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MIA

Holy crap.

It’s been almost three months since my last blog post but I swear, I’ve been busy. I’ve been writing two books, watching lots and lots of baseball, and working. What I haven’t been doing is blogging, cleaning my house, and making healthy dinners. To be fair, I haven’t been writing books as much as I’ve been watching my boys play baseball and grocery store trips have sometimes happened at ten o’clock at night. It’s the life of a writer, career mom who has two boys in sports.

With the season over, the evenings that I don’t work are free now and I’ll be able to finish writing my books, clean my house, do the laundry, spend time with my husband and dogs, try and hit 10K steps on my FitBit, and overall focus on playing catch up with my life.

It’s funny how every year at the same time, life stops and is spent at the baseball field. While it can be exhausting and … exciting… and exhausting … I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know there will be a day when it’ll all be over and it’ll be sooner rather than later. I made the decision a long time ago that I’m going to value the time I have and if that means no writing for a month or so, then so be it.

I have to admit that when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.  I’m dreaming about my stories, and I’m learning about writing and the book business. I’m a podcast addict and I listen regularly to author gurus like Tim Grahl, Bryan Cohen, Jim Kukral, Joanna Penn, Mark McGuinness, and Mark LeFebvre. There’s value in learning and growing in my craft. If I’m not writing then I can do the next best thing and stretch my brain, taking advantage of the wisdom and experience of others who are willing to share their valuable knowledge.

I’m finally writing again and the stress is slowly melting away as I get reacquainted with Maggie and Sam, the characters in The Other Half of Me, the romance novella that I’m working on. I’m getting lost in their life and escaping from mine, and it’s a feeling that I’ve been missing.

It’s not that I don’t love my life. I do. Every bit of it.

As much as I love the insanity of baseball season with my boys, I also love reading and writing. It’s always been a part of me and I love it. I need it. I miss it. While I loved my time at the baseball fields this summer, I am glad to be back.

To celebrate, I’m running a sale of The Eva Series, the Complete Collection. Instead of the regular price of $7.99 for the ebook, all three full-length novels with numerous five-star reviews, are only $.99. Ninety-nine pennies! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do and as much as I love writing, and as much as I love this amazing life that I get to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Flag

Question…

When do you give up?

What is your breaking point in life? How do you know when enough is enough and that its time to say that you’ve  done all you can do but you can’t do it any longer?

Does anyone ever know? Is it when you’ve almost lost everything? Is it when someone else tells you that it’s enough?

Life is funny this way because there is never a clear answer and isn’t it different for all of us?  This journey that we’re on doesn’t come with a guidebook or a set of rules. We make them up as we go and often we’re just flying by the seat of our pants. As much as we might want to believe that we are governed and guided by the same principles in life, aren’t they different for everyone? Who gets to decide when we’ve reached our potential? Who gets to say that we will never go any further than where we are, right now? When do we face reality? When do we face our mortality? When do we raise the white flag and say that this isn’t working any longer, and that its time to give up on our dreams?

Who gets to say when we’re too old to try and that we’ve reached our full potential in life?

Are the people who tell us that we’ve done enough and that we should give up our friends or our foes? Or  are the people who are feeding our empty dreams and the belief that we can reach deeper and go farther, the real enemy? Are we sabotaging ourselves by continuing to believe in our purpose?

How do you ever know? Are we foolish and stubborn not to listen, or do we follow our hearts, and pray that we aren’t wrong?

When do we give up on it all and face reality? When do we stop believing?

Does anyone know?

 

 

30 Day Writing Challenge-Ageism

Not too long ago, one of my employees thought that I was the mother of a twenty-something year -old fellow employee of hers. Of course, I balked at the idea until I realized that I AM old enough to be her mother. Gaaaaaah!

In my mind,that twenty-something year-old employee is still me. Then reality sets in and I realize that twenty years have gone by in the blink of an eye. One marriage, two children, two houses, two dogs, and one long and successful career have flown by like a hurricane and I’m twenty years older than when it all began. 

