Author Archives: Michaela Mitchell

Michaela Mitchell Visit Website
Storyteller. Writer. Introvert. Mom. Sarcastic, caffeine-fueled, type-A, over-thinker.
Politics
0

It’s Time to Start a Conversation

Whenever I think back on last week’s election and the 18 months (maybe longer) that was the hell of this last election cycle, part of me wonders if there was anything I could have done differently. I’m a writer and a communicator. I’ve got opinions, but I almost never share them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize I am just one person with one viewpoint. In an online world with plenty of senseless noise, sometimes the last thing we need is one more person saying what they think.

I also believe, deeply and sincerely, that most change of hearts come not from yelling what we think at people who disagree but by building relationships and touching others on a personal, deep level. Sometimes the best way to encourage someone to consider your viewpoint is to prove you’re not the evil stereotype they have in their of mind of what they think “people like you” are.

Unfortunately, I also hate confrontation, and political discourse is almost guaranteed to devolve into arguments and accusations at some point.

So I hesitated. Stopped in my tracks, truly. Would anyone care? Would I be a source of more noise? Could I stand up to hate and vitriol without losing myself?

I didn’t have answers but a lot of fear.

And then the election happened. And I wondered if there was more I could have done. Not to change minds but to show even one person they weren’t alone in their beliefs. To help one person realize that the “side” they railed against was filled with people like me (and I happen to think I’m kind of okay as a human being).

Here I am, after a potentially life-changing election, wondering what I can do to build a better future, to do my part, no matter how small it may be.

Part of me knows I need to find an organization to lend my abilities and talents to. Is that the local Democrats or is it an organization who’s mission I believe in? I don’t know.

Another part of me knows I can’t sit back and be silent anymore. I am a communicator. I write and I talk and I share my views, and when I do, some people (sometimes) listen. I don’t change minds but I connect with people, and those people feel less alone. There’s a reason people still read my personal blog from my divorce. Not because I had answers, but because they could relate to either my situation or my feelings. Either one is relevant. It was a connection. And I helped create that.

So how do I do this now?

I could write about what I think and feel, but I know a lot gets lost in translation. I’d much rather have a conversation so you can hear my tone and realize I’m a real person behind the opinions.

My thoughts right now are on a podcast. I’m a liberal girl who has lived in very conservative places almost my entire life. As a result, I’ve had to make the hard decision that my viewpoint was the one that was right for me – even as I felt societal pressures to conform to popular opinion.

I know what it’s like to feel like everyone around you “must” disagree with you, and I know what it’s like to hide your views for fear of judgement and retribution.

I also know that when people realize they are the majority, they start to live in a bubble and can’t imagine people they know see things differently. They think their news, their opinions are right. These majorities outshout the political minority that eventually goes silent out of self-preservation.

The problem is that silence is taken as acceptance and agreement. We start to think we’re the only ones who disagree, and we feel isolated. We think we can’t make a difference because there are so few of us in our neighborhood, our town, or our county – or our state and our country.

I don’t want to be silent anymore. I want my conservative friends who think liberals are all eating kale chips and taking yoga class in big cities are actually the working class people sitting next to you at work or your neighbor, struggling just as much as you are.

I want my liberal friends to know they don’t have to join secret Facebook groups in order to have a community. That we are always stronger together.

But I also want both sides to have conversations. Not to change each other’s minds but to grow in understanding of our fellow man, to find ways to live with one another, to find common ground. On certain issues, we will likely never agree, but where we do find bridges between us, we need to cross them and fight the political powers that seek to keep us divided.

We need to see each other not as red or blue, D or R, but as people. Yes, this country is messy and loud. There’s a lot to disagree about, I get it.

But I believe the vast majority of us can find some common ground somewhere.

And if my little voice with my specific outlook on life can connect like-minded people and help others see the “other side” as a little more human, I would consider that a huge success.

 

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Politics
0

I’m Done Grieving; Let’s Get to Work

My candidate didn’t win. The results didn’t turn out like I’d wanted.

And yes, I grieved. Real tears were shed. Real sorrow was felt. Still is.

For those who may think I’m sad because my “team” lost or my emotions are about sour grapes, all I can say is no, that wasn’t it.

 

I could go into detail about what it is I voted for or against, but I think that gets us mired down again. You don’t have to understand what I was voting for or against. I know. My actions, who I am as a person, and what I believe will shine through if I live my truth. I don’t have to explain it to anyone.

