Degrassi for Teens

All right, so I’m going to stick with blogging just once a week. Twice a week is arguably a bit much considering that sometimes when I get home from work, I want to do mindless activities–namely, watching television. I might work a five hour shift that day, but sometimes I’ll start early to either work on client programs, train clients, or even shadow a class for a fitness instructor who may want me to sub for them in the future. Since Thursdays are my off days, I’ll blog on this day.

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Since I write for teens, I thought it totally relevant to talk about one of my favorite television shows, Degrassi, a Canadian drama for teens (though not overdramatic like soap operas).

I began watching this show when it was Degrassi: The Next GenerationI watched it through middle school, high school, and a little bit through college before taking a long break from it, mostly because I began to float away from cable television and watch more television online. I only recently picked it back up because I saw that Next Class was on Netflix, and I was curious to see how this little gem had progressed.

I was not disappointed. I caught up on all four seasons and can’t wait for season five.

First, let me start off by talking about what’s so amazing about this series. If you saw 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, you’re likely aware of the controversy surrounding it. I enjoyed this miniseries and didn’t think it glorified suicide at all (I think I’ll write a separate post on this), but I do have to admit that it was an intense drama that seemed like it was trying to capture more of an adult audience.

Degrassi is entirely for teens with issues that are relevant for its time. There is no dramatizing issues for entertainment value. There is simply an exploration of issues to help teens understand themselves and feel less alone.

For example, Ellie Nash, one of the characters in this series, introduced the issue of self-injury, a coping mechanism she sought to use based on her tumultuous home life. While self-injury most certainly wasn’t and isn’t a new thing, addressing it as a problem was relevant during my time, as Next Generation is my generation’s Degrassi while Next Class is today’s teens’ Degrassi.

I can remember being a fourteen-year-old going through issues of her own and watching that scene and how sick I felt. Now as an adult (fully 27, far removed from being a teen) I don’t look at that same scene with as much horror because of my more objective perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. Self-injury is no minor matter, but it’s not this big, scary thing that it used to be now that we better understand its use as a coping mechanism. And Next Class masterfully handles this new perspective on self-injury when Zoe Rivas begins harming herself by digging her nails into her skin (Ellie cut).

Grace Cardinal discovers these moon-shaped marks on Zoe’s thigh and doesn’t immediately freak out and run to the counselor–as is what happened with Ellie when Paige found her. She addresses the problem right then and there since self-injury is not the hidden issue it used to be when I was a teen. There was no shame surrounding it, and as a result, we did not see any further incidences of self-harm among Zoe. Now this didn’t happen with Ellie, but there was more embarrassment surrounding her discovery than there was for Zoe.

Next Class addresses a lot of relevant topics. From the Syrian refugee crisis to dealing with post-abortion guilt (or lack thereof) to racism and micro-agressions, to the concept of stereotype threat, and how it’s not cool to be racist or homophobic anymore, it’s a show I can’t recommend enough for teens and parents of teens and writers of teen fiction.

I also love that the actors and actresses are fairly close in age to the characters they portray and not wildly a decade older than their fourteen-year-old character. Perhaps Canadian television is just different form American television in this aspect.

The beauty of Degrassi lies in its timelessness. There was totally a reunion episode in Next Class that brought back some of the character’s of my generation’s Degrassi. It was a joy to see some of these characters and how they progressed–and an even greater joy to reflect on these characters as as an adult.

I certainly watch Degrassi with a different set of lenses, ones that are more objective and filled with the knowledge that these characters’ struggles can be overcome. I find myself rooting for them and also wanting to tell them that their struggles are not endless. I especially related strongly to Maya Matlin, whose depression, suicidal ideation, and ultimately suicide attempt made me cheer for her the most.

As a teen, I would have agreed with her that the depression is unending. Even in my early twenties I would have greed with her! As an older adult with more perspective, I rejoice in her recovery with the knowledge that depression isn’t this horrible monster but another illness that needs treatment like any other one.

I could talk about this show forever, but I think as a writer, it keeps me on top of issues that are important for teens. Young adult fiction itself is a great vehicle for this, but I also have to remind myself that it’s largely written by adults. Degrassi, on the other hand, is most likely influenced by its young actors and actresses; thus, there is no purely adult perspective dominating the direction of this show.

Overall, this show, I think, is a staple in the canon of relevant teen shows. I honestly don’t think teens have enough quality options like that that don’t portray them as attitude-filled party animals.

