Breaking Up is Good for Your Skin

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Listen, Linda, listen. Things have been changing in my life faster than I can keep up.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know one of my favorite quotes by Zora Neale Hurston is “there are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Well, 2016 was a year where questions were answered, and 2017 is shaping up to be more of the same.

I am not working for the company I had worked for since November 2008. After nearly eight years, I was canned. Yep. Don’t get me wrong; I was ready to go and was looking into other opportunities, but they were quicker on the draw than I was. I saw the writing on the wall, though. When they called me to the office, I didn’t have to do the walk of shame where they escort you to your desk while you pack your things up and then walk you from the building; I had already taken my personal effects home and took my purse to the meeting.

I’m not going to bash the company. At some points I loved working there. They gave me a lot of opportunities, paid me a fair wage and provided me with great benefits. But in the end, while it was a “good” job, they position I landed in wasn’t right for me. My only regret is I didn’t get to leave of my own accord, not because I wanted to show out when I quit, but because it makes finding a new position a lot harder when you have to check the box that you’ve been fired from a position.

Out with the old and in with the new, right? Except there is no new yet. I’ve had ample time to work on new books and products for Serious Season Press, but I haven’t found a full time job yet. Luckily I had some money I could use in the interim, but the interim needs to end soon. I’ve had the opportunity to do things I never thought I would be able to do with my extra time, and I’ve committed to making the most of it.

Another major life change is I’m single. After nearly nine years, Mr. Perfect and I have broken up. I can imagine your shock, but it’s been coming for a while. It’s been over two months ago now, and I’m doing fine. I’m getting back the bits of myself I lost in my relationship.

People have noticed some changes in me. “You just look so happy.” “Your skin is looking really good!” “You look like you are losing weight.” “You’re glowing.” “You seem more like yourself.” I’ve made a lot of positive changes which have resulted  in many of these good developments people are noticing aside from breaking up, but the break up was…freeing. I don’t have the pressure of when are we going to move forward or why aren’t we moving forward hanging over my head. I don’t have to police being me to suit someone or consider someone. I haven’t been single since I was 22/23, and I’m definitely not that girl-woman anymore.

Another major life change (I know, you’re like really Erica? We can’t stand any more) is I’m moving–again. Somewhere. As yet to be determined. But in the new few months. You see, my roommate is getting married in April (congrats Tasha!) and doesn’t want my team Super Single self underfoot when her boothang moves in (I totally made that up. I knew I’d be moving long before I was Super Single, but it might be true now). So I have to move.

It’s going to be super weird to be single, at a new job, in a new place. Weird but exciting.

There have been some positive changes, too. My relationship with God has grown so much in the past year or so. I have been praying more (using my Serious Prayer Journal which I’ve redesigned), using a quiet time journal (this awesome Give Me Jesus Journal from Life Lived Beautifully), and listening to Christian podcasts, music, and sermons. It may sound weird, but my own book, The Season for Getting Serious, has been a big help to me in this season, especially the chapter on grief, “Bitter, Broken, but Blessed” and the chapter “On the Run”. I’m pumped to dive back in to Altered before the Altar with a fresh perspective, and I’m working on the follow up, which is going to be refining in a way you may not expect!

I’ve gotten more writing and business planning done. I have a mission statement for Serious Season Press. I created a few prints which have been really popular. I have some exciting releases lined up for this year. I’ve been able to focus on what’s next with my writing in a new way. I have an accountability partner I trade writing with again. My pen has been moving swiftly.

I’ve traveled on my own. I have gotten in my car, thrown on a playlist or podcast, and covered hundreds of miles to share my work with other women who want a deeper relationship with Christ. I’ve heard some inspiring, convicting messages and connected with some women who are just as on fire for what God is doing in their lives. I’ve wanted to travel more for a long time, and it’s happening.

Maybe I’m just weird, but this has been a great season to me. Not for nothing. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone and I would rather have not gone through ALL THE THINGS, much less at the same time. But for a long time, I’ve seen what many call failure as opportunity. I now have the opportunity to find a career instead of a job, a man who is just as exciting about marrying me and building with me as I am about it, and a place I can make into my home. I have the opportunity to discover who Erica Denise, 32 (in a month and ten days!), Christian, single, no kids, is. I have a feeling this is going to be a wild ride, and I’ve never shied away from that.

Hands Up (lap bar down,

Erica

I Don’t Know How to Tell You This…

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I’m the type of person you can tell anything. If you tell me your business, it doesn’t end up “in the street.”  You can tell me things you think I should know without “clap back.” But sometimes people still struggle with whether or not to tell me something, or if they decide to tell me, they struggle with how to say it. This is especially true in the area of relationships.

The counterpart to “no snitching” is “if you see something, say something.” Law enforcement has struggled to get it to catch on. It’s even harder to get people to do when it comes to someone’s relationship. Some people will speak up, but they do so in ways that put the other person off, or they do it so often they become the friend who cried “break up with him/her.” Others “what if” themselves out of saying anything: What if I’m wrong? What if the person already knows? What if the person blames me for telling them instead of the person they are in a relationship with? What if that’s just how they roll? I’m closer to the other person in the relationship, so should I say anything? I don’t know them well enough to say anything to them. The list goes on and on like Erykah Badu’s debut single.

I’ve had instances where someone I wouldn’t call a friend had to approach me with some sensitive relationship information. It’s not a situation I’d ever want to be in, but through the experience, I have first hand proof it can be done. My boss at the time saw something she felt she had to bring to my attention. We were NOT friends and she didn’t know much about me outside of work, but she decided to speak up anyway. She prefaced the discussion by saying she didn’t know my relationship or if I already knew about what she was sharing, but if it was her, she would want someone to let her know. She handled the situation delicately, and I was grateful for how she handled it.

Unlike reality TV style drama, when someone comes to you expressing real concerns and misgivings, it can be a life saver. It can save you time, energy, money, heartbreak, heartache, and sanity. It can keep you from making bitter #wastehistime2017 memes or letting your inner Petty Boop out in other ways all over social media.

As someone who has had to be the friend who spoke up as well as the recipient of the relationship penalty flag, I’ve noticed these things work best when sharing sensitive info about someone’s “boo”:

  1. Consider how you would like someone to share this information with you, especially if you don’t know them well. Also, consider the person in question. What sort of approach would they appreciate?
  2. Do it privately. Don’t put anyone’s business out on front street. You’re being “messy” and trying to embarrass them when you do it in public. No one wants to hear anything from Petty Patti.
  3. State the facts, not your opinion. If you stick to what you actually witnessed or experienced, and not your feelings or thoughts on it, you give the person the chance to think it through and draw their own conclusions. You also lessen the chance they will go on the offensive and spend more time defending their partner than hearing what you’re saying.
  4. Encourage the person to discuss things with their partner. They need to handle the issue in-house. Don’t turn it into a bashing session. Redirect them to the person they are in a relationship with to clarify things. Perhaps they don’t have the same understanding of their relationship status as their partner. Either way, they need to talk it out.
  5. Avoid telling  people what they need to do. More often than not, this just pushes the person into defense mode. Asking questions and offering support is a much more effective tactic.
  6. What they do with the information is their business. If they decide to stay in the relationship or end it, it’s their decision. If they regret it later or express the sentiment they should have listened to you, don’t beat them up about it.

Telling people after the relationship has broken up is rarely helpful. Most people do this because they wanted to spare the person’s feelings or didn’t know how to tell the person, but as with discipline, when you spare the information, you spoil the child. Who knows how much heartache and wasted time could have been avoided if you spoke up? No one. But there’s a whole lot of petty gossipping and bashing that can be avoided when you don’t start saying what you should have said when it happened.

It’s not always easy to decide when to speak up and when to keep something to yourself, especially about someone’s relationship, but hopefully the things I listed will give you something to think about and help you decide when to be someone’s wise counsel or listening ear.

Update: Not So Dirty 30

At nearly 32, I’ve done approximately half of the things on this list.

1. I want to write and publish another book. I wrote and published The Season for Getting Serious at 31 and four months, but I did it.

2. I want to take more vacations. I’ve taken a lot of trips, but they’ve been to sell books and attend conferences. So…sorta??

3. I want to speak at least once at a conference. I spoke at a ladies day (twice) and a workshop. I haven’t been a keynote speaker, which is what I was going for, but I can live with that.

4. I want to open an online shop for my books and other accessories. I opened my online shop, Serious Season Press, through Square in July, and I’ve fulfilled some orders!

5. I want to develop a class based on Altered before the Altar. I developed a schedule and an outline…and nobody signed up and I chickened out. But I’m doing it in 2017. I’m going to record videos, start a closed Facebook group, and dedicate a section of the Altered before the Altar site to the class. So excited!!

6. I want to publish a fiction book. I still haven’t done this…but I will.

7. I want to turn my living space into a home. Um…I don’t really know where I’ll be living come March (again with March moving. Why?!), and with everything feeling so transitory and temporary, I haven’t done this. But I should, shouldn’t I?

8. I want to create a dedicated writing/office space in my home. See #7

9. I want to lose 25 pounds.–Well, no. But good news is I have been eating better and exercising. I see changes. And I’m making changes and celebrating the little by little. The best part is it’s for me, not anyone else. 😀

10. I want to break a certain pay threshold (Yes, I have a number in mind; no I’m not telling). Good news: I broke it! Bad news: I don’t have that job anymore. Also good news: I don’t have that job anymore.

11. Sell the next hundred (100) copies of Altered before the Altar.  Done and done! And in one calendar year (2016). Thank you all for supporting this work.

12. Go to at least 3 more conferences. In 2016 alone, I went to the Ladies Conference in Brunswick, the National Ladies Lectureship in Alabama, The National Singles Seminar in Orlando, and the Christian Acappella Music Awards, along with several song fests, ladies’ days, and an All White Ladies Night.

13. Learn to create my own book covers. Not only did I learn how, I created my own covers for three projects. I am still a beginner and haven’t done anything overly complicated with my covers, but I took my own pictures, designed my own layout, choose my own colors and fonts, and got it uploaded successfully.

14. Lead a class on self-publishing. I’ve spoken about this at two different events, and one of them was actually a workshop/class. I want to offer a class where people have a chance to do more hands on things with publishing, but I’m counting this as a win.

15. Start offering proofreading services. I am offering proofreading services now. You can email me at inquiries[at]aseriousseason[dot]com for a quote for your project.

16. Start a book club. I’ve been trying, but everyone’s schedule isn’t cooperating. We shall see what happens.

17. Register as a business. I sorta did…then I moved to a different county. I need to do so much updating of this and get a business account and all the things. 2017. I’m doing it.

18. Shoot at least one Youtube video. I shot one. It’s posted. I’m never giving anyone a link to it because it’s horrible, but I did it. I even did a couple Periscopes. Totally counts.

19. Start a podcast. I thought I wanted to do this. I love interviewing people. LOVE it. And I love recording what I’m meditating on with my digital recorder. But I don’t know if I want to host a podcast. I think I would love to be ON a podcast, but running one isn’t something I want to pursue anymore.

20. Improve my business cards. I did this, and I really like the new business cards. They are clean, simple, and show more of the heart of my business on them than the old cards with Altered on them.

21. Create a professional vendor table setup for events. I still play around with different elements of the setup depending on the event and what new products I have, but I have the core style down.

22. Run a 5k (actually run the whole time). Nope. Maybe I will at some point, but I haven’t.

23. Find my fit/workout passion. Sorta. More on this later.

24. Drastically cut carbs. No. And to be honest, I haven’t wanted to. But I have found myself eating less of them naturally. When I try to force myself to eat healthy, I eat all the carbs. So maybe it’s best to listen to my body here instead of forcing it.

25. Get a facial. No. You will notice it’s “no”  or “sorta” for every other self-care thing on this list. Because, apparently, I’m always the last priority on my list of things to attend to. *I think I said something significant there*

26. Get a professional massage. No. I need one. But no.

27. Write a business  plan. Nope. Again, I need one. But no. Because I’ve wrestled with thinking of writing books as a business since day one and only got comfortable with the idea this year.

28. Start paying student loans consistently. *Cries* No. *Cries all the tears*

29. Contribute an article to a widely read magazine. Nope. I haven’t written an article or submitted it anywhere. Zero effort has gone into making this happen.

30. Develop my fashion sense/individual style. No, but I have been trying different things with my hair and putting more effort into other aspects of my personal style. It’s a slow process.

Paring Down and Ramping Up!

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In the month since I’ve written, I’ve been laying the groundwork to reach a few of my goals and to get things moving in the right direction overall. Sometimes life has intruded and kept me from writing, sometimes I’ve felt I have nothing to say, and other times, I’ve been so busy doing that I haven’t been writing. But rest assured, I am committed to getting back into the swing of things and writing here and elsewhere much more often.

For the last couple weekends, I’ve been moving. Moving has been a really big chore for me, mainly because only myself and Mr. Perfect have been doing all the heavy lifting. Yesterday was the day we rented a truck from Budget Rental and got the big things taken care of. When I say the big things, I mean two desks, a bookshelf, a large DVD shelving unit, a file cabinet, a chair, a futon, a queen sized pillow top mattress and its box spring, a dining room table and chairs, two coffee tables, an end table, an office chair, and probably something else my brain isn’t remembering but every muscle in my back, arms, and legs remembers intimately.

I gave a bunch of things to Goodwill and have a lot of things to go through and give away. It feels so freeing to go through my things and get rid of what I don’t use or need. I needed to get rid of some things because I’m now living with a roommate and have less space, but I didn’t realize how good it would feel to have less of certain things. I’ve gone through shoes and furniture; now I have to go through clothing to see what I have that needs to be trashed or donated. If you have the opportunity to do so while you’re spring cleaning, I encourage you to donate and pare down your possessions.

I’m still not done moving, but everything else can be accomplished with a couple more car trips and storage totes. Then it’s on to changing my address on a million forms and getting more settled in a new morning routine. Then it’s on to the financial goals.

In non-moving related news, I entered the first page of a new story in Harlequin’s Book to Blurb competition for their Love Inspired lines. It’s a story in a series that I’ve been working on for over a year now. It’s not the first book at the moment, but it’s turning out to be one of my favorites. I’m hoping to advance to the next round, which consists of the first three chapters and a synopsis.

I commissioned a cover for my NaNoWriMo 2013 story, to be released under a pen name. I’m waiting to see what the artist has come up with. It’s the first book in a romantic suspense series that I’m testing the fiction self-publishing waters with this year. I love this story and can’t wait until it’s available. I have the second and third books in the series on the go, on the back burner while I work on book to blurb, but very much in process.

Of course, I’m working on my second non-fiction book as well. I have two possibilities–a follow up to Altered before the Altar and my book focused on the Wilderness experience of the children of Israel. There’s still a lot to muddle through on both fronts, but both are developing well.

I received permission to sign up for a class to get my claims adjusting license in April. This will better position me in my current role and lead to opportunities to be promoted to a new role. The goal is a higher position and salary in the department I currently work in. We’ll see how well this strategy works.

I’ve signed up to review a ton of books and have interviews, guest posts and other fun book related posts over at Copywrite1985. Please join me there if you like romance/romantic fiction, suspense, writing related books and posts, and any literature/literary news that strikes my fancy.

Not so Dirty 30

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I am 30 years old today.

Ladies and gents, it’s the big one. It’s a monumental birthday. I survived my twenties, all that jazz. Time to do something big. Chop all my hair off. Quit my job. Go on an African safari. Elope. Do. SOMETHING. Preferably something big and life altering. Things are never going to be the same after today.

Except…they are. You and I both know it. Change doesn’t really happen overnight or at the turn of a calendar page. The God I serve exists outside of time and isn’t confined by time, so when things are happening on his time, I can’t put my timetable on it. I am so content where I am! I’m alive! There are so many people in this world who have it so much worse than I do. I LOVE where I am and what I’ve accomplished!

Except…I don’t. Not really. I feel like I could have done so much more with thirty years. I know, there are people who are amazed at what I’ve done and who think that I am years ahead of where they were or I should be, but deep down, I know I was capable of even more in these years. I could have reached so many more women by now. I could have so many more books out. I could drown in or be smothered by all that I left undone and unsaid, opportunities I could never get back, but that’s not going to change a thing.

