About Me

I’m Takin’ a Chance, Folks!

| About Ali

I’ve been waiting for this week to come for a few months now. I’m scared out of my mind. I’m trying something new. Something that might blow up in my face. Or, I might discover something I truly enjoy and a way to bless other people, too. Sorry for being vague, but … what if it doesn’t work out? What if I hate it, or I’m no good at it? I really want to be good at it.

So. I’m taking a chance, folks. Taking a risk. And if you’re thinking about trying something new, too? Take my advice…

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Are You Addicted to Self-Pity?

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Hello, my name is Ali Cross and I’m addicted to self-pity.

I didn’t want to type that. Because I don’t sit around going “wah, feel sorry for me, I hurt,” or whatever. I don’t like complainers and I never want to be one myself. So it felt like a lie when I considered writing those words. Then I realized … it’s not a lie. Self-pity keeps me tethered to my house. It keeps me from doing the things I’d like to do because I’m afraid of the consequences. Because pushing myself too hard will cause pain (fibromyalgia) or fatigue (chronic fatigue syndrome.)

“Self-pity is just as addictive any other drug, but it’s harder to throw away something that doesn’t come in a bottle. I’ve learned the hard way that it can be pleasant to be a martyr, but if you can capture the vision of gratitude, that’s a far more life-affirming obsession.” ~ Jaclyn Holland-Strauss

I recently started a class offered through my local hospital called Living a Life with Chronic Health Conditions (a program designed by Stanford University, with a companion book of the same name.) It’s teaching me how to be okay with the limitations I have, but also how to get the most out of my life.

Self-pity is married to fear, I think, and the two of them can rob us of the life that’s ours for the living. I don’t want to live in fear anymore. I don’t want to let my life pass me by because I’ve got a few challenges. Sure, I need to adjust my expectations of what I can reasonably do, but just because I can’t climb mountains doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy the heck out of an afternoon walk along the river. Not being able to do everything shouldn’t excuse me from doing something.

I am grateful for the life I have. I want to be worthy of it, by treasuring every day and living my life to its fullest. Self-pity, be damned.

 

 

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Are You Taking Someone For Granted?

| About Ali, blog

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we take the people that matter for granted. Whole lives can be wasted while we let busyness and pride and even laziness rob us of the relationships that make life worthwhile.

I did that.

Sheri was my best friend. The best person I knew. But I moved a long ways away, and our lifestyles were different, and … meaningless excuses. I let her go.

Regret is a pointless emotion. It’s insidious and eats away at you, but it’s completely avoidable.

I decided I didn’t want to live with that regret anymore, so I sucked it up and wrote Sheri a letter. And because she’s the person she is, she forgave me, and welcomed me back into her heart and her life.

There’s room in our lives for all kinds of relationships. It was wrong of me to give up a friendship because it was no longer the same. Because I still need Sheri—she is special and unique and I am a better person when she’s in my life.

Everything is made better by the good people in our lives. Whether we see them every day or once a year, every relationship has value and should be treasured. Regret degrades you, but forgiveness can free you. I really encourage you to take stock of your relationships and make sure you aren’t missing anyone who should be there.

And if you are? Forgive them, or yourself, for what came before and welcome them back into your life.

Because it’s the people we share our lives with that make it worth living.

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Making the “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” Work For YOU

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I’ve often heard the self-fulfilling prophecy used in a negative context. Like, if you expect the worst of yourself or your future, then that’s what you’re going to get. Wikipedia says,

“A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.”

In the movie Creed, Rocky says your greatest opponent is yourself. And man, I’m super good at kicking my own butt! In fact, I’m so good, that I should be really proud. I mean, I don’t take “no” for an answer, I don’t ever give up, I’m relentless in my pursuit … of tearing myself down.

Well, forget that.

As I look forward to 2016, and what I want for myself, I plan on putting the self-fulfilling prophecy to work for me. Big time.

I’m going to paint a picture of the me I want to be, and I’m going to set myself up for success. Just like when I expect to fail, and I do, I’m going to expect to succeed–and I will.

When a person chooses to see the good in the world, that’s what they see. I find it easy to accept this, except when it comes to myself. Not anymore. The mind is a powerful thing and I am capable of believing in myself with such fervency that I can make my dreams my truth.

No longer will I assume that because things have gone badly for me in the past, or because of XYZ I deserve bad things. Now I pledge to believe that as a child of god, as a human being, I deserve good things. I deserve the best.

I can be the best–whatever I perceive that to be.

I do believe in the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe it has the power to crush me, or to lift me. I believe I can change the way I use it.

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

How will you change your life in 2016?

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You Have Always Been Chosen

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All my life I’ve wanted to be chosen.

I wanted my mom to love me best. My dad to choose me over his new wife, his new life.

I wanted to be a boy’s first pick, to fall in love at first sight (mutually!), to be a “cool kid”.

