Wednesday, April 5, 2017

YOU ARE ENOUGH

As a writer one of the parts of this crazy life I LOVE is the fact I get to meet extraordinary women. We each have our own story. On our journey through life there is usually a part of our story that changes us not only as individuals, but often changing the direction of our lives. In meeting Amanda Houle, I came away realizing the incredible privilege I have when such strong women are willing to take a stand and share their story in order to help others.

Amanda inspired me to want to tell mine one day! For now, please read her story of survival.
Amanda Houle~~~MEd, Ed, Psychoeducational Specialist, Parent Consultant, Child Behaviorist.

AMANDA'S WEB-SITE
A few details about me. I am thirty-five years old. I was born in Methuen, grew up in Salem, NH, with loving and supportive parents. Growing up one of my teachers said, one day, I would be a journalist because I had such a bubbly and inquisitive personality which isn’t too far from what I do. I’m an educator but that’s not all.
 
I am a SURVIVOR.

My boyfriend of 4 years put me in the hospital not once but twice. For close to 15 years, I have dedicated my life to helping others. I am an empath. I truly believed I could save him and help him to be a better man, so he could treat me the way I deserved, or so I thought. I knew what he experienced in life but what I didn’t know was the cycle of abuse or have knowledge of his narcissistic behavior. We had fun and created wonderful memories. We had good sex, stimulating conversation, and a puppy. We were a family.

Domestic violence has no stereotype.
We met in my last semester of grad school. He was supportive of my dreams. I was beginning to make really good money over 100k 2 years after grad school. But things changed. It started very early on with verbal abuse, and I just thought this is how a relationship is. Fighting is normal. It’s a vicious cycle and when in the honeymoon phase, it's perfect.  I was happy or was I living in a dream?
There was no trust. He was a pathological liar, and I couldn’t see. I tried to make him leave many times.  I was comfy. I loved my job, my apt, my city. I didn’t want to pack up my whole life that I worked so fucking hard for. Why do I have to give it all up? It was hard so I stayed always thinking it will get better. He will change. We will work on it. I even started therapy to help, tried to get him to but nothing worked.
The inevitable happened. I ended up in the hospital. I had to uproot my whole life. I struggled and still do. I have moved back to Brooklyn 3 different times since I left him. The 2nd time a year later. I thought we could be friends. Boy was I wrong. He put me in the hospital for the second time and my injuries were even worse leading to surgery this time. I was even more alone. Due to lost time at work, I fell behind financially and once again had to make the decision to leave. I didn’t want to move. I had my heart set on staying. I was happy but, yet miserable. I fell into deep depression. I suffered with PTSD. I wanted to die. My dog saved my life.

What happened in the past is something I live with every day. Each time I look in the mirror I see the scars on my face and I am reminded or when I do yoga having difficulty placing my finger flat. It gets easier but some days are HARD because I miss my old life, my city, my park, my friends, my amazing spin classes, I miss my old life minus the bad times. When those dark days hover, I seek help through daily exercise. I also keep a journal, read, enjoy yoga, working out and have received support through EMDR (Eye, Movement, Densensitization, and Reprocessing) from a doctor who specialized in trauma victims from the Boston marathon and counseling.


Starting over is never easy.

BUT, I am stronger and wiser. I have learned more about myself and my resilience that I ever imagined.  Anyone living through this cycle,  I am here to tell you this…


YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You deserve more. You deserve a true, trusting, endearing relationship. One that sets your soul on fire. Never settle. You are enough.

My goals for the future are to be able to reach families all over the world to empower and educate them to live a happier life. I also want to help women  realize that they are an amazing species. That we deserve the very best and not to let anyone in your life take advantage or bring you down. 
If anyone is dealing with any of the subjects discussed, please, reach out and ask for help. Some useful links are below.

SUICIDE PREVENTION
THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE

DEPRESSION

HOLISTIC PSYCHIATRY


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What's happening in March



                Wow, well it's pretty hard to follow in the wake of Melissa's story, I can tell you!

