Sunday, November 17, 2013

My First School Visit Went Like This...

Such an exhausting day.  Gonna invest in a robot that carries large boxes of books.  Or a husband.  Thankfully I had my dad.

Morgan, UT - I once lived right beneath that "M."  Ish.
So all went down in my hometown school - Morgan Elementary!  I saw teachers I still remember, including my own beloved 1st grade teacher Mrs. Tyrrell who made this whole thing possible!  (thank you)

I entered the school office.  "Hi, . . . I'm the visiting author for the day."  Did that just come out of my mouth??

"Oh hi!  Are you ready for your stack of orders?"

"Yes!"  They handed me stack and I sat in a cozy room to sign books!  First time for everything!  Then I went to set up in the gym for the assembly.  Everything was prepared just as I requested - doc camera, projector, etc.  Sitting alone in the gym, I soon discovered the projector cord did not match anything on my laptop.  Oh snap.


The night before, I googled "how to do a school visit as an author" and I happened to read, "Be prepared for anything to go wrong!"  Kids puking front row, power going out, computers shutting down, fire drills mid-speech, etc.  I prepared myself emotionally at that moment.

Return to assembly.

Oh snap.  As teachers and students filed in, and reality hit (I'm about to do an assembly!), I explained to someone about the cord.  Teachers set out to solve the problem.  In the meantime, I said I could skip the book reading, (and my whole powerpoint presentation) for now, and talk about other things.

The room continued to fill with kindergarteners through third graders, who surrounded me in rows on the floor.  The gym echoed loud with child-chatter.  What do cool authors do at this point??  I sat down and got to know a few kids, asking names.  They were so sweet and so CUTE.  I got excited.  Feeling confident now, I returned to my chair and had a sudden idea.

I put a paper under the doc camera and wrote, "Hi everyone."  They could see my hand and my writing through the projector.  I heard a few "hi"'s, and suddenly little hands were waving at me, scattered throughout the gym.  Cool!  I waved back.  I then wrote, "Everyone make a silly face."  Terrific silly faces and giggling everywhere!  I made a silly face back.  This is awesome!  Then the room grew quiet as Mrs. Tyrrell stood to introduce me.

After a very, very kind introduction, which included "Ginny was one of my favorite students . . ." :) (aw shucks), I started talking.  We never got the laptop to hook up, which means I didn't show them the process of writing my book, or art I made as a kid, or read my book on a big screen.  But I still had a blast and ended up drawing through my entire presentation.  I drew the mountain with the "M" on it, the river I played in, the grasshoppers I use to catch just around the block, and even drew the ninja turtles I use to draw when I was their age.  I'm from your hometown, and if I can do this so can you!

I talked about using shapes.  I drew a picture of Hippo from my book, starting with basic shapes.  Then I discussed drawing from our imagination.

"I need an animal, tell me an animal!"  A million hands shot in the air and little voices exploded.  Couldn't hear a word, haha.  I pretended to hear frog and wrote it down.  "Okay one more!"  Again, not a word. "Okay, lion!  Great!"  I wrote it down.  "Let's draw a frog-lion!"  I drew a frog-lion, and they watched and giggled and helped me know how to draw it.

Finally I stood and read my book aloud, holding it up high at an arm's length.  Half the kids probably couldn't see it very well from far away, but they heard the text and I think they got the idea.  Turns out I have most the story memorized, thankfully, since I couldn't see it.  I ended with a few stories about when I acted like Hippo, doing and saying things I didn't mean, just so my friends would like me.  Like the time I ate dirt, literally, when I was their age.

"Everyone say, 'I AM CHOOSING TO BE ME!'"  They all repeated with vigor, and gave me a round of applause.  Thanks kiddos.  I love you all.

It was roughly presented, and I know I talked too fast.  (I watched a video of me later - thanks to my sweet sister-in-law who taped me!)  But, it was my first and I learned what to do better for next time.

I enjoyed every second with the kids.  They were SO cute and kind.  They waved as they left, gave me high fives, and waved again when some saw me later at Literacy Night or at Ridley's grocery store at the book signing.

Book signing was awesome - I was 15 minutes late though, due to the fun I was having with the kids surrounding my table at Literacy Night (where I was also selling books) giggling as I drew pictures for them.  I saw a lot of good friends and neighbors at Ridley's as well as enthusiastic strangers and friends of friends.

Thanks Morgan.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  Thanks family and friends for all your help!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blog Tour

1. What are you working on right now?

I have two other children's books currently in the works! Both are centered around learning a skill which enhances emotional health, mainly which oppose codependent behaviors, in a light, humorous, and secret way (you can't tell, you just think it's another great story with a great moral! muaha).  The one I'm most excited about involves learning the importance of taking risks instead of playing it safe all the time according to what our minds assume others want or expect from us.  

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?

I plan to put my books in child-therapy offices.  They will teach emotional health in an enjoyable NON-preachy way (children smell preachiness from a mile away you know).  And they are pretty darn cute. . . 

3. Why do you write what you do?

I have struggled for years of my life deeply afraid of what others think of me.  I could barely speak my own opinion, share my own stories about my day due to guilt of taking someone's time, or have courage enough to get myself out of an uncomfortable situation.  I eventually became miserable, alone inside my head, and finally sought help.  I then found skills that are improving my quality of life by a million percent and I want to help kids and parents learn the same lessons.  Also because I'm an artist and my art is for kids - cute, fun, whimsical, colorful.  I'm good at putting words and pictures together to tell a story at the right balance.  And I enjoy making people giggle.

