Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wednesday Would You Rather: Sweet or Unsweet

It has been so much fun having my Patrons voting on my content lately! We've had a couple of votes so far, and I have been loving knowing that when a new post goes up on this blog, it was chosen specifically by the people who help support it.

Today's post was first suggested by one of my readers here; now, I'm excited to say the post was voted into reality by one of my patrons!

So, without further ado ...


In general, I love tea of all kinds. I like it in almost every variety from green to black to white to red to herbal - and I like several kinds of tea both hot and cold (which is handy since I'm a single mom, which means all of my drinks usually get forgotten about until three hours after I've made them). And I even like drinking matcha with a little honey - but only when it's hot because once it's gone cold ... yuck!

I've always dreamed of having a fancy ceremonial matcha tea set - not because I want to pretend I know how to do the fancy ceremony or anything, but just because there's a part of me that believes the tea will taste better if it's more properly prepared. I'd like to have a nice teapot set someday - and did you guys know that there are actual tea-for-one sets too?

I'm not even kidding - they come with a teacup and a little teapot, and they can be stored stacked/nested, and they're generally incredibly beautiful and ... oh my gosh, I seriously want them all.

And don't even get me started on the magical delight that is blooming tea.

But as for the war between sweet tea drinkers and unsweet tea drinkers?

Well, I guess I'm pretty neutral, to be honest. In general, I drink my tea (both hot and cold) unsweetened other than by a bit of honey - but that's generally not because of any specific dislike for sweetened tea, it's just because I generally make it a practice not to drink calories (other than the few I stir into my coffee these days). With that being said, if there's some good old southern sweet tea on offer and I'm in the right kind of mood ...

I'll drink it quite happily. On the porch.

Do you drink tea? If you do drink tea, what's your favorite kind? Where do you get it from, and how do you like to drink it? Do you have a suggestion for the next Would You Rather post? Definitely leave it in the comments!

If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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


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

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday Sentiment: A Letter To The Woman Who Is Never "Just Right"

Today's my birthday, so when my Patrons voted for a Saturday Sentiment post, I knew it had to be something true to my themes and styles - something honest about my life and the message I'm hoping my writing will spread. I wanted this open letter to be strong and encouraging, something that would allow me to share my story in a way that would help other women write the next chapter of their own.

So I thought about who would be the best person to write to in this Saturday Sentiment letter. A boy I loved with all my heart, with whom it didn't work out but from whom I learned so much about my worth and value? "The one that got away?" Nah, not him ... even though he taught me that no matter how perfect a couple might be for each other, sometimes it just isn't meant to be.

What about the frenemy who meant so much to me and played such a huge part in teaching me how to believe in myself - by telling me flat out that she didn't believe in me? Nah, not her either, though I owe her many thanks for so many valuable life lessons.

My mother, my father? The grandmothers who gave me my strong will but also resented my proud possession of it? The grandfather who gave me a love for all things WWE? Or the one who gave me so many years of body insecurity? My brothers? A role model? A previous teacher? The NFL? The President?

Nah. None of them either. Not today. Not on my birthday.

In the past, I've written to my daughters' future husbands, my past self, and my future self; I've even written in general to those living with PTSD, which I feel really speaks in an inspiring way to acknowledge what it's like to work your way through each and every moment watching with the utmost caution to see what the next moment might bring.

But the thing is, my "target audience" isn't just sufferers of PTSD, because even for those of us living with mental health issues, life is so much more than mental health - and so am I. And so are you.

My audience is predominantly women though - and while the women reading here do tend to be women living with or interested in mental health, they're also women from all walks of life. Some are into fashion and makeup, some are single parents like me. But the majority of my readers, despite all their differences, do have some things in common. They're into growing as people and giving their best to this life. They're into reading and they love a blog like this because it's a relate-able place to be. Perhaps more importantly though, they were raised in the same world as me, a world where little girls are indoctrinated daily into a belief that they are not enough, can never be enough. And in those rare moments when they are enough, they'll probably cross over and end up being too much.

It's like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but we're never Baby Bear's stuff - we never get to be the porridge that isn't too hot or too cold, we're never the chair that isn't too hard or too soft. And we're all too often reminded that we're never as irresistible or irreplaceable as the bed Goldilocks couldn't bring herself to climb back out of.

And as that thought flowed through my mind, carrying with it the memory of a poem I have loved for years because of how deeply it struck my heart ... that was when I knew what I wanted to write and who I wanted to write it to.


Dear Woman Who Is Never "Just Right,"

I need to tell you that the problem isn't really with you at all. It isn't really because you're too loud or too strong or too intimidating or too anything. And it isn't because you aren't brave enough or pretty enough or smart enough or because you lack some fundamental thing without which you can never be truly valuable.

It isn't because your thighs or your breasts or your hair or your eyes or your lips are too big or too small, and it isn't because you weigh or know or think too little or too much.

Listen to me when I tell you that the only real problem with your value lies in a society that needs you to be small so it can feel big, a world that needs your heart to bleed so it can feed its own thirst. The problem with your worth is not that you don't shine in the right way, but that you have allowed other peoples' envy and resentment and insecurity to smother the unique way that only you were meant to shine.

I believe that each and every person was created on purpose, for a purpose - including you - and that that purpose is inherently driven by the bigness that lies concealed in the corners of our hearts, hidden behind the shadows left behind by the demons in our pasts. I believe that every single one of us is "Just Right" at something, "Just Right" in some way. You are already just the right flavor and temperature of porridge, just the right comfort and softness to rest on, just the right safety and security to bury down in and take shelter.

