Pain

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Although my new book is fiction, it is rooted in my experience. As I write about the mother and her hatred for her daughter that stems from her hatred of homosexuals, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the pictures that my mother had of me. I wonder if she burned them.  I wonder if she threw them away. I wonder if when she takes out her photo albums to look back at times past, if there are empty spaces where I once was, or has she filled them with someone who took my place? I wonder if she left them there and pretends that I died on the day that she walked away from me. I wonder if she wonders the same thing.

I long to move forward and forget this pain, but it won’t go away. So, I write it. I write it in hopes of offering solidarity to someone who may suffer as well. I write it in hopes of saving someone from hurting their own child out of ignorance. Someone may respond to this and say, “Your mother loves you,” or something with the good intentions of comforting me. I don’t need comfort. I write to get it out, not for sympathy. Besides, I know a mother’s love. And, no fear of eternal flames could keep me from giving it. I would walk through those flames for my children no matter who they loved or what they did. They are and always will be mine.

No More Bullshit?

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Image result for no more bullshit

I’ve finally decided to jump in to my dream of writing and stick with it. I’ve always had a writing project in the works, but I’ve never felt so passionate about it as I do this new one. So, I’m going to share some of it with my audience in hopes of finding encouragement to keep up the momentum. I’m 20,000 words in, so I feel pretty confident about it. If you have any opinions, please share.

I’m still playing around with a title, but I like No More Bullshit: Life Lessons because it encompasses the premise of the book, which is ultimately about the changes I’ve made in my life after becoming more enlightened. The book also contains my real voice, which is a potty mouth accompanying my Southern accent and intellectualism. I want people to be aware that this is supposed to be a humorous look at the experiences that prompted me to change. It is not faith-based although I do incorporate some spirituality that has helped me, so I do not want the wrong audience to pick up the book and be offended.

So, if you have any feedback, I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to comment.

{Sexual Harassment Series} Women, Ask Yourself: Am I Part of the Problem?

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In discussing Sexual Harassment Training, I have come across many instances of women who are creating the problem rather than solving it. I believe that I can speak for those of us who have been damaged by sexual harassment/assault, when I say, “Stop!” If you are participating in behavior that reinforces sexual harassment, then, I demand you to quit.

One example of women who are reinforcing this issue is the woman who uses her sexuality to get what she wants. In 2017, if you think that getting what you want by flirting or using your sexuality is okay, you’re wrong. You should only be getting what you want by means of intelligence, skills, and capabilities. Otherwise, you are part of the problem.

In trying to end sexual harassment, solidarity is required. If you want to flirt, that is your prerogative. I’m not slut-shaming. I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong with exuding sexuality. I’m saying when someone purposefully uses their sexuality to obtain a position, a raise, or other benefits, then it becomes a different issue. This is why people think that sexual harassment is okay: because some women accept it.

I do not want to obtain a higher position because of my sexuality. I do not want to get a raise because of my sexuality. I want to obtain a higher position because I am smart, strong, and competent. I want to obtain a raise because I earned it. Women taking shortcuts and allowing their sexuality to be used are demeaning the accomplishments of people like me, and ultimately, I am sick of it.

Women Helping Women: It Happens!!!

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Coming from Atmore, Alabama, I was accustomed to women hurting women more than helping. When I started teaching middle school, I only had two girlfriends who were open and honest with me. The other twenty or so women that I worked with were pretty much out for themselves or competitive. For instance, we were encouraged to take initiative and participate in activities like pep rallies and other assemblies. When I offered to participate, I was quickly told that I was not needed. Once I moved on to community college, I was asked to attend a training for a new program. I was introduced to an exciting and innovative program that the state was funding through grants to help adult education students. When I returned enthusiastically hoping that this program could be considered for our school, I was quickly turned down by the female dean who explained simply, “It is not done here.” Here we are three years later, finally catching up and implementing the program. Even my friends were not really helpful. I watched them drop like flies when I went through a divorce. When I started different business ventures, no friends supported them. I couldn’t even get friends to come to a party/fundraiser that I held. Sometimes these experiences made me try harder to be a good friend and make sure that I didn’t treat people this way. Unfortunately, more often than not, women have not helped me.

