40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

Sooooo, my 40th birthday was yesterday.

I thought it was going to be this big, terrible, scary thing, but you know what?  It wasn’t.  I feel good, I’m healthy, I’m in an awesome place in my life, and I’ve learned A LOT in this 40 years.  So much, in fact, that I wouldn’t go back to my 20’s if you paid me.  And I’m not even kitten you right meow.

40th Birthday, Courtney

I celebrated with a margarita lunch, and I wore a tiara all day.  I went to Epcot and wore a Happy Birthday button, so tons of people were wishing me a great day, and I dragged my kids and hubby to Medieval Times, because I’m nerdy like that.  (Why does the Green Knight always get to win?)

Medieval Times with Bella

I’m not gonna lie.  This past year was hard for me.  SO HARD because of personal reasons.  And you know what?  Life is like that sometimes.  You take your knocks.  You fight back.  You get knocked down, so you get up again, and kick life in the face and you keep going.  That’s what adversity and trauma teach you.  YOU CAN DO IT.  You can make it.  You keep getting up in the morning, and you just keep doing it.  That’s how you make it to better and brighter days.

I’ve learned a few other things in the past forty years, too.  In no particular order, here are 40 bits of knowledge that I’ve banked up:

  1. You can’t please everyone, so you just have to please yourself.  It sounds trite, but it’s true.
  2. Wear a Pashmina to the airport.  It doubles as a blanket if your flight gets delayed.
  3. Take care of your skin.  You’re not going to be 20 forever (thank God!) but having good skin makes you look that way.
  4. Be your own hero.  You can’t always count on someone else swooping in and having your back.  So you know what?  HAVE YOUR OWN.
  5. Chocolate chips will do in a pinch when you get a sweet tooth and three’s nothing else in the house.
  6. Sleep in when you can and order room service in your robe.
  7. You’re never too old for Harry Potter or DisneyWorld.
  8. Drink lots of water.  It keeps you pretty.
  9. What you put into the world comes back to you.  Karma is real, people.
  10. Blood isn’t always your family– it’s who you choose.
  11. What doesn’t kill you really will make you stronger. Or crazy.
  12. You can dye your hair 12 times in month and it won’t fall out.  Probably.
  13. You can never aim too high.  I mean it.
  14. No one is better than you, and you aren’t better than anyone.
  15. Laugh lines are totally worth it.
  16. If you rely on someone else to make you happy or to complete you, you’ll never be happy or complete.
  17. A good night’s sleep can literally make all the difference.
  18. Don’t judge yourself too harshly.  There are plenty of people in the world who will do that for you.
  19. To prevent a hangover, drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have.  I’m serious. It works.
  20. Don’t drink wine and hard liquor in the same night, though.
  21. Your mistakes don’t define you.
  22. Use manners and treat others with respect.  it goes a long way.
  23. Don’t carry hatred.  The only person it hurts is you.
  24. If you don’t try, you won’t fail.  But you won’t win, either.
  25. Your kids will learn to value what you value.  So be a good role model.
  26. TRUST Y OUR GUT.  This took me 40 years to really get through my thick head.  Your gut will NOT steer you wrong.
  27. Invest in good shoes.
  28. Do things that scare you.  It will wake you up and make you feel alive.
  29. No matter how much money you make, save some.  Even if you aren’t making much money right now, save a little. Even $5 a week will add up eventually.
  30. You become like the people you surround yourself with, so choose them wisely.
  31. Ask for what you want and say what you need.  People can’t read your mind.
  32. Vacations are important.  Take them.  The memories you make with your family are priceless.  Your job comes second to them.  When you’re dead and gone, your job will just find someone to replace you. You are irreplaceable to your family.
  33.  Artificial foods/sweeteners can’t be good for you.  Don’t eat them.  Just use moderation with the real stuff instead.
  34. Comparison is the thief of joy. (<<– my BFF Michelle Leighton taught me this).
  35. Feelings aren’t facts.  When you get into arguments, don’t use them as such.
  36. Everyone has their own crosses to bear and demons to fight.  Don’t judge them.
  37. If you don’t have time to shower before bed, at least wash your face and feet.  You’ll sleep better. (See #17)
  38. Vulnerabilities and weaknesses don’t make you weak.
  39. Never ask if a woman is pregnant, no matter how much she looks like she is.
  40. It’s ok to paint over chipped toenail polish.

There you have it.  These are the things I can think of off the top of my head.

