Friday, February 24, 2017

The Emotions of Motherhood

The Emotions of Motherhood

* I wrote this yesterday and didn't give myself the time to bring it to the blog. This morning I am feeling much better, but I find it important to share just the same. * 

I pick it up.

A journal of inspirational prompts.

I started it yesterday.

Smiling. Answering. Knowing.

Today I know nothing.

I started off the day feeling enough.

I sit here at 3:30pm, wondering where I went wrong.

My child is my heart.

She holds a piece of it in her own.

And so I wonder how it could be, again, that *I* have failed her. That *I* have not instilled a strong enough love of reading in her.

Me.

Someone with enough books to fill my own library.

And she - 10 - reading only graphic novels.

In her own time. They say.

Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

And I WILL accept that. Whether she does or doesn't.

But then.

The lack of order.

Have I failed her again?

With my piles of paper and bins of clutter?

With my inability to throw anything away.

Have I molded her so - that she will - in essence - BE ME - in years to come?

There is so much good in me. I know there is. And it would be a blessing to see those qualities surface in her. Some I already see.

Others terrify me.

Will she experience ...

anxiety?
self-loathing?
being ostracized?
feeling alone?

Will she look in the mirror and tear herself apart?

Will she only take selfies because - - Just. Because.

Mothering a daughter is so very hard.

I want her to fly. I know sometimes she'll fall. Both are okay. Acceptable. And yet.

Terrifying.

How can I remind myself that she is not me?

She is not destined to experience all that I have, but all that she is meant to.

And I'll stand beside her. Behind her. Holding her hand or letting go.

And I'll watch her soar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Words Of Wisdom From The Mother Who Overslept


So, this morning I totally overslept.

And for the first time in her five years of school my daughter got a "tardy".

Tardy. What a weird sounding word. Don't you think?

And here's my wisdom coming atcha.

Forgive yourself.

You're the mom who does everything right almost all of the time.

And you're the mom who does so many things wrong the rest of the time.

And you know what? You're human.

It's okay.

If you're lucky you'll have a friend save your backside and come back and pick you and your daughter up and bring you to walk her in to the school.

And since you love your kid so much you'll walk across the whole entire first floor of the school and go up to her classroom with her so she doesn't have to feel anxious.

And she'll rat you out to the teacher, even though you accept full responsibility.

And then?

Before you have a chance to say goodbye the school fire alarm will ring and you and thousands - or is it hundreds? Probably hundreds, but FELT like thousands - of children will find yourself outside on school grounds.

While your friend waits for you at the front of the school. Where she dropped you off.

Laughing.

Her.

Ass.

Off.

Because omg. How ridiculous is this that the one time your kid is late to school and you're there, IN THE SCHOOL with her, the school has a fire drill?

And you? You're laughing your ass off, too.

Because, seriously, how could this NOT have happened, right? I mean. There you are. Unshowered. In pants that are too big for you. In sandals. Walking not just from one parking lot, but from two parking lots over.

Around the entire school.

Because that's how it works.

And you're human.

And yes, you will need a lot of coffee to get you through the day.

And your friend is awesome and she will take you both to Starbucks so you can try their new Cascara Latte (with almond milk), hello new favorite!!!


But hey, this whole morning will inspire you to not only write a post about the experience, which you see here, but to also do a Facebook Live and remind moms (and dads, and grandparents, and anyone else out there who needs it!), that you're all human, and it will be okay.


See video below or find me on Facebook at Andrea Bates, LCSW.

(Or totally don't, because it cuts off my face. But if you want to just listen, go for it. I'll leave it for a minute. But go to FB, because then you can at least see me looking like a human being. Le sigh.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Waiting To Exhale

I sit in the waiting area at the doctor's office and hold my breath.

It's been a while.

I know I've been off track.

I feel it.

Discomfort.

The pulse beating at the surface of my skin.

From the inside out.

My face flushes.

Tears - not yet leaking from my eyes.

Inhale.

Exhale.

And still.

