Where Your Road Leads…

weak-strength-picture-quote

Got the very sad news the other day that a family who we’d been friendly with in our youth lost a brother/son. As if loss isn’t enough, it was due to a self inflicted gun shot wound. There’s some talk of it being accidental v. suicide. Like they’re not dealing with enough. Some of you may shake your head and be thinking…but Kitt, how could a self inflicted GSW be accidental? Well, I’m not privy to the details. I don’t know where he was shot, nor do I care. After having known of someone who accidentally shot himself cleaning his gun…in a major artery, I’m not going to go there. That guy lived because someone happened to be there who knew what to do and got an ambulance to him on time.

What struck me was that it had been a long time since I’d even talked to this family. In fact, as I sat here thinking about them I realized it had been nearly 14 years. The beauty in humanity is that even through all that time and distance we’re still able to feel empathy and wish to comfort. It also occurred to me that things change. I’ll be keeping that family in my thoughts and prayers. Loss is never easy. It is one of the few constants in life, though.

Instead of more maudlin thoughts, though, I’d like to share a few things with you that have inspired me….

One of the women in my writers group is a lady named Susan Davis. I find her to be very daring and exciting. This summer she took a bicycle trip from Florida up to Maine, then on to Canada! Can you imagine? She also introduced me to a process commonly known as “Tapping”. The technical name is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). At it’s simplest it’s a combination of acupuncture points and verbal affirmations that help create positive change and growth in people. I found the whole process fascinating. She’s new to blogging and has documented her trip and how EFT impacted her personally. I’d really love it if you’d check her out… It really is pretty awesome and I know she’d love to hear from you. Her goal is to help change lives by helping people overcome the stumbling blocks to chasing their dreams through this method. Check out her post Tapping’s Not Just A Song and Dance and give her some love!

I also have to give a shout out to my awesome friend, Ande Lyons from Bring Back Desire because she launched her new book, Loving And Lasting yesterday on Amazon to amazing results!

Ande number1

Yup! In Hot New Releases under the Marriage category, it hit #1. But that’s not all! It also hit #25 in Best Sellers under the Marriage category AND #79 in Best Sellers under the Love and Romance category. Just goes to show people ARE interested in how to make relationships last and keep things hot and spicy in the bedroom! Anything that helps perpetrate change positively gets my two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Another example of humor and embracing change was a guest post on LeAnne Shirtliffe’s Ironic Mom blog. If you’re not left laughing and shaking your head a little, you’ve forgotten how important a sense of adventure is when change heads your way. I love the parenting advice, too, by the way. I truly believe that a sense of adventure helps people adjust better to change and helps them develop coaching skills when things go awry (something that seems to be significantly lacking in many people these days).

Finally, you have to check out Renee Schuls-Jacobson’s post where she selects a winner to the “send my son a letter while he’s at camp” contest. Yeah, I know that wasn’t the actual name of the contest, but I’d been following this one because there were such sweet, funny, thoughtful posts made on Renee’s behalf so she wouldn’t feel bad for not having time to write daily letters to her 14 year old son while he was away. And then there was Don Of All Trades’ letter. His won…no surprise once you read it… It was definitely different than what everyone else came up with. You guys just have to check it for yourself. If you don’t find yourself thinking back to your youth with a bit of nostalgia and realizing how much things have changed, I’d be surprised.

Although so many of you have inspired me in so many ways…these are the folks who’ve impacted me this week and helped make me laugh. I’d love for you to check these folks out and tell me which of the blog posts I shared was your favorite or touched you most and why….

Please, I’m beggin’ here….Leave comments…make me smile…or share the blogs that have made your week this week!

 

Advertisements

Introducing S. J. Maylee and Taking Chances

Introducing S.J. Maylee

Introducing S.J. Maylee

I’d like to take a moment to introduce you all to S. J. Maylee. On joining WordPress a little over a year ago, her blog was one of the first I began to follow. Today we’re celebrating the launch of her first published work, a novella through Evernight Publishing called Taking Chances. Take it away, S. J.!

