From A Hopeless State

On this day 12 years ago I woke up and emerged from my dark cocoon for the first time. Behind me was a devastated past, leveled by the wake of my pain and rage, and my many addictions. I’d lost everything; my pride, my soul, my hope, my dreams, my dignity, and perhaps worst of all, my daughter.

I rolled out of a strange bed in a strange place and planted my bare feet on strange carpet. I took a sober breath, and there it was, in the soil of my sadness, a tiny green sprout of hope. The air smelled sweeter, and when I heard the birds outside of my window, they weren’t the machine gun melody I’d remembered from the days before. They sang a song of reassurance, of encouragement, and rebirth.

That day I made a decision: I’d open my heart to these people and let them help me. I’d admit that I was powerless over so many things, and I’d be willing to go to any lengths to get better. I wanted to learn how to live differently, to be happy, fulfilled, and high on life. I wanted to put the past behind me and start fresh, and I wanted, more than words could say, to have my little girl back, and to learn how to be a good mother.

It took many years and a lot of stumbles to get to where I am today. I’m so grateful that I got right back up and tried again those times I stumbled. I kept searching for the light, kept seeking my own truths, kept opening my mind and heart for ways to continue healing from a (mostly) self-induced traumatic past, and I kept forgiving myself (and others) for not being perfect. I learned to be true to myself and to follow my bliss, and eventually my path led me to the amazing life I lead today.

But when I say amazing, I don’t mean easy. I’m now a single parent of four children. The past I left behind is riddled with broken pieces. The financial abyss is one of nightmares, of which I’m sure many of you can relate. Finally finding the right therapy for my Borderline Personality Disorder helped me recover from a hopeless state of mind and body, but I still have BPD tendencies, and I still have weak moments that bring me to my knees in tears behind closed doors . . . My life is definitely not easy.

But I’m a mother today, and I’m showing my children the way. I’m a daughter my parents are proud of. I’m a loving sister and friend, a giver, an encourager, inspirer, survivor, and overcomer. I’m a beacon of light and hope for those lost in so many dark oceans. I’m proof that there is a way out, and that all is not as lost as it seems. I’m following my dreams and showing you that it is, indeed, possible to go through hell and come out of it alive, and not just alive, but actually living life.

Today I’m grateful for my past and see it as an asset, despite the immense pain, heartbreak, and turmoil there. Not only do I use it all to breathe life into my stories, which, in itself is very cathartic for me, but I also use it to relate to others who may be experiencing similar hells in their own lives. I use it to bear witness. I use it to guide, love, and understand my children as they grow into adults. I use it to remember to be grateful for all I have, to cherish every moment I get to experience life. Because today, I get to, when there were many times I thought I never would. But I do, I am, and I cherish every second because nothing is promised. Today is a gift to that shattered young girl who will forever reside in my heart, the one I once thought would never make it out alive. She did. And I’m so very glad she did. ❤

xoxo

Christina

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The Path to Becoming an Author Isn’t Straight- Guest Blog by Sarah Noffke

article pic for Sarah N.

The other day during a routine office visit, my doctor asked me what I was doing these days.

“Writing YA sci fi fantasy novels,” I told her.

I could tell by the blank expression on her face that this was not the answer she was expecting. I was supposed to say, “Working in the accounting department at XYZ” or “Managing a few accounts for XYZ.” Fessing up to being a writer makes people pause I’ve noticed.

My doctor then asked, “So did you study journalism in college?”

“Management,” I informed her.

Another pause. She actually furrowed her brow at me. “How does that happen?” she asked.

The short answer is I got bored. Bored of spreadsheets and meetings about meetings. I loved the people. The mission. The product. But the day-to-day was draining my creative vault more and more each year. I wanted to do something that was creative. Something that gave to our society in a different way. So I took down my diplomas and replaced them with a bulletin board which I quickly filled up with notes and ideas.

However, I still have a real job. One that makes me sound normal. I’m a college professor. Often I have students tell me they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. They’re in college, taking classes towards a degree, and one day they’re going to have to use it…but for what? Some of the college students aren’t young either. They have returned to school after raising kids or retiring from the job they never really liked.

