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Posts tagged ‘#inspiration’

To Write Love On Her Arms

I just finished a movie called To Write Love on Her Arms and I have to tell you it touched me more than almost any movie I can remember.

Let me start by saying I do not struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. I am not bi-polar. I am not a cutter. I am not suicidal.

I am also not religious and for me this was not a story about any god or religion.

What I am is a person who battles depression and anxiety. I am a person who has struggled in life, at times, to find a reason for waking up another day. I am a person who has felt lost within herself. I am a person who believes in hope. I am a person who KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I NEED other people in my life for me to be okay. No matter what anyone believes about themselves, we all do.

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To Write Love On Her Arms is the true story of a young lady named Renee Yohe. It all started with a blog post by her friend Jamie who, after meeting her and helping her detox, found her story to be encouraging. He wasn’t encouraged because she had already triumphed, but because she was damaged yet still not broken. She was beyond help in the eyes of most of the world but surrounded by a small group of people who loved her enough to help her put her life back together; even if they had to keep gluing the shards of her hope over and over again.

Sometimes that’s all you need in life; that person or those persons who stick. The ones who see your scars, visible or not, self-inflicted or not, and don’t flinch. The ones who love you when you feel unlovable. The ones who hope for you when you feel hopeless. The ones who see you plain as day when you feel completely lost. Everyone needs those people. EVERYONE.

There have been days when the war being waged in me felt like it could rip me to shreds. I can only thank my own fear of being controlled, by persons or substances, that I didn’t use drugs and alcohol to escape to some place away from myself.

Renee’s story reminded me just how much I depend on my people. My best friend, my internet friends, and my chosen family are all intricate stitches in the fabric of my being. When my edges are frayed I just turn to any one of them and their kindness and love and acceptance weaves the hope back in until I’m whole again. For me; that love and that hope are my religion, my higher power. I turn to these things like a flower turns it’s face to the sun.

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Some might look upon this young woman’s face and wonder how could a young life be so bad or so difficult that addiction and pain feel better than merely existing. But I get it. Sometimes just waking up to exist another day is the monster beneath the bed, the unknown thing you fear the most. Perhaps it’s true that “it’s never as bad as you imagine it will be,” but then again maybe that’s the lie we tell ourselves to get out of the bed and step foot in front of the beast waiting to devour us. Until it’s your bed, your feet, your monster, you don’t know for sure.

For many of us the thing that gets us past the monster, the fear, is the person or persons waiting outside the door for us. Our children, our spouses, our families, and our true friends give us the courage to hope that our exposed limb won’t be snatched. Not today at least. Trying to find that courage when there’s no one waiting on the other side of your fear, whose mere existence in your life is the reward for getting there, is damn near impossible.

https://twloha.com was founded by Jamie after the overwhelming response to Renee’s story showed him just how many people were in desperate need of someone in their corner. Because honestly the only thing worse than hating yourself, hurting yourself, being afraid, and suffering from mental illness of any kind is doing it all alone. There’s enough people on this big ball we all live on that no one should have to do it all alone.

My hope is that even just one of you will read or watch Renee’s story, now that I’ve told you about it, and you will think of someone who needs to know they aren’t alone in life, and you will SHOW them you are there for them; you will find time in your busy life to help someone hold their pieces together.

And if you are a person who needs to connect to someone who sees you through your own fog; who needs someone to hand you the hope and love you can’t quite grasp on your own; who needs someone to hold the pieces in place as you glue them back together for maybe the hundredth time; who needs a reason to face the monsters that lurk around the corners and behind your eyes…I beg of you…reach out.

I promise you that someone doesn’t have to have walked in your shoes to be exactly who you need. They only need to be let inside your walls. No one can be your person if you don’t allow them to be. Surround yourself with people who want to be there for you and then let them.

Have hope. Be brave. As Renee said, “The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”

See the blog post that started the To Write Love On Her Arms movement here: https://twloha.com/learn/story/

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Going After Your Dreams

Chase Your Dreams!