I hope that I (and many others like me) are proven wrong about the very real fears we have and the speculation we’re forced to do in the absence of real information.

I will reserve judgement until we actually get to see something other than the promises that all politicians fill the airwaves with.

I will continue to respect the office of the Presidency, regardless who resides in the White House. The thing that’s been forgotten since…I don’t know, since I was a kid?…is that you can respect someone and not agree with them. You can respect their humanity and their role and not like what they do. Hate what they do, in fact.

That is my path. Respect and wary watchfulness.

The only thing I can control in this world is myself. How I treat other people. How I react in situations. What I do each and every day.

And at this point, with the election over, and the vitriol showing little sign of slowing down (I never believed November 9 would be a magical day when everyone calmed down), the thing I feel compelled to do is work for the future I want my children and your children and our grandchildren to have.

What does that work look like? I have no idea. I’m lost in a sea of too much information from everyone with an opinion and no direction.

But make no doubt about it, for me, the time to grieve is over.

Now it’s time to get to work.

It’s time to become more informed.

It’s time to use the voice I should have used all along. Yes, I am only one voice, but sometimes that’s enough.

It’s time to participate in the process more than every couple of years in the ballot box.

No more shying away from what others might think. Worrying someone will be ugly and rude is a waste of time. Fearing judgement from people who don’t really want to understand my views is pointless.

I’m not one for protesting in the streets or railing against the current system. Until it’s changed and until someone comes up with a better option, this is what we have.

But this is not who “we” are as America. We are better than the fear that has motivated people for years and years (long before President Obama was elected).

I remember the fear of liberals during President Bush’s years in office and the years of vitriol at the end of President Clinton’s presidency. This isn’t new, y’all. We simply have so much more access to each other, good information, and oh yes, bad information that we see it more often, and it feels more overwhelming.

President Obama said (and I’m paraphrasing) in one of his last campaign rally speeches, that when he bets on America, the American people, and for those of us who believe in hope and love, he always wins.

I want him (and us) to win in the way that I believe he meant.

I believe that we can be better than our fears make us. Our fear of “the other.” Our fear of change. Our fear of loss.

So I won’t fear the next four years.

I will work to help make my corner of the world and hopefully the rest of the world a better place, the country I believe my children (and all children) deserve. I will help protect the institutions that make us America – free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to protest. These are all of ours, even when you don’t agree, and more than our ability to vote, they make us who we are as Americans.

It’s time to stop crying, yelling, and railing at the people who disagreed with us and voted for something different.

It’s time to stop railing at the people who didn’t show up to vote.

It’s time to do something instead of bitching.

It’s time to stop grieving and get to work.

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Politics
2

A Plea for Tolerance

Sometimes I wish we could go back to the time when talking about politics wasn’t considered “polite” conversation.

Because frankly, in my little corner of the world, very little of the discussion about politics is polite at all. It’s a knock-down-drag-out fight to the death. The my-guy-is-better-than-your-guy and if-you-don’t-agree,-you’re-a-dumbass kind of event.

In an effort to “win” we demonize people that, under any other circumstances, we would show compassion for. Anyone who doesn’t agree with us becomes “other” and therefore foreign, even if the people on the other side are people we’ve known for years, liked, worked with, and shared a laugh or two.

Maybe I notice these things as a political minority in my personal bubble. I’m not sure if the election results will continue to show that I’m the political majority (my guy won twice, in case you wondered) but in my online, social, and familial bubbles, I’m a clear minority.

It shapes how you talk about politics when you’re one voice among dozens (and sometimes hundreds). There’s safety in perceiving yourself to be in the majority, the feeling that “everyone agrees with me” allows you to say what you want, share what you want, etc. Hell, if that was my reality, I’m sure I’d be the same way.

And truly, this type of minority isn’t the domain of any one political party. I’m sure it happens anytime one side is outnumbered by the other side.

But when you’re the small voice among much louder ones, there seem to be one of two ways you can go — loud and defiant (not my cup of tea) or quiet, holding back, saying little or nothing.

I’m the quiet one. If you know me or you pay attention to me, you’ll know my political leanings (which, truly, aren’t the point of this). It’s not that I can’t defend my beliefs, I can. You can’t constantly be in the minority and refuse to take the “easier” route of believing what everyone around you believes without being able to defend what you think.

It’s that I don’t want the conflict. I know it will devolve into name-calling. It will turn into hurt feelings, wounded pride, shouting in all caps, and zero changed minds.

