SET . . .”

I willed my mind to focus, my eyes fixed straight ahead.

“GO!”

We were off. My foot slipped; two of us bumped. I regained momentum, pumping my arms, elbows high. I needed to pace myself or I’d run out of wind. I decided to hold steady at a comfortable third place. I knew that if I stretched myself, I’d pick up speed and pass them one by one. Needed to time it just right.

Breathe. Keep your eyes on the back of their heads.

Don’t get in too much of a hurry.

Steady . . . Steady . . .

Not yet. Not yet.

Almost . . .

Now!

I passed one girl. Then another. A burst of energy flooded me as I gained a second wind. I closed in on the leader. I heard her breathing. The sound of our feet pounded the ground in unison, inches apart. It was now or never.

We came onto the turn, I moved to the right. Willing my legs to move faster, I passed her up, taking the lead. In record time, I beat her to the finish line!

That was me a hundred years ago. Strong. Perky. Ageless.

If I did it then — perhaps, just maybe — I can do it again, in whatever I set out my mind to do.

(excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
***   LIMITED TIME OFFER   ***   .99cents   ***   Kindle Edition   *** 

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“The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” – Kath Cross (blogger).

© M.A. Perez, 2017, All Rights Reserved

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I Am Woman

Women have strengths that amaze men.
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in..
They stand up to injustice.
They don’t take “no” for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there is no strength left.

They know that a hug and a kiss
can heal a broken heart.
Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They’ll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you
to show how much they care about you.

warrior2

 

The heart of a woman is what
makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have compassion and ideas.
They give moral support to their
family and friends.

Women have vital things to say
and everything to give.

HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN,
…THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH.

~ ANONYMOUS ~

 

Proverbs 14:1: Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands.

Note to my fans and followers
*** Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace ***

***   LIMITED TIME OFFER   ***   .99cents   ***   Kindle Edition   *** 

* Amazon UK  **  £0.90  **  LIMITED TIME OFFER  **  £0.90  **  Amazon UK *

“The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” – Kath Cross (blogger).

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Celebrating Mama

Someone said, crying is a way your eyes speak when your mouth can’t explain how broken your heart is.

We recently celebrated Mama’s birthday. While the company and the food were great, I saw Mama in a different light. It pained me to see her that way. Although she had a smile on her face, her eyes reflected pain and discomfort.

Mama is aging and more feeble with time. She’s more of a shut in these days and she can barely move. Many thoughts go through my head, along with memories of my difficult childhood past. But that was then and this is now. Mama is Mama – and she’s my Mama. I’ll take her anyway I can get her – flaws and all. Hell, I even have flaws! But what troubles me is not what she and I have gone through together; what troubles me is the present. She is fearful of saying what ails her. She doesn’t like the idea of going to a hospital, nor the thought of possibly living in a nursing home one day. She’d rather suffer alone than communicate about her ailments in a doctor’s ear. I don’t know what to do. She’s never been an easy patient and she is stubborn.

I. Feel. Hopeless.

I’m praying that the Lord shows us what to do and for Mama to be at peace. I just want her to know that she’s loved and that we want only the best for her. I need her to feel safe and secure and to know beyond a shadow of doubt; she does not have to fear.  Fear has torment. It will consume the mind and crush any hope one might dare to have. Fear troubles the heart and makes one weary.

I believe God is bigger than our fears. I believe He wants us to cast all of our troubles to Him and not grow weary. We are not immune to the sufferings of this life, but because of the Lord there is always hope. All He ask is that we put our trust in Him and lay our burdens down at His feet. He says to trust Him and lean not to our own understanding. Not always an easy feat, I admit.

Words may escape me at times. I may grow impatient and miscommunicate my true intentions; my grit and courage may fall short. But while I have breath in my being I will never give up on the goodness of God! We are a work in progress. I know He will make a way. Look how far He has brought us – He’s not finished with any of us yet!

