Tag: friends

To those who choose to date in their friend circle, here’s some personal advice…

During the last few months, I’ve decided to stop being a wimp and ask out the friends I’ve been interested in for a long time. But naturally I was very worried about ruining good friendships. However, I had many great experiences, going on dates with those guys, realizing there wasn’t a mutual spark, and still maintaining a solid friendship afterward. Granted, it’s still a bummer on both ends when there isn’t a spark. But neither of us can say, “What if…?” anymore.

But it really grinds my gears is when the expected drama ensues. So here’s some advice I had to learn the hard way.

Let’s say you’ve already been on a date with that friend, and you’re interested in a second one. Be prepared for them to not return that interest. In fact, they may not know how to turn you down, so they may choose to say nothing at all. They might go so far as to avoid you altogether. This is in no way your fault and you can focus your energy on someone who WILL care about you, even enough to say, “I think you’re great, but I just want to be friends.” Because you at least deserve that much.

But keep in mind, that person may come crawling back for another chance. Proceed with caution. If they rejected you the first time, quite often they come crawling back because they’re looking for temporary validation and believe you’ll care enough to give it to them. You are worth so much more than being someone’s second choice or after thought. Because usually, those people get over it very quickly, and will walk away from you again. Or during that time, they’ll want to keep it a secret from your mutual friends. They might go so far as alienate you from them so it won’t make them look bad. In this case, tell anyone you feel comfortable confiding in. You don’t want your friends turning on each other, which can be avoided by saying things like, “They’re horrible because they did this…” and perhaps replace it with, “I’m sad because this is what happened.” And to the friends who are listening, their hurt is very real and only want someone to listen. You might have information that will give them some peace of mind, and that they’ve been treated isn’t personal. Often, that’s what they need to hear.

Now if the circumstances are less dramatic and look a little more like this…here’s my advice to you. If the friend you asked on a date says yes, make sure you set up a date and time for when this will happen. If you say, “Let’s do something this week” there’s a chance that might not register fully. It might go so far as to finding out come Friday night, that friend was with someone else.

If that person WAS with someone else, do not say passive aggressive things like, “The party turned out to be lame. Hope you had fun with your date.” They’ll likely take it as a sincere wish, or understand your upset quickly defend themselves. In the later case, you could end up apologizing for getting irrationally upset. But the truth is, you’re feelings aren’t irrational. You’re upset because you had said, “Let’s do something this week” and they hadn’t been paying attention enough to make that mental note.

If you choose to say something about it, best case scenario, they’ll make an effort to set up a date with you. Worst case scenario, they change the subject and end the conversation right there. The last thing they want is for you to be upset with them, so they might hurry to reassure you, preventing your negative feelings from escalating, and just avoid it in the future.

That can often lead to another week going by and they’ve stopped acknowledging you altogether. By now you probably feel a bit gipped, and that’s warranted. You’ve likely seen how they’ve treated the people they’ve liked and made an effort to pursue. They took them to fun places, showed them genuine affection, and made them feel special. It’s very easy to start comparing yourself to them, which takes a heavy toll on how you value yourself.

But you might choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them more time. You even ask directly, “When are we going to go on that date?” and they say, “I’ll think of something.” But once again, if no solid plans are made, the way you value yourself diminishes a whole lot more. And so at this point, you have two solid choices. The first would be to let it go, because sometimes avoiding conflict is the best option. But if you choose to be honest about what’s been bothering you, here’s my advice to EVERYONE in this scenario.

Confrontation is scary. We sometimes enter it thinking we’re going to get an apology, or that person will immediately change and provide what you asked for in the first place. But most of the time, they will respond with their own prepared defense, and will do anything to avoid facing your anger and upset. It’s a very realistic and human response, which can’t be held against them. But if you find yourself with more anger than you know what to do with, say it! But of course, say it without the purpose of cutting them down.

Avoid, “You did this to me” or “You’re a terrible person because…” Instead, try, “I’m upset because this is what happened between us, and this is how it made me feel…” And if someone is upset with you, listen! Their hurt is very real and deserves to be acknowledged. They cared about you more deeply than you did them, and that isn’t going to go away over night. It may require some action on your part, but an apology goes a long way, and compromising has a great way of saving friendships and relationships. But more importantly, it lets that person you know you really DO value you them at a person; that you value them the way GOD values them.

And sometimes, relationships will end. People will choose to walk away altogether and there’s nothing left but to respect that decision. But at the very least, you did all that you could, and that person will move on a lot quicker than they would have holding a silent grudge.