I’ve had intelligent discussions with people (friends I trust) about my political beliefs. We went into it knowing we wouldn’t change the other person’s mind. All we wanted was to understand the other. It was strange, but good. And I knew then, as I know now, that it was a rare moment in political discourse.

Blame the media. Blame the politicians. Blame the political atmosphere, changing world, former recession, economy, whatever you want, but something has turned us against each other. Whatever you blame, make sure to spread it around to your side and the other side, though.

I don’t know when it started but from my untrained eyes (since I was too young to care at the time) it feels like it began when a sitting President was impeached for having extramarital affairs by politicians who were on the record of having their own extramarital affairs. And it’s only gotten worse.

We began to take sides.

And yes, point of fact, during the George W. Bush years, liberals said awful, awful things about their President. (I have to point that out because this is usually the point in the argument when someone says, “But they did it too!”) I didn’t like that, either. I didn’t agree with his politics, but he was still my president, and therefore deserved respect. Hell, he is a human being and deserves respect.

Since the popularity of social media, blogs, websites calling themselves “news,” and the ability of anyone with an internet connection to express themselves, the volume of vitriol, antagonism, and hatred has been turned up to 11.

And not just by those in power.

We’ve added to the noise. We’ve taken sides, forgetting there are real people on the opposing side. Sometimes they’re our colleagues. Sometimes our friends. Sometimes our own family. We demonize the other side, even though our rational mind should, and I hope does, know the things we say about the people who don’t agree with us can’t be true. Because if they are, you just painted your friend, your child, your mother, your co-worker with a pretty broad brush.

Really? Is your child the baby-killing, man-hating, politically correct monster that you deem all those who believe different than you “must” be? Is your business partner a dumb hick who only wants to oppress anyone different than them?

You know it’s not true (most of the time). You know you don’t feel that way about your own kid or your business partner or your cousin.

So why do you say those things online about an entire group of people? Because I promise you, in that mix is someone you claim to love or like.

And yes, I’m admonishing both sides of the political divide.

Tolerance is what we need. Tolerance for other beliefs. Tolerance that we all come at this life thing from different perspectives. Tolerance that not everyone who doesn’t agree with us is an evil person doomed to hell.

When I see people I’ve worked with, liked being around, hugged by the neck, and offered to help, say that “everyone who believes this way” is [insert derogatory comment here], it hurts. At that moment you’re talking about me, and I wonder if you’d say it to my face and mean it.

Maybe it’s just that we like to win. Maybe it’s that we believe so passionately, we can’t help ourselves. Maybe it’s easier to be upset at the opposing side than to realize we’ve all been played like fiddles by people in power who need us to continue this battle.

I don’t have answers. I don’t even have guesses. Not really.

I just know I don’t think this will end after election day (eight years of hearing a man I admire vilified at every turn tells me it won’t).

So maybe, just maybe, we should stop looking for color (blue or red) or affiliation (D or R) and start seeing each other as individuals. We have our own experiences, our own beliefs, our own needs, and our own desires.

Me disagreeing with you doesn’t make what you believe any less relevant. Just like seeing me as a caring, compassionate human being doesn’t mean you’re required to believe what I believe. We really can co-exist side by side.

We have to, don’t we?

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Parenting
0

They Wake Up Laughing

When do our memories really kick in? How is it that part of our childhood can determine so much about us but we usually don’t remember it all? I don’t have any answers, but I know it’s true.

I have vague, hazy memories of being an early-riser.

My mom opening one eye to growl a “What?” when I slipped into her bedroom in the pre-dawn hours.

Both parents yelling when I wormed my way between them in bed, unable to sleep in my own bed but equally unable to sleep in theirs.

Waking up at sunrise to read, mostly my mom’s romance novels that I’d been told I wasn’t allowed to read. I was eight.

Those moments are few and far between in my memory. What sticks out are the tween (what we used to call pre-teen) and teen years when nothing short of dynamite going off next to me could get me out of bed. Thankfully (or not), my father had one of those voices and demeanor’s that lent itself to explosions big enough to propel a sleepy kid out of bed.

There was the yelling, “Get your goddamn ass out of bed!”

The covers were frequently yanked off, forcing me to curl into a ball, seeking warmth.

The lights flickered.

Waking up was hell…for all of us.

Sure, my late nights didn’t help. Blame it on homework or a book, but more often than not needless worry and anxiety filling my brain kept me awake.

My father’s temper was infamously short. That certainly didn’t make the process easier.

