writing

A Love Letter To Atreyu

I woke up in 2022 and made a decision that “if one of my favorite bands visits the area I will see them.” I am totally ready to rock and excited to say I will be seeing Atreyu this June at the Fillmore in Detroit. Did I say VIP tickets in June, hey!

If I were to quantify all things I love and feel about music, Atreyu tops the list of my favorite bands of all time. Atreyu and I go way back, to 2006, and like a normal relationship we’ve had our ups and downs, but the true love began back then. I was introduced to the band because a cute guy at the gym wore an Atreyu t-shirt. I did my research and found songs like “Bleeding Mascara” and “Ex’s and Oh’s” to be extremely tantalizing to my rock soul. I would add these songs and more by Atreyu to my gym playlist.

I used LimeWire to get my first songs but fell in love with the hard melodies extremely fast, so it was an easy purchase when their next album came out in 2007: Lead Sails and a Paper Anchor. This was the album I would listen to over and over. I found meaning in all the songs. It made sense to me on another level and opened my mind to a lot of other rock music like Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for my Valentine.

My friend and I seriously jammed out to “When Two Become One” on a road trip driving home from college on M-20 in my red Ford Focus. I would play a lot of songs from that album for other people, but nothing tops the first day I met my (now) husband in 2008, because I burned him a copy of that album. We started talking about Atreyu because “Ex’s and Oh’s” appeared on Madden NFL 2007, and since I just saw them at the Taste of Chaos tour, I was super chatty, “Oh my goodness, I love Atreyu let me burn you their latest CD…”

I waited to be in the front row for Atreyu’s set at Rock on the Range 2009 (day 1) and it was the best fangirl chance to be close but it was a horrible place to enjoy the show. I was getting kicked in the head by crowd surfers and I just didn’t realize how the surfers got pushed to the front every time!? I left my prime position and stood out of the surf zone to enjoy the live music. They were singing all my favorite songs!

If I remember correctly, it was hard to wait for the 2009 album Congregation of the Damned to come out on iTunes. When it was released, I rocked out hard to this album, and as I read on Wikipedia today “they found their heavy roots again with this album,” I agree. Do I need to say “Bleeding is a Luxury” please be still my heart with “Coffin Nails.”


If you visit my YouTube Atreyu Playlist today, half of the songs are from that album.


I saw Atreyu perform live next on the Silver Star stage at Rockstar Mayhem 2010 and it was great to hear all my favorite songs! They seriously have the melodies to rock my soul over and over again. As a love song comes to an end, so did our relationship. It looks like a hiatus happened with the band.

When their next album Long Live came out in 2015, I was a new mother and not checking out new rock albums like I was learning to live in a bubble of motherhood.

In Our Wake came out in 2018, when I was very pregnant with our second child. I was listening to throwback r&b jams like I was on a break from rock & roll.

Baptize came out in 2021. I started listening to it recently because “Warrior” featuring Travis Barker is my six year old daughter’s favorite song. I have read that there are new lead vocals with this album, but everything is still Atreyu and stays true to their growth as a band.

As I listen more to the albums, I find myself pulling out an air guitar and banging my head to the beat when it hits me just right. The words have more meaning to me today and the melodies of the instruments come together to create a feeling that can only be described as joy, pain, love and anger all at the same time, and I would do anything “No Matter What” to see them perform again.

Atreyu is truly a band that has the ability to take me on a journey with each song. They have tested time with me, and I feel my heart pumping rock and roll through my veins because I’m listening to Atreyu again. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you soon in Detroit Rock City!


writing

Highly Sensitive Person

I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) and I discovered this about myself, as an adult, even though this is who I have been my whole life: someone with high sensitivity.

Could it be as simple as: “because the sky is blue it makes me cry?” Yes, I agree that it can be relatable to the psychedelic tune the Beatles sang long ago, Because…it’s as simple as is sounds.

An HSP has their five senses elevated to a level that includes heightened emotions. They usually have an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that is a constant struggle, even in adulthood. Crying happens regularly, so does depression, and addiction is a very common coping mechanism.

Just to name a few personality traits, but that is the reality for me to admit that I am an HSP.

No, I am not too sensitive.
No, I am not shy.
This is a normal trait to have!
My sensitivity is an asset,
and I need to continue treating it this way.

To name something that helps me cope with high sensitivity is being creative. I have always been comfortable writing stories and opening my mind to an imaginary land that is built inside my own head. This is the place where I have created the best imaginary friends, as a child, and as an adult I use their names in my fiction stories.

Another thing that helps take the edge off my sensitivity is physical activity. I self-admit to being a muscle head in college and I honestly took too many gym classes they all didn’t count towards my Health & Fitness Bachelor’s degree (smh). Playing sports and increasing my heart rate has always been something I’m craving as an HSP.

Reading The Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Dealing with Toxic People by Shahida Arabi, MD is what truly opened my mind for accepting myself as I am. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever struggled to understand, handle, and survive toxic people.

Being alive is something to be thankful for. I have the emotional strength of someone much older than 36 only because I embraced my high sensitivity at a young age. I feel and believe the best years are still yet to come.


The Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Dealing with Toxic People by Shahida Arabi, MD


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

writing

There’s No Place Like Home and It’s Not Kansas

My family and I have weathered the storm of the pandemic, and it has been an ever-changing tornado of hard decisions over and over again. Not just for my family though, many families have endured some things that may not have been fathomable pre-pandemic. 

I never thought my family would need to move to Kansas for my husband’s job, especially after he’s been successfully working from home since the beginning of the pandemic. The decision to close the company’s remote location in Michigan is a heartbreaker because honestly: who is going to leave Pure Michigan for Tornado Alley?

My husband may not toot his own horn often enough, so I will take the opportunity to toot this tinman’s horn because he is the hardest working man I know. If we go back to his entry-level position ten years ago he was data entry. “Putting on my headphones and punching numbers,” is what he says he misses from those early days because he has a much more difficult job today. He has worked his way to a supervisor position and has successfully been in that position for the last 6-7 years.

Prior to his promotion to supervisor, he made the personal decision not to complete his college education but to pursue his career with this company. He felt lucky to have his foot in the door with an innovative company. “You may not be able to advance your career as quickly anywhere else,” I always added-in as his working wife.

Oh yeah, I worked at the same company back then. We worked in completely different departments, but I understood the basics of his job and watched the Data Integrity Group or “DIG” grow within the company. 

We went from “single” to “married” and invited a handful of coworkers to our wedding. We were a part of the community within this company. When we moved from being renters to homeowners in 2014, I was no longer with the company, but we still made sure our home was close to the office. 

It was his time to follow the yellow brick road with his career.

There have been a lot of changes within the company since 2014, including an acquisition of the original company, which turned into an opportunity that was somewhere over the rainbow.  

My husband’s hard working skills and ability to see the data processes he was doing on a larger scale is why I believe he became the one who trained and over-saw the data team. His people leader skills were shining but you could still find him at his desk listening to his headphones and crunching numbers. He was in the data files and processing data alongside his team, and self-admits to being the “fastest one.”

He has received multiple awards from the company that all sit on his desk. He has countless certificates that accolade his achievements. He also has multiple rolls of duct tape honoring him as the “fix it” person. I see this all because his office is now in our dining room, and has been since March 2020.

Since then, instead of going to the office and having in-person meetings they have been all at home and over the phone. I did not see work slow down for my husband, he was working more into the nights after meetings ended.

I remember the night we talked about moving to Kansas for his job: what it would entail and everything we would be leaving behind in MI. I was honestly optimistic because with his skill and ability, and my excitement and adventure level, we could make it happen!

However, “there’s no place like home” in Michigan. To name a few things: during the summer we travel up North for weekend vacations and the majority of our immediate family live in MI. The more we thought about Kansas, the less we saw an Emerald City and the more we saw the importance of living close to family.

Months and months have gone by since that night, and his team has since been transitioned or severanced; my husband is next. It is officially coming to an end. His job will be discontinued soon with a severance. 

I continue to watch him do his job, in our dining room, and as difficult as it has gotten for him…he will still clock in until that final day. But, I’m ready for him to turn the light out one final time and move on to weather the next storm in his tin suit—duct tape in hand.


writing

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2022

It was an easy decision to camp this April. I will gladly take the opportunity to officially-finish writing my book.

Don’t get me wrong, I was able to write the book almost to completion during my first NaNoWriMo in 2021. Thanks to that November, I also found my writing group. The exponential encouragement and challenges came from my friends in NaNoWriMotown.

After November, I sent the first draft of “Mandy & Mia” to my Alpha Readers. I had to tell them things like “this novel does not have an END yet” and “there are tiny gaps throughout the story.” Oh my goodness, that does not sound finished, I still have a long ways to go!

Now is the time to address those issues. I’ve ignored my story long enough, it’s time to pull up Scrivener and get my fingers tapping. My goal is 10,000 words for the month of April 2022, so to stay on par I need 334 words per day.

Thank you for following along, I’m determined to get my story in your hands soon!

Follow me on NaNoWriMo–> HERE <–


writing

Sip Happens

My name is Jenni, and my alcoholic mother plays a role in how I drink alcohol.

I wish that I could just have nights that are chalked-up as drunken mistakes. But because my mom drank and abused alcohol everyday for the majority of her adult life, I am not able to have “drunken mistakes.” They are considered a problem and when I drink too much, I am faced with the harsh reality of people telling me I “have a problem.”

Even though my mom has been sober for 10 years, I can’t help but think, “not fair, mom. You were the one with a drinking problem, and I watched you do it in your darkest years.” I remember promising myself, “I won’t be like that.”

So I’m not. But there’s an occasional time when I have a drink, that turns to five, that turns to a body shot and dancing on the coyote ugly bar…where I wake up the next day with a harsh hangover: 1) I can’t do that ever again  2) I need to talk with those closest to me, those that I disappointed in my drunken path of destruction from the night before, and 3) I make a decision to take a break from drinking.

Sip Happens.

I can count my drunken mistakes on one hand, maybe two if you include my college years. I’ve been to AA meetings, taken addiction courses, read Adult Children of Alcoholics, and I still feel like my drunken mistakes aren’t over. Another one will happen, so is that the problem? I say, sip happens.

A glass of wine after the kids are asleep is enjoyable. A few drinks out at date night dinner is a treat. I look forward to sipping on something for those special social occasions; and society glorifies drinking with happy hours and wine tastings – because sip happens everywhere.

Unfortunately, as an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) drinking alcohol can’t just be drinking alcohol for me. It comes with all this baggage. Sipping alcohol affects my social situations, personal interactions, family moments, marriage…it feels like it touches every part of my life.

I read the laundry list, which is 14 traits of an ACOA, and one of the traits that I can strongly identify with is: we became addicted to excitement. As an ACOA, I seek excitement and as an adult, alcohol is consumed in a lot of those exciting life moments. I can say the problem is when I seek excitement, sip happens.

Sip Happened – now it’s time for a break.

After my night of overindulgent-drinking at coyote ugly, I felt ready to drink again within weeks to help take the edge off at home. Mainly because it was 2020 and coronavirus just hit Michigan with a quarantine. I felt ready to day-drink like the rest of my neighbors. But, I made a promise to myself for the season of lent to not consume alcohol and I stuck to my original goal and timeline with little trouble. Based on my experiences, I would recommend the following guidelines for taking a break from alcohol:

  1. Set a goal – with a date – and stick to it!
  2. Keep your support system updated*
  3. Seek literature or meetings through AA or ACOA
  4. In social situations, prepare to drink non-alcoholic beverages that are enjoyable!
  5. Keep a diary – your journey while taking a break is important and a time for reflection.
  6. Give yourself a lot of credit! When your goal is met, what will your reward be?

*YOU need to be the one to call your closest friends and/or your immediate family to tell them how you are doing. Take responsibility and hold yourself accountable for those open communication lines. This is hard to do alone – so I encourage being the leader of that support system for yourself.

My drunken mistakes have turned into a string of lessons learned throughout the years, and the time-off I decide to take from drinking gives me ample time to think about why I do it and why I look forward to sipping again one day.


Note from my Mom: I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m sad that I put you kids through those years.  I wish I could go back, but I can’t…

my response: I wouldn’t be who I am today without you, Mom. I love you.


writing

I Quit FB and I’m Not Going Back

It might sound out of this world, but who do you know that is not on the internet? Take yourself to a time before the internet or if you cannot connect with us older generations, just envision what it would be like.

No smartphone, no tablet, no laptop, no computer, no online gaming, plus many other devices you would not have.

Simplify it even further to just being alone. With nothing but you and yourself. Maybe it would be an opportunity to learn about what you would really do with your time.

What do you learn about yourself when you’re alone?

Before smartphones, the time you spent was truly alone or with those closest around you. Today, in 2022, you are connected to all different kinds of people all over the world at the touch of your smartphone.

Go back to an age where signing up for Facebook required a college email address. That’s when I left Myspace and was signing up for the new social media platform with my Central Michigan University credentials. I was in!

Through FB, I was able to connect with my college classmates and chat virtually outside of the classroom walls. I was also in contact with friends from high school and made new friends along the way through acquaintances. Somehow, the more friends you had–the more connections you acquired.

Fast-forward to 2020 where FB is almost the Meta and a lot of fake news was bogging down my personal newsfeed. It was the beginning of the pandemic, and the mental struggle was happening very early on with quarantines dictating my friendships, work, and overall life.

It was during quarantine number one, I watched a few things on Netflix. I quickly became engulfed in a completely new perspective about social media when I watched The Social Dilemma. It was like a very hot lightbulb exploded in my head and I had to leave social media…I had to cut it out of my diet completely.

I will not go into details about the documentary, only encourage you to watch it. Personally, after I finished watching it, I was looking at all my social media accounts: twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, etc. Oh my goodness, there are so many.

I decided to keep only one account, and it wasn’t FB. As a creative personality, I chose Instagram, it’s my jam! So, I deleted everything else.

Now, I was alone. I chose to fill my phone time with online writing classes and the dream to write my first book was coming to fruition. I don’t think I would have started writing my book unless I removed all unnecessary phone scrolling time. For me, that was the majority of FB time.

I found my mental health benefit from staying away from FB, and I was very productive with writing my novel. Now that it’s been a few years, I find myself warning new friends that “I’m not on FB” just so they know. I am okay acknowledging that I’m in the minority because I don’t choose to scroll.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to put my feet on the ground again, and keep personal communication with friends and family on a phone call or text basis. There have been times I’ve used FB like a phonebook, so I can get a hold of a connection, but I go back to deleting the app from my phone. I don’t want that scrolling habit to join my day-to-day life, ever again.

Maybe, I’ll write another book.

Disclaimer: you may be reading this because you clicked through FB. I am all about sharing my writing, especially when I have new publications, so my FB page will still show links from my site! Thanks to Meta, it’s easy to share from Instagram and across many social media platforms. Thank you for reading, I appreciate you!

writing

Alpha Readers Needed

I have the first draft of “Mandy & Mia” almost complete, so I am looking for a small team of critique-giving Alpha readers!

Mandy & Mia” is a Women’s fiction novel that deals with some mature topics including: teen pregnancy, alcohol, and sex.

A single mother, Mandy, and teenage daughter, Mia, are separately fighting for attention from the men in their lives. They have a traumatic past, and Mandy’s alcoholism brings them to a place of ultimatums as a broken family.

If you are interested in reading my first draft and providing critical feedback at this important time of my writing process, please fill out the Jenni’s Alpha Reading Team form before it’s too late!


writing

I am Accepting Defeat

November 28, 2021

Dear NanowriMotown,

I was afraid the holiday would steal my word-stride, it would kick me off the wagon and make it much more daunting to meet the 50K winning word count by end of month. I now have two days left with 12,313 words to go. That means I need to get around 6,157 words each day. Already a feat I have not achieved. Period. I don’t know if it’s possible, for me, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Lets go back to 4 days ago, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Every year, my family and I travel to visit our family in Midland. I had Nano-intentions to get words in, but the visiting with family always took priority. Being my first year attempting Nanowrimo, I went into the holiday with the no-plan plan, just wishing on a star that I would not go a single day with zero words.

