Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Favorite Blog Posts (November 2017)

I love writing here. I love the freedom it gives me to express myself and where I am in life, and how cool it is when I get messages or emails from people who can relate to my journey. I love each and every message or comment from readers who are touched somehow by what I'm sharing here, and without that kind of encouragement, I'm not sure I'd keep doing it.

But it's not just my blog that I'm so in love with - it's blogs in general, and the way they help us open up to the world we live in. I love that there are so many, on such a wide variety of topics, and that there's always something out there for anyone who's looking. I love that they're the magazine articles of tomorrow, and that you can read them for free, gleaning the bits that are useful to your place in the world and leaving the rest for others to soak up. I like to use BlogLovin' on my tablet to keep up with favorite blogs, but I also do a lot of blog reading based on what I discover on Pinterest or Facebook, etc. And since I've loved doing this kind of post so many times already, what better time than now to share a list of blog posts I was thankful to have the chance to read in recent weeks?

(in no particular order)

Okay. This post from Brianne at BriannePatrice.com speaks so hard into life as a single woman in today's society, and how empowering it can be to just embrace that. I have been caught up often in conversations about how happy I am to be single again, and how much I realize (now, looking back) how much I preferred my single life over my last relationship. This was a hint to me all along, and somehow I missed it - but now, as I embrace singleness and talk to my friends about how much I'm looking forward to having some time to myself ... I'm noticing that I tend to get a lot of funny looks from people. As if it's inconceivable that I could WANT to be on my own, that I could WANT to sleep alone, that I could WANT to have to fix my own toilet handle.

And maybe it's partly because I'm a strong woman who LIKES being able to do those things, or maybe it's partly because it was my last relationship that taught me I COULD do those things (sometimes you learn what you CAN do by doing what you MUST do), but either way, I feel like this post is the A1 perfect response to anyone who doesn't understand how a woman can (or why a woman would) truly embrace the empowerment of the single life.

At least for now. I mean after all, I still have shit like this for a reason

2.) "Mental Illness Doesn't Define Your Relationship"
This post from JimBurgoon.org really struck me with hope when I read it. As an abuse survivor and a sufferer of PTSD, it reminded me that my struggles are not uncommon, and that there is still hope for a strong and healthy relationship in my future - despite my issues with trust and anxiety. And while I don't expect or hope for a perfect relationship (because they don't exist), it did remind me to hold out for someone who will offer me the gentility and patience I deserve. Mental wellness is a major priority in my life because I have to work harder to maintain it than some people - but I am more than PTSD, and I'm glad there's hope for a relationship that will recognize that.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I wish more boys had moms who taught them these things - and that more boys understood how important it really is to LEARN these things. This list from Esse D. at FrenchingFrogs.com is what I pray over for my daughters (and myself) all the time - that in our lives, we attract men who have been taught the 8 things listed here.

I don't always share a lot of writing-related tips and tricks on my social media pages or here on the blog, because I'm mostly not talking to other writers here - at least, not in the capacity of being writers. No matter who comes here, writer or non-writer, I'm addressing them ... addressing YOU ... as my readers. I'm speaking to readers, because that's what people come here for - to read. To see what's being said, to relate to what I'm sharing, to learn or grow or feel along with me because there are parts of my journey that look like parts of theirs, and parts of yours. But I acknowledge too, that a good number of my readers are writers, and for those readers who love the writing life as much as I do, no matter in what capacity, whether as authors or bloggers or something else, I had to share this article from Lauren at LaurenDawes.blogspot.com. (Psst - check her out at #8, too.)

5.) "Thank You For Giving Me Nothing"
I found this post from Syrine Gladys Podadera on ThoughtCatalog.com at just the right time, and it spoke so deeply to me about the gratitude I feel for the challenges I've faced in my life. Yes, it was hurtful to have a mother who couldn't look out for me, who didn't do what it took to protect me. Yes, it was hurtful to feel like I had a father who didn't prioritize me, who wasn't proud of me. Yes, it has been hurtful to be rejected and abandoned by people I loved, both in romantic relationships and in non-romantic friendships. My heart still aches for the beautiful young man who called me his guardian angel, who always asked me about "mom life," who sent me real handwritten letters decorated with cartoon drawings, the boy who loved me so well that I began to love myself - and yet, when I grew strong enough from his love to tire of the limitations of standing at arm's length, he allowed me to walk away ... but ... I see more and more as time goes by, that all the nothing I've been given has grown into something truly beautiful. Me.

