Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Feels: November 2018


I can't believe this is actually my first post of this month! Things have been pretty crazy for me lately - and while I know I say that pretty much all the time, I've also come to accept that the frequency of the twists and turns in my life doesn't negate their existence.

November has been an adventure for me because certain things are finally starting to play out and I feel so much like I'm in limbo. My van is truly on it's last legs; when I drive it, it literally sounds like a toddler carrying a box of legos. It's bad. But right now it's still running - which means that while much of my life lately consists of constant tire and fluid checks, at least I'm still able to get the girls and I to our appointments.

Speaking of which, due to various circumstances, including another scary week of my mom being in the hospital, neither Eden or I have been able to attend therapy in the last couple of weeks - and boy are we missing it! For me, it's showing up in a pretty deep depression that killed my motivation and drove my pain levels through the roof in the last couple of weeks - for her, it's showing up in increased boundary-testing and sometimes outright defiance.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I can literally see God's plan for my family coming together. I can't wait to be able to share more of it with you guys, but for right now, some things are just best kept under wraps. In the meantime, I think Friday Feels is a spectacular way to come back from the unplanned hiatus of the last week, don't you?

I love that we're starting November with my favorite random emotion generator - and that I can use this time to get my head straight after having had so much going on all at once!


1. Annoyed:
I've had a ton going on in my life this year, and sometimes I feel like the landscape of my life is changing too fast for me to keep up with. It's terrifying. But all the same, if I stop to look, I can already see how even the things that frustrate me are working for the good. I can literally see the building blocks being set in place, literally see the changes working out just in time for one thing to feed the next, to feed the next, and so on.

So if I can see that, then why am I so afraid? Why do I feel so precarious, so uncertain? And with God showing Himself in my life in such huge ways that I don't even feel like I can share them  with the people around me (sometimes not even with the people playing extremely important roles in my life), how dare I feel even the slightest bit of doubt? My lack of faith and trust are driving me crazy - I'm like a child crying over being hungry, while laying in the kitchen floor as my Father cooks dinner right in front of me.

I still have so much growing to do.


2. Anxious:
My mother just spent a week in the hospital. She's of very fragile health, so this was another thing to be worried over. She looks like the live-action version of Mama Coco from the Disney Pixar movie ... except that my once pleasantly plump mother is now a stoop-shouldered, crepe-papered, clumsy, bruised, bitter, belligerent woman barely able to break 100 pounds on the scale. She's showing all the early signs of dementia, which sucks because her mother is currently in the end stages of Alzheimer's and isn't expected to hold on for more than a few months at best.

I won't even get into how utterly horrifying that is for me personally, and how my soul very literally quakes with fear at the idea that that might be my own future.

In the meantime, I'm kept awake at night with these (among other) anxieties - How will I tell my mother when her mother is gone? I'm honestly not sure my mother can take that news. And if she doesn't take it well ... then how do I tell my daughters? Will I be burying both my grandmother and my mother?


3. Confused:
With the overwhelm of everything going on, I've been battling a recurrence of my PTSD symptoms - not that they had really gone away, but they're much worse lately - I was remarking to my therapist earlier today that I had been in a situation where I was hypervigilant enough to be sitting in a room, trembling with anxiety, completely aware of every person surrounding me, and still able to hear the swish of paper towels as a cleaning lady worked in a room down the hall from where I was. I've been battling a loss of motivation, a drop in hope. Increased brain fog, irritability, exhaustion ... pain.

So how is it that I'm struggling so much and yet so incredibly hopeful?


4. Dismal:
It occurred to me recently while I was struggling through dinner on what I like to refer to as a "ten day" that I'm only 34 years old. Not like I didn't know that and suddenly realized it, but that I realized I'm only 34. The average lifespan of an American woman is around 80 years old, and both of my grandmothers surpassed 80. One of my grandmothers is still alive.

That means I could have about 50 years left in my life. 50 more years of chronic pain? 50 more years?? You guys, that's 18,250 days.

Nothing has ever discouraged me more.


5. Distant:
I've talked about this here before, but because it's what I've been feeling (or not feeling?) lately, I suppose it's worth mentioning again.

Emotional numbness (sometimes complete dissociation) is both a blessing and a curse - a curse because it makes it harder to feel even the good things in my life: hope, joy, enthusiasm, motivation, energy. Love. But it's a blessing too, because it cuts me off from the harder things that would otherwise make it just about impossible for me to function. Guilt, shame, grief, sadness, pain, fear. Brokenness.

Sometimes I can feel happiness in the moment simply because I can recognize what a blessing it is not to feel any of the rest.


6. Miserable:
It's almost funny, how powerless I feel sometimes. I'll sit with my therapist and tell her about what's going on in my life, what I'm feeling, how I'm struggling, how impatient I am with everything, and how hard it is for me to do everything I possibly can but still be unable to change so many things.

In the moment, she'll encourage me, remind me of what I have done, line up my accomplishments and the forward strides I've taken in the time I've been working with her. But I still see so much of what I need to do, where I want to go. She reminds me to look back at where I came from and give myself credit for being where I am as a person ... and yet ... it's so easy to get caught up in the journey left ahead and my uncertainty about how to get where I'm going.


7. Offended:
In an effort to be both honest and tactful, I'm just gonna say this and move on ... Any person who can walk away from a child without even bothering to look back is a piece of shit garbage excuse for a human.


8. Pessimistic:
I swear, this really is totally random, but I'll admit I'm pretty amused by how so many of this month's ten emotions were on the negative side, especially in light of how challenging things have been for me lately. I literally refresh the generator I use ten times, alphabetize the results, and then go from there - and I'm never less than amazed by how perfectly aligned the emotions that come up always are.

