There Are No “Boots,” Only Men and Women

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

 

No one who serves is a “boot on the ground.” That is a phrase for politicians and bean counters. Each is a man or woman, someone’s child, spouse, sibling, lover, and friend. Each lives, loves, bleeds, and dies. Each commits his or her life to the service of our great nation, risking all.

 

Poppies

 

Our profound thanks to all who serve in the military and clandestine services, allowing our nation to enjoy peace and prosperity at home.

You are, each of you, a blessing. Our prayers and gratitude are with you on this

Veterans Day and always.

 

 

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Mothers are Born of Children

By Piper Bayard

image by Sam Pullara, wikimedia commons

image by Sam Pullara, wikimedia commons

It’s children who deliver mothers into the world. Before children, we are daughters, girlfriends, and wives. But until we love a child, we are not mothers. The part of us that grows into a mother remains a child until a child becomes more important to us than we are to ourselves.

Mother’s Day is the day we honor the women who were delivered by children. The women who love us more than they love themselves, whether they are our actual mothers and grandmothers, or the sisters and mentors who have come into our lives and taught us what love means.

Today, I not only think of my beloved mother, who smiles down on me as I love her grandchildren and laughs at me each time I use the klunky electric skillet I always teased her about. But I am also made complete with gratitude toward my children. The people who gave birth to the mother in me. I would not be me without them.

This one is for the babies. The ones who keep us forever young . . . Thank you.

To all women who love a child more than they love themselves, Happy Mothers Day.

All the best to all of you for staying forever young.

Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

Piper Bayard

Each year, the beautiful August McLaughlin orchestrates a celebration of women and beauty. Drop by her site this week at the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest V for prizes and tributes to the Beauty of a Woman.

 

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon

 

Beauty Carved In Flesh and Blood

I am the body that learned to walk, that ran in the sunshine and kicked off shoes to dance in the rain – the body that thirsted for life.

I am the body that was “too tall,” “too fat,” “too feminine” for boys to let join in their games – the body so embarrassed that it had to hide.

I am the body the men whistled at, honked at, and devoured with their eyes – the body that strutted with sexual pride.

I am the body that was violated, shamed, and silenced – the body that wanted to die.

I am the body that choked on its anger, was strangled by cancer, and fought back with faith and laughter – the body that was no longer whole.

I am the body that thrilled to a lover’s caress, rejoiced at the quickening of my womb, and writhed in the primal screams of childbirth – the body that gave life and by it was made whole once more.

I am the body that cooked dinner, nursed wounds, taught letters, and did not sleep for a decade – the body that fed its children on its flesh and bones.

I am the body that grew crooked and crippled before its time, suffered surgeries and rehab, and contorted with agony – the body that learned to walk again.

I am the body that looks in the mirror and sees wisdom etched by laughter into its face and beauty carved by blood into its scars – the body at peace with itself.

I am old.

I am beautiful.

I am the body of a woman.

The Power of Self-Indulgence

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Nicotine patches are flying off the shelves and personal trainers are working overtime as every gym across the nation fills with the January Resolutioners.

People on treadmills at gym US Air Force wikimedia

image from US Air Force, wikimedia commons

The Resolutioners are easy to spot, and their shelf life is plastered all over their approach.  The overweight guy who’s straining to press his maxed-out set of three? He’s done now because he just hurt himself. The lady sitting on the mat, looking around for someone to talk to between her two sets of ten stomach crunches? She’s out January 4th. January 5th if she’s with a friend. But the aging realtor in the power training class who ran out, vomited, and came back? She’s the one to watch. Ask her name. She’ll have the bikini bod by July. The difference? She wants to be there.

The hard fact is that people do what they want to do. Period. Most resolutions are about “should,” and shoulds never pan out.

Here’s an example for you. I took an aikido class where I was almost the only woman with a lot of hot babes. None of them smoked. I did. When faced with the gorgeous, clean-living martial arts hunks, I was ashamed of that fact. I decided I needed to either quit smoking or come to terms with it. Since quitting was difficult, and I didn’t like difficult, I chose to make peace with my choice.

I watched myself objectively. I discovered that I began by justifying the cigarette. Then I lit up and enjoyed the first third of it. That’s when the self-recrimination kicked in. . . . Why can’t I just quit? Those hunka hunka aikido guys would never want an ashtray-mouth like me. . . . I vowed it was my last cigarette forever and felt strong for a while because, in the words of an old friend, “Junkie always strong afta he fix.”

