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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5 Star Book Review - Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary Ordinary Woman by Jenn Sadai

Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto 

Thank you to Jenn Sadai for writing this lovely book Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman as it says on the cover "too many women suffer in silence" and I admire this author for breaking the silence. This isn't your ordinary memoir as it is brutally honest, and I sometimes feel that memoir lacks that no holes barred approach to story telling. I don't feel that other memoirists intentionally exclude details or candy coat things, I just think time softens some of our memories. In Jenn Sadai's case, she was writing this story in her head her entire life. The brutal honesty and attention to detail sets Dark Confessions apart.

If you're trying to decide if you should read Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman, let me put it to you this way:

If a dear friend called and said "I really need to talk to you, can I come cry on your shoulder over coffee?" would you say no? Of course not! You'd throw on the pot of coffee, crab a box of tissues, and you'd be ready with open arms. Your friend would come over, spill their guts, you'd laugh and you'd cry. You'd hug, and you would both walk away from the encounter feeling renewed, more connected than ever, and you'd be empowered because of the time you shared.

That's exactly what happens as you read Dark Confessions. Jenn Sadai lets you into her life. She doesn't dust off the top shelves or get rid of the dust bunnies under the couch either...she lets you see all the dirt and filth. She trusts you to love even her ugly parts. She hopes that her story will inspire you. She allows herself to be authentic with strangers with zero concern about the potential judgment.

Pick up a copy of Dark Confessions. It's available on Amazon in paperback or e-version and you won't regret the few hours it will take you to read cover to cover. I've added Jenn Sadai's other books to my list of books to be read. I admire her spirit and her style and look forward to learning more and being inspired!


Official Book Summary/Description: "Ten years ago I was a drug-addicted, chain-smoking thief who willingly stayed in a physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive relationship for several years longer than I should have."

Too many dark secrets are guarded behind closed doors.
It's time to bust down some doors and make a difference. 

Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman is a raw and emotional coming-of-age story. It follows the author from a fearless little girl, to an insecure teenager, to a confident woman who truly knows her worth in this world. The story begins with the author's crazy and reckless rebellion after her parent's divorce. Alcohol, drugs, and petty crimes were the inevitable consequence of a young child being left to her own devices.

After many dangerous and troubling encounters, Jenn tries to redirect her life path in a positive direction before heading off to college, but instead she ends up falling in love with a man who would nearly kill her six years later. Shane, who she believes is the love-of-her-life, has a kind and gentle heart when they first meet. Sadly his views on the world are later darkened by his best friend's suicide and his father's untimely death. Shane turns to hardcore drug use and their once healthy relationship becomes increasingly dark and destructive. 

Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman addresses ordinary issues like teenage rebellion, abusive relationships, drug addiction, and depression in an extraordinarily inspiring way.
Amazon Purchase Link: Click Here




Book Details:
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Little Creek Books (February 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939289335
ISBN-13: 978-1939289339


About Author Jenn Sadai: Jenn Sadai’s goal as an author is to use her talents and life experiences to inspire anyone struggling through similar challenges. Her first book, Dark Confessions of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman, was released in February of 2014 and delves into the dark consequences of domestic violence, drug use and depression. The personal side of Jenn’s story is a raw and honest account of how her life came crumbling down and the journey she took to put the pieces back together.

Her second book, Dirty Secrets of the World’s Worst Employee, follows Jenn’s crooked career path and the obstacles she faced before discovering her true calling. Her professional journey addresses critical issues such as gender equality, sexual harassment and workplace bullying. Cottage Cheese Thighs is Jenn’s third book in her self-proclaimed “Self-esteem Series.” It tackles the sensitive relationship between our weight and the way we view ourselves.

Jenn Sadai is a proud Canadian, born in Windsor, Ontario, where she resides with her heroic husband, fantastic stepchildren, and two lovable labs. She lives life in the moment and is always willing to try something new. You can reach Jenn through the various social media
links on her website, www.jennsadai.com.


And a little bit about today's reviewer:

Crystal is a church musician and secretary, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama),
business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and writing articles at: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/ When she's not doing that, she's baking bread and cookies for her friends and neighbors. She says "the coffee is always hot and you're always welcome here!"

Friday, January 13, 2017

Crawling Out of the Dark

Looking for some advice for a mama in a tough situation. What do you do when you're in the midst of a separation/divorce? How do you move past the feelings of despair, sadness, loneliness, worthlessness, and move forward to the happy life ahead of you? Are those steps different if your spouse or significant other was cheating? What if they were addicted to drugs? Alcohol? Porn?

I shared my story in a video today, but it's been so long for me. I'm not really sure what advice I can offer. All I can say is I've been there and I know too well the dark feelings. That internal voice telling you that you failed at something really important. The anxious feeling of not wanting to run into that person, but the simultaneous longing to see them. I drank too much, I didn't give myself enough credit for being strong and beautiful, and I did a lot of things wrong. Despite all that, I did some things right...