As for pessimism? I'll admit I've had more than my fair share lately of days where I'm in the dumps. What if this doesn't work out? What if that doesn't come through? What if this takes too long? What if that falls through before the next step is ready? And because so much of my life has been so hard, I almost expect it now - like I'm afraid of the light at the end of my tunnel, because in my experience that light is always a train.


9. Stubborn:
Despite the tendency to pessimism, the thing I think I'm most stubborn with lately is my sense of hope - I need it, otherwise I'll just lay down and quit, and I can't quit. My kids need me to not quit. So I hope, even when it's hard. Even when it all looks impossible. Even when I'm lost and broken and afraid.

I still make myself sit still, take a deep breath, and spend a few minutes believing that my day is coming, that things can and will turn around, that I have purpose, that God has a plan for my life and my family, and that in 2019, I'm going to end up with one hell of an amazing story to tell.


10. Timid:
Human emotions are weird though. The truth is, as stubborn as I am in hope, I'm also afraid of it. I hold onto it, cling to it, depend on it - but all the same, I've had a lot of disappointment and sadness over the years, and after a while, I think it's only human to begin to expect that.

Imagine walking out your front door on a beautiful morning, only to have an elephant sized bucket of crap tip over on your head. Imagine that happening randomly, about every couple of days or weeks, for maybe three decades.

How long would it take for you to be afraid to walk out the door, no matter how beautiful it looks outside, no matter how much you want to go outside, no matter how desperate you are for the sunshine?

My dog can be so desperate to get outside to potty that he'll tremble and shake with the effort of holding it - but when it's storming outside, he'd rather have his bowels burst than risk getting rained on.

I mean really, I'm only human.


If you're still reading this, thank you for sticking around. I appreciate you backing me up. It matters to me that you care enough to be here even when I'm struggling, even when I'm negative - and even when I've missed several posts because I couldn't bring myself to write them. Thank you.

What are you feeling lately?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Book Characters: "Halloween"

The last time I did a tag post using my books to decide which of my characters would be most likely to do certain things, I had so much fun, I've been really wanting to try it again - but with a tag of my own making. And what better time to try that than now, right? 

This post will be focused on all things Halloween, twisted in with the various quirks and idiosyncrasies that make my characters so rich and unique as people despite their various similarities. My oldest daughter helped me come up with the prompts - with some input from the youngest as well, of course - and I love the way exploring these prompts helped me think of my characters in new ways that will continue to develop them in my mind even as I continue to write their stories.

So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to my favorite fiction characters (from my books), Halloween-style.


Which female character would be the slutty (insert costume idea here)?
This was the first of these prompts to come to mind, probably because it was one of the easiest to answer in light of the cast of characters I've created. Chelsea Keaton hasn't had her own story told yet, but she's featured often in the stories of the Kingsley Series and is one of the most beloved Kingsley characters.

Chelsea's the twin sister of Renee Keaton (More Than Friends) and foster sister of Cass Keaton (Fat Chance), but on her own, she's a spunky, sassy girl with a romantic soul and a wild, hopeful heart. She's full of jokes, always a hoot, and tends to have a great sense of humor - but she's got a dark side too, and an unshakable affinity for men in uniform. So I'm betting if any of my characters would do Halloween in something slutty, it would definitely be Chelsea. In fact, I bet she'd be a slutty criminal, hoping to snag a hot police officer!


Which character is most likely to terrify trick-or-treaters?
Another easy one - in two ways. Most likely to terrify trick-or-treaters because he's an asshole: Malachi from Fighting For Freedom. In the Freedom Series, Malachi Matthews is a world-class piece of absolute garbage, and he has been since just about day one. He's a bully kid who grew up to be a heartless wife-beater who hasn't yet got his kick in the teeth from Karma. His time is coming though, so we'll move on.

Most likely to scare the trick-or-treaters in a fun way: Angus, the patriarch from the Selkie Trilogy. This guy is huge, beautiful, and most importantly, intimidating. Throughout the series, he gives his all to protecting his clan and his family, even when it means leaving his home, uprooting everyone he loves, and starting over as a persecuted man in possession of a much-hunted female. But beneath the exterior, he's a sweetheart who just wants to protect his people and preserve the Selkie way of life. He'd scare the kids, absolutely - but it would end with hysterics, I'm sure.


Who would have the best DIY haunted house?
This is another hands-down easy giveaway. Eva Kingsley is the matriarch in the Kingsley Series, and while her story has not been told entirely yet either, she's never anything less than a main character in  all four books (so far) in the series. Named after my own real-life Grandmother, Eva is a tough soul with a certain fierceness that commands respect even as her gentle acceptance of those around her makes her so beloved.

Not only is she the leader of her family and the love of her husband's life, she's also crafty and creative - she even made the jewelry for the first wedding I wrote (Prescription For Love) in the Kingsley Series! If anyone could DIY a kickass haunted house, it would be Eva, especially with the help of her husband, sons, daughters, and in-laws.


Who would have the most fun getting scared at a real haunted house?
Finally, a hard one! I'm not sure who would be most likely to have the most fun being terrified on purpose - Brenna, the badass bestie from the Selkie Trilogy, or Evan, the party-boy baby brother from the Kingsley Series. For Brenna, conquering a haunted house wouldn't be much different than conquering her grief over losing her husband, her fears over starting again, or the way she sometimes has to bust heads when people underestimate her. Brenna is loyal, thoughtful, and sweet - but she is also certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Evan, on the other hand, is a brash young athlete - the youngest son of the Kingsley family. With two entrepreneurs, a decorated police officer, and a career wrestler (Wrestling Harmony) among his collection of successful siblings, it's easy to see why Evan might think he's got something to prove to the world. In a haunted house, Evan would definitely be the guy who works hard to appear unphased, even if he's totally freaking out.