4. How does your writing process work?

When I'm thinking of something I have learned that helps me be happy, I then think, "I want to write a children's book about it!"  I text myself the idea.  Later I write the problem which must be overcome, make up different scenarios in which the character faces the challenge and fails, and illustrate how their life was made more difficult due to their behavior.  Then I like having a moment of realization in my stories, through an internal or external source (aka: a wise mouse, or a sudden burst of assertion from with within), and then I like having the character repeat the scenario doing things in the new healthy way, and illustrating how things were much better due to the new behavior.  I write down all the different animals my main character could be, drawing and sketching different ones, until I come up with one that feels right.  Then I find other characters with personalities that both challenge, contrast, and compliment my main character both emotionally and visually.  (large purple shy hippo contrasted with skinny pink flamboyant flamingo)


Apparently it's a thing to draw once every day and post during October!  I've participated on 2 occasions this month so far......... haha.

Here they are!

(my phone takes bad pictures.... and my camera got stolen... and I don't have a scanner)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

# 9: GUILT Attacks

Hippo Challenge #9 (read the challenge here)

So does anyone else experience "Guilt Attacks?"  I do!!

First let's talk about Hippo (from my book You Should You Should for those who are new here).  Let's imagine that before he takes ownership of his individuality and identity, before his grand moment of assertiveness,.... let's imagine how he might have felt earlier in the game had he wanted to say "No, I don't want to do that."  Probably.... guilt.  Unnecessary guilt of course.

Might have gone something like this:

Possum:  "Hey you should come climb this tree!  Hang up side down, it's so fun!!"

Hippo:  "Ummm... well actually... the thing is... I mean climbing is great... and no offense, but you see, ... I kind of, uhh . . . maybeee . . .  Don't.  Like.  Climbing?" (Immediate panic sets in)  Oh no.  What is Possum thinking?  What if he doesn't like me now!?  He's going to be sad!  I don't want him to think I don't like him!  What is he going to say next?  What will he tell his friends?!  What will this mean for our friendship!  How rude of me!  It's not that big of a deal what I like or don't like, what was I thinking?  I'm not that important!  I can just suck it up and climb the tree if that's what he wants!  It's fine!  I'm sorry for saying that!

At the same time Hippo performs the unfortunate act of suppressing his own feelings and wants.  Telling himself others are important and he is not, that he doesn't matter, and putting the very worth and value of others above himself.  Therefore growing another small step closer to losing his identity.  Danger zone!

Now that his feelings are suppressed and self-worth appears less than others, he's prone to another feeling.  Lots and lots and lots of guilt.  Then, normal day activities can become increasingly riddled with lots of unnecessary yucky guilt.  Ever caught yourself in a guilt attack?  Mine have been muuuch fewer and farther apart!  :)

Buuuut, I had a sudden one yesterday, completely out of nowhere.  It went like this:

Me:  "I'm going to the store!  Wanna come?"  Wait... unless you don't want to... I'm sorry I asked... you can stay home if you want... okay Ginny calm down.

Roommate:  "Yeah I'll come with you!"

Me:  "Okay."  (still feels guilty but shakes it off for the most part)

On the way to the car - 

Me:  "Sorry we have to walk all the way across the street to my car, I couldn't park closer!"

Roommate:  "It's okay Gin, I had to park all the way down there last week!" (points farther away)

Me:  "Okay."  (still feels guilty but tries to shake it off again)

On the way to Smith's - 

Me:  "Oh my goodness I just passed our turn!  I'm sorry!!  I always do that!"  I'm so dumb, she probably wishes she was with a different roommate who knows how to go to Smith's!  Plus I don't know what to talk about right now... I should apologize that she had to come with me.

Roommate:  (chuckles)  "Have you done that before?  Oh that's funny Gin."

Me:  "Yeah."  Good thing I have good friends.  She's just entertained.  But still.  Uuuuugh.

At Smith's - 

Me:  I'm sorry I'm taking so long to buy my things!  I'm sorry I forgot which part of the store the chips are!  I'm sorry I'm taking up the whole top part of the cart while you are taking the bottom!  I'm sorry I still don't have exciting things to say or funny jokes to tell while we're shopping!  I'm sorry I'm not as fun as x or y or even z!

After checking out - 

Me:  (Quieter and gloomier)

Roommate:  " . . . Are you okay?"

Me:  "Yes, I just keep doing dumb things."  And I'm sorry you had to see it all.  (guilt is heavy now)

After we get home - 

Roommate:  "Let's watch Haunted Mansion!"

Me:  "Okay."

Roommate:  (observes my gloominess)  "Or we don't have to, if you'd rather watch it another time that's totally fine."

Me:  "No I do want to watch it."  (Next I practice my skills and take a healthier turn for the better) . . . "Do you ever have moments where you feel guilty about every thing you do?  I'm having one of those moments and it's getting to me and I'm trying to shake it off and calm down."  (I finally came out of my head and put my feelings and thoughts in words!  Points for me on the healthy board!)

Roommate:  (Shared her own experiences she sometimes has which are somewhat similar.  I was able to remember we're all silly humans, and I'm okay.)


At least I recognize what happened and can learn from it.  That's what important!  It's okay to have crazy moments especially if we're using them to learn.

Once again, there I go being incredibly vulnerable telling the whole online world about my anxieties and codependent moments.  However, I've had a lot of people reach out to me privately and thank me for talking about this.  I'd like to encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences here in comments so you can all find out you're not alone (and thanks to those who were brave and have already done so)!  We're all silly humans!  :)  We're all equally important.  We all deserve good things.  We all deserve to get our wants and needs met, and feelings are okay whatever they may be.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First Mommy Blogger To....

Guess what?!?

I recently discovered to my wonderous surprise that Mommy Blogger "Painter Mom" at "Confessions of a Knuckle Painter" spotlighted an entire post about me and my new book!

(click here to check it out)

This is a deeper Mommy blog, focusing on being real in all aspects.  A mother of both young kids and teens, she's funny, sincere, and includes a unique perspective on not only parenting, but on being human, facing life's challenges with a sense of humor, and on not being perfect but shooting for the best.  I'm not a Mommy and I get a lot out of reading her blog.  Also, she's a best friend of mine.  <3  I thank her for dedicating a surprise spot for my book and I on her blog.

