Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun Friday: Why I Ain't No Follow-Back Girl

Bonus points if you read the title of this post and instantly had a certain song start playing itself in your head.

I'm a writer. An author, a blogger. Slowly but surely, I'm building a social media platform and I'm learning about business operation, growth, and management. All of these things are happening at once for me, behind the scenes of each blog post, each chapter of each book. Each Patreon story ... each social media tidbit.

Most of what I've learned is trial and error - I've messed up a lot. I've said things I wished I hadn't, I've posted things that maybe were unwise. I'm sure I've accidentally alienated readers that might have been valuable to my career. In the business world, I've made - and lost - friends.

But through it all, one strong lesson remains - a lesson that's hard for me to accept sometimes, a lesson I'm not always prepared to truly embody.

BUSINESS SUCCESS - REGARDLESS OF THE BUSINESS - MEANS ...dun dun dun ... NETWORKING.

I know, I know. It sounds intimidating, sure, especially if it's an unfamiliar concept. But it boils down to one simple thing that even the most business-ignorant person can learn to master - it all boils down to being friendly. Why? Because when you take the time to make friends, you create meaningful connections - not only with your readers, but with your colleagues. Share their work ... let them help share yours. Networking is, after all, the magic formula to everything - and, even as painfully introverted as I am, I'm okay with that.

But the fact is, there are some parts of it that I just can't get into.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I can play well with others just as much as the next kid, and I genuinely try to always see the best in other people, even if I disagree with them. I seek the good, even when the chances are high that the good simply isn't there - my personal history is a testament to this.

So, I get out on social media even though I'm not passionate about it, and I do that because I AM passionate about the connection it gives me - not only to my colleagues in the writing world, but to readers like you who often find this blog because someone shared a link on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. I do it because while the writing is a labor of love, the social media ... well, in a lot of ways, it just isn't. At least, not always, not when it comes to work.

So with that being said ...


Part of building my platform means watching anxiously for the magic ingredient to trickle into my hands - like when I'm playing Fashion Story and I complete a mission I didn't know was there, only to be surprise-rewarded with gems. In my world, in my real life, gems are found in the comments section, and I'm always looking for a gem to fall into my lap - because in life, just like in my current favorite game, that's how I grow.

I look for likes on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, because those likes help me figure out what my readers want to see from me. I look for comments, on Instagram, Facebook, and this blog, because your feedback helps me fill my editorial calendar. I look for tweets and retweets, because those things tell me how you want to interact with me.

So you can see why I truly value the time it takes you to interact with me and give me your feedback - when it's genuine. I will answer your comments. It may not always be  in a timely manner, but it will be done. And I see all of your likes, all of your retweets. I see every one of you who comes over to one of my social media pages and cares enough to click that follow button.

But I won't always reciprocate just for the sake of it, and recently someone asked me about why there's no guarantee that I will "follow-back". This same person asked me why, when they liked one of my photos, I "didn't take the time to like back."

HERE'S WHY.

Reason Number One: It's because, while I see and appreciate the genuine interaction, I also see the lack of genuine interaction. I see the bots. I see the way likes go up, and if I don't like back within the hour, the likes go back down (because it's weird when you have a notification on your phone from 9am, and you click it at 11:30am, only to realize that the like has been unliked or the comment has been deleted, etc). I also see when I post something with the same hashtag more than once, each time, I almost immediately get comments that are exactly the same as each other - right on down to the emojis - from the same account. That's not interaction, folks, that's a bot, an automation. And that's just not what I want to attract - nor is it what I want to be.

I see the way I interact - genuinely seeking out content that I'll have something relevant to say about - and I see the contrast between that and the way others interact. I see the comments from people who take the time to read my content or click my links, the people who leave genuine feedback because they CARE about my brand, and I see the contrast between that and the people who only interact in hopes of getting attention.

CONFESSION TIME:
  • I use Buffer.com to post to my social media. I use it because it allows me a way to keep interacting all day long with my followers - I spend a few minutes each day setting up posts, and then they go up throughout the day as scheduled. This leaves me with time to interact with my readers through responding to notifications, time to interact with other content creators by responding to their content, and time to create content of my own. It allows me time to play with my kids in the afternoon, to make their dinner, to help with their homework. But did you know that there are people who automate their likes and comments too? Let me assure you that I am not, and will never be, one of those. Because I'm genuine, and I intend to stay that way.
  • I am also a member of several blogger groups that allow me to network and interact with other bloggers. And even in the smaller, more close-knit groups, there is a marked difference between the people who are there to give back, and the ones who are there only looking to receive. It saddens me, this lack of genuine willingness.

Reason Number Two: In the interest of the aforementioned desire to stay genuine, I don't "like" pages that I don't like. I don't do "Like for Like" and "Follow for Follow." I don't do "Review for Review." I do "Post content that I like, and I'll like it. Do it consistently, and I will follow." And really, networking or not, I simply see no other way to go. So if you like my pages, really like them, and if you leave a comment, let it be because you took the time to have something to say.

But it's not just in business, people. It's life, it's friendship, it's family. It's your job and your neighborhood and the way you present yourself to the world. Don't be a bot.

Be genuine. Be kind. Be a friend. Search for the good - and give people something good to find in you.

The truth is, it's just better that way - and that's how you build real follows anyway, if that's what your after.

Because fake is out. So be real.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wacky Wednesday: The Original Voldemort?

This year, I've really been loving working my blog posts to the tune of different weekly themes, and I've been sortof adapting and growing a list of themes I thought would be fun to keep around - themes that touch on my life and the things I want to talk about, the things I think you guys might like to read about, and the sorts of "fluff" things I think would be good for breaking up streams of more serious personal content.

Y'all know I have PTSD, and that I'm adjusting to living life as a single mom while building a brand. Many of you know about the history with how I grew up, my mother's ill health, and my grandmother's decline. You know I have ... (dare I say it?) ... baggage.

But no one wants to read that all the time, and frankly, I don't want to talk about it all the time, so I needed days on my blogging schedule that would give me time to take a break.

Time to chill out, wind down, joke around.

Time to get wacky.


So, I actually still love Michael Jackson's music. I always did. I remember when I was in middle school and I got SO excited because my Aunt had the HIStory CD collection and she gave it to me. I listened to it for hours on end.


Later, as I grew older, I learned more and more about him through the news and the media, the whispered stories about his possibly unsavory preferences, the quiet speculation about why a grown man would build a magical wonderland and lure children there to play with him.