There were over 500 views for that post alone, holy guacamole. Every month, I will post and share stories about women overcoming the challenges that life throws in their path.  I hope the stories help and inspire you.

                        What I take from Melissa's story is the belief that you must, "Do What You Love."

There are statements out there that hint at doing what you love, and the money will follow or by doing what you love you'll never have to work a day in your life. Well, here's my take. I work hard. I take every opportunity to push myself and grow as a writer. I have a long way to go. There are courses, I need to attend, and more books, I need to read.

There will always be more to do!

I don't believe you ever stop learning and growing as an artist. I do what I love, the money has yet to follow. Although, I work odd hours, it never feels like a drudge. It is hard work. There are times when the writing doesn't come easy, and the reviews aren't there. BUT when you have that moment of clarity when your character speaks to you, or you play out a scene and find the RIGHT words, those moments are precious.

When a reader is excited and lets you know, those are the best, and I hold on to those because I love what I do.

                                                                   
                                                           What's Happening in March.      


                                                                       



I will be in Portsmouth on Friday March 31st, signing and selling all my books, come along, grab a beer, and a copy of my books. If you mention seeing this post from my FB page, Twitter or Instagram you will receive a discount!









Thursday, March 2, 2017

My Healing Journey by Melissa Partridge


Back in December 2016, I decided that to coincide with my Diamonds in the Rough series, I was going to post stories once a month highlighting strong women.

I met Melissa Partridge around that time whilst scoping out the SOWA market. Her work is colorful and beautiful, but after a short conversation, God knows what she thought, but I asked her if she would be interested in telling her story.

I find women the masters of reinvention and I love the stories I hear of what women go through overcoming the challenges they face in life.

                                                                 This is Melissa's story! 

                   
    Art, Color, Textures & Travel Inspire me.  I have always had a LOVE for adventure, the unknown  & surprises; a curious creature at heart.  After  receiving my B.S. in Merchandising & Design from University of Rhode Island; I fulfilled my life long dream of moving to the Fashion capital of the world~NYC.   I knew no one except my college friend Denise who worked for the UN.  That was ok~I’d make friends I wasn’t worried about it.  I lived and breathed NYC and worked for fabulous brands including Capelli New York, Levi Strauss & Co., & Coach Inc.   My NYC friends used to tell me I knew the city better than them.  I never took cabs and lived by public transportation.  I lived in NYC for 7 years after running away from my dysfunctional family.  My parents had divorced in the late 80’s when I was 15.  I was the oldest of three children; my sister 16 months younger and my brother 5 years younger.  My Dad was a high functional alcoholic, an Engineer and had his Phd from Harvard who struggled with addiction his whole life.  Growing up I was always the protector, the dreamer, the peacemaker. My Mom always says I was the child drawing butterfly's and rainbows.  My Mom would sit us down in our playroom as kids and have us play with paints, watercolors, playdough, board games, coloring books to distract us from my alcoholic Father.  I don’t remember a lot from my childhood but that was my coping mechanism.  My mom taught me how to be independent and survive on my own.                     









Art was always there to comfort me, calm my anxiety, let me play with my inner child.  I was a shy child growing up & it wasn’t until I moved to NYC I found my own voice.  I had to; in order to survive in this great big City I had to stick up for myself, be independent and take risks.  I was determined to find myself and live on my own & make it in NYC & of course meet the man of my dreams!!  Well I never did find my husband in NYC;  Happy to say I am in a  happy & healthy 7 year relationship with an amazing man.  I did date lots of men in NYC and had some amazing dates, fabulous dinners, concerts~ Sting live in NYC, James Tayler on Jones Beach, B-52’s in Central Park, shopping at Flea Markets, Street Fairs, Museums, Dressing up for the Halloween Parade in the East-Village, rollerblading and biking in Central Park , Trying the  latest & greatest restaurants, Museums~The Moma & Met were my favorite, wine, concerts, you name it I tried it.  After 9/11 I was laid off from marketing  job at Levi Strauss.  I was determined to survive in NYC on unemployment and didn’t want to move back home to Boston.


