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Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of year, the one that makes you reflect over the past eleven months and wonder: How did I gain another ten pounds after eating so poorly for the past two months? smh, we’ll never know.

But what I do know is that it’s a mixed bag time of year for me. One that I usually find myself contemplating over the good and the bad. I feel somewhat accomplished in my writing endeavors, having completed a few short stories and almost finished with my next novel. If you’d like to check out my work, you can read it here. 

I’ll be slowly updating them on here too with links to the other parts. If you really are enjoying my work and would like to support me, you can here. I post my work free because I’ve always been torn over charging others over it since it really is a joy of mine.

One thing I am ripped up about is I didn’t get to send my work off to a publisher this year like I’d hoped, but my goal is to do that this coming year. There’s always this still-small voice in the back of my mind that says, “you’ll never be good enough.” She won this year, unfortunately. The depression was real this year you guys.

Not because of the fact that I don’t love every moment of my life and cherish those in it, but because I shut down. To add to that, I work something like 70 hours a week and creativity can be stretched thin when you get home at 6:30 and have to go to bed at 8 to wake up at 4. I got down because I need to do this in order to survive, but my heart has always been with writing and creating. I love sitting in front of a blank canvas, or a blank google doc and just─ going to town.

I know every artist/writer out there wants to do this, but I think it really is the most important thing to us. We thrive off of expressing that creative energy, it moves us. My guilt, and downfall, has always been being timid about asking people for things. Namely, money. And I wonder if every artist struggles with this very thing.

I think: “Ok, you are going to start promoting your work and stop offering it for free.”

Then, the evil half that takes up like 80% of my brain goes, “bitch, look at these other writers and artist out there, you ain’t shit.”

Then, it happens.

I agree with her and just keep throwing it up for free. I need to get to a place emotionally where I can view my work as worthy. And see, this is where I struggle.

Those of you that read my blogs know that I come from a past that is not exactly Disney movie friendly. I find myself pushing everyone away, yet feel sad that there is no one in my life. Depression does this to you. It makes you think, “I don’t need anyone in my life, and I don’t want to be in theirs” and then later you think, “I’m so alone and need someone, why doesn’t anyone care?”

Idk, maybe because you sit on your ass eating cheetos and ignore the 9,856,420 text messages at people’s attempt to get you to hang out with them? Then eventually they stop caring because it seems like you don’t.

It’s an odd mixture of being eternally hopeful, and completely hopeless. 

It’s exhausting and annoying, even to you.

So for all my fellow sufferers out there, I just want to say that you are not alone. My Christmas will be quaint and quiet, but I’m going to force myself to have a good one this year and focus on the positives. Hopefully you will too.

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and love yourselves. ❤

Grey

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Tuesday Musings – Anxiety in Men and Women and How they Differ

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Before we begin, let’s just all take a breath. A deep one.

Ok, we ready?

Anxiety sucks. For anyone that has ever experienced it knows─ it is the worst.

From panic attacks to full-blown panic disorders many people in the U.S. (and in the West in general) suffer from this. It affects their daily life, and their long-term life.

It’s so prevalent in our society that many people affected by it are shown to take more time off of work, are far less social, and are less likely to finish school. Think about how that impacts their quality of life. 

Could you imagine waking up, your heart pounding for no reason as you lay in bed? Everything feels off. I mean, really off. Like at any moment, the world would explode around you and you just want to run away. But, you can’t. You are stuck in your own skin, feeling this miserably-awful gut-wrenching fear and that you are not ok.

Your skin is clammy, your fingertips like ice.

Your chest is tight and your heart just won’t stop beating like you’ve run a marathon, both ways, uphill in the snow.

It gets better. Many people that have crippling anxiety also win the genetic lottery with depression. Oh yeah, this girl right here knows.

Party at Grey’s place, wut wut

While mine stems from my childhood and early adulthood trauma (yay PTSD) many more are affected by this in some form or fashion. Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men. Why is this, I’ve wondered?

Well, there is some debate to this but many people believe it is due to girls and women experiencing trauma earlier in life. That, or if it is possible that it is inherently increased in women.

Oh great, thanks ancestors.

Another fun thing our brain tends to do is process serotonin release slower than our male counterparts. 

While we all laugh it up and drown our sorrows in wine and other recreational drugs

Molly-Percocet

Let’s be real.

Women tend to ruminate and medicate to cope while dudes get physical. Curiously enough, men also have the positive side of their brain light up when they are under pressure. Damn, I wish my brain got overloaded with serotonin and cortisol.

Ladies, we can learn from this. One of the biggest challenges I faced when going through treatment was to shut that shit down. My brain tends to do this thing where it loops all the bad things on repeat.

Oh, you don’t like that? It used to taunt.

