Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Life is a Kaleidoscope-Adoption and Putting the Fragments Back Together.

Fragmented moments really. That's what I mean by kaleidoscope. From childhood until now, my life has always been in pieces. Not that I'm upset about that, because I feel that all of those fragments have come together to help mold me into the woman I am today.

Let's take a step back for a moment, okay? Back to 1986 when I made my debut in this world.

My biological father was in the Army, stationed in Germany, my biological mother was a teen living in Germany. They met, fell in love, found out she was pregnant, got married...lived happily ever after.

Okay, the last part was a lie. They were both young, neither ready for such a committed relationship. Nobody told them just how hard life was as an adult, not to mention an adult with a family, a child...it was too much. Without going into too much detail, I'll sum it up with this: Not every whirlwind romance ends like a Disney movie. Not everyone lives happily ever after.

My grandparents on my Dad's side ended up adopting me and they became my parents. My Momma and Daddy. The two people who would've done anything for me..no matter what it cost them. They loved me unconditionally and looked at me as their own child. I was never their granddaughter, only their daughter.


I remember bits and pieces. The court house on the day of my adoption when the paperwork was finalized, I can't remember my exact age, but I was around 6 or so, I think. My life has always been colorful, most likely because of how eccentric I tend to be. I love colors and my imagination is as vivid as the colors that I love. My thoughts and memories are also vivid, and at times I have to wonder if it was my imagination distorting my memories, through the eyes of a child, my thoughts tend to vary from things I've been told. I suppose we all go through that at some point or another, but more often than not I feel that I'll never know the full extent of the truth. Perhaps that is for the best.

More fragments. My biological Dad always lived nearby, but our relationship was tumultuous. It was great when things were working out well between us, but as I got older (my teen years were rough) we distanced ourselves from one another. I take as much fault as I place blame for that and I can only hope that it will be repaired one day. I love my Dad, it's just hard to vocalize that. So many years of misunderstanding adds up and makes things difficult. Where do you begin? How do you repair something that you spent most of your life believing was irreparable?

 I have lots of good memories as well. Some of my favorite were simple, being held up as high as his arms could reach as he pretended to throw me into the sky, or put me on a tree branch high above the ground. Hanging out at his house, watching tv and just being together. His goofy cockerspaniel dog jumping at a mirror as he freaked out on his own reflection. I remember trips taken to amusement parks, his wedding to the love of his life and the woman that has changed him for the better. I still have the ring with the angels that they gave me on their wedding day. So many memories. Some good, some bad. The bad ones are more vivid. That tends to be the way life works, right? Those fights as a teenager when I thought he didn't know anything. Tears were shed, angry words exchanged. Those moments I wish I could erase, take them back. Make it as if they never happened. It came from a place of love, doing what he thought was best. Isn't that what every parent strives to do?

My birth mother, the unknown portion of my life that I desired to know more than anything. At 18 I took off to Alaska to visit her and my sisters. It was great for a while, but then it went horribly wrong and was heartbreaking. Every angry/hurt/bitter emotion that I could muster up was unleashed upon her in a fury of regretful words. It was bound to happen, but I wasn't ready for that moment and it left a sour taste in my mouth. I thought she'd hate me. That she'd be happy I wasn't her problem. But she waited, I'm sure it was excruciating to do so, but she seemed to have this understanding that I had no clue about. 

My grandparents were my constant, Momma and Daddy were and always will be my parents. Adoption or not, they raised me. They are my foundation. There were hard times there too, but nobody is perfect. They did what they could to raise me to the best of their ability. I was difficult. For years I felt I was damaged. Why didn't my parents want me? Why was I the only person in my class to have older parents? While everyone else was going on vacations with their families, I mostly got my vacation fix from summer camps that I got to choose. I was fine with that, but at times I was envious of those around me who went on adventures across the country or to other countries with their parents. I knew what I had and I was grateful to them for everything, even if I didn't always show it.

I wanted more than the small town I grew up in. I wanted out. I followed in my biological parents footsteps. I moved to Germany after marrying my first husband at 19. I soon became pregnant with our son. It was never meant to be. It failed and all I could think was, "I'm my parents, history is repeating itself." I felt like a failure and was bitter for a while over that.

More fragments. This time the memories are dark and marred with negativity. The one sliver of happiness was my son and I think he's what kept me going.

Fast forward a bit to my saving grace. My husband and my children. One with him and two I gained by falling in love with him, he completed my family that at the moment was just my first son and I. This will be a blog for another time, perhaps. But these kids and this man who I call my soul mate truly changed my perspective on life in general and saved me from myself.

You see, it took becoming a mother to finally understand. The thoughts I've had for years now, since motherhood first began, have swirled in my mind and brought with them understanding. I never thought I'd be capable of this amount of understanding and acceptance. Not when it came to my own life and the people who were key players in who I've become as a woman. At 29 years old, I feel that I've gained a true idea of what love is about. You forgive and you move on, you allow time to heal wounds and you look to the future.

