Monday, August 20, 2018

#WriterRevelations Reflection: Just Call Me The Comeback Kid (Six years after my near-death experience)

So, you all know that I usually share blog posts on Wednesdays but today I am celebrating six years of being alive.

For those new to my blog or my platform, I know you need a little backstory to get what I mean.



Six years ago, today I was released from the hospital after a long battle with thyroid issues that ended in a near-death experience:


  • August 11, 2012 (One week after turning 21) I was taken to the hospital because I couldn't breathe. It actually felt like there was an elephant on my chest.
  • August 12-14, 2012 The doctor who caused the thyroid storm covered up her medical negligence by having them diagnose me with bird flu and putting me on some of the harshest antibiotics out there all while still struggling to breath (I was actually on 15 liters of oxygen and still barely absorbing oxygen).
  • August 15, 2012 I went under the knife for a triple lung biopsy surgery that also resulted them in them leaving a drainage tube in my side to drain the fluid that had collected in my lungs.
  • August 16, 2012-August 19, 2012 I was in recovery and had to have someone rebandage the stitches in my back once a day. I was finally beginning to return to normal twenty one year old health despite the fact that my thyroid was still sick.
  • August 20,2012 I received clearance from all my doctors that I could be released from the hospital but had to be on bed rest for two weeks before returning to school.
When I think back to this ordeal, I am amazed that I lived. Some really hard days have me wondering why I was saved in the hospital, or what purpose God had in all of it.


So before I get to the climatic conclusion, let me share some truths that God has revealed to me lately.



1. It's OKAY to have an off day if you realize that a BAD DAY DOESN'T EQUAL A BAD LIFE.

2. It's OKAY to give yourself more GRACE.

3. It's OKAY to NOT GET IT ALL ACHIEVED BY A CERTAIN DATE OR AGE.

4. It's OKAY to LET SOMEONE GO if you are the only one putting in all the effort.

5. It's OKAY to BE UNFILTERED.

6. It's OKAY to ask for help.

7. It's OKAY to be different, weird, outlandish, original, YOU-niquely yourself & not apologize.

8. It's OKAY to cast your cares on the one who paid the ultimate price for YOU, and who CARES WHAT HAPPENS to you.

9. It's OKAY to choose forgiveness when someone unnecessarily insults or belittles you. 

10. It's OKAY to not always understand or have it all together or even know how it will all work out but trusting the creator and author of life, believing ALL THINGS will work out for the BEST. 

Maybe this was the entire reason I am still here with a heart that beats, breath in my lungs, and a tough fighter spirit, maybe God wanted YOU to see this.

If so, I invite you to read an excerpt from my forthcoming memoir One Last Breath which is available for download here. 

Until next time, remember: 

In Christ-Like Love and Confidence,

Chelsea
xoxo
God Bless!







Thursday, July 26, 2018

#WriterRevelations: He Holds It All by @ChelseaDeVries



This post has been in the works for a while but I made the decision to discontinue my books with Outskirts Press.

That is why, you may or may not have noticed that I took away the link to my books on Goodreads

but guess what?

Goodreads will forever keep the books and all the bad reviews on the site forever.

I guess I can never technically erase my poor reviews and equally unfair one-star reviewer.

Yet, when I decided to discontinue them, it wasn't because the one-star reviewer had won but it was because I wanted to rid myself of that ball and chain.

Outskirts Press ripped me off from the start. They did little to help me market my books, and because I owed them money for the yearly fee, they kept my last royalty check.

So basically when I wrote them a final email asking how I could cancel the contracts for both books, they were a little taken aback but they discontinued them. Twitter erupted with panic and comfort from author friends new and old, but I reassured them I was totally ok with this decision.

In fact to be completely honest, I felt more free in that moment than I had in a while.

I want to be known as a YA author whose books were well-liked and accepted so I will anxiously see what God has in store for me and the future home of Kickflip My Heart in the meantime.

Yet, if an agent or publisher does not reach out for a full manuscript request or begin the process of publishing the novel by December 10, 2018, I will be moving toward publishing with a publishing house that welcomed me from the get-go, and even offered to publish my memoir once I get copyright permission for all included song lyrics.

Yet, I can't forget The Lovely Review done by McKenzie:






Yet, I penned an essay about being One-Star reviewed for a contest for The Writer Magazine and unfortunately did not win but still think it's worthy to share:

     Being that I’m a go-getter who believes anyone can do anything at any age and they don’t have to wait for the right time or circumstance to achieve something, I published my first novel at 15 years of age. It all came about when my creative writing teacher in high school always made it a point to let everyone know in the class who her favorite was: not me. And even worse, she always gave me B minuses and C’s on all my writing assignments.
At fourteen, I took a chance and submitted a poem I was proud of to a student anthology and got accepted. This momentum made me enjoy the glory of seeing my name in print and made me realize my love for the written word came less from my love of reading but an almost innate heart of a writer.
Yet, you will know you are a writer when you know how to embrace rejection because it will be a common obstacle on this path. If you have always been accepted by your peers and never done anything truly awkward or weird or like me to blatantly stand out, then you are not yet a writer. Not everyone is a writer but that’s okay. Writers are only as good as the encouragement they get from their readers. 
My teacher who already made me feel second best assigned us a short story and what resulted for me was this idea for a young adult romance set in Walt Disney World featuring a half-Latina lead female character named Jessica Cortez, who happens to be a famous actress, deciding to take a Disney vacation to escape the hastiness of Hollywood to pursue love full-time by inviting three male suitors. These include her teenage celebrity crush Jeremy Koeingzfield, her high school crush that got away, Pete Young, who is now a male model, and her first love, sexy thrasher Bryan Snyder. It starts out bachelorette-style where she dates the guys in groups and then goes on one on ones but we all know what they say: three is a crowd. In a rebellious move, I self-published the book with a vanity press when self-publishing was still completely taboo.

To read the rest of the essay, please feel free to download a complete copy by clicking the image below.




So far I've cut my hours at work and it has allowed me to focus on God's purpose or calling outside of writing, and that is The Smart Cookie Philes.

You can benefit both The Smart Cookie Philes and Bess The Book Bus with a purchase from the new merch shop.

 Shirts with this design will always and forever benefit Bess The Book Bus.
They start at $21.

For more on Bess The Book Bus, find out more here.

Buy One Here or to the right via The Smart Cookie Philes link.
 Mugs with this design allow you to ESPRESSO YOURSELF literally while reading the newest review or watching the next Booktube installment fully benefitting the maintenance and content of The Smart Cookie Philes.

They start at $15.

To find out more about The Smart Cookie Philes, view this page and video here.





This sticker design starts at $6 and you can make all your notebooks look SMART from the start of the school year and beyond. 

Click The Graphic below to shop SMART.


So I am trusting that either the Smart Cookie keeps growing or I find a better opportunity doing something I love and not feeling frustrated because my job feels like empty time and just a paycheck.

Yet, I know God's got my back regardless of what comes next. And in the meantime, I can find strength in the wholeness of his all-encompassing grace.

So I must stop looking at the circumstances in front of me, the wind and the crashing waves, and realize that my Lord is calling me to walk on the water amidst the storm, and asking me to step out in faith.



After all, we walk by faith and not by sight.

Until next time, remember this insightful revelation from Dr. Charles Stanley:


In Christ-Like Confidence and Love,

Chelsea
xoxo




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#WriterRevelations: We are all Works in Progress

Fresh off the high of finding out I made Employee of The Month at my job, I seriously felt like my life was riding a never-ending high. Yet, what goes up must come down, and down I did.

Prior to finding out I was Employee of The Month at a job only 90 days ago, I didn't think I was even qualified for, I started to notice that people kept bringing up the fact that I work as a hostess and making it sound sour and insanely bitter, like they had just sat in a corner sucking on lemon peels.

First, my dad brought up that I can't live on my own on the salary I have now, and how am I ever going to move out?

Then, I hung out with friends from college early last month, and they all asked why I was working as a hostess when I have a college degree, as if working as a hostess was something that should be beneath me because based on the tone of that question, it was definitely beneath them.

Recently, I was at work when a co-worker who knows I am educated and have a degree in marketing asked if I was still working on getting another job within my qualified industry because as they said, "just to keep your experience going."

Although each one of these people meant well, I felt like yelling, SCREW ALL OF YOU at them when they had the audacity to question my life choices.



Yet, really, why is it anybody's concern why I am doing the job I do now. It is a job; not my livelihood.

And as I go to work each shift, I realize that although the company may have hired me because they needed me, I needed this job even more so.

It is helping me in ways I never realized I had become setback on, and it is more of stepping stone toward my greater destiny than any internship I've done or any work within my field I may do.

And I suddenly seen this with extremely clear eyes.

Until this weekend when I came down with the flu, and my world was at a standstill because all that mattered was whether I could keep food down.



I called out of work on Saturday morning and upon hanging up with my boss, I broke down crying. I felt like I had to apologize for my frailty and lack of good health. The same thing happened on Sunday, and again on Monday afternoon, when I was due back to work Tuesday morning.