Who would be most likely to be too scared to go into a haunted house?
This is absolutely Naomi (Fighting For Freedom). She's a single mom with an incredible story of strength and survival, but escaping domestic violence and ending up in a protective shelter for DV survivors has definitely taken a toll. There's no way she'd go into a haunted house - she's had more than her share of fear already, and being terrified is nothing anywhere even close to being her idea of fun.


Which character would be happiest staying home to pass out candy?
Actually, a good number of my characters fit this question, but here are the two best options:

  • Cameron Kingsley (Prescription For Love), a woman much healed but still wounded by a traumatic experience in the past.
  • Annie Jacobs (The Selkie Trilogy), who would probably love the quiet peace of sitting on the porch and greeting trick-or-treaters. Besides, if anyone has a good reason to be homebound, it would be the post-partum mother of a freshly delivered, dangerously premature, viciously hunted, beautiful Selkie baby.



Who would throw the best Halloween party?
Adam and Eva Kingsley take the candy-corn decorated cake on this one. The way these two love each other and their family despite so many challenges is beautiful - and this bears out in how fruitful their familial connections are with their loved ones. Their party would be fun and safe, normal enough to be comfortable but different enough to be exciting, and open enough to accept people of all ages from several different walks of life. Eva would put everyone at ease, Adam would keep everyone amused and feeling comfortable, and the easy camaraderie of this family would make any party memorable for their guests.


Who would be most likely to skip the holiday altogether if they could?
Cass Keaton (Fat Chance), who would shy away from any public celebration of food and candy, despite her incredible growth as a woman once so self-loathing she was nearly driven to suicide. Cass would love the fun of Halloween and the excitement of all the kids dressing up - but she might be challenged by thought of dressing a body she's not always comfortable in, and you probably couldn't pay her enough to make her willing to sit out in public next to a small mountain of free candy.

She would, however, probably love the chance to turn down the lights, lock the front door, and curl up with a certain sexy member of the Kingsley family for a horror marathon.


Who buys the good candy, and who hands out the cheap stuff?
Hands down, the good candy is purchased by Allie (Courageous). She wasn't exactly impoverished as a kid, but she's worked hard to get where she is as an actress - which means she vividly remembers what a treasure it was as a kid to get something really amazing while trick-or-treating. Now that she can be the star of the show in her neighborhood, she would absolutely take great joy in handing out full-sized candy bars.

On the other hand, if there was a cheap-candy-buying-miser in my cast of characters, it would probably be Rick from Fat Chance. He's the kind of jerk who would make a big deal out of telling everyone his plans to buy candy and do something special for the kids who come by - then he'd set a bowl of the cheapest crap candy he could find on a chair on his porch before going inside and shutting off the porch light.

Directly in the middle would be Christine Matthews from the Freedom Series. She would be nervous but willing to participate - and she would want to give out the good stuff but probably feel saddened and ashamed by not being able to afford anything more than the basics.


Which character is already driving everyone else crazy with Christmas countdowns?
This is totally Landon (Prescription For Love). He would be counting down, reminding everyone that the joy of Christmas is coming. His family would smile and tolerate it because he's completely adorable ... but inside, a fair number of them would be screaming.

Just like me lately - every time Joey tells me how many more days there are until her favorite holiday.



If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Movie Review: Disney's Coco

Click here to watch on Amazon!

Starring:
Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt

Directed by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Released: 2017
Length: 1h 45m

One of my favorite things about my city is the way the whole place comes alive in the fall and winter months. There are loads of festivals and events, and I love that when I'm feeling up to it, I can take my kids out to do something fun without wrecking my back or my wallet. This past week, we were able to see a great screening of Coco, which I had been wanting to see for ages - and seeing it on Market Square made the experience even more rich!

The girls and I loaded a backpack full of bottled drinks and various snacks, headed down to the square, and found ourselves a comfy place to spread a blanket.

This movie hit me directly in the heart right from the beginning. I had known I was going to like it, but when it started out with the story of a single mother giving her all to making a life for herself and her child, my heart clutched itself up in my chest and my breath got stuck. I caught Josephine looking over at me from her spot just to my right, and I pretended to be fine - but I was hooked.

Over the course of the movie, I fell in love with little Miguel and his desperate desire to be accepted for who he was rather than who everyone around him wanted him to be; as a little girl, I was the weird misfit among my friends and family, so I could relate to him. I was the only bookworm for the most part, the only yarncrafter for the most part, and certainly the only writer - a perfect parallel to a movie about a boy who is the only musician in his family.

I felt the same peace as Miguel as he created a secret space in which to indulge his love of music, felt the same anguish as he was forbidden to play, felt the same heartbreak of betrayal as he left behind the security of home in hopes of finding a way to chase his dreams. I felt his hope, the very same hope upon which my writing dream was built - and I felt the remnants of the sense of belonging and rightness I get from writing as I watched Miguel finally have a chance to perform.

But Mama Coco ... I wept when the story turned to focus on her. Her face, so like my mother's, crinkled with age and struggle, her dementia so like that of my grandmother. When she looked at her own daughter and didn't know her, I cried because I saw at once my mother's pain over being forgotten ... and my own future as I am forgotten by my own mother. Dementia is setting in for her already, and I'm not quite sure how to handle that.

I've been prepared for my mother's death (much as one can be) for a long time due her ill health and my tendency to face difficult things head-on ... but dementia? Alzheimer's is a whole new thing, something I would never have expected for my grandmother, let alone my mother. Not to mention, the movie combined with my familial history to address in a starkly terrifying way my own fear of someday losing myself within the confines of my own mind.

Still the emotional depth and richness of plot made this my new favorite Disney movie of all time - at this point, it's been two days since I saw it, and I still haven't quite recovered yet. I'm looking forward to making time to see it again as soon as possible too. In the meantime, I've been watching (and reading) other peoples' stories almost non-stop lately. It's time for me to go work on my own ...


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.


