Browsed by
Category: Reinventing Yourself

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

Confidence: My name is Sheryl Steines and I’m a Local Author.

All it Takes is Confidence

Even social media is difficult for an introvert, who oftentimes lacks basic confidence. So what’s an inspiring author supposed to do when she needs to recruit strangers to help with a social media campaign?

You pretend you’re not shy, or an introvert and you fake yourself out, acting as though you really have no problem making conversation with totally random strangers.

But they weren’t so random, the locations were selected carefully. We wanted cool., comfortable, roomy enough to spread out our stuff; the camera equipment, the books, the giveaways, the props.

But I had to recruit, dig deep and walk up to the ones I wanted. The kids that looked like they might like an urban fantasy, who weren’t so engrossed in conversation it would be a complete intrusion.

And There Goes the Confidence

With a deep breath and a lot reserve, I introduced myself as if I owned it, as if I exuded confidence and asked for what I wanted. The first guy gracefully declined, he was meeting someone soon. I thanked him for his time and moved on.

It was a perfect location. a coffee shop. There were four of them, twenty something’s out on a Sunday afternoon. Some with backpacks and homework, all of them with their phones. I was surprised how willing they were to have their pictures taken. They graciously did as we asked as my friend and photographer Jim took their pictures.

In exchange, I gave them copies of book one, The Day of First Sun. I gave them some swag. They were nice and they seemed to enjoy the surprise in their day, something different, something unique.

Am I Really an Introvert?

The funny thing is, I always tell people I’m an introvert. Which I probably am, until I find myself in a perfectly comfortable situation. A happy place, where I do what I love, in a place where I’m passionate for what I do. Maybe all those times I thought I was shy and unable to do things is because I really didn’t find that thing I loved, or I forgot what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up.

I seemed to have found my confidence, my strength. When I write, when I talk about my books, when I attend book fairs, those things I once thought were scary aren’t so much anymore. I’m drawn to the life of an author and I look forward to the experience that comes with it.

Come see me at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest on June 10th and 11th.

And for the first time I’ll be attending the Ann Arbor Book Festival on June 17th. I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to share.

 

 

 

My Weirdly Profound Way to Find Confidence

My Weirdly Profound Way to Find Confidence

As a Television Junkie…

I’m a television junkie, who in what I choose to watch, oftentimes finds strength and confidence. My choices run in cycles. I can be hooked on re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed, only to grow restless for something different. There’s been cycles with the Big Bang Theory or MASH and recently Gilmore Girls. Always choosing shows that have a personal connection, whether it was to a storyline or to a character.

Confidence and Gilmore Girls

My cycle now is an attachment to shows in which the female lead is struggling through a life event or doggedly pursuing a life’s goal. As much as I watched Gilmore Girls, I came to realize that I didn’t need every episode to satisfy this weird need. Just a handful of episodes held personal meaning for me. Right now, storylines about Lorelei buying and running her very own country inn, in both the original and the reboot, grab my attention and hold on tightly.

I’ve re-watched the fourth season as if it were my blue print for becoming a successful author. I cry when Lorelei cries, or cheer her on as though I’m unaware of the outcome. In that experience, I gain an odd sense of strength and confidence.

My New Obsession

Grace and Frankie. Though I’m considerably younger than any of the main characters, and have nothing in common with them, I’m drawn to them and their struggles. It’s a familiar theme of surviving a difficult change in life; trying desperately to pick oneself up off the ground and move forward. I’m not divorced and/or in my 70s but I do understand how difficult it is to discover yourself and how to achieve a dream. This hilarious show, and even funnier season, I can’t stop watching the emotional roller coaster that comes with starting their own business. Yeah even selling vibrators come with unique challenges.

Choking back the tears, Grace and Frankie fight for their demographic, for their product with doubt and confidence at the same time. With each step they take forward, I can almost touch their goals too.

You Must Watch Gracie and Frankie Here

 

 

 

The Power of Words and How They Changed Me

The Power of Words and How They Changed Me

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

In 1892, an author took on the attitudes toward women’s mental and physical health which diminished their power. The disease, nervous depression and slight hysterical tendency, A common malady in Victorian times.