Age is just a number.  It really is.  Feel fantastic and do fantastic things.  That’s what matters. My goal now is to make my 40’s my b@tch.  My plan is to make it the best decade of my life so far.  I’ve never shirked away from anything in my life, and I’m not about to start now.

Watch out, 40’s.  I’m coming for you. 

I’m going to do the things that are still on my goal list.

I’m going to write the books that are bursting to get out.

I’m going to take more vacations.

I’m going to stress less about the things I can’t change.

I’m going to keep toxic things out of my life, and keep reaching for more knowledge, more grace.

I’m going to walk in the blood of my enemies.  << Ok, fine.  That last one was an exaggeration.  Lol.  But you get the point.

I’ve got this.  And no matter what point you are in life, or how old you are, so do you.


She believed she could, so she did

What I Know about Life

So, I’m feeling melancholy today with all the back to school craziness, and this post doesn’t have anything at all to do with writing or my books.  It has to do with life.  And how it passes with increasing speed each year.

One of my favorite quotes is from Robert Frost:  “In three words, I can sum up everything I know about life:  It goes on.”   How true is that?   Loved ones die?  Life goes on.  Disaster?  Heartache?   Life goes on.

But I think sometimes we forget that on a daily basis…. as we scramble to get up at 6am and get our kids ready for school on time, as we scurry to pick them up and shuttle them to practices and rehearsals and games.   Life goes on, every second— and every second is one you’ll never get back.

My daughter Bella started middle school this year.  Middle School!!!  A minute ago, she was two years old and my shadow.  She wanted to be with me all the time, and was the sweetest thing in the world. I called her Ellie-Bellie and she was scared of monsters under her bed.  And now.  Middle school.   She doesn’t want to hold my hand anymore or let me do her hair.  (But she’s still scared of monsters under her bed…)


Ella on slide2003


Elle on way to school, 6th grade

My son Tristan is 16.  When he was born, he was 6 lbs and 20 inches long.  Now, he’s 6’3″ and 210 lbs.  And he’s not done growing.  I used to call him Tristie, and he collected bugs in his little bug box and liked to feed the ducks.  He was also scared of monsters, so my husband used to search them out before bed with his cell phone as his “monster detector.”  Now, Tristan is a Tight End on his football team and is stronger than I ever thought about being.  Seriously.  He can easily beat me arm wrestling with one hand, while I use two.  He’s no longer scared of monsters.  In fact, when we watch horror movies, he laughs while I look at the screen through my fingers.

He’s funny- and makes me laugh on a daily basis… and I’m always wondering… when the heck did he grow up so much?

Tristan (and me) then:

Mom and Tristan reading book


Tristan sailing

OMG, I love my kids.  I love all the stages, even the moody ones.  I love how they change every day.  I love looking at my daughter and seeing how pretty and smart she is, and thinking, OMG, I MADE that.   And looking UP at my son, and watching how strong and fast and funny he is, and thinking I MADE that.  It’s a miracle and a blessing and they’re mine.

But life goes on.

And every day that passes is one closer to the day that they’ll each leave my house.  They’ll go to college where instead of eating food cooked by me, food that I know is organic and nutritious, and they’ll grab trays and eat in a cafeteria or pop popcorn in their dorm microwave.  They’ll do things everyday that I won’t be there to hear about, except for over the phone.

Sometimes it makes me sad and panicky, but above all, it makes me proud.  I’m growing them up to be strong and proud and independent.  And while they’re mine, they’re also the world’s, and I have full confidence that they will CHANGE the world.  I don’t know what they’ll grow up to be.  A brain surgeon?  A Navy Seal?  An Ambassador?

All I know is…. I’m doing my best to raise them right.  To teach them right from wrong.  To teach them to cook, and sew on a button, and stand up for themselves and be graceful and kind.  And because of these things, they’ll grow up to change the world in some way.  They’ll grow up to change THEIR world.  I’m doing my best to team them not to let the world change THEM.

Gah.  It makes my throat tighten up and my eyes water, and I’m not a crier.  But our kids have that power over us.  They truly are our hearts walking around outside of our bodies.  And that’s fine.  Someone’s gotta have my heart– it might as well be them.

My point here is…. we need to remember, in the middle of all of these busy, loud, giggling, hectic, chaotic days…. that life goes on.  We’ve got to cherish each day… when we’re picking up their dirty clothes for the millionth time, or struggling to hear a phone call with them yelling in the background, or breaking your favorite vase during a rowdy game of indoor football, or muddy prints across your clean floor, or “Hey mom, I need six styrofoam cones for school tomorrow” when it’s 11pm the night before.  During all of this, remember that life goes on.

