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Category: Reinventing Yourself

Battered and Bruised by the Water

Battered and Bruised by the Water

The high cliff overlooks a river that snakes through the countryside. It’s nestled into the valley, covered in trees and the water, it beats roughly against the rocky coast. I stand on the highest hill, a silent observer to the water as it splashes and swirls before dropping several feet into that whirlpool at the bottom of the waterfall.

The water churns, and undulates, alive with pain, anger, love and loss. Each harsh wave erodes the rocks, removing a piece forever. Mom she’s gone. I hear myself say that over and over again in my head, on a loop that I can’t shut off. My voice lacks all feeling, a reflection of my true self, because it was one more piece of news than I can’t absorb, interpret or accept. 

WIP 2016, Sheryl Steines

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I’ve been afraid of deep water, (I’m 5’3″ so it doesn’t take much), since I was six years old. Before six, I had no issue with the water, stick me in a blow up ring and let me float on by. At six, I took swim lessons, in a lake. I will never forget the day we jumped from the floating dock into the water, water that was definitely deeper than the top of my head.

Not the first one in; I watched others jump in; it seemed that the others before me, were immediately lifted out of the water to sun dry on the wooden dock. When it was my turn, I jumped and stared up and through the greenish, cloudy lake water, I could see the sun in the sky and I remember thinking, “When am I going to be lifted out of the water?” I panicked, the panic seeped inside and from that time, water was the enemy.

I’ve taken swim lessons at an adult, trying to allay those fears, not wanting to pass them to my children, but the fear and anxiety is so deep within me, I’ve given up hope that I will ever enjoy the water.

I’ve been writing poetry and essays of late, writing my memoirs in a way that’s pure emotion as I discuss the life I’ve led so far and why it might be important to another person. My theme for the bad times seems to be the churning water. How it pulses, undulates and suffocates, much like I feel when I’m in a large body of water.

JK Rowling wrote about her depression in Harry Potter through the dementors, the life sucking creatures that ate your souls and left you as merely a shell, much like depression does in real life. She didn’t write a literal interpretation, choosing instead to give you the image, in a beautiful, grotesque way.

Water, for me, is the perfect representation for the emotions that envelope me through several past life experiences. It swirls and comes alive and batters me against the edge of the lake.

Eventually the water will flow down river into a quiet pond, but right now, it undulates, rumbles and terrorizes.

I work on my autobiography because I hope, someday, somewhere, someone will read it and gain perspective and a sense that in the end, it will get better. The river eventually ends.

Becoming Lola – Meditate

Becoming Lola – Meditate

mediation Meditation. There’s no secret to practicing, you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to participate. It’s not magic, and most likely it’s something you’ve done without realizing you’re doing it.

Have you ever been so stressed that you take a moment to take a slow, deep breath and equally slow release of the breath? A moment to slow down, to be in the present. This is meditation.

Life is stressful. Full time job, over scheduling ourselves and our children, sometimes our lives feel as though they’re imploding in on itself. I feel it too.

I’ve been on a quest the last year, to remake myself. Find my inner happiness as I try to accomplish a goal I set for myself when I was seven years old. To be a writer.  But as we all know, sometimes life gets derailed. Careers, a terminally ill baby, an anxious child, a transgender child.

Stress builds up to the point you feel as if you are ready to explode and as I work toward my goals, and try not to let myself get derailed, I came up with a plan to remake myself. I call it Becoming Lola after I made a joke that I wanted to dye my hair red and change my name.

To deal with the stress, I took a meditation seminar at my yoga studio. The goal to open our chakras, let our natural energy flow freely instead of bottle up. Regardless of what you think about this, doesn’t matter for the moment.  What I discovered through the guided meditation, through listening to the doctor’s voice, by paying attention to my body, and imagining these centers opening up, I walked out of there with a quiet mind and an open heart.

My recent introduced me to Buddhist Monk Bhante Sujatha, practicing for over thirty years. He travels the world guiding others to the practice of meditation and when he’s home at the monastery he founded, he guides practitioners in how to begin and continue with the practice. When he’s not doing that, he raises money for incubators, used in impoverished countries.

I told Bhante my story. How one hour-long session, affected me so much. He told me I had the Buddhist light within me and encouraged me to continue practicing.

It takes only five minutes of time. Five minutes to breathe in, let the air fill your lungs and release it. Five minutes to simply be in the moment with no thoughts, no lists, not responsibilities except to listen to your body and quiet the mind.

