books, cancer, cancer journey, cancer survival, grief, hope, journaling, Relationships, stories, Uncategorized, writing

A Widow’s Conundrum

A month had passed since the funeral.  I had stayed strong on the outside for all to see and succeeded in getting through it. Now, each morning when I arose, the reality seeped in a little more each day and the shock receded, leaving me raw and vulnerable.

I went from wanting someone to mention him or console me, to wanting to hurt in silence and avoid everyone. In this stormy sea, the squalls frequently came with drenching tears or became the doldrums of not feeling anything.

There was no direction. No goals. No plans for the future. I was adrift with no forward movement.  The only constant was the ache and the knowledge it would never be the same. I was bitter that life marched on, dragging me with it.

This stage, or whatever you want to call it, differs for everyone. I know this after spending hours talking with others who, like me, have gone through it. I wanted to hurry up this stage, get it over quickly, thinking the sooner I did; I could capture some normalcy again.  Now all I can do is record my journey and know that no two are alike.

Before Darrell passed, I had ample warning he would go before I would.  We talked.  I thought we covered it all. Finances, kids, what I would do after he passed. But no amount of planning or talking helps you prepare for the actual journey and the tidal wave of confusing emotions.

I thought it would go this way. I would grieve, hurt and then rebound.  I would become a missionary in Africa or serve the homeless at a local soup kitchen.  I would devote my life to my Lord. I would be a pillar of strength and guidance to my family.  I would go on living because I thought I could handle being alone. I would be a good widow in everyone’s eyes, holding my love for him like a beacon. I would be the example of true love that never dies.

Then one night in the ER when I was deathly ill, it all came crashing down around me. I finally admitted to myself there is a difference between alone and being lonely.

I was depressed. I had isolated myself in our winter home in Yuma.  I had lost weight due to not eating and sleeping. I couldn’t see a way forward because I was so wrapped up in my grief. Ending up in the same emergency room Darrell had on the same day a year later was a wake-up call.  A stern ER doctor lectured me on what I needed to do to get myself healthy.  I listened.

I reconnected with friends. Joined chat sites. Came home to the kids and started working on the house. I picked up writing again. Went out into the community and found volunteer work at the local cancer clinic. And ran into someone I wasn’t looking for.

At first, we just chatted. Then I tried to pushing him away in a panic because I didn’t want anything more than a friend. He firmly explained it was just an offer of friendship. Since he was four years out from his loss, I wanted to know about his journey in hopes I could glean from it some kernel of wisdom, a vision of hope.

So began a wonderful friendship and the year passed. On the anniversary of my husband’s death, family and friends helped light Chinese lanterns to remember the man who loved us all. The one I released hovered over the house as if he was saying he missed me.  I was gaining more peace every day, moving forward sluggishly, but still not wanting to release the life I had shared with him entirely.

His clothes still hung in the closet. I felt I lost more of him with each change, with each item of his that slipped away. But I also knew it was healthy and to heal I needed to move on with life.

My husband and I had blended a family. Three of his kids and two of mine from previous marriages had bonded well. In fact, the kids had done far better than I had. Still, I worried about them going forward. So I tried to be a good example.

Except then, my new friend proposed. We had slowly begun to date, even though we didn’t think of it that way. We met for coffee, had lunch, even a few dinners. All the while talking about our former spouses and growing closer.

What should I do? Darrell and I had never talked about having someone else in our lives if one of us passed on. I loved him so much I never entertained the idea there would be anyone else.  What would happen now? How could I replace the love I felt for one man with another? Where was my narrative of carrying my love for my husband until the day I died?  What would the kids think? What would my friends think?  What did I think?

It seemed a widow’s conundrum. It is not that I will ever love Darrell less, nor can I. And I could never, ever replace him. In fact, I struggled with the idea I could even love another man. But I had this same panic before my second child was born.  I remember watching my daughter sleep one night while her sister stirred in my belly.  I was worried.  How could I ever love another baby as much as I had loved my first? Yet, when the second daughter was born, I fell in love immediately. Not with the same love, but a love that was hers and hers alone.

I had forgotten the heart is inflatable. It can stretch to love many. The thing is – each love is different – because each person is different.

How could I explain to those who were still grieving the loss of their father or friend, that I could still love Darrell? That the love I felt for him was there and it would never go away. It left a permanent scar that would ache every time there was a family gathering, and he wasn’t there. Or I visited a place that we had shared, and I remembered our past life together. Every holiday, every memory that crossed my mind would have a bittersweet twinge of melancholy.

Yet, I needed to move on. Continue to experience life. New loves would come in. Not to replace, but to reside alongside all the other loves that were already there.

It is lonely to live without your soul mate, the love of your life. But there are still people I love left in my life. The love that grew and was shared by two souls, who became one, now overflows, fills and touches all who are still in it. I realize I can choose to honor that love until we meet again, by living alone and always in its shadow. Or I can go out and experience continued growth to my heart and spread the love I have received.

I decided to honor my love for my husband by giving more love to another lonely heart. There are those who may think less of me or feel I didn’t love my husband enough to stay a grieving widow.  I can say I totally understand.

I understand because I once thought that way. I have learned that until you travel the road, you don’t know how the trip is going play out. I remember what I thought it would be like to go to Africa and when I did, it was nothing like the journey itself.

