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Category: Reinventing Yourself

Inspirational Guilty Pleasure – Thy Name is American Ninja Warrior

Inspirational Guilty Pleasure – Thy Name is American Ninja Warrior

Inspirational

I could have picked a more traditional guilty pleasure. Something like Dynasty of the 1980’s or the Kardashians today. But I didn’t. It’s hard to explain the draw for me, a non-athlete, a self-proclaimed television junkie. But there it is, a show, that is by its nature, is something inspirational to me and therefore, something I’m drawn to, something I can’t get enough of.

Yeah. It’s an obstacle course, one that looks impossible, one that makes me shake my head as to the level of difficulty because really who wants to roll dizzy across the water and try to climb another obstacle when you’re half crazed with dizziness? But it is awesome!

Inspirational in its story telling

The people who try the obstacles either want the money, or the challenge of making it through all courses, there are 6 of them. But there are those who have battled cancer and came back, or endured physical therapy after a car accident, or dealt with the death of a friend, parent or spouse, who are looking for something, something challenging, something beyond their everyday life.

It’s more than just an obstacle course. For them it is that thing that brought them back from the brink, something they must do. I find myself cheering for them, hoping they can make it up that final foot or last obstacle and I can imagine myself climbing up and breaking down those challenges.

Don’t make it easy, just give us a chance

Each year, more and more women participate and each year, they get faster and go farther than they ever have. They compete equally with the men and for me as I watch Kacy Catanzaro conquer the warped wall, or Jessie Graff make it farther than any other woman before her, I tear up. It reminds me, that a little hard work, a little determination and  accepting the opportunity when it’s presented, we can accomplish the goals we set.

I don’t ever think I’ll be strong enough or ambitious enough to actually make it on the show, but I do believe that I’m talented enough and determined enough to make my goals my reality. Every time I watch the participants on American Ninja Warrior, I feel the inspiration. It can be done.

And that is why I keep watching and that is why I keep writing. Because I can’t stop. Because, just one more chapter, one more sentence, one more word. And I’ll be ready when that opportunity knocks down my door.

American Ninja Warrior

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

Life – Writing Your Own Story, Literally and Figuratively

My Life – A Raging Tornado

Life, my life has been a roller coaster, of highs and lows, some so low, I thought that there would never, ever be another problem to contend with for the rest of my life. I’ve struggled to get pregnant, I’ve gotten pregnant easily. I had a difficult pregnancy, I’ve had an easy one. I carried twins, I’ve carried a single baby. I’ve given birth to three children, one born with a genetic disability that took her life at 11 months old; I have a child with such severe anxiety, that it has been a struggle for her and the family to live something normal, and now I deal with a transgender child.

As soon as I think I’m coming to the end of the roller coaster, just as it’s ready to pull into the station, I instead, and catapulted back to the first loop d’loop to start the journey again.

My Life – Yes, Sometimes I feel Sorry for Myself

I could have become an alcoholic, or a drug addict or harmed myself, but I didn’t. I thought for a while I was handling the lows, coming through them and surviving. What I was doing was merely surviving, allowing myself to merely be a victim of my circumstances. And yes, in that I felt sorry for myself. Sometimes it’s hard not to do that. After all that I’ve seen, all that I’ve lived through, after life battering me, throwing me from one situation to another, I realized, it’s okay to feel this way. Sometimes you have to let it go and simply feel for the loss of what you thought life would be. But what’s not okay, is wallowing for too long in the low.

My Life – At the Edge of the Abyss

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the 19 years of parenting. It’s okay to not be perfect. And it’s okay to put yourself first. I’ve stood at the edge of the Abyss with the universe pushing me, pressing me against the edge, laughing as I slip on the weakened earth beneath my feet. And as it pushing me toward the deep end, the my bottom, I’ve learned one last thing about myself. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. And I shouted at the universe “NO! You can’t have me!”

Writing is what saved me from losing my mind, from letting the weight of the problems overwhelm me and victimize me. Twice this week I’ve heard myself saying or thinking, “We write our own story. ” Literally and figuratively that is. Granted life has a funny way of shoving us down certain paths, but what we do with these changes, is up to us. We write our own story.

