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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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COVER REVEAL: Angry Macey

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This is kind of a spontaneous cover reveal. I am headed to Utopia in just over a day and I am feeling very energized. I am very excited about this upcoming project that I have been working on for months. It is the work closest to my heart. (Hey, I see you there, judging me. Stop that!) It should be out this fall. No presale yet, but I am getting very close to that and will be sure to let you know.

Without further ado, here is the cover for Angry Macey:

The forthcoming Angry Macey by Jennifer Friess

Everyone feels like they are guided at some point in their lives. But what if you were guided to do something terrible? What if you were too angry to even care about the carnage you were about to inflict?

Meet Macey.

Mid-life crisis. Mental breakdown. Payback. Revenge.

This book has an edgier cover, which is in part due to the subject matter, but also I used a new cover designer. She is Creative Paramita and her website is www.creativeparamita.com. Check her out for all your cover needs!

Oh, and I have another surprise for you. This is what I spent today working on instead of writing. I think it was well worth it ;-D

NOTE: None of these three colors is natural.

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

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

There’s Definitely [Not] Something Wrong with Me.

My (wrinkly) shirt purchased from Media Play many centuries ago.

I bought this shirt years ago. I bought it at Media Play. They went out of business in 2006.

 

I saw this T-shirt in one of those clear plastic squares up on the wall. I searched and searched the rack below, but they did not have anymore. The last one was pressed into that display box. So, I did something very uncharacteristic of me. I actually went and ASKED AN ASSOCIATE to get it out so that I could buy it. It was a size way too big when I was actually beginning to eliminate some of my too large 80s shirts from my wardrobe. But I didn’t care. I HAD TO HAVE THAT SHIRT.

It may have been the first shirt I had that I didn’t want my mom to see me wear. (There are many more now. Not slutty, just advertising my writing or tattoos or the church I sometimes hang out at, all things she would have issue with.) I figured she would try to point out that there wasn’t something wrong with me. Which, how would she know, because she never has known the real me.

I wore it quite a bit over the years. More recently, I relegated it to being a sleep shirt mostly because it was such a large size that it was hard to layer under a long-sleeved shirt and a hoodie in the winter months. I count winter as September through May. (Yes, three layers, minimum. I will need to retire somewhere warmer and sunnier than Michigan.)

I intended to write a blog post about this shirt for a long time. The date of June 9, 2014 is on this photo in my computer. Although, for all I know, that could just be the last time I replaced my hard drive. I initially intended to write about how made-for-me it was, how true the statement was.

But something has happened to me recently. I don’t always think the same way I used to. And, well, I can’t write that post anymore.

Last year, about this time, a saying popped up in my head:

EMBRACE YOUR WEIRDNESS

And while I contemplated getting that tattooed on my wrist for a short time, I don’t think it is entirely accurate either.

Because while others think I’m weird, weirdness IS my normal.

Maybe it is everyone else (those who judge me) who have something wrong with them.

So now, I have moved on to:

Don't write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

Don’t write me nasty comments. This is just a pen & ink illustration, NOT an actual tattoo.

The symbols of a heart and an arrow, which to me represent “Love Yourself.” You may have even seen me use such a picture with the saying on a previous edition of my blog or a tweet. This is the latest tattoo I am contemplating, this time for the inside of my forearm. I would love it to be a daily reminder to do just that. But, alas, life is a very mental game and outside stimuli are very bad at reminding me of who I need to strive to be.

Being positive remains a daily battle.

I just have to remind myself that if I lose today, maybe I can still win tomorrow.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Kesha

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The singer Kesha has bothered me since I first read about her in Entertainment Weekly. She has a lot of songs about partying and drinking, which made me think she isn’t a very good influence for the teenage girls that her songs attract. She also said in the interview that she didn’t like to wear pants.

Um, what?

Not in the ‘Britney Spears getting out a a car’ way. Kesha seems to mean it in the ‘I wear dance leotard-like outfits, instead of pants or shorts or skirts’ way. It seems to be just like how Miley doesn’t like to wear clothes.

What is with these girls today?!

My mom tells me stories about how she was not allowed to wear pants to school because she was a girl. Only skirts were allowed.

That was like an actual school rule!

Even in the winter!!!

I have always been VERY grateful that I live in a time that it is acceptable for women to wear pants and jeans. I am also grateful that I live in a time where yoga pants are increasingly accepted as outerwear as well.

But, damn it, all of Kesha’s songs are so catchy. Even the ones about partying and drinking. And I like that some songs seem to route for individualism, for the misfits. She is a good singer too.

And when she went off to rehab about two months ago for an eating disorder, she made a statement that I thought was very profound:

“I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself but I’ve found it hard to practice,” she tells E! News. “I’ll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder…to learn to love myself again. Exactly as I am.”
From: eonline.com/news/

Apparently, she realized her own problem and checked herself into rehab. Which I think is sad, because looking at these pictures side by side, it seems obvious to me that she had a problem and was going through something. Anyone close to her in her family or “posse” should have realized and taken action.

You can't even tell this is the same girl...

You can’t even tell this is the same girl…

She just got out of rehab this week. I saw it reported that she plans to make important life changes, the first of which are changing her hair and dropping the “$” from her name. Hopefully, all these changes will stick and be for the better.

Here is a video of “Timber” with Pitbull featuring Kesha.  There are many things wrong with this video, including but not limited to: Pitbull, jumpy editing, objectification of women (including a too-skinny Kesha), video doesn’t match the song, video segments don’t match each other, etc.  But, the beat and Kesha’s parts are awesome.

This would be one of those cases where I feel overly emotionally involved in the life of a celebrity. Maybe empathetic is a good way to describe it. Like how bad I felt for Paris Jackson at her father Michael’s funeral. She has tons of money and people around her. She doesn’t need me to worry about her.

Except maybe when she goes to a treatment center for a suicide attempt as happened in June of 2013. I guess what I really mean to say is that my worrying or thinking about a celebrity I will never meet does them no good.

Unless you believe in the law of attraction.

That maybe somehow all those good wishes are reaching them.

Because I might believe that…

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