 

My Return

It has been well over a year since I’ve been on this blog. I honestly did not think I was going to come back to it, not because I grew bored of it but because having a career is more time-consuming than school ever was. However, my book’s recent ranking (When Stars Die), the best it’s ever been (yeah, it’s free, but only because of the second book) was the kick in the pants I needed to get back to planning the third book–plus, this blog is still receiving views, so I’d be stupid to keep ignoring it.

Another reason why I wanted to drop my author platform entirely is because I also have a fitness platform. If you’re interested, you can find it here. I hadn’t the slightest clue how I was supposed to juggle both, but now I’ve accepted that this blog is enough and that I’ll simply pay for promotions so that way I’m not spending unnecessary time on social media trying to get my book noticed.

At this stage in my life, it’s just not feasible to devote even a slight ounce of my energy to social media. This blog will do just fine. I’m working almost 30 hours a week training clients and creating programs at my gym, like nutrition coaching; I’m back in school with the hope of getting into a physical therapy assistant program (so I’m actually devoting a lot of time to studying); doing continuing education for personal trainers; and trying to find time to do mindless activities, like watching anime.

I’m at a point in my life where sleeping in is a delicious luxury and sometimes waking up at 3:30 AM is slightly obscene but not nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t change things at all, but I’ll detail my journey later because it’s a good story of perseverance, and this blog has never been strictly about my books or even writing anyway.

The plan is to blog twice a week though I haven’t decided what days I’d like to do just yet. Expect two next week though.

Social Thursday: Why I Left My Job and Changed My Mind

This past week my blog had to go on another temporary blackout, the same one it had to endure while I was searching for a job in fitness. Well, unfortunately, I left my job as a fitness consultant/personal training intern because things started heading in a direction that had me on edge. The manager who hired me was let go (he was the sixth one in the two years the gym has been there), dramatic changes were underway, a district manager was thrown in the mix, and a new manager was brought on board.

These dramatic changes included losing the ability to sell walk-ins and take telephone inquiries; working more hours than what I was told I was going to be working; daily prospecting that adds wear and tear on your car, not to mention siphoning the gas from your tank (and I wouldn’t have minded this if the money I was making was worth filling up my gas tank more often–but it wasn’t); constant micromanaging that includes a continual update throughout the day of the number of appointments and sales we have–so it became too sales-y for me; being overly involved in numbers that made me realize the last time I was obsessed with numbers, I ended up in the hospital; quotas I did not feel I could meet with the current lack of resources; and an overall feeling of dread as I realized my original purpose for being hired was being sucked away from me.

I was originally hired to to simply sell memberships while making a salary in order to support myself as I learned the trade of personal training from someone else. Most of my sells were walk-ins, but I was still making them and was completely happy with this arrangement. I knew that with the new manager, I would no longer be able to do it. So it was with a heavy heart that I left. But I luckily left on amicable terms with the new manager, and I have no ill feelings toward him at all. After all, he is doing what he is being told to do, as any good manager does. My previous manager simply had a different philosophy that meshed well with mine. I still work out at this gym though (as my fiance’s guest), as it’s a gym I fell in love with during my time as a consultant. The experiences I gained there are unforgettable, and I learned even more what my limits are. And, yes, I do miss working there, being there daily surrounded by people I grew to enjoy having around. Even so, I knew it was time to move on. Yet, I thank my previous manager for giving me the opportunity to build the experiences I worked for.

I know I’ve talked about launching my personal training business this summer. That’s still going to happen. What I’ve changed my mind about, however, is working as a personal trainer for a gym. YMCA hired me on as a personal trainer, and I start training Monday! 

There are several reasons why I chose to go back to this route. For one, my job as a fitness consultant didn’t pan out, and I know that I never, EVER, want to do sales again, so finding another job in sales was out of the question. I also knew that I wasn’t going to be fully happy unless I was working in fitness. And while I loved working the front desk, greeting members and helping them with their concerns, the desire to do more than that, to make helping people a massive part of my life, kept gnawing at my heart. When a friend of mine told me YMCA was hiring, I knew I had to send off my resume before I lost this opportunity, as none of the YMCA in my area were hiring when I was looking three months ago. Joe Cannon told me the YMCA is a great place to work for trainers just starting out, and since he’s someone I look up to, I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to submit my resume to YMCA.

Call me a cynic, but I did not expect to even get an interview. After all, the job description said that it preferred a trainer with at least a year’s experience–and I simply have 3 months. Plus, I never trusted submitting resumes and applications online. When I was searching for a job a few years ago, I sent out over 40 applications and resumes and didn’t hear back but from two places. So the fact that I had to submit my resume online was also another reason that I was surprised I received an interview.