 However, in 2005 I interviewed with Victorinox Swiss Army, gave my 2 weeks notice to Coach, the company I worked with after Levi Strauss, on Madison Ave and packed up my rental car & moved back to my Mom’s home 40 miles North of Boston.   I had decided I was done with NYC and ready to move on!!
Once home a lot of my inner feelings from my childhood came up.  I started lashing out and fighting with my Mom more.  I finally decided I was ready to see a psychotherapist and take care of myself and my inner demons.   I knew it would get worse before it would get better with therapy. It was WORK but I was taking care of a lot of issues I never dealt with from my childhood for the past 34 years.
After 7 years with my Corporate sales job with VSA in Sales/Marketing;  I was laid off in Jan 2012.  That by far was the best day of my life, I was burnt out, exhausted and ready to make a change.  I was tired of traveling, living out of suitcase/hotels and eating bad food.  I was great at my job but it didn’t light me up and have one ounce of creativity in it.  I don’t think I knew how miserable I was till I was out of it!!  I took time to focus on myself, taking Jewelry Metal Smith classes and diving into B-School with Marie Forleo and Flourish & Thrive   Academy with Tracy Matthews & Robin Kramer.  I was on a good path and started participating in the craft circuit around New England selling my Whimsical & Colorful Jewelry and launching my Biz~Color Me Happy  by Melissa.  I continued exploring different techniques with Jewelry; Metal, Resin, Paint, Beading, etc.  But it wasn’t until after my Dad’s passing from Cancer/Alcoholism in Aug 2013 I discovered my LOVE & PASSION for painting & mixed media.  My Dad’s death brought up a lot of mixed emotions & feeling in the family.  Silent, hidden emotions that were finally let loose into the open.



                                         


I went to Costa Rica in Feb 2014 for my Birthday after my Dad’s death on an Art Retreat with Art Studio New York.  I highly recommend Rebecca’s Schweiger’s Studio to anyone in NYC; It’s on the Upper West Side.  In Costa Rica I was immersed in Art for an entire week and was able to fully dive into the world of Acrylic Paint, Watercolor, Water Pastel, Inks & Mixed Media.  I created a beautiful Turquoise & Fuschia mixed Media piece made from Sympathy cards friends & family gave me.  I painted layers and layers of my mixed feelings of emotions after my Dads passing.  Art became my healing space and where I felt at peace.  I immersed myself in it and read books and took  classes with some of my new favorite Artists; Mati Rose, Alena Hennessy, Sabrina Ward Harrison, Flora Bowley to name a few.  I engulfed myself in Art Journalling, Collaging, mixed media, acrylics, & Watercolors.  This has been my healing space for the last few years and where I felt my happiest.  I added a line of Watercolor Jewelry in Spring 2014 to my collection and it became my Best Seller.  My turquoise Watercolor Collection brought a sense of peace, tranquility to me and brought out the Water Child; Pisces in me.  I’ve expanded my work to include Abstract Art with Vibrant Colors, Textures & Patterns.  My process is very intuitive and from the heart.
Alot of my Inspiration comes from travel & Art Retreats with other Artists & Soul Sisters.  April 2016 I traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco with Mati Rose & Faith Evans-Sills.  Truly a Magical Adventure full of Inspiration & Color.  This year in May I will be travelling to the Amalfi Coast in Ischia, Italy for an Art Retreat with Alena Hennesy & Dvora Troshane, Looking forward to this Sun, Sea, Art retreat that will be a trip of a Life Time!!
This year I will be at SOWA & the Greenway in Boston on various Sat and Sun throught the Spring/Summer/Fall.  I am focusing on my Artwork this year including Originals, Giclee Prints, Boxed Cards & Tote Bags.  Please check my Show Schedule for my Spring & Summer Schedule. Each market is curated bringing together the area’s best artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs to showcase their work in a festive atmosphere!   Applications are hand selected based on quality, innovation, and originality.
  
