Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom: Thanksgiving As A Verb

You know the old saying about moms that says a Mom can turn anything into a verb? Like if you nag your mom all afternoon and then, while she's cooking dinner, you tell her you're hungry and ask her for a cookie, she might (if she's anything like me my mom) turn around shaking a finger at you and irritably declare, "I'll cookie you!"

Honestly, even if you stand there without a single pretense of a damn clue as to what she means by that, you're probably still smart enough to know it's not something good. So you leave her alone to cook, thank her for dinner, and then hopefully you'll still get that cookie for dessert.

Or something.

It works with Thanksgiving too. Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday celebrated in many different countries, in many different ways - but it's also a word, a feeling, an attitude. It's the glass half-full, it's the light at the end of the tunnel, it's a remembrance to stop and count the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving, not as a pretty concept or a food filled holiday, but as an action word that moves us toward the inherent hope of a new year with gratitude and inspiration.

Recently, I read a great blog series about Thanksgiving-inspired-Thankfulness, and as the blogger took time out of normal life to outline 70 different things he was thankful for, I found myself both inspired and surprised - he had things like death, pain, and silence, mixed in with more expected things like his daughter, his parents, and his senses, and ... well, his list (combined with the general thankfulness that tends to spread like wildfire in November) got me thinking about the things I'm most thankful for, so I thought now would be a perfect time to share just a few of those things with you, my readers for whom I am always incredibly thankful.



01. My Daughters
Mom life isn't always easy and single mom life can sometimes be downright miserable. My oldest has finally developed strong coping mechanisms for her ADHD/ODD/Anxiety, but we still struggle with teen issues - and my youngest is nowhere near developing adequate coping skills for her ADHD/OCD/Panic Disorder. To top it all off, my sneaking suspicion that she might be on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum is beginning to sneak with a lot less subtlety. It breaks my heart to watch my girls struggle with feeling abandoned by their dad, and the burden of coaching them through their emotions isn't always easy to bear.

But despite all those things ... my children are the very light of my life. They bring me unimaginable joy; there are times when I'm quietly sitting in the background just watching them be who they are, and my heart fills up so suddenly with so much love I'll actually cry a little. They're smart and beautiful, kind, considerate, and generally amazing young women, and I'm incredibly blessed to be able to know them. It honors me to be the one who gets to see so much of the process as they become, day by day, the women they will someday be.

02. My Parents & Family
I've talked a lot here about the way I was raised, and the things my parents endured in their divorce and subsequent second marriages - but I don't feel that their stories are truly mine to share, so I have (almost) always shared those stories from my own perspective, as a child who was there and was impacted by the various things happening around me. Still, my parents have taught me amazing lessons over the years, both in what I wanted to be and what I didn't - as well as what I want from love and what I don't. My parents, for better or worse, have always been examples to me, and as I pick through those examples to file away the bits and pieces I want to hold onto, I'm thankful for how valuable those lessons are.

The same could be said for the rest of my family, which is a mashup of amazingly wonderful people and amazingly horrible people. From the strength and resilience of my grandmothers to the intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit of my mother's younger brother to the cold, calculating cruelty of certain other members of the family, I can say with definite certainty that I come from strong people who tend to know exactly what they want and are eternally determined to get it. From this group of people, I have learned not only who I am but how to love myself for who I am. I've learned to accept so much about myself and the world around me, and I've also learned that I have the power to change what I cannot accept, one halting but persistent step at a time.

03. My Friends
In my life, I've known the joy of deep and genuine friendship my times, but my gratitude could not be nearly so encompassing without the fact that I have known the pain of insincerity. I have had people I trusted turn their back on me, and I've had friends walk out of my life without ever looking back. I've  even been ghosted by someone who consistently accused me of not wanting to talk to them but would frequently ignore messages and texts.

