Sunday, November 18, 2018

In The Spirit ~ Self-Respect: The Base of the 'Selfs'

Self-respect, like the other 'selfs' (self-esteem, self-worth, self-love, self-image, etc.), isn't something we're born with. We learn it as we grow from what surrounds us, the experiences we have and how we are treated. It takes a long time to achieve true self-respect and it is very vulnerable to being torn down. It is also a much harder process in building it back up

We are bombarded with the importance of extending respect to others, but what is it exactly? One definition of respect is, "...a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements." This is all wonderful but one thing left out of this definition is that respect has to be earned. And if one doesn't respect oneself, how are they supposed to expect others to give it to them?

Here's an example. All of us have access to many forms of social media. In a way, these platforms of communication are a good thing as they keep us in contact with those we may not see very often. However, there are some who take things on these medias past this point to where they are sharing more than they really need to, in every aspect. The other day I went on Facebook to update my author page and actually paid attention to some of what was going on in my newsfeed. I ask you, is it really necessary to share, or use as profile pictures, selfies where body parts take up almost the entire shot then sport a pouty porn smile to boot? Do we really need to hear the unedited version (forgetting that there are impressionable young people out there) of what they're doing, have done and with whom? I had a sense of empathy that some need so much to be the center of attention that they resort to 'putting it all out there' when there are more discrete ways of sharing.

Now I am no prude. Far from. However, I know what it's like to have your self-respect reduced to an almost non-existent state and a lot of it was due to giving respect to those who not only didn't respect me, but obviously didn't respect themselves if the way they feel powerful is to take it away from others.

I learned.

I grew.

And, most importantly, I now have three teenage girls who need to learn the importance of holding their 'selfs' close. In order to help elicit that, I have to practice what I preach.

Many years ago, my grandmother and I were having our daily tea time and she gave me some powerful pearls of wisdom I hold true to this day. She said, "There are so many women out there who just put everything out for all to see, leaving nothing left to the imagination. How can she expect to be trusted when what should be kept private is what's seen right off the bat? It's difficult to see her intelligence, her strength, her abilities, her values, her morals or her ethics when everything else is put on the plate first. Respect those things in yourself and share those things, before you give anything else away. That's how you earn the respect you deserve."

And she's right. If self-respect is missing, so is your self-worth and self-esteem. Learn all you can to nurture and grow your 'selfs', and never just hand them over to another person. Surround yourself with those you aspire to be. Bring more positive into your life than negative. And, yes. Remove situations, practices and people who tend to peck away at what you're working so hard to build up and maintain.

To yourself be true. 

First, and always.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Writing Prompt Saturday ~ I'm Here

It's funny how two little words can mean so much to another person.

They may not believe you. Maybe they've heard the words so many other times that when someone who's saying them truly means them, they can't bring themselves to trust them. And that could be the one time they need to hear them the most.

It's just as hard to say these words. There is a huge responsibility that goes along with giving them because they can be so easy to say like similar phrases such as, "I'll always believe in you." Or "I won't give up on you." Or even, "I love you." Telling someone you're there and that one time you can't be, for reasons beyond what you have control over, can result in something devastating and overwhelming.

But everyone needs to have that one person in their lives who believes in them. Someone who looks beyond what others see to what is really underneath. A person who doesn't see 'a problem', but more who sees a person who doesn't feel they have any other way they can cope. A gentle guide who listens, respects, tries to understand, offers empathy and unconditional caring and love. Once that person feels those things from another person, they can starting seeing themselves in the same light and allow themselves to heal.

It takes courage to be that individual who reaches out, and it takes strength to be the person being reached out to.

Do you know someone in this position? What would you say to him or her if he or she was willing to listen? How would you help that person see all they are, not who they've convinced themself they are? Even if you've tried to be that helping hand, and were refused, would you keep trying, and how?

That's our writing prompt for today. They aren't easy words to say, or hear, but they are ones that could possibly save someone who needs to hear them.