So we meed to embrace today, and love it while it’s here.  And don’t blink.  If you do, you’ll miss something.

T carrying Elle

T and Elle Sears Tower Skydeck

Merry Christmas from me… and Pax Tate!

Merry Christmas!

I sit here in my office, staring at my laptop as my children play with their new gadgets and my husband has holed himself up to watch his new Star Wars box set.  I thought it would be a perfect time to wish you a happy holiday!

This year has brought me so many blessings.  I can’t begin to count them all, but please know that YOU are among them.   You have read my work, supported me, encouraged me, written me notes, tweeted me, Facebooked me…. your support and encouragement has been incredible and I am thankful for you every minute.

If you didn’t see it already, I wrote a little short story featuring Pax.  One of the questions that I am asked the most frequently is… “When will we see Pax again??”

I don’t know if he will ever get another book.  I haven’t decided yet.  Half of me wants to leave his happy ending the way it was.  But the other half of me misses him (and Mila!) so much that I’m tempted to re-open his story.  Hmmm.  We’ll see.

What do YOU think?  Would you like for Pax’s HEA to stay perfect?  Or would you like to read more about him?

For now though, if you want a little Christmas glimpse of him, you can find his short story HERE on Autumn Review.  :)

I’m going to be taking the next week or so off of social media.  I’ll be spending time with my family and writing a bit, so you won’t hear from me much. But I do want you to know that I wish you the very best for 2014.  I hope you have a fabulous holiday and that you enjoy every second with your families.  Hug them tight and count your blessings.  That’s part of what this holiday is all about.

I’ll see you next year, folks!  :)

A Christmas Giveaway and My reorganized release schedule

Happy Tuesday! :)

So, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be doing a Christmas giveaway of some sort in December. I’m still thinking about the details. I’m thinking maybe a twelve hotties of Christmas or something. I’m thinking that 12 hot characters from my books will give away a prize on the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure on the details, but it will definitely be something. And I’ll definitely announce the details here on my blog soon. Just as soon as I come up with them. :)

Also, my release schedule has changed a bit. Because my muse is a fickle, fickle thing, I’ve been working on an entirely new project. It will release next. I’ll announce details as I have them. It’s a raw, visceral project that I really hope you love.

After that, this winter, the second Cougar Chronicles will be released, but also the finale of The Moonstone Saga. I’ve had tons of questions about that final book, so we’ve pushed it up on the release schedule. It’s coming soon folks– this winter. :)

That means that the second book in the Minaldi Legacy will be pushed back until early spring. But it’s coming, too. No worries!

So, I just wanted to keep you guys apprised of my schedule. Oh– one more thing, while I’m thinking of it. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I just want to mention it again. The sequel to Princess has been indefinitely put on hold. It may or may not get written and released. I have it all planned, but I’m not sure when it will ever come to pass.

That about wraps it up with my announcements. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that you are looking forward to Christmas as much as I am! :)

HUGE YA Book Sale for Black Friday!

Tired of the malls and the stores? Looking for gifts without breaking the bank? How about 20 Young Adult books each priced at 99 cents now through Monday on Amazon? Buy some books for yourself. Gift books for others. Books are still the biggest entertainment bang for the buck, and there’s SO many great titles to choose from.

Like romance, adventure, humor, or contemporary? How about Sci-fi, fantasy, or mythology? We’ve got you covered!

Asylum by K.A. Tucker

Awaken by Sarah M. Ross

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

The Childe by C.A. Kunz

Dead Heat by Lisa Nowak

Echo of an Earth Angel by Sarah M. Ross

Fairy Metal Thunder by J.L. Bryan

Forever Me by Thomas Amo

Here by Ella James

How to Date an Alien by Magan Vernon

Inheritance by Willow Cross

Masquerade by Cambria Hebert

Natural Selection by Elizabeth Sharp

Perception by Lee Strauss

Prey & Magic (Book 5 of the Blood & Snow Series) by RasShelle Workman

Soul Kissed by Courtney Cole

Soul Quest (Book 1 of the Soul Quest Trilogy) by Amy Mauer Jones

Transfer Student by Laura Elliott

The Truth About Faking by Leigh Talbert

Whisper – Heather Hildenbrand