I had this in-depth post planned for this month, but January has not been great for the family. We lost my grandmother on January 4 following a long battle with dementia, my mom has been in the hospital off and on (mostly on, as she is now) since before Christmas, and my oldest daughter (the pregnant one) is in the hospital with pre-eclampsia.

It’s not all bad news. We think the doctors have found the issue with my mom and surgery should correct it. All her tests for bugs and cancer, the scary stuff, have come back clear. And if my oldest can stand the boredom of an 11-day hospital stay, the baby will arrive by the end of the month, albeit about 6 weeks early.

All this is to say, I just don’t have it in me to do a blog post or newsletter this month. I’ve been writing (a lot) so I’m too busy to worry, but some things my brain just turns up its figurative nose and says, “Nope.”

I appreciate healing thoughts, positive vibes, and prayers. Our family is going to come out the other side of this and we’ll be fine.

 

Part of the reason I’ve struggled with this blog is because this a blog for potential fans. Potentially, I’ll sell a book*. Potentially, people will come here to learn about me. And potentially, I’ll have shared enough of me to be interesting and compel them to buy potential books, without offending a single person into saying, “I will never read any of her potential books.”

So, that’s not working for me. I have a thing, in life, to be real. That may be ridiculously amusing or crushingly sad or even desperately terrifying–but it’s real. I’ve learned that being fake to please the people around me makes me miserable. So, I’m private, but I’m the real me.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I became worried about being really me on this blog. I’m not an easy person. I’m socially awkward, for one. I have an odd sense of humor that, hopefully, seems snarky and clever in my writing but can be a little off-putting in real life. And I have opinions. Strong ones.

I’m a Christian, and I hate the fundamental God-only-loves-people-like-me attitude that many Christians espouse. I am an Unfundamental Christian.

With that out of the way, I hate rape culture, the way society and the media makes women hate their bodies, and victim-blaming. I detest bullying and, while I suspect that everyone says so, not nearly enough people are teaching their children to be decent human beings. Finally, I fully support gay marriage. I write about happy endings and love overcoming obstacles and that’s not just lip-service. I can’t imagine what impact the gender of the couple has to do with anything.

Blogging to be real vs. #blogging to be likable. Click To Tweet

This is me. Sometimes, I will write about these things. I won’t be militant, I won’t be mean. I won’t make fun of people or attack anyone. But, I am going to be me.

I leave you with this: a beautiful flash-mob proposal. *sigh* (Sometimes the video works, and sometimes it doesn’t, so here’s the link on Youtube.)

*Let’s all just pretend this blog hasn’t been going on for years with the same potential hope. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.

Photo used with permission from Pixel Perfect Digital.

Related posts:

I’m watching Political Animals right now (because I always choose the show that is or will be cancelled–although I guess that was a miniseries and not the same thing at all) and reading Anne Rice.

And making my way back here. I’ve got some ideas about what I want to do here and and what I’ve gotten the most response from in the past. Now, if WordPress would just stop having 6 updates every time I log in, this would go a lot faster.

So, it’s anti-bullying month and today is Unity Day, according to the National Bullying Prevention Center. This is an issue I feel strongly about, so I’m blogging today to share my experiences.

I don’t specifically remember being bullied in school. I know I had low self-esteem, and I was overweight, and if people were mean to me about that, I guess I sort of believed I deserved it. So, maybe I was and people didn’t talk about it.

I remember once a friend of my cousin and a family member (of hers) visiting from out of town rode by me. I was, maybe, eight. We all rode bicycles then. Small town and you could go out all day, come home for dinner, and no one worried. As they passed me, this boy said, “Move it, Miss Piggy.” It hurt, of course. But, worse, it shamed me. I remember going home for dinner, and my dad telling me how pretty I was and all the boys would be after me soon (as dads do), and wanting to keep it from him, so I wouldn’t disappoint him. I remember swallowing around the lump in my throat, struggling to keep the tears from falling. If I cried, they’d ask why. What parent wouldn’t? And I was too ashamed that I’d made someone say that, to call me fat, to hurl an insult at me like I didn’t matter.

I remember the summer before I started high school, I was at a friend’s house with my best friend. This boy, a sophomore, had called his brother and spoke to me on the phone. And later, I picked up the phone to call my mom to come get me, and I heard the brother tell him how huge my thighs were and he didn’t want to waste time talking to me. And I was hurt. And I hated myself, for not being thin and perfect. I deserved to be minimalized, because I couldn’t magically make myself a better me.

I remember in my twenties, after years of not-good-enough and you’d-be-so-pretty-if-you-lost-that-weight that I got mad. It took me twenty-eight years to get angry. It took me twenty-years to realize that if it hadn’t been my weight, it would’ve been my nose, or my hair, or my clothes, or the books I always read. Because mean people just want to be mean.

If we could change ourselves, be more thin, or prettier, or less socially awkward, or more straight–it wouldn’t matter. And, really, why would you want to? To shut up the voices that say you’re not good enough? They don’t get to decide that. The truth is, only you get to decide that.

So, please, if you take anything from this and you are being bullied, say something. It does matter. It isn’t okay. You don’t deserve it. You are awesome. Exactly the way you are. You wake up tomorrow, and you rock that day as you. Perfectly, deeply, brilliantly you. Click To Tweet And, the next day, do the same thing. Those people will fall away. They’ll matter less. Your parents or a teacher will help you. Somebody loves you more than the air they breathe. Let that be enough, for now. And tomorrow, try to love yourself just as much.

@WhenALionSleeps and @thegoodbloggess inspired me to blog about this topic. Visit Rachel @ When a Lion Sleeps, Let it Sleep and write your own!

Why-remembering-our-experiences-during-anti-bullying-month-mattersj

I started a new job this week and I’ve been crazy busy.  I will return in the next few days with your regularly not-particularly-scheduled wisdom and divaness!

So... what would you do, if, God forbid, you had to be a fourteen-year-old girl? Click To Tweet  And, say, it was your birthday.  And you wanted some cool things to do with your friends.  And not cool in the way your mom, who has the best of intentions, might think of as cool, but cool.

Because my wonderful daughter is going to be 14 on Friday.  She’s having a sleepover and party for a few friends on Saturday.  I’ve figured out pizza.  You can’t screw up with pizza.  I told her about this game we used to play, back when I was a cool teen girl–you know, like, a million years ago?–called “Who-What-When-Where-How-and-Why.”  That even sounds lame.

But, no.  It is fun.  Really.  They start with a piece of paper for every person playing.  They write down the above, each on a different line, and fill in the who.  Could be someone there, could be a celebrity, could be *giggle* a parent.  Then they fold the paper so it covers what they wrote and pass it to the next person.  When they get passed a new piece of paper, they complete the next line, fold, and pass.  When it’s done, everyone opens their paper and reads it, in a narrative fashion.  It’s like mad-libs meets the game where you whisper something in someone’s ear and then they whisper what they think they heard in the next person’s ear, and so on.

But, um…. I need  more ideas.  Help me!!!!11

siglori

Yes, I write romance, and I’d never (until this past December) read a Jane Austen book. Any. At all.

Yes, I was ashamed of this deficit. When I was growing up, I didn’t get new books. I had trips to the library, occasionally, which I reserved for horror and mystery. I don’t know why. Well, I do, and this is the reason I never read Jane Austen.

*Ahem*, when I was a kid, I didn’t get new books. I read everyone else’s leftovers. I read them thankfully and voraciously and often multiple times. I read fast.

My mom loved horror, mostly Stephen King. Which I still read. It’s an unspoken agreement between my husband and me that started early on and has continued these last fifteen years… a new SK hardcover comes out, he buys it for me. Never mind that I’d rather have that Jennifer Crusie or Susan Elizabeth Phillips hardcover, would in fact, die of excitement. This is what we do, because that is what we did.

But, back to the kiddie days. My maternal grandmother, she was the intellectual, going back to college in her fifties, after picking up her GED. I read mythology books, psychology books, Christian fiction. The woman has a bookcase, several bookcases, full of amazing books. I’d spend the summer with her, my IQ would rise 15 points.

My paternal grandmother, who is gone now, went through romance novels–Harlequin and I can’t remember the name of the other publisher, but I’m pretty sure Harlequin bought them at some point so it probably doesn’t matter (I just remembered!  It was Silhouette!). She read them fast and she always had one handy.

When I turned sixteen, and could drive, I took her to the library every two weeks. She would take a box of fifty books and the nice librarian (I love librarians) would let her switch her fifty with another fifty from the donation pile. At that time, I’d pick up a Star Trek novel, or Dean Koontz, or that sequel to Gone With the Wind (I still can’t believe I read that. At 17, I was excited to see what would happen next; at 36, I’m aghast that someone would dare tamper with something so sacred as Rhett and Scarlett).

My dad read cowboy and spy novels–I stayed away from those. I think we were both too embarrassed to become mutually aware the other was reading about S-E-X. And an aunt, long exiled from the family by divorce, once gave me a big box of classics: The Outsiders, Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Most of that probably isn’t all that interesting to you, but it’s written and it’s my blog and I’m leaving it. The point is, I was never picky. I loved books, I loved them in all genres, and times, and sizes, and viewpoints, and plot points. Stories were my world, maybe my drug, and like any good junkie, I took whatever hit I could get.

As I got older, I found the things I enjoyed, I found new authors, and read through their booklists. At one time, when I was staying home with the kiddies and fighting through a bout of depression, I had a very active account with booksfree.com. I had the six books at a time plan, so I was never, ever without reading material. Then I had another baby, I started working outside the home, I started writing. My reading time became more precious and I became less willing to try new things. I have a drawer full of to-be-read books (that I may never get to, I love reading on my Kindle SO freaking much).

But, speaking of my Kindle, it’s all changed now. Reading is so convenient. Getting new books is so easy and quick and sample chapters are my best friend. I can try something new, buy it if I like, and find all new backlists to explore. I’m a loyal reader.

Another great thing about the Kindle? Free books. I feel like my grandmother, carrying in my box of fifty and picking through thousands of incredible stories.

And so, I found Ms. Austen. This blog post has become far too long already for me to go on and on about my newfound love for Pride and Prejudice (and naturally, all the other books she wrote). I’m not even sure what it’s about anymore, except:

Reading is a beautiful, empowering experience that I'm not sure I could've survived without. Click To Tweet

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.

I’ve got this weird idea, maybe more of a subscribed belief: painted toenails equate to a flourishing, happy, carefree life.  I realize it’s not really rational.  How do you rationalize something so trivial as an indicator of something so crucial?

You could look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, perhaps, and assume that all those lower needs (like food, shelter, safety, etc.) had been met if you have the interest to pretty up your tootsies.  But, those things, those are basic needs–not exactly a carefree existence.  So where does this crazy belief come from?

This is where I would insert my awesome answer.  If I had one.  I don’t.

But wouldn’t it be easy to make myself happy by just giving myself a decent pedicure?  Well, no.  Painted toenails don’t give me that good life; they just signify it.  My toenails are a bright red as I write this–but I still have food to put on the table, a house payment to make, and a book that really needs publishing.

So, I guess, what it really means is that I can give myself a tiny bit of joy just by spending ten minutes with a bottle of polish (of which I have oodles).  And right now, that’s enough.  But it makes me curious… what small gifts do you give yourself?

siglori

Do painted toenails equate to a flourishing, happy, carefree life? Click To Tweet

Photo from morguefiles.com

Polished toenails equal the good life

But online organization doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many tools for organizing all our stuff, of course, but one of the simplest is the wiki.

We’re all familiar with wikis, of course — Wikipedia being the most famous example, but many other useful wikis abound on the Internet. But one of the most productive forms of wikis is the personal wiki, which you can create at any number of sites.

via 15 Productive Uses for a Wiki – WebWorkerDaily (link no longer available).

I love this idea so much I wanted to share it.  I can see myself creating a Story “Bible”, a mom wiki for my family, a bill wiki.  I’m all over this.  I hope you find it useful, too.

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

via Quotegarden.com (which  no longer seems to exist).

Writing makes me crazy.

One minute I feel heady and at the top of my game and the next I feel like the worst writer ever,… Click To Tweet

There are days that I can’t stop writing, even if I wanted to, and the story just keeps coming.  (I call this writer crack–no better feeling).  On other days, I stare in desperation at the screen or my notes and will something, anything to come.  And if I get a hundred words down, I’m grateful.

Writing is all that, but I could never not write.  Writing brings me so much emotion and joy, it makes me feel alive and real, it makes me feel like I have something to say and that something matters.  It’s my passion, and I love sharing it with others, talking about it, learning it.  I give hours of my day–I sacrifice time I could be doing other things, but it calls to me.  This matters, it says.

And the thing I find most amazing about writing is that not only are those feelings of elation and frustration universal to writers, so is the deep passion for the craft.  And in that way, those of us who often can’t venture out easily, who prefer living inside our own skulls, we can connect.  And we just get it.  Ah, you’re a writer.