In my new business ventures, I’ve started looking for a new tribe. Luckily, Pensacola actually has a different mindset. Last Thursday, I attended the annual Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast conference. My wife encouraged me to go, and although I expected division, I went. From the second I walked in the door, I was glad that I did. I fought back tears of joy to see so many genuine women helping each other. The group was founded by a group of friends after Hurricane Ivan devastated the area. They got together and helped each other rebuild their businesses, and this lead them to build the group.

As I found my way to the ballroom, I was greeted by vendors and realized that the group had given them the opportunity to present their businesses to the attendees. I found a spot at a table near the front and was soon joined by others who shared their stories. One lady was in a similar place as me–finding a new place in business. Another was looking for ways to recruit clients to her counseling. Another woman joined us as a rep for her sales group. An accountant joined the table who was just there for the inspiration. All of the women were nice and forthcoming in their stories and enthusiasm for the group.

The day progressed in empowering speeches and presentations. I didn’t even realize it was nearing the end because I was so impressed with ALL of the presenters. At the end of the day, we participated in a networking exercise where we exchanged our business cards and pledged to stay in touch.

That night I cried as I explained all of this to Alisa. I cried tears of joy in finding a group of women who genuinely want to help other women in business and in life. I also cried tears of anger that I was just finding this group at 35.

What happens when we help others? Only good things. I vow to be even more conscious of helping others, especially women because we need it. It is not easy to be a woman in business or society. We need each other.

I Didn’t Know it was rape

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I pulled into the parking lot and waited on him to arrive. He was old enough to buy beer, so I’d asked him to meet me and get me some. I was upset. My boyfriend had broken up with me, and at 17, I thought that that merited a drunk night.

“Why don’t you ride with me?” he asked as I went to grab the beer. “I’ll drive while you drink.”

I didn’t want to get a DUI, so I agreed. He was a friend of my boyfriend, so I thought that it would be fine. I hopped in his truck, grabbed a can, and popped it open. He was listening to some sad country music, so I turned the dial to find something more upbeat.

As the alcohol started kicking in, I loosened up and started dancing to the music. I remember glimpses of his Pepsi can fading in and out, and I remember offering him a beer. He refused and said that he needed to drive.

I was passed out when we pulled up to his house. He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the truck. I mumbled something about what we were doing, but I just remember him pulling me into darkness. Flashes of his sand-paper skin thrashing against me. Waking up to the smell of cigarette smoke.

The next day I got a call from the ex-boyfriend. “You fucking whore. You fucked my best friend?”

I didn’t know what to say. I had.

Afterwords, when he came around, I was still polite. The boyfriend had taken me back, made me pay for my whorish behavior. They were still friends. He came to our house.

Years later, I read a similar story, but the woman was accusing the man of rape. I did not know that this was a possibility. I thought it was my fault. I got into his truck. I drank the beer. I didn’t say no.

Then I replaced myself with someone else in the scenario. What if it had been my daughter? Would I have still felt like it was her fault? No. If she was not in her right mind, she could not consent. Why did I feel so differently when it came to myself? Was it because my boyfriend told me that it was my fault? Was it because no one talked about rape in my town? Was it because women are held responsible for what men do to their bodies?

What if I had gotten pregnant? Did I have the ability to ask him to wear protection? No.

What if I had gotten a disease? Did I have the ability to make sure he wore protection? No.

I physically survived unscathed thankfully. Unfortunately, the mental and emotional scars are deep. I hated myself. I probably made decisions based on this hate. I still feel responsible. I have lost many nights of sleep wishing that I could go back to that night and not get into that truck. I cannot even express the damage that this does to a person. I probably missed opportunities to improve my life because I did not feel that I was worthy. I still battle with my confidence. I also have issues with my body. I want to look nice, but I don’t want to attract the wrong attention. I am not strong in my skin. I have been weakened. It takes a lot to fight. It takes a lot to speak. I could not even name his name in this story because I am still ashamed.