Here this, woman, and take it to heart. You are enough. You are not too much or too little. And the biggest mistake you've ever made is believing the chorus of lies that tell you otherwise, believing the lie that your worth is found in the number on a scale, that your beauty is found in the right shade of a cream on a makeup counter, that your significance lies in the size of your 401k and your legacy is built on the opinions of others who may or may not have been built to fully appreciate the incredible, undeniable value that only you can ever possibly have.

You are not too little, and you are not too much. You are not too hard or too soft, too hot or too cold, too big or too small. You are enough. You. Are. Just. Right.


If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Pet Peeves

This year I'm changing up my blogging schedule a little bit, and now that BLOGuary's daily (except Sunday) blogging is behind me, I'm moving to blogging every fourth day instead of every third day. I like this schedule because it still allows me to blog on all seven days - which allows me to keep the daily alliterative titles I fell so in love with through the course of 2017. But I also like that with the days spaced out just this bare little bit more, it means I have time to let me Patrons take charge of what I'm posting sometimes.

Most blog posts on this site (aside from Friday Feels and the Undaunted Interviews) will now have their topics chosen by my subscribers on Patreon, who will get to participate in vote polls to choose my blog prompts. You see, most of my titles come with a general theme - Friday Feels is emotional openness and mental wellness, Motivation Monday is meant to be motivational or share something that motivates me, Self-Care Sunday is about self-care strategies, and so on. So now, this new fourth-day schedule allows just enough time for my Patrons to choose the upcoming topics for the blog.

The first vote of this kind ended with a tie between Top Ten Tuesday and Tuesday Travel; I flipped a coin, and here we are. 


1. Passive-aggressive and covert-aggressive behavior.
This type of behavior is often borne of unexpressed (and sometimes even unreasonable) resentment toward others, and people who frequently engage in this sort of thing as a lifestyle disturb me for several reasons - particularly if they know about it and are proud of it (this is covert-aggression - hidden and subtle, but purposeful nonetheless, whereas passive-aggressive acts are often committed unknowingly).

Either way (whether it's passive-aggressive or covert-aggressive), people who engage in this sort of thing make my peeve list every time - most notably because the behavior is inherently dishonest. Instead of coming right out with a clear and open effort to communicate and deal with the problem, passive aggressive people often attempt to pick petty fights in other subtle ways in order to "get even" or "get back at" someone. These behaviors are even more exaggerated in covert-aggressives because they're actually doing it purposely in an effort to provoke the person they're angry with, so that the other party ends up being the one who "started it" or "brought it up." (Ex: backhanded compliments, sabotage, degrading "jokes," etc.)

And as if that weren't bad enough (especially if the person in question is proud of their behaviors), I tend to believe passive aggression is closet cowardice - which, piled on top of being dishonest, creates a pretty abhorrent person in general, in my opinion. Nothing says cowardice to me like a person with issues who is too afraid of their own emotions to face them, and is instead choosing to take them out on others, often in quiet ways that can't even be addressed by the intended target of the behaviors.

Uugggh. I hate those people. All of them. (Yes, even myself, when I catch me acting like that. Ugh.)


2. People who misspell my name - when they're looking at it.
It happens all the time - in messages, texts, emails. Even members of my own family do it occasionally.  And in situations where people don't know me well enough, I could understand, honestly. I mean, it's not like I have the kind of name that can only have one spelling. It could be Brandi, Brandy, Brandie, Brandee, Brandey ... so many options, and those are just the ones I could think of while running on emotional empty after a weekend of trying to be polite and make Jesus proud while dealing with the kind of people mentioned in point number one.

Back to this point though - and what really upsets me about people misspelling my name, especially if it's a friend or family member who should know better anyway. Seriously, it makes me grit my teeth so hard it feel like I'll shatter them when my name is literally right in front of someone and they still spell it wrong - like on an email reply or a Facebook comment reply or message. I really just want to scream a little every time that happens. Or a lot.


3. The Bingo-speak all the kids (and I wish it were at least only the kids) are texting with.
You've seen it right? It's in every text from your teenager, every text conversation between your teen and their friends. It's all over Twitter and Facebook and just about any other social media or communication avenue young people are using (oh my gosh, I'm old enough to be using the phrase "young people" - and I'm pretty sure as I type this I can already hear my cousin laughing). It's ridiculous and frankly, it makes me sad for the loss of the importance of coherent grammar - and what's really sad is that it's bleeding over in such a way that we're not just using short abbreviated text because it's faster. In way too many cases, these kids literally don't know the proper way to spell things, because they rarely practice using actual grammar. It's even pissed me off enough to mention here before.

"U git it? Bcuz omg."


4. When I'm talking to someone and they start talking to someone else - literally while I'm still talking to them.
Like mid-sentence. Mid-word, even. And not even because someone just walked by and you really need to interrupt this conversation to tell that person that you found their missing diamond engagement ring. No, what drives me to mental violence is when I'm in the middle of telling someone something and they're so deeply not paying attention that they've stopped even hearing me, so when someone else walks by, they're like, "Oh hey, Susie, did you know raindrops are made of water?"

And I'm left standing there with my hands in the air and my mouth fallen open like, "Dude, what just happened??"

And oh my God, if the person I was talking to responds by saying, "Oh I thought you were done."

How did you think I was "done" when I was IN THE MIDDLE OF A WORD!?!?!

I'm not kidding you guys. Mental violence. On my face I'm only scowling, and in my words I'm like, "Whatever, you obviously didn't care what I was saying anyway." But oh, in my mind? I'm taking the lemon life just gave me, wrenching it open with my fingernails, and then squeezing the juice directly into every paper-cut you've ever had in your life.


5. Lateness.
Those of you who have been reading here for any length of time will already know that I have complex PTSD, which often means I am filled with anxiety over one thing or another as I make my way through each day. There are lots of little things that trigger this anxiety, stressing me out and sometimes even driving me to frustrated anger. Lateness is one of them.

Of all the things that drive me most crazy, lateness is pretty high on the list - not because I feel any concern over some terrible thing happening, but usually because my perception of lateness is that it indicates a certain disrespect for the person you've agreed to be on time with. For example, when I make a doctor's appointment for 10 o'clock and end up sitting in a waiting room until 11:30, it infuriates me because this implies that my time isn't valuable; however, you can bet that if I showed up to a 10 o'clock appointment at 11:30, I'd be reprimanded for being late and I'd have to reschedule. I would likely also be reminded that only so many such encounters will be tolerated. Alright then, so how is it okay for me to sit in a waiting room for hours as if I had nothing better to do with my time or no other appointments to make that day? If I have to respect the value of your time, don't you have to respect the value of mine as well?

This bleeds over into other aspects of my life too, such as the school-day morning routine in our family. Lateness is a huge trigger for me, both for anxiety and for irritation - but it isn't bothersome at all for my unfocused and totally free-paced little Eden. This is a kid full of life and she is determined to enjoy every single minute of it to the best of her ability - and, most certainly, at her own slow, devil-may-care pace. We're late to just about everything unless I make her get started an hour (or two) early. It makes me crazy.


6. Game invites and pushy MLM recruiters.
I mean, I understand. Sometimes we just need to sit down and veg out and lose a couple of hours playing Farmville or Candy Crush or whatever. But no, I will not help you get to level 847 by joining the cult. No, I will not download, install, and open this game so that I can send you a coconut for the hut you're building, I won't help you with an exploding donut cluster, and I don't care how awesome you think the game is. I am a single mom with a lot on my plate right now, and I don't have space in my life for that right now. And I'm too busy playing JetPack JoyRide and clicking the Bored Button to get into any other games anyway.

Which brings me to the MLM recruiters. But don't get me wrong, okay - I loved when my cousin was an Avon rep, and I'm sad that she's not anymore because now I'll have to find someone else to get my favorite perfumes and Micellar Water from. And I pretty well adore my Jamberry consultant, not only because she keeps me in gorgeous wraps that eliminate drying time and stick around for weeks without messing up, but also because she's an amazingly strong woman with a heart of gold.

But if we're not friends, or if we used to be but haven't been for years and years, do not send me a Faceboook message like, "Hey! I've sure missed you over the years and I'm so glad we can get back in touch! Wanna join my ____ team?" No actually, I don't.

Literally, there was this one girl who used to message me all the time about her products and her cool group and her neat stuff and her great income and blah, blah, blah - and then I was like, "Nah, I'm not in a place to join up right now because I have a lot going on, but I'd love to cross promote with you. I'm a blogger and I love reviewing new products and promoting small business." And she dropped off the conversation so fast it was like someone pushed her entirely off the face of the Earth. Dude, if you're trying to build an MLM team, don't do it like that. It's pushy and it makes you suck. Do it like my Jamberry chick, who makes me want to buy thousands of products and join her team even though she's never asked me to (which is good though because I literally have so much going on in my life).

I guess it's not really the games and the MLM's that get me. It's the pushiness. Ugh.


7. When my kids (or other people around me) have nothing to say to me all day long - until I'm obviously trying to concentrate on watching or listening to something.
Oh. My. God. This makes me crazy. Like so crazy. Like the kind of wild crazy that shocks people. The kind that makes you give the mom look even if the perpetrator of annoyance isn't even your kid. And it's even worse if it's done repeatedly, because then I start to feel like it's being done purposefully.

If you go all day long ignoring what I say to you, rejecting every attempt at conversation, and giving me one-word answers to everything - and then suddenly become chatty the second I pick up a book? Seriously, I might throw it at you. Or if you instantly have something to say the second I put an earbud in my ear, and then get quiet when I take it out so that I can pay attention to you - and then start talking again when I put it back in??? Aaarggh!!

Dude, no. Just don't.


8. Militant dietary people.
It's okay with my if you're on a low-carb diet. It's okay with me if you're vegan, or vegetarian, or pescetarian, or Paleo. Whatever. Eat what you want, it's none of my business. But if I'm eating a hamburger and you feel the need to tell me how cows are killing the planet and I'm a horrible person for eating the grilled flesh of a poor defenseless animal, then I swear to you ...

I will double up on the bacon.

Yes, animals are cute. Yes, sometimes animal farms aren't always humane. Yes, the chickens live in bad conditions.

That's why I'm doing my part. If I eat this chicken, he doesn't have to suffer anymore, got it? And if I eat it breaded and fried on a sandwich, do not try to guilt me about the carbs. You eat what you want, I'll eat what I want. If that's a problem for you, then let's not eat together. Duh.

And this goes for diet people too. Yes, I know how many calories are in this donut. No, I don't care how many miles I'd have to run to work it off. First of all, that's not my relationship with food. Second off all, in case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly a runner. Lay off.


9. People who automatically assume that anytime a woman is upset, scared, anxious, angry, lonely, or depressed, it absolutely must be because it is her "time of the month."
Yeah, because women literally never feel any of those things at all unless they're pouring blood from their nether regions, right? Suuure. I mean, it can't possibly be because she's feeling ignored or hurt or having a rough day at work or not feeling well or hasn't eaten all day or didn't sleep well last night or any number of other non-vaginal-bleeding sorts of reasons. Right? Right??

