Filed under: Life

Me, at 47

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 • 2 Comments

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I put on my sneakers last week for the first time in over a year and started moving again. I haven’t really felt like my healthy self since I had gallbladder surgery in March 2013. Ironically, in the couple of months leading up to surgery, I was thinner than I’ve been since before I had kids. Not that I weigh myself or care about being skinny (I’m not, and never will be). But I felt good, in between gallbladder attacks, that is. I don’t know why I didn’t bounce back to that feeling good place after I recovered from surgery, but I didn’t. And now I’m tired of feeling… well, tired. Tired of my clothes not fitting properly, of feeling less-than-healthy. So the sneakers are out of the closet and I’m working on it. Slowly, but still… taking that first step, followed by a thousand more.

On the eve of my forty-seventh birthday, I’m not taking stock of my life so much as I’m considering how full my life in my forties has been– and how physically and emotionally challenging. Before my fortieth birthday in 2007, Jay asked me how I wanted to spend it and I’d said I wanted to wake up in London. And so that’s what we did. I spent my 40th in my favorite city– and I haven’t been back since. Life has been… busy.

I didn’t know what my forties would bring, but it’s been a whirlwind. From that trip to London to less than three months later, when I learned of my estranged mother’s death, I feel as if I’ve been in constant motion– with constantly changing emotions. I could spend days talking about my relationship with my mother and our lack of contact in the last decade of her life, but I won’t. Her absence from my life was necessary for my emotional health, but her absence from this world is something I am still coming to terms with. People who are gone from our lives still cast a shadow, that much I’ve learned. Some things take a long, long time to get over. And some things… well, there are some things I’ll never get over.

At the end of 2007, five months after my mother’s death, I threw out my birth control pills and decided to try to have a baby. I was forty years old and it felt like “now or never.” Or, more likely “never, but I have to at least try.” After two miscarriages (at 23 and 30), it was a long shot, but in July 2008, on a mid-deployment rendezvous in Florida, I got pregnant. Quick, easy. And less than 8 weeks later, I miscarried. Slowly, painfully. I was told by a Navy ob/gyn that, because of my age (41 at the time) and numerous fibroids, I had a 3-5% chance of carrying a pregnancy to term. The odds were not in my favor, I knew that. I also knew that I wouldn’t quit until I ran out of time. And we tried again.

I got pregnant in March 2009 and promptly found a civilian ob/gyn who would see me immediately and who prescribed progesterone as a precaution. Around that same time, I pitched some anthology ideas to Cleis Press, a publisher I was familiar with because I’d sold numerous stories to other anthologies they’d published. In the spring of 2009, I threw myself into writing, into pitching new ideas and challenging myself to do new things. The reason is obvious: I was waiting for another miscarriage to happen and needed distractions in place to combat the inevitable sadness and grief.

I contracted for my first Cleis Press anthology, Fairy Tale Lust, in May 2009– and I was still pregnant. I wrote my call for submissions, kept writing my own stories, stayed busy with friends, kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. The shoe did drop, but it wasn’t a miscarriage– it was Jay having to deploy in October 2009 to Dubai for eight months. I was panicked, depressed, scared to death. I was going to be alone through some of the most challenging months of my entire life– me, who had never so much as changed a diaper– and I didn’t know what to do except prepare as best I could. I kept writing, editing, pitching. I was far enough along in my pregnancy to believe everything would be okay, but I’d been through too much at that point. It seemed too good to be true and I wouldn’t believe it was real until I held a baby in my arms.

In December 2009, I gave birth to a healthy 8 lb. 10 oz. baby boy via Cesarean section and Jay got to be there for the birth of his son and for two weeks after. I was entirely alone with the baby for two months after that, then I hired a friend to babysit part-time so I could keep writing and maintain my sanity. In May 2010, right after my 43rd  birthday and my first Mother’s Day, Jay came home from his last deployment. A few weeks later, Fairy Tale Lust was released. After a year of riding an emotional roller coaster, it seemed as if I’d found my balance. Jay was home, I had a babysitter, I was signing more contracts with Cleis Press, I was writing for other editors and publications, I had people I loved and who were there for me. Life was good.

Life was so good, in fact, that even in the midst of post-partum recovery, I’d considered having another baby. The odds were still not in my favor, but I’d done it once. Just eight short weeks after my baby was born, while my husband was still deployed, I told my ob/gyn that I was thinking about doing it again. He hugged me, for the first and only time. He said he’d been worried about me, but that if I could consider having another baby after all I was going through, then he knew I’d be okay. He also said it might not happen– those damned odds, after all.

I went back and forth over whether I wanted to try again– and when. We hadn’t given away any of the baby stuff, so clearly my heart was in it, I just didn’t know when I’d be ready. Mother Nature has a way of making things happen whether I’m ready or not, and in December 2010, exactly one week after Patrick turned one (and the very first time we weren’t careful), I got pregnant again. To be honest, I panicked when I did the math. Two babies under the age of two? Nooooo! And, of course, there was fear. The odds weren’t in my favor. One healthy pregnancy up against three miscarriages. I couldn’t let myself get too hopeful. I kept busy with the baby who was growing into a toddler, I threw myself into writing and pitching more anthology ideas, I saw the release of  a couple of new books, I worked on my relationships and I held my breath. Would it work out this time, too?

In September 2011, I gave birth via C-section once again to a healthy 10 lb. 15 oz. baby boy. Jay was home, our babysitter was in place, I had friends I trusted to offer support. It was not a physically easy pregnancy, but it was emotionally peaceful. Where the first pregnancy and birth had felt almost apocalyptic, the second one felt like a celebration. We welcomed our second son into the world and life was good. So good.

And life continues to be good, so good I’ve even toyed with the idea of a third baby, though I’ve (mostly) decided that two is (probably) enough. And at my age, the odds are nil. But still, amidst all the goodness it has been an emotional roller coaster these past few years, going from a forty-something woman without children to a forty-something woman with two very young children. There was the gallbladder surgery in March 2013, making three surgeries on my poor body in four years. There is the ongoing quest to find and maintain the balance of family, writing, self. There was the brief panic in 2012 when we lost the only babysitter our boys had known and had to find a new one (who has been awesome and who is now getting ready to leave us… sigh). There was the loss of someone I considered family and thought would always be there, but turned out to be someone I could not trust and didn’t want in my life. There have been friends who have fallen off the grid (though, to be fair, they might feel as if I was the one who disappeared), there have been the friends who have been there in ways I never imagined needing anyone. There has been a shift in interests and priorities, a growing sense of richness and texture to life I didn’t have just a few years ago. There have been discoveries about who I can really count on– and the list is shorter than I once believed, but I’ve made my peace with the fact that some people will simply never be what I need them to be and those who are… well, I treasure them. I’ve been slapped in the face with reality more times than I can count, yet I’m still here, still believing in impossible things, still dreaming, still writing, still looking for balance. And I find it in Jay, who still remains my rock of unflagging support through everything. Twenty-four years and counting. The writing and the marriage– they keep me balanced, sane, brave.

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My forties started with a trip to London, but I’ve traveled so much further than that. I’ve learned through grief and loss to appreciate the moments of pure joy. I’ve learned through betrayal to be careful where I place my loyalties– and my time. From being alone with a newborn, I learned I can do anything I have to do. I also learned I have the love and support I need so that I don’t have to do it all by myself, I just have to ask for help. I’ve learned that I can miss a dog as much as I miss a person– and that’s a lot more than I thought my heart could take. I’ve learned that getting a new dog “for the kids” won’t keep me from falling in love with that dog, too. I’ve learned that my patience may not be endless, but it runs deeper than I thought. I’ve learned to be at peace with myself and my life. I’ve learned that true love lasts and endures. I’ve learned to cherish my alone time and to appreciate the noisy times almost as much as the quiet moments. I’ve learned that being a forty-something wife and mother has done nothing to dampen or discourage my big, big dreams. Except now I dream big not only for myself, but for my children. I want to show them– need to show them– that the odds don’t have to be in their favor for life to turn out beautifully. A 3-5% chance means there’s still a chance. And as long as there’s a chance, there’s hope.

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And now here I am, on the last day of being 46, looking forward. The rest of my forties beckon with promises of good things to come and things to learn, because I’m a long way from having it all figured out (though I’m a lot closer than I was at 40). There are decisions to be made: whether we’ll get a new babysitter, or I’ll stay home with the boys, or we’ll try Montessori school. After that, there’s the decision of whether we’ll home school, as I’ve been considering for the past year. There’s Jay’s impending retirement from the Navy in 2015, which means no more deployments ever, but leaves a big question mark as to what we’ll do post-military retirement. We talk about moving, but I don’t know if we will. We’re rooted here in Virginia, this is where my babies were born, where I discovered a new, and hopefully better, version of myself, where we’ve made a life that started with two and is now four. I have always been a nurturer, a caregiver, a protector. And now I’ve come into my own and discovered a wealth of inspiration in the experience of motherhood (as well as frustration and exhaustion, but let’s focus on the inspiration).

Then there are the books and stories that need to be written, the anthologies that need to be edited, the comfort zone that I need to keep pushing. I have an amazing publisher and while I basically fell into this editing gig by accident, it’s been a pleasure and a challenge to curate several anthologies a year. Cleis Press is moving into new territory with the Tempted romance imprint and I’m excited to be a part of something new. I’m also ready for new challenges and adventures in writing and I’m seeking a connection with other writers like I never have before. Balance, balance, it’s always about balance. There are so many words in me that need to come out– but first, there are flowers to pick and pictures to draw and moments to savor.

I won’t wake up in London on my 47th birthday, but I’ll be some place wonderful. I’ll be happy. A friend once told me that the hardest part about exercising is putting on your sneakers. I get it now. It’s all mental, an attitude of wanting it bad enough– whether it’s exercise or writing or relationships or finding the balance in my life. The hardest part about being happy is believing I can be, believing that it doesn’t have to be a short trip to someplace I might never return, that it can simply be my life. So I’ve put on my sneakers and I’m ready for a beautiful, adventurous, happy year. Goodbye, 46.

Hello, 47.

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Posted by Kristina in Life
 

Goodbye, 2013!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 • No Comments

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2013 has been a very good year for me. To look at my “Year in Review” according to Facebook, the biggest events in my life were all about books, writing, children and getting my kitchen remodeled. That sounds about right. (Plus, I’m leaving 2013 with one less body organ than I started with, as I said goodbye to my bad, baby gallbladder back in March.)

2013 was the year I tentatively added “memoirist” to my resume with the publication of my genre-bending relationship guide Bedded Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After. I’m particularly proud of Bedded Bliss as it is such a joyous celebration of committed love and lust and a much more well-rounded picture of happy long term relationships than anything I’ve ever seen. I’m so grateful to the authors who contributed their stories to this book and I’m so happy that reviews have been so positive.

This is also the year I sold to one of my dream publications, the wonderful Brain, Child Magazine. I sold two pieces to them: Wanting More Than Enough is an essay on motherhood, marriage, the parent/child relationship and, ultimately, forgiveness and patience. Anchors Aweigh is a blog post I wrote as part of Brain, Child’s “What is Family?” holiday series. It’s a snapshot of my twenty-three year Navy marriage and how it’s changed since the addition of two kids.

Finally in the memoir category for this year, I discovered The Good Men Project this year– a fantastic website for men (and the women who love them). My piece, Committing to It: Making Married Sex the Best Sex, is a reflection of the theme of Bedded Bliss and was very well-received– at last count, it had been shared hundreds of times on various social networks!

2013 was also the year I edited my first short-short collection for Cleis Press. XOXO: Sweet and Sexy Romance  is a romantic, flirty, sexy book of almost 40 short-shorts and we’ll be doing a fun promotion for it to coincide with Valentine’s Day!

On the domestic front, my kitchen remodel back in April/May has been worth every headache and going over the estimated date of completion. While it was no fun living without running water on the first floor of the house (especially with two kids!), it’s been a joy to have more cabinet and counter space, and my beloved chalkboard wall. It’s my favorite feature in the kitchen, besides the coffee bar.

This year, I turned 46 and celebrated 23 years of marriage– which means I’ve been married to Jay for half my life now. We celebrated our anniversary with a child-free weekend getaway, but really every day with this man is a celebration. He’s the reason I could write a book like Bedded Bliss with such conviction– I believe in life long love and lust because I live it every day.

In 2013, my sons turned 2 and 4 and I’m reminded of what a wild ride the past four years have been. I wouldn’t change a thing– except I would’ve asked for more help when I needed it and I would’ve taken more naps when I had the chance! But mostly I just try to enjoy every day in this crazy life of mine. I’m a very lucky girl and I know it.

I’m looking forward to 2014 for so many reasons, both personal and professional, but there are a few more hours left in 2013 and I plan to enjoy them with my family and friends. I hope 2013 has been good to you and I wish you all good things in the new year. While I don’t blog nearly as often as I would like, you can always connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. (But mostly Facebook, where I post lots of pictures and other goodies that interest and entertain me.)

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Make 2014 special.

Posted by Kristina in Life, Uncategorized
 

Take a bite…

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 • No Comments

January is slipping by with a chill in the air to inspire both writing and baking (see above). After a relatively mild month, temperatures are dipping down into the teens here in southeastern Virginia, making me long for spring. Ah, but there's so much to do before then! And so many delicious treats on my plate to enjoy! Here's just a bit of what's going on in my world… 

Best Erotic Romance 2013 is on the shelves– and now available for Kindle! I have been downloading more books lately– it's such instant gratficiation, especially on a cold night. I will always love bookstores, but nothing beats being curled up in bed at 11 PM on a Sunday night, downloading a shiny new book! Right now I'm reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer and I just finished World War Z by Max Brooks. 

Speaking of various formats for books… Doubleday Book Club (and their affiliates) picked up the bookclub rights for Duty and Desire: Military Erotic Romance, which means their subscribers can get the book in hardcover! And  Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance is my most recent anthology to be added to the Audible.com collection of audiobooks. Whee! I'm rarely in the car for longer than it takes to hear two songs on the radio, but I know a lot of commuters who swear by audiobooks. 

Speaking of radio… I'll be doing a radio interview– probably next week– on KPCC 89.3 FM, an NPR affiliate out of Southern California. I'll post details when I have them! 

My upcoming in-person February events include moderating a book discussion on the Fifty Shades of Grey Phenonmenon at the Chesapeake Public Library on February 11 and a lunchtime booksignging at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond on Valentine's Day. And looking ahead to March, I'll be in Washington, DC for CatalystCon! I'm participating in two events coordinated by Rachel Kramer Bussel: a panel on How to Become a Successful Erotica Writer and her very special In the Flesh reading. I can't wait!

Rachel has a new anthology hitting the shelves in March– and, for a change, I have a story in someone else's collection! (The problem with editing my own anthologies is that I rarely seem to have time to write for other calls for submissions.) Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission includes my very-first-ever coffee shop story, “The Coffee Break” and it's steamy hot! (The pun was just begging to be used, sorry.) You can read an excerpt of my story, as well as the other stories in the collection, on Rachel's Blog: BDSM and coffee in “The Coffee Break” by Kristina Wright

Also in March, I'll be teaching a class at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. Behind Closed Doors: Writing the Love Scene will be a two session workshop focused on writing believable, authentic sex scenes, regardless of genre. I'm very excited to use my fourteen years of erotica writing experience in an academic setting. 

In personal news, i seem to be on my second (or is it third?) cycle of a cold so far this month. I'm sure some of it is allergies due to this wacky weather we're having– the Virginia weather rollercoast, which has fluctated from highs in the 70s to lows in the teens! But the babies are healthy, I'm plodding along with coffee and cold medicine, and still very excited about this new year, sniffles or no!

I've been in full-on nesting mode since the holidays started, wanting to bake and read and just hang out at home with my boys. It's been lovely to breathe… since I had the boys, I've felt like a slacker if I wasn't working every minute between when they went to bed and I stumbled exhausted into bed myself. I don't know why I've internalized the idea that parenting isn't “work” and I'm fully entitled to a break after a long day of kid duty, but it's been a startling discovery that I can actually have some downtime and also keep up with my deadlines. We'll see how that works out for me as I move into a very busy spring and summer. But for now, I'm enjoying these winter nights.

Oh, oh, oh! And for the first time in over three years, I'm not only giving contact lenses a spin, I'm also going to get new glasses! I'm looking at Warby Parker because they not only have a great price ($95!), they have gorgeous styles and you can try them out before you buy them! It's going to be lovely to replace my last wobbly pair of glasses (my spare pair succumbed to the strength of a sixteen-month-old last week) with a shiny new pair with the proper prescription!

That's all from me– for now. I hope to be blogging more frequently, especially since my website is about to get a minor overhaul by Moxie Design Studios that will hopefully make it more convenient for me to post. In the meantime– what has your January been like? Are you enjoying this new year as much as I am? I hope so! 

Posted by Kristina in Life, Writing
 

Writer Chick. Mother Hen.

Author, anthologist, mother, wife, dreamer, storyteller, coffee drinker. I blog here sporadically, when I'm not writing, editing anthologies for Cleis Press or messing around on Facebook. Welcome! Want to know more?

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