NOTE: I often use affiliate links in my product mentions on this site. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that if you click my product links and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a small commission for referring you to the merchants and products I love best. This is, of course, at no extra cost to you - but my family and I appreciate your support! (To see a list of other companies I'm currently working with, click here.)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Feels: October 2018


This has been a long week, a long month, a long year. I've had ongoing car troubles, ongoing legal issues, ongoing ... everything. Even our moving plans are dragging on and on, creeping along so slowly sometimes I'm not even sure we're moving forward despite the evidence right in front of my face. I have days when I'm just a little bit hopeless, overwhelmed with all the change, all the weight of the burdens I'm struggling to carry with grace and composure despite the barriers around me.

And honestly, that's one of the biggest things I love about writing this Friday Feels series. I love the way it gives me a chance to really sit down and explore myself and how I'm feeling about my life right now. It's a great exercise for my mental health too, especially as a single mom with PTSD, battling the impact of traumatic experiences and chronic illness. Sometimes, life is hard - not just for me, but everyone, and I think one of the best ways we can cope with our challenges is just to sit with them for a while, accept what they mean for us, and seek the next step forward even if all we can manage is a baby step no one else notices.

This series is one of my baby steps, because in taking the time to look at how I'm feeling, I'm able to explore what I can do to improve the things that have me feeling certain bad ways, how to keep a grasp on things that have me feeling certain good ways, and when my feelings are unhealthily out of balance.

But what I love best about it is that it isn't driven by the usual emotions I might think of on the fly - it's not just "happy" and "sad" and "mad" and all that stuff. I like changing it up and surprising myself by using a random emotion generator to choose the prompts I use for these posts, which I have found both challenging and enriching along the way.

So, with that being said, here's what I'm feeling lately, and why I'm feeling it.


1. Angry:
Over the course of this year, a lot has changed for me health-wise - not because my health has changed specifically but because after so long, I now have solid answers to questions I've been living with for most of my life. Unfortunately, those answers have now created questions about the health of my children, as several of my diagnoses are thought to be hereditary and my daughters both have various appropriately similar symptoms.

And yet ... I can't seem to get away from the constant suggestion that I'm somehow making it all up, despite my MRI reports, confirmation from my doctors, and now increasing confirmation from my children's doctors.

It pisses me off to open up to people only to be so readily dismissed even when I have proof in my hands. I guess I'm still learning to be more careful.


2. Calm:
When I can remind myself to rest in my faith, I am calm. When I can remind myself that my doctors are highly qualified and trustworthy, I am calm. When I can bask back in the way my daughters love each other, when one of them reaches out to me with compassion when they see me struggling, when my dog lays his big, heavy head in my lap, I am calm.

The best pleasures in life really are in the little things.


3. Enthusiastic:
The opposite of calm, I am most enthusiastic lately when I switch my focus from the glass-half-empty to the glass-half-empty mentality. When I catch myself heading for a panic attack thinking of all the challenges in my life, my favorite way to turn it around is to play a little game with myself.

I like to ask myself, "What if everything works out perfectly? Then what?"


4. Festive:
The holiday season is beginning - soon, my city will light up with Christmas trees and lights. It will come alive with festivals and gatherings and celebrations. Our elf on the shelf will be back in the house, holiday cheer will be plentiful, and our local Weigel's keeps the best eggnog on the planet flowing.

I have high hopes and tons of excitement for this coming holiday season for sure!


5. Heartbroken:
There is serious loss in my near future - my Grandmother's Alzheimer's disease is worsening and her decline is pretty pronounced now, but I haven't set eyes on her in ages. I'm afraid I won't get to see her again before she's gone, because she's too far away for me to risk driving my van to see her. The thought that I've seen her for the last time shatters my heart ... but at the same time, I still want to hold onto the memory of her as she was. Today I got to see Disney's Coco for the first time, and I cried as I saw my Grandmother in the story.

My mother has now begun to develop dementia as well. I'm still not sure how to cope with that.


6. Inspired:
I had a text conversation with my oldest daughter recently, and as part of our chat, I showed her some of my content from this blog - bits about being strong, about taking steps, setting boundaries, loving yourself, being enough.

I've been thinking for a while about public speaking in various forms, and as I spoke to my daughter, sharing encouragement with her as she makes her way through the tumultuous teen years, I was moved to tears by her encouragement of me.

"Sometimes, I see what an amazing person you are, and I am ashamed," she said. That was how she started a message that addressed her depression, her insecurities, her issues with abandonment, her ongoing health issues, and her absolute fear that she'll never be able to get it together. She talked about her inability to hide those issues, the way it shames her to lie and tell her friends she's fine when she's not, only to have them know better.

"You are amazing and strong and I can't seem to be," she said. "I'm sorry."

And everything about that conversation solidified my why, reminded me of how valuable sharing our stories can be - not because being strong matters, but because in sharing the weakness behind my strength, I hope to show my readers how to find their own.


7. Petrified:
Sometimes I get too caught up in my mind, and I have to remind myself to breathe, to rest, to trust in God's plan for my family. I get overwhelmed thinking of all the obstacles in front of us, all the things I'm juggling, all the ways my life could completely crash and burn in an instant.

It's terrifying - I break out in sweats, lose sleep, skip meals. I have to take time to sit and write it all out, just to get it out of my mind for a while so I can stop the chaotic swirl of "what-ifs" that haunt me every moment of every day.

And then, usually, I go back to my Bible. I read. I pray. And I keep taking the baby steps leading me through.


8. Strong:
Despite everything going on in my life over the last several years and all the ways things have changed, I'm incredibly proud of the way God has used this time to work in me, growing and maturing my spirit while enriching my life with people who genuinely care about seeing me become the ME that's in my soul - not just the me they wish I was.