Let’s turn this shit up to you crying in the shower for thirty minutes to end your day.

Yeah. My life was hell for the better part of fifteen years emotionally. I still get bouts of it, but I’ve learned a super secret technique I’m going to share with you:

It’s called keeping yourself busy, mentally and physically.

Get real physical guuurl. Because thinking is the devil.

No, not in an unhealthy way. Clearly if you have issues that you need to go talk to a professional about do that along with this. However, several studies have shown that as Westerners, we have way too much idle time and we also suffer from more anxiety and depression than those in other countries. I think if I had to work my fingers to the bone every day, I’d probably collapse in bed in a heap of exhaustion and not have time to focus on all my mental hang-ups.

Except─ hold on, I have.

This year, I quit my full-time job to help run a company. On top of all that, I write and stream. I started noticing something I never had happen before. My anxiety was easing because I felt like I had purpose─ which gave me drive. Something I haven’t experienced in a long time. My depression and anxiety have always centered around feeling worthless and that I didn’t feel accomplished at the end of the day.

It was something I always lacked because I had the same facts drilled in my head every day of my childhood:

you aren’t good enough, you never will be, you’re useless, you’re pathetic. 

It all goes on.

So, while our hormones react differently (and different centers of our brain light up during stress and anxiety) there are a few similarities between men and women with anxiety.

The major one that a lot of people report is the feeling of impending doom (yay flight center of the brain!) shortness of breath, tight chest, and the feeling of discomfort in their own skin.

Unfortunately, having estrogen and progesterone kind of plays havoc on our brain-place. Ugh, as if women needed more added stress to their lives.

Don’t fear, ladies─ there is hope! With a healthy dose of physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and daily mindfulness and rest, you can combat the daily demons.

Numerous studies have shown that taking as little as two minutes up to twice a day of breathing exercises and mindfulness of stressors/triggers(TRIGGERED) you can lower your stress (and blood pressure) to a healthy level.

I use the breathing app in fitbit. Some people love Calm

There are many others, but I’ve heard good things about these. I know they help keep me stay on track, just like having a regular daily routine and lots of sleep. (but damn, sleep is important.)

I think we can all take a little time to appreciate the importance of ourselves, and others and value what we have to offer each other. I tip my hat to the guys on this one, so far it’s worked for me and maybe it can work for you too.

But hey, just my thoughts on a Tuesday.

Take care everyone and feel free to discuss below. I’m more than happy to share my own battles and victories with anxiety and depression.

Love yourselves,

❤ Grey

 

 

 

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A Madwoman’s Guide To Overcoming Anxiety

Ok, most of us have heard it─ the typical b.s. that never works:

Just train your mind to think differently, what’s the problem?

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The problem is, that is great for long term over continual months of practicing breathing techniques and retraining your thoughts to go in a positive direction. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy, and it does work.

But what about when you are in a pinch or can’t afford to see a professional?

How about all the physical feelings you get? The tightening of your chest, or feeling like a stranger in your own skin. I mean the actual feeling of being irritated to be awake, alive, and doing things when you would rather just eat and go to sleep.

Or, my personal favorite─ when you are trained to know your signs, but all the ‘you’re not being a rational person’ speeches in your mind aren’t quite getting through.

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I feel you, I’m there. At least two to three times a week, sometimes more.

 

So, this isn’t fool proof and I’m not a licensed professional, but I can tell you what has worked for me after dealing with anxiety and depression my entire life. I mean actually work, not some bullshit click-bait that every site seems to have.

Hello, hi, we’re a website─ just click on these next 100 pages of advertised products and we’ll never get to the real point. 

Ugh.

Get physical

I’m not going to lie, I work out a lot. Like 5-6 days a week a lot. Not because I want to be thin (but bonus!) but because it keeps my mind preoccupied. The key to not going mental is to keep yourself physically active. It releases good chemicals called endorphins. They interact with receptors in your brain that reduce the feeling of pain. I also love a schedule and repetition, which brings me to my next point:

Repetition

Keep. A. Schedule.

Rinse, repeat. I’m not joking. You will function significantly better when you know what is going to happen from day to day. It’s calming because your body goes, ‘ok, I know this, I’ve got this.’ Having daily rituals has saved me more times than I can count.

For example, when I wake up─ I make myself breakfast and coffee. As this is happening, it gives me time to tidy up and think on what I need to accomplish that day. P.s. this also knocks out two things that need done: cleaning and scheduling.

This doesn’t need to turn into: OMGIHAVESOMUCHTODOTODAYFUCKI’MFREAKINGOUT

It’s more a collection of thoughts. “Ok, today I need to get a project done at work─I have a meeting at 1 with Jeff.” The end. Refreshing your memory, keeping yourself on track. Check your google calendar.

