Monday, March 25, 2019
I never met my father.
All I had was a few pictures my mom had, her recollection of events and her unwavering certainty that he was the one and only possibility to be my father. For years, I wondered who he was as a person. She told me all she could about the type of man he was by what she knew. I was bitter for a while that he had moved on with life, knowing I existed (from what my mom told me) and I was hurt that he seemed to have a new family - one in which I was not part of. He married and raised her kids, from all I know I was his only biological child.
I grew up despising Father's day. I celebrated it for my grandpa, who was the most important man in my life. He helped raise me and I thought the world of him. Then, January 4th 2005, he left me and went to heaven. I was destroyed for the longest time. I had another man in my life, who I called Uncle and also thought the world of. He was another father figure to me. Until 2015 when he committed an unspeakable crime and I no longer associate with him.
My mom was engaged for a few years to a man, he was good to her. To us. But I wouldn't let him fully in and I'm not sure why. I looked at him as a father figure as well, but for some reason he would never be my father. Not my real one - the one I wanted to ask why I wasn't good enough. Their relationship ended and I never saw him again.
So, from my history, every man in my life has let me down, left, or didn't stick around. It's affected me growing into a teen and my romantic relationships. I didn't trust men. Why should I? It took a while for me to trust the man who eventually stole my heart, and I was terrified he would break it. He never did - he never let me down. He stuck with me through ups, downs, sideways turns and the worst of everything. We faced loss together, marriage hiccups, happiness, everything.
Back to the story - When I was 17, I looked up every man with his name in the phone book and called. Upon the 4th call, I said the same spill "Hi, I know this may seem strange but do you know a woman named ---" And I'd say her nickname, not real name. He stuttered a moment and said, "Yes, why?" I felt like all air left my lungs, every limb shook and I felt the tears sting my eyes.
As I was not ready to actually find him in my search, I blurted out "I'm your daughter" and I'm sure I knocked him out of his seat. He asked to speak to my mom, they talked and she said, "Yes, she's yours. No I had no idea she was calling. She did this on her own." A few other things and then she said, "He wants to talk to you." I was worried he'd be angry, tell me never to contact him again. Instead, he asked me what made me call. I explained that hole. That piece of me that always remained a mystery. The need and desire to know the man in the picture. He was happy I called and then...
the phone disconnected. I was confused. A few minutes passed and he called back. We continued to talk for a bit and then the line disconnected again. I didn't understand what was happening. He called back and apologized. He explained his wife was angry that we were speaking and kept unplugging the phone. (This is the same woman who tore my baby picture up, according to my mom). So between her unplugging the phone we talked about an hour. I asked to meet him and he immediately agreed and asked when. We set a date and time. My mom was happy for me and said she'd make a gumbo. All morning the house wafted with the smells of the delicious pot of gumbo she slaved over - from scratch. I waited.
A few hours after the set time he was to arrive passed, I called. No answer.
My soul was crushed and I was devastated. Again--I'd been let down. My then fiance (now husband) held me while I cried off and on for hours. I lost track of how many hours. My face was so puffy and swollen. I can't describe the feeling. I dismissed him from my life and vowed to never care again - I lied.
A year or so passed and my mom's health deteriorated. She was in and out of hospitals weekly. She had a surgery in November 2006 and was at Lafayette General recovering. I went home to shower and get things to go back when I got a call. It was my godmother. She said, "Honey I just called to tell you your daddy died. I'm so sorry."
I felt like someone punched me in the gut. How could I feel grief for a man I never knew? It was part grief, part anger and part disappointment. My chance to meet him would never ever happen now. I immediately looked up his obituary and cried. I cried again because he died never getting to hug me, shake my hand, meet my eyes, nothing. I grieved him. I won't lie.
Years passed and I tracked down his mother. I called her and she agreed to meet me. After telling her this same story, she dismissed my claims and asked me to keep this to myself because she didn't want the family upset by this. A few other things she said I'd rather not repeat. It didn't go well.
Again- I cried my eyes out.
At this point I was done trying. I could no longer hurt due to him or his family. So from 2008 to 2018 I left it alone.
