When Heather Huffman asked me to guest blog about any topic that I wanted, my first thought was-animals. It’s Heather Huffman after all. But then I thought about what animals symbolize for me. They serve as a balance of who I am and who I want to be. Animals align me in my world, whether it be in my writing struggles, parenting issues or those little frustrations that life throws my way. Pets and animals offer a simplicity that allows us to depart from the chaos that floats around in our mind on a daily basis and enter a world of quiet self-reflection. While my good friend Heather is surrounded by the sounds of farm animals and the quiet country nights, I am encompassed by the louder city life with two Newfoundland dogs who serve as my family pets.
As only another writer can understand, developing and launching a novel is a lot of hard work. The writing part is easy for us writers, it’s all the other things in life that sidetrack us, sending our world into a tailspin. With the recent release of Underwater Secrets, I’ve been caught up in the world of marketing and tying up last minute typos. With all the pre-launch stress, I have failed to give my furry kids any attention. They lie on the floor by my feet, loyal to my every move and command, so why should they be pushed aside because a new book has entered the world?
The other day I was feeling particularly bitter and stressed out. In the midst of it all I realized that I had had completely forgotten about my two dogs, Baxter and Brody. Instead of stopping to pet them as part of my daily ritual, I walked over their massive bodies or pushed them aside when they got in the way of my many back and forth trips from the kitchen to my office. I was consumed with my own life and had failed to remember what truly makes me happy-petting my boys and being surrounded by their soothing simplicity. It is one of the moments in my day that loosens up my tightly wound schedule and frees me from the clutter of thoughts that bounce around in my brain. After all, my dogs accept me for who I am, no questions asked.
So, I made a date with my dogs. I promised them that I would schedule a few minutes out of every day to pet them, brush out their messy mats and simply give them the attention they deserve. There is a reason that dogs are used for therapy and this is evident in the way they have taken me down from my whirlwind. So, as I do with all new book releases-I learn something. As a new book gets printed and sent out to the world, a little piece of me is shed and a new part of my life begins.
About the author: EJ Hanagan is a writer, fitness fanatic, obsessive reader and animal lover. She lives in a sleepy beach town outside of Boston with her husband, their new baby girl and their two giant Newfoundland dogs.
After spending four years in the Air Force, EJ put her fire for fitness to good use and worked as a personal trainer while going to college. If it weren't for the amazing, brave people that she met while in the military, she wouldn't have the passion that she does now, to focus on bringing awareness to veterans with PTSD. Her hope is to bring the invisible scars of war to the surface through her writing and community involvement.
Connect with EJ online:
Amazon | Facebook Author Page | Twitter
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About the time I get my feet under me with all of the different things competing for my attention, the season changes and my to-do list explodes all over again. We live in a busy world - sadly, exploding to-do lists are probably the norm. Still, I'm trying to shuffle things around and realign priorities so I don't find myself too buried to enjoy any of the things I love - writing being at the top of that list. I think I'm getting close to finding that balance. Close-ish, anyway.
Another thing on that list is horseback riding. After Blake's accident, it took me a while to love riding again. He was ready to hop back in the saddle long before the rest of us were - I'm guessing it's because he slept through the scary parts while we got a front row seat. I'm thankful for my patient and sweet mare, Dixie. She was coming back from an injury of her own when our paths crossed. It's taken us three years, but we seem to have finally "fixed" each other. My boys and I have decided this is the summer to wade back into the world of horses. No more hanging out at the shoreline for us!
So, in addition to our full springtime schedule of getting the garden in and fencing off new pastures, we've added building a new horse shed to the to-do list. (I think the alpacas will be sad to lose their horse buddy, though. They think she's their leader.)
Christopher, the youngest, has caught the bug big-time. He spends every waking moment on all things horse and several hours a day working with Dixie, trying to teach her new things and letting her teach him. This summer, his birthday present will be a foal from the appaloosa breeder where we bought Dixie. He's already decided to name him Apollo Butterworth so he can call him Appy Butt. We get to meet him in June and pick him up at weaning - around August or September. I'm trying not to wish away my summer, but I'm as excited as he is!
We're still deciding who else to add to our herd. The decision making process makes me think I need more land. (And I'm gonna need a bigger barn...)
I realize that getting serious about horses again will do absolutely nothing good for my exploding to-do list, but it's done wonders for my soul. And the goats aren't too jealous.
Today's guest is a woman I greatly admire. She brightens this world with her beauty and has made it her mission to help others realize how beautiful they are. I met her through my book blog, Word Menagerie. I agree to review her indie book, Entertaining Angels, as part of a book tour. I found it - and her - completely enchanting. When I took the helm at Vox Dei, I asked Emerald if she would be interested in republishing under our imprint. Thankfully, she was, and Entertaining Angels became the first book to launch from Vox Dei under my direction. I'm so thankful to have Emerald as part of the Vox Dei team, and I'm thrilled to be introducing her on the blog today. (Actually, I was supposed to do this yesterday, but as is always the case these days, I'm running late!) ~Heather
If there’s one thing that I want to do, it’s help girls/women/men feel beautiful and worthy of love. So often we get lost in letting the pressure of today’s society beat us down and tell us that we’re worthless, that we’ll never be pretty or good looking. Well, that’s a lie. We’re all beautiful! We’re all worthy!
Since the moment I first began writing Entertaining Angels, it was a “take that society, this fat chick can find love” novel, but as I dove deeper into it, I realized that it wasn’t about finding love. It was about learning to love ourselves. The real message of this book was to prove that despite how we look, be it fat or skinny, we’re beautiful and deserving of our own love. Our body image doesn’t determine WHO we are; it’s just a small part of the real person. It’s the package, so to speak. Who we are is more than our looks, our status, or how much money we have. It’s about who we are on the inside, and to me, once we accept who we are for our “flaws” and all, we’re one step closer to realizing how truly beautiful we are! We’re one step closer to really loving ourselves.
My main goal is to help girls/women/men see that what they look like doesn’t determine WHO they are. I’m fat, and that’s okay. My health is fine, and yes, I realize that if I were in a smaller weight class, I’d feel better, etc, and I’m in the process of trying to fix that for myself. I’m NOT losing weight because I feel like I HAVE to to be beautiful. I’ve finally reached that point in my life where I’m doing because I want to, not because I “have” to.
And that’s what I’m trying to get other people to see through my #youarebeautiful campaign. We’re constantly surrounded by ads telling us that we have to lose weight. We can’t wear “this” if we aren’t [insert a super tiny size here], and that’s not the case. If you want to wear skinny jeans, wear them. If you want to wear shorts, wear them. We don’t have to worry about what other people think because we know we’re beautiful. But, if you don’t know how beautiful you really are, you will worry. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced that feeling for the better part of my entire (soon to be) 28 years of life.
I’ve just now decided that I don’t care what people think of me because the One who matters the most already said I was beautiful. God created me, knowing exactly what I was going to look like, and I’m still here because He loved me enough to form me in my mother’s womb.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 has pretty much become our “battle cry” for this #youarebeautiful campaign. “He hath made everything beautiful in His time…” God has made EVERYTHING beautiful. That’s me; that’s you; it’s the woman in the grocery store, and the man walking down the road. It’s the kid with down-syndrome in the mall with her mother. It’s you, and it’s me. We are all beautiful, and I have such a desire to spread the word about this because I want you to know just how truly beautiful you are!
You deserve to feel worthy. You deserve to feel beautiful, and you deserve to love yourself instead of hate the reflection staring back at you. You’re a child of God, and He has made everything (everyone) beautiful!