Hmm, I wonder if more Mommy bloggers will think my book is worth some space on theirs too.  I'll let you know!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#8 One word: Dating

First of all, to those who have sent messages to me saying how much they appreciate my stories here, thank you very much for your words and for relating to me.  Admitting to the world your weaknesses isn't super easy... but I know there was a time I definitely would have appreciated something like this.  And so, I share mine.  :)

Hippo Challenge #8 (read the challenge here)

So.  Dating.  :)

I'm twenty eight and single.  It's fine, I'm fine, I'm okay, it's fine.  Okay?  Twenty-eight and single doesn't mean I'm broken or a failure.  Haha, . . . what?  What do you mean you sense some insecurity??  ;)

Well, despite being fine, I also do want someone to share my life with.  I do want a family.  I want a lot of things and I've wanted them for a while.  So I finally decided to take new measures in my dating life in the last couple days.  What they are, I cannot say.  But with these new measures, a few things have come up that I've realized over the past couple years are a problem, and I'm still facing them now.

What do you do when you find someone you really like?  How do you act?  What do you say?  What do you do?  What makes you say and do those things?  Are you different when that special someone is around?  What is it that makes you act different?

Well here's what happens to ME.  First of all, it's pretty rare that I REALLY like someone a LOT.  But it does happen.  And when I reeeally like someone, I find that I reeeeally want them to like me back.  Not too weird yet, right?  Pretty normal.  But because of how badly I want them to like me, some interesting things occur.

First, the careful observations begin.

What does he wear, what does he eat, what music does he listen to, how does he talk, walk, move, what movies does he like, what things does he hate... my mind is constantly studying and picking up every piece of information it can gather.

Second, the mimicking.

This part is a little embarrassing and probably a little pathetic.  I suddenly find myself copying them, including words they use, how they talk, and I stick with topics I absolutely know they're interested in.  I copy their humor and jokes.  I sing songs I know they love.  Then it's really bad if I overhear a specific quality they like in a girl, because without thinking about it I suddenly ooze that quality whenever they're around.

At the end of the day, I go home, and I look at the kind of person I've been acting like all day, or on that date, or in that class they're in, or whatever it was.  And I'm like, "Who was I just then?  Who even am I???"

How nice would it be if I could just relax, enjoy the present moment, and simply be myself?  Know what I mean?

Yeah, so there's that.

However, to my credit...  I have had way, way, waaay more moments in dating situations over the past few months where I actually talked about things just because I wanted to, without knowing for sure if they'd care or not.  I told jokes I wasn't sure would be laughed at - and sometimes they weren't at all, and it was still okay!  :)  I am learning to share more and more of me, including fears and imperfections, and I have to say it feels so much better than stuffing who I am in a jar and wearing a mirror mask of what I believe others want me to be.  Life is way more worth living!  And far more enjoyable.  Best of all, healthy.  :)  That's what people want - they want to know US.  What do WE like, what do WE think, what do we have to offer them in return?  How can our talents, likes, dislikes, personalities, senses of humor, and unique qualities and passions enrich THEIR lives?  What weaknesses can they relate to and how can we help each other grow?  Relationships are a give and take.  When people-pleasing, both parties miss out, and both parties become frustrated.  Not just the pleaser.

"Cause very most importantly,
I am choosing to be me."
(10 points to whoever can tell me what book that quote came from)  :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

#7 "But...You SHOULD Love This Movie!!"

Hippo Challenge #7 (read the challenge here)

Conversation in my living room tonight:

Roommate:  .....Am I the only one in this apartment who isn't in love with that movie?

Me:  Uh YES.  .  . Maybe you just need to be converted.  I feel like you would love that movie.  How can you not?  It's so cute and so funny!

Roommate:  I don't know.  I just . . . I'm just not really into the characters that much.  

Me (responding real fast):  OH how can you NOT?  They're so great!  I love them because [x, y, z...] and also [2x... 5y...] and I just feel like it's a movie that you would love!!  You just need to love this movie!"

pause ...  lightbulb moment ...

Me:  Actually, never mind.  You don't have to love it.  We can love different things.  We can be different people. 

Roommate:  (starts laughing)  "You should you should!"


Haha.  Yeah.  Sometimes I catch myself in Flamingo's shoes....  Sorry Roommate!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#6 - "I'm Changing My Mind Okay??!"

So I often have thought that if I commit to something, that's the end.  I must do.  I must do all of it, all the way, as much as committed, exactly as originally committed.  There's no changing my mind, or ideas, or size, or shape, or style, or nature, or type.  Even if I'm the one who extended myself the proposition.  One of the greatest pleasures I've learned, that allows for much less stress and rigidity, and much more freedom and room to breathe, is that I can change my mind!  And so can other people!  If I don't end up liking what I try, I can change my mind.  Of course I have changed my mind plenty of times, but not without a large load of guilt attached.  Strange, I know.  Some of you get me though, I know you do.

Obviously if I tell someone I'll be somewhere/do something, I will keep my commitment if at all possible.  But we don't have to go all black and white in the entire spectrum of life being so rigid that we won't try new things, or reinvent ourselves, and open our mind to new ways of thinking, acting, and blogging.  :)

Sooo... here's the thing.  About this Hippo Challenge... Ima change my mind.  Well.  More like changing pace.

I said every day initially... but holy smokes, I don't have time to blog EVERY day.  What was I thinking??  Nor do I have the energy!  Silly Ginster.  Sometimes I just get all excited in the beginning of things and think I can run a thousand miles at once.

So.  Let's go with every few days.

Well that's great Ginny . . . so what's the story for today?  Well I'll tell you.

