Change is hard. Change is necessary. Change is (sometimes) scary.

I’ve never been one to dive headfirst into the water. I’m more of a dip my toe in, test it out, make a to-do list (first one toe, then two, then maybe a foot … you get the idea), and then, and only then, will I consider diving in headfirst.

I’ve often joked that as the product of a hippie mother and an ultra-conservative father, I fall smack dab in the middle of practical and impulsive. I dream of the freedom and fun that comes from being bold and impulsive, but I crave the stability of planning and routines. It’s a fun place to live.

This past year has been filled with all the cliches of personal growth. I spent a lot of time soul searching, even more time trying to unblur the lines between work and home, and a LOT of time juggling dirty diapers with Teams meetings and to-do lists. I wish I could tell you that I’ve come out of that phase of life with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose, but that would be a beautiful lie.

If anything, I am more confused than ever. Well, I suppose I could claim to have a confused sense of clarity. The things I want and need are clearer, but the path to get there has gotten a bit rockier than I’d anticipated.

I won’t regale you with all the gory details of the bumps and potholes that have littered that path, but I will say this … they’ve forced me to sit and think. I’ve spent countless hours the past few weeks meditating and thinking and contemplating what my next steps in life are.

The only certainties I’ve found are that my passion continues to lie within words and stories and humanity. I find solace in a good book. Writing is my therapy. I will always, always be a loud advocate for and a student of human rights. There are the three strongest pillars of who I am at the core of myself.

With all of this soul searching, I’ve also found that there are situations I cannot and will not tolerate. It is with this newfound knowledge and appreciation for my mental health and well-being that I am embarking on the next phase of my life and career. I am opening myself to the possibilities that lie ahead … with a teensy bit of fear and trepidation, but head and heart first.

Indie Author … and Podcaster?

If I look tired, it’s because I took this at 10 pm

I’ve decided to make #indielovethursday a thing. This week, I’m gonna explain why …

If you’d have told me six months ago that I’d be staying up until 10 pm recording a podcast, I’d have laughed at you and said NO WAY.

But as this story usually goes, here we are.

When I published my fourth novel, After Everything, I was reminded of all the barriers and roadblocks that indie authors have to tackle on their journey to market their books.

Between the stigmas, the cost of competing against a billion-dollar industry, all the no’s that hit before the question is even asked … y’all, it can be demoralizing.

But it’s worth it. Why? Because indie publishing is amazing. The freedom to publish what you want when you want without the rules, constraints, and timelines of that same billion-dollar industry.

This is why Maria Ann Green and I started the Indie Author Book Club. We wanted to introduce readers to new indie authors AND we wanted to demolish the stigmas.

I am so proud of the work we’ve done over the past few months and cannot wait to see where this journey takes us.

Mani Time …Me Time … Self Care … Mom Time … Whatever …

My Nail Cart

Pick your favorite buzz word. Self Care. Me Time. Mom Time. Indulgence. Happy Time. Whatever you want to call it, it’s important. IMPORTANT. As moms (working out or in the home) trying to survive a pandemic, taking time for yourself is beyond crucial.

I have a few, let’s call it self care, things that I do that are just for me. I read. I write. I scroll Instagram. I giggle at silly TikToks.

My absolute favorite self care activity is doing my nails. Since last March, it’s become a hobby I indulge in at least once a week. For me, it’s about so much more than just having fun or pretty nails. It’s a source of pride.

If you’ve been here a while, you know I have a history of being an anxiety nail biter and picker. My poor, poor cuticles have been through the ringer. When I see old photos of my hands, I cry and cringe. My fingers used to always hurt. I hated the way they looked, but mostly I hated the way they felt.

My nail journey started with Impress press-on nails back in the fall of 2019. In early 2020, I discovered the magic of dip powder. I had a few salon dips, but then the pandemic hit. So, I hit up YouTube and far too many Facebook Groups and learned how to do my own dip at home.

It took some trial and a lot of error, but I found a method that worked for me and fell in love. Somewhere along the way, nails became part of my brand. When I have naked nails, friends like to take bets on how long I’ll last. So far, 72 hours is the max … BUT I had Covid, so I don’t think that really counts.

Every Wednesday, I post my Mani of the Week (or last week, depending on how many manis I’ve done recently). If you ask my IG friends and followers what they know me for, they will answer nails, books, coffee, and wine.

I’ve shared a few of my favorites below. I’ve also shared links to the powders and liquids I use.

Have you tried dip nails? If you haven’t and want to know more, hit me up! I love talking about nails. And books. And coffee. And wine. Seriously, slide into my DMs and ask away!

Revel Dip Powders & Activator (link for 10% off).
Triple Vitamin Base and Top Coat.
UNT Peel Base.

Finding Balance in Chaos … or Not

Holy mackerel, y’all. It’s been a freaking year.

What’s that? It’s only January 15?

Yes, I’m aware, but I swear each day since January first has been a month long.

We started the year with my son in virtual school, which is super fun with kindergartners (as I am sure many of you know) and my husband and I working from home. Last week, we added in a quarantined toddler.

Not to mention the domestic terrorist attack on our Capitol. Not that I was incredibly surprised by what happened, but it was surreal to watch it unfold.

I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been as stressed as I am now.

I can’t focus on writing or reading. My patience is thin and short. I have no motivation to work out, and all I want is coffee, cookies, and wine … and a nap or ten.

If I learned anything in 2020, it was that nothing is consistent anymore. There is no such thing as a routine or expected outcome.

One thing I haven’t learned yet is how to handle the consequences. My kids have both been in various stages of sleep regression since March. No one is getting enough sleep and we’re all stretched thing. We’re cranky and tired of each other.

And, I think, that’s okay. None of us know how to operate in a global pandemic. Or how to handle watching in insurrection unfold.

It’s important to admit that sometimes, we don’t have the answers. I know as adults and parents, we’re expected to know how to react in every situation, but some things you cannot plan for.

It’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay to make mistakes.

As long as you know when it’s time to apologize or ask for help.

We’re all humans and we’re doing the best we can.

Mr. President, America is Speaking

Mr. President, America is speaking.

Bear with me today, friends, this may be a bit of a ramble as I gather my thoughts.

Four years ago I woke up in tears. I walked into my 18-month-old son’s room and apologized to him. I listened to Christmas music on my way into work and cried as I noticed that my neighbors had already pulled down their Hillary Clinton yard signs. I cried at my desk. A co-worker took me to lunch and to get ice cream.

Then I got angry. I marched. I volunteered. I canvassed. I donated. I spoke up.

This year, I’m numb but angry. I’m in shock but not surprised.

America is a racist nation. America is filled with single issue voters that have decided their one issue matters more than the rights of their fellow citizens. They’ve decided that they’re okay with racism, homophobia, xenophobia, bigotry, and sexism as long as their white “Evangelical” issues are protected.

Look, I know votes are still being counted. I know this fight isn’t over.

But the tired old man that they elected king is going to do everything he can to destroy our democracy. He’s been slowly picking it apart for four years, and if he wins, I fear for the future my children will face.

Every vote must be counted. Every fucking vote matters. We cannot and will not let voter suppression re-elect the tyrant. I will not lose my country. I will not standby as my country gives into the dark side.

This race is close—too fucking close.

We will not go down without a fight.

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It

When I am stressed, I do my nails. I am calling this mani the Blue Wave.

Today is the day, y’all. I’m feeling all kinds of emotions … hope and fear, mostly.

As a mother.
As a woman.
As an aunt and a daughter.
As a human who cares deeply about the lives and rights of others.

If you didn’t early vote or mail your ballot, please vote today. If you’re in line when the polls close, stay in line—you will be able to vote.

Know your rights. Voter intimidation is illegal. No one can take your vote away.

Save your voting selfie for after you cast your ballot as many states have laws against taking photos in the voting booth.

Take care of yourself today. Be vigilant. Be kind. Be patient. We likely won’t have results tonight.

The State of Things

Y’all I don’t even know anymore. This year has been one punch in the face after the other.

Personally, there have been some highs but the world is literally burning, so those moments pale in comparison to the lows. It’s hard to celebrate a new house or a new book in the midst of a global pandemic that’s infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands or as we watch Black men, women, and children being murdered in cold blood by the people who are paid to protect and serve or as the rights of our LGBTQ+ friends are on the line.

Yesterday, I received the lovely contact tracing call. Last night (7 days ahead of a presidential election) the “Senate” confirmed a radical originalist to the SCOTUS that forever changes the landscape of the court.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to remain positive or feel hopeful.

I’m beyond angry. I don’t know if there is a feeling deeper than rage, but I’m feeling it.

If you haven’t voted, make a plan for 11/3. VOTE. Don’t be cute and vote for Kanye because you believe the bullshit being spoon-fed to us by Fox News, Russia, and internet trolls. There is too much at stake this year.

Oh, and wear a fucking mask.

I’m Speaking

“Mr. Vice President, I’m Speaking.”

“If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can then have a conversation, OK?”

These two phrases (and the fly) are what struck me the most during last night’s Vice Presidential debate.

I’m speaking.

Such a powerful statement in two simple words.

As an educated woman with a career, I was never taught or encouraged to say those two words. Though, I’ve thought them every time a man spoke over me or interrupted me or refused to pay attention as I spoke. I’m not alone in this. Every woman in America is familiar with the silent seething that accompanies these moments.

At the end of the debate, I sent a co-worker a text saying I was going to order us shirts that say “I’m speaking” for us to wear to meetings.

Senator Harris exuded power and confidence as she refused to yield her time or voice to the white man who, without a hint of shame or hesitation, worked to overpower and silence her. She didn’t flinch. She looked him dead in the (pink) eye and said, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”

When my daughter is older, I will play her clips of Senator Harris during last night’s debate. Our voices as women matter. Our words matter.

Thank you Senator Harris for reclaiming your time and asserting your voice.

It’s Okay to not be Okay

The other day I read an article about how kids are responding to quarantine.

Sleep regressions.

Behavior regressions.

Potty-training regressions.

Ugh. Yes.

It’s hard being cooped up in the house with your parents all day. It’s hard missing your friends. It’s hard to lose your routine. It’s hard to comprehend all of this when you can read yet.

It’s hard to figure out how to explain all of this as a parent.

I was under no illusion that working from home with my husband, two kids, and three pets would be easy. I understood it would be difficult and I very much get that I am lucky to be privileged enough to do so.

We are safe. We are healthy. We are together.

I should be grateful. I am grateful.

But I’m also losing my fucking mind.

Last night, I slept on the hard-wood floor beside my daughter’s crib because she screams bloody murder when she wakes up every hour unless someone is in her room with her. And, of course, she won’t sleep in our bed because that would be too easy.

My son had his first accident in almost a year. He’s started hitting, screaming, and breaking down anytime he hears the word no. He’s almost five, and I’d naively believed we were past this.

But COVID-19 had other plans for us.

Is it possible to have a parental regression? I feel like all I do is yell and ruin their lives. I have no idea how to handle any of this. Like, there’s no training for parenthood but there’s literally nothing on this. I hope therapists are prepared for the onslaught of COVID kids in 2030.

I see other parents doing arts and crafts and showing off their stellar parenting skills. I see advice on doing all these things, and yet I don’t know where to find the time.

Between normal work obligations, meetings, mini-crisis, cooking, cleaning, tempering temper tantrums, balancing my spouse’s work needs and meetings, and keeping us all alive, I don’t have the time or mental capacity for much else.

I have reading commitments for the blog and Bookstagram to keep up. I have a new book I’m writing (about an unemployed, single, childless woman with one elderly cat, of course). I have me to remember and take care of.

I don’t have the energy to curate and prepare the materials to make shaving cream art or macaroni necklaces every single day. We try to get outside and play in our yard when we can but that is time away from work. (Hello guilt, my constant friend.)

So many well-meaning people want to remind us parents that we’re living in a historic moment and should cherish this time with our kids. I’d love to, Susan, but it’s kinda hard to cherish a time filled with screaming, sleepless nights, and mounting pressure. There’s no playbook for this and it’s hard to stomach advice from people not living the same quarantine life.

My sole hope for my family is that we make it out intact and alive. We won’t be learning any new skills or creating mini art museums.

I’ll do my best to take things one day at a time but I know me well enough to know that I’ll be stressing out over the future. After all, I’m not about to let this pandemic change too much.

I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to breakdown on occasion. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to feel smothered by your children. It’s okay. None of this is normal. We’re all doing the best we can, and if the best we can do is give in to allowing our kids to run around the asylum naked, then run they will.