Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Movies: Safe Haven

Click Image To Purchase on Amazon!

Starring:
Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders,

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom
Released: 2013
Length: 1h 55m

Safe Haven starts out with a serious injection of suspense, with a girl running from ... something. It's dark, she's terrified and crying - and I'm instantly hooked. She's plainly on the run, and when it turns out the Boston police are looking for her, you can't help but wonder what she's done.

Our gorgeous heroine, brought to life by the beautifully dainty  but not-to-be-underestimated Julianne Hough, ends up settling somewhat accidentally in the idyllic little town of Southport, North Carolina, where it doesn't take long for her to catch the attention of Alex, who runs the convenience store on the pier.

The movie flips back and forth between Katie as she builds her new life, and the detective attempting to hunt her down - and despite my reasoning that if the police are looking for her, it must be for a good reason, I find myself rooting for Katie, watching hopefully for clues as to what happened to her, and already just a little sure that whatever she's running from, whatever she's done ... it's not her fault. And the more I got to know about Alex, the better I liked him too. Single dad, struggling widower, kindhearted, and cute - I mean really, what's not to love, right?

As the movie progresses there are lots of little hints toward what happened with Katie, but as I got more into the story and more intrigued by her budding relationship with Alex, I stopped watching so closely for the mystery and let myself fall in love with the romance.

Still, behind the love story, the mystery is alive and well, and the sneaking suspicion that's been nagging at me through the whole movie only grows more insistent with each scene with the detective hunting our heroine. Who is he? What does he want?

And then ... the twist. The plot twist that had my mouth falling open even as my heart screamed, "I knew it!!"

As I watched the rest of the movie, there was pit in my stomach that made me wish I wasn't watching it alone - and yet this wasn't the sort of movie I could have drawn my girls into for the company. It was hard to watch, and I found myself wishing the description of the movie had been just a little more clear. Had I been warned, I would have been able to watch it better, with a little preparation. All the same, a part of me knew from the very beginning - I was warned by the screaming bells in my head, by the sense of nauseous dread that settled in me from the very first scene, by the way my breath caught and my skin broke out in goose bumps. I knew.

Plot twist number two? Chills. Panic. Another one I saw coming but just wasn't ready to watch. I watched with tears in my eyes and my teeth clenched so hard it made my face hurt - but I watched.

And then I took a shower and had a good long cry before coming back to watch the rest.

Hidden Delights From This Movie:
1. The first look at the beach, which made me so homesick my heart started aching and my mind brought back the salt-scented air of the ocean with absolutely no effort at all.
2. When Alex fell through the floor, I actually laughed out loud. It was nice to watch Katie drop her fear long enough to feel comfortable.
3. The rain. And I know, a couple stuck in a rainstorm is kind of classic for Nicholas Sparks, but ... I don't know, there's just something about those moments. Caught in the storm, two people having to let their guard down ... It can only end well. And it's a bucket list item for me, so there's that.
4. Everything until Alex got back in the cop's car. The dance? Yes. The kiss??  *swoon*  You guys, I can't, oh my gosh.
5. That plot twist though. Damn!
6. "I'm in love with you. And if you stay, I promise - there's no safer place in the world than right here with me." The hope that a man can say this and actually mean it? I cried.
7. Lexi's lie. So straightfaced and so instinctive - but it spoke volumes of her strength and wisdom, as well as her willingness to protect what (and who) she loves.
8. That letter. What a beautiful and very, very Nicholas Sparks sort of ending. 

I loved this movie - despite all the times I had to pause it, despite the gasp moments, despite the times I closed my eyes because listening was all I could do. I loved it for the hope and the encouragement, for the softness and sweetness of the romance. I loved it for that hot first kiss, for the way Alex was as a dad, for the way he couldn't be the hero for Katie - only a source of much needed confident courage. It's a must-see ... it just is.
Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is ... one of my books, Fighting For Freedom. It's the first book in the Freedom Series, but much more importantly, it's a story with certain similarities to this one - a story close to my heart and wildly important to me.

In Fighting For Freedom: "He'd finally done it. He'd beaten me to death. For years, I'd been taking it, accepting the beatings, silently believing the worthlessness he saw in me. I'd obeyed his rules, I'd catered to his whims. I finally woke up in a hospital bed. Bruised, broken, in shock. That was the moment. In that moment, I knew that I had to get out. I loved my husband. I missed him. But I needed more than he would ever offer. I deserved more than I'd been given, more than flying fists and fragile tempers. I deserved to wear what I chose. I deserved to go where I wanted. I deserved goodnight kisses. I deserved gentle touches. I deserved to feel loved, and not possessed." WARNING: Although it is meant to be a story of hope and physical empowerment, this book is focused on the topic of domestic violence and abuse, and it does contain scenes of extreme violence as well as some very strong language. It is NOT suitable for young readers (Purchase for KindleiBooksNookKobo, or Inktera/Page Foundry.)

The Freedom Series is a series of women's fiction romance novels. The series begins with Christine Matthews's journey from victim of domestic violence to victorious conqueror of circumstances. Later in the series, we'll see the rest of Christine's story, as well as get to know other strong and resilient characters, each one fighting for freedom, each one desperate to escape prisons of their own making.

NOTE: This is usually where I have my affiliate disclaimer, since I'm usually using affiliate links through which I receive a (very) small commission. To be clear, while the image for Safe Haven at the beginning of this post IS an affiliate link to Amazon, I am not using any affiliate linking for Fighting For Freedom, as this is my own book (and duh, ethics). If you'd like to see a more complete list of my sponsoring and affiliate companies, you'll find them here.
As always, my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

If you've seen this movie and wanted to add anything in the comments below, please feel free - I love the opportunity to interact with my readers, and if you think someone you know would be interested in this movie review, definitely pin or share this post!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. It may not always be easy to read, but hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

However you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Feels: August


Ever since I started this segment two months ago, Friday Feels has been so fun to write up. (Read the full intro and the very first Friday Feels here; find the whole post series here.) With the depth and seriousness of most of my content and my focus on mental health and my life with PTSD, it's fun to take something as complicated as human emotion and carve it down to something as simple as this little list.

In the original Friday Feels post, the idea was to take ten feelings I'd been living with (and struggling through), list them out, and then share about what had me feeling those particular feelings. But then for the second post, I thought wanted to have a little more fun with it and also take the exploration of my own feelings into a deeper place. I didn't want to spend every month listing, "happy, sad, excited, angry, etc." - so I thought if I used totally random feelings, that would help me change things up a bit with each post.

Still, as unpredictable as I like to think I can be, I know me well enough to know that I'm not all that great with "random." I tend to stick with the tried and true, which would have made this kind of boring for all of us. To prevent that, for the last post I googled a random feeling generator, clicked on this page, refreshed it ten times, and came up with the feelings I used - which was perfectly random enough, and lots of fun. This month I repeated the process, and I came up with the following:

1. Anxious:
We've just wrapped the second week of school here, and it has been a rough time for me anxiety-wise. My van is still running but the transmission slips slightly more often than before, school supply lists were LONG and are still coming, class fees are being requested, and the specter of Christmas is looming closer again. My annual post office fee is coming due, too - and while I am managing to juggle things in a way that mostly works, that doesn't make it less stressful. One five-dollar splurge is enough to set things back in major ways for my little family, and the pressure to keep everything together and running smoothly wears on me. Worrying about failing to keep things together for my kids haunts my days and keeps me up at night - and worrying over that is hurting my ability to function in therapy, which keeps my PTSD symptoms high. I'm debating finally giving in and asking for medication after over 15 years of fighting it - despite the fact that this in itself is a source of anxiety for me because of previous experience with someone who abused medication often, and even overdosed in front of me when I was a teenager.

2. Disregarded:
Honestly, the aspect of my life that makes me feel most disregarded lately is ... motherhood. I'm a single mom, and my two daughters are 13 and 8 years old - so as you can imagine, with a pre-tween and a teenager, we have more than our fair share of estrogen flowing through the air, which often leads to waves and waves of hurt feelings and unintended insult. This flows in both directions, too; I'm a pretty human sort of mom, and I mess up a lot. Sometimes I don't see until things have already gone wrong that Eden's extra-hyper behavior is because we forgot to do morning meds or because she's anxious on the weekends when her dad is around - and then she ends up in trouble for acting-out behaviors that aren't necessarily her fault or her choice. Sometimes I don't realize Joey's extra sassy because she's feeling hormonal or because she had a spat with a friend or she's anxious on the weekends when her dad is around - and then she, too, ends up in trouble for acting-out behaviors that aren't necessarily her fault or her choice. I'm not always the best listener, because I have my own issues, too.