I love cheering and supporting other handmade, artists & spreading my Happiness to the world.   I appreciate all my Art teachers and friends who have helped me on my Healing journey.
                                           Art truly heals & has made me a better person today!

                                          I hope you enjoyed Melissa's story and her links are below!
Feel free to add my social media links
@ColorMeHappyMelissa Instagram
@ColorMelissa Pinterest
@MelissaColorMeHappy Biz FB
ColorMelissa on Etsy www.Etsy.com/Shop/Colormelissa

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I want your stories---- STRONG WOMEN---

                   


                                              I want your stories!!!


I meant to start my blog series on "Strong Women" at the beginning of the year, I'm a little late, but better late than never!
What makes you a strong woman?
I know there are many strong women who fight battles every day we don't know about. Many face issues that are big or small, and I want to know what makes you get through and ride the storm. Some of you have walked away from successful careers to pursue your passion or have survived a toxic relationship and moved on, faced adversity, poverty or injustice.

Being strong doesn't mean there are no tears or fears, being strong means dealing with whatever comes your way, picking yourself up and dealing with it anyway. It's about resilience, determination, and heart.
Once a month, I want to post a story about what makes you a strong woman and the lessons you have learned along the way to help other women. This is part of my theme for the Diamonds in the Rough series about strong friendships and the power of women!
If you feel able to help and would like to contribute your story, post in the comments or message me.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The longest night of my life!




I haven't  written a post since August 2016. Now, I am choosing to write about the loss of my mum which I feel compelled to do.

On Christmas Eve, 2016 as I sat with all my boys, husband included, and in a tearful flood of emotion, I talked to my family about my fears for my mother. For days before, I had the acute sensation that my dad was sending me a message, I kept finding lots of pennies. The message was clear in my mind.... that everything will be all right...it's okay.

 I didn't truly understand what he meant until much later.

My beautiful and lovely mum, Josephine was eighty-seven years old and had been living with Alzheimer's disease for the past five years. Mum was also in stage five kidney failure which she had been in for about a year. Days after we toasted to 2017,  I received a devastating phone call from my sister to say that mum was very ill. It wasn't unexpected, in fact; I had been planning and waiting for this time to come and as an ex nurse I knew mum's time was coming to an end, but I still needed more confirmation. I spoke with mum's doctor who advised me to move my planned trip forward as mum's condition was grave.

When an ocean separates you from your family, the stress, frustration and sadness of hearing such news adds a pressure that you simply cannot imagine until you're in that situation. I rescheduled my flight. My husband told me just to go and not worry! My brilliant neighbors pitched in to help my husband with my youngest who is still in school, and I flew to Wales. I made the decision to extend my stay for a month to be with my mum and sisters. That four weeks turned into six, but I do not regret one single moment. I tell you for why, when I walked in the room that first day, my mum didn't recognize me at all, by the end she wouldn't let go of my hand.

 It was the most intense period of my life.  Like living in a bubble. The days consisted of getting up and visiting mum. The evenings involved drinking wine, sobbing, and discussing with my sisters how we thought mum had been that day. A weight grew and pressed down on my chest for weeks, physically at times making breathing hard. Sleeping was fragmented for fear of missing a phone call with bad news.

The days blurred.

A seesawing of mum's condition put us on a roller-coaster never knowing what we would face once we entered the nursing home. There were good overly chatty days, days we worked on a jigsaw together, my sister and I decorated a bird house for mum, and attended a religious service singing songs and reciting the lords prayer which I sobbed my way through. Days we held hands and reminisced over old times. These memories are forever ingrained on my brain.