When I was about 10 I fell in love with reading. I started out like most kids with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Seriously, who didn’t love Ramona Quimby or Superfudge? I was going through these books so fast that I was quickly running out of “appropriate” things to read. By age 12 I was reading Sweet Valley High romances and started writing my own version of those when I couldn’t get my hands on new ones in the series. By 13 I’d discovered my mother’s secret stash of historical romances.
Like many latchkey kids, I was bored and nosy. I found a shelf in my mother’s closet that contained rows and rows of these thick books featuring women in amazing gowns and men with lots of muscles and long gorgeous hair. The titles were even exotic. Savage Thunder, Defy Not The Heart, and The Fires of Winter.  Certainly not the kinds of titles you’d find on a teen romance. I would occasionally flip through them but was daunted by their length. One day I discovered one of the books not only had a character with my name, but it was about a third smaller than all the others. That was enough for me to give it a chance.
I opened the book, right there in the closet, and began reading. 4 hours later when my mother came home I was still sitting in the closet and was almost finished with the book. That was it. I was hooked. The sex didn’t concern me. It wasn’t actually graphic, just passionate. I’d seen much worse on cable TV. My mother wasn’t mad, except for the fact my chores hadn’t gotten done and I was sitting in her closet (which actually confused her more than anything I think).
I started going through my mother’s collection of romances one by one for the next 3 years. What hooked me was the unlikely pairings, the “I’d die for you” devotion, and the fact that no matter what they faced somehow they came together in the end to be together.

Happily Ever After.

Who doesn’t want that?
I’ve heard parents blame a young girl’s unrealistic expectations of love and romance on Disney and their multiple princes who always save the day for their true love. Disney had nothing to do with creating the hopeless romantic in me. It was Penelope Neri, Johanna Lindsay, and Julie Garwood. Even though these stories were set mostly in other countries and all in another time I came to love escaping into the lives of the heroines who tested the boundaries of society, pushed the limits of ladylike behavior, and always found their happy ending in the arms of true love. From Indian maidens to viking princesses to duchesses of grand estates, they all had one thing in common; a happy ending.
Early on I started imagining how I wanted the book to end before I ever got to the ending. Sometimes I was right in line with the author, sometimes their ending was much more intricate than I could have imagined, and sometimes I really believed my ending would have made the book better. I was feeding my imagination and building stories in my head before I was even fully aware of what love and romance were all about.
I didn’t have a traditional English or Grammar teacher. Mrs. Cook was more concerned with teaching mythology, Shakespeare, and all the manias and phobias. I still don’t know how to diagram a sentence and I couldn’t tell you what a split infinitive is, but I can tell you how the Goddess, Athena, was born and draw you a pretty accurate depiction of an Elizabethan theater. The rules for commas are lost to me, just ask my friend the editor, and my ability to stay in the same tense comes and goes.
Then came my Junior year of high school with American Literature followed by a Senior year with World Literature. From Dante’s Inferno to Pride and Prejudice to The Raven to Canterbury Tales. I LOVED IT ALL. In college I read W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This list goes on and on and there were so few that didn’t fascinate me.
I took every writing class I could get into and found that after years of reading my imagination was endless. My technique definitely not comparable to the greats, but I was a bottomless well of ideas. I could pick and emotion and write a story that would make my teacher feel it. I could pick a life and convince the reader I’d lived it.

I’d found my passion.

Many people go through life never finding what it is they are passionate about. I KNEW I wanted to be a writer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to write. I had no idea what I wanted to write but I knew I had to tell stories.
Like most people life went on and I got busy just making a living and my dream was put on the back burner, ignored, and almost forgotten. I was still reading anytime I could, but I’d stopped writing.

The Book That Changed Everything

In 2011 a phenomenon happened when a previously unpublished writer self-published and self-promoted a trilogy of romances set in a fictional world of billionaires and BDSM. It took off like no other adult book I’ve ever seen. The sex scenes made those historical romances seem innocent. The main character of Christian Grey was suddenly creating a frenzy of women who coined the term “Book Boyfriend.” He was sexy, rich, mysterious, a little dangerous, and would do anything to keep his woman. Without the half naked people on the covers moms everywhere were able to put these books in their purse without fear of being caught with their smutty, romantic reads. Finally giving into the trend I read the trilogy, in less than a week, and then craved more. I quickly found authors with similar works featuring alpha men and luxurious lifestyles where possibilities were endless and creative sexuality was encouraged. All that had been “taboo” was no longer. I fell in love with other authors like Julie Kenner, Maya Banks, and Tara Sue Me.
Now a woman in my late 30s and early 40s my imagination was sparked in new ways and I began to write again. Short stories. Snippets of scenes. Nothing extensive. Thanks to social media I was able to follow and actually interact with authors I was reading. One of the best days of my life was when Julie Kenner sent me a friend request on Facebook then just a few months later another author idol of mine, Lauren Blakely, saw a post I’d written mentioning her and she also sent me a friend request. These are women selling millions of books to millions of fans and I can now interact with them directly. I found indie authors of every sub-genre of romance and through social media interaction started actually building friendships and have extensive conversations with these women. Through these authors I’ve discovered other authors who I not only like as people but love as authors. My book collection, both paperback and e-book, is massive. I’ve become engrossed in the world of romance and writers.