I sit.

And wait.

For them to call my name.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

5 Reasons You Haven't Been Writing and What To Do Next


5 Reasons You Haven't Been Writing and What To Do Next


It can be hard to be a blogger these days.

We write because we love to write. We write because we want to write.

And then, well, we write for so many other reasons.

And sometimes we just don't write at all.

Here are five reasons you (fine, maybe *I*) haven't been writing and how to take them on.

5 Reasons You're Not Writing Regularly and How To Start

1. Stress


You've got stress. We all do. We hear you. We know it. You sit down to write and the 900 other things you're stressing about leave you empty. You cannot sit and concentrate on sharing your thoughts or things that are important when you have so much more to think about. It's just too danged much. 

What to do:


Schedule time to sit down and write. Put it on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself. Just do it. If you don't prioritize it you won't do it. Stress over all the other things happening in your life will leave you without the joy and the things that matter and you'll miss them when they're gone. MAKE THE TIME. You'll be glad you did. 

2. Money


You want to write things that will earn you money. There's nothing like creating that post with the affiliate links that brings in a little additional income. Or the one for the product you've loved so much you think if you write about it you'll get on the company's radar. Or the one you've received but weren't asked to write about - exactly - and so you left that for 'later' and never got to it and now you feel guilty if you write anything else. 

What to do:


Write for the joy of writing. Do you love it? Do you love sharing things that you're up to, things that you're reading, watching, eating? Do it. Don't think about the money that isn't coming in if you write those kinds of posts. Just do it. Get yourself out there. People love seeing just you - who you are - and that will bring the rest of it to you. Show yourself. It's important.

3. Boredom


Your own blog is boring you? I hear that. Sometimes I sit down with an idea and start writing and I'm suddenly thinking, what for? What's this all about? Boring. Snoring. It's just not flowing. And so you close that piece you started and walk away. zzzzzzzz.

What to do:


Come up with a content calendar for yourself. Sit down and free write. Jot down all the things you enjoy talking about and writing about. Come up with ideas that can bring you money, and ideas that just feel good to talk about. Set a timer, sit down for ten minutes and write down everything that comes to mind. See where it takes you. Connect the dots between one topic and another. Look at what you can write about that your readers might expect from you, and look at what might be something new and fresh for your site. Sit yourself down and do it. 

4. Current Events


In these days we're under a lot of stress when it comes to current events. Many of us DO write about this sort of thing, and many of us do NOT. Some of us do on the occasion we find that we are so moved that we have no choice but to sit down and share what's on our mind. Others avoid getting political at all costs. And yet, no matter which way we do it? We feel judged. We feel eyes on us. Watching. Waiting to see what we might say or might not say. It's a tricky line to navigate. 

What to do:


Make a choice. Are you passionate enough to share some political posts and not worry about the impact it may have on your numbers? Do you worry that if you share your thoughts on the current political climate that your readers will unsubscribe? Then make the choice. Decide what matters most to you at this time. Do you feel okay not writing about what is happening in the world - is that simply not your genre? Then move ahead. Full steam. Don't look back and worry that when someone is talking about it that they're judging you for not talking about it. Don't think you have to do something because everyone else is doing it. The likelihood that EVERYONE else is doing it is so so slim. You do you. And if you decide that it IS the type of writing you want to do? Commit to it. Do what you need to. Say what you need to. And anyone who walks away from you at that time? Isn't the kind of reader you wanted to hold onto anyway. 

5. Mental Health


You don't have to have a mental health diagnosis to be impacted by your own mental health. Anxiety and depression, among many other illnesses, often go undiagnosed, and many individuals experience symptoms that impact us in ways we don't always recognize as related. A need to avoid the things that bring you joy is one way your ability to write might be touched by your mental health status. Maybe you're experiencing too much emotion to sit down and write. Maybe there is too much going on in your personal life? The current political climate can also have an effect on your mental health. Recognize this. It's okay to realize and take it all into account. It's how you react/respond that matters most.

