Friday, March 16, 2018

6 Books To Recommend To Your Newly Separated Friend

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

image from pexels

Listen, y'all know I'm all about the books.

And I've been so extremely quiet lately, just sort of consumed by my own thoughts and stuck in my own head - so I thought I'd take a few minutes and share this post that might help you or someone you know.

Whether your friend is separated or on the road to divorce, there are so many books out there that they might find to be helpful.

There are others that just look like they'd be a bunch of nonsense.

So, how to decide what to read?

Maybe you're thinking - she's not going to want to read a danged book! She's hurt. Grieving, even. In a lot of emotional turmoil/upheaval/pain.

But trust me. Sometimes she's not really sure who to talk to and how to organize her thoughts. And so her best friend for a short period of time will likely be her favorite new journal, and a really good and understanding book.

A few that I can personally recommend will be listed below. These links are affiliate links - which means I refer you to the site to make your purchase and your order will support me when I go to buy my next book.

6 Books Your Newly Separated Friend Needs To Be Reading

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

nonfiction, divorce, separation, reading, important reads, divorce support, divorce resources, single parent, coparenting

I started off by describing these titles, as I would normally do, in a way that might explain why they could be the perfect read for you. But then I decided that it would be best for you to just head on over and determine for yourself - or for your friend - what you or they might benefit from. Or maybe you can just send them this post. Not trying to self-promote, even though that IS kind of what I'm doing here, I know. I'm just trying to encourage you to encourage them to pick up a book or two. To remind themselves that they're not the only one going through this. That they're not alone.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Cultured Seafood Festival in New Bern, NC

local, NC, seafood, NCDAC, aquaculture, good eats, New Bern, crawfish, tilapia, striped bass, oysters, NC eats, Got To Be NC, NC

*Posted on behalf of the Cultured Seafood Festival in New Bern, NC. I was not compensated for this post, but was offered a ticket to the event in exchange for sharing.*

On the evening of Friday, March 9, 2018, the North Carolina Aquaculture Development Conference (NCADC) is closing out their conference with the Cultured Seafood Festival in New Bern, North Carolina.

The event is a part of the NCADC's effort to educate the public about aquaculture species.

The Cultured Seafood Festival offers a fun, family-friendly environment with an abundance of delicious food crafted by Chef James “Smoke” Boyd.

Boyd is one of New Bern’s top chefs and owner of The Flame Catering and Banquet Centre. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


I finally did it.

It's almost been an entire year.

It's time.

I think so, anyway.

Beyond time, if I'm being truthful.

And so.

I finally did it.

I shifted.


Recognized what I'd ignored all along.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Inspiration in the Darkness


I did a January Whole30 and I felt good. And then I let February take hold and run me into the ground. I'm back to being the over-emotional me of 2017.

I have done six rounds of Whole30.

Six of them.

I lost a substantial amount of weight, I felt great, and I established a new kind of relationship with food.

And then something changed in my life. Something pretty damned huge.

My life. It's different now.

I experienced so many firsts, and I am still finding new things to experience.

Moments without. Moments with.

I am finding my way.

Making marks in ways I've never expected. Never thought I'd need or want to.

I'm sifting through the ashes. Finding the remains. Piecing them together with all that is new.

Pushing through the mud. Finding growth.

No mud. No lotus.

I'm allowing my scars to heal. Allowing new ones to surface. I'm not covering them up. Not right away. I need to confront them. I need to see them. I need to feel them.

But as I do I'm reminding myself. Inhale. Exhale.

I'm allowing myself to breathe.

We all need to breathe.

I'm watching the seasons change. Recognizing that nearly an entire year has gone by.

I'm looking for inspiration in the darkness.

And sometimes I find it.

Why Melissa Hartwig Inspires Me

If you've ever done a Whole30 you've heard of Melissa Hartwig. 

She's one of the founders and she's one of the people I enjoy following on Instagram. Not just because she's an author. A creator. But because she is real. She's human. And she speaks to us, her fans and followers, as if we're equals.

I know. I know.

We are. We're all human. We are equals.

But seriously, this woman is a fierce fit machine. And in spite of that - from someone who has not found themselves on that path at this point in their life - if ever - I still watch and learn. Absorb. And appreciate that she keeps it so damned real.

If you follow me on Instagram you know that's a hashtag I use often when it comes to selfies and motherhood. #keepinitreal is who I am. Or at least who I try to be. I don't do this for sympathy. I do it for reality. 

And today, well, yesterday, really, I was struggling. I was beating myself up, because after six rounds of Whole30 I felt that I should have had a handle on it in a way that I wouldn't look at myself in the mirror and ask what the hell happened. 

But that's what I do. 

And I know what happened. 

And I don't like to lay the blame on anyone but myself. And yet, sometimes, some days, some ways, I do. Because I didn't ask to fall off this positive path. I didn't ask to find myself knocked down several pegs. I didn't ask for this.

And so. I get angry. I get frustrated. But through it all I stay real. I stay true to who I am.

I almost decided to share Melissa's post on FB today, but then realized this deserved an entire blog post. And I hope it's okay to do this and embed her Instagram post in here - because damn, friends, it's so important. Any of you - all of you - who are trying something new and feeling like you're failing. Or trying something old, again, and hating yourself for not being perfect at whatever it is already. 

This. Melissa Hartwig wrote this for you. 

Re: my last #myfoodfreedom post, where I said it's taken me 7 years to arrive at this place of effortless balance: I occasionally hear people suggest if you need 6 Whole30s or you're still struggling 5 years later, you're doing it wrong. That if you can't "fix" your relationship with food faster than this, without the support or help of multiple Whole30s, you're going about it in the wrong way. • Had I entered myself into a food rehab facility, where all life stressors were removed and my only job was to work on changing my habits and healing my emotional relationship with food, I might agree. But let me explain what ELSE I was working on over that 7 year period, along with my Food Freedom: • Quitting my job to start my own business. Getting married. Discovering major issues. Spending years in therapy trying to make the marriage work. Digging into trauma from sexual abuse and drug addiction during said therapy sessions. Writing a book. Getting pregnant. Leaving home at 7 months pregnant. Returning. Having a baby. Writing another book. Doing a very public book tour side-by-side while filing for divorce. Divorcing. Going through a prolonged business split. Rebuilding myself from the ground up while figuring out how to be a single mom, run my business, and write two more books. • While simultaneously trying to create a healthy relationship with the ONE thing I used to rely on the most for comfort, as reward, to relieve anxiety, and to show myself love. So yeah, it took me 7 years. • If it takes you 9 Whole30s or 19 years to finally find YOUR Food Freedom balance, do not despair, because it's not like it's the only thing you've got going on. Keep working on it daily, diligently. Don't give up, because you choose your hard, and the other hard really wasn't working for you. Don't treat the Whole30 like a yo-yo, because that's not the path to Food Freedom. Go do some therapy, because that’s often necessary too. But if you're working it, really working it, even if all you can do is make one small effort on the toughest of days... don't let anyone tell you that you're not "doing it right." • #myfoodfreedom #whole30FFF #melissarants #melissaexplains7years @whole30
A post shared by Melissa Hartwig (@melissa_hartwig) on

I wrote this entire post yesterday. Tuesday. February 20th.

Today I had my annual physical. I always spend the day before (who am I kidding, days, more likely) in slight trepidation. I love my doctor. I mean it, I do. She's never made me feel like crap. She's listened to me cry. She's supported me through a lot of stuff. And today was no exception.

And yet. I'm still concerned. Worried. About disappointing her. And, more importantly, myself.

So today I met with the student who was shadowing her first.

Am I the only one who does that?

It is always a great experience, except for that one time when the guy was a little - well, he was a GUY - and he was like a teenager and really cute. But that's okay. I survived.

Anyway, remember that students need to learn, too. If you've not been there you may not want to put yourself out there in this way. You might feel like a guinea pig. You're not. You're getting quality treatment from someone who is currently being supervised by your doctor and if you're not trusting your doctor to do that then how do you trust him/her to treat YOU?

Okay, and so I rambled.

Go figure.

Anyway, my doctor and her student supported me today as I discussed the year gone by, and I spoke about my plans for the coming months. My agenda. My goals. My focus.

And because of the inspiration I found yesterday - that which I shared here - I was able to truly speak from the heart and MEAN IT. I meant EVERY WORD. Every single word.

I'm inspired. It's a sunshine-filled day today, y'all. Thanks for riding it out with me. Let's ride the wave to better days together, shall we? Race you to the starting line ...

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White

It's no news to any of my readers that Barbara Claypole White is one of my favorite authors. And so, when given the opportunity to read her latest, I would never have said no. I had actually pre-ordered the book, but was given an advance digital copy to read and review. Of course, with life the way it is, I haven't had a chance to post my complete review before now. 

** As always, there are affiliate links throughout this post. If you use them to purchase the book I may earn a few cents at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support! **

Now. Let's discuss how The Promise Between Us does not disappoint.

Barbara Claypole White writes mental health unlike any author I've read before. She really gets into the thick of it. The good - the bad - the ugly. And for many there is just so so much ugly.

This is how we get to know Katie Mack. In the thick of the ugly.

Katie is a new mom who cannot stop the intrusive thoughts running through her head. She's afraid she's going to hurt her baby girl. She's horrified by the fears, and cannot describe them. She needs help. What she has, though, is a husband who is terrified. Of what she's saying. Of how she's saying it. Because of this - this miscommunication - this lack of understanding - Katie leaves her daughter Maisie's life in the very early days.

We later learn that there is so so much more to what has happened - and is now happening between these two. We also get to meet their daughter.


What can I say about Maisie?

She's this lovely young girl who has her own not-yet-recognized demons. The voices in her head. The thoughts she can't stop from racing. The confusing fears. The checking behaviors.

Upon an accidental run-in with her beautiful and somewhat grown daughter, Katie sees so much of herself. She knows Maisie needs help. But how? How to help her when she shouldn't really exist in Maisie's world at all?

The connection is immediate, and Katie is on a mission to find a way to help her child out before she finds herself watching this sweet girl self-destruct.

This book holds space for so many incredible characters.

Maisie lives with her dad, Cal, and step-mom, Lilah. When we meet the family they're awaiting a new addition, as Lilah is pregnant. Maisie is trying really hard to call Lilah 'mom'. Their relationship is a tenuous one, but proves to be extremely important later on.

There is so much we don't know, so much we assume, but there is a lot to learn about Cal, and Maisie's protective Uncle Jake - who is the first to step up and help her.

And I haven't even mentioned Ben. You need to meet Ben for yourself and decide what you think about him. He seems like a good guy with a heart of gold, seems like we could all use a "Ben" in our lives. But we have to wonder - is there more under there?

Claypole White's development of characters who live with mental illness - characters who hold their own - despite her ability to walk us through the intense symptoms of said illness - goodness, just so so good.

On first glance at my review I realized that I almost completely missed talking about mental illness. I began wondering why  - as it plays such an important role. Then I realized it's the writing that left me focused on the characters for who they are. The way the illness is written never left me questioning or in disbelief.

You don't have to have lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to believe what you're reading about how it takes hold of someone's life and often does not let go. How help is required. How it may feel like it's taking on a life of its own. The illness itself can seem to be a character in the story, but Claypole White does not overdo it, she simply includes it. Introduces us to it. Lets us see how it holds weight over the true characters. And does so beautifully.

The twists and turns through this extended family show the incredible dynamic of strangers and former loved ones who try and unite to do right by their favorite young girl.

I believe I'm a pretty good writer. A somewhat talented book reviewer. But when it comes to Barbara Claypole White's work my description doesn't do the story justice. You really need to get a copy and see for yourself.

For information on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder you can read up on it at the National Institute of Mental Health. 

To find treatment near you, head to this Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. 

Or call this helpline: 800-662-HELP (4357); 800-487-4889 (TTY)

You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for any additional emergency support you may need.

To find out more about Barbara Claypole White's other novels:

The Perfect Son (included in a list of my fave reads)

Echoes of Family

The In-Between Hour

The Unfinished Garden