Life of the Hybrid Woman

The Good, The Bad, and The Truth

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The journey of novel writing has been an interesting one. I’ll be adding a second blog next week detailing with more of the process for my fellow writers, and readers who may not understand all that goes into getting your book ready for purchase. Without further hesitation, here it goes…

The Good.

I look back on all the years Dream Wakers has lived; from creation and first drafts to where it sits now on “vacation,” and it makes me feel so lucky to have such a large support group. I have always had at least one personal cheerleader (looking at you Jeff Happ!), and most of the time, I’ve had many (hey there spiritual circle from IAG, miss you!). I’ve had the chance to create international fans and followers, turned friends (Hey Beau, haven’t heard for you in a while!). There’s been positive buzz about the story (Stacy, still my favorite review! Emily from Goodreads, get ready for Book 2!). I’ve even been able to talk about it in depth with readers, and how it’s affected their life or made them think more deeply, and to me that is the goal I’ve always wished to reach. So, with that said, I am a success on a personal level. I feel very content in all the positive encounters I’ve had because of this book. Not to mention that I finished the first draft in my early twenties! It’s something I will always be very proud of. But, in mentioning that first draft…..

The Bad. 

Okay, here’s the juice, folks. This is the stuff that’s hard to talking about as a self proclaimed perfectionist. I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way, and most of them are mortifying. As an excited, extremely driven author who had just completed her first novel, my impulsive side took the reins. I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone, and why should I? I took advice from others who were just as excited for me, and also just as clueless about the the publishing process and industry. I still cringe at that first edition, full of horrendous typing errors, confusing plot line, and terrible cover art. I have four of them chilling on my bookshelf at home just to remind me to be patient and wise. Then there was the phase of thinking that I didn’t need a literary agent, the story was so good that I could just throw it up on Amazon and it’ll be a hit! At this point, I’d paid the money for a professional cover design and had revised the manuscript, but hadn’t spent any time truly understanding the audience I wanted to capture. So my cover ended up looking like a lesbian love story, and under a pen name that used my (now) ex-fiance’s surname. Insert face-palm here. At this point, I was heading in a more mature direction, but I had blown my big platform on the debut version (can I die right here from the mortification?). I had some better reviews on Goodreads, and that was encouraging, but I just wasn’t getting the momentum I wanted. So I thought a literary agent would do good (duh). Long story short, this wasn’t in the cards any longer. Years later, revision after revision, polished (af) manuscript, and nothing. I had two agents tell me they’d have picked it up if it was an unpublished work. One of them (and a prominent agent at that) was extremely insightful after her lamenting rejection and I will always be grateful to her for that kindness. But I will extend on the whole literary agent thing next time.

The Truth. 

The truth is, even after all of the ups and downs, I still really believe in this novel. There are readers that still believe in this novel. I still get emails all the time, from all over the world, in regards to the series and when it will continue forward. I am happy to say that it is. Dream Wakers will be re-released with a boutique publisher, which means I get to tailor the process to my vision (and for those who know me, know this is important). I intend for the new, shiny, professional, Barnes and Noble worthy version to be out for purchase in the first half of 2019. I will be putting the entire process out there; the nitty gritty, the exciting, and the secretive.

This book will make you think, question, and explore. It will stir wonder back into an otherwise mundane life. It’s a way for me to bring back indigenous mentalities in a modern way, which is something I think society is in desperate need of. If you like the content on this page, if you want to see the “bad guys” called out in a bold way, then please continue reading to find out more. If you are passionate about the “old ways of myth/legend” and reviving them into an evolved future, then please keep reading. If you enjoy the marrying of magic and science, then you too, should continue reading. Or if you just like a good story, plain and simple, keep reading.

