Rose Montague

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends


All of you know that I cannot image life without my friends. Knowing my peeps are out there in the world helps me to face each day with courage and confidence; I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not alone and need never face adversity or joy without someone with whom to share it. The reality of that certainty is literally life changing and I count my blessings each and every morning and evening and never take my good fortune for granted. I've joked that my best friends (and I include my beloved husband on this list) would fly halfway around the world to give me a tissue if I sneezed. Why am I regaling you with stories of my fabulous friends?  Because I just finished reading Rose Montague's last installment of the J'Amigos Trilogy, Jill. At the center of this series is the friendship between the three J'Amigos—Jade, Jane and Jill. One is a vampire, one is a faerie queen and the last is a little bit of everything. They come together against difficulty and danger and become fast friends along the way. What is remarkable about this trio is the level of commitment and support they offer each other. Taken over the course of the three books, their friendship evolves as an inspiration and a blueprint for foundational relationships that all of us should be lucky enough to follow.

The question of how to be a friend stymies many folks. We can take a page from the three J'Amigos and highlight that being a true friend means showing up when we're needed. Even when it's inconvenient. Or even potentially dangerous.  Friends don't let friends go through Hell by themselves. Or even to the Underneath, where Jill has been banished, and from which there is no escape. With friends, all things are possible -- even Houdini-esque exits from places where Camus would be comfortable.

Many of us feel this way about our families—we shut up and show up because they are blood and we're obligated. But it feels different when it's a friend in need. Friends are the family we choose. We choose to be tethered to our friends and to show up for them even when it’s inconvenient. We get bigger kudos for showing up for our friends than we do for our family in some ways, when in reality it should be the opposite, if merit were measured in terms of the perceived weight of the burden. Helping my friends feels like a privilege. Helping my family can sometimes feel heavier.

I was with my mother extensively during her last six months. She made multiple trips to the hospital for falls, heart trouble, pneumonia, etc. She was a mess that I was stuck cleaning up. I didn't even like my mother, but I felt it was my responsibility as her daughter to be there for her. After all, if honoring our mothers and fathers were easy, they wouldn't have made it a commandment. So, I carried out all of my filial duties. And it was no fun at all—not that death and dying are ever much fun, of course.

Contrast this with showing up for my friend when she was going through cancer treatments. Also no fun. Except it was. We made it fun. And a truly horrible situation was a bit less horrible because we were together. She knew she could count on me. And I was grateful for the opportunity to be there for her. Or another time when a different friend was going through a messy divorce and my ability to fly across the continent to see her and let her know she wasn't alone was life-affirming at a very dark time. Again, my primary feeling was overwhelming gratitude that I could be there.  There is nobility in showing up for an amigo that is rarely there in fulfilling familial obligations.

And when my friends have shown up for me? Priceless. My friends made the difference between total despair coupled with overwhelming grief and a feeling that life was still worth living.  Albert Schweitzer said that sometimes our own flames go out and are rekindled by another so that we may burn brightly again. He advises us to be grateful to those who light our fires. It's good advice.

For me, and apparently for Jade, Jane and Jill as well, having good friends means being a good friend. These are, or should be, very mutual relationships, filled with give and take, push and pull and mutual support.  This does not mean keeping score or bailing when things get a bit one-sided. Over the course of a lifetime friendship, the see-saw is going to tilt one way or the other, sometimes for a period of time. Life happens.  And sometimes things get strained. But like the J’Amigos we go one holding each other up regardless because that’s what friends do. Or should. So thank you to Rose Montague for illustrating the art of friendship and showing us all how to be a friend and have a friend.

Timing Is Everything

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I’m in between books right now and it’s agonizing. I finished the new Thea Harrison novella, Dragos Goes to Washington (sublime), and the next installment of Rose Montague’s Norma Jean's School of Witchery (fun). And then …  the purgatory of no books to read.  I've written about this malady before once or twice, and it just doesn't get any easier. If fact, if anything, the whole experience gets more frightening and depressing each time. Frightening because I've read that many more books and I’m afraid I'm about to run out, and depressing because if I ever do exhaust the universe of good, fun, compelling paranormal fantasy, what will become of me? I'll be forced to fall back on my previously preferred genres:  mysteries; police procedurals; and international intrigue. But because I spent so many years ploughing through those categories, I feel like those wells are dry too. I've got to stop going down this rabbit hole before I become utterly despondent. If you have any suggestions, for God's sake, please pass them along. 

There is a faint light at the end of the tunnel, however. In desperation, I revisited a book I'd read, or started to read, in the past. I remember buying and beginning it. I also remember that it just couldn't hold my attention at the time. But I visited the usual suspects in my reliable book-finder sites like Maryse’s Book Blog and I Love Vampire Novels, and didn't come up with much I hadn't read and re-read. But then an author and her series I had explored and rejected before floated to the top of my consciousness. I did my due diligence, reading reviews and summaries. And I decided to give the series a second shot. I'm glad I did. Because what I "discovered" was something I already knew:  timing is everything.  

The Argeneau Vampire series by Lynsay Sands is on almost all the top ten best vampire series lists. It's always mentioned as being fun and funny, lighthearted and exceptionally entertaining. So I bought the first book in the series, A Quick Bite, and dug in expectantly. Except that at that time, I was disappointed. I remember that I read the same early pages over and over and just couldn't get into it. I tried, I really did. But then I gave up and went on to greener pastures. And now I'm back, getting on the horse that threw me. And, what do you know, there's a reason that's a cliché. It's important to get back in the saddle—lest we miss out on a great experience because of negative, past associations.

Timing is everything. Have you ever had the experience of reading a book that changed your life because you read it at a critical juncture, only to revisit it later and say, "WTF? Was I on something at the time?" (Always a possibility for me during my misspent youth). I felt that way about Atlas Shrugged. I remember going into my Literature Humanities class in college waxing poetic about the brilliance of Ayn Rand and how I had totally drunk the Kool Aid about her philosophy and economic theories. And my professor let me rant a while and then calmly asked, "But why do you think she’s so brilliant?"  So I upped the decibel level of my voice and again engaged in rant mode. To which he replied, "Yes, Anne, I understand what you are saying. Saying it louder doesn't make it persuasive." I felt about as high as an ant with dwarfism.  But I'll never forget the lesson—and now when I make an argument or posit a theory, I back it up till it won't back up any more. I also learned that 19-year-olds can be very passionate and dramatic for no good reason. When I reread the book many years later, I couldn't understand why it affected me so. Yes, it was good and interesting and raised thought-provoking ideas. But it wasn't nearly as profound as I recalled. Timing.

I read Bright Lights, Big City when it came out in 1984, and wondered how Jay McInerney had crawled into my life and into my head and extracted my thoughts and experiences and put it in a book. "All messed up and no place to go."  That was me, all right. I loved it. I read it three times successively. I recommended it to my friends. But when I went back to re-read it many years later, it left me cold. I wasn't in that place any more and I wasn't that person anymore. So the book didn't speak to me in the same way, thankfully.

When my twin boys were born almost 16 years ago, I read to them compulsively. I was determined that they would love books and learning as much as I did. I read to those children every single day for almost 11 years. And now they don't like to read. Almost killed me. But they are amazing kids and I love them within an inch of their lives. Even though we don't share my obsession with books. But I digress.  My point (I swear there is one) is that having children means we get to rediscover delightful children’s books and enjoy them from an adult perspective.  My burning passion for Dr. Seuss was born from reading him as an adult—to my kids.  I’ve pretty much memorized Oh, the Places You’ll Go, and Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? is an all-time favorite (and don’t get me started on If I Ran the Circus!). Appreciating these books as a grown-up has opened a new world of thoughts and ideas and a beautiful philosophy of life that I wish to live up to—and that I hope my children will absorb through the osmosis of my reading to them— and which may become manifest when the angst of the teenage years are behind them. I’m still hopeful despite my boys current non-reading ways maybe their ‘book-loving’ time hasn’t arrived yet?

Timing is everything. With books and with life.  As the Tarot teaches us, "As above, so below", I think is also true for the truth and fantasy found in reality and in my beloved fiction: as in books, so in life. I knew this.  But I had forgotten.  Many thanks, Ms. Sands for the reminder – and the series. So happy to remember that timing is everything.

A Life's Work

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I just finished Rose Montague's first foray into the world of YA paranormal fantasy, Norma Jean’s School of Witchery, Book I, Jewel.  which I thoroughly enjoyed. There were many elements of the book that I liked and that may very well provide blog fodder in the future, but for today I want to focus on a small piece of the story where Jewel, the heroine who lends her name to the title, reads a book that helps her to understand her magic. In the story, Jewel comments that the book she is reading was written by an author who dedicated his life to the topic at hand. In fact, the book represents his "Life's Work," which is pretty much what it sounds like. Jewel comments that not many people pursue a life's work these days. And that got me to thinking. Uh, oh.