So, if I’m going to be honest with you about turning 30, I have to say that thirty feels…disjointed. Imbalanced. I’m vacillating between feeling grateful for what I have accomplished and feeling compelled to do more. I’ve spent a few years doing busy work and now I feel like I’m starting to do more of what some call walking in purpose and others call pursuing my passion, with a few more starts and a few less stops. I’ve made enough progress that I’ve left my comfort zone behind. It’s hard sometimes not to run back to its safety, but I’m getting better at being exposed.

I’m working on ideas that would have seems overwhelming a year ago. To me, that’s progress. Progress is so much better than not trying for fear of failure. I’ve had some “no’s” and setbacks, but I’m ultimately still moving forward, which is the only way to get anywhere.

So, 30 for 30. What do I want to work on the year I am thirty?

1. I want to write and publish another book.

2. I want to take more vacations.

3. I want to speak at least once at a conference.

4. I want to open an online shop for my books and other accessories.

5. I want to develop a class based on Altered before the Altar.

6. I want to publish a fiction book.

7. I want to turn my living space into a home.

8. I want to create a dedicated writing/office space in my home.

9. I want to lose 25 pounds.

10. I want to break a certain pay threshold (Yes, I have a number in mind; no I’m not telling).

11. Sell the next hundred (100) copies of Altered before the Altar.

12. Go to at least 3 more conferences.

13. Learn to create my own book covers.

14. Lead a class on self-publishing.

15. Start offering proofreading services.

16. Start a book club.

17. Register as a business.

18. Shoot at least one Youtube video

19. Start a podcast

20. Improve my business cards

21. Create a professional vendor table setup for events.

22. Run a 5k (actually run the whole time)

23. Find my fit/workout passion.

24. Drastically cut carbs.

25. Get a facial.

26. Get a professional massage.

27. Write a business  plan.

28. Start paying student loans consistently.

29. Contribute an article to a widely read magazine.

30. Develop my fashion sense/individual style.

I have to admit some of the items on the list scare me a bit. But the overwhelming feeling I have looking at this list is one of excitement. I know I can tick off every single one of these items if I work with God instead of going out ahead of Him. I believe it’s all within my reach and more importantly, in line with God’s will for my life. Now all that remains is to do it.

XOXO,

Erica

“30 years of awesome”

30 for 30

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In about 32 days, I will be 30.

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Yeah, I’m still processing that myself. In all of this day to day hustle and bustle of life, time has been marching on. That makes me sad to think about all of the days that I was just trying to get through, all the weeks I was looking forward to getting over and done with. It makes me want so much more for myself, to be so much more fulfilled.

I know what you’re thinking. “Of course you feel that way now. Thirty is just one of those birthdays where people have another quarter life crisis. You did the same thing at 25, and you might keel over from the crisis when you turn 40. Get over it.” It’s just another birthday, another day on the calendar. My life isn’t that bad, blah blah.

Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t sign up to live a life that’s “not that bad.” I didn’t sign up to live a life of mediocre days that I just wanted to be over so I could reach the weekend, my payday, my vacation time, etc. I am tired of wasting days that should be spent doing something that I feel adds to other people’s lives and pushes them closer to Christ.

It seems ungrateful of me, and downright stupid, for Christ to come so that I can have this more abundant life and I’m just…existing. Just…trying to make it. To just see glimpses of what it truly means to be living out my purpose. To see other people stepping out on faith and doing these great things and yearn for a chance to follow my dreams and ambitions that way.

I say none of this to negate the things I have accomplished and do enjoy in my life. God blessed me to write an amazing book. I’m starting to get requests to speak at events and have secured spots to be a vendor at others. I’ve been working on other writing projects and working to get more of them out into the world. I’ve been focusing on deepening and improving my relationships. I’ve seen a lot of growth within myself.

But sometimes, when I look at the complete picture of my life as an almost thirty year old, I feel like I’m behind. It can be difficult to restrain myself from trying to “catch up,” to believe that I’m right on time for my life. Things haven’t happened when I wanted them to, but they are happening when they are supposed to happen.

