Writing

Be Intentional With Family ~ In the Midst of Trials

BE-INTENTIONAL-WITH-FAMILY

 

Today I am thrilled to share with y’all a video interview that I had with my friend Alysha from An Intentional Future! She has been hosting a wonderful series this month on living intentionally, and I was honored when she asked me to be part of it! She has such a wonderful message – and I am so grateful to have connected with her through this crazy world of blogging!

 

This is what Alysha wrote about chat our on her blog:

Ginger of justoneoftheboys.com is no stranger to trials and heartache. From being left a single parent of three young boys as she watched her first marriage dissolve, to being transformed into a caregiver as her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she is no stranger to incredible difficulties. Despite it all, she has managed to thrive.

I believe the key to intentionality is effort. Ginger is constantly reevaluating how she can not only better serve her family, but herself. I hope you’ll watch and listen as Ginger shares specific tips for being intentional with family. I also hope you’ll visit and subscribe to her blog!

 

I had such a wonderful time chatting with Alysha! I had been nervous about my very first video chat, but she made me feel right at home. She even made me cry a little as I talked about my boys – in a good way, I assure you! Click HERE to watch our chat – and don’t forget to leave a comment to enter her FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY!

*Hugs*

~ G

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Dear Ginger… Why Homeschooling?

Dear Ginger

 

Hey, Y’all! I am always beyond thrilled to hear from you! Your questions, comments, and messages always brighten my day!

 

Lately I’ve had a few questions about our homeschooling journey, so I thought this would be a good time to share with you how our family came to homeschooling!

 

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A little background ~

 

I attended public and private schools for Kindergarten through the 4th grade, but then my parents decided to enter the world of homeschooling. My brother and I started the 1st and 5th grade that fall at home, and our three younger siblings followed in line.

 

We spent our days learning the Greek alphabet, prepositions, Latin roots, algebra, dissecting frogs, multiplication tables, extensive memorization, and writing book reports all around our kitchen table. In the style of a one-room schoolhouse, my younger siblings learned many of the same things that I was learning.

 

Why Homeschooling? ~ Gingerbread Parthenon

How did it prepare you? ~

 

The self-discipline and responsibility that I developed while learning at home has been incredibly valuable to me. My mom also cultivated the skill of writing in my life. I had daily writing assignments on many different subjects, and my love for words grew. I became a stickler for spelling and proper grammar, and I thirsted for as much knowledge as I could get my hands on!

 

I was able to get ahead in my studies and graduate from high school a year early, which paved the way for my dream of going to Russia to come true when I was only seventeen. I had studied the Russian language at home before I moved into a Moscow orphanage with other young adults who had also been educated at home, but immersion really is the best teacher! I went out into the city with several different teams of students. I taught English as a Second Language at another orphanage, took part of the prison ministry, taught character in schools, delivered food to widows, led service projects with Russian teenagers, went on Bible distributions in rural parts of Russia, and attended a wonderful church with my Beloved’s sister Amy!

 

I’m sure that I would have found my way to Russia even if I hadn’t been homeschooled, but this was the path that my life took – and I might not have met Amy (and her handsome brother!) if my parents hadn’t decided to keep us at home.

 

Back Camera

Is that why you chose to homeschool? ~

 

When I had Camden, I did what every mother does – I taught him the names of animals, colors, numbers, and letters of the alphabet. I read him stories, took him on walks where he discovered nature, and I started teaching him how to hold a crayon.

 

By being a regular mom, I discovered that I was homeschooling. Sure, he was tiny, but he was learning and I was teaching him. I loved being the one that helped him discover the world, and I did the very same thing when Aiden came into our lives. By the time Quinn was born almost three years later, I was doing preschool and kindergarten work with our older boys.

 

There wasn’t a specific moment where I sat down and decided – Okay, now I’m going to keep my kids at home. Homeschooling had become our lifestyle.

 

Why Homeschool? ~ Oreo Moons

What’s your approach? ~

 

You see, each of the boys must start attending the local public school in the fourth grade. It was not my decision, but I have to make the best of this situation for my little ones. Last year was Camden’s first year to attend public school, and next year Aiden will go, too. In a few years, Quinn will join them.

 

Because the time I have with them is so limited, their education is incredibly important to me. I am devoting this time to making sure that I have given them a good foundation before they head to school. I have studied different approaches to homeschooling and learning methods, and settled on the Classical Method that has worked well for our family. Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind is my favorite book on classical homeschooling and supplementing classroom education.

 

An emphasis on language arts, exposure to exciting stories from history, learning mathematical facts, and laying a foundation for studying more advanced sciences are all part of the Classical approach to homeschooling.

