5 Things I Feel About Turning 47

Thursday, February 22nd was my 47th birthday. And this year, I felt…different.

On previous birthdays… I’d say at least the last 4 or 5, I’ve been increasingly sad, depressed, wanting to soak every moment out of my birthday while at the same time, wanting to crawl under the blankets and hide from it. But as I said, this year felt different. And here are my 5 reasons/things why I think that is…

Embracing Letting Go … This year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on myself, on figuring out who I am, who I want to be, who I don’t want to be. I’ve been in the doldrums for a long time, in some ways, all my life. And since I started keeping a journal, I’ve been able to work through some of the questions of why I am the way I am and have been able to understand, accept, and let go of a lot of horrible feelings. I used to be somewhat afraid of what letting go of things I’d held onto for so many years (since I was 6 years old, to be honest). If I let go, what would happen to me? Who would I be if I were no longer this negative, dreary, holding onto the hurt and anger and pain and guilt? I’m a happier person, that’s who.

Yoga/Meditation/Talking to the Universe … Last year I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes for 30 days straight. I wanted to see how I’d feel at the end of it. I wanted to see what changes I encountered about myself, what changes I encountered to my body, if any. In the end, though, the only thing I that I had to show for it was the fact that I’d done it and I was proud that I had. Other than that? Nothing. My joints hurt. My body felt bloated. I had no energy. I tried to start it up again, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Yes, exercise is important, but what’s more important than exercise in general, is the specific exercise that speaks to you. And a walk every once in a while is awesome. But that’s not my exercise happy place. That my exercise bliss. Yoga is. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I feel incredible afterward. I am not focused on losing weight, but feeling good within my body, mind, and soul. I follow an at home practice. Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome. Bright, open, knowledgeable, energetic and her motto is Find What Feels Good. I have embraced this. Yoga feels good. I’ve been doing it no less than 5 days a week most weeks of 2018 so far. I have noticed changes in my body, in my stress levels. I am kinder to myself. I am full of gratitude toward myself when the practice is over. Yoga helps focus me and calm my mind. I have more positive energy.

Meditation … This is new for me. Or, re-new for me. I’m trying to take at least 5 minutes a day to close my eyes and just breathe. Just exist in the breath, in the moment. It, too, has helped calm and center me. My goal is to work myself up to longer periods of meditation to help reduce stress even more, to silence the noise in my head and connect with the part of me where ideas and creativity and peace reside.

Talking to the Universe … You can say it’s God, or your version of God … I call it the Universe. It’s a free form conversation I have daily. A lot. There’s a lot of gratitude in it, a lot of asking for help in different areas of my life, asking to be of use, to be of service, to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more open to letting go, to receiving, to ideas, to change.  This has become a… I don’t even have a word for it.  It’s an experience. It’s not inside my head. It’s spoken with my mouth when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m doing chores, when I find that my thoughts are not good, are negative, are judgmental of myself or others, when I’m disgruntled with family or friends … This conversation has been altering for me because it never ends. The lines of communication are always open.

Having a Plan … This part goes back to my recent blog posts about my writing and publishing career. Writing is a HUGE part of my life. And I needed a mindset change. We can’t change how we think or feel unless we have the conversations with ourselves and are ready for change. And as y’all know, those conversations with myself and then with you, were not easy, were not pretty, were not fun. They were, however, necessary. And I’m all the more glad for them. My plan for the moment is simple: write and release books. Yes, I need to market. But I’ve spent years dwelling on nothing, on fears, on jealousies, on inferiority, on inconsistency, on not knowing where to start so not starting at all. But now, I have a publishing plan. And starting to look at the marketing side of things, on the branding side of things. Writing, though… Writing gives me joy, fills me with creative energy and this propels me forward, this keeps me moving forward. I’ve defined Lissa Matthews and I’m working on continuing to refine the definition and pick up the momentum. And for the first time in years, I feel hope and happiness as Lissa Matthews.

I am also going to be launching a new name and I’m hopeful that I can launch Ella Claire the right way from the word GO!

Having a plan has been awesome for my mood and dedication to my writing career. I didn’t realize how essential it was to have a plan. Now I do.

Reading … I read a lot now. Over the last year, I’ve begun to read a lot more than I had in the previous few years. I read big books, small books, print books, ebooks. I read YA fiction, crime thrillers, sweet romance, chick lit, some romance, writing craft books, personal development books, entrepreneur mindset books, marketing books. I read. It lets me get out of my head. It lets me escape. It lets me experience other things, other worlds, other imaginations. It opens my mind. It empowers me. It energizes me. It moves me through the whole range of emotions. It prefer reading over television. It keeps my mind, whether business or fantasy, sharp and curious. And curiousness was something missing in my life for a long, long, LONG time. Being curious helps us embrace the child within and this for me was something I’d been missing on a regular basis. Curiosity is one of the things that can help keep us feeling younger, feeling better, feeling more open.

Mindset … I know I talked about this last week, but it bears repeating, at least for me, that a shift, a change in mindset has allowed me to become and embrace more of me, more of the me I want to be, more of the me that’s been wandering lost for years.It’s one of those things that when it comes, if you paddle and stand up to ride that wave, it’ll take you somewhere you have been trying to find, but that’s been right there all along. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of negative thought, of hate speech toward yourself, of ugly words about your appearance, of judgmental thoughts and words for things that happened to you that you had no control over. If you’re down and negative, you attract down and negative. I never bought into that until this year. But it’s true. So is the opposite. If you’re up and positive, you begin to attract up and positive. If you let go, you begin to receive because you’ve opened up. If you smile, smiles will come back to you. What you allow in is what you end up showing the world. I didn’t believe any of it. Until this year. Until I was ready. Until I stood up to ride the wave.

A year or two or five ago, I dreaded every birthday. I wanted it and at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t want to get older. I saw older as the end coming that much closer. I saw it as wrinkles and my mind beginning to shut down, my body breaking down. I greeted each birthday with fear and a desire to go back. To be 20 again, to be 16, 14, 10 again… To go back and make different choices, different decisions. To go back and live again. But that’s not possible. We can’t go back. We can only go forward. We can do so in stagnant waters, or we can do so in an inner tube floating along in crystal clear spring waters, riding the ebbs and flows and engaging with ourselves at each interval. This is what I’ve begun to do. I am open to the Universe, to finding what feels good, to smiling at myself, to being kind and generous with myself, to being open and receptive, to being grateful and accepting of challenges, to putting myself out there and learning new things, to having goals and higher standards for myself. I have gray hairs and I’m finding I like them. I’ve lived 47 years in a bit of darkness. The gray hairs I have are more white than gray and they’re part of the brightness in my life now. I’m embracing color and sparkles and things that bring me happiness.

I’m 47 years old now and I feel as though I’ve just started my life …

~lissa

 

Birthday Thoughts

Birthdays come once a year and mine’s today. I turned 46.

Over the past few years, I’ve both looked forward to my birthday and dreaded it. Usually by the middle of the day, I’m depressed and disenchanted.There are no friends to celebrate with. There are no surprise parties or presents. I always expect it to change or get more festive, because when I looked on social media, it seemed everyone else had great celebrations and boy what a loser I am that I don’t/didn’t/haven’t.

This year, today, has been different. I can’t really explain why, except that I am looking at life a little differently and maybe that’s been the switch I needed to spark something.

I have spent less time on social media and more time with myself, my thoughts, the things I can control. My participation has picked up some, but it’s still not and won’t be what it used to be. For my business as Lissa Matthews, though, I do recognize it’s limited benefits and I adjust accordingly.

But blocking out all the stressful, angry, hateful noise has allowed me to think like me again. I am writing more and and loving the process. I am reading blog posts and writing articles and creativity articles and listening to podcasts. I’m looking for the positive, the happy, the creative, the productive, the engaged.

So, as my birthday approached, I thought of things I might want and the list is long. I can always find more things to want. And it’s not always material, but most things do require some level of income. My birthday wish list will take more than this year to achieve and to be honest, I hope I’m always working toward something new, always learning, always wishing and wondering and trying.

Here’s my current list:

Read more.

Travel.

Craft.

Write.

Laugh.

Sleep.

Eat.

Play.

Grow.

de-Stress.

Build.

Redefine sexy.

Glow.

There isn’t just one thing that creates all of this. It’s multiple things, actions, motivations. And I’m already taking some and seeing change and results that are different. When I was looking outside and at others, I was stagnant and deteriorating. No longer.

So, yes, Happy Birthday to Me. I went out with my family and we had incredible burgers and fries, some free banana pudding. I strolled through Barnes and Noble and left with a whole list of books I want to read and write, but exited the store with a Writer’s Digest Magazine that I am planning to read from start to finish.

And I received a birthday gift from a friend that I will let all of you know about as soon as I have more details.

For now, I have a movie to watch and chocolate covered strawberries to devour before my special day comes to a close.

Tell me, though… What’s on your birthday wish list?

~lissa

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There are no words, and yet…

I was 6 years old when the first Star Wars movie came out. 6. I have watched Carrie Fisher all my life. 40 years.

At the time, I didn’t know what was so incredible about her or what was going on in the world. As I grew up, other things invaded my consciousness and it wasn’t until later in life did I realize her incredible gifts beyond Star Wars. Laughter. Creativity. Honesty. She was more than an actress. She was more than the gold bikini. She was a voice for those battling internal demons. She was a voice for those who suffer from pain and mental illness. She was a mother. A daughter. A writer. A friend.

And yes, she was and is and always will be Princess Leia.

Her death shocks so many of us and for so many different reasons. I am still processing mine.

She taught us to laugh.

She taught us to give.

She taught us that being real and authentic is better and happier business than tongue biting and political correctness.

She taught us to live life fearlessly, and if we are scared, to live it anyway.

She taught us to love.

She taught us to grow old and embrace it, because there is no alternative.

She taught us to face our weaknesses as well as our strengths, perhaps more so.

She taught us that we do still matter, even if we are addicts, or depressed, or bipolar, or manic.

She taught us we don’t have to sell out for success.

She taught us that we can come back from anything.

She taught us to live unapologetic lives, to live without shame, to live with boldness.

She will be missed by millions, by generations of women and girls who aspire to be seen as more than our gender tells us we can. She will be missed by those who are struggling still to find their own voice amid the noise in their head. She will be missed. Her wit. Her uncompromising wisdom. Her flipped birds. Her dislike of double standards. Her truth.

She was so much more than Princess Leia, but she is a Princess nonetheless. She is also a Warrior who fought for so much. Maybe we can learn one more lesson from her…

“I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.”

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for the force you became in all our lives.

Sunday Speeds – December 11, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these catch up and evaluate posts.

The 2016 Nascar season came and went and I barely said a word about it.

The 2016 College Football Season came and went and I didn’t say anything about it, either. There are still bowl games and playoffs and the championship to go, so who knows, I might give a rundown of the games.

The point is, I’ve been relatively quiet about things I love, about passion, about writing, about anything and everything.

It’s 14 days until Christmas and I have yet to put up a tree, add lights outside, or bake ANYTHING! Y’all know when I’m not baking that something isn’t right.

I’ve been battling severe depression for about 7 months now. I usually come out of it at the end of summer as I’ve discussed before. This year, that didn’t happen. It hasn’t gotten worse, but it certainly hasn’t gotten better. However, my hermit status is NOT in jeopardy. I’m trying to manage it on my own. I talk to friends, I take walks, I listen to music, I sleep. So far, nothing has really helped me get up the hill.

The spouse started working from home full time in September.

One thing as a hermit and a depressed person and an introvert and as well, me… is alone time. Is time I don’t have to think about anyone else. That went out the window when he started working from home. He no longer has a desk or space at the office, so going back is not going to happen. We’re still working things out, or trying, and the adjustment has been one that I’m not making as well as he is and I’m not sure how it’s going to work out in the long run.

I haven’t been reading. Nothing catches my eye. Nothing captures my attention. I get to page 5 or 10 and put it down. This has happened with historical romance, contemporary, paranormal, dark, bdsm, m/m… whatever the genre, I’m not finding anything to hold me or interest me in the slightest.

And finally, my writing… I have been working. I have been revising books and finishing some that I’d started. I’ll have a release uploading tomorrow and one that I’ll upload the week of Christmas. I’ll have more information on that second release soon. I have a full plate of new books, revised books, and I need to finish that books for 2017. I have all my books back from Ellora’s Cave and I have had them taken down from most places. Google Books is being a pain in the ass still and EC isn’t bothering to help.

I don’t have the re-release schedule figured out yet, but I’m working on it.

Every year, the last five years or so, I start out thinking that year will be different. So far, that hasn’t been the case. Every year either stagnates further, or gets a little harder.

I’m looking at 2017 as either a breakthrough year, or the one that reaffirms that it’s time for me to do something else.

I don’t know if I should be saying brace yourselves for impact, or grab the nearest bottle of the hard stuff and just sit back and watch it all burn to hell.

We’ll find out together.

~lissa

Music Monday And The Size Of My Ass… Or Your Ass

Kinda catchy, yeah? The title of this post, I mean. So, let’s get down and dirty…

My ass is a size 22. A size 24 sometimes, depending on, oh let’s see… my stress level, my hormones, my state of happy or sad, my depression, my job (how many hours I’ve sat in a chair and for how many days), my diet, and my genetic pool. Some of these things stay level (genetic pool) and some (all the rest) of them fluctuate by the hour. And they all affect the size of my ass.

All this size crap? Sucks. That little chart in the Dr’s office? That sucks, too. A doctor telling you that you need to eat better, quit smoking, stop drinking, etc…? That really sucks when you find them eating junk, smoking like a chimney, and drinking more every night than you have in your entire life. Do as I say and all that shit.

And right now, I’m eating a piece of cheesecake. And I LIKE IT! It’s so good and rich and it’s all mine. I will not share it with you. Okay, maybe I would, but only if you promised not to feel guilty about eating it…

On the heels of the announcement of the size 16 model on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in which we are celebrating body diversity, I learn that my daughter is being asked to write a ‘practice’ paper on obesity in children, teens, and adults. This isn’t something earth shattering, because as a society, we have been focusing on obesity for a long time. We charge out the ass for a bottle of water, but give away chemicals (soda) for next to nothing. We charge out the ass for a bag of salad, or a pint of blackberries, but give away a sugar laden candy bar for next to nothing. We talk about getting out and exercising, but we work all the time and don’t lead the example. We have become the rule, not the exception. But I can’t throw stones because honest to God, I hate exercise. I do. I hate sweating. I hate the treadmill. I refuse to join a gym. I refuse to take an aerobics or spin class. I tried several times. I hate it. (I do like yoga, though.)

Over the last year, my daughter has gone from a size 1 and an extra small, to a size I don’t know because she won’t tell me and a medium. She looks beautiful. She looks healthy now as opposed to the gaunt, sunken, unhappy young woman I had previously known. But she looks at the stretch marks and hates how she looks. She’s seeing ONE part of her and hating it and it colors how she sees the rest of herself. And society needs to fucking stop that shit.

You, me, my daughter, anyone, everyone is NOT their skin, are NOT their scars, are NOT the size of their ass. But we make it, we make ALL OF IT about the physical. We don’t give a damn about the kind of asshole person they are, because as long as they look right, it’s all okay, who they are inside doesn’t matter.

When I see my daughter hating something about herself that she has no control over, and no she has no control over the stretch marks that appeared when she was confined to a couch for 4-6 weeks after she broke her ankle last year… Shit fucking happens. I gained weight too when I crushed my ankle right after my son was born. It never healed right because you know, newborn and couldn’t stay off my feet for the weeks I was told to stay off my feet, and I’m in pain with it all the time.

I was told one time by someone very dear that some guys were/are into bigger women and love bigger women and well, he just wasn’t one of those guys… That’s one of those heartbreaking moments in life. That’s one of those life altering moments in life depending on who says those words. And just like everything else in life, it’s how you deal with those words that matters. And I can tell you I didn’t handle those words very well. They broke my heart and sent me down into a deep, dark hole that I’ve only started climbing out of in the last 3 years.

I’ve hated myself and my body for YEARS. For more than 20 years I’ve hated myself and my body. From words my husband and my doctors and my family and my friends and society has spoken to me I’ve hated, HATED myself and my body for over 20 years.

And not hating myself hasn’t come from diets, though I’ve tried them and lost weight. It hasn’t come from exercise, though I’ve tried that, too, and gained weight. It hasn’t come from my spouse, my doctors, my family, my friends, and most definitely not society, because yeah… It’s had to come from me, from INSIDE me.

Do you get that? INSIDE! Not outside. No, cause the outside is cruel and mean and completely heartless at times. But it has had to come from INSIDE.

Many are not that strong. I haven’t been. Not until recently. And no one ever really takes into account that happiness can cause one’s ass to spread too, but it can also cause it so get smaller.

Something I’ve learned is that we have to own our shit. I told my daughter that today. No matter what it is, we have to own it. Own that you ate an entire chocolate cake and loved it. Own that you’re addicted to coffee. Own that you suck at marketing (I know I do and that’s another post altogether.). Own that you hate all the popular stuff. Own your kinks and perversions. Own that you are unhappy or hurting. Own that you’re happy and not hurting. Own your shit. Whatever your shit is, own it, embrace it as yours, accept it as yours. Only then can you begin dealing with it. Only then will the stretch marks become part of you, and not a part that you hate that in turn makes you hate other parts until you’re hating everything you are.

I saw a post on Tumblr recently where a woman added text to an image of herself and it said she was glorifying obesity. She was poking fun at the comments people made about obesity. And some of the comments were just fucking mean. But there were the absurd ones too. One of them from a man was that he bet she cried herself to sleep at night because of her size and that she should think of all the things she couldn’t do that an average weight woman could and that probably made her sad. The woman in the pictures was anything but sad. And as I’m reading these comments and looking at the woman and reading more of the comments from men and women all I could think was, Fuck You.

Society has declared it okay for you to wish my ass were smaller because of how uncomfortable it makes everyone around me. But it hasn’t declared it okay for me to shout Fuck You because of how much of an asshole you are that you can’t see more than that. I don’t have to tell you my ass is big. You see it. But you definitely feel the need to point it out.

We teach girls to hate themselves. We teach the beautiful people that it’s okay to be bitches and assholes because they have what we obese people really want and that’s to look like them, all pretty and perfect on the outside. We teach boys that it’s okay to look at woman and tell her that he bets she cries herself to sleep at night because she can’t do the things a skinny woman can do.

We’re all as different on the outside as we are on the inside. We’re all beautiful and we’re all ugly. We all throw stones. We all break the glass houses that we live in. We all hate ourselves and there are a few of us who love ourselves more.

But we need and much as I hate that word need, we NEED to stop wishing to be different and own our shit. Own the shit storms and the stretch marks and the fact that we have to buy a size bigger. Own that we are mean and cruel and a reflection. Own that we can love and smile and accept and embrace. That’s the only way we are ever going to move forward.

I read book with plus size characters where the heroines are obnoxious about their larger sizes. That’s just as bad as not being accepted at all. Embracing yourself doesn’t mean you have to shove it in another person’s face and scream look at me. You don’t have be an asshole about it. Believe me, people see it and they’re already uncomfortable. Don’t push them away because you had to shout it to the world.

The size of my ass or your ass is no one’s business. As long as the inside is healthy, none of that other crap matters. You want to lose weight? Great. You want to diet? Great. You want to embrace your size, whatever it is? Great. But whatever you do, and when I say you, I mean the collective YOU, not anyone specific… Own your shit. You’re beauty, inside and out. Strengthen your soul, your mind, your heart. Those are the things that matter most. Not stretch marks. Not the size 24 jeans. Not the orgasmic moan you let out when you bit into that piece of cheesecake. But whether or not you were an asshole. That’s what someone is going to remember. And that’s what they should remember…

I posted this video last week and it’s still relevant to this particular topic.

We need to stop hating ourselves and stop hating our differences. For ourselves and for our children…

~lissa

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