Thoughts on Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

I don’t normally review children’s books because I have not studied up entirely on how to write them. But at the bookstore today this book, Sulwe written by Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by Vashti Harrison, spoke to me on the shelf. I took it down, flipped a couple of pages, looked at the price, decided it was worth it, and brought it home excited to dive in. It is a book that I will always remember and cherish. In college I actually had a friend whose soul you could tell was hurting when she talked about how dark she was compared to her sister. So this book went straight to my heart and pulled a few strings. The first time I read it I cried. Then the second time I read it to my children I had to keep taking breaks to choke back tears. It is a must have and a necessary read, colored with beautiful illustrations that take your breath away with a flip of a page. I am so thankful I came across this and that now I get to keep it on my shelf forever to bring down whenever I need a moment and a reminder of beauty.

Dressing Up In Dreams

Few things make me extremely happy. Dressing up in fantasy land with my family is one of them! This was a dream come true for me. Also this was a new first and hopefully not a last! Watching these characters that could come from so many stories so full of life and inspiration was so amazing. And what made it even more than amazing was the fact that they were my blood. It was incredible to be able to finally let loose, which is what I have been trying to teach myself to do when it comes to following my heart and passions in this life. To finally be able to be myself with my family and take off the mask I wear every day was memorable and I hope will be impactful for myself when I look at these pictures. A great story will come of this someday! I promise and cannot wait to share!! Maybe one day more passionate dreams will come true and people will be walking around bringing my own characters that I share with the world to life! 🙂

Writing Through Our Fear Mold

Writing can be intimidating. With every single sentence and every single word we write, we often begin to second guess ourselves. Especially if what we are writing is for more eyes than our own. How are we supposed to get away from that, especially if we are wanting to become professional writers? Do we ever break away from that? Is that something that just follows us forever? Will we ever have enough confidence in ourselves just to write?

We have this mold. And this mold is the self that we want to shape ourselves into and how we believe we should be seen. It is a container held in by our fear. The fear that if you step out of this shape that people will hate you, that you will get rejected, that your ideas won’t be competent enough, and that you will find out once and for all that you as a person and a writer aren’t good enough. Because of that we end up living in these little boxes only sharing and showing the same things over and over again that we know fit into this mold and that everyone likes. It is hard to step out. It is hard to be unique. It is hard to be ourselves. It is hard just to have fun writing.

Like writing this. It is hard. You can bet I am nervous. It is hard to write just what I want to write and to have enough confidence in myself to share it. It is hard to even speak my ideas, let alone let myself build up these great plans that I know I love and think are fantastic, but for some reason can’t help but to think what if other people don’t feel the same way? It is hard to step away from the fear of being proven wrong and feeling my already own shaky self-image start to crumble. It is hard to ignore all the self-doubts in my head and shove them aside just to have fun writing.

But the real question is what if no one gets to love and experience your brilliance and your ideas? What if you could really get somewhere and be great? What if you are holding yourself back from the amazing person you already are?

What do you do?

The only answer I have for you to be able to break through is to WRITE. Just write. And have fun doing it. We all know that writing fills up the soul in ways nothing else can, but what we don’t know is each time you write you become braver. You gain more courage and strength to speak your words because if you did it once, you can do it again, and again, and again, and show the world and yourself that you have a voice. That you have courage. That you have passion. And that each time you can break more from your mold. Every time I give myself permission to just write what I want and just let myself fall into my love for writing it becomes easier, like a muscle needing worked.

Let your writing break your mold for you. Let it slip through the cracks and test the waters so you can realize that you are safe and you are ok and you can put yourself out to the world. Let yourself prove to yourself that you can be who you are, write what you want, and have fun doing it! That your uniqueness is something that can be craved.

My mold that keeps me from sharing and spreading my ideas, my stories, my worlds, and my escapes every day begins to break and crack. And personally, writing and sharing this has been more for myself than anyone else. It is a nice reminder to look back on and to hold myself up to. My own words to live by. If I hadn’t written this, where would I be today?