My Momma passed away four years ago and it was one of the most difficult times in my life. It felt like without her my family fell apart. She was the glue that held us together and without her we went our separate ways and became content with that level of distance. I dealt with it, taking comfort in knowing that my husband and kids were always there for me. Out of sight out of mind, so to speak.

Then, she came back into my life. My birth mother. The one woman who was more of an enigma than anything else. I wanted to know her, to call her Mom. To have a relationship with her like my sisters do. But I was scared. I felt guilty. How can I have two mothers? How can I possibly love them both?

Easily. Once I let my guard down and accepted the fact that I'm adopted and my heart is big enough to love everyone in my life, unhindered, if only I give it a chance. It took me my entire existence on this earth to come to that realization.

Slowly our relationship over the course of the last year has been growing, long conversations on the phone. "Liking" updates on Facebook. Laughs, tears, frustrations...we're so much alike. I look like her, my Momma always told me that. We all look like her. My sisters and I. There's 5 of us total and it's obvious that we're sisters. I've gained relationships with both my Mom and my sisters. Something I never thought would happen. More fragments and colors to add to my kaleidoscope. Beautiful colors that help complete my life.

My husband has a wonderful family that has accepted me as part of their inner circle. They've stepped in, especially my Mother in law, as being a constant in my life. But now I have this part of my family that is not only enriching my life but also the lives of my children. I bring into this relationship, three grandmothers, My Momma and Mom, and a step-grandmother (my biological Dad's wife). I also have other women who I consider to be like motherly figures for various reasons and they just add to the chaotic mix that is my life.

My Mom can never replace my Momma, but that's okay. I'm completely fine with that. However, she can add new memories and hopefully those new memories will repair some of those old wounds that haunt my inner child.

This week, I will embark on what has been dubbed "An epic road trip" from Florida to South Dakota with my birth mother, Patty. Never in my life could I have predicted this happening. It's stirred up a mixture of emotions and thoughts, so much so that I needed to write. Writing is my outlet and I needed to pour my thoughts out. This isn't a bad thing. Not in the least. It's the most amazing thing to happen for my family and I. This is the trip that will drive us into a totally new beginning in our lives. A beginning that I've prayed and begged God for, for so long. It's a daydream in a sense. Is this real? No seriously..is this really happening? I've needed this. She's needed this. WE have needed this for years.

So there's that. I could write so much more but I think this is good for now. A cleansing of sorts.

When you look into a kaleidoscope there are so many colors, some bright, some dim. Those colors are cut into a variety of shapes. Upon first inspection those fragmented colors are just kind of strewn about. You hold it up to the light and you see just how beautiful those colors are. When you turn the kaleidoscope those colors begin to work together to create a beautiful abstract tapestry. It's only when all the key components work together that the true beauty comes into view.

Life is beautiful, isn't it? 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Day My Best Friend Broke My Heart

It was a day like any other really. I was sleep deprived as usual, getting off of my overnight shift from the nursing home I work at. The difference was it was a day off and I planned to forgo sleep in order to accomplish some things. I had big goals for this day. Bigger than previous goals such as running errands and getting a caramel machiato to force myself to stay awake.


I was having a conversation with a friend of my best friend who was attempting to help her (my best friend) dabble in the modeling world. I voiced my concerns about how this could be done without jeopardizing anything in her life. I wanted so badly to see her succeed in the modeling world because she's absolutely stunning and I could see her going far.

We talked for what felt like hours about how we could make this possible for her. We plotted and schemed thinking we had it all figured out. I thought about it all night at work, thinking about how she would respond to our plans for her. It was fool proof..or so I thought.

The moment of truth came that morning when she messaged me on Facebook. I was ecstatic. I started a conversation with the three of us and we began to lay our plan out to her. Her response wasn't in the least what I expected, she first sent me a text that stopped my thought train in the middle of its track.

That was the moment my best friend broke my heart, in the most beautiful of ways...

You see, my best friend Arianne lives with a condition known as Spinocerebellar Ataxia or SCA type 14. What is that? Well, according to ataxia.org it's "an inherited defect in a gene that causes slow degeneration of cells in the cerebellum resulting in ataxia and incoordination." Another words, it causes someone to shake, loose coordination of their limbs, and require the assistance of a cane, walker, or wheelchair. To read more, I strongly encourage you to visit Ataxia.org. 

I wanted Ari to not feel like a prisoner in her own body and I thought that by modeling it would help her feel as though she could accomplish something that not many people could say they were doing. But Ari receives medical benefits that would be completely taken away if she ever had a job of any sort, and that's the last thing I or anyone else who cares about her wanted to see happen. 

Let's take a step back for a moment, shall we? 

Ari's Mom, Jo has been not only a mother but a caregiver and best friend to Ari. Momma Jo is an amazing woman and as a mother I cannot imagine what she's gone through because not only does Ari have Ataxia, but so does her older brother. Having two children with a disability has to be difficult in so many ways and I commend her for having one of the most resilient, self-less souls of anyone I know. Momma Jo had concerns for Ari too and on the night while I was in the Mid-West plotting Ari's future, Momma Jo was on the East Coast trying to convince Ari that modeling wasn't the best idea. 

