Hard Decisions & Soft Hearts

As some of you may know, I sometimes blog about my son, Kaden. I have recently received some comments from individuals seeking to know more about him and my experience. So here, I have given a more detailed account of my journey. For those of you who don’t know, Kaden is developmentally delayed. What does that mean? What’s daily life like? How do I deal?

Early on, I discovered there to be a vast range of what people consider “special needs”. It’s an extremely broad term. It refers to anything from ADHD, the Autism Spectrum, Downs Syndrome, Fragile X, Developmental Delays, and many other things. So I would implore you to ask more questions if someone ever says “(name) is special needs”. Additionally, there is a scale of severity when dealing with many of these issues. Some children with special needs, like my son, are capable of a great many things, will learn and hopefully eventually catch up to his peers and go on to lead what we would consider a “normal life”. Others may need assistance well into adulthood. That doesn’t make them any less human.

So my personal experience. I gave birth to Kaden eight weeks early, at about 32 weeks, and he spent the first 26 days of his life in the NICU. It was the longest 26 days of my life. At a time when you’re supposed to by happy, holding your brand new baby, napping with them and kissing them, I had a much different experience. During his NICU stay, I was bombarded with information and possibilities. The doctor said things like “he may have some delays” and “physically he will likely catch up by age 3, but he may experience developmental delays including speech” and “there is a likelihood he could be ADHD”. I thought to myself “how do they know all this now?” and largely listened but told myself “not my son, no way.” Well….yes….yes way.

When Kaden started preschool at age 4, he was almost completely nonverbal and still not potty trained. I can assure you, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I had a very hyper, very stubborn little boy. Upon starting school, I approved the school to evaluate him and sure enough I was told he shows clear signs of developmental delays. I would then work with the school to develop an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). What’s that mean? Well, while other children were learning their ABCs or number counting, Kaden (while also hoping he picked up on those things) was focusing on adaptive social skills, taking simple directions, focusing on one thing for a period of time. All things we take for grantedimage3.

As he started Kindergarten at age 5, it was apparent he needed to be evaluated for ADHD. Google is my friend, and he was displaying far too many symptoms to leave it alone, including aggression. I would have taken him in sooner, but most places require the child to be age 5 first. I waited nine months for an appointment at the (not to be named) Child Evaluation Center. Some urged me to go somewhere else, but when you’re dealing with something like this, I felt it best to wait for the best.

The appointment consisted of me, my son, an MD doctor, a psychologist, and a grad student. It took them all of five minutes with my son to know he had ADHD. They said “we know he has ADHD, now it’s just a matter of what to do to help him.”

It broke my heart. But also gave me some hope. I had a diagnosis. I had a path forward. For those of you wondering about Kaden’s symptoms and level of daily activity, I’ll try my best to explain it.

On a typical day, it’s hard to say what kind of Kaden I will get. Some days, he’s very well-behaved. He is helpful, nurturing, quiet, takes direction well. On the hard days, he’s combative, stubborn, aggressive. His aggression is never with malice, I want to make that very clear. Kaden fixates. If he for some reason gets focused on his dinosaur stuffed animal, it will be the only thing he plays with for several days. Before his birthday, he fixated on wanting a Paw Patrol toy from the store. Every other comment he made for two weeks was “Paw Patrol toy from store”. I repeatedly told him “no, not yet, you have to wait.” I am not exaggerating. He does not respond to being told “no” in a normal fashion. Some children may get mildly upset, possibly huff and walk off in a moping manner. Kaden, more times than not, will have a complete meltdown. He understands what “no” means, but often times I think he doesn’t understand why he can’t just have what he wants, why it isn’t that simple. He will express to you, most ardently, his disdain for your answer. My son throws tantrums. He works himself up to a place it is very difficult to get him back from. He throws things, screams, cries. He is physically violent towards me. I have been hit, kicked, pinched, and bitten all while attempting to calm him down. It usually requires a very tight bear hug and deep breathing for a period of time.

When Kaden was an infant in the NICU, we practiced kangaroo care often. He would lay on my bare chest, skin to skin, and we would nap and relax. If you don’t know what kangaroo care is or its effectiveness, I would encourage you to look it up. During times of great stress and high emotion (ie tantrums), I place Kaden in my lap, almost force him to lay against my chest the way he used to, and I breathe deep enough, hard enough, and loud enough, that Kaden has no choice but to get in rhythm with me. And this is how I finally calm him in most situations. And I didn’t mention it before, but I do so in isolation, away from everyone else.