 

We have mummified a chicken, learned the names of the States and presidents to songs, built a ziggurat temple, erupted volcanoes, dropped eggs from balconies, written fairytales, built the Parthenon out of gingerbread, made solar systems, learned the phases of the moon with Oreos, built the Great Wall of China, diagrammed sentences, memorized poetry, and learned how to cook recipes from around the world.

 

We also supplement our school week with PE classes and by attending a homeschool co-op where our kids (and about 50 others) come together to go on field trips and learn together once a week in a classroom setting.

 

I was just looking back at the videos and photos I have taken over the last several years, and tears filled my eyes as memories flooded over me. I know that I don’t have much longer with our younger boys being taught at home, but I have treasured each and every minute with them. Homeschooling is hard… Being a mom is hard… but both have been more than worth it!

 

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What about you? ~

 

Do you have any other questions for me? I aways really, truly, sincerely love hearing from YOU… and now everything is fixed so I can do just that! Leave me a comment here or email me at justoneoftheboysblog@gmail.com if there is anything that you’d like to hear from me.

 

Have you signed up to have my new posts delivered straight to your inbox yet? Just go to the Subscribe Now section right under my picture – and type in your email address. You won’t miss a thing, and you will make my whole day! It’s as easy as that!

 

Until next time,

*Hugs*

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Dear Ginger… 10 Ways Counseling Changed My Life…

Dear Ginger

Hey, y’all! I am always beyond thrilled to hear from YOU! I’m toying with the idea of making this Dear Ginger series a regular thing because I’ve been getting some wonderful questions that I’m hoping will be able to encourage even more people.

I’ve received a few messages asking me to share more about my time seeing a counselor, so today I wanted to chat a bit about counseling and therapy.

How did you pick your counselor? ~

The very first time I stepped into a counselor’s office was only a few days after I discovered and confronted my husband’s infidelity. I called a local church with a well-known counseling center, and we had an appointment that week. Our counselor gave us books to read, projects to try, and listened to both sides of our story. It was about six months later that I knew for sure that our marriage was over, and as heartbreaking as it is to file for divorce, I also had peace in my heart that this was what I needed to do.

I also began seeing a therapist by myself, to work through my betrayal, hurt, and rebuilding myself into a stronger wife and mother. This was absolutely the best thing that I have ever done for myself. When hurting women write to me saying that their marriages have just ended and want to know what they should do next, my answer is always the same: Please go see a counselor. Find one that you trust and feel comfortable with. I could not have made it through that devastating time without her.

I have continued seeing my personal therapist, even six years later. She has been there guiding, challenging, and inspiring me through picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the affair, helping me to save my marriage, strengthening me when I became a single mom, celebrating with me when I married my Beloved, wisely counseling us as we began life as a blended family, and holding my hand through rough seasons of co-parenting after divorce. She has inspired me to face other difficult things in my past, and to come out stronger and healthier on the other side – for my boys, for Joe, and for myself. She truly helped to change my life.

How did your counselor help you?

– She gave me practical steps to know what to do next when I was too overwhelmed to go on.

– She helped me to see the bigger picture, even when I couldn’t see past my hurt.

– She urged me to write a letter to the Other Woman.

– She gave me homework that helped me to heal in a productive way.

– She gave my children a safe and trusted place to talk about their feelings after the divorce.

– She gives me assignments that continues to help me to grow as a woman.

– She challenges me to do what I’m good at – to follow my passions and calling.

– She is on my team – and I know that I am not alone.

– She has never once invalidated my feelings – but gives me a safe place to be vulnerable and open about the things going on in my life.

– She urged me to write and share my story with others – so I started this blog.

– She didn’t leave me where she found me – and I am so much better because of seeing a therapist!

How do I find a therapist of my own? ~

There are several ways to start looking for a counselor. I first asked my doctor’s advice and received a list of recommended names. I ultimately decided to find one associated with a church, but that was my preference at the time. You could check out local churches and counseling centers in your area. I love giving the name of my therapist to friends who are looking for someone to see – so ask a trusted friend if they have any recommendations for you.

I am so thankful for the reader who recently gave this wonderful advice, and said that I could share it with you:

I’m a person who has been in therapy and I’m also a counselor-in-training (working on my master’s degree), so I wanted to let you know a few ways to find a therapist. :) Sometimes you can get a referral from your physician, but also, the American Psychological Association and American Counseling Association both have website tools to help you find accredited professionals in your area. Here is the website for the ACA: http://www.counseling.org/aca-community/learn-about-counseling/what-is-counseling/find-a-counselor and here is the website for the APA: http://locator.apa.org/
Also, this website from the APA has some questions and things to look for to make sure the person you find is a) a good professional and b) a good fit for you: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/choose-therapist.aspx

What about you? ~

Do you have any other tips for readers who are thinking about visiting a counselor? Has one helped in your own life? I’d love to read how counseling has helped you!