But when I think back, I don’t laugh off those memories. I shudder.

I hated being woken up. (Don’t we all?)

For the first few years of Aidan’s school-going life, I rarely had to wake him up with more than a flick of the light switch. He’s always been an early-riser. Even now, at 11, on the cusp of puberty and the exhaustion that comes with it, he’s still up before eight in the morning on a Saturday. His brother isn’t far behind.

Around third grade something changed. Even with plenty of sleep (no really, in bed by eight and up sometime after six), he wouldn’t wake up. He didn’t want to go to school. He’d learned the love affair that you can have with a warm, cozy blanket. The lights were too bright. Please just let him sleep!

Without giving it a thought, I fell back on what I knew.

I yelled. I threatened. I rushed around, convinced we were all going to be late and the whole day would be ruined. By the time everyone was up, we were stressed out wrecks.

I began to dread mornings. I definitely wasn’t at my parenting best.

It suuuuuuucked.

I don’t know when it happened or even why but something clicked in my head. There had to be a better way. Why did mornings have to be so awful?

One day, with little thought to what I was doing, I tried something else.

I trilled out (okay, more like warbled in a scratchy, off-key voice), “Good morning!”

Not a moan or a grunt.

I turned on the lights.

Still nothing.

I sat on the bed (Aidan’s on the top bunk, Sean on the bottom). I yanked off covers and threw them on the floor.

A small frown.

And then the most deliciously evil thought came to me. It was perfect. It was glorious. Oh yes, it was evil.

I tickled the hell out of Sean. Wiggly fingers found armpits and backs of knees, sensitive necks and soft tummies.

Shrieks of laughter. Giggles. Gasps for air. Open eyes. Bright smiles.

We cuddled and hugged, and I sent him to the bathroom to get ready.

One down, another to go.

The top bunk is a pain in the ass. You can’t make the bed without pulling down the mattress. You can’t reach to the far end against the wall. As a parent, I’m practically helpless.

Thankfully, Aidan sleeps in the middle of the bed.

I poked him.

Nothing.

I pulled the covers off.

He hissed. The light was too bright for my vampire-child.

I tickled and tickled. Any soft spot I could find, I attacked.

Belly laughs. Rolling, shrieking, hysterical laughter.

Just like that, both boys were up and getting ready for the day. Lots of hugs, lots of laughter, little stress.

Oh, don’t for one minute think it’s always idyllic. Hell no. Some days no matter how much they laugh, they’re still pissed off as hell that they have to wake up. Sean has been known to laugh in the bed and cry on the floor while I sternly demand that he start getting ready.

Aidan, as he barrels closer and closer to puberty and the hell that will bring is increasingly harder to wake up. He gets tickled, if I can reach him. I also flick cold water on him, threatening to pour it on his head (I really need a water gun). Sometimes the sound of the water running is enough to launch him out of bed.

Either way, no matter what happens after they’re out of bed and dragging their feet. They may be the only members of Generation Z who know the words “dawdle, lollygag, or dilly-dally” because it’s a daily reminder they receive as in “Don’t dawdle, lollygag, or dilly-dally. We need to get out the door on time.”

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes we run late (because these people can’t find a shoe that’s three inches away from them). But they nearly always wake up laughing.

I have no clue how this will form their experiences and memories in the future. I have no idea if it will make a damn bit of difference in their lives.

But I do know that they begin their mornings with laughter. That’s gotta be worth something.

 

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Parenting
0

Doing His Own Dance

The grumpiest, gloomiest face I’d ever seen greeted me at the end of the school day.

I hadn’t recognized the teacher who’d walked his group out. Another new one. Someone he didn’t know. And it was the one after school activity we’d both been nervous about, although for different reasons.

“So? How was it?”

In the middle of the parking lot, he hung his head and refused to talk to me.

As we walked to the car, I chattered, desperately searching for some topic that would pique his interest and get him to open up. I looked down. Tears were streaming down his grubby face.

“What’s wrong, Sean?”

“I hated dance club! It wasn’t fun at all!” His tone was accusatory, as though I’d twisted his arm and forced him to go.

I’ve learned over the past few years that the more I respond, the less he says. I squeezed in hand, a quiet condolence.

“She’s a kindergarten teacher! I had to follow kindergarten rules.”

His voice was thick with the injustice of a first-grader lowering himself to behave like a “little” kid.

“What kind of rules?”