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 Stepparent: The Monster Role

I type this with a baby snoozing on my chest, ice cold coffee that I’ve tried to rewarm on the table, a nature show I’ve heard eight hundred times as white noise in the background, and “my” other three gremlins at their other house for the week. Though this scene clearly alludes to the chaos that is my life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been just over a year since I took on the stepparent position, and even though the routine and structure is now well established, I find myself constantly peeling back layers to my place in family life.When I speak of the monster role as a stepparent, I am not referring to the stereotypical image of an evil woman out to tear up a biological family. I’m speaking of the moutainous task of trying to make something so undefined comfortable for everyone involved. Yes, this a collective effort, but that does not make the role of stepparent any less difficult.

As parents, I think the struggle is trying to make sure your kids aren’t falling apart as your family unit crumbles. You worry about how they’re handling it, all the while trying to keep your own shit together. Smiling in front of them while you’re dying inside from the stress and guilt of taking away from them what should be a child’s single given security. Let’s not even mention the process of finding love and acceptance again from another human being, let alone one that will also provide that for children that aren’t theirs.

And should that magical person come into your life, I am convinced that they likely have no idea what the hell they’re actually getting into. I can honestly say I was not entirely clear on what was about to unfold. For me personally, I feel extremely blessed that I have never felt outcasted by these beautiful children. But I think it was largely because their father and I never pressured them to put me in a role they weren’t comfortable with. This is where that mountain starts. From each person involved you are asked to be in a category that best suits the established life you’re choosing to walk into, and having to be a chameleon can be very taxing on your self image, sanity, patience, and existence in general.

Your partner, who has decided you are actually worthy of being in their children’s lives, puts you in a role of replacement. While their eagerness to title you a new and grand title as co-parent is coveted and ego boosting, it also comes with a heavy crown. Even with the best intentions, a lot of the times the pressure to be better than the divorced spouse in the eyes of your partner is enough to make anyone poop their pants. Even if they’re not saying it, and insist that your existence alone is enough, let’s be honest, you’re thinking it. Not only are you entering that new relationship stage with someone who’s smitten with you and can easily forgive your hiccups, you are also having to give the same eagerness for relationship success to little people who owe you nothing, and may or may not like you. It’s easy to get lost in the “make the kids happy to make him happy” cycle. DO NOT GET ON THAT HAMSTER WHEEL, I REPEAT DO NOT DO IT. The biggest saver of our relationship during the first year of life with kids/stepkids was to remember each other. Love got you into it, and it will get you through it. And remember, your partner loved you enough to think you could be in their kids’ lives and so they must also know that you are enough for the kids, too. Trust them before you start trying to bend over backwards to make it work in your eyes. They’ve known those munchkins since birth.

And don’t spent too much time worrying about the other parent. Truthfully, you will probably never be good enough in their opinion, and at very best they will always be a little hyper critical over what they can’t control. I can understand this almost to a fault. In the beginning, I spent so much time considering the other parent’s feelings, worrying about the scrutiny and wanting to be so perfect. One, because I am a perfectionist by nature (most of the time) and too, because I genuinely wanted her to feel comfortable knowing her kids were being treated well in my presence. While well meaning, it really does a number on your personal reality. It’s easy to put too much power in someone else’s hands and in a situation that’s already stacked against you. I learned over time to just let it go and know in my own soul that I was good and capable and loving.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, because the kids are the ones who get to decide who you are to them. They’re people too. I spent a lot of time living in the gray area of loving them large when I thought they wanted it, and backing off when I felt like they needed a biological parent. My heart would swell and get pinched one day to the next. The highs and lows coming so quickly, I found myself constantly exhausted. It was my own fault. I’m always overthinking everything (I blame long school commutes, haha) and considering everything and everyone. I sit in the middle of the carousel, watching the spinning characters and taking notes, trying to analyze every bouncing movement so that when I step onto the dizzying ride,  I can tread carefully and pointedly and never falter in the confusion of movement. Again, we don’t get to pick how the kids love/view me. You just need to surrender to their choice regardless of how that makes anyone else feel. Being me is enough for them, and I’m very blessed to say that they love having me in their life even if the rest of it seems hard at times. For once, validation appeared swiftly after this epiphany.