For the love of god, keep yourself some sort of reminder on google calendar, or remember the milk, or whatever app you have. I am the sort that I will forget instantly if I don’t set up a reminder─ and I’m pretty sure most people are. This will also help keep that crazy voice down instead of a self-induced panic attack for forgetting things.

You know the one─ the bitch in your head that shouts shit like:

“How could you be so stupid, why did you forget to just set up one simple reminder, god you’re useless.” 

She’s fun, I take her to parties sometimes─ or dates, or you know, family events.

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Breathe

Ok, I’m aware that not everyone has a fitbit but it’s what I use. It’s called Relax and it makes you practice inhaling and exhaling. Some people can meditate, some cannot. Instead of getting yourself into a tizzy over how to meditate, just focus on drawing breath in and out for two minutes in a comfortable position. (don’t cross your legs, that raises blood pressure) Most people can spare 2 minutes.

Whether you use an app on your phone (like Calm) or the fitbit app, Alexa, Google, or what have you─ these are all wonderful tools for helping to get your mind into a head-space that calms you. You’ll eventually (slowly) start being able to do it on command.

It’s pretty neat.

I’ll share a weird fact with you, since we’re sharing.

I love to visualize when I’m doing my breathing exercises. I think of the strangest thing that would probably freak most people out but somehow calms me: I love to imagine I’m by myself in a ship, floating in space out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes, I can see a star in the distance, or planet─ occasionally an event horizon ringing beautifully around a black hole.

But I’m a freak so, you know, you do you.

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Clean:

I’m not kidding. Keeping a clean, tidy environment has been known to release the happy chemicals like serotonin and cortisol (much like the runner’s high) and gives you a sense of accomplishment. When you meet goals, even small ones, you feel happier.

Marie Kondo is definitely on to something with this one. Bring in those happy vibes by feeling in control, accomplished, and clean. You would be shocked what that does for you mentally.

 

Morning showers are amazing to me. I feel like a new human being.

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Goal Setting:

Set small goals, and I mean small. You can always plan your yearly stress for long term goals in January. They’re great, but they set high expectations throughout the year and bring you down when you don’t accomplish them.

So, set up daily ones!

Today, I’m going to get through one day without having a negative thought about myself. Go on, try it. It feels good to pat yourself on the back for accomplishing something!

Hey, I got through that meeting and I paid attention and interacted. Way to go me!

I set out to clean the kitchen this morning and I finished it. Great job.

Rewarding yourself daily allows the long process of having a positive mindset to kick in. Keep it up, and you’ll be one of those people you make fun of for being too happy in no time.

Well, maybe.

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I really feel like over the course of just a few more years, AI will be a wonderful tool for anxiety. Alexa and Google are already looking into this. If you missed any of my podcasts, I talk about them in the Grey Space series on Soundcloud you can check out here:

 

Slow it down

Take each day, one day at a time. (much like we covered in small goals) I can’t stress this enough. I’m a huge offender of thinking about everything that needs to get done and get completely overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the day. Focus on tasks instead of the entire day at once.

My mantra on bad days:

3…2…1… time to get out of bed and start the day. 

3…2…1 brush your teeth and take your medicine.

One foot in front of the other, all day if you need it. This has helped me tremendously on very bad, no-good, terribly-awful days.

Big no-no─

Don’t drink while you are depressed or anxious. Alcohol is a downer, a huge one. Avoid drinking during a time you are freaking out.

Steer clear of too much caffeine too. I found on days I had more than three or four cups of coffee, my anxiety was insane. It made me jittery and I was incredibly irritable.

I know, I know: fuck off, Grey.

I am very serious about this one and have seen first hand what it does to your body to drink and suffer from worse anxiety the next day. Crippling anxiety.

Don’t do what dumb Grey did.

 

One of us:

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Try your best to actually steer your mind away from negative thoughts as soon as they enter your head. While this is like, 1000% impossible all the time, it does start to become habit forming.

My inner bitch, “damn girl, your ass gettin thicc AF”

Counter argument? “Damn girl, dat ass don’t quit” Then do a booty shake and take your fine ass into the day with a grin.

Love yourselves.

❤ Grey

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Understanding child abuse – An Open Letter To The Public – Part I

Warning. NSFL age 13+ recommended*

You just can’t understand. I don’t mean that to sound rude, but it’s true. Just like any other person that has experienced something you haven’t will tell you.

I can’t speak for other survivors of abuse.

I can’t tell you their story, how they were hurt, or how it affected their lives.

What I can do, is offer you an open invitation to my life, what I’ve gone through, and what others might be (or have been) experiencing.

