It’s Okay To Say “No”

Saying “No” Is a Sign of Intelligence

I read something a long while ago about an experiment involving people handed cakes and chocolate non-stop and the test was to see whether they kept saying yes, or eventually said no. After all, we don’t need all the cake and all the chocolate in one day. Moderation is the key, right?

The experiment showed that the more intelligent people either said no from the outset or eventually said no once they were full. For some reason, this example popped into my head this week and it got me also thinking about some of the Oxford University techniques implemented during the application process. Half the time the examiners are testing whether you’ll do something without question. If you do something without thinking it through or without a moment’s hesitation (just because someone said to do it), it could be a sign of low intelligence. What do you think?

I hear and see so much discontent around me some days and I think to myself, “Why don’t you just say no?”

There are many situations where it’s difficult to say no:-

  • You’re full from dinner but the waiter is giving you the eye as if to say that you having more drinks and puddings makes him look better with the boss. He looks so hopeless, you can’t say no.
  • Your mother-in-law keeps putting out plates of biscuits with the tea and coffee and somehow, you feel impolite not partaking.
  • Your boyfriend wants you to go with him to a game, but it’s really not your thing. If you say no though, he might go crazy with his friends, go out on the lash and forget you even exist. You’ll receive a text three days later to say he’s finally got sober and he needs you to pick him up from some gutter somewhere.
  • Someone asks for a favour and this person has done you a favour in the past. You know it’ll be difficult to carry out because you’ve already got a lot on your plate and what they want you to do is something you’d charge other people for, but somehow you selflessly work through the night to carry out the favour and it turns out, your friend didn’t need your help after all. Shout at them, or mooch on and hang your head for half a day? What do you do when they ask again, even though you feel bad about saying no?
  • This one is my favourite: You have a horrible relative and you’re asked to spend time in the same room as them. Ignore your better judgement (and that of many people who agree that the person in question is hard work) and be in the same room while biting your tongue, or say NO and avoid that period of time spent in their company which is a waste of your time and existence. I say I’d rather spend time being happy, than making other people happy. WE HAVE A CHOICE.

Life is short. Lately, with everything going on in the world and so much negativity in the media, it seems that life is getting shorter and shorter. None of us truly know how much time we have on this planet or in this life.

Sometimes I feel an urge to write, an itch I cannot ignore, and this is one of those times when I cannot ignore writing out something which seems very simple to me, but to others – difficult or challenging. Maybe it’s because I was once there, and the process of me finally saying no to something which made me unhappy changed me forever, and now I don’t hesitate in saying, “no”.

To explain, one of the main reasons I am a writer is that growing up, I chewed through books like you can’t imagine and the reason was – I was searching for answers. I wanted education. I wanted to hear about what life had on offer and I wanted to make my own informed decisions about life. In the end, I learnt that the only way to learn (really and truly) is to live life. However, reading helps. It gives you perspective. It gives you a broader sense of the world and other people’s lives. Reading can also give you escapism from a current predicament. I had it brought to my attention recently that some women read romantic fiction to have their faith restored in men, after going through bad relationships. Maybe while they’re single and healing, fiction can be that salve during a process of reflection and help someone figure out where they want to go and how they can take themselves forward.

I would never describe myself as a “romantic” author because I write the truth in all my books. I always question whether my characters would act like this or that in real life and sometimes, I spend days considering whether they would. Sometimes I have readers mailing me to say the characters are pissing them off, and I smile secretly, because people in real life do things to piss you off. I don’t write fiction to create perfect characters who do everything they should. I write them to spark something in a reader, hopefully a thought that might help them see things from a different perspective and change their life.

In my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than someone failing and getting back up, admitting they were wrong and doing it better next time. There is nothing more romantic than a true love conquering all, and remaining intact despite all the hurt and the pain. This is real, this is life. Life is painful but also beautiful and one thing you never see in the mass media are stories of ordinary, backwater people leading quiet, purposeful lives, bringing cheer to all those around them, bringing life and love to everybody they know. Sometimes you walk into a person’s home and everything about them seems ordinary until they start to recount an extraordinary story of achievement they rarely brag about. It just happened, and they humbly explain that it happened. There are silent heroes out there everywhere and it’s why this world hasn’t yet exploded into World War Three. There are people doing good deeds all over the place – and some of them never ask for any reward but a tiny bit of recognition.

I learnt to say no a long time ago. I won’t be bullied by anybody to think or do what they want me to do. I’ll break the rules. I’ll say no or I’ll gently say, “Maybe next time.” In this modern world of ours, we’ve got too wrapped up in thinking that opportunity is at our feet and it’s something we have to dive into without any thought for ourselves or what we – ourselves – really want. Know your own limits, it’s the best advice I could ever give you, and be content with your own limits and accept the things which make you happy, and ignore the things that really give you no comfort or peace whatsoever.

Maybe if you’re in an unhappy place in life, write a list of all the things you wish you could say no to, and a list of all the things you wish you could say yes to. I bet if you start saying no more, you will be able to say yes more frequently to the things you really want to do. There is no trap in life except your own mind, and sometimes, our parameters don’t shift with time and they need to constantly do that. Everyone is in charge of their own fate.

I do think it is important to mention, however… that some of us do experience real anxiety over saying no. Some of us imagine the worst possible scenario of what saying no could conclude in. Such as the breakdown of a relationship, or getting into debt, losing your job or… the list of situations some people have on their ‘absolute avoidance’ pile is endless. But think of why you’re saying no in the first place… and aren’t you saying no because to say yes would make you unhappy? And the whole point of life is to be happy, so why do you keep saying yes to unhappiness? We’ve all been there and life transformations can be very painful.

Someone myself and my husband follow is Jack Canfield and his success principles. I think this sums up everything I’m trying to say here:-

“Most of us avoid telling the truth because it’s uncomfortable. We’re afraid of the consequences—making others feel uncomfortable, hurting their feelings, or risking their anger. And yet, when we don’t tell the truth, and others don’t tell us the truth, we can’t deal with matters from a basis in reality. We’ve all heard the phrase that “the truth will set you free.” And it will. The truth allows us to be free to deal with the way things are, not the way we imagine them to be or hope them to be or might manipulate them to be with our lies. The truth also frees up our energy. It takes energy to withhold the truth, keep a secret, or keep up an act.”
Jack Canfield, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Time is precious and there is no harm in occasionally saying “no”, or “maybe next time.” It’s a sign of intelligence, of you weighing up all your options, and choosing a different one. It’s knowing who you are… and going in the direction that will make you the best person you can possibly be. Rather than dedicate all your energies to avoiding the truth, and covering it up with numberous band aids, plough all your energies into getting what you want. If you’re in a bad job, make your new job finding that new job. If you’re in a relationship where you know you’d be better off alone… seriously… there’s not even a yes or no answer to that.

Life is so short. Forget the bullshit… and just be happy. Toss off your self-made prison and the truth will set you free. It really will.

Forget what everyone is saying on social media, and think for yourself. It’s a clever thing to do and when you love yourself, people will love you too.

 

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We should chase away from what we’re scared of, right? Run as fast as we can. Yet some of us seem to veer toward chaos and destruction…

Chloe sees anguish and despair lurking beneath the surface of Cai Matthews, the dark and dangerously handsome freelance photographer she meets on her first day in a new job. She can’t see straight in his presence—blinded by a blistering sexual attraction that has the potential to sweep her clean off her feet.

When Cai disappears from the workplace and doesn’t come back, Chloe tries to find out more about his life but all she knows is he’s set to inherit a ton of money and his aunt runs one of the most famous fashion magazines in the world.