So it is with grief. It is the most singularly, loneliest path we will travel in life.  No one can walk it with us, and you never know where the path might lead, or what emotions you will experience.

Love those in your life who are grieving. Understand their choices may not always make sense to you. And remember one day you too will experience this path. There is no way to prepare for it except watching how others travel it.

Know that love continues to expand. It grows and flourishes when it is fed and understood. It is not meant to be locked away to die, never to be gifted again.



cancer journey, cancer survival, journaling, stories, Uncategorized

The Story Continues



I like hospitals best on weekends. The weekly hum of diagnostic staff, nurses and doctors is replaced with a quiet hush throughout the halls. Things slow down as the ancillary staff takes the weekend off.

As I went through the glassed walkway to the cafeteria I could see the dreary skies outside the Deaconess Hospital in Billings, Montana. It had been overcast and raining on and off for a week now. It mirrored the darkness I felt on the inside. The only bright spot was when we were able to take Darrell out for a small ride with his sister and brother-in-law. Darrell grew up primarily in Billings, so I had listened, with a smile, when he related different childhood stories. He pointed out places that were still there and their history and other places long gone. I got to see where he had started his own business as a young gas station owner until he figured out it was a lot of hard physical work for little pay.  But still, I admired his entrepreneurship.

Now, we were back in the reality of life and death. The breaking of the monotony of staring at four sterile walls was only done by lab tests, preparing for tests, and procedures.

For instance, he had to drink a gallon of a thing called “Go Lightly”. His bowel needed cleansed before surgery. “I don’t who came up with the name for this stuff,” Darrell joked, “it should be called ‘Going Tsunami’.” This was after about his twentieth run to the bathroom in less than a half hour.

The next adventure was when the student nurse came in to place the IV for the blood transfusion he had to have before surgery. She was a trembling, quiet little blond-headed girl that I thought looked more like fifteen than the twenty-five she said she was. Darrell had notoriously small veins, like his mother, and it was a nightmare for anyone to get an IV needle in his arm.

Patiently he stared at the ceiling, as she tried, failed, blushed and stammered an apology four times. On the fifth try, Darrell did something I had never seen him do. He grabbed her wrist and quietly said, “Enough. Find someone who can do this.” I know I had a dumbfounded look on my face as she fled in tears.

The room door flew open next to admit a tall, Amazonian looking woman in a helicopter life flight suit. Her voice boomed in the small room. “I hear we have a problem in here.”

Darrell growled back. “Yes, I need someone who can put an IV needle in the first time instead of poking me five times.”

The Amazon smiled. “You got an expert here Mr. Gabel. Let’s see what the problem is.”

Within seconds they were best friends. Darrell had that ability to connect to people in a warm, gregarious fashion. Joking around, she proved her expertise by getting it in with one try, while tisking about the new crop of student nurses. She apologized for the little blond, stating that she should have come and gotten someone after the first failed try. Darrell apologized for scaring her by grabbing her wrist. In the end, all was forgiven. The Amazon even checked back before his surgery the next morning to make sure all IV’s were done to her standards.

Meanwhile I was busy making phone calls and dealing with nervous family. In times of stress, we all say things that are slightly, well, off. Take for instance my father. He was always a man of few words, very smart and yet socially clumsy. I grew to understand this, take his wisdom and not be offended. This was one time I failed.

After a long description of Darrell’s health problems, my fears and the impending surgery, he tried his best to comfort me.

“Well honey, you are still young enough if something terrible happens, you can always remarry.”

It floored me. How could he even think that? Didn’t he understand Darrell was my soulmate? I hung up and fled for my stainless steel sanctuary. On the way a beveled glass doorway winked at me in jeweled colors. I held the storm of tears long enough to be able to read a sign that said, “Chapel.”  Cautiously I entered the quiet sanctuary. No one was there. I let loose the flood.

The chapel was  simple and non-denominational in appearance. Wooden pews glowed with a warm polish. A Bible lay open on a podium. One wall was lined with books of all faiths, and pamphlets filled with hopeful words.

My heart cried out in desperation, asking for healing, wanting more time. In situations like this, you sometimes bargain. I asked simply for fifteen more years. Why that number was important, I don’t know. It just was. But slowly I realized, it didn’t matter how many years, it would never be long enough. I never wanted to be parted from him. I wanted it to last forever.

The chapel would become my new sanctuary.

cancer journey, cancer survival, journaling, stories

And Then….

I was hiding in the bathroom, crying.

Darrell had been admitted to the Oncology floor at the Deaconess. I knew this is where they treated cancer patients. I remember as they wheeled him into the room I wondered why.  I felt paranoid. What did they know they were not telling us?  Four long days of excruciating tests and they were still puzzled over what he had.  I was just plain scared at this point.

His room sat at the end of a hall which opened out into the nurse’s station. Next to his room was the family waiting area teeming with nervous people. Beside it were the bathrooms.

I was in what I called my ‘emergency mode”. Calm on the outside, ready to do what I had to do, but when it was all over I would flee to the bathroom to let the tears out. My family frowned on crying and I grew up seeing tears as a weakness.

And the tears were pouring at the moment. I had just watched and participated in the most excruciating test Darrell had gone through yet. They had taken a bone sample from his pelvic bone. In so many of these tests I knew what was going to happen, yet I stayed silent. Why inform him ahead of time so he could worry and fret? Wasn’t it just better to let it happen then console?

