A Little Interview

Thank you, Vinny, at awesomebookpromotion.com for this short 4 question interview.

Featured Author Alexis Rose

Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Hello!

My name is Alexis Rose and I live in Minnesota. Besides writing, I love to be with my family and friends. I unwind by practicing yoga and spending time outside. Besides writing, I have a part-time marketing job for a couple of wellness centers and teach beginning writing classes. I have two cats and a wonderful emotional support dog that help me write every day.  Sometimes it seems like a zoo around here.

At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

I have always had a fascination with books. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read!

Writing came into my life purely by accident. I had never written anything more than letters or birthday cards, until seven years ago. A friend of mine wanted to know what it felt like for me living with PTSD. Because it’s such an invisible illness, she was at a loss on how to support me. At the time, I was unable to verbalize what it felt like to anyone, let alone to myself. I went home, thought about what I would like to say, and I wrote my first poem.

After showing it to her, she told me I had to start writing. I showed the poem to a few other friends and was invited to collaborate with a couple of artists, using my poetry paired with their artwork.

Three successful inspirational books later, I had developed a fierce love of writing. I took the chance to write on my own without a collaborator. Two years ago I published my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph, and this month my latest book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels was released.

Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read? Who Inspires you in your writings?

I don’t really have favorite authors to read. I’m a fairly equal opportunity reader. I love to give new authors a chance as well as the authors who have been around for a long time.

I read a lot of books on mindfulness. I absolutely love reading historical fiction. I love an author who does their research. I have a pretty good BS meter and don’t like a lot of filler in a book. I’m a person who will sit down with a book and escape into the character’s world. I simply love good books. I read both non-fiction and fiction at the same time. It makes both sides of my brain really happy.

Tell us a little about your latest book?

If I Could Tell You How It Feels is a series of essays and poems about living authentically with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I write about the reality of living with triggers, flashbacks, and the challenges of working through trauma. I write with vulnerability about the tough subjects of family, friendships, loss, grief, parenting, and therapy.

Whether you are a survivor, someone living with a mental or chronic illness, a professional working within the mental health industry, or you are simply interested in learning more about the intricacies of living and thriving with PTSD, this book will provide new insights and an appreciation of this invisible illness that affects millions of people around the world.

This book is a labor of love for me. My main intention is to begin to break down the stigma of mental illness, especially bringing awareness to PTSD. So far the response has been really good.

 

 

 

 

Connect with the Author on their Websites and Social media profiles

Alexis Rose’s Website

Alexis Rose Facebook Page

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2nd Draft Jitters

Yesterday, I completed the second draft of my new book and I have the, “what-if-NO-one-reads-it jitters.” I get this way every time I write a book. I was like this, with the poetry books I collaborated on, and I was convinced no one, except my close friends and husband, would read Untangled.  Gratefully, I was wrong! Untangled, has grown some beautiful little toddler legs and is selling nicely each month.

I belong to a writers group, and I know the angst of releasing a book is a mixture of excitement, fear, and hope. The excitement of sending your work out for the world to read, the fear of rejection and the hope that your words will touch someone, and perhaps, that moves them to recommend the book to another, and the chain reaction of selling your book begins to unfold.

I play a lot of mental gymnastics with my book sales and what I deem successful.  With the poetry book, I set a goal of selling 250 copies. If I sold that many then I would feel okay. That many sold and more, and I did feel okay, then I allowed myself the luxury of getting my beautiful lotus tattoo. I continue to set goals for Untangled. I have reached all of them and more. I’m blown out of the water by the response.

So why is it so hard for me to call myself a writer and author? Is it because I do not see my books on the best seller list? Is it because I haven’t entered it into book award contests and therefore don’t have stickers to put on the front cover of my book? Or is because I’m a self-published author and don’t have a big publishing house logo on my cover? No, none of those are true.

I have many, many friends who are artists. Many are painters, photographers,  writers, or awesome crafters. Many of them, like myself, are their own worst critics.   Perhaps that keeps our egos at bay and keeps our creativity flowing.

I have no answers as to why I have the 2nd draft jitters. Well, I have a little bit of an inkling. The 2nd draft now goes to my very competent editor. She is red-penned ready and so am I! Of course, the thought of having to do a 3rd and 4th draft is not enticing. The dread of the editing process is what has stopped me from moving forward the past few months.