But like I said, it flows both ways - and when it flows my way, it's usually in the way Eden constantly interrupts me when I'm talking, or when I'll tell Joey some story or anecdote, only for her to pull an unseen earbud from her ear and hit me with the dreaded, "Huh?" Or it's in those moments when I'm saying things over and over and over and over and over and over again, with my kids totally acting like I'm not there and they can't hear me. It isn't uncommon for me to throw my hands up impatiently and ask, "Hello?? Did I go invisible again??"

To which, my children often don't reply - because the answer is yes.

3. Hostile:
One of my pet peeves is passive aggression and whatever that thing is called that makes people want to dangle things in front of others and then swoop them away again at the last second. Like, don't ask me if I want chicken or fish for dinner, and then listen attentively to my answer, only to tell me that we don't have any chicken or fish, so we're having tofurkey burgers. This is one of the fastest ways there is to piss me off - and not just in the food form either. So having to tolerate and endure frequent exposure to someone who has repeatedly done that to me definitely brings out my inner hostility. In general, I pride myself on being a nice person, on being likable and someone who can adapt to change and usually find some common ground to get along on - but I guess ... well, let's just say there are some people I'm praying extra hard for these days.

Also, I'm pretty pissed with HP right now, because the laptop I bought earlier this year keeps glitching out on me for exactly no reason at all and leaving me stuck using my old laptop - the one with the space bar that likes to do three or four or seven spaces instead of one. Today it totally crashed and HP tells me I'm going to need a hard drive replacement. Really, HP? Really? I AM NOT THRILLED, HP. NOT. THRILLED.

4. Intrigued:
The thing that has me most intrigued these days is RV's and everything about them. I've even been going out to local RV dealers and looking inside them - taking note of what I like and don't like about them. And why? Well, that's because I'm thinking once my girls are grown up and gone, that'll be the perfect time to buy one, live in it full-time, and use it to explore the U.S. Eden won't be eighteen for 10 more years, and by then we'll likely have also lost Chance ... I'll be on my own at that point (unless of course I'm not single anymore), and able to go exploring for long periods of time. And I can't wait.

5. Inquisitive:
Since the crashing of my computer was literally during the writing of this post, I guess the one thing I'm most inquisitive about at the moment is how I paid $48 for a damn 2-year service agreement which was supposed to protect me in the event that something happened to my laptop, and then when something DID happen to my laptop, HP gave me a choice between $25 and a two-week waiting/shipping time or $49 and an approximate five day turnaround for an in-home tech. So here's my inquiry - what the heck was my original $48 for?? What's it good for? What's it cover?

And how dare you ask if I want to know about all the other service plans you can offer me that'll waive all "future $25 fees," Mr. Heavily-Accented Middle Eastern Customer Shaft Rep ? I mean really, how bad DO you expect your products to suck, then? I bought an HP laptop because I needed a longstanding product with a strong name and a strong reputation. What I didn't need as a single mother was a strong company with weak ethics trying to nickel-and-dime me half to death over a product that didn't even last four months before it crashed.

6. Miserable:
Miserable. What a strong word, right? But perfect for a strong emotional state - the kind that becomes common when you live with PTSD and deal with significant depression on a daily basis. Depression isn't new to me; I've been living with it in various stages and forms for most of my life, often charged with putting aside my own issues for the sake of others close to me. Misery is so much more than sadness. It's a depth of unease, a spirit-deep sense of unbelonging, a nagging feeling of ... wrongness. I read something once that said SOMETHING ABOUT MISSING A PLACE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO - well for me, misery feels like not just missing that place, but having actually been there and knowing what you're missing. And maybe it's also a sense of knowing that you've been banned from that place.

7. Pleased:
Lately, the girls and I have been watching our way through Once Upon A Time together. We spent the last year or so watching through Gilmore Girls together with my kids's grandmother (their dad's mom), and after we watched the very last Gilmore Girls reboot episode, it didn't take long for us to start feeling the absence of that time we had grown to love spending together. We aren't just sit-down-and-watch-it kinds of girls - we often like to talk our way through movies and shows, pausing to explore the themes and lessons hidden within the plots, to dissect a bit of dialogue or talk through the meaning behind some pop culture joke. It's not uncommon for us to watch a scene several times just to get the depth of the nuances hidden in it. Makes us annoying for others to watch TV with, but this makes the experience richer for us in many ways, and we've had a really great time so far exploring our thoughts and feelings about life through the stories in Once Upon A Time. We've only just started the second season, and the girls both love it so far!