When the Doctor came in with the big burly aide, Darrell knew something was up, especially after he complied with the request to roll onto to his stomach and the aide held him down. I was in my customary place, clutching his hand, and soothing him with a quiet voice. I told him it was going to be okay, when in reality, nothing was okay.  After they numbed the skin, I watched as they bored into his back with what looked like a huge hollow needle. His eyes grew wide and I knew he was clenching his teeth. I smoothed my hand over his cheek and leaned in closer.  I had always seen him as a strong individual in both health and personality. I had thought I would die long before him, even though he was six years older. Now, he had a panicked look as his lips thinned into a straight line and a low groan slipped out of his throat.

“Just a few more seconds, Mr. Gabel, I know this isn’t pleasant.” Darrell’s brow furrowed, and if I hadn’t been wallowing in my own concealed panic, I would have chuckled. I knew that furious look well and what type of language was going through his mind.

Then I heard a soft crunch, my hand tightened on his. The bone had been penetrated. Darrell’s breath left him in a loud rush and before he sucked in another, a curse slipped from his lips.

“I know, I know it’s not comfortable. Just hang in there,” the Doctor encouraged.

Time can stand still. Really, it can. It elongates out and becomes sludge. Tears threatened to spill and I looked away, holding my breath.

How could they not be doing more damage than good to an already ailing body? He was low in blood platelets, yet they continued to take tubes and tubes of blood to test for various diseases. They interrupted his sleep at night to check to see if his heart was still beating and he was breathing.  He had a scope run down his throat and one up the other end, where nothing should ever go. And yet, they still had no answers. Now this procedure was definitely doing more harm than good.

I had thought the medical world advanced. I worked as a Certified Nurse’s Aide and knew enough to be dangerous. But even with all my head knowledge, it was my heart that hurt the most. I could watch any procedure done on someone I didn’t love, but to watch it done on someone I loved, the empathy nearly killed me. And yet, my loved ones depended on me to support and get them through. It was torture. But I was quickly coming to realize that the medical field ran on one part clues, one part knowledge and mostly pure luck.

The body only gives so many clues and if they are not read correctly, a whole myriad of diseases can be misdiagnosed or missed. So as they poked and prodded him, I clenched my teeth and continued to reassure him things were okay.

The procedure was done. They gathered their tools of torture and left after reassuring Darrell he had done better than most.  Tears shimmered in Darrell’s eyes and in a hoarse voice he said, “That was the worst thing I have ever gone through. Do you know how much it hurt? They said it wouldn’t, but they lied. It hurt like hell.”

I had spent a few more minutes consoling him before I fled to the porcelain sanctuary I now cowered in.


Erika M Szabo – Author Interview


 What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

When it comes to writing Alternative Healing books, my favorite thing is to bring easy to understand information to my readers. Most educational books are filled with statistics, explanations and sophisticated jargon. People have to skim through pages before they can get the answer they’re looking for. I try to make my books precise, logical and easy to read. Writing magical/realism novels gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings and dreams with my readers as well as lets my fertile imagination play with characters, events and create magical worlds where anything is possible.

Who or what inspired you to become an author?

To write Alternative Healing related books:  after I received my PhD I thought about doing one on one consultation. Then I thought I can help more people by writing educational books and self-publish them with an affordable price. The use of herbs and supplements became very popular; however there are many dangers in using them without careful consideration. There are many side effects, interactions with prescription medications and contraindications in certain medical conditions which I try to point out in my books. As to writing a magical/realism fantasy novels, the inspiration first came from my daughter Eszter. Her paintings inspired me to form the characters in Ilona the Hun’s story and the story line was inspired by Hun history.

What was the turning point in your life when you decided to start writing?

 I started writing health related books when I realized how much misinformation is out there about herbs, healthy diet, vitamins and supplement. The majority of the educational books are written in a language that a person without medical background couldn’t possibly follow and understand. I decided to write books that are written in simple, everyday language without long pages filled with statistics and scientific explanations. To write a fantasy story, the idea came to me after my daughter got annoyed with me because I couldn’t find a book to read and said “Mom, stop whining, if you haven’t a book to read then write one!”

Do you write about your personal life experiences in your stories?

 Yes, often. If you don’t know love, sorrow, hate, regret, forgiveness and other emotions and experiences, you cannot really write about them. In my personal life I try to balance negative experiences with something positive right away, and it reflects in my writing. When my characters experience something tragic or shocking, I relax it with a little humor or have my characters analyze and deal with their feelings.

 What genre(s) do you write?

I write educational books regarding Alternative Medicine, true stories and magical-realism, alternative history novels.

What genres and authors would we find you?

I write under my real name Erika M Szabo, my tags are health and healing, alternative medicine, fantasy, fiction and alternative history.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writing comes natural to me and I don’t find it hard to write either educational books or novels. When I choose the topic I want to write about and have a vague outline of the story, I just start writing and the story develops on its own as I progress and new ideas start surfacing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I am a plotter when I write medical books, I plan what I want to say and put it in clear and logical order. When I write a fantasy story I am definitely a pantser. I enjoy tremendously playing with the characters, let them develop as the story progresses and go back to change a romantic and lovable character into a villain if a new idea pops into mind as I write. When I started writing Ilona’s story, I only had a sketchy outline in my head. I played with some ideas in my spare time at first, but soon the events and characters came alive and kind of developed on their own as the story progressed. Elza surprised me the most; originally I planned her character to be an older, wise, steady and reliable aunt. I guess she didn’t like her assigned role; she became a little younger and more alive. Zoltan will change the most in book three, which I wasn’t really planning. It still amazes me, how much one accidental sentence can change the whole character, his values and personality…

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?