I wanted to be chosen for principle performer at the opera company, to be chosen for publication, to be chosen as an excellent blogger, author, singer, friend, wife, mother, person.

I feel like I’m still waiting on most of those things. Still trying. Still hoping.

And some days, maybe even most days, I feel like I’ll never get there–I’ll never be chosen because that would be too easy. My life isn’t meant to be easy, I think. No one’s life is–no matter how it looks from the outside.

Recently I read this quote by a leader in my church:

You don’t need an invitation before you start moving in the direction of your righteous goals. You don’t need to wait for permission to become the person you were designed to be. We can sometimes waste years of our lives waiting to be chosen. But that is a false premise. You are already chosen!
–Dieter F. Uchtdorf

And you know? I am moving in the direction of my goals. I’m not letting the challenges of my life keep me from pushing on, fighting through. But I still hadn’t clued in to the Magic Words.

I am already chosen.

Those words are magical to me, like charms sprinkled from a Fairy Godmother. I may not have those worldly recognitions, those framed certificates or neon lights that tell the world ALI IS CHOSEN … but I know who I am. I know God loves me. My husband loves me. My children love me. Strangely, miraculously, I think they would choose me, if given the choice. And even if it wasn’t love at first sight between David and I, it was pretty darn close. I would choose him again, too. Over and over again.

Life is hard, yes. We don’t get what we want–often. But none of us have to wait for the magic to happen to us or for us. WE are magic. We can choose happiness all on our own, regardless of the world around us. God loves us. HE has chosen us–and He’s the only one that matters.

I hope you find hope and happiness in your life. And even if someone/some place hasn’t chosen you, hasn’t offered you the opportunities you need …. don’t give up and remember …. you’re not alone.

 

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Being a Boy in the InstaShame World

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I remember when “girl power” became a thing. I think it was in the ’80’s … or at least that’s when I became aware of it. I think it was important and necessary. I think that we, as humans, had labored under the irrational assumption that males were superior to females and that prejudice was magnified in schools and the workforce–even at home.

But it surprises me when today I see commercials on TV, or see on Facebook, that many people believe that battle is still being fought. That females are still not equal to males. Because I’m a woman and I thought all was well. Then again, I am naive and pretty much always have been. I could have starred in that movie Pollyanna. I could be Pollyanna.

It could also be because I am the mother to sons and I think they are the ones who are suffering in today’s social culture.

There are so many aspects I could talk about here. So, so many. Boys’ “hyper” activity. Boys being naughty. Boys being DUMBER (yes, I think the trend is now that boys are often treated as less intelligent than girls–the opposite of what it once was).

Boys objectifying girls.

Remember when it was men who were responsible for pornography? The whole erotic entertainment industry was built on taking advantage of women’s beauty and their need to feel attractive. Boys and men who consumed such media were considered to be perpetuating the problem.

But let me tell you what it’s like today. Girls, starting so young I can barely guess their age, pose in front of the camera in poses that Marilyn Monroe would have been too ashamed to strike. And then they post the pictures on Instagram. Old and young, their pictures are there. And it’s not men coercing them into taking the pictures, it’s not men publishing the media. This is girls and women doing this themselves, for themselves.

And boys, men, see it all.

The girls put it there, and the boys see it. Who has the power then?

As a mom of boys, my perspective might be a little different. Because I think the tables are turned and while “girl power” is playing  loud and clear from the sound system of social media, my boys no longer have a clear, unobstructed path to becoming the sort of men women want them to be.

What a twisted web we weave … eh?

 

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On Becoming a Mother by Tracey Segarra

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Years ago, my husband and I wanted to have a baby, but it seemed it wasn’t meant to be. Over ten years, intermixed with periods of infertility, we suffered seven miscarriages. We finally did in vitro fertilization and I found a “Trying to Get Pregnant” message board on iVillage (back when the internet was a toddler).

The board was so helpful and supportive and really was such a great resource to me. I stayed on the boards there at iVillage through my IFV treatment, pregnancy, and onto a board for moms of twins (because yes, I had twins!).

That’s where I met Tracey. She’s a fierce, intelligent New Yorker with a heart as big as the whole state. I always knew she liked to write, but when I heard she was going to do a Moth Storytelling in New York, I was surprised and proud. It’s one thing to write your story down on paper–another thing altogether to stand and tell it aloud to strangers.

Tracey had such a positive experience, though, that she’s now working toward writing and telling more of her stories–and the important stories others share with her. I hope you’ll watch and listen to her story, then friend her on Facebook, or send her a tweet and let her know you found her here! I’m sure you won’t want to miss watching her grow!

Do you have a story you’ve been wanting to share?

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Silence: A Long Lost Commodity

| About Ali

I remember the days when I couldn’t get a friend on the phone, there was nothing on TV, and nothing … absolutely nothing … to do.