Taking Chances

Taking Chances

(The Love Projects #1)

by: S.J. Maylee

Genre: Erotic Romance with D/s

Length: Novella

Published: August 23, 2013

Publisher: Evernight Publishing

TAKING CHANCES BLURB:

Lydia’s father walked away from her when she was eight. She’s struggled to not let him affect her, but fears she wasn’t loveable enough to make him stay. Jake wants to love one woman, but after scaring the last woman he met outside of the club, he doubts he has the right. She protects her heart by sticking with her fantasies, and he lives by a set of rules that excludes women who choose a vanilla lifestyle.

The two will be kept in a conference room working together until their special project is complete. If Lydia and Jake hold tight to their bland lives, they’ll always yearn for love that is out of reach. But together they can find common ground, passion, and a reason to take chances. Once they discover the grand possibilities of the love they desire, they find themselves in the very place they tried never to be again, facing unguaranteed love.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18337826-taking-chances

TAKING CHANCES EXCERPT:

“Come on in, Lydia. I want to talk about a few things before we get started today. We need to make it quick, since we need to report to Keller at ten this morning.” When she remained in her spot he added, “Lydia, come here.”

Not wanting Gina to take anything further from her, she lifted her head and walked to Jake. She stopped at his desk, but felt instantly unworthy. Gina was more Jake’s style. She fought the need to lower her chin.

“Look at me, Lydia.”

He pushed her. “Why?” She shifted her gaze and hit him with her direct stare.

“Thank you. I needed to see your eyes.” He reached out and swiped a lock of hair from her face. He tucked the strand behind her ear, and let his finger drag down her face to her shoulder. All the while his gaze captured hers, not letting go. “How are you this morning?”

“I’m okay.”

“Okay? Hmm, maybe I should do something to improve your mood? What would you say to that?”

“Here?” she gasped and quickly turned to look out the door.

He grabbed hold of her shoulders, lifting her slightly off the floor.

“Yes, here.” He brought their bodies together, claimed her lips and swept his tongue through her mouth, awakening her sexual hunger.

She felt wanted. She felt claimed. Images from the night before swam in her mind. Silly challenges from the office mean girl were all forgotten. He set her down and nipped at her lower lip.

“We have a lot to do today. Unfortunately we cannot go any further, now.” He stepped back behind his desk as casually as if he’d just greeted the mail man.

“But you would want to?” Still looking at the papers on his desk, she didn’t think he heard her. She took a step closer. “You would repeat last night?”

Her words stopped him. His gaze searched her face. Placing his hands on the desk he leaned forward and said, “Lydia, I fully intend to further explore your body and mind. After all, there are a few places I haven’t yet completely inspected.”

Her mind ran through what he had done to her last night, and there was only one place she could think of. Warmth fluttered through her face.

“Now, that is a beautiful sight.” He returned to his papers. “I’m going to have to keep thinking of ways to shock you simply to see you blush again.” With the papers properly sorted, his attention returned to her. “Is Gina a problem?”

Gina was a lot of things, but she’d never thought of her as a problem. “I don’t think so.”

“Don’t be afraid to put her in her place. She likes that more than she lets on. She’s the type to push so she can be pushed back.”

“I hadn’t thought of her that way. Interesting.”

“Let me know if she becomes a problem.” His gaze drilled into hers, not letting her escape.

“Okay.”

“Okay?” His posture remained controlled, but the smirk couldn’t be missed.

She added her own version of the devilish grin, which ignited another blush before she even spoke. “Okay, Sir.”

“Trouble.” He stalked towards her and ruthlessly swept his hand under the hem of her skirt to press firmly along her panties. His lips pressed to her ear. “Hot and damp.”

The palm of his hand pressed on her clit, and he bent his knuckles, sending the tips of his fingers past the edge of her panties to drag along her slit.

“Be careful what you say to me, sweetheart, or you’ll shatter my control.” With one last drag of his fingers, he pulled away and walked from the room.