There were dark days too, but I don't want to dwell on those.

You would think that when your loved one is elderly and their quality of life severely diminished that losing them would be a comfort, an end to their suffering. To a degree it is, but your mother is still gone. The vacant space like a black hole threatening to swallow you up if you think about it for too long.

The chance to touch her, hold her hand, have a hug, a kiss or a simple conversation is gone forever.

The loss is raw.  The hole that opens inside you enormous, and the tears come in waves like a tsunami hitting the shore.

The reason, I give myself for writing this post is because in the weeks that led up to my mother's passing, my sisters and I were searching on the Internet for information about understanding and knowing what the last few days of someone's life would be like. Even with my background, and the fact that we were all there when my dad passed away over seventeen years ago at home we were all seeking information to help us know how long we had left with mum. And would we know that mum was in the final stages?  SEE MARIE CURIE LINK BELOW

I think this was because we all wanted to be there at the end. We didn't want mum to be alone, and we didn't want to miss that last chance to say good-bye and to make sure she was comfortable.

We all read the information about making the end of life as peaceful as possible. We were left alone with mum in her room, and we played soft music in the background tending to mum brushing her hair, giving oral care and offering reassurance that everything would be okay!!!

I have to tell you at this point I am crying. It hits me like a ton of bricks. I'm using my dad's words to let mum know it is okay to let, go and pass on.  We all say these words multiple times in those final days as a way to let mum know she is going to a better place. We tell her over and over, we love her, hold her hand, and smooth her hair.

Once the syringe  driver is in place all the upsetting symptoms are  controlled, and mum is finally settled.

The body goes through a physiological process when it is dying and for the last twenty-four hours I know without a doubt, we are at that stage. Mum was unconscious and hadn't  opened her eyes or made any sign of awareness.

My sisters go home for some rest, there is still time, and I camp next to mum's bed watching and waiting. It isn't hard to do this. Mum gave me life, gave me unconditional love, made me who I am and the world will not be the same without her. I don't want to leave and feel more than anything else in my life this is why I am here, to be at her side through the long dark night.

I will admit, when my sisters left, I was scared, and as the early-morning  hours crept by there were a few times I called the night nurse as mum stirred and her breathing changed. I felt it was up to me, to call my sisters when mums condition warranted their presence and I didn't want to mess it up.

Just before dawn, mum's breathing became very loud. ( "death rattle" a documented final stage) Even though I knew what this was it was far more distressing that anything I could have imagined. I burst into tears and called the nurse, the sound louder than I realized it would be and went on for a couple of hours. It sounded as if mum was gargling or drowning in fluid. The nurse gave an injection which eventually worked and the noise diminished.

The morning staff arrived. They re-positioned mum and made her comfortable and when I returned to the room, I knew listening again to her breathing it was time to make the phone call. A short time later, my sisters and I sat around mum holding her hands, talking to her and letting her know, she wasn't alone. Her breathing by then took on a machine-like  quality sounding like a sewing machine or a ventilator. Then, in the final moments, her breathing took long drawn out pauses to the point that you weren't sure whether she was breathing but for another intake of air until eventually mum took her last breath.



There are no words of comfort when you lose someone you love. Grieving is a process. We all grieve differently. I'm not sure how long it will take to get over the loss of mum. There are days that are absolutely fine, then a memory surfaces, or I think I will phone mum or stare at her picture that now hangs in my bedroom or I smell her perfume, and the tears fall. The tears have fallen a lot today!

However, know this, mum had her three daughters that she loved with all her heart with her right at the end, and I know she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. She is now at peace and none of us wanted mum to suffer any longer.

But the world is different now.

A new chapter begins and I am determined to make her proud. xxx

P.S, On the day of my mums funeral a cheeky and beautiful red Robin appeared at the graveside taking center stage. I know mum is in heaven and happy with her beloved Jeff, but will be a guardian angel always watching over those she left behind. Love you always mum xxxx




                                                       END OF LIFE GUIDE MARIE CURIE


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Author Karen Maffeo



After attending the New England Author expo at Danversport last week I met some really great local authors, and one of them was Karen from Maine.


