Thursday, February 11, 2016

I SLAY.

slayage, Beyoncé, inspiration, amwriting, who i am, motherhood, ppa, ppd, connections, community, submit your work

It's rough. It's hard to find motivation when you want to write about all the things but you can't figure out where to begin.

I've spent much of the start of 2016 slacking. Working - yes - but when it comes to my own words? Slacking.

Not today, though. Today I'm feeling it.

And I have one person to thank.

Beyoncé. 

I'm crazy. I know. But I'm listening to Formation on repeat and I'm moving.

Not just moving my body, which yes, I suppose I'm doing in my chair - chair dancing is so a thing, y'all - but I'm moving my fingers across the keys and I'm bustin' hard. Working at it. Trying to submit to all the places. I don't know what happened between yesterday and today, but I feel it this morning and I might not get up out of my chair at all. Except to refill my coffee mug, but that counts for motivation and fuel and whatnot, right?

This is a free write post, as if you couldn't tell already. And no, I haven't had a gallon of coffee yet. Just one cup. I need more, but you'd think I'm over-caffeinated if you were watching me type this.

So, what's happening in my world?

I'm coming off of my daughter's ninth birthday yesterday, which is an incredible thing to experience. She's nine. One year away from double-digits. Yow. Can't imagine it and yet, I see it already. All the things. The teenage tone with the baby twinkle in her eyes. It's all happening already. We've been enjoying each day and it's been a good few weeks.

Yesterday I went to the doctor for my annual physical.

You guys? It was a great visit. All my hard work over the past 6 months? It's working. It really is. All my numbers are good and even though I should not be focused on the scale I've got a wayyy lower number now in comparison to July, which was the visit that might have changed all the things. I don't know. I just know it's good and it's happening and so I treated myself to a donut for breakfast with some chamomile tea after my appointment.

But no worries. I'm not falling down the sugar rabbit hole, promise. And yes, I did have birthday cake last night with my daughter. But I'm good. I'm not itching for more or anything. In fact, breakfast today was leftover Hibachi. Chicken and veggies and some rice. Mostly onions, though. So yeah, not sweet at all.

I did a second round of Whole30 in January and that certainly helped bring the numbers down. If you're looking for some information on my Whole30 Experience I have it for you. And I have my post-Whole30 mindset written out for you, as well. I'm planning on a few recipe posts for the blog at some point, because I'd like you to see things that I eat that are my new go-to foods. And meals. And so forth.

And I know I'm rambling, but that's what today feels like for me.

There has been so much in the news this week, from Beyoncé to Cam Newton, that left me passionately speaking up on social media. Move from that to Trump and Cruz, Sanders and Clinton, and how the candidates are scary and motivating all at once. Politics in general is something else. People have so much to say. Many of them say scary scary things. But right now I think I'll save that for another post. I have a lot to say and don't usually get political here on the blog - I keep that for friends and family and focus on life in general - but this election year is a pretty big one. And there's so much happening out there that maybe it's time for me to not keep my mouth (fingers?) shut on it all. We'll see.

If you haven't been keeping up with my writing outside of this space, you can check out my where to find me page and see that I've been over at the Postpartum International Blog quite often in 2016, and am going to be submitting more content to them soon. I'm also working over at Midlife Boulevard and you'll find me posting there tomorrow, too. Check out some the recent images, I'm branching out into that aspect of work for a bit. I'm kind of proud of my accomplishments - which isn't always easy to say - and it's also hard to feel like I'm braggity bragging - which I'm not, but I am. But what's wrong with that? Why is it so hard for women (especially women) to say thank you when they receive a compliment? Or to self-promote in a way that looks like they're excited about what they have done, with a touch of bragging, but not going overboard. And who cares if they do go overboard? Who defines overboard, anyway?

Okay, that's enough of that for right now. I'm kind of overheating because there are people here checking our heating system out and I had to raise the house temp to eighty degrees for a few minutes and I'm about to self-combust from it. Or start stripping. Which I likely won't do. Good thing I didn't start that second cup of coffee yet. I'd be melting from the inside out.

So - tell me - what's new by you?