I think Jewel is right (or at least Rose Montague is). I think there are fewer and fewer people who take up a life's work. And I think the reason is manifold. First of all, life is work, and I think many of us are too busy trying to live it and that is the sum total of their Life's Work. And that is OK, at least from my perspective, because for a lot of us, life really is hard. 

On the other hand, for others, we make life harder than it has to be, and then we don't have room for anything else. I know a lot of people, myself included sometimes, who make first-world problems, like choosing which camps to send their kids to or which color tile to choose for the guest bathroom, into major freaking productions. When everything is a big deal requiring major effort, there is very little time or space for a Life's Work among all the other work of life.

And then there is the modern attention problem, again, something I can relate to more than I care to admit. I watch my children as they negotiate two or three screens at a time. Even my husband works with somewhere between three and six screens going at any given time. We all have the attention spans of tsetse flies. How can the ADD generation focus on one subject long enough to make it a Life's Work? We don't even hold jobs for more than two or three years at a time. Mid-life career shifts are common (again, guilty as charged) and choosing a major has become an exercise in serious angst because making one choice, by definition, eliminates alternative options as the realities of opportunity costs set in. And even in this age of uber-specialization, you don't hear a whole lot about life's work these days. Because who really wants to make their Life's Work all about such narrow subjects as animal husbandry in colonial Virginia among farmers with only pigs and chickens. Or cyber hacking into magnet school databases in New York City. Or the ever-popular micro-breweries in Idaho and Wyoming. We've gone so deep we can't climb out of the holes we've dug for ourselves.

So, to review, we're either hopelessly shallow or impossibly deep, thereby making it ever more difficult to focus on meaningful topics for a Life's Work. I'm more than halfway through my life (and that's if I live to a ripe old age) and I find I love the idea of a Life's Work. I want to make a significant contribution to a field of study or learning. I want to have original thoughts that inspire and inform and impact the world. I want to make a difference with my life and I want to leave a legacy of positive change.

But where to focus amongst all the distractions this world has to offer? Clearly, whatever my Life's Work entails it will involve words on a page or screen.  And it will likely involve soapboxes--meaning my standing on one pontificating about how to live well or at least better. More authentically. More true to our true selves. Because you know I believe that is what life is all about. Is my Life's Work this blog?  I don't think so. Is it the book I'm sort of working on (I am working on it, and even writing here and there, but it's still more of a gleam in my eye than a proper book or even a solid beginning)?  Maybe I should switch to fiction, except I seem to have absolutely zero imagination when it comes to that, to my eternal sadness.

And, in the immortal words of Danielle LaPorte, if it hasn't happened by now, perhaps it's not meant to be. That is the thought that scares me most of all.

But, in the other immortal words of one of my all-time heroes, Winston Churchill, "Never, never, never give up."  So I won't. My life isn't over, so there is still time for my Life's Work to unfold.

In the meantime, I will continue to read great paranormal and urban fantasy and write this blog, which brings me so much pleasure. Thanks to Rose Montague and her fellow authors for their Life's Work in entertaining us all.

There is No "I" in Team

I just finished the advanced reader copy of the second in the J'Amigos trilogy by Rose Montague. This book is Jane, which follows Jade (Jill will complete the trilogy sometime in the future), and will be available for purchase beginning next week. First let me say that I loved the experience of having an advance copy. I totally felt like I was in the cool kids club. I am in such awe of authors who write the kind of fiction I love to read that I always feel slightly star struck when any author notices me at all. To get this kind of attention feels like I won the jackpot!  I enjoyed this novel, which was written in the best tradition of a buddy story/road trip tale. Jade and Jill are in hot pursuit of a real badass and have lots of adventures along the way. All of which are a lot of fun. But the aspect of the book I liked the best, and which gave me the most food for thought, was the deep level of teamwork, a constructive division of labor and shared effort that the whole story embodies. Jade, Jane, Jill and all their friends and helpers are a wonderful example of people coming together to reach a common goal and achieve a united purpose. In this case the joint effort is to stop a bad guy and help a lot of people along the way.