A little bit about Karen  Maffeo.

Karen Maffeo Creamer of Wells, Maine has just published her first novel, One Brave Thing. She has been a lifelong lover of and reader of books, and now she is also the author of one!
Her book is about a young woman whose dating life starts off on the wrong foot. Bad luck and naïve choices complicate situations and make her relationships so much harder. Bebe wants to get married someday so she forges ahead, adapting her approach, learning from her mistakes, and overcoming obstacles to reach her goals.
Since 2010, Karen has written a novel annually in November as part of National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). One Brave Thing is a product of this practice!
Karen celebrated 25 years of marriage to her husband Bill this June, and is the very proud mother of a son and a daughter, Anthony and Isabelle. She is a Registered Nurse Health Coach and Reiki Master Teacher. She blogs at kwrites.com, karencoaches.com, and has a photo blog at wellsbeachblog.wordpress.com. You can reach Karen at kmcwrites@gmail.com





                                                 







1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR AND SO YOU ASPIRE TO WRITE LIKE HER?
​Toughie! The first names that come to mind are Lisa Scottoline, Anita Shreve, Elizabeth Berg, and Kate Braestrup. I have enjoyed (and in many cases, LOVED) every book I have read by all of these authors. I know that if I see any of these names on the cover, I will be happy reading their book. I would love it if people think of me as an author like that!
2. HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR IDEAS?
I never have trouble coming up with ideas. I have hundreds of ideas all the time. I have trouble coming up with the time to act on them.
3. HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN and WHAT IS YOUR GENRE?
So far, I have written 4 books, one of which I published this year, ONE BRAVE THING. The genre for this book, and 2 of my others is fiction. One is non-fiction.
4. BEING A BUSY MOM, HOW DO I MANAGE MY WRITING?
It's a challenge to find un-spoken-for time! I work full time and have a husband and two kids (one grown and one still growing). I am always struggling to fit it all in. One thing that helps me is participating in National Novel Writing Month every year in November. I discovered through this practice that structure is my friend! And that I can do ANYTHING for 1 month!
5. YOU ARE A SELF PUBLISHED AUTHOR. DO YOU THINK YOU WILL TRY TO SUBMIT TO A TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER?
As of today, there is a publisher in New York that is looking at my book. That said, I love having 100% control over my work, and it would be hard to give that up. We'll see.
6. ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Yes! Sign up for NaNoWriMo 2016! It's free. Here's the website: nanowrimo.org. Also, if your computer is unreliable, try writing in Google Docs. It backs up automatically every few seconds and you can access your work from any computer or device that can access the internet.
7. WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU ENJOY?
Reading and writing are my favorite things to do. I also knit sporadically. I love making SoulCollage cards. I like to watch cooking shows on TV with my daughter, and reality shows with my husband. I like to talk about writing and travel with my son. I love anything metaphysical (rocks and crystals, reiki, oracle cards, and such). Oh, I write several blogs: kwrites.com karencoaches.com and wellsbeachblog.wordpress.com
8. HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESS?
I have a daily meditation practice, which helps immensely. Also, I LOVE the ocean, sitting at the ocean, walking at the ocean. It is truly the cure for what ails me.
9. WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
The best part is that I have fulfilled a dream I've had since childhood: to write a book.
10. WHAT I SEE HAPPENING FOR MYSELF AS AN AUTHOR IN 2016: I will continue attending book expos, giving readings wherever I am asked to go, getting another manuscript ready to publish (goal: February 2017), continue meeting other authors, and writing about it all in my blog.

WAYS TO CONNECT:
my blogs (also mentioned above) kwrites.com karencoaches.com wellsbeachblog.wordpress.com
My email address: kmcwrites@gmail.com