That is a hard question. I think every reader will find the author they can connect with and enjoy their books because of their similar interest, thinking process, feelings, dreams and hopes. People who are not interested in alternative medicine, disease prevention, healthy diet and lifestyle or herbal remedies are not going to value my books. The same applies to my novels, if the reader likes crime stories, horror, fuzzy vampires or sticky romance, they will not find my fantasy trilogy enjoyable. But, if they like deep characters, coming of age struggle, lots of twists and turns, historical facts wrapped into a fantasy story, they will choose and enjoy my books.

What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?

 I can talk about my only novel trilogy so far, although I have some ideas for my next one. The inspiration came from ancient Hungarian history. In my fantasy world, I blended the past and present into a fantasy tale with intriguing tribal secrets, magical heritage and the exciting and dangerous life in a secret society.

Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

 In my novel, Ilona is my favorite. She grows as a person throughout the story from a naïve and insecure girl to a confident woman. She’s not afraid to make sacrifices and to accept her life calling.

Who would be your first choice to play Ilona from your book Birthright Bestowed?

 I can imagine, Natalie Portman playing Ilona. I think she could portray her quiet charm, vulnerability, loneliness, self-doubts and great inner strength well.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

After reading my medical books, I hope the reader will start thinking about developing healthier diet and lifestyle to prevent illness and perhaps decide to use alternative methods with much less side effects when it’s possible. Also, I hope after reading my Ilona the Hun trilogy the reader will have a better understanding of their own struggles coming into adulthood, accepting responsibilities as well as heritage and live up to expectations without losing themselves. I hope they will take with them deep and honest feelings, human values as well as the feeling of freedom to use their imagination.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In my Ilona the Hun novels there are many messages. First of all, anything is possible if we have reasonable expectations and we are willing to put work into it. Understanding our own positive traits, flaws and limitations help us to create our own future.

Are any of your characters based on real people or events?

I include some historical events in my novels. However, the real events are incorporated into a fantasy story. I can’t really say my characters are based on real people although some of my characters slightly resemble people I know, either in appearance or bits and pieces of their personality. In Ilona’s story, there are some personal experiences. I am ambidextrous and I can’t cook just like Ilona. Elza’s character resembles my favorite sister-in-law, and I worked little stories into the book about my cat Miss Mirci Catchmousky as well as my gentle giant dog, Gypsy. I wrote about some personal experiences as well, from my years working as an ER nurse.

How long have you been a writer?

I’ve been writing medical articles for a long time, but I started seriously writing in 2008.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

It took me about six months to write my first alternative healing book in Hungarian and I sent it to a publishing company. I braced myself for a lot of rejection before I hoped to see my book published, but surprisingly I received the accepting letter within a week. I played with Ilona’s story for about a year and finished the first two books when I discovered self-publishing in late 2011. I got many positive reviews and feedbacks from readers which made me decide to rewrite the books and continue with the third book in the series. I sent the first book Birthright to the Best Indie books of 2012 award contest, to my delight, it was chosen as semifinalist. The finalist books will be announced in September and the winner of the award in October. The editor at 5 Prince Publishing read my story recently and they offered to publish the trilogy.

What other careers have you had?

I worked in the medical field all my life as a registered nurse and ten years ago I received my PhD in Alternative Medicine.

Do you write under more than one name? Why?

I write under my real name.

How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?

I can honestly say I’ve never been bored in my life, I’m busy doing something every moment while I’m awake. I love the mountains, but because I’m not really an outdoor person, I enjoy the scenery from the comfort of my car. Bike ride is my favorite exercise, but I ride my bike that goes nowhere in my living room, because I don’t like to swallow bugs and rather walk miles in a museum or art gallery than in the tick infested woods. For fun I read, write, go out with friends. To relax I do crossword puzzles, gobelin or paint. My day is not complete until I made a difference in at least one person’s life with either a medical advice or just a caring word, touch or a smile.

What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?

People I meet the first time find me a pleasant, average looking and positive thinking person. Usually they put me in a “mental box” where they store people who are nice, but there is nothing special about them. Later the things I do or I’m interested in come up in conversation, or they find out from others and then they put me in the mental box labeled “fascinating people”. What fascinates people about me most is that English is my second language and I have the courage to write and compete with writers who grew up speaking the language and were educated in English. I wasn’t, I thought myself watching Rambo movies and cartoons for a month and then slowly graduated reading teenage books with the help of a dictionary and after one year reading and understanding Shakespeare. I also notice that people find fascinating the fact that I find the time to do all the things I want to do.

What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

I worked in many areas of the medical field and found my calling in the Emergency Room setup. I always loved the dynamic and fast paced environment, the unpredictability and demand for acting and making decisions fast. In my personal life, I love and respect animals, and somehow they know it. Abused and runaway dogs and cats in the neighborhood always end up on my doorsteps and they always find love and care. Wild animals feel safe in my backyard as well, chipmunks, crows, groundhogs, bunnies, you name it, they live in my backyard. The orphaned baby foxes we raised – I put together a picture book about the experience – still visit sometimes.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

It wasn’t any particular author or book; it was my father who loved to read and introduced me to the wonderful worlds locked in books at a very early age. I have many favorites, I cannot choose. I love to read about our past, but not only the dry facts and events. I love to read from authors who can make the past more real and bring our ancestors alive and closer to us in their stories.

