Welcome to Oz

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The Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie. When I was a kid, I loved the technicolor and the idea of getting swept up in a storm to visit a magical place. As an adult, I appreciate the subtle message of the movie and I see it in action every day.

Many of us are looking to the great and powerful OZ, whoever that may be, to help us achieve our dreams when the ability to make it happen resides within us. We just have to believe in ourselves as much as we believe in Oz. After all, Oz turned out to be human with just as many insecurities and flaws as the rest of us.

So click your heals and skip along the adventurous, sometimes scary, road to make whatever it is you are searching for in someone else come alive in you!

Write on.

WriterKat

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Discipline

discipline

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. ~ Jim Rohn

It took me years to understand that discipline can be a good thing. As a child that was “disciplined” to the extreme on many occasions I grew up hating the word and wanting to distance myself as far away from it as I could. The mere mention of the word made me defensive. Discipline represented a negative, master-slave, controlling, manipulative, walk-on-eggshells obedient existence and I wanted no part of it once I escaped that kind of dominance. That distorted definition of discipline has cost me many opportunities of health, wealth and happiness over the years.

Fortunately, after extensive personal development study, I learned to look at the other side of the discipline coin and change my association of the word from harsh to helpful. I now know that discipline is the key to success.

Peek into the routine of any successful person and you will see that self discipline plays a major role in their success. The runner who gets up at 5 a.m. to train – rain or shine, the musician who passes up partying with friends to practice for hours on end, the entrepreneur who works 12+ hours a day growing their business, the author who writes daily whether they feel like it or not…

It’s not rocket science or luck that creates olympic athletes, award-winning musicians, multi-millionaires, best-selling authors, or any success – it’s discipline!

Write on.

WriterKat

Back Talk

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It was beautiful outside today but inside my mind a storm was brewing. My nature is quiet and peaceful, but when too many negative things happen at once, something goes haywire in my brain and I feel like a volcano about to erupt. Usually, I can get control of it, but today wasn’t one of those days. It seems like once you let that one thought through that says I’m having a crappy day, the Universe conspires to confirm it by releasing a meteor shower of more crap.

I am a peacemaker and when my environment is chaotic without any sense of control, the lava flows. My calm demeanor turns to angst. My smile turns upside down and when mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy! My quiet, flower-child self turns into a drill sargeant barking complaints and commands to regain order in the household.

Am I the only one who can pick up after themselves or the dog who insists on relieving himself inside at random places (like my grandson’s original one-of-a-kind painting of Einstein) even when he is taken outside to potty multiple times a day and has a puppy pad? Am I the only one who can do laundry or cook? Am I the only one who can run errands? Am I the only one who can work to pay the bills? Am I an enabler who has bred a sense of entitlement by my passive personality? Those thoughts were clanging into each other in my head when my IP training kicked in…

BREATHE I tell myself. Take a deep breath and find something to be grateful for. It was pretty hard at first because my mind was on a roll confirming my “bad mood” by naming more reasons to justify my frustration.

What are you grateful for? My coaching self asks.

I just don’t feel the love today. Lord give me strength to deal with everything.

One thing. Find just one thing.

Fine. Whatever. I say to to my coach self like a rebellious teenager (that I am being reintroduced to since taking my nieces in to raise a few months ago). I’m grateful the sun is going down and it’s cooling off outside. I’m grateful this day is almost over!

The sun. Yes. It is cooling off outside. You are cooling down inside too. Feel it?

Thoughts become things,” I hear my mentor Mike Dooley say in that positive part of my mind conditioned by years of personal development.

Okay, yes I am a bit calmer, but you know what would really cool me down? A McDonald’s sweet tea and a Mocha frappe. I have a $1.55 in change and five McCafe points!

You realize that’s over 80 grams of sugar? My skinny self buried beneath layers of inflamed adipose tissue says.

Yeah, well I need something to put the fire out.

Try water. You know your moodiness could be caused by dehydration!

Water isn’t touching the flame today baby.

The happy-go-lucky side concedes this round. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles. Some days aren’t wrapped up with a sweet ending like a sitcom. Fortunately, a day is only 24 hours and HOPE for a brighter tomorrow is hard wired in my brain.

Write on.

WriterKat

 

 

 

Breaking The Cycle

April

Break The Cycle Volume III – RECOVERY

Writing gave me an outlet that released me from the prison of my past and enabled me to make the journey from victim to victor. ~ Kathy Chaffin Gerstorff

Before I published the first Break the Cycle book I just wanted to write my “secrets” down to get them out of my head because keeping it inside ate away at my psyche like Pacman. Writing turned out to be very cathartic for me. It was like a dam of pent up emotions broke free as the words poured onto the page. I cursed and cried, but kept writing as I processed my feelings. Writing paved the way for me to forgive and move on from the past which up to that point was easily triggered in my memory and led to a tidal wave of emotion which often included irritability, uncontrollable crying, withdrawal or binge eating – sometimes all at once. It felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster that would last for a few hours to a couple weeks. Writing in my journal released the pressure valve and let off steam which gave me a way to control my emotions instead of my emotions controlling me.

