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Keep On Keeping On

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I’m not very good at stopping and doing nothing. Part of me wishes I was. I didn’t even watch two and a half hours of shows today before I switched the tv off having had the constant feeling that I should be doing something else.

Reading is the closest thing I get to a day doing nothing and yet I can’t remember the last time I even let myself do that for a whole day without picking up a pen or filming something.

I actually like the creative part of my life, it focusses and energises me. Whilst I was on leave it was all pretty great. I was producing heaps and my life felt balanced. I was in a zone.

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Then though I had to go back to work.

It is a new work environment, and whilst most of the people there are great some aspects of it all are less than ideal, making what is already a stressful work environment even more so.

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I have found myself saying more and more often that I don’t give a crap. Last night my hubby told me that I had said it so much that it was beginning to worry about me because that kind of sentiment is just not me.

There are of course plenty of things I do still care about, but I have started to use that phrase as a way to distance myself from things. I am an over thinker and certain things eat away at me, even when they are not of my doing. Right now I don’t have the energy to deal with all those things and I think part of me hopes that if I repeat this sentiment over and over often enough I will stop feeling so much about the things I have no control over.

Problem though is if I start down this path am I going to be able to stop it? Because I never want to be a person with a hard heart that no longer cares for anything. I don’t want these frustrations I’m dealing with to poison my life.

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So I need to find a better way going forward.

Usually one of my best coping mechanisms is being creative but even that has changed.

My focus at the moment isn’t a world I’ve made up but a project called RAW, Rough Authentic Worship, and I’m really enjoying it, mostly. I don’t think my faith, for all my obvious and not so obvious flaws, has even been stronger. I am also really enjoying working with my husband. It definitely contributes to helping me maintain.

Thing is though when I went back to work, not only did my stress levels increase, the hours I got to be creative decreased. It was like a double whammy and we are still trying to find a new rhythm.

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Then in amongst all that is the doubt and second guessing of myself that is harder to block out when my reserves are as low as mine are now. There is that voice that is telling me to give up RAW because it is a project designed for interaction – to reach out to others, and that side of it seems like a failure, (even though I know these things take time).

Admittedly the feeling of failure is a struggle I have gone through before. Lots of people say positive supportive things but few give action to platitude. Sometimes words are the perfect solution and sometimes they are not.

The difference between RAW and writing a book only a few people read is that RAW is put together with an outward focus and fiction is simply a story I want to tell (and then if someone likes it all the better).

So how do I, in the midst of all this change, when my  feelings are so close to the surface all the time because I don’t have the energy to monitor them especially when I am safe at home, keep hold of my peace and keep moving forward?

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I don’t really have the answer to that yet. Like usual I am a work in progress. I am trying to shift my RAW focus – to be grateful for the things I am learning, the skills I am developing.

I am trying to stop the work issues from encroaching on the time I am not at work – finding ways to deliberately distract myself to stop over thinking.

Also I am trying to again find some form of balance. Trying to tell myself again that it is okay to do nothing, as well as getting in time reading just for enjoyment not research and maybe dipping my toes back into fiction as well.

Hopefully one day I will figure it out.

If you are interested in my faith journey you can always check out our Patreon site : https://www.patreon.com/roughauthenticworship

 

 

 

 

A Wonderful Woman

I saw a meme the other day that said ‘ask a man in your life to name a woman they admire and why’.  Well tonight I realised something about a very special woman in my life.

And no it isn’t my mother. Don’t get me wrong she was an amazing lady and I miss her so very much. In fact there are still days I sit and cry as I think on all the things she has missed out on, that my girls missed out on. Oh and as my husband reminded me, it had to be someone you’re not related to.

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But I digress.

Yesterday I had a very, incredibly average day at work. I was involved in something and me being me, I couldn’t stop overthinking about it.

When I finally got home, I still felt very unsettled and, if I’m to be honest – a little sick to my stomach.

See I find myself in a transition state where I am stepping into not only a new location but a new role, and everyone is telling me I’ve got this.

I’ve figured out something about myself, and that is I don’t really know how to back myself.

Again though I digress.

A woman whom I admire and why.

See I think it is important not just for men to acknowledge women they admire, but also for other women to lift up the women who mean something to us.

So here it is. Barbara Richardson – as she was when I met her.

She is amazing.

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What is my connection to her? She was my boss. But my husband pointed out tonight that I now consider her, in some way family.

I met Barbara when I was at a total quandary in my life. I had gone to the UK on a one way ticket, only to find the job I had, ripped away from me. Long story short, this wonderful lady ended up becoming my boss. I became her au pair. That is fancy speak for saying I was her nanny amongst other things.

This lady amazed me in more ways than I can say, and though I signed no confidentiality agreement, you really don’t need to know the details. Suffice to say there was something about her.

For no apparent reason that I really understand, this wonderful woman always encouraged and supported me. For example whilst other au pairs were run off their feet, she allowed me to follow my theatrical passion amongst other things. She also never, for reasons that even when I look back on our relationship make little sense, treated me as anything less than equal.

To the point then.

Last night, after this less than average day at work, I come home to find a comment on a FB post I had made. I had written about getting used to people looking at me as if I know the answer. Her response was, “Of course you know the answer! Why change the habit of a lifetime?”

For some reason that broke me, but not in a bad way. It was such unconditional support of who I am, that it floored me. I was her nanny for crying out loud, yet she has never been anything but super supportive.

In her life she had been incredibly successful in her chosen field, as well as a wonderful single mother. Somewhere in there she found the space to support and encourage a young woman in ways that still befuddle me.

It is many years later and her lovely son is grown, but we have stayed in touch.

However, I love her, she will always have a special place in my heart and I really felt that she should be acknowledged for the incredible lady she is.

And mostly I just wanted to thank her publicly for being one of the best people to ever have in your corner. The fact she is in mine is just amazing.

Thank you Barbara.

What A Time We Live In

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So my lovelies, isn’t this a swell time in which to exist.

Here is the thing though, just because the world is changing doesn’t mean we can go from living to existing. We can still live, we just need to be open to looking outside the parameters we were comfortable with.

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Sure as a writer and fairly confirmed introvert sort of person, much of my life hasn’t changed. I still exercise by myself. I still read by myself. I even still write by myself. Sure I have started a faith oriented project which can be found on our Your Tube channel here, or if you’re interested in supporting us, on Patreon here, but that was always going to be happening at this time because this, fortunately for me was when I was going to be on leave from my day job.

Also unlike so many I am fortunate that my job isn’t going anywhere, I am what were are calling essential services, though it may be a forgotten one. I am grateful for that.

I am also still able to write, so my main hobby hasn’t changed.

The only things I usually do that have changed are axe throwing and church. Well church I can still do on line but not being able to finishing the axe throwing league season has hurt.

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Still I’m here to focus on some good things, I think. We can use this time to our advantage, and what that is going to look like will be different for each of us. Some like me will get heads down and churn out words, managing to keep busy in a variety of ways, to the point where my loved ones have to remind me that it is alright to stop sometimes. Others will need to take time to stop and think, and remember to breathe. That is okay too. We all will deal with this situation differently, and as long as we are responsible then who cares how you deal.

I read a great post that reminded us that sometimes what we see isn’t the whole picture. The person could be buying paint because they need to keep busy to stop them picking up the bottle, when they are an addict. Or maybe she is buying meters of sewing supplies because creating stuff keeps the depression at bay.

Now is a time for considered actions, behaving according to the best advice of the experts, and reaching out to those we know and love. Reconnect if you have to. I know there are a few people I’ve thought of over the years that I sort of lost touch with and I am using this opportunity to swallow my ego and touch base.

Be here for yourself, and for others. We will get through this, and yes when we come out the other side things will be different but this isn’t the end, it is simply the cliff hanger at the end of book one, book two will be a whole new story.

Love you all, we will prevail.

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Read

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I’m not even joking a little.

I have just started my leave from work, good timing I know being as for the most part self-isolation is what I do best. I have a pile of books I want to read. I heap of writing I want to get done and this new faith project I’m developing.

I simply don’t understand how people are so worried about being stuck at home. I haven’t even added cleaning my house to the list because…well let’s face it, that has never been a priority for me.

Here’s the thing though, just because you can’t be out and about doing everything as normal doesn’t mean that this isn’t a wonderful opportunity.

I read somewhere that as a result of this pandemic certain things will have to stop and this means the earth will be able to take a breath and try for a little reset. I really liked that idea. I think we people need to do this too, embrace all the ideas about stepping back and making the most of the opportunity in front of us.

The world is a vast and wonderful place, there is always something to learn, so why don’t we take advantage of that now. Read the biography you keep putting to the side, or any book for that matter, start learning a language, learn a new skill.

More than that create.

Write, draw, paint, knit, sew. Let us find value in the act of creating.

Let us find healing in the stepping back. Consider the things that truly matter. Write long emails, Skype, phone call. Communicate in ways that are deeper and longer than we have been. Reconnect with the time you have now you are not running frantically from task to task filling up your life with busyness.

Again read. Soak up the stories, the experiences of others, stretch out your perceptions, learn to see through another’s eyes.

And for sanity’s sake stop selfish and panic buying, the harm you are doing in despicable.

New Directions

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So I have made it to February and I have no idea how this much time has passed since my last post. I have been busy writing, a lot on my new project which is actually not fiction and very solidly grounded in my faith.

It isn’t something I was planning on doing, if you had asked me this time last year where my writing direction would go I’d have told you something very different. In fact I do still want to keep going with my fiction and I have started a new paranormal urban fantasy series but for now  this other thing fills my time.

I have been working on this new project, which will not be a book, so intensely because I need to have enough content to keep me going when my life gets so incredibly busy, which is does at times.

This is a new chapter of my life and life is full of chapters so I guess we will see how it goes. When the time is right I will share more.

Flipping the Narrative

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I was attending a meeting with a bunch of amazing women whose goal is to improve conditions for other women in the workplace. Yes, it is very union driven, yes, we advocate for equality, no we don’t man bash or burn our bras. Anyway, one of the women was sharing a story and in its telling she was using a word that for some reason was bothering me. Sometimes when this happens it’s more of a Princess Bride thing ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’

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This wasn’t one of those situations, it was more that she was using the word because we are so used to it being used to describe women dealing with things emotionally. The word she was using was ‘weak’.

Before going further let’s look at the definition of that word:

  1. Lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks, having little physical strength or energy.
  2. Liable to break or give way under pressure, easily damaged.

Now let’s hit the thesaurus: delicate, puny, flabby, flaccid, debilitated, feeble, frail, sickly – you get the idea.

Why the English lesson you ask? Simple, this woman was talking about women and using weak as the descriptor, ‘women should be allowed to be weak, have weak moments.’ Being puny, flabby, frail and easily damaged is not at all what she meant. (OMG it is a Princess Bride thing.) She was talking about visibly expressing emotions. In the course of what she said she unwittingly changed ‘weak’ to ‘vulnerable’ and I thought that was a better word:

Vulnerable – exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. Coming from the Latin vulnus – wound; vulnerare – to       wound.

So then again maybe not.

Expressing emotions, being emotional doesn’t mean easily damaged or weak. I think it is time we start changing the words we use, especially the ones we use unconsciously.

Women are not the weaker sex!

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Yes, I said it. Oh, I’m not going to deny that generally men are physically stronger, but we all know that’s not what we are actually talking about. It is entirely possible that is where the phrase started from, a general physical descriptor, somewhere along the way though it came to mean so much more.

It became a way to limit woman’s participation in society. We weren’t allowed to learn on an equal footing and so we were considered intellectually inferior. We were restricted in the types of employment we could get, limiting our independence, meaning we were rather dependant on men for financial survival – therefore less capable which meant weaker. Women process things differently – there are research papers and books galore proving this – but because a lot of that processing involves emotions, men say we are weaker.

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I know I am not the only one who cries at really irritating moments. There was this one time I was sparring with this guy and he clocked me one in the head. I freaking belted him till I was pulled out. I was fine until someone asked me if I was okay and I burst into tears. I wasn’t hurt, I hadn’t lost – not that it was a fight, I was just processing and the adrenaline and frustration of him not being censured for breaking the rules resulted in me losing it momentarily. Which just made it all worse because I came down on myself for being weak. I say again, I wasn’t hurt and I’d gone hard at the guy after – there is nothing weak about that. Perception is though that tears equals weakness.

What a crock of shit. Emotions are powerful and can be overwhelming. What they are not, is a weakness. So how about we consider that women have inherent strength due to the fact we were created to process the full tsunami impact of emotions (oh and go through childbirth) and men were not. In fact, that men have determinedly refused to allow emotions a place has been proved to be damaging, hence the push in recent years to say it’s okay to get in touch with what is going on inside.

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Women have been restricted, persecuted, belittled, abused and debased and we still keep pushing forward. We then get back on our feet and take the next step towards where we want to be, with tear tracks marking our faces as we do so. This is strength. The ability to endure, to overcome. To keep raising our voices even whilst being told to hold our tongues, or just plain ignored.

So let us go forward now, no longer saying women need to be allowed moments of weakness or vulnerability when what we are referring to are periods of assessment, processing and growth.

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Embrace all the differences, all the moments and reach out a hand when you need to, knowing it isn’t weakness, it is simply understanding what it is you need as you journey through life.

Women are resilient, determined, creative, instinctive, smart, driven and powerful, and we can do all of it whilst laughing, crying and experiencing every emotion in between.

 

Finally, and Thanks to My Readers

embracing fate kylie calwell 20191101cSo I have finally finished the Oparna Legacy series. Book 3 is now live and it has been one hell of a journey.

I have to thank all my readers for their patience. There is a story there and I feel you deserve to know it.

The writing of book 3 was interrupted by the all consuming drive to write a presentation that took me to Montreal to speak. it didn’t slow me down a lot to be fair because the characters were desperate for their stories to be told, the words just flowed.

The problems started when my original artist was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to pass on my cover. Absolutely not something within anyone’s control and I hold no grudges there. I found a replacement artist and the deadline for my cover was I believed more than reasonable, certainly more than a month, quite a bit more. Then it became apparent that other things were far more important to him, it was as though because I was a friend my commission wasn’t as important as other things. In the end I had to ask if he was even going do it as the deadline had well passed and he hadn’t even started it. It pissed me off because if I had been any other paying client he would never have treated their commission in this manner, not for what he charged – fortunately I hadn’t paid anything yet.

By this time the story was finished and had been sent to both my beta reader and the editor.

I had other projects to work on but that delay had really set me back, I had wanted the book out before July and that was now never going to happen. I set about finding another artist and ended up with a lovely lady whose cover I am very happy with. Even that didn’t turn out to be so simple, because her previous commission took longer than expected for reasons. Again in this instance hardly something within her control.

Due to lack of cover art I hadn’t pushed my editor, but when I got that stuff back on track I realised I hadn’t heard from her. When I did get in contact I discovered that she had had internet problems that had delayed her ability to get the edits to me.

Things were looking like they’d be back on track but unfortunately I had further issues with getting the graphics on the cover and by this time these silly little hiccoughs just had me shaking my head and saying well of course it can’t be simple.

Then when I thought I had everything in place I went to do a final edit check and upload my already edited manuscript, only to discover the edited file had vanished, both copies of it, as I didn’t have just one.

