I've never been good at being disciplined.For reals. All my life growing up I avoided doing anything bad so I didn't get in trouble. Obviously, humans are mistake-bots so I still did plenty wrong, but I always tried to not be a disappointment...to get corrected, not disciplined.
I don't know why it affects me that way. I don't know why discipline feels like the world has ended. I let someone down. I let them down so badly they have a finger in my face saying "bad girl."
What am I, a dog? A child? No one actually puts their finger in my face and says "bad girl, baaaaad girl." But that's what it feels like. It feels dehumanizing. Complete and utter failure.
Guess who felt like she was being disciplined yesterday and lost her cool? Yup, this girl.
It wasn't pretty. My coworker, who really didn't even do anything wrong, handled my complete loss of emotional stability rather well. He's married. The married guys tend to do better than the single ones.
The worst part was the chain reaction. I got upset because I felt like he was telling me I was bad at my job - baaad girl - (he wasn't) and then I got upset that I was upset. So instead of just saying "this right here is upsetting me," I tried to hold it in.
Which, of course, made it that much worse. Within seconds I'm hyperventilating like a two-year-old and hating myself. I had to process why, what, how, when all evening to figure out what had gone wrong and how to better approach it in the future.
And it will be better in the future. Because I've learned how to assess myself. Sure the episode wasn't great (horribly embarrassing), but I learned something about myself that I'd never addressed before - my hatred for discipline.
I never consciously thought about how I avoid it, how I fear it. I never considered why I am this way. I'm still, honestly, not sure. One thing that pops up in my head is a teacher berating me in front of the whole class for having bad handwriting.
Handwriting. Because that's a good reason to make an eleven-year-old girl feel like she's committed the worst crime in history.
If you do something wrong, you will be publicly shamed. Well that's a reason to avoid it.
And while I'm not a fan of what happened, I'm glad it gave me the chance to look inward and discover something new about myself.
So that's me, being painfully honest about being embarrassed and feeling stupid. Your turn. What is something that can set you off? What's the thing from your youth that is a "trigger" to emotional upheaval?
If you're brave enough to answer, comment below and let me know I'm not alone. If you'd rather keep it to yourself - more power to you, but I hope you'll consider it, and then consider why it impacts you that way.
Either way, let's take an opportunity to grow. Stretch out those feathers. Fly a little higher.
Thank you for listening, dear swan.
All my love,
Kelsey Introspective Swan
Defeat is ImminentYou know that song by Chumbawumba called "Tubthumping." One of the weirder things to come out of the 90s, but nevertheless, the chorus is my mantra this week.
"I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down."
Defeat is a part of life. Losing. Feeling like a loser. We all face it.
I have felt particularly defeated this week. I was so excited about book 3 - A Stolen Wish - and then Friday night had a total breakdown about it, sobbing because I was convinced I was a failure.
The next morning I was fitted for my costume for the play I'm in. I looked in the mirror and didn't see a swan. I didn't see an ugly duckling either. I saw Miss Trunchbull from Matilda.
It was bad.
The whole past week it's been like every time I get back up, someone trips me.
Fed up, I watched my step and whirled around to see who it was that kept pushing me down.
It was me.
It's almost always me.
Not once in the last week did anyone say anything to me that implied I was worthless, that I couldn't do what I was trying to do. When I spoke to a friend about my book, she was encouraging and helpful - so why was I so down? When I tried on my outfit, my cast mate and the seamstress were pleased with the look, so why did I find me so hideous?
All week, people have been as they often are - kind, a bit indifferent, or oblivious. None of them sought to pick on me or knock me down a peg.
So why am I knocking me down?
I think sometimes we are our own biggest obstacles. There's a fear that comes with risks, a fear of failure. So before we have the chance to fail, we stop ourselves from trying.
I may be a tiny part in this play, but that's not going to keep me from walking out in whatever outfit they put me in (strangely enough, I'll be getting a new outfit 2 days before opening night...now if I thought I was nervous before...).
I will write my books. I will write them regardless if I understand "story structure" or whether or not other writers will think I suck at what I do. I can't worry about what they think of me - but let's be honest, they aren't thinking about me. I'd bet they're too busy dealing with their own problems just like I am mine.