Cai is running from a complicated past he doesn’t like talking about. Gossip columns rage with speculation concerning him and his aunt, who took guardianship of Cai after his parents died.

Conscientious journalist Chloe has a mind for details and once she gains access to his world, Cai realises she could undo every, single dirty little secret that he and his aunt have tried desperately to cover up.

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I’ll stab you in the heart.
I’m coming for you.
No secret dies.
But you will.

In the concluding part of Chloe and Cai’s tale of frantic, tempestuous, meaningful love…

When news breaks that enigmatic magazine editor Jennifer Matthews is dead, it irks Chloe that Cai refuses to shed even one tear. What she doesn’t know is that he was expecting it, perhaps even, hoping for it.

In this dark, romantic tale of revenge, Cai explodes the deepest, most destructive aspects of his past as he comes to terms with the tragedy at the heart of Jennifer’s downfall. With Chloe’s love and support, he must brave his demons and dodge death to finally end a bitter feud between two damaged families.

**This book is not intended to stand alone and is the second in a three-part series, concluding in UNLEASH – Kayla Tate’s story.**

BOOK THREE UNLEASH

KAY (4)Have you ever fallen for the wrong person – knowing they’re not the one for you?

For Kayla Tate, pain and disappointment are all she has ever known when it comes to love. Is it that she never learned from her mistakes? Or is there a ghost from her past she’s yet to lay to rest?

Kayla embarks on a journey during which harsh lessons will be learned and relationships will be tested. It seems to centre around the Sub Rosa mystery, but where will she begin to unpick the threads? All she knows is that something doesn’t add up . . .

Kayla’s heartbreaking story is about lifelong friendships, taking chances and finding that one person who’s willing to risk it all with you – at exactly the right time.

DOM DIARIES – A COMPANION NOVEL

domdiariesThe Sub Rosa Trilogy uncovered the dark secrets beneath the lies. But what about the story beyond the mystery?

In this companion novel, TV presenter turned magazine editor Carl Sorensen has his say in these diaries chronicling his journey from a lost soul betrayed by all the women he loves – to a true, dedicated dom determined to lead a better life.

His uncensored confessions reveal all the dirty secrets that eventually put him on the same path as the woman who would become his wife.

Ultimately, what makes a dom and more importantly, WHO makes a dom?

Be prepared to have your belief system shaken up all over again.

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A New Release from author Y Correa

LD Cover for Kindle*click cover to visit Amazon*

Blurb:

When Lilith fails to comply with the plans of Man and The Creator, she is punished to an existence that costs her the fruits of humanity. Every moment becomes a never ending spin cycle of memories mirroring profound loss, recalcitrant rage, and immeasurable suffering.

During a Halloween party at the Arcadia Chateau, the blue-green eyed brunette Jet leaves an impression which shatters the equilibrium of Lilith’s cloud of darkness. Is this a temporary aggravation or the start of a much needed resurrection—the fire of love in a heart iced with hurt?

Excerpt:

It is believed that before the Genesis of the human age, Adam had a wife … a first wife; Lilith.

Created from the same ground from which Adam was molded, Lilith proved to be a bit more than his subordinate.

She was his equal.

Legend has it that Lilith was strong willed, independent and unyielding. All of the things that Adam did not want in a wife.

Red hair, sensual curves and red-brown eyes, Lilith was voluptuousness in the form of a woman. Passion, ardent and burning vitality. Lilith considered herself Adam’s compeer in every way—second to none and nothing.

What Adam hated to admit was that Lilith was his weakness, his burning desire, and his fierce, iniquitous poison. As much as he wanted her, he also hated her. It was her authority that continually dominated him, and her lasciviousness that seduced him. He was less of a man when he was around her, yet he also could not feel more empowered.

Adam realized that his obsession with Lilith was a lecherous enthrallment and nothing more, for he could not love her. Neither could he be her master. This was the problem. Adam’s job was to be in control, to be the head. The leader of Lilith and all of their descendants. For this, the Creator had made him.

Yet, around her—Lilith—he was nothing more than a groveling, dribbling, insecure excuse for a man. She had him wrapped around her little finger, and this suited her just fine.

Adam, not so much.

This was not what the Creator had mandated. Not what he intended when making them both. He needed Adam—level headed and trustworthy—to be in charge. However, with the ever present seduction of Lilith, this wouldn’t be possible.

Something must be done.

++++

The sound of a single long nail clicking against a hardwood table was all that could be heard in the room. Why? Because all of the noise and commotion was in her head.

Voices, memories, flashing thoughts. Chaos! Nothing more and nothing less.

The upsurge of rampant thoughts caused her mouth to slap with thirst—suck her teeth in upheaval. Lilith’s thirst was soon to be quenched, she was certain. She’d already made the preparations. Yet, the riot that was Lilith’s unending trail of assaulting musings would probably never be quelled.

The light of night poked through the monumental stained glass windows. One ray in particular beamed across the room, perpendicular to its point of origin, then ricocheted from a mirror to shine a slender bright stream of yellow-orange light on the table. The thin beacon glowed not too far from where her hand tapped an agitated finger.

The room was enormous and regal, yet devoid of any exuberance. Filled with scarce furnishings—the mammoth hardwood table and the innumerable chairs that surrounded it. Old, decrepit paintings adorned the walls.

The air was stifling, consumed by the scent of mothballs, molded and aged wood.

How did I get here? Lilith’s thought, although in her mind, seemed to echo through the stretch of the empty room.

“Madam, your supper is ready,” squealed Lilith’s faithful attendant, though indubitably pitiful as he was, whilst walking in. The aged, wooden double doors screeched upon his opening them. Then, he closed them, without as much as a glimpse back. His skin had not seen the light of day in so long that it had lost its color. A peculiar shade of tan-gray, wrinkled and rough, was all that remained.

Throughout the years, Demetrius had become an old, dilapidated, fragile corpse of a man—feeble and haggard, yet faithful. Lilith considered that while his situation was different than hers, at least they shared the apathetic hue of their skin color, albeit not her extraordinary good looks.

“Bring it in, Demetrius. Leave it,” replied Lilith as she waved a hand in the air, with little to no regard whatsoever. Completely detached from human emotion and void of fascination. She couldn’t help herself. All her vitality had been lost eons ago.

“Yes, Madam,” responded Demetrius, then nodded his head and bowed out of the room. Seconds later he pulled in a frightened brunette, who was so dismayed that she’d lost all fight and merely shivered and sobbed uncontrollably. Demetrius, grabbed a handful of the girl’s hair and tossed her on the ground in front of Lilith. “Your supper my lady.” he said subserviently, then bowed out of the room once more.

Lilith wasted no time whatsoever and with the blink of an eye had the girl trapped, her fangs sunk into the girl’s main artery. The one located between the thighs—Lilith had long since grown tired of the neck. It was too convenient and she craved a bit of excitement, rare as it was.

Moments later, the girl’s life blood had been drained and all that remained was a naked, pale carcass.

Lilith stood to her feet uneventfully, sighed deeply, dusted her hands and then took a seat once again in her favorite chair.

With that, her mind whirled into its turbulent incongruity yet again.

Author Bio:

Y. Correa is a literary seductress, luring one in with her talent of Romancing the Words, keeping one hypnotized with dynamic characters, and stimulating one with engaging narrative voices, strong plots, and epic conflicts. Her writes are as complex and as distinct as her person; a delightful combination of eclectic and antiquated. Therefore, the mere mention of fitting into one set genre is laughable. The multi-genre decadence is where she showcases her magnificence.

