Musings · Relationships · Writing

I’m Leaving Facebook

Two years ago I had started saying no to toxic situations. I’m still developing resolve to purge environments that encourage unfair comparisons, incompetent solutions to overall wellbeing, and speaking straightforward-blatently cause doubt, resentment,  jealousy, and mask support in an undercurrent of money-based deceit.

I don’t feel that I can nurture close friendships there. I no longer feel the need to have one more inbox to check. I won’t miss having to monitor my wall for fear that someone thinks I’m ignoring them. I don’t give a crickey about how someone wants to react to my posts. REALLY FACEBOOK? The new emoji madness is quite literally emotional validation times a thousand. Is it not best for humans to have non-Facebook friendships so as to SEE real faces and reactions? I can just see it now: kids years from now who need to hold up emoji signs in real life because thier emotions and faces are so frozen in emotional confusion.

Okay, okay. Back to not being on Facebook-it isn’t really a revolutionary thing to deactivate my personal Facebook. Actually, I’m still keeping my author page for those who do like the network.

I also love my humble blog here and those who truly care about what’s up in my life and writing can sign up for my newsletter and follow on Instagram and Twitter.

-Laurie

 

Health and Wellness · Musings · Relationships · Weight Loss · Writing · WritingPosts2016

It’s Not All About Fat

I trusted doctors for years until after post-partum depression several years ago. Now I wonder which health professionals are committed to wellness and which ones are out to make money.

I’m only one person. Who am I to judge the experts who have invested their money, time, and energy to commit to serving others’ health needs?

I run into the issue of sincerity every. Single. Time. Most careers have people who care about the patients/customers they help. But also, there is no lack of greed, where a re-coupe on investment is someone’s priority. I wasn’t- (and still am not sure) what category the doctor who consulted me to seek a weight-loss solution center-falls into. People are multi-faceted, and it goes beyond how a person outwardly acts or speaks to others, regardless of profession.

There is no doubt; I wasn’t happy in the delivery of this news from the doc that I needed to face my fears about weight-loss. About a week into sadness, anger, denial, and depression over the long road I faced, I began to accept it’s not all about fat.

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Mr.Incredible and I pose for dear daughter to photograph us in (2015) 

I can’t control others’ motives for their interpersonal skills (like the good ole doc’s polar delivery that I was beyond repair aside from surgery or diet pills)-but I can control how much I let an individual’s actions and words affect me.

It’s not “me vs.them.” It’s me and why it’s so hard to let go of this fat that is slowly killing me. I wonder what I’m trying to smother out or at times if the binge-eating is a self-punishment (beyond coping with anxiety.) I have self-harmed by removing tiny imperfections from my skin (only I see them as flaws) as I discuss in a piece I’ve written on Kyrian Lyndon’s blog. Another thing to consider is, am I possibly trying to take up more space physically with my body to make up for feeling unheard or inadequate in some aspect?

I explore the possibilities and solutions on a regular basis in my quiet time.

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Me after long day of work (November 2015)

(BTW, self-harm isn’t exclusive to teens. If you need resources to help cope with self-harm, take a look at videos from Trauma Recovery University. Helpful stuff, there.)

Continuing with the doctor’s visit: There is something else here, beyond the fat. Just like the doc who had reasons I couldn’t see for a tough bedside manner-my self-talk had been so bitter and unforgiving that I’d given in to the hoplessness. I’d essentially quit on myself.

Maybe that is why I allowed myself to cry that evening after seeing the doc. My sweet husband said the most beautiful reassurances to me and continues to support my pro-activity to live healthy in a larger body. After talking with my husband, I felt better, but I knew I was in the weight-loss marathon for the long haul. I’d progressed to the point to where I knew I am WORTH the change: Something I’ve heard over and over, but until a person CONVINCES themselves, it falls on deaf ears.

(Tiny disclaimer: the remainder of this post features faith and mentions religion and how it has affected me. If you are triggered by this in some way, please do not scroll down and know I completely understand! My blog isn’t religious, but faith has been a prominent part of my life and recovery.)

My body today is not my destiny. My body is not my present or past. My body isn’t for anyone’s acceptance-my own or others. But my body is capable of progress. It is lovely and covered up most of the time because I hold it respectfully in a world where media longs to compare one body to another. I’ve learned my clothing, style, or image is for naught. Faith in my creator has taught me these truths in the way only seeking God daily can do.

A great deal of abuse I’d survived was in the care of organized religion from a young age. Some may see it as foolish to seek faith as a refuge after enduring such fear and pain. This post may seem extremely shallow to you. I’ve been on both sides. The shallow end of religion and then the side where I know God’s endless love. Because of this, there is a very clear and distinct difference in religion and God’s actual love and care for me as his child.

Only a day ago I listened to a song that touched my heart in a special way. It is Good, Good, Father by Chris Tomlin. My father and I have met after 20 years of estrangement, but nothing could have made up for his absence. The song Good, Good Father refers to God as my father. I couldn’t stop the hot tears from streaming down my face in that precious moment at 3am when I knew I was hearing “I Love You” being whispered from God straight into my heart on Valentines Day. Those words were never uttered by my earthly father, who spent his last years before retirement inside of pulpit. Those words have been muttered from me and others who I thought I’d loved and who I thought loved me. Those words finally began to sink in as I held my newborn daughter seven years ago and my marriage survives and flourishes during emotional darkness.

If a person is survived by love, what else is there? It certainly goes beyond the anger, sadness, blame, pain, and how a body looks.

May you know love each day of your life. I’m not done with the subject of love and acceptance. I understand for many of you this is quite a surprise because I’m a private person with my faith.

Back to our regularly scheduled blogs.

Have a great week.

~Laurie

Contemporary Romance · Fiction · Giveaways · Humor · Inspiration · Musings · Relationships · Writing · Writing Life

‘Everyone Is Irish’ Day and Book Giveaway! #stpattiesday #romanticfiction

Saint Patrick’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays around the world. It seems like everyone is Irish or wants to be.

As Saint Patrick’s day approaches, I love to see the smiling faces. Everyone is in a better mood because the sun is shining, and the flowers are blooming. The formally frozen castles of the Irish and want-to-be kinship are bustling with hearty food. (bless the people who haven’t given up the resolution to eat salads for a lifetime.) Uplifting music boasts across borders and nations in celebration as parades unite us all. And uninhibited exhibitions of love and happiness that could get us all arrested are (mostly) acceptable on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Carolyn Geis, left, kisses Irish Air Corps Pipe and Drum member, Terry Healy, on the cheek during Savannah, Georgia’s 190-year-old St. Patrick’s Day parade on Monday, March 17, 2014. Kissing men in uniform is a tradition during the celebration in Georgia’s oldest city. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) {Image credit, accuweather.com }

Though the original phrase “Luck of the Irish” was an old mining expression that carried a distinct tone of derision, the Irish holiday proves to be a way the world disagrees.

I remember my father giving me a crystal tea set, made in Ireland. Since we’d reunited only a few months before, he couldn’t have known I loved Irish made collectables such as those. I now use the tea set when my daughter and I have tea parties. I like to think that although he didn’t know my gift preferences, luck had played a part in the special birthday gift. It was certainly a blessing to see my entire family around the table for the first time.

My father and I are not close, but I am happy this year to be spending St. Pattie’s Day with my husband and daughter. Like so many around the world, I will have a smile on my face. Life has given me an opportunity to build on the unconditional love of my little family and great friendships. I believe in love and luck and blessings.

I also believe that great things come to those who work hard and wait. For two years, I’ve been blogging and writing fiction. Here is my most recent stroke of luck/blessings/serendipity, posted to my Facebook Author page:

I’m pleased to announce the first book of the Riverbend Way series–Serendipity Summer–will now be represented by a new publisher. I’ve signed with Booktrope, a growing publishing company based out of Seattle, Washington.

“Serendipity Summer,” contemporary romance/womens fiction novella was originally independently published, released in November of 2014. It has now opened the door to work with an exclusive creative team through Booktrope while I focus on writing and developing the series.
No woman/man is an island when it comes to writing, producing, and publishing a book. It takes a small village to do all of it and spread the word. Those who have extended to me their expertise throughout this journey, I am eternally grateful. My sincerest thanks for jumping aboard on this journey.
I’m happy to share this moment with my daughter and husband. They have both seen me through the hills and valleys these first two years of a writing career. I’m thrilled “Serendipity Summer” has opened a door to work with Booktrope and a creative team to take this series to the next level.
Thank you all for believing in “Serendipity Summer” as much as I have. Your readership, shares, reviews, and various avenues of support have lighted the path to wonderful possibilities and opportunities!

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To show my appreciation for your support, 
I'm giving away an e-book copy of Serendipity Summer 
to a random commenter. To be eligible to win, answer 
this question: what would be your idea of an extreme 
stroke of luck? (eg.,"winning a lottery ticket", "paying
off my kid's tuition," "being able to meet my favorite 
celebrity.") Don't forget to leave your name and email in 
the comments section so I can send you the book if you win. 
The winner will be announced on upcoming blog post, 
3.23.2015. Good luck!

