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We Are America 

I rarely wax politics for many reasons and I won’t in this post either, but this election has been painstakingly brutal.

Isn’t a large part of what makes America great the ability to have and speak your own opinions … Freedom? Isn’t that what this great country was built upon?

But this election and the world we have come to live in, disturbs me greatly. It has become a country where nobody can voice an opinion, and viciously attacking individuals or entire groups for having a differing one, has become accepted and even expected.

I wasn’t born in America and was naturalized when I was as three. I was born in South Korea, an unpopular girl-child left to survive on her own. Though the specific circumstances that brought me here will remain unknown, I am grateful and always have been for the journey that gave me what I have today. I have always been deeply appreciative that I was allowed to become an American. 

I became the daughter of a blue-collar union worker and a stay-at-home mother, and began working when I was fifteen years-old. I was an Asian-American who didn’t look like anyone else and was a minority in every setting, my entire life. I was ridiculed, made fun of, and called names by school-mates. I even had a great aunt who wondered if “they could fix my eyes.” 

I accepted that I was different at a very young age because I had no choice, but instead of allowing it to weaken me, it galvanized me. I didn’t allow it to define me, or destroy my potential for a wonderful life.  Instead, I embraced it and appreciated that I lived in a country that gave me the opportunity to thrive and work for a successful life. As much as it hurt, it didn’t matter. I was an American and that’s all that mattered.

Having children in 2016 America is a huge challenge because everyone walks around on eggshells and is afraid of the PC police. I want my children to be compassionate, kind, and strong young men, but I also want them to have a sense of humor and levity. While one of them is going to be handsome, dark, mysterious, and classically good-looking, the other will be impish, unavoidably irresistible, and adorable. But one of them looks more Asian than the other, and has already had to deal with racism and the ugliness of the human spirit. While my heart aches for him, I truly understand what he has experienced. Yet, while he has been hurt, he has also been helped by his friends who have defended and protected him, which is by far an even greater lesson and he has learned that he is beautiful.

The magic of America is that we all get to be different, have differing opinions, beliefs, religion and customs. But there are also processes, rules, laws, and accountability that come with living in our great country, and this sense of entitlement and expectation is frustrating and degrading. This lack of respect for process & procedure and for each other, is disheartening on many levels.

What truly breaks my heart is the nastiness, the name-calling, and the venomous vitriol that is spewed when there are disagreements. The violence and anger are dangerous and frightening, and encouraged by a society that doesn’t respect or appreciate that two sides can find value and common ground. There’s nothing wrong with having a different opinion, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. Isn’t that what makes this such a wonderful country?

Let’s face it, there was no perfect candidate in this election! This election lacked a true leader with undeniable integrity or even a smidgen of likeabilty, which was incredibly disappointing.


But the democratic system operated regardless, and now we need to come together to figure things out to make the world better for our children and our future. Attacking friends, family, coworkers, and strangers because we aren’t happy with their opinions and views just makes us a bunch of dicks. 

We’ve become a country of A-holes who’ve been hating, unfollowing, defriending, and ridiculing the people we are supposed to love the most because they think differently than we do. We’ve become social communists. 

In truth, name-calling, bullying, and nastiness are playground tactics that will never get us anywhere. Never.
Aren’t we the ones who make America great? Aren’t we the ones who make up the fabric of this country? When we’re brutally attacking others, we are the ones muddying up and destroying our country. Now we need to stop, breathe, and realize that we have a lot of work to do. Not one side is completely right or wrong. If we can figure out how to work together, we can do this. But it has to start with us and how we treat one another daily. 

Watching the fallout of the election has been truly heartbreaking and disgusting. I hope we can look within and realize that the only people we are hurting with our vicious attacks, on both sides, is ourselves. I hope we can come together and listen to one another, appreciate and show compassion for each other like we did on 9/11.m

 We are a country that is capable and strong, but we’ve forgotten who we are, and what we can do when we stand together. I truly hope that we find ourselves again before it’s too late, before we’ve become so divided that we implode from within.

We are better than this. 

We are Americans.