Sniffle. Snuffle. “I had to sit criss-cross applesauce! My teacher doesn’t make me do that. Only babies have to sit that way!” he wailed.

“I’m…sorry.” Sometimes, you just don’t know the right words. “Did anything else happen?”

This is the part I should have been prepared for. I knew, better than he did, what he’d signed up for by joining the dance “club” at school. Sure, they were all between the ages of five and seven, but there were expectations. Apparently, big ones.

“Yes!” He spat the word out, the disgust emanating from his tall, thin body. “It was mostly girls.” I’d warned him that would happen. He hadn’t believed me.

I squeezed his hand again. It was all the encouragement he needed. “And I couldn’t do my own dance. I had to do the stupid dance everyone else was doing.”

There was the real injustice. My free-spirit child (who keeps it all tightly locked away) had hoped, beyond hope, for a moment to do his own thing, to let the music move him, to be as different and unique as he felt like being.

He had no opportunity to be silly and crazy or make everyone laugh. Nope, he had to color in the lines, follow the rules, and be like everyone else. He hates that.

I wish I could make him understand that being one of two boys in a group of girls in order to dance automatically means he’s coloring outside the lines. All he knows is that he’s facing criss-cross applesauce, a gaggle of girls, and being “just like everyone else” in the group for the rest of the school year. It was the worst day ever.

 

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Random Musings
0

Puzzles

“Well, you’re a little bit OCD, a little bit manic, a little depressed, and you have a little anxiety.”

Translation: You, my dear, are a confusing hot damn mess.

He’s a professional, so of course he wouldn’t say that – out loud.

The next week, after a few minutes – “You are SO repressed.”

Yep, I know. As long as I don’t think about the things that make me anxious, I don’t feel as anxious. So let’s just not think about that. But could he please explain my out-sized reactions to every little thing that goes wrong?

Oh, that’s right, I’m repressed.

“We’ve got work to do.” A less professional therapist would have been rubbing his hands together with unrepressed glee (see what I did there?).

Not sure if I should be relieved or a little concerned that he seems so excited.

I think I’m a puzzle.

I don’t really mind being a puzzle. What I hate was not being able to solve my puzzle – which is why I called him. For the first time in my life, I’m too close to the “problem” to pick it apart, think about it, and figure it out.

Not being a clear-cut case for him to diagnose didn’t really surprise me much, either. I never have been like other people.

You can’t grow boobs at age eight (yes, really), get zits by 10, and then stop growing by 13 so that everyone else develops all around you and think you’re like anyone else.

Differences at those ages can be devastating (ask me how I know). Differences as an adult either have to be hidden or celebrated. Or you can be like me and just never talk about them.

I keep reading about how you stop giving fuck about stuff when you hit age 40. I’m almost 37, and I can’t decide if I care or not (I always was an early developer – see above. Why wait until I’m the big 4-0 to stop caring what other people think?).

On one hand, I’m me and people will either accept that or not.

On the other hand, the idea of rejection dries my mouth and makes me nauseous.

On one hand, I care desperately about myself. The past several months have been a journey in mental health, physical well-being, and food intolerances that have come out of nowhere. I want to be healthy, damn it.

On the other hand, think I’m ugly or think I’m “pretty” – it doesn’t matter to me. Am I fat or am I curvy or am I work in progress? Damn if I know.

See? I’m a puzzle.

Scratch beneath the surface a little. You’re a puzzle, too.

We’re all puzzles. The real question is do we want to solve it?

Maybe I’m not ready for the big 4-0 yet because yes, I still care enough to figure out this new, seemingly unsolvable puzzle.

 

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Random Musings
0

Fine: A Conversation With Myself

You consider yourself honest, right?

Of course I do. I think being truthful is an important quality. It’s part of having integrity.

So why do you lie?

I don’t lie!!

When someone asks, “How are you doing?” you always say “Fine.”

Of course I do, we all do that.

But you’re not always fine, are you?

Of course not. No one is.

So why don’t you tell the “truth?”

Because most people don’t want to hear the real answer. Or they’d think I was strange or crazy or oversharing. I know I don’t love it when a stranger answers that question with their life story.

Now I know that’s a lie. You love it.

Oh sure, because I’m nosy/curious, and I love getting a glimpse into people’s psyche.

Okay, so why don’t you do that for other people?

Trust issues.

With your family and friends?! Try another one.

Well that’s different. I don’t want them to worry about me. And I don’t want to talk about stuff I don’t have answers to yet.