Here's what happened today:  So, I have this blog.  And.  I started this Hippo Challenge thing.  And.  I wanted to change my mind about something to do with it.  But.  I was afraid people would be like, disappointed, and call me a liar, and be like, "What a lame blogger," and "She totally back down on her word" and "What a flake."  But then I realized we're allowed to change our minds and everyone does it, and it's a totally normal thing!  Plus, I was putting words in like a thousand people's mouths - how rude of me!  So I wrote a post telling everyone I'm changing my mind.

And guess what?  It's not even a big deal.  

Why do I make everything such a big deal?  Dude.  Sometimes, my head can make life fifty times more stressful than it needs to be.  I'm working on that.

K.  That's all!  Night!

Tomorrow, I share some big news..... :D

Saturday, September 28, 2013

#5 - When A Grandma Reads Your Book...

Hippo Challenge #5 (read the challenge here)

So people are getting my book in the mail from amazon!  It finally belongs to people!  You Should You Should is in the homes of families, a part of their book collection, and being read aloud to children all over!  I'm getting text messages/facebook messages/emails/phone calls everyday about someone who received my book and wanted me to know they love it or their kids love it! (y'all are the best)

I'm soaking it in.  I'm loving every minute.  I'm feeling happy with my hard work (I worked HARD) and I feel like there is cause to celebrate!  Even if I'm not having a party, I'm allowing myself to feel glad and very grateful!

Today was the best so far though...
(this is not the actual grandma/3 year old)

Today I sat back while a dear sweet old Grandma read my book to her three-year-old grandson.  She has been a Kindergarten teacher, and it showed.  Oh my goodness.  She read every single word exactly as I pictured when I wrote it.  Exactly how I hoped it to be read.  She was so expressive, she even acted out some of the parts, and she stopped to giggle and point out some humorous scenes.  She slowed down in the right places and paused for effect perfectly.  It was the best 5 minutes ever.  I sat and just... loved every second, wishing for time to slow down.

In the development of "self,", sometimes (as often as possible) it's important for us to stop and take it in, soak it in, recognize what we have that's good, and allow ourselves to feel.  Pay attention to all the senses.  Stop thinking/analyzing, and just feel.  Sometimes we may feel stuck at very numb stages in our lives -- we can see a gorgeous sunset, get a big hug, or hold a baby... and feel absolutely nothing.  At all.  This usually happens because our lives dealt us a situation in which we didn't feel like our feelings mattered, and we stopped paying attention to them/listening to them/attending to them.  So they went away.

What can we do then?  Well, we must make conscious efforts to listen again, sometimes reminding ourselves twenty times a day, pushing ourselves through the motions.  "What am I feeling?"  We give our brains time to heal and teach them how to feel again.  Eventually it will come back.  I promise - I know.  :)  It just started happening for me again as of the past few months!  Just in time too, to enjoy the beauty of fall - my favorite season.  The leaves turn, the weather cools down, there's that smell in the air, even that first frost just warms my heart as the holidays approach.  There was a time I really wondered if I'd ever feel that again.  But now I can.  :)

I have found that turning to a higher power (in my case, it is my Savior Jesus Christ) is essential.

Sooooo... yay!  Time to celebrate!!

Thanks everyone for your help and support and for buying my book and especially for reading it with a child!!!  I cannot express my gratitude, thank you everyone.  I've been so blessed with wonderful people who want to help share this book and all that it represents.  Thanks.  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

#4 - Allow Me To Inconvenience You...

"I just... really... want that!"
* * *

Hippo Challenge #4 (read the challenge here)

So I was meeting up with some friends for "institute" the other night.  Which is basically like a Sunday School during the weekday, or I guess like I large bible study.  I asked them to save me a seat and I'd come later, seein how I had some laundry to finish up.

I knew this would mean I'm the awkward person that opens the door which triggers a large wave of head turns, and I get to be center of attention for a brief awkward moment.  Yay.

So I finally arrive half way through the class, take a deep breath, and turn the handle.  It's not a noisy, phew!!  Now to push the door open.  I brace myself for a creek and... it's not just a creek.  It's a creek mixed with 'excited animal squeal.'  Lovely.  At first I push the door open slowly, (creeeeee - ) but finally say, "Oh whatever," embrace it, and just pull it open.  I walk inside.  Whoosh with the head turns!  Hi . . . hi everyone.  I'm sorry I distracted your learning.  Teacher, I'm sorry I distracted your students.  You all may all return to the learning now.  I'm searching searching searching where are my roommates not there not there... oh perfect they're in the back!  Thanks roommates.  :)  Buuuut, they're in the middle of the row.  There are about 4 backpacks and two purses and 7 people Ima have to climb over, and everyone's legs are real sprawled out.  There's no room for climbing.  Panic...

First, let me explain.  There was a time, which may have lasted most my life, when I would have NOT walked through that row of people.  I would have rather eaten worms than inconvenience a whole row of people and bring that type attention to myself- the type where I do something that benefits me, that fulfills my wants, my needs, and feels like burdening others.

In my moment of freak-out, I gestured to my roommates that I would find another seat somewhere else, somewhere easier.  They shook their head and gestured/mouthed "No come sit by us!"  I really really wanted to by them too.  Finally, in my mind I just said, 'Oh why not!'  At that moment, I made the decision not to care.  To let go of whatever I was worried about.  I leaned close, pointed down the isle and whispered to the row, "I'm just gonna sneak past you real quick."  Everyone immediately jumped up and in less than 2.8 seconds the way was clear for me, backpacks feet and all.  Whoa, cool.  I really was kinda stunned at how easy and simple and fast it happened, how quickly everyone moved.  And how unburdened they seemed!  Seriously that was way too easy.

I walked through the row, sat down, and was filled with this feeling of ... well, really big happiness!  Next to my friends, here to listen and learn about my creator, Savior, and friend, just where I wanted to be in the seat I wanted to sit in.

We're important.  We deserve good things.  We can get our needs met.  And we can be happy.  It's our decision.