After a few years of writing, I had enough poems and stories to fill a book. At first I didn’t dare think of publishing what I wrote. The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt my mother who was a victim of abuse too. But, somewhere along the way writing became bigger than me. I felt called and compelled to my core to share my poems and short stories with the world even though I knew only a few people would read them. If it helped even one person break free from mental torment and enabled them to get control of their life instead of continuing to be a victim, then that would mean my suffering was not in vain, a greater good could come of it. From that thought and hope, Break The Cycle Books was born.

I invited other child abuse survivors to share their stories too because I wanted them to feel the same freedom that writing gave me. I also wanted to give back to the people who helped me but I didn’t know how to do that. How do you repay the people who saved your life? No amount of money or thank yous can cover that. And they didn’t expected anything in return for helping me. The best way I could think to repay them was to pay it forward. So I decided to donate the books proceeds to organizations that help abused, neglected and at-risk kids.

Books sales have been slow, but sales are not the most important thing. It would be wonderful to help more organizations, but my main goal with publishing Break The Cycle books is to help child abuse survivors know they are not alone and that writing may help provide a release valve on the pain of their past so they too can make the journey from victim to victor.

Write on.

Kathy G

ROCKY The Junk Yard Dog BALBOA

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Rocky “The Junk Yard Dog” Balboa

Stacy Savage, a poet and friend, loves to write what I call CAUSE POETRY which is writing that in addition to entertaining and/or inspiring the reader, benefits charities. I also love Cause Poetry. It is my favorite writing to do. Stacy and I collaborated on a nature (another passion we have in common) writing project a few years ago Naturally Yours that benefited a fund that enables elementary kids to visit state parks to learn about nature and wildlife.

Stacy has created a Facebook page where she hosts POETRY CONTESTS FOR A CAUSE. Her latest EARTH DAY writing project is near and dear to my heart. The cause she is helping with this contest is Wildlife In Need. This organization had a devastating fire in January that resulted in loss of wildlife, structures and supplies. They started a GoFundMe campaign to rebuild their sanctuary.

I know how it feels to lose precious animals in a fire. In August 2014 we lost our two dogs and angelfish in a fire that made national news and left us with only the clothes on our back. So, when Stacy mentioned this project, I was all in. I made a donation and wrote the poem below in honor of Rocky, our “junk yard dog” that we miss everyday.

If you like to write poetry, I encourage you to enter the Earth Day writing contest and check out Stacy’s Poetry for a Cause page.

Write on.

Kathy G

 

Rocky “The Junk Yard Dog” Balboa

I loved to watch our miniature
American Eskimo Spitz
with his flowing white cape
play with kids and chase snakes
through the field.

We called him our junk yard dog
because as soon as he got home
from being groomed,
he would roll around
in the dirt like a pig.

He liked to hang out
at our automotive parts shop
and would jump in any car
with an open window. Then hide,
hoping to go for a ride
before he was noticed.

He was small, but acted
TEN FEET TALL
which is why we named him
after the fictional fighter
Rocky Balboa.

Tragically, Rocky died
in a devastating fire,
but his spirit lives on.

I think of him often
running wild and free.

He was the kind of dog
humans should aspire to be…

Caring, protective, devoted,
fun-loving, adventurous,
free-spirited,
magic moment maker.

I miss you my furry friend.
Someday I will see you again.

National Poetry Month Kickoff

April

Break The Cycle Volume III coming soon!

April is my favorite month of the year. It is SPRING which is my favorite season. Everything is coming back to life, earth turns green, the sun shines bright in a clear blue sky with storybook clouds that occasionally float by… it is a time of renewal. April is also host to two causes near and dear to my heart: National Poetry Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. I plan to honor both of those events every day during the month of April with a poem a day and that’s no joke! 🙂

The first feature combines both events. It is the third anthology in my Break the Cycle book series. I wanted the focus of Break the Cycle Volume III to be Recovery. While there are several poems and stories that do address moving forward after the trauma of child abuse, this Volume also includes some cautionary tales that shows the fallout of neglected and abused children.

Some of the stories are tough to read and early feedback is that a few of the poems and stories make readers cry. I have also heard from people who think it is sad to publish a book that may open old wounds and that they could never read such a book. That’s okay.

The book is for people who need to confront their childhood demons and these stories help them find their own voice. Those are the people I am hoping to reach with the Break the Cycle series. Because I have been there. I am aware of the painful emotions reading stories about abuse can dredge up, but it is freeing too because you see people sharing their stories, letting the secrets out that they have kept bottled up for years, and taking steps forward away from the past that threatens to keep them bound.