These students must think that because I’m qualified to teach them how to write, that I might know something about advising them on the future. Or maybe like all those searching for answers, they’re just asking anyone who might have an answer.

These lost students of mine are thoroughly afraid that they’re going to earn a degree in something and then not like it. They’re even more afraid that they’ll end up getting a degree in one thing and do something totally different. “That would be a total waste,” they tell me.

A waste? Or is it the path to get you to where you want to be, even if it’s not where you were headed? The thing is that if you’re true to yourself then you’re going to grow up to be “you.” No matter what path you choose, it will take you there. I have a Masters in Management. Without that degree I would never have gotten to that crucial place in my life where I became unbelievably and painfully bored out of my mind. Maybe if I’d gotten my graduate degree in psychology (as I intended) then I would have been content in that profession and never become a writer. Maybe. Hard to know for certain.

So what advice do I actually give to my students when they ask me how to figure out what to do with their life? “Pick a path. Recognize you might not end up where you expected. And until you arrive, enjoy the ride.”  If they don’t like this advice then I follow it up with saying, “Do something that makes people pause.”

Sarah Noffke writes YA and NA sci-fi fantasy and is the author of the Lucidites, Reverians, Ren and Vagabond Circus series. She holds a Masters of Management and teaches college business courses. Most of her students have no idea that she toils away her hours crafting fictional characters. Noffke’s books are top rated and best-sellers on Kindle. Currently, she has eleven novels published. Her books are available in paperback, audio and have been translated into Spanish and Italian. Learn more about Sarah Noffke here: www.sarahnoffke.com

21 Reasons Why Life without Facebook is Totally Awesome

flower girl

So many things fall to the wayside when chained to Facebook for endless hours days months years. Some time away allows you to see the many ways it negatively impacts your life.

For the past two weeks, I’ve spent a total of fifteen minutes on Facebook, which is no easy feat. As you can see >HERE<, getting off for even an hour was once a near-impossibility.

If you are anything like me, you too, may be unhappy with the amount of time you waste in the vice-grip of status-updates, friend requests, and all the jingly bells and screeching whistles that go along with a life glued together at the seams with good old Facebook. Because I’ve enjoyed my break so much–I wanted to entice you to give it a try.

Here are 21 Reasons why life without Facebook is totally awesome, and why I’ll be limiting my time there to fifteen minutes, one day a week from now, until further notice. 🙂

21. Less chair ass

If you’ve experienced the torturous hell that is hours of writing, whilst fighting Facebook distraction (and losing), followed by the darkest moments of a writer’s existence–chair ass–you understand. Often times, this is accompanied by mouse-wrist and/or typing-elbow. (Yes, I am aware I just made these up, but these writer ailments should have names, shouldn’t they?)

20. More exercise

19. More time outside

18. More time with children/friends/family

First on any list of dietary restrictions should be Facebook: Serving size I’LL SLURP OUT YOUR SOUL AND SAUTEE THAT MOTHER WITH TWITTER BALLS AND PINTEREST NUTS SO JUST SIGN YOUR LIFE SAVINGS OVER TO CANDY CRUSH NOW AND CALL IT A DAY.

Last week, I walked a total of four miles. On purpose. And not just to get to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot, either. I did it because, hello, I opened my eyes to the wide world around me and decided, what the hell, I’ll go for a stroll. Destination? Starbucks. There was a venti nonfat carmel iced coffee calling my name. Funny, I didn’t hear it when I had my Facebook earmuffs on. Who knew those things were soundproof? Distance: two miles. It was a beautiful, sunny, relatively warm, late-spring Dallas, Texas afternoon. There were bugs. And noise. I perspired. I pushed my son in his stroller as he experienced the wide world around us from little toddler eyes. It was beautiful. 

It’s common sense; less time playing kissy-face with Facebook leaves room for endless possibilities of fuzzy-feeling real life stuff like being active and spending time with family and whatnot.

17. More time to write

Okay, raise your hand if you’re guilty of using “platform” as an excuse to insert Facebook into your body intravenously?