It’s true that I no longer party until the wee hours of the night and that most nights I’m asleep before the evening news has concluded. I can no longer eat whatever I want or lose weight just by thinking about it. I have aches and pains that make me wonder what the hell happened to my body, and I no longer get carded at the bar, on the rare occasion that I’m in one. I’m now the old person at work, the experienced one, and am the senior person in most cases. My kids think that it I’m old and uncool because I don’t know who Fetty Wap is, and I agree with them most days.

I would be lying if I said that getting older didn’t suck sometimes, but I realize that it’s just part of life and I have no choice but to accept it. Fighting it is futile so I embrace my older self, appreciate the wisdom I’ve obtained, and accept that I’m going to have to visit my elliptical a whole helluva lot more than I’ve been. 

Now that I’m no longer the young kid who is up-and-coming, do I ever worry about my place in this world? 

No. 

In many ways, I think think that age is a state of mind. I’ve known seventy year-olds that are like forty-year olds and I’ve known thirty year-olds that remind me of eighty year-olds. When you choose to stop adapting, growing, and learning then you become less useful, less sought-after, and less valuable, no matter how old you are. I think that age matters less than state-of-mind. Does ageism exist in the world? Absolutely! It happens to those who are younger and those who are older and to say it doesn’t exist would be naive. Both think that they know more than the other, but each has something to teach the other. I now know who Fetty Wap is, and my kids learn from their old mom every day. I learn from my younger managers and employees and hopefully in turn, they learn from me. Because we co-exist and appreciate each other, the world is fuller and richer.

I’ve never felt less valuable because of my  age, whether it was to my family, my job, or the world. In many ways, I have so much more to contribute now. I’m wiser, smarter, better organized, more patient, and more intuitive than I’ve ever been. I’m also kinder and better able to let go of things that have hindered me in the past, like toxic people and unnecessary anger. While I no longer have the body of a twenty year old, I am more comfortable in my own skin, yet still willing to improve myself. As with anything in life, age is about perspective and the willingness to have an open heart and an open mind. 

There are times when I wish that I still got carded, but I wouldn’t trade my life now, for any of it. Even though I’m older, I wouldn’t want to learn all of those difficult lessons all over again or struggle through the growing pains. I’ve earned every laugh line and worry line that’s on my face, and I’m stronger for every trial and tribulation that I’ve endured. So, I say to Hell with ageism. Mine will never stop me or define me completely, and if I decide to write another book, get a tattoo, or dye my hair pink when I’m 70, then so be it. The world will just have to be prepared and deal with me! 😊😊😊

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

Being Perfectly Imperfect 

Recently Author Harper Sloan posted a challenge on Facebook to share pictures of a time when we have felt perfectly imperfect. This challenge came at just the right time when I’m already on a journey to feel better about myself through exercise and eating better. I posted  a picture that was taken six months after having my youngest son, though there are hundreds of pictures I  could’ve could’ve chosen from. I’ve spent years hiding from the camera because I hated how I looked. I was always afraid that I would I look too fat or have a double chin. They are all the pictures I hide from my timeline on Facebook or untagged myself in, with the hope that nobody would recognize me.

The truth is that I’ve felt horribly imperfect my entire life. Even when I was in high school and a size nothing, I still never felt good about myself. As a younger woman in my 20s and in the prime of life, I never saw myself for who I was. Even when I didn’t need to, I went to Weight Watchers because I thought that would help me feel better about myself. It reflected the fact that I wasn’t comfortable in my  own skin even at such a young age.

When I got to my 30s, which were my childbearing years, I felt even worse about myself than ever. Even though my body had created the beauty of life, I was miserable. This is evident in the numerous videos that my husband took when I was running away from the camera, and yelling at him to put it  down. I didn’t want to see myself and what I looked like and I didn’t want it preserved on film, forever. Even in my latter 30s when faced with personal trauma, I lost a lot of weight but even though I wore smaller clothes,  I still couldn’t find happiness with myself or the person that I had become. 

Now that I am deeply rooted in my 40s, for the first time in my life, I feel more comfortable with who I am and what I look like. I’ve decided to come to terms with embracing my imperfections. I know that if I want to be healthier it’s completely my choice. 