My Life – My Passion is the Written Word

I write. It is my priority. It is my love and it is my passion. Someday I hope to do this as my living, not my “hobby” as I learn how to find a fan base big enough to allow me to live my dream. And what I’ve learned about that is, “You must never give up.” It’s that drive, that desire that has kept me grounded, that has made me a better mom, a better person. It builds my confidence, it makes me whole. It is what keeps me from falling off the roller coaster when it whips me around.

This is my life for better or for worse. And I’ve made my choice on how I write it. The glass will always be half full as long as you have the confidence in yourself to make it so.

See the glass as half full and find me at the following book fairs, Summer, 2017.

Printer’s Row Lit Fest

Ann Arbor Book Festival 2017

 

 

 

The Little Chick Has Returned to the Nest – Anxiety and My First Born

The Little Chick Has Returned to the Nest – Anxiety and My First Born

Anxiety and the start of the school year.

We picked all these items before school started in hopes they would ease my daughter’s anxiety about going away to school. And now her dorm room full of crap sits in my dining room, scattered across the floor and table where it was carelessly placed after unloading the SUV. The piles of junk spilled into the living room, the final car load needed a place to be stored. A final piece never left the kitchen where it takes up valuable walking space between the island and the refrigerator. If I don’t break soon, it may stay there the entire summer. Probably not…but you never know.

I’ve raised a highly anxious child for 19 years. I’ve dealt with a child who was barely able to talk to her teachers, who suffered from ADD, who was severely fearful of the wind and felt anxiety that was blinding and debilitating. She’s endured therapists, bad teachers, social workers, psychiatrists, all in the attempt to help her achieve some sort of normalcy, so that she could at some point in her life, live as a functioning adult.

This year was a mixed bag.

Three weeks before school started, she endured wrist surgery, an injury sustained during Tae Kwon Do testing when she broke several boards at the same time. After x-rays and physical therapy, there was no relief and surgery was the next option. My daughter’s first test as a functioning adult would be physical therapy on her own while away at school.

I worried when the first night away ended with an upsetting text and a phone call with my child on the end of the phone line crying, already not liking college, and it was still only Freshman orientation. I could feel the anxiety through the phone.

She wasn’t talking to her group, she wasn’t speaking to her roommate.

I sighed. It would be soon. She’ll get the hang of it.

I helped her through her first physical therapy appointment and held my breath when she went on her own. And each time, it got easier, not just for her but for me as I slowly let go. It could only get better.

 

Thinking Positive

I could only hope with a little time, with a little patience and experience my daughter would realize how far she had come. She was for the most part, living on her own, she handled physical therapy like a pro, she even drove herself home on several occasions, making her way through unfamiliar territory. I was proud of the challenges she overcame  all the while, the anxiety still present and real. She couldn’t see past it.

But it didn’t last.

Her roommate was mean. Complained of a weird smell, blamed my child as if she wasn’t showering. My kid who took 30 minute showers on a regular basis, began to doubt herself. People would comment about her behind her back while she could hear. The roommate moved out.

It shattered my kid. She never ever had anything quite like this happen to her. My heart broke for her as she called me crying, others in the hallway were making nasty comments.

But she persisted, she didn’t give up and continued on with the second semester, reveled in good grades and was invited to the smart kids fraternity.

There was so much to be proud of.

But It’s Still Anxiety

She has severe anxiety and possibly OCD, issues that can hinder if you’re not willing to do something about them. She saw a therapist at school to help with the roommate issue, I reminded her several times how far she had come. And in the end, she was willing to make things better, try to overcome the OCD and ADD and make an effort. She joined several clubs and even forced herself to go to meetings.

She started to think about a major, a minor, a possible career. But she still has anxiety. And as much as I want to toss the little chick out of the nest, I can only do it in small increments. She’s just not quite ready.

And that’s my job. Continual support of my child as she continues to grow and change and adapt. She will always have a home to feel safe in. A place to hide from the world, to soak in as much love as she can in order to face the harsh realities outside the front door.

I have high hopes for next year. She has clubs to join and will be rooming with a good friend who will be attending the college with her in the fall.

It’s never easy, but each step is confirmation that we’re in the right direction and someday, the little chick will be tossed out without realizing she had been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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