Sunday, December 27, 2015

Manifesto 2016 #Reverb15

Your last challenge for Reverb15 is to write your manifesto for 2016. 

If you’re not sure where to start, I'd highly recommend checking out Alexandrea Franzen's 5 ways to write a blow-your-mind manifesto!

For bonus points, make it into a work of art.

I'm on a 30 minute break right now between job one and job two, hiding out in one of the only two places in Millington, TN there is to hide out in that has WiFi. Although Reverb15 is officially over, my insane work schedule has me a bit behind, but I am determined to complete the prompts that are still haunting me.

Each year Kat ends Reverb with the prompt to write our personal manifesto. This year, I'm taking her advice and following the manifesto template by Alexandrea Franzen

I believe living a lie is a slow death upon your soul. I believe that most people in the world are good.

My daughters have choices and control over their own life. Where hard work is rewarded. Where life may not always be easy, but I can live with ease. 

Everyone has a story. That includes the people you don't like or look down upon. Everyone is doing the best they can, not necessarily the best you expect. That also includes the people you don't like or look down upon. Life is not linear; a decision made at 20 doesn't always mean a set outcome at 40. I know for sure that an afternoon spent in the sun, on the sand, listening to the waves crash against the beach can heal me.

Girls, start moisturizing early. And don't forget to moisturize your neck as well as your face and hands.  Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. Laugh, smile and surround yourself with positive people, places and things.  It takes more effort to be nasty than it does to be kind. One nice word, affirmation, or thank you can brighten someones day. 

Just breathe. It's going to be OK. 

And.. for my bonus points to make my manifesto into a work of art... how fitting that Kid 5 surprised me with this hand made Christmas gift this year.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alchemy & Serendipity #Reverb15

While alchemy is the active process of creating something of value, serendipity is the passive path to finding an unexpected treasure. 

Looking back through 2015, what did you diligently try to create? 

What great thing did you just happen to find?

This is a special Reverb15 prompt because... I wrote it!

My lovely Australian friend Kat McNally invited me to collaborate with her this year on #Reverb and I couldn't be more excited to participate!

Also, that is my lovely daughter Kid 4 in the picture!

Now, just because I wrote today's prompt, doesn't mean I knew right away how to answer the prompt.  I'm a little behind in my Reverb this year because of my crazy insane work schedule, but the extra time has given me time to ponder and reflect on what I worked for this year, what I accomplished, and what I found unexpectedly.

Back in April I wrote a post titled Time To Take My Writing & My Yoga To The Next Level.  In the post I laid out a list of ways I needed to get serious about taking my writing seriously. I wrote it out, meant every word I said, and then forgot about it.

Yet, the power of manifesting intention has proven true once again! When I looked back at my list I was surprised/excited/pleased to see how much my hard work this year brought about some pretty cool things.

  • Be invited to collaborate in one of the Reverb projects. Hello,  Kat McNally and Alana Lawson? Can I play too? Woop whoop here I am writing and collaborating for Reverb15. Thank you Kat and Alana for including me in your writing tribe.
  • See my book for sale on Amazon. Oh yeah! Here's the link for Amazon sales. 
  • See my book Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom sitting on my book shelf. The book is on my bedroom bookshelf and, even better, on the bookshelf of our local library and local bookstore! 
  • Sell a copy of my book to someone outside my social circle or to someone who doesn't feel obligated to buy it. The cool thing about Amazon is you can track your sales by geographical location. I have sold books in many many places that I don't personally know anyone. 
  • Sell many copies of my book. Many is a subjective term, but I have sold many more than I expected to and I am very pleased with sales. 
  • See my byline on Huffington Post. Well I wasn't picked up by the Huffington Post, but two different pieces I wrote were picked up by Yahoo! and even made the Yahoo! home page. Way cool!
Looking back, my hard work paid off and I hope that with continued hard work it will continue to pay off in the future. 

As for the serendipity part of this prompt, what did I just happen to find? Well I think I found the last item on my list:
  • Take advantage of this time to finally become the person I am meant to be.
I think for the first time, in a long time, I am coming closer to the person I am meant to be. I'm still struggling in many ways, but now I hold my head high and say "this is the life that I have built."