Reading empowering books and writing from the heart helps heal your soul, at least it has helped me and others who have told me that it has helped them too. So, I publish Break the Cycle books with no apology and with the hope that springs eternal from one survivor to another.

The proceeds from this book and all the Break the Cycle books are donated to organizations that help neglected and abused children. The next volume will be published in 2018 and the final volume in 2020 – that is my goal. There is something magic about the number five! My prayer is that the people who need to read it will find it and it will inspire them to share their truths and lead to a healthier, happier life. That and helping kids is what it is all about for me.

In the books, I write under three pen names. Why? I have used the names for years and write many poems anonymously because it frees me to write without self-imposed limitations. I also like the pen names. I sometimes pretend those names will be added to the list of famous writers. Of course insecurities that often plague writers kick those thoughts to the curb, but I have fun with the visions of grandeur.

Below is a poem from I wrote under a pseudonym in Break the Volume III. If you read the book, you will know one of my pen names! I wrote this poem to honor my Aunt Judy who took me in after I was removed from my family due to years of abuse from my step-father. When I first moved in with my aunt, I was hurt and angry that I had to be the one to leave. I didn’t understand why my step-father wasn’t the one taken away so I could stay with my mother and brothers.

My aunt was very kind to me and treated my like her own child. She taught me so many things but the most important was forgiveness. Working through my issues took a lot of patience on my aunt’s part. She could have left it alone, but I am sure my bitterness would have festered to the point that it would eclipse my soul and I would have no desire to have a relationship with anyone opting instead to stay in my shell. I am so grateful for what my aunt (and uncle) did for me.

After I grew up and had kids of my own, I understood her sacrifice on a different level and told her several times how much I appreciated her help. I still don’t think she understood the depth of my gratitude. On her deathbed just a few weeks ago, I told her that I was paying her kindness forward by taking two of my nieces in to raise who are the same age I was when I moved in with her. I told her that her legacy lives on. To be a foster parent, what a tough, but beautiful legacy to leave. It is not a life I would have chosen had she not paved the way for me to turn a bitter heart into a beautiful soul.

TEACHER

I was furious.
You taught me forgiveness.

I was scared.
You taught me strength.

I was sad.
You taught me smiles.

I was lost.
You taught me love.

Write on.

Kathy G

Honorable Mention

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“There is no dishonor in honorable mention.” ~ Mike Rothman

There was a time when honorable mention felt like losing to me…

“If she can’t win, she doesn’t want to play.” My cousin said those words about me when I was ten years old or so and a group of us kids were playing red rover or some similar game that I decided I didn’t want to play for reasons I don’t even remember. My cousin continued his berating, “It has to be her way or not at all.” He was talking to them about me right in front of me. I was furious, stomped back into the house and slammed the screen door to make the point that I was mad which probably just confirmed his point to the group. My cousin’s biting words stayed with me all these years. I think about it from time to time. Am I really that rigid that I don’t want to play if I can’t win? There have been many times in my life when I felt like that was true. I have never been into sports perhaps because I know I can’t win without training and I have no desire to train for any athletic event, not even hippity-hop when I was in the fourth grade. I was always last to get picked for the team and I really didn’t care. I would rather be sitting by myself somewhere coloring or reading a book.

Writing is a different story, sort of. I want to the be the best, do my best, but often feel like I fall short which used to prevent me from entering writing contests or attending big writer conventions where MFAs and bestselling authors abound. I remember the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Conference. I felt so inferior after coming home from that event. It took me months to get beyond my self-imposed limitations of thinking what makes me believe I have a chance of getting published when there are so many great writers who are struggling. Thank goodness self-publishing became popular and easily accessible or I would have probably never pursued publishing my writing.

Once I self-published, it was like breaking through an invisible barrier. Suddenly, I could say I was a published author. I began to see myself as a writer. I continued to study, read and write, becoming a little more confident with each poem and story I wrote. I began to enter writing contests, only a few that meant something to me. I remember the first time I won a writing contest, it felt like I won an Olympic gold metal. All I won was some random poster from the 70’s that became ashes along with all my journals, poems, stories and books when my house burned down a couple years ago.

After the fire, I got a new perspective about what is really important in life. I no longer wish to accumulate things. I would rather accumulate memories. I no longer write to “win” a contest or get published. I write to say what I feel I have to release into the world. If it resonates with someone, that is wonderful. I love when that happens both as a writer and a reader. But, I’m no longer in competition for the coveted “best-seller” title or winning any awards. I write because it is who I am and what I have to do to quiet the voices in my head. I write because I love the written word. Passionately.

When I got an honorable mention at the recent Mounds State Park Poetry contest, I felt that twinge of “first place” memory and smiled inside because I am in the game now, playing, having fun, right along with all the other writers who submit their art for something that is important to them.

Being willing to step outside your comfort zone and writing from your heart, that’s what makes you a winner!

Write on.

Kathy G