 

No one likes to talk about child abuse. No one likes to admit it happens, especially when you are a child reaching out to the law.

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If they do know it is happening, many will tell you that it is better that you stay with your abusive parent than go through the system.

For a lot of cases and friends that I grew to know, this is sadly true.

 

I want you to take a moment and think about that statement.

 

 

 

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It is better to stay with an abusive parentthan to go through a system that is supposed to be designed to protect the child.

But it isn’t, is it? It’s a business. Just like any other. Except it shouldn’t be because a human life is on the line.

 

I listened to a podcast earlier in the year called Broken Harts. It was a horror story about how two mentally unstable women managed to adopt several kids. The kids were beaten, starved, and eventually─ lost their lives.

This really digs deep into many situations involving society and children. Way more than on the surface of kids getting bounced around, abandoned, and used as a business.

If you’re naive enough to believe that children aren’t used in sex trafficking that grow up in homes, my friends can tell you a very different story. It is a big money maker, and it’s enough to make you sick about humanity.

 

I won’t get too preachy, and this alone could be another topic of discussion, but we’ll move on.

 

I’m not the worst case you have heard involving abuse. I know there are worse─ far worse─ stories than my own. My stepfather was a prime example of the evils parents can do. (his own life, tragically, did not end well.)

I offer my own story to help with perspective on many others that have had similar experiences and my own thoughts about myself and others. I hope to help educate people through this experience, most importantly to help spread awareness and some compassion.

This journey is very personal to me. It’s raw, it’s very real and not appropriate for anyone under the age of 13. Be warned, things get very uncomfortable.

It’s opening up old wounds I’d long thought I had buried, or perhaps helped me realize several things about myself along the way.

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You ready?

 

Let’s go back to the beginning.

We won’t pour over every little thing, but we are going to journey through the memories that stuck out the most, and hard lessons learned at an early age.

 

Lesson 1: Stay Quiet, Stay Still.

Thankfully, many of us don’t start forming memories until we’re over the age of 3. There’s strong debate on whether we still retain things, or form habits before this age, but for argument’s sake, we’ll stick with what I remember learning.

To backpedal a bit, my own mother came from a cycle of abuse. Her mother abused her. Did it make it right that she did it to me? No. That was her normal, therefore, she continued what she knew.

Throughout the years, there was always a constant in my relationship with my mother. Tension/Anger would build, she would snap, sometimes yell, and then the beating, followed by a complete quiet and calm afterward.

This was usually because I would stay quiet and stay put. It was a mantra I would later learn to say in my head so that the pain would go away.

 

Stay quiet, stay still.  

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You learn this very young. As long as I make myself as small as possible and don’t fight back, it will be over soon.

I learned to read my mother’s triggers. Mostly it was a look when I would ask for something, or if she was in a certain mood, or angry about things in her life. I was the cure-all for her frustration.

Basically, I learned how to read body language and facial expressions very well. My survival depended on it.

My daily world was constantly changing. There was no such thing as normal, routine, etc. because my mother’s moods changed from moment to moment. Yes, she was bipolar, no she was not medicated.

Imagine life with a person who’s mood could swing one way to the next in seconds over the smallest things. Everything overwhelmed her. Now imagine that person had controlling issues and always snapped to anger. It was the first thing they jumped to and it was an uncontrollable rage.

 

Want to know the hardest part about this?

 

Also imagine a parent that would read stories to you at night, occasionally give you back scratches, and spend time and money on your room for you. She threw birthday parties, took us out, you know─ normal things too.

It can all be so confusing, not knowing which parent you would get.

Anyone that grew up with their natural parents and were abused─ wasn’t abused all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it was a daily occurrence and it was horrible, but it wasn’t everything that I remember.

Especially after my mother’s passing.

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You get so conflicted, and wonder─ was it really that bad? Maybe I’m being dramatic.

But you aren’t, and you know it because of the awful things that you wish were false memories, but were very real. You come to mourn what could have been, instead of what was. This is a later chapter we will get into, so for now we’ll put a pin in it and save it for later.

Appearances are everything to an abusive parent, and they will go out of their way to seem like things are fine.

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My mother spent hours perfecting herself before we would go anywhere. Her makeup, her clothing, her hair. We couldn’t leave until she felt she looked perfect, and that I looked perfect. Two perfect girls, with a dream life.

She constantly made strides to appear like everything we weren’t. Which was poor. I knew this was a frustration to her because when I would ask about a toy at the store she would snap and say, “we can’t afford it.”

We most certainly could always afford things for her. Interesting how that works.

 

Lesson 2: Cry Out For Help, I Dare You.

After the years passed, I reached around the age of five (kindergarten) when I realized that other children were not treated this way. I remember meeting other parents and marveling at how sweet and calm they were.