My life has always had people in it who had a vision for me, a little box they wanted me to fit in. I've been rejected a lot by people who couldn't love me for me, especially after realizing that I don't want to fit myself into a box that's not my shape. Family members, friends.

I spent way too long thinking the problem was something wrong with me, something lacking that made me so easy to discard, to forget.

But now I know better. And as I've grown more accepting of myself and the beautiful way in which I was made, more enamored with the purpose and will I was created to fulfill ... I've learned so much about how to advocate for myself.

I may not always feel it, but I am strong.


9. Stubborn:
I don't know that I specifically feel stubborn about anything ... but all the same, I am not ashamed to admit the role stubbornness plays in my life.

I stubbornly pursued answers regarding my health - and I got them. I stubbornly defended my personal boundaries even with long-time friends - and I found not only greater respect for myself, but the truth about who belongs in my life and who doesn't. I stubbornly advocated for my daughters, pulling together evidence to prove more than just "mother's instinct" or some kind of random hunch - and I got confirmation that my "mother's instinct" was right on point.

I don't necessarily feel stubborn, but maybe that's because anyone who calls me "stubborn" is just saying "persistent" wrong.


10. Worried:
As much progress has been made in my life this year, there's still a lot of changes ahead and I still have plenty of unanswered questions to work on as the new year approaches.

My top worries this month:

  • My van is literally embarrassing to drive now. We call it "the rattletrap" because it's so loud, and sometimes when I'm driving it, I notice people noticing the racket it makes. I'm 100% positive it's only still going by God's grace. Fortunately, the best hope I have of replacing it is God's provision, which I'm sure will be right on time, as always.
  • My dog has been growing a small lump in his belly that I haven't been able to afford to have checked out. Since spring, it has gone from one lima-bean sized lump to one grape sized lump, one blueberry sized lump, and one pea sized lump. None of them seem painful to him ... but not being able to go have them figured out is a major stressor for me.
  • One of my major financial things is coming to a head, and while I'm confident of it, I'm also completely and utterly terrified. This worries me constantly.
  • My mental health has been suffering quite a lot with everything going on lately, and I'm struggling to keep up with it all - but I literally cannot afford to drop any of the balls I'm juggling. I have so many days where I'm so exhausted and stressed all I want is to lay down and quit, but the show, as they say, must go on.

What are you feeling?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Undaunted: Surviving The Odds

It's funny how life changes, isn't it? Sometimes it happens so slowly you barely notice your life leaving behind what it is now in favor of what it will be some distant day; other times the change washes over us so quickly our lives become almost unrecognizable, almost overnight.

For some of us, the balance of life is pretty stable - you're born, you grow up, you take or leave certain opportunities. You do your best to succeed in your own way, to leave some small mark on the world and the people around you. And hopefully, you reach the end of your lifetime with at least some small manner of satisfaction in a job well-done. For others, there is very little balance - life is an overwhelming swing of ups and downs, a shifting of the lands beneath your feet that happens so strongly and so frequently that after a while, you become just a little bit afraid to even try to stand. 

You begin to believe, perhaps, that standing strong is simply not possible, that the shifts and changes of life are too strong a current to thrive in. You begin, perhaps, to switch mechanisms, to leave behind the hope of thriving in favor of surviving.

This is life with complex PTSD.


Mental health and wellness, personal development and empowerment, self love and compassion: some of my favorite topics to write about and speak on. Why? Because my life has given me innumerable opportunities to overcome adversity and do the impossible. From birth, I have faced and often conquered impossible odds, sometimes with help, other times simply by the strength of my God-given grit. Born with one of the most serious known forms of spina bifida, along with a chiari malformation and sheuermann's disease. Due to these defects, which I did not definitively know I had until recently, I am disabled. I have been for many years, but not only due to my spinal issues ...

Life has a way of building on itself - and just like with the way it tends to change, it tends to build in different ways for each of us, with the blocks of before forming the path blocks of the future are most likely to take.

And can you shift the path? Steer the curve? Drive the change?

Sure - but it'll be a hard, slow process. It will often be painful, and sometimes it'll be downright terrifying.

For me, adversity has been a challenge to overcome since birth - and my life in the years since has been a lengthy argument against the idea of impossibility.

HEALTH
The 1970's and 80's have been called the "dark ages" of spina bifida treatment, due to a major disagreement in the medical community over quality of life in babies born with spina bifida who were fortunate enough to be born alive, and also survive death by meningitis, kidney disease, or hydrocephalus. Babies like me were widely neglected in the medical community because it was believed that treating them and keeping them alive was more cruel than letting them go.

It didn't help that no one ever mentioned spina bifida to me until I was in my 20s, by which time I was already living with considerable damage. I don't know if my parents actively decided against telling me, if they maybe thought it wasn't necessary, if they were perhaps told (as many parents were in those days) that correcting the original spinal lesion meant I would be "healed," or if they were simply in denial after having dealt with my brother's considerable health issues, worked to muster up the courage to have a second child, and then ended up with me. I don't know.

But I was treated as an infant, my lipoma mostly excised and my spinal lesion "repaired" when I was a toddler, and I am still alive - part of only the 1st or 2nd generation of babies born with spina bifida to actually survive into adulthood. I am disabled, but I am a survivor.

I believe my parents probably didn't know that spina bifida is not "cured" with surgery. I believe they didn't know it would progress, that it would need lifelong attention. At least not until I was in school, where the return of unpleasant neurological symptoms aligned all too well with traumatic experiences relating to my parents' second marriages. Eventually, I was seen as a problem child because of the complicated neurological effects of multiple untreated, unmonitored spinal defects. I was often teased or even punished at home for things outside my control, and I was bullied mercilessly at school for the way my health impacted me outwardly. I often struggled in classes because of the ways everything I lived with impacted me mentally. Looking back, I can clearly see the impact of complex PTSD beginning in my late teens and early 20s.

And yet, thus far, I have survived.