The story with an unnamed heroine afflicted with this illness, was shipped to the country for fresh air, exercise and some peace. But the mansion her doctor husband rented for the summer, did little more than make her feel shut in, pushed aside. The more she protested the less heard she felt.

The longer she remained in the state of disconnection from herself, the more anxiety she felt and soon she began to see them; the other women.

Why at 18 did this story affect me so much?

I didn’t at the time, understand why I felt sadness, frustration at the words in the story. Why did the husband’s dismissive attitude toward  his wife and her needs churn in my stomach. I felt as though he was speaking to me. Feeling as I did, I rooted passionately for this woman as she struggled to release those other women who crept around the nursery. I cheered for their freedom.

When you are an introvert, a shy girl with low self-esteem, you don’t generally speak up, or speak out even though there is so much to say. I let the float around my brain, never harvesting them and only rarely, when they did come, they were merely a whisper, so softly I struggled to break free of the fear that bound me.

The Power of Women’s History Month

I find Women’s History Month fascinating. I’ve studied the stories of brave women who fought for their rights and the rights of the women who came after them. I don’t want to let my predecessors down. I want to find and utilize my voice, tap into my power. But until I wrote my first book, I never found my strength. Always feeling trapped in the yellow wallpaper, hoping for one woman to strip it from the walls and release me too.

It wasn’t until  remembered my dream. In awakening my passion, I discovered my voice,  my courage, my power. I had it in me all along, the ability to say something worthwhile, to shake it up and make someone listen to what I had to say.

I never would have thought I’d walk up to perfectly nice stranger and ask them to appear in a social media campaign. But I did it. Phone calls once stressed me out, because as an introvert, I rely on facial expressions, on visual cues to ease me through uncomfortable situations. Now, I do, because there are things that need to be done.

At 18 I felt Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s words. Transported to that room, the musty smell tickled my nose. The dingy wallpaper coated my fingertips. My own disconnection inhibited my speech.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a feminist who wanted to live life on her terms. To write and be heard.

It didn’t end well for her, but if it was any consolation her story affected me nearly 100 years after it was written. As a writer that’s all we can hope for.

For more about The Yellow Wallpaper, and other works by Charlotte Perkins Gilman:

http://www.biography.com/people/charlotte-perkins-gilman-9311669

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day – Why it Matters

International Women’s Day – Why it Matters

Because Women Matter

We are wives, mothers, single women, human beings. We go to college, work full-time, play sports. We’re artists, CEOs, writers, maids, data entry clerks, stay at home moms. We are caring, we are strong, we are relentless, we are tough, we are soft. We are all these things because once upon a time there were others like us who could not be.

There was a time, when it was expected that we would become wives and mothers, unable to own property or get credit, or work outside the home.

But today, my friends varied in their interests. We are teachers, body guards, office workers, writers, social workers, architects, planners, thinkers. Most have children, some have chosen not to; others could not.

I’ve met women survivors of rape and incest, mothers who buried their children, women who rush through life involved in the constant care of children with physical limitations or mental disabilities, and women who give up everything to care for loved ones hundreds of miles away from their home and life.

Women matter, for all the contributions and sacrifices to those we love. We matter for the choices we’ve made and for the choices that will still need to made. Women’s history month reminds us that we as a collective have power, we as individuals have strength. We have come a long way from a time when we couldn’t own property, vote, get credit, go to college or play sports.

This is my remembrance of those who came before me, who fought for my right to my health, to my career. To the artists, writers, suffragettes, ordinary women who took a stand, were beaten for their beliefs, tossed in jail as punishment for speaking out. Susan B. Anthony, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sally Ride, Lucille Ball, Rosa Parks, Margaret Mead, Serena Williams, Judy Blume. So many I have no more room.

For more inspirational women see he National Women’s Hall of Fame: http://www.nndb.com/honors/867/000046729/

And lastly, this is a love letter to my girlfriends. We share our struggles, we support each other, we celebrate and cry together. For without all of my lady friends and not so lady, very salty friends. My shy gals and outgoing leaders, remembering women of the past and speaking up for the future is important to us and legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren.