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

My family and friends are supportive and read my medical books, however very few of them like fantasy stories. I think most will read my Ilona the Hun novels only when by a miracle or rather with the help of fantasy book lovers becomes a best seller novel.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Hungary and came to the US twenty years ago. I live in the beautiful Catskill Mountains in NY.

How do you come up with the titles?

I think that is the hardest part of writing, at least to me. I keep changing the titles throughout the writing process and I’m still not satisfied when the book is finished. It must be a glitch in my brain preventing me from coming up with the perfect title. I have fun writing three hundred pages and I struggle to create a word or sentence for a title. Figures!

Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?

Not really. I interact with hundreds of people in my work on a daily bases, and when I started writing it became just one more thing I did and enjoyed. I don’t have a schedule either, sometimes I write an hour, but there are times when I can sit by the computer and write for ten hours straight. I only write when I really feel up to it, otherwise I think it would quickly turn into a job.

Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?

I am definitely a multi-tasker, working on one project at the time bores me.

When not writing, how do you relax?

I catch up on medical related articles; watch fantasy and sci-fi movies, go out to a nice dinner with friends or take long rides in the mountains.

Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.

I love to meet new people and I “don’t judge a book by its cover” before I get to know them.

I love animals and I provide environment for them around me where they can live as their nature intended them to live. I won’t put a bird in a cage or keep a cat inside watching nature through a window. I won’t try to teach them tricks or perform unnatural tasks.

Makes me happy and accomplished when I can help one person a day in some way.

I stop and smell the roses, in other words I notice and appreciate beauty in life.

I’m not a gatherer of material wealth, but I love life’s small luxuries such as a comfy bed to read, a delicious dinner with friends, soft and comfortable clothes or a beautiful new painting in my living room from an unknown artist.

Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.

Currently I’m writing the third book “Destiny Altered” in Ilona the Hun series as well as “Grandma’s herbal remedies” which I will self-publish soon. The history of Hungary goes way back and there are lots of fascinating and heroic events to write about. My next project is going to be another historical based novel combined with fantasy.

Please share any links you would like listed in the Interview. Website, Myspace, blog, facebook, yahoo group etc.








Description of “Birthright-Bestowed” book one of Ilona the Hun series.

Ilona is an emergency room doctor, born into an ancient Hun tribe which still exists hidden amongst us with its strict and fiercely enforced rules. She doesn’t know much about her Hun heritage besides legends, customs and rituals that she continues out of respect for her parents whose sudden death ten years before devastated her. She plays her tune on her birthday given to her by her grandmother.

Elza – Ilona’s housekeeper – explains, the purpose of the tune is to let the elders know she had come to age. Her mother didn’t have a chance to explain her inherited powers, but after her 29th birthday when she is considered as an adult by Hun standards, she begins to remember the forgotten instructions concealed as rhymes her mother was teaching her since she was a small child.

Ilona discovers she can heal with her bare hands; she can rearrange the human body to its healthy state. This ability is exciting as well as frightening. She is conflicted between having confidence in her intelligence and inherited abilities while having no confidence as a woman. Her insecurity created barriers which keep others out, and I also keep her caged in.

She’s been in love with her unsuspecting best friend Bela, when a dashing stranger explodes into her life. The sudden magnetic feeling frightens her and discovering evil in him doesn’t help either. A sinister dark man appears, Ilona connects his presence with the series of mysterious deaths around her. Zoltan saves her life by jeopardizing his, which prompts Ilona to start fitting the puzzle pieces together and discovering the ancient tribal secrets that not only can change her future but the future existence of the Huns as well.


I found my housekeeper Elza in the kitchen, busy making breakfast. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a tight bun. She was wearing a gray uniform with the crisp white apron pressed and wrinkle free. I had always hated that darned uniform, yet she insists on wearing it and she ends our countless arguments over it every time by saying, ‘I am your housekeeper. I like who I am, and that’s that!’ It makes no difference to her that I am the boss – she always does as she pleases.

I tried to force my disapproval and nagging thoughts to subside. Elza seemed preoccupied; she turned away quickly when I reached for her hand. She knew I could read her feelings by touching her. She surprised me, but I respected her wish. Yet it bugged me that she was trying to hide something from me. To feel that strong yearning inside, and then be emotionally rejected by my own housekeeper, started affecting me more than I could tolerate. I just hoped that after prayer and breakfast everything would return to normal.

Ema, Elza’s daughter and Rua, my groundskeeper, joined us in the living room to begin our usual Morning Prayer. The role of leading the ceremony had fallen on my shoulders ever since my mother had died. I never fully understood why I had to do it. After my mother was gone, Elza insisted that I continue the True Hun tradition, so I obeyed to please her. When I had pressured her to give me an explanation, she always clammed up. She said I would find out when the time was right. There goes nothing, again. I don’t understand all the secrecy about being a Hun. What the big fuss is about is beyond me. I hoped the awful feeling would stop so that I could enjoy the day. Hopefully, concentrating on the ceremony will help me to calm down, I thought.