I got bored one day and decided to facebook search his siblings. I found a woman who was married to his brother. Skimming through their photos I got tears in my eyes. This man - he looked so much like my father. Spitting image of him. He had my eyes! I sat on it for a few days. Then decided to message her. She said she would talk to the siblings and let me know. After a few weeks, she said they were all hesitant and not really wanting to answer about meeting. I guess I understood that, I mean it was probably a shock to all of them. She was so kind in trying to help, and I hated putting her in an awkward position. I thanked her for her time and chalked it up to being what it was. I didn't cry. I didn't get angry. I just decided to leave it be and let it stay buried.
Then I received a message from this woman I never met. She explained she was my father's nephew's wife. She had been adopted and understood my pain and my wonder of who my other family was. She told me she would love to meet me and so would my first cousin who was my father's brother's daughter. We planned to meet. A few days later she said that my father's nephew (her husband) also wanted to meet me. I was overjoyed, but afraid. Afraid of being hurt or stood up. But, despite those feelings, I went.
And I have no regrets. These people were kind to me, wanted to hear my story, shared stories of my father with me and accepted me at face value as his daughter. We stayed in touch and I am so blessed to have them in my life. Them accepting me like they did was a feeling I will never be able to describe and my thanks to them can never be paid. For Christmas, I was gifted an Ancestry DNA kit. I was told it was no pressure to do this but in case I wanted to, if we were related we would be matched since my father's nephew was in the system after doing his kit. I was thankful for this gift. The answers to everything were in my hand.
But I was afraid, too. What if my mom lied? What if she was wrong? What if I'll never know who my father was?
I pushed past those feelings and did the kit, sent it off, and eagerly waited for answers.
Those answers came today.
After years of wonder, curiosity, hurt, emotions, and waiting...I finally know the truth. Her husband is my first cousin, making me blood related to them, making this man I always thought and was told was my father - my father.
The relief I felt was unimaginable. I cried. Not for pain, but happiness. I finally know 100% without a doubt this is my family. He was my father.
I only wish I could have met him in person and gotten to know him. Do I have any of his quirks? Traits? Personality?
But now, I can move forward with my life knowing the truth and knowing my mom never lied to me. I hate that I doubted her for a moment. I hate that I can't tell her about this. So now, we break the news to his siblings and I wait to see if I will ever meet them. I hope I do. But for now, I'm happy with knowing and being a part of the acceptance I received from the ones who have given it thus far. You've changed my life. You've helped me find answers and you will never understand how much it means to me.
So, with that long, personal story, I say thanks for reading!
In my baby book, the picture I had of him
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Tonight I had the pleasure of going to a meeting for local women in business in my area. It was like a women's only marketing group for your own business, including direct sales, etc. I felt so welcomed and encouraged by these ladies. Regardless of your product, you were rooted on and felt empowered. I never realized behind all the women who bicker about parenting choices, religions or even political beliefs there were other women who just want to see each other succeed and will help to get you to the next level with their resources you may not have.
I had to tell them about myself (working on public speaking since I get so nervous), and something came out of my mouth that was funny but so true. I'd like to share it with all of you.
While I do represent other direct sales companies (mlm, pyramid, etc-call it what you will, I dont take it personal anymore because I know the truth) I have recently focused most of my energy on my writing. So when I got up there I said hi, my name is Lauren. I accidentally became an author.
See, I didn't dream of this as a little girl. Heck, I wanted to be in show business. Singer, actress, something where everyone liked me. Being bullied alot in school, I guess, had part in that. When I was a stay at home mom, only one vehicle that my husband used for work, which left me stuck at home with a baby. Now, I'm not saying I hated it but I felt, at times, confined. While he napped alot or played with toys, I embarked on a new hobby. Fan fiction writing. I stumbled upon it by accident and was instantly hooked. Basically you take a story already made and continue it on your own and give life to these characters while staying true to their personality.
We would write out our own plots and story lines for shows like True blood, vampire diaries, twilight, etc. See for us, those stories couldn't just end where they did. We needed more. So, made writer friends.
Was it fun? Absolutely! Was I good at it? Not exactly. I used the wrong coarse and course. Definitely and definitaly. Lord, typing that made me twitch. But over time, I grew as a writer because of the amazing role models I was writing with. These writers were levels above me, their writing in my eyes-flawless. So, I practiced and I wrote like crazy. With each day I found my writing getting better.
My mother in law suggested I write a book. See, that's the thing about fan fiction. I dont have to come up with much of a plot to carry a book. I had to figure out things like, "what would Edward and bella do if renesemee fell in love with Jake once she met maturity" and then write a small, short story about that. Not a novel. A very short story with another or multiple writers adding to it. It was a group effort. Writing a novel was terrifying. Was I good enough? Did I have a good enough plot?
The biggest one for me- is this original or has it been done?
And to this day, that one still scares me. There will always be a human falling for vamp story. There will be similarities. But my job as an author is to craft that story with at least one very distinct and original plot or characteristic. Say this human wasn't human, but a reborn version of the lover the vampire had as a human. Looks and all. Oh but that sounds like ___...
I've learned to just write. I've learned to just make it my own and hope that the stories aren't too similar. It's still hard, considering I overthink so much.
So, I embarked on my next journey - NaNoWrMo (national novel writing month) a challenge to all writers to write 50k words of their story in 30 days. I completed said challenge and finished the book in 2 months with a total of 108k words. I was so over the moon, I began seeking a publisher and sent to about 30. Maybe more. After three months of waiting, I was offered a contract with a small vanity press. They were great. I had a few things I wish had been different, but I was new and knew nothing about publishing or being an author - that was obvious since I sent the publishers rough drafts! 🤣
I was published for three years before they closed their doors and went out of business. I was given the right back to the story but not the cover art. So, I thought I'd send it again. Surely if it was published once it could be again. After many submissions I stopped sending them and gave up. Maybe I just wasnt good enough. By this time, I entered the work force again and now had less time to write. I dedicated most of my free time to working out and in two years time lost 100 pounds. It was an amazing accomplishment.
I wrote another 50k words for nano in 2014 and set it aside after submitting to publishers but getting no bites. I continued with life and forgot how happy writing made me. After a long four years of ups, downs, twists and turns I decided to get back to following MY dream. So I did. I republished (with a new cover) Circle of Secrets and set out to edit and polish The Awakening. In May of 2018 I gave myself a birthday gift of believing I can do anything i set my mind to. Here we are almost 2019 and for the first time ever, I'm excited to make a vision board. I'm looking forward to making a 2019 business budget. I am not only an author, I am a business owner. Writing is my business and no one can take that from me. With time, connections grow. Audiences grow. Anticipation for your next novel grows. Before you know it, you're being talked about by everyone.
It's not about the fame or fortune, although dancing with Ellen and being on Oprah's book club is something on my list. It's about hearing from real people I don't know that they loved my book and couldn't put it down. I swear the reviews I've received thus far make me feel like I'm on nick sparks level, y'all. 🤣😂 #goals
But anyway, I just wanted to share that. Sometimes your dreams are an accident. Embrace it. Run with it. Go for it!!! I'll be here rooting for you.
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Until I realized it was harder than I thought. Now hear me out, I didn't quit or give up just then. So I pushed more and promoted more. But, you won't grow an audience overnight. I'm very impatient. Very. Just ask my husband.
Then my publisher made the difficult decision to close their doors and I got the rights back to my novel. They were great, truly they were. I didn't know much about the industry or how to be an author. I knew how to write from my heart, tell a story and create characters you could relate to. I told myself I'd just re submit to other publishers. Surely if I was picked up before I'd definitely find a new publishing home. Rejection after rejection, I told myself Stephen King was rejected 17 times. But with each one that came, chipped more and more away from my confidence until....
I just stopped submitting.
Life took hold and I was busy. I was working on losing weight. Friends, living, work....
I hit a rocky patch in my life. Now I'm sure we all do. I stopped trusting God had a plan. I questioned ALL my decisions in life. I didn't really know who I was. I was unhappy, depressed, anxious and just out right faking it to make it. I won't get into the gritty details, but I went through a time where I wasn't myself. Due in part to trying to "find myself" I was on a journey of self discovery. I was winging it, taking it one day at a time and trying to find my footing.
You know, we all go through this journey. Usually between 18-23. I was 27/28. I was late to the game. We all have a story. Long story short- lost my mom at 19 right after I got married. Didn't know how to be a wife. Struggled but found some footing. Had a kid. Didn't know how to be a mom. Struggled but found somewhat of a footing. I still struggle to this day, but hey they don't come with manuals. But I did have people who helped me through these things. You know who you are. So all this growing up was done pretty fast. Now I regret none of it, trust me on that. But I never did that self discovery thing. So it came and it came hard.