I didn’t have a computer, an iPod or Cable TV.

I had books, pen and paper, a field out back and an imagination.

I had silence. Lots and lots of silence.

Interesting things happened during the silence. I wrote poetry, trained my dog, trained my body, did a lot of thinking, read a lot of books. I went for rides with my mom, went on errands with her … there was nothing else to do, afterall.

While I wished I could reach a friend on the phone, or that there was something on TV, all that silent time helped make me who I am today.

Things are so different now. There isn’t any silent time, down time, boring time. Every moment there’s media streaming into our brains. Into my kids’ brains. They’re listening to music, watching videos, playing video games, texting. It’s all information all the time.

When life is like that, of course they don’t want to do other stuff. They don’t want to go for rides or run errands or read scriptures or practice the piano. There are so many better things to do! I worry that my boys won’t develop all the talents they could, that they’re missing out on experiencing what silence feels like–and how it can be a good thing.

This week we’re taking a family vacation–a tech-free vacay. I’m so looking forward to it! *I* need some silent time. Because even I have a hard time giving myself silence. I sleep to a noise machine, get ready to music, listen to audiobooks when I’m doing housework or driving, watch TV when I’m relaxing, listen to music when I work. Where’s the silence!!??

If all that’s in our heads is noise, when can we receive inspiration? Revelation? I’m looking to my little vacation to kickstart a new habit … the habit of silence. Silence is a commodity I am in sore need of acquiring, for myself and for my family.

Do you seek silence every day? How successful are you?

**Book Recommendation!**
If you loved the Desolation Trilogy, then check out Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series. I just finished reading it and it’s got a lot of the same themes as Desolation and a similar style. If you read it (before or now/later), let me know what you thought!

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What’s Coming Up in June!

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Hey guys! Things are gonna be a little different around here for the month of June. I’m part of the Magic of Solstice Fantasy Writer’s Tour, so all month long you’ll get to meet a dozen new authors and learn more about their works. Hopefully, you’ll discover a new favorite book (and author!) to love!

And maybe it’s not a bad idea to give a little update on me once a month, eh? What I’m working on, what’s going on?

ALI_update

I’m actually writing again! Banzai! I’m revising Land Magic, a middle grade steampunk fantasy. Super excited! I have loved this book more than any other and for a while I thought I could never finish it up but … I’m baa-aack! And loving it once again. 🙂

I also have a Super Sekret Desolation Plan! OH PEOPLE. If you’re a Desi fan, I truly hope you will love this, and if you’ve never read Desi before … I hope this new SOMETHING will entice you to do just that! I want to fill the world with Desi Love!

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my work for David Farland. Oh? I didn’t tell you? Yeah, since December I’ve been working for international bestseller, David Farland (Dave Wolverton) as his assistant. I love it! Dave is amazing to work for and I am learning a lot from him.

My boys finish up grade nine this week and will be free for summer break! In the fall they start high school properly when they actually get to attend the high school for grade ten. They’re excited and I’m excited for them! I hope to help them redo their bedrooms this summer. They’re so tall–they need bigger beds. And, ya know, they still have stars-and-moons knobs on their dressers so it’s way past time to get them a proper teenager bedroom.

And that’s it! That’s the basic gist of what’s going on in my life these days. So watch for the authors coming up in the next few weeks, and settle in for summer!

What’s your update? I’d love to hear it!

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The Curse of Mother’s Day

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Every year around Mother’s Day I hear so many of my friends say how much they hate the celebration. Between the flowers and cards and breakfasts in bed mother’s feel like a giant spotlight is focused on all their shortcomings.

This makes me so, so sad. Motherhood is glorious, blessed and yes … the most important thing we’ll ever do. But that doesn’t mean we’re expected to be perfect. The calling is perfect, but we don’t have to be.

My mom was the furthest thing from perfect. She was a single mom, working hard, suffering from some illnesses that eventually killed her. She was often too tired for me, needy of men to love and care for her, smoked way too much and fell asleep at the drop of a hat. And I loved her with all my heart. I still miss her, still wish she’d been able to meet my children, still wish she could be a part of my life.

Remember that story about the lost little boy looking for his mother, who, when asked, insists his mother is the most beautiful woman in the world? And yet when Good Samaritans try to help, no one can find his mother. The reason? They are all looking for the perfect, beautiful mother–when in reality, the child’s mother turns out to be a homely, poor pauper woman begging on the street. She was the lowliest of the low and yet to her child, she was the most lovely, perfect mother.

That’s what we are to our children. None of us are perfect! But it is a wonderful, beautiful thing that our husbands and children want to celebrate us. Next year, I hope you’ll consider setting aside your self-judgement and just let your family love you. Take a deep breath and be happy in the moment.

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” (Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm)

 

 

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