I have to be honest: sometimes it sure doesn’t feel that way. I could bury myself in I should have been statements. I read a story at least once a day of someone quitting their job to pursue their dream or their calling, or someone who decides to get married and plans this beautiful wedding in two months because they don’t want to wait to start life together. I see people who have fought their way into their dream jobs, who finally found homes to buy, who have birthed babies. I see all of these people who are where I thought I would be this close to thirty and far beyond. It’s not that what I had planned was so impossible, so unattainable; it just didn’t happen for me.

The other day after a particularly bad day at work, I sat in my car so frustrated. I longed to be able to listen to someone coming down on me for something so ridiculous and say, as calmly as you please “That’s cool. Consider this my two weeks.” But…bills. Responsibilities. Obligations. Necessities like food and water and lights. I don’t get to quit my day job to chase my purpose. If I don’t do whatever it is, there is no one else. If I’m ever going to be able to write and speak full time, it’s going to take a lot more time and planning.

As I’ve been examining every nook and cranny of my life, there are so many things that need to change, many of which are coming to a head. The time to act on them is at hand. I’m not going to worry about the things I can’t control, only those I can. In the next 30-ish days, I’m going to share what I’m going to be working on the year that I am 30.

XOXO,

Erica

An Opportunity to Get Altered

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Thanks to a generous donation from someone at church, I’m finally in a position to host my very first giveaway, the Alter Me Contest!!

*cheers* *confetti*

Unlike some giveaways, this giveaway is not based on a rafflecopter, but is based on need and merit. I”m giving you a chance to tell me exactly why you feel you should win a free copy of Altered before the Altar, or why someone you love should be given a free copy.

To enter, simply post why you feel like you should receive a copy of Altered before the Altar. You can talk about changes you want to make to your relationships or spiritual life or anything else you feel reflects how winning a copy of Altered before the Altar will alter you for the better. You can enter on behalf of someone you know who would benefit from the book as well, but be sure to have their first and last name as well as their mailing address should you win a copy for them.

I’ve always wanted to host a giveaway, and I’m so excited to see the responses to this one!

Here are the rules:

To win a physical copy of the book, you must live in the United States. I can send a kindle copy as a gift to readers in Canada, England, etc.

Each winner must be at least 13 years of age.

Each entry must be shared on social media with the hashtag #AlterMe2014 or #Alteredbeforethealtar. Please tag me as well so I can see your entry. Note: whatever social media you choose should be able to be viewed others–I cannot see or accept entries from protected or locked accounts.

You can

post to my Author Facebook page

tweet me @2blu2btru

tag me on Instagram @mz_zeyzey2

Post on my Goodreads author page

and/or comment on this post or at http://www.alteredbeforethealtar.com.

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on the above social media.

Contest will run from 12/5/14 to 12/12/14 at 5:00pm EST.

The “Right” to be Depressed?

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I usually don’t comment on controversy or controversial issues in a “large” forum. If you ask me my opinion, I’ll tell you, but I don’t volunteer it, especially if I have no dog in the fight. Through the past year or so, some pretty high profile people have committed suicide or admitted to suffering from depression and I’ve said nothing. I’ve seen the posts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere in which people say things like “All that money and still not happy? SMH” or “that person is so selfish to do that” and etcetera. I’ve seen people use it as an opportunity to air their personal views on whether or not someone is going to Hell for committing suicide, and even whether someone has the “right” to suffer from depression, and I haven’t said anything.

To be honest, I feel a little silly saying something now. My limited experience with depression a long time ago doesn’t feel relevant when someone has taken their life. Over the years, I’ve minimized my experience with it and rendered it unimportant, a footnote. I never had to take any medication, so it wasn’t that bad. I was just a little sad, understandable in the circumstances. My experience wasn’t sad enough, long enough or dramatic enough for me to consider myself to be able to talk about it. It was just a few silly feelings a really long time ago. But then I think “how many people are having these ‘silly little feelings’ and sweeping them under the rug when they really need help?” and I can no longer remain silent on this issue.

Depression has about as much to do with your socioeconomic status as happiness–which is to say absolutely nothing. Depression can be caused by chemical imbalance, life circumstances, certain personality disorders, childhood traumas, or any number of things that have nothing to do with the person you are when you are affected by depression. Depression is not a badge of honor for those who are poor or who aren’t famous. Depression is NOT a “right.” It doesn’t take into consideration social constructs like white male privilege or social stereotypes such as “black people don’t suffer from depression.” Depression is NOT a choice but a disease, an affliction.

