When NOT to Let It All Hang Out

Grr. I struggle to write this post because although I know I’m not a perfect person, I don’t like to think about it too much. 😉 Anyhow, this blog is all about change and the process of change, so there’s no hiding the fact that I am a work in progress. A messy, dragging my feet, don’t wanna change work in progress.

First of all, a shout-out to my dear hubby who called me out on my messiness and didn’t let me stay in my rut. The other day he commented in a disapproving but calm way that “you’re not the person I married”. Ooh, I bet you’re wondering if he spent the night in the doghouse after that remark(!), but alas, no, we no longer have a dog (RIP Sparkle), therefore we have no doghouse, so no worries there. 😛 My response to his comment? Well, I had two: one in my head which shall remain safely tucked away there because if you ain’t got nothin’ good to say, it’s better to not say anything at all, and the second was something like, “I’m not the same person! I feel like a servant!” Eeks. Long story short, I’d been feeling way overworked and way under-appreciated and was letting it (ie. my anger, frustration, resentment) alllll hang out.

You know how when you first start dating, you make sure you’re dressed your best and you’re on your best behavior so you don’t scare your date off? And then once you’re engaged or married, you start feeling oh-so comfortable and doing all the stuff you never would’ve done before in front of your significant other (ahem, passing gas!) and essentially, you just “let it all hang out”? Well, yep, that’s what I’d been doing. Not the passing gas part exactly (that’s old news, haha), but giving stinky faces and a bad attitude and using my indoor voice with the kids (the kind you use only at home because you would never speak that way to strangers!). It was not a pretty sight. That’s why hubby said what he said.

And he was right. I’m not the same person he married. That old me (well, actually the much younger me) wasn’t a mother of two kids who’s trying to juggle multiple roles as a wife, mom, and a writer. That me was able to sleep in, do what I wanted most of the time, and not have to deal with meltdowns, sibling rivalry, picky eating habits, and 5+ loads of laundry a week*. So yeah, a lot’s changed in 15 years. And so have I.

And because I’m older and a tad wiser now that I’ve been on this life journey for 40 years, I was able to swallow my pride and think about hubby’s statement. I let it simmer in my head and heart for a while and consider the effect my actions and words have been having on the kids. How my yucky attitude has been affecting my mood. And how it makes NO sense for me to yell, “Don’t yell!” at the kids and expect them to do the opposite of what I was doing. Grr. You get the idea.

So I had to really make a conscious decision to NOT let it all hang out. I had to stop giving myself permission to treat my kids and hubby so poorly (because in my head I was telling myself it was okay to do so). And I had to remind myself to reel my emotions in and change my perspective.

Quite honestly, there’s a lot of things I have to do on a daily basis that I don’t want to do (*see the examples above!). But I’m choosing to do them because I love my family. And loving people means dealing with the messy, not-so-fun stuff sometimes. It requires looking beyond myself and caring for the needs of others. It means putting on my big girl pants and being a grown-up and doing grown-up things.

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I saw this meme on Facebook this week and I was like, ouch, okay, yeah, I get the message! I think a lot of times I forget I’m the adult or I wish I didn’t have to be one. But well, I am, and because I want to give my kids the best possible lessons on “adulting”, I’m going to keep on learning how to be the best adult that I can be.  I used to think it wasn’t fair that childhood’s so short in comparison to adulthood, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. Adults need way more time to mature and grow up. 😉 I know I’m still working on it. How about you? 🙂

Check out Maati Baani’s amazing cover of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World”, performed by a bunch of cool kids!

Straight To You: Q & A

In anticipation of the upcoming release of my first “book-baby”, Straight To You, I’ve put together a brief Q & A about the novella, as well as the self-publishing experience.

So here are the answers to some questions you may (or may not) have wanted to ask. 🙂

1. How long did it take to write this book? What was the process like? It took longer than a human pregnancy, but shorter than an elephant one (which is 22 months!) to complete this book from start to finish.

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda/freedigitalphotos.net

I use the metaphor of pregnancy because the process of writing this book was very much like one. There were moments of worry, excitement, impatience, frustration and joy throughout the whole experience. When I finally, finally finished writing and editing the book, I felt like I had gone through many hours of labor and given birth to a brand new baby. 🙂

2. Is the book really based on real life? Yes, and no. Many things I wrote about, such as the themes of second chances, grace and redemption are lessons I have personally learned and grown from, and ones I hoped to share with readers. Some of the characters have qualities similar to people I know, but none of them is an exact replica of any living person. 😉 Moreover, the story is a work of fiction and anything about it that may have been inspired by real life has been dramatized for entertainment purposes.

