Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sample of The Confident Butterfly

The Confident Butterfly


Common Place is the home to many caterpillars and is ruled by Commander Critic, who prohibits growth and change. One rebellious caterpillar is about to change everything they know. Natalie embarks on a forbidden journey where she embraces her own identity, discovers the truth that has been hidden from her people, and realizes her destiny. She faces many hardships that develop her character, and she must challenge everyone’s long-held beliefs.


Common Place is the home to many caterpillars. It lies in a quiet valley under the protection of a tall oak tree. It is indeed a common little city where nothing much happens, and no great accomplishments ever take place. The only thing any caterpillar strives for is being average, comfortable, and safe. Change is absolutely forbidden.

Natalie sat day-dreaming at the edge of her favorite cliff. Beyond the safety of her home, she saw the river caressing the sweet earth below and the mountains joining the sky like lost lovers from a different world.

The wild colors of sunset romanced the dark colors of night. Tangy pink taffy melted into orange sherbert that drizzled across chocolate mountains. Then the wild stain vanished into a canvas of blinking stars.

The beautiful unknown beckoned her. What kind of adventure waited for her in that forbidden world? Then she sighed as reality drank up her fantasy that left her with the bitter taste of sadness. Like every other caterpillar, she would never leave the safety of her home.

As if to reinforce her situation, she glimpsed upon the border signs flanking tall bushes.

Commander Critic, the ruler of their people, arrested caterpillars for even thinking of exploring the other side. She, herself, was in violation of the laws just for coming to the edge of the city where she wrote her poetry and short stories filled with adventure.

Arriving home, Natalie was immediately scolded by her mother. “Have you been up there again scribbling nonsense in your journals? Your father and brother were out gathering leaves for dinner, and you were nowhere to be found!”

Plates clanked loudly as Mamma continued setting the table. No more than a breath passed when she added, “You’ll never be anyone important, Natalie. I don’t know why you’re so delusional in who you think you really are.”

The words stung deep within Natalie’s heart. She could feel the warmth of tears, but blinked them away. She forgave her mother for the comments. Mamma was only repeating generations of belief that infiltrated every mind within her city.

At dinner she quietly munched her leaves. It was best not to argue. She knew her voice wouldn’t be heard, her love of adventure never understood nor accepted. Then she went to bed.

For years Natalie was told her dreams were too big and she’d never reach them, that her stories were unrealistic, and she needed to stay focused on reality. Her peers thought she was a snob; her teachers thought she was a foolish day-dreamer. One teacher, Mr. Foland, actually wrote that on her homework on several occasions and took extra points off. She was even labeled a trouble-maker.

Last year, when they found out about her journals, she was called into Commander Critic’s office and told she couldn’t write her adventure stories because young, impressionable minds may read them and want to leave the city and go on their own adventures. They may be encouraged to break other laws and could lead to total anarchy.

She was tired of the small life she lived; tired of the small future she envisioned. She knew if she stayed, the sun of her spirit that warmed her dream would no longer shine. The buds of hope would become cold and black with death. And without that dream, she would succumb to the same fate.

Natalie began devising her plan.
To purchase a copy of the book amazon

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review for Discover Your Wings

Written for the City Sun Times in Phoenix, AZ.
The official review on line page 32

The headline: Teen Suicide in Arizona caught my attention and after reading the sobering article, I knew exactly which book I would review this month. There is an anonymous quote on the wall in my store: Why a book? Because a tie never changed anyone’s life. Local author and Certified Life Coach, Angela Dawnell Chase’s Discover Your Wings is one such book.
Chase begins with a story about Natalie, a misunderstood caterpillar in a village called Commonplace. We all know the caterpillar-butterfly connection, but her surprising story layers lesson upon lesson which she then outlines in the workbook portion of the text. Lessons such as how to silence your inner critic, how to deal with outer critics, and how to hear your inner coach or cheerleader.

If you know a young person struggling to find their way in the world, and you don’t know what to say to them to help, give them a copy of Discover Your Wings. Chase’s part fable-part workbook can help both teens and adults work through their fears, frustrations, and failures and realize their confidence to soar.

Melanie Tighe is the owner of Dog-Eared Pages Used Books 16428 N. 32nd Street in Phoenix and a lifelong, lover of books. Visit her at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chapter Twenty-Five Making Lemonade--Breaking Free

I look back on the sixteen years I was with Steve, and I find that I was indeed addicted to him, to our marriage, to always having us. I loved him, but I knew he didn’t love me fully in return. I let him treat me like garbage at times, even after promising myself that I would never let anyone ever treat me like that again. When you’re wrapped in the addiction, dependence and your past, you can make the world’s best excuses for not noticing and continuing. Conforming to a numbing misery was easier for me than change. 