She turned around and watched him go. Her heart pounded. All she could do was follow him, but she couldn’t move. The exchange with Jake left her bones unsettled, and the all too familiar ache tried to set-up shop in her chest. She hadn’t expected him to crave more from her, and now she couldn’t deny he did. Was she going to deny herself the pleasure of getting to know him?

TAKING CHANCES BUY LINK: 

Evernight Publishing: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/taking-chances-by-s-j-maylee/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Chances-Love-Projects-ebook/dp/B00EPWDHP4

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-takingchances-1269898-147.html

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate my debut, I’m hosting a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Click the link below to participate!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

S.J. MAYLEE BIO:

S. J. Maylee fell in love with storytelling at a young age and with it came a deep-seated desire for everyone to find their happily ever after. She’s finding the happy endings for her characters one steamy story at a time.

When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her caring for her garden, laughing with her two young sons, or dancing to her husband’s music. She’s a PMP (Project Management Professional), Nia instructor, and coffee addict.

As a writer she has a tendency to break hearts, but she always glues them back together.

Blog: http://SJMaylee.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SJMaylee @SJMaylee

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Maylee/339463696094996

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/110475431453091174566/posts

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7224328.S_J_Maylee

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sjmaylee/

 

You may be wondering, S.J. your first manuscript is published, now what?

Through the last couple manuscripts I’ve seen a pattern emerge. Thank goodness, LOL. First, a scene comes to me in a flash. TAKING CHANCES started with one scene. I could see it easily. It wasn’t the opening scene though. It was the scene in the middle of the story. With the sequel to TAKING CHANCES, it was the opening scene that flashed first. It’s what happens next where you can see the pattern.

Every day, while I’m getting ready, doing the dishes …, I think about what led my characters to the one scene I have or what leads them out of it. This daily time with my characters is the perfect warm-up for when my butt gets in the seat. I encourage my muse further with plenty of coffee and good music. I’m also never far from my beat sheet. Don’t want the story wandering away from the target.

If I get stuck, I simply get up and do something else on the to-do list and think through the story. Then, settle back down with a fresh cup of coffee and a different play list and get back to work. As long as I keep coming back, the one light bulb moment will turn into a finished manuscript.

I’d love to hear from you guys. Have you found patterns in your day that work for you with your writing?

Thanks again for having me stop by! I look forward to seeing your feedback.

Dance

Dance

Close your eyes,
Feel the beat,
Sway your body,
Move your feet.

Let music wind
Into your soul,
Guide your passion,
Take control.

Arms reach out,
Life embrace,
Full of power,
Joy and grace.

Glide and bend,
Bare your heart;
Love and pain,
Each movement, art.

Today my mind wandered toward passion; how people view it, express it. For me, passion manifests itself into my writing, singing and dance. Dance, it seems has been universal for expression of sorrow, joy, anger, pain….LIFE!

So as I thought about how I sometime dance in my seat when I’m excited or jump up to dance to a song I love when I’m happy…or even dance to feel powerful, I thought I’d jot down a few words…isn’t it funny that they took on a rhythm, a lyrical quality suited to dance?

How do you express your passion? Where do you find your joy?

I also hope you’ll take the time to enjoy these awesome musicians who’ve combined their passions for both dance and music into some memorable and powerful songs.

Pink does power and anger and a never say die attitude so well. Like she said, “You’ve Gotta Get Up And Try!”

Kellie Pickler does an awesome job of communicating that life is all about moments…and they go on all around us. Don’t miss one because you’re too busy to tell someone how you feel.

Or this one….from Singin’ In The Rain. Actually, that scene could’ve very well been a movie clip of my life if I knew how to tap. Something about late nights with friends and just pure old fashioned fun.

So I ask again…. How do you express your passions? Your joy? Heartache? Love? Do you Dance (keep in mind, I didn’t ask if you do it well…;-)) ?

Crossed Boundaries

My husband was watching the show Sullivan & Son the other night when I heard a clip that sent me running to the living room to watch. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the humor of watching a train wreck unfolding…and not just because it involved a karaoke contest in a bar. The scene that caught my eye and made me giggle uncomfortably? Mother/son dirty karaoke. Obviously bars are a great place to find inappropriate behavior. Check it out and see if you don’t find yourself both laughing and embarrassed!