I'm Here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Writing Sample Wednesday - A Snippet From Passing Loop

After I reviewed the manuscript for Just Shut Up and Drive yesterday, I realized how much I truly miss my characters once 'The End' is finally typed in. I actually become emotionally attached to the characters I 'work with' for months and months because I always give a tiny bit of me in one of the characters. And my latest project, Passing Loop, is no exception.

Although the main character in this novel is a young adult, and the story is shown through her eyes, there are a couple of 'white rabbits' I've thrown in there that I could also feel through the mother's. As a mom of four beauties, there was one scene in particular that was more difficult to get through than I initially thought it would be. I actually had to stop and go back to it a few times before I finished the scene. I'm hoping readers will be affected in the same way.

It's very important to me that I create characters that readers can connect with in some way, as well as relate to an experience or issue the character is going through on a certain level. If the reader has to walk away from an emotional scene a few times before getting through it, the same way I've had to when writing it, I've done my job right.

This scene focuses on the essence of the relationship between Chrissella and her mother, Enya. We also get a hint to what might be coming up in their future. Plus, as always, we have a glimpse of all that is Lily Gran with her strong, Scottish temperament.

I hope you enjoy this scene!

Happy reading.
The two women made their way over to the massive vegetable patch. Enya wore the most embarrassingly big floppy straw hat, while Chrissella sported a ball cap.

“Mom, really? Was that fashionable when you were my age?”

“Oh shut it. It keeps the sun off my neck and face. Besides, your hat would be a lot more effective if you were wearing it forwards.”

“Fashion critique from someone wearing something birds or squirrels could build a nest in.”

“Too funny. You won’t be all jocular dealing with a sunburn later.”
Chrissella crouched over gripping a carrot top. “We’ll be out here for, what? Half-an hour tops? I think I’ll survive. Besides--”

Chrissella was interrupted by what felt like hands on her shoulder blades, almost causing her to be knocked to the ground. “What the...?”

She spun around, dropping her basket, her arms in defense stance.

“No, not that one, Chrissy! It’s not ready!” Enya shouted.

“Well, how am I supposed to know that,” Chrissella asked, wiping her hands on her jeans. “Do I look like Old MacDonald’s wife to you? I’m used to getting carrots from the grocery store, not pulling them out of the ground. You just told me to pick some.”

“We only need four or five. Pick ones that are at least the width of the tip of your finger to the middle, orange and sticking out of the ground a bit.”

Chrissella glanced at her finger. “Really? You want me bending down measuring carrots with my fingers?”

Her mother released a sharp breath, and tossed potatoes into the large wicker basket Lily Gran had given them. “It’s not rocket science, Chrissy. Just look at them. The bigger, the better.”

Chrissella held back the smart butt retort she had for Enya’s last statement, then crouched back down to the carrots. She saw a carrot with a top the size of a toonie. She gripped it and pulled, but the vegetable didn’t budge.

Oh seriously? Defeated by a stupid carrot? Either I need to start working out more or this is proof that my city girl hands aren’t meant for farming.

She saw that her mother had already filled the other basket half-way with cucumbers, potatoes, onions, celery, garlic bulbs and tomatoes in the time she struggled with one carrot. She grabbed it with two hands, and pulled as hard as she could.

“Come on you stupid…” Chrissella started to say, then the carrot suddenly gave way and she lost her balance. She tumbled backwards, sending the vegetable flying over her head behind her as she landed on a row of lettuce.

Her mother doubled over with laughter. “Carrot one, Chrissy zip.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny. Do you think, maybe, you could subside your laughter for two seconds and help me up? I’m stuck. And I think I have lettuce leaves down my pants.”

That only made her mom laugh harder. “Oh my stars. It’s a Chrissy salad.”

As ticked off as she was at first, seeing her mother laughing so hard got Chrissella going too. It had been a long time since they’d had fun together, even if the ‘fun’ was at her own expense. Suddenly, Enya started coughing. Chrissella kept laughing, but then noticed her mother coughed so hard, she seemed to have difficulty breathing.


Enya dropped to her knees, gasping for breath.


Chrissella struggled out of the hill her butt was stuck in, and scrambled over to her mother. Thinking she was just choking, she turned Enya over on her side and pounded on her back, not knowing what else to do. After a few seconds, her mother’s coughing eased and her breathing calmed.