Uh-huh. *gives you evil eye*

I don’t wanna hear it. Platform shmatform. You don’t exactly need platform if you don’t have a book to sell, right? And even if you do have a book to market, think of how many more you could have if you didn’t spend so much time stroking the Zuckerburg…. I have a lot of writer friends, and not a one of them has ever gushed about how Facebook sells tons of books. If you’ll check out your top NYT bestselling authors, you will rarely find them spending hours–if any time at all–on Facebook. They do what writers are supposed to do. They write.

16. More time to do housework and other things you’ve been procrastinating

I get it, I really do. Hunting down the perfect meme-of-the-hour is way more appealing than doing the dishes. But your significant other is tired of doing them while you harvest friends on Facebook. Or your kids are tired of wearing dirty and/or wrinkled clothes because surfing meaningless status updates and filling your little brainy with mindless chatter that means ultimately jack to you and your life–seems more important to you than doing their laundry.

And shower, cuz… damn. *pinches nose*

15. More time to do other (than writing) things you love

Facebook is a drug that should come with dosage information and a warning label. And certain people should really cut it out mostly, or entirely from their life. Being a recovered drug addict/alcoholic, I have an addictive personality. I get “stuck” on stuff if I’m not careful, and then hours days months years go by and I look up and realize EVERYONE IS DEAD AND THE WORLD HAS BECOME A DESOLATE WASTELAND IN WHICH THE UNDEAD HAVE TAKEN OVER AND I MUST NOW LEARN HOW TO SHOOT A CROSSBOW LIKE DARYL DIXON AND TELL TIME BY THE SUN’S POSITION IN THE SKY AND LEARN THAT MOSS GROWS ON THE NORTH SIDE OF TREES OR WHATEVER AND ALL THAT’S LEFT TO EAT THAT HASN’T BEEN LOOTED ARE THOSE LITTLE DRIED CRAWFISH THINGYS WITH EYES THAT YOU FIND AT MEXICAN SUPERMARCADOS…

Not a good scene.

Would I rather spend my pre-apocalypse moments on Facebook, stalking Daryl Dixon (well, actually…), or doing fulfilling things that make me happy, like making cool stuff with my hands?

Tough call.

*sighs*

*stomps foot*

I guess I’ll take the art. (As long as I can watch reruns of “The Walking Dead” after.) 😀

14. You see who your true friends are

I’ve made a lot of good friends on Facebook. Almost 3,000 as of last Sunday, actually. And every other Tuesday, we get together and go bowling and then go to the spa afterwards and I catch the tab on a few rounds of those little umbrella drinkys…

Yeah.

I can count the true friends I’ve made on Facebook on two hands. From what I can tell, most of them out there are looking out for numero uno. I am but a drop in the bucket, of which may as well be a toilet. Taking a step back, I was able to see who I miss, which is a surefire way to tell who you really care about. And most of those people have my email address and some of them have even acquired the much sought-after 10 digits of happiness, and I don’t mean fingers. Some of them even call me on the… phone. *GASP!*

13. You can address your festering narcissism and get some effing humility

If no one has told you today, you are a precious little snowflake and everyone on Facebook–all of the internet and the world even–should stare at the exquisite uniqueness that is your Facebook profile. They should soak up every single status update from now, until the beginning of time, memorizing the luscious deets and “liking” every post, every comment, every picture, and every single little marvel that is your totally real, unfiltered, un-photo-shopped real life. Really.

And if they don’t…

Gah, how dare they. The nerve.

12. No Facebook drama

Does this really need explanation?

11. No Facebook trolls

*please hold while I squeeze into my ranty-panties*

There is nothing that pisses me off more than those still-living-with-momma social outcasts that have never seen the sun rise nor fall, that tell me what sort of sunscreen to put on my poochy. And worse yet, even blatantly judge me for putting the stuff on his furry be-hind in the first place. Hey, buddy, if I wanna put a gosh-dern t-back and tap shoes on my dog, that’s my own damn business and I don’t need you or anyone else to tell me how to–or not to–do it.

*tosses ranty-panties to neighbor’s poochy*

*snickers*

10. No more constant marketing

If I see your book cover one more time I’m going to hang you upside down by your toenails from the ceiling fan in my mind and flip the switch to the “on” position. Then I shall pop popcorn and set my demon puppy loose to chase you around, snapping at your hair or ears or what-have-you. And I shall laugh.