Okay, so in the course of life, awkward moments happen. It adds to the humor in life. In fact, I’ve seen some pretty interesting things back when I worked in hospitals. Retail has had more than it’s share of “unique situations”. There have been moments where I thought maybe I should bring a sign to hold up as a warning so people would know when they were crossing boundaries.

Boundary Warning

Boundary Warning

Sometimes people are unknowingly inappropriate or at least they pretend to be. My first year in retail began during the Christmas holiday season. I still recall a little old lady that looked like one of those little old church grannies. You know, the type who still get dressed up in their Sunday best to go shopping? I’d be surprised if she was a day under 80. I was working by myself one morning when she walked up to me and asked where we carried our “massagers”. Me, I pictured one of those manual ones…with the giant bumps or rollers that you run over your skin. Yeah…not at all what she was talking about.

Her: Where can I find your massagers?
Me: (Looking at her dumbly and thinking, you do know this is a retail electronic store, not Walmart, right?) Massagers?
Her: Yes. Personal massagers. I saw them in this Sunday’s advertisement.
Me: (quizzical look on my face) For here? As an electronic store, we don’t normally carry massagers. What did it look like?
Her: (Makes hand motions that look an awful lot like stroking a cock) The personal massager is cylindrical shaped…(hand motion) like this. I don’t recall if it plugs into a wall or uses batteries.
Me:(Blinking and thinking “personal massager”, my eye! Granny’s looking for a vibrator. Wonder if I should send her to Giggles up the street?) I’m sorry, ma’am. We don’t carry anything even vaguely resembling that here.

Sometimes inappropriate behavior can be a bit flirty. I still remember a guy who came to one of my retail locations with a water damaged phone. Apparently it had vibrated into the sink at the airport when he left it sitting on the soap dispenser to wash his hands and he received a call. After I’d pulled his battery and put it back in, I powered it back on. The screen didn’t come up, but the device showed signs of life by the strongest vibrations I’ve ever felt in a phone.

Him: Did you fix it? Were you able to make it work?
Me: (I placed the phone in his hand) Not exactly. Here, feel.
Him:  (With a wink and a smile) You’re welcome to keep it, darlin’. I think it’ll do more for you than me.
Me: (Laughing) Wow! I’m impressed. You really went there. I think I like you.

What can I say, he was flirty, fun, with a southern accent…and kind of hot. I really didn’t mind!

Unfortunately, there are also the ones that will completely creep you out. There was a man who approached me for help in selecting a webcam back in the early 2000’s. They were just becoming popular so I didn’t think much of it….until he decided to elaborate.

Him: I want the best possible webcam I can buy under $50.
Me: I’ll be happy to help with that. Webcams are this way.
Him: It’s gotta be good enough so people can see real good. You heard of voyeur dorms? My girlfriend and I are gonna do something like that.
Me: (trying not to roll my eyes or make a rude comment…the guy was in his 40’s with a scraggly beard and not very clean. In fact, he kind of looked like a meth head.) I see.
Him: We’re gonna get rich. People are going to pay a lot of money to watch us. It’ll be me, my girlfriend and her daughter.
Me: (blinking) These are probably the best webcams in the range you mentioned. For what you’re planning, you may want to consider investing in something more than a webcam.
Him: Maybe once the money comes rolling in. For now, I’ll get one of these. You know, I like you. You seem like a cool chick. Wanna see a picture of my girlfriend and her daughter?
Me: (attempting to subtly back away) Uh….
Him:(Pulls out a picture of two women who were definitely related by blood and totally naked, together in poses I never wanted to see) That’s my girlfriend and that’s her daughter (he points them out). Hot, huh? She had this done for me for my birthday.
Me: (Nodding and lifting hand in goodbye gesture) Have a nice day.

Yeah, after dealing with that guy I felt like I needed a shower in the worst way. He was totally sleazy in the creepiest sense of the word.