*Oh! btw. pssst. you - over there - yes, YOU! - If you haven't checked out my t-shirt in the pic up top - it's a #warriormom tee from Postpartum Progress. I'm proud to be a Warrior Mom and excited (counting down the days excited!) to attend their second conference in Atlanta in October. If you want to know more head on over to these posts:

This is My Sisterhood.

I am a Warrior.

Let's Talk About Privilege.

Ask me anything if you want more info. I'm happy to direct you to the right people if I don't happen to have the answers for you.

Peace out, y'all. Go on and SLAY.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: The Flood Girls, Richard Fifield

books, reading, fiction, novel, amreading, goodreads,

*There are affiliate links throughout this post.*

Richard Fifield's debut novel is already a success in my reading circles. So many people have shared how much they loved the book, how thrilled they are to have had a chance to read it - and I, too, have a similar response to this read.

The Flood Girls is a powerful novel.

Very powerful.

It's moving. It's gritty. It's entertaining. It's a great read. It's also disturbing in some ways.

The characters are relatable and real. They're the gritty ones. Even the ones you don't especially like? You still get them. You understand them. Maybe you've even known someone just like them. You could live across the street from that one woman or man. The one that Fifield detailed with responses from the other characters in ways beyond words.

I would say that Rachel is to be considered our main character. She's returned to town to make amends. She's not planning on sticking around - but she's drawn in just the same. Her mama, Laverna, is owner of the town bar. Laverna and Rachel have some nastiness between them and it's been a long time since they've been on good terms. I'll admit to figuring out what the final straw incident was between these two long before we learned it in the story - but that wasn't that difficult once you learn more about Rachel's reputation and her mama's anger.

Although not the primary character - Jake should have been. Or maybe he was. Because in this novel we fall head over heels for Jake and want to support this young boy with love beyond what our hearts can hold. Fifield has described Jake in ways that we learn match the author himself. A huge Jackie Collins fan, Jake uses novels and his creativity as an escape from a world that surrounds him that isn't where he wants to be. This young man has so many dreams. So many hopes. I just love this kid and the relationship that develops between Jake and Rachel. The friendship blooms as the rest of the town takes Jake under their wings.

Jake's mama, Krystal, seems pretty clueless. She hurts my heart time and again as she chooses her baby's father over her oldest child. Bert's a bit of a bastard. We're not surprised at just how awful he is as we get to know him better. We are surprised at how Krystal just stands by him. Pretty much no matter what. We want to throttle her time and again. We do not get the opportunity to do so.

Although I didn't have it completely pegged, I anticipated how this novel was going to end. And I'll admit - readers - it made me really angry. Like, I couldn't write this review right away angry. This doesn't take away from the quality of the read, not by any means, but puts it up there with Gone Girl in that when I finished reading I wanted to throw the book across the room and/or out the window. Which is high praise, I suppose. Because when people ask me about Gone Girl I tell them I LOVED the book. Loved reading it. And hated the ending.

Maybe I'm not quite that frustrated with Fifield's book. Or maybe I am. I suppose I go through stages and can't decide. But I liked it enough to tell you that it's worth the read. His writing style is an enjoyable one and I love the way we could see the community and connections through the eyes of the characters. Because Jake may have been looking out through our author's eyes, but the other characters certainly were not - and despite that - or because of it - the way he wrote them was phenomenal.

Whew. Okay. So there you have it.

The Flood Girls.

Take some time to check it out. You'll be glad - or maybe really pissed off - but eventually glad again - that you did.

* I received a copy of this book to assist me in facilitating my review. I was not compensated for this post in any way. All opinions expressed here are completely my own. As stated, there are affiliate links throughout this post. If you use them to make a book purchase I will earn a few pennies towards my next book purchase. * 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why I Take So Many Selfies

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook today that struck me as extremely interesting.

She asked what people think when they see an Instagram account and the majority of the pictures shared are selfies.

The responses were staggering - to me.

I'm a self-proclaimed selfie queen. If you don't know me well enough, I'll explain, and if you do know me well enough, well - here's more of me.

Selfies are interesting. People tend to love them or hate them. But I would have never guessed that there are people out there reacting quite so viscerally to them. And I do mean that in a literal sense.

The thoughts on selfie-takers and sharers range from people expecting over-confident narcissists to bored individuals with nothing else to say.