My experience with depression was mostly circumstantial. I was at a low point in life where tests and trials just kept hitting me from all sides. I had a lot of classic symptoms, but at the time, I didn’t realize it. I suffered from insomnia. I didn’t want to go anywhere. My body ached for no physical reason. I was withdrawn. Even when I did make myself go out, I was isolated and experiencing everything from a distance. I gave myself many stern lectures to “get it together” that didn’t make a difference.

Things reached a head when I was walking along an overpass one day and thought about “falling” into the traffic below (you can read about that experience on my Copywrite1985 site in the Untitled Section under “Living on the Edge”). In that moment, not being around to deal with the tangle and the mess just seemed easier. I can’t speak for those who have committed suicide, but for me, in that moment, the constant buzzing in my head stopped. That was the clearest thought I’d had in a long time. I didn’t really have to do anything; all I had to do was let go, let gravity do all the dirty work. Then all of the hard things will be over. I’d never had that eery feeling before and I haven’t had it since.

The fact that I am still here and am not depressed has very little to do with me. I made the decision not to jump or “fall,” sure, but that was because as overwhelming as what I was going through felt, I knew there was a light at the end of that tunnel. As idealistic and patronizing as it sounds, I clung to God and He pulled me out. I know for some, they also need medication and intensive therapy, and I see no restriction or commandment against that for a Christian or anyone else. If changing your diet and exercising helps, do that. If seeing a therapist works, do that. If it’s not illegal or immoral and it works, do that.

Worrying about what other people will think can play into depression. It did for me. It can deepen the disconnect, prevent people from seeking help, and serve to isolate people from the resources that could help them. Thinking that you are supposed to be above depression because you’re famous, rich, a certain ethnicity, a certain religion, or anything else is a false notion. Minimizing depression and saying your just sad doesn’t make it go away. But I also know that getting over the worries of how people perceive you and how they will perceive you admitting to depression isn’t as easy as it sounds. Eight years later and I’m still struggling through this post.

The point, then, is to bring back some sensitivity to this area. If you haven’t lived through it, you can’t  speak to the effects depression can have and what it can influence people to do. Even if you have experienced it, it doesn’t mean that you can speak for or about everyone who has suffered with it. Sometimes as people we have to learn to keep our mouths off of other people’s situations unless it’s to pray earnestly for that situation. Someone’s illness is not fodder for us to gather likes for pithy commentary or deep thoughts, nor is it to further our personal agendas. It’s not for us to “be God” and pronounce judgments or make decrees as to who has the right to suffer. If anything, it’s a call to arms against an illness, a disease–not a person.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.

God bless.

XOXO

Erica

Rejoicing & Mourning

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It’s been a busy week for me in the “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” life. One of my critique partners terminated her contract with her publisher and decided to self-publish her book after it had been released for a day. She found a cover designer and re-released her book very quickly. I’m so proud of how she handled the situation and acted so promptly to get it turned around. My other critique partner got an agent AND sold her book to Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense through their Killer Voices competition. Three books have been bought through the competition in two days! We’ve all been celebrating these writers and their achievements. The last piece of my writing circle, my beta reader, has been on vacation all week long relaxing in the sun with her love and his family. All around me, there are wonderful things happening.

In my soon to be published book for single women, I have what I’m calling an “in the meantime” section on being happy for others while dealing with discontentment. The bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn, but what does that really mean? How can you be happy for someone when you aren’t happy with where you are in life? How can you mourn with someone when things are going great in your life? Why is this important?

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of experience in this area. I’ve survived many waves of engagements, weddings, and baby showers. I’ve seen several friends lose their mothers, fathers, or close family and friends. I’ve seen friends receive “the call” in publishing as well as many receiving rejections or getting burned by publishing deals that have gone bad. None of these things happened in a vacuum when NOTHING was going on in my life. I had to decide to be there for them while going through my own things.