Now, fast forward to the moment we began laying our plans out before Ari. She stopped us and told us it wasn't happening. The selfish side of me was hurt, how could she not like our idea!? How could she not even give us a chance to explain all the details? Why was she running from this? It was a great plan! Sure it needed some sorting out, but what plan didn't? Little did I know Ari had much bigger plans. 

As she explained her thoughts and goals she had for herself I realized that finally Ari was speaking for herself, planning things for herself, making goals for herself. She wasn't going to allow anyone to do these things for her. In that moment I watched as Ari finally embraced her disability and began owning it. It was something she hadn't done before. Something she shied away from. And that is the moment my heart broke. She was finally willing to conquer her own demon. It broke from happiness because she accepted herself. 

We went on a Vegas trip a year ago, our first time ever meeting in person actually. A long story there that I'll write about in another blog some other time. While in Vegas I realized just how self-conscious Ari was of her wheelchair. She could walk assisted but she was unsteady on her feet so any long distance walking required her to be in a chair. We would take pictures together and she'd wanted the chair to be elsewhere. I told her to own it like an accessory, it was part of her and everyone who loved her knew what it was. Slowly she seemed to warm up to the idea and selfies became a regular on our trip. 

Over the last year, I've witnessed her blossom into a much more confident woman and I'm so proud of her for doing so. But the other day was my most proud moment because she began to look at her future. She wants more out of life and I'll do everything to help her achieve her goals. We've talked bigger ideas now. Modeling is small time, no we're talking about raising awareness for Ataxia. There's an entire community out there that deserves to be recognized. 

I felt like the worst friend ever the other day because when I asked her what her actual diagnosis was she told me and that's when I truly began learning about Ataxia. Prior to that I thought "Oh, it's a form of MS or MD." I really had no idea other than what she had told me what it was. I felt guilty for not taking the time to know that side of my best friend. Perhaps it was because I didn't want to face facts? I've never looked at her differently because of it. To me she's Arianne, that funny, sarcastic girl that has an obsession with Britney Spears that matches my own. (We saw her in Vegas, by the way.) She's Ari, the girl who loves frogs, concerts, and Dancing with the Stars. She's my best friend and she's got this thing that doesn't seem to slow her down. 

Especially not her mouth! She's witty, confident, and beautiful. And now, she's ready to own her disease and start a revolution of sorts. I can't wait to go along for this ride with her...

So there's that. Keep an eye on my blog because there's more of this journey to come. Today I met some other individuals living with Ataxia through some Facebook groups and I'm inspired by their resilience. I had no idea this world existed and I'm honored to be welcomed into it with open arms.

Who is ready to start a revolution?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Life Lessons that Caitlyn Jenner and RuPaul Have Taught Me

                                                               (Photo: Vanity Fair)

Yes, you read the title right. Life lessons from a reality star and a drag queen. Keep reading to see exactly what I'm talking about...you won't be disappointed. 

I've been reading comments regarding Bruce Jenner's transformation to Caitlyn and there are many who are in support of her while there are many who are not. The negativity breaks my heart because I thought that by 2015, living in the world we live in, things like this would be more acceptable. I just commented on my friends' status on FB because of the positivity within his post, but my thoughts are much more than FB can handle so here comes a new blog. Good thing because it's been months since I last posted. Hot/Cold Love/Hate relationship with blogging and such.

As parents, my husband and I are raising our children to be accepting of those who are different. That's the key word here. Acceptance. If you don't like it, fine..if you don't agree with it. Whatever. BUT at least accept someone who is different. Not everyone likes you either. Not everyone thinks you're "normal." 
I remember a book from my teen years by an author named Julie Anne Peters called Define "Normal". It was a book about two teen girls who thought they were completely different from one another. They end up in peer counseling together only to find out that they aren't very different after all. It's a good coming of age book that helps teens (especially girls) realize that being different from the social "norm" is okay and that it should be embraced. 
That phrase, define normal, has stuck with me into adulthood. I've used it from time to time in conversation when people have used such statements as "That's just not normal!" What is normal? Truly. Aside from a dry, black and white text in the dictionary, what is normal? Who sets the standard for what is normal? 
If normal is being like everyone else and not having your own identity then I'll continue to remain abnormal. Thanks...
Now then, back to Bruce..or rather Caitlyn Jenner. Love the name choice by the way. Caitlyn is perfect for her. Thank goodness she went with a C instead of a K because that would just been too korny. Okay, I'll stop, I swear! 
My kids are happy for her. Yes, my children. I have kids that range in age from almost 6 to almost 12. All of the children thought Caitlyn looked so pretty in her "new skin" on the cover of Vanity Fair. My oldest son said, "Mom, that's the dad from Keeping up with the Kardashians? He looks like a woman...Wow...he did a great job with his makeup!" 
Now here's a little background. Along with the Kardashians, one of my other reality show faves is RuPaul's Drag Race. It's different, kind of edgy, and extremely entertaining. But more than that, it's allowing a forum for people to gain more understanding of the LGBTQ community. Yes, there are men dressing in drag on the show but it's much deeper than just amazing makeup, hair and glamorous clothes. RuPaul brings about awareness of the struggles these queens face on a daily basis. You learn about the individuals on the show. Their struggles with being accepted by family and friends. Their heartbreak when people judge them so harshly for their lifestyle choices. Their frustration when they are told that they're not normal. Drug addiction, suicide, depression, isolation, that is the norm many of those in the LGBTQ community face, especially as teenagers.