I felt guilty for missing out on money, being there for my team during the weekend rush, and putting my manager into a short-staff predicament with little advance notice.

I firmly believe that things happen because they cause you to slow down at look at your overall life. And one thing was sure, I'd been working nearly 30 hours a week with little to no rest.

Because I convince myself that I must keep doing things in order to prove my worth.

Yet, I forgot something my near-death experience at twenty-one years of age taught me:

Health is Life's Greatest Wealth, and you should pity the fool that works himself to exhaustion and takes that for granted.

So getting the flu taught me once more that even God rested from his work when he created the universe which means having a day where I do nothing but put my feet up and laugh at jokes on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is not only okay but God gives it a thumbs-up.

And returning to the nosy people not minding there own business about my life choices, I realized that my livelihood has the perfect metaphor to put that nonsense to rest, too.

I sat down to re-write Dream Girl and Jessica's Choice, I only did it because of some hater from college who ruined my goodreads page and tried to make my worth as a writer equal to one star.

I had no idea where the story would go, as at first, I was just sprucing up the original book, until I quit asking for approval from people about the story, and decided I was going to sit down with my Lord, and write a story he would be proud of.

Yet, while the story was being written, I would put finished chapters up on Inkitt because I thought they would publish it. They never even offered me anything but having it on the site did help me see that what I was writing was working for the people I consider my original audience: the people that enjoyed the original premise of Dream Girl and Jessica's Choice BUT who wanted to see what a new version would read like ten years later.

The results became the finished version of Kickflip My Heart I have now, and although I've been told by various people to change this or that about how the story reads, the finished product reads as I always imagined the story should, and I'm leaving it the way it is. (Although, I had to make the theme park completely fictional because Disney is not allowing me permission to use their intellectual property as a setting for my completely fictional novel that was meant as a love note to everything Disney, and that's ok. It gave me yet another challenge to overcome with my novel, and allowed for further creativity on my part).




He allows us to develop and grow in a way he can step in when needed but without taking away our freedom. For example, if I want God's help, I have to pray and surrender whatever situation or person I want help with. He just won't play with my life like I'm a puppet and he's the puppeteer because that goes against his very nature. He is love, and love allows you to be completely yourself even if it's not entirely what the other person expected or anticipated.

Yet, we are God's created beings so in terms of him, we are no surprise to him EVER.

Me getting the flu? He saw it coming but he was there in the midst of it, healing my body and showing me what RESTING in him looks like.

Me feeling guilty about calling out of work, losing money, and not doing anything except binge watch tv, sip water, not eat, and then eat gradually does not mean the world will stop spinning on it's axis because I can't tweet, I can't read those books I am scheduled to review, or my company will fire me because I was sick.

With all this fully in perspective, I found out I lost five pounds.

Each of those pounds represents symbolically the five days a week I am scheduled, outside of those, I must take one of my few days off, to watch tv the entire day, and be unapologetic for it.

It's vital to be a better person, employee, and a smarter cookie, and above everything else, it is my GREAT PHYSICIAN's orders.

So next time my to-do list seems impossibly long and I debate whether to keep checking stuff off, or put it aside to sit down and rest, I will remember this mature thought:



So go ahead, call out of work if the day calls for it, and don't apologize for it, this is your one life and you are being worked out and developed for a greater purpose, and rest is required to complete that greater purpose.

Until next time, remember:


In Christ-Like Love and Confidence,

Chelsea
xoxo


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Katrina turns 10







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m17UuzhDEgc For a funny blooper, make sure to click that link to a five second clip of Katrina's precious smile!



God Bless and so much love,



Chelsea

xoxo


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#WritersRecap: Tampa Pro 2018 was drippin' in finnesse


For some people, they feel at peace in a church. For other people, they feel at peace in a hot tub. Me? I am one of those weird people that feels most at peace at a skatepark.



My love of skateboarding began in 2005. Most of you all know that story or remnants of it so I won't share it again for fear of repeating myself. #LongStoryShort: Skateboarding is music to my ears, and it's the muse to my artistry as a writer. For as long as I've been a writer, skateboarding has always appealed to that part of me, the creative part that society labels as outlandish, peculiar, an outsider of sorts.

Yet when I am at a skatepark I meet other people just like me: skateboarders.

They skate to their own rhythm and aren't afraid to break the rules. They even defy gravity in the meantime. Yet, this was no ordinary weekend at the skatepark. This is Tampa Pro weekend. The biggest pro contest for the east coast that is what the X-Games used to be for Los Angeles (This year, they debut in Minneapolis so that should be rad. I am just equally stoked for skateboarding to finally be in the Olympics in 2020.)