Physically, I know that I have a lot of work to do but for the first time it’s more for health reasons then for aesthetics. Vanity has been replaced by necessity, and the necessity is to feel good and be around for my children for a long time. I simply want to be stronger and healthier which is more important than anything else. 
I don’t blame anyone else for my insecurities or make excuses anymore . I don’t fault society,  magazines, movies, or television. I don’t blame anyone although it’s tempting to pass the buck, and blame the generation before, or the world around me. But instead I choose to own it and change it. If I don’t, where will the cycle of insecurity end of it doesn’t end with me? 
As I get older I understand that the best that I can do is to be the best person that can be. I’m short and I’m stocky, built more like a gymnast than a Barbie Doll, but when I was younger I didn’t see that I was built like an athlete. I only saw that I didn’t have a tiny waist and slender shoulders and I only saw the things about myself that I didn’t like, and didn’t see anything that I could like. I’m learning that the key is to be happy with who I am and to look for reasons to love myself. I know there are things about myself that are what they are. There are parts of my body that no matter how much I work out, how little I weigh, or how small my clothes are, that will never change. I will always be built the way that I am  with big calves and broad shoulders and there’s nothing I can do about that.  
But I can be healthy and better toned with lower blood pressure and better cholesterol. I may never be the size I was in high school, but that doesn’t matter now, because I didnt even appreciate it then.

I have a long history of faking self-confidence pretty well. But when someone I once knew saw through it, they asked me why I had such low self-esteem. They told me that I was pretty and had much to be proud of and thankful for but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t answer them. Even now for as many times as I’ve asked myself that very question I still don’t fully know the answer. Maybe it began in childhood or sometime later in life. There were a lot of things I was confident about but deep down I still struggled with myself, daily. I often feel that the mirror we look into reflects so differently for us than it should. We fail to see the beauty within us that others see. Instead  we focus on what we perceive to be our own ugliness because that’s what we choose to see. If we could only embrace what the people who love us see, and envision ourselves in the best possible light, our world would be a far more beautiful and peaceful place.

I’m raising sons and I’m finding the boys have just as many insecurities as girls do. I’m trying to teach them to see the good in themselves especially when they don’t want to.  While I don’t ignore their insecurities we talk about them with acceptance and love, and I try to help them understand that its a part of their beauty and who they are. I’m trying to teach them that there is no such thing as perfection and that we only have the best version of ourselves to live up to.

It has taken me over 40 years to realize this and accept it. While this is not the truth I live with every single day, it is the truth that I strive for. I’ve accepted that I am perfectly imperfect with my wrinkles and extra pounds, my broad shoulders, my not so tiny waist, and my huge calves that won’t fit into every pair of boots. I’m learning to love myself for who I am while still hoping to become the best version of myself that I can be.

Truly that is the best thing that I can ever do and the best gift I can ever give myself or my family. Yet in all of my perfect imperfection, it’s amazing to know that they are completely and fully in love with me. 

Even when I struggle to love myself. 

Racism-Black and White And A Little Yellow

A local news reporter said an incredibly stupid thing today on the morning broadcast, and in reading the tweets and Facebook posts, you would think she was the biggest racist on the planet. There are comments calling for her immediate termination, referring to her as a racist (or worse), and maligning her character. Maybe she is a racist, but it’s highly doubtful because by all accounts, she and her family are very good people who are not racist in any way.  Although her comment was extremely ignorant, it doesn’t appear to be malicious or intentional, yet many tweet that it doesn’t matter.

I know I may draw some negative backlash for even saying that, but this called is called “Inside Jen’s Mind” so I’ll say what I think. And what I think is that racism is a funny thing, something we are always looking for in everything. It’s not funny-haha, but funny-strange, because it’s often assumed but not always true, though it is always divisive.

