Sunday, June 18, 2017

Growing Up

11:31 PM 0 Comments
Today I dropped off the youngest at Jazz Camp for the week and as I drove away, it struck me just how independent he's become. As soon as we'd collected his things from the car, he took off for the dorm and forgot I was even there in his excitement to reconnect with his friends from last year. After I gave him his things, he joined his friends and didn't even look up as I left.  Please don't get me wrong, he wasn't rude or disrespectful. He was ready to move on with this coming week. He was ready for this next mini chapter.

Tonight, idly looking at house listings, I started to wonder how ready I am. In 11 months, my oldest will graduate from high school.  He's nervous about it and I spent some time tonight talking about options with him. There's a local trade school especially for disabled people. They have a program that he might be interested in. I'll need to see if they do job placement or anything like that because if they don't, the program he's interested in is fairly useless.

Still, it got him thinking about changes too. He knows that after his brother graduates from high school, I have to move. We talked today about places I could move to. He asked me where I had friends because I don't have any here. He told me that he doesn't care where I move because it's my life and I have to be happy. It made me smile to hear such an adult thought come from him. He's growing up and I can no longer deny that both him and his brother are on the verge of adulthood. It won't be long before they'll be doing their own things and where will that leave me?

Creating a whole new world for myself.  For nearly 18 years now, I've been mom. That's been my role, my title, and my life. Soon though, I'll be having to make the tough decisions and trying to decide what's best, not for them, but for myself. In theory, I could move anywhere in the world. In reality, I think I'd better stay in this country..heh... That being said, there's a lot of country out there. I could stay nearby wherever the boys are. I could move somewhere random. There's also ...well, I don't really talk about this, but there's a man that I've fallen for and right now, circumstances outside of our control don't allow for us to be together, but who knows, maybe we might find ourselves in closer proximity.

That's a lot of well maybes, huh? There's also the question of what do I do with myself when mom isn't my full-time gig. I would really like to write and to make enough to be able to start paying off old bills. Wouldn't that be smashing? I think so. Of course, it means educating myself as to how to promote my writing better so that people know it exists. A friend on Facebook posted the other night that he met an author who makes about $60k a month (I think, a month was the time frame) but also spends $5-10k during that same time frame on advertising. That's a great return, but I have no way of investing that kind of money into myself. Is it possible to start the ball rolling without spending that kind of money? I have no idea. I guess that's where educating myself comes in.

So, here we are...about 2 years until I have to be moving on from where I'm at and a lot of decisions to make, a lot of work to do, and a lot of finding me that needs to happen before then.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fearing Success

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"People who have experienced trauma may associate the excitement of success with the same physiological reactions as trauma. They avoid subjecting themselves to excitement-inducing circumstances, which causes them to be almost phobic about success." -- Psychology Today

"The Jonah complex is the fear of success which prevents self-actualization or the realization of one's potential. It is the fear of one's own greatness, the evasion of one's destiny, or the avoidance of exercising one's talents. Just as the fear of achieving a personal worst can motivate personal growth, the fear of achieving a personal best can also hinder achievement." -- Wikipedia

Yesterday, I wrote a post about finding myself and in it, I mentioned how I'm the only thing standing in my way of so many things. Today, I woke up absolutely exhausted and immediately went into beat myself up/I'm worthless mode. I sat here feeling sorry for myself. There's no other words to describe it. When my body/brain says you need a down day, I get incredibly frustrated and I take it out on myself. A lot of us do that. We beat ourselves up over things that are outside of our control.

I'd love to tell you that I meditated or came to some brilliant conclusion that brought me here today, but the reality is that I noticed that I had Pinterest open in a tab so I decided to lazy scroll through things and see what I found. What I found was a whole lot of pins on writing and it reminded me of yesterday's post so here I am...after pinning about a dozen of them to go back to later.

If you know me well at all, you know that I write. I write stories, I write posts, I write diary entries in Word that may or may not ever be seen by the world. I write. It's what I do. It's what I've done for as long as I remember. It's what I want to do with my life. I want to write.