Some of Y. Correa’s works include Historical Fiction “MarcoAntonio & Amaryllis”, Sci-Fi Mashup “Earth 8-8-2: The Genesis Project”, Sci-Fi Fiction series “A.L.O.M” and short stories such as “Ryan”, “Loving … them!” and “The G. Particle”.

Ms. Correa has also been in several short story anthologies and is the Founder/Creator of All Authors Publications and Promotions whose subsidiaries are:

  • All Authors Magazine
  • All Authors Graphic Design
  • All Authors Publishing House
    and
  • All Authors Certificate of Excellence

Links:

“Lilith’s Dominion” on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5129204.Y_Correa

Author Website: http://ycorrea.net

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Charlotte “Lottie” Taylor survived childhood cancer and then spent years feeling at odds with who she was and where her life was heading. A chambermaid at a run-of-the-mill hotel chain, she found escape in her imagination and eventually discovered expression in a sideline dominating men.

She spent nights disciplining her “initiates” and delivering a service their wives often ordered on their behalf. What she didn’t expect was to fall in love when a chance encounter put her in the arms of Noah Yeardley, a man with a history as interesting as her own. The only man to ever dominate Lottie, together they explored their fantasies. Yet the fantasy broke down and Lottie was forced to revisit past issues.

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It’s a sharply etched portrait of loss, yearning and a quest for sexual fulfilment in the most unlikely places.

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LEEDS AUTHOR EVENT 2016

Let me first start by saying that the run-up to this event was an exhausting ordeal in itself (for me and no doubt many others, including the organisers).

For more than a month prior to the signing I was running a blog tour. Every day I featured a different writer (most signing at Leeds, some not). The blog tour meant quickly collecting everyone’s words and putting them into blog posts vaguely resembling the same sort of format! That was time out of my own routine, as was formatting the blogs into what became a special paperback produced in honour of this signing.

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View the tour

Buy the paperback

 Was it tiring? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes.

With busy periods in your life comes the slump afterwards when you’re left wondering – what next? In quick succession, I recently finished a novel. Finished the blog tour. Edited someone’s memoirs for them. Then prepared for a book signing. It’s all been a total mind fuck.

In the run-up to a signing, your finger constantly hovers over the re-order button on all the sites you’ve bought books, bookmarks, posters and merchandise from. You’re in a perpetual state of thinking, Have I bought enough? Have I done enough? It is absolute madness. You get to the point where you become at one with everything and if you haven’t got it, tough shit.

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So, the run-up to these things is crazy. The day itself is crazy. The aftermath is like venturing to Hell’s Mouth and teetering on the edge for days on end. I’ve been sat here sort of laughing and cackling to myself, randomly recalling moments I’d almost forgotten about. Hubby sits next to me with a wry smile, just knowing I’m running it all through my head again and storing it in the long-term data banks.

Last year when I did my first signing in Peterborough, I could barely stomach my breakfast. This year I managed a few things for breakfast because I knew what to expect and I was glad I had some food in me because it was non-stop all day long. I barely had time to breathe, I don’t think anyone did. I must have dropped about half a stone in one day from nervous excitement, the air-con and generally having to concentrate and sound lucid! LOL.

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On Saturday there were few moments to stop and think and it’s why the aftermath is always so bittersweet. These events are so treasured and so overwhelming that afterwards, you wish you had done this, that or the other. All I can comfort myself with is the fact that there will be more signings. Here’s just a few of the things (however) which particularly made Leeds special for me (these might not come to me in the same order of the day’s timeline):

  • I was placed in a Ham and James-Marlow sandwich. Otherwise known as sitting between Lisa Fulham and the delectable duo Victoria L James and Francesca Marlow. I like to think of James-Marlow as being like a delightful salad relish with a dash of bourbon! It was great to be able to sneak a glance at what was going on at the tables around me. Victoria’s mum holding a glass of wine… a very LARGE glass I may add. Go on my love! Victoria was completely overwhelmed by the whole experience, as were many other debut signers. Nothing quite compares to your first time and realising that actually, yes, people really do love your work. For every troll out there wanting to pull you down, there are dozens of people clambering to get a piece of you – people who love reading and totally get what self-published authors are trying to do. Indie books have more of the soul, less of the polish that strips out what makes each author individual, and I love that. I think many people do. As for Lisa “Manchester” Fulham, I only have to look over at her and smile and we just know what the other is thinking!
  • Dented bottles! Yes, I became obsessed with a dented wine bottle after I partook of one glass of wine during the signing. I think it went straight to my head…! 😉
  • “They Say I’m Doing Well” was a huge hit, the charity anthology I led, alongside 28 other authors. It was wonderful to see so many people holding their copies and trying to get them signed by all the authors in attendance who’d participated. Like I say, in the run-up to this signing I’d been pedal to the metal with this project but the messages from people who really got what this blog tour/book were all about really made it all so worthwhile. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to do what I do. In my day job, I help people get published. It’s a dream. I will always consider this a privilege. It’s special. It’s not even work for me. For people to congratulate me on standing up for mental illness seems bizarre. It’s something I feel necessary to do, not even that, but a natural urge. It’s not brave, but normal, to talk about things. That’s all. And yet the interest I am getting in this project is gathering pace on a daily basis. I am not kidding you!!!!
  • NooNoo’s shaking on the dancefloor. She really can drop to the floor as well!! Louise White is my favourite blogger. She rocks. Despite the broken zip, well… you had THE GLOVES so it didn’t matter. I hold you responsible for me writing Tainted Lovers because you mentioned there weren’t enough novels around about married couples…
  • Seeing Rachel and Jo, the Hourglass ladies, tear up as they were presented with a card and presents at the end of the day was like watching all their tension slide away in one fell swoop as they suddenly realised “we did good”. It was amazing. Pats on the back darlings. We’re one crazy group of authors. I never doubted Jo and Rach for a moment.
  • Having authors like Charming Man and Anna-Maria Anthanasiou, EJ Shortall, Lavinia Urban, Rebecca Sherwin, Cameron Lincoln (I know your real name, I know your name – sang to the Casino Royale theme tune) and so many others know your face. It’s truly a bizarre thing to be recognised.
  • The whole day felt nicely spread out and nobody had to wait for too long, everyone had a great spread of visitors to their table. I remember looking over at Scarlett Flame and Neil Winnington who were both loving it. I couldn’t take my eyes off Scarlett’s steampunk outfit (HA HA, Scarlett).
  • The BAD, BAD, BAD Dad dancing at the masquerade ball. IT WAS BAD. LOL.
  • Rachel falling over in her huge ball dress. It had to happen and it did. Shame nobody had their phone out at the time.
  • Victoria L James break dancing in a pretty red dress. I’m sure I was seeing things!

However, the moment of the day has to be this:

My husband (who was in and out all day) was walking in through the hotel’s revolving doors when he overheard two women stood outside, deep in conversation. He overheard, “EL James is okay, but the thing about Sarah Michelle Lynch is you can actually relate to her characters.”

My husband’s gob was smacked big style. I don’t think I can convey how proud he is of me on a normal day, let alone that day. I actually thought he was kidding me when he told me this. He waited until after the signing to tell me. I thought he was lying. I thought it was just a joke. IT WASN’T. *sniggers* When it sank in, I had a little cry and he reminded me of all the stuff he constantly reminds me of that keeps me going. Somehow, I am reaching people. I think of myself as like the Reliant Robin of social media management but obviously I’m not doing too badly! LOL. (I still think my husband is lying!!!)

My thanks go to Rachel Hague, my “date” for the ball. Your stamina astounded me. You got round every single table. I will forever remember you as the first person to hit my table at my very first signing last year. We ❤ Lottie.