8. Playful:
What makes me feel playful? Music. Music is life for me; it's one of my favorite coping mechanisms when I'm stressed, one of my best friends when I'm lonely, and the place I can always go when I need to feel understood. But more than that, it's fun and freedom, it's dance and joy. It's play - and it's one of the best ways I know to turn a bad mood around. I even have a "Dance Mix" playlist that I use to get my body moving and my blood flowing when I need my spirits lifted.

9. Respected:
Lately, the place I've been feeling most respected is here. In the last few months, I've been approached by a couple of different companies interested in partnering with me, and that has been super flattering and totally validating. Working with LoveBug Probiotics has been a major thrill for me, especially because it wasn't an opportunity I hunted for - they came to me. It felt like a sign that I'm doing something right here, which was only confirmed by another offer from another company that I'm now totally thrilled to be working with. I'll be telling all about it soon ... but not quite yet. (Want a hint? Bet you can find one here.)

10. Serene:
Even with all the turmoil in my life these days, there's one thing that leaves me totally calm. Totally chill, as Josephine would call it. Totally cool, as Eden would say. So what is it?

My prayer life. Recently I watched a video a friend shared with me, and it was about trusting more completely in God, believing in His work in your life so fully that you can rest assured of His ability and willingness to give results. Not to say you should just quit working toward things or anything like that, but that when you're working, you're doing it with certainty of results to come. Like with this blog, like with accepting partnerships and publicly saying that I love being able to do that. Like writing a book, knowing that the right readers will see it at just the right time for them. Like mothering my kids and believing that I'm not the only one looking out for them, even when I feel like I am. That video changed my life, and I hadn't realized how much I needed to hear the words spoken in that video until I heard them. I sat on the front porch and listened, tears streaming down my face.

And I understand the serenity prayer a little differently now, too.



Today's "Featured Favorite Product" is Emoji Uno - because you guys for real, it's Emoji Uno! How cool is it that this is even a thing? Because regardless of what we're feeling, the girls and I are always up for a game of Uno, and we think emoji's are a really fun way to modernize such a classic card game. Check this out!



And really - Emoji Uno? Seriously, did y'all know about this?? Click the photo or the link above to check it out!

Quick Disclaimer: Since I am using affiliate links in this post, remember that if you choose to click product links on my site and end up purchasing through them, I will receive a (very) small commission for referring you. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you, but my family and I appreciate your support. (If you'd like to see a list of other companies I'm currently working with on a more regular basis, click here.)
I love these posts! They're truly fun to write (except for when my laptop crashes - ahem, HP), and I'm looking forward to watching the link-up grow in time too! If this post touches or helps you in any way, please feel free to tell me in the comments, or you can always hit me up on any of my social media pages. If you know someone who would benefit or learn from what I've said here, I invite you to share it with them. And of course, if you'd like to write your own "Feels" post and share it in the linkup, go ahead - just be respectful and stay on topic please!!

As always, my brand is built on the concept of what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman." But what's an undaunted woman? Click here to find out more about what it means to be undaunted and how you can nominate your favorite undaunted woman to be interviewed - right here on the blog! The first interview is coming up at the end of this month, and I can't wait to introduce you to August 2017's Undaunted Woman!

In the meantime, if you'd like to follow my journey as a writer, a mom, and an abuse survivor with PTSD, subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar. I'll share my pain with you, yes - and it won't always be easy to read. But I'll share my growth with you as well, and hopefully we'll inspire each other along the way. To get even more personal, come over to Patreon, where you can sign up to sponsor and support my writing. You can subscribe for as little as $1 a month, and that dollar gets you access to all sorts of content - including photos and mini-blogs from my personal life AND advance access to my fiction writings! For a little more, you'll get to read my poetry, listen to podcasts, and even get your name on my personal mailing lists.

For those who want the inspirational parts of my content without the personal aspects, connect with me on social media, where I like to share all sorts of things - from self-care tips to mental health quotes to song lyrics and more.

But however you decide to keep in touch, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.