Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interviewing the #UndauntedWoman: Jodie Pierce

Welcome to the very first post in my brand new interview series - Interviewing the Undaunted Woman. In these monthly interviews, I'll be talking with women YOU nominate, asking hard questions about how your favorite undaunted women became the strong and admirable humans they are today.
click here
So let's jump right in and say hello to the woman of the hour: August 2017's Undaunted Woman, Jodie Pierce. Jodie is someone I've encountered many times in recent years - she's an author, a blogger, a wife, a crafter, and a friend. She's encountered struggles with mental illness, domestic abuse and assault, and in just the last year, she's survived the loss of both of her parents. She's still standing strong though, walking through each day with her chin up and her shoulders back, and while I am so grateful for her friendship, I also truly admire her strength.


1. Tell me about yourself - what's your story, and how did you become an undaunted woman?
I lived through emotional and physical abuse as an adult by men I thought I loved. I’d been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder. After my suicide attempt (drugs, prescriptions and cutting my arm in the bathtub-like in the movies), I had a stay in a mental facility for eleven days and I found mandalas to color which seemed to mellow me out, relax me and still do to this day. I have Fibromyalgia and bad knees and back which physically limit my activities. I live with these things every day and it’s just become a way of life for me.

2. Have you ever struggled with confidence and/or self-worth? If yes, how did you overcome that struggle - and if no, how did you avoid it?
I still struggle with self-confidence every day. It was this self-struggle that led me to do drugs and sleep around some, allowing others to dictate my behavior. But when on the drugs, I felt ‘free’ and I felt like my physical limitations were gone. After the suicide attempt, I met a great man online and we married within three months. Now, I have a great new husband who tells me every day how beautiful, sexy and smart I am. This has helped me to overcome the horribleness I’d endured in the past. When I was at my lowest, shortly after my suicide attempt, he and I met online and found an immediate connection both physical and emotional. He brought me out of the darkness that I’d fallen into and shed light into my world with him in it. I’ve always been an independent soul so yes, it’s silly that I needed a man to do that but I was spiraling and needed help. I was just lucky that it was him that came along as I’d finally found the right man for me.

3. What is the one thing you've survived that makes you feel most like an "undaunted woman?"
The physical abuse. It was so horrible, even though it was only just one year. The mental abuse was bad but the physical was so much worse. Luckily for me, he got an underage girl pregnant and had to leave his situation with me. So, I didn’t get myself out but my patience endured and came through for me.

4. What aspect of your current life do you find most rewarding?
Having a wonderful husband who makes me feel amazing and supports anything I wish to pursue.

5. What is your favorite successful strategy or coping mechanism for dealing with challenging people or situations, and how is that strategy impacted by what you've survived?
I think some of the ‘helplines’ associated with mental health, physical abuse and suicide have been a step in the right direction for helping others. Seeing a therapist over the years has helped me deal with my past issues. It’s not that I can’t talk about anything with my husband, I’d just rather tell a stranger my problems as it’s their job not to judge and just listen. This helps me feel better, anxious but better. Also, being able to adjust to circumstances and talk things out like adults instead of behaving the way I did when we first were together…I was very angry with everything at that time.

6. What other woman do you most admire, and why?
Anne Rice. She lived through losing the love of her life in Stan Rice and continued to pursue her writing career and be so successful. She is an amazing, friendly and humble person. I got to meet her in 2014 and she was everything I’d hoped she’d be and more. She is the reason I write about vampires. I loved vampires from a young age but never thought about writing about them until I read her book, ‘The Vampire Lestat,’ which really changed my life.

7. What one quality serves you best as an undaunted woman?
My focus. As much as I’ve been through, my focus has kept me driven, for example, with my writing. I don’t make a lot of money at it and will, honestly, probably never have a best-seller but I don’t let that stop me. I continue to put out books, books I’m proud of. I’m also kind of like a ‘dog with a bone’ when it comes to things. If there’s something I don’t know and need to know, I research the crap out of it until I find out what I need and more.

8. What one quality are you most looking to improve in yourself?
My anger. In seeing a new therapist, she asked me to keep a journal of my anxiety levels. I’ve found that when I have a higher level of anxiety, I also have bouts of anger to go along with it. I never realized how angry I am and how much I tend to take it out on my husband, even if he’s not directly involved. Guess the ‘you always hurt the one you love’ reigns true here.

9. If you could do any one thing right now to help other women become undaunted, what would you be doing?
Volunteering at a women’s homeless shelter and public speaking. I would love to travel the world, speaking about my experiences and how I got through them, and that they can do it too. This is what I did with my book, Inside My Head ... I gave exposure to what it’s like with being Bipolar. More awareness needs to be brought to the forefront of society. It no longer is taboo and needs to be spoken about.

10. If you could stand in front of every woman on the planet right now and speak into their hearts, what would you most want to say to them?
‘You are beautiful, talented, and deserve the best in life. You can do anything you put your heart and mind to. Life is going to present its challenges and tests but it's how you come through them in the end that you should be most proud of.’


Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with me, Jodie! I think this was a great start to this interview series, and I loved the way you opened up to share your strengths with other women. I can appreciate your sharing about how angry you get with high anxiety levels as well, because anger happens to be one of my defense mechanisms too, and it's one of the things I like least about myself.

I truly appreciate you being so willing to come and share with my readers!


Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out with Jodie and I today - I really appreciate you're being here, and I know I can speak for Jodie and say that she does too! I'd love for you guys to leave an encouraging comment for Jodie below this post; even the smallest encouragement can mean the world to someone recovering from trauma.

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my everyday journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way.

To get even more personal come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing journey. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life and advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists - and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our goal right now is 25 patrons; when we hit that goal, I'm going to start posting daily PhLogs!! (Click that link. Most are subscriber-only, but some are public - I think there's one about flappy labia, too.)