Thanks to Michaela – she bought so many books! Girl loves her some books.

EJ Shortall – it shocked and awed me when you said you read AA before you became an author yourself. Just wow.

My thanks also go to everyone aforementioned, as well as each and every author who participated in “They Say I’m Doing Well” – and for Jo and Rach supporting the idea.

Thanks to everyone who came to my table, new or old readers or general enquirers, you are all appreciated. I think I sold a fair few copies of the Sub Rosa trilogy to some mature ladies who have still got it in them. Wa-hey. That rocked my world. I sell quite a few ebooks every month but in one day on Saturday, I sold dozens of paperbacks which doesn’t often happen and left me made up.

As for what’s next? I am DYING to get back to writing, which I haven’t done much of so far this year. However, at this moment in time, I really do think it might be time to put my feet up a moment and reflect, digest and bask in the warm glow of such a great day.

I do however have a new notebook…

Much love,

Sarah x

p.s. if you got some pics with me on the day, tag me in them because I barely got a sausage 😥

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #29 – Stevie Turner

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Look on the Bright Side of Life

Late October 2015, and the year is dying. As I step out along the country lanes and scuff up the dry, withered leaves, I cannot help but focus on my own possible demise. Once again there are two enlarged lymph nodes where enlarged lymph nodes shouldn’t be, despite one thyroidectomy, two neck dissections, and four treatments of radioactive iodine. The possible implications start to play havoc with my mind. I start to think about arranging my funeral and sorting out my affairs. I change my bank accounts to joint ones, and try not to sink into a deep depression.

They say papillary thyroid cancer is a ‘good’ cancer. This had been told to me 10 years previously with just the right amount of bonhomie by a rather fortunate medic who had no idea what it would be like to suffer personally from an advanced stage 4 variety. The disease is slow-growing but relentless in its efforts to take over the body. Silent battles have been valiantly fought over many years with a clever, elusive enemy. However, casualties are now mounting at an alarming pace; the voice is croaky, the neck is stiff and painful, the eyes are dry at night and watery during the day, the thyroxine-induced palpitations are increasing along with bone thinning, and slowly but surely my vitality and joie-de-vivre is dissipating, along with the heat of the summer.

At the age of 47 I had only suffered from the odd cold or sore throat, and had been into hospital just to have my 2 babies. This was to change somewhat drastically with my cancer diagnosis in June 2005, initially mis-diagnosed as a multi-nodular goitre by a radiologist stuffed full of his own self-importance. I suddenly found that many doctors wanted to be in my personal space, although luckily I’ve been unconscious for the more serious intrusions. Their jovial bedside manner and tendency to understate matters is irritating; why not speak the facts as they stand and let the patient be informed of what is going to happen to them? I was never told that radioactive iodine could cause narrowing of the eyes’ tear ducts; I had to look up the information for myself after I was brushed off as having blepharitis and told to wash my eyes with baby shampoo! I eventually needed to be in another surgeon’s personal space as he repaired the tear duct in my left eye in 2009. The same surgeon repaired the right eye seven years later.

However, I am still here after 10 years of fighting. Metastatic thyroid cells invaded my lungs early on with the intention of finishing me off, but as yet I have no symptoms from the secondary lung cancer, which does not seem to grow. I take my daily constitutional walks around my village, inhaling the country air and mentally sticking up a middle finger at my foe. I’ve even purchased a bicycle, and relish the fact that I can still pedal out along the narrow roads and feel the breeze on my face. If villagers pass the time of day with me and ask why my voice is croaky, I tell them I have caught a cold. I must be known locally as ‘Germy’! I avoid pity like the plague; all I’ve ever wanted to be is ‘normal’, the same as everybody else.

What is ‘normal’? Everybody in this life at some time or another has a cross to bear. There is no point in bleating ‘Why me?’ The answer is ‘Well, why not?’ Why should I be singled out for a trouble-free life? Bad luck affects us all in different ways. With me it’s thyroid cancer, but others can be worse off in their misfortune. Life is not a bed of roses, and we have to deal with the lot we have been given. This is where I am fortunate because twice in my life thyroid cancer, strangely enough, has worked in my favour.

The first time my dark cloud had a silver lining was after the initial thyroidectomy operation in 2005. One vocal cord was permanently paralysed during the procedure, and I was left with a whisper of a voice for many months. At the time I was working as a grade 2 clerk in a busy hospital, and could no longer answer the phone or speak to patients and relatives who came up to the desk. I was re-deployed and promoted to a grade 3 assistant medical secretary, typing clinic letters only, rising to a grade 4 secretary when a semblance of a voice had returned and it was proved that I could do the work. Seeing as it was a medical secretary’s post I had been after when I initially joined the hospital’s staff in 2002, my dream had at last come true. I did not possess the qualifications initially to apply for a secretary’s post, and had originally been turned down countless times when I had applied for job vacancies. Thyroid cancer had stepped in and given me what I wanted!

The second time it worked in my favour was in October 2014 when after a period of 7 years’ remission, the cancer returned. I needed a right neck dissection, and the procedure caused my voice to disappear again, no doubt because of the trauma of intubation. I was by then 57 years old, suffering more with the effects of the various operations I had had, and I decided to take early retirement on grounds of sickness and disability. I had had enough trying to hold down a job in-between undergoing procedures. My oncologist put up a good case for me, and I was granted my pension. I am now free to do the thing I have always wanted to do all my life – write novels!

To date I have written 8 novels and 4 novellas, and am currently working on a book of short stories. I am having a ball while I suffer the effects of my cancer treatment. I have my own little space in our lounge, where I sit and let my creative instincts take over and banish thoughts of death and disease from my mind. Sometimes I even forget to start cooking dinner, so lost am I in the twists and turns of my plots. My husband is kindness personified, and is only too happy to see me enjoying what life I have left. I sell my stories on Amazon to supplement my pension, and to date have sold over 1000 books.

The waiting is one of the worst things about this disease. First you wait for surgery, and then you wait for a diagnosis. Following treatment you wait to see if it has been successful, if it hasn’t then you must wait for more treatment. If your thyroxine dose is incorrect, then you wait 6 weeks for a blood test after taking an increased or reduced dose, because a new strength of thyroxine takes 6 weeks work properly. I have spent 11 years as a lady-in-waiting.

What length of life do I have left? Who knows? It’s as long as a piece of string. It could be 30 years, or it could be 3. I have exhausted two of the treatments, surgery and radioactive iodine, but still have two more to go before the doctors hang up their white coats and walk out the door. The third treatment is external beam radiotherapy, with its drastic side-effects and possible hospitalisation for an eventual inability to swallow. The fourth and final treatment is a new drug on the market, which also has many side-effects. Apart from surgery and radioactive iodine I have also had four sessions of healing with a world-renowned spiritual healer. God alone knows if it was the surgery or the healing which helped, but my latest scan results at the end of January 2016 showed no evidence of any thyroid cancer cells in my neck, and the two enlarged lymph nodes that could be seen in October 2015 had shrunk. They say I’m doing well, and therefore I hope to be around for many more years to come.

What lies ahead? None of us know, and perhaps it’s better that way. Not a single one of us gets out of this life alive. My own father died of cancer at the age of 49, and without the interventions I’ve had my life would have been similarly shortened. He never knew my two sons, and I would never have met my four grandchildren, which fill my life in a way only grandchildren can, if I had not had the treatment I’ve had. Every day is a bonus for me now, and I’m making the most of life while I can. I’ve just been upgraded from 3-monthly follow ups to 6-monthly, so don’t worry about me, I’m doing very well!