I mean, unless she's like me and lives with PMDD. Because if she has PMDD, she might have all that stuff on a normal range on a normal daily basis anyway, but with PMDD ... she's gonna probably have all that stuff all at once and not even be able to pinpoint why. But even then, PMDD actually usually lets up when the period starts, so yeah.

AND FINALLY ...


10. Double-standard-having hypocrites who not only behave badly, but are proud of it.
I'm not even sure this needs an explanation. I mean, we've all encountered them, right? People who are like, "Oh my goodness, don't judge me because of my hair/skin/clothes/piercings/tattoos/weight/whatever!" And then they literally turn around to judge someone else because of their hair/skin/clothes/piercings/tattoos/weight/whatever. I'm not even kidding, I know people who walk around and preach loving-kindness and compassionate understanding on a daily basis, but then they're like, "Ew, did you seriously sit that close to that homeless guy? You better check your pockets now." Or they're lighting a cigarette as they're saying something like, "Oh, you shouldn't drink that much coffee, you know how bad it is for you??"

That's as bad as people who never clean up after themselves but complain about how messy other people are, or who take 47 naps every day but imply that everyone else is lazy. And when they know they're doing it and they think it's cute or funny? Ugh, I can't even.


What are your pet peeves? Do we have any in common - and if we do, do these things bother you for the same reasons? How do you deal with stuff like this when you're faced with it, or when you're in a situation where you can't just walk away? Like, what would you do if you were at a company dinner with a vegan who couldn't stop making a nauseous face over your bacon cheesebuger?

If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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


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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Finds: DIY Soothing Bath Soak

You guys, this has been a hard season for self-care in my life. December brought us the winter break from school, complete with the frenzy of the Christmas holidays - not to be outdone by the excitement of sparkling juices and mocktails aplenty as we celebrated the beginning of a fresh new year. Winter break ended just in time for the snow days to begin, and just as I prepared for the renewal of my freedom and personal time (which is only found when the girls are at school since I'm a full-time single mom 24/7 with pretty much no co-parent), the time vanished into thin air.

And by the time the snow days passed, Eden's most recent surgery was upon us, bringing a wave of whining-clinging-vomiting-needing-time-to-heal-sick days into my world. Personal time for myself, already such a rare and precious commodity, became even more rare in those first post-surgery days - and as they waned, fading softly into the most recent past, the flu epidemic took a firm hold of our area, shutting down the entire school district.

Which means more days of my kiddos hanging out at home - and less time (and quiet) for me to enjoy.

All this means that my personal self-care moments are even more precious than usual because of their rarity, even more valued. Even the smaller pleasures sprinkled through my daily life are magnified because they come in fits and bursts of joy which must be sandwiched carefully between the needs and demands of two girls still desperately seeking attention and reassurance from the one solid constant in their lives - me.

And when shaving your legs alone in the quiet of the bathroom with nothing but the water pouring from a cheap emergency showerhead (our good one got broken and hasn't yet found time to be adequately replaced) begins to feel deliciously luxurious ... well, that's when you know you need to step up your game.


Winter is hard on the skin, guys - and stress doesn't help at all. My skin has been reacting much more dramatically this winter due to the extremity of the cold, the abundance of stress in my life at the present (with the ex and the kids and the health issues and the finances, don't even get me started on my mom's new health news), and the sheer lack of time spent rubbing myself down with oils or lotions. My skin misses the pampering, for real - but there's just no time.

My kids have both been equipped with some kind of radar that rouses them almost the very second I wake up in the morning - and they wake up alive every single day. Hungry and chatty (both girls) and grouchy/happy (Josephine/Eden, respectively) and ready to greet each new day with energetic fortitude, these girls come alive the second their eyes open, begging for breakfast and cuddles and drinks and all sorts of other things ... not that I mind this, but .... well, it can be a little jarring.

I pull myself away for a morning pee, which is usually soundtracked (let's just pretend that's a word, since you know what I mean anyway) by the beginning of the day's running litany of sibling battles and sister skirmishes. Then it's back to the demands of two little people needing a strange balance of needs met, ranging each day from "I'm independent I'll get it myself" to "please make me drinks and food and love me and can you do everything all at once please while I hang on your back/leg/shoulder/elbow???" From there, the day moves at its own crazy beautiful pace ... again, not that I mind this, but ... well, it can be more than a little jarring, especially as it drags on with very little downtime between needs which need to be met.

By the end of the day (or Monday when they go back to school after a weekend that is both incredibly fun and completely insanity-inducing), I'm ready for the few hours of peace that exist in the space between their bedtime and mine.

Because that's when I take a relaxing hot green tea milkbath ... and yes, I actually do read in the bathtub. And here's how I do it:


Step One: Prepare MilkBath
This is a recipe I found on Pinterest ages ago and have loved ever since the first time I tried it. I love that it's simple, that it's adjustable, and that I can spend just a little while making a batch that'll last me a while. It's just five ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup each: epsom salts, cornstarch, and baking soda
  • 10-20 drops preferred essential oil (any scent, optional - I usually don't use any)
It's so easy to make this - you literally just put everything together and mix it. I like making mine in a huge mason jar because I can just put everything inside, pop the lid on, and give it a good shaking until everything's blended together. Once finished, I usually transfer my milkbath mixture into a smaller jar though, and sometimes I even like splitting the product into a few jars so I can share. (NOTE: This also makes a great DIY Christmas gift, Birthday gift, Galentine/Valentine gift, etc.)


I usually don't try to do this part when I'm actually planning to have my bath, because I know myself well enough to know that once I"m in the kitchen making the milkbath powder, I'll need to clean up when I'm finished. Which will lead to washing dishes which will likely lead to sorting mail or decluttering of some sort, which will lead to taking the trash out, which might lead to starting some laundry, which will ... well, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie right?

