Living in the Moment

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Take a deep breath. Allow the air to fill your lungs, and just let your mind go still. What are you missing? What is really important in life?

Once you know what this is, latch onto it with every ounce of your being and let it become the priority. Life will go on. Change is inevitable. Bad things will happen. Good things too, if you let them.

For me, it’s all about living in the moment.

I don’t worry about the things that will happen tomorrow and I don’t fret over the mistakes I made yesterday. As long as there’s a tomorrow, there will be another chance to make things right. I refuse to sacrifice this precious moment in front of me for anything else. Like the artist who lingers inside of me, I capture it in my mind and hover over it, protecting it with all my might.

There is a quiet hush in the air as a storm slips in. It is coming in agonizingly slow, stealthily almost, as if it’s trying to sneak up undetected. The day started with an overcast canvas. The flat grey sky highlighted the black bare limbs of the November trees. Everything was utterly still, as if holding its breath, waiting. There wasn’t a squirrel or bird in sight. As I sat by my window watching, I imagined them tucked snugly into warm nests, dreaming of warm days and sunshine.

Life has a resounding element to it, as if nothing happens by accident. The stir of the breeze ruffles the last of the dry brown leaves, sending them scuttling across the hard-packed ground, uncovering an acorn that might be discovered later by a hungry squirrel.  The flurry of the day sparks my imagination, prompting me to grab pen and paper, spilling my imaginings into a place where they will be captured, like a photograph, so I can revisit them later.

Somewhere, not far from my quiet window, the world hustles and bustles, like it usually does. People fight traffic in their cars, noticing the color of the stop lights, but missing the color of the sky. They worry about jobs, money, and unfinished tasks, things that won’t matter at the end of their lifetimes when they are looking back, wondering what they missed.

Life is a series of events. We have no means of dictating most of them. The sun will rise and it will set. New lives will be created, while others are ended. People need to work to pay the cost of simply existing. The things that are in our control often spin away from us just out of reach. We struggle to change the tumbling direction of our lives, but we have no more control of this than we do the wind that blows from the heavens. Just breathe and let it happen.

There is a purpose. You have to trust that. Everything will be okay.

On our deathbeds, will we wish we’d beaten the Main Street stoplight, made a better presentation, or change the mind of a person filled with hatred?

Probably not.

We will wish that we’d spent more time with the ones we loved, enjoying them for the sake of just being together with no expectations. We will wish we’d treated ourselves with more quiet times, allowing our minds to slowly unfurl, appreciating the beauty around us, enjoying all these moments that were practically handed to us with gift wrapping.

The joy isn’t in the results. The outcome isn’t always the goal. Focus too much on the trivial things and we’ll miss the tranquil moments, the times when the world presents itself to us full and whole, ripe for the picking. Eat an apple and feel your teeth sink into the skin, as the juices trickle down your chin. Hug a child, feeling her small hands squeeze you back. Pet a cat and listen, really listen, to the sound of the purr. Delight is just a concept, a creation of our own making. Happiness is where we find it.

I sit in front of the window, watching, taking notice of the world outside. I am living in the moment, as I usually do.

I refuse to waste a single second.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

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Altered Destiny

ImageDo you ever wonder about your choices?

Sometimes I think life is nothing more than a path filled with forked roads. You find yourself at a cross-road and have to make a decision. Do I go left or right? Just that one simple decision could alter your entire life.

I narrowly missed being involved in a horrific traffic accident once. It really made me stop and wonder about it. I’d misplaced my keys that morning and spent a few extra seconds looking for them. Had I walked out the door at my intended time, I probably would have been killed. Those three or four seconds were life altering.

It made me really consider the concept of destiny. Every second of the day leads to the next second. What we do in those seconds dictates what comes next. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s entirely accidental. It feels like there must be a mastermind behind some of the planning, or at least I hope there is.

For me, my life turned on a dime when I was seventeen years old.

I had no direction in my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated from high school. I didn’t have any passions or dreams. I just meandered from one thing to the next.

Then, one night everything changed.

I had a horrific fight with my mother, which led me to move out of her house and into my father’s house. This meant that I had to also change schools in my junior year of high school. The entire move to a new school was devastating and I didn’t know where to fit in. At my old school, I’d fallen in with a crowd who enjoyed partying, and I became a very devout rebel. When I walked into my new school, I saw in an instant that this just wouldn’t work any longer.

North Posey was literally in the middle of a corn field. The kids who went there were the kind of kids you see on sitcoms, American apple pie and sunshine. Future Farmers of America was a big club in the school, and nearly everybody in town went to the football games each Friday. A party girl from Mt. Vernon, who smoked and drank wasn’t going to last long there.

I tried to fit in. I really did. I hid my smoking and gave up the rebel attitude and tried to find my mid-western roots somewhere deep inside me, but I still just didn’t fit in. I’d changed schools in the middle of a school year, in the middle of my second-to-last year of high school, where friendships had long been established. I wouldn’t find my place friend-wise for nearly a year, but I found my lifelong dream in a classroom.

I didn’t know I was a writer until a teacher showed me that I was.

Mrs. Hunt was always smiling, but she could be tough when she needed to be. She assigned us small writing projects and then helped us improve our technique. I felt as though I’d finally found my calling. It felt like walking into a dream for me. I was mesmerized by the process of putting words on paper and creating something whole. As our projects got larger, I began to really stretch and grow. Mrs. Hunt didn’t let this escape unnoticed. She took my stories and read them to our class, as well as her other classes too. I couldn’t have been happier.