Be kind, be full of love.

 

 

 

 

Our Contributions are Our Legacy

Our Contributions are Our Legacy

Contributions

I hadn’t realized there was a month dedicated to understanding and celebrating the contributions of women over the course of history. March is Women’s History Month. It’s a big undertaking, to remember the women who fought for the right to vote, or to go to school, play sports, become scientists and doctors.

Keenly aware of the women who stood up for their belief’s and affected change, I feel as though I’m the recipient of  their beatings, their jail time, I don’t take for granted that their struggles have allowed me to work for a living, or be a stay at home mom, or try my hand at being writer.

We Share the Struggles

Women, share many of the same struggles. And yet, we can be critical, and judgmental, as we take sides between differing philosophies. What we should be doing is embracing the choices.  Because not every mom breast feeds or stays at home with their children. Whichever choice we make, should not leave us guilt ridden or ashamed.

I’ve been on both sides of varying issues and in the end, my choices reflected my family condition, the needs we had at that moment in time. I need not feel guilty over the choices because they came from a place of love, concern, need and desire.

Where I fit In

I’m taking the time during Women’s History Month to learn a little something about the contributions of the women who came before me. They strived for a better life, a thoughtful, learned life; a life of strength in competitiveness, a life in love. I can honor them by leaving my own mark. Making my own contributions, to humankind and I do so, by sharing my experiences as a mom and woman. By sharing my struggles and  my successes, I might become a sign of hope for others in their time of need. We can accomplish so much more when we come at it with love and support. My legacy is in my books, and in my blog. If it inspires one person, I’ll be happy with my contributions, big or small.

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/womens-history-month/

Remember the Inspiration that is Nancy Drew

Remember the Inspiration that is Nancy Drew

Inspiration: Today

Inspiration started with a book, which led to a love of mystery. But I wanted more than just to read the words, I wanted to write them.

After spending seven years in the mire that is marketing, writing, editing and parenting, I found myself stuck in the same place and it hit me, that something needed to change. Finding inspiration, I started over, with a new website, book series name, Facebook page name and Twitter handle.

Phew…And now I’m finally ready to release book two, with fear and awe.

While I reflect on the early days, back to a time when I had no idea what would become of my books or where the journey would take me, I find that inspiration and I share with you bits and pieces of that early blog. It sounds almost the same.

Inspiration: October 2010

I was a reader; everything from Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women. It inspired me to write my first book at seven years old. At nine, I read Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume, hiding “Forever” under my pillow at night. I graduated to Stephen King and slept with a nightlight; words had that effect. I felt something for these characters, I was engrossed in a good story. I loved to tap into the imagination. Inspiration; I wanted to be a writer.

Though life sidetracked me with a job credit card services, my time as an interior decorator. I had kids and I forgot what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until Harry Potter reminded me.

It’s really not the end of the journey, now that The Day of First Sun eBook is published. I think I’m now just beginning. Book two Black Market is well on its way, and I’m looking forward to all the possibilities. Thanks to everyone for their messages, for their support and questions and if you purchased the book, thank you, thank you, thank you!

I Am a Cubs Fan

I Am a Cubs Fan

My cubs_2favorite Chicago Cubs shirt is off limits. The two times I wore it during the National League Championship series, the Cubs lost both games. So needing something to wear to show my Cubs spirit, because I’m a Cubs fan, not one of those band wagoners, I pulled out my Cubs jacket to head out for some errands.

I don’t remember when I got this jacket. It was sometime in the 80’s I think. I’ve worn it, I haven’t worn it, it’s hung in the back of the closet, I once forgot I even owned it. But I pulled it out today and headed out to buy dinner for tonight because tonight isn’t any regular baseball game.

There were many of us today wearing our gear, a hat, a jersey, a t-shirt, a jacket. But what struck me the most were the three older gentleman I passed on my way out as they were entering, all proudly displaying their Cubs caps. The last man, noting my jacket, gave me a thumbs up and a light smile. I couldn’t help but return my own.