Why aren't they normal? I firmly believe that there are people who feel different. People who know in their heart they were meant to be someone else. When people throw religious views into this situation (don't even get me started on the WBC and their picket signs!) it sickens me. Who's to say that God didn't make gay, transgendered or other people who don't fit the societal norm just to test us? He wiped us out with a flood once because the world wasn't what he wanted it to be. So why couldn't he have made humans to be different just to teach his followers to love EVERYONE regardless of the situation? Is that too complicated for God to have done? I think not. He's God...he can do what he wants! 

Acceptance, humility, compassion...that's what the world needs more of. Hate breeds hate. Honestly, how can anyone hate something they don't understand? This applies to most every situation, if not all, from cultural differences to religion to lifestyle choices. You cannot hate something that you do not have a full understanding of. End of story. 

Now then, my kids watch RuPaul's Drag Race with my husband and I. Some people might disagree with that, and that's their choice. But as a parent it's my duty to try to help my children understand that there are a plethora of individuals who walk this earth and the best way to succeed in life and make a mark is to be accepting. Being able to have that mentality allows you to have a larger circle of friends and to embrace all the unique qualities of every single one of those friends. My kids are growing up with the knowledge that this world can be a cruel place and I'm doing my best to arm them with the tools to help combat that cruelness. 

We turn reality shows into life lessons. There was a recent episode of RuPaul's Drag Race where the drag queens were shown a picture of themselves at a younger age and asked what they would say to that child now. The answers were heartbreaking and the tears flowed from their eyes. You could hear the sadness in their voices but you could also see that they had the spirit to endure and persevere. That's why they're still standing. They didn't give up. They fought to get to where they currently are and by doing so they showed all their haters that they can handle anything life throws at them. 

When my kids watched that episode, it clicked for them. I could see the wheels turning. They understood that these aren't just men in costumes. These are humans that are fighting to let their true colors show. Now couple this show with Bruce Jenner's transformation and it's allowing individuals all around the world to see that this real. 

These individuals exist everywhere. It's showing up more and more in the worldwide news, not just the United States. People are fighting for their rights. Gay marriage and rights, transgender and gender equality. It's all around us. Don't we all have something we're fighting for in this life? If it's worth the fight, shouldn't we be given the right? (Maybe I should put that on a T-Shirt if it's not already..hmm..)

I have a variety of friends in the LGBTQ and while personally that's not my lifestyle, it doesn't matter. They are my friends and I love them tremendously for everything they stand for. It takes courage in this world to fight for what you believe in and I can only hope I live to see the day when it doesn't require a fight to be yourself. Acceptance is key. 

10 Life Lessons:

1. Be true to yourself, no matter what others think.
2. Love yourself.
3. Be brave in the face of adversity.
4. Stand up for what you believe in.
5. Love those around you even if they're different. 
6. Different is beautiful. 
7. Drag queens have the best hair and makeup. 
8. Do not give up on your dreams or you'll be letting yourself down.
9. Teach your children to be accepting of everyone around them.
10. Moisturize. (Seriously, have you seen RuPaul's skin?)

In the words of RuPaul, ConDragulations, Caitlyn Jenner, you're a beautiful woman inside and out. Keep being an ambassador in the public eye for all of those who are too scared to stand up for themselves. This is one step closer to a world where people will be truly free to be who they are. 

On a side note: I'm not trying to say that all gay people are transgendered or all trans-people are gay. I'm just writing a blog talking about issues that are currently on my mind. I know there's a difference so before people start ranting about me being  a "straight woman with no knowledge of the LGBTQ community" understand that I know the difference.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Author Spot Light: T.K. Leigh


      In celebration of her book release of Heart of Light this week, I decided to sit down (at the computer) and interview T.K. Leigh so that her fans, new and old, could get to know a bit more about her.

      I was trying to figure out how I could help spread the word of her book release while making it more personalized and that’s when it happened. I came home from work Thursday morning and thought, “I’m going to interview T.K. Leigh today!” I had never spoken to her aside from posting comments on Facebook so I was nervous when I typed up the message to her.

      I waited until Facebook chat said she had “seen” the message and then I held my breath. Often times when I consider approaching an author, especially one in which I am a fan, I have expectations of who they are and for whatever reason I fear that they will not respond because I am just another reader.

      As I held my breath and the seconds ticked by I thought that perhaps T.K. Leigh was in that league of unavailable authors, forever out of reach of her fans. Now don’t get me wrong, I have seen her post on Facebook and answer her fans on more than one occasion, but I knew she was busy preparing for her latest book release and assumed that she would think my interview to be an added burden to her already busy schedule.

      As the words appeared in the chat box I squealed with happiness, “Hi, hun. I can absolutely do an interview. I'm a bit limited on time because I have a book signing this weekend but I can *try* to get responses to you today.”

