“No but seriously. Normalize finding love in your 40's. Normalize discovering and chasing new dreams in your 30's. Normalize finding yourself and your purpose in your 50's. Life doesn't end at 25. Let's stop acting like it does.” - @mermaidmrym
I read the above tweet shortly before my 40th birthday and it spoke to my soul. I have never feared getting older. Not when it comes to wrinkles or gray hairs. I am perfectly happy going gray. I just found my first few gray hairs and was actually excited. Weird, I know. But I was. I earned those hairs. I earned these years.
Turning 40 wasn’t scary in most regards. But there was a brief moment in my late 30s where I started to feel like I had missed something. I found myself with regrets. I regretted not starting my writing journey sooner. I wondered if it would have been better to have had kids a little earlier. I questioned if I was too late to the game because approaching 40 was the first time in my life I felt like I really knew who I was and what I was doing and why I was doing it. Why couldn’t I have felt that way at 25? Couldn’t I have accomplished so much more in my life if I had started sooner?
The answer I came to was NO. I needed the years of trying. I needed the years of failing. I needed the years of learning. I needed the years of stretching and growing. I wasn’t ready at 25.
At 40 I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I am more confident in the person God has created me to be. I have more grace and more grit. I have thicker skin and a softer heart. I have the maturity needed to uphold the dreams I’m chasing. I also have a lot of life left in front of me.
Why do we feel like anything over 30 is the end of everything? Why do we worry about being “over the hill”? Why does there even have to be a hill? Why can’t it just be a path?
I choose a path. I choose to walk that path at the pace God has set for me—even if it feels slower than someone else’s. That choice has brought freedom and peace and renewed passion for my life. I released my regrets. I doubled down on my dreams. I trust in God’s timing in my life.
I do not fear getting older. I fear getting lazy. I fear getting boring. I fear becoming irrelevant. I fear feeling like life is almost over when really it’s just getting good. I didn't miss anything. I wasn’t late to anything. At 40, soon to be 41, I feel like my life is just opening up fully. Maybe I’m a late bloomer. Or maybe 40 is the new 25.
What do you think of when you hear someone say “childhood sexual abuse”? If you’re like most people, just hearing those words likely stirs up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings, even if sexual abuse hasn’t touched your life in any way. There’s a stigma and a taboo surrounding sexual abuse, but there shouldn’t be. If we have any hope of bringing light into the darkness of abuse, we have to be able to put aside our discomfort and talk about it.
Let me speak first to survivors. Shame thrives in the darkness of secrecy, but it can’t survive without the secret. The first and vital step toward healing is to speak. As impossible as it sounds, freedom from shame only happens by shining a light on the very thing you feel compelled to hide. All of the things you imagine happening if someone were to know your secret are just that—imaginings. I let those imaginings keep me silent for a lifetime. Please don’t let that happen to you. Freedom is found in speaking your truth. People who love you will still love you when they know. I promise. And it won’t change how they think about you either. To the people who know and love you, you are so much more than anything—even this—that happened to you.
So what if you’re not an abuse survivor? How can you bring light into the darkness of abuse? Well, you are the very people survivors need to be able to tell. One of the fears that kept me from sharing my story was the fear of how people would react. It’s a valid fear. Hearing those words come from the mouth of someone you know can be shocking and can stir up that discomfort I mentioned earlier. But it doesn’t have to.
I’ve come to know a young man who is a childhood sexual abuse survivor. Matt Pipkin is the founder of Speak Your Silence (www.speakyoursilence.org). Speak Your Silence is all about helping survivors find their voice and share their secret. But Matt has gone about his mission in a unique way. He’s reaching out to the people who will hear the stories! He wants to create an environment where survivors know they’re supported before they speak their first word, and he has a tangible way to do it—The Stitch. The Stitch is an orange zigzag sewn onto any piece of clothing or accessory that represents the voice frequency of survivors. I recently interviewed Matt and here is how he explained The Stitch.
“The Stitch is not simply to be worn by those directly affected by child sexual abuse, but by all of us. Imagine you’re in room surrounded by people you love and you have a story you’ve never shared before, due to fear, shame, and guilt. How much safer would you feel sharing your story if every single person in that room was wearing The Stitch?”
How cool is that? The other thing Matt told me in his interview was how he felt when he first shared his story with his mom and dad. They overwhelmed him with love. When he told me that, it brought me to tears. That is the reaction every childhood sexual abuse survivor deserves.
So…survivors, speak! And listeners, love overwhelmingly!
Speak Your Silence has other unique ways you can directly help abuse survivors. Check them out when you have a chance.
Niki Krauss is a Yankee by birth, a Southerner by choice, and a joy-filled lover of Jesus by grace. After twenty-four years of moving around the country as the wife of a Marine Corps aviator, she and her husband of forty years have settled in Charleston, South Carolina. Niki is the former assistant editor for the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of the United States Marine Corps, where she wielded her red pen for fifteen years. As a sexual abuse survivor herself, her most recent passion is leading faith-based support groups for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Connect with Niki online
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Little Girl Mended, Niki's powerful story of abuse and redemption, is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Happy Cover Reveal day to author Angela Whisenhant! The cover is absolutely gorgeous!
By Angela Whisenhant
Release Date: 10.27.15
About the book:
One bad decision can change your life forever. Alyson Carter has always put her family first, so the small town of Sage Grove is shocked to learn she’s abandoned them for a man she met online. Seeking a more exciting life, she moves to his horse ranch in Colorado.
Attempting to adjust to life without her, her husband, Kurt, accepts an opportunity to train with the FBI, reluctantly allowing their daughter, Lacy, to move in with a family friend. When the friend is kidnapped, it’s discovered Lacy was the intended target.
Pursued by unknown assailants who will stop at nothing to catch her, Lacy finds herself scared and alone. She turns to her mother for protection, unaware that her mother’s secluded mountain sanctuary has become a prison. Alyson discovers she’s merely a pawn in the deadly game of a man she thought she knew. Secrets and lies draw her family onto a collision course with cold-blooded killers.
Her ill-fated decision has placed them all in danger, and she is forced to confront her enemy head-on to protect herself and her daughter. Now she must depend on a God she turned her back on and the husband she left behind to save them both.
Check out the book on Goodreads.
About the author:
Angela has been a passionate reader her whole life and that love of reading developed into a love of writing. She is excitedly awaiting the publication of her first novel, Tangled Web. She wants to tell the stories of real people who make real mistakes and, yet find real redemption. People who are leading normal lives and suddenly find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes bad decisions. But either way they must live with the consequences.
Much of her inspiration comes from her life in a small town and her love of all things suspense. Her perfect storm is when the two collide. Crime in a small town impacts everyone because of the close ties.
Angela lives in Texas with the three loves of her life; her husband Leslie and sons, Kyle and Chase. Other than writing, she loves coffee, 80’s music, hiking in Colorado and HGTV. She aspires to live a joyful life, always chase her dreams and never settle for mediocrity.
Find her here:
Website | angelawhisenhant.wordpress.com/
Facebook | AngelaWhisenhantAuthor
Twitter | @angela_whiz
Book published by
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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
Add Underwater Secrets to Goodreads
Today's post is part "Person of the Week" and part "Leave Your Mark." I asked Becki Brannen to be a guest after reading her latest release, Stronger. It was a quick, engaging read that felt surprisingly light despite the dark topics it tackles head on. Becki and I have known each other via social media for a few years now. After finally sitting down to read one of her books, I was kicking myself for taking so long to do so. I was also even more impressed with her than I had been before. (And she was already one of my favorite online friends. The woman embodies sunshine.) Read her blog post, you'll see what I mean. She's such a cool person, and I'm lucky to call her friend. ~Heather
Stronger is, in part, my story, but in an entirely fictional way. That probably makes no sense, but it’s true. When I was a sophomore in college, I was sexually assaulted by a friend of mine. I was newly engaged and a virgin. Stronger is my fight back, albeit several years too late.
I wrote Hayley’s character to be someone you see every day in your life, someone who felt like the quiet girl you meet in the library, the woman who walks the hallways at work, never looking up, the girl you’d never guess is terrified of the world around her. You see, that was me, the timid girl who never made eye contact, long before I was ever assaulted. When it happened, I stood up for myself. I made eye contact; I confronted my attacker; I told the powers that be what happened. I took ownership of my life, determined not to be a victim, but a survivor. Hayley needed the same metamorphosis. She needed to be a survivor. After she is assaulted by her boyfriend, the man who degraded her, beat her and sexually assaulted her, she needed to fight back.
Most of my research for my books has occurred online. For Stronger, I reached out to a friend from high school. Rather than give me the education I requested, he instead told me I had to show up at the gym he’s a trainer at and learn to fight for myself. Wes’ character is not based on this friend, and the beginning of my story was written long before I reached out to him (despite the rumors at the gym, ha). I needed a character who believed in Hayley, and found her desirable without being a victim. Wes loved Hayley because she’s strong and his empowerment of her shows how a real man treats a woman.
At the gym, I threw myself into training headfirst, not looking back. I went to kickboxing classes two days a week, dragging myself home each time with cramps and aches – and a desire to return. I felt stronger, more powerful, and in control of my life. I had the edge that Hayley needed, something that Google could never provide. I had experience.
As I wrote Stronger, I realized Hayley needed support, not just from Wes and the others at the gym, but from a safe house. I realize how important these places are as they provide shelter, support, even basic toiletries to women in Hayley’s position – or worse. They help women reclaim their lives, something I know to be so important after a traumatic event or relationship.
Because of this, I decided to give 25% of all profits from the sale of Stronger to The Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia. It was important to me, after writing Stronger, to give back to the Crisis Line so that they can help women in the real world whose stories are like mine or Hayley’s. To date, I’ve given over $30.00 in royalties to the Crisis Line. It’s not much but I hope that it provides one woman in need with a few basic necessities as she reclaims her life. I hope that with something as simple as a toothbrush donated with love, she will feel STRONGER.
For more information about The Crisis Line & Safe House of Central Georgia, please visit www.cl-sh.org.
For more information about Stronger, and other books I’ve written, please visit my website. Twenty-five percent of all profits are donated to The Crisis Line to help women feel less like victims and allow them to realize their inner strength.
About the author:
Becki Brannen was born and raised in the South. She married her high school sweetheart and they have two daughters and a poodle, Sophie. Becki enjoys writing 'chick lit' with a Christian twist.
Connect with Becki online:
Twitter | @BeckiBrannen
Facebook | beckibrannen.author
Website | beckibrannen.weebly.com
I appreciate the chance to be a guest over at Lisa M. Gott's blog today. It's a great site; I highly recommend swinging by to check it out!
The Struggling Artist: Broken Bits and Everyday Life
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