First let me tell you a bit about me. I was adopted from Korea when I was around the age of two. Abandoned by my own parents, I was adopted by a Caucasian couple who couldn’t have children of their own, neither of them having a racist bone in their body. My dad taught me that racism was stupid and that people of every race could be jerks, and he was right. I remember when I would come home after someone made fun of my race and instead of getting upset, Dad would say “They make fun of you because you can take it. If they’re picking on you, then they’re leaving someone else alone.” So I made that my mantra, knowing that I was strong enough to take it, even though I was a small little girl with slanted eyes and olive skin who didn’t look like anyone else I knew.

I went to school in an era when they were integrating the schools to ensure there was diversity. It didn’t matter much to me, because I had probably met two people in my entire lifetime that even slightly resembled me. So instead of going to school five minutes from my house to go to school with kids that didn’t look like me, I was bussed thirty minutes from my house to go to school with kids who didn’t look like me. Diversity didn’t mean much to me at that time. I was as diverse as it got, neither black, white, or hispanic and there were many times when I was out-of-place and felt very alone. I would love to tell you that all of my experiences were positive ones, but they just weren’t.

People were ugly, adults and children alike. A relative who I never really knew asked my mom if I was going to have surgery to ‘have my eyes fixed,’ and most of the time people just assumed I was “Chinese.” Often-times kids would make strange ignorant noises that were supposed to resemble Asian people speaking, and the questions like “What are you?” were asked often, even into adulthood. When I was little, I used to feel my eyes beginning to slant even more when faced with those situations, unable to hide the fact that I just didn’t look like everyone else. Today they call that “bullying” but back then it was just “kids being mean” and I knew I would have to face it all of my life because there was no surgery to made my eyes ‘less slanted.’

Looking back, I think Dad saw something in me that I had yet to see in myself, because I was strong enough to take it, and I did. Aside from elementary school, those events rarely drove me to tears, and most kids chose to pick on the girl with the lisp and the unibrow instead of the girl with the slanted eyes. As I grew older, kids weren’t as mean to me, and by that time I had made enough friends that I was usually left alone.

When I was growing up my family was white, my friends were a mixture of black, white, hispanic, Asian, and my best friend from seventh grade through high school was black. My race wasn’t important and it didn’t make me special, better, or worse, than anyone else. Nobody cared that I was Korean and I found myself finally fitting in and finding my place in the world.

But the world is very different now in countless ways. It’s more hypocritical and full of hatred which I think makes it difficult for us to look beyond our outward appearance, because our differences are constantly being highlighted in the media. The social climate is uptight and unforgiving, and nobody seems to be able to laugh at themselves and we are obligated to be offended by everything that happens in the world. We assume everything is meant to be offensive, so we oblige. I realized the world was changing when it became taboo to call an Asian person ‘Oriental’ or when the term “politically correct” became gospel, rather than policy.  Instead of coming together, we push apart, expecting and waiting to be pissed off about something… anything.

So says the Asian girl.

The scars of being teased and made fun of because I was different, certainly run deep. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have someone say horrible and ugly things to you just because of how you look, unless it’s actually happened to you. As a child and even as an adult, I’ve had people of all shapes, sizes, color, race, and nationality call me names, make ignorant comments, make gestures, assumptions, and even make their eyes slanted so they would look like me. But I call that ignorance and stupidity, and I refuse to let it change my heart or make me a prisoner. If you know me, you know that I’m not above telling someone to “screw off” if the situation calls for it, and I believe racism is one of those situations that certainly calls for it.

My youngest child came home from school after being “bullied” by another child, larger and older than him. My youngest, is my mini-me and not only looks identical to me when I was younger, but is just as stubborn and just as apt stand up for himself. What really broke my heart about the situation is that the other child jumped right to calling him a “little Chinese boy” as a way to put him down and told him to “Go back to China where he came from.” It brought back flashbacks from my childhood, but it also made me incredibly angry not just because my youngest is my baby, but because this other child obviously doesn’t know my son at all. My son is laugh-out-loud funny, irreverent, inappropriate, and incredibly charming. He’s the boy who will break the girls hearts because he won’t be tied down. He loves to play games, technology, and electronics of every kind, and did I mention that he’s funny as Hell? But this other boy just saw him as that “little Chinese boy” and I thought how sad it is that the world hasn’t really changed, after all.