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Secret Ingredient #Reverb15

Like, what if you had to give someone a recipe for how to make a YOU?

What major ingredients would be required? What method would you recommend?

How would your je ne sais quoi be recreated?

The recipe to make a Jennifer

- fierce loyalty
- intense desire to love and be loved
- stubborn willpower (to get things done or to cause your own downfall - depends on the day which way this one goes)
- a bit too much self doubt (to make sure you stay grounded and realistic or to cause your own downfall - depends on the day which way this one goes)
- love and appreciation for the arts
- creativity mixed with realism
- many, many books and a bookshelf big enough to store them all
- the desire need to travel regularly
- lots of chocolate

Warning: this recipe requires regularly scheduled breaks to sit on a beach and breathe salt air while recharging in the warm sun.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Of Atoms And Stories #Reverb15

Muriel Rukeyser once wrote: The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms. And I could not agree more. Our stories are our own but, in sharing them, they become universal. And timeless. 

What stories touched you this year? Which stories of your own are you glad you shared?

2015 has been the year I finally told my story.

It's the year I published my book Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga & My Mom. It's also the year I finally told the story of my abusive marriage. And, it's the year I finally told the story of living in a family of addiction. And how addiction affects the whole family.

My story has been met with criticism, denial and even some who have tried to discredit me and call me a liar.  But, it's also been met with the tears and gratitude of those who believe me, because they too are living my same story.

Over and over again I hear people tell me they thought they were the only one, that no one else understands, that they feel so alone. I get it. I also have felt so alone. For many years I was afraid to speak up because no one would believe me. And I was too ashamed to admit the truth.

So, in silence, I suffered.

It's sometimes tough to write the truth, and even more difficult to allow it to be published knowing the anonymous Internet trolls are there waiting to tear me (or anyone) down. But I can't suffer in silence any more. I have to speak up to try to save not just my family, but myself as well.

Writing my story has helped to heal me.

By writing my story, I've given a voice to so many more people out there trying to save themselves as well.

And that is why I will continue to write. 

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Transformation #Reverb15

You wake up and the light through the window seems different, the air carries a chill or maybe a hint of warmer days. 

What has changed? You? The world? 

It can be a change that happened this past year or one you're looking toward in the time ahead. It can be a broad sweep obvious to all or a more subtle shift that only you know about. 

Tell us about transformation. 

What has changed? My life.

In the span of just three years I've gone from married to a divorced single mom. Working full time to publishing a book.  My finances going from scary to we're going to make it back to scary again.

Who has changed? Me.

A few years ago I didn't think I could make it on my own. Now I know I can and I will. I still don't know how, but I do know I will.

What continues to change? Everything.

I've been walking around for a while now saying something is going to happen in 2016. I'm not sure if it's going to be the rock bottom financial I've feared, or (hopefully), an upward change putting me in a better position, not just financially, but emotionally and physically as well. 

If I've learned anything, it's that life changes in an instant. And even if I sense it is coming, I'm never really sure of what it will actually end up being. 

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ancestral Healing #Reverb15

   As each year progresses, we unknowingly gather many thoughts, beliefs, and patterns to us. In fact, what we are carrying may have been passed down to us from previous generations.  

Looking at the thoughts and patterns that may be holding you back from living the life you want, trace back through the generations of your family and see if your beliefs originated generations ago.  

In 2016, how can you bring healing to these patterns of thought that are holding you back?

Generational angst. 

We pass down our stories, our sorrows and our dreams.

This time of year my family passes down the same story; the story of the year the Salvation Army kept my grandfather and his family from starving during the Great Depression. Then, many years later, the Red Cross would charge my grandfather and his fellow soldiers for coffee and donuts. But at each train stop the Salvation Army was there to offer hot coffee and fresh donuts for free to the young servicemen. For those reasons alone the Salvation Army will always be on our giving list.

Kid 5 has a large jar at home just waiting to dump all the change we've collected into the Salvation Army kettle next time we are out at a store and see a bell ringer. 

Then there are the stories of sorrow. My grandmother, who was already being overtaken by Alzheimer's by the time my children came along, was a young child the day her mother told her to wait on the front porch while she went to the butcher shop. She promised my grandmother she would be right back. Her mother, my great grandmother, dropped dead there in the butcher shop from what we assume was a heart attack. So my grandmother waited on that porch step till long past dark. Her father had already been killed in the coal mines, now she was left alone to be raised by her brothers and sisters. This was before child welfare services, there was no one else to step in. One brother became a thief, a sister became the town whore. We'll never really know how being raised in that environment, and being left to often raise yourself, truly affected her. But from my recollections, my grandmother wasn't a happy woman.

I don't know what her dreams were. Maybe coming from that beginning she didn't even allow herself to dream. I know my mom had unfulfilled dreams. 

I have absolutely no concrete proof of this, yet I believe my mom was at times a discontented woman. I don't mean that to say she had regrets, that's not for me to know or say, but I mean I feel that at times she wondered "what if."

I know she was adamant with me and my sister about following our dreams and doing what we wanted. And during the times when we were discontent, she understood and supported us. But still always giving us that push to go, get up and do something with our life.

Even now I often feel like she is whispering to me, "Just go, do it. Don't hold yourself back."

As a single mom working myself to exhaustion for my kids, I believe that the moments I do pursue my dreams, are in homage to my mom and to her mom. I will try and do what they never could.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Selfie Saturday #Reverb15

Go on, show us your selfie! You know you want to.

It's selfie time! Time to scroll back through my iPhone photo albums and see which pics I thought were important enough to keep this year.

One of my favorite times to take a selfie - traveling! I think this was the Dallas airport on my trip out to Seattle and Portland earlier this year.

Oh just two overworked moms running away for the weekend! A girls-only trip down to Birmingham

Seeing my book on the bookshelf at Booksellers of Laurelwood in Memphis!

My Live at Nine WREG interview with Adam Hammond to promo the book and my upcoming talk at the CourageMaker's Conference.

And a radio interview with Marybeth Conley KWAM to promote the book!

Though not a selfie, my favorite pic of the year. This is me and all six kids (plus my dad in the back) at Kid 2's graduation.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

But At What Cost #Reverb15

As the year ends, and we look back at the joys, achievements and disappointments of the past twelve months, it's worth taking some time to recognise what our efforts have demanded of us and where our resources have been depleted.

Whether you have spent 2015 bringing some long-cherished project to fruition or simply trying to keep your head above water, it's likely that this has come at some cost to you.

How can you replenish your (physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional) resources? What do you need most of all at this moment?

Busy, busy, busy. That's me.

But hard work pays off. This year I published my book, wrote a few big pieces that were very well received, began freelancing for a couple independent media sources, worked multiple part time jobs, oh yeah and still was full time mom to my six kids.

But at what cost?

Well, I'm tired. My back hurts from my new night job. I don't do nearly as much non-assigned writing as I used to.

I stayed married for 23 years because I thought it would be best for the kids. But at what cost?
I hope my daughters don't grow up to think they, too,  need to endure addiction and abuse just because they took a vow.

I finally divorced from the bad marriage and took on sole custody of the six kids. But at what cost?
I don't know how being raised by a mom, with a dad who never shows up for events or visitation, will affect my kids when they become parents.

I work multiple jobs to keep us financially afloat so the kids don't have to go without too much. But at what cost?
I wonder if they will look back and know mom did the best she could or if they will look back and realize they didn't get all the same perks their friends did.

My writing that has garnered the most attention has been open and raw and honest. I've received amazing feedback from people thanking me for letting them know they aren't alone. But at what cost? I've also had some truly horrible comments made to me. Hurtful, vile comments from anonymous trolls on the Internet.

But at what cost is always the question.

Recently, three unrelated people asked me if I'm dating. When I laughed and said no they asked why. When would I possibly have the time? The energy? Their point wasn't that I should actually be dating, I know what they really meant was I need to make time for me. To make sure I am taken care of as well.

Yes, I not only understand but agree.  I've turned down two offers to travel these past few months. The cost (not even necessarily financial) was just too high.

I suppose I could take a night off of work. Or splurge and get a pedicure. Right now I'm staying up way too late to write.

But, as always, at what cost?

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lady Luna #Reverb15

When was the last time you stopped to look up at the moon? 

What did she have to say to you?

I started my new part time job last week (for those keeping track at home, yes another part time job. I've lost count of how many part time jobs I currently have). The hours are 5pm to midnight six days per week.

So far it's working out well, the kids are still getting to their various activities thanks to lots of help from older brothers and from other dance moms. And I'm not too tired from working all day and then again until midnight. (Just kidding as soon as I'm done here I'm going to try and take a quick nap.)

But last night I was kind of grumpy when I finally left work at midnight. My back hurt from lifting and stacking boxes for the past six hours, I was annoyed that I had to spend so much money to get my new car fixed after the third car accident in six weeks, I was worried about having enough money for Christmas presents, I was hungry and I was tired. 

As I made the turn to drive home, I saw her. She was hanging low in the sky and she was shining brightly. 

The moon. The moon has always soothed me and brought me comfort. 

Last night, the moon told me "It's OK. It's all going to be OK."

Some nights I look up at the moon and realize that people I love far away are looking at the same moon as I am. That makes my heart smile.  The moon reminds me I am not alone.  Other times she tells me to sleep.

But always her message is the same, "You are OK."

When I look at the moon, I feel like I am getting a warm, soothing hug of security from the Universe.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

#TogetherStrong A Day of Unity

I went to bed last night with a heavy heart. Even though we have no cable or satellite TV in our house, my social media feed was full of the horrifying news of yet another mass shooting. More heartache in the world.

Sometimes it's just too much to even comprehend.

But, we have no choice, life must go on.

I woke up this morning and drove down to the waterfront of the Mississippi River here in Memphis to participate in the fifth annual Together Strong Day. Together Strong is a day for people from all faiths, all races and all socioeconomic classes to come together as one.

About a dozen of us met at Tom Lee Park to begin Together Strong Day with a walk along the river. The morning began with Loretta McNary speaking.

"We are truly more alike than we are different," she said. "We are stronger together and can accomplish great and mighty things."

Then Ellen Olford and Carolyn Leake of Central Church read proclamations from the Governor and local leaders declaring today Together Strong Day.

After a short walk along the river, we parted ways, with promises to get together again soon and continue working together.

As I drove home I realized that although humanity collectively is disheartening, humans individually hold great promise and hope.

I'll be blogging throughout the next hour or so on other Together Strong events. Up next, The Marybeth Conley Radio show on KWAM 990 Memphis. You can listen live now!

From the Marybeth Conley Radio Show 12/3/2015:

"It is easier to build strong children, than it is to repair broken men and women," Latrice Ryan                                         

"If you are a better woman, than everyone you touch will be a better woman," Terry Murphy 

"If we don't turn things around we won't survive," Marybeth Conley "It's going to take individuals to do it. Governments can't do it."

"You can't do it all, but you can do something," Marybeth Conley

"You can't name one great person, who went down in history, who didn't fail more than he succeeded." AC Curtis

"Let's do something, every little bit counts," Latrice Ryan

"A challenge to all the dudes out there, guys you see a need, fill a need," AC Curtis

You can also follow along #TogetherStrong on Periscope @sherrihenley

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lists & Prayers #Reverb15

In her seventh ever blog post, all the way back in March 2003(!), the inimitable Andrea Scher wrote: “Maybe lists are like prayers.”

What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? 
What do they suggest you are praying for?

I am an avid list maker. My iPhone notes are full of lists; grocery lists, writing ideas, Christmas gift ideas, important phone number I shouldn't forget but since I didn't put a name next to it I don't know who it belongs to, etc.

I've also unintentionally made two important lists here on my blog:

Forty Four For My Next 44 Years - a list of things that I wrote in 2013 that I wanted to accomplish in my new post-divorce life. It's been interesting to look back at the end of each year to see just how many I have been able to scratch off. And how many more I want to add to my list!


Time To Take My Writing and My Yoga To The Next Level - a post I wrote one night when I decided it was time to take myself, and my writing, seriously.

Writing things down not only holds me accountable, it lets me put into writing what I really am hoping (praying) for.

The list makes it real.

Prayers and desires only have the potential to be real once you believe they can be real.

Writing down my hopes and prayers helps me believe they will eventually become my reality.

This post is part of #Reverb15, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.