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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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/

Becoming Lola – Me Time because Yes, I’m Worth It

Becoming Lola – Me Time because Yes, I’m Worth It

 

Author Sheryl Steines
Not cooking the book.

I’ve never thought of myself as pretty. I just wasn’t one of THOSE girls when I was a kid.

Okay. It’s never really been an issue until after having kids. The body changes, the extra weight. And recently gained weight due to some heavy stress, I’ve feel  very uncomfortable in my own skin.

I want more for myself and my children, than the constantly being down on myself because the days are long, the years are short and we should spend those short years with the people, things and events that make us happy. Whether that’s time with friends and family, sometimes, just taking are of yourself, reminding yourself that your more than a wife, mother, writer, friend is something you need to do. And taking yourself out of your comfort zone, finding new challenges, reinventing yourself, that might be just the thing you need.

Being part of a photo shoot might not be considered fun for people, or useful or have enough substance, but I like to dress up. I like shoes, purses, and makeup. I don’t apologize for being a girly girl. That’s who I am. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to do something a little different. Honestly, I hate taking selfies and I don’t put myself in front of cameras often because I’m overly critical of how I look, but this intrigued me. This was different.

I found Bomber Betty Makeup, the way other people get recommendations. I asked my friends on Facebook for a recommendation for a makeup artist. I needed a headshot for the Wizard World Website and that’s when I met Jessica Sawicki.

After explaining my needs, we set an appointment time and she came to my house. I’ve never had my make up done, not like this. It was custom, all for me, and I looked great, if I do say so myself. I loved the make up so much, I’ve been buying it since 2o10.

One day I received an email about a vintage photo shoots. I was intrigued by the glamorous clothing, fun vignettes, and best of all, hair, make up and me time.

I borrowed a dress, circa 1960 and that led to the hairstyle and makeup looks.

I was hesitant when I first saw the hair. Without make up I felt a little school marmish and even considered taking it down. Rather than freaking out, I gave myself time in the make up chair and let Jessica fuss and dab and powder and perfect my face. As the look came together, I saw the vision and frankly, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. I’m not generally vain like that. But my skin was clear, the circles under my eyes gone. I no longer looked stressed or felt rushed and the colors were where colors should be. I smiled and felt good, I felt beautiful and even after the photo shoot, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. It was weird, it was a strange feeling to look in the mirror and see such a different me. Shall I say confident?

A do realize we shouldn’t need a full face of make up and fancy clothes to feel pretty. But what that day did for me was remind me that I’m kinda special and I deserve some quality time alone with me. I’m good, I’m smart and I’m capable. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

I will say, the below picture. The toughest, most uncomfortable shot for me. Either I never knew how to flirt, or I simply forgot how.

 

Below photos with vintage beauty products. I’m actually sitting on a old hair dryer chair.

 

Thanks to Jessica Sawicki owner of Bomber Betty Custom Cosmetics, hair by Cherry Dollface and photos by Harper Neilsen.

Becoming Lola – Growing Confidence

Becoming Lola – Growing Confidence

Something happened to me in the last few weeks, I think as a direct result of quitting my job. It’s an unfamiliar feeling but it’s like a drug, I can’t get enough of it.

I quit my job 5 weeks ago. I’m just now finishing up my project, transferring my job duties to a new employee, training other co-works to replace me. I have one week left, and I have for the first time in two years, have a chance to breathe and see myself differently.

The job from the beginning, I believe was a mismatch for my skills. Not a writing position, and not responsibilities that I had a background in, the job was an opportunity to try something new. But the something new was nothing that interested me or anything I liked. It probably from the beginning was the wrong path.

Ending this job freed me. Fortunately, I’m able to quit without having something lined up. I can’t take time off and deal with my kids who have been through difficult times and have challenges ahead of them. I can use the time to pursue my dream. And as I end my projects and train and make decisions about my future, I learned something interesting about myself, something I never would have thought before….I’m freaking awesome!

After training two replacements, tested, worked through issues, wrote standard operating procedures, set up the database, prepared the data, I realized I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m smart, I’m capable and as the confidence grows, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time, I feel smart, sexy, beautiful and most importantly, confident. I made a decision, followed through, and the world opened up for me in a way that hasn’t been in a very long time.

Not everyone can quit a job, (I’ll be applying for contract work in a few weeks), but we can honor who we are by listening to what we need and what we desire.

I won’t be bored. I have 2 books I’d like to have ready by the end of the year, I have my kids I plan to hang out with and a life that I want to make my own.

Here’s to growth and change and learning to love yourself.

See where this journey of self-discovery started, when I failed at the job, tried something new and realized what it was that I really want to do.

Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.com

Faking Confidence Leads to Real Confidence

Faking Confidence Leads to Real Confidence

Is confidence something we’re born with, or is it something we grow within ourselves when we are surrounded by a loving family, friends, society? Is it always with us or does it wane over time or experiences? I think about that as I examine my life, my choices, my career.

At seven, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Everything I did was leading me to that career. I wrote in my spare time, I became and English major, worked as a technical writing intern. I worked as a technical writer when I graduated.

Regardless of what I had done over the course of my life, I always stayed close to writing. It was what I was told I was good at since I was young, it was what I enjoyed the most and it gave me confidence. Some of the best jobs I had involved writing, whether it was business letters, technical manuals or user guides, there was a pride that came with learning a job and translating that for others to learn from. So when did the confidence wane and leave?

Bad jobs, fractured relationships, the death of a child, there are so many things that eat away at confidence, that leave a black cloud over your head, that suck the light and life away.

A series of bad events, of loss, left me paralyzed. And yet when the confidence was at its lowest, I decided to put myself out there, expose myself and write again. I needed to be reminded that I wanted to write a book and when I was, I did. To do that requires honesty and being open with the world in hopes that you find your audience.

You throw yourself out there when you publish your book whether you have a publisher or you self-publish. You read the reviews and you meet other authors and bloggers who can help you attract readers. Its raw and scary, terrifying and sometimes your read a review that is hard to stomach and you can’t speak for a week.

But there’s something in my makeup that when the confidence is lacking, propels me forward and keeps me writing. It’s a manufactured confidence, when I believe that I’m strong enough to keep writing, marketing and planning for that dream future.

Confidence is a tricky thing. It can be strong or it can be weak. We can be slaves to it or we can overpower it. I’ve never overpowered mine at least not until recently. I no longer wanted to watch other accomplish what I could only dream about. I wanted more. Even when the confidence leaves, I’ve learned to fake it. Negative self-talk can break you and positive self-talk even if you have to pretend for a while is better than none at all.

Because somewhere along the way I realized that I can do whatever I set out to do, I just have to believe in myself. Even if I have to fake it once and awhile.

The Monster Is Me

The Monster Is Me

sheryl banner 760 V2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m my own worst enemy, my own monster. At seven years old I decided I would be a writer when I grew up, I didn’t know about confidence or hard work or that someday I’d have two children that I would be responsible for. Unaware that as I got older, my problems would be bigger and harder I didn’t know that we don’t always get what we want.

I had two plans; Plan A and Plan B. Plan A was to be just like Stephen King and write for a living. But no one told me that to do that, I should just write. I attempted to start books, but I always fell flat after Chapter 1. Plan B was to work as a writer at a company, any company that needed a writer. That way I was still doing what I wanted and getting paid for it. I did that for a while and then the kids came.

Thinking I always roll with the changes, I got caught up in that life. Running the kids from school to activities to friends. I lived through infertility, a bad pregnancy, the death of a child and eventually a career change. But when my lost decade was over, I woke up and realized it wasn’t me. With the lack of confidence to truly be an interior designer and make the jump to my own business, I floated around a mother to older children and a desire to start working again. Feeling a complete and utter failure, heavier than I had ever been and not accomplishing anything in my life, I attended my twentieth class reunion. To make my low self esteem even lower, I met another writer (she wrote non-fiction) and I found myself jealous and angry at myself for allowing my dreams to die and for the first time in ten years, I realized what I was missing.

It was then that I wrote my first book. It wasn’t that good, I hadn’t any idea of publishing or selling it but it was finished. And in the four years since I first self published that book, I’ve learned a lot about the whole indie author lifestyle. I wish I knew then what I know now, but rather than regret or dwell on it, I had to move forward.

I don’t sell many books. I haven’t been pushing them hard because I’ve rewritten the first book and restructured the series. It’s hard for me to hear about everyone else’s success. I’m on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I fight back by improving my social media, I’m trying hard to put together a fun and supportive blog. But it’s still there, my worst enemy, my monster, myself. Everyday I work to convince myself I’m an author. It’s not always easy and I have to work really hard to shut down that voice that tells me I’m a failure. It hangs over me my like a black mist, enveloping me and choking me. And yet, here I am, writing my blog, planning for the re-release of book one and the first release of the new book two. I can’t give up because that would me the self doubt and the fear will win.

I’m not sure who I’m doing this for anymore. Sometimes I think I’m doing it for my girls, so they have something to be proud of me for and sometimes I think I’m doing this for me because a seven year old still resides inside of me and she really wants this badly. But mostly I do this for me because I really, really enjoy what I do. I’m hoping someday that I find the audience that can enjoy what I do as well.

I kill my demon with a pen not a sword and someday, I hope to win.

 

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