But it didn’t really sink in until I hit seven years old. I’m unsure about what the significance was at this age, or why, but my mother hit a new type of tactic at this stage. I was growing, my hair changing colors from blonde to a sandy brown. My mother, (who had been divorced from my natural father since I was a baby) hated it. She dyed my hair.

She dyed a 7-year-old’s hair because her daughter’s natural hair ‘looked filthy.’ She tweezed my eyebrows, dressed me in the frilliest dresses she could find and finally I could look how she thought I was supposed to look. Her darling dear with blonde curls, and sweet dresses.

I look a lot like my father. I suspect that there was a lot of hate held for me because of this. My mother hated my father. She would later describe that I would give her a look and it would set her off.

You see, all of my beatings were my fault because I was such a difficult child.

Her words would drone on and on about how hard I was to deal with and that she had always done her best. Denial is very strong with anyone, especially parents.

At school, teachers had noticed things about my behavior around kindergarten through first grade but nothing much was done about it. It wasn’t until around second grade that teachers really took notice of the bruises around my neck, and arms. I’m not sure if there was a change in policy, or they were more noticeable but never-the-less, CPS was informed.

There is only so much a school can do about abuse. The child has to have come into school with filthy clothes, bruises, and bags under their eyes for them to actually do anything about it. The parent has to be a repeat offender of dropping off the child late and showing up late. And that has to happen for weeks on end. It may be different now, but I’m speaking about what I experienced.

I learned that I would need to walk to school in order to make it on-time. So much of grade school, I walked in the mornings and walked home many times when my mother would forget to pick me up or was too late.

When all of it sort of came to a head, they notified my mother that a caseworker was going to be assigned to us.

She calmly drove us home. I remember that look─ the horrifying look of calm that was my mother’s face as we drove from the school to our house. It was the second house that my parents had rented. It was on a circle drive near train tracks with a small back yard surrounded by other little box homes like it.

It was at this time that my brother was nearing the age of two. He was my mother’s joy and she loved him very much. He was my stepfather’s child, which was very special to her. To clarify, I have never held a grudge against my brother for this. We actually get along and he is a great guy. It just was what it was. I was the product of a past she wanted to forget.

What I learned to fear the most from my mother was not screaming. Screaming meant a few slaps, hair pulling, maybe a few whacks with the belt.

Silence, calm─ it was terrifying. It meant something far worse.

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I remember that day, her gently laying my brother in his crib for a nap. She told me in a controlled voice to sit on the couch. She rocked and sang to him, her voice carrying through the thin walls. His room was just behind the living room t.v. so anytime he napped, we had to be quiet.

I remember hearing the love, the gentle coos, the wood from the chair creaking as she rocked in time. I secretly wished that it was me in her arms.

Then it was done, the door closed softly with a click.

I’d hoped that some of her anger had gone away. Maybe a bit of it had.

She sat next to me, wrapped her hand under my chin and tilted my eyes up to meet hers. None of this was done gently, there was clear anger there. White-hot anger beneath her blue-green eyes. She spoke one sentence,

“What did you do?”

Her voice was shaking as she held me in place and began squeezing my jaw into a death grip. She shook it once as she tugged me closer to her face.

My mind raced, I didn’t know how to respond or what I had done wrong. I just knew that my mom had been in the principle’s office. I knew I had to have done something, I just didn’t know what. I knew that my jaw was on fire and the pressure was killing me, but I dare not cry out.

She shook me, hard.

“I said,” she paused between shaking me and this time she gathered a handful of hair and pulled my head back, “what did you do?”

This was different. She didn’t want me to be quiet, it wasn’t going to suit her this time.

I don’t know why I did it, I’m still not sure if it was just instinctual or a form of defiance, but my head pulled away and I tried to run. I remember tears coming, even though I didn’t want them to.

My head went to a different place that day. It was something I think my mind began doing to help ease the distress.  I remember being pulled to the ground and my head screaming from the pain.

The world rang off-key, and it wouldn’t be until later that I realized I had been slapped in the head around my ear. She held my hair the entire time, keeping her voice low as she pulled and pulled dragging me on the floor. My face numbed as the adrenaline coursed through my body and I curled on the floor.

She finally released me after apologies flew from my mouth between crying. I didn’t know what I had done, but I knew that I should apologize. She stood up and told me that if they got into trouble over any of this, I was going to pay.

And if I ever, ever told anyone like that again I would live to regret it.

I wanted to ask what I’d done and what she meant, but I knew better. I had once asked and been hit harder for questioning her.

This is how an abuser works. They use fear to make you stay quiet. Believing that it will only get worse when you try and reach out.

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I hadn’t fully learned my lesson from this experience, or maybe I had grown tired of it when I grew older, but at any rate, this was a precursor to what was to come later.

That was the first time I’d heard her snap this way.

This was when she learned how to be sneakier with her hitting.

 

The CPS (child protective services) worker, like others, came and reviewed our family. My mom smiled, I smiled, we were the perfect family. I never opened up to my teachers again about anything that had happened. You see, my mistake was telling a teacher that my bruises were from my mom.

Lesson number two had been, never trust adults to protect you.

 

This is part I in this series. I will be posting more soon.

Remember to get hugs and love after reading these.

❤ Grey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Creating a new food blog

So after several weeks of mulling it over (let’s be honest, more like 3 days) I thought about how it could be confusing to have this as a writing blog and a food blog. It sort of confuses people that come here for one or the other.

I think it best to separate the two so that we keep it simple. I adore writing and I do it almost every day when I can. My food blog will probably not be as updated as this one is, however, I will try to update it once a week at the very least with my creations.

For those wondering why I choose keto recipes, mine isn’t entirely because I want to be thin (although that is a huge bonus). I also do this because I’m allergic to gluten.

And while there are tons of gluten free options, my body just gets extra sluggish when I have too much sugar, or rice/pasta/etc and I don’t like how it makes me feel.

But oh how I miss those things! Thankfully, much like everyone else, I’m discovering that the keto diet is extremely versatile and super creative. I’m always on the lookout for ways to enjoy more and more types of foods. Let’s face it, you can’t live off of eggs and cheese forever.

I had heard so many people rave over the chaffle. I’m going to have to test and experiment more with this one, because you know what I tasted when I bit into it this morning? Egg and cheese with sugar and cinnamon in it. Which is what it is made out of.

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I’m not entirely convinced of it just yet and may need to make a few more before I decide I’m definitely against it. I will say that I enjoyed the texture, it’s not exactly like a waffle, but it was firm enough that it wasn’t unpleasant.

I don’t know you guys, maybe I just have a sensitive palate. I’ll try to give it another shot though. As for the new website, I’m going to link it on here as soon as I finish it.

So what can you expect from this website?

Writing, podcasts, and audiostories. So, you know the usual things that we do. Happy Thursday guys. The weekend is almost here.

~Grey

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Sunday Thoughts

Have you ever found yourself wondering? Maybe just wondering about your life, who you are, and the circumstances leading up to them. What if just a few elements of your life were different? Could you say that beyond a shadow of a doubt you would still be the same person, or choose the same mate─ or even the same job?

Last year I was presented with a very difficult decision, a very conflicted one. My mother lay dying in a hospital bed with cancer. The doctor had given her weeks, maybe less to live. My brother had reached out to me to let me know that I should see her─ if I wanted to. It was an odd choice for me, not knowing if I should visit or just let her slip away.

Before you judge, let me explain.

My mother had done everything in her power to both mentally and physically torture me as a child. I suspect it was because I reminded her so much of the man she hated, and of a past she wanted to forget. I was a daily reminder of that choice she made in her teens. She was also a diagnosed, unmedicated bipolar. Which meant I never knew what I would come home to. Outside was my refuge, books were my home, and writing was my freedom.

I’d long wondered if none of these things had occurred in my youth, would I have the drive that I do now to pursue writing as much as I do. Would I have found the love for the paranormal, spooky, and otherworldly so easily?

If it was one thing I took away from my childhood, it was that while it was all extremely traumatic, the few things that weren’t were memorable.

In the end, I did choose to visit her. I brought my daughter along. We stayed for a few hours and watched shows, made small talk over things and steered the conversation mostly toward my daughter and life. It struck me as odd, this now feeble woman, had held such power over me. It was all very confusing, but I felt the right thing to do was to stay for a while.

The nurse entered to let us know that she would be changing the sheets and getting my mother ready for bed. By now my little girl was starting to get restless and wanted to go home. I didn’t know that it would be the last time I would see her, but I suspected it. I don’t know what moved me at the moment, but I felt it strongly as I went to leave from the room. I turned back, smiled at her and said, “I love you, mom.” It was the first time I had said that in nearly a decade. My daughter turned back and called, “I hope that you feel better soon.”

A week later, she passed away.

I’m still to this day mourning that. Not because I mourn her, but mourn what could have been between us. It sounds heartless and callous to say, especially if you weren’t there with her growing up.

I mourn every lost moment she could have chosen to accept me into her life. I mourn every slap, kick, and choke─ and wish it had been replaced with hugs, laughter, and love.

I mourn the hurtful words meant to break me down and wish it would have been replaced with encouragement.

I grew to hate myself more than you could imagine. I isolated myself, pushed everyone away, went in and out of relationships and always was convinced I was never good enough. It took years of counseling and therapy to learn that I was worth so much more than I believed.

A year is not enough to mourn the death of another life. But it is enough time to realize that I’m able to really enjoy the important things. Especially telling my daughter how loved, important, and special she is. When I look at her, I couldn’t even imagine doing a tenth of what my mother did to me to her. Instead, it makes me hold her closer.

I may never be normal or understand when people complain about their family, but I never hold it against them. After all, we can’t choose family.

I’ve come a long way since that scared little girl, but those scars run deep. One thing I do know for sure is that even though I experienced what I did and it was awful, it made me who I am today. And I’m learning to discover and nurture that person with each passing day.

Just some Sunday musings. Love yourself, everyone. ❤

Grey.

Obligatory Update Post

So I thought I would do one of those update posts. I haven’t done one in a while and wanted to share a little of my life.  (warning, long boring text)

I started a new job around 3 months ago that has been really time intensive. I had a few concerned messages about me still doing my videos for you guys and podcasting.

No worries, you guys. I had to have an adjusting period to get my head straight and not come home dead exhausted. I am definitely going to keep doing those. I mentioned that I will be sending my work off to a publisher, I will be doing that in 3 weeks and will hopefully know something within 6 months. (publishers take quite some time to respond, as you can imagine!)

One of the things I struggle with is being able to stick with one thing and going with it. Especially being horribly ADHD and for a while, unmedicated. I also was diagnosed with something I’m not comfortable sharing on social media, but it is genetic, so thanks, mom 

I had the last few months to really turn my attention to what it is I wanted to do. I have been focused on doing too much at once, versus focusing on what it is I enjoy. I enjoy storytelling, I enjoy drawing. So, that is what I should do. Everything else should fall to the wayside as a hobby. 

In short, I’m here and not going anywhere – Just had to get there mentally. 

I heart you all! ~♥


Grey ❤

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Live Events, Giveaways, and Anime Fest 2017

One of my all-time fav conventions is nearly here! Anime Fest (August 17th – 20th) has hands-down been one of my favorites since I started attending them some years ago. I am extremely biased when it comes to these sort of events, however, because I’ve always preferred smaller crowds. Granted, the fact that AnimeFest is now being hosted near my home in the Sheraton Hotel certainly means they’ve grown exponentially.

And have you SEEN the guest line up for this year? If you haven’t, seriously go look it up.

Unfortunately, for our team at Dusk Publishing, we weren’t able to snag a table this year at the event─ But, we are doing panels. And a panel I have planned oh hohoho~~

If you aren’t currently watching my Live Events, or are just kind of tuning in, I do live writing panels and stories for DuskLive on FB from 2p.m. – 2:30 p.m. These usually don’t go for more than a couple of minutes, but I like to stay on the safe side, just in case we have people asking questions! Once these live events are finished, I post them on all of my social media pages. So if you can’t attend, no worries─ they are always posted afterward. (like the one this past Sunday about a scary experience I had while I was in Japan doing research for the Hell’s Gate book series.)

For the AnimeFest panel, you can expect to have all my usual bizarre Japanese culture and Urban Legends content that you can find on Soundcloud (now slowly being added to my YouTube channel) and on my Livestream events.  This year, I’ll be covering modern Japanese urban legends and where they come from and also talking about some ancient Japanese urban legends. We’ll all sit and reminisce as I talk about my experiences from Japan (interesting, bizarre─ and the everyday life as a ‘normal’ Japanese citizen)

The panel will be held on Thursday, August 17th from 5 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Panel 4. 

For this panel, I’ll have copies of Hell’s Gate readily available, or you can bring your own for signing!

If you aren’t aware, you can actually enter to win a free copy of Hell’s Gate in our contest. (Hurry, it’s only running until 7/27/17!)

This next Sunday, (July 30th) I’ll be covering ways to combat writer’s block and techniques that I use to help. See you guys there!

 

xoxo

C.A. ❤

 

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Why Scary Movies Were Banned in My House

I knew I was different when I was a child. That sounds narcissistic as fuck, but it’s true.

Some years ago (when me and my mother were on speaking terms) I remember describing to her in perfect detail what my baby room looked like. Lot’s of violet and stuffed animals with gauze-y white curtains and white furniture. I remember my favorite stuffed animal was a white seal that I liked to bite on the nose. (It felt good on my gums. :3)

My mother blinked a few times and then, being the religious/superstitious woman she was, suggested that angels must have guided me out of my tiny human body into the spiritual realm, throwing me into an out-of-body experience.

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Whoa. Intense.

But, sadly─ my mom was wrong. Because unlike typical accounts of ‘out-of-body’, I didn’t see myself, or outside of my field of vision from the crib. (not to mention, I think it’s all a bunch of horse dung.)