      My husband obviously thought I was demented by this point as he stared and simply shook his head. I rambled on and on about how I had scored an interview on a whim and though he congratulated me I could see that he was obviously questioning my sanity. Perhaps the night shift had finally gotten to me.

      I feverishly attacked my keyboard with the intensity of a sleep-deprived writer, assaulting its delete key as I reworded my questions over and over again. I knew my window of opportunity was small and I hoped I still had time to climb through before Mrs. Leigh moved onto another room.

      As I finally accepted defeat and realized that I needed to ignore my inner critic and just send the damned questions, I looked away from the mouse and clicked send. Instantly I tried to undo my mistake but it was too late, the questions were already hurtling through cyber-space to the email of T.K. Leigh.

      From that point on, I spent the entire morning refreshing my gmail account, checking Facebook, and asking myself why I thought it was a good idea to send that email? And that’s when it appeared, T.K. Leigh’s response to my interview….it went something like this...


Kim: How would you define your writing style?

T.K.: "That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I have a style that is unique. The story kind of leads me and dictates my style, I guess. My Beautiful Mess series as well as Heart of Light are all romantic suspense stories so I chose to write them in third-person POV so that the reader gets more information than the main characters, but are still left hanging just slightly so that they keep turning the pages. I love evoking emotions from my readers. So I guess my writing style is suspense-driven but still evokes a wide range of emotions."

Kim: What is it that sets you apart from other authors?

T.K.: "I’m not sure there’s any one thing that sets me apart. I’d like to say it’s because all my characters are relatable in some way. Yes, in my Beautiful Mess series, the male main character, Alexander, had money, but he didn’t flaunt it. In Heart of Light, my main characters are every day people looking for love and dealing with their past. And I think we all do that. We can all connect and relate to these people in some way, shape or form. So I think being able to develop characters that my readers can connect to sets me somewhat apart."

Kim: Why write?

T.K.: "Why not? I didn’t start writing to actually publish, to be honest. A story popped into my head one day and I wanted to write it. I’ve always been a very avid reader, so I thought it would be fun to try my hand at writing. I never imagined being able to do this full time and I’m so grateful that I can."

Kim: What genre do you prefer to write?

T.K.: "Well, all my books are romantic suspense. I love a mystery / suspenseful story with some romance involved. I just finished writing my first New Adult / Coming of Age book, Heart of Marley, and I’m very proud of that book. It’s a bit different as it’s not a typical romance. Yes, there are a few romantic relationships in the book, but it’s more of a journey to self-discovery and moving on from your past."

Kim: What genre do you enjoy most when you are the one doing the reading instead of the writing?

T.K.: "I’ll read anything if it’s a good story. The only genre that doesn’t do anything for me is paranormal. I’ve tried to get into it, but I just can’t. Which makes no sense because I love watching The Vampire Diaries."

Kim: Is there anyone in your life who influenced you to start writing?

T.K.: "Not writing, per se, but I remember always going to the library with my dad when I was a little girl. I loved going on Saturdays so I could pick out a few new books to last me through the week. So I’ve always been a big reader and it’s because my parents instilled a love of books and reading when I was a little girl. So I guess it’s a natural progression to want to try to write, too."

Kim: Who is your biggest support system in regards to your writing?

T.K.: "My husband. I wrote my entire Beautiful Mess series without his knowledge while he was on the road for work. It was just something to keep me occupied. I had no intention of publishing it. Well, after I had most of the story done, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I tried to pick up a bunch of different books, but I couldn’t get into them, so I decided to look into having my manuscript Beta read. My betas came back and LOVED it so I decided to take the plunge and publish. When I told my husband about it, he read all three books within a 4 day period of time and has been my biggest fan since then."

Kim: When did you first know that you wanted to write a book?

T.K.: "I guess when an idea popped into my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I decided to write. And now, I can’t stop the voices in my head, in a good way, of course."

Kim: Everyone dreams of a job that is the epitome of what they enjoy most. I noticed your status update on Facebook the other day with the hashtag #TakeYourLawyerJobAndShoveIt, do you hope to be able to put this part of your life behind you some day and focus solely on your writing?

T.K.: "I actually already have. I’m one of the fortunate ones that is able to write full-time"

Kim: Favorite ice cream?

T.K.: "That new Breyers gelato is sinful."

Kim: I enjoy a glass of wine and a good book, but my wine choice usually depends on the kind of book that I’m reading. I drink sweet wine, such as Moscato, when I know for certain that I’ll be reading something sad. I think the reason being is that the sweetness of the wine allows me to handle the sadness of the story. (Ice cream works in place of wine too during these heartbreaking times.) Have you ever noticed yourself doing something similar? 

T.K.: "When I’m working on my books and I know I’m getting to a particular part that I am dreading having to write, I definitely pop some wine… Usually Chardonnay. It helps take the edge off a bit."

Kim: What would you say to an individual who is trying to find their footing in the world of writing?

T.K.: "Don’t give up. It’s such a huge task writing a book and then marketing it. Some days are better than others but you have to constantly go back to the reason you started writing in the first place. Was it to make money? I hope not because you’re in the wrong business. Was it to share your stories with other people? If so, then you’re doing that."

Kim: What is one of your biggest pet peeves?

T.K.: "Slurping your soup… Drives me crazy."

Kim: As an author, what do you find most challenging when going through the process of creating, editing, and marketing a book?

T.K.: "The most challenging is when I’m getting ready to release. I spend so much time marketing… I’m always on FB interacting with my readers and trying to meet potential readers. I just pray that all the hours upon hours I’ve spent marketing weren’t for nothing."

Kim: If you could meet some of your favorite authors, who would you “fangirl” over if you were able to meet them in person and snag an autographed copy of your favorite book by them? 

T.K.: "Everyone laughs at my answer… Hunter S Thompson… I would have loved to meet him while he was still alive."

Kim: Do you prefer the indie market or something more mainstream when publishing your work?

T.K.: "I love the control I get in the indie marketplace. I have yet to receive an offer that had me drooling enough to ever want to leave this indie world."

Kim: What is something that you would like to tell readers about your upcoming novel Heart of Light?

T.K.: "Be prepared for a bit of an emotional roller coaster. You’ll be laughing one moment and then crying the next. Then your heart will be racing with all the suspense."

Kim: You seemed to have literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into this book. The story focuses on human trafficking and a world that many people might not know much about. What made you decide to raise awareness for a cause that plagues America, not to mention the world, on a daily basis?

T.K.: "Actually, I kind of wrote this in response to the growing trend of dark romance novels that seem to be gaining popularity. I remember going through Facebook one day and I saw a comment to the effect that a reader would want some main character to kidnap her and have his way with her and it got me thinking, wondering if people really understood how huge the problem of human trafficking is. I was quite familiar with the extent of it from my time in the criminal law field but over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing what I’ve researched with my readers and I think it’s opening their eyes to the fact that this is a problem, not just in third world countries, but in our own back yard. They don’t just target immigrants or low income minorities. They target the girl next door. One of the popular methods of luring girls and then kidnapping is used in my book, Heart of Light. It’s real. It happens. Tens of thousands of people die every year from human trafficking and I just wanted people to think twice about it."

Kim: The research that went into exploring this dark, underground world of enslaving individuals, mainly women must have been exhausting. How did you keep yourself grounded while learning about what these people endure?

T.K.: "I guess I’m fortunate, if you could call it that, that I have a background in the criminal law field. I’ve worked for the Victim’s Advocate before working for the state’s attorney’s office and you start to learn how to distance yourself. You never do so entirely, but you learn to compartmentalize, I suppose. The research was important to me. Yes, it’s a fictional account, but the methods you see used are real. I guess I was able to keep myself grounded by hoping that this book will help some people think twice about this enormous problem this country and world faces. Some of the statistics are absolutely staggering and hopefully my readers will take something away from it… Even if it’s something as simple as telling their husband or kids that they love them."

Kim: Raising awareness for this cause is a huge undertaking, especially when writing a novel about it, are you nervous about the reviews? When Heart of Light goes live to the public, what will you be doing?

T.K.: "I hate to say it, but I’ve learned to not worry about reviews too much. It’s impossible to please everyone so I don’t try anymore. I write for myself, first and foremost. I tell the story I want to tell. If my readers connect with it, that’s the icing on the cake for me. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my readers and I love being able to give them story after story. But I no longer read every single review. You’ll drive your crazy trying to write a book that makes everyone happy. I wrote a book that I am DAMN proud of. I loved my Beautiful Mess series, but Heart of Light is my favorite… So far. And wen it goes live, I do believe I’ll be popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate." ;-)


Kim: Is there anything else you would like readers, both your fans and those who are new to your work, to know?

T.K.: "I love you all!!!" :)

T.K. Leigh, it was a pleasure to read your responses to my questions and get to know you better. Thank you for taking the time out of the madness that you call your schedule, to answer all of those questions. You are a great author and your fans truly appreciate how you're willing to reach out to them every chance you get. Good luck with the Heart of Light release!  

Don't forget to join the week long celebration of  her book release for Heart of Light on Facebook! There will be a ton of giveaways and fun to be had! PARTY OVER HERE!!!!!

For more information on T.K. Leigh please visit her at the following links: 

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Lost Myself to Motherhood.

When my first child was born,  I was terrified. Being two months shy of my 19th birthday I was practically a kid myself. I was married and thought I was ready for motherhood but you're never truly ready for it. I know some people might disagree and say, "I was ready when I had my child! I was prepared!" But that's a lie. You are never fully ready to be a mother.

I remember how I felt the first moment I held my son as I looked down at his swollen, little, pink face. I was scared. Don't get me wrong I was happy too, but I thought to myself, "Oh, my God...this little, pink, blob of cuteness..his survival in this world is dependent on...me."

Maternal instincts kicked in but they were primitive at best. Feed, change, coddle...rinse repeat. There were times when he cried, his screechy voice piercing my eardrums and breaking my heart because I couldn't console him. I learned that was gas.