It's not any one else's job to make me feel good about myself. It's not even a job I can do on my own most of the time. I had to reach out and ask for help from the one who made me who I am. I had to remember my worth isn't in my looks or my writing, or even how "nice" or "good" I am every day.
My worth comes from being a daughter of the most high.
Sometimes we face defeat. We get knocked down. Often it's our own doing. But we don't have to stay there.
I found my reminder of who I am. I got back up. There's a saying "Fall down seven times, get up eight."
Defeat is a part of life, but it isn't a permanent placement.
If you're staring defeat in the face, remember who you are. You're a swan. A child of the Most High.
You are worth so much more than this defeat will make you feel.
You can do this. You can get back up. Trust me, I know from experience.
Reply to this email if you feel me on this - or if you need to express your own defeat and maybe hear a word of encouragement. I can't always fix the problem, but I can lend a hand to help you get your feet back under you.
Thanks for listening, my lovely flock. You make my life a thousand times better.
Kelsey Up Again Swan
Trolling the Trolls
We all face bullies - but being a public figure means they are all over the internet, hiding behind their screens, and you aren't allowed to engage.
Trolls aren't new - the internet bullies who live to be horrible to other people, using a keyboard because they're way to chicken to take people on face to face...
But a recent celebrity post and a story from a friend started me really thinking about what I can do to make a difference.
Here's the thing: as a published author, I'm a public figure. As a public figure, I'm not allowed to interact with my trolls or my author friend's trolls. It never works out for the public figure, who even if they're in the right, broke a big rule. Do. Not. Engage.
Negative book reviews are a part of life - hey, bring them on! Authors are always looking for reviews. But I've noticed on places like Goodreads that some reviewers, for the sake of wit, humor, and cleverness, will be downright cruel in regards to a story I know the author spent months working on. They don't consider the person behind the pages - or if they do, they're aiming to hurt the author for "wasting their time."
The author didn't force them to read the book, but they get the lashing nevertheless (I've had my own fair share).
The most frustrating part for me is knowing I can't defend my friends. It's not good for me to do as an author, and it would only hurt them as people would assume they put me up to it.
It's just not allowed.
Then I saw an article about Kelly Clarkson being "Mommy-shamed" because she gave her daughter a piece of toast with Nutella on it.
People FREAKED, calling her a horrible mother who must hate her daughter.
So I went to Instagram and checked out the post, and what I noticed made me think of my flock and what we could do to change the world.
There were mean comments, yes, but what I really noticed was how many of Kelly's fans and supporters backed her up. They showed her love.
They said "don't listen to the hate, Kelly. I love Nutella! Your daughter is beautiful!"
They let her know she wasn't alone.
And I thought...hey....we could do that.
Instead of engaging the troll like you might want to when you see them slinging hate or shame on someone you care about, let the person know you're with them.
Instead of fighting with someone on the internet (which never works out), ignore their comment, and spread the swanitude.
See a fat-shamer on your favorite Instagrammer's latest photo?
Let the Instagrammer know how beautiful he/she looks, and that you're with them.
See a Mommy-shamer on your favorite mom-blogger's website?
Tell that mama that she's doing a great job and her kids are so lucky to have her for a mom.
Do it for skinny-shaming, dad-shaming, racism, sexism - all of it. Put the positive out there to DROWN OUT the negative voice.
Love a book? Give it a positive review.
Hate a book? Review it, but remember there's a person behind those pages, and let the world know what you didn't like, but don't do it at the expense of the other person's dignity.
And if you see a mean post and actually agree with it? Well instead of jumping in and joining the Troll Parade, nod in agreement and move on. There's no need to fuel the hate.
Can we do this?
Can we band together and spread the love?
I think we can. I think the swans are just what this world needs to be reminded of something Disney's 2015 Cinderella taught us:
Have courage and be kind.
Be brave enough to say something, and let it be kindness as the result.
So - have you ever been the victim of an internet troll? Are you willing to join me in spreading a bit of love out in the world?
Reply to this email to let me know I'm not alone.
Keep being awesome, swans. I love you all ♥.
Kelsey Kindness Swan
It's strange to want to tell you "Happy Easter!" on Good Friday.