I tried not to get my hopes up for the interview, so during the week leading up to it, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t prepare for it. I was just going to let my passion for fitness and the desire to change people’s lives guide my answers during the interview.

I am so happy to say that during the interview, I realized working at the YMCA was my dream. I don’t have to worry about sales. The hourly pay is enough to have a living wage, even at part-time. I get to actually take part as a volunteer in many of the events the YMCA holds; thus, I have more opportunities to affect the community at large in a positive way. I’m participating in a kickball tournament next month, so it obviously offers many opportunities to bond with co-workers. And I’m just thrilled that in spite of my minute experience, I am being given a chance to change the world, one person at a time.

I am in a privileged position to be able to start from the ground up. I live with my fiance, who is able to support both of us with his job while I build up my dream career.

I cannot wait to begin the journey. My new dreams are going to be my clients’ dreams.

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WSDAD

 Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

 

10 Hilarious Book Dedications That Actually Got Published

These are hilarious.

Books Rock My World

I love reading book dedications! Often, it is our first touch with an author. it is intimate to read those words that often show what they truly cherish in life, what they hope for the book, what they hold dear.

But sometimes, authors get bold, and instead of constructing a “proper” dedication, they write words that are unorthodox, honest and often humorous. Here are 10 of dedications like that!

  1. The Selection” by Kiera Cass
    hidad
  2. “Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book” by Babe Walker
    Strongest-Person
  3. An Introduction To Algebraic Topology” by Joseph J. Rotman
    book-dedication
  4. “The House of Hades” by Rick Riordan
    cliffhanger
  5. “My Shit Life So Far” by Frankie Boyle
    destroy
  6. “Austenland” by Shannon Hale
    colin_0
  7. “The Land Of Stories” by Chris Colfer
    af9ab3836bc0550c1df852c73d669790
  8. “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
    IMG_4403
  9. “No Thanks” by E.E. Cummings
    ee_cummings
  10. “Post Office” by Charles Bukowski
    IMG_4404

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Social Sunday: HOLY INSECURITIES!

I have been living with my fiance for a week now, and let me tell you that I desperately miss my little kitty, and wish I could take her with me. I’ve been visiting her of course, but I miss having her next to me when I’m just hanging out at home. In fact, when I have a day off and my fiance has to work, I feel lonely in the apartment. I’m not used to that. I either have my mom and cat around, or if my mom isn’t around, at least my cat is. The weight of this loneliness was kind of shocking. I didn’t expect to feel as lonely as I did. And moving in with my fiance was kind of sudden as well. I never gave myself time to mentally prepare for not having my kitty around.

But it’s never all bad.

tsaiThis past week I FINALLY submitted The Stars Are Infinite to my publisher, Gnome on Pig Productions. It’s looking to be a November release, which is absolutely fine with me. This gives When Stars Die a chance to go free probably a month or two before the book’s release, while also giving books 1 and 2 some much-needed traction before TSAI’s release. I also remember when GoPP started out with a handful of authors, even just last year, and now they’re building up quite the list of authors.  So I’m looking forward to the future of this little press.

I also copy edited The Glorious In-Between and sent that off to a writer buddy of mine. I plan to query that one to agents.

In other news, I got a shock to the system when a trainer where I work outright told me I have horrible form and seem to have an erratic workout structure. Now I’m not immune to criticism. I’m also aware that I’m not always going to have perfect form 100% of the time. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that my form was probably slipping because I was beginning to lift heavy just to lift heavy–but I’ve scaled down on that and am putting a keen concentration on good form.

It was just shocking to me because the criticism came out of nowhere, and of course no solutions were offered. I was left to find my own solutions–researching basic squat, bench press, and deadlift form again. It also shook my confidence as a trainer, making me second-guess myself, making me question my own competence. The day I was told that, I suddenly felt incredibly insecure about just being in the gym. I had a planned workout for that day, but I just couldn’t do it. What if I was being watched, my form picked apart, every flaw magnified and being used against me to tarnish my reputation as a budding trainer? When my fiance came for me to train, I wasn’t as enthusiastic and was incredibly insecure about whether or not people were watching me train him.

Being in the throes of insecurity is no fun, particularly when you feel you have no direction to go in so that you can feel secure again. I had to find my own direction. I had to reconsider my form with every exercise that I did, bump down the weight on some exercises, and simply practice, practice, practice–with weights, without weights. In order to feel better about training my fiance, I had to do further research into his swayback issue and put that issue back at the forefront of his programming. Last, I had to consider all the times when I saw less-than-perfect form with the clients of some of the trainers.

I remember one gym member, who was a former trainer, told me that he was in disbelief about how poorly some of the trainers trained their clients–giving them exercises they weren’t ready for, not correcting poor form, and not always watching them. This isn’t to say that I agreed 100% with this member’s assessment. This is simply to say that someone will always have something to criticize. Nothing is ever perfect.

And then I had to think back on something the trainer who criticized me told me in the past, making me realize that he doesn’t exactly stay within his scope of practice as a trainer; thus, if I’m going to consider anyone’s criticism, I’m going to consider the criticism of trainers who take their scope of practice seriously. Those are the kinds of responsible trainers that I should be looking up to. Having a certification or even a degree doesn’t automatically make you someone worthy of being listened to.

Again, I did consider his criticism, thought of why he felt that way, and did my best to correct possible sloppy form. Yet, it’s criticism I can’t take personally in the long run. All I can do is believe in the mantra that slow and steady wins the race. All I can do is be cognizant of my form during my workouts and be observant of others’ form during their workouts when I’m out on the floor interacting with other members.

Insecurities suck, though. They have the power to either give you the kick that you need, or the power to suck the life out of you as you begin to wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing. They freeze you in place, make you less enthusiastic about work, and make you wonder if you’re truly  meant for the career that you’re in. At the end of the day, the only person who can make you insecure is yourself. So you have to take the time to figure out why you feel so insecure, and then do something about it!

 

 

Amazon, you hit like a bitch.

The Never Ending Book Basket

It’s taken me a bit of time to write this post, but I figured it’s about time to share the utter nonsense that’s happened between me and Amazon, and how a company that I once highly respected, has now become one that I have zero respect for.

I’ve thought about writing this post for weeks, what I would say and how I would capture everything that’s happened, and I’ll be honest with the fact that this post has taken on many forms, but finally I decided that it would just be easiest to state the facts.

So here it goes…

IMG_0376 This is the first email I got from Amazon. As some of you know, on February 24th I was sent an email from Amazon letting me know that I could no longer post reviews on their website, and that all of my previous reviews had been suppressed or removed…

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Social Sunday: This Thing Called Adulting

I was going to write this post on Saturday, but I figured since I have a 12-hour shift today, I might as well blog on Sunday instead to at least take up an hour of the day. I worked a 12-hour shift once, and it wasn’t too terrible. I only had to work it because the other consultant wanted to go to Atlanta since his sister had just given birth. Plus, I was at least able to make a membership sale that I otherwise would not have made had I left at my originally scheduled time. Today, however, I haven’t the slightest idea why I’m working all day; the other consultant was already off twice this week. But it’s kind of whatever considering this gives me a chance to hopefully make a decent amount of sales.

In other words, I have officially moved out! Okay, so maybe not fully or officially yet because I still have to bring stuff over to my fiance’s apartment. The point is that I am at my fiance’s apartment and will be remaining there. Sadly, this means leaving my precious kitty behind. I actually shed tears over knowing that I wouldn’t wake up to her resting next to me or even go to bed with her resting next to me. I’ll admit I’m going to miss waking up in the morning with her annoying me by playing with the bags I have strewn about my room. (I’m not exactly an organized person, but that’s going to have to change.) I will still be able to visit her; however, as anyone with a fur baby can understand, it’s not going to fully be the same. I also worry about how she’s going to be since I won’t be regularly around her. I know it’s best to leave her at home though; she’s grown up there and is most familiar with it. Putting her in a new location would stress her out. She also doesn’t exactly get along with my fiance, and she has an issue with peeing where she’s not supposed to. Pet deposits and monthly pet fees also aren’t fun. She’ll also be by herself most days, something I know she’s not used to. I’ll be sure to visit her as often as possible, though, and to feed her treats as well so that way she will continually associate me with good things.

Nice DeskAlso in other words, my fiance and I are apartment/townhouse hunting. (I cannot wait to decorate the place!) We’re either going to stay in a luxury apartment or rent a townhouse. I am so excited and cannot wait to move into this new place in July. I also cannot wait to move because I’ll be able to style my own little office area. I’ve already purchased a nice desk that I won’t be unpacking until we move into this new place. I am absolutely going to take awesome pictures of this office space. I only have a vague idea of what I’d like it to look like, but I plan to draw inspiration from Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. I draw a lot of inspiration from her. She’s like my entrepreneurial maven, and she doesn’t even know it. Speaking of entrepreneurship…

You guys already know I’m going to be starting my own personal training business in the summer. I want it to be more, of course. I also want to try to make money off the website itself through ads and affiliate marketing.

I’ve decided to call it TDW Lifestyle. It stands for The Dancing Writer Lifestyle, but totally sounds much more professional as TDW. Now some of you may be wondering why it’s not TDW Fitness. I believe that fitness is so Business Cardsmuch more than, well, fitness. It’s a lifestyle composed of nutrition, good sleep, relaxation, and, ultimately, well-being. My primary target audience is going to be special populations, such as those looking for weight loss due to health reasons, or those looking to exercise to help with some sort of problem, like high blood pressure or diabetes. I want to train these populations because these are people who need the most help, whose lives I feel like I can impact the most. For these people, fitness IS a lifestyle. It’s not simply exercising for aesthetic reasons–hence my motto, “Health. Not Aesthetics.”

I am so excited for the future. I cannot wait to start my own business, even though I am super nervous about it. I’m not necessarily worried about failing. The start-up costs for this business are not ungodly, so there is plenty of time for this business to grow, even if I can only snag one client a month (I’ll make sure to hustle for more, of course). For now, I’m not looking for more than 5 people to train. Eventually, I’d like to move my business to full-time, but only when I start getting referrals out the wazoo.

I don’t know what I’m nervous about. I suppose nerves are simply natural for someone wanting to be her own girlboss, which is what I’m most excited about. My current boss is absolutely awesome, but I’m a creative type, you know? And since I am a creative type, I’d one day like to dictate how things are done with minimal–SUPER minimal–influence. Don’t get me wrong. I love this current job. I’m no longer miserable. I’m no longer steeped in financial insecurity. While I seem like an introvert at this current job because I haven’t opened up to anyone like I opened up to the people at my last job, at least I can share my passion for fitness and nutrition with others. At least I’m surrounded by others in a stimulating environment. At least I can control my level of boredom!

I’ve got my business cards, my liability insurance, some equipment, and I’ll soon be getting a set of dumbbells that can be loaded with different-weighted plates. Depending on where we move, I plan to make either the patio or spare bedroom the place where I’d like to train my future clients. I plan to style this place appropriately as well. If it’s the patio, I’m going to fill it with fresh-smelling flowers to give my clients the perfect therapy. If it’s the spare bedroom, well, I haven’t decided yet, but I know I’ll come up with something.

Anyway, I’ve been adulting hard lately. I paid rent for the first time–half of the rent total for the apartment we’re currently at. I was able to hand over a good bit of cash to my parents to help pay off my car. In the last post, I mentioned I bought liability insurance, which is super adult-y. Moving out is also adult-y. I also went grocery shopping with my fiance and was astonished to find out we only spent 215 dollars, and it was on a lot of healthy stuff, too. I’m telling you, I think health foods are becoming cheaper now that they’re becoming more widely available, especially in places like Walmart. What’s funny is we didn’t even use a list this time and ended up spending way less than when we did use a list! I get excited about grocery shopping, though. I love food, and I love healthful eating. I love going to Kroger’s and seeing what goodies I can come out with from their health food section. I love being able to choose every single item that goes into the cart.

I love control. I guess that’s why I actually enjoy adulting and all that. I love feeling successful. But I think what I love most of all is that those few years I spent struggling with bipolar disorder haven’t hindered me from becoming successful and finding the happiness I know I deserve.

Bipolar disorder really put a damper on things starting in the fall of 2012. I never thought I’d survive my episodes, but I am so proud to have been depression-free for more than a year! Even though it was so sucky to struggle with an eating disorder last year, at least I managed to stave off depression.

Part of me wonders if I’ve been cured of my bipolar disorder, but part of me does not want to test it by stopping my meds cold turkey. I’ve been doing good this long, and I don’t want to mess that up because of a stupid experiment.

I know the future will be filled with many, many surprises. I never thought I’d eventually be living in a luxury apartment while being able to afford groceries that aren’t junk. I also never thought I’d want to go in the direction of having my own business; however, personal trainers are paid abysmally by gyms, and I can’t afford to go from making a salary to making $0.00 dollars until my client base is built up. This choice is more exciting since there are far more opportunities than training at a gym where growth is likely minimal.

Overall, the future has renewed my zest for life.

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 Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble. It also has 99 ratings on Goodreads now with a rating of 4.3!