I lit the sacred candles infused with herbs, and I placed it in silver candleholders on the small round table. The ancient wooden figurines of male and female holding hands stood between the candles, with our delicately carved Turul bird. The statues were small; they had a deep, warm brown color. My family had owned them for who knows how long. The rich shiny brown color came from the hot herbal tea poured over them every morning by Elza, and many before her, for generations. The bird held widely stretched wings over the male and female figurines. Beside the statues was an ancient, dark leather-bound book. It contained the names and life stories of my ancestors.


Blog Blizzard – Erika M Szabo – Author

My name is Erika M Szabo, I am an Alternative Medicine practitioner and author. I am a Hungarian born American; I live in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. I received my PhD in Alternative Medicine ten years ago and published a few books in this subject in Hungarian and English.

I love the art of healing and I love to bring awareness about Holistic Healing; however, writing about dry medical facts doesn’t satisfy my thirst for storytelling. The ancient history of the Huns always fascinated me, it is full of holes, mysteries and speculations; there are only a few written facts about my ancestors besides their legends. I use my fertile imagination to fill the historical voids in my alternative history/fantasy Ilona the Hun trilogy.

I like to raise questions such as – What if healing by touch could be possible? – What if we could find a soul mate no matter the obstacles? – What if we could visit our ancestors on a whim? – What if our destiny is not written in stone and we can create our future?

About me as a person as well as a writer:

This picture above is one of my “official” pictures. I was tortured to get it done, believe me. My artist and my daughter Eszter plastered makeup on my face, poked at my eyes with mascara brush and glued my hair with hair-gel. She made me pose and twisted my joints for hours to get the shots right, so after all that abuse I use it! ..

Got ya!!! That painting is not me, it was done by Eszter and it’s not me, promise!

I love challenges. I’ve been told that I dance to my own tune (or so to speak, because I never really mastered the art of dancing. That’s next on my list). I’ve been told all my life by family and friends what I cannot do. Naturally it all began when I was a kid.

“You cannot use the umbrella as parachute!” Of course I did, jumping off the garage roof. As a result of my rebelling stupidity, I received a cast on my broken leg.

“You can’t ride the horse; you have a cast on your leg!” Of course I did, and I ended up with a cast on my other leg too.

“Honey, guns are for boys! Do some embroidery, be a good girl.” Of course I joined the club, and I competed in target shooting for years (I was pretty good at it too).

“You cannot go to America! Alone in this huge country without knowing a word of English?” Of course I did, I’ve been happily living in the US for twenty years.

“You definitely cannot go back to school. It cost too much and you’re a successful nurse, you have a wonderful job. Be happy with what you are.” As you might have guessed, I became a doctor of Naturopathy.

“Are you kidding? You cannot write a novel! You have an accent and English is your second language.” Of course I wrote my novel series, Ilona the Hun novels.

Judge it for yourself if I lived up to the challenge. I’m not a daredevil by any means. I have reasonable dreams; I just don’t like it when people try to box me in and try to assign me a role in life.
Who knows where I would be today, and most of all who I would be without my strong will to follow my dreams.

I’m not a very good housekeeper; I have a load of used to be white clothes turn dirty pink to prove it. My vacuum-cleaner hates me, it growls at me and as a protest stops working when I often neglect to pick up shoelaces, pennies and other items in its path. And yes, dust bunnies… let’s not go there! But I’m proud to announce, I have a green thumb. Well not really with my outdoor plants, but at least my “window-garden” plants like me.

I was a “closet reader” growing up.

I am a book hoarder. I ran out of bookshelves a long time ago, so books are stacked everywhere in my house.

My Mom respected educational books and knowledge, but reading a novel in her opinion was a waste of time. She was a true realist, a down to earth person and a “hands on” type, always busy doing something. She didn’t tolerate it well when my Dad and I got so immersed in a good story that we forgot about our assigned chores such as empty the garbage, dusting or keeping everything neat and tidy. (I cleaned my room alright, it took me about three minutes altogether to stuff everything in the closet or under the bed, and then my nose was in a book.) My Dad and I became “closet readers” or so to speak. We came to the conclusion that “what Mom doesn’t know, she can’t frown or yell about”.

Of course now, I have hundreds of books in every room in my house and on my Kindle – whoever invented it accept my gratitude – and I read, and I read a lot.

I write as well, mostly Alternative health and healing related books. The ancient knowledge of healing with herbs and food was passed down from generation to generation in my family. I furthered my knowledge by receiving a PhD in Alternative Medicine.

I love the art of healing passionately, but sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed by reality. I like to take a “mini vacation” I call it into fantasy world. On a rainy day I scanned my shelves for something to read, and I couldn’t find any books that I haven’t read yet. Usually I have a few new books stashed, but that day I didn’t have anything new. I was complaining to my daughter, and because her taste is different when it comes to reading, she didn’t have anything to offer. I kept going back to the shelves to find something, and I was mumbling to myself that I should have picked up couple of books on our recent trip to the mall. Eszter had enough after a while, and she said, “Mom, stop whining! If you don’t have a book to read, then write one!”

It shocked me at first, but I was playing with idea for days. After giving it some serious thought, I decided that it was a stupid idea. I read about how to write a fiction book. “I am not a literary genius, I have no idea how to create a good story line or form characters and make up a plot.” I thought, but it didn’t leave me alone. The history of the Huns always fascinated me, they were my ancestors. I wanted to create a fantasy story peppered with historical facts. The idea of Ilona’s story kept hunting me, and I kept adding events and dialogs in my head. One day I had enough, I sat down by the computer and I began writing. “Just for myself. Writing down the ideas swirling in my head is far better than being hunted by them. “I thought. And I kept writing for months, and then I realized I never had so much fun doing anything in my life before. Somehow the characters came to life on their own; they developed under my furiously typing fingers.




Keep your body healthy is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon, you can take a look by clicking the cover on the carousel above

You don’t wear the same size or style shoes that neighbor does. You don’t listen to the same music, you don’t do the same job, and you don’t have the same medical condition. Then why are you eating the same food as your neighbor and thousands of others eat? Are you sure that the fruit cocktail served at a party has the same benefit for you as for others?

You dislike banana, oatmeal, turkey or cheese, but you eat it anyway, because it is the norm. “It is good for you!” they say. Who are ‘they’? Nutritionists who decided that one size fits all apply to not only for your pajamas but your diet as well? Did you notice that although dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and good for you, it gives you migraines? Drink milk, they say, but maybe for you, milk is causing too much mucus in your body and is the cause for your chronic respiratory congestion.

We’re different. Not only in our appearances or temperaments, our nutritional needs are different as well in order to achieve our optimal health status. This book tells you which basic physical-mental type you belong to, and what kind of foods and supplements make you healthy.

The first three books of the series, the best healing herbs for different illnesses. Herbs are versatile. I chose this description, because versatile means competent in many areas and able to turn with ease from one thing to another. Herbs contain chemical compounds which are useful to treat multiple conditions. Many herbs fit into more than one category, because they have more than one specific effect on the body.-An herb can be a great expectorant as well as helping to reduce cholesterol level or regulate blood sugar-An herb can be used to treat the flu as well as to combat other diseases which caused by viruses. An herb can be a very effective expectorant as well as to strengthen your immune system.

You will find notes with each herb that tell you the effectiveness and properties of each particular herb. So many herbs are available today in health food stores, however it can be very frustrating when you try to choose the right herb for your condition and symptom.

-Which herb should you take for bronchitis, cold, flu, dry cough or asthma prevention?
-Should you choose fresh her, dried herb to make tea from, or use capsule or extract?
-Can you take them if you’re taking antibiotics or other medications such as blood pressure or diabetes medications?

The first three books of the series, the best healing herbs for different illnesses. Herbs are versatile. I chose this description, because versatile means competent in many areas and able to turn with ease from one thing to another. Herbs contain chemical compounds which are useful to treat multiple conditions. Many herbs fit into more than one category, because they have more than one specific effect on the body.-An herb can be a great expectorant as well as helping to reduce cholesterol level or regulate blood sugar-An herb can be used to treat the flu as well as to combat other diseases which caused by viruses. An herb can be a very effective expectorant as well as to strengthen your immune system.

You will find notes with each herb that tell you the effectiveness and properties of each particular herb. So many herbs are available today in health food stores, however it can be very frustrating when you try to choose the right herb for your condition and symptom.

-Which herb should you take for bronchitis, cold, flu, dry cough or asthma prevention?
-Should you choose fresh her, dried herb to make tea from, or use capsule or extract?
-Can you take them if you’re taking antibiotics or other medications such as blood pressure or diabetes medications?

Book one and two were self-published previously with the covers above, coming soon with new covers published by 5 Prince Publishing.

Book 1 – Birthright was chosen as a semifinalist in Best Indie Books for 2012. The finalists will be announced September 1st 2012 and the winner of the award announced in October.

Book 2 – Birthright Bestowed. Coming October 18 in ebook and November 1st in paperback by 5 Prince Publishing

Book 3 – Secrets Revealed – Coming in December

Book 4 – Destiny Altered – Coming in August 2013

                           Ancient Mysteries; Timeless Questions
Ilona is a descendant of the True Hun tribe, which means nothing to her, until her twenty ninth birthday. The True Hun society is secretive and complex, with strict and fiercely enforced rules revealed only to those who have come of age. Ilona is a rebel, who is determined to control and guide her own life. Resourceful and daring, she crosses the line, and breaks those rules. She must face the consequences, even as she discovers growing magical powers she could never have dreamed of . . . powers tied to ancient tribal secrets.

The comfortable and uneventful part of her life ends, as she enters adulthood by Hun standards, and her journey of self-discovery begins. Ilona finds out that her birthright is to become a Healer. This legacy is in her hands, and in her heart and soul. Ilona’s destiny as a Healer runs alongside her desires as a woman. She is secretly and hopelessly in love with her best friend, and her hope is that one day he will present her with his Red Tulip – the symbol of devoted love. He seems oblivious to her feelings.

As Ilona grapples with this confusion, a dashing stranger explodes into her life. Will he break her heart, or bring true happiness? And will she be able to balance her life’s calling with this complicated love triangle? The barrier created by her insecurity kept others out, but also kept her caged in. She has to break the barriers to discover her true identity.