I kept thinking and praying that there was always hope, that one day he would see me for who I was, and that he would accept me. Not until he left me did I find how dependent I was on him. The enemy had me so wrapped up in Steve I couldn’t think of anything else. “You need him. You will never make it on your own. You’re a failure if you don’t get him back.” Those lies suffocated me. I couldn’t come up for air and see the great destiny ahead of me. I was consumed with the only thing I knew, a life with Steve. No matter how bad it was, it was what I was used to. It was all I thought I was worth.

My journey through my marriage, divorce and healing process was comparable to surviving a tsunami. There was a time in my life everything was great. I thought I had it all. But it was built on sand that became quick.

I stood on the shore looking out at the world around me when the great storm of my life struck. Waves of reality licked the sand beneath me, tickling the bottom of my feet. Slowly the water ate away the foundation from where I stood, subtle at first, then began to devour. Sand gave way, and I was sucked into the raging sea.

Tidewater pulled me under. I lost my direction. Which way was up, which way was down? Which way was life, which way was death? My lungs burned for air, my brain screamed with fright. Seeing the sand below me, I plunged toward death, grabbed at the earth and planted my feet firmly upon the foundation. I shot upward with all my strength, all my faith, so that I could break through the persistent, relentless waves above.

Muscles burned with exhaustion, but my instinct for survival was stronger. I will make it. I will survive. A few more feet and I was free! I sucked air into my tired lungs, my brain rejoiced; however, the feeling of freedom was short-lived as I looked around.

I had been pulled out to sea far from the life where I stood just a short while ago. I started swimming back to my life, but I was caught in the current, helplessly surrounded in calm, azure blue.

I surrendered, for the current was too strong. There was nothing to cling to for support. Preparing for death, I closed my eyes and prayed. In the presence of a surreal calm, I opened my eyes to see land ahead. Pure beauty beckoned me. I glimpsed at the old world behind and saw the truth for what it was. The air was contaminated with lies, and pain hung in the air black as ebony.

Ahead, I saw the virgin world that waited for me. A new chance filled with hope ascended upon the horizon. What I did in that world was my choice. I could keep it uncorrupted or I could allow my past and my mistakes to stain it. I had a choice. What was I going to do with it?

I love my new island. I love my life. I love my future. I gave God a chance, and He’s doing an awesome job.
In order to understand how I could stay in an abusive relationship, you have to understand my background. I wanted more than anything to be loved and accepted.

I never experienced a healthy relationship. Violence plagued both of my mother’s marriages. When my mother divorced my father, it was difficult for me because of my dad’s anger and, at times, hatred toward my mother. The physical abuse escalated. One night, he tried to strangle her in front of me.

Several times during my third grade year, my father kidnapped me to get back at my mom for leaving him, thus stunting my emotional and social growth for years. I felt like a pawn or a treasure chest. Who ever possessed the gold was the winner.

I felt guilty for loving my father. I was also angry with him. No child should ever have to feel guilt for loving a parent. Unable to process my feelings or express them, I shut down and psychologically withdrew.

During my parents’ divorce, mom and I stayed with my aunt and two cousins while she worked two shifts. This left me in the care of my older cousin and at the mercy of my male cousin who was my age.

Wanting love and attention, my vulnerability and innocence left me open to my male cousin’s sexual advances. His attention made me feel loved and worthy. Over time, shame for what I allowed to happen kept me from speaking up.

Withdrawing into my protective bubble, I grew angry and hated myself. I wasn’t a good person. Forcing the incident within the deep folds of my mind, I actually forgot about it for twenty-eight years.

In junior high, due to my shyness and unattractive appearance, I was beat up and emotionally tormented.  My friendships were even toxic and conditional.

During my mother’s second marriage, my step-father controlled, abused, and divided her and me for years.

When I met Steve, I thought I found a healthy relationship. He had a great family. Whereas my life was chaotic and stressful, his life seemed wonderful and normal. I wanted to be a part of his world more than anything because I thought it would rescue me from mine. I did everything I knew how to do, including deceit, to find a better life. I learned the hard way that you cannot take someone else’s life and dreams as your own, and you cannot force someone to love you.

The relationship proved to be more harmful than my home life. I went to bed by myself. Steve woke in the middle of the night to surf Internet pornography rather than seek me. I told him he was the love of my life, and he said that I was not. But I put up with it because I grew up poor and always in need, and now I lived in Florida.  I had a house with a pool, a new car, and I could buy anything I wanted. My ex-husband made good money. Without him, none of this was possible. I could sacrifice love, right?

In the beginning of our marriage, I did not fully grasp what I was doing to myself. I was tradin my respect for convenience and comfort. On a larger scale, I did love my husband and wanted our marriage to be real and wanted the fairy tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after. Instead, I became addicted to another unhealthy lifestyle. I traded one prison for another. Yes, he had a great life, and I was part of it and was extremely miserable. My parents were warning me and trying to save me, but what did they know? They had their own issues; therefore, I thought I knew something they didn’t.

It was easy to lie to myself, and after awhile, I believed in the fantasy I created. There are a lot of women out there who put up with harmful relationships for the status and convenience, and they, too, live in a plush prison.

I thought that if I left Steve that I would never be anyone; that I could never survive; that I was destined for failure. I was wrong. By him leaving me, I became someone. I did survive. I did not fail. I finally landed a great job with a great company. I bought a house. I kept my house through the financially difficult times. I found a wonderful life. I found the true love of my life. I discovered who I am and what my purpose is.  I can tell you from experience that if you know and love who you are and know your purpose in life, it’s the most empowering feeling. I discovered I would rather live in a cardboard box if it meant having freedom, love, happiness and knowing my purpose than be imprisoned with material fulfillment.

I never would have accomplished this had God returned me to my husband and my old life. Incredibly painful as it was to start over and find myself again, it was worth every moment I suffered. Through the suffering, I grew and found the strength and courage beyond an army.

The dreams that I had once are now slowly becoming a reality. Maybe I’m not where I should be at this point in life. In fact, I know I was derailed from where God intended for me to be through circumstances and my own discouragement, but the important part is that I am fulfilling them now; I’m back on track. What was meant to harm me made me wiser, stronger and more determined than ever.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Caribbean Vacation--A Diary--Costa Rica

(Disclaimer: Only books are professionally edited. Not my blogs.)

April 16th/Day 6

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. I’ve seen Costa Rica on the Home and Garden Channel, been envious of people who’ve vacationed and gone to live there. It was one place I definitely wanted to see.

We began our day by boarding a bus to enjoy an afternoon of hiking through the rainforest and learn how chocolate’s made.

I’ve been seeing butterfly clothes, accessories, pictures, as well as live butterflies on the trip and today I saw this:

Many butterflies were blessing our trip.

Apparently this butterfly didn’t bless this journey. The bus ride quickly went from two hours to three. A Chiquita Banana truck decided to over-turn over on the main two-lane road. Traffic was backed up for miles in each direction. It was a very. Long. Trip.

These weird-looking sacs are bird's nests.
 Question: What kind of shoes would you wear while hiking through a rainforest?

Arriving at La Tirimbina Rainforest, I noticed all but three of us were wearing flip-flops. I kid you not. We had to wait for the Clueless Clan to change into a stunning pair of galoshes that I don’t think had ever been washed. Hello foot fungus!

The suspension bridge stretched out ahead and disappeared into the lush foliage; below, a river that would become full during the rainy season. Once on the other side, we were transported into a Keebler Elf’s dream. Overhead, the dense canopy blocked the sun. Archways of vines tangled their way above our heads and around trees. A brick path complimented by wooden steps guided visitors to their destination.

The trees are alive! Can you see the face?

We found ourselves at a small, wooden structure where we would watch the entire process of how chocolate was made originally and how they do it today. The unprocessed cocoa bean is bitter and doesn’t taste like chocolate.

The fruit.

Single cocoa bean

How they ferment the beans. They cover with the palm frond and put a lid on it. Then they dry it in the sun.

They grind the dried beans and add in sugar and cinnamon.

Further grind it to make a paste. Then they mix in water for dark chocolate or milk for milk chocolate.
Fun fact of the day: white chocolate isn’t chocolate. It’s cocoa butter.
Chocolate was originally used in corn and chili. They had no idea what a sweet-tasting gold-mine they had!

During the demonstration, a butterfly came to say hi. It demanded more attention than the chocolatiers preparing our treats. There were several winged beauties soaring through the air, but this one was large and magnificent.

It had at least a 6" wing-span.
More butterflies.
I was hungry and anxious to get back after the show. So when they dismissed us, hubby and I took off. It also allowed us to get pictures, enjoy the sounds of nature, and get better pictures from the suspension bridge.

Our group wasn’t as enthused about returning. In fact, the bus driver and tour guide were looking for them. There was concern in case the accident was still causing issues on our return trip. We went to the gift shop and were halfway through our lunch by the time the group decided to show up.

Exhausted, we meandered back to the bus to discover we had a hitch-hiker—a bee decided he wanted to go back with us. I promptly got off the bus when the woman started swatting at it and no one else got on in fear of retaliation from the stingy creature.

She eventually squashed the bee, opened the window, and threw the bee out the window . . . on me. Screaming, I jumped back while she had a look of horror on her face when she realized what she’d done. We both burst out laughing. That’s okay, I got even. I took a picture of her snoring away on the way back.

The way people drive in other countries and Caribbean Islands leaves me baffled that I haven’t been in an accident. I forgot to mention we almost died in Roatan as a garbage truck decided he wanted to pull out in front of us and our driver didn’t want to use the breaks. I sat in the front seat calmly thinking, I’m gonna die today.

On the way back, I witnessed several trucks and cars playing chicken with our tour bus. It was scary at first, but soon passed the time.

There were so many trucks! And they loved to pull out in front of you.
Thankfully the accident was cleaned up and we got back in two hours.

Arriving back on board, we quickly showered, had pictures taken, and headed to the Cirque (du Soleil's) Equinox show. I’d never seen them live, only on TV. I even saw a special on HBO about how they’re recruited and train. I was so looking forward to seeing them live I talked about it for months.

A few acrobats dressed in elaborate costumes entertained the audience. Several times they startled people who were oblivious to their presence to include me and Travis. One guy dropped down from the ceiling and patted me on the top of my head. Later, Travis kissed me on the cheek and I looked over and started laughing. He turned to see what I was laughing at and jumped when he saw a woman staring at him with a funny expression.

Then the show started. It was incredible!!!! If you ever get a chance to see them, do.

What made their balancing skills more remarkable was the fact the ship was gently swaying during their entire performance.

After the show, we went to another specialty restaurant, The Silk Harvest (Asian Cuisine) where we had an amazing break-through! Travis finally learned how to eat with chopsticks! We ate peanuts with our chopsticks until dinner arrived.

We didn't have a sunset that night so I leave you with our moon pictures.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Caribbean Cruise--A Diary--Day Four/Roatan, Honduras

April 14th

Exploring a new country—Central America. Roatan, Honduras was gorgeous. Our ship docked off a beautiful reef, and we were greeted by native dancers and singers.

I want to live in the house with the red roof on the hill.

The beautiful reef.
Today’s exciting adventure: swim with the dolphins. I’m happy to say we did have some time to shop. I found a butterfly shirt.

After piling into an over-crowded van taxi, we were shuttled to St. Anthony’s Key Resort.

St. Anthony’s was as romantic as it was beautiful. Tranquil water surrounded the secluded island housing many cabanas. The only way across to the restaurant and main island was by boat.

Left: Cabanas Right: Dolphin Pen

Close-up of cabanas

We boarded a small dive-boat and headed to the dolphin pen. When we arrived, the dolphins greeted us and were anxious to show us their amazing tricks and give their kisses.

Dolphins greeting us.
I have an issue with getting into cold water—anything below 85 degrees. From the time we planned the vacation, I prayed the water would be warm enough for me to get in. I guess I left out the I hope there’s no cold wind part. It was breezy—a nice breeze if you were walking around, but not so nice when you’re trying to talk yourself into getting in cool water.

The water got to my bare stomach causing me to shiver. Trainer and dolphin awaited us much deeper in. Thankfully, the water warmed up and engaging with the dolphin distracted me a bit.

The dolphin, Mr. French, allowed us to touch his skin, fins and even his teeth. After a brief introductory of dolphin anatomy and many mackerel awards, we got our pictures taken with him. We were even “French” kissed.

Trainer is pointing to a small hole which is his ear.
Most dolphins will not hold a mackerel in their mouths. They're too busy inhaling them.

Posing for the camera was no easy feat. Mr. French was quite heavy, the waves were knocking me around, and my feet were slipping in the sand.

Then Mr. French got to do what dolphins do best, play and show off.

Our sunset for the evening.

Fun dolphin fact: they make their noise through their blow-hole, not their mouths.