Anyway, once that initial prep step is finished, you're ready to move on to ...


Step Two: Gather Supplies
You'll need your milkbath mixture, of course, as well as some sort of measuring scoop. Or you can skip the need to measure entirely, and just dose your milkbath into one-cup servings right from the get-go like I do. Now of course, if I'm making things fancy for a gift or something I'll use little mason jars, usually topped with cute little cupcake wrappers and tied with some sort of ribbon - but usually when I'm just prepping for myself I like the way these little snack-sized zipper bags allow me to measure easily (they're pre-marked!) and store my milkbath powder in a flat stack under the cabinet. Storing this way means I can just grab a little packet of milkbath whenever I want, and it makes the process a lot more effortless - which is really nice when I'm need of some simple pampering.

It really is the little things in life, guys.

However you choose to measure and store your milkbath, you'll need somewhere between a half-cup and a full cup for each bath so you'll need to have that ready. You'll also need about 10 green tea bags for each bath - I like these ones from Lipton because they're affordable, they smell good, and I don't care how they taste because I'm not using them for drinking. (For the record, I have used them for drinking and they're fine, but I generally prefer these Mint Medley Herbal Tea Bags for drinking. SIDE NOTE: If I want my bath to be invigorating instead of relaxing, I'll sometimes swap some of my green tea bags for Mint Medley bags.)


Once you have your tea bags and your milk bath powder (and candles and music and a good book and maybe some wine), then we're ready for ...


Step Three: Draw The Bath
I tend to like my bath to be nice and hot and last for super long - I'm never in a bath for less than 20 minutes, but it isn't exactly uncommon for me to get into a book and lose an entire afternoon in a good bath. (Pretty sure all that's missing to create the perfect bath is one of these bad boys.)

As the water is filling the tub, add your milk bath and your tea bags - I like to knot mine together and drop them in the tub because:
  1. that's easier and requires less preparation, and
  2. when I drop the actual bags in the bath I get the benefit of the scent as the tea steeps -
... but sometimes I'll actually brew my 10 tea bags in a quart of slightly-cooled boiled water, steeping for 10-15 minutes before discarding the bags and adding the tea to my bath.


Step Four: Soak & Enjoy
Taking this kind of bath has become something of a ritual for me - It's relaxing just prep and gather my things, to listen to music while I run the bath, to charge my kindle during the day, knowing that I'm going to be using it later. The heat of the water, the salt and other factors of the milk bath, and the scent of the tea lull me into a sort of bliss I don't usually find often elsewhere, and I love that once the bath is over (and wrapped up with a quick-rinse shower to clean away the old water, wash my hair and body, etc.) I'm completely chilled and ready to face the next thing coming my way.

Recently, in the bath, I've been reading The Next Always: Book One of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy by Nora Roberts - and as expected, I'm loving it so far! Nora Roberts is totally one of my writing heroes, and reading her work is always a pleasure. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this Trilogy too, but at the same time I'm also still anxiously waiting for my turn to finish reading the Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger. I've got Lodestar on hold at my local library, and I really hope the people ahead of me in line read fast because I am in The. Biggest. Hurry. Ever.


Are you a soak-bath lover like me? And if so, what do you like to use to make your bath extra magical? If you use products, which ones are your favorite - and if you prefer DIY bath products, what are your favorite recipes? Drop me a comment below; I'd love the chance to get to know you better!

If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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


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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday Matters: Why I Love Intermittent Fasting

One of my goals for this first quarter of 2018 was to get back into my practice of intermittent fasting, and as such, it has come up in several conversations recently, a few of which ended up going something like this:
Person: "OMG, you're fasting? But why? Don't you know how bad that is?"Me: "Actually, it's not. There are a lot of research-supported benefits of several different fasting styles."Person: "Yeah but ... you're like, starving yourself. That's not the best way to lose weight - you're basically anorexic."Me: "LOL. I'm not starving - or anorexic. I still literally eat every single day; I just eat in measured windows of time that allow for fasting in between. And it's not about weight, it's about health."Person: "...."
When I had the third conversation in a row on this topic, I decided to write about it. Apparently there are still lots of misconceptions about what fasting is good for, how to do it properly, and what it does for your body - and I'd love to break down some of the facts by talking about my own personal fasting journey:


When I first started using this practice as a regular way of eating I did do it partly as a weight loss effort, but mostly I did it because since I was very overweight at the time, I had recently been told I was "insulin resistant" - which is sort of a nice way of saying "pre-pre-diabetic." Around that same time, I read that intermittent fasting was thought to be a great way to improve insulin sensitivity - and that it was therefore suspected as a great way to fight the development of type two diabetes.

NOTE: Diabetes runs in my family - and it's probably not a coincidence that there isn't even one skinny little donut-hater among us. As far as I know, we don't have any vegans either.

So yes, I did want to lose some weight (because duh, it's another great way to postpone and/or fight off the development of type 2 diabetes), but what I really wanted was to be healthier in general whether I ended up being fat or not. Because the truth is, there are a lot of worse things to be. Still, in those days ... Well, I truly did care about my health more than my weight, I still cared about my weight enough to try something as drastic as fasting to improve my health.

So I did a bunch of online research and started with just one 16 hour water-only fast - which I loved enough to later try a 24 hour water-only fast. I did a few more in subsequent weeks (usually about one every 10-14 days), completed a few successful 48 hour water-only fasts as well, and then started to imagine going longer and longer - not because I was losing weight while fasting (because I truly don't know if I was or not, since I'm not really a frequent-weighing kind of girl), but because I had started to notice other benefits.

I fell in love with the benefits of fasting in my life - but long-term use of longer fasts really isn't good for you (risk of malnutrition, etc.) - and while I wanted to keep seeing the benefits of fasting, I also wanted my fasting dietary plan to be sustainable when applied to my actual lifestyle, so I went back to researching different methods of fasting.


ENTER INTERMITTENT FASTING
In researching the various intermittent fasting programs, I started to learn more and more about the science behind the benefits of fasting and how to apply the various fasting principles to my daily life. I looked into the Stop-Eat-Stop, the Warrior Diet, and several other plans - not only because these plans are often touted as weight loss plans, but more importantly because ... well, the truth is, I wanted to keep getting the benefits of fasting without having to put in loads of effort or disrupt the lifestyle of my family.

These days, I don't care all that much about being a bigger woman. I'm no longer even remotely ashamed to be living in a bigger body, and when these curves are properly dressed, they happen to look mighty fine. But back then, I wanted to be thinner almost as much as I wanted to be healthy, and since intermittent fasting promised both of these goals could be possible, I embarked on a new journey.

In the years since, my personal fasting habits have changed and adjusted to fit my life as a mother, my life as a writer, and now my routine as a single mom. I need my personal needs and schedules to be flexible because I'm the only person my kids have to count on on a daily basis - I simply don't have time for a complicated or restrictive diet plan, regardless of the motive behind it.

Currently, my fasting schedule is pretty simple - I try to complete a 16 hour water-only fast three times a week, with my week starting on Sundays and each fast lasting from 8pm one night to 2pm the following afternoon.


BUT WHAT IF YOU GET HUNGRY?
DON'T YOU GET HUNGRY???
Honestly, yes. Some days, fasting is easy because I'm not that hungry during those hours anyway on average. But other days I'm hungry pretty much every second of the day because I'm a human and it's normal for appetites to fluctuate. That's why during a fast, I allow myself about 250 calories worth of "cheating" - so long as these calories are taken in no more than 50-calorie-per-hour increments.

The 50-calorie thing is a bit controversial among the fasting community, but it works for me so I use it as a crutch on the days when it's needed - mostly, this just means I can have my coffee with a splash of creamer when I don't want it black.

Or if I'm really hungry that day, it means I can eat any number of possible 50-calorie snacks without guilt over breaking my fasting plan. I've even created a few 50-calorie recipes, my favorite of which is actually a huge salad that's filling, healthy, and delicious while being easy to make and still coming in at just under 50 calories: a cup of raw spinach, four cauliflower florets, a cup of cucumber slices, and a half-cup of raw diced summer squash, dressed with the juice of half a lemon, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of garlic. I have a similar recipe for a fruit salad which goes deliciously with my morning cup of black coffee.

The idea, for me, at least, is that when I can, I complete my 16-hour fast three times a week, with just water, black coffee, or other zero-calories drinks during the fasting hours that I'm awake. But as I mentioned before, I wanted to follow the concept of the fasting diet for the health benefits without allowing it to be so strict I couldn't keep up with it.

That being said, I still don't really know if my fasting efforts have added up to any weight loss this quarter - and I mostly don't care. What I have noticed is that when I follow my plan, I have:

1. More Time.
In a lot of ways, fasting gives me a mental break from all the things food generally requires me to worry about. Is this healthy food? Do I already have all the stuff for this recipe - and if not, how expensive is this to make? How many people will it feed? Will my family like it? How long does it take to prep? How long to cook? How labor-intensive is it? If I'm having THIS for breakfast ... then what will I have for lunch? And what about dinner? You'd be surprised how much a person can get done in a few hours when food is not part of the equation.

For me personally, this means more writing that's better quality, more focused time to spend using social media to interact with my readers, more quality time spent with my kids, more time to read and play and just ... be me.

2. Better Sleep.
When I'm fasting for longer periods of time I tend to sleep better - so the more regularly I'm fasting, the more regularly I sleep better, and I don't know if this means better quality sleep specifically but I do know that a larger quantity of sleep generally means a better chance of stumbling upon a better quality of sleep even if it is pretty much by accident. That being said, I do tend to wake up feeling rested more often, and the feeling of being rested tends to last longer in general - so instead of being up at 6 and already tired again by 10, I might be up at 6 but make it until closer to 2 before the afternoon fog begins to roll in.

Personally, I also tend to fall asleep faster for the most part - and this bleeds into other things such as my moods, how I feel in general, my ability to focus, etc. Being rested well changes my quality of life in huge ways (which also tends to have a strong positive impact on my mental health) - and if keeping a slightly emptier belly now and then is the price of that, I'll pay it gladly.

3. Better Health.
This might be because I'm sleeping better, which gives my body more time to heal. It might be because giving my digestive system time to rest during fasting periods helps keep it from being so overworked, leading to a more efficient fuel using process.

Or maybe it's because fasting for longer periods awakens certain hormonal systems and processes in the body, leading to improved insulin sensitivity, increased human growth hormone production, increased ability to heal and function at the cellular level, reduction in the toxic build-up of free radicals in the system, healthier levels of cholesterol, and better blood pressure - among other things. And while these aren't things you can see in the mirror, they are things which will have a noticeable impact over time; additionally, they're proof you can look for in the blood counts at your next annual well check.

4. Less Pain.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease systemic inflammation, which leads to decreased overall pain for people living with chronic stress tension, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other similar ailments. This is in general probably due to the previously mentioned better health and increased sleep, but it bears mentioning on its own simply for it's high value.

For people living with mental health issues leading to chronic stress tension and other complaints, this can be beneficial as well - and it has made a huge difference for me in stress-related neck/shoulder pain as well as chronic joint inflammation pains as well.


In addition to all these things ...
I've also noticed improvements in my skin and hair, focus, concentration, and hydration levels. I tend to drink my water a lot more easily now, partly because not chewing all day means I have a lot of time for drinking water, and partly because drinking so much water helps stave off hunger until it's time to break my fast. And I guess I'll be able to tell you more about whether I lose weight or not after the end of this quarter - I've got a doctor's appointment to recheck my bloodwork in April.


Have you ever tried any fasting programs in the past, and if so, what were your motives and goals? Did the fasting work for you, and if it did, are you still using it? If you didn't like it or it didn't work, why not - and what did you switch to? Leave a comment below - I'd love to hear from you!

If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday Therapy: Vegging Out

Earlier this week, David Elliott and I wrapped up BLOGuary with a couple of Plan With Me posts, where we outlined the coming week and talked a bit about what's going on in our lives outside of blogging. We shared peeks at our actual schedules (David even vlogged!), which was really fun for me because I've been playing with the idea of adding planning-style posts to this blog for ages now.

But then those plans began to adjust themselves, as plans tend to do - Eden's surgery (which should have been yesterday) was rescheduled (to tomorrow), and I ended up having to change and rearrange other things in order to fill yesterday and empty tomorrow. I'll be sharing more about that at a later date, but all this scheduling and stress-y type stuff going on in my life right now has really had me in the mood for just one thing.

Vegging out. Doing nothing. Being a total bum for a couple of hours - and loving it. So I thought I'd share with you how I do that, just in case you wanted to join in.


Lots of people veg out with TV - this isn't new at all. We love being able to press the power button, watch that screen come to life, and let whatever's playing take us temporarily away from our troubles. It could be a TV show or a movie, and sometimes we really don't care which it is or what's even on. Millions of people all over the world leave their TVs on all day long, just for the noise in the background.

Not me; I like that there's a time and a place for TV, and that it can be turned off in order to enjoy the depth of quiet that fills a room when the technology has been shut down. And, while I've mentioned before that I don't tend to watch an awful lot of TV specifically, what I do like to watch a lot of is YouTube.

The thing is, I'm a single mom - but whether I'm single or not, my personality and my life story dictate that I tend to be a pretty frugal person in general. My favorite past-times tend to be inexpensive or mostly free, so it's only fitting that my favorite sources of entertainment would be the same.

Plus, I like that in supporting YouTube in general and my favorite creators more specifically means that I'm putting something into the lives of the people who are famous in my little world. Most of my favorite YouTubers are people I've been watching for literally years, and many of them have become people I actually care about in small ways, even though they're only on the outskirts of my life and I'm nowhere near theirs. With most of them, I've actually gone back and watched all of their videos - even the super old ones.

What I really like is that while my favorite channels are entertaining and valuable to me, it's also a fun feel-good to know that by watching their videos and supporting their channels, I can give back to them in some small way. (Kinda like the way I share my favorite blog posts and such.)

So without further ado, here are my most favorite YouTubers - and why I love them. (Along with photos I am shamelessly pulling from Google even though it's a bad idea - if anyone knows who took these photos, let me know so I can credit the skills!)


For Comic Relief + Eye Candy:
This is my go-to guy when I'm having a sh*t day and really need to pick my mood up out of the dumpster. Joe is seriously so many things. Just to start, he's totally funny and he's completely adorable - in a totally non-pervy, I'm-not-a-cougar-yet kind of way, of course. But beyond that, he's also obviously close with his family, has a sweet heart, and is smart enough to be currently working on writing an actual script for a TV show! This guy is amazing, for real. The first channel listed is his more serious channel (such as it can be, since it's a comedy channel), but I like how personal he gets on the second channel, which is just more casual "daily"-style vlogs. From "Mad Libs" with his brother to his "Idiots of the Internet" and "People Of Walmart," Joe is always a great source of light-hearted (if not entirely wholesome) entertainment.

Credit: Alonzo Lerone
Alonzo Lerone:
This is another one that never fails to make me laugh - not only because he's funny (and completely gorgeous) on his own, but also because even if he wasn't funny, he's as easily amused as I am and has the kind of laugh that simply requires you to laugh with him. Like, I literally can't watch his videos and see him dissolve into laughter without laughing too. I just can't. I'm pretty sure I'd probably bust a gut if I ever got to hang with him in person and someone got him laughing while I was there. His focus is mainly on internet fails, bad tweets, and horrifying autocorrects, but he also includes a more casual vlog here and there, which is a great way for him to make himself a little more real.


For Comedy + Mental Health + Mindfulness:
Credit: Alayna Fender
MissFenderr / MissAlaynaa:
Alayna is such a totally sweet girl, and while we definitely have differences of opinions on lots of topics, we're very much the same in a lot of ways. She's funny and entertaining, but I also love that she's impossibly cute and incredibly kind. Most importantly though, I love her focus on mindfulness, meditation, and general mental health and wellbeing. She's so much more than a pretty face, and behind the face is an incredible lot of substance. I've been loving her "I Tried" videos, but she also always cracks me up with her tongue-in-cheek quest for sexuality awareness in the "I Don't BI It" series. For me though, the favorites always have been and always will be the Positive Psychology videos, where she talks about how she maintains and improves her own mental health.

ClickForTaz:
Taz is a bit more focused on the mental health and a bit less focused on the comedy, but I love the way her vlogs always get me thinking. Whether it's a "daily"-style vlog or a more serious sit-down video, she's always looking at how to relate to the world and how she can learn something - or teach something from her experiences. I also admire her courage in being as honest as she is about her insecurities and anxieties in her videos. Recently, I've been loving her "Taz Tries" series, but I also really, really, really love her Spoken Word Poetry videos, which are the original reason I fell so in love with her - her writing is so beautiful and meaningful, and her vocal performances of her work are always the perfect showcase for the words.


For Self-Improvement + Organization:
Brendon has an amazing story of growth and recovery, and I love that he has taken his experience and used it to enrich the lives and careers of others. He's vibrant and engaging, but also incredibly wise and I love that he's such an encouraging teacher of both business and life. He's an author too - and while I admittedly have not yet had the chance to read any of his books, I've watched loads of his videos on YouTube (some of them multiple times) and he never fails to impress me with his knowledge and willingness to share.


Alexis (Miss Trenchcoat):
You guys. This chick is planner extraordinaire, and I'm not sure there's anyone on the planet who seems to have it quite as together as she does. This girl is an amazing talent on the blog, on the camera (both video and photography), and in so many other areas - and she takes life by the tail with the help of her trusty planner, which she designed herself and makes a living selling through her online shop. I love her work week vlogs the best because they're relatable and fun, but I have also learned so much from watching her other videos. Alexis is a great teacher and a strong guide, and she's just the right mix of funny and inspiring. Actually she's the person who made me realize how much I love planners - even if I haven't quite found my "planner peace" just yet.


For Writing Tips + Business Tricks From A Beautiful Cyborg:
Another fabulous author I haven't yet found the time to sit down and read, Jenna Moreci is a whole different kind of funny. Her videos are almost exclusively about writing, but she talks shop in a way that makes me proud I'm a writer - while simultaneously reminding me that there's always something to learn and always a potential for growth and improvement in both my writing itself as well as in my ability to build a platform. Plus, she's easy to look at, and so is her incredibly tough fiance, Cliff. The two are completely adorable together too, so while her videos are always a comedic pleasure to learn from, it's also always a sweet surprise when Jenna has her man beside her on the vlog.


For Relatability In Sass, Motherhood, Make-Up, & Looking Fine As A Plus Sized Beauty:
Credit: Sarah Vargas
Sarah Vargas / Sarah Rae Vlogas:
I first fell in love with Sarah as a body positive influencer with not only a knack for looking gorgeous herself but also a mission to help other young women feel as gorgeous on the outside as they usually are on the inside. From there, I fell for her willingness to speak so openly about sex and sexuality as a plus-sized woman, her badassness as a single mom taking the world by storm, and her ghetto-sassy attitude that frankly screams, "I'm doing me, and if you don't like it, make your way elsewhere."

I loved her story about how she became a single mom to her two kids, and I deeply admired the effort shown between her and her ex to keep things friendly for the sake of their children. It saddens me to know the friendliness between Sarah and Da'Vi has died in some ways; it changes something about her vlogs for me, perhaps because it confirms the death of the dream I held quietly in my heart for so long - the dream of peaceful and considerate co-parenting. Still, she's incredibly inspiring, totally motivational, and dang, that girl is fine. Her new beau is not so bad himself - and I hope the way Sarah loves him is a testament to how well he treats her and her kids when they're off-screen.


To Fuel The Full-Time RVing Dream:
Credit: Eric Jacobs
Nomadic Fanatic:
I've mentioned here several times that I have a little not-so-secret dream to travel the country for a while in an RV. I don't know if I'd want it to be my permanent way of life, as eventually I think I'd like to settle down in a home of my own. But before I buy a home I hope to grow old in, I want to travel pretty much everywhere, and if I'm going to start with my own country (and continent), then it makes the most sense to save on hotel costs and travel hassles and write on the go from a tiny home on wheels.

Thanks to the honesty and openness of Eric's channel, I know there are still lots of costs involved and that living on the go isn't always easy ... but I also believe price is worth the adventure and that after the things I've been through and the sense of trapped imprisonment I've lived with for so long, I'm extremely likely to love the freedom of it all. Eric's channel showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly of RV living - from engine troubles to unexpected home repairs and the need to upgrade and replace things now and then, right on over to trips to Disney, countless museums, and living everyday life with the open wonder of a tourist. Oh, and there's Jax too.


Have you seen anything from any of these vloggers? And if so, which one and what did you think of their content? Who are your favorite vloggers, and why? Let me know in the comments - I'd love to hear from you!

If you liked this post, share the link with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new readers to the Undaunted community! Also while you're here, subscribe by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar - it's the best way to never miss a post! If you like this blog enough to want to take an active role in keeping it running, here are the best two ways to get involved:
  1. Make a donation through Paypal by clicking here; you choose any dollar amount whenever or however often you like. This is a great way to help cover the costs of running this blog, and it's also a great way of saying, "Thanks for the content, how 'bout you get yourself a Frappucino?" Or if you want more regular involvement ...
  2. Skip the donation link and come on over to Patreon where the real fun happens.
Patreon is another way to manage the costs of running this blog, but it's also where my readers get to read my works while I write them! Patrons directly sponsor my various writing endeavors, and sponsors gain access to all sorts of content - depending on their budget and desire for involvement: there are several reward tiers to choose from, and the best part is that as my patronage grows, so do the benefits for every patron! Our big goal right now is 50 patrons - and when we hit that goal, I plan to double my monthly fiction chapters, which means twice the writing from me in exchange for the same small monthly contribution from you.

However we stay connected, whether it's through my books, this blog, social media, or even Patreon, always know that my brand is literally 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. Click here to find out what it means to be an undaunted woman - maybe you'll find that you already know the perfect nominee for our next Undaunted Interview!

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