“Okay, what the hell was that?”

Enya pushed herself up to her knees. “I guess I choked on my own spit. That didn’t tickle.”

“You know what? I’m not buying this. You haven’t been feeling well for a while. You didn’t choke on your spit. You were having trouble breathing. What is going on?”

“Chrissy, I’m fine. Really. It’s just the stress with moving and Gran and everything else. Stop worrying needlessly.”

Chrissella stood up, and moved in front of her mom. “It isn’t ‘needlessly’. You aren’t worrying about yourself so someone has to. And, like I said, you haven’t been feeling well for a long time. Way before we found out we had to come here. I think you need to see a doctor, mom.”

Her mother rolled her eyes, then stood. “It’s nothing. I’m probably just getting a flu bug or something. Like I’ve always told you, bugs get ya when you’re already down.”

“You also told me that I could run around naked outside and not get sick. It’s germs that are what take you out.”

“Yes, and you tested that theory by going outside butt naked in the middle of winter.”

“I was five, and you unconsciously challenged me. How could I pass it up?”

Enya reached out and cupped Chrissella’s cheek in her palm. “I can see you’re really worried, baby girl. I promise if I don’t feel better soon, or I start feeling worse, I’ll go to the doctor, deal?”

Chrissella stared into her mother’s eyes, and stuck up her pinkie. “Pinkie swear?”

“Pinkie swear.” Her mother wrapped her finger around Chrissella’s, then they hugged.

Enya pulled Chrissella into her, and hugged tight. Tears flooded Chrissella’s eyes and she closed them to stop them from overflowing. Something was wrong. She felt it in the deepest part of her gut. She just hoped she really was worrying for nothing.

“What the Sam Haiti are you girls doing out there?” Gran’s voice boomed from the back porch. “I got pork tenderloin going, but nothing to serve with it. Get your scrawny arses in here so we can get supper on the go!”

The two women broke their hug. Enya put a hand on the side of Chrissella’s face, then kissed her forehead. Chrissella squeezed her mother’s hand with her shoulder, then walked over to grab the basket of vegetables. As she walked behind her mother up to the house, she said a silent prayer.

Please, God. Let it really be nothing to worry about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Talk About It Tuesday ~ Whispers From Within: Paying Closer Attention to Women's Health

Due to recent discussions with some of my friends and colleagues, as well as being asked to write on specific subjects under this umbrella topic, I strongly feel there is a need to talk more about women's health issues.

This is actually a subject I have a lot to say about. I learned, sadly, very early on that being a female (girl, teen, woman...age doesn't really matter) seems to change the sort of medical attention we receive. No, this isn't a 'bra-burning Woman's Libber' post. It's a fact.

If both a female and a male show up in an emergency room with the exact same symptoms for a possible heart concern, for example, (eg: heart races, chest pain, dizziness, numbness in the arms, etc.), the male is more likely to get rushed in for tests and diagnosis, while a woman's initial breakdown would be our hormones, mental health and how we deal with anxiety (unless there is a known existing heart problem). We are female, after all.

We worry more, we take on more of the little stressors life throws out and, supposedly, we're more emotional. Our hormones cause us to freak out, lose it, and otherwise wreck havoc for those around us. We don't always talk about our concerns as openly as we should, which can interfere with our already ever-growing sleep issues. And we tend to ignore health problems, or push them aside, until it's almost too late. Sound familiar?

How many of you out there have finally made the decision to see a doctor with a long list of your on-going symptoms, that won't go away no matter what you've tried, and be told things like, "It's a woman's issue." Or, "You just need to see a counselor to deal with your stress/sleep issues/eating problems/overreactions to things....". Or, my personal favorite, "You are a medical mystery." I know that I have heard all of these and a lot more which darkened my view of the medical profession as a whole. And why wouldn't it?