30 Day WritingChallenge-Tattoos

I don’t have any tattoos.

I always said that if I didn’t have one by the age of thirty that I wouldn’t get one and  that ship has long sailed. Nothing of great significance happened to me before I was thirty that I wanted to memorialize with any permanence.

Since then, much has happened to change me and I’ve changed my mind. I would get a tattoo, but just haven’t … yet. 

My sisters (in-law) and a I discussed getting Sisters tattoos on our feet, which I would still love to do. 

I’m a big fan of the tattoos on the back of your neck, though I don’t think that’s me. The best tattoo I ever saw was a lovely woman’s grandmother’s signature on the back of her neck. It was a beautiful tribute to her grandmother. 


I’ve contemplated getting a similar one on the inside of my wrist, with my grandma’s I Love You and her Xs and Os, that she sighed every letter she wrote me with. 


Some may be surprised with my affinity for tattoos, but I’ve always liked them and am always curious about what they mean to the person who has them. The more personal, the better, in my opinion.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get one someday. In the meantime, I’ll continue to admire them on others and ask their story about why they got it. For now, that’s good enough for me. 

Life 101

I’ve spent a big part of my life reflecting.

Whether it’s been about life, people, situations, news, or politics, I love when things get my brain thinking and churning. I’m much like my youngest son who has an inquisitive and curious mind. I’ve always wanted to know the “whys.”

But what I’ve learned about life is that sometimes there just aren’t any answers, and it used to devastate me and make me feel helpless. Questions like,”Why did my niece have a brain tumor when she was fifteen?”,”Why did my dad have to have a major and debilitating stroke at the age of 54?”, “Why did my birth parent’s abandon me when I was a small child?”, or “Why did my good friend have to die of cancer?”  There have been many questions in my life and I’ve just had to learn to let it all go and accept that sometimes there isn’t a good answer.

The alternative option of holding onto it was giving me health issues, filling me with depression, and causing a great deal of anxiety. But when I finally was able to embrace the unknown, I found that I was more at peace with myself and able to accept that for no good reason, life just sucks sometimes. It’s then up to us to figure out how to move on.

I guess that I would categorize myself as a “Student-of-Life,” ever-changing, ever-willing to learn something new, look in the mirror, and have an open mind. With a long career in management and working with people, I’ve also learned how to be a mentor and teacher at the same time. But while I’ve gained experience and knowledge, I don’t think the path of knowledge can ever be complete. The excitement that I get from learning new things and gaining new insights just never gets old.

Part of my learning has involved reading a lot about life lessons. Erma Bombeck’s “If I had to Live My Life Over” is wise and beautiful and I absolutely love it. http://www.kalimunro.com/If_I_Had_My_Life_To_Live_Over.html

42 Life Lessons by Regina Brett is also incredibly thought-provoking and honest. http://unbridledfreedom.com/42-life-lessons-by-regina-brett/

I’m not as prolific, wise, or celebrated as either of those two beautiful women, but along the way I’ve picked up some observations of my own.