But I've also been chosen and held onto. I have known the sweetness of being in a dark moment just when the right person calls - I've put on a happy face and a false sense of cheer while answering the phone, only to be asked, "What's wrong? Why are you crying?" I've been known by people who could see through the smile and hear the truth behind, "No I'm fine, just tired." Because the truest friends don't just open up to you and trust you with their secrets - they also come into the quiet places in your heart and make themselves at home, learning your secrets and accepting them for what they are. Without the blessing of my friends, I would be a very lonely woman indeed.

04. My Dog
My dog Chance is probably my best friend in all the world. He is my dearest, most dutiful companion, steadfastly devoted to being the keeper of all my secrets. He has stood calmly beside me for five years, soaking up tears with his fur, calming the fires of anger with puppy kisses, and sending away the shadows of loneliness simply by being there. He helps with my anxiety, he serves as friend and companion to my children, and his loyalty to Team Kennedy is unmatched. And it is his presence in my therapist's office that gives me the strength and courage to be there. I'm so thankful for his steadiness and his genuine desire to love and serve my little family, and I'm even more thankful when I think of how we almost missed having the blessing of each others's company.

05. My Emotions
When I am not emotionally numb due to my struggles with PTSD and PMDD, I am a woman of great emotional depth, and on the days when my emotions are working, it isn't uncommon for me to run the gamut emotions all in the space of one short 24 hour day. On these emotionally flooded days, not only do I tend to feel a wide range of emotions, but I feel each one incredibly strongly. These are days when I laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Days when I love more deeply, smile more widely, and celebrate with abandon, not necessarily because all the emotions I'm feeling are good ones, but because I can feel them.

There is a place in life for sadness, for pain, for fear - the negative emotions are unpleasant, yes, but how can one truly appreciate something sweet without first having endured the shivering grimace of bitterness?

06. My Faith
My life has definitely had its share of ups and downs, but the one thing that always helps me through the toughest times is my faith in Christ. Prayer gives me peace and hope, my Bible gives me courage and guidance, and the teachings of my faith help me make sense of the world around me, even when it's ugly. My faith inspires me to seek beauty even where there is none, and to find compassion for even the most challenging people, because no matter how difficult the individual, I am (almost) always mindful of the belief that each and every person was created on purpose, for a purpose, by a God whose wisdom is infinitely greater than mine.

07. Language
Without the blessing of words and the ability to use them to express my thoughts and feelings, I would be a complete and total disaster. Writing has been my favorite and most effective coping mechanism since long before I was even old enough to consciously recognize it for what it was, and I am and will always be eternally thankful for the gift of eloquent expression. It is through communication with one another that we foster love and closeness, share our sorrows and struggles, and form the intimate bonds that take us beyond the limitations of the spoken word - and I give heartfelt thanks each and every time I sit down at a keyboard, not only because I feel so blessed to be able to use words to create art, because I am humbled and honored to have readers to appreciate it.

08. Sleep
This week has been a busy one for me, which is compounded by a lack of sleep. My nightmares have been worse, my nocturnal panic attacks have been more frequent, and I've had a general sense of discomfort that has plagued me for the last several nights. I'm exhausted - and that's why this list ends here instead of being as long as I had wanted it to be. Because sleep, when I can find the peace to rest in it, is one of the biggest, most restorative blessings of my life. And frankly, I'm in desperate need of some.


If you liked this post because you've also been practicing thanksgiving as a verb, please share the link with the people you're thankful for! Make sure you take the time to subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar, too - it's a great way to make sure you'll never miss a post. I want you to know that another thing I'm always thankful for is your comments here - I love it when my readers make this blog interactive, so definitely leave a comment and tell me all about what you're most thankful for down below!

Just in case you're new here and didn't know this, if you like this blog and want to take an active role in helping to keep it all running, there are several different ways to get involved. The easiest is just to make a donation here; you can choose any dollar amount and do it whenever or however often you like. But, if you're a book lover like me or you'd like to help take charge of my writing on a more committed basis, skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens. Not only is Patreon a great way to help me manage the costs of running this blog (and life in general because hey, a girl's gotta keep the coffee pot percolating!), but this is also where my readers find a whole new way to read my novels - while I write them.

My patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors by choosing their favorite reward tier (starting at as little as $1 a month), and that sponsorship gives them access to all sorts of content: the $1 tier gets access to one new romance chapter a month, two brand new poems from my upcoming poetry collection, the weekly L.A.F.F.S., and occasional content polls! But the best part of Patreon is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our goal right now is 25 patrons, and when we hit that goal, I'll start dedicating each of my blog posts to one special patron - which means YOU could be getting public shoutouts right here on the blog, just for being one of my Patreon subscribers!! Even better ... when we get to 50 patrons, I'll double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same monthly contribution from you. (PhLogs are public though, so go check those out for free - a really hilarious one went up over the weekend, and it still makes me laugh every time I think of it.)

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, my social media profiles, or even Patreon, you can always rest assured that my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal. Click here to find out more about what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

And as always, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Soiree: International Women's Entrepreneurship Day

Sunday Soirees are so much fun to post, especially when they just happen to perfectly align with all my favorite themes. Today is Women's Entrepreneurship Day, and while I didn't know until a few days ago that this was a specific thing (because apparently I live in a cave), I love it that we have a day dedicated to celebrating the strength and determination of women like me who want almost nothing more than to be able to start and run their own businesses.

Entrepreneurship is always a huge deal for the women in charge - we're often risking everything we have to make a dream into a tangible reality, and for women entrepreneurs who are also mothers, there's always more at stake than simple failure. For me, my writing dream is to be able to support myself and my family on the money I make from writing, but more importantly, I'm hoping that by achieving my dream through book sales, blog revenue, and the support of my sponsors on Patreon, I'll be showing my kids they can achieve their dreams, too. Granted, I have a long way to go before that dream even begins to look truly possible ... but the dream is still alive and well.

We tell our kids all the time that with the right amount of work and determination, they can grow up to be whatever they want to be - but our actions tell them otherwise. If we're healthy enough to work, we spend our days clocked in at jobs we barely like, working for money that barely covers what we need to survive. We aren't thrilled with our work, with our homes, with our incomes, with our possessions. And when we're done with work that doesn't fulfill our spiritual and creative needs, we're too tired to do the things that will. Even among those of us who are ill, whether it be due to physical or psychological limitations (or both) we still aren't doing the things that heal and sustain us.

We excuse ourselves from chasing our passions and our dreams because we're afraid of failure, but also because even as our parents promised us we could be whatever we wanted to be, the world told us that we can't. And in many ways, both sides of the argument are right - there's still only ONE country music star of the year. There's still only ONE number one richest woman in the world.

But EVERY person, with enough effort and enough passion, can become a country music star. EVERY person, with enough effort and enough financial stewardship, has the potential to become the richest woman in the world. Or the most famous. Or the most intelligent. Or the most whatever-they-want-to-be.

If only they have the courage, the grit, and the network support to try.


I know a woman who has talked to me several times about her various business ideas, all of which are exciting and fun and perfectly aligned to who she is and the kinds of things she holds dear.
  • IDEA #1: A secondhand furniture shop, crowded with beautiful pieces she restored and revamped. I can picture her in that shop, surrounded by the scents of wood and paint and furniture polish, with multi-colored specs of paint in varying shades of dryness spattered over a white t-shirt and a pair of navy blue fitted capri jeggings. She would have her hair swept up out of the way, and would wear cute white sandals as she greeted customers, sold them her beautiful creations, and then went back to sanding and painting. Each new sale would fund the next project, and while she would go to bed sore and tired each night, she would still wake up ready and energized each morning.
  • IDEA #2: A treat shop, serving various forms of frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, caramel, candy, etc. I can picture those too, and the joy on her face as she served customer after customer from a counter freezer filled with frozen bits of banana on popsicle sticks, each decorated colorfully with swirls of chocolate and sparkling sprinkles. She would wear sweaters to work every day because she'd get cold standing near the freezers, but her heart would be warm because serving others makes her happy, and her eyes would spark with delighted satisfaction as she closed and locked the shop doors at the end of every long day.