I mean, come on! I know myself enough to know that:

  • If something hurts, it's not a good thing. Hello?
  • I don't complain often, but if I do please pay attention to my concerns. If my 'ghost symptoms', as you call them, bother me enough to waste a huge portion of my day, and juggling 'To Do's' out the ying yang, to be here, it should tell you it's not just 'all in my head'.
  • Little pats on the head and sending me away with a sample drug doesn't do squat. Please stop, stop, STOP giving me bandaid solutions to my obviously growing issues. Paying attention to one part is great, but there are many other symptoms not being addressed here. I don't want a 'new drug', pill, cream or other kind of prescription for this one issue. I want an overall assessment and diagnosis so I can tackle this as a whole.
  • There is no such thing (unless someone proves me wrong) as a 'medical mystery'. Symptoms are just that. They are hints to an underlying cause that you aren't looking deep enough for. Listen to what I'm telling you and help me figure this out.
  • I am not a hypochondriac or do things for attention. Nor do I like being in the spotlight, having people know the most intimate details of my life, asking for help unless I absolutely need to or sharing my personal stuff. So my being here at all should tell you that I'm concerned enough about my health to allow you help me figure things out. 
  • I can face or deal with anything anyone throws at me if I have the right information to research and learn from. I am a true believer that in order to understand and cope with something, that information needs to be provided first. So, please, for all that's good in the world, give me that much.
  • A true diagnosis, a name to put to what I'm fighting here, is very helpful to do the above. How do you expect patients to even be able to fight when they don't know exactly what they're fighting? Please move your attention to what you think is 'all in my head' to those Requisition Forms on your desk and give me whatever invasive, intrusive test you have available to me (preferably with specialists) so I can finally feel I have some ground to stand on.
After decades of dealing with misdiagnosis and ignored symptoms, it took one physician (who was seeing my personal physician's patients while she was on holidays) to look over my most recent blood work and say, "Wow. You're failing in almost every area here. But this seems to be the biggest concern for me. Let's get this extra blood test done and see what it tells us."

All I can say is hallelujah, and finally. I won't go into a lot of detail with the rest, but let's just say as devastating as it might be to get to the bottom of what's really going on in our bodies there is a relief in knowing what's really going on.

I still feel a tremendous amount of resentment towards the medical system, and have no problem saying so. Some of us may never have gotten as sick as we were allowed to if that one doctor just shut up, looked closer and observed that we don't simply have 'women's issues'. We are patients who deserve the same concern.

Don't let this happen to you. Be strong enough to stand against what you're being told if it doesn't feel right. Be vocal enough to be heard and respected. Persevere until you find that physician who is willing to give you his/her complete time and attention. Gather every piece of information you can on your symptoms so you can't be ignored or shuffled aside.

Despite how you may be made to feel, you matter and so do your concerns.

Your health matters.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Music Mantra Monday - When Things Are A Little Too Much

As I was browsing music that shows the mood around here this morning, I came across this video. And now I have a focus for today's post.

I love songs that inspire, tug at the heart, make me think of something in a different way or bring back memories (even if the song is attached to a memory I usually avoid allowing to come to the surface). These kinds of songs are very important and are often overlooked amid the louder, harsher more attention-seeking musical choices. It doesn't mean that these other songs can't touch the soul in the same way or don't have an equally important message to share. It just means that these beautiful, simple 'in the shadow' songs don't try as hard to be out in the spotlight. They are simply there when we need them.

Yeah, I know I'm talking about them as if they are real life beings. To me, they are in a sense. Take today's song choice for example. There is just a guitar, a piano and Shawn Mendes' soft voice guiding us to notice that person in our lives who constantly does so much for others to the point of being overwhelmed, then not always choosing the right way to cope with it all (at least that's what I derived from it). But when times are a little too much, 'things will be okay', and there is no shame in feeling tired, vulnerable and fed up. Taking time to re-group, to simply say, 'No, not today. I really need me right now', and to do what's best to bring us back down is a sign of strength, not weakness.

I really needed to hear this song today, and I really needed to hear these words from someone. That's why I talk about music and songs as if they are real beings. Because, however you interpret the music and/or lyrics, songs give us a way to talk to others. It makes some words easier to hear this way. Trust me when I tell you that I have many examples that prove this point.

And these beautiful, soft, gentle pieces are where I always turn to for that sort of comfort.

Find your musical comfort today. 🎵🎶

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!

Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE