Category: Thoughts


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.

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.

 

Perseverance

Sometimes I wonder why. Then I scoff at myself because I know why. I write because I have to, there are ideas floating, sometimes churning around in my head that have to be let out. That want and demand a life of their own, silly as that may sound.

The other day I was in a book store and I was looking at all these new titles that I thought I wouldn’t mind checking out even though my bank account isn’t that friendly and I wondered what I was playing at thinking myself an author. I am one though. I am also published, sure I haven’t cracked the traditional market but does that make me any less an author? I don’t think it does. I work incredibly hard on my books, I write, I edit, I re-edit and I pay for a professional edit. This whole process takes massive amounts of time, mind space and effort, so I guess I shouldn’t really question whether I am an author.

Yes I wish I could see my books on a shelf, and maybe one day that will be a thing. For now though I just have to persevere with what I do, slog through the daily effort of juggling a full time job, a family and writing, in the hope that one day I will earn the break I’m working towards.

When It All Gets To You

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Today isn’t the best of days, mostly it was fine, then some news came that kind of threw me, but then I’m kind of used to life throwing me curveballs. I had a few moments of fuck it all! I’m done, I’m sick of putting myself out there and getting slapped down. It doesn’t matter if these things are public or been kept quiet enough that the only people who know about it are me and hubby, they still hurt. That is life though, isn’t it, I mean if we’re honest about it all. Sure some people seem to have it all but for most of us life is just a bit of a rollercoaster. I know I will be fine, I may want to give up but in all likelyhood I won’t, I’ll just pick myself up and throw myself back into things. All things considered though, it feels as though today is a good day to share the following that I wrote a little while ago.

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So for consideration…

Not that long ago I was involved in a thing at work that messed me up pretty bad, not physically but mentally. I thought at the time that I was dealing with it fine, I took a mental health day to process it all and then went back to work for the next regular shift 2 days later. Then it all fell apart. I was asked a few questions, received unexpected support and saw anger on my behalf and that shattered through the walls I had put up around my mind. We compartmentalise, it is one of the ways we survive.

I admitted I wasn’t coping, no easy thing even when I’m balling my eyes out at work still trying to protest that there is nothing wrong and with just a few hours off I’d be fine to get back into it. I was lucky, I had support. More than that I had understanding, more than I realised. I work with a lot of really tough people, we have to be to do our job. It’s hard for strong people to admit they need time, help or have cracked, but we need to if we want to do the job for a long time.

I realised very quickly I needed to allow myself the time to work through everything related to the incident and a few other things that had contributed to my mental health issues. I saw a Dr and then booked in my first appointment with a psych. 

There were moments I was fine with the path I was taking but there were also moments when I felt bad, like I was letting people down because I was taking time off work. I needed it. Without question I know I needed it. It took several weeks, Dr’s appointments and a couple of psych sessions. Time is a great healer, but it wasn’t just time, it was also the support I had. 

So here’s what I learnt from this experience: It doesn’t matter how strong we are mentally, it doesn’t make us impervious; admitting we need help is hard but doesn’t make us any less in any way; talking about it to outside people helps with processing that which needs to be worked through; having a support network is important – know who you can reach out to and allow them to come alongside you, support you and make you accountable.

I took my time, then I took my normal leave and did what I do on leave – reading, writing and conventions. Now I feel like I’m about ready to get back into things, except for the part of me that wishes writing could be my normal job, you know the one that pays my bills.

That all aside, the whole point of this is to let you know that sometimes it is hard to ask for help or even accept it but take it from someone who’s been there, do it! It’s not a failing, not a weakness, in fact view it as a strength, because sometimes other people’s strength is just what we need. Sometimes time and help is what gets you back to where you need to be to do that which you are meant to do.

The world needs more of you, just sometimes you don’t need to it alone.

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Three Things

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A beautiful friend of mine has recently started a business pushing (sorry selling) make up. Now if you know much about me, you’ll know that make up is one of those things that is a very low priority in my life. I wear it on stage or for special occasions, I’m just too lazy to bother with that in my everyday. I’m not going to write here about my lack skill or disinterest in make up, what I am going to comment on is something I think is incredibly important – women’s self esteem.

Now my friend knows the women she has targeted, we’re nerdy, geeky and a few other fun descriptors, so she caters to that by running fun little competitions. Her interactive approach certainly dragged me in. But targeted marketing is not my topic.

What has driven me to write this post is one of the games she posted where it said: what would your warning label say and state three things you like about yourself. Can you guess which part sparked this blog post?

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The warning part turned out to be easy. Everyone can have a little fun with that. Turns out though that writing publitlythree things you like about yourself is somewhat more difficult.

Part way through writing my three things I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t written down anything about being a wife/mother or family related. I don’t know if its’ just me or women in general but so much of our identity is derived from others, at least when talking in a public forum. My family are hugely important to me and I’m incredibly happy with my life for the most part. Sure there are always things that aren’t perfect, but what is a perfect life and why would i want it anyway when I am clearly not perfect. That may be a whole other thought stream though, so back to my current topic.

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When I settled on my three things I’ll admit to being a little surprised that I could have written more, so I will use this opportunity to get into this a little more. This may seem a little self indulgent but it’s my post and I’m going to be unapologetic about it.

Things I like about myself:

My brain, it functions well. I read, think and love to learn.

My body, I have abs, I worked hard for them, I needed to as I’m in my 40’s, have had two kids and wasn’t blessed with a metabolism that means I can eat what I want. I am stronger and fitter now than i was in my skinnier, younger years. The problem is when I google my ideal weight, I am currently apparently over weight. Crap is what I say to that. If I got down to my ‘ideal’ weight, what I would lose is most of my muscle mass and I like being strong. Sure I wish the last o f my mummy tummy would go the heck away but I’m pretty damn proud of this body of mine otherwise.

As a person I’m proud of my determination, fierce loyalty and my work ethic. I am comfortable with the fact I am a complex creature who is basically an introvert. I love feeling capable and strong. I have a giggle when people say I’m scary and feel a little bemused when people call me inspiring. I enjoy my job, to the bemusement of most and I’m proud to say I’m a published author – though part of me is still a little disappointed I had to do it myself in the end. I know I don’t comfortably fit into the boxes society likes to use and I’m good with that. My friends are the ones who accept the many, sometimes broken layers, of who I am, abrasive edges and all.

Now to the point of this self indulgence. Introspection. It’s always good to acknowledge our strengths. Knowing what we like about ourselves can help us through the harder and darker moments of life, if we allow ourselves to embrace them.

This leads nicely to the second part of my thought process from that little game. Whilst the warning part was easy and many participated, more than a few didn’t write anything for this second part. I haven’t asked why this is but I do have a few speculations. When life isn’t perfect, or even good, it can be hard to see the positive to find the things we like. Most of us don’t like to toot our own trumpets because we are socially coerced into believing it is wrong, arrogant or something. Thirdly, sometimes we just don’t know how to answer that question, when taking a close look at ourselves it’s so much easier to see the flaws and things we don’t like.

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This is sad. Think about it. So much of what society pushes subliminally (and sometimes not that subtly) is that a successful woman is one who adheres to, or measures up against certain stereotypes and appearances. We are judged by how we fit into the boxes, not how we colour those boxes in. Women are still taught not to rock the boat, we still know that our success can be undercut by men – this is how Weinstein got away with what he did. We are shown pretty pictures and told, this is the ideal.

Well I’m going to call bullshit. Women are varied, and strong and flawed and more than capable in achieving whatever goals they set for themselves. Sometimes our own worst enemy is ourselves, we allow ourselves to quietly sit where society has placed us, we pick on other women who don’t fit that norm and thereby reinforce the crap. It is time we stopped doing that. It is time we embraced ourselves for the awesomeness  and individuality that is in all of us.

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After all this my point simply is, finding three things about ourselves that we like shouldn’t be hard, and certainly admitting and embracing them shouldn’t be shied away from. i challenge you to look deeply into yourself. Look at your perceived flaws from a different perspective (I’m not bossy or a bitch, I’m organised and focused, I get shit done). Look at yourself in a positive light, examine the things that make you you. The sum of your parts, good bad, indifferent, is what makes you interesting. It is what makes you not fit the mould and proves you are no Stepford woman. Look at your body and be proud. Look at your achievements and what you do well and take satisfaction in them. Look at your personality and shout about how awesome you are.

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There is an old Japanese custom where a broken item is repaired with gold, making it more beautiful because of it’s flaws. It is about time we allowed ourselves to embrace this.

I am flawed and I am awesome.

Shout it, believe it.

#MeToo

I nearly didn’t post that hash tag for a number of reasons but not because it wasn’t me. Mostly, or in a large part I would say it was because these days my version of calling you out is to dish what is thrown at me, right back at the person who dished it. You want to comment about my tits I will comment about your dick, or agree with you about how great they are and clearly let you know that they aren’t yours to play with and never will be, you get the idea. If you dish it out you’d better not whinge when I pitch it back. I do this because , at least in my mind, it levels the playing field and lets you know your words have no power over me. I will not as a general rule ignore it, I will not be quiet and let it ride with no rebuttal.

I want to break this down a little. I wasn’t a popular kid. I was teased a lot. I never really thought of it as bullying, but that’s what it was. In those days it was almost always verbal amongst girls or when you were a girl, things have changed a lot as far as that goes. As a result of that teasing I developed a coping mechanism – words. Often bigger words and smarter sentences so I could laugh to myself when the bullies responses missed the mark.

When I was younger the teasing was pretty universal, girls were as bad as the boys. As I got older girls/women somehow recognised their words had little effect or simply decided I wasn’t worth the effort. Boys/men seemed somewhat more oblivious or entitled. Even when I was married and watching my hubby at a gig, guys would approach me and ignore my words of ‘leave me alone’ and ‘I’m not interested’. One night I had to go as far as to tell the pest quite clearly that if he didn’t leave me alone I’d have the bouncers throw him out. His response was something along the lines of ‘bitch!’. I didn’t care about the insult, I owned it because I got what I wanted, to be left alone. The point is though that I shouldn’t have had to do that.

Here are just a few highlights of how this has affected me, it is by no means a complete or comprehensive list.

I was at work once when a co-worker put his hands on me, even after I told him I was happily married and not interested. I pushed him away and told him if he did it again I’d lay him out, or words to that effect, and I spent the rest of my shift making sure I was never alone with him. Again something I shouldn’t have had to do.

Working close in a bar one night, and a male patron tells a very heavily pregnant me, that he’d show me his dick if I let him get another drink. I’ve always wondered what the bouncer saw on my face that night because that patron was rushed out of the bar so quickly I don’t think he understood what was going on. A comment like that should never be acceptable.

Again working in a bar a young guy thought stalking me would be a fun idea. Nothing I said made a difference. What did make the difference was one of the men I worked with. He took him outside one night and five minutes later bought my stalker back in crying, to apologise to me. I never had another problem with that particular person.

As a little positive note, thank you for those men who have stood with me, or got out in front of me.

This kind of thing has been in my life from a very young age. I was incredibly fortunate, my mother paid attention. An off handed comment from me at about the age of 6 led my mother to believe my best friends brother had been inappropriate and she refused to allow me to be over at their place unsupervised. Personally I have no recollection of this but my mother certainly did.

When I started dating my now husband, his ‘best friend’ said to me ‘I won’t take you away from him’, like I was some object to be stolen without a will or a thought of my own. My response in this instance was to inform him I was in no way interested in him and if he tried I’d chew him up and spit him out before breakfast. What gave him the right. (As a little side note I believe I made him cry on possibly more than one occasion because of things he said or did.)

Harassment takes many forms and to my mind bullying and harassment has gotten so much worse since I was a kid. The things my eldest daughter has been subjected to make me so mad and so angry. Sexual harassment has been added into this. The things that some of the boys at school have said and done have meant I have told her that I will stand beside her all the way should she have to use physical means to defend herself or someone else. No it’s not ideal but I will not have her believing she has to sit back and take this crap.

My girls and I all do self-defence, the sheer number of women’s self-defence classes should let us know just how wide this problem stretches. I’ve even gone as far to walk my girls through certain senarios because I’m that concerned about this. My children should not have to know what to do in the event someone tries to attack or rape them. They shouldn’t come home and ask what to do when a boy touches them or makes a sexual comment to them.

I realise there are those who still hold onto the victim blaming culture. I can tell you that there have been times I’ve dressed to accentuate my assests, I do occasionally like to look good but that doesn’t equate to permission. When I was young I dressed that way because as a bullied and somewhat fractured young woman I was simultaneously wanting approval, and society taught me approval comes from sexual appreciation, whilst trying to wrest control of that from the men and boys, to put myself in the driver’s seat. It was to my mind, a variation of the word wall I spoke about in the beginning, it was a way of changing the balance of control.

We build the defences we can and we push a great majority of these things aside and just get on with life. We do this because hitting your head against a wall of those telling you it’s nothing, it doesn’t matter, or to just get over it, gets tiring, not to mention headache inducing. The point though is we shouldn’t have to.

I find it incredibly sad that it has taken the fall of a celebrity to give this movement so much power but by goodness we need to use this momentum while we can to affect the changes we are so desperately in need of. It starts in our homes, work places and schools. It starts across genders. It starts with women not sniping at each other and to stand united. It takes men to understand that, for every time you didn’t believe, didn’t step up for a woman in the multitude of situations you’ve seen, didn’t help when they asked, or dismissed their concerns, that it did damage.

I consider myself a strong woman who certainly knows how to fight her own battles. You know what though? It is tiring. There have been times I’ve wished I simply didn’t have to stand up to a guy whilst other men stood around enjoying the show or ignoring it completely.

We need to come together, the good, the light that is in humanity, I have to believe we can put our egos aside and stand, arm in arm, in the face of inequality (subtle harassment) and the more blatant extremes – words, actions, and all the variations in between, and stare it down. To say NO MORE. That behaviour is no longer acceptable.

United things can be changed, not the past but we can learn.

Social Media and Writers

OMG I can’t believe that happened.

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No this isn’t about Deadpool, by I needed a pic to show how some things make me feel.

Social media has made some amazing things possible. I was feeling frustrated and angry one day so I went to a writer whose work I love and asked for advice. Part of me didn’t expect a response but they got back to me, I may have squee’d. Today I thanked a writer for the gift their books gave me and they got back to me with thanks.

This post isn’t going to be about how to use social media to promote your author platform, this is about using it for interaction with others and how some authors do it right.

When I was growing up you could join fan clubs for popular kids books, you could even try to write to writers through publishers, there was no guarantee that your letter would get to them, though many did get responses.

Times have changed. Some say social media is bad, it causes isolation and negatively impacts people’s ability to interact one on one. Yes it can certainly do that. It can give you the feeling of interacting when in fact you are building a wall around the real you, a false persona to project to the world at large. It can also be a very useful tool.

When I was still involved in children’s bookselling, I used social media to connect to people in the publishing industry and authors. I built a network, and it is a network that still serves me well even though my career trajectory is very different and books (writing and reading) no longer provide my primary income.

Authors, or at least some, are quite willing to interact with readers.

With all the rigmarole that went on regarding my publisher I reached out one day to a favourite author. Now I was down and desperate, I just wanted to get it out of my system to someone who I thought would understand my frustration. Sure I hoped for a response but there was a part of me who realistically believed that would never happen. She did, and Tamora Pierce you have no idea what a boost it was to me to read your considered response of advice and encouragement.

I have favourite books, yes that is plural and I cannot nor would I want to, make that list down to one. One of these books is Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi. I love this book so much I have an image from it inked onto my skin.

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I shared the above pic with Tony and he liked it. That wasn’t the only interaction I’ve had with him. One day I messaged saying I knew he sold prints of some of his work and I wondered if he could tell me where I might be able to buy one from Kenny. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what would happen next. He asked me my address and sent me this ink sketch. It holds pride of place in my office. It to offers incredible inspiration, on those dark days I can look of it and hold onto the thought ‘never abandon imagination.’

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These are not my only interactions. Marianne DePierres had a small afternoon tea with some fans one afternoon that I was invited to, and I went out for a catch up with Michael Pryor when he was in town doing signings and school talks. Both of these authors were more than willing to listen and offer snippets of advice and encouragement.

Today I felt the need to thank Raymond E Feist. I was thinking of doing something really silly, and even as I thought of it I knew it was silly. Authors don’t really want you hitting them up on social media to read your book or promote your work. Think about it. What an imposition. It puts them in an awkward position. How do they let you down without in some way coming across as a dick? So I talked myself out of such a stupid action and instead thanked him for his influence on my life. He responded, immediately. I was kind of gobsmacked.

Here is the thing though. Here is where social media gets tricky. These people you look up to, do not know you. For the most part any way. Sometimes you get lucky and actually strike up a relationship, friendship or mentorship. Mostly though they are just words sent in response to something. Oh I wish I was friends with any number of these people but they have their lives and I have mine. I’d like to think though that knowing they have done something that has helped or been memorable to an aspiring author and fan, would be a positive thing.