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Humor · Inspiration · Music · Musings · Relationships · Writing · Writing Life

Private Eye #badboys #humor #shopping

“Did you encounter a man in the women’s department who looked suspicious?” An attractive blonde woman, about early thirties and who rang up my items at the cash register asked me.

I was there for yarn. For colorful, soft yarn and possibly chocolate, because of being emotional. I had no idea about a suspicious man in the women’s department though I’d also added to the items a couple pair of sweatpants to accommodate the chocolate coma I expected to ensue later that evening.

“I uhm…suspicious man?” I asked.

The kind lady continued our discussion in a low whisper. “Yes. Apparently a strange man is lurking in the women’s department saying he’s doing research for a communications project, but he’s looking for women’s animal print panties!” She shook her head as if the man had committed a carnal sin for wanting animal print women’s panties.

I had an image of Duce Bigelow, Male Gigolo in my head and tried not to snort as strip music thumped in the brain. The cashier’s deadpan expression urged me to laugh out loud, but I held it in. Maybe like the guy “researching” was doing now, depending on his Monday panties or Friday panties. Weekends are made for thongs. But I digress.

“Ohhh nooo.” I attempted to sound disturbed. Not too hard to do, these days!

She nodded. “Yep. So if you see a guy wander around, the manager has warned him off. Hopefully, it’s no big deal.”

She sounded doubtful. I was on the verge of a cough-laugh because the “threat” was a real concern to her. I didn’t want to discount her claim of the wild panty thief under the guise of a mere communications research project.

What is love…baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Whoooaaa oh-oh whoahhhoaaa…

I squeezed my eyelids to tune “The Night at The Roxbury” by Haddaway music out of my head and focused on the cashier.
“But I didn’t see…”

“$39.95, please!” She stated my total.

When had I spent so much? YARN and CHOCOLATE. What the hell.

I paid up and smiled. “Oh, I’m sure it will be okay. Though, I’m sure there were better ways for him to go about researching for…whatever.”

The cashier widened her eyes and nodded. “I know! The women’s department! How weird,” she said.

“There are weird people everywhere. Seriously.” I smiled again.

“That’s the truth.” The friendly cashier shook her head but smiled back.

©LaurieKozlowski 2016-Present, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction permitted unless given by the author.

Health and Wellness · Humor · Inspiration · Mental Health · Messy Muses Childrens Book Project · Music · Musings · My Motherhood Memoir · Parenthood · Parenting · Relationships · Writing · Writing Tips

Confident Parenting ( Past Judgement and Fear ) #Parenting #Moms #Dads

There has been a ton of articles on mental health issues lately.

I started A Motherhood Memoir about a year and a half ago. It was a piece touching on post-partum depression, and I didn’t think it would have gotten welcome reception then. But now…I still hesitate.

Some thoughts are better left unsaid or unpublished. In my private journal is one thing–but to put it out here for the world to see is also putting my daughter at risk for certain privacy issues. There is no way to write about it without it also reflecting on her in some way. Since I love her more than life, certain thoughts will remain dead in concerns to publishing them online.

It is also quite a leap to go from writing romance fiction to press into the non-fiction world of memoir writing.

I am not an expert on mental health or parenting, but do know there are a few insights I can offer to those who may have been or are going through many of the same things.

However, there is still a desire to express this story. If you’ve tuned into Heart-to-Heart with Kyrian Lyndon on her worldwide blog talk radio show, you have heard her interview me about issues I’ve held back on discussing until recently.

A couple of things we talk about is mental health and the effects of childhood abuse. I share a beautiful memory of me and my mom sitting by a heater during a thunderstorm as the oil lamp burns.

And so though I will go through and write more about my challenges and overcoming depression as a (then) new mother, it will be from a better place of gratefulness (now.)

I’m able to see the positive aspects during those challenges, so as to note that point in life as a time for better understanding and learning to nurture myself and my daughter without apprehension.

Every parent worries, but coming from a place where childhood abuse shaped my way of life–I was beyond worried about my daughter on every occasion.

The anxiety sucked the life from me knowing any and every trip to the grocery store, to church, or even to a day at the playground was a full-fledged emergency waiting to happen. Especially when she was around the ages of three and four.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Many parents (especially new parents) continue to feel isolated and alone, even when they take actions to un-isolate themselves.