Stevie Turner © 2016

author bio

I began my writing career as far back as 1969, when I won an inter-schools’ writing competition after submitting a well-thumbed and hastily scribbled essay entitled ‘My Pet’. A love of words and writing short stories and poems has carried on all throughout my life, but it is only now in middle age that I’ve started writing novels full-time and taking this author business seriously.

I have just published my second short story ‘The Noise Effect’ and a tenth novel ‘The Donor’ will be published on 26th December 2015. My novels are realistic, but tend to shy away from the mainstream somewhat and focus on the darker side of relationships. However, you’ll find I do like to add in a little bit of humour along the way. In January 2015 my third novel ‘A House Without Windows’ won the Goodreads’ eBookMiner Book of the Month Competition, and was chosen as a medal winner in the New Apple Book Awards 2014 Suspense/Thriller category. Also in late 2015 it won a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.

I have also recently branched out into the world of audio books. Two audio books ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’ and ‘A House Without Windows’ are available for purchase, and the rest are currently in production and will become available in 2016.

So here I am in the late summer of my life, and the words are tumbling out of my head. Living for more than a few years has given me plenty of subject matter to write about, and I look forward to sharing quite a lot of it with you.


DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Stevie!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

giveaway

Stevie is giving away FIVE audible.co.uk codes for her humorous audiobook The Pilates Class. Comment on this blog post to show your interest!!!

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #26 – Sarah Michelle Lynch

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They say I’m doing well…

So, what does this mean to me…?

I could relay you a million stories, about people I’ve known or met in passing. I have one of those minds; I remember lots of little details people tell me and they always come in useful when I’m writing. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I could tell you someone else’s story, but how about telling you mine?

I’ve never been ill (touch wood). I did however come close to serious injury in a car crash once but walked away fine. I have never suffered a mental health issue myself. But behind some smiles, there are those of us who have watched others suffer and when you don’t have a mental health issue yourself, it is really hard to understand what someone else is going through when you can’t see into their head. The mind is not an exact science.

From my point of view, a lot of people assume Sarah Michelle Lynch is together and has it sorted. It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re all fine. A part of me will admit that I’ve shirked away from trying to understand the problems people around me have been going through. I’ve shied away from trying to get them to talk about their issues, but maybe that’s just because I cannot empathise entirely. For so many years, I was occupied by an overwhelming sense of ambition to be the beacon my family needed me to be. It’s the curse of your twenties to try to be all things to all people. At the end of the day, I’m just me, and I am happy to have come to that acceptance.

I often write stories about struggle, about deceit, about lies and secrecy, but my life is pretty normal and boring really. In the past few years, since I started writing actually, I’ve learned to be very grateful for having a positive attitude. Give me a pen and a pad of paper and I am happy. I can write anywhere. My Happy is portable. A chocolate bar and a cup of tea too wouldn’t go amiss. That ability of mine to just be happy is something I never saw any value in – until I realised a lot of people find it difficult to even get out of bed some days.

Whether you have a mental health issue or not, we’re all just people, striving for the same things. Love and understanding. Life is hard, nobody ever said it was going to be easy. Journeys of self-discovery can be debilitating for a time, in fact, but I firmly believe knowledge and awareness can empower and help people to rebuild and renew.

I always tell myself it is important to remember what I’ve overcome to bring me to the point where I’m at now. This point. At this moment in time. I put myself through university when I could have easily given up and got a manager’s job at the place I worked part-time during that period. There were times when I wanted to quit, to give up, but I didn’t. I wasn’t the only one – loads of my friends were putting themselves through university too. We did it and came out stronger for it.

I was the first person in my family to go to university. Let me put that into perspective for you. My maternal grandfather was illiterate. My mum got her GCSE in English in her thirties! (mega proud of her by the way!) My parents are both from broken homes. My mum, fostered when she was four, lost two elder brothers, before she was put with a family that didn’t really want her and my auntie. My dad grew up in poverty, suffering like you would never imagine he had. My grandmother was a manic depressive and back in those days, it wasn’t dealt with like it would be today. My grandfather turned a blind eye; he was a womaniser who abandoned my dad and his brother to the mindset of a seriously ill woman who rarely washed, rarely fed her kids, rarely tried to instil in them any sense of decency. I’m the eldest of four kids myself. School friends used to meet my dad and think we were posh. He’s an intelligent man, but he has never been posh. Not many know the full story. Not many people know how my parents struggled to bring us all up, without grandparents to help out. They struggled. I know, because I remember. I was there. I know about the mindset of poverty and how difficult it has been for my dad, especially, to let go of.

Academia is a different world to the one I was born into. Yet in a lot of ways, it saved me. Getting my degree was the biggest achievement I made, up until that point anyway. Nobody on God’s Earth can take it away from me.

After university I did what I always said I was going to do and I worked in journalism for seven years. I learned more in this job than I had learnt in my life before that. My degree gave me a foundation, as did the various part-time jobs I’d done along the way, but I didn’t learn anything until I worked in journalism, which opened my eyes to the human race in all its varying degrees.

I worked with many talented people that might never fulfil their promise because of how truly scary it is to put yourself out there with a piece of work that means more than a pay check. Stories of unlikely heroes and heroines fascinate me because you don’t know if a future star might be sitting next to you in the next office cubicle. We all have the potential for greatness, there’s often just a lot of luck involved and knowing the right people.

I went back to journalism after maternity leave and found five or six people doing my old job. Eventually leaving that job was the best thing I ever did.

I wrote my first novel when I was just twenty-eight. The adrenalin of completing that was like nothing I’d ever felt before. Like a lot of other self-published authors, I found friends and family responded to my new pursuit in various ways. Real friends celebrate you, while others fall by the wayside as you pursue your dream.

I’ve known for quite some time that I was born to write, and the notion grows stronger all the time with every word I put down, with every other author I work with thanking me for helping them.

I’ve always known my destiny is words and it’s something you can put alongside my name.

But even with all my confidence and vigour for this writing lark, I still have days where words don’t flow, where I doubt myself. But it’s okay, and I take the rough with the smooth. My ambition has lessened as my love for the art has grown.

Since I’ve joined the book community and spoken to people like me, I’ve realised how words have the power to do good. I’ve adapted my writing style a lot over the years after realising I actually have a power at my fingertips to do good and it’s why I keep writing. Why I decided to do an event like this.

At the same time, I realise how the world demands, how it requires and takes and manipulates the truth of an artist’s soul for its own ends. Which is why I asked all the authors taking part to write something with regards to, “They Say I’m Doing Well,” because people’s definition of that varies. Ask yourself about doing well… Does doing well mean earning big bucks, having all the letters after your name, or does doing well translate to literally everything? Health, wealth, prospects? What?

I feel that this world can be harsh and cruel because we forget that we’re all human – most of us – and to err is to be human. There’s no formula; no recipe for success, or personal happiness.

They say I’m doing well but some days, I wake up and don’t like what I see in the mirror. Some days I don’t want to write because it all feels like sludge between my fingers. I question myself all the time: do I speak to my friends enough? Is Andy okay? Is Serena doing well at school? Am I doing enough? All these things are normal, but if they become consuming, that’s when you know you have to take a step back and retrace. Ask yourself, is there really a reason for me to worry? Focus on a good thing, a place you can take your mind to, and reorganise everything back to that safe place. I never knew these were invaluable tools I’d had in use for so many years until I watched someone close to me crumble. And it changed me, too. It made me realise that what you give, you get back tenfold, and when you walk the path together it’s so much more interesting than going it alone.

