Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Let’s Talk About Our Writing

Last week I suggested and shared some links to technical blogging tools that I use. I said, “use these tools to amplify your writing voice and build your audience.” I suggested that you start with one blog account and take it slow. And also noted that “taking it slow is better than doing nothing at all.” While having and knowing how to use all of the gadgets, platforms, and software available for blogging is handy, it’s not everything. The list of links I provided is a vehicle for distributing our stories to the public (and your mom, face it, your mom is always the first to comment on your work). Those blogging and posting tools are necessary, but I want to talk to you about another critical component to being a blog writer, so let’s talk about our writing and what we use to get the written word from our brains to paper or screen with authenticity.

Before I can take my written thoughts and throw them up on the World Wide Web or into the cloud, I have to access some essential tools in my possession. These basic yet necessary and powerful tools took me a long time to learn how to use, maybe longer than learning to use the online tools and platforms I have shared with you. Over time I have fine-tuned these essential tools and discovered that having a clear understanding of this component of my writing is imperative when telling my story.

If you are an artist, singer, writer, or chasing any form of creative endeavor; you have probably searched high and low for that one thing that will make you relevant, pull people in, keep them hooked and give them the desire to share your creative genius with everyone they know. I have honestly spent years reading about how other successful people have found their voice. I have followed their journeys to see where that magic moment happened, that defined them, made them unique, and set them apart from us ordinary folk. What set them on the road to success? Through all of my searching, I found that no two stories are the same. The successful people we look up to and model ourselves after come from varying backgrounds. Some lived in cars with their family and desperation drove them, some had been in the right place at the right time, some were born in the spotlight and chose to carry on a family legacy, and some had greatness thrust upon them (yes, some of those that we look up to found success by accident). But what if all of these individual universes made up of complex stories flavored with personal experience, perception, beliefs, and unique environments use the same tools to accomplish their goals?

I believe they do, and I think I’ve finally discovered what they are in me, and you have got them in you too. I think we can all express ourselves authentically. You have had these tools and have been developing them since the day you were born. You don’t have to go out and buy them, and you can’t download them on your computer or phone as an app.

These special tools are our HEARING, HEART, and HONESTY. Let’s call them the 3 H’s. Remembering to pay attention and use these internal tools intentionally is not always easy. Sometimes I forget to tap into the 3 H’s and write a fluff story that falls flat. It takes time and practice to implement the 3 H’s. And because I make myself write every day, no matter what, I’m not always going to hit it out of the park.

Here’s what happens when I implement the 3 H’s:

When I HEAR or listen in silence, what I hear comes through clearly. It is important to me to listen to my inner voice. I also listen to the voices of those around me (discerningly). Being still and learning to listen patiently helps me understand the world around me and allows me to paint a distinct picture of where I and others fit in my stories. If I only listen to MY voice, I fear I will become very one-dimensional.

When I open my HEART, I tap into authentic emotions. I show my vulnerability and, by doing so, set myself free. Writing from my heart allows me to share my ideas, dreams, compassion, anger, desires, fears, pain, and joy with humanity. Being able to speak from my heart, I believe, makes me relatable to others. We all feel something whether we play our cards close to our chest or put our crazy out on the front porch. I speak from my heart and have seen firsthand how it has helped others open up, face, and share their emotions. I believe this is what pulls people in and gets them hooked, and because it has come from deep in my soul, I feel good knowing I’m not just bullshitting people, which brings me to the 3rd H.

When I am HONEST with myself about my past, present, and goals or dreams set for the future, I can share my truth. My truth is my voice. Finding my voice as a writer has been the most challenging thing for me to do (it’s an evolving process). In the past, I had trouble writing in my voice because I was afraid of offending someone or revealing too much of myself; doing this caused me to write inconsistently or not at all. After a while, writing felt like a chore because I wasn’t honestly putting on paper what I wanted to say. I found my honesty by setting a timer for 10 minutes a day and just writing the first thing that came to my mind. (If you decide to practice this, DO NOT stop to think about what you are writing, just let whatever flows into your mind flow out. Also, please DO NOT go back and correct or read it for a week) doing this helped me to loosen up and freed me from my inhibitions. When I read what I wrote in my 10 minute “stream of consciousness” sessions a week later, I saw honesty and authenticity instead of fabricated thought.

So there they are, the tools that I find the most valuable in my life as a blog writer who is also working on a memoir and dabbling with some short fiction ideas. Focus on the 3 H’s; meditate, silently observe, ask questions, try not to talk for a change (if you’re a talker). Open your heart and share it with others (it may get broken, use that shit). Be honest; always be honest. The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short for BS, fake people, being stuck in toxic relationships, letting others control me, and constantly smiling through the pain. Instead, smile because you feel empowered over having just shared your truth with someone. Remember the saying, “the truth will set you free”? Well, it does.

Use the 3 H’s above, and once you’ve put your words into writing, grab the handy links below, turn up your voice and touch others’ lives. I believe there is no failing in writing. The act of documenting your life is one of creating a legacy that will be here when we are long gone. Did the cavemen or Egyptians worry about the pictorial stories or hieroglyphics they carved into stone and left for generations to come? (I don’t actually know, but I say NO!) If I’m sharing my truth, history, or dreams, I know It can’t be wrong. So come on! Let’s WRITE!

HELPFUL LINKS:

My main webpage is https://jerisbraindumpblog.com (this is a WordPress site).

Comprehensive list of the channels, tools, and accounts I have adopted (please comment kindly, follow, like, or subscribe to any or all of my channels, and by all means SHARE!!!, the point of this is that we’re working to tell our stories and to be seen and heard):

• WordPress https://jerisbraindumpblog.com (BLOG)

• Blogger https://jerisbraindump.blogspot.com (BLOG)

• Medium https://medium.com/me/stories/public (BLOG)

• Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jerisbraindump (WordPress automated posting)

• Twitter https://twitter.com/BruntonJeri (WordPress automated posting)

• Tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/blog/jerisbraindump (WordPress automated posting)

• Reddit https://www.reddit.com/user/Jeris_Brain_Dump (WordPress automated posting)

• Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/jerimamma/jeris-brain-dump-personal-stories/ (I haven’t figured out how to automate this one yet; however, it is linked to WordPress)

• 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:

• Spotify https://spoti.fi/3nZzw25

• Apple Podcasts https://apple.co/2R1Kzfi

• Google Podcasts https://bit.ly/3f1ATtg

• 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

Other handy tools I use are:

Bit.ly to shorten URL’s

• Grammerly.com for editing and correcting text before posting a blog (if you don’t have a trusted proofreader, this is a MUST!!! Even this excellent tool doesn’t replace the sharpness of a trained human editors eye)

Me working on the 3 H’s
Posted in Personal Journal Blog

When Do You Work?

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.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

That One True Purpose

Lately, I’ve felt like the whole world has opened up. Not because I won the lottery or found out that secretly I’m the air to a small country in the middle of nowhere. No, not because of that. I feel this way because I have finally found myself. I have found my voice and that one true purpose. Making this statement is colossal, right?! I know that every human being out there at some point in their life has wondered why the hell they are here. I have for years. It didn’t click for me until recently at the age of 53. It was an accident that I found my purpose. I had hit my lowest point in life and thrown my hands in the air in defeat, swore never to leave my bed again, and then my purpose found me.

The life I’ve lived has shaped my purpose. I am the youngest of five kids, and by nature and according to Alfred Adler’s Birth Order Theory, I am a textbook 5th or last child. I’m a risk-taker, outgoing, creative, self-centered (but come on, who isn’t), competitive, bored easily, like to be pampered, like to be pampered, like to be pampered, (oh yeah, I like to be pampered), and have a sense of humor, did I say I like to be pampered? There is also a bit about being financially irresponsible, but that’s not me. I am that person who was journaling paper budgets six months in advance in those black-bound school journals before you could use digital budgeting tools like PocketGuard or Mint. I am the organizer in our house, the cleaner, fixer, mover, shaker, and disciplinarian. At the beginning of my relationship with Paul, we had a sleepover at my mom’s place (if that’s what you want to call it); I walked past the bathroom door as he had just opened it on his way out. I stood back and watched him silently go through my bathroom drawers. I would say that was creepy, but It was entertaining to watch the horror on his face over finding my hair ties, bobby pins, hair clips, and barrettes all separated and placed neatly into individual little Tupperware containers. I held my laughter in as he lifted one of the containers from the drawer, examined my severe organization, and let out an audible “holy shit!” Yeah, no, I think the creepy one in that scenario was me. Paul is still with me after 28 years and brings in the cash while I write, mother, obsessively rearrange our kitchen cabinet contents, wage war against plastic, and manage our finances and the house. He enriches our lives by sharing silly antics with our daughters, drumming up raucous play sessions, imposing his cool dude presence, and cleaning up the kitchen after I cook nightly. We are a well-suited match. He doesn’t worry much. There was a time when that was detrimental to our relationship because I obsessively stress enough for all 5 of us and got frustrated that his head was empty while mine was racing with thoughts (that green-eyed monster, jealousy is ugly).

Being a worrier, I find it hard to let go of things. Worrying less gets better as I get older because I don’t have the energy anymore. Worrying involves digging up a lot of information stored in our being. Humans process thoughts over and over again deep into their subconscious, where conclusions are formulated in a REM state; which I can never achieve because I’m too busy laying awake worrying and counting the number of popcorn bubbles on our stucco ceiling or naming all of the shapes I can see in the little bumpy plaster splatters. So worry is not really my only actual problem; there’s also insomnia; I’ve had that for as long as I could remember. I’m like Buffy the Vampire slayer, only older, puffier, and brunettish, only in the sense that she was a vampire, and they come out at night. I am a night dweller too, and I’m in no way scared of the light of the sun, but I do like to sleep in, so don’t ever invite me to catch a sunrise, please. If you wake me up anywhere before 7:30 or 11:30 am, I just can’t. Oh, I’m exaggerating, 9:30 am. If I didn’t take citalopram and journal, relieving myself with a brain dump, I would never close my eyes (hey, if I do a plug for Citalopram, do I get a kickback like my Dr’s? Come on, big Pharma, throw me a bone!). I usually fall asleep at about 2 am and then wake up late. I lay in bed reading, talking to our girls in NZ on FaceTime, or writing in the notes on my iPhone. At one point in time, I traced our entire family tree back to the 1400s, hiding under my covers. It’s a wonder my poor husband doesn’t have sleep issues because there is always a little glow of phone light coming from my side of the bed. I hold off on looking at social media until the early hours of the morning, 8:00 am. You early risers probably think I’m pathetic; I know, I can feel the way you’re eyeing the page, all judgie like. Just because Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” doesn’t mean me and those like me are doomed to be broken, starving artists with limited intelligence and foolish banter till the day we die.

I make sense of my world by putting it into words and taking photos. I am creative. Most creatives have some quirky issues and are sometimes highly intelligent (I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but I am smarter than the average bear). People like me aren’t savvy in the conventional; you test well on national standards tests way, but in a more creative thinking outside of the box way. I wasn’t a standard student, and I wasn’t academically gifted. My teachers recognized my gift as a singer early on, and they tailored my school schedule to nurture my talents. I had voice and dance lessons after school, and by the end of high school, I had four music classes out of 7 a day. I would even get pulled out of academic courses to work on creative projects. I was fortunate to have a middle school and high school in tune and sympathetic to my needs. Big shout out to Gulfview Middle School and Naples High School. Best schools ever! 💙💛🦅

Even though I was encouraged to sing and be the captain of the majorette squad, I missed out in the English lit area. All of the brainy kids were in the classes that would have nurtured my desire to be a writer. I was fortunate to be put in Mr. Glancy’s class my senior year, he taught the advanced English lit classes, and he inspired me to read and love it. He had the cool factor and was skilled at getting inside the student’s heads. He could see I was a bit of an oddball but didn’t dismiss me. No, he sat me at the front of the room to sleep with my head on my backpack and made me wake up and engage. I’m thankful for that.

As I look back at all of the journaling I have done in my stack of notebooks and online, I realize that I have been a natural-born writer all along. I worked so hard at my singing career, but my silent true passion was always right at my fingertips. When I gave up hope during the isolation of covid, the only safe place to turn was inward, and that spilled out of my fingers onto paper and up to the cloud. I have been feverishly writing since that morning in March 2021 when I woke up and frantically searched the house for every one of my old journals and online diaries. I was desperate to speak my mind and didn’t want to burden others with my issues, beliefs, and ideas. I did what came naturally to me and wrote about the pain and confusion I felt. Over the weeks that followed, my dear husband noticed a calmness in me. My writing was healing me, lifting me, and giving me purpose. He has been so happy for me, and I have felt such relief and been much easier to be around (I’ve even started laughing at myself again). My lost feeling hadn’t started during COVID; in fact, the more I dive into my memories and document my journey, I find that I was wandering longer than I or anyone else knew. I know who and what I am now; I have a voice that I am not afraid to use. I’ve found a space I can be my authentic self in, and while doing it, I can share my words and help others find themselves hopefully (or I may just confuse you even further than you are now).

The world has indeed opened up as my mind has opened, as I’ve let go of my fear of failing and worry over being perfect. I’ve learned to take care of myself first now. I understand that taking care of Jeri gives me the strength to be there for others and still know when I need to back off. Yes, I am a writer, blogger, wordsmith, and expert through my life experiences. I am excited to be alive again and looking forward to seeing how my words touch others and continue to heal me. I am at peace knowing that one true purpose has finally found me.

This is where the magic happens.
Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Turn Off the Noise!

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. ♥️

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

On the Fringe

I dedicate this story to all those talented hairstylists who spend hours on their feet making us pretty, listening, and acting with great enthusiasm, as if they care about the never-ending verbal puking of stories we spill on them.

Something kept tickling my face as I slept, and it was starting to annoy me. Since I had to pee anyway, I decided to go in the bathroom and investigate. I walked in and looked in the mirror with tired eyes and stared at my bangs/fringe. It had begun growing down over my eyes and was getting super annoying. I made an unconscious decision to cut it. I opened the bathroom drawer and rummaged around for the elementary school craft scissors I had seen in there at some point in time. I’m not sure if the middle of the night is the best time to decide to cut your hair. I leaned forward into the mirror. I couldn’t see because I didn’t have my contacts in or glasses on. I tried to copy the line that my excellent hairdresser had cut previously. I sleepily snipped and snipped and, when I thought I was done, pulled the drain plug out of the drain, washed all the hair down, and went back to bed. I laid there for about 10 minutes and kept feeling a tickle on my cheek. I got back up and walked into the bathroom again.

My feet were rhythmically patting their way across the tile in time to my sound sleeping husband’s snoring. I pulled out the scissors again and snipped a little bit more, and thought, “yes, this looks much better, and that tickle is finally gone.” it was probably 3 a.m. when I fell asleep. My alarm went off, and I pulled myself to the bathroom, groggy, as any middle-of-the-night hairstylist would be. I flicked on the light and squinted at the mirror. “Oh, man, who cut my hair? Dang it! I thought I dreamt that!” I have a new crisp cut fringe. I’m pretty sure my hairdresser Nathaly is going to be pretty impressed with my cutting skills. Sometimes I have a hard time determining reality from my dreams. Often, I dream In color, and it’s pretty vivid. A few incredible times, I’ve had smell-a-vision and could feel being run over by a train. I lived, of course, in real life, that is, but didn’t do so hot in my dream. Since my recent endeavor was not a dream, I’ll have to live with my trainwreck of a haircut for a bit. Oh well, this too shall pass or grow out fast.

Word of advice, don’t run with or cut your hair in the middle of the night with these.
Posted in Personal Journal Blog

Covid Vaccine Phizer Take 2 💉

When I had the first Covid vaccination, I wasn’t nervous at all. And since I was a good girl and took my vaccine bravely, I treated myself to dinner at mellow mushroom afterward. I walked over to the restaurant and had dinner by myself, and as I sat there realized I was starting to feel drunk. No, I wasn’t drinking. My head started tingling like crazy, and I began to feel a bit achy. It wasn’t anything horrible it just made me a little nervous. The whole head-tingling thing was unexpected, and I was wondering if I was going to start seeing unicorns farting glitter next. At home, I hopped in bed and hunkered down for the night, hoping that no more symptoms would come on, I was happy when I woke up the following day, and the only issues I had were a pretty sore arm and intense headache. I always have those, though, so that was no big deal.

So today, I go for my second Covid Vaccination. I decided to get the Pfizer one because that’s the one they offered, not the one I researched and actually decided to get, that’s the one I showed up, and they had available for me. So that’s the one I got, get it? They say that the second vaccine kicks your ass. I Felt pretty off with the first one, so I hope that the second one isn’t that times 10; watch the space.

Posted in Personal Journal Blog

We’re Headed to New Zealand!!!

This is a moment of hysterical excitement!!! My youngest daughter and I have not seen my two oldest girls since November 2019, and we just jumped through every border closure hoop you possibly can to enter the country as citizens and returning residents, and WE ARE THERE!!! I am screaming, crying, and laughing inside all at the same time. I told our middle daughter over the phone just a minute ago that we will be there in a couple of months to see her, and I couldn’t even complete sentences. I was like, and oh my God, because and can you believe it…NOT COMPLEATING SENTENCES HYSTERICALLY HAPPY!!!! I’m going to have to spellcheck the hell out of this when I’m done and before I post because I’m not sure I’m even typing in an audible language!!! Thank God for #Grammerly 

It will have been 18 months since I hugged Sabrina and Molly last, and Zoë will be freaking out to be with her two older sisters again. The time with them will be one month. Before we can hug them, we do have to be locked down in managed isolation for 14 days upon arrival; with brain piercing Covid tests every three days!!! BUT WHO CARES! (Well, I do a little bit) but really, WHO CARES? I GET TO HUG MY BABIES!!!!

Posted in writing

FATISM

I have always noticed clear discrimination between skinny or athletic people and overweight/fat people. I am built like my mom was. Voluptuous, curvy, buxom, whatever you want to call it, I’m it!! I watched my mom my whole life struggle with her weight. She went to the gym; she tried every diet anyone could ever be on. She read countless books and fasted; she did it all. For short periods she would have unsustainable success. She would look thinner, but not ever skinny, for about six months, and then the weight would come back, and the battle would begin again. It was hard to watch her as she struggled with her emotions over feeling unloved because of her size.

Carole Sue was a beautiful woman, yet her self-esteem was shattered. She had the glamor of Elizabeth Taylor, with striking brown eyes that had a light blue ring around them and a smile that would light up a room and, oh my God, her laugh! That amazing jolly joyful laugh was infectious. She was strong and worked hard. She did have her demons, though, drowning her pain of abandonment with wine or Manhattans and focusing on her battle with the bulge. She always dressed stylishly even though plus-size clothes had not always been readily available until recently. Now fashion has begun to truely embrace the human body’s diversity and is slightly sympathetic to the fact that not all women’s dress sizes run between a 2 and 12. (Sometimes 14 in the less discriminating designer stores).

My mom told me that sometimes she thought she was unloveable because of her size. That’s sad! She said men always said to her that she had a beautiful face and nice legs. She thought they were saying that because they found the parts in between undesirable. When she died, I felt relief for her as she lay in the hospital bed. She looked peaceful, light, and free from her uncomfortable body. But, this story isn’t about my mom. I’m simply saying I get it, and I have experienced the same fat-a-phobia as she and other voluptuous women have.

As defined by Merriam Webster, it’s called: “fatism noun fat·ism | \ ˈfat-ˌi-zəm Definition of fatism: prejudice or discrimination against fat people.”

I used to be insecure about it and, at one period in my life, struggled with anorexia (a story for another time). Now I am secure and just keenly aware. Coping with a large body size takes up a lot of headspace. You feel it when you move, when you’re out in public, when you meet someone athletic or just plain skinny. You feel it even when your shopping for an outfit to “knock em dead” in. It weighs heavy on your mind. Yes, that was a pun. And darn it, I know it’s not punny.

I love the moment in Pitch Perfect when Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) Is asked about her name,

I get it. I can relate. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve said it too. I’ve felt it and heard it. I also point out my imperfections before anyone else can.

I’m stunned at how shallow some people are sometimes. One evening a mother, of our middle daughter’s friend, came to pick up her child, and I invited her in for a glass of wine. She was a small, attractive, tennis-playing woman who hung with the gossip moms of Naples. There is definitely a defined group, trust me. They know who they are, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a member of said group. Anyway, I tried to develop a relationship with her because our two girls were so close. She sat at my kitchen table while I cooked, with a glass of wine in hand, and began to spout out the local goss. She told me about a mom she knew who was going through a divorce. She said, “she is really nice, but she is overweight, kind of fat.” This was not the first time she’d made comments like this to me. I thought, what the fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING?! Was she insinuating that this was the reason her husband was dumping her? Then she said, “she’s a kind of large woman, but I’m friends with her.” My jaw dropped. I am 5’7” and 224 lbs. what about me? Why is she sitting in my kitchen? I’m a large woman!! I must be really nice?! I’m not a violent person, but I suddenly went red. In my mind, I went full Yosemite Sam from Loony Tunes on her ass. I wanted to punch her little tennis skirt-wearing body through the kitchen wall and certainly didn’t want to share my wine with her!! I could reverse it “she’s a tiny woman, kind of skinny,” but I wouldn’t be adding that she was a nice person. Yeah, switching it doesn’t quite have the same sting. I am afraid I could only say she was an ignorant, shallow woman. And that was the end of that friendship endeavor. WOW!! What the heck!! I fed her and kept smiling. I shooed her out the door the minute she took her last sip of wine and breathed a sigh of relief that she was gone.

Fat, fat, fat, fat. Man, the word echoes in my ears. The first time I ever felt conscious of this state of being was when I was at my sister Robin’s wedding. It was around 1977. She was 18, and we were out on her husband’s family farm having a field wedding. At the reception, I sat on my oldest brother’s lap, happily eating a big spoon full of icing off of the wedding cake. I was blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. My brother said, “you know you’re getting pretty fat.” I don’t remember what I said but I remember him slapping the spoonful of icing out of my hand. He looked so angry. I felt so stupid, ashamed for eating that horrible treat and being happy about it. I ran into the house crying and had no idea that this would be the first of many times I would feel this shame and sadness over my body or relationship with food.

We moved to Florida right after the wedding. My mom and I drove there from Ohio. It was a lonely time. I felt like my whole family was gone. Robin was married and gone; I’m not sure where Tami was; Bobby stayed in Ohio with my dad and, well, my Dad, yeah he was well and truly gone. It was clear I was not a priority for him. He had someone new to love, and it wasn’t us. Florida was hot, and I didn’t have any friends. I played a lot with my niece Shawn who is 5 yrs younger than me, but I always felt anxious being at her house with my older brother. Yes, the spoon of icing slapping brother, a real peach. He drank a lot. My mom had to work, and she was trying to find her way in this new environment.

Our TV became my friend. It was cool inside on the couch, and my new friend talked to me, made me smile, and took me away from the new life we had. I was a couch potato, eating frozen pizza, hotdogs with cheese melted on them, candy that I rode my bike to 7-11 to get, and any snack food that was lying around. I was like any other kid who liked to snack and watch TV. It didn’t have a good effect on me, though. I was at that age between 10 and 12, where you gain a bit before you reach puberty, and I was; as a result, a chubby girl, just as my brother had said. My mom struggled to find me clothes that fit at Sears, Kmart, and sometimes Goodwill. I wished I could squeeze into the thin girl sizes. But they never quite fit my shape. When I got to Gulfview Middle School, I wanted so badly to wear Levi corduroys, Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Jordache jeans as all the popular girls did, but they weren’t in our budget, and they didn’t fit me. Every young girl wanted to look like Brooke Shields in her jeans on the pages of Teen Magazine or extensive billboard campaigns, just teasing us with the flirtatious line: “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

A critical moment that scarred me was when a couple of football-playing boys in middle school called me p-p-p-porky repeatedly. I was ashamed again. I felt ugly and less than the skinny girls. Anyone would. Enough was going on at home that made me feel bad without having to deal with this too. I had found my singing voice by this time, and the band and choir teachers made me their pet project. They allowed me to use the practice rooms during lunch, and there I would sit quietly, alone at the piano keyboard, and eat my liver worst with mustard (not the most popular kids lunch) or PB&J sandwich. I was scared of the world inside the lunchroom and even more afraid of the courtyard where everyone gossiped or played when they were done eating.

At one point, I had made a friend, a good friend. She, too, was a chubby, loving girl. She talked me into eating with her and her friends in the lunchroom, and I did. It was so exciting having this newfound confidence and the feeling of belonging to her friend group. She had one friend, in particular, Renee, who was a small girl, shy and soft-spoken. These two girls made me feel like I belonged for the first time. And then one day, my pudgy fellow friend didn’t come to school. Renee showed up, distressed, quiet, and without her sidekick. She was hurting inside because Jurine had tragically died. She had been sitting on the easement grass near her house playing, and a drunk man ran her over. It was a hit and run. They say he didn’t stop because he thought he had hit trash cans. Our friend was dead, and our hearts were so heavy. I couldn’t cope with the loss and talked less and less to Renee. I went back to the practice rooms. Music teachers and music remained my friends. I ate my food there in peace and didn’t feel ashamed because there was no one to mock or judge me. I didn’t mention this to anyone at home.

I have told my girls about this sad and shame-filled time in my life. I told them a story about some football players sticking me on top of the school lockers, just outside the gym. The buses were lining up on the backfield loop, and everyone was leaving. I didn’t have a bus to catch because I could walk home. We lived on 7th street near the school in apartments that NCH owned. If you were an employee there, you could live in the apartments with a discounted monthly rent. My mom was a bookkeeper at NCH, so we qualified. Anyway, I remember making light of being put on top of the lockers to minimize the shame, but I honestly was afraid to climb down. It seemed so high off the ground. I lay up there helpless as kids walked by laughing on their way off Campus. The halls emptied. It got quiet and time ticked by. We didn’t have cell phones back then, so I couldn’t send a text to my mom or sisters saying, “Hey! I’m at the school stuck on top of a locker; save me!!! No, I just laid there and looked at the ceiling in defeat. P-p-p-porky played over and over in my ears. And then I heard a voice. Coach Stevenson was locking up the gym. He lived in our apartment building. I thought, miracle of all miracles!!! He said, “Hey, who is that on top of that locker? Climb down from there”! I said, “it’s me, coach, Jeri Moore, I’m stuck”! He couldn’t believe his eyes and seemed pretty compassionate as I told him my story while he helped me down. I rode with him to our apartment building. I knew his girls; they were my age. He seemed to be a good dad, and he had just recently divorced. He had struggles too. I knew this because I heard those good old gossipy Naples moms talking. My mom would be getting off work soon, and I just wanted to get home.

I wouldn’t say I liked school. And for the years after my dad had left, home felt like shaky ground. Nothing was secure, people’s emotions and actions felt unpredictable, and there were times I didn’t feel safe there either. But the TV would always have the same shows at the same time each day and night, and even if no one came home, I could count on my favorite TV friends to be there, along with the frozen pizza or hot dogs from the fridge. They were always there to give me a feeling of comfort and warmth. I would settle in and skip my homework. In fact, for many years, I didn’t even bring my school books home. I felt it didn’t matter if I got bad or good grades. My sister Tami was the only person who asked about my report card anyway. She’s the only one who would scold me about my grades and make me question my ability to learn or have common sense. Besides that, it was pretty safe to say I could settle In front of the TV, and there would be no threat of being pulled out of my safe, comfortable world of imagination (unless I had a voice lesson or performance). Everyone had their own lives to concentrate on.

In the fall of 2017-2018, our youngest girl, Zoë started 6th grade at Gulfview. She was so excited to be attending her mom’s school. On the night of the open house, she had so many cool things to show me, but there was one crucial thing that she wanted to share. Remembering my story about being put on top of the lockers there, she pulled me to the hallway where her locker was and said, “Mum, look, they made the tops of the lockers slanted so no one can put anything on top of them.” I said, “that is wonderful, Zoë.,” She replied, “don’t you remember what happened to you”? Of course, I remember it. Tiny scars fade, but they rarely, completely disappear and are forgotten. Then she said, “yes, well I guess they can’t do that anymore.” In her mind, it was a small victory. I am sure there were several reasons for putting a slant on top of the lockers. To us this an excellent feature to add. I remember those days and those kids and and have forgiven them. I even look back and chuckle to myself about how stupid it all was, yet i still feel a slight hint of sadness for that awkward middle school girl.

Written by Jeri Moore Brunton

Me in 8th grade at Gulfview Middle School
Posted in writing

Paper Vs. Digital Journals

Experience and Opinion

I always struggle with whether I should write my deepest darkest secrets, desires, and memories on paper or digitally. Let us consider the pros and cons of both options. When writing digitally, I can write as quickly as my thoughts process, and it flows like the spoken word. Digital journals can be loaded to the cloud and will not get lost in the shuffle. If you have had a life anything like mine, eventually, after years of writing, it feels like you are toting your library around the world. This can be a heavy job.

Fun fact, I am left-handed. No, the rumors of left-handed people are not valid. We do not write with the hand of the devil, and we are not possessed. Most left-handed people are right-brained, and some say, “the only ones in our right minds!” When writing digitally, I can write freely and cleanly, which is hard to achieve on paper as a lefty. I turn my journal cockeyed, hold my pencil in a fist hold, curl my hand above the writing line and pull my pen across the paper, trying as hard as I can not to smudge the ink or get oil from my palm on the page. When my pen hits the oil slick from my greasy little mitt, my pen stops working. This interrupts my flow of thought. My cockeyed handwriting and smudge paper problems are probably the number one reason I prefer digital journal writing over paper journaling. Typing my thoughts out is much less painful than writing them out, especially on those days when I have a lot to say. If you have ever experienced writer’s cramp, you will understand what I mean. That feeling when your hand muscles get fatigued from the repetitive motion of writing, pressing down on the paper, and for me, having a death grip on the pen! A digital journal will also allow for quickly placing photos in a story. Adding a visual makes your publication a bit more interesting and will give others a glimpse of the memories you are working so hard to preserve.

I think it is clear so far that I lean positively towards digital journal writing over paper journaling. But what about those fancy paper journals that are so fun to collect?! I admit that I have spent a pretty penny on beautiful journals over the years, stacks of books that I plan to fill with all my dreams, desires, secrets, angst, joy, and personal history. My journal is my therapy and is a safe place to blow off steam. It is also my preserved thoughts that I have intended to leave behind for my family when I am departed from this earth, assuming they want to read what I had to say.

I am a sucker for a pretty journal. I walk into a stationery shop or bookstore and make a beeline for the journal section. Oh, the fabulous covers, some with prints by classic artists, flashy fonts, affirmations, quotes from the great authors and poets who inspire me, words of hope intended to help lift you and get you through the day. Oh, and how about those engraved leather covers that feel like butter to the touch?! Oh, the smell of a fresh new journal. The warm earthy aroma as I flip through each crisp virginal page unspoiled by the touch of anyone else but me. The sensory joy that comes from using a paper journal goes far beyond the look and smell. Think of all the coloring you can do in it! If you are a creative person, then paper journals are not just a place to pen your most extraordinary thoughts. They are also a place where you can insert some artistic flare.

Now I’ll point out where paper journaling surpasses the digital journal. You can create either a “doodling journal,” or for those who use the left and right sides of your brain, are uber-organized and like to categorize your thoughts, you can create a “bullet point journal”! The “bullet point journal” is about more than making pretty penned headers with hand-drawn artistic fonts. No, the bullet point journal is about total thought organization. You tell your story as you go through the day, take meeting notes, keep track of important dates, create cute little calendars and fill each page with colors and fun decorative doodles. There are even journals shared between you and someone else. The latest shared journal I have come across and love is the “You and Me” or “Two-Person” journal. My teen and I shared one of these. She would write down her pubescent middle school struggles and fears, which would be too awkward to talk about face to face, leave it on my dresser at night, and I would write my thoughts, concerns, personal experience and advice, and hopes when it was my turn. Then in the morning, I would leave it in her bedside table drawer. This shared journal was an anonymous way of helping her navigate the wild jungle of crazy teen brain, pimples, sex topics, and smelly friends. Now that is something not as easily done digitally. The physical act of passing the journal made it feel we were members of a secret club all our own.

To wrap up, I’d say that there are pros and cons to both types of journals. Coming to this conclusion means that I will continue to tote my personal library of journals around the world with me, and my phone will be in hand for any lengthy brain dumps.”