I love the humanity—in the best sense of that word—of all of Rose Montague's supernatural characters. I love that in Rose's world, so many different types of supes are willing to work together and support each other (this doesn't apply to every singe one, of course, but most). I also loved the excellent example that the main characters portray in their willingness to ask for and accept help. I think these abilities—working together with individuals who are different culturally and socially than we are, asking for help in a way that is expansive and inclusive, rather than humiliating and defeatist, and accepting help graciously and with an intent to return the favor either specifically to those who helped, or more generally to others in need—are highly underrated and neither reported nor exalted in the way they should be or in the way that Rose Montague achieves so seamlessly that one might even miss its importance.

Her first feat in describing characters from different walks of supernatural life working together and accepting each other was interesting and compelling. In creating the character of Jade, who's both a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, mixed in with blues, jazz, hip hop and rap along the way, Rose Montague has highlighted the direction in which our whole society is moving. It's getting to be that we're all mongrels who have bits of many nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and religions in our backgrounds. My children certainly got a mixed bag from me and my husband, whose backgrounds could not be more different (well, I guess they could if one of us were a blend of Basque and Aboriginal and the other were Mayan with a dash of Japanese and the Mongolian steppe thrown in, but still, we come from distinct ancestries). And these days, our identities are not only fluid, but the aspects of ourselves we choose to highlight may change over the course of our lives, depending on many factors, including who we choose to marry, as it did for Jade in Rose's book. The character of Jade is a unifying one, and the mission also serves to bring people together. It's a beautiful thing. 

Secondly, I was very intrigued by the ease and grace with which Rose Montague describes the way Jade and Jane, two very powerful beings in their own right, and even more so when they join forces, ask for help. It is as natural as rain for them to seek assistance when they need it without any of the angst or drama that attends mere mortals asking for help. We get so bent out of shape about it. We tell ourselves that a need for help tells everyone that we are insufficient in ourselves to get the job done. Like asking for help is the ultimate admission of powerlessness and failure. Why do we believe that and why can't we get over ourselves? I used to be as guilty as the next person of this silly, self-centered behavior, but I've definitely gotten over myself. Now, my attitude is, why should I struggle to go it alone when I can ask for help and share the load? It seems so simple, but I know from both experience and observation that it just isn't. So it's wonderful to see such a great example of asking for help in action in Jane.

Finally, asking for help and accepting it gracefully are also two different animals entirely. Sometimes, we ask for help but then turn around and resent the hell out of the person or persons who gave it to us. We don't want to need the help, and when someone actually provides it we feel embarrassed or inadequate or deficient in some way, which makes us defensive. And, as I've written about before here, what is the most common idea of a good defense? You got it, a good offense. So we go on the offensive against the very people who are trying to be helpful, loving and supportive. Sucks for all concerned. But not Jade and Jane. They are appreciative and generous with those who have offered to lend a hand in their quest to stop the evil that they are chasing. On several occasions in Jane, the two protagonists go out of their way to acknowledge and repay the generosity of their supporters. It's lovely to see and an excellent reminder of how I want to behave.

So I'm grateful to Rose Montague for both the opportunity to read her new book ahead of time and for the reminder that teamwork works, even among those with little in common, and asking for and accepting help can be done graciously and easily. And for a good read along the way. My favorite things, all together:  a great yarn, a good lesson, and a shining example to follow. Can't beat that with a metal baseball bat (to understand that reference you'll have to read Jane, which I suggest you do!)

The Kindness of Strangers

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In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois declares that she’s always depended on the kindness of strangers.  This is a line my mother enjoyed repeating, and, therefore, it’s a line I’ve pondered over time.  I’m not really sure what Blanche meant, or maybe I am.  But I think I understand what my mother meant. And for the record, I don’t agree.  Shocked, you are, I’m sure.  But it’s an interesting concept, actually, and one I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. And I’m going to digress in the next few paragraphs (more shock, I know), but I promise I’m going to get back to this concept toward the end.

As I continue to look back over the past year, I’ve been thinking about the books I’ve read.  I’ve read some amazing books by well-established authors who I love, love, love, and about whom I’ve written extensively.  And I’ve also read some memorable books by new authors who are less well known. There are four books (or series) in this latter category in particular that I want to talk about: The Light Who Shines, by Lilo Abernathy; Jade, by Rose Montague; The Sanctum Trilogy (The Girl and The Boy, so far), by Madhuri Blaylock; and The Unelmoija series by Elle Boca (including The Dreamshifter and The Mindshifter, which are the two of the four that I have read so far).  All of these books have at least one common theme, despite many differences in the specifics of plot, characterization and world building.