Since my resolution was to smoke proudly, like Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, I short-circuited that cycle at the point of self-abuse and turned off the negative talk.

I told myself to just smoke or don’t. It worked, but not like I thought it would.

When I used smoking to beat myself up, I felt like a loser. When I felt like a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. Beating myself up was a way of abdicating my responsibility to do my best in this life, right now, today. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse. Smoking lost its appeal. It became nothing more than a dispassionate choice. I chose to quit and never looked back. Good thing since I could never afford it now.

Since then, my only resolution has been to do what I want. I vowed to be a secretary forever if I wanted. One year later, I started law school. I vowed to eat all the sweets I wanted. I lost 30 pounds. I vowed to only write when I wanted. I now have two bestselling novels to my credit.

That’s because something deep inside each of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.

Chocolate donut John wikimedia

image by John, wikimedia commons

In that spirit, these are my 2016 resolutions:

  1. I will eat all the donuts I want. Especially chocolate donuts.
  2. I will sleep in any time I want instead of going to the gym.
  3. I will yell at my children whenever I want. (Looking forward to that one.)
  4. I will buy every pair of shoes I want, even the ones that don’t fit well and serve no purpose.
  5. I will only write when I want.

And as for the January Resolutioners at the gym? Good for you! I’m rooting for you and hoping you will only come to the gym when you want. I’m hoping you will want often, and that I will see you on the beach in July.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, now available on kindle and in paperback at Amazon and on nook and paperback at Barnes & Noble.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

BAYARD & HOLMES COVERT BRIEFING GIVEAWAY:  Follow Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing for updates on new releases and special promotions. During the month of January, we will choose a random subscriber to receive a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

©2016 Bayard & Holmes. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact us at the above links to request permission.

Coping with Grief in the Face of Holiday Cheer

Bayard & Holmes

Today we are pleased to welcome Sally Carey. Sally is a veteran Bereavement Coordinator for Hospice of Covenant Care in Westminster, CO. She has served the populations of the Denver area, helping people heal from the loss of their loved ones, for over ten years.

In recognition that the coming holidays are often the most difficult time of the year, particularly when we have suffered a deep and recent loss, we asked Sally to share her tips on how to make it through the holiday season.

Canstock Grief Statue

Ho, Ho, Hum

Coping with Holiday Cheer in the Face of Loss

By Sally Carey

The holiday season, under the best of times, brings it own stressors and expectations, which we have all learned to manage or mangle, for better or worse, over the years. Congratulations on learning how to keep a grain of your sanity intact, hopefully without leaving too many bodies in the wake of seasons past!

But what do we do when we’ve had some serious, life-challenging or life changing event like illness, job and/or home loss, estrangement, divorce or separation, or even a death, and the happy, happy holidays are assaulting us at every turn of the channel?

I know the fantasy of a Hawaiian vacation or leaving the country altogether might be appealing, but most of us don’t have that option. We still have to figure out a way to get food and find shelter from the storm of good cheer while holding down the fort.

What can help?

The answers are as unique and varied as each individual, and each setback or loss. Regardless of that variety, one thing that does help is to make a plan.

Making a plan can give you a sense of control when coping with circumstances that have been spiraling out of control.

Plan your script. What can you comfortably say when greeted by those who may or may not know about your changes or loss? What are the words that honestly and gently express your feelings and experience?  Try rehearsing a few phrases so you aren’t caught off guard. Anticipate their responses and your rejoinders along with questions to ask them that can shift the focus. These might be no-brainer responses in better times, but you might not be functioning at your peak right now. Have some ‘planned and canned’ statements in your protective arsenal.

Next, lower your expectations about what you can comfortably do – physically, financially, and socially.

Refocus on your values of the season and give yourself permission to reconsider how you want to express those.  If that means changing a tradition like giving gifts to everyone, sending cards to millions, hosting dinner, etc., think about the purpose of that tradition and find a simpler way to accomplish the goal.

For instance, instead of giving gifts or sending cards, make a donation to a charity or cause that is meaningful to you or to someone who has died. Do it in the name(s) of those you would normally give gifts, and it is a win/win for honoring values and including others. Another bonus is that typically the receiving organization will send out cards to those you’ve identified as donors so you don’t have to do anything else.