I put everything in storage that mattered (that was 2 totes of clothes and books) and I lived on a boat. I'm not recommending that you do that, but what I found on the water was this:

I found myself alone with my thoughts.
I found myself uncomfortable being alone.
I found myself uncomfortable with my thoughts.
I found myself uncomfortable with my inner voice.

I cried.

I sat on a picnic bench in the middle of the night and I smoked a cigarette while staring at the carferry as it docked. The large boat looked majestic, steady, and seaworthy and yet graceful and mysterious.

An older woman stopped to chat. This became a nightly ritual.

I found myself with a friend.

I shared my thoughts.
I was no longer alone.
I became part of a community.
I found my voice.

I laughed.

When the summer and the boating season ended, I found myself healing. I started to realize my worth and I learned to love my voice, my body, and I started to appreciate the solitude.

It took nearly a decade before I became the confident woman who you see now. It took a village. It took a lot of tears.

It took a lot of listening ears and the wisdom of women with gray hair and laugh lines. It took the encouragement from people who were then where I am now. Sometimes you just need to hear "I've been there, and in time you'll move beyond this"

Please leave a comment that you think might help a mama going through this darkness - what advice can you give to help her crawl out and dance?

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and support!

xoxox
Crystal


Crystal is a church musician and secretary, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here as well as at: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/ When she's not doing that, she's baking bread and cookies for her friends and neighbors. She says "the coffee is always hot and you're always welcome here!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LEMONS - 1 star review for: Best Quality Kids Baby Girls & Boys Coat Winter Warm Jacket Outer wear- 3-36 months



the sizing on this ad says 3-36 months and yet when you receive the product it shows only good for 6-9 months (on the bag and on the inside tag of the jacket itself). My daughter wears a 2T so hypothetically according to the ad, it should fit her. It is ridiculously small...it fits like the tag says 6-9 months...what a waste of time and money...

amazon.com/gp/product/B01MSW2TQJ/

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Let's Talk Postpartum Depression - My Story

I'm the happy girl. I'm the strong girl. Postpartum Depression happens to other people.

Those were just some of the lies I had told myself back in 2006-2007. The truth is, I'm a happy strong girl who got postpartum depression who thankfully had a tribe to lean on. I had a tribe of people in my corner who helped me recognize and get through a very muddy and gloomy time in my life. It's taken me a long time to share this story because it's a time I'm not proud of. As you read this, please remember every situation is different and we each have our own trail to blaze.

I always wanted a baby, which sounds especially weird seeing as how I placed one for adoption when I was 20. I pretty much regretted that while it was happening and every day since, but not really...I wouldn't have made much of a mom back then. Right before my 30th birthday I found this super fun guy who really thought I was awesome. We were best friends from the word go, even though we both wanted different things out of life. He was the bad boy, I was the church girl. Eventually I wore him down and he agreed to help me try to get pregnant. I assured him I had been trying for a decade with no luck and we were pretty sure nothing was going to come of our efforts, but trying sounded like a heck of a great time!

I may have thought there was no way I'd get pregnant, but God had a different plan. I was pregnant and over the moon with joy. My boyfriend was over the moon, but not with joy. He scheduled his vasectomy a few months before our daughter was born. I'll spare you the details, but I was on bed rest the second half of the pregnancy and physically IN The hospital on bedrest for several months. The nurses commented about what a great patient I was, because I was so happy. I took each day as it came and enjoyed this little girl growing in my belly.

Shortly after my daughter was born, the relationship with her father ended. My girlfriend picked us up and we picked up the pieces. I spent the summer living in a camper in my friend's backyard, having my car repossessed, and filing for bankruptcy while nursing a broken heart and a baby. Work was the only thing I may have been succeeding at, but in hindsight they may have just felt sorry for me. Somewhere amidst all the chaos that was my life, this really weird day happened - it's a foggy haze (not marijuana induced or anything...but weird nonetheless).

My babies don't sleep. Now I can say that, because I've had 4 of them and I swear they are potty trained before they sleep through the night. I had to say that so you'll understand the story a little better.

My alarm went off on a workday and I realized my daughter Carmen hadn't woken me up with her middle of the night cries for feeding. I rolled over and hit snooze and thought "oh good, she died in her sleep, I can get some rest".

Then I sat upright in bed and realized what I had just said to myself. I ran to her crib and she was sleeping peacefully and was very much alive. I was overjoyed, but still tired. I chastised myself the entire time I was going through the motions of our day. How could I have been on bedrest for so long praying for this baby and now I had wished her dead? It was such an unsettling feeling. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like an awful person. As you know, when you think ill of yourself, you sort of send yourself down the rabbit hole. I packed us up and drove to the town I was working in. I dropped Carmen off at the daycare and chatted happily with the staff. Nothing was different on the outside, and yet I felt I was wearing a mask. I knew no one else could see that it was just a disguise, but I could. I was pretending to be a good mom and good person. Behind that mask I was not myself. I was scared and ashamed.

When I got to work, I confided in a co-worker about what was going on. She called my OBGYN and they got me in right away. A few months of counseling and medication and I was back to normal (whatever that means). During that time, there were people in my life who happily shared their opinions about the baby blues, postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, blah blah blah...and it sounded something like this "you don't need those chemicals in your body, you're fine", "you're wasting your time with those appointments, you can get through this on your own."

Thank the Lord those people didn't chance my mind or the course of my postpartum depression could have been very different. I didn't realize just how different until someone my age in a similar situation killed her baby. Yes, I went there...postpartum depression is serious. It happens to women in all walks of life with all levels of education and income. If you aren't feeling like yourself, or you have a friend who isn't feeling quite right, please get help. I'm not a doctor and I'm not an expert, but I'm here to share my story in hopes someone somewhere won't feel alone. My Carmen is going to be 10 and I have 3 more beautiful children. My story could have been much different. Here is a link with more information, and please don't be ashamed to get help: http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/postpartum-depression-what-happens. YOU are worth it and so is your baby!

Thank you to those who were with me during that dark time and to each and every individual who became part of our story!

xoxox-Crystal

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, 
and sunshine so you can make the sweetest lemonade! 

Crystal is a church musician and secretary, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ as well as at WOW! Women on Writing: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/. When she's not doing that, she's baking bread and cookies for her friends and neighbors. She says "the coffee is always hot and you're always welcome here!"

Monday, January 2, 2017

Michael French's Once Upon a Lie

I had the pleasure of reading Once Upon a Lie by Michael French and can definitely say it's one of those books that will hook you and reel you in!

Book Summary: Twelve-year-old Jaleel Robeson is on the run after the police in his tiny Texas town try to frame him for the death of his father. A world away, Alexandra “Alex” Baten is growing up amid all the material comforts a wealthy Los Angeles lawyer can provide. One day, a simple cup of lemonade unites their lives, leading to a maze of adultery and murder that shatters Alex’s youthful innocence and Jaleel’s struggle to reshape his life.

While the forces of the law try to unravel the mysterious death―or at least find a scapegoat―the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again. Justice, Alex learns, can be a strange and nebulous thing, easily enmeshed in webs of loyalty and betrayal. Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful―but dangerous―rock on which to build a life of honor and courage. As their stories play out over the years in cities far apart, best-selling author Michael French fills the world of Alex and Jaleel with a cast of vivid characters both supporting and threatening their efforts to build a life that “works” amid the expectancies of others and their own conflicting drives.

About the Author: 

National best selling author Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid high-altitude mountain trekker, world traveler to developing countries, and is a collector of first editions of twentieth-century fiction.

He has published twenty two books, including fiction, young adult fiction, biographies, and art criticism. His novel, Abingdon's, was a bestseller and a Literary Guild Alternate Selection. His young adult novel, Pursuit, was awarded the California Young Reader Medal.

The Reconstruction of Wilson Ryder was released January 2013.
Mountains beyond Mountains was released April 2013.
Michael's latest novel, Once Upon A Lie, will be released on March 15, 2016.

Photo by Artotems Co.


Product Link - Click Here

Product Details: 

Paperback: 388 pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (March 15, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1938288653
ISBN-13: 978-1938288654
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)


Review:
I can't believe it took me this long to read one of Michael French's books. His writing style is exquisite. He pulled me in within the first few pages and held my attention to the very end. Each character was well developed and as a reader, I felt emotionally connected to Alex and Jaleel (so much so I could feel my pulse quicken at times when the characters were excited or scared). I didn't feel like any of the book was fluffy...I'm kind of particular about that as a reader. I don't care about the color of the drapes unless it plays a part in the story. French does a nice job of telling me what I need to know to feel involved in the story, but he didn't add a lot of unnecessary details to fill pages and impress me with his attention to detail. I will be reading more of his novels in the future and have added several to my TBR pile. Such a talented author, and this particular story is one that will draw in readers from any walk of life and keep them engaged til the final page.


About Today's Reviewer:
Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at:http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tools4Wisdom Planner - a 5 Star Review!

Thanks Tools4Wisdom.com

I am absolutely loving this planner. There are so many options to help you get organized, but the goal setting has been key for me. This Tools4Wisdom planner is helping me keep my goals in front of me so I can lead a more purposeful life. There are spots to track short term goals, long term goals, provide yourself with inspirational thoughts and quotes, and so much more. I've showed this to a few friends who were also so impressed they plan on purchasing their own. This is a great buy for a busy mom!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HR8KFF2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1