The theme at hand is decency and generosity.  Each of the main characters in each of these books/series confronts adversity and reversals with open hearts, minds and hands.  And the openness of their beings is an important element in defining who they are.  I’ve written about this aspect of these works specifically twice here and here  and more obliquely elsewhere here; here; here; and here .  But now I want to say more about these books and their authors.

I have always assumed that individuals write what they know, on one level or another.  Thus, I believe that Thea Harrison and Nalini Singh know a thing or two about how to have successful relationships between strong-willed individuals. I’ve assumed that Laurell Hamilton understands, in a visceral and meaningful way, what family is, or should be, and what it means to find meaning in the minutiae of life. And I think Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost, and Faith Hunter appreciate the soft underbelly of strong women, that which makes them human, even when they aren’t.  Perhaps I’m wrong about these amazing authors, but I don’t think so, and here’s why.

Over the course of the past nine months, since I began writing this blog, I’ve gotten to know Lilo, Rose, Madhuri and Elle a little bit through social media.  Sounds a little shallow, I know, and I might have thought that myself prior to my recent experiences, but it’s not. When I began my very tentative foray into Twitter, last summer, I made a commitment to putting out one tweet a day. No sooner than I’d started my very basic and bland one tweet a day with my brand new Twitter account (@truthinfantasy), I was discovered by Lilo, who added me to some sort of retweet list, and, boom, my Twitter life was launched in earnest. Shortly thereafter, Rose found me and promoted me to her followers, followed in short order by Madhuri and Elle, who also added me to their inner Twitter circles, retweeting me and favoriting my tweets and blogs, and in doing so, ensuring my success in the Twitterverse.

And the truth is, this was all about what these amazing authors write about:  paying it forward, turning the other cheek, offering the hand of friendship with no expectation of compensation.  These women are just like the characters and themes they write about, and this is why, based on my highly unscientific sampling of four, I am sure I am right about the other others I have read and loved.

I don’t think it’s possible to write books this good and talk the talk so authentically without walking the walk in one’s personal life.  I mean, after all, does it make sense to you that someone like Lilo, Rose, Elle and Madhuri would write about being compassionate in the face of hate, giving in the face of stinginess, and tolerance in the face of close-mindedness if these authors didn’t reflect these higher characteristics of the human condition in their own lives?  Even if these characters and characteristics are aspirational rather than descriptive, I applaud their intentions. I can only hope mine are as pure.

So, back to the kindness of strangers (I promised, didn’t I??)  For Blanche and my mother, the kindness of strangers meant in relying on the intimacy of the one night stand over the intimacy of a long term relationship. It meant the freedom to say and do things you would not otherwise do because there were no consequences of having to face the other person at another time. The kindness of strangers, for Blanche and my mom, was the ability to be all in--for a very finite period of time with no fear of repercussions later because there was no later. There was no disappointment because there were no expectations. There was no betrayal because there was absolutely no context. There was no tuning out because it cost so little to tune in temporarily. So, that is certainly one way to look at it—and then look what happened to Blanche.  Not so pretty (my mom, too, but that is the subject of another post).

But then contrast that with what I mean by the kindness of strangers.  I mean the ability to be generous because it elevates us.  The ability to be open and real because it feeds our souls.  And if we get something back, that’s the icing on the cake. But we don’t need the icing, because we’ve filled up on the spongy, vanilla goodness (I like vanilla better than chocolate, remember?  Here.  My faith in humanity has been validated again by the knowledge that these authors really are like the characters they write about.  And how awesome, amazing and lovely is that?

So, the kindness of strangers is a real thing, not another irony in a sad and pathetic life.  Depending on how you look at it, of course.  And I’m a half full kind of gal, dontcha know? Thank you Lilo, Rose, Elle, and Madhuri.  Write more, please, so I can continue to grow and learn through your work.  And thank you for reaching out the hand of friendship to someone you don’t even know—just because that’s the kind of women you are. Thanks for helping to make 2014 a banner year for me, and I look forward to even better things in 2015. Life is good. 

The Choices We Make

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I have been thinking about choices lately. About how we perceive the choices we have and how we make the choices we do and how these choices define who we are, especially how we are seen by others. These thoughts have been inspired by Rose Montague, and her very interesting series opener, Jade, which I recently read a second time, as the plot had stayed with me, as had the character of Jade and I felt the need to spend some time with her again to help me clarify this line of thinking that has captured my attention so completely.