There were other times, especially when he started eating "big boy" food that I would freak out because the color of his poop wasn't normal. I learned that food dye in fruit loops makes baby poop resemble stinky rainbows.

I watched as this little being started to crawl on his own...then to walk. I became completely obsessed with making sure that no harm could come to him. My life was consumed with his safety. My life was consumed with making him happy. My life was absolutely consumed with everything about him. It didn't help the fact that I felt like he was all I had because this was the time period in which my first marriage dissolved. Some things are just not meant to be and when you are young you don't always listen to those who know better.

I lost myself to motherhood.

When I became a mother of multiple children I lost myself even further. My life revolved around my children and when it wasn't all about them, I was trying to stay sane. I had lost my identity. I only thought of myself as a wife and mother. I lived for my family but I had no identity outside of motherhood.

Now, some of you might be thinking to yourself, "Why is that so bad? You are a mother. Your life should be about your family. How can you be so selfish?" If you're thinking those things then you obviously aren't a mother or you're telling lies to yourself.

Being a mother is a beautiful gift and something I wouldn't change for the world, but when I say I lost myself, I truly mean it. I lost who I was and became only a mother. I couldn't define myself in any other way other than, "I'm a mother of four."

You may still be wondering why that's a bad thing and that's fine...keep reading and hopefully you'll get my point sooner or later.

It's okay to identify yourself as a mother, but that's just one of many hats you wear. Becoming a mother causes you to change your entire perspective on life. You have to carry yourself differently. At times it even holds a stigma and if you don't fit a certain mold then people judge you.

My first run in with judgmental people was when I went into a grocery store with all of the kids. I had a woman ask me if those were my siblings. She then proceeded to scoff at me when I told her that they were all my children. I have also had people say, "how old are you?" after they ask me how old my oldest child is. I can almost see the wheels turning in their head as they count down to how old they think I was when I had my first child.

Nobody asks if they're my step child, they just assume that I was a teen mother. I usually see mixed expressions at this revelation from anything to a look of pity to a look of disgust. This used to really bother me, but now I take it with a grain of salt because I know the truth and that's all that matters to me.

In the earlier years of my relationship with my second/current husband I simply saw myself as his girlfriend and the wife of our children. Together we had a blended family and I was happy. The new relationship, the happiness that I felt once again, renewed who I was. I became Kim again. I put my own needs first but was still able to do so while being a mother at the same time. That was the first time I realized that motherhood didn't define who I am.

But it didn't last...I lost myself to motherhood again. I had a slight taste of freedom but let it slip through my fingers.

"But Kim, why would you want to be free from motherhood?"

Let me explain this so that you understand what I'm saying. I did not want freedom from motherhood in the least...but I wanted to not be completely defined by motherhood. I wanted to show my kids that you can be more than a mom. You can have a career and do things for yourself and still be an awesome mom but also have your own things going on at the same time. I wanted to show my kids that it's okay for mom to have a life separate from being a parent.

Yes, I am a mother. I am a wife. First and foremost, my husband and my children are the most important people in my life. I would die for them. I would do whatever it takes to make them happy...and my life is consumed (in the best ways possible) with being a wife and mother.

But, at the end of the day, in order to keep your sanity and be able to function like a normal person you cannot forget to take care of yourself. In my case, I needed to learn how to take care of Kim. I needed to nurture my needs some too. As a mother you put everyone before yourself. That is part of our primitive maternal instincts.

Even in the littlest moments you always put your family first. From meals to sleep...you always end up putting everyone else before yourself. If I make a meal I usually always make my plate last. I serve my kids and husband first, then once they're all settled I serve myself. If I want to take a bubble bath, everyone else showers/bathes first then I grab a book and hop in the tub..usually to find that the hot water has been used or is very limited.

I go to sleep, almost always, last. I make sure that the kids are in bed and sleeping before my head hits the pillow. Every single noise in the house wakes me up so I usually don't sleep soundly unless I'm absolutely exhausted. I watch TV shows or movies that I wouldn't watch normally to make my kids happy. I sacrifice for my family and I would change absolutely nothing about that.

However, I have learned in the last few years to do things for me that make me happy too. Don't get my wrong, when my kids and husband are happy I am happy. There are some things that I like to do for me though, and it took me years to realize that it is okay to do things for myself.

It doesn't make me a bad mom. I'm not being selfish. I'm not depriving my family of something just because I go off on my own to do something just for me. More often than not I'd much rather share every happy moment in my life with my family, but sometimes it's okay to have a break. It's okay to sneak away and indulge in something that's not always "kid friendly" such as a glass of wine or and R-rated movie. 

I really started to find myself again when I decided to start working and to go to college. That gave me a more versatile identity and allowed me to be a little more independent. Prior to exploring these options my identity was dependent on my husband and kids. I was able make myself more well-rounded by getting a job and pursuing a college education. It's important to have other areas in your life in which you excel other than motherhood because as your children get older and less dependent on you, you begin to feel empty.

You know that those little people in your life are dependent on your for their every need but it's not until they grow up that you realize you are equally as dependent on them. If you don't have other things to fill the void that they leave as they start growing up and that dependency lessens then you are left wondering what to do with yourself.