Our oldest sat behind me on the to way school like a dark little cloud. For whatever reason, the constant presence of her younger brother and sister had taken its toll on her (trust me, I get it, girl). Having spent some time away from them with her grandmother over the weekend had only heightened the realization that she needed a break from their exuberance. They were kicking her chair, they were taking her stuff without asking, every sound they made was annoying. Normally, I’d sit there silently wondering what I should say or do, if anything at all. I’d try to act in a way that her parents would, to build consistency in her upbringing, even though it wasn’t what I’d actually do. I sighed, sick of my own hyper vigilant attitude towards every day issues, and decided to set an example whether she picked up on it or not.

I looked at my little friend in the rearview mirror and made a comment about how us big girls needed a break from the crazy sometimes, hoping to communicate she was okay to feel that way without making it an escalated emotion. I got a little smile from the usually-stubborn-to-change-her-mood eight year old. Before she hoped out of the car, I touched her arm and told her I loved her against my usual rule of waiting for them to say it first. Her entire face changed and in that moment I knew it was time to stop worrying about what everyone else would think and just be the parent I was.

 

So to any of those new stepparents out there trying to navigate where you belong, I say this:

  • Love your partner and love your relationship without the kids involvement in it. You will need to do this to get through all the hard parts.
  • Don’t get lost in worrying about the other parent. Find solidarity in who you are as a person and be patient in letting that shine through to the other side. Trust me, it will, even if you never get to hear it.
  • Just let things happen naturally. If you’re truly in it for the long haul, there’s no rush on making the kids like you. You don’t need a label or definition of who you are to them. You’re just you, and that is always a good place to start (or remain).
  • Grow a thick skin. And if you don’t, you will anyway. Count that as a blessing. You’ll be able to conquer anything after this experience, I promise. Even the biological kid/stepkid mashup, which I’ll write about next time.

F*cking Fit Mom Monday

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I am getting it in late tonight, as this Monday is the start of a Step Mom week, and it always takes a little extra effort to get to “me” time. As I predicted, I am less enthusiastic this week as I’m about to spend yet another five days feeling and watching my flab shake around. So how do I stick with it when I’m impatient and discouraged by my body?

I ignore it. Like I said, I’ve been here before in one way or another. Results take time and the best thing I can do is not focus on what isn’t going to change overnight. Just like the dirty dishes, this workout has to get put away at some point in order for me to move on to more enjoyable things like snuggling my son. In fact, I’ve mastered the habit of not looking at anything but my face in the mirror, and wearing baggy clothing so I can forget about it in public. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and I’ve learned how to trick myself into staying mentally healthy.

It also helps that I have such a supportive partner, who is always willing to watch my son while I sneak away, or makes sure I understand that I’m already beautiful, the fitness is just a perk. The best part is that I know he’s genuine in his flattery and it quiets a lot of my self pressure.

And since I’m focusing on HIIT (high impact interval training) to get back into things and melting down my excess weight, I’ve also taken count for my diet. Since I’m breastfeeding, this has become a little trickier as I don’t want to negatively affect my milk supply for little man. I just make sure to chug water throughout the day, and am adding extra greens for snacks and at all meals. I’ve never been overly indulgent in carbs and so I don’t have to watch that too much, thought I can be a bit of a cookie monster. So I get smart by buying the kind I don’t like, so the household doesn’t have to suffer through my nutrition goals. I try to sweeten with honey as much as I can, and I cut dairy from my diet, but that’s mostly because it seems my TH has a sensitivity to it just like I did in my youth. The worst part about that is not being able to utilize my favorite, high protein yogurt as a healthy snack alternative. I’d usually do smoothies as well as an on-the-go meal replacement but I’m still totally burned out on smoothies from pregnancy!