Do you have any other questions for me? I always love hearing from you, so please don’t be shy! Leave me a comment here or email me at  justoneoftheboysblog@gmail.com if there is anything that you would like to see me answer here!

Until next time…

*Hugs*

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I’m Not Just a Mom…

I'm not just a mom... Journeying to find out who I was made to be! From justoneoftheboys.com

Something interesting happened to me today…

 

“Are you an artist?” the lady at Kohl’s asked me.

 

I laughed and thanked her, but no, I’m not an artist.

 

I glanced down at my loose-fitting boyfriend jeans, my white tee that is older than at least two of my kids, and thrifted jacket. My mommy uniform – washable and comfy. Did I have paint on my clothes? Marker on my face?

 

“Are you sure you’re not an artist?”

 

Nope. I wish!

 

“Then what do you do?” she pressed as she rang up the leggings that I was buying on sale.

 

Reflexively, I almost went with my usual response: I’m just a mom… But for some reason, today I stopped.

 

Um, actually…I write. My voice was shaking because I’ve never once said that out loud to anyone.

 

“That’s the same thing, Girl! You’re an artist! I knew you were a creator – I could tell by your shoes!”

 

I glanced down at my feet – the only pop of color in my outfit today is the deep aqua of my TOMS wedges that I found on clearance last spring.

 

I could tell by your shoes...

 

“Only an artist would pair those shoes with your outfit. It’s who you are! Be proud of it, Girl!”

 

I’m sure my face was flushed as I thanked her for making my day – but I should have thanked her for waking me up and confirming some things that I have been hearing and learning lately. As I shared with you before, I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I might wish to be a painter or songwriter or pastry chef or inspirational speaker, but that isn’t who I was made to be.

 

I could have worn so many other pairs of shoes today – Converse sneakers, flip-flops, running shoes, boots, and heels – but I didn’t. I chose these shoes, and that said something about me. A total stranger was able to pinpoint that I am an artist – just from the two seconds that it took me to pick out my shoes this morning. Who I am is oozing out of me, and I’m betting that it flows out of you, too…even when you don’t realize it.

 

Typewriter

 

I need to learn to not fight who I am, and not shove her into a dark corner to forget about that part of me. I’m not just a mom. I’m starting to see that I’m so much more than that…. and so are you! You’re more than a mom. You’re more than a wife, single mom, divorced, or grandmother. Are you, too, an artist? Are you a caretaker? Are you a dreamer? Are you a nurse and teacher to your little ones at home? Are you ambitious and go after what you want in life? Are you a loyal friend? Are you passionate about helping others?

 

I’m 33, and I’m weary from not knowing who I really am…but I’m learning and growing. Baby steps! Let’s start digging deeper together and discovering who we really were made to be. I can’t wait to continue on this journey alongside you!

 

Who are YOU, my friend? Does this resonate at all with you? I’d just love to hear all about it!

 

*Love and hugs*

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A Happier, Healthier You ~ Week #23

A Happier Healthier You - justoneoftheboys.com

Happy mid-week, everyone! Are you taking a little time for yourself today?

I have been behind this week with another round of back pain that has traveled up my head causing a bad headache as well. I realized that I haven’t had any coconut water for about a week , but I don’t know if that’s what has caused it to come back. It’s the only thing that I’ve been doing differently, so I am back to sipping coconut water, using my foam roller, and rubbing EO into the sore spots.

Hopefully I’ll be back in fighting form in the next day or so!

A Happier, Healthier You ~ Week #23

I’ve shared with you a little bit of how I’ve had trouble sleeping while my Beloved has been deployed. Apart from the general worry about his safety and missing him, sleeplessness is one of my least favorite things about deployment. I don’t have trouble falling asleep. In fact, I often nod off while trying to write a post, reading a book, or watching TV. My problem seems to be that I don’t stay asleep. I wake up easily – and often my heart is racing when I am startled awake.

I was becoming exhausted. I tried so hard to not show my Beloved how frazzled I was becoming while we were on the phone. He could tell something was wrong, and when he gently told me that he was worried about me, the tears fell.

“I feel like a rubber band that is pulled so tightly, like I could break.”

Nighttime is probably the hardest time for me when Joe is gone. I gaze at his empty pillow and wonder what he is doing right then, worrying and praying for his safety.