What to do: 


First, see if you want to. Then, see if you can. Assess whether or not you need to make this change. Seriously, though. Do you truly want to for right now? Maybe you are just at a place currently that you need to be. Maybe you've experienced a loss, a change in status, or perhaps life in general has thrown you a few curves lately. It's okay to just live your life and feel whatever it is you need to feel. It's okay to breathe and recognize that maybe this one isn't going to change. Try to sit down and write, for yourself. Maybe something extremely personal that you don't share on your blog. That you don't submit anywhere else. But that you journal simply for yourself, so you can get those emotions out there. Recognize them and feel them. Please note that it's also important to notice when it's gone on for too long. When you need the help of a friend or family member, or even a professional. Reach out if you need to. Know that you're not alone. Finding the support you need and taking time to recognize what is truly going on with you will help you cross this hurdle and find your voice again. 

Some thoughts from me to you on the reasons you might not be writing, and expert tips from me, someone who has been writing long before the time of blogs and websites and the like, and has used many of these ideas and processes to dig my way out of the black hole. 

I hope you find them helpful. Let me know what works for you and what sort of writing you've been able to do. And good luck. I'll be looking out for new content from you!

Monday, February 6, 2017

10 Authors of Color To Add To Your Library

books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

As I have pulled together my book lists for my site, I've noticed that a majority of the books I read have been written by white women. And so, over the last year or so I've made an effort to pay more attention to the authors I'm supporting.

I've started including more books by men in my lists of recommendations. Granted, it's still quite unbalanced. But I'm working on that.

And I have also paid more attention to the authors I'm reading because I noticed that I was lacking a variety of books written by men and women of color. So I've been adding books to my shelves and my Kindle to support writers of color and to engage in reading the stories they create, along with the history they incorporate into their work.

Below you will find a list of ten books by authors of color. If you notice, like I did, that you're reading books by white women all the time and want to make a change? Start here.

As always, affiliate links are placed throughout this post so you can order these titles very easily. Any purchases made support Good Girl Gone Redneck and are greatly appreciated.

Add These Ten Authors To Your To-Read Shelves


Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions, Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American author and Homegoing is her first novel. A tale of war and slavery, encompassing 300 years of Ghanaian and American history, Homegoing is both, a difficult and moving story of Effia and Esi, two sisters who barely know of one another and never meet. One is sold off to become a slave in America, while the other marries an Englishman and lives an entirely different life. The eye-opening words of Gyasi lead us to follow each on their individual journey, as we wait with wonder to read what happens to the other.


Zadie Smith, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

A complicated friendship where two brown girls dream of being dancers, but only one has enough talent to conquer that dream. Set in Northwest London and West Africa, Swing Time has been described as an "exuberant dance to the music of time," which sounds simply beautiful. Smith, herself, was born in Northwest London. I look forward to exploring both settings through her words and to enjoying the movements of these young women as they take paths towards their dreams.


The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Before I bought it this book had been on my radar for a while. I've always been interested in reading up on the Underground Railroad. Then a friend recommended it and said it was a phenomenal story. So I bought it right away. Probably too quickly, as I haven't had a chance to read it yet. But soon! The Underground Railroad is about a young woman named Cora, who, after meeting Ceasar, decides to flee from slavery. With murder and mayhem thrown in, the two journey towards freedom. 

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Brown Girl Dreaming is such a beautiful book. I read this some time ago and have the book saved so I can read it with my daughter, which I plan to do whenever she finally decides she loves reading and wants to read big girl books with me. Or when I make her read it. Same, right? Jacqueline Woodson shares stories of her life in South Carolina and New York City. Stories of growing up as a young Black girl in the 1960s and 70s after the intensity of the Civil Rights Movement supposedly passes. We learn so much from her words. So much from her memories. You need to add this to your bookshelves immediately. Next on my list from Woodson is Another Brooklyn, a book I look forward to reading as I grew up in Brooklyn in the 70s, and I know this is going to open my eyes to a whole different experience.