  • Be Kind. It’s a simple playground truth but not one that many people remember. The funny thing is, it’s not that difficult. Hold the door open for someone,  use “Please” and  “Thank you” every single time,  give someone an unexpected compliment, say something genuinely nice to someone for no reason at all and don’t expect it in return. Be kind simply for the sake of doing it and because you can.
  • Stick up for Yourself. Don’t let people walk all over you and don’t allow people to treat you poorly. People will treat you the way you allow them to and you should only expect the best. Have courage and don’t be afraid to tell someone that the way they are treating you is unacceptable and be willing to walk away from them if they don’t get it. Sometimes they’ll come back and sometimes they won’t, but if they can’t treat you well, then do you want them in your life to begin with?
  • Laugh at yourself. A lot. Life is short and you’re not perfect. Having a sense of humor about yourself is important and healthy, as long as you’re not being mean about yourself. Often we are our own worse critic but love yourself and don’t take your flaws too seriously. Everyone has them.
  • Don’t ever put things before people.  I’ve spent time with people I’ve loved  who were sick or dying and they’ve never said  to me,”I wish I’d had more stuff.” Ever. They’d always wished they had more time with the people they loved. Period.
  • It’s not always about YOU. We all like to imagine that the world revolves around us, but… it doesn’t! Sometimes people are on their own journey and are suffering, fighting, divorcing, struggling, sometimes they are sick, or hurt, or angry about something that has nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that it does! We are a world full of narcissists who think that everything is about us when it has nothing to do with us! Sometimes you’re the main character and sometimes your just a footnote and it’s important to be able to identify which one you are and when.
  • Be willing to walk away. Not every relationship is meant to last forever. Some are and some aren’t. Some relationships teach us how to be better and some don’t teach us anything at all. Not every person we ever meet is meant to be in our lives for the duration of our lives, but they’re meant to be there for some of it. While letting go is incredibly painful and feels downright impossible, sometimes we don’t have a choice or we need to because the relationship hurts us more than it does anything else for us. The people that love us often hurt us the most and the worst. But that’s because they are fighting their own demons and that is something they have to do alone. All we can do is love them, but loving them doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves. This means we may have to step away from them in order to survive, whether it’s temporarily or permanently.
  • Laugh at fart jokes. This is different obviously than laughing at yourself, but when children hear fart jokes they laugh, out loud, big hearty belly laughs that are honest and true. When we grow up, we don’t laugh at such things anymore, but I think that if we just let ourselves laugh at silly things like fart jokes and we can remember what its like to laugh when we were kids, we would be so much happier.  My kids will genuinely laugh every single time at the word “balls” and when they do, it’s impossible not to laugh with them. Life is too short not to find humor in silly things.
  • Be surprised. Let yourself live a life where you can still be surprised. And even if you’re not, pretend that you are. People love surprises and love to surprise others. The joy we give and receive from life’s little surprises is something that just can’t be replaced.
  • Listen more than talk. When you listen to your children with all of your attention you’ll notice that when they are talking they’re smiling the entire time (up until a certain age). When you listen well, you’re giving someone the gift of your love and attention which has more value than anything else you can give them.

My list isn’t that long and it’s not complete. I’ve learned so much but have so much more to learn. I love that life is such a beautiful maze of truth and understanding and that everyone gets there a completely different way. And I love that I’ll never get past Life 101 because life is ever-evolving and ever-changing. I love listening to and learning from other people. One of my favorite people to sit and listen to was my GiGi. She would’ve been 100 this year and when she was alive she told the best stories and was such a pleasure to talk to. I’ve thought about her so many times throughout the years and wished I could talk to her and learn from her kindness and experience and I’m always reminded of how much more there is still left to learn.

What have you learned throughout your lifetime? What have you lost and gained? What would you share with the world from your experience if you could? I’d be interested to see your comments here.

I’m a Troper!!!

I began this writing journey many years ago beginning with a story that I penned with a girl in my fourth grade class. The story was short, simple, and contained the “f” word.

And it was terrible!

My oldest son is the same age I was when I wrote it and I’m still perplexed with my younger self. Yet, it was my first foray into a lifetime of writing and honing this beautiful craft. My stories and style have improved tremendously over the years (thank goodness), but that cringe-worthy story remains folded up in the corner of a drawer reminding me that while I wasn’t always prolific, I have always loved to write.

My writing journey has been a long one. I didn’t release my first book until nearly two years ago, and when I did I was filled with such fear and trepidation. It was like standing naked in front of a sold-out stadium, baring everything as I held my breath and waited for the laughter. I have always been a fairly private person, sharing only with people when I completely trust them. I’ve been this way all of my life, with only a few people who I allow into the realm of my secret craziness, completely.

In fact, I am just now becoming comfortable talking about my writing with others because it’s so personal. Writing about my writing always seems so much easier. Writing about everything has always been easier.

But I have loved everyday and every moment of this journey. Now, I get to take another step.
I’ve been accepted by the hybrid press, Booktrope. To say that I am ecstatic about having a publisher is an understatement. I LOVE self-publishing and the Indie community is absolutely amazing, but the Team concept of Booktrope has an allure that I can’t ignore. To engage with others and work toward a common goal, everyone sharing in the success, is a theme that I am all-to-familiar with in my grown-up job so this is a natural fit. Sharing my writing has helped me to become a creature who is more comfortable sharing out in the open, unlike the closed-off, impersonal person I once was.