I have limited mobility, chronic pain, I can't even cough or sneeze without triggering such severe headaches that it makes my vision swim, and I have multiple musculoskeletal deformities. I have panic attacks, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, hypervigilance, brain fog, and I struggle desperately with depression.

But I have survived.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
My parents divorced when I was very young, and while I don't remember those years very clearly, I do vividly remember certain moments from the years after, moments that exist to me only in flashes of memory as short as photographs and as overexposed as a bad polaroid. Many of my memories can only be put in order by using tiny clues embedded in those moments - sometimes I'm not sure I've got the order right even then.

Both of my parents are strong-willed, volatile people with unstoppable force, unshakable pride, and undeniable resilience. But as suffering young humans having lost their marriage, faced with co-parenting medically challenging children despite their various resentments, they both ended up in abusive second marriages - marriages which have scarred each member of our family individually, and torn rips in the fabric of our bonds that will likely never heal.

Before I even made it to middle school, I had spent a year in a children's home, because there was nowhere safe for me to be and the circumstances I was dealing with had taken enough of a toll to have effected not only my physical health, but also my mental and behavioral health.

Throughout my teen years and the years of my adulthood, I have become a victim of abusive relationships more times than I'd like to count, not because I crave the "drama" that was so normalized during my childhood, but because the "red flags" embedded in the human subconscious are so desensitized in people with upbringings like mine.

The problem with normalizing systemic dysfunction is that it ensures the continuation of dysfunction. You can't fix a problem you won't own up to.

Perhaps my willingness to own my story is why I've survived so much of it.


STILL A SURVIVOR
Like most people, during my lifetime, I been abandoned, rejected, and put down. Often (like with most people), this was behavior I accepted from people I should have been able to trust to lift me up, people who should have been in place to empower and encourage me. Family members more concerned with the appearance of my surgical scar than with the possibility that I would never be able to walk. People who teased and mocked me when my emotional and neurological health began to take a toll on my urological health. Relatives who should have protected me, friends who should have believed in me.

And yet ... I have overcome.

I am disabled but not dead. I need help with certain things, but I give my effort to not being helpless. I have pushed because I had to, kept moving because quitting wasn't an option, and struggled because I have known nothing else.

I have a good heart and a love for the suffering, I am a loyal friend and can be a fierce advocate. I am a strong writer, a terrified but willing speaker. I am generous with what I own, what I know, and what I can offer. I want to leave a mark that makes this world a better place, inspire a generation of survivors, empower those battling impossible odds, and coach the hurting who are still struggling to drag themselves out of the pit.

Because I am a survivor, and it is the survivors who stand strong to give strength to the suffering who are truly the faces of the Undaunted.


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Lifetime of Favorite Songs ...


A few months ago, I saw a video on YouTube, pieced together with clips from the video creator's favorite songs - one song from every year of their life. I sort of kept that topic in mind, letting it marinate in the background; it kept coming up, but I knew it would be a huge endeavor that would likely take a while, so I put it off and put it off and put it off ...

But then I tacked it onto the end of my to-do's in my bullet journal, knowing that I wouldn't allow myself to simply delete it. Once I add something to my list, it usually stays there, being migrated from one day to the next until the shame of not doing whatever it is makes me finally stop procrastinating and get it done.

And after migrating the idea for approximately 84 thousand, 972 bajillion days, I did eventually sit down and make a list, from 1984 to 2017. For each year, I looked up the Billboard top 100, chose my favorite song from the singles listed, and added that song to a playlist I set up on YouTube. 

I wasn't surprised to see that as it turns out, my taste in musical favorites is just as widely varied as my taste in most other things, but I did learn a little about the evolution (de-evolution?) of music through the years, as favorites were sometimes very difficult to choose when there were years I hardly liked anything on the list. Other years were harder because I liked everything on the list and struggled to choose just the right song. Either way, here's where the list ended up:

1984: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"
1985: Don Henley, "All She Wants To Do Is Dance"
1986: Foreigner, "I Want To Know What Love Is"
1987: Whitesnake, "Here I Go Again"
1988: Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar On Me"
1989: Poison, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
1990: Vanilla Ice, "Ice Ice Baby"
1991: Bonnie Raitt, "Something To Talk About"
1992: Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
1993: Meat Loaf, "I Would Do Anything For Love"
1994: Ini Kamoze, "Here Comes The Hotstepper"
1995: TLC, "Red Light Special"
1996: Ginuwine, "Pony"
1997: Hanson, "MmmBop"
1998: Chumbawumba, "Tubthumping"
1999: TLC, "No Scrubs"
2000: Donnell Jones, "U Know What's Up"
2001: Nas, "Oochie Wally"
2002: Eminem, "Lose Yourself"
2003: Jason Mraz, "The Remedy"
2004: Christina Milian, "Dip It Low"
2005: Eminem, "Mockingbird"
2006: Nelly ft. Paul Wall, "Grillz"
2007: Colbie Caillat, "Bubbly"
2008: The Pussycat Dolls, "When I Grow Up"
2009: Miley Cyrus, "The Climb"
2010: Orianthi, "According To You"
2011: Miguel, "Sure Thing"
2012: One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful"
2013: Lorde, "Royals"
2014: Katy Perry, "Roar"
2015: Andy Grammer, Honey, I'm Good"
2016: Daya, "Sit Still, Look Pretty"
2017: Imagine Dragons, "Believer"

Want to listen to it yourself? You can connect to my playlist of favorites here - and if you're inspired to make your own, I'd love for you to tell me what's on it in the comments below!


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Digital BuJo: October Updates


Recently, I've talked a bit here about my journey with journaling, with a focus on bullet journaling and why it hasn't worked well for me in the past. I've shared a bit about the app I'm using now, why it didn't work before, and what makes it so perfect this time around - and I've even shared screenshots from when I first set my journal up.

But that was in August, and I've adjust things just a bit since then, taking things out that weren't working, adding things I needed in. I've been having fun using images to pretty things up a bit too, adjusting the sizes to create backgrounds, stickers, and digital washi tape. My index/table of contents is coming along nicely, and still creates a quick and easy way for me to get to any page I need. This index page has been incredibly valuable for quick use of my journal, and I've got it on the home screens of all my devices.


One of my favorite things has been seeing the monthly memories get filled in. I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of girl, so I like that this page is a great way to remind me to look for the beauty in my life even on days when it might be harder to find. In September, I got to watch the month fill in with little moments of joy - sometimes they were super small because it was a bad day and I had to actively search for them, but nonetheless, they're there. Still, I didn't like how the page turned out when filled in the way I had created it ...


I didn't like that in order to see the entire month, I had to zoom out so much I could barely make out anything on the page. So I rearranged it a bit, and ended up liking that new layout enough to carry it into October.


I've been using this page as a way to track my pain levels throughout the month as well, and while I haven't seen much connection or pattern between my pain levels and other things like the weather, etc., I still think it's a good thing to have a record of because I can use it to refer back to my doctors. My daily page has remained the same, from the way it's laid out to the way I use it, and I can see it being something I'll continue to use for a while yet.

I don't fill every box in every day, though, so when the day is completed and I've logged whatever I wanted to keep track of, I just go in and delete the empty boxes. So from start to finish, any given day might go from this ...


To this ...


Some days are more eventful than others, more emotionally varied, or more or less busy. Generally, most of the day's events fit well into the various "emotional" categories - when they don't, then I log them in the box just below that.

Another new thing I've added this month is a goal tracker, which allowed me to remove the habit-tracking app I had on my phone and also gave me the freedom to track from whichever device I happen to be using at the time. Instead of doing a new tracker each month, though, I wanted to use mine in conjunction with my lists of (Jenna Moreci inspired) quarterly goals, so I set it up like this:


So far, I'm loving it, and I also love the accountability potential; I'm planning to share a screenshot update of my goal tracker on my Instagram story each week!

What do you guys think? Are you into journaling or planning? If you are, what are your favorite pros and cons? How do you use your journal or planner? And if you're digital like me, what tips, tricks, and hacks do you think I should know about?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quarterly Goals 2018, #4


Last quarter, I said the previous quarter was the hardest I've pushed through since I started listing and posting my quarterly goals. Apparently, I hadn't yet realized the complexity with which 2018 was going to level-up my life. If this were a game, I'd be tripping over bosses and battles almost constantly, and I'm pretty sure I'd have a record number of respawns by now. (Pretty sure all it took was that one sentence for real gamers to be able to tell I'm not part of that particular club.)

That being said, I still find keeping these lists to be incredibly helpful in keeping myself motivated to try - even on days when the thing I do most spectacularly is fail. On those days, listing my goals and taking time to look back through those lists helps me take time to think about where I want my life to go - and what I need to do in order to move forward.

And, in quarters like this one where I managed an incredible amount of failures, these lists are also a great way to remind myself of my successes, regardless of how small they may seem.

Still, tracking my accomplishments is something I have really struggled with, because when I miss a goal one day, I allow myself to "make it up" on another day - but I also tend to allow me to beat myself up over missing days to the point where I end up missing more days due to the mental health hit. I think changing up my tracking method would be really helpful with this because it will allow me to focus on where my interests lie, with respect to the variations in my interests and the changing demands on my time. So this quarter I'm going to be trying something new - stay tuned to my Instagram stories and highlights for more on that, but in the meantime, let's start this new quarter!


SPIRITUAL:
Last Quarter's Goal: Keep up with my daily devotionals and continue focusing on my trust in God's provision for my family. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Stay focused on God and attentive as He continues to work in my life, building more dedication to spending devotional time daily.

I'm not giving myself a fail on this one because I did actually work hard to foster my trust in God's presence and provision in my life. I also made a point to spend time in my Bible, though it wasn't quite as regular as I would have liked. Still, there was a marked change in my focus and my prayer life, which is why I'm giving myself a "half-ass pass" - to acknowledge the progress even as I acknowledge the incompletion.


PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
Last Quarter's Goal: Rebuild the habit of listening to a personal development podcast daily. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Focus more on making sure I spend time learning and growing - listen to 90 self-help and/or personal development podcasts.

This one was a struggle for me, not because I wasn't listening to podcasts but because my tracking fell off almost completely this quarter. So I can't say I listened to a podcast daily, but I can say that I listened to a crapton of podcasts during driving times, evenings, etc. Which is, again, why I'm counting the "half-ass pass." In the next quarter, instead of counting this goal as a daily to-do, I'm just going to keep a 90-block tracker - which I'll be sharing on my Instagram stories as the quarter goes on, so that I can stay accountable for my progress.


HEALTH:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 75 ounces of water every day. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Purchase and implement medication organizersPASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #3: Address better pain management options. PASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #4: Continue intermittent fasting 3x weekly. FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Drink 50 ounces of water every day.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Get back to intermittent fasting 3x weekly - complete 15 16-hour fasts.

This was a big quarter for me, health-wise. I got a lot of answers about my health issues and made a lot of progress in finding the right treatments for my individual issues. That being said, those issues weren't helped by my addiction to caffeine, my inattention to drinking enough water, or my loosening of the intermittent fasting habit. Still, part of this was just due to my not being as able to track things regularly in this last quarter - I was struggling quite a lot with my mental health issues as well, so I'm just feeling happy to have made it this far and progressed as much as I have.