Resumes and Interviewing Skills for Free? Stop Bombing Interviews NOW!

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I used to be terrible at interviews, and since I can’t stand being terrible at things, I decided to do what I do best and research ways to get better. Granted, my wife also helped me because of her experience as a supervisor. With her expertise and some of my solutions development skills, I put together a brief course that can help people master resumes and interviews with REAL knowledge.

When I would interview, I would either “prepare” by Googling information or just wing it. First, Googling information is no longer a feasible means of preparation. Having a plethora of information is overwhelming and useless. Having knowledge is actually understanding the information and being able to apply it. Second, winging it is never a good idea. I would go in, unprepared, and when I would be asked a question that I did not know the answer to, I would laugh. Nervous laughter would come bursting from my gut. It was horribly embarrassing, and it never ended well. I would leave hating myself, and I would not get the job. Why would someone want to hire someone who was obviously unprepared and crazy?

These experiences fueled me to create this course, and to use the information myself to improve my resume writing skills and my interviewing skills. I developed simple formulas for answering questions, and traits to enhance the resume. If you too want to improve these skills, go here to access the free course:

(https://julie-still-rolin.mykajabi.com/products/job-acquisition-skills)

Job Acquisition Skills

Restaurant Review: Sammy Barker’s in North Pensacola, Florida

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Restaurant Review: Sammy Barker’s

If you haven’t already tried out Sammy Barker’s in North Pensacola, you should! I was kind of taken aback by the description of “American Street Food,” but their sign boasting craft beer caught my attention. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed—perfect for meeting friends after work or having a quick bite with kids.

The franchise has a cool back story—the theme is circus, and “barkers” are those guys who did the marketing for the show—the ones who would attract customers by yelling announcements at the crowd. This theme ties into the entire experience. The “street food” is not your typical hot dog. In fact, none of the food is typical. I’ve had the tacos, which are a unique combination of pork and toppings ranging from jalapenos to slaw. I’ve also had the burgers—perfectly seasoned and cooked with flavorful combinations from sautéed onions with bleu cheese to jalapenos and chipotle sauce. My favorite is the dog—the one with bacon jam. It is like no other hot dog I’ve had, and I’ve had my fair share of dogs—one of my favorite spots is Dat Dawg in NOLA. I like to pair this with a nice batch of homemade fries with ranch sauce. This meal may not follow my diet, but it is worth the cheat! Another great addition is the selection of beer and wine. They do not hold back on their offerings, and on this side of town, pickings are sometimes slim. Altogether, the circus that is Sammy Barker’s is a great experience that you can have any lunch or dinner of the week.

I Published My First eBook

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So, I’ve been writing for years and have not published, so I decided to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon and give it a go. I know that there are a lot of mixed feelings about this (some people say it’s not a “real” book, etc.), but in my self help journey, I’ve discovered two major realizations that helped me decide: 1. I don’t care what other people say 2. See number 1.

Several factors influenced my desire to self-publish. First, I wanted to do it fast! I didn’t want to wait around for someone to accept my work (or not) and then do the publishing on their time. Second, I wanted to do it for free. Amazon’s ebook publishing did not cost me one cent. Third, I wanted to be in control of my content. I am an excellent writer and editor. I’ve been doing it for YEARS, so I didn’t want someone to tell me what to do. Finally, I wanted the experience. I am the type of learner that has to DO something in order to actually learn it. So, I wanted the experience of formatting, editing, AND marketing my own work. Because I knew all of this, I was confident in my decision.

Here’s a breakdown of my experience:

I started with a small work that I’ve been half-ass writing for a while and is focused on my consulting/solutions development startup. It’s about Sexual Harassment and how training sucks.

*It took me about 2 weeks to write the book because I’m still working part-time, raising kids, and being an awesome wife, plus I’ve had a shitty cold virus. I downloaded the Kindle ebook add-in for Microsoft Word which does all the formatting for you!!! It was amazing! Sometimes I had to play with it a bit, but overall, it was great. START WITH THIS STEP.