Anyway, like I said, I’m being realistic. I’m learning to fit this into an already hectic, new life schedule, and I plan to be as successful as I can without beating myself up when I don’t meet my high expectations. As long as I’m not making excuses to get out of the work, I’m on the right track. After this 30 day challenge, however, I’ll be needing to push myself a little harder, having established a solid day to day routine. Below I’ll list some of my favorite snacks + their perks.

What do you do to realistically keep your health + fitness on track?

 

Snap peas and grapes: Block absorption of bad fats and speed metabolism

Apples: Natural energy boost

Avocado: Healthy fat

Peanut Butter Protein Balls: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/19421842123280585/

Breakfast Toasts: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/129971139221889886/

Sweet Potato: Healthier Root Replacement

Cabbage: original superfood

Oatmeal (huge oatmeal fan): Slow digesting carbs that will help keep you full and energized longer

Hemp milk: FULL of health benefits and leaves your tummy feeling happy

2017: Unpredictable Beginnings

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2017 in Numerology comes out to 10 or 1, which is symbolic of beginnings. Typically this is given a refreshed, powerful, inspired sense, and that just isn’t always  the case.

Think of it this way:

When you start a new business, the initial decision is exciting and you jump into the prospect full of enthusiasm and energy. Deciding on a path and following it is a wonderful feeling. But the actual building of said business is not always easy. There’s set backs, unexpected costs, delays in successes…you get the idea. This very much defines my experience last year, which was easily the best and most difficult year I’ve had in my entire life.

I have sat down to write this so many times and so many times I have walked away from it. Truthfully, there are a myriad of reasons not to put this story on a public platform. I am very selective of who I like to share my personal life with, and I am fully aware of who likes to run through this page. I don’t need the snickering and judgement to get back to me, nor do I need to inspire assumptions based off a hyper focused, simplified for reading version of my story. However, every time I hang up with my dad after he’s talked me off another ledge, or my best friend has made me laugh through tears of frustration, all I can think about is how lonely I often feel in my experience, and how there’s probably some poor girl (or boy!) out there struggling with the same battle, feeling like she can’t talk about it. So I’m writing this to connect, and that’s it. Maybe someone else reading this will relate to a strand of the crazy and feel a little less isolated. And to that person: I am here for you.

This time last year, I was driving cross country with three kids in the back seat of my truck and a broken hearted father in my passenger seat. What had started out as an exciting family reunion for my boyfriend, had turned to anything but. I had left California, simply as a new girlfriend meeting parents and kids for Christmas. Now, I was returning a broke, full time caregiver to someone else’s family.

The trip to get to our destination should have been an omen. The truck I had bought in an emergency situation to help a friend that summer had been returned to me in a damaged state (unbeknownst to me at the time) and almost killed us on the way to picking up his kids, causing delays, guilt, anxiety, and a huge repair bill before finally reaching our first stop.

I can’t say I was nervous first meeting the kids or their mom. I know the type of person I am and how much I love children. In fact, I was really excited to enter into more personal realms of my man’s world. It’s the glory of a new relationship. So you could imagine how put off I was when, instead of being greeted as I stepped out to help pack/unpack the kids’ stuff, I was accused by their mother of stealing her boots. Completely confused and reminding myself that she didn’t know me or my character, I looked down and explained that I’d had them for years. I consciously brushed off the encounter. I mean, these types of things are always awkward. My parents are divorced, I’d been here before, except I’m usually the kid in the weird situation, meeting new adults I’m supposed to like and welcome into my life. This was the first time I was the adult, and I have to say my expectations had been higher. My fault.

Anyway, not too long after, we were on our way and the tension quickly wore off. The rest of the Christmas season was spent decorating and getting to know his family, whom I adore. The kids got to unwind and see their grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousins. Everything seemed so magical, I didn’t want it to end. But like all good things, they do, and driving home from his brother’s New Year’s Day to pack up for home, we were hit with an abrupt end to the joy.