Her unusual heritage forced her to open her mind and heart to the unimaginable. She had to learn how to save her life, the future of the Huns, as well as her own sanity. Destiny made her take a leap from idle to warp speed. She had no choice, she had to accept the ride and find out everything by herself. She had to fit the slowly discovered puzzle pieces together. It was a hard journey of a naïve girl growing into a confident woman, unearthing buried secrets and discovering the history of the Huns, which her heritage had forbid her to know. Ilona is a very modern heroine, who grapples with the same questions many of us face today. What if we could wipe out disease? What if we could find a true soul mate, no matter the obstacles? And, most profound of all: If we knew we could use our innate abilities to do absolute good or absolute evil . . . which path would we choose?

When her life settled into a slower pace, she began writing a journal. She wanted to take a look at her life from a perspective, hoping it would help her to understand what had happened to her and why. Others who played a major role in her life joined her by writing about their own experiences. This journal depicts their struggles, heartaches and happiness, and it takes you to the mysterious world of the Huns.

Detoxify Your Body Naturally

I bet you’re thinking of the popular Hollywood detox programs, aren’t you? The coffee colonics, extreme purging, torturous enemas and such… well, don’t! Not going torture you, promise! I’m far from being one of those extremists who preach raw diet or torturous detoxifying methods! I love and take care of my body, and I don’t like torture. I love food, and I enjoy every meal immensely.

I just know what is good for me, and I know how to get rid of the toxins before they build up in my body. Our bodies were made to get rid of toxins and waste efficiently – if and I underline this – if we eat healthy, unprocessed food. However, because we can’t eat simple and organic diet anymore, thus we need a little helping hand in that department. Eat healthy!

Yeah, good advice, but what is healthy for you? Should everyone follow the same one size fits all diet? If you’d like to read about my advice on healthy foods, healthy lifestyle and the best supplements for your type, you might want to read my book “Keep your body healthy” which includes the owner’s manual or user guide for the body, what to eat and how to live healthy, what kind of vitamins, herbs and supplements promote optimal health, how to detoxify the body naturally, bizarre cravings and symptoms as well as vitamin deficiency and overdose symptoms. In this book, I’ll tell you how I detoxify and protect my body by eating my favorite foods and using simple methods.


In medicine: any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease.

Subjective symptoms are what you feel: headache, nausea, anxiety, abdominal cramps and so on.
Objective symptoms are what your doctor observes: abnormal heart or lung sounds, thyroid gland enlargement, palpable tumors and so on.

Symptoms are clear cut most of the time. Half sided blinding headache, sensitivity to light with nausea is most likely migraine headache. Sudden pain under the right ribs which refers to the back, accompanied by nausea and comes in waves is most likely gallbladder stone.

Other conditions are signaled by more complex symptoms such as increased appetite with weight loss, nervousness, faster heart rate, increased sweating, tremor of the fingers and tongue with heat intolerance, usually signals hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms can be unusual and even wacky at times, as if the body is a little confused and sending signals which need some interpretation.

You might ask, what on earth is my earlobe have to do with the condition of my arteries, or if I have frequent hangnails do I really have vitamin C deficiency?

 Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is in the fats (lipids) in the blood. Our body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, having high cholesterol level in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease.

When you have high cholesterol, fatty deposits develop in the blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through the arteries. The heart is not getting oxygen-rich blood it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to the brain can cause a stroke as well. in this book you will find short and easy to read information about traditional and alternative – including Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Herbal Medicine as well as dietary changes information about cholesterol treatments.

Try breathing in and out through a straw. You cannot draw enough air in, and you cannot blow enough air out. Probably the best description of how a person feels during asthma attack.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes episodes of difficult breathing. Asthma symptoms are caused primarily due to constriction, tightening of the muscles surrounding the airways, as well as inflammation, soreness, swelling and irritation of the airways in the lungs. Learn about traditional and alternative asthma prevention and treatment including Healing Herbs, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Herbal Medicine, Aromatherapy as well as dietary and environmental changes.

We found seven orphaned baby foxes in our backyard. This is their picture book story, how they grew up to be magnificent adult foxes.

Book review on Charlie Fox-

Ever so often, I really enjoy reading true stories about interesting things people experience or discover in life, especially those with intrigue and adventure to them. This is what Erika Szabo has provided in this inspiring book about The Magnificent Seven Baby Foxes. I also found the story to be heartwarming as Erika and her family, literally save the lives of these baby foxes, whose mother died when they were weeks old and unable to feed their selves. As they watched these beautiful animals over a summer season, they fed them and watched them playing and interacting with each other as they grew — also documented with photos throughout the book. They also began to recognize personality traits in them and they even gave a name to each of them. They got to know them from a close distance of observation, so well, that they could even recognize emotions they were experiencing and when one would became ill. They in-essence provided some parenting to these baby foxes, until they were able to fend for their selves and to survive on their own – which all of them did! It is a wonderful story that not only animal lovers will enjoy but also anyone who enjoys a good story of adventurous discovery and the triumph of survival when the odds are against it.

Newly published

This book is a collection of short, unedited stories in the author’s own voice and Hungarian accent. You might find an occasional grammar mistake – which is not her fault; it just wasn’t caught by her Microsoft program.

Yeah, good idea! Let’s blame it on them.

Some of the stories are funny, yet make you wonder. Sometimes you can’t help it but laugh at other people’s stupidity or clumsiness; however there is a small lesson learned from every event.

Other stories are not so funny and talk about human vulnerability, weakness, cruelty and courage.

We don’t really know our fellow humans, take time to get to know them and you can discover beautiful people underneath the various exteriors. You will find people worth knowing.