Seems easy enough, right? If someone said to me that they wanted to write, I'd say, "Then write." Except it's not that simple. Okay, the writing part is. Writing isn't difficult for me. Heck, hand me a notebook and a pen and I'll doodle and write all day long. It's the part that comes after that...what do I do with it once I write it? Do I file it away somewhere? Do I publish it? Do I tell anyone about it?

Just a few days ago, I got the Facebook notification that on this day a year ago, I published my first story on Amazon. I've gone on to publish something like 8 stories. In that year, I've never made enough off selling them to even receive a royalty payment. Why? Because I've been afraid to take the next steps. I have the resources. Russell Nohelty has a podcast all about building up your creative business. I'm part of at least one really good authors' group on Facebook. I'm friends (or at least Facebook friends) with multiple published writers.

So what's holding me back? Me. I am. I'm the problem. I'm terrified of what happens if I do this and I do it well. What will that mean for my life? What changes will there be? Just thinking about it has my anxiety flaring up. Then, there's the other side of it. I look around at the people surrounding me and I think "What's the point in even trying? There are so many people out there already doing this. There's nothing special about me or what I do."

I'm afraid of success and I'm afraid of failure. So, I do nothing. I write my stories and sometimes I post them and sometimes I don't. I write here and since it's mostly ignored by the outside world, I tell myself that it's a sure sign that my writing isn't any good. If it were, surely something I'd written would have gained traction by now. Is that the truth? Probably not. There are a million people out there writing the same  types of things on their blogs. There's no reason that mine would gain attention.

Still, I write because I can't imagine a life without doing it. This is part of me. I just have to decide if I'm brave enough to really show people what I can do and if I am, I have to start taking those steps. I know that I'm not alone in feeling like this and I hope that I'm not alone in whatever happens next.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Finding Me

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Sometimes something someone says gets stuck in my head and I can't get rid of it. It sits there, tugging at my thoughts, pulling at my emotions, until I give it the attention that it desires and perhaps the attention that I need to give it. After all, if it's there, it must be there for a reason, right?

In this case, a man that I was involved with a few years ago, perhaps more now, wrote me this rather horrible email to not only end our relationship but to end any association he had with me. Honestly, it was cruel and below this person, but that's not what this post is about. It's about what he said to me in that email that has hung around in my head for all these years and the fact that I'm finally at a point where I can deal with it clearly and without wasted emotion. After all, emotion is wasted on someone who was flat out cruel to you.

I'm not going to directly quote him because honestly, I have no desire to open that email. The gist of what he said was that I'm not me. I'm not someone who stands for anything or has her own beliefs. I'm merely someone who morphs herself into whatever she thinks the other person wants. I'm nothing more than a mimic.  Harsh, huh?

That one single idea has stuck with me ever since I read it and I wondered if it was true. Who am I? I'm reminded of this quote from the movie Music and Lyrics:

"Since then, every time I pick up a pen, I'm haunted by those words that he wrote, you know? "She was a brilliant mimic. She could ape Dorothy Parker or Emily Dickinson, but stripped of someone else's literary clothes, she was a vacant, empty imitation of a writer.""

Stripped of other people's interests and beliefs, who am I? You see, he was right in a way. I do tend to take on the interests of those I care about. Do I do it to define me? No, I don't think that I do. I do it to have more in common with them, to learn about new things. Rob is a perfect example of this and someone who, on the tiniest off chance that he ever read this, wouldn't care if I used him as an example.

Rob was/is very much into roller derby. Me? I knew next to nothing about it. When I'd visit him, if one of his friends stopped by, they'd sit and talk about it and I'd be left out because I knew nothing about it. I hated that. It was also something he was very passionate about so I wanted to know more. I downloaded and read the complete rule book. They teased me that the next thing they knew, I'd be some sort of official. The reality is that I never intended on playing myself or getting involved. I just wanted to know more. I'm still holding out for Rob to take me to my first bout.