BUT…

The more I read the more I doubt I have any place among these amazing writers. Some offer to read what I’ve written and many encourage me to just write until I get more comfortable with my skill level and improve naturally with time and practice. Fear has a way of making a person immobile. Fear of not being good enough and of being a small fish lost in a giant ocean kept me from even trying. I kept making excuses to keep my dream just that, a dream.
I started this blog to give me an outlet to write whatever I wanted without fear of success or failure. It’s for me. It’s nice that others have read it and enjoyed it when I’ve written, but that wasn’t the point. I would never have guessed that this one thing I did just for me would lead to all the crazy things happening just over the last several months.
First, I received and email from and unknown sender. I actually opened it simply because of the subject. Smut For Charity. Wouldn’t you open it?  It was an offer for previously unpublished bloggers of romance to submit their own short story for publication in an anthology. I read that email probably 10 times and kept finding excuses not to reply. I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the energy, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have any fresh ideas, etc, etc. Then my daughter came to visit me. After listening to all the “practical” reasons she was putting aside her dream of art school and seeing her enthusiasm for art dwindling because she believes that her dreams are always going to be out of reach I was heartbroken for her. A parent never wants to see their child settle for less than their greatest potential no matter how impractical or impossible it might seem. But here I was doing the same thing I didn’t want her to do. I had all kinds of excuses for why I couldn’t be the writer I always dreamed of being.
So I answered the email. I kept putting off writing my story because I didn’t think it would come out as well as the ideas that were forming in my head. Finally I made a promise to one of the ladies putting together the anthology of a day I would submit my story by. Someone was counting on me to follow through. I wrote my story in less than two days and sent it in.  There’s things I’d change now if I could since I’ve reread it probably 100 times but it’s my first time and you learn as you go. The people who have read my story have given me a lot of great feedback. So much that I decided that this year I would face another fear and take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and meeting a goal of 50,000 words written. I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m well on my way. In the meantime the anthology is being put together as I write this and is due to release on November 29th. My story is not only the first one in the book, but also an excerpt from the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo will be in the back of the book. We have several prominent authors supporting us and promoting the anthology. Even Ms. Julie Kenner has offered to promote the release, among other super supportive author friends I’ve made.
As an unpublished writer I’m learning the cost of things like editors and formatters and cover art. I have an amazing author friend who offered to edit my first work for me when I’m ready, which is a HUGE chunk of the cost, and so many ready to support and share my solo book when it comes out and my short story isn’t even out yet. I’m facing these fears reluctantly but every step of the way I keep reminding myself that I want to show my daughter that if you want it you have to go for it. You can’t give up before you’ve even tried. You can’t make excuses and expect any results. I’ve already invested in cover art for two books and have the support and push from those who won’t let me turn back.

Every day I write a little. Some days I write a lot. What matters is at the end of the day, before you close your eyes, ask yourself this question; what did I do today to get one step closer to making my dreams a reality? It doesn’t matter how small it is, do something, EVERY SINGLE DAY and don’t settle until you’ve exhausted every possibility. You can’t be the best if you don’t try. You can’t grab the trophy if you don’t show up.

Reading romances taught me if you want it bad enough you make it happen. Never give up hope until you find your Happily Ever After.

Monique P.

chances

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Wynn in Doubt by Emily Hemmer

Check out this book on Goodreads: Wynn in Doubt http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25497061-wynn-in-doubt

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You MUST read this! Seriously…just go to Amazon and use your 1-Click finger right now. Just do it. You’ll thank me later!

I’m so glad I read this and once I started I couldn’t put it down. I had to know how Lola’s story ended and how it impacted Wynn’s story. There’s a line about people only being afraid to die if they are afraid they haven’t lived…not a direct quote ….that was like a punch in the gut. I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought this at 43 years old. What have I used these 4 decades to do? Why do I keep talking myself out of following my dreams? Maybe I’ll fail but I have to try. I have to stop being afraid to try and stop making excuses for not trying. I want to write. I’ve been doing it as a hobby since I was 12. And maybe I’m no good really but maybe 1 of the stories in my head will move someone like this one moved me. Just maybe. And if not, I’ll still be able to say, “I tried. I wrote that book (or that story).” And I’ll have left that piece of me behind to show I was here and I lived.

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I cried several times and many more times I had to pause and absorb what I had just read. It felt like Emily Hemmer wrote this just for me and I found it just when I was supposed to. That feeling is a rare treasure. I’m a fan for life!
This book will be read again and again.
Start living!  (Right after you read this book!)

Happy Reading!
Monique P

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