They were most definitely the embodiment of a long-suffering, life-long Cubs fan, waiting for a win in their lifetime. “The Cubs are going to the World Series!” It was a moment we all longed for, dreamt about and were cautiously optimistic about, as we entered the NLCS. We all knew this team could do it and yet… And yet we remember that moment in time when the wheels on that bus might fall off like so many times in the past.

But I am a Cubs fan, something I would have admitted even in the darkest days, when we pitched to Tony Quinn to get to Steve Garvey and the latter hit a home run, or the Bartman ball or the Mets (need I say more?)

I’ve watched them lose, I’ve seen them win. I’ve been to the old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, and NOT being the only Cubs fan there. I’ve been to Miller Park in Milwaukee and with the overwhelming number of Cubs fans there, we managed to out sing the Brewers fans during the seventh inning stretch.

I remember names like Steve Ontiveros, Larry Bittner, Barry Foote, Bobby Mercer, and Peanuts Lowry.

I remember the Sun Times printing every year, the crying Cubbie bear on the back sports page with the title “Magic Number, Next Year”.

Does the date 8-8-88 mean anything to you? In Chinese folk lore 8 is a lucky number and this date just as lucky. It was the night the lights were turned on in Wrigley Field for the first time. It rained and caused a dely. I can’t forget Jody Davis running across the tarp and sliding for the amusement of the fans.

8888-night-game

WGN used to be the only station that carried the Cubs and even after the lights went up, a majority of the games were still at 1:20 pm. I would get home from school just in time to watch the bottom of the first inning and if I was working, I’d switch the radio on and listen.

I joined the Die Hard Cubs Fan Club, and when I was married, it was my the only ID I had with my maiden name on it. If you’ve ever had to change your name on your Social Security card you know you need both new ID as well as your old. And yes, they accepted my Die Hard Cubs Fan Club card as my old ID. I swear, it’s no joke, that’s how I got my social security card changed.

On October 22, 2016 I sat with baited breath, in a bar in Kenosha with my college aged daughter, I watched the fifth game of the NLCS. There were two outs and I could barely watch the screen. When there was one out left, I sat with my hand across my mouth, tears in my eyes as I waited for Aroldis Chapman to pitch that pitch. Both my husband and my child said kept saying “It’s okay. We’re up 5 runs and there’s one out left.” But I know as all Cubs fans know, there can always be that one thing, that one thing that screws it up, that one event that changes the momentum and causes a loss or several to happen.

But this year.

This year I watched the pitch, hit to Addison Russell who threw it to Javier Baez, who tagged second base and turned the double play to Anthony Rizzo who made the third out. After a joyful scream with my arms raised, I did what so many of us diehards did. I burst into tears.

I’ve known throughout the season that this team was special. That this team could do it, win it all. But as a fan, there’s that curse, 108 years that rat tat tats in the back of my head, like a gentle reminder to always stay cautiously optimistic.

While I refrain from becoming cocky or over confident, I still believe this team is special. I still believe they can do it. I bleed Cubbie blue regardless of whether they win or not, and to be honest, it’s far more fun winning!

w

Becoming Lola – What Do You Like

Becoming Lola – What Do You Like

Why did I decide to reinvent myself and call myself Lola? My wheels have been spinning for years, never getting closer to finding THE job or figuring out how to sell more books. It felt as though I was I was taking two steps back for every step I took forward. I decided it was time to regenerate myself and my life.

This became an exercise in figuring out who I really was, what I enjoyed doing and trying things that might not have been in my comfort zone. I’ve had a photo shoot, learned about meditation, had an enlightening conversation with a Buddhist monk, changed my hair color, spent time with my friends and tried to stay optimistic about accepting new and different experiences.

I’m working on something new. What is it that I really like to do? What makes me happy? What puts a smile on my face when I do it, when I talk about it? What can’t I wait to do when it’s in the schedule?

The ocean. I love walking along the coast, any coast. I like the sound of water as it crashes against the shore. I love shelling, and shells, finding different shapes, different colors. It’s like a treasure hunt for me. Though I’m terrified of deep water, I love being near the water, dipping my toes in the water and mostly I love looking into the infinity of the ocean, seeing the curve of the world and seeing nothing on the other side. It represents no boundaries, that the world offers endless possibility if you open yourself up to them.