For those of you who don't believe as I do, Good Friday is a time to remember the cost that was paid on the cross. It's, obviously, followed by Easter, where we celebrate that death is not the end.
Thinking about Easter make me think about darkness and light, and how that story plays out over and over in our own lives.
Recently one of my coworkers lost his six week old son. It was horrible and tragic and unexpected. Through that darkness, they chose to find the light. It's not easy to do, but they managed it. They found the light in their son's perfection - in his beautiful life here on earth, and the love he brought into their lives and the lives of his older siblings.
They chose to look for the hope hiding in the overwhelming despair.
Because there's always hope.
Even when your world is crumbling - even when you don't think there could be anything good to come from something so horrible - there's hope.
If you're willing to find it.
Today I'm thinking about the most hopeless time in Mary's life - watching her son die. I'm thinking about the young men (no older than 18-20 ish) watching their Rabbi, their teacher and mentor, being led away. I'm thinking about how horrible it must have felt to know you were doing what you were asked to do, and yet watching the people who cheered for him, loved him, and followed him cry out in one loud voice:
Yet in only a few days' time, all that darkness was flipped on its head.
The war was won.
If you believe, then to you I say "He is Risen."
To all of you, I wish you a Happy Easter.
And if you're in the middle of a dark time, I promise you this.
There is hope.
Reach out if you feel me - or even if you don't and maybe want to know more. If there's any way I can serve you, please let me know.
All my love,
Kelsey Somber Swan
I recently (this last Tuesday) got semi-permanent makeup on my eyebrows. It's kind of like a tattoo, but it will only last 3-5 years.
But if I'm the effing swan, not the ugly duckling, shouldn't I be happy as I am and not NEED to change anything?
Yes and no.
I didn't NEED to change my eyebrows. I wanted to. Does it make me feel better about myself? Yes. Does it make me feel confident? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that?
Nope. Not in this case.
We all have things about us we'd like to change. I happen to have sparse, sad, straight little eyebrows that make my face look bald unless my trusty eyebrow pencil gives me a chance at expression. I had the power, the means, and the ability to change them.
So I did.
If I did my eyebrows in hopes that other people would find me more beautiful, or that men would be attracted to me, or because I was convinced that I was ugly without them...the procedure would have been all for naught.
I would have pretty eyebrows, but I just would have found something else to fuel my self-loathing and insecurity. If I can't love me just the way I am, then no amount of changing the outside is going to heal the inside.
Choose what you choose for you and not anyone else.
I didn't get my eyebrows done to make other people like me, or even to make me like me. I got them done because I wanted to. It saves me a chunk of my morning I used to have to spend on making my lame brows even.
I like me with or without them.
Look at yourself today and consciously pay attention to you and your well being. Do you like yourself? Do you look in the mirror and instantly start picking apart everything "wrong" with you?
Do you think things like "Well, when I finally __________ then I'll be pretty." or "If only I looked like ___________."
Those things come more from what's going on inside you than what you actually look like outside (Trust me, << Test First Name >>, you're gorgeous inside and out - you just need to believe it!).
When you look in the mirror and hear your inner voice thinking those nasty things...I want you to be bold and brave and do this exercise.
Look yourself right in the eye and say "I am beautiful."
Whatever version of that you need.
"I am beautiful."
"I am strong."
"I am unique."
"I am an effing swan - not an ugly duckling."
You tell yourself lies all the time - how about today you tell the truth.
Reply back to me if you're going to try this OR after you've done so. Let me know what you think of the process.
Remember that you are beautiful. You are strong. You are unique. You are loved.
Kelsey Strong Brow Swan
It's silly. I know it's silly. I mean I KNOW IT'S SILLY!
But still, every time someone unsubscribes from my mailing list, I have that moment of mourning for the loss.
"Goodbye. I'm sorry we weren't a good fit. I'll miss you!"
This week I lost four. FOUR! Now, the people just probably finally remembered they don't want to be a part of it and unsubscribed at the same time. But for me, I wonder...did I say something offensive in my last email? Am I boring?
And then that moment hits: Oh em gee, Kelsey, could you sound any more self-absorbed?? You unsubscribe from things all the time! Get over it!