Personally, I’d take the two Italian guys from Jersey over that guy any day. That one was odd on a totally different level. It wasn’t appropriate, but it was at least in a universe that didn’t involve potential mother/daughter action. Yuck. As for the guys from Jersey? I walked into one of my retail locations one day to find my supervisor frustrated and in need of advice. Apparently the two guys one of my reps was dealing with had a tendency to come in, be as loud and obnoxious as possible…and chose not to censor their vocabulary. This meant curse words flew frequently. They were business customers and high revenue, so my supervisor didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the account. The problem was that they rubbed everyone the wrong way with the exception of one of my reps. She had a tendency to be a bit gossipy and loudmouthed herself.

That particular day was the first time I’d seen them. Observing them from a distance I noticed that they were scaring off some of my other customers, particularly the ones with small children. Unwilling to lose the business and used to dealing with this particular type of personality, I decided it was time for me to step in.

Me: Hi gentleman, how are you today?
My Employee: Guys, this is my boss.
Guy:(Though there were two guys, one only greeted me, the other was the real loudmouth) So what kind of discount can you give us on our shit? We want to upgrade. We spend a lot of money here.
Me: And we appreciate your business, but before I discuss those options with you, let me be clear about something. You need to lower your voice and watch your language. This is a family friendly establishment and my employees are on commission. I really don’t appreciate you coming in here and scaring off my customers. If you are unable to conduct yourself more professionally I’m going to have to ask you to leave. Are we clear?
Guy: (Hands up) We were only having fun.
Me: And I appreciate that. We want you to enjoy doing business with us. It’s completely unacceptable when your “Having fun” (And yes, I used air quotes on him) causes me to lose business and scares my customers away. If this happens again you can do all your business by phone. Do we understand each other?
Guy: Yes, ma’am!
Me: (Nods) Great. I’m glad we understand each other. Have a nice day, gentlemen.
Guy: (Leans over to my employee and stage whispers) Oh, my God. How much do you think I’d have to pay to have her smack me around?
My Employee: (Nods) Now you’re talking about the right woman.

Yeah…there’s no question the employee was reprimanded for making a comment like that to a customer. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t entertained, though. Apparently he was very wealthy, unhappily married and headed for divorce….and was serious about paying me to spank him. Did I do it? Nope.

What about you? What kind of wild, wooly, inappropriate or downright creepy things have you run into in your workplaces? Help me start Monday off with a bit of disbelief and laughter…

Healing Wounds and Helping Hands

Circa 1990

Me, Circa 1990

I’m a lucky woman. I have people in my life who are passionate about the things that matter to them. In fact, they are so passionate that they know, to the depths of their souls, that they can change the world one person at a time. And I believe they’ll do it. How could I not? Recently I had the opportunity to be at August McLaughlin’s Facebook party where she candidly discussed her eating disorder and the ties to self esteem. She shared two powerful videos. One was about her journey to healing and the other centered on education and insight on a parent’s impact on their child. Check it out!

Another great friend is Ande Lyons from Bring Back Desire. Her mission to help educate women on the beauty and joy of accepting yourself. She is a huge proponent of exploring your sexuality and discovering your inner diva. She believes that self discovery is the key to personal happiness and lasting relationships. She’s creating a safe environment where women are welcome to go for tips, pointers and to ask the questions they may be too afraid or intimidated to ask elsewhere. She understands the struggle on a very personal level, and through hard work, love and dedication has managed to keep her love with her darling alive. In fact, they just celebrated their 25th anniversary!

They’re not the only ones, either. I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded online by people who have such strong senses of self. People who’ve taken the things that have personally impacted their lives and converted them from areas of weaknesses into platforms of strength. It’s great to know I’m not alone.

Most of you know that self esteem and words are near and dear to my heart. Today I thought I’d share with you a bit about how I chose the causes that most impacted my life. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until recently that I connected what happened to me my first two years of high school with bullying. The below is the story of how it impacted me.