Crying quietly in the back seat, was one of the kids. When their father asked them what was the matter, she expected an explanation about how they were sad to leave after all the fun. Who wouldn’t be? Instead we were stabbed with the confession no divorced parent wants to hear. Trouble in the other household.

We sat in shock as we pulled into our temporary home, shutting the truck off in haste. He pulled his kid out of the cab and they held onto each other as I numbly woke the other two to come inside. I went through the motions after helping tuck everyone into bed, and just as I finished brushing my teeth I looked into the mirror to see a tear soaked, guilt ridden man; a sight no one is ever prepared for outside of fiction. We held each other, still unable to accept what we had been told. I babbled stupidly about how it was out of his control and tried to reassure him it wasn’t his fault. Time stopped for a few precious moments before the tortured little soul was back in our room, unable to sleep in the dark alone. The time to process ended and in the next couple of months all three kids would spend their time velcroed to us as we winged how to handle it all.

In the days following, things exploded. I went from the new girlfriend of a divorced father of three with hardly any custody time, to the girlfriend of an apparently not divorced father of three who was causing war by taking his kids home to safety without asking permission. In the chaos of it all, I never second guessed his decision or thought about abandoning the situation, but now I had 2,000 miles to let it all sink in. My thoughts ran through the entire gambit of emotions before returning back to the center of, “we are going to do this.”

And this is where I reach the point of my post (and future posts). Being a stepparent figure is hard, and I spent an entire year trying to figure out the giant gray area I called my life. So often, as women, we are expected to happily accept our new roles and have a constant joy about accepting children into our lives. Admitting that it isn’t always an easy transition for anyone involved feels like you’re committing heresy.  Everyone watches you, expecting you to be more perfect than “real” parents because you’re the outsider. It’s unrealistic. You must instantly love the kids, and they must instantly love you. You must instantly know what’s the right thing to do and never once falter in your confidence. If you do, it must mean you resent the kids or are scheming against them and were never really interested in your new role. Everyone always seems eager to jump down your throat at the slightest imperfection while eating up uninformed and assumed statements about your person. But the reality is, we’re human too, and trust me, we want to make things work, we want the best for everyone involved, and we are doing the very best we can because we want to. Superhero expectations are placed on our role where you’d probably be forgiving of a biological parent.

This was my 2017. Sitting in the middle of a storm I didn’t create, choosing to be an anchor with all my previously accumulated life knowledge because I believed that’s what those three amazing kids and their dad deserved. Last year seemed to be the drain of matrydom, and tried as I did to stay my course, I kept drowning in all the bullshit that came from my noble decision. I stripped myself of 15K dollars helping create a stable environment for my new little buddies while my significant other tried to keep his head above water. I lost jobs and gave away time to help nurture kids too little to be carrying so much emotional baggage. I kept my chin up, blow after blow, when selfish, impulsive, and revengeful immaturity from adults hurt my heart. I’ve had to celebrate joys in secret, and treat myself as an abomination in town as a result of mindless scum who found loopholes to retaliate for our choice to

remain a family unit. I’ve bitten my tongue near bleeding countless times in my relentless desire to take the high road when greed inspired the idea that I wasn’t contributing to “the cause” of a messy separation. Why? Because I clung to the small hope that when it truly counted, the strain and setbacks and bad news would lift.

It didn’t. What should have been one of the happiest times in my life, almost turned into the moment I broke and walked away. I endured terrible back labor without the one person I needed to help me cope, and nearly delivered my first child without his father all because of some vindictive voice box. Without being a parent it may be hard to understand how it feels not being able to speak openly about the excitement of your first baby, celebrating his birth, or talking about all the best things in your life. I still marvel at the strength my man possesses in order to bear that emotional battle. He is an amazing human being, and the inspiration I go to when I don’t know how much heartache I can carry.

2017 was spent relinquishing and sacrificing to a broken system that does not support capable and honest adults (cue any and all Atlas Shrugged fans). I did not have an easy “Beginning Year.”