I’m ready to shake off the jitters, go to my aerobics class and sweat for an hour and know that I’m one draft closer to releasing my next book.

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

Our Painted Journey

Our Painted Journey – A Story of Two Friends

My friend Grace and I have been friends for 39 years now. We were roommates for 4 years, we got married around the same time, our children are fairly close in age, and we have always lived (except for 4 years) within ten minutes of each other. It’s one of those friendships that have weathered many storms. Not the storms of friendship, but the storms of life. We have been there for each other through great joy and great sorrow.

Our husbands don’t socialize, we don’t have the same circle of friends, and we really don’t have the same interests. She is a go-all-the-time, keep busy, bowling, art class, Vegas kind of girl. I’m that chill, sit on the beach, talk about big stuff in life, walk slowly through the woods kind of girl. Yet, in spite of that, we remain the best of friends. We even collaborated on a beautiful inspirational book  a few years ago, and at the end of the editing process still remained best friends. Grace is a talented watercolor artist. With her painting and my poems we put together a beautiful book, that still touches people today. I use many of those poems in my blog, but she is internet shy and doesn’t want her paintings on the internet. And you guessed it,  Grace is not her real name.  Grace is the name she chose when I asked her what she would like to be called in my book when I was writing Untangled.  The name fits her perfectly.

We get together every week (when she is not in Vegas) and usually go out for lunch. Lately, the people at restaurants ask us, “are you, two sisters?” When we say no (we look nothing alike) they are always a bit shocked. When they hear we are not sisters, they can’t believe it. Yesterday, Grace asked me, “why do they keep asking us that?” I told her that we have been friends for so long, that we look as comfortable as a comfy pair of slippers or shoes that people long to put on their feet at the end of the day. Maybe a weird analogy, but it’s what came out of my mouth at the time.

So to honor the two of us and all the sister/brother friends out there in the world, I give you Our Painted Journey, A Very Short Story of Two Friends.

Once upon a time when both boys and girls had long hair that was parted down the middle, and rock and roll was very, very good, two girls met while working with little children who had big needs.  For the past 39 years, they have never strayed from being best friends. One day, the universe conspired to have them take a Painted Journey. With magnificent paintings and poignant words, the world would get to experience what emerged from years of friendship, creativity, and mutual inspiration.

This journey became a lovely book with people commenting on how the paintings and words complement each other in a way that touches their heart. Grace and Alexis will continue to honor that conspiring universe and together welcome all to come with them on their painted journey of friendship, love and respect. 

It’s a friendship for the ages, and when we are old and live next door to each other in the assisted living home, blasting Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and all the other bands of our youth, people will still ask if we are sisters, or perhaps they will simply say to themselves, “look at those two, they  have been friends for so long, they remind me of a happy, well-worn pair of comfy, soft slippers.

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picture courtesy of pixabay

March

It would be interesting to have each of my siblings describe their experience of the week that my father died. It was the first time since my sister’s wedding ten years earlier, that all four of us were together for any length of time. And yet, there we were, keeping a five-day vigil at my father’s hospital bedside.

It was fascinating and frightening to watch my father move through the stages of dying. He was quite lucid as he called each one of us to his bedside and asked permission to die. He didn’t ask for forgiveness, or apologize for hurting us; he just wanted permission to die. As the doses of morphine increased he began to go in and out of consciousness.  He was seeing and talking to his deceased family and his beloved cat. These were all ghosts to us, but they were real and comforting to him. For two days before he died he held conversations with his mother, who had been killed in the war when he was seventeen years old. Eventually, he spoke only in Hungarian, his first language.

He struggled to die. Part of that may have been the morphine, but he seemed to have a need for closure with certain people before he could let go. The day before his death, a steady stream of people came and went, said their goodbyes, and he fell into a deep sleep.

Once he drifted into that sleep state, we were told that he would probably die within a few hours. We opted to stay in the hospital that night and wait. Each of us was dealing with our father’s death in our own way, and nobody was talking to or comforting one another.

Once a year while we were growing up, my father had made us sit in a line on the couch and recite, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” while he took pictures. Waiting for word of his death we seemed to be recreating those moments, sitting in a row staring blankly into space.        