To wrap things up, I think it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy and grateful for what I have, but being single has its set of lonely challenges. Many broken relationships, unwanted drama, and everything in between. It’s a bumpy ride, but at some point it’ll all be worth it. Until then, cheers to my fellow YSA’s who receive some peace of mind knowing I’m right there with you.

Cheers to you, XO

~Chelsea

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Pick up a paintbrush and hope for the best

On top of my writing, I’m an artist too! These are my latest projects, commissioned by friends and family members.

The process for this one took me about 6 hours. My cousin had sent me a beautiful photo of his wife and infant daughter to sketch for Mother’s Day. I started with a grid and drew basic outlines. I filled in clothing details first, since that’s the most tedious part, and then the faces after. Since it’s easier to erase mistakes when the shading is lighter, I darken the shadows for the final touches, and there you have it! This piece took a few days, but a year to create the concept. A good friend of mine had discussed me doing a large piece for his living room the day we met. Since then, we through dozens of ideas to make sure what I created really matched his personality and made a statement. If someone were to walk inside, what’s the first thing I want them to notice? And my friends, this one was NOT easy. Despite how random the colors look, it took bottles and bottles of acrylic paint, a large brush, a pallet knife, and a redo to get it just right. When my special friend hung on it his wall, sending messages of praise and gratitude, I slumped on the couch with the feeling of a job well done.

This last piece wasn’t a commission, but a photo posted by a professional photographer that truly inspired me. Quite often I’ll see photos published on Facebook or Instagram, and right I see a hundred different story lines with dozens of possible feelings. Right then I’m prompted to paint at least one of them.

Because in the end it’s not about the commission, it’s about the reaction. It’s something I do because it’s how I focus all the chaotic energy inside me. It’s how I forget about myself and the world so I  can think about someone else. It’s how I connect to the artist’s in my family who have passed on. It’s how I brings another’s person’s feelings to life.

It’s how I feel the most alive.

 

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Behind the Scenes of Unseen Road to Love

It’s official! “Unseen Road to Love” is now here! And to celebrate I want to share with you the unpublished author’s note about the events in the book inspired by real people and events.

SPOILER ALERT!

#1 – Logan’s accident was inspired by my real life accident. It occurred December 7, 2012. I was walking across the street that evening (literally a block from my apartment) when two people turning right at the intersection didn’t stop at the stop sign. My left knee and face was lacerated, my nose crushed-in, and I received a severe concussion. In that moment I wasn’t unconscious. I remember laying in the road, feeling blood on my face, seeing how scared the men were, and the courage and kindness it took for them to make sure I got to the hospital safely. I was in the hospital 3 days, and took my college finals the following week. To this day I have no long term injuries. A real miracle in my life.

#2 – Logan’s height. Throughout the years I’ve had several guy friends close to 6’4. They always gave the best hugs, but holy Hannah, I’ve been knocked off balance a few times by them not knowing their own strength. Worth it 🙂

#3 – Annie is based on my real life friend! In the book she is described as “fun sized” just an inch below 5 feet. Featured in the phot above on the left. We were college roommates, and is best known for her cute style and memorable laugh. She married her high school sweetheart and is still one of my most influential friends today.

#4 – Savannah “Savvy” is real too! Though her love story with James is my own creation, he sparkly personality, nursing skills and boss cookies…all her! Featured in the above photo on the right. In fact both Annie and Savannah were both my college roommates at Dixie State University. On the About the Author page, these are the very friends who introduced me to all things happiness in books, and pumpkin cookies!

#5 – Addie and Logan’s musical talent. I’m not a gifted song writer, but I did write a custom love song titled “Heaven on Earth” for my dear friend, Alisa’s, wedding. She couldn’t find one with the right voice, lyrics, and meaning that fit the way she felt for her now husband. Secretly, I wrote one for them as a wedding present. Grant Matheson, who is a current member of the band Advent Horizon, generously recorded the melody on his guitar, and the famous and talented, Joy Frost, beautifully sang the lyrics. Music has always been a big part of my life, but this event inspired me to add more music in the story. The experience gave me lasting inspiration until the very end.

#6 – Dixie State University is my alma mater. I lived in St. George for three years, teaching preschool. Like Logan, I didn’t have a car and often road the Sun Tran everywhere I went.

#7 – “Farkle”. During the holidays, occasionally my extended family and I play the infamous dice game. One year I was reigning champion, and I never let anyone forget it. 😛

#8 – Andy Grammer. He really did perform at Dixie, and it was coolest experience! His music inspired pretty much the whole story. You can read more about it in my previous tribute post to him.