Many of you know that my brother died right before my freshman year in high school. What you may not know is that after my brother died, I transferred schools and our family moved. It was too painful living so close to the site of my brother’s accident and there were just too many ghosts (memories, not literal) in our apartment. Fortunately, the hospital my mom worked at offered employee housing at a discount in a great neighborhood. Our church also approached my mom about giving my sister and I scholarships to go to their private school. They thought our faith and positive attitudes might be a good influence and would allow us to continue education in a “Christian” environment.

A couple of itsy, bitsy problems with their plan. That particular private school went from preschool through 10th grade, then the kids went on to boarding school. What did that mean? These kids all grew up together in a very sheltered environment. Many of them grew up in neighborhoods surrounded by people of the same religion, went to church school, then off to private colleges within that denomination. Once they graduated some would go into the secular world, but most would work either in teaching in that denomination, working in hospitals of that denomination…and a spare few would venture out into the “real” world. The other problem? As if their being sheltered wasn’t problem enough, my coming in from the outside made me “fresh meat”.

On my first day of school there were a total of 2 new students in my class. Pretty much all the girls within my general age range hated me on sight because they knew that a new girl coming in was going to draw male attention. Oddly enough, I understood that and wasn’t overly bothered. It only took a couple of weeks for most of the guys to follow suit.

This had never happened to me before. Raised by a mother who told me I could do and be whomever I wanted to be, I was a very confident young lady. In fact, the above picture of me was during this time. After hearing how ugly, stupid and untalented I was over and over again, cracks began to appear. Within one month of starting at this school I was told by a kid I’d gone to church with since I’d moved to this country that he’d heard I’d already been through about 20 boyfriends. Apparently I was also the biggest slut in the school despite the fact that I was “ugly”. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t really dated anyone because I was too busy grieving my kid brother’s loss (we were best of friends despite the 4 year age difference). When I did choose to date, I selected guys I knew from my old world…in public schools. I still remember hearing my schoolmates tell me that I was lying about my boyfriends because there was no way a “public school boy” would be interested in someone like me.

One thing to know about me? Even then I had pride in spades. I realized two things pretty quickly. First, though my instinct was to fight (and yes, I’d done it before…heck, I’m part Spanish and Chinese–pretty much guarantees a temper). I quickly realized this would not be a viable option. Not only could I not afford to get into trouble, my mother did not need more stress. Second, there was no way in heck I would let these people see the body blows their words were causing.

I still remember one particularly painful Friday night when one of my male sophomore schoolmates came by my house before our church youth group meeting. That night I learned just how bad my reputation was. As we were walking in he told me, “I don’t believe it now, but I thought you should know. —- told me that if I asked you out on a date I could get laid by the end of it.” I was so furious that though it was snowing and the dead of winter, I stepped outside with no coat on in an attempt to cool off once the guy who told him that (yes, despite it all, I am still choosing not to name him to protect the not so innocent) arrived. I didn’t even feel the cold.

It was my choir and voice teacher that want in, got my coat, put it around me and sat on the step beside me. She wrapped a comforting arm around me and told me this:

“It’s hard to be where you are right now. The problem is you’ve been through too much. Seen too much. So despite the similarity in years, you’re decades older than your classmates. I’ve been where you are. They’re hurtful. Immature. And they have no idea how badly what they’re doing hurts. As unfair as it is, you will find that despite the fact that they pick on you and are mean to you, when the chips are down…you’re the first person they come to for advice. They know you’ve been there. That you know how to cope. Chances are you also won’t date guys your own age. Eventually they catch up. They grow up. Eventually. But hang in there. You’re tougher than they are and they need you.”

Oddly enough, she was right. Even stranger…I didn’t know the full extent of the damage their body blows caused by words had inflicted until springtime. There was one upperclassman guy that I’d become friends with. He had never quite comfortably fit in with his group…and most of his friends, like mine were outside of this small community. He also lived in my old neighborhood, so one day he invited me to come with him after school. I was elated. That’s when I blew myself away and realized that when you hear something often enough you start to believe it. Words can be insidious. I don’t even remember what we were talking about initially…just the explosion.