The call to rejoice or mourn with others wasn’t written to punish us, to rub salt in wounds, or to make us feel superior to anyone else. It was to teach us empathy and to get outside of ourselves. In order to celebrate with others, I have to put aside my disappointments, which I was supposed to roll onto the Lord anyway. When you mourn with people, you begin to be grateful for what you have and stop coveting or being greedy to obtain. Both of these are things that WE need. It also shows us our hearts. When we are truly close to people, we want the best for them and we want to be there for them when things aren’t the best.

Two pieces of advice I give in the book is to truly get to know the people you fellowship with and to pray for others in positions you would like to be in one day. Getting to know people outside of their social media or the image they project, getting to see the hard work and dedication that they put into achieving will help you to be happy for them when they finally achieve their goals. It’s called investment. If you believe someone got a promotion they aren’t qualified for, instead of being upset, pray that they can acquire the skills to do the job. These two principles really shifted my perspective on getting engaged and getting married. I was able to get beyond what I wanted and truly see others. I was able to get the focus off of myself and my selfish wants and use my life to impact others.

You’ll have to wait for the book to get the other eight points. 😀

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this week. I’ve been swamped at work because people are out, a tropical storm is threatening, all the work is hitting my desk at once, and the side hustle has picked up. Things are getting to be hurry up and wait with the book (got the cover artist–hurry up!; book is out with people to beta read–waiting!). My critique partners are kicking butt. Harlequin online community friends ALL seemed to have a book out this week (and my wallet is screaming at me to stop. Buying. Books). I am struggling to get words on the page. There aren’t enough hours in the day and at the same time there are too many hours in the working day. It’s been a week, people! But I’m so happy that I got to celebrate with my sweet friends, to focus on something other than this dragging, sagging, “I could have sworn it was Tuesday twice this week” week.

So stop being a wet blanket, a hater, a backbiter, complainer, covetous or envious fuddy duddy, or an arrogant, conceited, condescending showoff and take on someone else’s joys and hurts. Let’s grow together.

XOXO,

Erica

Freestyle Friday: No Comparison

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Freestyle Friday, and today felt like a great day to do one. The sun is shining (and hot), I’m off work, and I just received word on a contest entry (and it was a rejection/pass/other words for no thank you).I was going to wait until later in the day to check my email, but I’m glad I got it out of the way. Now that I know what’s going on there, I can go on with my day off. I follow the message thread for the contest and have seen the yays and nays rolling in all morning. I posted my first page on my writing blog here and invited others to do the same and share the links. I didn’t get any feedback in my email and wanted to get some on my page, and I figured others would like to do the same.

One thing I’m making sure not to do, though, is go into reading pages and giving feedback with a mind to compare. Competition brings out the desire to compare like nothing else. Every time I watch Four Weddings I notice how the other brides size each  other up and tear each other’s weddings down. I can’t imagine having anyone at my wedding whose main objective was to critique my every choice and make themselves feel better or worse based on the wedding I throw. But back to this writing competition.

I know how raw and open a rejection leaves me feeling (I’m three for three in the rejections game now). The last thing I want to do is read what others have written and start comparing. There’s no future in it. Either I’ll think mine is better and wonder why they got picked and I didn’t or I’ll think I could never write something that measured up. None of those are constructive. We each have our own voice. Editors pick and choose stories based on several factors, some of which have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. Maybe your story doesn’t fit their line or they have something very similar coming out soon. Maybe they would love it if they had more than the first page.

I’m also trying to keep my growing cache of rejections in perspective. I’m not use to being unsuccessful, especially when it comes to writing. It’s hard not to take rejections personally–I mean, I wrote it; that’s kind of personal. I know that the rejections don’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with my writing, but it does call into question my abilities to write for this publisher, to write in this genre, to be successful in this market. Yes, friends, the doubt crows are circling.

The rest of my life is as uneventful as my inactivity on this blog suggests. My five year anniversary at the day job is this Sunday. My relationship is pretty much the same and in the same place. I’m still planning to self-publish my Christian non-fiction book for teenage and young adult women. I talked to a graphic designer about designing a cover and formatting the book for me. I’m still looking into a proofreader for the project. I’ve been editing through the book and am amazed all over again at the things God wrote through me in this book. Prayerfully, soon I will be able to do a title and cover reveal for you guys and set a release date. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in the writing of this book. It’s almost here!!