I. Feel. Hopeful.

I choose to allow forgiveness to remain in my heart. While Mama is still here, I will let her know that she is valued and loved. While it’s true our roles may have been reversed, she is still my Mama. And you know what?

I. Still. Need. My. Mama.

So Mama, I celebrate you. Hand in hand, we will find a way to make everything all right.

I. Love. You.

 

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Note to my fans and followers
*** Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace ***

***   LIMITED TIME OFFER   ***   .99cents   ***   Kindle Edition   *** 

* Amazon UK  **  £0.90  **  LIMITED TIME OFFER  **  £0.90  **  Amazon UK *

“The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” – Kath Cross (blogger).

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We bleed. We laugh. We cry.

Thinking about how far this writing journey has taken me since publishing my memoir two years ago, still brings a thrill to my heart! And I am humbled. I am forever grateful and cherish the entire process.

I am not unique. Everyone has a story. God can take your life of peril and turn it into a life of promise. If you have a pulse, then you have a purpose. You don’t have to be ashamed of your pain or remain alone. If others don’t know your pain, they can’t possibly understand your praise.

Do you have a voice? Use it. Do you have a platform? Own it. You are uniquely and beautifully you! God don’t make no junk! Be a light to someone. Bring hope to the hopeless and encouragement to the destitute. Even if someone’s life is perfect, it doesn’t mean they have it all together. We are humans. We all bleed. We all laugh. We all cry, and we long for compassion.

We. Need. One. Another.

 

Some lovely women from Hope Lutheran Church, recently invited me to speak and share my story at their ladies guild group. They welcomed me with opened arms and I felt right at home! They were warm, friendly and attentive. They blessed me!

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My Guardian Angel

Torrential rain unnerved me as I drove along the highway. The downpour hammering on the roof of the car echoed in my eardrums. I turned up the radio. My car’s wipers were stuck on slow speed, hindering my vision and distracting me. Driving in the far right lane, I leaned forward, both hands clutching the steering wheel and wondered how late I—

Suddenly, the taillights in front glowed red. The driver slammed on his brakes. Automatically, I hit mine, but they locked up. The back-end of the car in front loomed closer.

I cannot hit them! So, doing what any sensible driver would have done (or not), I aimed for the concrete divider, swinging sharply to the right.

My car plowed into that barrier. The tires screeched and drowned out the screams in my head. I skidded out of control at 180-degrees before stalling in the middle lane—facing on-coming traffic.

My world slammed to a stop.

The wipers still swished lethargically back and forth across the freshly cracked windshield. Music blared over the radio. My mind in a daze, I glanced in the rear-view mirror.

FullSizeRender

I was thankful that Anna Marie appeared unscathed, apart from the fear in her moist eyes.

“It’s okay, Anna, don’t cry. Mommy’s gonna get us out of here.”

I made a quick assessment of the wreckage: the hood had flown open; the front end was caved in, the right headlights busted.

I rolled down the window to stick my head out, and became drenched by pelting rain and the splash from a truck hurtling past.

Headlights from cars beamed as they swerved to miss us, terrifying me even more. Soaked and trembling with my nerves on edge, I thought, Lord, how am I going to get the car off the road without causing a bigger accident?

I wasn’t even sure my car would budge.

Vehicles roared by, but one slowed and stopped. With headlights practically blinding me, the driver left his emergency lights blinking; he exited his car and made his way toward me, hunkering down from the rainfall. He scanned the inside my car, his eyes alarmed, yet warm.

“Miss, are you all right? Is your little girl okay?”

“Yes . . . yes, I think so,” I scarcely heard my own voice say.

“Put your emergency lights on. Need to get you out of this traffic.”

I nodded and watched my angel head back to his car and pull over onto the shoulder. When the coast cleared, he ran across the freeway and opened my door. I scooted over. He climbed in behind the wheel and proceeded to veer my Plymouth across three lanes, out of on-coming traffic and onto the shoulder. Finally, in reverse, he maneuvered my car to the off-ramp.