I took what she taught me and expanded on it. I majored in English in college for two years, and after dropping out to join the workforce, took creative writing classes on the side. I joined a writer’s group, wrote short stories, and just kept at it until I’d finally written something worth publishing. I wrote six books before one would be published. Lightning Strikes was actually my sixth book. The others were just practice books.

When I published Lightning Strikes, I wondered what had happened to Mrs. Hunt. I wondered if she knew of the impact she’d had on my life. I decided to find her. I reached out to a friend who still lived in the area and mailed him a copy of my book to give to her. A month later, I received a letter that made me cry.

She had fallen on hard times. Her husband was very ill, and she’d become bedridden. She said she once loved reading, but had given it up years ago. When she got the copy of my book and saw the dedication I wrote to her on the very first page, she cried. It meant the world to her to know that what she had done – the countless lessons she’d taught, had changed someone’s life. That letter was worth more to me than any amount of money in the bank.

If I hadn’t had that fight with my mother, prompting my move to a new school, would I have ended up as a writer? And what consequences did I set into motion when I found my old teacher and thanked her for inspiring me?

In the end, it all counts. Every bad decision, every stroke of luck, every lost key changes your destiny, at least a little. It’s one of the reasons why I always try to do the right thing. I’ve seen people with less integrity find greater success, and I’ve seen Karma look the other way, when she should have shot daggers instead. I’ve never had it easy. Nothing has ever fallen into my lap. I’ve had to fight hard for everything I have, but in the end I’m thankful it was difficult.

It all came together to make me the person I am today.

I’m not perfect, but I’m okay with that.

I’m me. I’m here, and I’m happy.

And I’m a writer.

Life is good.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm

Rhino Skin

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Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review my books.

Now for the back story of how these reviews affect me and other writers like me.

Being a writer means you often put your very soul on sheets of paper and allow the world to do what they like with it. Sometimes the world is very generous. They read your words and flood you with compliments and praise. They ask — no, beg, for you to write something else, and you practically dance back to your computer to happily comply. Those are the great days. They feel like cupcakes for breakfast on a Saturday, when you don’t have to get out of bed until noon.

The others are…well, let’s just say they are brutally honest. They dissect your soul, I mean your writing, as though it’s a lab project and they mean to remove every last organ, one by one, without benefit of pain medications. Those are the tough ones to take.

The best ones are like the one Renee Harrison left me:

“I read straight through Joni’s book in one sitting. She kept me using my imagination to live what she was living through. I also get ringing in my ears and have never thought of why it might be happening, after this book I gained some insight! For those new “ghosthunters” who think it is all fun and games, this book will bring you to a deep realization that bad things can happen when you are unprotected!!!”

Bless her heart. I smiled all day after reading it. Not only had she enjoyed my book, she also learned something valuable that will help her in her day-to-day life.

But then, you get reviews like this one from a woman named Maureen Bogdon:

“though i appreicate what joni went through i did not find the story overly compelling. It seemed as though her thoughts were not very well put together. The biggest emotion i was able to feel through the story was sympathy for her divorce as her feeling during that part of her life were told with some vigor, but after a while it felt overdone and annoying. Futhermore her shameless plugs for “Lighting Strikes” became tiresome…Lastly, and part of me feels bad for saying this..But I’ve heard the key aspects of the story in other fictional supernatural books..Overall this wasn’t a terrible book but wasn’t a good one either”

The first thing I should have noticed was the misspellings, lack of capitalization, and punctuation errors. While I personally struggle with my own comma-usage issues, I would be hard pressed to discredit anyone else for the same thing, but I think I would have been just a little bit nicer when tearing apart her story.  I might have suggested that the book needed to be fleshed out a little more, something I can fully appreciate. Or, maybe she could have said it just wasn’t her cup of tea. I could have lived with that as well. Instead, she took out her ultra-sharp scissors and snipped away a little bit of my soul.

I must have read it twenty times, my eyes wide with disbelief. Did she really just say those awful things to me? She even suggested that I made it all up for the sake of a story, something I assure you I’d never do. She even got it wrong. It wasn’t a divorce! It was a break-up. Seriously!!

I stopped myself short of filling an entire page with my annoyance over her review, while I only wrote two sentences about the great review, the one that filled my entire being with rainbows and butterflies. Why is this?

I think it’s just human nature. It’s the five year old child with a drawing for the refrigerator, hoping Mommy will love it, like it deserves to be loved. It’s finally finding a finger-hold on a crumbling ledge, and then having someone step very carefully and very painfully on your fingers. But it’s also life.

As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently put it, “Every woman in public life needs to develop skin as tough as rhinoceros hide.”

So, I will continue on, trying to allow the scar tissue of past wounds build up that rhino skin. But I will also attempt to cling to the good reviews as much as I give safe harbor to the bad ones. If they’re constructive, they’re healthy, and I will grow from them, getting tougher and stronger in the process. I will also write reviews for all of the books I read and love. I’ve written two today alone: one for a very popular writer, and another for a newbie, like myself, who probably needed to hear something nice about her very good book.

If you’ve read my work and loved it, please share this with me as a review on the site you purchased the book from. If you have a constructive criticism, by all means, share this too, but if you’re just a nasty, angry person who wishes to tear down someone else’s dream, please do me a favor and just keep it to yourself.

Very sincerely yours,

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-Collector-ebook/dp/B00EIHG90Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381464557&sr=1-1&keywords=joni+mayhan

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Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=angels+of+ember+trilogy&rh=n%3A133140011%2Ck%3Aangels+of+ember+trilogy

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 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm