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Category Archives: Love Yourself

INSPIRATION HITS: Love Yourself Custom Bicycle

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Inspiration struck me over the 4th of July and I just could not resist giving in to it.

I have probably had my bicycle for roughly 15 years. I love that it doesn’t have multiple gears, that it has coaster brakes, and that it can coast for a very long time. But everything else about it I pretty much have disliked from the beginning.

The colors are to die for. As in, “I have fallen & I can’t get up.”

I waged a battle to attempt to keep air in my tires for a decade. I changed the tubes. I even had to change a tire. All I could find was a dirt bike tire, but then that affected the cruisability. Finally, I put in tubes with Slime in them, and got a replacement tire that was meant for a cruiser bike. That finally remedied the problem for the time being.

For five years, I had a small child that I would chauffeur around on the back of it. I never realized how much weight he added (more each year) and how much his constant movement threw of my balance.

Until I removed the child seat this summer, that is. Yup, I got him off onto his own little ride with training wheels. My bike could be just mine again. (Kind of like after you birth them and your body gets to be only yours again, except not QUITE that drastic.)

In the process of removing the heinous decals.

It kept bothering me how much I had always detested the colors on my bicycle. Beige and burgundy? Come on, old lady colors. And I may be on my way, but I am no old lady yet. And the fact that it had sticker on it that said “Thruster”? Oh, please.

I remembered that my husband had said he had painted his bicycle when he was a kid. The idea wouldn’t leave my mind. I knew I would have to do it on a day when he was home to help disassemble it for me for easy painting. So, the 4th it was.

First I had to remove the remaining parts of the child seat, the remainder of a broken water bottle holder, and the dog walking apparatus.

How many people have a bike that matches their hair? C’mon, you gotta admit that is some cool shit.

My husband asked me how I settled on the colors of pink and black.

Um, my cell phone case, my hair colors, my key lanyard, the nail polish bottles sitting on top of the television, my shoes, my Utopia dress. How could he miss that these two colors have been taking over my life lately?

After I got the paint on, I decided it really did need a saying on it, but most definitely not “Thruster”. So, I went with my new life motto and cause: Love Yourself.

I used a Sharpie marker to color the white stitching and logo on the seat to pink.

It serves as a reminder to myself, and maybe someone will ask me about it and I can explain it to them. (If you want to read more about it, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/love-yourself/) Mostly I am worried teenagers will make fun of it. Because I have never gotten over the good ol’ days of getting bullied by my peers. (A rant for another day.)

New black handlebar grips are on order from eBay as we speak.

I did learn a few things from this crafting experience:

1. If your fenders don’t rub on your tires, you probably shouldn’t mess with them because that kind of harmony takes a long time to establish.

2. If you are going to spray paint, do at least two coats. This never, ever occurred to me until my husband had the bike pieced back together again. It would have given it a little more durability against scratches.

3. Consider a clear coat to protect your creation. I love the matte/satin finish of my paints. But the original paint job had a durable clear coat that was very good at protecting the original ugly paint from scratches. (FYI–I did sand that a bit with a fine grit sandpaper, followed by a wash before I proceeded with my repaint job.) I spent a whole day creating a masterpiece, and now I constantly worry that one tip over will scratch off all that I have done.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Love Yourself

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“You are special. Accept that about yourself, and you will begin to understand there is true power in your uniqueness.”- from Marked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

I am creating a page called Love Yourself. And right now, that is all that it is.

Except for buttons. I may have designed and commissioned the creation of buttons.

I was actually looking for a way to create a resource to stop bullying, any sort of technique or process that I thought could work. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is sadly kind of the natural order of things. Link to my previous post, Bullied.

I started to look around to see if there were any techniques to stop bullying. But after decades, the same worn advice seems to be what everyone is doling out: “Tell an adult.” “If you see something, say something.”

Oh wait, that second one is from Homeland Security.

And telling an adult won’t PREVENT it, which would be the total ultimate awesome solution to the pain of so many crying out in the night. (I have been there. I have written the bad poetry to prove it.)

But what if we could make it irrelevant? What if it didn’t matter what others said about you, because you had confidence in yourself, so that you could be the best person you could be?

Just imagine!

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

That is kind of how I barnstormed (wait, brainstormed) into this whole “Love Yourself” idea. What if we stopped worrying so much about external factors* and instead worked on our insides? What if we stopped trying to paint our faces to look perfect on the outside when we are crying on the inside? What if we stopped using our credit card at Lowe’s to build the perfect house that we don’t even like, just to keep up appearances for the outside world?

What I’m getting at is that bad stuff will always happen, lots of it, in many different ways, shapes, and forms.

But we could be better prepared for all of it, bullying included, if our insides were healed first.

I have to think that there would be less war and more peace if people loved themselves more than their money or land or resources.

There would be less celebrities too. Why worship a Kim Kardashian or a Tom Brady when you can worship YOURSELF?

And you probably assume that money or fame will lead you to happiness. But rich, seemingly successful individuals commit suicide every single day. And it is heartbreaking.

There are a million ways what I am saying could be misinterpreted. But if you wake up in the morning and hate yourself, (you will know that feeling if you do) that is what needs to change.

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.”
– Johnny Depp

You might think of this as being cocky or vain, vain being one of the seven deadly sins (I Googled it). But if we are supposed to be made in God’s image, shouldn’t we be happy with the self we live in? Our body, inside and out, our spirit, our gifts?

I am talking very vaguely here. But that is because it could be referred to as many different things. “Love Yourself” means to know who you truly are and what makes you happy. Yes, sometimes we all have to go to a job we aren’t happy about. But if it truly makes you “I-can’t-sleep-at-night, I-can’t-eat, I-can’t-remember-happiness” sick, then that is you not listening to that special spot inside  of you.

Do you call it your heart?

Your common sense?

Your conscience?

Your spirit?

Your life force?

Your guts?

I don’t care what you call it. But you need to learn that it is there and how to listen to it. Some of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make in life are easier when you listen to it.

I know it is hard. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed this concept until I was like, 38 years old. But maybe if we started young, taught this to our children, it could become a movement.

I want anyone who wants pink hair TO HAVE IT.

I want anyone who wants a nose piercing TO HAVE IT.

I want EVERYONE to STOP WANTING and START BEING.

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I know many people (myself included) who walk around with bad attitudes about absolutely everything because they are not being who they really need to be. There is a voice inside you that yearns to speak. There is a spirit in you that is trying to bust out.

Heck, I had this Love Yourself cause burning inside of me on Monday. What did I do? I chose to go to work. I should have stayed home. I think I could have gotten more out of expressing my thoughts while they were fresh than what little I can buy with my paycheck. But, I went the road of least resistance. WE ALL DO.

Am I saying we should all quit our jobs? Well, no. But we do need to be conscious of where our destinies are pointing us.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
– Bob Moawad

Maybe it is just me that has trouble listening to my inner voice. Maybe other people get there by meditation or whatever.

But I have to retrain EVERY THOUGHT to be more positive, more loving, less judgmental—of myself AND others. It is a lot of work, but I think, in the end, it may be worth it. I hope maybe you will too.

The awesome Heather Hildenbrand gave a speech at Utopia Con 2016 called “The Audacity of Self-Love”. I wish it was on YouTube, or that I had taken better notes. But, well, I was too moved to jot down anything more than an outline. I was already pondering such ideas, and she just reinforced that.

Some of Heather’s statements: “Judgement is the consequence of trying to break out of the mold… Liking yourself is a rebellious act… Be audacious enough at loving yourself that other people see it.”

LOVE YOURSELF

Then in July 2016, I drew this. Out of thin air, for no reason. I was at a public chalk art event and I asked myself, “What message do I want to send to everyone around me?”

I don’t know what this may grow into, but I am excited to find out. More excited than I have been about anything since I decided to write a book. Or when I decided to publish said book. But to be honest, neither of those were really a decision, just as this wasn’t. I am listening to my gut. And it feels damn good.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman

If you keep sitting around waiting for someone else to understand you and support you, you could be waiting a very long time. It has to begin with you. Then it does not matter if anyone else jumps on board.

But, a great side effect of self love is that they will sense your confidence, and be more likely to.

I LOVE THIS. This is what I am trying to do, in one sentence.

I am weird. I am awkward. I don’t see the world as other people do. I try and use that to my advantage.

Everyone, at their core, WANTS to be normal. The blind man wants to be able to see. The physically disabled woman desires to walk. It is only when we let go of this unattainable goal of “normal” that we are then free to be who we were actually born to be.

And that is the best gift of all. You only get one life. Stop trying to live by others standards, only by your own.

* I know this is impossible to stop completely, but it should count toward less weight on the scale of importance in our lives.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Bullied

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I feel like I am being called to write. And while it is fun to write about sexy men and innocent girls getting jiggy wit it, that may not be all that I am meant to do with my abilities.

You may have noticed that Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom had an undercurrent of living with bullying, and how to try to find your place as a person beyond it. If you missed that, then obviously you have led a charmed life, because I feel like everyone experiences it at some level some time.

I experienced bullying since I started school. Back then it was brushed off as teasing. While it got better in high school and college, I still experienced it, even as an adult. But episodes are fewer and farther between. I have a specific experience at one of my places of employment that I can’t forget. And she got written into a story. So did all the others. Because that is what writers do.

“ Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
 Harvey Fierstein

Bullying touches every one of us. Either you have been bullied, you have bullied, or you have been a witness to it. Yet, until recently, it wasn’t talked about. It was just like acne. It was something that just naturally happened to you, that you were forced to live through.

Even now, my viewpoint can shift like an empty swing in a strong wind: Are we meant to be left to survival of the fittest, as happens in the animal kingdom? Or are we as humans more evolved than that? Are we meant for more? What would the world look like if we all offered each other a hand up instead of pushing those we view as weaker down?

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
– W.C. Fields

Ginny’s story is the first of three stand-alone books I have planned that will illustrate three different women and how they deal with the bullying and the after effects…badly. Because, let’s face it, that is more interesting to read. And you may find it cathartic.

(For those of you who have read Troll Gurl, know that I will eventually publish a sequel, but that is not one of the future books I speak of here.)

But I want to point out very clearly that I have taken the (semi) healthy approach and chosen to express my own feelings in writing. I don’t want to leak too much about my upcoming stories. But you need to know that just because a character in a book may use violence to deal with the situation, even if it is blowing up a witch, you should never do that in real life.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

The characters in my books feel very alone, isolated. I want that to feel relatable, especially if you currently know or have known in the past the symptoms of anxiety and depression that feel as though they are draining your soul. But Ginny, and the others, all find SOMEONE they can relate to, someone who reaches out a helping hand for them.

I allowed bullying DEFINED ME for 38 years.

I want better for you.

I want you to know that you are not alone. That is why I would like to list a few organizations who can assist if you or a friend or family member is in a time of need.

RESOURCES

NOTE: I have not personally used any of these organizations.

The Mighty

This may be the best suicide prevention article I have ever read.

https://themighty.com/2017/09/reasons-people-stay-suicide-prevention-week-two-write-love-on-her-arms/

#AuthorsAgainstBullying

This site was suggested to me by an author friend. This is a movement started by an awesome young girl named Belle who has her own blog called Belle’s Beastly Book Blog. There is a great video on there where great authors, many of whom I have met, tell their deeply personal stories of bullying and their journey since. I am not there yet. Maybe, someday, but not now. I tell my stories in tiny bits in my books and disguise them as fiction.

http://bellesbeastlybooks.blogspot.com/search/label/authors%20against%20bullying

Bullies Keep Out

I stumbled across this site on accident one night and it seemed like fate was pointing me to it. I found the video featuring Michael Raymond-James, who I absolutely love. I liked him on True Blood, Once Upon a Time, and Terriers. So much so, that I based the character of Josh Tucker on him in the Riley Sisters books.

And then I decided I needed to speak out about bullying.

Do you see now how this felt like cosmic intervention?

http://www.bullieskeepout.com/

It Gets Better

I had to include this organization because I just love their name. And they are doing some great work. They are geared toward LBGT youth. But I think even if you don’t fit into one of those categories if you poked around their website, there is plenty of helpful information.

http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

As always, if you somehow stumbled on this page and you are having thoughts of suicide, even ones you think are casual, please Please PLEASE call:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Boy, do I wish I could have just Googled that number and had it at my fingertips when I was young.

But I am living proof that it gets better.

We just need the bullies to keep out.

Because I’m an author against bullying.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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