Anyway, as I progressed on this journey I learned a lot. About myself. About others. About life. About the person I wanted to be. I started to trust God again. I started to believe in myself again. I started to realize my worth. In no way am I perfect. But I am worth more than I gave myself credit for.
I've always wanted to help people. That's just me. I am a people person. I got behind something I truly, truly believed in. From people I never thought would, I was criticized for it. But I pushed through the adversity. I tried to make it work, because my intention was helping people. It was at some point in this journey I realized, I didn't want to have to beg people to let me help them. So, I re-evaluated things. I took a step back. I prayed. I talked to God.
I got connected to a fellow local author. She wanted to get local authors together to possibly do an article about local authors. In talking with her, I realized where my passion was. It was helping people, touching peoples lives, making a difference but I was in the wrong vehicle. It was someone very passionate who said something he said quite often. But it wasn't until that night I realized, he was talking to me! (Thanks Coach)
We were told as kids we can be anything. We can dream as big as we want. As we grow older, the anything you want to be options get smaller. Be it circumstance, life choices, or grit. Those around us seem to unintentionally dictate what's "possible" in our own lives. And we listen. So our dreams get smaller. Some to match our income, some to match what others expectations of us are.
"You'll never amount to anything with that past."
"You're not smart enough for that. You don't have the grades or what it takes."
"You can't own a business, you're broke. You don't have what it takes."
"You can't be an actress, you don't look the part."
You can't. You won't. You're not enough.
BUT YOU ARE!
WE are the writers of our story. WE are the weavers of our own destinies by the choices we make. Some may be wrong, or so you think. But in truth, you made these "wrong" choices in order to learn what needed to be learned and grow from that. Growth happens outside your comfort zone.
Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE. We're just looking at that word wrong. I'M POSSIBLE.
So I realized my passion was and always had been writing. I'd hit a writers block and hadn't written in the better part of three years. But I was determined. I was going to dive in and give it everything I had because I BELIEVED IN ME! I didn't need validation from a publishing house, from society, friends, family. I had to show my son what it looked like to have a dream and go after it with all you have. To show that anything was possible with hard work.
Nah, I probably won't have a six figure salary. I may not have an empire. But....maybe I might.
The funny thing about this passion thing. I'm not in it for the money. Sure, of course I'd love to earn a few extra bucks by selling my work. But it's more than that. So much more.
It's that feeling of hearing, "I read your book, and it touched my soul. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I could relate so much to this character. I needed that escape from reality and your book gave me that." It's knowing you made someone who doesn't care to read, actually not be able to put your book down. It's about showing girls who need a role model, that someone like me, who is just an average person can make it by following your dreams big or small. That it's worth it.
So, here's to my comeback. Doing this Author thing. I've decided to forego submitting to publishers and self publish my own work. It's called being an independent author or "Indie". Now if you love to read, I have to tell you this "Indie" community is HUGE. And you'd be so so very surprised how many indie books you would love, if only you just gave it a chance. Hidden within this community are your Nicholas Sparks, Judy Blume, Charlaine Harris, Stephen King, J.R. Ward, and J.K. Rowling. What I'm saying is just because they aren't a national bestseller....yet......doesn't mean you won't fall in love with the worlds they weave and characters they create.
Thanks for reading! I do hope you do one last thing for me....being a self published indie author is just like if I would have opened my own restaurant. If your friend opened a restaurant, would you go eat there to show support? If the answer is yes, I'm asking you to eat at mine by buying my book, leaving a review AND/OR sharing on social media the information about my book and myself. Reviews can make or break you. It helps get your name out there. It helps your rank. It's the equivalent of telling someone else the steak you ate at ___ was the best you'd had. And I fully realize not everyone will love and rejoice my work. I'm okay with that. Still leave a review. It matters. It counts. Because you, the reader, and your feedback can help us to improve and grow.
With that I leave you with the following:
my website : HERE
facebook like page: Lauren Tisdale- Author
Circle of Secrets cover reveal June 1st, 2018
Circle of Secrets release date June 8th, 2018
PS Thank you Tams for being the best Mentor ever. So many people to thank....so, so many. I will name you all individually in my dedications and acknowledgements. Trust me I haven't forgotten.
While I typed this, I listened to this on repeat. If you've never heard it please listen. If you have, listen again because it's your time.