None of us are perfect. None of us. Some of us might be doing “well”, whatever your definition of well is, but then again, we’re all human and all have our crosses to bear – I try to remember that everyday. I see people who appear confident but a tiny fracture in their defences allows me to see that they’re not at all fixed or whole. They’re broken, but in time and with the right love and support, they’ll heal. It’s funny how we judge people on first impressions but how, when we really get to know them, we begin to associate colours and patterns with them instead of faces. We no longer see the outside, but the inside. It doesn’t matter how well you think you know someone though, they sometimes go right on to surprise the hell out of you.

The one thing I will pass on to my daughter is this… never give up on learning. Never. I didn’t. I will not, either. Education… it’s the basis of our civilisation, of making this world better… and doing it all in the name of people that didn’t have the same choices we have.

To round off my contribution to the blog tour, I have written you a poem. Poetry is a medium I don’t get on with sometimes. For me, it bites at me, eats me away. I find it harder to write poetry than novels. A poem sometimes stews in my recesses for weeks before I just write it. I will write it flat out, and that will be it. A poem’s a bunch of feelings condensed, with the potential for so many different interpretations. Poetry, for me, is real. Poetry protects. Poetry reveals our innards and I know why a lot of people struggling with their mindset write poetry, to get it out there… to expel, in order to digest.

So, here we go…

They Say I’m Doing Well

Caress my hair around my ears

I lay my head awhile on your lap

Silence pervades the air and still

We tell each other more than

Words could ever tell

*

Soothe my aches with your hands

Take my soul in your arms

And keep me safe there

I won’t tell if you don’t

Secrets we keep behind our eyes

 *

In front of the telly we stare

But we’re together, so it’s okay

Flimflam words don’t matter

Because it’s just time together

And time’s all that matters

 *

You’re the strength beyond

My fingertips, the one always there

You silence my worries, hear my cries

You cradle my neuroses and nurture them

Loving all of me as you do

 *

He is wise and kind and soulful

He carries me on his back

He has peccadilloes of his own

Which I love in return

And together we reign supreme

*

You struggled, you overcame

You’ve known pain and anguish

Disappointment and deceit

And came out the other side

Much stronger than people realise

*

They say I’m doing well

But it’s the strength you give to me

I couldn’t do all this without the struggle,

And without the journey…

We wouldn’t have the dream

Sarah Michelle Lynch © 2016

author bio

Sarah Michelle Lynch wakes up in the morning and the first thing on her mind is words and the possibility of reading and writing more and more words. She is a little bit obsessed.

A career in journalism preceded Sarah’s writing career as an Independent author and despite an offer to get published, Sarah found it very difficult to let go of the freedom, variety and creativity self-publishing allows her.

When Sarah’s not reading words, she’s editing them, and when she’s not editing she’s writing. These days, to earn her right to write, she freelances as an editor.

DONATE BUTTON

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

Please press the donate button if you were inspired by my words. Here’s what your donations could achieve:

£8.70 gives a lifeline to someone in desperate need of support by letting the Mind Infoline team take their call

£30 could help Mind work with the Government to promote mental health needs and improve services for years to come

£150 could fund a local support group and let people living with mental health problems get back their confidence and self-esteem

£250 could fund equipment for an art therapy group, so that people can express their feelings through art and start the healing process

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Tainted Lovers is Live…

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(Click cover to be directed to Amazon)

Title:

Tainted Lovers

Genre:

Romantic erotica/suspense

Page count:

424

Series?

Complete standalone

Listen to me reading Chapter One without any rehearsal, I just picked it up and read it (sorry if I sound shite! you can read along below):

Chapter One

Easter, 2003

 

I worked as a cataloguist of special documents at Leeds University’s Brotherton Library, which had some seriously interesting old scrolls and manuscripts among its collections. I landed the job because I had tenacity. I wanted the job because it meant not dealing with the public. I was waiting until my son Billy was a little older so that I could give more time to my studies and finally do my accounting degree.

Occasionally I left my office but only to make the dis-tance from my workspace to the café nearby. While Billy spent time at the crèche every afternoon, I worked. I didn’t need the money, just some sort of sanity.

One day I was leaving my office to pick Billy up on my way home when I spotted a man stood nearby at the self-service units, looking perplexed.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” he called in a panicked voice. He held one foot on the floor while reaching high in the air to signal me over the tops of the high booths. Looking around, I saw no other members of staff available to help him. It was getting toward the end of the day for most people and also, it was nearly the Easter holidays and the past few weeks had been the busiest of the year. Most of my colleagues were surviving on cigarettes and bitching sessions to keep them going.

Walking toward him, I asked, “What’s the problem?”

It wasn’t my job to help him, but I was familiar with the self-service machines.

“It won’t let me take out this book.”

Part of me had already clocked the fact he was beautiful but I tried to ignore that.

Attempting to take his book out for him, I muttered under my breath, “Where is everyone?”

“I’ve been stuck standing here for god knows how long waiting for help.”

I nodded along, hearing angry beeps from the machine, which refused to let him take out this book. Looking closer at the screen, I realised the computer bore a message:

 

This title is reserved.

 

Pointing at the screen, I drew his attention to the message and he answered, “Yeah, I reserved it. About four months ago. So did everyone else. Some shit keeps hiding this and none of us can ever get hold of the bloody thing.”

I picked up the book under scrutiny and held it in my hands. It was an old book on medieval chivalry with a brown, warped cover and thin pages nearly falling apart. The book had illustrations in colour but it was at least a hundred years old and should have been a reference title – if that.

“This shouldn’t even be on a shelf,” I mumbled, “it should be under my care. Look at it.”

I felt him staring at me for a while as I examined his long-overdue/reserved book. “A soft spot for battered old books, eh?”

“I’m actually in charge of battered old books,” I told him. “Just wait here a second.”

“Okay. I’ll wait,” he said.

I caught a softness to his voice, perhaps affection, and the tone caught me off guard. Looking directly up into his eyes for the first time, I was throttled by what was staring back.

Our eyes locked. I think I burned from every pore. My belly filled with heat and my heart rinsed off its icy cage in an instant. Staring at him, my feet rooted, I realised he wasn’t affected at all, not whatsoever. Cool as ice. I hated him a little for it.

“In… a… wait,” I mumbled, not making sense.

I rushed off back to my office and sank against the door, panting, trying to slow my heart. Never had I been so affected. Light-headed, I tried to catch my breath.

Clutching the book in my hand, I remembered I had a job to do. My PC on standby, I started it up again and searched the catalogue number.

It was a borrow, he wasn’t lying. Not a reference title. Flicking through it again, I realised it was one of the core subjects our medieval scholars studied – on chivalric court-ship. So I knew he was either an MA student or higher. Going by his eyes, he was a few years older than me.

Anyway, I needed to get rid of him.

Quickly.

I overrode the system and did something naughty, cancelling all the reserve statuses so the book could start a new cycle of temporary ownership. No doubt some div hated his fellow classmates and wanted nobody else to have access to the book, a rare title which could make or break a dissertation.

Gathering myself, I took some deep breaths, my bag clutched under my arm and the book clutched at my chest.

Leaving the office again, I walked fast because I really needed to pick up Billy.

“Hi,” he said as I rejoined him.

Stepping in front of the self-serve machine with authority, I asked, “Library card, please.”

He handed me it and I took the book out for him, avoiding eye contact altogether.

Job done.

“There you go.”

“Thanks… how did you…? Thanks!” He stuffed the book into his rammed-full bag as I began walking away.

