Master, Free Your Slaves

From a young age, I can recall having feelings of insecurity, not belonging, and random bouts of depression. I’ve been thumbing through my old writings lately, scribbled throughout many journals. I started writing to express myself when I was about 15 years old.  Nobody has ever read any of it except me. Some are so old the pages are discolored and ripping apart at the seams. Seems fitting, they’re like my feelings. A theme is apparent, when I write freestyle poetry, my intention is to release fear, anger, resentment, betrayal, abandonment, guilt, shame….all these things we don’t like to talk about. I don’t have a happy poem.

Today, for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, has been a rough day. I’ve been spending more time alone (which I need right now), and a lot of random things are coming to the surface for me. It feels like they’re coming after me. When you have lived many years shoving things down and you start letting them rise to the surface, it can be overwhelming, haunting even.  I’m feeling suffocated by too many at once.

I wrote this tonight, and I just really liked it. So I wanted to share it. It’s pretty scary for me to share my free writing like this. It’s raw, personal, and it makes me feel vulnerable. It’s out of my comfort zone. That’s why I’m doing it.  Anyways, here it is. 

It’s eerily black and cold down here.

It echoes when I walk.

Like a darkened stairway 

of broken dreams 

I’ll shatter if I fall.

 Anger drips from a hidden beam.

Like clock-work.


Feeling the emptiness

like a hole in my pocket…

where change is lost

and resentment


Still holding on

I wonder why,

everything I touch

burns itself alive.

These fiery feelings

I’ve buried inside

their flames reach higher

the more I wish they’d hide.

Begging to seek light and fly

I push them deeper

Down to lie.

“To sleep,” I say

“Leave me in peace.”

They say to me…

“We cannot leave

unless we are set free.

Free us from the chains

That bind us to this space.

Please, Master

free your slaves.

Show yourself some grace.

We only hold you down, you know

You feel it’s hard to breathe.

With fire racing through your veins

This damage can’t be freed.

Just let us go,

we’ve done the work.

You owe us a reprieve.

Please Master,

free your slaves

The loss of us,

you shall not grieve.”

I love your comments, likes, and shares on my writing. Thank you for being a reader. It gives me motivation to do more, and inspiration to touch a life, heal a wound(mine or yours) and make a new connection. We are all travelers on the road of life, even if we take a different direction.


An Open Letter to My Step-Daughter’s Mother….

When I met her as a young, bright, outgoing 5-year-old little girl, I couldn’t have imagined what our future together was going to feel and look like. I could not see the tragedy she would soon face just a couple short years down the road. I wish I never saw it at all. I wish that I didn’t get to be a mom to a child who lost hers, but I’m honored that I am.

Imagine this. You are in your mid-thirties, a mother to one child. That child is your whole world and you are hers. You know that this world is about to be shaken to its core and there is nothing you can do to stop it. In quiet, hushed whispers you hear the words stage 4 cancer. Terminal. All you can think of at this moment is not yourself, but your six-year-old daughter. Her sweet face and those gorgeous, innocent hazel eyes.


Let that sink in. Take a deep breath, and imagine….You have no idea who is going to raise your daughter. Her dad is a single man who lives on the road half the time. Who, if anybody, will she end up with that will mother the child you must leave behind. The child that was supposed to be yours to bring up, forever.  What kind of woman will she be? Will she be kind? Will she be capable of loving my daughter? Will she keep her in line? Will she honor my memory? Will she try and make her forget about me? Will she raise her anything like I would?  Will she be fair to my daughter? Will she give her good advice or any at all? Will she….what if she?….what if she doesn’t?….what if she can’t?…what if she won’t?… what if she does?


Dear Jennifer,

To be so brave as you had to be leaving this world with so many unanswered questions spinning in your head is something I cannot imagine. Your courage was immeasurable. You knew she had plenty of good women who loved her and would support her, but you didn’t know about me. I wish you would have. I wish you could have known that I would be here.

From a mother to a mother, I’ve got you. For all the times in her life when she wishes you were there, I will be.