Confined by my mold.

But instead I am working on breaking free.

Names

Names. Powers to describe the universe. Yet, can’t fully define you. Why do we live by names and not the stories beneath? The real magick is how the names came to be.

I’m just going to dive right in. I love the stories behind names. I think they are amazing and really tell a lot about the person who gave the name. Not the person who got the name, but the person who told their thought process, past, what is important to them, and what has special meaning to them when giving the name.

Take me for example. I have three daughters. I wanted to make sure that together as one their names were powerful and it is my belief that true power dwells in sounds like syllables. Just like how poetry can really affect your soul by the flow of the words in verse. To make their names powerful in syllables for their names to be able to fit together, I had my oldest daughter’s first name have 3 syllables and her middle name have 1. My second daughter’s first name have 2 syllables and her middle name have 2. And my last daughter’s first name have 1 syllable and her middle name have 3. That way they all equally have four but the syllables are distributed differently forming a full circle. And it goes

Angela, Sarah, Dawn

     3           2          1

   Lee,   Nicole,  Abigail

      1          2            3

Also, they are each named after two people. Angela’s first name is after one of the nicest people I had ever met and worked with, and her middle name is a family name that goes back generations. Sarah’s first name is after a best friend from elementary school and her middle name is from two very important red-headed friends that influenced my life and were both named Nicole when I was younger. When I lost one, I gained the other. Dawn’s first name is named after the Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the character named Dawn from Pokémon.

Just by looking at their names it doesn’t tell you much, but by all of that you learn a piece of who I really am. Which, if you can’t guess, is a crazy geek who definitely overthinks but who really believes friendship is important and who takes some people deeply to heart, even and especially characters.

Now as a writer, naming a character verses naming a child is quite different. A character’s names can actually tell you personally about the character more than it would naming a child. When you name a child, you don’t truly know them yet and they end up molding the name to fit them and they make a story of their own with it. When we name a character, the name is sometimes put to the adventure or you end up asking yourself what name may best describe this character and what defines them? You shape the story around the name or the name around the story. You already know the character in your mind and want to reflect what you know. Who do they feel like they are? What do they feel like they should be named? Both are questions that may be asked and you feel like the character is already speaking to you. But once again, the question of why did you decide to give that name is so much more interesting than just what is the name. The real magick is how the names came to be.

Finding The Other Half Of Your Soul, But Awaiting His Uncertain Boundless Return

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Playing Hero
She sits in the dark awaiting
her loved one who never comes.
Her thoughts drift to pictures
of them when they were young.
They were laughing and dancing,
never without a smile.
Kisses and hugs,
man, it seems like such a while.
But he is off playing hero
for the family he deserves.
So she sits and waits quietly
knowing that when he can he will return.
Life on Repeat
I miss you.
I kiss you.
We hug
and you leave.
Same thing every day.
Every day on repeat.
When will things change?
You say change will come soon.
I want to believe you,
but I only see doom.
           When I first met this man, he was working at DQ and was definitely what I would categorize as a boy who loved to do the stupidest things and get hurt. Then he went to work at Burger King in our small town for awhile before he transferred burger kings to the one in Lafayette where we moved to to go to Purdue. There he worked part time and went to school to be an engineer full time, until his friend presented him with a better job working at WWL. He took it and then started working full time third shift, with a lot of overtime and continued to go to school full time. I swear he didn’t sleep. Then he sadly failed a class. Not because he wasn’t smart enough, but because we lived in a bad part of town and his gas got siphoned on the day of his exam. He actually pushed his jeep to the gas station to fill it back up, but still ended up late to his exam and they wouldn’t let him in so he failed. He was obviously upset and discouraged, but it didn’t let him completely down. We ended up finding a better apartment in a better area that we moved to since I was now pregnant. He started Ivy Tech with a different major now in mechanics since he decided he wanted to do something that he loved with his life. He continued life still working full time and getting any overtime possible to help us get by, going to school full time, and helping me with the baby when he could. Then after awhile with some more months of schooling still left for him to finish we bought a house in Wanatah. Right after that he lost his job. I’m talking directly after that. But he refused to let that slow him down. He found a job up north in Porter. And continued to work full time there, while traveling to Lafayette to go to his college classes to try to finish. Some days he would sleep in our now empty apartment since our lease wasn’t up yet, but I would hate to know how much sleep he missed. I know that the driving so much back and forth scared me with how sleep deprived he was. But finally he graduated and was able to stay up north with us. He ended up getting a second job part time to help us get by. Until he found another job that paid better with crazy long hours. Then after switching jobs once again to go back to work as a mechanic he ended up impressing some people and ended up switching fields doing something that he never would have imagined doing, didn’t know exsisted, but happily enjoyed. But then he started working more and more almost 17 or 18 hours a day and night for at first weeks until it turned into months trying to start up a company on top of the job he was already working. Then days would go by without him even coming home working crazy like always. But finally he has started his own company with a couple companions and is back down to one job. Watching him work his body sick for years has been incredibly hard, but I couldn’t be more amazed and proud that it has paid off for him. He is definitely the definition of determination and a hard worker to me. It has been amazing to watch him grow from that boy who didn’t care if he ended up in the hospital for a thrill to the man he is today doing anything and everything he can for the little family he has built.