Me: Well I’m ugly, so what does it matter?
Friend: (Stopped car in the middle of rush hour traffic on busy street, turns and looks at me, shocked.) Excuuuuse me, What did you just say???
Me: You heard me.
Friend: You know that’s not true. The girls only say it because they’re jealous.
Me: (shrugged) Whatever. I could understand if it was just the girls. Most girls haven’t liked me very much anyway, but it’s the guys, too.
Friend: (Stared me in the eye as if willing me to believe him) The guys are just saying it because they’re pissed. Most of them have asked you out and you’ve completely blown them off. Not interested. This is their way of getting even.
Me: Well, it sucks.
Friend: I know. Ignore them. Don’t let it get to you. You know what they’re saying’s not true.
Me: I thought I was. Guess it’s easier said than done.

The funny thing was that I didn’t realize how closely the teaching staff had been paying attention to what had been happening. Back then, it would have been labeled “growing pains” or a part of growing up. People got picked on. The trick was to survive it. The word Bullying in conjunction to what happened to me…well that’s a recent bit of connecting the dots as I’ve watched all these poor young kids going through their heartaches…made that much easier by the internet.

It wasn’t until one of my female classmates who had a tendency to be a bit cruel and gossipy bore the brunt of some teasing that I found out that the teachers had been watching and cheering me on. You see, this young lady was tall, but not at all endowed in the bosom department. She also had the misfortune of having the last name Chestnut. Typical of boys, they began to use the word “Chest Not” rather than her actual last name. Considering she could dish it out, I’m sure you’re not at all shocked to hear that being the target, she didn’t handle it very well at all.

She walked up to our homeroom teacher and whined to him about the fact that the boys were “making fun” of her. His response shocked the heck out of me. Instead of sympathy, here’s what he said:

“You’ve been going through this for a few days. Imagine how it must feel to be some of your classmates. There are people, one person in particular, in your class who have had to deal with you guys treating her like this for over a year and she hasn’t said anything once. Imagine how hurt she must feel.”

That same young lady who’d been whining came looking for me to give me a hug and to apologize for ever making me feel the way she was feeling right then. I thanked her for her apology and dropped the discussion.

When sophomore year ended I begged my mom not to send me to boarding academy and she concurred. That summer I got very sick. In one month’s time I lost over 10 lbs. Considering I only weighed 105 lbs to begin with, my family became concerned. I’d completely lost my appetite. Most foods made me nauseous on sight or by smell. I would get nauseous and shaky at the idea of leaving the house (now I recognize I was probably having anxiety attacks). While at my grandparents that summer there was only one thing I could eat that would not make me sick. Plain cake doughnuts. I only drank Sprite or water and I discovered the healing properties of mint (by way of mint flavored gum). It was the only way to keep me from dry heaving.

The moment I got back home my mom made me see a doctor. He asked me if I was pregnant. He didn’t believe me when I told him I was a virgin until he did tests and they came back negative for pregnancy. What he did discover was that I had an “unrealized depression caused by lack of vitamin B-12”.

It took me months of forcing myself to eat, of bringing water and mint gum with me everywhere…of forcing myself to go out, but I began to recover during my junior year. The carefree wild child I used to be was gone forever. She was replaced by someone who became very controlled. Careful with both words and temper….and I realized something else. That “unrealized depression”? Technically, maybe that’s what it was…but in reality it was simply relief. My body and my mind had, for two years, stayed strong for me. Blocked tears and fears and protected me from people out to hurt me. They’d been on the defensive…”Never give them the power of letting them know they’ve hurt you”. Finally, once I knew I wasn’t going back…I was safe. Once my body knew everything would be okay…it gave itself permission to crash, to feel.