9. No more creepers/perves

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook just recently became a free dating site for the uber creeps and perves and still-living-at-home trolls. If you have never seen troll genitalia, be warned… the sight of this in an unsolicited private message has been known to cause vomiting, insomnia, loss of appetite, and in serious cases, blindness.

(NOTE: If you experience an erection that lasts for four hours or longer, well… you may be part of the problem. Seek professional help immediately. And in the meantime, please, stay the bejeezus away from Facebook.)

8. No more game requests

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of every harp in Heaven simultaneously playing Queen’s “We are the Champions,” because we have done it. We’ve won. People, ONE. Facebook game-requests, ZIP-O-ROOONIE.

7. No more clogging your mind space with unimportant crap

No, I was not aware that the African spotted muskrat is endangered. Please, post that Upworthy video all about it so that I can lose four minutes of my life learning all about them, and what I can do to ensure their future safety.

6. No more depressing selfie sessions to find that “perfect” profile pic

Of course, I have no personal experience with this one… but I had a friend once that, um…

yeah.

Next.

5. You no longer have to pretend to care about things you don’t care about

Hear that? (Isn’t it amazing how much you can hear without your Facebook earmuffs on?)

It’s the sound of 2,500 people clicking the “unfriend” button as they learn that I wish (I really do) I had enough mind-space, time, and heart, to give two squishy turds about what you ate for dinner, or how your husband wants you to get a bikini wax, or how your new Ferrari unfortunately had to go to the shop today to get the problem with the vibrating seats fixed. Because you paid extra for those  damn vibrating seats and by-God, they better vibrate on “GO.”

4. You no longer have to bite your tongue to keep from being an asshat to other asshats

If you hang out in a barber shop long enough, you’ll either get a haircut, become a barber, or try to eat that thing that looks like a candy cane because you’re hungry and you can’t take the curiosity any longer…

(Note: It does not taste like a candy cane.)

In the same manner, if you hang out on Facebook around asshats for too long, you too may start to present symptoms of asshatedness. You must ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?

3. You get a new perspective on life

This isn’t my first Facebook-free stint. I actually deleted my account three or so years ago, for a whole year. My finger hovered over the “deactivate account” button for–I shit you not–a whole hour. I sweated profusely. I pulled my hair out and I cried. I banged my fists on things and broke many pencils. Facebook had taken over my soul, and was eating my family, my life, and my sanity away at the seams like greedy little blue termites. When I finally pushed that button, I literally grieved the loss of my intangible, fabricated cyber-life, and all of the “friends” who would no longer “get to” be a part of my life.

Notice the self-righteous asshatedness (above) than soon became apparent. Once I stepped back, a week went by and I realized the sun was shining… “Whoa, when did the snow melt? What day is it? June? When the hell did summer get here? Where is my family?”

I had to integrate myself, not only back into the lives of my family–relearn their ways, their schedules, their habits, likes, dislikes–but I also had to be integrated back into society. It was serious culture shock. When you spend five or six hours a day on Facebook, you may as well be spending five or six hours a day at a dope house. Some of you may not have it this bad, but some of you can drink alcohol without it ruining your life, too. Others of you, like me, may hit a wall, where you have lost control. We are powerless over our Facebook addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. Stepping away removes a dark shroud that you didn’t even realize was there. You will experience life anew.

2.  Live life in the ever-mysterious and spontaneously beautiful now

Without the distraction of Facebook, I remember to enjoy life right now. Instead of “building that platform,” “marketing that book,” “cultivating that following,” all of which are future-oriented visions and aspirations, I can just enjoy the awesomeness that is my life right now. I can sit on my back porch and look at the sky and quiz my third-grader about what type of clouds are out today. I can play. I can breathe in deep the official first day of summer because I am experiencing it firsthand, not because I saw someone’s status update reminding me of it. I can be present in my life.

1. Freedom

Facebook is designed to hold you hostage. It is a prison without walls or bars. Sure, there are some good things therein… there are bible scriptures scrawled on prison walls, too, but that doesn’t make me want to go to prison any time soon. You?