I chased down the stairs, not wanting to give him chance to follow me. I had two flights to get down, though. My exit was through the Parkinson building, and the stairs outside were steep and dangerous. I had to slow down to take them.

“Wait, wait!” He caught up with me, a hand on my forearm slowing me down as we got out into the open air. “I know you.”

“I have somewhere to be,” I huffed, impatient.

“Adrienne, right?”

I dared look into those chocolate-brown eyes again and another electric current shot through me, even stronger though this time. In the light of day, I saw how deeply brown his eyes really were – and smouldering – with umber striations.

I folded my arms. “So what? I saw your library card, David.” I sounded pithy. “You saw my name tag. Big deal.”

“No,” he shook his head, “Adrienne Kyd. I know you. Well,” he chuckled, “I know of you.”

I examined him carefully and the familiarity became clear.

“You’re a Harrogate boy,” I said through gritted teeth.

So, my past was inescapable. A boy from my hometown had found me.

But just how much did he know?

“Everybody knows you… or knew you,” he said, but while his tone was affectionate, his eyes remained devoid of any feeling. He looked at me like he was looking right past me. It was something about his steady gaze. I couldn’t read him. He seemed, guarded.

Anyway, he wasn’t lying. Everyone knew me. I was Miss Harrogate 2000, the same year I got together with Marcus, my ex – the donator of sperm that created my child (he was never a father).

“I’m not trying to be rude… I really do have somewhere to be,” I insisted, avoiding his eyes at all costs. I couldn’t help notice he was mentally undressing me, sizing me up for the kill.

“Can I give you my number?” he asked.

“No.”

“No?”

“No. Goodbye.”

I charged off. Petrified wasn’t a word I thought I understood, but right then, I did. I purposely wore dowdy clothes, no make-up – and worked in the backroom of a library. I hardly ever let my hair down (literally) and I didn’t try to make myself look attractive to the opposite sex whatsoever. In fact I was glad to be invisible but that day, my magic cloak seemed to have worn off.

I’d never been so scared before in my life: I’d fallen in love at first sight.

 

***

 

Even though I worked at the library, people may not have even known that. I passed through quickly on my way to and from places; always with my eyes focused on leaving, always with an air of inapproachability so that people never stopped me in my tracks. I lived in my office, end of. I wore a name badge I always tried to hide by folding over my cardigan. I wasn’t on the help desk. I didn’t deal with returns. I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t want people to ask me questions and know things about me. I was quiet. I talked to one girl I worked with, Bebe, and the rest of the staff thought I was some sort of mentally ill person with antisocial tendencies. It worked for me.

However. After that first encounter with David, I was no longer a ghost fluttering in and out of that place. I was a target. David hung around in the afternoons, waiting, watching. He asked if he could carry my bag on my way out. He tried to slip his number into the palm of my hand. He even stalked me at my favourite coffee shop in Parkinson, finding out from the owner what my usual tipple was. The coffee shop owner said David had paid for me to have free coffee for the rest of the academic year. I was molten with fury and longing – torn between giving into my urges and tearing strips off him for refusing to let it go.

 

Not many days later, I had to run an errand over to the geography department which was expecting a new delivery of old maps. Because of my infrequent escape from the office, I don’t think David expected me to catch him with another girl that day. I watched from a distance, hiding myself behind one of the many trees lining the pathways of our campus. I spotted him and a redhead on a bench having a heated discussion, and then a second girl walked up to them. A brunette. The two girls faced off, seemingly fighting for him. David was able to slope off because they were too busy arguing. He chased away once he’d put a safe distance between himself and the two ladies, heading off campus it seemed. Once I knew he was gone, I left my hiding place and walked along to my destination, passing the two girls as I did. All I heard from the redhead was, “He was mine first, keep your hands off.”

The brunette replied, “Don’t you see? He’s playing us both…”

I didn’t hear anything more, but I was sure as hell certain David wasn’t a man to be trusted. I certainly couldn’t afford another man like that in my life.

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #23 – Francesca Marlow

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They say I’m doing well, but I guess it depends on how you define the word well. I’m healthy; I have a job, a roof over my head, two beautiful little girls, a very supportive partner, a big loving family and a small group of awesome friends. In my eyes, that makes me richer than many people.

To the outside world, my life may be viewed as a happy one and for the most part, it is. However, the life I portray on social media are the parts I want people to see, therefore, yes; I’m socially well.

What most don’t realise, and the part I rarely share is the hours it cost me in MIND time to get to this point in my life. The struggles, the low points, the lonely, late night cries, the endless loss of sleep, the battles with my own thoughts at two, three and four in a morning.

In August 2014, I split from my husband after eight years of marriage, ending a relationship of thirteen years. At thirty-three years old, I never thought I would find myself in that position. I was starting my life over and I have never been as scared of anything in my life. Not even childbirth. I was suddenly solely responsible for, not only looking after myself but my two little girls – the two most precious things in my life. It turns out; they probably ended up looking after me the most with their innocent little minds, big hearts and simple outlooks on life. Hell, I envied them.  I’m still shocked at how isolating it feels when I see their empty beds staring back at me when they are staying at their dad’s. That’s when the sun goes down and the nightmares creep in.

Just because a person chooses to remain private, doesn’t spout all their problems publicly, or struggles to openly discuss them, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. To the contrary, the quiet ones suffer, too. Being trapped in your own thoughts, not being able to make sense of them enough to talk about them, to even your closest friends, is a scary place to be. Add to that the fear of sounding stupid, the fear of admitting your failings, the fear of how society will judge you and you may find that you understand more why so many people suffer in silence. Sometimes, it’s the safest way to be.

Paranoia and insecurity are a bitch…

Who is going to want me with two kids?

Who is going to want me looking like this?

Who else is going to love my baby born, stretch marks?

Are they looking at me?

Are they whispering about me?

Why didn’t they invite me?

Why didn’t they invite my children?

What damage have I done to my girls?

God, I feel so guilty. How will I provide them with all the love and support they’re missing out on not being in a two parent family?

Did my daughter get into trouble at school because I left her dad? Is she lashing out because of me?

Why don’t my friends like my photos?

Are they judging me now, too?

Why aren’t family supporting my decisions?

Surely they understand?

These are just a few of the questions that my wonderful mind spends hours agonising over.

Then…

Insert identity crisis – I’d spent years being Fran the wife, Fran the daughter-in-law,

Fran the mum, but who the hell was Fran? I felt like I had to rediscover myself all over again.

Insert judgement days – I realised no matter what you do, what new things you try, whatever selfie you post, there’s always someone sat there waiting to pounce, to pull you to pieces and criticise you. They have no clue why you’re doing what you’re doing. They have no idea how many hours you spent deliberating over your every step.

Insert the mistakes – I am only human, I will make mistakes, everyone does. I made a ton of them. It’s just a shame others couldn’t admit their mistakes, too. It’s funny how many perfect people there were in my life and it’s even funnier how many friends you truly have (insert sarcasm). I learnt the hard way whom are the good eggs, but the good eggs I have, are keepers for life.

Then…

When the sun begins to rise in the morning, there’s a certain calm that ripples through the mind like an ocean gently washing over the shore, taking with it all the silly, unnecessary worry. And as you drag your weary, tired body from the sheets, you begin to wonder what it is about the night that causes such irrationality. You start to be able to rationalise the thoughts in your head that little bit easier, clearer.

You realise it’s not all doom and gloom because despite the disappointment of those you thought you could trust, you know there’s that one friend. That one friend you can rely on at all hours of the day to be on the other end of the phone, regardless of her plans. She picks you up and slaps you down as and when required. That one friend who understands without even having to explain, but that one friend you know you can’t rely on forever.  Also, whether realised or not, that one random text asking how you are means the world. Just the thought that someone took a minute out of their day to think about you, means more than they will probably ever know.