3. Why choose to self-publish? The simple answer is impatience. 😉 I looked into the pros and cons of both traditional publishing and self-publishing and decided the latter is the route for me. It’s a lot faster to get a book out with the message you want when you do things yourself. (Hm, yes, I admit the control-freak part of me typed that last sentence.) But the bottom line is that times have changed and self-publishing is a very viable option for writers today. (Yay!)

4. Any suggestions for those interested in writing and self-publishing a book? My number one encouragement is to just do it! Do it for your personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Do it for your growth as a writer. And put in your best effort. Above all, get constructive feedback from other writers, as well as and those who read books similar to the one you’re writing. Once I got over my fear of putting my work out there for others to read, I really appreciated the feedback I received. Without input from others, this book would have been a half-baked cake – gooey and raw on the inside and unappetizing. But thanks to my beta readers and proofreaders, my story spent more time in the “oven” and came out more scrumptious than I could have imagined. Oh, and get a great cover designer (mine was the amazing Tugboat Design) for your book because readers do judge a book by its cover – I know I do!

Okie, that’s all for now! Come back next week to read an excerpt from the book. 🙂 Remember, the release date is August 1, 2014!

P.S. There’s no song I could find about self-publishing a book (LOL), so I’m including a love song in celebration of my romantic novella. Check out this feel good tune, “Love Never Felt This Good” by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

What are your thoughts about self-publishing? What books have you read and would recommend by self-published authors?

Make That Change

I will be the first to admit that I’m relationally challenged. Of course being around hubby for over a decade has helped tremendously and given me some new skills for relating to people, but the real game-changer for me in this area has been becoming a parent. And not just a parent, but a parent to a high need kid.
 
I was raised from birth mainly by my paternal grandmother, a lady who was not a warm, fuzzy person by any stretch of the imagination. According to my mom, my grandma liked to wear her hair up in a tall Chinese Afro and would pinch me whenever she was upset. So suffice it to say, it’s not surprising that I never felt close to her. And knowing what I know now from having studied child development, I know that what a caregiver does or doesn’t give to a baby has a lot of impact on the baby’s future relationships with other people. So sigh, that meant I had a lot of relearning to do about relationships!
 
And who better to learn relational skills from than my firstborn? 🙂  I can put a smiley face down now only because I have gone through the toughest of lessons and am seeing some of the work paying off. But in the beginning of the journey, using one of those “bawling your eyes out” emoticons would have been more appropriate! I had started the parenting adventure believing a baby was someone I could have fun dressing up, someone who would go along with my plans and someone I could have a checklist for – fed, burped and changed (check), sleeping through the night (check), etc. Little did I know that our baby, despite how small he was at birth (5lbs 11oz to be exact), had his own personality, needs and wants, schedule and plans and they were all completely opposite from mine! I soon found out I could not treat E like a checklist or a doll, but I needed to get to understand him and what he needed, or should I say demanded, from me as a mom. Now that I think about it, he has been trying to relate to me from his first day in big, blazing lights (well, actually through tears and screams!) that he needs to be cuddled, nurtured, and loved like the precious, living and breathing person that he is. I had A LOT to learn about what it means to love someone. I could handle the easy, fun part of “love” like buying clothes for E or setting up his room, but when it came to considering his needs, sacrificing my plans and being inconvenienced for his sake – GRRR! Yes, I had a lot to learn. :p
 
Thankfully, E is a persistent teacher (stubborn like me!) and thankfully I began to change my attitude and ways about relating to him. Our relationship has grown and I enjoy getting to know and appreciate him more each day. And C, being the second born, has benefited even more from my newly acquired skills. We are BFF’s who like to browse through jewelry departments together and have on occasion danced in the ladies room of a Chinese restaurant. 🙂 I am very grateful to be close with both my kids.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

So who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’m proof that with a good teacher and sufficient motivation, change is possible.

Here’s my all-time favorite song by Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror“.
How has becoming a parent changed you?