          So, as you can see my husband worked a lot and nonstop so he could build the dream life he wants for himself and his family. He still continues to do this to this day, but so far things have gotten better. Throughout the years though it was not easy waiting with the heart breaking for the one you love to return and fill you with the love you so desperately needed to be filled up with again to keep going. My husband is a hero in my eyes, not just for working as hard as he has forever for us, but for fixing me and getting me to the point where I can actually look at myself in the mirror and not completely hate myself. He helped me get to a place where I never thought or dreamed I could have ever gotten to. I can actually love and enjoy life now and focus on my goals instead of battling with myself mentally and physically every day. I truly owe him my life. But as I said, the journey was not easy. There were a few times that depression and loneliness started to work deep into my mind and made things harder than they needed to be. Not today, but Tuesday I will continue this with some of the more deeply broken poems where I started to lose hope that things would ever get better and I started to lose faith in our bond.  

(Sorry about there being no spaces between paragraphs and poems. For some reason it won’t let me fix it and it only wants to stay this way. Except for this last paragraph.)

It’s OK To Not Be OK

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It’s OK to sometimes not be OK. Getting down on yourself for not being OK when you feel like you should be OK will only make you more upset and frustrated. Getting irritated with yourself for not always holding it together and being happy when you feel like logic is telling you you should be happy will only make you feel not OK even more. We need to learn to give ourselves a break sometimes. If we had a friend who was going through a hard time or had something happen in his or her life, would we expect them to just be OK and move on? No, we wouldn’t. Even if nothing bad had happened, we don’t expect the people around us to be OK 24/7. So, why do we sometimes expect that out of ourselves and get mad if we have a hard time with our emotions briefly and for a moment or more feel weak? We are human. We have hormones, feelings, illogical logic that runs through our minds, and a vivid imagination that all combine to sometimes make us feel things that may not make sense to anyone including ourselves. It’s OK to give yourself permission to not be OK when you aren’t up to holding yourself up and holding yourself together any longer. As long as you ask yourself why you might not be OK and try to figure out what it could be if the sadness and feelings of failure lasts for what seems like too long and you have a hard time getting back up on your feet, it is OK to let yourself not be the perfect person upholding the world, your family, or your life like you might want to be. If in our hearts we know that it is OK to sometimes not to be OK, then we will feel more comfortable with reaching out and asking for help from someone when we aren’t feeling right. We won’t be embarrassed and think of ourselves as a failure for not having it together and we could find the help that we may desperately need. It is OK to not be OK. It is normal. It is common. And we all need to accept that it doesn’t make us weak minded or faulty. We are human and sometimes things even in the smallest amounts are too hard for us to handle and we may need help handling them. We all need to lean on someone sometimes, and we all need to accept and love ourselves fully as we would a good friend, telling ourselves to seek help when we need it, and giving ourselves a mental hug, while whispering to ourselves in a gentle reminder that it is OK to not be OK.