This post from Angelo Caerlang (also on ThoughtCatalog.com) was so beautiful and so totally honest that I cried reading it. It expressed with fearless vulnerability the truth of what it means to love someone who has been hurt, and the need that lies behind all the barriers and the brave faces and the "I'm okay"s - and it showed all the loneliness that lies behind the strength a broken heart pretends to have. All the same, it pleads: love me, see worth and value in me, take me by the hand and help me find the sunlight just on the edge of my darkness. I loved it not only for the beauty of the subject matter, but also for the undeniable emotion behind the writing.

7.) "Body, Mind & Soul | Carpe Diem"
I happened to catch this post from Amanda S. Creasey on my Facebook newsfeed - because I'm fortunate enough to be friends with Amanda on Facebook, and someone had shared the link from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com and tagged her in their post. (Note to readers of this blog: my finding of the article I'm sharing here is a testament to how powerful reader shares are when a blogger is trying to be seen. If you like something you see here, please help other people to see it by sharing it!)

Anyway, I happened to be having one of those mornings on the day that I saw this; you know those mornings, the ones where your head hurts and you're still sick and your kids are bickering because they're bored with being cooped up all the time but you're trying to avoid conflict with your roommates ... Oh wait, is that just me? Just checking.

So I was grouchy, the kids were grouchy, and the day was not off to a happy start - but as I read this article, my perspective shifted (just as I had hoped it would), and the message in the article reminded me to watch out for how I was approaching the day. Sure, I could be pissed that I was sick and hadn't slept well - or I could bunk up with the babes and enjoy a quiet day resting and recovering. I could let the girls tear each other down all day because they were bored and frustrated, or I could redirect them using my own perspective.

Since I'm sharing this here, I assume you'll have assumed which option I went with - and I'll go ahead and say that it worked. We did seize the day, my girls and I - we binged on Halloween candy, curled up in bed with a movie playing in the background and the bedroom scattered with toys Eden had pulled out to play with. We chatted and hung out, forgetting the rest of our worries for the moment in favor of just enjoying being together. Carpe Diem, indeed.

8.) "#WritingWednesday - An Interview With Jeremy Cohen - Voice-Over Extraordinaire ~ Part Two"
I usually like to fill these lists with posts from around the web that changed or inspired me in some way, heavy on the mental health and wellness category, high on the list of "things-that-inspire/motivate-me." Because the thing is, I'm a really serious person (some have said too serious but alas, I am what I am) and so I tend to drift toward more serious topics. I don't enjoy typical small talk very often, and one of the things that annoys me most of all is people who can't (or can't be bothered to) carry on an authentic, more-than-just-the-weather conversation with me.

Fortunately, that's a problem I rarely experience with the lovely, and incredibly multi-talented Lauren Dawes (see her also mentioned at #4 on this list). She's an author, she's a graphic designer (she even made these, and these!), she's a wife, she's a mom, she's a cat-wrangler. Most importantly to me, she's a friend, and a damn fine one at that, which is why I've been seriously celebrating her recent venture into audiobooks. She's been working with a voice-over artist to create the audiobook version for Dark Deceit, the first book in her amazing and unique Dark Series, and I've been pretty curious about the process. When she said she was interviewing her voice actor on her author blog, I got excited to look at it, especially because of the hilarity ensuing in part two of the interview, which is linked above. I seriously laughed out loud reading that conversation with Jeremy's dad. For the sake of thoroughness, you can find part one of the interview here.)

Getting back to the serious side of things ... For the most part, I'm quiet about news things on my blog, and I don't address a lot of popular news references here. And I try to keep the blog mostly clean of divisive things like religion and politics - partly because I'm usually in extreme danger of oversharing here, but mostly because there are still some things that I like to keep to myself. Especially when being too open and trusting the wrong people with the wrong parts of who I am has been so heartbreaking in the past.

But some things refuse to be ignored, and the recent uncovering of an appalling amount of sexual deviation in Hollywood is one of those things. Not only because it's appalling that things like that happen, but also because for many many years, we've all sort of known about it and just not said anything.
  • "That's just the way it's done in Hollywood." 
  • "Well ... you do what you have to do."
  • "No pain, no gain."
Just like with domestic violence and abuse, we as a society have attempted for far too long to turn the other way and not see the ugliness that lies beneath the surface of humanity. We tell ourselves that if a young woman stays with a husband who beats or abuses her, she "asked for it."
  • Even if she has no other viable options.
  • Even if he threatens her when she talks about leaving.
  • Even if he uses money to control her.
  • Even if she's more afraid to leave than she is to stay.
We tell ourselves that if a young woman takes her clothes off for the producer of a movie she wants to be seen in, she somehow deserved to have her own body used against her, or she's a slut, or she should have known better.
  • Even if her "consent" was coerced and she lay there crying the whole time, disgusted with herself.
  • Even if her "consent" was purchased with the knowledge of how much she needed the pay from the movie.
  • Even if she didn't really "consent."
And it's almost worse when it's a male victim too, because now, not only is he a victim who has been abused and humiliated, we all quietly wink to each other because "he probably liked it," or "I always knew he was gay anyway," and it just gets more disgusting from there.

So when I found this article from David Elliott at the SingleDadsGuideToLife.com, I was really refreshed by not only his perspective, but the way in which he chose to address this culture - with a letter to his adorable young daughter who wants so much to be a part of it. She wants to act, and he wants to protect his kid, and those two desires come together beautifully in David's letter to her. I loved that he spoke strength and courage and dignity into his daughter through the words of his letter, and also that he empowered her to choose her own path, not only in acting, but in her life as a young woman independent of her parentage. I also loved the little hints of fear running through that letter, the glimpse of a father who knows that at some point, his daughter will inevitably trip up and lose her way just a little bit in this big, wide world. And more than that, I loved the strong running theme that effectively says (and I'm paraphrasing here) that, "I am still your father, and I will always be your father, and there will never be a time in your life when you can't count on the truth of that."

This world (and the millions of self-doubting little girls growing up in it) desperately needs more dads like David.

10.) "The Three Most Important Words I Can Say To My Child"
Known as the Truth Bomb Mom, Kristina Kuzmic (of KristinaKuzmic.com) is one of those people I found on accident but then continued to love entirely on purpose. She's an absolute beauty, she's funny and sweet, she's got a big heart, she obviously loves her kids ... and she's kinda ... well, #momgoals. Not that she's perfect or anything, and actually I really love that she's not, but she inspires me in one way or another almost every time I see anything from her. She has an amazing story of growth and triumph over struggle, she's experienced real heardship and isn't too ashamed to say so, and she's overcome unthinkable odds. Clearly, I admire her. But this article in particular speaks to the truth of motherhood, and that truth includes messing up.

I mess up all the time with my kids. In fact, I'm probably the most messing-up mom I know. I lose my temper and grouch at my kids at least 84 times a week, sometimes I make the same thing for dinner that they had at school for lunch, and I literally never sign on to the online program that lets moms everywhere obsess endlessly over their kids' grades. Sometimes I don't get the laundry done in time for picture day, and I don't always attend assemblies and field trips. You get the point, right? I'm a screw-up mom, just like all the other screw-up moms on this planet.

But the screwing-up parts don't matter that much to my daughters, and you want to know why? Because the most important thing is that I love them and they know it. And they know it because I'm right there with them every day, giving them everything I have to give.

Granted, some days I'm giving it my all because I truly want to rope the moon and pull it down and give its brilliance to my babies, and some days I'm doing it to make up for days when "my all" wasn't nearly enough. Either way, I've taught my kids that "I am sorry" is so much more than pretty words. Like Kristina illustrated in the blog post linked above, apologies alone don't fix problems - but what they do is begin to mend fences and bridge gaps between intention and behavior. "I am sorry" has no inherent magic in itself - but what it holds is the hope of forgiveness and the promise of a second chance. And sometimes you need one, even if you're a mom - and there's no shame in owning that.

BONUS: I've done this type of Top Ten before! You can check out some other great posts I've found by looking at Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Favorite Blog Posts from January 2017, and March 2017!


I hope you'll take some time to click through and check out some of these links - there are so many amazing blogs out there, and while I hope you'll continue to come back and hang out with me here, I also love that there's so much opportunity to share the blogs that I love reading with the readers I love spending my time with. There truly is a time for everything, and a right place for each and every mood and topic - and it always delights me that blogs are as varied in size, color, and style, as we are.

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