It got worse when the accusations started in earnest, and he was driven from Neverland - whether out of guilt or embarrassment, no one will likely ever know.

There were problems with his marriage, with his children. Eventually, my love of his music started coming with a disclaimer. "Yeah, he's a mess ... but great music though. Such a sad story."

And it turned out, he really did have a sad story.

Michael Jackson was a victim of child abuse himself, a young boy forced into stardom, raised in the eye of the public, and yet carrying so many dark secrets. In his adult life, he became more open about the violent beatings he suffered under the hands of his perfectionist father - but being open about the past doesn't always stop it from hurting you.

My therapist has spoken to me several times now about the concept of the inner child - a concept with which I am slowly becoming more comfortable. Other research on the idea of the inner child in conjunction with psychological healing presents the idea that a damaged child (a child victimized by abuse, molestation, or other trauma), can actually become stuck in a child-like state in the mind, which retards the psychological growth of the person even though the body continues to grow, as does the intellect.

If ever there was an example of a person stuck in a child-like state, it would be a man who grew up to live on a ranch called Neverland - which he attempted to fill with children. Lost Boys? I don't know.


Sadly, even the childhood abuse wasn't all Michael had to deal with. He was diagnosed with Vitiligo in his 20's at the height of his career. He was still a heartthrob in those days, the King of Pop and one of the most well-known and well-respected musical artists to ever live. His name was a household name; his face was everywhere. He was a commodity in high demand.

And as if it wasn't enough that he was an insecure perfectionist himself, still haunted by the cruelty of his father's physical and emotional abuse, with Vitiligo, he was also a black man losing his color.

He was shamed brutally in the public, ostracized by the black community for "bleaching" himself in an effort to "look white," and scorned by the white community for being stupid enough to try changing his skin color when he was perfectly fine as he was. In truth, he was losing his pigmentation so rapidly that he began using strong treatments that did bleach his skin - not to become or appear white, but simply in an effort to retain some semblance of a normalcy in his appearance. Vitiligo is gaining awareness and acceptance now, but in the 80s? That was a different time, and I imagine he felt it would be better to bleach himself white than to walk around in the public eye spotted, speckled, and striped with obvious disease.

It's unclear what came first, the Vitiligo or the string of facial surgeries that so drastically altered his appearance throughout the 80s; speculation seems to waver between a belief that the surgeries were to make his facial structure "match" his new skin color and a belief that the surgeries were an effort to remove his physical resemblance to a father he had tried - and failed - to forgive.

Either way, he was constantly shamed in the public, possibly taken advantage of by those claiming to have been victimized by him (and I'm not saying he didn't do it - only acknowledging that he wasn't proven guilty), and even in death, the rich legacy of his musical talent is haunted by his troubled life.



And exactly zero percent of that stopped me from laughing until I cried when I realized these similarities the other day:
  • both Michael Jackson and Voldemort were young men from troubled homes
  • both were thrust into a world unlike anything they had ever known
  • both were obsessed with little boys
  • and neither one of 'em had a nose
I know, I know. I'm a jerk. But if you even cracked the smallest, slightest ghost of a smile in response to this, so are you.

Happy hump day, fellow jerks.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!

Questions for the Comments Section:
  • What did you think of Michael Jackson - his music, his life, his story?
  • Did you feel that he was more likely guilty - or innocent?
  • And lastly ... did you laugh? Or at least smile? Come on, didja?
*Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the links and choose to purchase the products promoted here, I will earn a small commission at no cost to you. However, all opinions expressed herein are 100% honest and 100% my own. Thanks for your support!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Motivation Monday: Using Affirmation To Keep Yourself Inspired.


Last week was a little better than the week before - I felt more hopeful, and far more positive. There were of course, some things that came up, but those things led to conversations that I feel truly enriched my relationships with my daughters, and that's something I wouldn't trade for the world.

Particularly with Josephine - we're moving into a different place in our relationship these days, learning to relate to each other in ways that we couldn't before. She's so very grown up for thirteen - sometimes I have to remind myself that she's still a child, and that she will therefore tend to deal with some things in childish ways. Other times, she's almost an adult in so many ways - and one that I'm incredibly proud to have raised.

A few days ago, I was frustrated to the point of tears, trying to juggle work stuff with home stuff and grandma stuff and mom stuff and life stuff. Eden didn't see any of this because she was upstairs crying over being told to wear her flip flops so we could hop in the van and run to the pharmacy, but Joey came to me and was so sweet. She gave me hugs (just like the ones I give her) and kissed me on the forehead (just like the ones I give her), and said to me, "I'm sorry you're having to take on so much right now, Mom, and that it's overwhelming. We'll try to do better at making sure your work time is better, and not interrupt so much. I know you're just trying to make a good life for us."

Which of course made me cry harder - but it's in the moments like that one that I'm so proud to have raised this young woman. She messes up and we butt heads so often but ... Damn. And knowing that for the most part, Eden is like that too? Now that's motivating.

Sometimes it doesn't work out that way though. Sometimes I feel like the whole universe is against me - something I thought was worked out turned out not to be, or didn't go according to plan. Something I thought would be successful wasn't. Someone I opened up to wasn't equipped (or willing) to meet the emotional need I brought to them. Sometimes my business isn't doing as well as I wish it was, ad revenue for this site dips, or affiliate sales don't pull through. Sometimes page views drop. Sometimes book sales drop.

Sometimes I need some help picking myself back up, because however hard I'm trying, I just can't lift those bootstraps.

Sometimes, even music doesn't work for me. And that's when I pull out the big guns.

That's when I use Positive Affirmations.

I used positive affirmation as a therapeutic strategy in my novel, Fat Chance (which is currently a free download, BTW), but I did it because I can personally vouch for how effective this simple technique can be when used with determination and an honest desire to change your thought patterns.

The trick is, you don't just jump into heavy mirror work and start telling yourself you're perfect and beautiful and successful and worthy, and that you love yourself if you don't. Don't just jump into a pool of woo-woo psychobabble if you aren't serious about feeling better, or if you aren't truly willing to give it a shot.

Don't pretend you're excited to fill the prescription when you know you aren't going to take the medicine.

You're smart. If you think you're worthless somewhere in a place buried too deep for you to even realize it's there, that's why when you look at yourself in the mirror, you have to avert your eyes. It's why when you straighten your shoulders and say, "I deserve better," your mouth turns down and you shrug those same shoulders and give up the effort. It's why, when you try to tell yourself that you're beautiful and strong and smart and worthy and lovable ... it feels wrong.

