After five weeks in level 4 lockdown, we have finally moved to level 3! We still have to stay in our homes going out to exercise and shop for essentials. But we can expand our bubble to close family or friends, keeping it “small and exclusive.” It’s incredible how a tiny bit of progress gives me fulfillment. The highlight of this level is that we can now order contact-free items for pickup and order from Uber Eats. Sushi! I want Asahi Sushi! I craved it at home in America, and I’ve craved it all lockdown. Oh, and Flying Rickshaw INDIAN, yummmm! There’s excitement and mixed emotions among the girls. They can return to work and are essential for contactless pickups of items at their place of business. I think they will be happy to have some breathing room and a change of scenery.
In my little universe today, we’ve proudly launched a CAREGIVERS webpage I have built for the Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds. I filmed testimonials and wrote content for this, created the social media accounts and all content and edits of photos. I spent my time in NZ isolation learning to develop this digital piece to deliver on my promise as a volunteer to contribute to this fantastic and vital cause. CCHM is a community response to mental illness and substance abuse. This page is a crucial resource spot for caregivers who need support as much, if not more at times, than those who are ill. I have first-hand experience here because I suffer from an acute panic disorder and depression, I have since my early 20’s. And though I have loving support from my husband and daughters, I often feel they need someone who can support them. My issues can be draining and, at times, scary. The CAREGIVER page we launched gives tips and schedules for support groups of all kinds! I am so proud to be a part of this and happy that the board has allowed me to participate. I needed this win.
There is peace and calm in the flat as Molly, and I bond over cookie baking, and the laidback quiet life of Covid lockdown continues on another level. There isn’t too much to report, no house fires, breakdowns, or medical issues. I’m getting ready to leave for my daily walk under the long white clouds. It’s drizzling, and I’m happy to have another day with our girls and another day in NZ.
I’ve completed the outline and first chapter of my forthcoming memoir/book. I’m well into writing chapter 2 now. And I can’t sleep. I just began feeling this niggling anxious agitation in my chest after editing chapter one and doing some rewrites. Though I’m approaching my story with a mixture of blunt truth and humor, I’m already starting to feel things and stuff that my panic disorder meds may not be strong enough to help me keep in check. I knew parts of writing this book would be unsettling; when I finished listing my outline in managed isolation in mid-July, I felt exhausted and broke down in tears. I read my ideas, and my life rapidly flashed before my eyes. At that moment, things I’ve questioned became clear to me for the first time. People I miss stood before me, and events I’ve wanted to forget felt fresh, wounding me as I read them on the page.
I am writing this story and all of the subsequent tales that spin-off of it. This is my lifelong dream. I am more than thankful to my husband for supporting my passion for writing while I’m am at the same time with our daughters and family in NZ. There’s so much to say about my journey. I worry that my words will fall flat and not be entertaining enough. But all I can do is tell my story, write what I know, relay the details in my Jeri way, and hope for the best. I just thought I would share.
Except for you, you are the only thing holding you back. I hear this in my head when I read quotes like this, and I wonder, Is this 100% true? Maybe I’m the only thing keeping me from reaching my goals and fulfilling my dreams, obtaining love, happiness, contentment, spiritual well-being, and all of life’s creature comforts? Well, first of all, that’s a slightly extensive list, and I tend to overthink things. The quote above is motivational and, in the most simple terms, accurate. If I do what I think this quote is suggesting, “let go and let God,” which means letting go of all of the negative stuff in my life that’s blocking me like fear, anxiety, loneliness, and self-doubt and hand it over to him/her to hold while pursuing my purpose; I have the motivation and confidence to start over, draw a line in the sand and approach life from a new perspective. If I overthink letting go and starting over and what in the universe could stop me, my head spins. I don’t mean to be a negative Nellie, Karen, and let’s not forget Dick (it’s not just the women who annoy us people), but there are a few realistic items that would hold me back from letting go and starting over or make it pretty darn hard:
• losing the funding provided by my hard-working husband so that I can work a flexible job and write for virtually no money at all! (not everyone has that!).
• I have an eternal need to say precisely what I think all of the time. (Admittedly, I don’t always pick up on social cues and have a knack for taking things a bit too far. Even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, which includes doing good deeds and standing up for my rights and the rights of others; it never ends well).
• My anxiety and how socially awkward I feel inside when in an office environment or in a crowd of people socializing where I feel like I have to say anything and everything so there’s no dead air floating around. (I usually say something random and inappropriate and hear people say, “oh Jeri” in a tsk, tsk kind of way, not a surprising kind of way, and if they don’t say it, I see it in their eyes). Disclaimer: This usually leaves me with an uneasy feeling when departing people, and I’m never quite sure if we’re still friends or ever were.
• My children and husband. I wouldn’t let them go to start over. In fact, if we’re talking about things in the universe that could stop us, I would most likely jump in front of a rapidly moving meteor for them, and just like my previously mentioned habit of taking a stand for people and myself, I’m reasonably sure the meteor thing wouldn’t end well).
What I’m saying, I guess, is that looking at that beautiful sentiment above while heartwarming and encouraging makes me feel a bit prickly depending on what I’m considering letting go of and what I’m starting over. I am also confirming the fact that I totally overthink things.
I used to rollerblade daily. Everywhere, for miles, in flat Florida or down the steep Tennessee hills. I was addicted to rollerblading and running for years. I learned to rollerblade when I was 23 and stopped after I had my first child 22 years ago (I did rollerblade 10 miles one time since then in 2012, I don’t know how I did it).
Lately, I have been dying to run and get back into rollerblading. I have missed the charge I got out of both activities as a fit young woman. I also miss the body I had (pre-babies 22 years ago). My body didn’t quite bounce back after children, and no matter how much I have worked out or dieted, I have never been thin again. At this point, I don’t care if I’m skinny; I just want to have fun, fly across the pavement with the wind blowing through my hair, feel young and be fit again.
For this past Mother’s Day, our 15 yr old daughter and my lovely husband gifted me with Zetrablade Elite W Rollerblades! We drove 1 hr to the only store close to us that had my size and bought those with a full array of padding. I also looked for ski poles, but the store was out of stock. (My daughter didn’t want me to work back into blading with ski poles anyway. She said, “once a ski poler, always a ski polar.” She may be right).
We found an excellent park on the waterfront with a mile loop of smooth pavement. I suited up and prepared to wow my family with my rollerblade skills. I always bragged about how I used to jump things and do extreme downhill blading with no fear. I put on my new wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and finally, my rollerblades. The moment of truth had arrived. I stood up and immediately felt beads of sweat begin to roll off of my face. I hadn’t even moved yet. I looked at my family with an awkward smile and said, “I got this, it’s ok, hold on, hold on.” It turned out the “truth” at that moment was that I was no longer fearless. I suddenly became aware of how tall I was on the rollerblades and how far away the ground was. All I could hear in my head was my heartbeat and “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” I was acutely in tune with my new 53 yr old body and the weight of it and thought, “man, this is not going to fall well!” I WASNT EVEN ON THE PAVEMENT YET! I toddled across the grass in slow motion, and my sweet daughter cheered me on with positive affirmation, “you can do it, mom. Just take your time.” I had to skate. My whole Mother’s day was building up to this very moment.
I mumbled nervously as I reached the edge of the sidewalk and carefully positioned myself to place my left foot on the concrete and push off the grass with the right foot. I thought, “shit, just do it!” I pushed off and, to my surprise, glided a few feet across the pavement. I literally went 3 feet and was shaking so badly I thought I would fall apart. I was now sweating buckets, on the verge of puking, and almost burst into tears. My husband said, “are you ok, honey?” NO! I WASN’T OK! But I wasn’t going to let him know that.
I said, “oh yeah, just a little shaky’” and held my hand out so he could see that I was a wreck. There was no turning back, though; I made myself do it. I Ski plowed, in and out along the pavement, pushed off my right back foot to keep moving slowly forward along the mile-long concrete track, and promised myself that no matter how terrible this felt, I wasn’t going to give in. I stepped off the pavement from time to time along the path and walked through the grass. OMG, my inner thighs were killing me, and I think I had engaged my glutes; I mean really engaged them for the first time in years, maybe decades. I fell one time; forward and landed on my wrist guards and padding. To my great surprise, it was very cushy and didn’t hurt at all! A group of 40-50-year-old women walked by and cheered me on, “way to go, there’s no way you’d ever get me on a pair of those again; you’re a brave woman!” My sweet girl said, “Hey, they gave you mom creds!” I looked behind me to see that I had gone a half-mile. I was doing it. I was still alive and in one piece. I realized that I might be able to recapture a bit of my youth after all. I finished the mile path and passed the car. I did it all again! I went another mile. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, that I was skating and really doing it.
I showered the nervous sweat of the day off of me when we got home that evening. My legs and inner thighs were so sore, and I knew I would be feeling it in the morning. I was so proud of what I had accomplished. My family showered me with tons of hugs and kisses all evening. I think they were proud of me too, and it felt good.
I have advice for any of you out there who want to recapture your youth with something as daring as rollerblading. Here are five tips for rollerblading over 50:
1. Suit up! Wear every pad available (if I had a pillow, I would have duck taped that to my backside, seriously don’t be afraid to do that).
2. Wear a helmet! (I didn’t, and my sisters saw me in photos and gave me hell for not doing so)
3. Take it slow and know that a tiny step is larger than not taking any steps at all. (Take the first step, push off that grass and ride across the pavement like you own it, and also pray).
4. Focus and breathe! You have to breathe; if you don’t, you’ll get dizzy and pass out, at which point you will crash to the pavement with all of your weight and probably get hurt. (Again, SUIT UP! PUT ON EVERY PAD THEY MAKE!)
5. Make a promise to yourself to put your rollerblades on at least three times a week. (Push yourself; remember how you learned when you were younger. Your mom told you to take that stuff outside because you left rollerblade marks all over her clean floor, but you were hooked. You would wear them to bed if you could, but they’re hard to roll over in and harder to go to the bathroom in the dark in, so you didn’t, but you still did it in the house and got good at it because you were obsessive about it). Be consistent like that.
6. Have fun, make fun of yourself, be gentle with yourself, and don’t forget to take Advil and ice those sore muscles at bedtime. It’s day two that hurts the worst.
I don’t work a 9-5 job. I lost my admin position in March of 2020 when COVID 19 hit the world. I spent a great deal of time over the last year reevaluating myself and what I wanted for my future. I wasn’t sure when the world would heal from the effects of the pandemic, and I needed to make some decisions for myself that gave me peace and lifted me out of a long bout of depression I had been in and couldn’t seem to shake. I had been looking for another job as an admin assistant for upper management. However, that position was never one that made me happy and left me feeling empty. I dreaded working for another power-tripping company owner or organization leader. What I wanted to do was follow my passion and dreams, not help someone else with theirs. I’m sure many people have rethought their goals and aspirations since the onset of covid, and after my isolation-induced struggle with my emotions, I decided to look out for myself first for a change.
My best friend and husband had been encouraging me to go public with my writing for years. I considered the idea for several months while I stayed still and watched how people had changed their approach to life; as a result of covid, I decided to follow suit. So again, I don’t work a 9-5 job. I don’t work, I write. I write when I’m inspired, no matter what day it is. To help supplement income, I take odd jobs shopping for people or delivering packages to them from a platform that allows me to make my own schedule. I make what I need each week in my own time with no boss, and I take a break or knock off for the day when I get the urge to jot down another story. It doesn’t matter to me if I write on the weekend or during the week. In fact, I’m lying in bed right now at 10:30 pm on a Saturday, writing this while my husband snores next to me.
My life has changed since March 2020, for the better. My goals and focus aren’t about what title I can have or how much money I make annually. Those things look so superficial to me now. Don’t get me wrong. I respect those who have found a title, money, and happiness in the corporate world (as long as it’s true happiness); it’s just not for me. I feel free, and my life has balance and meaning. I am fortunate that my husband supports me in my efforts financially. I know not everyone with a dream has someone like him in their corner. I am a writer, and I write because it is my voice. It’s what gives me authenticity. I hope everyone can carve out enough time to find that deep within themselves.
I started seriously building my online presence and blog space in early March 2021. Seeing that this is early May, I don’t have a lot of stats to go off to show proven success with the methods I have researched and applied. This doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing, though. I have worked as a successful social media marketer over the last ten years and have kind of figured it out for myself. Writing a blog without formal education is hit and miss at first (so I take tips from other successful bloggers). The key is to constantly research, listen to those who have proven success, and continuously fine-tune. One year in, I may have a whole different idea for my blogging methods.
I started with a blank slate and built WordPress and Blogger account pages. If you google those, you should be able to find them. WordPress even has an easy-to-use app for iPhone that allows you to create and post content on the move. I LOVE IT! We all know that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” so It made sense to me to put my blog content up online in as many forms as possible without creating a digital monster I would spend too much time feeding. You don’t want to have so many accounts that you don’t have time to focus on your primary goal, which is WRITING YOUR BLOG!
Time will tell if the tools I am currently using will be the most effective in building my audience and monetizing my efforts. Please click the links I provide below to see what I have created in various spaces, even if you don’t stop to read the stories.
My main webpage is https://jerisbraindumpblog.com (this is a WordPress site). Anytime I post a story there, the widgets I use within the site builder push my posts to social media channels I have chosen to link to WordPress. Doing this saves a lot of time and is very handy. Another great feature of WordPress is that there is a community of other bloggers who live on that platform where we connect. We all follow, comment, and share each other’s material which is essential when building your audience. On top of my website, I have a podcast and utilize Youtube. Learning how to do all of this took a great deal of research and study, and you may notice here and there that I’m still in the trial and error stage, so be gentle.
Below I have created a list of the channels, tools, and accounts I have adopted (please comment, follow, like, or subscribe to any or all of my channels, the point of this is that we’re working to tell our stories and to be seen and heard):
• Anchor https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episodes (this is the tool I use for creating excellent Podcasts where I read and record my blog for friends and family who don’t like to or have the time to read). Anchor is easy to use and allows you to record from your phone or computer. I sit in my closet and record, so there’s no background noise. Anchor then distributes my Podcast to their affiliates:
• THERE ARE MANY, MANY MORE CHANNELS ANCHOR PODCASTS ARE DISTRIBUTED!
• YouTube https://youtu.be/iIzuHRTaMt0 (I had to use a tool that turns audio into a video format to be posted on YouTube. YouTube doesn’t allow audio-only posting. I recommend Wavve; it’s easy to use and free. (FREE IS GOOD!) https://wavve.co
I hope you find this helpful. Use the tools provided to amplify your writing voice and build your audience. You don’t have to do all this, so don’t get overwhelmed. Start with one of the blog accounts. Take it slowly; that’s better than doing nothing at all. So get going! BLOG!
I made good on my commitment to daily writing like a racehorse out of the gate at the end of March. I have ideas and memories swirling in my head constantly, and only writing can silence them. I don’t mind; I’m totally used to it now. I began posting to all of my newly created social media pages and got excited when I found that my stories truly touched others and put a smile on their faces. But writers beware; the engagement and tracking of social media can stir up unnecessary mental noise and throw your creative flow off track.
I love looking at statistics, and who doesn’t want to validate being loved by new followers, likes, shares, and retweets. Tread carefully when balancing the noise that comes from sharing your stuff online and nurturing your creative flow. It’s time-consuming and distracting. As a new blogger, it didn’t take me long to figure this out, but some of you may get caught in the echoing loop, and I’m here to give you a virtual smack in the face and tell you to SNAP OUT OF IT!
Always remember this; the first rule of write club is: you don’t talk about write club (save your words and put them on paper). The second rule of write club is: you do not talk about write club! (no, seriously, don’t tell everyone your story as you’re formulating your ideas, write that shit down, or you will lose your drive to push through the process and complete anything). It’s a mental struggle and personal fight, so adapting my point to one of the most famous quotes from one of my fave movies, Fight Club, seems fitting.