Before that very first date, I’ll be there to remind her that a bad reputation is hard to lose once you’ve got it. I’ll remind her to respect herself, and that it is okay to say no. I’ll tell her how beautiful she is and that it’s going to take a mighty good man to deserve her love, trust, and affection. I will set her a curfew and you can be damn sure if she isn’t home on time, I will embarrass the living shit out of her by calling her in missing to the police. And then I will ground her and forgive her.


Every time she hops in her car, I’ll make sure I always tell her to buckle up, drive safe, and call me when she gets there. When she runs out of gas, I’ll make her sit there and wait a little bit, and then I’ll bring her a jug. If she gets a speeding ticket, I’ll take her keys for a while and make sure she pays the fine with her own money. If she doesn’t come home on time, I will track her down and drag her back.

During the fights she will have with girlfriends, I’ll gently remind her the source of her self-esteem can only come from within. When she loses a friend, I’ll remind her that it is quality over quantity, always. The truly important friends never leave, and the ones who do teach us something.


When her heart is breaking for the first time because of lost love, I will tell her all about my first heartbreak. We will laugh about how dumb boys can be and how they never know what they’ve got until it’s gone. We will devour an entire tub of ice cream in our pajamas while we watch the worst movies of all time as we laugh and cry.

At her high school graduation, I will save you a spot and sit right next to it. Feeling an immense pride in the beautiful, smart, talented, determined young woman she has become, I will know where that strength comes from. I will think about her bright future and know that she will go wherever she wants and follow her dreams.

On the day she marries her best friend, I will cry happy tears and not want to let her go. I will reminisce on how the years have flown by and fondly remember her crooked teeth and pigtails. I will wish it hadn’t gone by so fast, but I will be proud of the job we did raising her, you and her dad and me. She will be beautiful, she always is. I know where she got that too.


As the moment where she is preparing to give life to your first grandbaby draws near, I will be by her side, telling her it’s almost over and she is amazing. I’ll be saying it hurts, don’t it! She will be telling me to shut up and get my hot breath out of her face. I will beam with pride when I get to hold and rock and love that child. If she has a daughter, I know she will be named after you.


All these special moments, the ones you imagined before you left, I will be standing there right next to your spot. All these big moments and the little ones in between, when she looks where you should be, instead she will see me smiling through tears, both of us wishing you were really here, and deep down knowing that you are.

From a mother to a mother…..We’ve got this…..She is beautiful, like you. Thank you for trusting me with her.

Why I Don’t Treat My Kids The Same….

discipline                                                   photo credit (Google images)

Kids have a knack for asking the dreaded question, “Who’s your favorite?” I have an answer for that. “Well, it depends on the day.”

Have you asked me 429 times what’s for supper, even though I already disclosed this top-secret mystery to you? Hint. It’s probably not your day. Have you left your laundry in the washer for three consecutive days and it now smells of rotten, moldy cotton throughout the home? Have you been leaving your crap all over the floor for everybody to trip on even though you know where it goes? Leaving “muddy” footprints on the carpet with your chore boots? It might not be your day either. Picking fights with the siblings and then playing the victim? “Forgot” you have a project due tomorrow that you suddenly need supplies for immediately? Forget it, not even close. Not happening either.

Why You Should Let Kids Fail

I don’t play favorites, I parent. I discipline according to the severity of the “crime”, consider the child’s age and level of understanding, and possibly their hidden motives. If you’re on my shit list, there is a good chance you put yourself there willingly, not because I value anybody else’s existence over yours. My love is constant, my desire to make you constantly happy is non-existent. It’s not my job.


Kids should not be treated the same for a simple reason. They are different. One may respond to a stern look, while another might give you the same look back. One might be begging for a hug through their negative behavior, while another would rather die than be shown physical affection by their mother (insert teenage boy).

Positive Discipline For Attention Seeking Behavior

I expect more responsibility and dependability from a 14-year-old than I do from a  ten-year-old. I get a lot of “but it’s not fair.” Well, shucks. Does the ten-year-old get to drive a car just because the 14-year-old can? No. Does the 11-year-old poop her pants because the baby does? I hope not. Should the two-year-old be allowed to shave her legs because her older sister does? She would try if she could. Should a teen capable of making their own money be made to purchase some of their own items while a younger sibling might get something similar “for free”? Yes. Is it fair? Yes. Does it seem fair to the children? No. Do I care? Nope. Once an older child can make a little money, they must be given the chance to learn how to manage it. Save it, spend it, lose it…up to them. Buy an $80 pair of jeans or 40 packs of gum, up to them. So on and so forth.

Age-Appropriate Chores…Free Printables

I love my kids the same. Unconditionally. Forever and always. I treat them differently because they are unique and deserve to be treated as the individual that they are. What kind of individual is up to them. I expect different things from each of them based on their strengths, weaknesses, personalities, the level of maturity, level of accountability and dependability, physical strength, emotional intelligence, their personal interests, and many other factors.

It is as simple as trying to fit a square peg into a round opening. You can try to force someone to conform to the shape of another, but they will only end up stuck and feeling like they don’t belong. There is no room for them to grow if they are forced to be put in the same category as everybody else. It is not only fair to treat children differently than another, it is necessary.



I am. Everything you will never be because of course, you are not me. I am like nothing you have ever seen because of course, nothing quite like me has ever been. In existence just to breath and feel and live. Each moment belongs only to me, the same as yours to you. Each moment of my life lasts only that, and then must be set free as a gift from me to my past. My future is nothing but a dream, living well ahead of its time. I am. Living in the moment, just this one. Free.




9 Creative Ways to Make More Time For Yourself…when you have kids.

1. Avoid telling the children that you plan on leaving for a bit.

2. Do put your vehicle in neutral and roll down a hill before starting the engine.

3. Never, ever, ever announce in an audible voice that you are going to take a quick shower.

4. Announce to the children that it’s time to clean the house. They will disappear.

5. Skip getting the toddler dressed and let them eat last night’s cold leftovers for breakfast while they are naked. They don’t even care.

6. Keep having children until you have one that is old enough to babysit all of them. (This can take years to pay off, but it’s worth it)

7. Tell the kids you hear the ice cream truck outside. After they run out the door, throw a melting box of ice cream sandwiches in the yard, pull the shades, and put on some headphones. Probably heavy metal. That helps drown out the banging on the windows after the treats are gone.

8. Drop them off at Grandma’s house and tell them they are having a sleepover! Even if she’s not home. Throw some bags of popcorn and a movie at them as you drive off laughing hysterically. Call your mom and apologize. End with, “See you on Sunday evening!” Now, turn your phone off. This is the most important step and you must follow through.

9. Ask if anybody wants to go to church.




I am a firm believer that things are put in our path for a reason. I was down in the big city of Omaha the other day and took a hard right into Goodwill. I meandered over to my favorite section, making sure I didn’t miss any good deals along the way. In the very back of the store, lined up neatly in a row of shelves, were the books. $1.99  for something that can change your entire view on a subject is just too good to pass up. A title popped out at me that would, under ordinary circumstances, make my blood boil and my hair stand up and leave me running for the hills.  That day, it intrigued my new found interest in digging into my own core.  Letting Go of Shame by authors Ronald & Patricia Potter-Efron is not something I would normally pick up and bring home and show the family. On this particular day, I thought: “Well, no harm in drudging up every single thing that’s ever made me feel bad about myself when I’m already down in the dumps. Let’s do this!”

After the first few words, I silently thanked whoever had donated this book at the exact place I was going to be, not even knowing I was looking for it. Now, I know all about feelings of guilt as we all do. Shame is a whole different chapter in the book of feelings and emotions. It is like guilt’s 2nd cousin, twice removed. We all know they are related, we’re just not entirely sure how. Shame gets pushed down in the deepest darkest corner of our being where it sits and rots away, slowly poisoning us from the inside out. It’s like a sack of potatoes you toss in a dark drawer. You throw some other stuff on top of it and a year later you can’t figure out what that disgusting smell is. Finally, you remember you shoved that sack out of sight, out of mind. So, you walk over to that forgotten drawer. You don’t even want to look. You pull it open and there it is. Your complete failure as a human being.

Rotting away in the dark, that pungent smell of all that you never were stings your eyes and takes your breath away. Parasites writhe in glee as they feed off your decaying dreams and leave your soul for dead. You tell yourself, “How could I be so stupid and lazy?” as you slam the drawer shut. That is what shame feels like to me.  Back in the dark it goes. Although once you know it’s there, you have to get rid of it or it will continue to eat you alive.