I had one saving grace, I had sent a locked PDF of the final edit to someone. Only to discover that even though it was my file I couldn’t edit within it and to transfer the file from PDF was not a simple as all that. I had to do a complete format edit in the process.

Finally though it is here. I was never going to give up. Swear a lot at the universe but never give up.

If you are interested this is the Aus link but it can be found in all regions.

 

Glitter Tits

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I have done a thing. Being a volunteer at a pop culture conventions, was an awesome part of my life for a bunch of years. Through that time I made some incredible friends, had some amazing experiences and some not so great ones.

This year I had to make the choice to walk away from this part of my life. I kind of knew it was coming but wasn’t ready when it did. To help me get through I started to write down some of my memories.

This little book, mini book if you will, is the culmination of that. I don’t mention celebrity names, I don’t mention any names except mine. I don’t think it makes that much difference, the stories are still great, or not so great as a few of them are. And there are a few ‘what were you thinking’ moments of mine that made the cut, so feel free to laugh with me.

If you are a pop-culture convention goer, or fan, please buy it, read it – my little love letter to this awesome scene. Share the link with your friends, boost the signal. I love this scene and know there are still experiences I want to have.

 

Holidays

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I am currently on leave from work and I am busy, but in a way I like to be. I am writing. I have set myself various goals for these weeks off and I aim to be productive.

So many people were asking what my holiday plans were and then wondered if I wouldn’t get bored being as I’m not going anywhere this time.

Thing is for the last little while all I have really wanted to do is write. I have a novella length project that I’ve just finished the main edit on and it will hopefully be published before the holidays are done. I have also gotten my edits back from my editor and after a pain in my butt stuff around by my cover artist, I have commissioned a new artist and will hopefully have that soon, so Book three in the Oparna Legacy can be published.

Also my faith has hit the forefront of my life again and I have a project tied into that which I plan on making substantial headway on during this time off.

Then of course there is the new series I have started working on as well, an urban paranormal crime series that I think will be kind of fun.

So that’s it for my holiday plans and I can’t help but think my 6 and a bit weeks leave isn’t going to be anywhere near long enough for me to get all the writing done that I want to do.

Tough Times, Tough Decisions.

The start of this year has been tough.

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Unexpected expenses, but that’s life, just work more to deal with them. Broken promises, disappointing but life goes on. the weight of additional expectations, but you adjust and step up to the new mark.

Then in the space of less than two weeks I lost one of my regular coping mechanisms and one of my work colleagues committed suicide. Two separate events, both having a profound affect on me.

Life isn’t always easy to compartmentalise and as much as I’d like to treat these things as two completely separate events, from a mental health perspective, that’s not necessarily how it works. They are, by virtue of the fact I experienced both, inextricably linked.

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I have always been open about my own battles with depression and my history of self-harm. I also have people both incredibly close to me and in my wider circle of friends that struggle with/deal with depression and anxiety on a daily basis.

But I also see myself as a strong person. Someone who will stand up for myself, my family, my friends and any underdog who doesn’t seem capable of fighting for themselves. Here though is where I get tripped by one of the quirks of my brain. Because I will fight for others, sometimes I expect those others to fight for me. Why? When they won’t even stand for themselves? I have no idea. It makes no logical sense. That is the way it is though and when they don’t, the little voice in the back of my brain pipes up. ‘Cleary you don’t mean that much to them. Why do you think anyone cares what you are going through?’ Some of you will know that voice I speak of.

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Again logically I know my inner dialogue lies. Knowing that doesn’t stop the room closing in, the clouds blocking out the light, or the quicksand pulling me emotionally down.

Here is where coping mechanisms come in. I run, walk, hit something – any kind of solitary workout. I get lost in a book. Sometimes I just repeat to myself while I am lying there, ‘this too shall pass.’

I have something else though. I have people around me I can reach out to. People who understand, to the limit you can understand, the fucked up nature my headspace.

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Which brings me to my work colleague and their very final actions.