Here Comes The Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn

Nicole Dennis-Benn, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

A tale of four Jamaican women finding their way through life, Here Comes The Sun is a reflection on the Jamaica that is much more than a vacation destination. Many of us see what we want to see when we consider places like Jamaica. We see vacation destinations. Dennis-Benn shows us much more. Poverty. Suffering. Grief. Exposure. Sexuality. Innocence lost. I look forward to journeying with these women to feel what they feel and see what they see. 


The Mothers, Britt Bennett

Brit Bennet, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Born and raised in Southern California, Bennett's book lives and breathes in that same setting. Her debut novel holds the story of a young woman and her dreams, trying to find her way after her mother takes her own life. Nadia is seventeen years old, but facing decisions that a grown woman should have to make. After her mother's death she finds herself in a relationship with the local pastor's son. The secrets that come from this pairing impact their lives for years to come. Described as a tale of 'community, love and ambition,' The Mothers has been declared a must-read in many circles. 

Behold The Dreamers, Imbolo MBUE

Imbolo MBUE, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Behold The Dreamers is the story of a young Cameroonian couple trying to make their way in New York City. Now, tell me - have you ever heard of Cameroon, Africa? I had not. Not until I learned about this book and MBUE. As someone who consistently shares how geographically challenged I am, I'm not surprised that I lacked knowledge of this country's existence. Embarrassed? Certainly. But not surprised. There's much about this world that I do not know. Books can consistently teach us, as there is often some truth in what we read. And in this book I see MBUE's story. As a Cameroonian immigrant living in New York City, she tells the tale of a couple and their child making that same journey and many of the same adjustments. 

The German Girl, Armando Lucas Correa

Armando Lucas Correa, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Historical fiction has recently become a genre I cannot get enough of. The German Girl meets my need to absorb stories of decades gone by. We join Hannah, a 12-year-old Jewish girl fleeing Nazi Germany. We follow Hannah on her hopeful journey to a better life. Set in Germany, Cuba, and ultimately, New York City post-September 11th, the book is loosely based on a true story of the SS St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews a safe way out of Germany. The dream that began when stepping foot on the boat did not last, with these refugees facing a refusal from Cuba and the possibility of returning to sea. A timely read in this current political climate, Correa's first novel gives voice to the many who know all too well what it's like to be sent back home in a time of turmoil and war.

milk and honey, Rupi Kaur


rupi kaur, milk and honey, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

I had not heard of Rupi Kaur before learning about milk and honey. I'm so pleased to meet her this way. A collection of poems for women [reminder, women, not young girls] of all ages, this book is touching, powerful, graphic and heavy. It's a lot of things. And it will represent something different to each one of you - readers - but it is not for the weak of heart. Kaur does not mince words. I encourage you to read the first short pieces on the Kindle preview to decide if this is something you think you can handle reading. For though it is real and moving, it may be too much so and possibly triggering for some. Take care of you, friends. Do not push yourself to read something you are not ready for.

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, books, reading, authors of color, reading recommendations, book suggestions

Nigerian born Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells a story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who has made her way to America and is learning what it is like to be outside of her home country. Ifemelu is also on her own, with her true love Obinze in London. Americanah gives us the perspective of an African immigrant in America, along with showing us what life is like for her when she returns home to Nigeria and reunites with her love. Culture. Romance. Connection. Fear. Life. Love. This book encompasses so much in a way that we experience a true journey and can see our world through the eyes of these characters. 

I have additional authors to recommend, but these list posts are a lot of work and I am already almost a week behind from when I wanted to hit publish! So I'm pausing now and will offer up another installment full of recommendations at a later date. 

If you're looking for more book recommendations, have a look at the following lists:

17 Books You Must Read in 2017

The Best Books I Read in 2016

13 Authors Who Will Make You Laugh

And if you have authors and titles that you'd like to recommend I check out, please do! I'd love to hear what you're reading and what you're interested in. Leave me a comment so we can continue this discussion. 

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