#9 – Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy: It’s a very brief snippet, but Logan mentions using one after his accident. It’s a chamber one sits in as pure oxygen is pumped into the body to aid in tissue repair. I used one twice, before and after my own accident. And the man who introduced me to hyperbaric chambers inspired a lot of Logan’s personality towards the end.

#8 – Mark and Logan’s brotherly bond. While living in Salt Lake, I befriended a set of brothers, and they were 6’4 studs who often referred themselves as “the Weasley Twins”. Grant, who was previously mentioned above, and Jon who has the sweet motorcycle skills, and will no doubt be featured in a future novel 🙂

#10 – Zucchini brownies: Alisa, who was mentioned in the fact above, is notorious for her zucchini brownies, which are healthy in a sense…before she adds the chocolate chips and frosting.

#11 – “Scum”: A game my singles ward friends often gathered to play, and dominate at. One of my favorite card games.

#12 – Addie’s profession: Like her, I taught preschool in St. George, Utah and moved back home to teach at an elementary school. The most rewarding and hectic times of my life.

#13 – Tommy: Though my dad is still on this earth, he was in the military when I was younger. His voice is exactly who I heard as I wrote Tommy’s letter. Another snippet: Just like Addie’s dad, mine would let me stay up late and watch Star Wars with him until I fell asleep.

#14 – Pizza: The first dates Logan takes on are based on a perfect day when a really great friend treated me to an amazing pizza place that changed my life. This was the beginning inspiration for Logan’s character. It made for a lasting memory I needed to share. Shout out to Rusted Sun Pizzeria in SLC, Utah! And to Adam MacKay, for being awesome in every sense of the word.

#15 – Flirt running: A boy I went on a date with did just that! I found it very cute and clever.

#16 – Addie’s song: I’ve always wanted to learn the ukulele, because I loved it when friends brought them out to jam. At my friend’s wedding reception, she had brought one out to sing to her new husband one of the happiest love songs ever. If you read the book, you know what part I’m talking about!

#17 – Peggy: Is based on the amazing Peggy Matheson! And she the real mother of the mustache brothers featured above. Having spent time in her home as I wrote this novel, and watching their whole family interact, I was inspired to no end. Not just a fantastic for who she is in general, but also a talented actress you may know from the 2014 film “The Saratov Approach”.

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Amazing Brownies and Mistletoe Madness

There’s a brownie recipe at the end 🙂 so keep reading.

At the annual conference for the American Night Writer’s Association, I heard a cool guy say, “Something amazing happens here” should be written down when you can’t figure out how to bridge the chapters in your book. Turns out the same thing can be applied to life.

A year ago I was sitting in my old apartment in Utah, planning out my entire year on a piece of poster board and a green Crayola marker. I made so many plans; mostly short term goals set for each month. The kind I’ve wanted to achieve in years past and you guessed it, most of them were not accomplished.

Naturally life still gave me incredible things anyway. Sometimes we writers have the beginning and end to our novels, but have no clue what to put in the middle, so we leave it blank and write, “Something amazing happens here” and get to it when inspiration hits.

We don’t really know how the story comes together until it’s finished. But when it does, it’s rarely anything we would have originally planned for. But that’s the cool part! We surprise ourselves, we learn what inspires us, we discover what great and hard things it took to put those words down.

The same thing applies when we make our New Year’s resolutions while we look back on the ones we made the year before. I had no intentions of moving to Arizona, of quitting my two stable jobs, packing all that I could in my jeep, and driving through the desert to a future that wasn’t planned out at all. I gained new friends, a new family even, and the greatest opportunity of getting my book published. They were dreams I dared not hope for because they were goals I didn’t think were reasonable enough to accomplish.

But yesterday I was driving down the road, thinking about the goals I didn’t get around to; long term ones that had to do with my health and relationships—the usual ones that can take a toll on our self-worth. And I ended up pulling into a Walmart parking lot, cutting the engine and having a good cry for no other reason than to just let go of the hurt built up over the year.

In every story, amazing things happen, but not without conflict. Otherwise characters don’t grow. But it’s the conclusion where all the work is put together into something great. Sometimes it takes more than one full rotation around the sun to get there.

So I don’t give up hope, but a little discouragement is natural and it’s okay to take a minute to grieve about it. I ended up making brownies, and I think most can agree there’s something therapeutic about baking something—not from a box—but from scratch, that heals the soul.

After a brief indulgence, I thought about what to plan for 2017. I have a basic blueprint, a few dreams floating in my head. But like the great J Scott Savage said, “Something amazing happens here.” And keeping that attitude every day, usually gives room for the universe to make it so.