So my friend and I got our Weekend Passes and headed out to one of my favorite local skateparks: the Skatepark of Tampa or SPOT.



We arrived drippin' in finesse and ready to obsess over all the ollies, heel flips, and board slides.


And yes, I have purple hair!
Right away, my friend and I got our wristbands and we were so totally stoked, man.

 Then, my friend realized she really had to pee.

So naturally because I haven't been to Tampa Pro or SPOT since 2013 I only remembered the outside bathrooms so I pointed them out to my friend and she shut the door just as a skateboarder was heading to go in himself.

I was looking down at my phone out of habit when I hear a male voice ask me, "Hey are you in line?" I look up to realize the person who asked me is none other than pro skateboarder and past Tampa Pro winner, Luan Olivera.

Figuring the line for the bathroom wasn't the right lighting for a selfie, I just said, "No," and left him alone.

In my head, I was totally tripping the freak out!

Then, we went to watch the open practice. I spotted many of my faves and some new dudes I never saw before. Yet, this one guy looked like a young Kane Sheckler to me and I felt this sense that he was going to win by the end of the weekend.

My friend and I watched the dudes practice for 45 minutes before we headed out. We decided to walk through the shop so my friend could look around. As we were looking around, I happened to look toward the door, as a rather tall older dude was walking in wearing a hoodie and dark jeans. 

I gasped as we made eye contact.

The dude who just walked in to SPOT was none other than Chris Cole.

Someone I never saw in person yet in the near 13 years I've been an avid supporter of the sport and those who participate in it.

Then, he walked nonchalantly carrying his board in hand.

And this was only day one out of three.


Day 2 was equally as rad except my friend and I didn't stay for the entire qualifiers so I didn't get to get a selfie with Leticia Bufoni. Yet, it was no surprise that Manny Santiago got Top 2 alongside Yuto because he was on fire for both of his runs. We came back later for the night life portion of the day and it was totally cool to see how the skatepark looked at night.

Day 2 included me making a joke that I found Ryan Sheckler there but really it was just his signed deck in the Boards For Bros display. 


The finals started on Sunday right on time. Yet, we arrived late. Thankfully, after a little while of watching it on the big screen in the back area near the pool, we found seating right outside the warehouse in the area that used to be the picnic table area (at old school Tampa Pros 06-13 prior to it becoming part of the Street League Skateboarding program). 

Here we are sipping our After Sesh Lager and watching the finals. Yet, I got a little bummed that I barely saw any of the skaters just hanging out on the courtyard. I mean, did you even really go to Tampa Pro if you didn't get a pic with a pro skater?

Next thing I knew Jagger Eaton put down a sick run straight out of the gate, and by the time all other 11 dudes went, he was the champ on top. He was officially declared the winner.


So naturally, I happened to see him and asked him for a picture and told him "Congratulations!"
Dang, the young Kane Sheckler walked out of Tampa, FL $75,000 richer. And what's even cooler is like a Sheckler, he's not even 18 and already smashing records. (He's just a Sheckler look-a-like but still).

After I took a picture with the champ Jagger, I turned around to see one of the dopest dudes in skateboarding coming down off the ramp. And I wanted to cop one of his custom made Grizzly shirts but by the time I tried to get one they were already gone.

Yes, I am referring to Mr. life of the party, Torey Pudwill.

No selfie with TPuds? Tampa Pro didn't happen.

Of course, my family gave me a small list of who they hoped I would get a photo of or with:

I didn't get to meet my sister's crush Curren Capples but I did get a photo with a young Japanese Chris Cole, my mom's favorite: Yuto Hurogome.


I did miss seeing the OGs like P-Rod, Sheckler, and Chaz Ortiz but Tampa Pro weekend was officially a success. And I left happier than my dogs whenever I ask them if they want to go on a walk.

Until next year, Tampa Pro. It was a real freaking pleasure! And who knows maybe next year, my book Kickflip My Heart will be out and I can promote it while I'm there. A writer can only dream, right? :D



As I was sitting down to write this post, I happened to fall down one of those rabbit holes on Instagram where it keeps taking you to look at content similar to other photos you've liked and I happened to see a familiar face of a snapshot featuring Nyjah Houston. Wouldn't be the first time I was caught in the background as a true fangirl of skateboarding. Naturally, I am smiling from ear to ear and look at peace. 


As you can see, skateboarding will always Kickflip My Heart every single time.






Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#WriterWednesday I Entered A Contest and Lost but It was Cathartic Anyway


I recently entered a writing contest to try to win $500 for my #WorstDateStory.

I lost but found the overall story came out of me like leftover sweat following a good gym session.