Did I change myself into a derby girl because Rob was into derby? No. Some would point out that I did go and buy a pair of skates. I did. I still have them though due to illness, etc I haven't used them since right after I bought them. Skating is fantastic exercise and a lot of fun. It was something I could do on my own or go with Rob to do when I was visiting him. Was it because of him that I looked into it? Yeah, it was. Did it change anything? Not really.

So where am I going with all of this? I guess I'm going to the part where I say Stuart was right. Over the years, I've molded myself at times. My upbringing caused that. If I wasn't what was wanted, things happened. When I was with the boys' dad, that continued. Please don't misunderstand. He never raised a hand towards me, but he knew what buttons to push to get me to be or do what he wanted.

Then, I was on my own. I was no longer his wife. I no longer had an identity. I didn't know who I was. So, over the years since then, I guess I've explored options. With Rob, I explored the idea of skating and I discovered that it was something I enjoyed. I totally sucked at it, but I enjoyed it. With others, it may have been certain television shows or hobbies. Does that mean that I continued to morph? Perhaps, but only to the smallest extent. As someone who had no idea who they were anymore, what their interests were or what they wanted to do/be in life, it was a way to discover the answers to those things. I discovered that no matter how much someone else liked it, I just could not get into Buffy, but that I loved Doctor Who. I realized that I do kind of like certain types of science fiction. I found a tiny piece of me.

I tend to think of myself as one of those jigsaw puzzles that have 10,000 pieces and each time I discover something, a tiny piece slides into place. With enough exploration, I may find me again. I think that I started my container garden a number of years ago because Rob or someone was growing tomatoes and it gave me an additional connection to him. It also allowed me to discover that dirt therapy is really good for me. Does Rob still grow tomatoes? Heck if I know. I do know that right now, there are 8 plants on my front porch that I need to water later today.

There are also things that I do simply because they're a part of me. I love to craft. I've been making things since I was a child and while I don't do it as much these days it's not because someone has frowned on it. It's simply because I got in my own way and now I need to clear that out so that I can get back to it. Nick once told me that coloring is my therapy...crafting always was and I suspect it always will be. I can't draw but I can still create in my own way.

Which brings me to writing...another thing that I've done for as long as I can remember. In fact, if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I'd tell you that I want to write. It's another thing that I'm just plain getting in my own way of. Will I ever be famous for writing? Probably not. Could I be successful at it? Probably. It's my own fears that are getting in the way of that, but that's probably another post for another day. It's another one of those thoughts that have been bumping around in my head lately.

What does this all mean? It means that you may see me becoming interested in something that you do. I may try it out for a little bit. I may discover that I love it and stick with it. I may discover that it's not me and leave it. Either of those things is okay. The only way to truly discover if something is me is to try it. I'm not mimicking, I'm exploring and exploration is healthy. It's good.

In order to reclaim me, I have to find me.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: Marie Antoinette Serial Killer

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Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger . . .

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of revenge, betrayal, intrigue — and one killer queen.

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Another of the books that I snagged from the free shelf at the airport and another one that was perfect for me to read when I spotted it...

The Good:
This book is such an amazingly easy read and though the author has a reputation of being a horror writer, this book isn't horror. I'm the biggest chicken in the world and nothing in this book even gave me a shiver. What it did give me was the joy in watching a teenager grow up and come a bit more into herself as the book progressed. It gave me a ghost story that was set in the present, but had its start in the past. I'm a history junkie and while this part was totally made up, I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book.

The Bad:
If I had one complaint, and it's a small one, it's that not all of the french in the book is translated. Still, this was so minor and it didn't take away from the reading itself so I'm nitpicking.

The Summary:
This is another light reading book. It isn't a heavy mystery or a scary horror novel. It's a fun book geared towards the teenage set. Some have complained that the main character is a snobby bitch and that it gives girls the wrong impressions about fat girls, nice girls, and the lot, but the reality is that I have seen groups of girls made up of exactly the group depicted within this book. Is it always the case? Nope. Still it exists and Collette has to learn that fashion sense, the latest boy, and all of that doesn't define a person.

If you like light reading in this genre, I suggest you give this book a shot.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: The Clockwork Scarab

9:30 AM 1 Comments
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.