Because you don't believe it yet.

So you start small, yeah? Begin with something light. Something neutral.
  • "I am working every day to see myself in a better light."
  • "I am growing more positive with every day that passes."
  • "I am practicing gratitude IN THIS MOMENT. I am grateful."
  • "I am learning to appreciate my body and its strengths."
Try these for a week, and see where they lead. Try them for a month - internalize them and enrich them. Expand them and customize them, apply them to your own needs for growth and change. Read books about positive affirmation, about the power of positive thinking. If you need it, go ahead and allow yourself permission to be woo-woo.

And I think, after you're truly affirmed in the way that you deserve to be ... encouragement and motivation will begin to find its way to you, all on its own.

Thanks for hanging out with me today - I hope you'll take some time to really try positive affirmations, and if you do, I hope they work for you the way they work for me. And hey, if you've already been trying them and you feel ready for some serious woo, check out Mirror Work by Louise Hay - it's a powerful and truly amazing exercise.


For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!
*Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the links and choose to purchase the products promoted here, I will earn a small commission at no cost to you. However, all opinions expressed herein are 100% honest and 100% my own. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Showdown: Cats VS Dogs

Not too long ago, I wrote a post comparing digital reading with old-school paper (or analog) reading. That post was inspired by a reader comment (which I love BTW, so always feel free to leave post suggestions in the comments), and it was such a hit that I thought it would fun to turn into a series of sorts - the Saturday Showdown.

On the Saturday Showdown, I'll take two things and compare them - this could be anything from two different lipstick brands to two different actors, book VS movie or ... I don't know. Bath VS shower?

But you're smart; you get the point. And I'd love your suggestions on this topic, too - what would YOU like to see on the Showdown?

For this week's showdown, I thought I'd attack one of the age-old debates, one of the most serious battles we have as humans, one of the differences among us that really tends to draw a firm line between one crowd and another.

Because apparently that's what humans are doing these days, making it a point to get froggy and jump all over people who disagree with them because somehow they think THAT'S how you win someone over. We're doing it with race, with nationality, with religion, with politics.

Why not do it with cats and dogs, right?


Now, you guys know how much I love my dog. Seriously, I even take him with me to therapy every week - he goes wherever I go as long as it's possible, and sometimes if he can't come, I won't come. He's prescribed as an emotional support animal for my oldest daughter - but he works as a service dog for me. He's more than just a companion animal - I've actually worked actively to train him to complete several tasks for me that are incredibly helpful when I'm battling with depression and anxiety. He's not just my pal; he's a dog with a purpose.


But even without the added benefit of Chance as a service dog, there's the scientifically proven fact that having a dog around is good for your health and wellness in tons of ways. Our family also has another dog who IS "just a pal" - and he's equally great at his job, equally important, and incredibly well-loved. He may not have the same type of purpose, but he's valuable to our family all the same.


But then ... there's this guy, the one cat on the planet who doesn't terrify me. He and I have a certain understanding that has allowed him to transcend regular catness and become ... other. He is a cuddler, a snuggler, a fuzzy, vibrating little purr machine - and he follows me around like a dog.

And I'm not kidding about the following me around thing, either. Like five minutes ago, I stopped working on this post to take a pee break, which meant moving the laptop, moving the pillow the laptop is propped on, and moving the cat - who had been sprawled out just beside me, wedged between my arm and the arm of the couch, one paw wrapped snugly around my wrist as I typed.



Well, he followed me to the bathroom and sat in the doorway (I'm alone in the house so I just left it open - I seriously had to be SO BAD), giving me the side-eye the whole time. I guess that's what I get for leaving the door open.

He seeks me out sometimes, specifically. He comes when I call him (when he feels like it), he doesn't bite me like the cat that attacked me when I was a child, he doesn't try to kill me like Dana's cat does every time I go to her house, and he talks to me just as surely as my dog does. Once, he even brought me a mouse - carried it right in and dropped it at my feet.

Nevermind that I was horrified and had to have someone else dispose of it - it's the thought that counts, right?


You know - on second thought, this might have been a bad choice for the first Saturday Showdown. Just as this topic can be totally polarizing, with people who are either firmly in the dog-people camp or firmly in the cat-people camp, I think there are likely just as many for whom there is no clear winner. Dogs have their strengths, their benefits, and their clear purpose for being - but they have their drawbacks too. Then again, so do cats - I mean sure, there's the cuteness and the purring and the way they do that little nose-kiss thing, and there's the way they smile and the softness of their fur and the sheer irresistibility of their cute little paws. But then there's the claws and the teeth and the evil eye, so ... drawbacks.

For me, dogs are the clear winner in this battle - but that's probably because I haven't got an ounce of fear when it comes to dogs. Respect, yes - but fear? Nope.


I know other people who would disagree with me though - people in the cat camp either because they've been attacked by a dog, or simply because sometimes, dogs are scary looking. Not mine, maybe, but other ones. Who wins the battle for you?

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Therapy: Get The Fidgets



I spent a good portion of my later childhood raised mostly by my Grandmother - these were the most "normal" days of my life back then, hanging out with my cousins in the field beside our house, singing music that made our Grandmother roll her eyes, wandering in the woods behind the house. Playing Barbies.

We grew up in Central Florida, where in the afternoons the high temperature is almost always somewhere between "why am I so dizzy" and "holy shit my arm just melted off." We got up in the mornings, ate breakfast, and went out to play; we were only "allowed" back in the house for bathroom and drink breaks, which had to be kept quick, and lunchtime.

I look at my kids and shake my head - they're good kids, but they're spoiled. When my cousins and I were my oldest daughter's age, we cooked our own lunch if we didn't want sandwiches - we'd boil up a couple of packs of Ramen, and argue quietly amongst ourselves because some of us liked it with a lot of broth and some liked it with only a little.

I say "some" but there were three of us, not counting the one older cousin who mostly did his own thing. And I think it was just me who ate Ramen with no broth. It's saltier that way, when you drain most of the pasta water off before adding the seasoning pack. And I liked it salty.

Stop it. Can't you see I'm trying to be serious?

Growing up, my grandma had a lot of really funny little Grandma-isms. She always hated for us to watch too much TV - she said it would cause square-eyes, and when she said it, her own eyes would crinkle with amusement. In those days, she was exactly what you would imagine a grandma to look like, short and just a little portly, with a stern demeanor and a perfectly set salt-and-pepper perm, held aloft with enough AquaNet to choke you half to death even from the next room.

She could be funny at times (and sometimes she still is, though it's considerably different now, and by the way, #FuckYouAlzheimers), but she didn't like a lot of extreme outward emotion - which is likely why she and I took so long to find our way around each other. I'm obviously very open emotionally even as an adult, and I'm sure this must have been even more so when I was a child.

She didn't like a lot of noise, and she wasn't fond of my cousins and I getting too rowdy. Dana and I were bad about having lots of private jokes (we still are, and by the way Dana - "KekoKeko," if you're reading this), and we also had a sort of strange telekinesis that always seemed to set us up for trouble. We'd just exchange what would for most people be an ordinary instance of eye contact - for us, this was a direct trigger for unstoppable giggle fits, which never failed to annoy our Grandmother.

As a child, we found that terribly amusing. As an adult now, and indeed as a mother, I often wonder what it was she thought we were giggling over. I wish I could ask her. I wish she could remember, if I did.

She used to get irritated when we'd get to giggling, and she'd snap, "Girls! Cool your heels!" And of course, we'd laugh even harder because that's ridiculous. One time, one of us actually sat down and tore a shoe off, yanked a sock off, and started blowing the bottom of her own foot.

Anyway. Another thing I remember her saying was that I'd "got the fidgets." I was an early riser and so was she, and I'd often sneak out in to the living room while everyone else (but her) still slept. She'd be at the kitchen table having her coffee, and she'd shake her head and sigh. I'd take my book and go silently to the couch (when I had the courage not to go hide in the bathroom, reading on the floor - she was a formidable woman in her heyday), and sit down to read. And if I couldn't get comfortable, my wriggling would annoy her, and she'd say with quiet sternness, "Brandi - still still. You got the fidgets."



It's funny now though - for some reason God saw fit to bless me with two early-birds who rarely sleep in, who somehow seem to instinctively know even if I wake up early on purpose to claim some alone time. Two kids with ADHD, who wake up totally alive every day, at full speed and full volume.

God's funny like that.

"God has a most wicked sense of humor." 
-Maureen O'Hara

Anyway, now I've learned to fidget on purpose. I have a single-decade Rosary ringthat I find comforting when I want something bumpy, and I wear it pretty much 24/7. I find that when I'm in therapy, when I'm bored, when I'm anxious, whenever my hands just need to be busy, I can slip it off and spin it around in my hands, and it helps. Bonus, it reminds me to pray.

I also have a fidget cube, which was given to me as a gift from my therapist. I tend to keep it in my pocket on days when I'm anxious; I like that I can pull it out to work with my hands. It's got different textures and sounds, and I find different ones more helpful depending on what mood I'm in - the girls have both used it too, and they also like different sides of the cube depending on what they're feeling. I find it helpful if I'm driving through a lot of heavy traffic too - this never used to bother me, but lately I find a lot of traffic triggers my anxiety. I like that this helps.


I have issues with chronic eye fatigue, because I have underactive oil glands in my eyelash ducts or something like that. This means by the end of the day, I can't see well enough anymore to do any sort of detailed, close work - but when I can remember my eye drops well enough to stave it off, I also like to color when I'm anxious, depressed, bored, or just moody. I find the mandala patterns soothing (when they aren't blinding), and there's something incredibly satisfying about sitting down to fill them in. It's rhythmic, almost mindless. I have several different books I pull out now and then, and even a set of coloring pens that I keep for only myself - but as soon as I fill up one of my books and can justify getting a new one, I want this one next:


I love that it's edgy but still motivational, so I can release frustration while chilling out - and also remind myself that whatever's going on, it'll always get better.

Another thing that eases me is Legos. It feels a little childish to admit how much I still LOVE Legos, but I can't help it, I do. I love that I can build anything. A house, a box, a car. A robot. I can build as small as I want, or as large as my collection allows. And when I'm done (or if I screw up), I can always take it down. I can go back to fix it. I can change or adjust it. Legos create calm, but they can create a lot of other practical things too, like storage for on top of your desk, boxes to put on a shelf. The best part is when you don't need them anymore, you can take them apart and just make them into something else. My girls seem to find it satisfying just to stir them around, listening to the bricks click against each other.


Recently, it came to my attention that one of my biggest supporters is about to send her nephew overseas. Karen Henderson is a frequent commenter here - she was also one of the first people who ever signed up to support my Patreon account, and her unwavering support has meant more to me than I can say.

More importantly, she's a proud veteran, a woman who has taken up arms to serve our country, who has given her time, her tears, and her blood to this land and its people. She's from a family of veterans, and as the next generation of her family heads off to fight for our country, he's asked for just one thing - something he can take with him to battle the long nights of homesickness, the long days of stressful and rigorous work. He asked for a way to keep his stress levels down, a way to keep himself busy in his downtime - a way to bond with his fellow soldiers.

He asked for Legos, and since this isn't his first time deployed overseas, I imagine he knows well what works for him.

If you've been reading here very long, you know already that I'm extremely loyal to my country, that I am pro-military, and that I hold our servicemen and woman at the greatest level of respect - especially those who have been overseas, literally risking everything to protect the freedom and safety of families like mine.

"They know what they signed on for."

Yes, that's true, and that's why I respect them so greatly. No one tricks them into signing up and then surprises them with the risks inherent to military service. They know when they sign that contract that at any moment, the military can and will rearrange their entire lives. They know that they're likely to lose loved ones, marriages, friendships. They know that in the course of their daily job life, they're likely to be called to sacrifice their own bodies, their limbs, their sanity. Their lives.

For me, for my friends, for my daughters. For my nephew, for my brothers. And they know what they signed on for.

If you've enjoyed my blog for any period of time, and you come around just to "listen" to what I have to say, thank you. If you've just found this site for the first time, welcome.

And if you love and respect my country even a fraction of how much I do, help me support our military in a small way that will show a spirit of strength and hope to a young man heading off to place so much different than the one we take for granted. Donate some Legos. It can be as many or as few as you want, and you can send them to this address:

Karen Henderson
1368 Mount Sherman Ward Rd
Magnolia, KY 42757

Thank you.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!
*Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the links and choose to purchase the products promoted here, I will earn a small commission at no cost to you. However, all opinions expressed herein are 100% honest and 100% my own. Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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

It was back in January that I took a major step in my life. I decided to embrace a part of myself that had always been in the background, there and worthy and talented and with a knack for using words to touch others.