And because I promise you a bit of mistletoe madness, my story of the week doesn’t involve mistletoe, because I never received a mistletoe kiss before. It’s still a goal I have, and a goal I’ll never give up on. But as far as romance goes, I recently helped a good friend of mine surprise my roommate with a bouquet of white roses, which I think gives us all hope that classic romance is not dead.

And my friends, I don’t know how the universe was on my side, but it actually went perfectly. Those two ended up having a mistletoe kiss, which I didn’t resent…much, at least 😉 But truly, they were another couple I could add to my list of relationships. The ones where people try to make it work.

The honeymoon phase will end sometime, but being able to say, “Hey, remember when you totally lied about breaking our date, plotted with my roommate to ‘call the pizza guy’ who hid in the bathroom so I’d open the door to find you standing there with a bouquet of flowers?” …it brings back the memory of all the funny and gooey feelings you had when it happened. And because memories do fade over time, taking a second honeymoon, or three, or seventeen ain’t a bad idea.

Chelsea’s Homemade Brownies

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup flour

With an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs slowly. Then stir in cocoa powder and flour with a spoon. Pour into a greased 9’9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Until next time with whatever amazing thing comes to mind, I wish you all a happy New Year.

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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Whoopee Cushions and Dreams of Cowboys

Advice to all you people out there, if you’re ever set up on a blind date, the first 60 seconds are critical in making a first impression. Which is why if you show up wearing a whoopee cushion costume, unless they’re into that, it’s probably not going to work out the way you expect.

About a year after I started college, I could count the amount of dates I’ve had on one hand. I was awkward and still learning how to dress myself. But a friend had agreed to set me and my second roommate up on a group date for Halloween. It was going to be very low key. Bowling and going for shakes after. No plans to dress up or doing anything Halloween related.

Lame? Yes. But we were excited, and this was back in the day when not everyone had social media, and flip phones weren’t going extinct yet. So I had no idea what my date looked like until he showed up on my doorstep. Now I don’t blame the guy for wanting to make a lasting impression. He was truly a sweet guy and fun to bowl with. But boy was it hard to take him seriously wearing a costume that represented a toy that makes fart noises when you squeeze it. Kinda kills the mood when you’re hugging the man goodbye.

It would be a few years before my dating life really took off, but getting closer to the holiday season that year, the colder it got, the more we stayed indoors. And tis the season to sniff and sneeze, because I dove into reading when I came down with a nasty two week cold before finals. Missing work and classes was not an option for me, so reading romantic Christmas themed novellas helped me unwind after the busy, miserable hours on my feet.

My roommates had been throwing books my way, sometimes literally, and I remember reading “Dusty Britches” which was another Marcia Lynn McClure novel that open a new idea for me, as well as help me discover I’m a huge sucker for old western romance. Especially when they involve dreamy cowboys.

The leading woman, having a broken heart and a strong distrust for men, learned how to let her walls down and really love a man she hadn’t stopped loving since she was young. Like her, letting go of pride, anger and old grudges was something I learned the hard way a bit later in my life.

Halfway through book, I sat in my college apartment dining room, and by that I mean table in the corner of the tiny kitchen, eating strawberries in my pajamas, when my roommate’s entire family showed up on our doorstep to surprise her. Her parents and five siblings had driven 5 hours just to visit their two daughters on a completely random day just for the fun of it.

At the time my parents had been divorced about a year, I was the only adult child who sat through endless phone calls with one parent while they vented about the other. Though I commend them for how hard they worked to keep things as civil as possible for their children’s sake, at the time it had been years since I didn’t worry over things falling apart at a family gathering. And to witness it was like observing a Steve Irwin’s wildlife special.

*Crikey! Here we have a loving family in an unnatural habitat. The cubs have real high energy, but the parents sit and watch together with pride and love, while they laugh, catch up on happy family news, and share a hearty meal at the watering hole.*

But seriously though, growing up, I didn’t see my parents showing affection very often. There was some here and there, but not like the way her parents sat on the couch and held hands without even thinking about it, her resting her head on his shoulder; or sneaking kisses whenever they had the chance, and being incredibly cute while taking pictures together. And not once did their daughters groan or say, “Ewww!” when it happened. It usually followed with one watching them lovingly, saying, “Aren’t they adorable?”

Suddenly it wasn’t just a fictional novel I was reading anymore. This was a real couple with a marriage that lasted over two decades. And the feelings they were sharing was strong enough to be seen and felt by others. It impacted me so much, I wanted to know their story and what it took to get to that level. Most importantly, I wanted to know how it felt myself.

Watching them was the water and nutrients I needed for the seed of hope that was planted. Little did I know it was only a matter of time before I learned firsthand what that felt like, and also, it’s polar opposite…

So until next time with some holiday love and mistletoe madness…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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