It wasn’t until I met for coffee with my lovely friend Crystal a couple of weeks ago that I finally had some ideas to try for getting more sleep. She suggested drinking Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Tea. It’s different than other sleepy-time teas by promoting deeper sleep, not just putting you to sleep.

Basket of teas

I also took her advice and ordered the Badger Night Night balm for my feet, and started to use the Stress Away Essential Oil. I’m an EO newbie, but this seemed like a good place to start!

I had such a refreshing time of catching up with Crystal, laughing, and encouraging each other – and I am so grateful for her friendship and her help!

I usually drink the tea 1-2 hours before I go to bed. I’m often sipping on it while reading or blogging at night, and it makes for a relaxing way to unwind before bed!

Nighty Night Tea

Since I started drinking the tea and using the lotion/EO, I have been sleeping SO much better! I don’t wake up groggy, like I do when I take Benadryl, but I feel like I am finally reaching a deeper sleep cycle! Yay!!! I intend to keep it up for a while – at least until he gets home and I can quite literally rest easier.

Last Week’s Goals ~

  • Stay hydratedI did better at this during the week. I kept my water bottle with me at all times, and that seemed to help me remember to drink. However, my back/neck have been hurting the last couple of days
  • Exercise at least 4 times this week. I only exercised 3 times this week, but a couple of them were pretty long workouts!
  • Continue using Nighty Night TeaBadger Balm, and EO before bed to help me sleep better.
  • Write. Write. WriteOh boy, did I write this week! I introduced a new series where I respond to questions and comments from you – my readers! This week’s post addressed negative comments that I had received about Our Story. 

Dear Ginger

  • Finish my next deployment project – Yikes. I’m kind of dreading it already! It’s not finished. The sewing machine kept jamming up, so my Tribalwoman friend took the rest of the fabric home with her. She’ll send it back my way once she is finished. That’s a true friend! Because I couldn’t finish the patio cushions, I started painting our bedroom with the leftover paint from our bathroom. We love the new color in our bath so much that we decided to bring it into our bedroom as well!

Painting in progress

Painting progress

  • Sit and watch a movie for my own enjoyment – No superhero or animated movies allowedThree words. Pride and Prejudice! The long version!
  • See my counselor, talk to her about dealing with stress while my Beloved is away, and discuss reinforcing healthy boundaries in my lifeWe talked mostly about reinforcing healthy boundaries in my life. My therapist was helpful, like always, and she gave me several things to read over until I see her again next. 
  • Enjoy girl time with my Tribal Woman this weekendCutting out cushions and fabric, sipping tea, touching up her roots, saying the lines of P & P along with the movie, and giving each other a hard time over the correct pronunciation of APE-ri-cot vs. APP-ri-cot, or-REG-ano vs. or-ree-GAWN-no. I love my time with her!

Measuring out patio cushions

Patio cushions - work in progress

Measuring out fabric

  • Read Boundaries, by Cloud & Townsend.
  • Curl up in bed or on the Story Chair by 2200 most nights to rest and relax before bed. I was in bed by 2200 MOST nights, but I did stay up quite late for two nights. One night I was writing my Dear Ginger, About the Other Woman… post, and the other I watched Pride & Prejudice with my Tribalwoman friend.

This Week’s Goals ~

  • Stay extra hydrated with coconut water for my back!
  • Exercise at least 3 times this week.
  • Write. Write. Write. Among other things, finish and share a very special In Her Shoes post for this Friday.
  • Finish ordering school books and prepare for upcoming school year.
  • Try to sneak in a long-distance date with my Beloved – depending on how well the internet is working.
  • Use my foam roller and ice for my back every day until it feels better.
  • Care for and polish my nails.
  • NO SUGAR!!!
  • Curl up in bed or on the Story Chair with a book by 2200 every night.
  • Work on my next deployment project… Stay tuned!

How are you taking a little time for yourself? I would love to keep in touch this week as we work together to take better care of ourselves! You can find me on Facebook and  Instagram, and don’t forget to check out our Pinterest group board ~ Taking Care of Ourselves!

Let’s do this, my friends! I’m going to try really hard to take better care of myself while my Beloved is deployed, but I could use your help. We can take just a little time to care for ourselves, and we’ll be stronger wives, moms, and friends because of it! You’re not alone… We can do this together!

*hugs*

 

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In Her Shoes ~ Walking Off the Career Path

In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. Today I am excited to introduce you to my new blogging buddy Meredith! You can find her at her heartwarming new blog Very Revealing. Let’s join our friend as she shares with us what it’s like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G

In Her Shoes ~ Walking Off the Career Path

“What exactly are your career goals then, Ms. Bazzoli?” the man on the phone interview questioned why I was taking giant steps backward; why I applied for a position I am overqualified for. This curiosity lingered at the back of many of his other inquiries, but this time he shot directly.