One time in high school, my friend told me her college-age-older-brother was on a date with this one girl, and he didn't ask her out again.  Why?  One reason - she neglected to tell him that while they were dancing, his belt kept smacking her in the face and hurting her.  All night long.  And she never said anything.  She didn't want to bother him, or inconvenience him, by making her needs known, and he preferred dating a girl who felt important enough to say, "Hey dude, that hurts me.  Can you stop swooshing your belt around please?"  I remember dying a little inside, because I knew I was that girl.  And I feared I would never learn to be anything else.

Well guess what people?  I CAN be that girl who believes she's important, who can have what she wants, and I'm becoming that girl now!  It takes practice.  Lots of it.  I've changed quite a bit in the past 2 years.  Like a lot.  I still have looots more to do, and at this point, after seeing the changes already made, I'm excited for 2 more years down the road.  To those who feel hopeless as I once did... I can get better, I promise.  It really can.

Okay, I'm tired.  Good night y'all!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#3 - "Fine, Don't Have Some Gum!"

Hippo Challenge #3 (read the challenge here)

Today I was at a movie, sitting next to my friend.  About half way through the movie, I pulled out a piece of gum to chew.  I considered offering her a piece, but a sudden fear of rejection ensued so I kept the gum to myself.  Later, when I found more courage, (yes... I know... my life is so thrilling that I conquer the great fears such as offering pieces of gum) I leaned over and whispered, "Want some gum?"

"Yes," she whispered, paused a moment, then changed her mind and said, "no, I'm okay."  I figured she was being polite - she did say yes at first.

I calculated how many times she's turned me down for a piece of gum.  Never.  Odds are she wants it.  No big, I'll just hand it over.  I pulled out a piece and set it on her lap, "There you go."

"No no, I'm okay."  She held out her palm, gesturing she really didn't want it.  "I'm okay."

Already prepared for rejection, I swiped it back and shoved it in my pocket, feeling embarrassed and rejected, and my eyes began to well.  Yes.  Over a piece of gum.  For the record, I was already feeling extra sensitive today - this happens when I don't get enough sleep, much like a three year old without their nap.

Then the invasion of negative assumptions.  She must be so annoyed by me, trying to offer gum.  She's probably trying to be more polite and adult by not chewing gum, and she probably thinks I'm super immature.  She's probably looking at me in disgrace, sitting here chawin' my gum like some cow.  Okay so those may not have been my real assumptions, but they were fairly similar.

I told myself to let it go, forget about it, it's not a big deal, it's gum.  Just focus on the movie, Gin.  Focuuus.  I was semi successful.

Later as we were leaving the movie, she said, "By the way I'm sorry I turned you down when you offered me some gum.  I forgot that chewing gum on an empty stomach makes me nauseous.  So, I'm sorry.  Thanks for offering though!"

"Oh it's not a big deal at all," I said, playing it cool.  Inside I bust up laughing at myself.  Oh Ginny!  Really?  lol

When will I learn to just assume the best.  How much energy could have been saved if I had just been like, "She probably has a tooth that hurts," or something like that, and moved on.  Really.  Why not assume the best?  I have no good reason not to.

Almost 100% of the time, people's behavior isn't what we think, and it definitely hardly ever, if ever, has anything to do with us.  Everyone has a billion things going on in their lives which we have no idea about.  Might as well assume the best of people, in every situation, because odds are that our most imaginative positive assumptions are much closer to the truth.  Even if a positive assumption might actually be wrong - life is so much smoother, happier, and far less stressful when assuming the best.  So why not??

By dismissing the worrisome and destructive assumptions about what others are thinking, and minding our own business, we allow our confidence and self-worth a chance to grow without distraction or hinderance, and give ourselves more freedom to develop and become our unique individual selves, with courage to be who we are.  

To be the kind of person who stands tall and strong as they offer pieces of gum, without fear!!  Yeah!

So remember - always assume the best.  :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

#2 - "I Need You To Fight With Me!"

"I Need You To Fight With Me!"
Hippo Challenge #2 (read the challenge here)

So, here's what I learned about boundaries the other day when I was in a heated argument (the type where you ball like a baby, which by the way is not a pretty site - I have an uncontrollable lip-quiver, it basically looks like it's trying to do hip-hop on my face):

Have you ever had people in your life who, over the years, over and over and OVER, conducted themselves in ways which crossed your line and caused you hurt and anger from head to toe?  You felt stepped on, disrespected, and belittled?  And you hoped they'd get a clue, realize how rude they are, and knock it off?  But they don't, so you continue in your life, over and over, and over, to experience the repeated mistreatment.  You repeatedly stuff your feelings, wear so many fake smiles to sustain the Chesire Cat beyond his nine lives, and return home venting the same problem to your friend - a story they've heard hundreds of times.

Well this happens to me a lot.  One day my friend after listening quietly, who had heard similar stories a few lots of times, suddenly spoke the hard truth.

Friend:  "If you don't like it, tell them to stop.  If you don't tell them, then that makes it your fault!"  
Me:  Silence.

She was right.  I knew it.  It's been on my mind ever since.

So, two days ago, a couple weeks after I'd finally made my feelings known to one of these people in my life after many years, I was in the midst of the ongoing argument that followed.  Something that rarely happens in my life - I usually play things safe.  

As we began our discussion, I told this person what I didn't like, what I didn't want her to do, and why it hurts me.  Hip-hop went my lip.  Her response proved my friend's point exactly. "Gin, I need you to tell me sooner!  I don't WANT to hurt you.  Now I'm afraid to say anything to you because I can't trust you to put me in my place.  You gotta tell me to shut my mouth!  I need you to fight with me Gin!"  Although I don't really want to fight per se, she was pleading with me to tell her to shut up when I felt the need, to give her boundaries so she feel safer knowing that I'm helping her keep me safe.  I was so surprised, though I really shouldn't have been.  I had nothing else to say at that point except, "I know.  You're right."  She was right.