Instead of hosting a dinner, you could make a date to do something enjoyable together in the near future. You could also ask someone else to host it this time as a gift to you, or you could tone it down to a ‘cider and cookies’ gathering. It could be that this year, instead of any dinner, you prefer to go to a prayer service. Invite others to join you and maybe have coffee afterwards. A change in tradition does not mean you are forsaking a tradition forever. It just means you’re making it work for you this year.

If you are missing someone who has died, make a plan to remember & honor your loved one—a lit candle, some pictures on the mantle, a prayer service, a gift to their charity, a day of service or creating a service project in their name are a few ideas.

In doing this, you are creating new ways to maintain your enduring connection with the one you are missing. There aren’t any road maps for that challenge. Search your heart and maybe connect with other folks who have done this. You can also turn to your local grief support groups or hospice bereavement counselors to get ideas that are specific to you.

Most people want to avoid public tears and runny noses, so plan on how and when you may need to safely release your difficult thoughts and feelings before going out in public.

If you are “keeping a lid on it,” you will probably blow your cover at a less than ideal time and place. Letting yourself have the private down time for reflection and feeling and maybe falling apart will help you have control when you need it.

If you are out and about, always know where the nearest bathroom is in case you have to hide and wipe your tears and nose. Believe me. It’s not a pretty sight to be sniveling and snotting while asking for directions to the restroom! Your car can be a good safety zone too. It also helps to go places with a trusted person who can whisk you away and make explanations or apologies at the drop of a tear.

Go ahead and make some plans for limited sociability, but also make a Plan B, which could be to only stay a short time or to allow yourself a last minute cancellation.

Also, have an escape plan. That is, plan for a bit of escape in the form of pleasure and comforting activities. You need to balance sadness with enjoyment however you like to create that. And yes, it is fine to turn off the holiday music, TV, or annoying people. Find something else to help you tap into the love and kindness that is your well-spring any time of the year.

If you know someone who may be missing a loved one, simply inviting them to share their thoughts and feelings without trying to ‘fix’ them is a real gift.

Many feel they cannot share their sadness, as it isn’t ‘fitting’ with the season of happiness and joy.  Listen to them and honor their feelings. Letting them know they are normal even if they feel ‘out of it’ can be invaluable support for them. If you ask them to share some of their memories of the person or holidays past, it may bring up a tear or two, but it will surely affirm the value of their loved one and offer a treasured opportunity to share that with someone who cares.

The holidays during a time of loss can be devastating. But make a plan for handling people, give yourself plenty of down time, and remember that traditions altered are not traditions abandoned. And in all things be patient with yourself. This, too, shall pass.

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Our deepest thanks to Sally Carey, and many prayers for everyone working through grief, just trying to make it through December.

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Mom’s Dating Tips — First Be Happy Alone

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

I’ve often posted dating tips on FB. This post is in response to friends there who have asked me to elaborate . . .

“Seducing someone is almost as difficult as watching ice melt, but not quite. You can do better.” ~ Mom

 

Canstock 2015 Aug Melting Ice

 

It’s easy to find sex.

Almost all of the population wants it at any given moment of any given day, and regardless of your sexual orientation, half the horny people on the planet are potential sex partners.

But finding a life partner? That’s another matter altogether.

The most important step to finding a life partner is to learn to be happy alone. Yes, that’s right. Learn to be happy alone. That way, you won’t settle for a toxic relationship just because you’re afraid of the sound of your own head rattling around in an empty house.

But wait a minute, you say. If I were happy alone, why would I bother dating at all?

Because when you’re happy alone, you end up with more of yourself than you need. You develop an abundance of spirit that makes you want to share yourself with someone else. You are an overflowing cup that seeks another vessel to fill. That “other vessel” is the “We” of a relationship.

Relationships have an “I,” a “You,” and a “We.”

People who aren’t happy alone are half full cups. They find other half full cups and empty themselves into a third cup – the “We” cup. Since the “I” and “You” are now empty cups, they draw from the “We” without having anything left to nurture it, and the “We” runs dry.

People who are full cups attract other full cups, and together, they make a “We” cup that holds their overflow. The relationship is about giving to the “We,” and not about taking from it. The “We” is a creation born from abundance and not from want, so it doesn’t run dry.