Writing makes me happy. Creating actually is what I love. It’s why I love painting, drawing, interior design. I love fabrics, colors, and making things pretty. When I was six, I bought a pin cushion, not because I sewed, but because it had three coordinating fabrics, in varying shades of pink. I liked it.

The two questions you might be asking, why don’t I already know what I like to do and why is it important? I don’t know anymore what makes me happy after life threw me several curve balls. I’ve been so preoccupied with a kid with anxiety, a kid who cut themselves because they were uncomfortable in their own skin, with things that pulled me so far from my original goals, I had to take a step back and figure out what I really wanted, what would make me happy.

It’s important because we shouldn’t wait to ask permission to do the things we like, and no matter how crazy hectic our lives can be, we should always carve out time for ourselves doing the things that we enjoy. So for me that means a walk along the beach searching for hidden treasures and a camera to feed my creative side. I won’t ever let myself forget again, to but myself first once and awhile.

Becoming Lola – It’s Good Enough

Becoming Lola – It’s Good Enough

Several times in the past few weeks I’ve come across the idea of good enough. Good enough, a cop out,  a means of settling, taking the first and easy way. It’s really not so.

In yoga, there’s a thought process that as beginners, you use props like a block or a strap because you aren’t able to bend or stretch as far as someone who has done it for years. When you’ve practiced for awhile, you stop using the props because you can bed and touch the ground without bending your legs. The final stage is the practiced yogi who’s been doing yoga for decades, who returns to the use of the block and strap because they understand that it’s not about touching the ground, it’s about the pose and the stretch that the pose brings. In other words, it’s about the journey.

With so much stress in my life, I ache from my back, feet, hands, shoulders. What I understand about the practice of yoga is simple, modification. I know what hurts, I also know what the purpose of the stretches are and I make modifications to the poses in order to not injure myself, worse than I already am. It’s not about bending farther than the person next to me, or not using the block because the person three mats down is capable of entering the triangle pose without a prop, or bend without the assistance of the strap.

I modify so that I can also feel my muscles engage, feel the burn as it were, as I hold a pose.

It’s good enough. It’s about the journey into the pose not the difficulty of the pose itself.

The idea of good enough isn’t weak. It’s understanding that everyday is a different day. As in yoga, one side of your body might be more open and easily bends to our will while the other side is tight and yields with difficulty and on the next day, it’s the opposite.

Why can’t we accept ourselves for who and what we are rather than compare ourselves to each other? We don’t know what someone else feels or what difficulties they experience that day. Today accept yourself for the day, and tomorrow accept the changes or the difference. Use the props, they stabilize you even after you grow stronger.

It’s all in perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

You may or may not remember the television show “Ed.” A quirky little show from the early 2000’s; a NY City lawyer who divorces his wife and moves back to his home town, a small town in Ohio. He spends most of his time when not lawyering (his office is in the bowling alley he purchased in episode 1), pursuing the girl of his dreams, Carol Vessey, high school teacher, who went away and returned home.

The show’s been a great easy watch, enjoyable and fun. That is until today’s episode called the “The Proposal.” As you’d expect, Ed, the bowling alley attorney, proposes to Carol, after four seasons of back and forth. She says yes and that’s not the point. What struck me in this episode is in his quest to create the perfect proposal, he finds a list his bride-to-be wrote when she was 16 years old; a list of her favorite things.

I’ve been trying for the last year to reinvent myself. Let all the difficulties of my life wash away, rediscover myself, who I am, what I like. And as I watched this episode, as Ed gave Carol her twenty-five favorite things, I wondered to myself, “What are my favorite things? What do I like?”