So step by step, this is how it should go (of course, this is my opinion and experience):
🖊 Write daily (create a space for this, write at the same time every day so that there is a scheduled commitment. If you are sparked with an idea or feel a strong urge to write outside of that time slot, then do it. That extra creative burst on top of your daily writing time will be icing on the cake.)
🖥 Spend about 30 minutes to 1 hour on research and social media development AFTER WRITING! (I can’t stress this enough, the virtual world is noisy, and once the voices and opinions of everyone you come across online start creeping into your day, it’s hard to turn it off. Yes, sometimes reading or listening to other stuff will spark you, so make a note of it, move on and go back to write about it, or stop trolling right that minute and throw down your new idea in total).
🎥 If you create and post podcasts of your material, choose one day a week to sit in your closet rearranging your shoes in the dark and recording. Yes, I do that.
⏰ Pick a specific time of day and week to post across all of your channels, respond to comments, and boost your presence. Of course, the more media you are on, the more time-consuming this is. Before I struck my balance, which I’m still working on fine-tuning, I was looking at my post results daily, a couple of times a day. It’s exciting to see the responses and watch your numbers go up, right!? Now I look at them every three days. I had to decide whether I was working on showing my ability to build a successful social media presence as a social media marketer or whether I am a writer, just sharing my words. I chose writer. I had to define in my mind the fact that the written word means more to me than all of my clicks of validation. Again be careful and don’t get lost in the minutia of your online presence.
🧘🏻♀️Trust that you will make headway if you keep writing. Don’t push it. Sometimes you’ll write, and your piece will sit. Just let it marinate before you frantically throw it up on some online platform. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Writing is a bunch of, “hurry, I need to write this down before I lose my train of thought,” and then wait, and that’s ok! We all end up there. Listen to my man Dr. Seuss’s wise words pinched from our family’s favorite story, Oh the Places You’ll Go!
📚 “The Waiting Place…for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for your hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite the or waiting for the wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting around perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig that curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.” wait, where was I again? See what I mean? Don’t get distracted.
🥺 Finally, don’t put too much stock in your numbers and comments. Writing is your passion, not being a social media star. Remember that finding your writing voice is an ever-evolving process, and for those brave enough to share their ideas, lives, and secrets, any negative social media chatter can quickly put out your creative fire. I get it; creatives are a sensitive breed. If you find you’re getting negativity when you post, turn it off, troubleshoot, run your pieces by someone you trust before posting (EDIT, EDIT, EDIT!!! Grammar and punctuation people is essential!!). Most of all, don’t worry about whether you’re the popular kid at school or not, don’t obsess over follows and numbers. Just write!!!!!
These are guidelines I use for myself and tips for writers who want to go public. Let’s face it, bearing your soul online is scary. Just don’t expect too much from it. Don’t forget your one desire to be a writer. Don’t forget why you do it. For me, it’s therapy, a release, and a way to quiet my mind. I hope that my words will inspire, help and heal others. I breathe a sigh of relief for having cleared some space in my head every time I complete a story. So, figure out what your writing does for you? What is your writers’ purpose? Stay true to it. No one wants to read half-hearted bullshit, so TURN OFF THE NOISE, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and dive in. Sometimes you may amaze yourself with what comes out, and other times it may just be shit. Don’t worry about it either way. Do what you love and write. ♥️
Have you ever felt so lost and bored that you googled yourself trying to find the person you used to be? Decades ago, before you became who you are now? The person before computers or social media. The person before rent, bills, marriage, mortgage, and motherhood? The person filled with dreams and a vision. Did you find them? Did you see that person you keep hearing about when you run into a friend from the past? Did you find an old conversation about you archived in the depths of the digital ether world? No? Search came up empty? Not there? And if you did find yourself do you recognize the pixelated person starting back at you from the screen?