As I fumbled for interview buzzwords, my mind fixated on the image of a beggar I sometimes see on the corner of Taylor and Union Streeet. You have to strain to read his sign because he’s consumed every square inch with his story.

At the top, his sign reads: OUT OF WORK PAINTER. Based on the sketches of cars and other drawings I can’t quite make out on his sign, I know he means that he’s an artist, a painter like Van Gogh or Davinci, not one that rolls taupe and salmon tones onto bathroom walls and dining rooms.

I guffawed the first time Drew and I spotted it, “If all artists expected their work to sustain them financially, we’d all be out of work actors, dancers, writers, sculptors, and fill in the blanks!”

The second time I saw him, I envied him.

He claimed painting as his life’s work, not just a hobby, but a career. He showed no fear in saying what he was going for in life, but wore a sign announcing it to each car that passed by, asking for the support from the man in the Honda Civic with the bashed in right taillight and the girl texting in her Ford Focus.

People struggle to find the fit reaction when I tell them I am quitting my job as a special education teacher. Congratulating me feels like betraying kids with disabilities or belittling the teaching profession.

When they hear I work for Chicago Public Schools, they say they don’t blame me. Some shake their head at the inner city district that wore me out before my time.  They may roll their eyes, blaming a politician I haven’t heard of or citing the lack of support from parents. Some propose I try to teach in a more promising district in the suburbs.

Certainly, my days as a teacher in CPS left me exhausted. Some days I tried with a full heart, with pizza parties, skip-counting raps, and poems I wrote using only words I knew my students could read. I spent myself.

Other days I used prep-periods to lay my head on the desk while I fell further and further behind on my paperwork, overwhelmed by tracking whether Student A could identify circles and Student B could read consonant-vowel-consonant words with 80% accuracy.

And on both types of days, and all the ones in between, I came home with enough energy to slink out of my car, trudge up my apartment stairs, and flop onto my couch.

Yet, it would be dishonest to say I am leaving teaching for any of these reasons. It would be dishonest to say I make the change because of teaching at all.

While fulfilling my role as a public servant, I met the respectability quota of my peers. I spent my days in the “inner city,” considered by all who heard what I did as “patient,“ the term most commonly ascribed to us special education teachers.

Meredith's In Her Shoes - Pencils

Trust me, I wish I could stay. Something deep inside me longs to stay put in life, to plant myself in whatever field I land in and to send my roots deep for safety.

A friend told me once she hated things staying the same. Not me, I am Lot’s wife, looking back and being turned into a column of dinner seasoning before I get the picture.

The lesson planning, the IEP’s, the testing pressure. These things make teaching hard to enjoy, but the reason I am jumping off the career path is more moving-towards than moving-away. I am not quitting, but starting.

I am an out of work writer and comedian.

I am holding up my sign and standing on the corner and saying, “this is my life’s work.” Before you panic, I lined up a day job (everyone breathes a sigh of relief), but it is not one that spills into every available space the way teaching did.

With the interviewing man, I discarded the answers I grab for by instinct to protect myself and make sure people think I’m a good, responsible girl they could let water their plants while they’re on vacation.

I didn’t blame my depression and anxiety, I didn’t cite my move to the suburbs, I didn’t mention my mom’s cancer, I didn’t talk about the hostile work environment or explain how the teacher’s lounge feels like a continual set for the movie Mean Girls. I didn’t make up a respectable career path. All these things factored into the pro and con list that brought me to the phone call with the uncomfortable question, but none sufficed as an answer.

I held up my sign, squished to the edges with my story, and said, “Well, my comedy and writing have been picking up, and right now there is no room in my life for them to grow. They’re more than hobbies to me, I plan to pursue them, and I’m pursuing jobs in environments I care about, but don’t take as much of me as a full-time teaching job. I also hope to adopt and foster kids someday and I want to have time and energy to dedicate to my kids.”

I wanted to keep going to tell him about incubator troupes, Harold Teams, Coaching opportunities, blog, publications I want to submit to, and pieces I am working through, but remembering the man on the other line was an HR rep and not my therapist, I refrained from telling him about my secret dream to publish a children’s book.

Walking off the career path, I leave a lot of things behind.  But today, I’m choosing to focus on the moving-towards over moving-away. I am moving forward with faith, dragging my feet, but believing I can cover some distance.