 

Ask And Then Prioritize

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What fills you up? What helps you feel alive and at your best? What makes you feel whole and at peace? These question were brought to my attention this last weekend. It was something that I never really stopped and completely thought about. So I ask myself and I ask you those same questions. What fills you up? For me, knowledge, reading, fantasy, and stories are some of the things that make me who I am. When I dive into those things, they help me feel like I am finding myself, figuring out myself, and learning more about myself. What makes you feel alive and at your best? For me, working out, eating healthy, alone time to sort through my thoughts, writing, and doing things for my kids like planning their parties and making them things, all make me feel alive and like I am on the top of my game and living at my best. What makes you feel whole and at peace? Well for me, that answer is time with my kids and family.

Why are all these questions important? Because the answers tell you what you need to prioritize in your life. They are things that you need to make sure that you make time for you so you can feel your best. When you feel your best, you live your best, and when you live your best, you enjoy life more and get more out of life. I know that I want to walk around feeling alive and full of spirit and happiness. I want to enjoy my kids more and enjoy time with my husband more. I want to get the most out of everything I can in this small amount of time that we have to live, and how am I supposed to do that if I feel like crap? How is anyone supposed to do that when they feel sad, depressed, exhausted, and stretched too thin. After a long week it is amazing what time with my family does for me. I feel ready to tackle another long week yet again. It is like a constant emptying me and filling me back up. It is amazing how good I feel after a workout in the morning. It helps fill me back up and gets me ready to tackle another day after feeling like I’ve gotten beaten down too many times the day before and had begun to feel weak and worthless. It is amazing what reading and researching does for me because it fills my head with amazing creativity that helps me see many things in different ways and enjoy life more without getting bored or frustrated.

Find the things that make you feel like the best you. Find the things that make you feel happy with yourself and with your life. Find what those things are and then make it a priority to make sure you have some time for those things. Live life at your fullest and at your best so you can enjoy it more and be happy. Search within yourself and then prioritize so you can be the best you. You deserve it and the world deserves to see it.

The Show That Surprised Me

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This is going to be an interesting post. I wouldn’t normally write I guess what you could maybe call a “review” on a show, although I do have many opinions on a lot of shows, but this show caught me by surprise. I had just finished New Girl and needed a new comedy to watch on Netflix because I was not yet ready to dive into my usual dramas and deal with being tear jerked around. So, I decided to try to watch a show that I figured I would end up hating and give up on. When I was a senior, a parent of someone I lived with briefly, used to watch The Office all the time. I tried to watch it with her one day,  but did not find it humorous at all and could not get into it. I pretty much found it annoying, useless, and a waste of time. For some reason though, I decided to give it another chance almost ten years later and watch it from the beginning. I was truly blown away with all the lessons that it had embedded into it, especially the most important one it focused on.

So, of course I’m not going to give away any spoilers from this show. Letting that be known now, but for anyone who doesn’t know, it is a show that takes place in a paper company. It is about some pretty unique, yet in some areas, average people all working together in an office together. Sounds pretty boring, right? Yet somehow they made it interesting and a little funny. From the beginning to the end, you get to watch the employees all work together to try to make the most out of their boring jobs and their life. They grow close together like a family, help bring one another up, and share many special moments together. It definitely brightens your mood and makes you see that even in the most boring jobs and places in life that there is a lot more going on if you look hard enough and that those places really aren’t that boring at all.

The thing that grasped my attention throughout the whole show was the message that no matter how many times you get knocked down, you need to get back up and stay positive no matter the situation or circumstance. You find your purpose in life and you keep trying to achieve that no matter what life throws your way because at some point you will most likely get there or even someplace better than you thought you could.