To my mother’s credit, there is something unnerving about a child that not only corrects everything you say, but also tends to be extremely blunt and appears to lack feelings. This was the 90’s folks, and there was nothing more than just talks about ADD. (attention deficit disorder, now more commonly referred to as ADHD) But, alas, her daughter couldn’t have that, because mostly males were diagnosed with it at the time─ let alone any other possible issues.

And so, I was branded─ the Demon Child.

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Not because I was the spawn of satan, or some- such nonsense, but because I was that man’s daughter.

As you may have guessed, my parents split. Just after I was born, in fact. My mom’s thoughts?

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e.g.: me.

I was tirelessly and incessantly curious about everything─ especially death. When someone explained something to me, the first phrase that inevitably came out was ‘but why do we do it this way?’

I loved watching scary movies, so much that I would sneak out into the living room like a ninja behind our couch to watch ‘adults only’ films.

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Eventually, my mom and step-dad caught on and gave in. And so the three of us (my brother was very young then and slept in a crib) would sit on Friday nights and watch films. I’m sure my parents wanted to watch it in peace─

but I had questions.

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For the longest time, I would ask my parents obsessively about god, heaven, and bad guys. I would listen to the stories in church, but watch movies about the most horrible sides of humanity. My mom displayed both sides equally. So I would get a constant flood of conflicting evidence on human behavior.

And inconclusive data made me upset. Really upset. I liked control and understanding everything.

And so, my tiny villainous brain devised a scheme. Remove the control, and we have a predictable outcome where all other outcomes would cease to screw up my tireless conflicting world views.

Do any of you remember these?

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They were little 2×3 space heaters. Now hilariously illegal.

What happened to cross my mind at the moment, or what force compelled it, I’ll never know. I simply remember at the time, logic dictated that I do it.

And so, I stared at the wall heater. And it at me.

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I wasn’t allowed to touch the heater again.

And my scary movie days? Had to return back to me becoming one with the dark ninja force. At least, until after the coast had cleared.

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Kimi no wa Movie Review – A Stunning Visual Masterpiece

Kimi no wa releases in the US this April 7th and it is every bit as amazing as everyone has lead on.

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Makoto Shinkai has yet again created a beautiful visual masterpiece. If his name sounds familiar, you may know him as the creator of Voices of a Distant Star or She and Her Cat or more recently in 2011 Children Who Chase Lost Voices

 

 

It is my firm belief that anyone can relate to and enjoy this movie, no matter if you are an anime or film fan. I was lucky enough to get a pre-screening and decided to share my experience with all of you.

The story follows the life two young people living in Japan:

Mitsuha from the fictional Japanese countryside town of Itomori.

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And Taki from the large city of Tokyo.

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It begins somewhat confusing as you slowly become aware that Mitsuha and Taki have switched lives. The interesting part of the story, was that it didn’t happen every day─ but rather, every so many days. You get to ride along with each individual as they experience the delicate intricacies of each other’s life.

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At first, they both lay out certain (and most definitely hilarious) rules for each other.

(I don’t care who you are, you will lose your shit at these scenes.)

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What starts as both people feeling a sort of general annoyance at this life change, gradually turns into an appreciation for each other, and respect for one another’s lives

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Until one day, Taki stops receiving messages from Mitsuha and begins to only wake to his normal, every day life.

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Time passes and Taki decides to take a train to the town to discover why Mitsuha has stopped being such an important element in his life.

What he finds, will simply floor you.

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Enter the life of Mitsuha and everything that happened within the lost time.

 

Eventually the two find one another again,  working together to prevent one of the biggest tragedies Japan has seen in a long time.

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It is as eloquent as it is brilliant─ written to pull the heart strings as much as provide you with a hearty laugh. It is one of those films that literally takes you on an emotional roller coaster.

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It’s a story of tolerance, acceptance, and walking in someone else’s shoes. It will sweep you into its magic and make you really feel as if you are part of something larger than yourself.

It’s a story of fate.

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Do yourself a favor─ Grab a box of tissues, go with your dearest pals or family and experience this amazing film together. I promise you will love it.

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I give it a huge 5 out of 5 possible stars.

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Here are the official trailers, please enjoy!

Official Trailer

English Version Trailer

What’s next?

2/12 Valentine’s Day Japanese Cake Recipe Blog – How to make one for your sweetie in the US. If you don’t understand the difference in Valentine’s Day in Japan and White Day, here’s a little info over both.

Info here:  Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan – The difference

2/14 Come visit my podcast/audio book page here: https://arisevalhalla.org/podcasts/ for thrills and chills this Valentine’s Day as I talk about internet urban legends Kisaragi Station, Slenderman, and The NoEnd House.