*While I was writing, I did some pre-publish marketing: I started trying to find a target audience and regularly posting about the upcoming work. This was not very productive, so I’m going to research how to improve it.

*Once I finished, I went through the steps for Amazon publishing ebook. I did not enroll in KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) just to see how it goes alone.

* I shared my ass off on social media, and I did set up an ad campaign on Amazon for $5/day for 4 days. I figured I could drop $20 just to see how it goes.

*So, I’m two days in and haven’t gotten a sale, but I’m going to keep going on this marketing trail and see where it takes me.

Oh, and here’s a link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0762M884C

Just in case you want to buy a copy for $2.99!!!

PLEASE COMMENT ANY FEEDBACK!!!

Unsung Hero

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Unsung Hero

This weekend I was awoken by the dreadful sound of a cellphone ringing at 3:30 in the morning. You know those calls…they’re never good. My heart stopped as I jumped out of bed to retrieve it. It was my stepson calling my wife. First of all, our story is complicated, as many people know. We joke about it because of the stereotypical nature of us being from the South–implicit jokes about inbreeding and such nonsense. But, the truth is that we are just two souls linked together in unusual circumstances. We are a blended family. My stepson is also my wife’s stepson, but she raised him like her real son. So, he has basically become our son. At first, he was reluctant to cross over into my dark side of culture. I was an alien with my record player blaring anything from Louis Armstrong to David Bowie and my sauteed vegetables and my refusal to fry anything. It took us both a while to adjust to each other, but now he is family. So, when he called to say he’d been in a wreck, I too jumped up, dressed, and tried to suppress my fear.

I was scared not only for his safety, but my wife’s as well. I know how deeply she cares for him. She never actually birthed any children, but she’s mothered two and is now mothering my two as well. She tells me all the time that she doesn’t have the mother thing, but she just doesn’t realize that she does. Perhaps she has the mother thing more than most birth mothers. She shows it in her unwavering commitment to her children. As much as she wants to be free from the worries, responsibilities, and headaches that come along with mothering, she can’t. The mother thing inside her won’t allow it. She loves her son as if he was her own. She pushed him through high school even though it killed her to fight with him. She just wanted what was best for his future. She bought him a truck even though she was struggling financially at the time. She wanted to teach him responsibility and pride of ownership. She is plain out rude to the girls that he brings home who don’t deserve him. She just wants to make sure he finds a good relationship. She forced him to become responsible and get his own place. She just wanted him to be independent for when she can no longer help him. I’ve watched them fight, and at times that I would have given up, I’ve watched her persevere out of love. Now, I think he is finally seeing what she has done.

When we got to him, it was a relief to see that he was okay. He would be in pain, but he would recover. His truck, not so much, but material things can be replaced. We took him home, and she was the one who helped him when he felt that he could not take the pain. She was the one who insisted he go to the hospital. It wasn’t convenient. It would have been easier to let someone else take him, but she wouldn’t have let that happen.

People like to share their opinions on lesbians having kids. They like to say that kids need a traditional family. They say that kids need a mother and a father. I’ve seen those traditional families. Sometimes they are fantastic. Sometimes, however, they are not so great. I’ve seen the mothers who become addicted to pills because their husbands are abusive. Neither of those parents are good for the kids. I’ve seen the fathers who work 40 hours a week and then complain that they are too tired to spend time with their kids. I’ve seen the mothers who do the same.

People also like to say that kids raised in a homosexual household will end up becoming homosexuals. Homosexuality is biological. Scientists and researchers have proven this time and time again. No one can make anyone gay. Our sons are great examples of this. Both of them like women. And, they have an advantage by being raised by two women: they will know how to treat women.

My wife is an unsung hero to the children that she did not birth. She is the one who makes sure they are taken care of. She is the one who will be there when others walk away. She is the one who will fight for them. She is the one who will sing happy birthday with her guitar even though she can’t play or carry a tune. She is the one who will push them to be better students and parents and lovers and friends and people. And, because they know this, she is the one they will call when they need someone.