Christina Cole Romance

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Clothes Make the Man…or Woman

poloniusFor the apparel oft proclaims the man.

–William Shakespeare, Hamlet 

 

When Polonius gives out advice in Hamlet, much of it should probably be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Polonius was a bit of a blow-hard, a fellow who loved the sound of his own voice.

His immortal words have been transformed into the more modern adage that “clothes make the man,” to which Mark Twain once added, “Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

I’m not sure about that, but all of that’s a bit beside the point. The real question for today isn’t about the influence we wield but simply about the clothes we wear. More to the point, the clothes we love.

Often on Facebook, question games go around. Example: The last thing you ate plus the color you’re now wearing gives you your rock band name.  I usually end up with Plaid nachos. Hey, it’s kinda catchy, don’t you think?

If clothes really do make us who we are, I’m a comfortable, casual homebody. I love wearing baggy old T-shirts and flannel PJ bottoms. Yes, that’s me. It’s exactly who I am.

Today’s question from my little “Q & A A Day” book is this:

What’s your favorite article of clothing?

PJSI’d have to say my comfy, cozy plaid flannel PJ bottoms.  Years ago I bought one set (the ones on the left) and I loved them so much, I ordered a second set (the ones on the right.) I found them in the Lakeside Collection catalog, and would gladly order more if they had different colors.

I also like my Mickey Mouse T-shirt, my worn-out old sneakers, and, when the weather turns cool, an old sweatshirt that once boasted of the glories of Missouri but whose colors are now so worn you can’t read much of anything.

Obviously, to me, comfort is far more important than fashion.

 

 

What’s YOUR favorite article of clothing?

What do YOUR clothes say about YOU?

 

 

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A Thought for Today: The New Way to Happiness

 

 

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Try something new every day.

One of the best ways to create excitement, energy, and happiness in your life is to follow this simple advice.  Each day, do something new.

There’s a incredible joy that comes from trying something for the first time, whether it’s a new food, a new activity, or a new route to work. We make discoveries, we expand our horizons, we broaden our mind through each new thing we do.

Feeling stuck in a rut? Try something new.

Got a problem to solve? Try a new approach…or a new attitude.

Looking for a dream? Try turning in a new direction. You might like what you find.

Sure, there’s comfort in familiarity and old ways have a place in our life. We need to balance them with a daily dose of “new”. It will keep us alive and keep us always looking ahead.


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There’s No Place Like Home

HomeOne of the most important concepts in romance novels, I think, is that of home. It’s more than just a house, a dwelling, a place to hang a hat. Home is part of who we are. It’s family, it’s friends, it’s the life we’ve created for ourselves. Home is where we’re comfortable, where we feel best. It is where we can be ourselves.

 

At least, that’s how it should be.

Romance novels often show us the importance of home by throwing characters into situations that threaten it, challenge it, or question it in some way.

Many stories are built around the premise of leaving home. We read tales of young women who are forced out into the world and who must struggle to find their own way in life, to establish their own identity, and thereby create their own home.

Other stories center around home and family situations that don’t measure up to the ideal. Heroines in romance novels often have difficult relationships with parents or siblings. They’re subjected to violence and abuse, or perhaps they’ve been thrust into the role of caregiver and must devote themselves to an ailing parent or take on the responsibilities of raising younger brothers and sisters.

Another popular theme in romance novels is that of saving a home. We’ve probably all read stories of war, hardship, or political upheaval, stories in which the heroine faces financial ruin and the threat of losing the home she loves.

Of course, coming home again is also a familiar premise for romance readers. Sometimes characters have been away, perhaps for many years. As a story begins, they’ve come home again. But as Thomas Wolfe put it, “You can’t go home again.” It’s never the same, really, once we’ve gone away. Most likely it’s because we’ve changed. The question is whether the changes are good. Have we grown? Have we become better individuals? Or have we strayed from the values and principles by which we were raised? Many times characters in romance novels must answer these questions.

In looking back at my own writing, I can see how clearly the concept of home has worked in my stories.

  • Irresistible, my first historical romance published with Secret Cravings Publishing, saw my heroine leaving home for the first time, being pushed from her narrow-minded — and somewhat pessimistic — attitudes and her simple way of life into a world of luxury, wealth, and unlimited possibilities. She was disoriented, of course. Stubborn, unsure of herself, and hurt by the realities of life, my heroine had much to learn. Falling in love helped her change her perspective. She learned to see herself in new ways, to re-define who she was, and to accept love.
  • In Happily  Ever After, my heroine was searching for a place to call home — figuratively, that is. She’d grown up in  an unhappy home, and she’d found ways to cope with the doubts and fears she’d known as a child. As the story unfolds, she’s able to help others find comfort and peace of mind, yet childhood memories still color her own perceptions. Sometimes it’s hard to break free from the past.
  • Summertime, set in rural Kansas, is very much a story of home. The heroine has been away for many years, has enjoyed a successful and glamorous career. She returns to Kansas not because she wants to go home, but because she must. For her, home represents everything she dislikes in life. Love helps her see herself — and the little town of Brookfield — with new eyes.
  • My heroine in The Wrong Woman is setting off to find a new home for herself after making some big mistakes in her life. She’s ashamed of what she’s done. Going away and making a new start is the best course of action, she thinks. Yet she carries with her the same beliefs and values of her childhood. For her, home was a place of strength, a place of happiness. That strength and her own deeply-held appreciation for life, enable her to not only make a home for herself wherever she goes, but to help the struggling hero create a true home for himself.
  • In my latest release, Not the Marrying Kind, the heroine truly loves her home at the Rocking P ranch. But life is throwing her a curve, and she’s about the lose everything she’s loved.  Adding to her woes is the fact that, like so many of us, she’s defined by her home. If she loses the land she loves, who will she be? How can she become something she’s not? Her fight to save her home is really a fight for acceptance, a struggle to win the right to be herself.

In looking over these stories and the characters who’ve lived them out in the pages of my novels, I can clearly see the concept of home as a synonym for acceptance.

Rise Childers must learn to accept what others have to give. Anne Hopkins must accept love. Coming home to Brookfield, Kansas, forces Linn Sparks to accept truths she’s refused to see, and Abigail Rose must accept forgiveness for the sins she believes she’s committed. And Kat Phillips, above all, needs acceptance, not only from her friends and family, but most of all, from herself.

These heroines learn a lot from love. They learn to see themselves in new ways, to open themselves up to new possibilities, to understand that home is truly “where the heart is.” In learning to love themselves, they’re also able to help others gain a greater understanding of what home is all about.

What does home mean to you?