On the outside I probably seemed like I was taking it all in my stride, on the inside, I was dying a slow death. My thoughts were killing me day by day, pinning me down and keep me a prisoner in my own mind. It’s cliché but it’s true – when you’re down on your arse, the only way is up. When you’re staring back at the person in the mirror and you don’t even recognise yourself anymore and what you’ve become, then it’s time to have a serious word with the bastards in your head. It’s time to fight. It’s time to take a leaf out of your kid’s book and focus on the positives. It’s time to trust in a few people and let them in. Slowly, but surely, I started to realise…

I’m healthy.

I have a job.

I have a home.

I have two beautiful little girls.

I have a small group of awesome friends.

I have a big loving family.

With pain comes anger and for a while back there, that’s exactly how I felt; angry and disappointed. It was my decision to leave my marriage. No one said it would be easy, a few said it would be tough but never did I once imagine just how hard it would be. Nothing prepared me for the times I faced.

You find a way to let go of the anger.

You find a way to let go of the hurt.

You find a way to let go of the pain.

You let it go.

You start to live again.

The whole process has taught my MIND many things but one of the most specific is I’ve had to learn is to live without the materialistic things in life. That’s not to say I couldn’t before divorce, it’s just I now have an appreciation for the smaller, understated things – walks in the park, snuggles on the sofa, watching a film with my kids, baking on a Sunday, relaxing in a hot bath, just sitting alone in a quiet room listening to the sound of my calm breath.

I now have a new partner, who accepts my baby stretch marks, who encourages me to be me and not to concern myself with the opinions of others, but most of all, loves my girls just as much as he loves me. There truly are great people out there; you just need to trust and believe in yourself and hope that good things will follow.

2016 – I am grateful to all those who stood by me. I appreciate the things I do have in my life. I have more of an understanding to those who suffer pain, but most importantly, I feel stronger in mind, I am doing well.

#foreverafighter

Francesca Marlow © 2016

author bio

Francesca Marlow discovered her love for writing a few years ago when having some role play fun on Twitter with her best mate. They were inspired to create a world of their own which really helped her to channel every day thoughts and emotions, to deal with the daily grind of ‘life’. Never once did she think it would lead to releasing her first novel which she confesses to being one of the proudest moments.

Aside from releasing a novel, two of Francesca’s biggest accomplishment to date is her two little ladies which mean the world to her. She’s a Yorkshire lass and romantic at heart, with an eclectic taste in music and a great love for films; all of which continue to be a source of creativity as well as well deserved relaxation moments. A new found love for the gym has lead to a healthier, happier Fran, so when she’s not being a mum, working, reading or writing, she can be found lifting weights or just generally exhausted in a heap in her snuggle chair.

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorFMarlow

 

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Fran!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #22 – Glenn Haigh

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Dedicated to the memory of my friend Deborah Elwood, died 2003, aged 24. A beautiful mind.

I hear it all the time. I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing it. “You’re doing so well, Glenn.” It always feels like I’m around 9 years of age and having my cheeks painfully pulled or my hair annoyingly ruffled by an ancient aunt I haven’t seen for a very long time, and who smells of mothballs.

Maybe ‘sick to the back teeth’ is very unappreciative of me, and a tad on the harsh side. I mean, after all they only care, don’t they? If they didn’t care they wouldn’t say it, would they? Or more to the point, if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t even give me a second thought to be able to make the assessment in the first place.

The thing is I’m not unappreciative, not in the slightest. I’m scared. In fact scrap that. I’m more than that even. I’m utterly petrified, is what I am. I couldn’t be more fearful if I was jumping out of a plane into shark infested waters with T-bone steaks strapped to me. In fact that’s what it feels like when they say it, like I’m free falling from an aircraft towards impending doom. The responsibility of doing well cripples me. I wish I was superman, and then maybe I could carry the compliment on my shoulders as if it were as light as a feather instead of as heavy as a tower block. I’m not superman, though, and I can’t carry it with ease. You see, I was never meant to do this well. How could I have been? My mum was 15 when she fell pregnant. I’m from the wrong sides of the tracks. I have dyslexia. I was bullied at school. All things considered I’m not meant to be the head of an 11-strong teaching team. Surely not?

Middle Management isn’t meant to be my middle name. At least this is what I grew up thinking anyway. Sitting at the back of set 4 English, in my half-mast trousers and with my in-desperate-need-of-a-wash mullet hairdo, I could never have imagined I would reach these dizzy heights. And boy, do I feel dizzy, like all of the time. It’s the panic that does it. The absolute 100% prime beef fear that someone will find me out and kick me back down the ranks to where I belong, to languish in the gutter and have people step over me as they climb to the top. I imagine it will happen one day. The day of doom is inevitable. Everyone gets found out in the end, don’t you watch the soaps? “Aren’t you doing well,” they’ll say. Then there will be the deathly silent pause, where they turn what they have said over in their head. The will latch on, the dots will join. They will gasp in recognition and fly out a finger at me as if readying to shoot me with it. “How did that happen? How could it happen? There’s been a mistake,” they will add, their eyes will narrow in accusation. “You’ve stepped out of rank, boy. Get back to the bottom level this instance,” they will demand.

What would I tell my mum, my sisters and my friends? All those people who have watched me claw my way up to the middle of the management ladder, how disappointed they would be to watch me lose my hold, and see my fingertips slip. Would they be there to break my fall, or would they laugh and say it was about time I was brought down a peg or two?

The thing is my success is good for my bank balance but it’s not good for my mental health. I wake up in cold sweats, forgetting parts of the journey; the sixteen year old who left school with four GCSE’s all grade F. Was there a journey? Did I actually take some alternative qualifications? Did I take my Math’s and English GCSE in sixth form the year before I went to university, like I have said I did on every application I’ve filled out since? Or did I lie? Is it possible to go from F’s to B’s in such a short space of time? What if I lied? Will I be found out? I’ll be ruined.

My mind races and it leaves my sweaty, clammy body behind. I try to catch it but it’s not easy, it runs away like a bolting horse with hoofs pounding the ground. Then I realise. I’m no fraud. I give myself a pep talk. “You’re doing well,” I tell myself. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve beaten all the odds, fair and square, not dodged and tricked them. I pat myself on the back. I give myself a little clap. I bow before myself in my full length mirror on the hall wall. Then I vow that the next time they say I’m doing well, I’ll reply with a nod, a smile and a, “Thank you.” I definitely won’t say “I know,” though, how rude and arrogant would that be?

author bio

Glenn Haigh lives in Leeds where he was born in 1978.

As a teenager he struggled at school with undiagnosed learning difficulties that led to him to be perceived as being unable and unwilling to learn. Adding to his struggles was the fact he was ‘different’ to other boys. In 1994 he left school with four below par GCSEs.

Three years later, having refused to give up on himself, he had achieved the qualifications needed for him to go to university where he gained a 2:1 degree. For five years after this he enjoyed losing himself in the tourism industry spending much of this time overseas.

In 2006 he qualified as a secondary school teacher and has been teaching ever since. He’s immensely proud to have been able to help many young people secure places at university- some that in his day would have been considered of non-university caliber just like him.

DONATE BUTTON

Thank you so much for taking part Glenn!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

giveaway

12674482_10156463296100357_1172465294_n<<<<<Glenn is giving away a signed paperback of this book. All you have to do is visit his Facebook Page here, give it a like and post on his wall “Sarah sent me”. Good luck!

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