I am, Meredith Bazzoli, 25, out of work artist, plummeting life trajectory, feeling wonderfully afraid and terribly excited.

And don’t forget, I do have a day job.

To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.

~ Love, 

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Behind the Scenes ~ My Writing Process

Behind the Scenes ~ My Writing Process

I was thrilled when my new blogging buddy Cara Meredith asked me to join a new series about writing! (Check out her lovely blog, and be ready to feel encouraged, inspired, and challenged!) Each writer in this series is asked the same four questions about their writing process, and I have loved reading about how other bloggers and writers approach their love of the craft!

What am I working on/writing?

I am chronicling the continuing chapters of Our Story to share here on the blog. In it, I am sharing my journey of discovering betrayal and infidelity in my first marriage, my divorce, life as a single mother to my three little boys, and how my heart healed after all of the pain. I am currently writing how Joe went from being “my friend’s little brother” to the man he is today ~ my Beloved. I’m hoping to share the next chapter a little later in the month, as our wedding anniversary approaches. *happy sigh* I am finding this as a special way to pass the time while he is deployed this summer!

Chapter 1

 

I am also writing a weekly series for the blog where I ask women to come alongside me and take better care of themselves – A Happier, Healthier You. I have heard the admonishment many times to take care of myself – eat better, get more sleep, give myself a little grace – but it wasn’t until the beginning of 2014 that it finally dawned on my heart that I could give myself permission to do this. I devote so much time, blood, sweat, and tears to being a good mom to our boys, but I needed to put my health back on the to-do list. I share my goals for the week, how I did the week before, and simple ways that we can all start taking care of ourselves so that we can take better care of our loved ones!

A Happier Healthier You - justoneoftheboys.com

There is also a little side writing project that I have been working on for several months. I am thrilled to tell you that I’ve been working on a bit of historical fiction. Biblical historical fiction, to be more precise. I woke up from a dream one night and had a clear idea of what I wanted to write – the story of Eve. I’m not entirely sure how this will play out. Maybe this story is for my eyes only. Maybe my boys will read it one day and know that it is never too late to work for your dreams. Perhaps I will share it one chapter at a time here on the blog. Or maybe I will submit it for publication one day. Who knows? What I do know is that it is stretching me in ways I had never imagined – and even if no one else ever holds it in their hands, I believe that I will be a better woman and writer because of this story.

Week #16bI have other ideas floating around in my writing notebooks, including putting Our Story together in memoir or fictional form – complete with details and stories that I have previously left out of the blog. I felt so very alone when my life came crashing down around me, and I want to let everyone know through my writing that no matter what nightmare comes your way, or wherever your journey leads, you are not alone. I promise.

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?

May I let you in on a little secret? Even though I have been sharing here on the blog for almost one year, I’m not entirely sure where I fit in. There are so many writers and bloggers that I look up to, but the beauty of creativity is that we are all so different! What flows out of my heart and onto the page is different than all of the writers that I admire. Our stories are as unique as our writing styles, and I am so grateful to be a small part of this incredible community!

Why do I write what I do?

Earnest Hemingway said it best – “Write the truest sentence that you know.” I write what I know to be true – the pain, the scars, the healing, the butterflies. I write because when I try to squelch the story rising up within me, part of me dies. I have loved the written word since I could identify my ABCs, and when my head wasn’t buried in a book, I was writing on whatever I could get my little hands on. I write because it is healing. I write because I can’t NOT write. And I am so grateful for each of you for allowing me to be a small part of your day. Your encouragement and support means more to me than you’ll ever know!

How does my writing process work?

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My schedule varies, as I am still trying to figure out what works best for our family. Most mornings I get up extra early to write. There are often late nights when I can’t turn off the flow of words, and I have to sit there until I know that my piece is finished. Most often you will find me sitting on my red Story Chair or at my antique spinet desk. Sometimes I work on editing or pictures at the dining table while the boys are eating lunch, or on the front porch while watching them play basketball in the driveway. I carry a notebook in my purse, and I’ll jot down ideas or first drafts while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, swimming lessons, or whenever inspiration whispers to me. I want to be present for my family, but I also feel called to write… so I’m still learning to find the balance!

 Coming up…

Crystal Paine ~ Moneysavingmom.com

 

One of the things that I love about this series is that it’s the gift that just keeps on giving! My friend Cara Meredith tagged me in her post, and I am incredibly excited to tag my friend Crystal for the same post next week in this awesome series! I love learning how others that I admire approach the writing process!

Crystal Paine is a child of God, wife, homeschool mom of three, author, speaker, and aspiring runner. Her mission is to challenge women to wisely manage their time and resources and live life on purpose. She blogs at MoneySavingMom.com.