Yet, here I am in the wee morning light of the new year and I wouldn’t take back a single experience. Last year tested my moral strength beyond conceivable limits, broke down my walls against codependence, gave me an opportunity to create a family core I believed in, and granted me a blessing to override all the struggle and pain I fought through. So, goodbye 2017. I’m done with you, and all the people I allowed to get the better of me. Thanks for making me impenetrable in this newly built fortress of mine.  It feels good to say that writing this has been a surprisingly annoying experience and I know exactly how well equipped I am for the year forthcoming. It’s time to let it all go now, and look forward to writing about the humors of a “blended” family,  the accomplishments I will obtain regardless, and the love that survives and thrives in it all.

This is numerically an ascension year (more coming on that in the Starchild Diaries portion of this website), and I plan to utilize that to my utmost capability. I’m ready to nail this whole stepmom-first time mom-writer-boss-witch thing. I’m a hybrid, and I will spend this year defining it as a positive example to all the little ones watching me.

……..

F*cking Fit Mom Monday

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Here I am, six weeks postpartum (got my okay to workout a few hours ago!) and after my first real workout since finding out I was pregnant. These are crappy, unflattering photos and I really don’t care who sees it. This is life. I want to inspire someone, not make myself look better than I am.

I’ve been itching to get back into a routine and I have to admit it’s a battle to look at my lumpy body every morning, knowing just last summer I was in the best shape of my life. I’ll be honest, I’m not the woman who honors her new “mom” bod simply because it pushed a cute watermelon out of a keyhole. My delivery and birth experience was amazing and I revel at how much pain my body could take, and thanks to drugs, I enjoyed ushering out my little boy with the strength I had built over years of physical training. It reminded me that I was still strong and would soon be back in the gym.

With that said, I’m not being unrealistic or over the top with my goals. I’ve been in this game long enough to know results are long term goals. I’ve decided to return to basics with this 30 day challenge (link at the bottom) I did years ago at the beginning of my fitness journey. I want to shed the left over weight from ENJOYING being pregnant before I worry too much about building muscle. Trying to do both at once is not easy, and let’s face it, I have a new baby and a new life. I need to fit this into my schedule as responsibly as I can if I want to be successful.

So what can I say after my first workout back?

I’m stronger than I thought I was, and stronger with more belly/thigh/hip fat and no arm muscles than I was when I did it the first time, as a “skinny fat” 20-something. I will also need a better sports bra, as my “itty bitties” have a whole lot of liquid plumping them up and swishing them around. Beyond that….it’s Day 1. I finished on the high of a new beginning and positive prospect for the future. Let’s see how I feel in a week when I’m tired, sore, bored of the routine and not as enthusiastic about a fresh start.

In the end, I’m doing this for my son and my mental health as my hormones bounce around (I will also be posting a blog on my mental health experience, postpartum). He’s only six weeks, but I am a firm believer that he is just as observant and absorbent now as he will ever be. I want to show him what hard work and persistence will get him. I don’t want him to grow up watching Momma sitting on her ass, letting time slip by, and expecting everyone else to provide for her needs. Greatness is never accomplished by expecting other people to hand it to you.

Find your motivation and get going, it’s Monday, the best day to start something new. Do what you can with what you have to start. Be a goddess and manifest your own dreams, not a doormat on the floor waiting for someone else to sweep up your mess. Yes, I mean you. Be real with yourself and get going! If I can, you can. And if you don’t believe I have it just as hard as you stay tuned for my wrap up of 2017…

A quick note about the video below:

I love this girl. If you choose to try it out make sure you stick through to the end for her little motivational chats, or find the website to see her coffee talks. There were times my first round with it that she had me in tears, pushing through some emotional shit that would have otherwise made me quit the workout because I was tired and fatigued. I swear to you the mind+body connection is real and she’ll get you there. Plus, it’s free!