I can buy that, but isn’t a lie of omission still a lie?

Maybe, but not every truth needs to be spoken at every moment.

Aren’t you justifying your actions a little?

Maybe, but some things really can be kept private. And in the course of social interaction, it’s much better to give a quick “Fine” or when someone asks, “What’s new?” to say “Not much.” It’s not a harmful lie. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and not telling doesn’t put me or anyone else in danger. They won’t feel foolish if (when) they find out later, and I’m not using untruths to manipulate a situation. So yes, white lies and lies of omissions are okay, and I’m still an honest person who uses them.

Hmmm. I see your point. So how do you feel about this whole “conversation” with yourself.

Fine.

Yes, this was a real conversation I had with myself (in my head) while driving down the road.

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Fear
0

For a Few Seconds I Wasn’t Afraid

I’m always afraid of something. Always.

What am I afraid of?

Failure?

Too many questions?

Not being able to explain myself?

Other people’s opinions?

Why does the idea of putting pen to paper leave me a shaking mess?

I am a writer afraid to write my own thoughts about the things that live in my head, the stories that play like a movie in my mind, the epiphanies I have as I’m living my life.

But the words are always there, swimming around, popping up when I’m doing things that require little focus.

For a while I thought the problem was that I only write well when I’m working through something – like when I got divorced a million years ago.

Then I thought it’s because I’m not any good at writing the way the “experts” say I should – teach people something, monetize everything, don’t write for yourself, never use the word “I!”

But, in my humble opinion, that’s my best writing – writing for me, writing to figure myself out. Experience tells me that when  do, other people often relate. We connect in unimaginable ways when we share our own experiences in life.

There are so many online writing rules – and I seem to break them all.

The title is never catchy, click-y, or the thing that brings readers in.

Worrying about images in a blog post is a drag.

I don’t consciously have anything to teach anyone. If you learn something from me, it’s going to be a happy accident.

But there are things I know I do well…

I know I have a distinct viewpoint – but why should anyone care?

My experiences have formed my worldview – but why should anyone care?

And that’s what it comes back to. The mean girl voices in my head whisper the same incessant taunt…

Why would anyone care? Why should they?

Those voices piss me off.

Why am I so fearful of what others think? I don’t pay my bills with the opinions of others. Why do I let it matter?

I’m back to my original question.

What am I so afraid of?

And that’s the real question I’m only just beginning to ask, think about, and attempt to answer.

I’m always afraid.

Not of catastrophe or accidents. I stopped playing the “what if” game years ago: What if I’m in an accident? What if I lose a client? What if something terrible, awful, or horrendous happens? Somewhere, somehow, I learned that I handle the things the Universe throws at me.

But I’m always afraid.

Of being judged. Of being found wanting. Of failing. Of letting others down. Of looking ridiculous or stupid or uneducated or uninformed.

My fears are internal, living in my mind, wreaking havoc in my brain.

Hell, even the fears I have as a mother aren’t because I think my decisions are bad ones. I parent from pure instinct which is fairly reliable. No, my fears often involve what other people will think of my decisions.

Fuck.

All this fear is paralyzing.

I don’t write. I don’t try new things. I don’t put myself out there. I don’t move forward.

Instead, I stand still. I stagnate. I become a dreamer who never acts on anything. I play it safe…always.

So what does this all mean?

It means that I needed a wake up call. I needed to hit a new low. I needed to get angry at myself – not the self-loathing anger that accomplishes nothing, but the white hot fury that burns everything else away.

And I did. It’s not sustainable, but it was enough for me to realize I’m done living in fear.

Of course nothing big and great is accomplished over night, and I still face the hurdles that my internal monologue throws at me all day every day.

But you don’t have to be unafraid every moment of every day.

You only need a few seconds.

I was afraid of a notebook and a pen. I was afraid of writing my own thoughts. But I was also afraid of not writing. I’m still all of those things.

But if you ever read this on a screen instead of attempting to decipher my chicken scratch from a dusty old notebook, you’ll know for a few seconds, I wasn’t afraid.

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Random Musings
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Facebook is My Cookbook: The Power of the Save Option

Please tell me I’m not the only one who decides I can make every single video recipe shared on Facebook. Please?

For sure, I have certain criteria before I decide I’m willing to commit time and resources:

  • It must be food we would eat – or that I can browbeat my children into trying.
  • It must be made with ingredients I could actually find in my local Publix.
  • It must be (deceptively) easy.
  • Bonus points if it’s made with the slow cooker.