I've been an independently published romance novelist now for just over four years (I first published in December 2012), and in that time, my entire life has changed. I still love romance, and I'm still working EVER. SO. SLOWLY. on my next novel, but ...

With splitting from the kids's dad, needing to grow my income faster, and wanting to stay home with my kids (mostly because of the way my PTSD issues had grown, but also partly in hopes of avoiding doubling the sense of abandonment my children have suffered), I rediscovered a new outlet - my love for the blog format.

I love the non-fiction, down-to-earth reality of a blog, and I love the quick, simple delivery. I love that it feels like an infinite magazine full of articles on every topic, where I can pick and choose who/what I think is worth reading based on where I am in life. I can read about parenting, mental health, crafting, whatever! And I have loved that through taking my blog into the "lifestyle" category, I can now write all of those topics myself.

It has been a joy, and through this new avenue I've gotten in touch with some great people, discovered some amazing content, and learned so very very much. Today I'd like to share some of that content with you, right here on Top Ten Tuesday.

(in no particular order)

This post on DaishaRenee.com reads like a peek into my own heart. Each and every item on this list of goals was something I could relate closely to, and it felt personal in a really beautiful way. I loved literally everything about it. Made me want one of these SO. BAD:


This post from souledontea.com. You guys, I swear. I just ... I can't even. I can't even tell you what it says, what it's about, what it means, what it ... just ... go read it. Because I can't express what it made me feel. Just go. Go read it right now.

This letter from Ana (FadedSpring.co.uk) to her Aunt really struck a chord with me, because it rings true for the girl I was as a child, targeted by step-parents who saw me as a hassle and a burden, not as adequately protected by my parents as I needed to be ... never CHOSEN over the drama and the hassle. I never felt prioritized, and am left now with a lot of very sour memories of being directly NOT prioritized. Like Ana, I had to grow up too fast, had to learn so many of life's lessons too soon and in the hardest possible ways. But like Ana, I had someone beside me, someone to encourage me, someone to balance out my softness, someone to understand. Not an Aunty - growing up, I didn't often feel like I had a strong authority figure (other than my Grandmother, who I wasn't actually close with until the last ten years or so) - but a cousin. I had my friends who became my family over the years, people who mean so much to me because they are so much a part of who I am. But I had this one little bit of family too, this cousin who became my truest and closest friend. Love you, Dana.

This post from Caitlyn over at BlondeSeekingAmbition.com seriously got me right in the Nostalgia. A list of songs from my era? Uh, yes, please. I was like fifteen when these songs were hits, and there was literally not one song on this list that I don't still know. So many of them are songs I actually still love! Except that last one. Because it was bad. So, so bad.

5.) "TREND ALERT - How To Host A Pink Ninja Party For Girls"
Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously, you guys? I WANT to go to this party that I found on Soiree-EventDesign.com. But the thing is, I don't just want to go, I want to be a kid so I can really enjoy it without looking weird. Even better, I want to be the kid who is the birthday girl. The "stealth entry required" thing? I love it! And the blades, and the creative party chair, and the ... all of it. The fortune cookies!?

You can't see me right now but I'm totally in whine mode. My desk is lifted today so I can type standing up, and I'm stomping my feet. "I wanna go to the parrrtyyyyyy .... uuuuhhhnnnn!"

BONUS: Check out this party too, which also made me pout a little. Also, if you're local and you have one of these parties, please please PLEASE invite me. I really wanna come!

6.) "Italy"
This post about Italy from DeesignPlay.com made me feel like I was there, walking through the romantic streets of Italy's most famous and beautiful cities, enjoying quiet moments by the water, taking in the sights and the culture. I have such a longing for this type of travel that I took over an hour reading and rereading parts of this post, exploring what's shown in the photos.

7.) "I'm Fat. And My Body Is OK."
This post from Divya at EatTeachBlog.com is a serious gem. It's empowering in its message of self-acceptance and positive recognition of what is, and you guys know that couldn't be more perfectly aligned with the kinds of things that like to post and share here. So much of this post so perfectly describes my own youth, and then so much of it perfectly describes me now. In addition to that, it's the kind of blog post that would have reduced Cass from Fat Chance to tears. It's everything about what her journey was as she lived her story, and everything about the things she had to learn and accept along the way.

8.) "How To Get The World To Send You Love Notes & Birthday Wishes"
I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like the concept described in this post by Jasmine from JazzOnTheRun.com ... but it made me smile, and it made my heart leap a little with happiness. What a beautiful thing for people to be doing!

Okay, seriously. David from SingleDadsGuideToLife.WordPress.com is such a delight. His blog is infused with a certain self-deprecating humor that I can totally relate to (it's the same sense of humor that I filled Cass with in Fat Chance, making her hilarious to some and actually a bit depressing to others who didn't "get it.") He talks a bit about his daughter, his life, the local sights (California, USA), and his efforts to get his fitness under better control. But recently he wrote a more personal post that skipped over the usual "Ten Facts About Me" (my favorite color is blue, my best friend's name is Sarah, booorring) and went A LOT deeper. Sure, he included some superficial things and a dash of humor to keep things light, but he also stepped into a vulnerable place of sharing that stole words I didn't even know I had right out of my heart. Click over and check out items 1, 3, 4, 8, & 10, with special emphasis on those last few to see what I mean.

10.) "Enraged"
This post from Hyla (HylaAndPeterEchols.com) really struck a nerve with me when I read it. I'm not sure the effect it had is exactly in line with what Hyla's intent seemed to be, as the post felt to me like a lesson in forgiveness ... but it gave me a new sense of understanding with myself. Something my therapist has brought up somewhat tentatively with me lately is my inner child - the part of me that stayed frozen in childhood, in response to what happened in my childhood and the things I saw and experienced. I don't put an awful lot of stock in the "inner child" concept (not yet, at least), but something DID strike me just in the moment of reading this.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder; it's like being stuck permanently in the fight/flight/freeze cycle, unable to escape even the reactions of your own mind. Anything can set it off - the beeping of the microwave (yes, even if you expected it), someone standing too close to you (yes, even if you know them), even certain scents (yes, even if there's a part of you that likes the scent) - but nothing really shuts it down. The problem with it, particularly for me, is that it keeps me so anxious, always. Anxiety is my constant companion - it's there when I eat, when I shower, when I'm walking the dog, when I'm alone in the quiet. It's there in the night - sometimes I even wake up in a panic for "no reason." Anxiety is frustrating though - it makes every sound louder, every experience more jarring, every light brighter, every emotion stronger.