Without Facebook to tie you down, you walk a free human. Free from ego, from narcissism, free from garbage-in garbage-out, free from the poisons there, disguised as profit, prosperity, popularity…

Without Facebook, you are free to just be. And live.

Until next time, fellow humans…

Just be. ❤

 

You can check out my books on Amazon here:

 The Treemakers (Book 1 in the Treemakers Trilogy) (Mature YA Dystopian Scifi Horror)

The Soultakers (Book 2 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Seeker’s Keys (Book 3 in the Treemakers Trilogy)

The Truth About Mud (YA Fantasy Adventure novelette)

Don’t Write for Your Future (Do This Instead)

oceanwriter

One day, you will wake up, and it will be time to die. Or, you may not wake up at all. You might die in your sleep, and know not the hour of your own passing . . . .

I don’t know about you, but that scares the crap out of me sometimes. It’s not so much death, as it is dying without having done; without having made something of myself; without having made bestsellers of those fifteen novels I have in queue on my laptop; without having “made it” to that magical place where my financial box is checked and I don’t have to embarrassingly hold up the check-out line while I dig through my bags to see which items I need to put back because I overfilled the cart and don’t have quite enough to pay for it all.

I often find myself feeling like I’m writing for my future. I feel this pressure to do well so that in the future, we can have nice things and live comfortably. Because writing is the thing I do best. Seriously, if I’m ever gonna get rich, it’ll be writing, because goodness knows I can’t do much else right.

But here’s the problem:

When I write for my future, not only is there all kinds of ridiculous pressure on me, but I also forget some things. Some very important things. I sometimes forget why I write. It’s not to get rich. Though my goal is to someday be able to support my children on my writing alone, that is not why I do it. I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it a thousand more–I write because I can’t not write–It’s who I am. It’s the light that I shine into this world in a way only I can shine it. I write because I love to write more than almost any thing on the planet. If I’m not writing, I’m dreaming and scheming and thinking about writing. To me, writing is bliss. And in the wise words of Joseph Campbell, you should always “follow your bliss.”

So . . . instead of writing for the future, why not write for now?

Write for today. 

In just the same way that when we live one day at a time–I mean really live it–stopping to smell the roses and tiptoe through the tulips and dance in our skivvies through the strawberry fields in our John Lennon shades–we must keep our focus on the now-bliss of writing. Those awesome moments only writers understand, you know? Those are what it’s all about–what make this crazy life of the writer so worth living. Writing for today will not only bring more life to our writing, but it will also make whatever lack we are experiencing in our life at the moment somehow softer, and worth it.

I love this meme, and the man on it, so much. I found it today and it sparked this blog post so I want to share it with you 🙂

DalaiAnd I don’t know about you, but I want to live.

I suppose that means if you are doing some other job that doesn’t bring you joy because you’ve gotta make ends meet–don’t forget to make a little time everyday to also follow your bliss and see where it takes you. I bet it’s somewhere marvellous ❤

Until next time, writerly friends,

Follow your bliss ❤ ❤ ❤

UPDATE!!

Below you will find the blurb for “The Treemakers.” If you’d like to be added to my launch list for when it releases, you may email me at rozelle[dot]treemakers[at]gmail[dot]com. Feel free to email me for any other reason as well; just to say hi, ask a question, or vent about whatever… just promise you’ll be nice because I’m sensitive. 😉

“The Treemakers” (Edgy YA Dystopian/SciFi)

Doomed to a life of building mechanical trees for the dying world of Bygonne, sixteen year-old Joy Montgomery remains the only one left to care for over thirty orphaned children enslaved by the Superiors in the Tree Factory.

But the iron bonds of friendship and family, the discovery of magic in the dark, and love amidst devastation, soon fuel her search for a way out. Aided by an unlikely ally who harbors a dangerous secret, Joy and the Treemakers embark on a quest for freedom, and for the truth about the existence of a forbidden paradise.

Coming in November! (Release date/cover reveal TBA)

Click here to check out some fabulous wisdom-flavored tidbits writing this novel has brought me.