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Lately I've had some periods where I've needed to sit around and wait on the boys to finish whatever they're up to. It's given me some bonus reading time that I completely grabbed up. It gave me the chance to finish a couple of books that have been calling out for me to read them...

The first is The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason. I picked this up from a free shelf at the airport a couple of months ago and the title alone had me from hello. Then, I read the description and discovered that the two main characters were a Stoker and a Holmes and that was it. It left the shelf and went with me.

The Good: 
This book was fun to read. The characters were easy to relate to and while I've seen it said that Mine especially seemed judgmental for someone who was supposed to be brilliant, I have to say that it seems very much within a teenage girl's personality. Just because you're brilliant doesn't mean that you don't sometimes make assumptions. Aside from all of that, the story is very much plot driven and it's a plot that had me picking the book up whenever I had a few minutes to squeeze in some reading.

The Bad:
This book is a steampunk novel and while I don't mind that per se, I did mind that the author reminded us of it every other page or so. It wasn't necessary to the story building. The book also felt slightly unfinished. We don't know who was behind what was happening. We don't really know why the time traveling character was brought there or if he ever made it home. I know that this is book 1 of a 4 part Holmes/Stoker series so I'm hoping that the author revisits these in future books and resolves them.

The Summary:
Overall, this is a really fun book. It's certainly geared towards the teenage set, but as a not quite a teenager anymore, I enjoyed reading it and I'm going to try to track down book 2 to see what happens with this pair next.


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Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Princess Nenji

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Nenji lives a quiet life, but with a longing for adventure. Barely considered royalty, her life is uprooted when the Dragon King sets out to eliminate the threat of the Lorac Family revealed by prophecy. Nenji has to learn quickly about magic, politics, and herself as she takes on the roles of young lady, witch, and queen. Princess Nenji is a gripping novel. This fantasy story revolves around a young 14 year old girl, mages, royalty, dragons and creatures you never even imagined. This book gives new insights about justice and mercy, coming of age, and the power of a family's love. It is a quick read, both exciting and refreshing. You will be continually surprised at how the plot unfolds. The author has been called a creative genius, and this book is unlike any other book you have read.

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Last week, I introduced you to Dani and the Dragon. Princess Nenji is set in that same realm. Heck, she's part of the same family as Dani. This book takes place after the events in Dani and the Dragon, although I believe it was written prior.

While I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I did Mr. Carroll's other book, I very much enjoyed it. In fact, I read it in one sitting. That says a lot for a book. I loved the glimpses of characters that I had grown to love in the other book and the first thing I did upon completing it was to go to the author's Goodreads page to see if there were other books in this series. Unfortunately, there are not. I really wanted to find out what happened with all of the amazing characters that the author has put together.

If you're a lover of magic, dragons, fantasy, and princesses that can more than hold their own, I strongly suggest that you pick up Mr. Carroll's two books. It's been a long time since I've enjoyed an author so much.

Edit: The author has changed his pen name to Simon Driscoll. For information on how to find his books, check out his web page.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review: Dani and the Dragon

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Coming of age isn't easy for a homeless orphan girl. But when Mages, Kings, and Dragons all want to control her destiny, she must uncover her past to find her future.

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I'm not going to lie to you. This book has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. That's what happens when you fall apart and have to put yourself back together. Things get set aside for far too long...but in some ways, it makes them that much more awesome when you pick them up again.

In this case, I had no idea what to expect from this book. I picked it at random from a stack when I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time sitting around while the youngest child performed with his steel drum band. Turns out that it was a really good random book choice!

All of the characters in this book are really well written. Dani is a character that you can't help but get attached to. With every step of her journey, you're right there with her. Though the book is fantasy, you believe that all of these things have happened or are happening to her. The writing is just that good. The story progresses at a steady pace and you're caught up in the world of royals and dragons and one girl who is just trying to figure out what's right for her.

Would I recommend this book? Yep. Totally. Go and get it. It's a great read and another one that I couldn't put down.


Edit: The author has changed his pen name to Simon Driscoll. For information on how to find his books, check out his web page.

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I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own. 
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