And then I do. Because you're still here, and that is the best news ever! Truth is, my weekly emails aren't for everyone, and this week it was four people I actually KNOW and am friends with who ditched.
Know what that means?
It means I'm finally finding my tribe - my flock - the people who are all here for the same reason, because we believe we can make the world a better place by being loving and kind!
The people I know who subscribed to try and be a good friend don't need to be here anymore. They don't need to support me because no one else will.
Because, you know, *|FNAME|*, we now have each other!
And that's awesome.
Sometimes people in our lives have to leave in one way or another. Now, this way is just a silly email, but sometimes people leave in more permanent ways.
That sucks. But it happens.
A former friend of mine is having a concert tonight where his band is one of the opening bands for a bigger band in town. I'm not going, because we aren't connected anymore (and I'm not huge on concerts).
Last night I dreamed about a guy who broke my heart...which always has that foggy wake up moment where you go "huh, you're not in my world anymore."
Just the other night I got a text from my dad asking to get together - he hasn't asked to spend time with me in three months because he's been busy.
Our lives are constantly changing, shifting, growing, and sometimes people don't stay.
But hopefully we learn from that.
What I want you to walk away with is this: I will be here.
Even if you unsubscribe - sometimes we all need to - I'll be here.
If you're having an Ugly Duckling Syndrome day...I'll be here.
If you're reading this now and feeling alone. I'm here.
If people have left you and you're feeling low about it, or even if you're just feeling down, feel free to respond to this email. I'm here!
Heck, I'm here if you're having a fantastic day and just want to share some good news.
You can count on that.
The Swan Queen is totally in your corner.
All my love,
Kelsey Glued to this Spot Keating
You know that song where it says "I'm just going to keep calling your name until you come back home" that's on the radio all the time now?
Every time I Just think of this video.
My baby turns one today, so what better way to celebrate than starting a give away of the Audiobook version?
That's right! I have 25 US Audible codes and am awaiting the confirmation of 25 UK Audible codes to give away FO'FREE!
All I want from you in return:
Love yer guts
Truth be told, it's easy to feel average, boring, lame, loser, ugly, dumb. It's easy because it's negative, and it drags us down, and people will affirm it in us with the little things they say and do.
It's not easy to put your foot down (internally, but hey if you want to physically stomp your foot to remind yourself - do it!) and say "I am me. I am beautiful. I am fun. I am special."
It's not easy because, as the old saying goes, "Misery loves company." I just recently got back from a writer's conference (LTUE, it was UHMAYZEENG) and watched the 1999 movie "Drive Me Crazy" on the plane ride home.
The main character's BEST FRIEND does everything in her power to ruin her friend's happiness. Why? Because she's miserable, so she doesn't want her friend to be happy.
I would bet there are people like that in your life. People who, no matter how good things might be going, always seem to find something wrong with it. They're the people that, when you tell them something you're excited about, they get that pinched expression and point out the negative where things could go wrong.
(You totally know the types I'm talking about)
These are the people who are going to look at your dreams and poke holes in the rainbows. They're going to roll their eyes and say "Unicorns don't exist."
Fine. I'll be a caticorn.
"But caticorns don't exist either."
TELL THAT TO THIS ADORABLY ANNOYED CAT!
Now the caticorn metaphor is all in fun and maybe a bit broken, but at the end of the day, my point is to be you. When people stomp on your dreams, do an Irish step dance and boogie on out of their lives.
Ain't nobody got time for that kind of negativity.
Embrace your awesome. Be your unique.
Be a caticorn.
Be a dogicorn.
Be a unicorn.
I don't care. Just be you♥
Now I'm off to be me by dancing the Macarena all the way down to the county courthouse to get license plates for my car. TRY AND STOP ME!
Kelsey Caticorn Swan
Swanitude is about loving yourself, realizing you aren't the ugly duckling, and embracing who you were made to be - accepting yourself.
I've lately come under "fire" for swanitude, because - big surprise - it won't fix racism. I've been told that loving yourself, finding yourself beautiful, and embracing who you are won't stop people from hating you for being different from them.
I never said it did. It can't do that. Liking who you are won't always make other people see you for what you're worth (which is a lot, FYI. You're worth more than you could ever know).