I went three days with zero words, like an unlucky turkey: three days in a row with zer0 zer0 zer0 words. I can complain with other silly comparisons, but I have no reason to complain. I had a fun Thanksgiving weekend with family.

That is something that cannot be replaced with words. So, I’m trying not to beat myself up. I am still aiming for more words until the end of November, and whatever my end word count may be—I will be extremely proud of myself for GETTING THE FIRST DRAFT OF ‘MANDY & MIA’ WRITTEN! I would not be at 55,589 total WIP words without NanowriMotown.

I hope I am still considered a winner (possibly MVP) within the MotownNano community for actively participating and making so many great writing connections. I have been looking for a regional #writingcommunity like this—I feel like we get each other, and we’re owl crazy.

Sincerely,
Jenni

https://nanowrimo.org/participants/jennilaplow


writing

NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2021!

My goal is to write 50K words to complete the first draft of Mandy & Mia. From November 1st to November 30th I will need to write an average 1,667 words a day. It’s not going to be easy, but I will be joined by many other writers aiming for the same goal at the same time. The support is exponential.

I will be entering my NaNoWriMo progress below, for anyone who would like to follow along. Please feel free to check on me and see how it’s going…my progress is also HERE.

DATEWORDS
November 1, 20212,881
November 2, 20211,671
November 3, 20213,674
November 4, 20211,327
November 5, 20211,951
November 6, 2021830
November 7, 20212,688
November 8, 20212,208
November 9, 20211,743
November 10, 20211,380
November 11, 2021972
November 12, 20211,302
November 13, 20211,523
November 14, 20211,320
November 15, 20211,541
November 16, 20211,505
November 17, 2021784
November 18, 20211,466
November 19, 20211,680
November 20, 20211,202
November 21, 20211,572
November 22, 20211,748
November 23, 2021575
November 24, 2021144
November 25, 20210
November 26, 20210
November 27, 20210
November 28, 2021304
November 29, 20213
November 30, 2021450

TOTAL WORDS 38,441

I am Accepting Defeat for NanoWriMo 2021


reading, writing

Dear Whitney Cummings,

Dear Whitney Cummings,

I’m reaching out to you because you’re a great writer and I look up to you as a published author. After I finished reading your book, I’m Fine…and other lies, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that you’re fine, and I had a self-realization that I’m fine too. I literally-laughed-out-loud (LLOL) while reading what you wrote. I couldn’t put it down. I even shipped a copy to my mom so she could read it–I never do that.

When I devoured your words earlier in 2021, I was in a tough spot with my fiction writing, so reading your wild horses* of stories helped me find part of a main character’s voice in my story.

I have since realized that when it comes to writing a book, I am always in a tough spot because I have no friggin’ idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m making it up as I go along and doing a lot of self-help attempts, but I always come back to you: Whitney Cummings. Like, I can’t get away from you.

  1. You’re the only celebrity I follow on Instagram
  2. You’re hilarious, so I’m officially attending a Touch Me Tour when you’re in MI
  3. One of my main characters has part of your voice, so I hear you talk a lot
  4. Your book is on my TBR list even though I already read it…

Call this an unconventional way to send you a letter (?) but it’s an idea that has grown in my head and I need to explore how I can reach you. As a writer, this is my platform and I will hashtag it, pin it, promote it like crazy on social media. I’ll even text it to you. Call me out of my seat, I will read it on stage.

I also feel the impending doom of rejection, so I’ve talked myself out of penning you this letter a few hundred times. My deterring thoughts include: Whitney’s robot has more followers that I do on Instagram, I have zero credibility next to that.

I’m following my gut, so please gut-check me back. If you are open to it, as a fellow-writer, I’d love to ask you questions about writing, publishing a book, etc. and it would be an honor to interview you in-person as someone I seemingly cannot get away from. I’m in MI, let’s make plans mid-November.

Sincerely,

Jenni Laplow

P.S. *“wild horses!” was a phrase said to me on my wedding day back in 2013, haha, I’ve never heard that one before, Grandma Carlisle….