Family Issues and Ex-Pastor’s Wife Resentment

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So I am going through a couple things right now. For one, my already strained relationship with my mother seems to be going farther downhill. To get a bit of the backstory on our relationship, you can check out this post. Anyhow, ever since I confronted my mother about the past, I could feel her slowly backing away. She now lives in another state and at first she would call me once or twice a week and would call back within a day if I called her. Now she doesn’t return my calls for a week at a time and it has been three weeks since she last called me, even though she said she would call me in a few days the last time we talked.

I can’t help but feel a little snubbed and like I am slowly being phased out of her life, which doesn’t surprise me now that she has remarried and doesn’t need me so much anymore. This has always pretty much been the pattern when she gets a man in her life. I stop mattering as much. Honestly, there have been times I’ve considered going “no contact” because the little bit of contact we have now only tends to make me sadder, and the more I feel put aside and ignored, the more I hurt.

I’ve also been dealing with some pent up resentment I didn’t even realize I had about the years I spent as a pastor’s wife. For the first 11 years or so of our 15 year marriage, my husband was a pastor. In the past few years we have kind of drifted from the faith and become agnostic, which is a huge change from what our lives used to be. However, I just realized when having a conversation with my husband the other night, how much being a pastor’s wife for so many years deeply bothered me.

For one thing, I constantly felt judged by the congregation and compared to previous or other pastors’ wives that the congregation knew. I was not old-fashioned. I was not meek and submissive. I did not want to teach, play piano, or lead anything. It just isn’t my personality. My social anxiety makes leading anything a horrifying thought for me, but yet, I found myself almost forced to sometimes be in these roles I hated. I was pretty much forced to teach at times, and while I loved the kids, I felt panic at the responsibility. No one helped or trained me, I was just thrown right in. At one point, I had a panic attack and burst into tears about my fear of teaching in front of the head pastor, his wife, and my husband and yet none of them seemed to take it seriously and pretty much just patted me on the shoulder and said I would be all right. But I wasn’t. Even when I found out I had autism and tried to explain to the head pastor why that made social things so hard for me, his response was that everyone has those problems. But no – everyone does not!!!

My husband now realizes how many mistakes he made by pushing me. He is sorry and has genuinely apologized for putting pressure on me and making me feel like I had to do things that made me anxious to the point of sickness. He realizes now that he learned that behavior from his own parents who pressured him constantly about being involved in church and often tended to ignore his feelings if he didn’t want to do something. Like most people, he was acting out the unhealthy patterns of his family as an adult and unfortunately, I got the brunt of it.

* For a great resource on couples therapy, check out this article from BetterHelp!

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New children’s ebook published! “Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship”

Petar cover

I just wanted to write a short blog post to let all my readers know that I just released a new children’s short story ebook! This ebook, Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship, is a heartwarming story about seeing past outward differences into the true heart of a person. The main character, Petar, is actually based on a real-life child that I met when I used to work as a teacher’s aide in our public school system. The courage and sweet personality of this child I knew made me want to tell his story. I also wanted to show how kind and compassionate many of the other children in his classroom were when it came to dealing with their classmate’s special needs.

Petar: An inspiring story about an unexpected friendship is geared for ages 7-11 (can be read independently or aloud). You can purchase the short story from Amazon for only $.99 per Kindle download. I hope you will check out my new ebook! If you do read it and enjoy it, please consider letting me know by leaving a review on Amazon!

Tips for teaching poetry writing to kids and teens

Along with all the author visits and book signings I do, I also spend some of my time teaching poetry and other writing forms to kids and teens. I often have teachers express to me how hard they find it to teach poetry (or any kind of writing) to the kids in their classroom, so I figured I would offer a few tips that I have found work for me when it comes to getting kids excited about writing in general and poetry in particular.

*First off, allow kids freedom with poetry writing, especially when they are first starting out. Free verse tends to be the most accessible and least intimidating form to begin with. If you try to force your students to rhyme or follow a form, you will quickly have a room of frustrated kids.

*Show your kids how much variety there really is in the poetry world. For many children their experience with poetry is limited to nursery rhymes and Dr. Suess. Make your classroom a poetry-friendly zone. Hang up posters with different kinds of poems on them, stock your bookshelves with an assortment of kid-friendly poetry books and make sure you include great examples of poetry in your curriculum throughout the year.