Kaden and children like him were born into this world before their nervous systems were ready. Everything they experience getting here, shocks their system. Bright lights, noise, touch. They aren’t ready for it. And their body plays hell trying to regulate from then on. Kaden requires occupational therapy. He needs sensory activities and large amounts of physical stimulation in order to regulate.

Kaden requires speech therapy. Granted, he is WAY ahead of where he use to be. In the past two years, he’s gone from nearly completely nonverbal to being able to form 4-5 word sentences. I know what you’re thinking. 4-5 words? That’s not much. But for someone like Kaden, it is a mountain. Most people can understand most of what he says. The way he pronounces many things are still lacking. Part of his speech therapy is being able to identify parts of speech and what words mean. Answering abstract questions like “why?” is not something he does well. Where, when, what, are all concepts he’s mostly mastered. At age 6, Kaden has no concept of time past tomorrow and today though.

His IEP in school also lists one-on-one time with the special education teacher for additional instruction. All this, and last year Kaden failed kindergarten. We all knew it was going to happen but we pressed forward the best we could. I have to wonder sometimes if it hadn’t taken 9 months for an evaluation if that might have helped but I don’t like to think too much on it. Over the summer, Kaden got his evaluation. His official diagnosis being “developmentally delayed and ADHD”.

Now try not to be so set in your mind about certain things. I for one am a huge believer in not taking medication for every single little thing you may have. I take one medication a day for having HSV type 2. I won’t touch cold medicine unless I’m near death. I do take headache medications for my migraines when needed. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, they gave me 15 pain pills for 3x/days. I believe I took may 7 of them. But for the most part, I believe in letting your immune system do the work, as it is meant to. No, I don’t judge people who take medications. That’s their choice. I’m not righteous about it. It’s just my choice.

So I was pretty opposed to medication for my son. Over the past two years, I made every effort possible to find a solution for Kaden that did not include medicating him. But nothing worked. So when the doctor suggested a low dose, short acting ADHD medication, I agreed to it, with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. What made me feel better about it was the doc’s opinions about medications and how they should work. “I want the same kid, just a little more calm” he said. “He shouldn’t be a zombie, that’s a medication failure in my opinion”. So with that, and over the course of the past two months, Kaden has been settling into his new medication routine. Surprisingly enough, he swallows pills down with no issues. I was very worried about this prior to starting.

Has it made a difference? Yes. Some. Was it a magical pill that suddenly transformed my son into the calmest, most focused individual in the world? No. The thing about these medications are they take time, and usually need to be adjusted a few times before they’re perfect for the individual. If I had to guess, my son needs a SLIGHTLY higher dosage that lasts longer. Right now, the short acting means the effects of them wear off in about 4 hours. So Kaden takes it 3x/day. What we’d eventually like to see once we get the dosage correct, is one pill a day that lasts roughly 12 hours. Nevertheless, it has helped. My son has thrown less tantrums and I have been able to have him focus on a task for longer periods of time. Again, not perfect, but more manageable.

Kaden has a very difficult time falling asleep. The kid is halfway to insomnia at this point. I do give him melatonin in low doses to help take the edge off and relax at bed time. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just the truth. Often times, I have to help him fall asleep by laying with him and keeping him calm.

What do I do at home? Right now, going into Kindergarten for the second time, we focus on the alphabet. I don’t want to only point out what Kaden can’t do so let me start off by saying that Kaden can spell his name out loud, he knows all of his colors and shapes, he can count out loud to 10 alone and to 20 with a little assistance. Kaden can name every main dinosaur you put in front of him. He knows how to sort small, medium, large, and the differences in concepts like big and small. He can express if he is feeling happy, sad, angry. He is completely potty trained including through the night. He can dress himself head to toe without assistance (except for the occasional item that is on backwards).

In all my dealings with teachers, doctors, counselors, specialists, psychologists, and even strangers, one thing is apparent to everyone. It is the one comment I get more than any other. Kaden is such a sweet boy. He is a hugger. He will introduce himself to literally anyone (scary for me lol). He has a big heart. He tells me he loves me twenty times a day. He tells me he misses me too. I used to say “You miss me? But I’m right here.” But now I just say “I miss you too, buddy.” It’s just what he says.