In no particular order:

  1. I love shoveling the snow. Forget the great workout or the drudgery. When it’s snowing those big, fluffy, white flakes and its warm out, without the bitter strong winds, I love going outside and shoveling the snow. But only the first snow fall. After that forget it. I’d rather stay inside and watch a movie on the couch under a warm blanket, or see number two.
  2. After the first snow fall and I’m sick of the snow and the cold, I love taking a vacation somewhere warm. What I love is that first step outside the plane and into the heat. It feels so…there are no words for that hot blast of heat.
  3. Spending time by the ocean, lake or river. Stop laughing. I know I’m afraid of water. What I’m really afraid of is being IN the water, not on the water. Having said that, I love boat rides, walking along the edge of the water collecting shells, watching the dolphins swim, or eating at a restaurant that’s right on the water. I love the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Sitting along the shoreline of the ocean, where the world feels so big, the possibilities are endless.    holland michigan 2
  4. Musicals, concerts, operas. I love live music, beautiful costumes, the voice of a really great singer, a well written song. I wish I could sing, alas, I sound like a dying cat.
  5. Reading a book that makes me laugh, or cry, one that I can’t put down and wish it never ended. One that inspires.
  6. The first bite into a chocolate covered strawberry, when it drips all over you.
  7. Really great barbecue. Brisket, ribs, pork, it doesn’t matter.
  8. Homemade chicken soup. My soup. Yummmm…..
  9. Coloring  I’ve had adult coloring books long before they became the new thing. It’s mindless, it’s colorful and relaxing.
  10. I’ve always loved fabrics. I love the color, the mix and match of patterns. When I was 9, I bought a pin cushion at a garage sale. It had three different coordinating fabrics. I didn’t sew but that round pin cushion just pleased me.
  11. Yoga and meditation. I love the traditional music, the soft lighting, the quiet inside my head. And for the hour and 10 minutes, it’s all about me.
  12. Fresh flowers. My favorite flower is the Shasta daisies. I love lacy flowers that grow on the side of the road, or wildflower/butterfly gardens. Their free and wild.
  13. Apple picking and all things associated with it including apple cider donuts and apple pie, drinking warm apple cider and eating freshly picked apples on a clear fall day.apples
  14. Eating my way through summertime fairs. Who doesn’t love funnel cakes, corn dogs, and well, just any fried food.
  15. I love listening to the rain fall in the early morning when it’s still dark outside. If that doesn’t work, listening to the shower in the dark is about the same.
  16. Sitting in my aunt’s lanai (screened in patio) and reading, sleeping or watching the alligator in the pond, sun itself. There’s something about the heat, the breeze and the sun. It’s like vacation.
  17. Antiquing. I love strolling the booths and finding that one item that I’ve been looking for, for years. I love the hunt, the history, the remembrance and finding really cool old things. Once when Pluto was still considered a planet, I found an astronomy book from 1898 and guess who wasn’t discovered yet.
  18. Eating fresh baked bread, cookies and brownies right out of the oven. Sweet, gooey and yummy.  Actually, eating raw batter is pretty fabulous too.
  19. Strolling through independent bookstores. My favorite sections, are occult, mythology and philosophy. I’d also stroll new book stores and libraries. It’s like the world is at your finger tips, sometimes the casual stroll is far more preferable to the click of the internet.
  20. Chicago – I love walking along Lake Shore Drive, taking a bus or boat tour, walking through Chinatown, watching the fireworks from the top of the John Hancock building and eating some favorite Chicago foods. You know, deep dish pizza and Chicago style hot dogs.
  21. Sparkly things. My phone case has rhinestones. I was asked once if I was a 12 year old girl. Yes. Yes I am…
  22. A dam hike. Moraine State Park is about a half hour from my house. We walk from the parking lot to the dam, hang out, and eat ice cream before taking the hike back. It’s about four miles and a beautiful little walk. Actually I really like hiking. One time we hiked through Zion National Park, stopped at the river, took off our shoes and waded through the river. You never know what will happen until you just move.
  23. Traveling. Did you read all the stuff about the beach? I like traveling, meeting new people. In a small town in Austria while eating dinner, we were asked if another couple could join us because the restaurant was out of tables. We said yes and had a great conversation with a couple from England. One of my favorite things to do when I’m out of the country is go into a local grocery store. You learn so much about a culture in a grocery store. And you learn that in this country, we have choices. Lots of them.
  24. Watching the television show Outlander. The character in full dress, Jamie Frazier is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.   jamie frazier
  25. Writing, creating. And when the story comes together, it’s the greatest feeling when it works out.
%d bloggers like this: