I did it….

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So I finally did it. I have been in the process of writing this book for years. The idea was to write a gritty real-life fiction based on my life. What instead came to pass is a real-life version but more of a small chapter- how to guide to survive. I have survived 2 abusive relationships, sexual abuse as a child by a neighbor child, and more. I don’t shy away from it. Most of my friends know a little about it if not all of it but I do think that others can be helped by my story of survival.

I don’t whine about my past- it happened. I grew from it and I am thankful for most of it. It made me who I am today. I share a tongue and cheek way of coping. I am sarcastic and I laugh my way through it. Was it always easy? NO? But did I overcome it all ?? YES I did.

I went to therapy for a few years and that helped tremendously. I think this book shares real life suggestions on how to cope and I hope you learn from it and realize that no matter what you are going through you can Continue to Live and Flourish each and every day.

Check out my new book Continue to Live and Flourish- a guide to surviving it all today!

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The Universe knocks and you answer

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When the Universe knocks at your door, answer it. Open that door up, let the sunshine pour in and just go. If the opportunity feels right and you sense a good thing coming, jump on it, go for it, and run toward it. I recently found myself with an opportunity at hand, a new job prospect. I wasn’t looking for a job. I wasn’t seeking this, it sort of fell into my range of sight.

I was on a friend’s Facebook page and I came upon a job advertisement. I read it and it sounded intriguing but I wasn’t looking for a job yet so I read it and left it to think about. I had posted a response about how the job sounded intriguing and that I might be a good fit. A few hours later I went back to it and there was a post from the person hiring. Long story short, we began a conversation via messages back and forth and I was booked for a job interview. I hadn’t officially applied it sort of just happened. This was on March 15th and we met for the interview on March 26th.

Walking in, I was nervous. I was nervous because the last job I officially had been in 2011 at the kid’s school. The last more professional job I held was before I had kids. I worked in an office as an administrative assistant for a dean at the college I had graduated from. I revised my resume and figured what the heck? I knew I had the skill set for the job and I knew I had the abilities but would it be a good fit. In about 10 seconds after the initial introductions I felt at ease and the conversation flowed and the opportunity presented itself to be a real amazing one and I jumped at the chance.

I have always been an avid researcher. I began my “research career” unintentionally. I knew my husband had a genetic seizure disorder and I wanted to be fully educated on the topic before we had kids so when I got pregnant with our first child, I began to study up on it. I found out quickly that there was not a lot of information readily available. I checked out a variety of websites and began to dig into the medical websites and texts. I found out what caused the disorder, who would get it, and what the genes were. I was able to present that to our OB/GYN and provide some basic information for him. It proved to be very useful for the doctors to learn about it before he was born so they could be prepared. It helped us prepare.

Since then I continued the research on the familial neonatal seizure disorder and after our 3rd child was born was able to work closely with our neurologist and not put our 3rd child on any medication for the disorder. Instead we tried alternative treatments and it worked. I began to realize that I had a skill set that could prove useful in the workforce but alas three kids under age 3 and it wasn’t in the cards at the time.

My friends learned about my skills, so in my spare time I would do research for them. It usually was some sort of medical issue. Food allergies, skin conditions, elderly care issues, I researched them all and I provided good documented results. I began to toy with the idea of making a website. My husband bought the url- allieknows.com and it was awesome but it didn’t pan out. It was a great concept- taking questions, providing answers and more but it wasn’t a money-maker and I really didn’t have the time with 3 kids under age 7 in the mix.

I put my research skills on the back burner and I began to work at the kid’s school in 2011. It was a fun job. I was a one-to-one para professional for a student who only spoke Mandarin. I was able to learn some Mandarin and help him acclimate to an American school as well as teach him his 1st grade lesson plan. It was an enriching experience. In 2012, our youngest experienced an allergic reaction to mold found within the school building, and we began homeschooling all 3 kids in the fall of 2012. I taught them, found resources for them and provided all sorts of cool things for them to do to provide educational opportunities. This journey ended in August 2017 when they decided to all return to public school.

Now that a gap was left in my day- I began to ponder what to do with my time. Get a job? Clean the house? Visit with friends? Do genealogy research on the family? What should I do? And so last month I asked the Universe “If there is something out there for me to do, can you give me a nudge?” Well dang if the Universe didn’t answer and help me along. I am excited to start this new venture and utilize my research skills.

I am the new, Research Assistant at the WWII Research and Writing Center. I am positively honored to be in a position to walk the footsteps of the American Soldiers I have been tasked to research. I am in awe of all the data available to interpret and I look forward to new challenges and to utilize the skill set I inherently have.

So when the Universe knocks at your door, open it, as you never know what opportunity will arise and how your life can change in an instant.

Brownies…

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I want to bake brownies, and be in love and watch my kids grow up forever. For now, for this week that can all be true. My kids have their first Spring break since going back to school and that’s how it’s all starting. I’m in love with my husband- we had an unplanned Thai dinner date last night- I am baking brownies- 2 kinds Smores and double chocolate. I am also going to watch my kids grow this week while we are on a stay-cation.

Brownies can fix all things, well most things. I can’t wait to try the Smores version- they look so yummy and smell even better. The double chocolate are on route to Meghan’s friend’s house later and Quinn is having a friend over. Cole isn’t sure what he’s up to later- he may go with Meghan or he may stay here to hang out with Quinn and company. Either way- it’s a great way to start our first Spring Break.

No matter the weather next week, we will have a great week. John might take an afternoon off and we can go do fun things together. So for now I’m going to enjoy a brownie and a glass of milk and for this short moment in time- all is right in the world.

Sleep

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Sleep is a funny thing. I haven’t slept more than 5 hours in 8 to 10 weeks, since our dog got diagnosed with a huge mass on her spleen. She needed to go out 5-7 times a night and I was on overnight duty. I would go to bed as early as 9pm so I could get a few hours of sleep as my husband would taker her out at 11pm. I would sleep til 1:45am or 3:22am or…and the nights got long. But thankfully due to the season, I was able to watch Holiday movies overnight or catch up on blogging or whatever. I drank way more coffee than any human should to make it through the day but our dog was having good days, albeit bad nights, and the kids were happy that she was doing ok. That all ended on Friday when our dear Snickers passed away at 2:20pm. She had gone to doggie daycare as normal on a Friday and they called me saying she wasn’t doing well at noon. I ran to get her, did my part time driving job with her in the car. The boy in the car was even like “oh, she’s so cute” as she was just sleeping on her doggie blanket. She was happy to be with us but she wasn’t doing so well. The vet took us at 2pm and one look at her they knew and I knew walking in the door I wasn’t walking out with my dog.

It’s sad, yes, but it’s ok. The weird thing is, is that since Friday I have slept 8-10 hours each night and I feel sleepier than I did on no sleep. HUH? I swear I have been on alert and hyper-vigilant for weeks and that kept my adrenaline up. I was healthy- never got a cold the whole time. I was awake and alert and high functioning the whole time. I am now a big pile of mush. I have a headache, a sore throat, a stuffed up nose and I am exhausted after having gone to bed last night at 8pm and waking up at 6am. That’s what- TEN hours of sleep and I feel worse than not sleeping? What the heck? It could be the release of the adrenaline after weeks of being ON, and it could also be just grief. She’s our dog, and I’ve always been one to be like “no matter what they are only a dog..” but she was my cuddle buddy. She was my walking companion, she was my reason to get my butt off the couch and get outside person. Yeah- she was more than a dog to me and to the whole family.

What’s hard is that she is the third dog who has died in 3 years. Tyke fell ill and died in October 2015. We adopted Scout in August of 2016 and he was dead by late September due to a weird infection that he must have had from the shelter. We adopted Snickers in October of 2016 and just 15 months later she’s gone. We are not going to get another dog. I promised my husband that we would not (this after promising him we wouldn’t get one after Tyke – I kinda had my fingers crossed behind my back on that one). We will get our doggie love from our neighborhood dogs and from visiting the shelter but we don’t need another one right now. We need to rest, grieve and be busy. Our kids are teenagers now and have so many after school and weekend activities that it was me with Snickers 24/7 and them for 10 minutes here and there. I am open to another dog but I know we won’t be getting one and I have to be okay with that. I will just have to walk my friends instead to get my exercise (ha ha ha).

Sleep is a funny thing- you need it- we all need it but apparently you can live without it for a stretch while someone else needs you. When that ends you not only need to catch up on sleep you need to reboot your body so you can function. I will work on the reboot this week. That’s the interesting thing about this, I have gained 15lbs in the past 10 weeks of not sleeping. I imagine my metabolism shut down due to being in survival mode or something. Either way- I am on a mission. I saw a # on the scale that I haven’t seen since early 2000 so I am determined to get rid of the excess 25lbs and reboot my body. Meanwhile I might go back to sleep.

Books

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I love books and it’s no wonder that my first real job aside from babysitting was at the public library. I have always been a reader. From reading all of the Trixie Belden series when I was a kid to joining a book club in Massachusetts to my newest one here in Palatine, IL, I love books. The latest book we read was Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was easy to read but some of us thought it was depressing and a bit hard to read. I didn’t feel that way but maybe that’s because of my life experience and the fact that I related to Eleanor. Either way- reading books as an adult is fun. You get time to yourself and if you are in a book club it culminates with good food and wine! What more could you want?

Great books make good company, they fill the voids of insomnia and it’s just fun to read. I find a sunny spot, curl up in a chair, and get into it. I am a read-all-at-once kind of reader. I will read my book club books in about 3 days in 3 large chunks. I have a busy life and don’t have time to read daily although that is my new goal. I can only imagine how many books I could read if I read an hour before bed. My kids all read before bed. It was a habit we established when they were babies. We read to transition them between day time activity and bedtime and they continued the habit into their tween/teenage years. I however lost the habit with the chaotic life we have had with little kids growing up and busy lives. I am grateful to my book club for getting me back into reading and I hope to reestablish evening reading soon.

What good books have you read lately? I highly recommend The Maddie Chronicles  by Hannah R. Goodman. They are well written YA that any adult would love. I also enjoy Deborah Nam-Krane’s book series The New PioneersThe first book, The Smartest Girl in the Room  is the first book in the series and I really like the books and the complex storyline. Both of these authors got me back into reading before I joined a book club. I met Hannah at the playground and heard about her books and began to read them and I also know Deb who was a fellow homeschooler that we knew back in Massachusetts. They also both have inspired me to write my 2 books. I am not quite done refining them and getting them ready for publication. I’ll be sure to post when they are available for purchase.

Meanwhile I am gearing up to read next month’s book, Stolen Beauty, and I can’t wait! Hopefully this book will be one that I can chug through during the entire month- reading a chapter a night. That would mean that I would in theory blissfully fall asleep each evening. That’s my New Year’s wish…so get out and get a good book and read more. It really is a wonderful past-time.

Editing Your Life

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Why does editing my book feel like editing my life? I’ve come to an impasse. I am not sure I want to finish it anymore. I mean I was all ready last week and now I’m like “nah I’m good.” I am not sure why. Part of me is nervous to share my life story, although I’ve shared a lot of it here so it should be ok. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in the “editing” stage and feel like I am editing my life. How can you edit your life? It’s not like you can delete aspects you didn’t like or parts you didn’t think you did well at. I think part of it is because I can’t include it all so I feel like I get to choose what I am sharing and what parts I am not and want to be sure I let the big things remain unedited. I don’t want to sugar coat what I’ve been through but I also don’t want to drag everyone through all the details. It’s a struggle.

I find no problem editing my real life. Editing in the sense of removing what is no longer beneficial or things that don’t bring me joy. I loved the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It helped me realize that if an item didn’t bring me joy I no longer needed it in my life or my home. That was life changing for me and made “editing” and decluttering my life so much easier. But editing a book? Do I look at it the same way? Do I read passages and say “If this doesn’t bring me joy then edit it out? Remove it.” I’m not sure what the answer is but I do know that I must try to edit my book and yet keep it real and authentic. It’s not a work of fiction, it’s reality, my reality and I think that scares me.

I grew up in a small seaside town in New England. I had a fairly sheltered childhood but a good one. I loved my parents and my sister and we summered in New Hampshire and we spent the year just a street away from the ocean. It was an idyllic place. I didn’t explore much beyond our neighborhood and I was rather awkward and shy as a kid. At the age of 10 I was abused by a neighborhood friend and my life was never quite the same since. It made it hard for me to want to live in the area and I couldn’t wait to get out. When I was 18 I met a guy who was nice enough and my first “love” and we moved in together. He was nice at first and eventually became abusive. I left him as much as it wrecked me to do so and I moved back home. I met another guy a year or so later and quickly moved out again and this relationship was extremely abusive. I had such low self esteem that I didn’t care and luckily made it out alive in 1998. In 1999 I met my husband and life has been pretty great ever since.

All of that and more is in the book and I have to figure out what to include and what not to. It’s working title is Continue to Live and Flourish: A Guide to Surviving it All. I think it’ll be good and it’ll be raw and it’ll be honest but it’ll also be funny and have moments where you want to laugh and want to cry. It’s been cathartic to write it but I had no idea the editing process would be so tedious. Part of me just wants to shut the door on it and leave it undone but I know that I can’t. I started writing it in 1998 and I put it down for 19 years and I can’t let it sit any longer. So after I write this I am going to get back at it. I plan to edit it daily for the next 30 days and hopefully I’ll get it self-published by the end of February.

Meanwhile I am going to ensure that my life is filled with joy. I am going to eat well and exercise (I’ve got 16 lbs that somehow found my body during the fall/winter thus far) and I want to experience my New Year’s wishes (going back to see family in June etc.). So I’m going to leave you for now and remember- our life is our life and we can only edit out the junk that weigh us down but we do not need to edit the content of our life. Each life experience, the good and the bad, is important and worthy. If I hadn’t experienced what I had in this life I wouldn’t be who I am today and I think who I am is worth every bit of it.

To Write or Not to Write

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I’m in the process of writing 2 books. I have one in the editing process that is called Advice from Allie and it’s a compilation of blog posts that I have expounded upon and look forward to sharing with the world. My second book which is a bit scarier to consider sharing is called Continue to Live and Flourish: A Guide to Surviving it All. This is a bit harder to share because it’s a personal story of what I have survived and it’s honest and raw and well it’s sort of like walking outside naked for all to see. I’ll never be ready to do that but I do think it’s time to share my story as I think it will be helpful to others as much as I’ll feel exposed.

I have been inspired by fellow writers, Hannah R. Goodman and Deborah Nam-Krane to share my story.  Both women I met while we lived in Massachusetts. Deborah Nam-Krane, I had the pleasure of meeting while in High School and we reconnected on Facebook when we found out we both homeschooled our kids. I immediately fell in love with her blog and her writing and I have read all of her Pioneer Series books and they are amazing. I met Hannah while at a playground in Southeastern Massachusetts and we began to chat. Although I only knew her in person for a short time we immediately connected on Facebook and I have followed her journey and kept in touch. Her writing is brilliant and she is an inspiration to me. Both women have self-published their books and I’m thrilled to say that Hannah just got a book contract. These women help me to be a better writer, better person and have hope for similar success.

I think that writing is a career choice that isn’t one that is easily accomplished. There is no easy way to make money and you find yourself writing for yourself as much as for anyone else. It’s a part-time job even if it’s full time and it’s a labor of love. Writers keep working on their craft over time and they grow and change as they write. I look forward to self-publishing both books in early 2018 and I hope to finish editing them this month. I know I will make mistakes and I hope to learn along the way. I know that friends like Deborah and Hannah will continue to help me strive for more and to be a better writer. I am lucky to know them both and I hope that you will check out their work and see for yourself what amazing writers they are.

I look forward to continuing my blogs both here and also Advice From Allie. I try to blog on each a few times a week and also work on editing both books. I feel like there is always the question- To Write or Not to Write? But I can’t help myself. I feel the need to share my thoughts, my advice, my inner most feelings and impressions. I think that I have something to say and I think it can help others. That’s my other passion, helping others. I feel like I can accomplish so much by simply sharing my story. Surviving abuse, domestic and sexual, processing it all thru therapy and getting diagnosed with PTSD, pursuing more therapy to work through that and then getting married and having 3 kids and dealing with a myriad of medical issues with the entire immediate family for the last 14 years. It’s been a struggle but one that I know I have overcome and I think some of the ways that I dealt with these challenges should be shared. I think that I can help people going through the same things and even people going through something different. I am living proof that you can Continue to Live and Flourish despite whatever you have experienced in your life. Life can be good and you simply have to choose to make it so.

I look forward to posting when my books have gone “live” until then see you soon.