I made a pledge to be open to all sorts of healing, to ease the pain in my body and in my mind, to give myself much-needed rest. It cost nothing and takes little time to heal yourself if your open to the possibility.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

I’m writing my memoir, sort of. It’s not an exact retelling of my life and the low, very low experiences that have eventually brought me to this point. It’s a lot of poetry, a lot of essays and a lot of imagery.

That’s not so remarkable. JK Rowling wrote about her depression. She made it a character in her books. Remember the dementors? They were an embodiment of the depression she experienced after her divorce. Mine is an image, its water. Water, something that I bathe in everyday, that I drink all day and use to prepare meals. And yet, since I was about six years old, I’ve been terrified of the water.

I learned to swim in a lake. Dark and dirty, I couldn’t see the bottom. I had a loss of control during one class, the day we jumped off the dock and the instructors kept us under water for what seemed like an eternity. I can still see the sun through the greenish water, a dull ball in the sky. I remember the panic waiting for the teacher to lift me out of the water. From that day on, I never liked being in the water.

I tried to learn over the years. I took the classes in high school, but my fear was so gripping that my teacher, while holding me in the deep end, told me, you are too afraid, I can’t teach you here.” She proceeded to swim me to the shallow end, where I spent the rest of the two-week unit, walking. As if that’s not a waste of time.

As I write about my life, about the death of my daughter, I find myself using water as a representation of that horrible time.

“it beats roughly against the rocky coast.”

“The water churns, and undulates, alive with pain, anger, love and loss. Each harsh wave erodes the rocks, removing a piece forever.”

“I can no longer breathe as the water pummels me, suppresses me, I try to scream but my voice can no longer be heard amidst the roar.”

I found myself writing the second entry and the images waters contained my sorrow, my heart-felt apologies, my fear and anger.

The water doesn’t just scare me. It terrifies me. White knuckle terror. When I took swimming lessons after the birth of my second child, I remember swimming in the deep end of pool. I climbed out still wearing my life jacket and stood above the pool. My teacher told me to jump in. My head understood the command, but my legs were grounded to the pool deck. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed.

This is the imagery that describes the ups and downs. The white water rapids that describe my life. the way I can deliver my message and have others understand how I view my life.

Water terrifies.

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

We all need time away, time to process or not to not process, to unplug, unwind and hang with someone who totally gets you.

For my birthday, I loaded up the car, because I always over pack and headed to Holland, Michigan with my friend Marilyn. It was the perfect place to all of the above, and only three hours from home with just enough to keep us busy or not, for four days.

The location was beautiful, along Lake Michigan, with cute little towns, lots of great shopping, outside cafe’s along the lake, a great hiking dune, with a 239 step climb and a two-mile trail. And we did it all in my convertible. What’s not to like?

It was the perfect weekend with a great traveling companion. But for me it was something a little more. I’ve been making the most of my summer off from work, partially because I can’t find another job, partially because there’s so many things for me to catch up on and frankly, I’d rather be writing books for a living than anything else. But a weekend away, with a good friend, no kids, no husband, was what I needed. Time to just be me. Not mom, not wife, not pack mule. Just Sheryl.

I’ve been on a journey of sorts, one in which I’ve been taking myself out of my comfort zone, doing things that stress me out a little and it all started with the re-writing of my first book The Day of First Sun. In the five years since I wrote that book, I’ve evolved. I can tell because my evolution is reflected in Annie Pearce journey. She started out, maybe tough as nails, finding it difficult to let someone in and now she’s a loving, confident woman who sometimes isn’t. She changes and grows and is a far more complete character as she discovers who she is. Much like me, like the journey I’ve been on as I try new things, discover who I am and what I want my life to be.

For the first time since I lost my daughter to an undiagnosed neural muscular disease, I finally feel unstuck and in a place where I’m moving forward, and not standing still in the muck. Becoming Lola, my way of shaking myself up and moving out of a comfort zone has been an eye opener. Where once I thought incapable of doing the simplest things I now realize that when my car overheats three hours from home, I’m more than able to buy and use the antifreeze, let alone simply driving there in the first place.

Fear is paralyzing, and it’s in the relearning to do the simplest things, we realize that writing that book is really not so hard. Only the first step is.

For my first steps, check out Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.com

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

Becoming Lola – Changing Jobs

Becoming Lola – Changing Jobs

workingI quit my job. From the beginning the job sat in my gut, the idea that this job and are were a bad for me and my skills and ultimately, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.  I kept at it making the most of it, even through the job functions that I really didn’t like, the tedious boring creation of certificates, dealing with members and their money questions, all the while trying to do my job well.