 

Full "I" + Full "You" = Full "We"

Full “I” + Full “You” = Full “We”

 

Great, you say. So how do I start being happy alone?

  • First, clean your room. Seriously. Clean your room. Messy surroundings sap the spirit, and you’re going for abundance here.
  • Treat yourself with class. You matter.
  • Ask yourself what it is that you want someone else to give you, and find ways to give those things to yourself.
  • Figure out if you have unresolved pain. That’s the restlessness that keeps you overscheduling your life and seeking out social media in lieu of quiet time alone with your head.
  • Get help to resolve that pain. Find a competent professional or a good friend who can guide you to a better place, so that time alone with yourself doesn’t scare you anymore.
  • Make a list of twenty things you want to do in the next five years.
  • Turn off the computer, pick something off of the list, and go do it.
  • Get rid of the people in your life who don’t respect you. Likewise, get rid of the ones you don’t respect. You and your time are too precious to share with anyone who doesn’t feed your dreams and nurture your soul.
  • Cook good meals for yourself. Feeding yourself well is the most nurturing thing you can do for both your body and your soul.
  • Actively seek out laughter and beauty. Both fill the spirit and lead to happiness.

Now give yourself a hug and enjoy the feel of your own embrace. Stop waiting for someone to come along make you happy. Love yourself, and the happy will come, and with it, a fellow full cup.

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Bayard & Holmes Official Photo

When it comes to dating, Piper Bayard did it wrong, and then she did it right. She’s now been happily married for over two decades and is passing on the tips that helped her find a solid partner in building a life and a family.

Piper Bayard is also an author and a recovering attorney. Her writing partner, Jay Holmes, is an anonymous senior member of the intelligence community and a field veteran from the Cold War through the current Global War on Terror. Together, they are the bestselling authors of the international spy thriller, THE SPY BRIDE, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

THE SPY BRIDE Final Cover 3 inch

 

Keep in touch through updates at Bayard & Holmes Covert Briefing.

You can contact Bayard & Holmes in comments below, at their site, Bayard & Holmes, on Twitter at @piperbayard, on Facebook at Bayard & Holmes, or at their email, BH@BayardandHolmes.com.

Life, Death, and the Sex License

By Piper Bayard

Themes of death and birth, that cycle of apocalypse and renewal, surrounded me this week. A dear friend’s father died, a good soul who made the planet better by his presence. Another friend hit the magic 28 weeks and breathed a sigh of relief that her unborn child now has the odds in his favor. And in our house? My 9th grade son, who I could swear just started walking yesterday, applied for his Sex License.

 

Canstock photo -- Not my son.

Canstock photo — Not my son.

 

“So Mom. How old is old enough to have sex?”

I’m well aware that almost any religion on the planet would offer a moral answer to that question. I’m also aware that the guiding light of morals tends to dim in the dashboard lights. I mean, think about it. How many “good kids” did you know in high school who lost “it” at church camp or spawned prom babies because THEY would never do THAT? I needed to give him something real. Something tangible. So I said what I think most parents would say in my shoes.

“Uuuuhhh . . .”

“I get my Learner’s Permit at 15.”

“Not fifteen!”

“Well, I get my Driver’s License at 16, and driving a car is a serious responsibility.”

“A car doesn’t get pregnant when you drive it. And you don’t get hepatitis or AIDS from a car.”

“So Mom, how old is old enough?”

“Well, you know you can have a baby every time you have sex, even with birth control. I mean, have you noticed your little sister running around here? Latex loophole baby.”

“Eeewww! Maaahm!”

“Hey. You opened the door for that one.”

So we talked about sex. We noted how young men are most biologically suited for killing bears and starting families. I commiserated with him about how the modern economics of supporting families are out of sync with natural urges and the sight of teen girls in mini-skirts. We pondered the fact that the most important decision he will make in life is choosing the mother of his children. And I can hear some of you dear readers now . . .

“He asked his mother? He needs to talk to his dad. His dad will set him straight.”

I’m sure his dad WOULD give him a different answer. And my writing partner, Jay Holmes? Let’s just say he’s been a student of sex, C4, and hollow points for a very long time, so it’s safe to assume he won’t be backing me up on this one.

But as I studied my man-child and tried to give him real world answers to his real life questions, at least from a mother’s perspective, I realized something. Life so loves Itself that no amount of death can discourage it for long. At least not while there are teenage boys, and girls in mini-skirts.