So like I was saying. We focus on the alphabet. Flash cards are our friends. I read to him, but he has no ability to read just yet. I believe reading will be his biggest challenge. He can count objects on a page, so perhaps the basics of math will be easier for him since it is most visual. But reading presents challenges all around. His speech doesn’t allow for all the letters to sound they way they should. He can’t yet grasp all the sounds of letters so we have a long road before he will understand what they sound like when combined.

Which brings me to some hard choices I have to make. Not hard in your typical way, but hard in pulling them off I guess you could say. Over the summer, we relocated to a much larger city. The school system here is confusing. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, and it has me thrown. Everything is in what they call “clusters”. The city has like 100 elementary schools alone. Where we moved from, there were like five maybe. And kindergarten was in a completely separate building on its own. To say I lack confidence in this school district is an understatement. I know my daughter will be ok, however. Kali is so smart. She has above average scores and will not be lost in such a large system. But Kaden, I worry about. The doctor that diagnosed him already recommended getting him additional services beyond what the public school system could provide to him because he is in need of them.

image1.JPGNow don’t get me wrong. I went to public school. I turned out just fine. I think many public schools do a very good job with the resources they have to provide a quality education. But for someone like my boy, I am not confident. I know they will do their absolute best to give him as much as they can, like the school he attended last year. But as a mother who wants her son to succeed and push past these obstacles and eventually not need these kinds of assistance anymore, I am not sure it will be enough. I worry.

There is a private school here, fully accredited, for only children with special needs. They range from children like my son all the way to those who will likely need assistance into adulthood. From what I have heard so far, it sounds like a pretty amazing place, a place capable of giving my son more of what he needs. Like the choice to give him medication, sending him there would both break my heart and give me hope. It would be yet another thing in my face saying “your son is different” and also something that says “yes, ok there is hope for the future, there is a path forward”. The price of getting him what he needs? $12,000 per year. That’s IF they don’t consider him a tier 2 student, which is $14,500 per year. How will I afford it? I have no idea. But as a mother, I will do everything in my power to provide my son what he needs. Even it means I eat noodles and peanut butter for the rest of my life and work two jobs.

I struggle every single day. I worry every single day. About every choice I had made for him, about every choice I will make for him, about how people will see him, about how they will judge the choices I did or did not make. I want Kaden to have friends. I want him to go on dates. I want him to drive a car. Get a job. Go to prom. Graduate high school. Go to college. Play a sport. Fall in love. Get married. Make me a grandmother. If he wants. I want him to do and be whatever he wants to be. And I will do everything in my power to make sure that is exactly what happens.

The price of happiness? $12,000 a year. We make sacrifices for our children. We bleed, we sweat, and we cry. One day, he will walk across the stage to collect his high school diploma and I will be in the sea of parents, clapping and crying, and it will have all been worth it. Every single moment, every single cent, every single tear.




“This is How I Die” Release

This Is How I Die Front CoverAugust 1st, I will be releasing “This is How I Die”. It is a 220 page collection that includes collected poems from Mad Woman, Anchors & Vacancies, and Redamancy plus most of Throes. It also includes a handful of new and never previously published poems plus 13 sketches I personally drew exclusively for the book. I have been asked a few questions and I want to be as clear as possible that most of this book was previously self-published in my previous chapbooks. I brought them all together into one collection for a few reasons. For myself, it’s not only easier to manage but it makes more sense that they’re together like this. When I released the original chapbooks, they were in such a way that told a story. From Mad Woman to Redamancy, you feel the madness, the heartache in Anchors & Vacancies and then finally the love in Redamancy. So I’ve transferred these into the new release sectioned this way. Additionally, I understand money is tight for everyone. We have to watch what we spend. Having four separate books, it’s hard for you guys to spend money on those sometimes. In rolling them into one book, I can now offer all my work at one lower price. No, as a person who has already purchased all of my previous books, I don’t expect you to run out and purchase this one. In fact, I totally understand if you don’t. It does have a FEW (maybe 10) new poems added and it does have some of my sketches exclusive to the book. But the release is in no way geared toward those who already own my work. It is mostly to manage moving forward. I do love you all and appreciate your support so much.