My sister Lucy loved my father with all her heart. He was always her daddy, and she was grief-stricken that he was dying. She spent a lot of time in his room feeling an otherworldly connection to him and reporting many sightings of his mother. My brother, Thomas was filled with guilt for never living up to the rigid standards that my father had so often reinforced with his fist.  Thomas’ mix of guilt and grief was making him angry and contentious. Adam hated my father too. He could never live up to the impossible standards that had been expected of him either. He was distant and off in his own world; silent and withdrawn.

I felt a lot of ambivalence about my father dying. I had watched him struggle with three rounds of chemotherapy and had seen the disease ravage this once very powerful man. I didn’t want him to suffer any longer, but at the same time his suffering was the only restitution I would ever extract from this man who had abused me since I was a baby.

When I moved to Minnesota, he and I had spent countless hours together. He taught and then quizzed me for hours about national and international politics. He spent a lot of time telling me his life story.  He seemed anxious for me to learn his past so that he wouldn’t be forgotten by his future grandchildren. My father’s entire family was killed in the Holocaust and he carried immense survivor’s guilt. It was confusing for me. He was unbelievably abusive to me and yet I felt compassion and respect for his life story. I would have preferred to feel a neat and clean hatred and disgust towards him.

Early the next morning, the rabbi on the hospice team came into the room to talk to the four of us. Rabbi Lyon had spent many hours talking with and comforting my father during his extended hospital stays. The four of us siblings were exhausted from lack of sleep and the endless waiting. The air was heavy with grief, confusion, and boredom. The rabbi told us he wanted to relay a few words from my father to each of us.  I had an instant distrust of this man when I met him, and that day, chills ran down my spine when he began to speak.

He stopped first in front of my brothers and told them that my father loved them very much. He knelt down to my grieving sister, took her hands into his and began telling her how much my father loved her, how much my father spoke of her and that he himself would be there for her in her grief.

Then he walked over to me and without a moment’s hesitation said, “You are our tough little shit, and you will be fine.” He walked away. I felt three things simultaneously: hurt, rejected, and a profound sense of dread.

excerpt from my memoir Untangled, A story of resilience, courage and tripumph

 

Goodnight Yesterday, Wait, Today Feels the Same?

 

I said goodnight to yesterday before I went to sleep. It was a hard day, coping with the tears, emotions, struggles of symptom management. It was a fall apart at work day. One of the energy workers generously offered to work on me to help alleviate the congestion associated with this nasty cold I have. When she offered, I just stared at her. That deer in the headlights stare that blank stare.  I just didn’t know how to gracefully say, no thank-you. All I could think of is I don’t know you, and I don’t trust you. Totally unwarranted thoughts towards this sweet, sweet person. But that’s an effect of my trauma.

The person I work for came into the office.  My boss is awesome! She understands PTSD and all the doo-dahs that go with it. She took me aside and said it’s okay for you to tell people no thank you. What? It is?  I know that intellectually, but yesterday in the workplace with all my symptoms knocking on my coping door, I could only stare. I think I’ve painted the picture. It was just one of those shitty symptom filled days.

That very same boss of mine, who I’m also very lucky to call my friend, texted me later in the day. She said to me, “I think often times when we don’t work correctly we think we are broken. At times, our spirits might be. But I don’t think you are broken at all. I think you/your brain are magnificent! How people live with PTSD is fascinating and inspiring to me. The whys and hows of our brains being so wired for survival are incredible. I am so thankful to see this side of people. It is raw, real and beautiful!”

Raw, real and beautiful! I could hang on to that.  I was raw, all day. Just feeling those dinosaur feelings of an unimaginable past. It was real, I was feeling it. All of it, and it was beautiful, although it felt ugly.

So as I said goodnight to yesterday, I told myself that  I’m going to wake up tomorrow and feel better and start anew. You know, all the “things” we are supposed to say to ourselves to start a fresh day. But what does that really mean?

Just because  the date on the calendar changed am I supposed to wake up and “things” will be different, or is it a way to mark an end to something and begin a new day with hope. I’m just not sure! My therapist works very hard to encourage me to feel. Just feel the way I feel with no judgment. All feelings come and go. There is never the turn your frown upside down kind of pressure. That pressure is put on me, by, well…me!

When I woke up this morning my insides felt the same. My mind is still a mess! I still have fucking PTSD! I don’t really see the light, but I know it is there. It is just beyond my reach, but it is there!