The constant sense of OVERWHELM ... well, it pisses me off sometimes. Leaves me SO ANGRY. For "no reason." It isn't (usually) there because I'm offended in the moment, or because I've got hurt feelings in the moment, or because I'm sick or sad or anything. It's just there, like a sleeping lion inside me, and I never know when something's going to wake it.

Until I read Hyla's post, it never clicked for me why the lion was there, either. Until.

And that's where I come back around to that inner child. The little girl who felt left behind, the little girl who felt unprotected, the little girl was chosen last and didn't feel prioritized, who had to be "placed" in a children's home because her "home" wasn't safe enough to stay in and she had already begun to show the signs of psychological trauma. The kid who moved too much to build lasting friendships, the kid who saw things no kid should ever see.

And now I understand the lion - he's there to protect the little girl, from her own sense of justified anger. And maybe, maybe now that the little girl and I are coming to an understanding ... maybe now, together, she and I can learn to put the lion to rest.

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 (January 2017)!



And there you have it, my most recent Top Ten Blog Posts (to read). I hope you'll click through and read some of these, and if you love them as much as I did, make sure to leave a comment! We bloggers love our readers, and we especially love comments!

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!

Questions for the Comments Section:
  • Did you end up going over to read any of these posts (or do you think you will)? If so, which one(s), and why?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: National Let's Laugh Day


Today is National Let's Laugh Day, and since I've been struggling with the demon of my Depression lately, I felt like this was a perfect reminder from the universe: you may not ALWAYS be strong enough to choose happiness, but you at least owe yourself the effort.

So do I.

I'm depressed again - it's been coming back for a while now, coming down over the horizon of my life like twilight. I can't sleep, I can't work. I can't stop feeling guilty over everything - the things I jokingly call "momfail!" are the things I replay over and over in my head at night.

My income, my career status, my moods, my frustration.

I'm exhausted.

But I am a warrior - I have been a warrior since I was child, when I survived abuse and violence, and things that I'm still so ashamed of that only my therapist knows them. I am a warrior - I even made it my focus word this year.

I am a warrior, and even my novels testify to my message and my mission of standing up and staying strong - each one has its own theme of personal strength and empowerment.

So I'm going to keep being a warrior. I'm going to keep being strong. I'm going to keep on keeping on.

I'm going to mother my children - imperfectly. I'm going to write, for those who love my work - and be damned to those who don't or won't back me up. Especially the ones in my own inner circle. I'm going to respect myself - and demand that same respect from those around me. I'm going to care about the people I care about.

And because sometimes "it's laugh or cry"?

Damn it, I'm going to laugh.





For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!

Questions for the Comments Section:
  • When you're feeling down, what do you do to get yourself laughing again?
  • What's the funniest thing that happened to you lately?
  • What's your favorite joke?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Food: Comfort With A Twist


I've been struggling lately. With my oldest daughter officially hitting the teen years, we've had a couple of hiccups in our way of doing things, which hasn't been helped by the situation of her feelings of abandonment with my split from her dad.

It doesn't help that she and I are SO alike - I often tell her that I'm proud to be her mother, because she's made up of so much of the best of me, but that it's incredibly hard to be her mother, because she's made up of so much of the worst of me, too. I see so much of what I love about myself in her - my inner strength and fire, my sense of justice, my need for respect and validation from the people important to me. But I see the things I'm not so crazy about, too - my stubbornness, my determination to "win," sometimes even when the "battle" doesn't even matter. My standoffishness, my guarded nature. My obsessiveness. My ... well, you get it. We butt heads.

So take mom guilt and roll it all together with the overwhelm of bored kids on spring break, then sprinkle a dash of PTSD-therapy-is-hard on top of it, and you get a messed up woman who mostly smiled all the way through therapy this past Monday but has cried herself to sleep three times in the last five days.

Lately I've been noticing - sort of in the back of my mind, slowly making its way to the front - that when I'm in therapy, I talk about my own issues in an afterthought sort of way. It's as if I'm talking about someone else, passively, mixed in with things I say about other people - my kids, my ex, my ex ex, my parents, my childhood. It's all together, mixed up in this soup of impersonal conversation that doesn't even feel like it's about me at all sometimes. That makes it easier to talk without crying though.


Is that dissociation? I don't know what the label is - I just know that it bothers me, and that I could go to therapy every day of the week and still get NOTHING out of it if I can't find a way to make myself engage.

Knowing this, that I'm going to have to step beyond the things that are relatively easy to talk about and move into exploring the deeper places inside me that are aching and injured and hurting, knowing that I'm going to have to get really personal, that I'm going to have to FEEL ... well, it doesn't feel good at all. And then there's PMS, which is just the icing on the proverbial cake.

Which is where Halo Top Ice Cream comes in. Of course.

Photo thanks to this post on thedieline.com.

I love ice cream. It's one of those easy comfort foods that makes everything better, and I love that ice cream comes with so many options. Chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough, butter pecan. With or without candy, caramel, syrups, toppings. In a bowl, a cone, or even right out of the carton, ice cream just seems to be made of magic. And don't even get me started on fresh hot brownies topped with melty goodness.

I still remember how utterly satisfying it was as a kid, to sit down with a bowl of ice cream and stir it until it was mush, then set the spoon aside and drink it down like a milkshake. I haven't done that in years, but simply the presence of the memory is comforting.

But ice cream is a guilt food, right? So many calories, so much BADNESS! Plus I'm somewhat lactose intolerant, so it's even more BAD. Not only is it sugary and fattening and unhealthy, but I also know that I'm going to pay a digestive price for my indulgence.

Some days, it's worth it, and I go for it anyway. Like this week, when everything in my mind was crap, and I just needed to sit down with something sweet.

How timely that early in the week, I received a text from a friend, recommending that I try Halo Top Ice Cream because it's so totally low calorie that you can eat AN ENTIRE PINT virtually guilt-free.

Uh, yes, please.

So when I got groceries for the household, I picked up a pint of Halo Top in Vanilla Bean (partly because yes, I'm actually that boring, and partly because so many other flavors begin with basic vanilla, so I figured this would be a good starting point), thinking that I'd give it a shot. Guilt-free ice cream?

Again. Yes, please.

Imagine my delight when I also discovered that it's high in protein, which is likely due to the egg content (See? I do read the labels, even if I don't always respect what's on them.). I also noticed that, also probably due to the egg content, this ice cream has a somewhat different texture. Not so much "creamy with the little air pockets" that you expect from a typical ice cream, but more like, "frozen custard met pudding, and magic happened."

It's just so good.

Seriously, you wouldn't expect "health food" ice cream to be delicious, but this totally was. The texture was YUM, the flavor was spot on and perfectly vanilla, the melt-factor was pretty close to zilch, which allowed me to enjoy the ice cream longer, and I was actually so satisfied with it that I didn't eat the whole pint. I'm calling it an utter success, a total repeat buy.

And then the fact that I've found another way to up my protein without having to constantly live on meat, cheese, and protein shakes - ice cream with 6g of protein per serving!

Do I really need to say, "yes, please" again?

Yeah. I didn't think so. So I bought mine at the local Food City grocery store, but it's also available (near me) at Kroger, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Publix. You can even search for where to find it near you by clicking here, where apparently, you can also search BY. FLAVOR.

Seriously.

And with more than 15 low-calorie, high-protein, probably completely delicious flavors to choose from, what have you got to lose? On the company website, you can find recipes, merch, and even a contest where you could try to win a full year's supply of this ice cream!

And now - input from the Peanut Gallery:

  • Joey's Point of View: "I thought that it was really good actually. You said that it was healthier, and usually things that are healthier ... it doesn't have lots of sugar in it so it doesn't really taste good. So I was surprised by how good it tasted."
  • Eden's Point of View: "It tasted so delicious, and I never knew it was really healthy, but it was just so good. I really liked it - and we really need to get more of that ice cream!"

Also ... "No, this wasn't a sponsored or affiliate post." I bought the product with my own money, ate it with my own face (except for the parts eaten by children's faces), and loved it with my own heart-filled tummy. Although if Halo wants to pay me in pints, I'm ready to sign a contract Right. Now.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!


Comments for the Comments Section:

  • Have you ever tried this ice cream before? If not ... WHY?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday Movies: 13 Going On 30

Five Stars! Click image to watch!

Starring:
Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

Directed by: Gary Winick
Released: 2004
Length: 1h 37m

My oldest daughter turned thirteen in January, and it was a major milestone for our family - major for her because as she turned thirteen, she left her childhood behind and took one more step closer to being the woman she's someday going to be. And major for me because ... my God, I've got a kid who's thirteen!

Seriously though, it was major for me because I've watched nearly every moment of her life, sometimes coaching gently and sometimes ... well, coaching somewhat less gently. But every moment of her life, I have loved her, and wanted the world for her. I want to watch her strive and achieve, I want to see her continue to learn eagerly. I want to see her outgrow the teenaged angst that she won't be able to escape; I want to see her experience joy and happiness - and yes, the suffering confusion of growth that will change her into whoever she'll someday be.

Anyway, in the comments of Joey's birthday post, Debra Schroeder suggested that Joey and I watch 13 Going On 30 together, and this past weekend, we did! Here are our thoughts (but mostly just mine because even though she watched attentively and laughed several times, all she actually took time to say was, "Yeah, I liked it," because obviously, she's way too cool for movies with her lame mom):

This movie is such a flashback, because like Jenna (the movie's heroine), I was totally the nerdy kid in middle school - although I tended to embrace my nerdiness more like Matt, who is the quintessential nice-guy, even in middle school. I had my own little crowd of weirdos, and I was happy with that - in fact, I generally despised the fakeness of the "cool" kids I went to school with.

And to top it all off, Jenna is utterly clueless to Matt's obvious feelings for her - she's busy trying oh so desperately to find her place in the popular crowd. She wants to be known and liked by the cool girls, she wants the power that comes with being one of the "six chicks" clique that runs the school, and she wants the attention of dreamy jock, Chris.

Unfortunately for Jenna, her eagerness to be accepted is pretty obvious, and the clique takes total advantage, humiliating her on her birthday. Jenna's birthday ends in tears, and she wishes that she could be 30 - the magical age of the fun, flirty women featured in her favorite magazine, Poise.

Fast-forward a bit. True to type (think Freaky Friday, but less of a Mommy/Daughter flick and more of a Rom/Com), Jenna wakes up the next morning to discover that she's no longer a brand new teen; instead, she's a thirty year old woman! Hijinks ensue, during which she gets flashed by her cute and playful (but not too bright) boyfriend, and creeped out by her cell phone. She ends up fleeing her apartment in a negligee, only to conveniently find herself face-to-face with her best friend, who shuffles her off to work with a pep talk and a strong side-eye.

The last thing Jenna remembers is the day of her thirteenth birthday, and the last face she remembers seeing is Matt's. He was the boy next door, her best friend, so naturally he's who she wants to turn to now that she's completely lost in a life she can't remember, living in an apartment that doesn't feel like home, with every second a new realization that she's become someone she isn't at all proud to be.

Too bad Matt isn't who he used to be, either - and Jenna's faced with the idea that she's partly to blame.

A disconsolate trip back to her childhood home sets her straight though, and Jenna realizes she's got to find a way to fix things - before she loses the one thing she never knew she wanted. She's got to find a way to make everything right, and in the true fashion of an exuberant youth, she sets out to create and implement a plan that will help her, if not to turn back the clock, at least to get things back on track in the now.

This movie was a delight, in turns laugh-out-loud funny and shed-a-tear sweet - and while the surface of the movie wasn't anything truly special, the underlying message made this the perfect movie to share with my teen. It was a great way to spend an afternoon - cuddled up in bed with a kid that's crossing the line between woman and child, enjoying the weight of her presence beside me while she's still with me to enjoy, soaking up what I hope was a lesson for her in appreciating those who love you above and beyond the temporary glamour of what's "cool."

Hidden Delights From This Movie - seriously, there were so many! These are just a few:
1. Joey instantly recognized the crowd of it-girls in the beginning of the movie, and not because she's one of them. My kid is well-known for befriending the lost and the broken - a major source of pride for me as her mother.
2. "Arriverderci. Au revoir."
3. The wishing dust? The house? The way Matt put himself in the place of protector?? Awwww ...
4. Matt's face when he took Jenna's hands in the closet, before he realized who she thought he was.
5. When Jenna caught her own face in the mirror and fell over the wall.
6. "You! You ... put on your pants and ... stop calling me Sweet Bottom."
7. Jenna's response to Eminem's phone call.
8. "I like your dress."   "That's because I have these incredible boobs to fill it out!"
9. Chris at 30 - oh my gosh.
10. The scene in Matt's bedroom - their talk, behind the closet door, Jenna's courage, Matt's face.

While this movie has received extremely mixed reviews over the years, Joey and I both felt that 13 Going On 30 was 97 minutes well spent. And for those who might not be enjoying this with a kid, let me add that the romantic aspect of the story wasn't at all underplayed; while Jennifer Garner was spectacular in her role, successfully bringing the overreaction and naivete of youth to 30 year old Jenna, it was Mark Ruffalo's standout performance as Matt that made this such a truly endearing movie. His ability to lend emotional power to his character really showed up in this role, and it took what would have been just another sweet movie to a whole new level.

Or maybe I'm a sucker for the puppy-dog eyes, I don't know.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!


Questions for the Comments Section:
  • Have you seen this movie?
  • If you have, what were some of your hidden delights?
  • If you haven't seen it, do you plan to?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Sentiment: A Letter to Sixteen Year Old Me

My birthday was in February; I turned 33 this year, so I thought this would be a good time to write a letter to sixteen-year-old me. Yes, I know that if I'm dividing by two I'd be sixteen and a half, but by sixteen and a half the half didn't matter as much to me anymore, so sixteen it is.

When I was sixteen (and a half) it was the year 2000. I had just moved from Florida to Tennessee with my mom, and my life was changing in every possible way. The decision to move had been resting on my shoulders for a long time, and I hated the circumstances under which I was forced to make it; I hated saying goodbye to my friends (those to whom I even had a chance to say goodbye), and I was heartbroken that I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to my father. I hated knowing that I was leaving behind a solid network of beloved friendships, headed for the unknown where I would be The New Kid.

The only "plus side" to it was that my boyfriend was moving with us, and I was comforted by his proximity, by his presence, by the certainty that he would be someone familiar to me - someone that was on my side, in a place where I knew no one, a place where the surrounding family mostly didn't like me or approve of me because I was an overweight teen, because my mother is financially illiterate, because her financial ignorance kept us dreadfully poor.

When we arrived, my boyfriend was informed that he wasn't welcome after all, due to the two-faced calculations of certain members of my family. They had used him - he drove our u-haul up, and had even paid to rent it. Everything he owned was in it, along with mine and my mother's possessions. When we arrived, he was packed on a bus and sent away - and I was utterly crushed. I'd been shamed for even having such a serious relationship at such a young age, and my boyfriend was spoken to as if he were barely better than the dust on the ground.

He was sent to his mother's house several hours away, making it basically impossible for us to see each other anymore. We tried to maintain a long-distance relationship, but that was a lot harder back then - we didn't have social media and cell phones to keep us close. We had expensive long distance phone calls, and letters that could never be as personal as the close proximity we were so used to. He went to a party, got drunk, cheated on me with another girl. His conscience made him confess - he told me in a letter. We broke up.

And that's where I was in my life when I was sixteen and a half years old. Brokenhearted and displaced, an utterly lonesome and totally misfit teen.


Dear Me,

Everything's a mess right now, and I know that. You're scared and hurt, and most of the time, you feel like no one understands you. Most of the people around you seem to think you're too much of one thing or another, and the people who don't think you're too much seem to think you're not enough. Neither of these extremes is the truth, and the only thing truly wrong with you is that your life is filled with the wrong people. I wish I could tell you that this changes, but it doesn't.

For the next sixteen years, you'll continue to have people in your life that find and feed on your insecurities - and it will open you up to trouble of a progressively damaging nature. Get ready, because life isn't getting easier for you anytime soon, and you'll need to rally the inner fire that's helped you survive so long.

I know I could warn you of everything - I could give you the gift of foresight, and I could tell you what to watch out for, what to steer clear of, but I won't. Instead, I'll give you encouragement, because although the years to come will often be painful for you, they are necessary to create the woman you're going to be when you're me.

Hurting over the end of your relationship with J, you'll enter a relationship with a much older(than-you) man, and you'll think L is amazing and mature, steady and full of potential. He has his own issues though, and those issues are going to drive him away from you long before you're ready, so appreciate him while he's yours. Once he's gone from your life, you'll want to spend the next several years kicking yourself for answering the phone on the night that changed things between you and L, but don't fall into the trap of regret.

Even though you won't realize it right away, in time you'll see the truth of L's own insecurities, and you'll understand what made him too afraid to stick around - you'll see the echoes of his past hurt in that last phone call, and you'll understand. When you do, take the lesson from it and release the pain - some people are only meant to enter your life for a season. And as trite as it'll sound while you're crying over some of the best poetry you'll ever write, you'll still need to understand this: it's true that some things just aren't meant to be. Take the gifts L will give you - your new appreciation of the depth of your own feelings, and the realization of how important good conversation will be to you in the future.

Eventually, you'll learn some things through the grapevine that will make you grateful for when it ended - but don't let the pain of it ending negate the beauty of what it was. Plus, he's a spectacular kisser, and you'd better enjoy that while it lasts. You'll miss it like fire when he's gone.

Romance will come and go in your life, and each new relationship will teach you just as much about what you want in love as what you don't want. Be open to those lessons - they lessen the pain that will strike you as you enter some of the scariest days of your life.

Hold confidence - you can do this.

By the time you're me, you'll have experienced so many things - the excitement of impending motherhood, the crushing pain of miscarriage, the triumph of live birth. You'll know the exhaustion of new parenthood, the fear and uncertainty of divorce, the insecurity of single parenting, the excitement of new love. You'll reconnect with friends you'd thought long gone from your life, and you'll embark on a journey that changes everything.

I can't promise it'll all be good - in fact, I can promise that a great deal of it won't be good. But I can also tell you with the utmost certainty that you're stronger than you think, and that your ability to survive will inspire everyone who knows your story. I can tell you that you'll grow and learn so much, that you'll reconcile with God. You'll become the kind of strong woman that repels the insecure, and while this will be especially painful to experience, it will help you cleanse your life of toxic people.

It's going to be a wild ride and you're going to come out dizzy and damaged in so many ways - beaten and broken and lost. But you'll have learned so much over the years, and by the time you're me, you'll be strong enough (and finally confident enough) to reach out and look for help. You'll find the right diagnosis, four little letters that explain SO MUCH - and when those four letters finally click for you, you'll start an entirely new journey - one that will change everything, finally, for the better.

Get ready.
Me.

For more content like this, please support me on Patreon!


Questions for the Comments Section:
  • Have you ever written a letter to a younger version of yourself? If you have, what sorts of things did you tell you? And if not - what's the one thing you would say now to the you of the past?