As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! This first interview was a thrill for me, and I'm so happy to have been able to share it with such an amazing friend. The second interview will come up at the end of September, and I can't wait to introduce you to our next Undaunted Woman!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my everyday journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who just want the inspirational parts of my content without all the personal aspects, connect with me on social media - that's where I like to share all sorts of things, from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more. But however you decide to keep in touch, 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, August 27, 2017

Sunday Spectacular: Book-Themed Decor

I know my first "Spectacular" round-up was on a Saturday - but Sunday just seems better for something as chill as a round-up, and a round-up was the first thing that came to mind when I opened an email from Havenly.com earlier this month. Havenly is a company that allows you to have a virtual interior designer right in your pocket - so to speak. Signing up for an account with them allows you an opportunity to interact with a real professional designer, have help with creating the perfect design for your space, and even have access to concierge shopping services that help you make sure you end up with the look and arrangement you want.

And what's better than great design help? Great conversations that inspire great blog post ideas - like this one!


For ages now, I've had a secret board on Pinterest that actually revolves around this very idea, and it's full of pins I thought I might someday use for book-themed meet-and-greet parties with my novel readers. But the other side of that thought is that it's a cost-effective and recycle-friendly way to utilize occasionally misprinted paperbacks of my novels (like that time when a huge order of books all came in with a heartbreaking red tinge that made every book in the order look like the cover had been sunburned), books that are messed up because I forgot to double-check some detail (like that time when I ordered a bajillion copies of Selkie - without the page numbers), or when I change covers or formatting details but still have previous editions in my personal stock to deal with or dispose of.

Not too long ago, I wrote a fantasy post about my "happy place" - just a glimpse at a moment in the home I dream of settling down in, long after the RV adventure is behind me, the era of cruise exploration has ended, and life tied to one place finally starts to look appealing. The one major certainty is that inside that home - and I suspect inside any other home I end up living in between now and then - there will be books.

Books are like blood for me; I need them to be there, need them to exist, filled as they are with dreams and wishes and the sort of happy ending I have yet to see manifesting in my own life. I need the sugar-sweet moments and the fantasy turnaround, the sorts of lines readers use in reviews and tattoos and authors use on teasers and blurbs. I need a few of the chapters filled with beautiful prose and little else - the moments readers find boring and authors cannot bring themselves to delete, because even the mundane can be beautiful when properly expressed. Aside from being one of my favorite entertainments, books are a personal wish yet unfullfilled, a promise of a dream's possibility.

Honestly though, I rarely pick up a real book anymore - not for reading, anyway. And yet, they hold a purpose for me still; there lies a certain joy simply in being able to look at them. So they're in stacks on tables, they're stashed in corners and drawers. They stand side-by-side on shelves, wait quietly to be rediscovered in boxes in various closets, and I even have a basket of books in the back of my van - just in case I should ever need one.

They're good for more than just reading, too; there are countless other ways to enjoy the magic of the written word and the beauty of the printed page. And for a book lover like me, these all look like perfectly lovely ways to celebrate the splendor of a story:

It's amazing isn't it, what we can do with just a book? It's just a stack of paper sturdily held together, printed with so many pretty lies (unless it's non-fiction, and sometimes even then!) - and yet it opens worlds of imagination, gives us lessons to live on and grow from, models to emulate and heroes to love.

Thanks for the idea, Havenly - this has been one of my favorite posts to put together lately, and the time spent on Pinterest made this work feel like so much play. A good number of my other pin boards grew in the making of this post as well - and as usual, I found tons of great new ideas for whenever "someday" gets here.
Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is this utterly adorable book necklace that would make a perfect gift for your favorite book lover - it's stainless steel so it won't tarnish or lose its pretty finish, the heart cutout from the cover is totally adorable, it can be ordered with custom back-cover engraving, it comes in three different color choices, AND it comes with a chain! Shown below in blue, this necklace is an easy gift to pick up, and for less than five dollars, I think you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.


It also comes in black and in gold-tone, and I just love how totally cute it is. If you click over to check it out, make sure you look through the item photos - the little pages even turn!

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links, remember that if you choose to click any product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
What kind of book-themed decor or merchandise do you love? Or do you love books at all? I'd love to hear about your favorite book-themed things (or why you don't have any) in the comments - it's always great to have the chance to chat with you guys!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my everyday journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way.

To get even more personal come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing journey. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life and advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists - and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our goal right now is 25 patrons; when we hit that goal, I'm going to start posting daily PhLogs!! (Click that link. Most are subscriber-only, but some are public - I think there's one about flappy labia, too.)

As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

For those who just want the inspirational parts of my content without all the personal aspects, connect with me on social media - that's where I like to share all sorts of things, from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more. But however you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thankful Thursday: Affordable Eyeglasses with Zenni Optical


Random fact about me? I have eye issues - a bunch of 'em. I'm farsighted, I have different astigmatism measurements in each eye (goes along with the different colors, huh?), and I have chronic issues with dry eyes that cause me to be pretty much blind from eye fatigue by the end of most evenings. I can see to walk and stuff like that, and can maybe watch a little TV or something ... but that's about it. No fine detailed stuff, no reading, nothing that needs me to be able to see details clearly.

So I have a pretty nice pair of silvery-purple-ish glasses that I wear daily, from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. They fit well, they look alright on my face, they aren't too heavy, they don't fall off. Oh, and I can see with them (Still can't read street signs from too far away though. Meh.).

But they were pretty expensive, so you can see where it would be irritating and highly inconvenient for me to begin noticing places on my cute little glasses that were always "dirty." Places that couldn't ever be really cleaned anymore. Places where that fancy li'l finish was rubbing off. Not good.

When one of the nose pads literally broke off and fell in my eye one night while I was watching YouTube, it became very clear that I needed new glasses -  I can't see to write without them. I can't see to read without them. And without my glasses, my knitting is going to be all kinds of jacked up.

But I needed them to be affordable too, since I'm currently sitting in the hardest financial place of my typical year. The girls just started school, which meant over $100 in school supplies that got tacked onto my usual budget, along with the little things the girls needed for school, like socks and stuff like that. And on top of that, the Christmas nuts have already begun their countdowns - did you know that as of this morning, there are now 123 days until Christmas?

123 days for this single mom to make magic happen again for kids who still love twinkle lights, the Elf on the Shelf, and Santa's Christmas miracles.

I even tried some nonprescription ones just to see if they would be good to keep around for "emergencies" - I bought a $20 pair from WalMart that sucked (flimsy feeling, maybe a little too strong? I got the +2.00 strength.) and a $1 pair from the Dollar Tree that also sucked (also flimsy, maybe no strong enough? I got the +1.75 strength that time. The sunglasses were okay though, I guess.) The thing was, even with totally discounting the correction I needed for my astigmatism, if +2.00 felt too strong and +1.75 didn't feel quite strong enough, what the heck was I supposed to do?

I needed a pair that matched my prescription for sure.

Thankfully, Zenni Optical had my back - and while this post isn't sponsored, I will be using affiliate links because you guys. Seriously. If you wear glasses, Zenni is absolutely the place for you. I'm not kidding - look:


So anyway, I needed new glasses - and while I was worried that they would suck as bad as the non-prescription ones, even I can part with $6.95, right? Zenni makes it easy for you to order what you want too, with lots of options for every budget. You can sort their merchandise by lens shape, frame size (did y'all even know glasses came in sizes?), color, tint, and even single or bifocal lens styles. You can sort male/female oriented styles, or you can shop them all to find what works best for you - and once you've found a pair you like, Zenni walks you through adding your own eye doctor's prescription to the glasses you're ordering! Once you've done that, you'll choose lens type and tint, and this is also where you'll have the option to add other cool features like anti-glare coating, UV Blue-Blockers, or polarization/photochromic transition.

Each additional option obviously adds to the price of your glasses and there's a wide range of pricing available for eyeglass frames as well, so there's no way to predict the final outcome of your order, but since it was my first go-round with Zenni Optical, I wanted to play it safe - I chose one pair of "Lightweight Metal Rectangular Glasses" (frame #461821, if you want some for yourself) for just $6.95, added my prescription, and kept everything as basic as possible to save cash. I skipped all the extras I could possibly skip (except for the standard anti-reflective coating for $4.95), finalized the order, and checked out with a total of $16.85.

Seriously. Sixteen dollars and eighty-five cents for brand new glasses that fit my face, match my prescription, and look pretty good?

So obviously, I was pretty sure they'd fall apart as soon as I looked at them - or at least they'd feel like they were gonna.

But they didn't.

The glasses came wrapped loosely in a little cleaning cloth, tucked into a hard case in a very pretty aqua color, which was in turn tucked into a bubble envelope to keep everything safe during the mailing process.

And you guys. They work. I can't tell any difference at all between my Zenni's and my other lenses, except that these are new and as yet undamaged by daily wear. They feel solid in all the hinges and joints, and the only thing I wasn't too sure about was the actual arm part that sits over the ear. Those definitely felt flimsy to me at first - if you hold them out, you can twang them like those little things that used to always be behind your bedroom door. But duh, they're pretty much unbendable unless you're really trying, which I'm not.

I've worn them daily for a little over a week now, and I'm in love. Pretty sure I won't be buying lenses from anywhere else in the near future - and I love that if I should need or want a new pair of glasses anytime soon, I can get them without breaking the bank.

But in the meantime? The next treat I get myself will be a pair of fresh new prescription sunglasses - from Zenni, of course.
Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is obviously anything from Zenni Optical - I'm still amazed with my glasses, super thrilled with how affordable they were, and totally can't wait to pick up a pair of sunglasses that actually have my prescription in them. Another idea I've bee thinking on is to grab myself a set of glasses with Zenni's Beyond UV Blue-Blocker lenses - they're supposed to help protect your eyes from computer (and other screen) fatigue, so I'm wondering if I'd have less evening issues with the added protection.

In the meantime, if you wear glasses (or love someone who does), definitely head over to shop up-front low prices on prescription glasses at Zenni Optical, with frames starting at just $6.95!

Quick Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post, but since I am using affiliate links, remember that if you choose to click any product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

If you've tried Zenni before (or wanted to but didn't feel sure about it), let me know in the comments! I always welcome feedback from my readers, and I'd love to know if you guys love Zenni as much as I do.

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my everyday journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

However you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Movies: Safe Haven

Click Image To Purchase on Amazon!

Starring:
Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders,

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Released: 2013
Length: 1h 55m

Safe Haven starts out with a serious injection of suspense, with a girl running from ... something. It's dark, she's terrified and crying - and I'm instantly hooked. She's plainly on the run, and when it turns out the Boston police are looking for her, you can't help but wonder what she's done.

Our gorgeous heroine, brought to life by the beautifully dainty  but not-to-be-underestimated Julianne Hough, ends up settling somewhat accidentally in the idyllic little town of Southport, North Carolina, where it doesn't take long for her to catch the attention of Alex, who runs the convenience store on the pier.

The movie flips back and forth between Katie as she builds her new life, and the detective attempting to hunt her down - and despite my reasoning that if the police are looking for her, it must be for a good reason, I find myself rooting for Katie, watching hopefully for clues as to what happened to her, and already just a little sure that whatever she's running from, whatever she's done ... it's not her fault. And the more I got to know about Alex, the better I liked him too. Single dad, struggling widower, kindhearted, and cute - I mean really, what's not to love, right?

As the movie progresses there are lots of little hints toward what happened with Katie, but as I got more into the story and more intrigued by her budding relationship with Alex, I stopped watching so closely for the mystery and let myself fall in love with the romance.

Still, behind the love story, the mystery is alive and well, and the sneaking suspicion that's been nagging at me through the whole movie only grows more insistent with each scene with the detective hunting our heroine. Who is he? What does he want?

And then ... the twist. The plot twist that had my mouth falling open even as my heart screamed, "I knew it!!"

As I watched the rest of the movie, there was pit in my stomach that made me wish I wasn't watching it alone - and yet this wasn't the sort of movie I could have drawn my girls into for the company. It was hard to watch, and I found myself wishing the description of the movie had been just a little more clear. Had I been warned, I would have been able to watch it better, with a little preparation. All the same, a part of me knew from the very beginning - I was warned by the screaming bells in my head, by the sense of nauseous dread that settled in me from the very first scene, by the way my breath caught and my skin broke out in goose bumps. I knew.

Plot twist number two? Chills. Panic. Another one I saw coming but just wasn't ready to watch. I watched with tears in my eyes and my teeth clenched so hard it made my face hurt - but I watched.

And then I took a shower and had a good long cry before coming back to watch the rest.

Hidden Delights From This Movie:
1. The first look at the beach, which made me so homesick my heart started aching and my mind brought back the salt-scented air of the ocean with absolutely no effort at all.
2. When Alex fell through the floor, I actually laughed out loud. It was nice to watch Katie drop her fear long enough to feel comfortable.
3. The rain. And I know, a couple stuck in a rainstorm is kind of classic for Nicholas Sparks, but ... I don't know, there's just something about those moments. Caught in the storm, two people having to let their guard down ... It can only end well. And it's a bucket list item for me, so there's that.
4. Everything until Alex got back in the cop's car. The dance? Yes. The kiss??  *swoon*  You guys, I can't, oh my gosh.
5. That plot twist though. Damn!
6. "I'm in love with you. And if you stay, I promise - there's no safer place in the world than right here with me." The hope that a man can say this and actually mean it? I cried.
7. Lexi's lie. So straightfaced and so instinctive - but it spoke volumes of her strength and wisdom, as well as her willingness to protect what (and who) she loves.
8. That letter. What a beautiful and very, very Nicholas Sparks sort of ending. 

I loved this movie - despite all the times I had to pause it, despite the gasp moments, despite the times I closed my eyes because listening was all I could do. I loved it for the hope and the encouragement, for the softness and sweetness of the romance. I loved it for that hot first kiss, for the way Alex was as a dad, for the way he couldn't be the hero for Katie - only a source of much needed confident courage. It's a must-see ... it just is.
Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is ... one of my books, Fighting For Freedom. It's the first book in the Freedom Series, but much more importantly, it's a story with certain similarities to this one - a story close to my heart and wildly important to me.

In Fighting For Freedom: "He'd finally done it. He'd beaten me to death. For years, I'd been taking it, accepting the beatings, silently believing the worthlessness he saw in me. I'd obeyed his rules, I'd catered to his whims. I finally woke up in a hospital bed. Bruised, broken, in shock. That was the moment. In that moment, I knew that I had to get out. I loved my husband. I missed him. But I needed more than he would ever offer. I deserved more than I'd been given, more than flying fists and fragile tempers. I deserved to wear what I chose. I deserved to go where I wanted. I deserved goodnight kisses. I deserved gentle touches. I deserved to feel loved, and not possessed." WARNING: Although it is meant to be a story of hope and physical empowerment, this book is focused on the topic of domestic violence and abuse, and it does contain scenes of extreme violence as well as some very strong language. It is NOT suitable for young readers (Purchase for KindleiBooksNookKobo, or Inktera/Page Foundry.)

The Freedom Series is a series of women's fiction romance novels. The series begins with Christine Matthews's journey from victim of domestic violence to victorious conqueror of circumstances. Later in the series, we'll see the rest of Christine's story, as well as get to know other strong and resilient characters, each one fighting for freedom, each one desperate to escape prisons of their own making.

NOTE: This is usually where I have my affiliate disclaimer, since I'm usually using affiliate links through which I receive a (very) small commission. To be clear, while the image for Safe Haven at the beginning of this post IS an affiliate link to Amazon, I am not using any affiliate linking for Fighting For Freedom, as this is my own book (and duh, ethics). If you'd like to see a more complete list of my sponsoring and affiliate companies, you'll find them here.
As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

If you've seen this movie and wanted to add anything in the comments below, please feel free - I love the opportunity to interact with my readers, and if you think someone you know would be interested in this movie review, definitely pin or share this post!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

However you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Feels: August


Ever since I started this segment two months ago, Friday Feels has been so fun to write up. (Read the full intro and the very first Friday Feels here; find the whole post series here.) With the depth and seriousness of most of my content and my focus on mental health and my life with PTSD, it's fun to take something as complicated as human emotion and carve it down to something as simple as this little list.

In the original Friday Feels post, the idea was to take ten feelings I'd been living with (and struggling through), list them out, and then share about what had me feeling those particular feelings. But then for the second post, I thought wanted to have a little more fun with it and also take the exploration of my own feelings into a deeper place. I didn't want to spend every month listing, "happy, sad, excited, angry, etc." - so I thought if I used totally random feelings, that would help me change things up a bit with each post.

Still, as unpredictable as I like to think I can be, I know me well enough to know that I'm not all that great with "random." I tend to stick with the tried and true, which would have made this kind of boring for all of us. To prevent that, for the last post I googled a random feeling generator, clicked on this page, refreshed it ten times, and came up with the feelings I used - which was perfectly random enough, and lots of fun. This month I repeated the process, and I came up with the following:

1. Anxious:
We've just wrapped the second week of school here, and it has been a rough time for me anxiety-wise. My van is still running but the transmission slips slightly more often than before, school supply lists were LONG and are still coming, class fees are being requested, and the specter of Christmas is looming closer again. My annual post office fee is coming due, too - and while I am managing to juggle things in a way that mostly works, that doesn't make it less stressful. One five-dollar splurge is enough to set things back in major ways for my little family, and the pressure to keep everything together and running smoothly wears on me. Worrying about failing to keep things together for my kids haunts my days and keeps me up at night - and worrying over that is hurting my ability to function in therapy, which keeps my PTSD symptoms high. I'm debating finally giving in and asking for medication after over 15 years of fighting it - despite the fact that this in itself is a source of anxiety for me because of previous experience with someone who abused medication often, and even overdosed in front of me when I was a teenager.

2. Disregarded:
Honestly, the aspect of my life that makes me feel most disregarded lately is ... motherhood. I'm a single mom, and my two daughters are 13 and 8 years old - so as you can imagine, with a pre-tween and a teenager, we have more than our fair share of estrogen flowing through the air, which often leads to waves and waves of hurt feelings and unintended insult. This flows in both directions, too; I'm a pretty human sort of mom, and I mess up a lot. Sometimes I don't see until things have already gone wrong that Eden's extra-hyper behavior is because we forgot to do morning meds or because she's anxious on the weekends when her dad is around - and then she ends up in trouble for acting-out behaviors that aren't necessarily her fault or her choice. Sometimes I don't realize Joey's extra sassy because she's feeling hormonal or because she had a spat with a friend or she's anxious on the weekends when her dad is around - and then she, too, ends up in trouble for acting-out behaviors that aren't necessarily her fault or her choice. I'm not always the best listener, because I have my own issues, too.

But like I said, it flows both ways - and when it flows my way, it's usually in the way Eden constantly interrupts me when I'm talking, or when I'll tell Joey some story or anecdote, only for her to pull an unseen earbud from her ear and hit me with the dreaded, "Huh?" Or it's in those moments when I'm saying things over and over and over and over and over and over again, with my kids totally acting like I'm not there and they can't hear me. It isn't uncommon for me to throw my hands up impatiently and ask, "Hello?? Did I go invisible again??"

To which, my children often don't reply - because the answer is yes.

3. Hostile:
One of my pet peeves is passive aggression and whatever that thing is called that makes people want to dangle things in front of others and then swoop them away again at the last second. Like, don't ask me if I want chicken or fish for dinner, and then listen attentively to my answer, only to tell me that we don't have any chicken or fish, so we're having tofurkey burgers. This is one of the fastest ways there is to piss me off - and not just in the food form either. So having to tolerate and endure frequent exposure to someone who has repeatedly done that to me definitely brings out my inner hostility. In general, I pride myself on being a nice person, on being likable and someone who can adapt to change and usually find some common ground to get along on - but I guess ... well, let's just say there are some people I'm praying extra hard for these days.

Also, I'm pretty pissed with HP right now, because the laptop I bought earlier this year keeps glitching out on me for exactly no reason at all and leaving me stuck using my old laptop - the one with the space bar that likes to do three or four or seven spaces instead of one. Today it totally crashed and HP tells me I'm going to need a hard drive replacement. Really, HP? Really? I AM NOT THRILLED, HP. NOT. THRILLED.

4. Intrigued:
The thing that has me most intrigued these days is RV's and everything about them. I've even been going out to local RV dealers and looking inside them - taking note of what I like and don't like about them. And why? Well, that's because I'm thinking once my girls are grown up and gone, that'll be the perfect time to buy one, live in it full-time, and use it to explore the U.S. Eden won't be eighteen for 10 more years, and by then we'll likely have also lost Chance ... I'll be on my own at that point (unless of course I'm not single anymore), and able to go exploring for long periods of time. And I can't wait.

5. Inquisitive:
Since the crashing of my computer was literally during the writing of this post, I guess the one thing I'm most inquisitive about at the moment is how I paid $48 for a damn 2-year service agreement which was supposed to protect me in the event that something happened to my laptop, and then when something DID happen to my laptop, HP gave me a choice between $25 and a two-week waiting/shipping time or $49 and an approximate five day turnaround for an in-home tech. So here's my inquiry - what the heck was my original $48 for?? What's it good for? What's it cover?

And how dare you ask if I want to know about all the other service plans you can offer me that'll waive all "future $25 fees," Mr. Heavily-Accented Middle Eastern Customer Shaft Rep ? I mean really, how bad DO you expect your products to suck, then? I bought an HP laptop because I needed a longstanding product with a strong name and a strong reputation. What I didn't need as a single mother was a strong company with weak ethics trying to nickel-and-dime me half to death over a product that didn't even last four months before it crashed.

6. Miserable:
Miserable. What a strong word, right? But perfect for a strong emotional state - the kind that becomes common when you live with PTSD and deal with significant depression on a daily basis. Depression isn't new to me; I've been living with it in various stages and forms for most of my life, often charged with putting aside my own issues for the sake of others close to me. Misery is so much more than sadness. It's a depth of unease, a spirit-deep sense of unbelonging, a nagging feeling of ... wrongness. I read something once that said SOMETHING ABOUT MISSING A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO - well for me, misery feels like not just missing that place, but having actually been there and knowing what you're missing. And maybe it's also a sense of knowing that you've been banned from that place.

7. Pleased:
Lately, the girls and I have been watching our way through Once Upon A Time together. We spent the last year or so watching through Gilmore Girls together with my kids's grandmother (their dad's mom), and after we watched the very last Gilmore Girls reboot episode, it didn't take long for us to start feeling the absence of that time we had grown to love spending together. We aren't just sit-down-and-watch-it kinds of girls - we often like to talk our way through movies and shows, pausing to explore the themes and lessons hidden within the plots, to dissect a bit of dialogue or talk through the meaning behind some pop culture joke. It's not uncommon for us to watch a scene several times just to get the depth of the nuances hidden in it. Makes us annoying for others to watch TV with, but this makes the experience richer for us in many ways, and we've had a really great time so far exploring our thoughts and feelings about life through the stories in Once Upon A Time. We've only just started the second season, and the girls both love it so far!

8. Playful:
What makes me feel playful? Music. Music is life for me; it's one of my favorite coping mechanisms when I'm stressed, one of my best friends when I'm lonely, and the place I can always go when I need to feel understood. But more than that, it's fun and freedom, it's dance and joy. It's play - and it's one of the best ways I know to turn a bad mood around. I even have a "Dance Mix" playlist that I use to get my body moving and my blood flowing when I need my spirits lifted.

9. Respected:
Lately, the place I've been feeling most respected is here. In the last few months, I've been approached by a couple of different companies interested in partnering with me, and that has been super flattering and totally validating. Working with LoveBug Probiotics has been a major thrill for me, especially because it wasn't an opportunity I hunted for - they came to me. It felt like a sign that I'm doing something right here, which was only confirmed by another offer from another company that I'm now totally thrilled to be working with. I'll be telling all about it soon ... but not quite yet. (Want a hint? Bet you can find one here.)

10. Serene:
Even with all the turmoil in my life these days, there's one thing that leaves me totally calm. Totally chill, as Josephine would call it. Totally cool, as Eden would say. So what is it?

My prayer life. Recently I watched a video a friend shared with me, and it was about trusting more completely in God, believing in His work in your life so fully that you can rest assured of His ability and willingness to give results. Not to say you should just quit working toward things or anything like that, but that when you're working, you're doing it with certainty of results to come. Like with this blog, like with accepting partnerships and publicly saying that I love being able to do that. Like writing a book, knowing that the right readers will see it at just the right time for them. Like mothering my kids and believing that I'm not the only one looking out for them, even when I feel like I am. That video changed my life, and I hadn't realized how much I needed to hear the words spoken in that video until I heard them. I sat on the front porch and listened, tears streaming down my face.

And I understand the serenity prayer a little differently now, too.



Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is Emoji Uno - because you guys for real, it's Emoji Uno! How cool is it that this is even a thing? Because regardless of what we're feeling, the girls and I are always up for a game of Uno, and we think emoji's are a really fun way to modernize such a classic card game. Check this out!



And really - Emoji Uno? Seriously, did y'all know about this?? Click the photo or the link above to check it out!

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links in this post, remember that if you choose to click product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
I love these posts! They're truly fun to write (except for when my laptop crashes - ahem, HP), and I'm looking forward to watching the link-up grow in time too! If this post touches or helps you in any way, please feel free to tell me in the comments, or you can always hit me up on any of my social media pages. If you know someone who would benefit or learn from what I've said here, I invite you to share it with them. And of course, if you'd like to write your own "Feels" post and share it in the linkup, go ahead - just be respectful and stay on topic please!!

As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. I'll share my pain with you, yes - and it won't always be easy to read. But I'll share my growth with you as well, and hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

But however you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Talk: Domestic Abuse Is More Than Beatings


I haven't talked about this much here - not in the way I'm about to and not nearly as much as I might have wanted to, out of a desire to protect myself and my children from the repercussions of words spoken without a great deal of thought. I've talked about the abuse I witnessed and endured as a child - but with limitations:
  • I didn't name my abusers.
  • I didn't give towns and addresses.
  • I didn't give the name of the group home I spent a year in as a child after both my mother's and my father's houses were deemed unsafe for me due to my step-parents violent mental health issues.
  • I didn't share much about the way my mind and body began to break down under the stress.
  • I didn't talk about the ways I acted out or the ways the things I was dealing with impacted my health.
But even with those limitations, I have suffered consequences of my openness. I've lost relationships with family members. I've lost friends who couldn't handle knowing what I'd been through - friends who, after knowing what I've seen, could no longer see me in the same way. And there are other aspects of all of it that I have never - and will never - speak of again outside of therapy, not after being accused of "making it up" by someone too busy protecting themselves to protect me.

Still, I've been pretty open about the violent abuse I witnessed as a child, as well as the abuse I endured personally. What I haven't been as open about is the way that abuse led me into one abusive relationship after another over the years. I don't talk much about the first serious relationship I was in as a teenager; I don't talk about how the first boy to kiss me was also the first boy to pressure me into things I didn't want to do in bed ... I don't talk about how he was also the first boy to hit me. I don't talk about how I blamed myself and let it go - because I had already been taught that abuse is the victim's fault. I don't talk about how those moments were formative for both of us, or how our friendship now is always and will always be tainted by those memories.


BUT DOMESTIC ABUSE IS MORE THAN BEATINGS
IT'S CONSTANT CRISIS & REPEATED THREATS & APOLOGIES THAT AREN'T MEANT
I don't talk much about another relationship I was in, where I found myself attached to a drug addict who lied to me constantly about his addictions - about how serious they were, about how much they changed who he was, about his intention to get them under control. He would "go" to Narcotics Anonymous meetings; he would kiss me goodbye when I dropped him off (we had one car), walk in the front door alone, and walk directly out the back door with the drug-addicted woman he was having an affair with. I suppose they had more common ground, and now, these many years later, I don't resent him finding someone he thought might be a better match for him - by that time, we both knew we weren't meant to be. But I was lucky I left him when I did - he ended up catching an STD not long after we separated, and the knowledge of what he was doing was part of what gave me strength not to take him back, especially in the moments when I was lonely and afraid of life as a single mom. I don't talk a lot about when the rage kicked in and he started threatening to kill me. I don't talk a lot about what it felt like to file for a restraining order and have it denied because "he hasn't tried anything yet." I don't talk about the nightmares and panic and what it's like to constantly be looking over your shoulder, scanning streets and stores and driveways and parking lots and even my own front yard. I don't tell a lot of people that the shower scene in Fighting For Freedom - the one where Christine was too afraid to get out of the shower - was drawn directly from that time in my life, when I had to pep talk myself into every shower, and then once I was in, pep talk myself back out. I don't talk about how that still happens sometimes.

But perhaps most importantly, I haven't talked in obvious ways about yet another relationship - the one that taught me just how dangerous charm can be, the one that opened me up to someone I will always believe was narcissistic abuser. An abuser who quietly slipped into my life and took it over so smoothly that I hardly even noticed. I haven't talked about how, before him, even I still believed that "domestic abuse" wasn't real unless your mother got hit by a truck and your brother got shot in the eye and you got stripped naked to have your bruises photographed in the guidance counselor's office at school. I didn't believe it was abuse unless it was violent - until HIM, until I had endured so many years of covert psychological abuse that it triggered my PTSD and left me with an imploded life full of broken bits I still haven't been able to sort out yet.


DOMESTIC ABUSE IS MUCH MORE THAN BEATINGS
IT'S GASLIGHTING & MANIPULATING ISOLATION. IT'S REPEATED CYCLES OF LOVE-BOMBING & GHOSTING. IT'S USING CHILDREN AS TOOLS. IT'S ECONOMIC ABUSE AND CONTROL FOR POWER. IT'S PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE FOR FUN.
Domestic abuse isn't always brutal beatings and black eyes. It isn't always bruises covered in makeup and children with mysterious injuries. It isn't always obvious violence - or the obvious fear of it. Sometimes it's the false promise of a future that doesn't exist. It's a painted dream, an illusion, a fantasy.