Life moves on, and for some, our blueprint changes so much we are almost unrecognizable to the outside world. After a while, you may not even be sure you know if you’re an authentic version of yourself. This lost feeling is unacceptable but true for so many of us. The only person that can pull you out of that rabbit hole is YOU!
I am only 53, and I have heard that everything vibrant and stunning about me is an ancient memory. I hear these things repeatedly said to my daughters. “Your mother used to be a babe,” “oh my God, you were such an amazing singer,” “oh, you used to write the most captivating stories!” I’m over it. I smile and listen, thinking, are you serious? I’m standing right here”! “Am I invisible? I can actually hear you!” Hey, newsflash, I’m still alive and kicking, not for everyone and a friend to anyone. I have three powerful daughters, and my husband still loves me. I’ve done “stuff and things!” I’ve been a place or two! Ok, it’s time for a reboot. I’m rewriting the old me with a new me. Creative, carefree, and indulgent. Follow me, come along for the ride, don’t come along for the ride. Like me or don’t like me, It’s your choice. Not to be rude or anything, but it took me 53 years to be able to say, I don’t care! I’m going to jump in the driver’s seat and own this bitch. I’m tired of riding along down everyone else’s road. Get out of my way. I’m about to open a can of crazy and unashamed on the world.
When I listen to music, it sparks me. I feel a range of emotions that sometimes overwhelm me. It’s not just the tune or the lyrics, but sometimes it’s the artists, the fact that they made it. I wonder, what sets me apart from them? I look at the career i had and think of the “what if’s,” and dig deep to find what’s left in me. I get up and sing, memorize and internalize the words. I sing them loud and make them mine. I want to be heard! I want a voice, their words, their perfection, their power of fame. I have the need to stand for something greater than what I am right this moment. I want to be seen and my feelings, dreams, and beliefs to be considered.
I am driven to share my story, to connect the way the artists I’m listening to are. They pull me in. I bend my mind and ride the melody on a wave that changes with every song that plays on my HomePod. When I listen to music, it inspires me to write, dream, live and soar. I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to be adored, to be carried away on a sea of cheering voices, singing the words that came from my mind back towards me—visualizing the future only to sadly arrive to silence.
I don’t just put on a song and relax; I can’t. It has never been that for me. Listening to music is a reminder of every dream and aspiration my mother, family, and teachers ever had for me, for my future and their future. It stirs up where I’ve been, where I was headed, which way I turned, and where I am now. Music is in my blood, a blessing and a curse that I wish I could cut from my soul at times. It is an eternal desire for greatness and a blow of crushing defeat. Sometimes it takes me soaring as high as the sun and other times drops me to rock bottom regret. My melody, always bright enough to propel me to the stars; Only to fall short and flash across the sky, making one last wish on its dimming flicker.
It’s not just a song on a Saturday morning as I sip a cup of coffee or ride in my car. My car, the one place I still crank it up, could drive for days and sing thousands of songs, one after another, breathlessly, endlessly, numbingly baring my soul. The music moves and simultaneously grounds me, glueing me to a single moment. It sends me flowing backward and forward in time and, with a single note, can set my life flashing before my eyes. It is rebirth, heartbreak, joy, love and delight, death, praise, and worship. Music is so much, wrapped up in one single simple pattern of rectangular bars, little black notes, dots, and sticks floating over a white page or just spinning in my brain.
When I listen to music, I see a snapshot of every moment that coincides with the particular lyric I am listening to. My life rises and falls with the melody. When I listen to music, it is more than just a sound; it is the fiber of my being that no one else will ever experience or understand because their not me. My memories shape the unique way I hear, sing, feel, remember, see and understand music. Music has asked a lot of me and also given me so much. It has scared me, freed me, made me wild, disciplined, and moved me. It has taken me not just emotionally but physically from state to state and country to country. It has introduced me to the loves in my life and taken me away from them. Taunted me until I’d spill my secrets or to bend the truth to tell my story. When I listen to a song, I hear the sound, and I brace myself as the waves of audible art surge over me in its power, and it penetrates me. In wonder, I’m transported. In all honesty, when I listen to music, it’s not just the tune, the lyrics, or the Artist; it’s everything.