I did end up getting some medication organizers for the girls and I, and they have been incredibly helpful - both in the point of reducing the daily med-stress as well as in helping with my effort to coordinate all of our prescription refills. I know myself well enough to know that dropping caffeine isn't really an option at this point, but what I am going to do is turn my focus back to water in a more conscious way. And of course, I'm excited to get back to intermittent fasting - I really had missed it, but simply didn't have the motivation to discipline myself into it.


ROMANCE:
Last Quarter's Goal: N/A
Next Quarter's Goal: Still N/A

I'm still choosing not to put much focus on setting goals for this part of my life - I've got loads going on right now with my health, my kids's health, financial changes, and the upcoming move. Am I interested in dating and that sort of thing? Of course I am, and I wouldn't turn down Mr. Right if he happened to show up in my life - but right now, I'm not searching.


FAMILY:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: One weekly family fun day. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Plan and execute 10 or more fun family outings with the girls!
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret family goal, not daily but at least 70 times.

This was another area where tracking my goals based on certain time frames increased the challenge on my mental health in ways I couldn't really handle. I also struggle to cope with the warmer summer weather, and I tend to stay in as much as possible - but as fall rolls in and winter approaches, Knoxville will come alive with festivals and opportunities for outings in the cooler air. I hope to take advantage of that in this quarter, getting my girls out of the house for some fresh fall air.

As for my secret goal, attempting to accomplish this daily last quarter was eventually so damaging that my daughters were commenting on how it impacted my mental health. However, while it isn't a goal I can simply stop pursuing, it's definitely one I'd like to get more balanced control over


BUSINESS/CAREER:
Last Quarter's Goal: Write at least 10,000 words on SFFF. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Catch up all writing tasks and Patreon rewards. FAIL.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Write at least 10,000 words on SFFF.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Catch up all writing tasks and Patreon rewards.

While I didn't accomplish either of these goals completely, I did make small progress on both of them, which I am proud of. Acknowledging the struggles with my mental health and the goings-on in my personal life, I'm choosing to see this failure with grace and give myself the compassion I need in order to be able to keep moving. In the coming quarter, I hope to increase my writing output in a way that will allow me to finally check these goals off and set some new ones.


FINANCE:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: 2500 page views a month. PASS.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goalHALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1:  3000 page views a month.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Secret book sales goal - same as last time.

It so excites me to be able to say I accomplished my page view goal every single month in the last quarter. I love that this blog is growing, that people are seeing my content and coming back for more - because in sharing my story I'm hoping to do so much more than make money and sell books. What I want is to share in a way that offers hope and companionship to people like me, people who have suffered and struggled, people who need a boost, people who need to be reminded that they are worth so much more than they've accepted. People who want to learn, grow, and improve. Through this blog, I hope to encourage the Undaunted - and I can only do that when I'm being seen. That being said, I'll be shooting for 3000 page views each month of this quarter!

My book sales goal will stay the same. I set a total download goal each month, including consideration for the fact that one of my books is actually free - but I also set a paid sales and income goal to keep myself consciously growing. In the last quarter, I hit various levels of success with both of those goals, so I'm going to keep them the same as I attempt a more regular pattern of success with this. After all, slow and steady wins the race, right?


FUN/RECREATION:
Last Quarter's Goal #1: Improve more regular accomplishment of my secret self-care goal. FAIL.
Last Quarter's Goal #2: Read four books. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal #1: Keep working on making my secret self-care goal a more solid habit.
Next Quarter's Goal #2: Read four books.

This quarter was rough on these goals. I spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmed and completely swamped - for a while, I was actually attending various routine appointments 4 times a week, not including other incidental appointments and obligations. I got to the point where I was cancelling or rescheduling things, sometimes because I was double-booked, other times because I was so exhausted or upset, or in such severe pain that I just couldn't bring myself to leave the house.

I did, however, get some reading done - though the books I read were combined purpose. I did enjoy reading them quite a lot, but the original purpose of every book I read this quarter was to generate income as a freelance proofreader. I love the connections I've made, I love the way that has been working out, and I'm looking forward to seeing continued growth in that area of my life. That being said, I'm still shooting for four pleasure-reads this quarter - and I'm determined to check them off.


SOCIAL:
Last Quarter's Goal: Tell someone I'm thankful for them daily. HALF-ASS PASS.

Next Quarter's Goal: Make a consistent effort to build up the people around me.

In the last quarter, I did pretty well at taking the time to express gratitude to my favorite people - but I can't say with honestly that I did it every day or that this effort was as balanced as I would have liked it to be. So this quarter I'm changing it up a little, and while I still plan to tell my loved ones how thankful I am for their presences and influences in my life, what I want most is to make sure I've done something daily to make someone else more Undaunted. The world around us is becoming more and more ugly every day, with a toxic spread of pettiness and anger fueled by resentments, misunderstandings, and an unwillingness to hear each other out. We aren't focused on encouraging each other to grow and thrive - we're too caught up in the desire to bully and badger each other into becoming what we want them to be. In this quarter, I want to make more of a point of finding the traits inherent to the people around me and what they naturally relate to and thrive in, and I want to water those seeds in the people I love.

Because yelling at a rose for being a rose won't make it a daisy. It's much better for both the flower and the gardener if the rose is appreciated for what it is rather than shamed for what it is not.



If you've been following along with the PASS/FAIL ratio, you'll have noticed that we're at 3 passes, 6 half-ass passes, and 6 fails, which is quite a mix-up. Depending on how you look at it, we can call it either a solid win based on passes + half-ass passes, or we can call it a solid fail based on half-ass + fails.

Me? I'm just calling it an effort - one in which I gave the best I could, even when that wasn't a lot. Moving forward, I'd really like to focus more on consistency, and I think this is a going to be a great quarter of change in my life. Good or bad remains to be seen - but today, I'm optimistic.

What are you working on in your life? Do you set quarterly goals - or goals at all? If so, what goal is heaviest on your heart right now, and what are you doing to accomplish it?


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Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

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However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.