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YOU HAVE POWER: Make 2021 A Wonderful Year

Hi, everyone! I know I've been a little quiet lately and here's the down low. I had a pretty bad year in 2020. I know a lot of people did for so many reasons. here we are in March of 2021 and things are starting to go in the direction I'd hoped.

So, in 2020 I was contacted by Phoenix Fan Fest to be a guest author at their upcoming show in May of 2020. I was ECSTATIC. Being an author has been a dream of mine since before I could even spell. Telling stories is the biggest passion of my life and taking the leap to self-publish was terrifying and exhilarating. I published Ash Bringer in December of 2019 and almost immediately got asked to have an author table at a show. For me, that would have made my year. I quickly started designing banners and business cards, excited to talk to people face to face about my work and plans for it. Then the covid fiasco started, political climates had friends at each other's throats, the nation was banning public gatherings, and we all locked ourselves away for a year.

I am NOT one to stop my life and pursuit of success and happiness for any reason, but after so many things were looking up and then immediately started a downward spiral, it was hard to keep it together. Month after month was added to lock downs and even as an introvert, I was going stir crazy. I was reading non-stop to separate myself from it all and then I started burying myself in my own books and publishing more and just generally trying to keep my focus on things that made me happy. Then my boyfriend lost his job, like so many others in 2020, and my business, which usually thrives on the presence of comic conventions and events, started to become inconsistent. Lucky for me, Halloween was still a busy time of year, but in order to avoid the hardships and stress of other years, I worked extra hard, allowing myself no amount of downtime for nearly 2 months.

I burned myself out....

After Halloween, I was quite proud of myself. During a time of year that i usually get complaints or late notices for shipments, I managed to finish orders and get them sent on time...but I realized then how incredibly unhappy I was doing what I've been doing for the past 10 years. I wasn't feeling accomplished doing costumes anymore and in fact, I was feeling trapped. So trapped, I stopped doing my personal projects all together as well. Since October, I haven't been able to shake that feeling. Not that I don't like costuming at all. Some part of me still loves it, but so many different factors have contributed to this feeling that I no longer have anything to offer.

I HATE the "D" word because I've never been one to let things really get to me and I have been a generally positive person my whole life, but I felt like I was slipping. I found myself casually drinking more around the middle of 2020. Not in any harmful way, but I've never just wanted to have a drink before. In fact, I used to hate it. I still hate the taste of alcohol, but I found myself having some almost every day. I found myself staying in bed far too long just to avoid starting my day. I even caught myself crying some days during work hours because I feared nothing would change and that's NOT the person I am. I'm the one that tells people they can do anything. That happiness is a choice.

Working out was also a passion of mine in 2018-2019 and when the gyms closed, my motivation went out the window. Even when they reopened, the welcoming feeling inside gyms disappeared and everyone was met with suspicion and coldness while wearing masks and lifting dangerous amounts of weight. It seemed more harmful, so we stopped going. Problem was, I started working out in 2018 largely in part to the fact that I felt that icky "D" word sneaking up on me back then, too, and fitness was a big factor in saving my mental health. So, we started working out at a friend's place and while it has helped, I still haven't felt that motivation again and THAT led to being unhappy with my body.

It's a vicious cycle, but I swore that 2021 would be different. I have a group of wonderful people in my life who encourage me every day, even when they're not trying. The support I've received warms my heart and I hope they've felt my encouragement and support as well because everyone deserves it if they're working hard. So, onto the happy part of this long-winded blog that is probably getting way too personal! I started working on new things in hopes of relieving some of the pressure from my costuming business and I am determined to make them work. I don't want to hate costuming. I really don't. For 10 years, it's been the center of my life, but I am a HUGE believer in making change yourself if you need it. If you want something, you have to get it. You have to work for it and you have to work hard and never quit. You'll make mistakes and sometimes even the smallest steps are terrifying, but I always say that if you don't do it now, ten years from now you'll regret it. I'm also a big believer that nothing ever changes in your comfort zone, so I decided to step way out of it again.

What have I done so far?

Since January, I've published a standalone novella vampire romance that has gained a lot of traction on kindle. A surprising amount, actually, and it got me thinking that MAYBE I really can do this author thing XD Over the past year, I've admittedly suspected that being a self-published author was going to be more a hobby than a job, until the right story hit the shelves and I began to wonder. Now, I've done my research on self-publishing and I mean I have spent hours upon hours upon days of watching videos, reading blogs, and finding other authors' experiences, but I'm still learning. Every release teaches me something else about my customers, my stories, and the market. The crazy thing is that I enjoy the hell out of the learning portion. I love the marketing aspect as much as the writing and designing.

As a self-published author, I don't have an editor. I'm my editor. Hiring editors would cost upwards of $1000 for every book and that's just not in my budget, so I self-edit. It's not unheard of, but it isn't ideal either for most authors. Luckily, in the kindle market, most authors are self-published and don't have editors so voracious romance readers are typically used to finding mistakes here and there and don't judge too harshly. But that's a little beside the point. I suppose the point I'm making is that despite the luxuries I don't have, writing has been a journey that I wouldn't trade for anything. A successful self-published author typically releases many books. Many more books than a traditionally published author. After hearing this in many articles, I thought "easy. I write faster than anyone I've ever met!" And honestly, writing is easy for me. It's the easiest thing in the world. Maybe I'm not the best at it, but writing and story telling is where 90% of my passion is. SO I poured my all into it and I'm learning that YES, I can do this. I WILL do this because I deserve it after 2020. Despite setbacks and potholes, I can prove to myself that I've still got it.

And to combat my body image issues? I've still got a workout schedule and even if I love food too much for my own good, I still try to watch what I eat and fit some physical activity in. I don't lift quite as heavy as I used to, which is a huge bummer considering how much I loved it, but our at home equipment isn't as fancy as a gym's. I always said, if I can conquer physical limitations in the gym, I can conquer mental ones outside of it. I still believe that, but you work with what you have.

There's a lot in store for 2021. I'm still working on my discipline because that always comes first. Then comes the motivation to hang on to the results you get with discipline. Positive changes are a cycle, too. They don't come all at once. You start with something that matters and it climbs from there. The work never stops, but when you see what amazing things can come from perseverance, you will never want to quit.

This got deep! If you made it this far, thank you for giving this a read. I know it helped me to hear that others were going through the exact same things I was mentally because I honestly thought I was crazy. People cover up their sadness and for me, I've always tried to be as happy as possible to the public eye, but it got difficult there for a time. We aren't perfect, but we can move on. Knowing I wasn't the only one questioning my life made me feel like I wasn't alone and feeling like I'm not alone helps me to move forward and stop beating myself up so much. So maybe this will do that for someone else.

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