*Read your students poems that were written by kids their age. Before a child will feel confident that they can write poetry, they need to know that other kids their age have been successful with poetry writing and have even gotten published. A few great resources to find poems by kids and teens include the magazines Highlights for Children, Teen Ink and Stone Soup.

*Make it fun. Allow kids to play poetry games. One fun medium that has always seemed to be popular with kids and teens is magnetic poetry. If you have never played with magnetic poetry yourself, feel free to check out www.magneticpoetry.com to see what it is all about.

*Use prompts the kids will actually care about. The fastest way to lose your students’ interest is to give them boring, stuffy prompts. Don’t ask them to write an ode to spring or something predictable like that. Instead, ask them to write about bullies, pets, friends, dreams, things they love, things they hate, what makes them angry, etc. Just because kids are young doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and emotions every bit as strong as adults do.

*Make your class a safe, constructive review zone. Encourage kids to share their poems with the class so that they can receive feedback, but make sure all the kids know that only kind, helpful comments are allowed. No teasing, jeering or laughing at a fellow student’s work (unless the poem is meant to be funny of course).

I hope you have found these tips to be useful. Feel free to let me know what works for you and what doesn’t. You can contact me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com if you have any comments or questions, or you can simply leave a comment below. Also, feel free to contact me if you are interested in having me visit your library, class or school!

School Author Visit Tales – Kids Say the Funniest Things

This past friday I had the pleasure to spend another day presenting my recent picture book, “Ode to Icky” during a school author visit. Although I love all aspects of the writing life – the brainstorming, the writing, the procrastination, the editing, the rush to meet deadlines, the re-editing, watching the book come to life with illustrations, holding the finished book in your hands – I think my favorite part of writing is doing book signings and author visits at elementary schools and other community centers.

Why do I love these events even though they are tiring and sometimes extremely repetitive? Because of the kids! They are funny, sweet, creative and they treat me like I am famous (which is an awesome feeling, even if I know it isn’t true).

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the funny, weird and random things kids have said during one of my author visits. These aren’t all from one school or event, it is just a hodgepodge of what I have heard the past few months while I was out promoting my new book:

“Have you ever met Harry Potter in person?”

“How rich are you? Do you have a swimming pool and your own butler?”

“I really like your book but I think you are crazy for being a writer.”

“If your cat really stinks like the cat in Ode to Icky, then you should just hold his head under water for thirty minutes. He won’t stink anymore after that.” (I didn’t have the heart to tell this little girl that my cat would be dead if I did as she asked lol)

“Is your husband the illustrator of your book or is he just a plain old husband?”

“Can you autograph my sock?”

“You get into trouble a lot, don’t you?” (How did they know?)

“My cat is really ugly and she is going bald, do you want to borrow her so you can write another funny book about a cat?”

“Have you ever been arrested? If so, you might know my dad.” (I found out his dad was a police officer, which was a relief).

“My sister wants to be a writer, but she don’t got no talent.”

“Japanese Folktales for Children” book review

I’ve always been a fan of Japanese culture, particularly anime and manga, so when I was given the chance to review the new children’s book “Japanese Folktales for Children” by Ty Hulse, I was excited. Luckily, the book didn’t let me down. I found it to be a refreshing, fun look at traditional stories from a fascinating land.

This storybook collection includes seven different tales from Japan, each unique both in its subject matter and in the delivery. I had already heard a couple of these stories before, such as “Crane Feathers” and “The Yokai”, but even these stories were a little bit different from the versions I had previously read, so it was still an enlightening read.

One thing that I really liked about this book is that it was able to stay true to its Japanese origin without being too confusing for those who might not be familiar with the traditions and cultures represented. The stories are told in a clear, simple manner that makes them easy to follow, even if you have no idea what a Yokai or Kami might be (there is also a ‘Dictionary of Terms’ included in the book which explains the terms that may be confusing or new to you).

The illustrations that accompany the stories are simple, yet colorful. Although the stories would make sense without the pictures, the art adds a visual element that will help children to identify with the characters and plot of each folktale. The illustrations appear to be hand-drawn, which adds a touch of charm and almost gives off a folk art vibe, which is a great fit for the stories being told.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any family that likes fairy tale or folktale collections. This book would also be great for teachers who are trying to broaden their students’ cultural horizons.

For more information about this book, or to read a sample of the available stories, please visit http://zeluna.net/japanese-fairy-tales-children. It should also be noted that the Zeluna website features an extensive collection of fairy tales and folktales from all over the world, some of which can be pretty much impossible to find anywhere else, so make sure you check those out as well!