 

*big hugs*

 

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In Her Shoes ~ Write Your Heart Out

In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. I’m honored to introduce you to my friend Frances Fowlkes. I am so proud of my friend for chasing her dream of becoming a writer. This week, her very first book was released! Let’s join our friend as shares with us what it is like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G

In Her Shoes ~ Write Your Heart Out

I’ll admit when Ginger asked me to write about a day in my life as a writer, I had to laugh. No one wants to read about someone who spends hours hunched over a keyboard, their eyes glazing over as they stare at an often times blank screen for minutes, hours, and sometimes days on end.

So, in my normal flair for embellishing the ordinary (because honestly, writers really do spend hours of their day sitting at a computer) I began to write about my job. And as it usually happens, I learned a thing or two about myself in the process—like how I’m not just a writer. I’m a time-traveler, match-maker, and happily-ever-after aficionado, too.

I wasn’t always a writer. Oh sure, I wrote the required essay for school, kept a journal under my bed, and penned a note or two (you know, when passing notes in class was the way to proclaim your love to your crush BEFORE texting). But I considered myself more of a reader. A voracious one who ate books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, sometimes reading more than three or four books a day. My particular favorites were the Harlequin romance novels my mother left discarded around the house—especially the historicals. Kilted warriors, open-shirted dukes, and bare-chested cowboys greeted me on the covers, sucking me in with their reformations at the hands of strong-willed heroines and their declarations of undying love.

Fran

From my teens to my twenties, I read more historical romances than any other genre, the ever familiar tropes of the past, my respite on glum and rainy days. I wrote now and then, jotting an idea down here and there between required essays and term papers, but it wasn’t until I started a blog chronicling my harried life as a young mother, that I felt the call to write and took it seriously. I’m not sure if it was reading one more horribly written book that tossed me over the edge, or if it was the encouragement of friends and family, urging me to take my writing to the next level, but something happened to make me write the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph, and eventually the first book. And you know what? I liked it.

Writing is hard. And lonely. And often riddled with self-doubt and rejection. But it is also rewarding and fulfilling in ways I never imagined. Every day I get to sit down at my desk and journey back in time. I get to write about love, and happily ever afters. I get to stretch my creativity and learn new things through research.

And while yes, I spend an exorbitant amount of time sitting and typing, I like to think it’s worth it. I’m doing what I feel I’m called to do and making people happy in the process. And after a whole lot of edits, prayers, and hours at the keys, I have a published book to show for it. My first book, “The Duke’s Obsession” out with Entangled Publishing’s Scandalous imprint, is a culmination of my efforts and one I’d love to share with you.

Write your heart out. You never know where it may lead you!

Fran - The Duke's Obsession

Frances Fowlkes lives in South Carolina with her high school sweetheart, three red-headed sons, and a spoiled standard poodle. When not writing about ardent heroes or strong-willed heroines, she enjoys spending time with her family, playing with makeup, and planning her next vacation.

You can pick up your digital copy of my friend’s book, The Duke’s Obsession, today! 

To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.

~ Love, 

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Shaping the Stories of Our Lives…

Who Has Shaped Your Heart?

Mother’s Day is this week, but I want to honor all of the women that have played a part in shaping the stories of our hearts. Lately I have been thinking about some of the women that have been influential in my own life. I am remembering the advice that they have given me – the pearls of wisdom that I have held onto and cherished over the years.

One of these women recently passed away. Her name was Esther Belle. She was the pastor’s wife of one of the churches that my family attended while I was growing up. I still have the handwritten note that she gave to me when I was only 12 years old. I have kept it in my Bible, used it as a bookmark, and touched the images that she drew on it over and over again.

When I found out that my Esther Belle was gone, I was heartbroken.

As I look back at the small note that she gave me 21 years ago, I see something that has given me so much hope and strength over all this time…

“Have a wonderful week in school – study hard!!! You never know what the Lord will do with you in the future.”

She was right – you never know.

At twelve years old, I could have never imagined that I would travel to Russia at the age of seventeen, living and working in an orphanage. Having tea parties with her all those years ago, I had no idea that my life’s journey would lead me through the paths of brokenness and healing. I could have never dreamed up this crazy-wonderful life of being Momma to three beautiful boys. As much as I enjoyed writing in my journal as I was growing up, I would have never guessed that I would one day be opening up my life to you here on this blog. You never know what’s around the bend.

I remember blinking back tears the first time that I read her note.

“We love you & your family.”

Someone loved me. Me. I wasn’t lost in the bustle of my large family. Someone saw me. And that meant the world to this quiet girl.