In my heart what I wanted most was to be a writer. If I couldn’t make it as an author at least I would be writing for a living. Nothing in my current job was heading me toward either road. I made the decision to quit.

This was a good decision even though there isn’t another job to go to because what I want is a consulting gig, three to six months writing technical manuals about software. I like the idea of starting and finishing a project and having time off. Time to do what I really want, finish my books. But in order to be submitted for the job, I need to be available immediately, hard to do with a full-time job.

Sometimes we need to put ourselves first, our needs and desires. And sometimes we have to trust in our vision and dreams and put some effort into what we really want. You can’t success in your goals if you don’t put any effort into them. Wishing and hoping doesn’t make it happen, hard word and time does.

On my way to becoming who and what I want to be takes determination and trust in my gut. It’s never let me down.

Becoming Lola – Catching Up With the Past

Becoming Lola – Catching Up With the Past

When you’re in a rut, it’s not so easy to pull yourself out and move onwards, upwards or outwards. I started my big plan with a tweak to my diet and exercise plan. My body is working better, though not as better as I was hoping for. I’ve cut a lot of bad stuff out except for chocolate covered raisins. Those seem to be my downfall.

As I keep working on the eating healthier and exercising  less lazily, I’ve also been on a quest to take advantage of opportunities and visit with friends I haven’t seen in a while. There’s something about being with people who have seen you at your best and at your worst, who have a history with you and know you. It’s spending time with Marilyn and watching The Breakfast Club in the theater and laughing at what we once were and the people we’ve become. There’s also that realization that we are now the parents and our kids look at us like we’re complete and total idiots while at the same time, I’m still that know-it-all teen who’s laughing at the principal because he’s still a jerk and I’m not really 46 years old. But it’s also realizing that the last time I saw that movie in the theater, the audience was a whole lot younger.

breakfast club

It’s about sitting in the restaurant and waiting for Jodi for thirty minutes. And when I finally call her, we find out we’re both sitting in the front of the restaurant waiting for each other on the opposite side of a big ass pole. It’s something we would do and it’s something we laugh about. And even though I don’t see her all that often, we always seem to pick up right where we left off. It’s nice to slip back into the old routine without trying hard.

best-friends27I still have one more friend I’d like to catch up with. Someone I’ve known since I came home from the hospital after my birth. She’s always just been there, and its far too long since we’ve seen each other last. Thankfully there’s Facebook to catch up with her. It can be hard to reconnect and find room in busy lives for a new/old friend, but that connection is always worth it.

Life is not always about thinking things through, or making plans. It’s sometimes simply about being asked and saying yes, because who doesn’t want an unexpected call from someone you like who asks you to see an 80’s cover band, and oh yeah, they’ll pick me up in 5 minutes. You never know what these experiences will bring, maybe a new friend or maybe is as simple as reliving the songs from high school.

There’s still plenty more things I want to do. Things that might challenge or are simply different from what I’ve done before. In the end, I hope to have my friends around me and my mind open and productive, and a few goofy, funny, and nostalgic experiences that I hadn’t expected.

It’s all about openness. Next up, the American Ninja Warrior training gym…Maybe, yes, no, anyone?

Oops I Did It Again…a Rewrite That Is

Oops I Did It Again…a Rewrite That Is

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use I was 7 years old when I read my first Nancy Drew book. There was something in that smart girl that resonated me and I wanted to read every adventure. But I didn’t just want to read the stories, I wanted to write them, create my own world, characters and adventures.

Life, it sometimes gets in the way. Infertility, a difficult pregnancy, the death of a child, threw me off of my course, the path I set for myself when I graduated college.

It took a wake up call, meeting a high school classmate, a published author to fuel my jealously, to snap the dream back to me. I finally wrote that book.

It took all of 6 weeks from start to finish, all 170 pages of it. It took at least 15 drafts two of which were self published. I hired marketing help.

I wasn’t ready. I didn’t understand how to edit, forget about using Twitter and Facebook effectively. Without holding up my end of the bargain, marketing, well it left me back to square one.

A horrible book release for book 2, left me constantly 5 minutes away from quitting. Paralyzed to move forward, which is where I’ve been for over 2 years as I try to figure out y life as a non writer. But I still come back to the desire to make it right, to finally live that dream.

I’ve been lucky because had I not gone down that road, I wouldn’t have met a collective group of great, smart women who have taught me some of what they know about marketing, writing and editing. And I would have learned nothing.

After careful thought, I re-wrote my first book again. I re-thought the entire series. Rather than selling books with flaws, I chose to improve the product. The premise was good but… I hope I fixed the but.

That is why I chose this major rewrite. I took a long look at the book and the series and pinpointed where I fell short. I took out chunks of the book, changed relationships and rewrote what turned out to be a majority of the book. Though the story is the same, it gets there in a different manner. One that I hope answers questions, feels complete, with characters that are worth reading about.

I often wonder why no one has said to me, you’re an awful writer you should quit. I’ve mostly experienced encouragement, just enough to ignore the bad reviews. Just enough to try again. Maybe this time I’m nearly 10 minutes away from quitting, and at least in the end I know I’ve tried.

I’m very proud of version 20 of The Day of First Sun and I look forward to it’s release. I can’t wait to share.

It’s been an emotional few years picking myself up and dusting myself off, but I did it. Sometimes it’s all we know what to do.

Pre-order The Day of First Sun, check out Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

hairPerusing the internet the other day I found a blog from a mother whose son chose to wear his hair long. He like it long and was owning the look. Now long hair on boys and men really isn’t such a big deal now a days, but for this mom, it was. It wasn’t because she wanted her son to have short hair and be something he wasn’t but she didn’t like the reaction of those around him, to his long hair. She complained that he was constantly called she or her and she was tired of strangers telling mom that she had three beautiful daughters. Yes she had two beautiful daughters and one handsome son.

I know exactly what that mom was going through. I have a beautiful, smart, athletic and funny daughter who from the very beginning was nothing but a tom boy and has spent most of her 14 years, trying to figure out who she is. Until she was five she wore clothes from the boy’s section. At 3 she wanted her hair short like a boy. I was hesitant because she dressed like a boy and I didn’t want confusion for her or others. We made a compromise of sorts and the hairdresser did a great job giving her a cut that was short but kept her looking like a girl. She was thrilled. But eventually kids change their minds and she began growing out the once adorable cut. Still wearing boy clothes as her hair grew out, she oftentimes would be called he, him or my son. It would anger me and as she got older it bothered her.

She knows she’s a girl, but she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t like pink or princesses. But she loved the Twilight books and she loves to hunt, wear perfume and makeup. If my daughter could, she’d live in basketball shorts but on that rare occasion that she has to dress up she doesn’t stop and slacks and a blouse. She goes all out strapless party dress with converse gym shoes. My daughter is just who she is but she hasn’t found her place in society or even in her circle of friends.

Who she is, is a unique kid who knows what she likes but surrounded by crazy, stupid, hormonal teenagers, she gets picked on and bullied, something I wasn’t completely aware of until I let her get a short hair cut. I convinced her to not go crazy and get that short spiked do’ but a very cute Anne Hathaway at the Oscars hair style. My daughter was adorable, one of great faces for short hair. I loved it, she loved it and felt very comfortable in her own skin. But her boyfriend at the time, granted they were 11, broke up with her, she was called a lesbian and teased about an awful hair cut.

My heart breaks for my daughter who so desperately wants to fit in but has her own style that makes her not quite fit in. I gave her a choice. You take responsibility for your look and ignore the stupid around you or you find a way to fit in that makes you comfortable and allows you to be you. She chose the latter because she’s not quite confident enough to own her look yet. I’ve worked with her on crafting a style that allows her to fit in and yet honor her style. Ripped blue jeans, rock and roll t-shirts from the girls section because their cut closer to the body and teal converse shoes, allow her to be her and yet, be a girl too. I’m willing to let her experiment with her style, her hair, her make up but not her hair length.  Because after all she went through and after growing her hair out she now wants it short again. I feel bad but I told her no. Not because I don’t want her to be herself but because I’m worried about the stupid that surrounds her.

Hair is so much of who we are, it’s the first thing people notice about us and they can perceive so much about who we are whether its correct or not. I promised my daughter that she could cut off her once blonde hair and cut it short but only when those around her are mature enough to not open their mouths. But then again, my daughter is 14 and has changed her mind again, she wants long extensions.

We can only do our best with our children as we navigate the ups and downs of raising them. I hope that someday my daughter will have a better sense of herself and trust that those around her will like her for who she is and not what she wears or by the length of her hair.

 

 

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