But then there are the people in between.

The people like me. Or who I like to think I represent. Or simply, me. Who I am.

I take selfies for a number of reasons.

The first being that it's kind of fun. It's a reflection of yourself outside of the mirror. How often do you see yourself? If you're like me you rarely look in the mirror. You're at home or the office, you travel, wherever you are you might pass your reflection in the bathroom and move along.

Maybe you check your make-up for smudges, your hair for flyaways, fix your contacts and move on.

Or maybe even that is rare, and you find yourself looking at your phone or the window/wall nearby to catch your reflection with hopes that you're presentable.

Whatever it may be, it's likely infrequent. And with today's day and age as digital as it is - pictures of you and friends or family are fewer and farther between. There's no going to the pharmacy or photo place to pick them up and pore over them for hours with friends. No laughing at how weird you look or goodness, WHAT was I wearing? reactions.

It's all instantaneous now.

You click. You look.

But still, how often do YOU have someone take a picture of you?

Rarely. Infrequently. Hardly ever.

So. Introducing the selfie.

A picture that you can share and laugh at. A smile, or not. An accomplishment, a new shade of lip color, new glasses, haircut, earrings, whatever it is. You can share it. Social media allows you that. Encourages that. And even though we talk to our friends around the globe constantly because of Facebook and Twitter and email and texting (or is it Snapchat now? I'm so old.) they rarely SEE us. Like ever.

So, we take pictures of ourselves.

And we share them.

And yes, maybe it's a little bit narcissistic. Maybe it's a 'hey, look at me!' moment. But I don't care. Because I selfie with the best of them. I share myself, flaws and all. No filters. Minimal make-up. Winter accessories. I want my friends and family to not just know what's happening with me, but to SEE me while I'm experiencing all of it.

And no, not every.single.moment of every.single.day. Not that.

Just whenever I feel like it. And if they don't like it? They don't like it. They scroll on. Don't click the like or the heart or whatever. I don't - as some people think - go back and check how many likes my selfies have received. I do, however, monitor the engagement I have on Instagram - for future campaign purposes - in case I ever need that info.

Oh, and lest I forget, the selfie-taking has helped me come into my own a bit more. It's helped me take a quick picture and say, oh, hey, look at me. I don't look that bad today. And when you're someone who battles themselves regularly while trying to find a balance that helps you recognize you're pretty damned special exactly the way you are? That's pretty damned special in and of itself.

So, like it or not? The selfie is here to stay. And this girl is pretty okay with that.

selfie, self-love, self esteem, social media, selfie queen, who i am,


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sometimes I Need to Write to Remember

memories, moments, family, wealth, strength, love, loved ones, happiness

What has happened here?

I'm not writing.

I'm not sure what's wrong. What's happening. Why I'm not writing.

I'm just not.

N - to the - O - to the - T.

Writing.

Some people write sponsored posts like crazy. Or they come up with crafts and things and they share those. This is not how I write.

This is not what I do. Not who I am.

Sure, I do these things, but this is not the kind of blogger I am - where much of what I share is focused on what I'm doing.

I give mad props to those bloggers. Those people who write out their posts and make some big bucks doing it. There are days I wish to be just like them.

And then I think, no, that's not who I am. That's not what I do. That's not why I write.

Right?

And so, when I do write - I write for me.

I know many bloggers who do all kinds of writing. And they do so for themselves. And they do so however they want to. But they do so with a mission in mind.

And though I, too, love a sponsored post now and then. And love an opportunity to review an incredible product - which I do once in a while - I'm not that person.

And I started this post off thinking that my title would be "I've Still Got Nothing," but that's not true.

I have ALL THE THINGS.

I have a husband I love and who loves me. Who works really hard and takes care of our family. And remains patient with me even when I tip to the side of cranky-pants.

I have a daughter who has my whole heart. Who is learning and growing and being and taking the world by storm. And who loves me with her whole heart.

I have two dogs and two cats - one cat who won't come near us, but who we saved from the streets of Brooklyn, oh so many years ago. And the rest? Our fur-babies? Love us dearly. And we love back.

I have a mother who is incredibly strong. Who navigates the day-to-day without the man she lived so much of her life with, and who finds things to smile and laugh about, along with things that make her cry. She's someone I can count on for anything. Any time. Always.