I work in an incredibly high stress job. The number of suicides is staggering. We all know it. We know the mental health stats. We know there are people, even professionals, we can talk to. And yes I have availed myself of that service.

Still this person, this bright shining star, in possession of a uniques and larger than life personality was clearly suffering.

Why? I think it’s probably the biggest question after something like this. Why didn’t they ask for help? Why did they isolate themselves? Also what the fuck we’re they thinking? I wanted to be so angry with her. We weren’t the closest but I still would’ve been there if she’d asked. And I know she had people close to her who are wondering why didn’t she just reach out to me?

The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know why she didn’t reach out. I don’t know if or why she thought she wasn’t worth helping.

I don know her actions have had a rippling affect on those who’s lives crossed with hers. I do know she will be sorely missed. And I do know thinking about it still makes me cry.

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And so I will say it again, as I have before, if you are struggling for any reason, reach out. Do I need to say it again? Reach out. I will say it as often as I need to. Reach out. You are never alone. There are no easy fixes or quick answers, but there are people who would hate for you to not be in their lives anymore.

Of course things sometimes aren’t that simple. Sometimes the people you expect to support you don’t. For what ever reason. Which brings me to point two, but before I get there, remember don’t give up and don’t believe the lies. One set back isn’t the end of things.

Now this second thing.

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I’ve already talked about coping mechanisms. We all have them. I attended a specific event several times a year as a way of de-stressing. It gave me a sense of belonging, a place to let go and be me. In my regular role, it was a place I thought I was useful and quite frankly, good at. I made heaps of friends, had problems I could solve and then bitch about, and fun moments.

Things though have been changing and I don’t claim to understand why. This last week and a bit though, things have come to a head. I know I was usually in a fortunate position, but I felt I’d worked for it and earned it. It seems this was not the case.

For reasons I do not know I was removed from that position and put somewhere I didn’t want to be. Oh don’t get me wrong, it is another position other people desperately want to be, but not me. I’d done it once because I was told I had to, sure it wasn’t exactly the same but it was similar, and it broke me. Plain and simple I had a mini breakdown.

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I told them this when the move came up this year and I was told that’s terrible, what can we do to help, and where else would you like to be? I  just wanted to go back to my comfort zone, but it seems this was not an option. So my choice was, do something I was pretty certain wouldn’t end well for me, or go into another area to learn something I didn’t want to learn and be isolated from the very people I had gone to see.

I didn’t want to make this choice. I though long and hard about the decision I ended up making. I cried (yes I am stupidly emotional at times, but I’m hardly the only one and I don’t care). I had many internal debates. I overthought. My stress levels went up. The clouds began to close in.

In the end I knew my initial gut reaction was the one I’d have to go with. I had to walk away.

deucesNow this is something I have devoted hundreds of hours of my life and thousands of my dollars on, and I knew I had to walk away.

Support I expected didn’t come.

I don’t know all of what is going on behind the scenes, or in other people’s lives. I still don’t know why I had to make this decision. I just knew I was hurting and it didn’t seem to matter.

Then something happened.

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Support came from unexpected places. Sometimes it’s the people you don’t expect that see things, they see the struggle and understand.

We tell ourselves we should just get over things, deal with things or suck it up. Really that’s not what we need at all. Oh absolutely there are times when those things are all completely valid pieces of advice, but not always.

Sometimes what we need is someone to say – I’m here, what do you need?

The answer isn’t the same for everyone. It could be; ice-cream, a shared laugh, company, a hug or even nothing – because you’ve already done it and I no longer feel alone.

I am very introverted by nature. I love the quiet, home and not being around people, though I can certainly do the opposite. I know though that life is never something we get through alone.

So one door shuts and I’ll have to find another door to open. The ache of the losses will pass and life continues on it’s sometimes not so merry adventure.

For the love of everything, please don’t be afraid to reach for help, it’s there. I know it is. Just maybe not where you thought it would be.