For me, the trauma became a physical manifestation, not emotional. In fact, concerned about how the kids were tearing themselves and each other apart…and fully aware of the damage words could inflict, I went back to that school and found my English teacher. I asked her if I could come back and talk to her class about my experience and the damage… maybe prevent someone else from going through what had happened to me. She asked me to speak to 4 classes from 7th grade to 10th grade. I did. Honestly, I don’t know if it did any good, but I had to try. If it made a difference to even one person, it was worth it.

selfesteem_294151925_std

Since that time building up peoples’ self esteem and helping folks realize the power (both good and bad) that words hold have been passions for me. It comes from a very personal place. I was fortunate. I had a mother who’d already built a core of strength within me by giving me both faith in myself and God. Yes, it was shaken….but my foundation was firm. A little focus and I was back…and stronger than I’d been before. Not everyone has that.

Not everyone has the courage to speak up or speak out. Those of us who do have an obligation to do so. Be the strength for someone else when they run out of their own. Be their belief when they lose sight of themselves. Be the friend to hold them close and build them up when they need it…because as strong as you are…there will be a day you’ll need it, too. I guarantee you, when that day comes…they’ll be there for you as well.

Have you ever been made to feel like less than you are? Do you have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart based on personal experiences? Do you have a poem, quote or thought or song to share that makes you feel strong or confident…or can help build someone up? Please share it… You never know what simple act you may have done that could help strengthen a soul or change a life. Look at those little moments that did it for me!

It’s My Party (and I kind of missed it!)

Yesterday was my 1 year anniversary for starting this blog. Normally I would’ve been on here getting rowdy and celebrating…you know, like I usually do….except that by the time we hit home from our trip to Savannah I was ready to land face first in my bed.

Showing off our brand new lace up corsets for the Vampire Ball

Showing off our brand new lace up corsets for the Vampire Ball

Yes, that’s my sister, me and one of my besties. While in Savannah we met some of my favorite authors, ate great food, made new friends and attended two balls. One of us even had a ghostly experience. Unfortunately it wasn’t me. 😦

Thomas Owen House

Thomas Owen House

This is the Thomas Owen house….it was on this general property that my gal pal had an “unexplained” incident that left her with the heebie jeebies.

Yellow Fever's impact on Savannah

Yellow Fever’s impact on Savannah

The history buff in me was fascinated by the info in the only in tact cemetery in the heart of Savannah…. Yellow fever actually took out 10% of the population in the city. Also found, which fed the tragic side of romance in me…

Duelist's Grave

Duelist’s Grave

Yes, there were duelists graves! You can imagine how my imagination wandered…creating images in my mind about how these folks died. We got a chance to tour around the historic district by carriage ride…

Our Beautiful Transport

Our Beautiful Transport

I had plenty of spanking good fun…. In fact, I brought home Swag to share…so be on the look out on how to win some of the fun stuff I brought back with me…. Literally a box full just for you guys!

Me, at the Elemental Masquerade Ball

Me, at the Elemental Masquerade Ball

Hope you guys had a great weekend! So tell me… Have you ever had a ghostly experience? Ever been to Savannah? Ever been to a readers conference? Tell me about it! Ya’ll know how much I enjoy hearing from you. Have you ever missed your own anniversary because you got caught up doing something else? Let me know I’m not alone.

Sexy Savannah Nights

I know, I know…. I’ve been abnormally quiet lately. It’s not like me, but there has been a lot going on in my personal life.

Having said that…I’m so excited! I’ll be putting my fan girl hat on and going incognito…. Where? To my very first conference, Authors After Dark!

AADSidebar

Not only will it be a girls weekend with my sister and one of my besties, but I’m going to have the opportunity to meet some of my all time favorite erotic romance authors! I’m not going as a blogger or a writer….just as little ole me!

Since we’ll have free Wi-Fi at the hotel, I’ll try to post some stuff while we’re there…but you know that if I don’t get the chance, that just means I’ll have a ton of stuff to share with you guys when I get back!

Have any of you ever gone to this event? Any other Author/Reader Conferences? What did you think? I’m practically bouncing off the walls with excitement because I finally get to meet my awesome internet buddy and author, Lissa Matthews in person!!! (And Cherise Sinclair, Joey W Hill, Julie Ann Walker and so so so many more!)