Things Are Happening!

I’ve updated my “Books” page to show you the new projects I’m working on! Plus, my new online store is up and running. Visit it here www.thekatsavageshop.com or hit the “shop” link in my top bar. I’ve got new postcards and listings all the time! Put it in your favorites. My co-authored project with J.R. Rogue is coming along nicely and we should be done very soon! I can’t wait for you to have your hands on it and the cute swag we designed along with it! I’m trying to post blog posts on here way more often, but be patient with me. I’ve got quite the list. I’m going to be posting a blogger sign up for future books so keep an eye out for that. Umm, let’s see what else….I’m sure I’m forgetting something but for now here’s a little peek at what’s happening over here. Stay Tuned!

My Son & His Diagnosis

Yesterday my son Kaden was officially diagnosed with ADHD. This morning I gave him his first dose of medication. I took comfort in the fact that when speaking to the doctor yesterday his words were “I don’t want a zombie, I want the same kid, the same Kaden, just a calmer Kaden, a Kaden more able to focus.” Ok then Doc, we are on the same page.

My son finished his kindergarten school year two days ago. And he failed. Next year he has to repeat kindergarten. It took me a very long time to get him in for his evaluation, because I refused to go anywhere other than an actual evaluation center that specializes in this sort of thing. So though it was to late to help him this year, now we have the entire summer to get his medication just right and work with him to really help him succeed next year. 

As for those of you who don’t believe ADHD exists, that’s it’s some sort of made up condition to excuse hyper behavior or whatever you think it might be, I would urge you to do some research, to spend some time with children like Kaden and I think you’d see it’s deeper than a discipline issue. But this isn’t about that, and so I digress.

Kaden needed this. And let me tell you I have known for a solid two years that this is where we were headed. I tried everything I could at home. I changed his diet, we gave him fidget toys, quiet time, routine structure. I attempted to work with him as I had my daughter on the alphabet and counting. I took it slow, I remained patient. And nothing. Nothing stuck, nothing worked. I will be the first to tell you I am anti-medication. I had to be dying to take cough medicine. I don’t give my kids medication for every little cough they present. I believe they have a natural immune system and it’s there to fight it. Fever and infection aside, those get medication. So for me to get here, to get to this point, to know he needs help that I can’t give him, is a big deal. It’s not a decision I came to lightly. I weighed my options, I did the research, I talked to professionals. 

I didn’t throw my hands up in frustration and put my son on medication because I gave up on him. I bowed my head silently, swallowed my pride, and put my son on medication because I will never give up on him. And I will give him whatever he needs to succeed.

Mother’s Day Without A Mother

Today is strange for me. Naturally, as a mother myself, my children wanted to be nice. My daughter helped my dad make me breakfast in bed and she made me cards and pictures. She made me something at school and gave it to me. She was very excited to be nice to me. My boyfriend came and brought me roses and made me dinner. My sister came with a card and a flower for my desk at work, and some ice cream. Everyone was very kind to me. And still, I felt less than whole all day. Not really an overwhelming sadness, but just this feeling of being incomplete. 

Mother’s Day for me has always been about my mother. If I was around, I made her breakfast. I bought the snappiest card, flowers, the works. I always put together a sentimental gift. One year, mini photo albums of each of her three daughters. Another year, a framed photo of me as a baby, a current adult photo, and our poem “I carry your heart” by Cummings. My gifts always made her cry. In a good way of course. 

I saw someone say “remember not everyone’s mother is alive on Mother’s Day so watch what you say to people.” That made me sort of sad. No, my mother isn’t alive. But that doesn’t mean others should stop celebrating. It makes me happy to hear what others are doing for their mothers today. It makes me happy to hear what children, husbands, boyfriends, etc. are doing to celebrate the women in their life. That’s a beautiful thing. Please, don’t let me get in the way of you being proud of that. Please, don’t feel like you have to spare me by tip-toeing around me. 

Take advise from someone who misses their mother so very deeply and celebrate her hard. Now I realize not everyone has a relationship with their mother. For you, I am so sorry. It is unfortunate and sad and I know your pain in a way I can’t explain. But for those who do and can, tell her you love her as many times as you can spare. Make time to hug her hard. Make time to cherish her. It is the natural way of life, that she will go before you.

So do it now before all you can do is miss her.
Happy Mother’s Day to every mother, every stepmother, every aunt, grandmother, every adoptive mother, foster mother, big sister, and the like. Thank you for all the love you bring into this world.

Life Without Social Media

I deleted my Instagram app and Facebook app roughly 48 hours ago. I still have this and Twitter because they’re not nearly as dramatic nor do they have the same kind of pressure associated with the other two. In the last 48 hours, I’ve made significant progress on multiples projects, had a vastly more productive work day, and just feel less on edge in general. 

Don’t worry, I will return. I just really needed to refocus some efforts. I am working on some new stuff for my shop, trying to complete some projects I am sure you will enjoy, and I’m making headway in my novel manuscript.

Overall, leaving behind social media has been really great and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Do I still absentmindedly open my phone with the intention of clicking on one only to discover they’re not there? Yes. But that’s just the thing…why would I want to be absentminded about anything?

Refocusing, refreshing and reinventing. See you soon!

My Son Kaden

If you’ve been following my work for any amount of time at all, you know I don’t talk about my kids all that much. You may not have even known I had them. I never wanted to put them out there too much and as my following grew, I felt an overwhelming need to protect them. It all started when I posted a photo of my son and someone actually reposted his photo. It creeped me out. So I stopped. But today, and in the past few weeks I’ve felt a need to write about my son. His name is Kaden. He’s in Kindergarten this year. And he has special needs.

image3.JPGKaden is like any other 5-year-old in most ways. He pretends to do karate, he loves dinosaurs more than anything else, and will inhale an entire package of hot dogs in one sitting. He’s my youngest. And while I will talk about his older sister Kali one day, today is about Kaden.

Kaden was born on a warm July morning about eight weeks premature. His little 4 lb. 6 oz. body popped out at 32 weeks. I’ve decided it’s because he just couldn’t wait any longer to meet me. I didn’t get to hold him when he made his arrival. He was immediately taken to the nursery and put under an oxygen hood. Soon after, while I was still required to stay in bed, they informed me he would need to be taken to a larger hospital in the city, one with a NICU, to accommodate his needs. I stayed in the hospital while he was transferred an hour away. I can’t express to you the worry or hurt that comes from not being able to hold your child or be there for them in a time like that.

They were kind enough to let me go the next day so I could go see him and be with him. We were there everyday in the beginning. We went to every other day after the first couple of weeks because it became too hard. We still had Kali and she needed us too. For 26 days, the NICU was his home. He was poked, prodded, under bright warm lights. His first 24 hours there, he had a lung collapse due to being on oxygen. He was fed through a tube. He and I napped together doing kangaroo care every time I was there.

After we brought him home, it was much the same as any other baby. Feedings, changings, play time. I thought it might not be so different. But unlike many mothers leaving hospitals, I was given a very different set of warnings and instructions. They told me Kaden would likely catch up physically by age three. And boy did he. At age five, I’m sure he will soon outgrow his big sister. They told me, as a preemie, he’s more likely to have developmental delays and issues. I’ve read about a million online articles and they all say the same thing. Preemies are more likely to have aggression issues, speech issues, ADHD/attention span issues, and sensory issues. Now let me make it clear. These studies all say they are more likely. Not that they for sure will. Or that they will only have one of them or all of them. Just more susceptible.

Imagine my luck. The perfect storm. Kaden has them all. I noticed Kaden’s speech issues early on. He was nonverbal all the way up until he was 4 years old. He pointed or grunted. That’s about all you could get out of him. He knew about 5 words. After he started preschool that improved. His vocabulary is much better than it used to be but still leaps and bounds from where is should be for an average child is age. His short attention span made it very difficult for any type of learning at toddler age. I couldn’t get him to do a puzzle or flash cards or much of anything for longer than about 30 seconds. Because Kaden was born so early and exposed to so much so quickly in the NICU setting, his sensory issues are largely due to his nervous system trying to find balance. He’s in a constant state of either being under stimulated or over stimulated. Kaden craves sensory activities for this. His aggression went largely unnoticed until school began. At first it was “oh he’s just a rambunctious boy, that’s what they do.” Discerning the difference was hard. Kaden frequently hits, bites, and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. And I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong. My son received plenty of discipline. All types of discipline. None of it really works. This isn’t one of those problems you can solve with more spankings. Trust me.

Kaden has an IEP at school. That’s an individualized plan for his education based on his special needs. Special needs. Kaden is special needs. My son is special needs. That’s pretty much how I said it in my mind the first time he told me. Kaden is developmentally delayed. At age 5, Kaden doesn’t know his alphabet. He can only count to 10 and he knows 4 shapes. He cannot successfully or repeatedly name colors correctly. That’s a tough pill for me to swallow. My daughter was so easy. She was like a sponge. Absorbed everything. And is now above average in reading and math in 1st grade. So imagine my disbelief when I can’t help Kaden be the same. I know you’re not supposed to compare your children, but it’s difficult not to in this case.

image1So why have I chosen today to talk about it? Why do I suddenly feel the need to tell you all what I’m going through? Because I’m tired. Because I silently cried on my way to work this morning. Because after being told by Kaden’s special needs teacher this morning that we were going to have to transfer Kaden to a special needs bus so that he can wear a harness, I needed to just scream it all out loud. I needed to let it out.

I know some parents have it harder than I do. I know there are children who’s conditions are far more severe than Kaden’s. And I try to keep that in mind for perspective.

But part of me has all of these questions I keep asking myself and I don’t know the answers to them. And I’m afraid of the answers. Will he ever make friends? Will he ever kiss a girl? Will he need my help all of his life? What about prom? What about driving a car? Will he be in special needs classes forever? This is a mother’s worries.

For now, it’s about the small victories. Kaden successfully identified the letter A and the letter B for me two days in a row. He can’t write them yet but we are working on it. Since having Kaden, I’ve had to redefine success and what success will mean for him. We are only a month and a half into Kindergarten and I’ve already accepted that he may need to repeat it. That’s not failure. That’s necessary. I spend each night going through ABC Mouse modules. Everything is learning. What color gumball is that? What shape is your book? You have an apple for snack. A, a, a, apple. B, b, b, baby. C, c, c, cat.

You wouldn’t know it by everything I’ve said here, but he’s a sweetheart. He has “I miss you” mixed up with “I love you”. So sometimes we’re sitting watching a cartoon and he looks up at me and says, “I miss you, mommy.” I tell him I miss him too. He helps me in the grocery store. He’s a very good helper. He cuddles me and hugs me all the time. He’s quite the goofball. I can always count on him to make me smile or laugh when I need it. That’s the thing about kids like Kaden. They don’t know any different.

Yesterday I took Kaden to the doctor and he was having a really bad day. He was laying on the floor and wouldn’t do anything I asked. The doctor put her hand on my shoulder and said “It’s ok, we understand. You’re doing a great job with him.” And it took everything I had not to breakdown in tears right there. I’ve been bawling my eyes out all morning and even as I write this.

When you see a child misbehaving, I would encourage you to look a little closer. It’s probably not what you think. Kaden isn’t a bad kid. Kaden isn’t a dumb kid. Did you know he can recognize and differentiate an entire book of dinosaurs? This is the face of a child with special needs. This is Kaden. He has special needs. He isn’t special needs.

image4.JPGFor any mother of a child with special needs, thank you. Thank you for doing the absolute best possible job you can raising you child.

I find I cry a lot more these days than normal. I’ve come to understand it’s ok. Sometimes you just have to cry.

For anyone who took the time to read this, thank you. I rambled on without much of an end goal except to tell you about Kaden. Which perhaps gives you a little more knowledge about me as a person.

At the end of the day, I’m proud to be Kaden’s mother. His success might be a longer and harder road than others but I know everything will be okay. I know it will be worth it. Because this is what I’m meant to do.

Life As We Know It

Yesterday I was the target of a troll, a cyber bully. They hid behind two different fake accounts and commented horrible things. They said I was white trash, said I was nothing, a nobody, said I was what was wrong with the world, told me to have fun living with STDs. Now I’ll admit, this isn’t the first time a person has randomly been mean. I’ve had a few in my time. But never someone so persistent they’d use more than one account to get to me. And trust me, I’m 99.99% sure it was the same person just based on what they said, how they said it, and the names of the accounts. Which leads me to believe they may just be getting started. I don’t engage them. I don’t respond in any way. I delete the comments immediately and block the account. That’s what I will continue to do.

There are two types of people. Almost all of us are given a life or a circumstance or situation we weren’t expecting. Nothing goes right and suddenly we’re neck deep in a life we didn’t expect. But we can choose to respond really only two ways. We adapt, we press forward and we make as many negatives into positives as we can. Or, we don’t. We grow bitter and seek to make those around us unhappy any time we can. I speak openly about having HSV because it helps me and it helps others. People thank me and reach out to me with questions or just wanting to vent all the time. And so, I’ve taken what could be a very big negative in my life and made it a positive. But these are also the things about a person that someone will latch onto and try to use against you. And that’s ok. It just means I’m doing something worth attacking. I still have a hard time understanding who has the time and energy to do this to someone. Perhaps I will never understand because I use my time and energy focusing on much more important things. And I will continue to do that.

So, as a means to focus on some very big things ahead of me, my account will probably be a little more quiet. Not quite as many posts. Not because of the troll. Not because of the bully. I promise you that. But I will keep you guys updated.

Right now I have two books on Amazon.com and I must thank you all because they’re selling quite well. I appreciate that so much. I hope they continue to do so. Mad Woman is selling better than it did in previous months and Anchors & Vacancies is certainly holding its own. If you want to check them out, you can find information about them both plus links to them on Amazon under the “Books” tab.

My etsy shop has a few things in it including the return of custom poetry. It’s a limited quantity and always will be so I don’t overwhelm myself. I also have a few framed mini pieces, bookmarks, and signed poetry. I will be stocking some framed pointillism pieces again soon too. You can get to my etsy shop by clicking “Shop” tab and it will take you straight there.

Redamancy is my Black Friday release. And I need some time with it. And I have to spend less time on here to do that. It’s different than what I’ve written before. It’s happy. It feels good and fresh.Preorders for this book will be different than before. In the past I’ve had 100 preorders available. Redamancy will probably be only 25 preorders. They will come signed and numbered along with a print of a poem from the book. My goal is to have preorders up some time in the first part of September so be on the lookout for that.

As of yesterday, I’ve got a project with my B, J. R. Rogue and I’m sure we will be sharing details about that at a later time. I’m really excited about this. We’ve been talking about it for a very long time. And I can’t forget, my novel. I started it nearly a year ago and life got in the way. I want to finish it and release it. With any luck, you’ll see a debut novel from me in 2017.

So as you can see, there’s just so much to do. This is all on top of my 40+ hours full time job and the parenting stuff. So sit tight, continue to like, share, and follow me on this ride. I promise it will be worth it. Oh and let’s not forget the GIVEAWAYS! I will always make time for the GIVEAWAYS! Love you all!

Let’s Set The Record Straight

As of late, I’ve received a lot of praise from everyone stating they are really proud of the stance I’ve taken concerning the UW situation, how brave I am, how it takes a lot of guts to do what I did. Maybe that’s all true, but please understand that’s not why I did it. I just wanted to do the right thing.

I am very sorry for anyone who is offended that I made a GoFundMe page. And yes, people were offended. One writer in particular personally attacked me and sent me several messages of which I ignored until they stopped.

I don’t want anyone’s pity for being a single mother. And I’m certainly not attempting to use it in any way to get money from you.

If you know me, you know I do what I can when I can to help others. I HATE talking about the good deeds I do. I hate feeling like I’m bragging about being a good person. But my morals have been called into question and now I must use these things to set the record straight in a manner of speaking.

If you follow me, you know I frequently do giveaways. I spend time and money to send my books and poetry out into the world for free. I pay for shipping and I spend the time to drive it to the post office. Fellow writers frown upon this sort of behavior. They say it “cheapens your work” and no one will buy your stuff if there are so many opportunities to obtain it for free. Maybe that’s true. But I’m still going to keep doing giveaways because it makes me happy inside to be giving a book to someone who may not otherwise have the money to obtain it.

If you follow me, you know not long ago I orchestrated receiving materials from about 15 other writers and artists to send to people as a “Thank You” if they made a donation to a fellow writer’s GoFundMe to help save their dog’s life. I contacted many artists and writers, received all the packages, kept track of every donation along with their contact information, bought shipping materials, packaged 30+ “Thank You” packages and shipped them out on my own dime. It wasn’t even my dog, guys.

If you know me, you know I tip $20 on a $12 restaurant bill just about every time I go out to eat. Which isn’t often because quite frankly, my tipping habits make it expensive. But I do it because the place I go to most often is a little diner next to work. And the servers are so nice. And they remember my drink order as soon as I step foot in there. This is the same restaurant I’ve sat in a people watched and noticed elderly people eating alone and paid for their meals anonymously.

If you know me, you know I’ve donated portions of my preorders to charities. If you know me, you would know that last week I was in the grocery store and an elderly woman was in a motorized cart behind me and couldn’t reach all the way into her basket and put things on the conveyor without a great deal of struggle and so I stood there having already been checked out and I took every single item out of her cart for her and organized it on the belt for her.

If you know me at all, you know that every single dime of the money that was given to me is going toward exactly what I said it was going to. And the book signing I have in Nashville, TN next month was paid for months ago when I actually had the extra money to do it. No, I am not taking donations and using them to travel the country. Yes, someone did actually comment that on my page earlier this morning. I have one trip scheduled. One trip to Nashville. One trip to Nashville that’s already paid for. One trip that is actually meant to further my efforts in writing where I will sign and sell books while I am there.

This same comment said I “bitched about being a single mother” last week. Let me make one thing clear to all of you. I never bitch about it. Do I struggle? Do I break down and cry in the solitude of my bedroom? Yes and yes. Do I carry on day after day bitching about being a single mother? No. I do not. I try everyday to be a person I would want them to be. So when I take them out to lunch and my daughter asks me why I’m leaving so much money for the server, I tell her because it’s good to be nice. It’s important to be nice.

When my daughter asks me why I have so many packages for the mailman, I tell her that as people we have to try every day to be generous. She asks me what generous means. I tell her sometimes generosity is going without something you want so that you can give someone else what they want or need.

I’m not a person who wants for many material things. I don’t get my hair and nails done. I’m not saying you’re a bad person if you are, please don’t misunderstand. It is very important to pamper yourself and treat yourself. I’m just saying these are not things I do. I don’t eat out a lot. I don’t buy myself new stuff a lot, aside from books. And those books are often either books by authors I really love or books by friends and other writers I know who are doing the same thing I’m doing. They’re independent. They’re trying hard every day to make a living from their art. And I support them in that cause.

Oh and one more thing. if you visited my donation page after the fact, you will see a “donation” from Eli himself. You know who he is. I don’t have to remind you that he is one of the owners of UW Publishing. He made a “donation” of $1675 which brought me to the goal I had set on there. Now let’s not mix words. Is getting money from someone who owes it to me a donation? No. It’s getting the money that is rightfully and contractually owed to me. Does Eli consider it a donation? No. No he doesn’t. He considers it part of the money he owes me and stated so in an email to me. There is also a comment on a fellow artist’s page where UW’s Instagram account states they given me $1600 of what they owe me. So no, Eli didn’t donate anything to me. He paid me part of what I am contractually owed. Nothing more and nothing less. And those who did donate to me are getting items in return. I will be sending out signed poems and signed books to everyone who donated the corresponding amounts.

This effort was not to get anything for free. In fact, I never thought for a moment I would reach the goal on there. The blog post I made and the reason for the fund was to do one thing. State the truth and let the rest play out however it may have. It was to prove a point to UW and to everyone else. My integrity can’t be bought. And when you stand up and do the right thing, sometimes karma has a way of repaying you all of those small good deeds you’ve put out in the world.

So, as for me, as far as I’m concerned the UW situation is all but wrapped up. I will not be making any more posts about UW unless I absolutely have to. I will continue doing giveways as I always have because I love you guys and giving you free stuff makes me happy as pie. I will be signing in Nashville, TN next week to further my writing career and it is not on the dime of anyone who contributed money to my fund. And I will continue to do as many small and random acts of kindness as I possibly can. Because it’s the right things to do. And you know what’s funny? Last week in the grocery store, the cute little old lady thanked me. She said “It will come back to you, dear. It will.” And I shrugged it off and didn’t think anything of it. But guess what? It has. It really has. So if for no other reason than to pay your karma fund, do good deeds. It will come back to you.