She then asked how to know what she can/cant say.  I responded with a clear rule/boundary, of how she is allowed to treat me from here.  And do you know what she said?  With great relief in her voice, "Thank you.  Okay.  Good.  Thanks Gin.  That helps me, thank you!"

And that was that.  That's all it took?  Really?  All this time??  lol  Oh Ginny Ginny Ginny....

Hard lesson to learn!  All these years, all the pain I've experienced... is because I didn't give myself boundaries.  I took the victim role.  Really I had every ability to accept kindness and respect from someone who cares about me very much.  My feelings were my responsibility and I bailed on myself, I didn't speak up, and that is nobody else's fault.  

Imagine how Hippo's experience could have been different had he set boundaries for himself in the beginning.  Boundaries such as, "Nobody can come into my physical space and jerk me around even if they hate my spot so much they want to yank it off.  And if they try, I will tell them not to touch me and I'll walk away."

That's what boundaries are.  A clear definition for yourself which defines the respect/treatment you expect from others, and also includes something specific you will do if someone attempts to cross the boundary.

So.  That's what I learned.  Embarrassing, again, but a promise is a promise!

Tomorrow Ima tell y'all about . . . uuum I don't know yet actually.  Guess it'll be a surprise.  :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

#1 - Halloween Decorations Drama

First story of how I'm learning to be like Hippo (read "You Should You Should" here)


Halloween Decorations Drama
Hippo Challenge #1 (read the challenge here)

I just put up all my Halloween decorations right now, after my roommates went to bed!  Ha.

I've been avoiding putting them up since I brought them from my parents' house.  They've been sitting in a bag, on the floor, in the living room, for days.  Why did I wait til tonight AFTER everyone went to bed, even though I have to get up early tomorrow, to do one of my very favorite annual activities??  Because my mind decided something else was more important - fear of what my roommates think.

They might hate it.

They're very interested in our apartment looking CUTE.  And it does!  One recently went shopping for really really nice home decorations at Hobby Lobby and my other roommate has a set of cute decorations she carries with her from apartment to apartment.  Our place is neat and tidy and trendy and real cute right now.  Which I quite enjoy.  Point is, right now our apt's appearance is very important to my roommates - they've recently invested both time and money.  Which for me, right now, means pressure!

I, on the other hand, have the mind of a 7 year old when it comes to holidays.  Clear up until I moved out of my parents' house, I use to build a fake man with my dad's old clothes, stuffed him with crumpled newspaper, and put him outside on an old chair with a hidden sensor that talked when people walked past.  I hung up little ghosts all over our house that i made out of paper towels and string.  I smothered our living room and front door with that gross spiderweb mesh, and hid spiders everywhere.  I'm all about what's fun!

Once all the bedroom doors closed, I began the festivity.  I doubt they'll love the super green skeleton I hung on the wall, or the purple spidery swirls hanging from the ceiling, or the plastic shiny pumpkin string falling in a swoop from our blinds, and the orange and ghost strings of lights might be a little much.  They're also not perfectly aligned along the furniture, at all.  But... I love them.  I love them all, and I love them a lot.  Pretty much looks like a party in my living room, and I'm so excited about Halloween right now.  I'm typing at this moment in the eerie orange glow of Halloween lights.  Bliss.

Now.  We'll see how long I can stand having it up.  Which will win? - My worry or my will?  My worry and fear of what my roommates will think?  OR my decision to not worry, and to realize it's just halloween decorations!!  To realize if they hate them, it's only for a month.  To realize that just because they don't love my decorations doesn't mean they don't love me.  To realize that if I end up needing to take some down it is O.K.  Not the end of the world.  Again, it doesn't mean they don't want ME.

To realize that I'm jumping SUPER FAST to negative conclusions, and to realize that there's also a chance they'll LIKE them!

Now, stepping out of my dramaqueen brain, let's look at real life.  Reality is ... it's not even a big deal.  Like, really.

But that is not the point I'm trying to make.  My point is this - if I let anxiety win, I will be going to bed afraid afraid afraid of the morning.  When we awaken, I'll spend every minute waiting for someone to say something negative, wondering what they're thinking, and trying to read their mind.  I'll avoid eye contact, and assume hidden meanings behind every word, or even silence, believing it definitely has to do with my surprise midnight halloween attack.  If someone clears their throat, I'll die inside because I'll just know it's their secret language translating into, "I hate it, what were you thinking, why did you think you could decorate, you should have let someone help you, you child."  (my wonderful roommates would never ever say anything like that)  If we do talk about it, I'll probably make them tell me 10 times over that they're SURE they like it.  And then I'll continue to worry all day at work and then the next day and the next day, and up until the time I take them down, and that type of worry isn't worth it, which is why I might have to take them down in the next 5 minutes!


If anxiety does not win (which doesn't mean it's not still there, it just means I kicked it out of the driver's seat), then it means I am practicing the arts of risk, trust, letting go.

Letting go of what others think.

Letting go of assuming I know what others are thinking.

Letting go of depending on acceptance and constant reassurance in order to feel at peace.

Letting go of trying to control what others think of me by being someone I'm not, or hiding who I am.

Letting go of worry and letting things and people, including myself, to just be what they are, and feel what they feel, without inserting unnecessary meanings about me.  (how self-centered is that?)

Letting go is an art I'm still learning.  We can talk more about that another time.

(cue worry about my roommates reading this blog post!....)


A couple days later:

Well, they're still up.  I haven't asked anyone what they think, because I'm practicing letting go (and I'm still a little scared of the answer).  Nobody has told me what they think, and I'm trying not to care/worry/analyze/overthink it because I'm practicing letting go!  Random people from other apartments have come over and said, "Cool decorations," and still no roommate comment, at all.  Except:  "Hey Gin you should turn on your halloween lights for dinner when our friends come over."  And "Ginny your skeleton scared me this morning, haha!"  Cool.  I'll take what I can get, assume the best (they probably love them so much they are speechless, haha - ooor more realistically, they have other things on their mind and haven't thought to say anything), and let the rest go.  :)  I'm feeling MUCH more at peace today, and I think I can get through the rest of the month just enjoying them.  Take THAT anxiety, take THAT dependent personality!

Two years ago this would have played out much differently.  I wouldn't have even brought my decorations to my apartment at all.  So, yay!

Well, that was kind of embarrassing to share, but oh well.  Come back tomorrow to read about a heated in-person-argument I had yesterday (a huge step for me) in which I learned a very valuable lesson.

If you have similar experiences to share, would love to hear in a comment!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hippo Challenge

Every day, until my book ("You Should, You Should" - read it herephysically comes out on the book-store-shelves, I'll be blogging a daily blurb where I learned the same thing Hippo learned.  Cuz it's a lesson I'm still learning, every day.  It's no secret that Hippo represents me.  To those who have been close to me, it's no secret that I have been a bit of a people-pleaser for most my past life.

Real Life Example:

Friend 1:  So what did you think of World War Z?  I am NOT a fan of those types of movies.
Me:  Oh, me neither.  Total waste of time, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

(20 minutes later)

Friend 2:  Gin, World War Z was so intense and awesome!  Wow!  What did you think?
Me:  Oh, yeah, I know right?  I was on the edge of my seat!  It was so good!!

Yeah, that happens sometimes, even still.  The above example was just this summer.  BUT, this is great progress.  How?  Because I'm to the point where I feel literally surprised and uncomfortable with myself when this comes out of my mouth.  Like, it doesn't feel as natural anymore.  Which is awesome!!  And way more progress than when I was just learning to simply even recognize this happening.

Recognize what happening?  People pleasing.  In mental health speak, we can refer to it as a symptom of codependency.  In this case, it's saying and doing things that we assume others want us to say and do, in order to keep/maintain our relationships, and ultimately our feelings of self worth.  This happens when we're absolutely dependent upon what others think about us.  It's a sad and miserable way of life, really.  Always hiding, always pretending, always lying, always believing we're less than, and always afraid.

I mentally face this on a daily basis, and work to deal with it healthily.  I'll share my moments and what I gain from them with you every few days til my book comes out, in honor of Hippo and his special debut!!!  Hippo, here's to you.  :)

I already have tomorrow's post written... so come back to read about my Halloween Decorations Drama.

P.S.  To those who subscribed to my blog a long time ago and won a free ebook, it's coming to you soon!  Be excited.  And thanks for subscribing.

P.P.S.  If you have similar stories to share in the following days/weeks/however long this lasts, I invite you to comment.  :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Where Did Ginny Go?

Um... (Ginny peeks shyly from around corner and waves)... hi...

I'm sorry.  I know it's been a while!  I know, I haven't been very blogful lately.  Truth is, my Creative Juice has been on low for the past year, but I still had to make art, meet deadlines, gain a crowd, finish this book which has been born of sweat, blood, tears, and more than anything, hours and hours and hours of my life.  I don't know what this book was made of, or where I found energy to create anything else besides, because I've been on near empty for a WHILE.

I needed a break.  So I took one.  I neglected my fb page, my blog, my pencils, my sketch books, and I don't think I've even doodled at church in a long, long time.  I played with friends, watched movies, read books, went to Disneyland, camped.  So nice.

But, whether I'm ready or not, it's time to come back!  Hippo and friends are counting on me now!  My hopes and dreams that lived over a year ago when I began writing are counting on me now!  My current self that wants everyone to know about the important lessons I've learned lately, and put into this book, and my future self who will write more books with similar important lessons.... is counting on me now!!!

So.  Now that I'm all moved in to my new place, been working at my new full time job for about a month, my vacationing has come to an end, and I'm starting to feel settled and back to a routine, and now that I don't have homework at night (no homework!!) . . . . . it's time to come back.

I have some ideas for how this blog will work from here on.  They still be brewin' in my head.  More on that laters.  Right nows, I goes to bed.  I's exhausteeed.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Reviews on "You Should, You Should!"

Any child and every adult can relate to the message in this book. The Hippopotamus represents the fear of rejection in all of us. The illustrations in this book bring out with crystal clarity our insecurities, but also show us how our greatest fears can be our greatest strengths. What a beautiful book! 

~Aaron N.

I read it to my 4-year-old and he wanted me to read it again and again, which I'm sure is great news since he's the target audience. :-) The pictures made him laugh--especially the hippo trying to peck-peck-peck the watermelon. The grammar and spelling are clean. I was able to read the book aloud smoothly, so the words fall together perfectly.  
My son definitely had a basic understanding of what the book was about and once we finished we had a discussion on how important it is to do what he likes and not what other people like. He did understand that the hippo was trying to make others happy which did not make the hippo happy, so he did understand the message. He only wants books he really really likes repeated. Usually, if we read three or four books for the day, he wants his favorite repeated. There are plenty of books he has no interest finishing from start to finish, so he knows what he likes. :-) His bookshelf has about 50 books and there are three books that he wants read over-and-over, so hopefully that gives you an idea of how much he liked your book. 

I read the book five times (four times with Ayden) just trying to find more to critique, but the book was so good that it ended up just being fun to read with my son.

~Melissa M.

My 10 year old daughter said she loved it especially the part about the spot. My 4 year old twin boys said - read it again, read it again. They giggled non-stop over the STOP! part. :) Their favorite picture was the hippo singing his version of his song. Thanks so much for sharing. I would definitely buy your book, love the theme and the rhymes and the illustrations. I would even recommend it for older kids with self-esteem issues.  This is truly a book I would read over and over to my kids and would want a printed copy.  My boys already said they wanted another hippo story. :)

~Rebecca P.

. . . A breath of fresh air.  The delightful and well-crafted illustrations are gorgeous, as well as intricate enough to hold up to close examination.  My kids are all picture book connoisseurs, and they enjoyed every minute.  The message, while important, is never preachy -- conveyed in humorous verse.  In a world where so many of us struggle to fit in, even to the point of being completely untrue to ourselves, You Should, You Should can open an important dialogue between parents and children, as well as provide giggle inducing fun.

~Lee V. C.

We love it!!!  My oldest son, Cole, 9 years old said, "It's probably the best children's picture book we've ever read!"  Seriously, I quoted him verbatim, so there you go out of the mouth of babes!!  Well done, we really liked the moral of the story to just be yourself and not to be bullied into doing something you know isn't you!

~Aimy W.

I am deeply touched by this story.  I saw myself in this story on every page. I got chills when hippo shouted "STOP". I wanted to shout it with him!! I was so proud of him!!! He had his own way of doing things and that was OK! I have lived a life of doing things that others said I should out of fear: fear of rejection, fear of looking stupid, fear of doing things wrong. I felt that I had to be the same as someone else, like the same music, say the same words, dress the same, to be loved or accepted. I am now learning that I am me, and that it's ok to be different! In fact, like the hippo, it is BETTER to be different, unique! And people like and value my differences, just as the animals at the end seemed to be enjoying his differences! I love this story so much, and I want to share it with my family! I want to read it to my nephews and niece and help them know it's ok to be different. Tell them it's ok to be themselves. That they should not do things just to please others, because who they are is much more beautiful than trying to be like someone else. ...  I love the page where the giraffe is trying to take off hippo's spot. What a powerful page!!! Wow. Try as we might, others cannot take that which is inherintely ours, and we should not allow them to. I want to hold tight to the 'me' in me, because it is what makes me special, and hippo's spot made him different and special as well. I love the message about acceptance. Accepting and loving oneself. What a difficult thing to do, but when we love and accept US for who we are, that is when others can love and accept us as well, and see that what we have to offer is both beautiful and special. Thank you!

~Annette B. 

I read your book to my 3 year old son Jamie. The characters on the first page had him engaged straight away. As I was reading he said, "And what's that little guy saying?" pointing at the green lizard. I said, "He's looking at the possum and possum's telling hippo to climb the tree." Jamie said, "He's very big." I said, "He is, but look he tried to climb it and pulled the tree down. Then the pelican tried to make him walk up the hill. They all want hippo to be like them, but he just wants to be himself and do special things just hippos do. Then the giraffe came along with a magnifying glass and looked closely at hippo and saw a big spot and said no that spot won't do. The giraffe trying loads of ways to take it off, then the hippo shouted stop!"  Jamie said, "He likes his spot, he wants to keep it."  I said, "Yes exactly, he likes the way he is."  I showed him how hippo had his own special things that he did well, and explained how all the animals were different but special in their own way. He said, "Yeah hippo just likes to do his own thing."  I said, "Yeah he is happiest when he is just being himself."  And he said, "Yep he just does his own thing, like I do."  You see if anyone tells Jamie to play a certain way or build with blocks a certain way he always tells them, "I just like to do my own thing." So he really could relate to the story. 

~Joe and Jamie O.

I loved it !!!!! (and I didn't have to ask anybody if I did ....ha ha ) What a great story, the illustrations are awesome and it was just a nice quick read but it got the point across. we need to trust our gut and even though hippos may have big guts :)  they still need to trust themselves and go with their own thoughts. I really enjoyed it.  Kudos to you for a charming, helpful story and you can quote me on that!!

~Kris F.

We loved it!!  The pictures were bright and fun.  My 2 year old loved them.  Even on a computer screen, the illustrations totally engaged him.  The words and story flowed really well.  And I loved how the story had a good message.  We are always told that we need to change who we are to fit in.  It is nice to have a children's story book teach the message that you are just fine the way you are.

~Melissa T.

My daughter is only 1 year old, and she was totally into it. She loved the bright colors and cute characters. While i was reading it to her, she kept pointing at the pictures with wonder and amazement in her eyes and then would squeal with excitement. So cute! I also loved it! I look forward to adding this to my library. 

~Jenni S.

Awww just had a read of it, the story is adorable and love the message behind it, its one that I back all the way, no one should ever try changing who we are, we are all special in our own little way. Will see what the kids make of it later, I can see them wanting a copy ;) Your illustrations are inspirational and full of humour, just what us big kids like he he. You should be incredibly proud of this, it has best seller written all over it.

~Corrina H.

My sister and I opened your book and read it at the same time.  We had so much fun reading it!  We loved it!  Your book is wonderfully written.  It's exactly the kind of book I would love reading to my kids, or would have loved to read as a kid.  I love that you chose a hippo as your main character.  He's so cute and innocent and sweet.  He reminds me of, :)  Being pressured into doing things just so that others will like him.  I think we all do this, one way or another.  We want people to like us and acknowledge us, not that that is a bad thing, but like the hippo sometimes we can lose track of who we really are and what qualities and characteristics make us so unique and special.

Not only is the story amazing, but so is your illustration of the story.  I love your style.  My favorite page is the one with the giraffe trying to remove the spot from the hippo, so funny.  Each character is designed with care especially that adorable hippo :)  It's your illustrations that really bring the story to life and that is an amazing talent to have!  So enjoyed it and I am so looking forward to buying this book soon!  I am going to read it to my little 8 year old brother....and he's going to love it!

~Cassie R.

Love it.  It helped me to realize that I need to be me not want others demand I am.  I may make changes from experiences but I am who I am and you need to learn that I am who I am.
It helped me to realize that maybe I try to please people and not push back a little bit because that is not who I am.  I learned that I may be co-dependent and did not realize it.  Wonderful story and illustrates that being who others want us to be may not be the best for them or me.  Loved it, and loved it some more. 

~Steven W.

WOW - this is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!  I think it is absolutely perfect ... - what a wonderful message to teach little people so they grow up to be just who they are!!

~Sara M.