Thankfully, that’s kind of the new thing in sharing recipes. Is it easy? Will our kids eat it? Yes? Than a million parents sigh in content and add a new meal to the rotation of things our kids probably won’t eat, but might, so we all live in perpetual hope.

After I listened to my mom and aunt talk about how sharing recipes or being tagged in a post to “save” it was an annoying option (but the only one they knew), I swooped in for the rescue – imagine a cape, a phone, and a Facebook account.

“Do you know how to ‘save’ posts you like on Facebook?”

Nope, they didn’t. I figure if they don’t, neither do a lot of other people. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s called the save function, and it’s turned Facebook into my cookbook:

Facebook is my new cookbook thanks to the saved options.

Okay, so the zucchini tots are less likely to be made than the apple dump cake, but you see my point. How did I do it?

It’s very simple.

Saving posts from your browser:

In your feed or on the Facebook page the recipe (or whatever) comes from, find the one you want to save.

Then, click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post, and you’ll get a drop-down menu. It looks like this:

Save Video on Facebook 1

Viola! You’ve saved your favorite recipe or article or whatever. It works for any post on Facebook.

Now, it’s time to go see it later.

When you’re on your browser, you’ve got a list of menu items on the left side of the screen. Find the one that says “Saved” and click it.

Finding saving videos on Facebook

What about on your phone? It’s not much different. Watch:

I’m using an iPhone so if you’re on Android it might look a little different, but the principle is the same.

Find the post you want to save, and click the down-arrow in the top right corner.

image1

Don’t judge me. I’m smart-assy, and I know it!

Now it’s time to find it. Look at the bottom of the page on your phone when you have Facebook open. See that “More” option? Click it!

image2

See the “Saved” option at the bottom of the list? There it is. Just click on it, and you’ll see everything you’ve saved.

Of course, if you’re like me, you may have to scroll for a while to find things you saved weeks ago, but they’re in there. And when you’re done and no longer want to keep whatever you’ve saved, you can click on the “X” in the top right corner of the saved post, and it’ll be archived for you.

So while I hope I’m not the only one who’s turned Facebook into my own personal cookbook, I also hope I’m not the only one using the “Saved” function either.

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Books
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History, Fantasy, Romance, and Marketing: What I Read in March

This post contains affiliate links.

Part of me wants to say that I didn’t feel very productive in March, but if reading counts as doing something productive, holy hell, I was on top of my game. Between traveling for a week at the beginning of the month and taking on some extra writing jobs during the month, I managed to read more than I usually do.

In case you don’t know, or you just want more proof that I’m kind of quirky about things, I keep a spreadsheet of authors I love and all the books they’ve written. When I come to a series, I go down the list – even if I’ve read the book before. You can chart a story and an author’s growth through a series, and (as a writer) I find that fascinating. Plus my INTJ ways sort of compel me to have a method and system to keep up with the books I read.

So what did I read in March? A little bit of everything. And they were good enough that I’m recommending them to my fellow readers of the world.

Books I read in March that you should check out!

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

I picked up her latest book, Lionheart, weeks ago, and I was inspired to read the rest of her catalog. I read Sunne in Splendour years and years ago, but only remembered the barest details. This is a sweeping epic that tells the story of Richard III’s life – he was the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and one of the (multiple) Henry’s. He was the Duke of York, the white rose in the War of the Roses. Y’all, I cried, I cheered, and I felt every emotion imaginable. With several hundred pages to read, it wasn’t difficult to feel a little bit of everything. Her style is very detailed, and she switches character points of view, but it’s wonderful because you get into everyone’s head, and you know exactly what’s happening.

Seth Godin is the Master

I’ve followed Seth Godin’s blog for a while. He always makes me think, and he often inspires me – not just to be a better marketer, but a better human, too. Many of my philosophies about marketing, selling, and creating content online are inspired by his thinking – even if there are times when I fall woefully short. For whatever reason, I’d never read any of his books until now.

Tribes, All Marketers Tell Stories, and The Icarus Deception are three different books from three different points in Godin’s thinking and evolution on marketing, storytelling, and content creation. They all build one on each other.

Tribes is about leading groups that matter to you. Instead of trying to mass market and find mass appeal, find your tribe. He posits, and I agree, that groups of people who share an interest – whatever that interest may be – want to be lead. And if you can’t lead, at least join the tribe, and be present.

 

All Marketers Tell Stories is really all marketers tell lies. These aren’t harmful lies, but lies as stories – the things we tell ourselves because we want them to be true, even if they’re not. By believing they’re true, these particular stories become part of our reality about ourselves. The power of marketing is to tell a story that fits a customer’s view. The story has to be authentic, the product/service has to be a good one, but ultimately success will happen only if the customer believes the story or the story fits into their own personal “lie” of who they are, what they want, and how this thing you’re selling will work for them.

The Icarus Deception reminded me of Big Magic, which I read in February. It’s about letting go of fear and realizing that anyone can be an artist, anyone can create something. Godin reminds us that we need to worry less about approval and success and more about making a connection. To do that, we need to keep making art – whatever that may look like.

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

How did I make it so long without reading The Hunger Games? I’m not really sure. I saw the first movie a few years ago, but since dystopian futures aren’t really my thing, I didn’t give it another thought. And then Aidan was looking for more books to read for school, and he needed them at a certain point and grade level (we follow the Accelerated Reader program around here). I came across The Hunger Games series, and he ate up all the books. I was quickly hooked, too. The books (as is often the case) are better than the movies. I love being in Katniss’s head and hearing her confusion, her mistrust, even her rare optimism.

It didn’t take long, and within the first few days of April, I’d already read the second two books. Yes, they really are that good. Maybe now I’ll watch the rest of the movies.

Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Remember when I mentioned my spreadsheet for keeping up with books and authors? Well, Sherrilyn Kenyon is on the list. She writes paranormal/fantasy romance featuring Dark Hunters, nearly immortal people who cheated death by selling their soul for one last taste of vengeance on the people who killed them. In exchange, they agree to fight off Daimons (soul-sucking near-immortals – as long as they eat souls) who prey on mankind. Basically, everyone is hot, and everyone is alone and thinks love sucks. Until they meet their soulmate.

The other side of the story are the Dream Hunters. They’re the ones who either give us good dreams or deal with the evil beings who will haunt our dreams. The only way they can feel emotions is during a human’s dream. Oh, and don’t forget entire pantheons of gods and goddesses, as well as demons and other foul creatures.

Upon the Midnight Clear is the story of a goddess who happens to be a Dream Hunter who must fight and destroy the god of pain. Her only help comes in the form of a mortal, Aidan, who’s embittered, lonely, and hiding from the world. Hot sex and romance ensue. I’m pretty sure you know how it ends, but it’s still fun getting to that point.

Mercedes Lackey: An Amazing Imagination

I read two books by Mercedes Lackey this month: Steadfast, one of the Elemental Mages books, and Firebird, an early taste of Lackey’s dive into fairy tales.

Steadfast is book eight in the Elemental Mages series. What I like is that while they’re all connected, they can be read as standalone books – no cliffhangers here! In this one, we meet Katie who is an acrobat in the circus. She runs away from her abusive husband and finds herself in the perfect position to become a magician’s assistant. That “magician” happens to be an Elemental Mage. There’s magic. There’s fantasy. There’s intrigue. There’s romance. Hell, there’s even an angry abusive drunk who makes her life miserable. In the end, with a little big of magic, anything is possible.

Firebird is similar to another story Lackey wrote as part of her Five Hundred Kingdoms fairy tale series. It’s based on a Russian fairy tale about the youngest son of nine who becomes the “fool” in order to avoid being bullied to death – or outright killed – by his father and brothers. The story follows the son, Ilya, on a magical adventure after he sees a Firebird, a mythical creature who brings bad luck to anyone who sees her. He rescues princesses, defeats an evil sorcerer, and has a happy ending, but not the one you expect.

Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

I love, love, LOVE Bernard Cornwell. He’s a historic novelist who brings characters to life. Over the years, I’ve read a book here and a book there, but now I’m organized, and I’m attacking his catalog with a vengeance. In March, I began his amazing Sharpe series.

Sharpe’s Tiger is the first. Richard Sharpe is a young English army private fighting in India in 1799. He’s smart, tough, practical, but he also realizes the army has its issues. Plagued by a mealy-mouthed, vindictive, lying superior officer, he considers deserting (mostly out of boredom), taking his woman with him, before a life-changing opportunity is thrown his way. On his adventure, his wits will be tested, as will his patience, but he realizes he’s a soldier, and a damn good one.

Whew! Do you think I read enough in March? My stack of books for April isn’t much different. I would probably be more productive if I put my book down at night, but why would I want to do that?

This post contains affiliate links.

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