So even though I feel the same as I did yesterday, and truthfully, I’m not sure I would be honoring my story and where I am right now in metabolizing it, if I didn’t feel this way.  I believe the day will bring new possibilities. I may feel as if I’m at mile 20 of a 26-mile marathon. But the one thing I refuse to run short of right now is perseverance. Otherwise, I would simply stop. I’m not going to come all this way and stop. So Cheers to today….I hope?  

 

 

Hopes and Dreams from a Book

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I am a first generation American. Both my father and mother immigrated after World War II and brought with them, layer upon layer of secrets from their past.

My mother emigrated from Germany to Boston; my father emigrated from Hungary by way of Calgary, to Boston. Both came from complicated upbringings and the horrors of war. My mother’s strong European bloodline and my father’s tragic life story helped me eventually understand, but not excuse, their willingness to betray their own daughter for the good of a country.

By the time I was five years old, I already had hopes and dreams of being able to live alone.

I had a book called Miss Suzy, about a squirrel who lived alone high atop an oak tree. Miss Suzy cooked, cleaned, and sang all day. At night, she was lulled to sleep by the gentle wind and the stars. One day a band of red squirrels sneaked into her house, broke all her things, ate up all her food and chased her away. Homeless and rain-soaked, she climbed a tree and found another home in the attic of an old house.  She lived in a doll house where she found a box of toy soldiers who came to life. When Miss Suzy told them about what happened to her in the oak tree, the soldiers marched up the tree, kicked out the red squirrels and Miss Suzy moved back home.

In my five year old mind, this tale had many relatable metaphors.

I compared myself to the story’s heroine. It gave me hope that I could also live alone in a tree, and I began dreaming up ways to escape my family. But I knew, even then, that unlike Miss Suzy I wasn’t going to be rescued by a group of chivalrous soldiers.  I knew that all the adults in my life were the same. They kept secrets. 

Like most abuse victims I ached for someone to rescue me, but I also knew that I wasn’t living in anything like a storybook. I loved the Miss Suzy book because she was so happy living on her own, after the toy soldiers saved her home. She didn’t need anyone else in her life, she was safe and happy.

By a very early age, I had stopped hoping that my family would be vanquished by a company of toy soldiers. I knew the only way out of my situation was if I left and found my own place to live. Instead of an oak tree, I began to fantasize about living beside a deep blue lake surrounded by soft sand and white cliffs.  As I look back, that fantasy of taking control, leaving my family and finding a peaceful existence, nourished my amazing ability to survive.

 

This is an excerpt from Chapter 2, The Woods from my book Untangled, A story of resilience, courage, and triumph 

The metamorphosis of who we will be

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The topic of transformation, metamorphosis, growth, change, (insert whatever word works for your personal journey) has been front and center for me lately. I like to bring up the things that are hard to talk about. Most of us want to grow and change. Especially if we are taking the time to go to therapy, or work towards healing the wounds of our pasts. It’s hard, no one said it was going to be easy. But rarely do people talk about the absolute pain one feels when emotional wounds get ripped open in order to process, heal and grow. Its a lonely journey, because no one else can go inside of you and heal those wounds or take away the rawness. You have to be the one to do it. It certainly does not have to be an “alone” journey. We can find therapists, support groups, friends, family, books, even blogs so we are  surrounded by the support we need. In fact, I think it’s imperative to find people who absolutely “get it” and can relate with empathy when we are in the process of  transforming, and becoming the person we want to be.

And really, it doesn’t have to be a shattered past that motivates a person to grow and change. Growth and change are important to do for the rest of our lives. Some people find themselves in a spiritual crossroads, some people find themselves empty after years in a career, and some people are simply unable to feel content and know that there is some road not taken that is calling for them to explore. Whatever the motivation, the transformation to a new way of being from the inside out is painful and sometimes scary.

I have said to a few people, that I believe if we could interview a caterpillar as they transform into a butterfly how it feels, they would tell us it is excruciatingly painful. They are completely changing from the inside out. The end result is beautiful….Butterflies are beautiful!

I know what I had to do in order to heal the wounds of my past. I knew what I wanted my internal life to be and I made a commitment to myself that I was going to do it. I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of the journey.  But that’s okay with me. I understand it, and I want to talk about it. No one can fix it, it’s part of the deal.

And so when I feel that pain of loneliness, I remember why I am choosing to dig up the past, process what happened, understand my Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, find others who are also on a healing journey, and think to myself that The metamorphosis begins where you accept who you were, who you are now, and who you will be.