Without further ado, you can read the story by clicking the picture below:

 https://humans.media/myworstdatestory-1

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

#WriterRevelations: Adopting a Servant's Mentality


My dear friends, I do hope this post finds you happy and healthy nearly three months into 2018....this new year has been treating me well thus far. Without further ado, it's time I share something new I've learned.

As you all know from the last time I wrote a post, I got a new job. It's such a blessing and I am very grateful to have it but when I first started it, I don't know if it was from the autonomy of my writing/freelance writing career but I was a bit arrogant and self-absorbed when I started my job.

It was something I realized because as soon as the holidays were over, I really took a step back and suddenly felt like the same girl who was insecure and inadequate in the fourth grade who's legs were literally shaking delivering my yearly Tropicana Speech (in Florida grade schools, they require you to give a speech in grades 3-6 in order for you to learn the art of public speaking and speech writing). I was overcome with this intense feeling of "I Can't Do This" and just an overall theme of wanting to quit.

Am I proud of it? Absolutely not. I mean as a writer, I've always felt like I could adapt quickly because I pretend I'm just taking on a role of a new character for a novel, and I'm living their story. Right now that role requires a job of working as a hostess in one of America's most popular breakfast based restaurants.

Once I was overcome with all these feelings, I sought God with my shaky hands and weak knees.

He reminded me that he gives out assignments not based on qualification but as part of the overall process of refining us for our great God-given purpose. It was then that I realized that this job was not about me at all. That I was playing a role and I was working out someone else's story.

God called me there to that particular restaurant at this particular time because he wanted me to light up the dark corners of it until it shown brightly with his glory, honor, and favor.

He would provide the grace and the strength but I would have to trust that he would be doing the job each shift.

So each shift, I pray the night before work: God, give me your favor, your grace, and your strength to not only get through this shift but let them see you in me.


I mean, it's nice to have a small paycheck but for the most part, I just remember as long as that name badge is displayed above my shirt pocket, my name is no longer Chelsea but Jesus. It is him in me I want to showcase. He lifts the high chairs, he helps the servers bus their tables, he speaks kindly with an irritated customer, he takes the to-go orders.

Yet, sometimes, I forget that I am Jesus for those 6 hours and I get in my own head. For example, this past Sunday. A server I work with came in and spoke unkindly about me to the manager and I heard what they said. I got in my head and got upset because I was thinking with my flesh instead of the spirit, and I thought, How dare they say that about me? Do they know who I am? Then, I mentally checked off a list of why what they said wasn't true. I even started saying something to another server but like the good-hearted person she is, she talked me down and said, "Don't worry about it. I'm sure that's not what they meant."

And just like that, I saw her face but I felt Jesus speaking to me with her words. And I remembered his famous last words hanging from the cross, his body nearly giving up life, and blood dripping from his thorn-crowned head, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

And I remembered who I work for. Not my manager. Not the company. I am there as a servant of Jesus Christ. And it is him this world desperately needs. And I got myself together, and ended up having a very hell-bent shift but I grinned and bared it. Why? Because Jesus was there with me. 


And the best part was, I was going to clock out 30 minutes early and just as I was heading over to the computer to do so, a little old lady came in to place a to-go order so I had to take it. Yet, she was the sweetest. And she ended up giving me a tip so I felt as though God ended my shift on a positive note despite the persecution I faced early on.



And I take my days off to do the things that make me happy, with the knowledge that I showed up for the assignment the Lord Jesus gave me. As for the hard work of the shift, that's all him. I am owed no credit. Anytime the servers or my manager tells me I did a great job, I just smile and thank them, then look up and whisper, Thank you Jesus.

Lastly, this was my unconventional Valentine's Day post about how God's love can empower you to do anything even when you are dead set on thinking you cannot. And, an even better reminder of the truest nature of love is that it is unconditional, quick to forgive, and is always ready to lay down it's life for the sake of his or her friends.

Yet, one thing I'm embracing this Valentine's Day is how much I've learned to love myself by seeing myself through God's eyes and thanking him for all forms of love in my life even though romance still hasn't happened yet. (I still believe it will. With God, ALL THINGS are possible!)

And my own picture inspired the following micropoem I wrote. I call it Angel In Red.







God asked me to write this post with that in mind, to remind you that he loves you enough to give you the ability to overcome the obstacles, the challenges, the persecution, the hateful comments, the mundane parts of life, and allow his love to make the world around you to become vibrant with his beautiful lovingkindness and relentless mercy.

Until next time, remember:


With Christ-Like Love and Confidence, 

Chelsea 
xoxo

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