I have a brother who may not know it, but who carries a piece of my heart with him always. It's a part of me that's outside of myself - too far away - sure - but there, always. And I know that's something you normally say about your own children. For my daughter is a part of me and all. But if you have a younger sibling - or maybe any aged sibling at all? - you know of what I speak. You know what it's like to have your memories and your childhood wrapped up in someone else. My brother is that for me.

I have a sister-in-law who is one of my best friends. Who understands me when I merely say, or type (this texting world we live in), about two words. Three, tops. She gets it. I can text her and say I WANT A MUFFIN and she knows what this means. She will write me back and support me. She will make me laugh and listen.

And together, these two? Gave me my niece. My daughter's other half. So close in age, so similar in so many ways, and yet, so very different. I love that our girls are so close, even while growing up 500 miles apart. I envision ourselves ten years from now and imagine tearing our hair out together as we watch these girls grow and move forward with so much of their lives.

This is only on my side of the family. This doesn't even take into account my mother-in-law and father-in-law. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law. My nieces and my nephew. Good G-d, these kids mean the world to me. I am waiting for the days when my oldest niece can come and visit us for a bit on her own. Maybe we'll be showing her local (to us) colleges someday? It could happen. They're all growing up. In the meantime we take the moments we can share together. Whether they're once or twice a year. We keep them on our minds and in our hearts. We watch them grow over video chats and pictures. Thank goodness for modern technology. We get to see them so much more than if we simply wrote letters and had regular ole phone calls.

I have warmth. I have food. I have shelter.

I have books to read and several places to share my words.

I have many places I can lay my head.

I have a heart that swells with love.

Eyes that fill with tears.

Longing. Loving. Missing. Hoping. Dreaming. DOING.

I have ALL THE THINGS.

Sometimes I just need to sit down and write a bit to remember.

So - the next time you're feeling like you're missing something? Sit yourself down and write. You'll be amazed at what happens. I'm pretty much proof of that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My People.

* I wrote this a few days ago on the anniversary of my grandmother's passing. It is only now that I've finished it and felt it ready to share.*

Do you ever have days where you just need your people?

I have people in a number of places.

I have women in my life that I've grown up with. Learned with. Lived with and learned to love with. And loved. Fully. Like pieces of my heart.

And on some days - when my heart is full but I feel the pain of someone I know, or the loss of someone around me, or ... just ... something ...

I wish my people lived right down the street from me.

I wish they were within walking distance.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have local people, too. But local people - we're all running and busy and not right down the street - as much as I've wished it.

But my other people? They're scattered everywhere.

I have my lifelong friends.

And I suddenly realized why I'm writing this today.

Today is January 17th.

January 17th was the worst day of my life for the longest time.

Twice.

Until my dad passed, it was the worst day I could have ever imagined. Ever.

We lost my grandmother - my father's mother - twenty years ago today. Can you imagine? Twenty years. TWO whole decades that she hasn't been a viable presence in my family's lives. Do you know what that loss is like? I know so many people who do. It's so hard. Grief. Stings. Aches. Makes you question every-and-any-thing.

And then. Years later. We lost another family member. On the same day.

He was my age.

And it was shocking. Crushing. Impossible to understand.

Set the world on edge, losing him did.

I'll never forget him.

But throughout every loss I've been reminded that I have my people.

The women (and some men, certainly) in my life who have been there to support me through the good and the bad, the love and the heartache, and the laughter and tears.

Sometimes it's important to remind ourselves that these people exist. They're out there. Because we all have days where the emotions and pain, the moments of remembering, the loss, the heartache - they all become too much to bear. And when they do? We reach for our people.

Sure, in this day and age it's more likely to be a text or a Facebook message than a call or an email, but just the same - we reach out - they answer - we're reminded that they're there.

And I encourage you, and me, to reach out to them on other days, too. When we're not in need of them, but when we just want to connect with them. Make plans. Try to see one another - if the distance isn't too large to cross. Call each other. Listen to their voices. Let them hear yours. Maybe they're not reaching out but they need you. Let them know you're there. Always.

Do you know who your people are?

I'm truly and forever grateful for mine.

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