(I’ve actually done this before with potatoes, please tell me I’m not the only one?)

I’ve rarely pondered on the subject of how I have been shamed, how I shame others, or how I’ve even borrowed shame that doesn’t belong to me. Guilt that doesn’t get dealt wth or forgiven turns to shame, along with having many other sources. We might try to rid ourselves of it by giving it freely to others, usually the ones we are closest to. We may do this without even being aware of the fact we are doing it.  I am starting to open my eyes to the hard truth that I have been doing this.

I am in the beginning stages of observation in this arduous process that may take considerable time and effort to fully understand and process. It has been eye-opening to honestly look at how much of the way I choose to react to situations in my life are due to buried feelings of rotting, parasitical shame I have chosen to ignore for many years. I’ve opened the drawer.

If you have successfully dealt with feelings of deep shame stemming from your family of origin, your current relationships, or self-inflicted, what are some exercises or inner processes that worked for you? Please feel free to comment (anonymously if you wish) or email me Here if you would like to discuss this journey with me.

For those who may be struggling with this right along side me, check out these links to learn more.

Understanding Shame

10 Life-Changing Ways to Move Through Shame

Self-Compassion and Childhood Shame

Forgive Yourself and Let Go of Shame



“Pen moves freely

Capturing the essence

of this being

Residing in the depths

of my freeing mind.

Release gives way

to a cleansing


In the meaning

that remains,

I’m refined.”

Living With An Addict

be willing

This isn’t going to be about who I thought it was when I was considering penning these thoughts to paper.

I’m in the beginning stages of starting to understand and internalize it was always my choice.  In the many long years that I have battled the demons of my addictions, my gaze always settled in the rear-view mirror. A place where it is hard to truly see yourself, but rather a reflection of who you should have been. Who made me feel this way, who did this to me? I will use them to justify my pathetic, selfish existence. There always seemed to exist plenty of culprits I would happily point the finger at. I never seemed to notice that there were more fingers pointing back at me.

The obvious person who has been my biggest scapegoat has been my father. I have lived most of my life truly believing that it was he who needed my forgiveness for all of his flaws and perceived failures as my father. My mind is just beginning to wrap around this whole new concept that possibly, it is I who needs to ask for his forgiveness. Or possibly just start by forgiving myself.

I might need my dad’s forgiveness for using his choices in his life as a justification for my own. I’m beginning to believe that I need his forgiveness for placing so much blame on him for all the things I thought my childhood should have or could have been that it never was. Forgiveness for blaming him for my own failed relationships because he never showed me how a father should love the mother of his children. I need his forgiveness for pretending that his own struggle with alcoholism led to my addictions. It’s true as they say, I may have followed in his footsteps. I choose that. I hand-picked that burning, fiery path of self-destruction. These next words may shock you, as they do me sometimes. I’m glad I did.

Let me walk you down my chosen path of self-pity and loathing. Let me show you how I pretended nobody cared about me so that I could make myself feel better about choosing that dark side of life. Let me help you understand why I chased that high. Maybe in getting this out, I can begin to understand that why, in a very different way, I still do.

It all started when I was about 16 years old. Typical, huh? Some friends and I went to a party and cracked a few beers. Four, to be exact. Enough to make me throw up for the first time from drinking alcohol. I learned that night that beer was never going to be my style. Nah, that was too predictable for me. I had been hurt way worse than that, I really needed to make a statement. Let’s remember back then, the blame game was in full force. Remember nobody cared. Something I chose to believe that was never true became the foundation for many decisions to come. Believing that one little lie I told myself has affected my entire life since then. I based my entire career as an addict on a lie. Why you ask? Because that was my reality. Right or wrong, it was true for me at the time, from my perspective. That makes it my truth. Only mine. “Own-ly” mine. It opened up the door for me to pretend I didn’t care. It is so much easier to wallow in self-despair and destruction when you are living in an illusion.


Have you ever been a rebellious teen? The kind where you have absolutely no respect or feelings for anybody? The kind where you are grateful for nothing, but feel like everybody owes you something? That kind of rebellion that will make a mother sick with worry and wonder where she went wrong? The kind where your parents have no idea how to stop you from sneaking out, hanging out with a bad crowd, drinking, smoking pot (a lot of it), sleeping wherever, smoking meth, snorting cocaine, just to name a few. I have.

Whew. That was hard to admit. It’s difficult to admit to myself that I chose that without my mind wandering to who is to blame. I did those things all by myself. I never said no. Even though I tried believing I didn’t care, I longed for a certain kind of love and acceptance that I had the illusion of finding in this crowd of other liberated free-thinkers. When you numb yourself to the point of feeling almost nothing at all, it becomes easier to feel loved and accepted. Even though it’s not even close to being real in any way, it feels warm and fuzzy when you’re all numbed up. Or maybe that was just the drugs. All the other stuff in your head and heart fades away and you are just living in the moment. That is what I chased as an addict. I never thought to try and live in the moment without a substance to erase everything. For a while. It’s easier to watch it appear to disappear without doing the mental and spiritual work it really takes.

Living in the moment is what drugs gave me. My past was erased and I didn’t have a future. All I was left with was right then and right there, surrounded by people that helped make that possible. We all had a similar goal, brought about by different circumstances. We all had something in common. Something in our past was living inside of us like a parasite. While we knew it was there,  we didn’t know how to kill it off for good. We learned to live with it and put it to sleep for a while. Temporary fixes are just that though, temporary. So goes the horrific cycle of addiction.

While I no longer struggle with the physical addiction to drinking and drugs, that person in me is still there. I am still living with that addict. That mentality  still has strong roots in my inner make-up. Its focus is just on something else. That is the key to addiction, every one of us is an addict is some way.  Some addictions can be positive if you can find a healthy balance. One might begin to call them hobbies, or passions. In my mind addiction is simply passion, most of the time directed at something in a negative way as opposed to a positive. Misguided. Hard-core addicts are very passionate people under all that numbness. Maybe we just don’t know what to do with the powerful feelings of that passion, we do not know where our true gifts lie because we never gave them a chance to thrive.

One might become addicted to health and fitness, religion, drugs, toxic relationships, working, knowledge, power, money, etc. There could be so many things on this list. In order to lose one addiction, in most cases, we simply switch them to something else. What we choose is just that, our choice. I chose toxic relationships. I choose relationships where I want to fix, fix, fix them. Not me. I like to keep the focus on somebody else. I have this real knack for attracting someone who’s problems I feel are bigger than mine. Someone who is hurting worse than me. And I want to save them. I still haven’t quite learned how to save myself. If I can drum up enough motivation to put the energy into changing myself as I have put into trying to change somebody else, there will be no stopping me. If I can learn to put all that passion inside of me to use for my own benefit, I will have found the key to my own happiness.

I plan on meeting resistance, both internal and external as I slowly learn to change my thoughts and reactions. I come heavily armed. My years of addiction have given me a special kind of strength and endurance that only pain can offer. Our inner strength and resilience do not lie in the roots of happiness, but rather makes it growth from pain and inner suffering. This is why I am glad I chose that path. Without it, I would not have the strength I know I possess to break free from these chains I have placed upon myself.




Shameless Plug

In learning to love myself more, so that I may better love and understand you, I am on a new quest to develop my talents and artistic side. I have opened up an Etsy shop Right Here selling my abstract letters, which I think are unique and different than any I’ve seen. Aside from selling individual letters, I can create any custom piece you want. I enjoy creating them. I love the vibrancy and color found in these photos, and they will add a pop of personality to any room in your home or business. Create Color

If you would like to make a custom order, email me Here and we can talk details. Custom orders are framed by myself in handmade reclaimed barn-wood. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In other words, you will be helping to clean up the planet. Let’s all do our part!

I have multiple styles of each letter, and I love picking and choosing to create the most pleasing and complementary colors that really stand out. If you prefer black and white, I can do that too. You don’t prefer barn-wood? Let me know, I’d be happy to accommodate your personal tastes.


If you’re near Harlan, IA check out Jenn’s Craft Shack on the square, opening May 20th! I will have a section set up in the shop where you can see and buy my latest custom creations, pick up an order form, or buy single prints! Or just walk by and think, wow those are neat.

That about wraps it up, guys. Thanks for taking the time for listening to my shameless plug. Keep calm, and buy pictures.