My favorite character in the show that showed me this was surprisingly Dwight. At the beginning, I was like “I’m going to hate this dude”, but he ended up being one of the biggest go getters, respectful, loyal, a good friend, and more caring than most of the people in the show. Throughout most of the entire show he is picked on by Jim tremendously, but somehow he does not let that slow him down or get him down. Every prank and every day he gets himself back up and pursues his goals towards gaining respect from his peers and his career. He was a true inspiration for me.

One of my other favorite characters was Michael. Although his humor was pretty rude, you could tell he had a good heart and no matter how left out or hated he felt he still kept trying to make people happy and laugh. He had said multiple times in the show that his biggest goal in life was to make his “family”, which was the people he worked with, laugh and enjoy their life. Even though most of the time he made them hate their lives, he still worked very hard to show everyone how much he saw them as family, and everyone but one person he worked with, saw and noticed that. His dream was to belong somewhere and have a family and he never gave up on that dream.

Pam’s goal in life was to follow her dreams to become an artist. Many many times she was put down for her work, not supported by the people whose support mattered the most to her, and she failed herself multiple times which only brought her down about herself even more. But even though she kept letting herself be let down and kept putting herself down for periods of time, she always ended up making herself pick herself back up and keep focused on her dream, which did end up paying off more than she could have imagined in the end. Following and staying focused on her dream made her finally feel worthy and important in life, which had been having trouble with since the beginning of the series.

The last person I’m going to talk about, even though there are many I could, is the obvious character in the series who never gave up going after his dream, Jim. Jim’s dream was love. He wanted to love and be loved by somebody and never fully gave up on that vision for his future. Even when things started to go south for a period of time and he was close to losing that dream forever, he gave up one of the things that mattered almost as much to him to focus on getting that dream back. He is an amazing example of ‘if you love something, go after it’.

I could pinpoint every character and talk about how they emphasized in the show to never give up, but I’m not going to. If you really want to know, I would watch it. It may surprise you. The reason why I am writing this is because it surprised me and there may be someone out there not willing to give the show a chance, but who may really need it in their lives to help them keep going.

It’s Never Easy, So Celebrate!

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I’ve actually heard from many older couples that their wedding anniversary is just another day. I really hope to never get that way. I don’t understand how something that is hard to work for, because all marriages aren’t easy, and something that created life, a beautiful story, and countless adventures could not be celebrated. Although, I also am the type who gives a joyous ‘horray!’ on the anniversary that we got together because I also don’t understand why anyone would just sweep away the three years or so that they had been together before marriage. Maybe it is because I owe a lot to my husband. Maybe it is because he has helped bring me further in life and helped me be happier in life than I ever thought I would be. Maybe it is because I am also celebrating the beginning of my journey of learning to find myself and love myself. Who knows. But as many times as we have been down and have picked each other up, as many times as we have held each other in each others arms as one or both of us cried our hearts out, as many times as we have encouraged each other and pushed each other to be the best we can be. It is a true and amazing partnership. The best partnership that life could grant you. Swearing to stand together against all, love each other no matter what, and help each other feel loved and wanted are not easy things to do all the time, no matter how in love you are. It is two unique souls who want to be together, but at the same time sometimes want to stand alone and find themselves. It is an agreement to do what is best for each other and best for oneself, while having to sometimes chose one or the other when the thing that is for the best for one person isn’t the best for the other. It is trying to get inside each others head and understand where the other is coming from, while pushing your own emotions aside for longer than you may want. Making it through another year of keeping each other up and moving and not giving up is an amazing reason to celebrate. Making it through another year where you have both figured out how to make your love blossom even more is an amazing reason to give a big hooray! Making it through another year of putting aside what you both may have wanted countless times to make the other person happy when they needed it is an amazing reason to distinguish your one day out of the year from any others because that is the one day that your journey and new book started, where you both weren’t alone anymore, but together, promised to each other in front of God and in front of all.