Instead, we live in a world where not only are we still incredibly ignorant and say stupid, stupid things. Do I think that little boy is a racist? Absolutely not. I do think he’s ignorant, and while I hope his parents set him straight, I’m also realistic and understand that he may get that from home. Yet, I’m not offended by the situation and we’ve talked about it with my son because I’m sure it’s not the last time he’ll ever hear something like that again. I’m not teaching him to be tolerant of ignorant behavior, but hopefully he’ll learn to just see things and people for what they are. Hopefully it will motivate him to be his best, regardless of the stupidity that may surround him.

I’m not naive and I know racism exists and is alive and well and toxic in our world. But I don’t believe that we live in a world where everything and everyone is racially motivated. I do believe we live in a world full of moronic, stupid, ignorant, idiots who say the most ridiculous things and I think it is important to differentiate between the two.

We are living in a world that lacks levity because we are entirely too sensitive, and all that ends up doing is dividing us and breeding contempt, and more hatred. As a society, we are always looking for a scapegoat, an answer to our problems but the easy answer isn’t always the right one. We need to stop and learn to see things for what they are. Racism isn’t always so obvious, isn’t always so black and white, and  in simplified terms I think Webster’s still gets it right.

Racism-Webster’s dictionary

noun
1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.
hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Rodney King~”Can we all just get along?”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sONfxPCTU0

The Beatles~All You Need is Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I

Marvin Gaye~What’s Going On https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydfH7iuLR0I

Being An Author

I never realized it before but I was an author even long before I had books in print. Instead of writing the stores down, I would just write them in my head, one right after the other. Unable to quiet the noise in my brain, there were often times when I felt like I was losing my mind. But I’ve found that since I’ve been writing, life actually seems clearer without the residual noise that comes from having all of those extra thoughts rolling around.

It’s funny how being an author has changed me. I’m not yet prolific (three books published, one in the editing process, and one about 1/3rd of the way written), or on the NY Times Bestsellers list (A girl can dream…), or even very well-known (Jennifer Sivec… “Never heard of her!”). BUT, I am more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been.

After being alive for (ahem!) several decades, I finally feel as though all of my important pieces have been discovered.

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve published my first book, Leaving Eva. I thought that publishing a book would be like having a birthday. I had the anticipation that I would feel different after reaching this momentous milestone in my life. But after I published Leaving Eva, I didn’t feel like an author right away, at all. Instead, I was almost embarrassed anytime anyone brought it up and I was constantly worried that if they hated my book they would look at me differently (writer neurosis). I wasn’t even sure what being an author would feel like, I was just convinced (like birthdays) it would feel different. I kept waiting for it to hit me and wasn’t sure if I would feel it after my first book  or after my tenth, though I wasn’t even sure I could get to writing two.

Finally, after three books published and another one “on the way” (yes, it’s like giving birth), I FINALLY find myself settling into this new role, realizing it isn’t just a passing whim or just an experiment in life. I realize that writing is here to stay and that I can fit it into my busy life and make it a permanent part of me. I struggled with making that commitment for a while wondering if I would be too busy and if it would eventually end up on the list of things that “just didn’t work out”, in my life.

It’s been challenging rotating roles: wife, mom, full-time career (that I love), and writer. There have been many long days and nights, and moments when I’ve wondered whether I would be able to do it all. But I’m finally figuring out that each role fulfills a different part of me and makes the other one so much better. I’m more fulfilled from the inside, which makes more productive and complete on the outside.

I finally understand what being an author is all about. It’s quite simply about writing, and nothing else. While there are many other things involved in selling books, without the writing there is nothing else. I’ve set some goals for myself this year, to center myself more around the writing in order to become a better writer. They involve blogging, newsletters, and simply writing my books. After all, that is why I became an author, so I could write, which is what I love to do.

Now I wake up and life makes much more sense. And despite the many long days and nights, and constantly juggling roles, I feel utterly fortunate to get to live this busy, far from perfect, but very full-life! And for the first time in my life, I finally feel as though I am what I have always been… an author!

http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Sivec/e/B00CA7NN64/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1420987883&sr=8-1