I feel privileged to have been recognized and accepted by such a great group of people, and I am so ecstatic about having the opportunity to have help building an audience for my books.  This is where you can help.

I’ll be looking for a launch team who will help me when the time comes, to share, tweet, Facebook, blog, and inundate their news feed and everyone they know with news about my books or about new releases. If you are interested in being on that Team, you’ll receive certain perks which may involve getting advanced copies of my books before anyone else, being a part of a private Facebook group, having direct access to me AND the opportunity to receive some fun stuff in the mail, as well as have input on projects I’ll be working on (such as… what will we name this group?). In return, I’ll ask you to read my books, write HONEST reviews (even if you don’t like the book), and share, share, share!!

I hope you’ll consider joining me and being more involved in this amazing journey!! When the Team has been assembled, you’ll receive an email to let you know you are in. We may add Team-members later if the need arises, but only the first select will receive all of the perks! Join early because the early bird will get cooler stuff.

Sign up here… http://eepurl.com/bf9ugH

 

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

The Will to Win

I’ve become something I never imagined I would be… a Baseball Mom.

And I love it.

I love going to the baseball fields and watching the dirt fly from little cleats on a hot summer day. There is something magical that happens when you hear the crack of the bat or the smack of the ball in a mitt. And it’s a thing of sheer beauty when you watch your son slide with everything he has into Home Plate, and you see the smile on his face that refuses to go away. If you’re lucky, you get to go to every game with parents who love getting to be there just as much as you do. You become an unspoken community, cheering on each other’s kids with just as much heart, as you celebrate the wins and lament the losses. I’ve loved watching my boys grow as athletes.

To one of my boys it just comes naturally, to the other he has to work at it, each approaching their sport from very different perspectives.

The one who is natural is an emotional thinker, who approaches his game with passion and heart. His love for the game is deep, often compelling him to practice just for fun, without anyone telling him. The other child, approaches every at bat with a huge smile on his face, fearing nothing. He tells anyone who will listen that he is going to be baseball player when he grows up. He doesn’t realize that he is one now. When his bat connects with the ball, he runs the bases with such contagious joy that his fans smile with him as he takes his base with pride.

I love watching my boys grow in their skill as well as the way they connect with their teammates. I adore their love of the game, and now I also love the game, even when they’re not in it.

We’ve been fortunate to have wonderful families who parent the boys, on our teams, as well as the coaches (including my husband) who have led them with fairness, kindness and toughness. The reality of it is, that isn’t always the case in any kid’s sport. We hear it, we witness it, and we experience it as we send out boys into the world to compete against others who are far less fair or kind.

My oldest plays travel ball with a great group of kids in a competitive and selective league, which he had to try out for. During one of our most recent games, our kids were getting killed by a bigger and far more aggressive team. Despite our struggling performance, our kids did pull out moments of brilliance, which our parents loudly celebrated. When one of our boys made an amazing hit and was running toward first base, my husband who was the first base coach at the time heard their first baseman say “Why are those parents cheering? We’re killing them!”  My husband responded, ” They’re cheering because they are proud of their kids!” This other team, despite their very high score and our very low one, continued to steal bases, chant for reasons other than “rallying”, and run on our kids all the while driving their score up and our kids further into the dirt. (Parents of children athletes understand what I’m referring to here.)

I suppose one could take the above paragraph as whining, which certainly depends on perspective. But while I want my kids to win, I want so much more for them. Learning how to steal bases, take advantage of their situation, and taunt people aren’t necessarily lessons I want them to learn. It doesn’t teach them how to win or even understand what winning is about. I want my boys to have the will to win, but I don’t want them to win at the expense of others and their dignity or spirit. I sound like a girl, I know. But as I watch our coaches, they handle the boys with discipline but also with integrity. More importantly, they expect the same from them. They are taught accountability and sportsmanship, teamwork and grace. All of which will carry them through life and be far more valuable than the lessons we’ve seen other coaches teach their boys.

It’s highly unlikely that many of these boys we compete against, or even on our team, will make it to play college or professional baseball. Teaching boys to slide with their cleats out for 9U, or condoning and encouraging narcissistic chanting, is completely wasteful of the opportunity to shape young minds to win with heart and integrity. Parents and Coaches who propel and influence their children in this way, should look in the mirror and question their own motivation and purpose.

It’s not that I don’t want my boys to win. Of course we play to win! Winning is fun and it gives you a feeling of purpose and happiness that’s impossible to replicate. It’s why we have Play offs, the World Series, trophies, and MVPs. But the will to win comes from within, and winning tastes more divine when it’s done with excellence and sportsmanship. I’m no different than any parent who dreams of their sons playing professional sports one day. But I’m also realistic and understand that they just may not have what it takes. Regardless of where their path may take them, I do believe the lessons they learn in youth baseball will be imprinted on them for life.

The coaches who teach them to respect the other team, look out for their teammates, play fair, and not take advantage of others weaknesses, are instilling crucial values that will make them better men, husbands, and father’s.  And for this, I am far more thankful.

 

 

I Run to You~Excerpt

I wanted to share an unedited excerpt from my most recent work, I Run to You. Set to release on July 2nd with a Cover Release on May 31st, this is an exciting project that I’ve been working on for about nine months. Told in first person from the perspective of Alyssa Bennet, I Run to You, is a story of one woman’s quest for self-discovery and love, all while trying to survive the fight of her life.

I Run to You
-Unedited

I didn’t have a ton to move but I knew it wouldn’t all fit in my Ford Focus. To avoid making multiple trips I bribed one of my friends from work, Landon, to help me in exchange for beer. I knew he would be great to help carry some of the bigger items, and he had a truck. He was an easy target as he was one of the nicest guys I had ever met and wouldn’t say ‘no’.
The first time Landon and I ever hung out together, a year or so earlier, we pledged our everlasting friendship.
“You’re the only female I know, who isn’t crazy,” he’d said. “If I even hang out with someone once, the girls I see act like we’re in a committed relationship and they go nuts. It makes no sense.”
“Yes, women are freaks,” I laughed at him, good-naturedly. “Myself, included.”
“No. You’re different. That’s why I like hanging out with you. You’re not clingy, and needy, and all emotional and whacky.” He rolled his eyes, his cute face morphing into sheer goofiness. “We should be friends. Good friends.”
“I agree. We should be friends. And it helps that you are incredibly ugly and I’m not attracted to you in the least,” which was mostly true, mostly. So Landon and I easily became very good friends, with natural chemistry and an easy banter.
He was ridiculously hot with thick brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a perfect athletic body. Even though he was fun and we spent numerous hours together, Tom and I were dating and neither Landon nor I believed in cheating, ever. I felt completely at ease with him from the moment I first met him, which was unusual for me. We even spent a lot of sober time together, when one of us wasn’t working or at school.
Tom never cared because he slept mostly during the day but I was always up and moving like most of the world, unable to sleep during daylight hours.
Landon jokingly called himself my “stand-in boyfriend” and I was his “substitute girlfriend”, since he never seemed to hang out with a girl for more than one night. But we knew where we drew the line. Besides Anna, he was someone I could count on and feel comfortable around.
Nobody understood how we could only be good friends without hooking up. His nickname for me didn’t help matters. No matter how many times I protested, he refused to acknowledge how dirty “Kitten” sounded, and eventually I gave up. I found a little secret pleasure in the fact that he had a nickname for me, at all. In the years that Tom and I were together, there were no terms of endearment for either of us. We were simply “Tom and Alyssa.”
I knew that Landon was painfully attractive, I had eyes after all. He was definitely a 10 where I was more like a 7. I knew a 7 and a 10 could only be friends and I was perfectly fine with that. With that to consider, and the fact I technically had a boyfriend when I met Landon, I never thought of us any other way. I liked being his friend. He was funny and brought out what little bit of funny I kept buried deep inside.