Sometimes:
  • It's a person creating a fictional self and passing it off as real, and then attacking others when the truth behind their persona is revealed.
  • It's a person who engages in isolating his/her significant other by humiliating and embarrassing them in front of their friends until those friends stop coming around (for example, ruining and abruptly ending every social gathering by throwing themselves to the floor and pretending to suffer from temporary paralysis until conveniently right after everyone left - and then continuing to do this until they stopped coming at all).
  • It's a one-income household where the person with the paycheck controls everyone else by using money (or the lack of it) to maintain power. It's where the person in control makes a point of pushing others around by reminding them of their lack of power, or using economic well-being as a means of dominating through sabotage, threats, and other forms of intimidation. 
  • It's imprisonment - through economic or any other means.
  • It's the psychological warfare of silent and covert abuse - the various means of victimizing through making someone else doubt their sanity.
  • It's gaslighting; it's all the times a victim hears, "that didn't happen," or "you must have imagined it," or "I didn't do that ... YOU did." 

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people give me softly spoken and slightly condescending variations of, "Well, at least he doesn't hit you." With several of my relationships, that was the excuse that kept me coming back for more. In abuse situations, "at least he doesn't hit you" often works to negate the total erasure of personal boundaries, as well as the various covert punishments victims of abuse tend to encounter when stepping out of line - many of which are not violent but are still equally damaging.

  • It's when you get used to going to bed alone - when your sex drive goes dormant from neglect because your partner won't leave porn long enough to have actual sex.
  • It's repeated cheating, and then blaming the victim for being hurt and sad and insecure.
  • It's never taking responsibility for wrongs committed, for repeated insults. It's the abuser telling the victim to "get over it" and "let it go" - while still continuing with the hurtful actions.
  • It's disregard or even mockery of the needs, feelings, and values of others.
  • It's constantly calling and talking and gift-giving, followed by complete and total silence.
  • It's the infliction of constant financial crisis and the impact of a record of unpaid bills and unmet contracts.

It's the relentless and nearly impossible burden of recovery.


  • It's using children as pawns, attempting to purchase their loyalty after abandoning them, or using physical or financial threats to guilt or force them into choosing sides.
  • It's the mind games you're forced to fight through and live with when there are children involved and everything is more complicated.

It's a book called Fighting For Freedom, a collection of memories mixed into fiction by a woman writing every word as a prayer for a freedom she can barely even imagine achieving. Yes, in it's clearest forms, it's violence and bruises and broken bones and blood. But sometimes it's quiet - sometimes it's so subtle even the victims can't see it until it's too late, so sneaky even the people who witness it can deny it's happening. Sometimes it's this:


But here's the thing - that video gives hope and hints at possibility. For some. You see, in order for the woman in the video to have filled all those tampons with cash, she would have had to have access to cash. Maybe she was allowed to have a job - or if not, maybe she was allowed an allowance.

For many victims of this kind of abuse, this is not the case. For many victims of this kind of abuse, access to money is so limited that you begin to forget little things about it.
  • You have to mentally talk yourself through the process of pumping gas because you've forgotten how to do it.
  • You always run your atm card through the reader backwards because for so long, you never got to go to the store and use one.
It's forgotten independence and learned helplessness - it's a loss of self, mourned by the victim and celebrated by the abuser. It's a breaking of the sense of autonomy that makes us feel like humans - it's a recognition, a becoming, a reverting back to the animal that lies within. It's Pavlovian training. It's Stockholm Syndrome. It's forced and/or learned co-dependence.

It's punishment, however subtle that punishment may be, for the existence of self and the establishing of boundaries. It's neglect and starvation and homelessness - or the constant threat of it. It's the idea of violence, if not the act of it - hidden in the way an abuser stands over a victim or blocks doorways on purpose or exerts physical strength and personal dominance just to show that they can.

And while the video I shared above is wildly powerful - there are victims out there for whom even that much hope seems impossible, for whom recovery looks unachievable, for whom the hits just keep on coming.

There's no featured favorite product today - just a reminder to look upon others with kindness, without judgement, without preconceived imaginings of who they are and how they got that way. We don't always know other peoples' stories. We don't see what goes on in the recesses of their lives, in the quiet behind the closed doors - and even when they choose to open those doors, we still don't see everything.

Fortunately for the girls and I, I have help - I have people who step in every day and encourage me to keep going and to keep growing, who hear me out when I need to talk or sit with me in the silence when I need to NOT talk. I have my therapist and my friends, I have this platform and the emotional freedom it gives me, and I have the complicated blessing of my friendship with my daughters' grandmother - who has gone out of her way to make space for the girls and I to rebuild, despite many reasons she might have chosen otherwise.

Many do not have even these things - and while I sometimes find myself suffering, I am grateful too, for those who stand beside me in my darkness, for those who reach out in that darkness to guide or walk beside me, those who call my name from their place in the light, reminding me that my darkness is not infinite.

NOTE: This is usually where I have my affiliate disclaimer, since I'm usually using affiliate links through which I receive a (very) small commission. Today I'm not using them because I feel that it would cheapen the depth and personal importance of this post - but if you'd like to see a list of companies I'm currently working with, you'll find them here.
Writing something as honest as this post is exhausting. It took five hours to write - with much of that time spent carefully poring over every word, desperately trying to straddle the line between my desire to be honest and open, and my desire to protect people who are not at fault and shouldn't be made to feel as if they are. I stopped to cry more often than I would have liked. I drank wine during the day. And I prayed this post would be seen by people who need it. If this post touches you in any way, please feel free to tell me in the comments - or if you need someone to talk to privately who can understand and commiserate, send me a message at authorbrandikennedy@gmail.com, or hit me up on any of my social media pages. If you know someone who would benefit or learn from what I've said here, I invite you to share it with them.

As always, 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." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. I'll share my pain with you, yes - and it won't always be easy to read. But I'll share my growth with you as well, and hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without as much of the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

But however you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I truly thank you for being here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Sentiment: A Letter To My Daughters' Future Husbands


Lately, I've been loving Meghan Trainor music. Not that this is particularly new, but my musical tastes tend to cycle quite a lot; one day I'll be keeping time with Marshall Mathers, and the next I might be crooning along with Carrie Underwood. You just never know.

These days, it's a lot of Meghan Trainor - she has the right amount of sass to appeal to the side of me that's empowered and undaunted, the right amount of vulnerability to appeal to the girl in me who just wants to be chosen and treasured and loved, the right amount of jazz to get me booty-shaking around the house, dancing to the music of my own spirit. When I'm feeling challenged and/or indignant, I love "Lips Are Movin'" and "No Good For You." When I'm strong and confident, I love "NO" and "All About That Bass." But when I'm most me ... when I'm feeling good about me in a way that's so rare and yet so incredible, I love "I Love Me" and "Me Too."

I love LOVE LOVE the reminder of worth that lies behind "Better," and I love both the message and the boundaries behind the upbeat "Title." When I'm in my feelings, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" never ever fails to get me feeling all kinds of romantic. But recently, I've been hearing a lot of "Dear Future Husband."

Which got me thinking.

Certain recent ... complications ... in my personal life have gotten my mind turning things over, examining the little pebbles that make up the baggage of my soul. And as I've picked up each little pebble and turned it carefully over in my mind, remembering where it came from and how I ended up carrying it, I've been facing the differences between the things I most sorely miss about being in a relationship ... and the things that make me happy about my current single status.

As I examine and explore the possibility of that single status perhaps not being quite so permanent as I've come to imagine, I've also been thinking about how my experiences - and my relational views based on those experiences - will impact the choices my daughters will someday make as women.

When they begin to choose the boys and men who help to form them as women in ways that even I can't.


I pray for my sons-in-law (son-in-laws?) often already, just like I pray for my daughters - but while I'm praying that my daughters will be good people and good girls, strong influences on their friends and accomplished young women in their studies, I'm also already praying for the men my daughters will grow up to marry.

They're thirteen and eight right now, so when they think about marriage in their futures, they think about it in the way that mostly-sheltered little girls think of marriage - but me? I've been married, and I've been divorced. I've been chosen, and I've been left behind. I've been loved - and I've seen the man who once loved me look at me with the most impossible disdain ... when he bothered to look at me at all.

As their mother, a letter to their future husbands would be easy to write:
"Hey, dude. You see that girl right there? She's my whole world, the very reason the sun rises and falls. She's bone of my bone, and blood of my blood. So let's just clear up some ground rules, alright? One, you keep your hands gentle and your dick to yourself. Two, you keep your words kind, and refrain from playing with her heart and emotions. Three, she is to be taken care of, and you are to serve as a leader she can trust and believe in. Because if you hurt her or let her down, I will make you wish you had never been born. "
Easy enough, right? Except ... it doesn't work that way. So instead, I'll pray for them:
"God, I don't know the future. I don't know Your plans. And while this terrifies my humanity, the divine inside my heart believes in Your purpose for my life - and the lives of the children You entrust to me. Help me to guide them, to teach them, and not to leave them quite as scarred as I have been left - help me to be the upgraded version of my own parents, giving my children my best in a way that lifts them above the place I came from and sets them on a path to places I was never meant to reach. And as I am working each day to walk with my children, let their husbands spend each day walking in the hands of parents who love You. You know them already - from their eyes to their hair to their hearts - because You created them with as much purpose as that with which You molded my girls."
And with that prayer in mind, the letter to my daughters' future husbands changes just a little:
"Listen, son. Let's get just one thing straight here. That girl you're anxious to get your hands on was raised by a mama bear with a protective streak a mile wide and a temper fuse barely a centimeter long. She's got a mama who will look at you with suspicion, a mama who will inspect her for possible damage at every given opportunity, a mama who will inscribe your name on every weight found wrapped upon that girl's shoulders. 
But it won't be intentional, and I want you to know in advance that I'm sorry. I'll do my best to make sure I hold my perspective on life, on love, and on you - I'll do my best to remember that you're only human too, and that while I have loved her since before she was even born, our journey together has not always been easy. And her journey with you will not be easy either. I'll work to remember that that's not always your fault - and also to remember that even when it is your fault, it still mostly isn't my business.
That being said, I've been praying for you for almost as long as you've been alive, and I believe God has a reason for you. I promise to keep praying for you, not only for my daughter's sake and for the sake of her happiness and safety with you, but for your own sake as a man. Be encouraged, because while this girl is not always easy to love, she is always worth the effort. But as her mother, I would ask a favor of you - I hope it isn't too forward or too much to ask. 
One, don't stop dating her once your married. Remember those moments when everything was new? When you couldn't forget the smell of her perfume and nothing lit up your world like laughter in her eyes? Hold onto that, and don't lose sight of her beauty when she's being ugly. Two, stay impressed with her. You may not share all of her interests and passions - and you aren't meant to. But love her for the things she loves, for her enthusiasm, for the excitement that turns on more than just her body. Love the things she loves through her eyes, for the sake of the joy on her face; I promise she will have been taught to do the same for you. Three, be a leader worthy of her respect - not because I've raised her to be submissive, but because if you can earn and hold her respect while gifting her with your respectful consideration, she will be thankful for your presence as a strong hand in her life. 
Do your best to leave a mark on her heart as a lover, but never forget how important it is to keep one foot in her 'friend zone' - because this is truly where the richness of her spirit lies. Don't just hear her speak; take the time to listen to what she's saying. And as often as possible, make sure you have something to say back. Spoil her, please - but not only with physical treasures and mementos of your time in her life. These things are passing and won't be enough for either of you, so instead ... as my girl becomes your woman, see that you spoil her with beautiful and happy memories of your past together, and give her the kind of security that makes her believe in a future my past made her doubt was possible. 
Because boy? If you mess up my daughter ... well, let's just say she's her mama's girl, and we'll hope for your sake that you never need to see what that means."
Lucky for all of us, my girls are a long way from marriage huh? I guess I still have mellowing to do after all ...

Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is the dress the girls are both wearing in the photo in the post above - the same Wennikids Mommy and Me Chevron Maxi dress the three of us wore together when we had portraits taken together this summer for the first time in ... well, pretty much ever. We loved that this dress came in a size range that was perfect for all three of us, from Eden skinny little kid dress to Joey's growing teen dress to my own curvy plus size - and we've all loved how comfy these dresses are, too!
We've worn our dresses several times since, in every combination of separate and together, both on purpose and by total accident, and despite their super-inexpensive price tag (under $15 USD!) they've handled the wear beautifully - so if you've got a young daughter, I'd encourage you to pick up a pair of these to surprise your little one with. It's sure to be a thrill for her, and these moments you'll spend together are fleeting. Enjoy them while they last.

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links in this post, remember that if you choose to click product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
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