Note from Esther Belle back

I wasn’t able to tell Esther Belle how much her note meant to me before she passed away, but I can keep her words close to my heart. I can pass on words of encouragement to those around me. Maybe many years from now someone else will look back and fondly remember me.

Thinking about my treasured note, I began to wonder about you, my friends. Have you had a role model in your own life? What inspiration, encouragement, or advice have you taken from them and held to over the years?

I wonder if you would mind doing something for me…Would you be willing to share with us the words of wisdom that someone once gave you? Just leave a comment below with those treasured pieces of advice, and I just might compile them in a future post! Who shaped the story of your heart? Let’s share it with each other!

*Hugs*

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When have you felt fully alive?

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When is a time in your life when you felt most fully alive?

Consider those times and spaces when that was true for you. Don’t edit anything out. Grab onto those first thoughts and dare to hold them in your hands for a bit. Then answer this second question:

When you feel most fully alive, what words or phrases come to mind that describe that experience for you?

A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman

These questions from the wonderful book that I am currently enjoying are helping me to dig a little deeper into myself – to uncover those things that may have become hidden under stress, life, busyness, doubt, fear, and being practical. The author is trying to get the reader to see that those specific memories – the ones where we felt most alive – often point to something deeper. Possibly something that we are meant to further pursue in life.

We are art. Dwell on that for a second. You are a masterpiece. But not only are we art, we are meant to be artists with our lives. There is something deep inside each of us – those desires, interests, talents, and skills – that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t shake their pull on our hearts. It’s part of who we are. What if those deep-down secrets of the heart, maybe those things which have made us feel most alive, are the things that point us to the art that we are meant to create?

As I started to ponder those questions, I realized that a whole world of experiences and feelings were coming to mind. Memories began to flood my heart with a few of the times where I have felt most alive…

~ At the age of 3, riding in my first airplane, with my stepdad as the pilot. The exhilarating feeling of watching the acres of farmland fall away below us, the flutter in my little tummy, and the freedom that came from soaring through the blue Kansas sky.

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~ I was a quiet teenager, and I found myself standing in Red Square for the first time. I was seeing my dream come to life of visiting Russia, and breathing in the history that Red Square holds within its walls. I shivered with excitement as I gazed at St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. I thought over and over again, “I’m here. I’m really here.”

Chapter 7

~ Becoming a mother to Camden, Aiden, and Quinn. Cradling each of my baby boys, disbelieving of how I could be deserving of such beautiful gifts, and knowing that I would do anything for those precious little ones entrusted into my care.

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~ Marrying my Beloved…

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~ Piloting my first plane. All of those feelings from when I was a little girl came rushing back, only now the weight of the yoke and the throttle were under my hands. This time I could see the Pacific Ocean as I flew, and it was positively breathtaking.

my first flight

~ And writing. Writing transports me to a place where my entire world stops as the words flow out of my fingertips, and my heart doesn’t resume its normal pace until the very last word of my story has been written. Then nervously, sometimes trembling, I send it out into the world. I share it with you…

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Felling alive…

~ Peace and exhilaration

~ Fear and freedom

~ Responsibility and hand-trembling nervousness

~ Courage and doubt

~ Contentment and the urge for more

What I am finding as I begin to uncover these deeply buried emotions, is that even though some of those feelings were not always pleasant – the desire must outweigh the fear.

Fear is the root of why I declined the offers to travel to Belarus and South Africa alone as a young lady. Fear of failure is why I never pursued my dream of becoming a pilot on my own. Afraid of losing him, I stayed home to marry my ex-husband rather than go off to college. The fear of not being the perfect mother has crept into parenting my little ones. Fear of more heartache slithers its way into my relationship with my Beloved. Fear is what has held me back all of these years from sharing my writing with others, and even from writing at all.

What were the times in your life where you felt most alive? And have you embraced those experiences, or has fear caused you to run away from them?

I am slowly and intentionally digging away at the ground that has buried my art, my dreams, and my desires. With each swing of the shovel, I am looking fear and perfectionism in the face as I toss it behind me. It is time for me to excavate the art that I am meant to live, and the art that I am meant to create. It’s scary and it’s heavy, but my prayer is that with each stride that I take, I will be a little closer to being the artist and the art that I was created to be.

* Photos 4 and 5 were taken by Joanne Funk.

*Linking up to Women Living Well Wednesdays

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I’m Ginger ~
I'm a wife to my Beloved, mom of three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas Girl. It is my desire to encourage you. No matter what storm you're going through right now, you are not alone. I promise.
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MY GIFT TO YOU!