The truth is, self-confidence is just that...SELF. Your confidence isn't for other people's benefit, though I do believe that having your own little buoyant light will rub off on others - they'll want to know what you know.
The people who have a problem with swanitude more or less tell me that self-confidence won't do anyone any good. Liking yourself isn't enough. It won't change your life.
I both agree and disagree.
Where I agree:
When it comes to racism and prejudice, liking yourself isn't enough. Why? Because someone hates you for something you have no control over. Therefore, regardless of whether or not you like you they will not like you.
A reversal on something that's been used a lot lately to discuss love: Hate is hate is hate is hate is hate.
Hatred is prevalent in every society. It's part of humanity. Why? Because we are broken beings. We're damaged. I don't buy the argument that people are inherently good. I think we have to STRIVE for goodness. We have to work hard to be kind, loving, upstanding people. We have to make hard choices based off of our morals.
Trust me, the easy way is the way of hate. It's easy to be mean, to care less, to belittle. It's much harder to say "This person doesn't agree with me/see the world the way I do. I should ask questions, listen, and find out why we're different and how we can partner together to make the world a better place."
So no, Swanitude won't fix racism or prejudice. If you're skin color is different or your religion is different, or even if your GENDER is different, you're going to come up against people who hate you for nothing more than that. How you feel about it is meaningless to them when it comes to how they feel about you.
Swanitude isn't a cure for that. Swanitude isn't going to make everyone see what's different about you is beautiful (though it is).
But it will make YOU see what's beautiful about you.
This is where I disagree:
Swanitude can still change your life. It may not change the world outside of you, the world around you, but it can change you.
Just because someone hates me for being a woman doesn't mean I should hate me for being a woman.
If someone thinks less of you because your skin color, religion, or preferences are different...it can seep into your own view of yourself. Lies aren't always hard to believe.
I've believed lies about my own worth for years, and it's still something I have to battle. The lies are convincing, and people who hate you for you who are WANT YOU to believe them.
That's where Swanitude can be life-changing.
I don't think it's fair for people to say that, just because you're different, liking yourself won't help you in your day to day life.
Having a strong sense of self helps me ward off hate. It doesn't change that they hate me, oh no, but it does give me a sort of inner song to keep fighting against hate. It reminds me that I don't have to lie down and take it.
Neither do you.
I don't know how you and I are different, and regardless of whether our skin color (religion, gender, life choice) is the same or different, I will never know what it's like to be you. You'll never know what it's like to be me. That's what's so fascinating about humanity - we're all so unique and different.
There will always be people who hate what's different from them. But that doesn't mean you have to believe what they say is true. Will you knowing you're a swan change their minds? Maybe for some, but for most...no.
But will it still do you good personally? Yes, I think so.
I don't think self-confidence belongs to one gender, race, or religion. That's what haters want you to believe - that you can't have it, because you aren't worth it. But it's not up to them. It's up to you.
My self-confidence mantra comes from knowing who God made me to be. That's mine. No one can take it from me unless I let them. It won't be the same for you. I can't give you my remedy, because we are not the same.
You have to find your own.
I want to help you in any way I can, but at the end of the day, it's up to you.
So maybe people don't think swanitude is worth anything. Maybe they hate me for suggesting we can change the world one swan at a time (more of us united together may not change their minds, but it will still have a positive impact). But I'm not making any claims to anything outside of learning to value who YOU are for YOURself.
This is about you.
You are beautiful. You are special. You are UNIQUE!
You exist because God thought the world needed one of you. I agree. Without you, things wouldn't be as wonderful. I believe that.
I hope you learn to believe that too - regardless of what the haters say.
I've never been a huge Taylor Swift fan - most of her music just isn't my style.
BUT THIS SONG IS MY SONG!
I have to listen to it after book releases when no one buys my book, and the people who do leave 1 star reviews.
I have to listen to it when people tell me I know nothing and my entire platform is a joke.
I have to listen to it when I have a bad day at work and feel bad about myself.
It's like balm to my soul.
(Plus I'm about as skilled a dancer as Ms. Swift herself, so I feel the lack of rhythm as a calling from my people((rhythmless but love to dance)))