Everyone has an image ingrained on what makes a good parent. There may be a few who do not hesitate to shove their wisdom down the throats of struggling or discouraged parents in the middle of a poop-smearing or snot-rocket storm right before that comfortable and big event for childless parents, grandparents, friends, and/or family.

Of course, they mean well, but it isn’t always the perfect timing when these issues do arise. In fact, you can count on it not being the perfect time–ever.

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[Image credit: quoteswave.com]

I think what pulls so many away from well-intentioned advice is when it is shaming or meant to cause guilt. At times, those people have no clue that they have rubbed a parent the wrong way by saying things like “Santa is still in the store, but he’s leaving in ten minutes.” (When it would take the parent over ten minutes to even get to the line for Santa.) <<<< This happened to Zoko and I just before Christmas. I wanted to ask the lady if she had a clue as to what her words were causing…but it would be a waste of breath.

You learn that as you go. What battles to fight and which ones to leave alone. It’s often best to Let it go.

There are occasionally people who want to stir the pot on your parenting abilities. Keep in mind that their snarky or sometimes very harsh comparisons or advice are only reflections of their insecurities. Even when it is in humor!

It is important to your eye on what works instead of what isn’t working. Remember, people speak from their own experiences, NOT YOURS. (I have to remind myself this all the time because I’m one of those people who will hug you, buy you dinner, and rub your back if you cry, but I will also sock your lights out if I witness you saying meany-butt things to hurt my kid’s feelings.)

I encourage any parent who feels condemned or shunned by their efforts to remember this list of reminders. I’ve seen my daughter flourish in the past six years because I stay aware of these things:

* By choosing not to adopt others’ perceptions of your parenting, you are freeing yourself to give your child what he/she needs the most–love and security in a way only you can give it.

* When your children see how you are not affected by other parents or critics comments, they learn true confidence takes restraint and discipline. They learn how to focus inward on what they do right and how to improve, instead of what they do wrong, causing low self-esteem and doubt.

* Your children will be a reflection of yourself and behaviors. Imitation is not a bad thing when you parent on *your* terms, keeping in mind the love, safety, and wellbeing of your child is in your capable hands. It also does no good to go around paranoid about your every action and how it affects them because though a child imitates many of your actions, you both are human and will make mistakes. If they learn no one makes mistakes, it could cause the opposite affect…a lack of compassion and love toward others and/or themselves.

* It teaches your children how to be actively aware of conflicts and resolve them amicably, without physical, emotional, or verbal violence.

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[Image credit: smartmom.co]

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<………………..>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

2015 is a new year and new start! First and foremost, it is easy to continue doing the same old thing. Continue to pile on the guilt for not spending that extra few minutes with the little one before bedtime because you’re tired and preparing for the next day. Or you may over-commit yourself to focusing on your child’s worries instead of taking time to slow down and find a reasonable or new solution that could make you both happy.

Let’s leave those things in the past. The doubt. The worry. The guilt over the small stuff. The outside opinions that rile us up and cause discouragement either unintentionally or intentionally. Take away from those moments what is constructive, learn from them, and say “bye, bye, bye” to the rest. Even the New Kids on The Block agree. See!

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[Image credit: scottradecenter.com]

(Those random rock-star poses say “YES, these random audience members and our higher stage lighting power agrees, too!”)

Trust that the love, safety, support, and attention you give your little one(s) is sufficient because you have what it takes.

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Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Media and Appearances · Relationships · Things That Matter · Weight Loss · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Deep Gratitude Hits Home – My First Booksigning Event

 

This year has been a roller coaster. Not just for me–for many of my friends and family, for just about everyone I know. Then there is the gratitude that comes with knowing we are all not alone. We can laugh together. We can still hug our loved ones through the doubts. And those who have lost loved ones understand another’s loss–they send encouraging thoughts, offer their help, and when there are no words…simply pray healing for that person’s heart. This type of community derives from a sense of caring, compassion and being motivated to help one another knowing we are all, in some way, broken, but not defeated.

The morning after my first book signing, I awoke at 2 am to journal. Journalism is nothing new. The insomnia has to be fed in positive and constructive ways, and sitting down with pen and paper to write down things running through my head is a natural occurrence.

What was different that morning, however, was waking up in the middle of the night feeling an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.

I curled up in my robe with tea and wrote in my journal, teary-eyed and smiling. I knew this type of ‘knowing everything is going to be okay’ was beyond anything I could describe here on the blog. My heart beat with meaning, with a satisfying love, and with contentment… is how to describe it.

An author from whom I had bought several of her books had endured the death of her husband only the night before my book signing. I didn’t want to type my condolences in some thread on Facebook (though I am grateful for those who did), but I wanted to hug her.

I wrote about my first book signing, too, and what a wonderful experience it was. Not bragging, but seeing those in the community come out to buy my book. To talk with me about my book and to see, in action, what beautiful people surround me on this journey. I was overwhelmed with love and happiness at what I thought would be a room of empty chairs.

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~ Morning of book signing photo, as I wrote out an outline on flashcards for the event. ~

My sister helped to take a few pictures of friends, family, and new acquaintances approached the signing table. I had a great time speaking with individuals one-on-one. I’m not one for sitting around when socializing, especially as the guest-of-honor at an event.

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Look! No sweater to cover up those arms! Insecurities, be damned.

People showed up. More people than I ever thought possible. It wasn’t the mosh pit of a concert (thank goodness), but it was a gathering of smiling faces, a pleasant reunion with some I haven’t seen in quite a while. Even the local Italian bakery my family and I frequent made a delicious cake for the event as soon as they found out about it. My husband and daughter had surprised me with the cake only moments before I spoke to the small crowd.

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“CONGRATULATIONS!”

I hugged my husband and daughter when I saw the gift they had bought for me, and later laughed when my husband told me the pastry chef and bakery owner asked him what message to put on the cake…this was his reply: “You’re asking the wrong person. My wife is the writer and would know what words to put on there.”

As you can see, the message is simple, but still, looking at it now, it makes me smile.

The stack of books of my new novel, Serendipity Summer, soon dwindled down to small stack as people offered warm smiles, questions, book chat, and I got to catch up with a couple of good friends. My family gave hugs and congratulations as their kids were hanging out with my young daughter in the childrens part of the library. Though not everyone was blood related, I felt at home as I handed each person who showed their support by buying my book a copy of Serendipity Summer with a bookmark and the pen I signed it with. The potpourri mason jars, once filled with pens, emptied by the end of the event.

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The front book on top of the table, beside the business cards, is my original proof copy. I read the excerpt from it, and the big jar in the back, was for the giveaway of the self-spa gift set raffle.

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It was a wonderful time of celebration and beautiful memories. The morning after the event my husband asked when I had woken up. He always seems to know when something is off or if I’m going through an emotional time.

My daughter was shuffling around in her pj’s, petting the dog and yawning while my husband was turning omelets on the stove, with a spatula, for breakfast. I had a cup of coffee this time and looked at him with watery eyes as I wrapped my hands around the warm cup.

“What’s wrong?” He asked.

He stood holding the spatula, eyebrows crinkled, while my daughter and dog began to fill my lap, offering kidlet hugs and puppy kisses.

I chocked up but finally got out what I wanted to say.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

He turned the heat down on the stove eye and started towards us.

“Happy tears?”

I nodded as he embraced all of us in a big hug.

Health and Wellness · Inspiration · Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Messy Muses Childrens Book Project · Parenthood · Relationships · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

A New Project: Messy Muses Childrens Books

Many of you who follow this blog know I write romance. My five year old daughter and I are also having fun creating a childrens book. It gives me a break from revisions–though I’m excited about the cover release, coming up soon, for Serendipity Summer!–and it has also given her an outlet for expression as she creates the illustrations. We don’t worry about how messy it gets, but we enjoy cutting loose each weekend with a ton of multi-textured finger paint as we break out the brushes with all sorts of colorful backdrops for the foundation. We explore our messy muses by telling the story we want through art.

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It has also been a way for me to communicate with her in a more relaxed environment. I have felt our communication growing stronger and our bond growing as we continue to build upon our story with these fun illustrations. If you’d like to know more about Messy Muses, our new childrens book project, please feel free to follow our blog. We hope to have our first newsletter out soon and would love for other parents, teachers, musicians, and artists who want to spread the word for child literacy through art, music, reading, and writing…to be guests on our Messy Muses blog and be involved with us on our site as the project continues to grow.

Learn more about Messy Muses HERE. Or go straight to the BLOG. Our first post includes an audio interview, where Zoko, my daughter, interviews me about being prepared.

Now back to revisions with Serendipity Summer! As promised, I will be posting back here, soon, to let you know of the progress concerning my romance writing. Be on the lookout for the beautiful new cover designed by Kim Killion from The Killion Group. I’m so excited to share it with you! Thanks for being a part by following LaurieWriting.

Have a wonderful week! 😀