I think we all do the best we can with the information we have available at the time.  Jade is a prime example of this phenomenon. Because of her singular status and her ability to preposition herself pretty much any way she wanted, Jade had some interesting choices to make. Some of which had some interesting and unintended consequences. Kind of like the rest of us here in the real world. 

So once again we find truth in fantasy and quite a bit of food for thought along with a fun read. Two birds, one stone, which works for me every time. Because you've got to figure that if supernatural beings with supernatural abilities and supernatural choices can't seem to get it right, how the hell can we mere mortals expect to have any chance at all?

The problem with choices is that there is no such thing as perfect information. And there are so many choices to be made. Every day, day in and day out. Sometimes, the choices are big, or seem that way, and sometimes the choices are small, or at least appear so. And sometimes, the choices are so overwhelming we don't make any choices at all. Which is, of course, a choice in itself.

Why is it so hard to make choices, and why do we so often feel like we don't have any?  One thing I have learned slowly and with difficulty, is that there are always choices. We may not love any or all of the choices, but there's always a choice. I remember when I've been through some of the darkest periods in my life that the hardest part has always been the feeling of being cornered. Of having no options. Of shooting down every single suggestion and every single supposed way out as being impossible, or impractical or illegal (no, one cannot kill people who betray us or hurt us or mess us up in some way, more's the pity). That is one of the worst feelings in the world. Where there aren't any choices, or it feels that way, we lose hope. And without hope we fall into despair.

So choices are important. Good choices are even more important. So why do we so often make bad choices?  And then justify them, at least to ourselves, as doing the right thing?  I know I've been guilty of this on many more than one occasion. Like when I chose to stay with men who were clearly bad for me. Or to go to a party I knew would lead to trouble. I've written about this before click here about how we tell ourselves, "just this once" and make a choice we know is stupid. Have any of us have ever gotten behind the wheel even though we knew we might have had one too many?  Or made a choice to pass along juicy gossip even when we knew that it might not be true and even if it were, our only motivation in sharing it is our own pleasure of telling secrets or making ourselves feel better or bigger or more important by stepping on someone else? Or how about when we take the easier, softer way and put off till tomorrow or next week or next year a decision that only serves to kick the can down the road without resolving a damn thing?  Admit it, we all do it. We make less than the best decision in the name of expedience and tell ourselves we really didn't have a choice at all. 

And while our motives are usually pure--at least in our own minds, the truth is usually a bit more complex. I make choices every single day that are sometimes based in deep denial or wishful or magical thinking.  I think this is because most of us, in our heart of hearts, really want to be able to choose to do what we want, when we want how we want.  As a result we organize our perceptions in such a way that we convince ourselves that we have no other viable options other than the ones we wanted to pick all along.

The problem with this approach is that it doesn't take us down the path of authentic living. It takes us down the path of self-deception and bad choices—choices that do not reflect our highest, most authentic selves. When we are honest, at least with ourselves, about our motives and desires, we can at least make our choices based on self-awareness rather than self-deception. After all, we are the most gullible to dishonesty when it comes from within. Especially when we want something badly, or we are afraid of making difficult decisions.

So, what to do about these choices that life keeps forcing us to make?  For me, the answer is deceptively simple but very far from easy. I believe that our authentic selves, the purity of our souls underneath the fear and the ego and the wishful thinking we pile on top of it, knows exactly what the right choices are, given the available information. And when we make choices that come from our authentic being—that part of us that knows truth—and that part exists for all of us—then we always make good choices, even of the outcomes are not exactly what we expected.

I want my choices to reflect my highest, authentic self.  And sometimes, even often, they do. But not all the time. Because I am human, and I experience fear, anger, insecurity, jealousy, envy, greed, and all manner of less-than-attractive (or even downright unsavory) character traits. Sucks to be human some days. But that is who and what I am. And I can choose to accept that or make the inevitably doomed choice to try to be something other than the flawed creature that I am. Getting through my days. Doing my best. Making the smartest choices I can in any given moment. Being honest. At the very least with myself.

And I can take some inspiration, as I so often do, from my beloved fictional characters in my beloved fantasy books, like the inimitable Jade, and feel connected to her creator, Rose Montague, who clearly understands the complexity of choice and the dilemmas that it can cause for even those who aren't as human as the rest of us. And, for today, I can choose to keep reading my beloved books, which is always a good choice.