Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Guest post: Deanna Eshler

Today I am pleased to welcome Deanna to the blog!
I’m a happily married - most of the time :) - mother of two. We live on a small farm in Ohio, where we use to have horses, but now just have a heard of barn cats. For 15 years I worked at a foster care agency as a therapist, and supervisor. A few years ago I completed my certification to provide Equestrian Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).
As I began writing Shyanne’s story, I struggled with how to resolve her past trauma. One day, during an EAP session, it practically smacked me in the face. I’ve seen children, who have experienced much worse than Shyanne, find healing from the horses. So, that night, I began to write Walker into the story. That was the piece I needed, and from there I couldn’t stop writing. Just ask my husband… I’m pretty sure my family thought I was permanently attached to my computer.
While I was still in undergrad, I began working at a boys group home. It was a shock to hear so many horror stories about the boys, and what they’d been through in their short lives. That was the first time I thought about writing a book. I wanted to write about one boy specifically. His life story, personality and strength, although sometimes misdirected, taught me more than I learned in 4 years of college. Although I’ve not yet written his story, I still hope to one day share him with the world.

Excerpt: Captain’s Surprise

It’s 5:45 a.m. and I’m walking down the front steps, coffee in hand, when I look up and see Kade sitting on the tailgate of my truck. He’s eating what looks to be cereal, but still manages to lift one side of his mouth in a smile.
I stop a few feet from where he’s sitting. “What are you doing?” I ask, not trying to hide my frustration.
He looks around at the truck, up at the dark sky, and then down to the bowl in his hand. “Sitting on your tailgate eating my breakfast.”
I narrow my eyes. “Okay, so that was the wrong question. Why are you sitting on my truck eating your breakfast before sunrise?”
“Don’t you remember last night? You told me to meet you here,” he says. He sets his bowl next to him on the truck.
He’s trying to be funny, make me laugh I guess, but I’m not in the mood. Plus, I have no intentions of being alone in a barn with a guy I just met. The idea makes me shiver.
I close my eyes and draw in a long, slow breath. “Listen, Kade, I’m honored that you got up at 5:30 in the morning to spend time with me, but I don’t do this,” I say, as I wave my hand back and forth between us.
“I’ve been up since 4:30 thinking about spending time with you,” he says, with a playful smile.
I roll my eyes. “Your room is right next to mine, and our walls are paper-thin. I heard your alarm, asshat.”
He shrugs, as if saying I tried. “Anyway, what do you mean by this?” he asks, now waving his hands between us.
“Talking, hanging out, friendships, relationships. All of it; I don’t do any of it.”
He narrows his eyes. “You have two friends in there that I’ve seen you talk to and hang out with.”
I can’t help the frustrated grunt that escapes. “I didn’t want friends, but they showed up looking all comfy with their marathon biker shows, and stayed at my house all day… Keegan’s all straightforward and Gemma’s so damn cute… I tried to say no.”
I’m rambling and I know it, but I can’t seem to stop. I’m looking everywhere but at Kade, and one of my legs is bouncing nervously.
“Then they keep making me go out… where I meet new people… and I have to talk to those people too… and they say funny stuff and make me smile… so I feel bad telling them I don’t want friends… then the next thing I know I’m living here and I have two best friends.” I let out one final huff, then make eye contact and plead, “I just want to be by myself, with my horses, alone in my own head. I don’t want to laugh and have fun. I want to go back to being cranky and alone, at least for a few hours.”
Kade looks concerned. “You know that social isolation can alter functioning of the brain? Can lead to depression, health issues, and even impulsive behavior.”
I raise my eyebrows, unclear what he is saying. I don’t speak nerd.
Kade attempts to explain. “It’s like your horses. They’re social animals, so if you separate one from the herd, what happens to it?”
It becomes depressed and/or highly agitated. I don’t answer out loud, because it’s clear he already knows.
“They become extremely agitated,” he says, proving me right. “After an extended period of time of separation, the stress will begin to affect their health and they will even injure themselves in an attempt to get back to the herd.”
This is true. I’ve seen a horse go through fences to get back to its herd.
I gesture for him to get off my truck. “Okay, thanks for the lesson on isolation, but I have hungry horses waiting for me.”
Kade’s expression changes to hurt. “I just want to get to know you.”
Now I stomp my foot, getting frustrated at my failure to chase him away. “Well, I don’t want to get to know you,” I spit. It’s harsh, but I’m desperate to get away from him. Away from all the things he makes me feel.
Kade lifts both hands in surrender. “Okay, I’ll let you go play with your horses and be grumpy in peace.”
He jumps down off the tailgate and dusts off his pants. He takes a few steps, then stops when he’s next to me. He places his hand on the small of my back and leans in, so that his mouth is only an inch from my ear. “If you feel like trying the friendship-slash-hanging out thing later, I’ll be home all day.”
Surprisingly, I don’t feel the all-consuming anxiety take over my body at his touch. I clear my throat and step away. When I turn to lift my tailgate, I realize Kade left his bowl of cereal so I pick it up with one hand, then instantly cover my mouth with my other hand. “What is this?”
He reaches out, retrieving the offending object from my hand. “I call it Captain’s Surprise. When I can’t decide what kind of cereal to eat I just dump them all in.” He looks down into the bowl and wrinkles his nose. “Now it’s just Soggy Surprise.”
“That’s disgusting,” I say, with my hand still covering my mouth. I’m trying to hide my smile, but when Kade smiles back, before turning to back into the apartment, I know I failed.

My Review for Shy Kinda Love will be up on Friday!

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