After prying the hood back down to shut it, I thanked my rescuer and climbed behind the wheel. I plodded down the road, praying a cop wouldn’t pull me over.

Years later I still recall: When I needed help the most, a total stranger—or perhaps a guardian angel—came to my rescue and showed me compassion.

 

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Hurricane Harvey – 8/26/17

Once again, childhood memories of sharing my birthday with yet another devastating hurricane resurfaced.

The rains came and the floodwaters rose, while we were out of town on vacation for my birthday week. Daughter and Mom remained at the house with a generator. We received continued updates, videos, texts and photos regarding the storm’s status, which left us unnerved and on edge. Thank God, for the report from home that offered few moments of levity:

“OK Mom, we lost power.”

“Grandma is stuck in the Power-Lift chair.”

“One fridge is out.”

“Pool in back and in front yard.”

“Water is about a foot within the house.”

“We are good so far.”

“Grandma is like, ‘You said we were gonna have ice cream at midnight …'”

“No internet.”

“Water level is down.”

“Some water seepage, possible foundation issues due to flooding.”

“Was able to go for a quick gas run.”

“The Mayor of Houston has imposed a curfew … Grandma and I were gonna go out!”

“Electricity! Yay!”

Soon we’ll be headed back for home, taking the routes with the less flooding for travel. My heart and mind are filled with conflicting emotions. I am thankful to the Lord for watching over my loved ones, knowing that many lives were tragically impacted by this hurricane due to the flood waters. I also realize as hard as it is, losing stuff pales in comparison to losing loved ones. May we count our blessings – still having those safe and sound that mean the most, well, everything else just seems petty.

My prayer: May our roots be grounded in faith strong enough not to be overwhelmed, even during the storms of life.

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From the end of the earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

 

 

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Bump in the Night

In our tiny efficiency, as I lay in pitch darkness, my eyes remained opened, growing accustomed to the dark. The yellow moon peeked through the window shade. Eerie shadows traveled across the walls and bounced off a tattered chair whenever headlights from cars passed by.

Mama and I shared a narrow bed then. Because my stepdad, Warren had “accidents” in bed at nights, he slept on the opposite one from us. Like the sound of a freight train, his incessant snoring rattled my eardrums. Asleep in her underwear, Mama’s gentle snoring came in spurts. Those sounds became my lullaby in the evenings, lulling me to sleep.

But not tonight.

I was never afraid during the night, but with a sense of foreboding I couldn’t shake off, I got up and propped a chair under the doorknob. Time passed. Thump! The chair toppled over and my heart hammered against my chest. Then I heard the knob turn and the door creaked. The hair on my scalp pricked me.

In the dark, I turned ever so slowly, peering through half-closed lids.

The silhouette of Warren’s weird friend crawled, cat-like, on all fours. He inched his way closer. And closer. Warren snorted and rolled over. El Creepo froze. Then he continued his way toward Mama. His hand reached her leg and started feeling upward . . .

With sheer determination, I hopped up, screaming at the top of my lungs. Like a wild animal caught in blinding light, El Creepo jumped and made a bee line toward the door. He crashed into a chair, tripped over the box fan, and then collided with the dresser before hightailing out. Crying and shaken out of my wits, I turned the light switch and called out to my parents in zombie-land, to no avail. It took a long time before I shut my eyes.

The next morning, I gave a full report. With stupefied faces and mouths agape, they attempted to process my words.

“What?” Mama shrieked. “I didn’t hear anything!”

“Mama, he touched you!”

“How did he . . . ?” Warren stammered.

Mama gave him a dirty look. “The door doesn’t have a lock, you dope, remember?”

“Well, you just wait ‘till I see that jerk again,” Warren hinted, getting up to check the knob.

One may think that this frightening episode caused a rude awakening in my party-animal parents. It changed nothing. Sometimes, I think Mama didn’t know what to do with me. Some days she wanted me close. Other days she didn’t.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 in “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
© M.A. Pérez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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