I recently went on a trip to Vegas where I saw Britney Spears in concert, just my best girl friend and I. I missed my husband and kids terribly, but this was the first vacation I had EVER had without them. I needed some 'me' time and that was a memorable trip with a great friend. There were many things that I did where I thought, "Oh, my husband/child would've loved to seen that!" or "Awe, I bet my husband/kid would've enjoyed this.." but it was still nice to do something for myself.

I'm 28 now. I have been a mother for every bit of my 20's and it has taken me nearly all of it to realize that I had lost myself to motherhood and just recently began to find who I am once again. Mother is one of many titles that I proudly wear. I am a wife, mother, sister/cousin/aunt/niece, student, certified nursing assistant, cook, counselor, friend, avid reader, aspiring writer, and amateur photographer. I've got my head in the clouds, my nose in the books, one ear to the phone and the other ear listening to my children, all the while making dinner at the same time.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having 'me' time and doing things that I love. I mean, there are things that I love doing that my family probably wouldn't like anyway. I love to go out into nature for hours on end with a good book and a camera. I love reading and taking pictures. I love writing poetry and stories. I love yoga (though I haven't done it in a long time). I like certain bands and music that I know my husband and kids probably wouldn't like. There are certain things that are fitting of my personality but not necessarily something my husband or kids would want to do. It's okay for me to go off on my own and enjoy those things without them. It doesn't mean I love them any less, it just means that I'm finding a way to enjoy all the things I love.

Motherhood is about balance but I think in order to find the proper balance you must be able to nurture your family and yourself. By nurturing yourself it allows you to find happiness in all areas of your life and, in my opinion, it makes you a much better mother.

I remember the time I lost myself to motherhood, but I remember even more how I found myself again. 

I'm addicted...

...to music. 

I had you going there for a moment, huh? You thought I was going to confess some deep, dark, secret addiction in which you would get to silently judge me from behind the comfort of the screen in which you're hidden. It's okay, I forgive you. 

Seriously, I am addicted to music. Without music, my world would be consumed with the chaos of my every day life. Yes, I know my blog is titled, "The Beautiful Chaos of Motherhood and Life..." I'm aware of the irony of my statement. I don't mean to say that chaos is bad in this sense, but I know that music helps me to better balance it all.

Whether I'm blogging, doing homework, cooking, cleaning, or playing outside with the kids I typically always have music playing in the background. I feel that listening to music helps me concentrate better on the task I am performing. That could mean that I have some underlying ADD/ADHD tendencies that I've yet to address in my 28 years of life. Hmm...nevertheless music is my addiction. 

I listen to a variety of music which is usually dependent on my mood and the task I'm trying to complete. For example, I've found that if I'm blogging I can listen to a variety of things and the style doesn't really matter. But when I'm doing homework I prefer to listen to music that lacks words because it allows me to better concentrate. 

I get pickier when it comes to reading a book. It doesn't matter if I'm reading for pure enjoyment or if I'm editing a book, I try to match the music to the scene that I'm reading. I do the same when I'm writing. Adding mood music really helps me to get into the mind of the characters and I feel that some of my best writing occurs when music is my constant companion. 

When people ask me what my favorite genre of music is, it's really hard for me to explain it. I use the word eclectic quite often because that's the only way to truly describe my taste in music. It varies, as I mentioned previously in this blog. I've gone to such a mix of concerts that it's almost comical but I feel that it makes me well-rounded. 

The first concert I ever went to was Dwight Yoakam. Yes. Mr. Yoakam at Cumberland Gap, Kentucky. I was about 8 or 9 and we had went there on a family outing. I actually was able to meet him and talk to him. I thought it was the coolest thing..ever. I still look back at that memory fondly.

I went to many concert events when I was a teenager with my youth group from my childhood church. Even though it's not necessarily my style of music any longer, I still enjoyed myself at the time and listen to that genre of music on occasion when I want to hear a specific song.

In more recent years, I've seen Fly Leaf, In This Moment, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Britney Spears. Now, let that last sentence really sink in and think about those artists individually. I'm pretty sure I can imagine your facial expression and that humors me slightly. Eclectic, right

What I've been listening to as I write this blog post is more of the country variety. Hunter Hayes, Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood...etc. No particular reason other than I wanted to hear "Blown Away" and it snowballed from there. 

What draws me to music is not the genre but more so what I feel when I listen to it. If it evokes emotion or makes me feel good...then I'll listen to it. Sounds like a drug, right? If it feels good, do it?
I'll admit it, I am absolutely 100% addicted to music. It makes me feel good, so I'm definitely going to do (listen to) it. 

Do I need rehab for this? Nah. I'll continue to get my musically induced high as I float through life on lyrics, notes, and catchy hooks.

My kids also love and appreciate music. They've all been acutely aware of my love for music since before they could talk. If there's anything I've done flawlessly as a parent, I know it has been introducing them to a variety of music while nurturing their own personal preferences. 

Music is life.  

How do you feel about music? What's your favorite genre or do you listen to whatever feels right?  Do you have songs capable of inducing memories in which you feel like you're reliving that moment the second you hear the first note?