It saddens me to know that she will never open either of those shops. She'll think about them sometimes, and maybe she'll wish now and then that she could do it - but she won't.

The really sad part about it is that she could. She has the finesse, the servant spirit, the creative streak, the hardworking attitude. She has the strength of will and the gentleness of spirit. With some finagling, she would even have the money to set it all up. What she doesn't have, and will probably never develop, is the confidence to move on her ideas even in the smallest of ways, because the fear of failure is so much greater than her most fervent wish to try. And it hurts my heart to know that she has everything she would need to succeed - except for the ability to see herself succeeding in business.

But the thing is, all over the world, there are millions of women living with that same lack of confidence in their own abilities, with an incredible dream that might even be incredibly feasible given enough support, and those dreams will never see the light of day. Because too many of us have had our dreams stamped out. Too many of us have internalized "can't."

This is why women with an entrepreneurial spirit are such a major asset in our society. Women are not destined to be only beautiful, emotion-rich creatures of service and nurturing - yes, those are God-given gifts many of us possess, but women entrepreneurs are also intelligent, innovative examples of the amazing things that can happen when brains and brawn come together inside the same soul.

From the humble beginnings of writers like JK Rowling (and me) to the more lofty ambitions of media giant Oprah Winfrey (man, I wish), the world is a better, more imaginative place because of the courage and determination of women in business. The world of technology made gains through the grit and persistence of HTC creator Cher Wang, and women worldwide are able to glean both courage and knowledge from sharers like Chalene Johnson. Because of women, our world has become - and is still becoming - something that it could never have been without the power of a woman. (Click the name links in this paragraph for recommended inspirational reading from/about these amazing women! Each link goes to a book currently on my wishlist of books by and about the most absolute boss babes on this planet.)


If you liked this post, please share the link with your friends, and I also invite you to browse around while you're here. Feel free to subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar, too - it's a great way to make sure you'll never miss a post! I love it when my readers leave comments here, too, so it would be great if you left a comment about your favorite woman entrepreneur; tell me how you discovered her, what she means to you, and how she inspires you to  grow and learn. Maybe your comment will be the one that helps me find a new SHEro I otherwise wouldn't have discovered.

And if you didn't know, if you like this site and the content I produce (or just want to support the dream!), you can totally take an active role in helping to keep it all running! There are several different ways to get involved; the easiest is just to make a donation here - you can choose any dollar amount and do it whenever or however often you like.

But, if you're a book lover like me or you'd like to help take charge of my writing on a more committed basis, skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens. Not only is Patreon a great way to help me manage the costs of running this blog (and life in general because hey, a girl's gotta keep the coffee pot percolating!), but this is also where my readers find a whole new way to read my novels - while I write them. My patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors by choosing their favorite reward tier (starting at as little as $1 a month), and that sponsorship gives them access to all sorts of content: the $1 tier gets access to one new romance chapter a month, two brand new poems from my upcoming poetry collection, the weekly L.A.F.F.S., and occasional content polls! But the best part of Patreon is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our goal right now is 25 patrons, and when we hit that goal, I'll start dedicating each of my blog posts to one special patron - which means YOU could be getting public shoutouts right here on the blog, just for being one of my Patreon subscribers!! Even better ... when we get to 50 patrons, I'll double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same monthly contribution from you. (PhLogs are public though, so go check those out for free!)

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, my social media profiles, or even Patreon, you can always rest assured that my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal. Click here to find out more about what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

And as always, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.


*NOTE: I often use affiliate links in my product mentions on this site, so remember that if you choose to click my product links and end up purchasing through them, I will probably receive a (very) small commission for referring you to the merchants and products I love best. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you - but also know that my family and I appreciate your support! (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with, click here.)