Worst Battle Of My Life (including 3 poems)

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So the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my whole life so far has been an eating disorder. I fought, lost, and dealt with it for nine long horrible years. I finally was able to beat it, if you can call it that since it still lingers, and have been “clean” for almost two years and eight months now. It is seriously amazing how different you view things and how much easier it is to enjoy life and everything around you when you are not fighting for your life against your body and your mind. I am beyond thankful to my husband because without him I seriously would not have been able to make it this far. He never gave me an ultimatum, but just stood by my side, gave me stability, and was there to comfort me and talk to me when I needed it, even if that meant countless hours of talking me through the same things over and over again. Now I am more happy with myself than I have been in my entire life, and I am beginning to love myself and see myself as a friend instead of an enemy. So, here are some of the poems that I did while battling the disorder near the beginning. To give you a time reference it all started near the end of seventh grade or in the summer after seventh grade when I completely stopped eating and would work out until I would pass out. I had many scares and even would pass out on the side of the road during a run. That was scary because before then I’ve never seen a road come up to meet you in the face before you blacked out, but then without even knowing that it was a thing I started eating again and throwing up. Which landed me in the hospital after a while when I wasn’t able keep water down anymore. My blood pressure was 70/40 and I weighed 92 pounds. Then I was sent to rehab, which didn’t do anything for me because I was the only one in the place with an eating disorder, and as soon as I got out my mom took me out for pizza, and then on the way home I had her pull over and I threw up again. After that everything went from there with me even eating food out of dumpsters sometimes and wasting any money I could get a hold of to buy food from gas stations at one or two in the morning while everyone was sleeping and finding anywhere I could to hide to binge and purge. I would do it at family gatherings. I would do it when friends and family were were just in the other room. Anywhere and anytime I could find, I would do it. Sometimes it would even get way more than up to twenty times a day. Once I could drive, well then that didn’t help at all, and it was nine beyond horrible years that this went on that I wish I could take back. But now I weigh around 140 pounds 🙂 sometimes even 145 if I do a super heavy weight program for a few months, and I feel healthier and happier than ever and am super ecstatic to be as far away from that nightmare as I am now because I never thought I would be.

She’s so confused.

So lost in her head.

Thinking weight is what matters,

so she’s sinking in dread.

She knows she’s killing herself,

but she just can’t quit.

She feels bad with what she’s doing,

but see’s no way out of it.

Shes scared to eat anything,

yet wants it so much.

Getting into everything

and making it come up.

Why can’t she control herself?

Why can’t she just quit?

There’s so many people praying for her

trying to get her out of it.

But she knows she can’t do it,

unless she helps herself.

She has to learn to eat

and stop swimming in doubt.

She wants a good future,

but know it will never come

if she keeps going down this road

not finding a way up.

(A second poem I wrote in my journal right after that)

It’s such a mix-up,

Which way should I go?

Should I go with my fear

and let everything show?

Should I not eat at all

in worry of weight?

Or should I have it all?

It’s never too late.

I could purge it up later

and go out for a run.

Ugh… I want chocolate,

or do I want none?

Ugh! What’s with my mind?

Why can’t I think?

Can think only of food.

Can do nothing but freak. 

No, I can’t have anything.

Got to lose weight. 

But come on, it’s delicious

it’s got to be fate. 

I know I’m addicted.

Addicted to food,

but I’m also scared of it.

Could that happen too?

Why am I all three?

Why not just one.

Why do I have to starve, binge, and purge?

Why can’t I be none?

(Poem I have done after “beating” the disorder for more than a couple of years. I’m afraid it will always be there waiting for me, but with knowing that I know that each year I just have to get stronger in my mind, with my self image, and with my relationship with myself.)

It lingers

awaiting

awaiting the fall.

Will you give in

and just lose it all?

Will you let all your hard work

suffer in disgrace,

when you pick up the infliction

and lose all your faith?

 

(A picture of when I was admitted to the hospital. They brought in a dog to try to raise my blood pressure.)

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