Blogging, Written Essays

The Versatile Blogger Award

“The Versatile Blogger Award is an award by bloggers to fellow bloggers for their unique content.”

Thank you, Chocoviv (https://chocoviv.home.blog/2019/08/29/the-versatile-blogger-award/) for your nomination in this award. I feel honored that you’d include me.

She is a #beautyblogger #foodie #fashion #lifestyleblogger #mommyblogger #travel #freelancewriter who writes everything from lifestyle blogs to reviews. Check her out at both her Twitter and blog and give her all your love and support.

Rules of the Versatile Award

1. Write a post about your nomination and display the logo on your site. Thank the person who nominated you on your post and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write seven facts about yourself.

3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

So, let’s get into it!

 7 Facts about Dogwood Dreamer/Sarah N. Ham

Fact 1: I’ve Written 20 Novels, 6 which are now published

I’ve wanted to be an author since the age of 10 when we had an author presenter at our school. After hearing this man talk about all the struggle and hard work he had to go through to become a published author, somehow that translated into my 10-year-old brain, I wanna do that, too. Go figure… but I wouldn’t change it for the world, because writing has given me an escape and comfort in both good times and bad. I think it’s one of the strengths God has given me, and I’ll always enjoy it, regardless if I’m ever a best-seller or not.

Fact 2: I am a Christian

This is something I will never hide. I am a Christian and will always love and be thankful of my God and Savior because I never deserved such grace, but He still gave it to me. I thank Him for every day of breath and all the blessings He has given me.

Fact 3: I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

This is just a fancy way of saying I have split personalities. Currently, I’ve only dealt with the last one in recent years, Nikki, but at one time I had two others, Xena and Rin. I don’t have to rely on them as much as before, but when I first learned about them in middle school, they were coming out anywhere from daily to hourly. I used to be scared of them, thinking I was a freak, but now, I am strong in it and know that everything is going to be okay.

Fact 4: I’m a Thrifty Money-Conscious Gal

I don’t like to spend more than I have to on anything. My prom dress was $1.00 from a thrift store, my wedding dress was $150 from eBay. I made my own veils, my bridesmaids’ jewelry and hair accessories, the wedding decor, and more. My whole wedding I planned in California for less than $10,000 including the honeymoon will 100 guests. I just want to be a good steward with the money God has blessed me with.

Fact 5: I am Married to the Love of My Life

I met my husband back in 2007 on Halloween night, the same day my braces were put in. What an evil orthodontist! Yet somehow, he found Ms. Sore Mouth over there sucking on Hershey’s bars (out of revenge to said orthodontist) cute. We started dating in 2011, made it through three-and-a-half years of a long distance relationship, and finally married in December of 2016. He is so patient and supportive of all that I do, and I love how godly of a man he has always been.

Fact 6: I Love Cats

Pictured above is my old cat, Cypress, that I had for twelve years. I love cats and have been around them since I was a child. They are so stubborn at times but so cute. Right now I have two dogs with my husband and family, but someday I want to have a cat again, preferably a black cat or tabby from a rescue since they are the least likely to be adopted.

Fact 7: The Inspiration for My Very First Stories as a Catapiller Stuffed Animal by Aurora/Sharon Lea Larsen

Like I said, I started writing stories at the age of 10, starting with a collection of short stories (45 in total) from 2005-2007 that were thanks to a stuffed animal butterfly cat that I named Elizabeth Helen (after Emily Elizabeth from Clifford the Big Red Dog). I went on to entitle them The Adventures of Elizabeth Helen, and someday, I hope to rewrite them and publish them in a children’s short story collection book. I still have the stuffed animal to this day, by the way.

So, there you have it Seven Facts about Me.

Nomination Time!

https://fracturedfaithblog.com/

https://linktr.ee/authorjjhanna

http://homegnomeblog.com/

https://www.brionyrosesmith.co.uk

https://about.me/albertsteeg

https://www.bossbabechroniclesblog.com/

https://www.diyncrafts.com/home

https://www.perfectweddingguide.com/wedding-blog/

http://southernweddings.com/

https://thewildflowerhippie.com/

https://tuggingandtrammingblog.blogspot.com/

http://flixymom.com/

https://www.ellduclos.blog/

Show them all some love and support, and thank you again!

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novels

Special Sale on The College Girl’s Coiffetta (Book 1 of Len Champagne series)

In celebration of the upcoming release of the second book in the Len Champagne series, Papillon Noir (hitting Amazon store shelves August 20th, 2019), I am holding a sale on the Kindle edition of The College Girl’s Coiffetta (Book 1 of the Len Champagne series)

 It will be available for the special price of $0.99 an eBook until the 16th! Get it at this special discounted price while the sale lasts!
Amazon eBook Sale

Also, if you’re curious about Papillon Noir Pre-Order Information, here’s the information.

 Synopsis: Papillon Noir (Book 2 of Len Champagne Series) tells the story of Mahieu Len, the grandfather of Korbel. When Gatsby is struggling to find the reason for Korbel’s secretive behavior, he confides in Mahieu for advice and support. Along the way, he can’t help but ask the story of how Mahieu met his late wife, Seraphina. The answer will shock him.

Travel back in time to 1944 in France, when a young Mahieu Len fights at D-Day in order to liberate France and gain back the Len Estates in Champagne. Along the way, he finds himself tangled in the complicated life of a young prostitute from the Papillon Noir maison close in Cherbourg, France.

Available for Pre-Order Here: (Release Date: August 20th, 2019) Amazon Papillon Noir Pre-Order

Thank you everyone for your support, and if you do decide to pick up the book, please consider reviewing either on Amazon or on my Goodread page. God bless!

Written Essays

“You Should Smile More”

Now, I’m sure a lot of us, especially in the US, have heard people put their two cents in on this topic, one way or the other, and I’m going to put mine in now, too. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the idea that a person sees another person not smiling (for any number of reasons) and feels the need (again for multiple reasons) to say, “Smile”.

So, let’s look at a few scenarios, to examine why this might urk someone.

First of all, I think it’s a hugely contextual issue. No, I don’t think every person encouraging a person to cheer up is wrong, but I think a lot of it has to do with how it’s worded, who says it, and the body language involved. Additionally, having spoken with my husband on the topic, it became much more apparent to me that this isn’t a female-only issue. My husband has also had women say this same thing to him, to very similar effect.

Scenario A – Done as a Come-on or a Cat-call

I’m sure a lot of you have seen plenty of videos and parodies discussing the scenarios where, generally, a guy sees an attractive lady minding her own business and tells her to smile, because she’d look prettier if she smiled or something along similar lines.

Again, this does happen to both sexes and with different initiator situations involved. I’d like to debunk the stigma that only a woman can face behavior like this. Whether it is more commonly occurring to women or not is another issue, but a lack of respect and personal boundaries towards another person, sadly, is a trait that all sexes can share.

Anyway, when this happens to me, it makes me obviously uncomfortable, because I’ve been sexually harassed by men and women of all ages since I started puberty at nine. There is nothing creepier than a 40-50 year-old man (who I thought wanted to hire me) texting and IMing me randomly over the span of months with just “Hi” or “How are you” or the female co-worker who felt the need to constantly comment about the size of my breasts. No one should have to deal with having a former boss (and married, I’d add) ask you out on a date and make multiple comments about your appearance. No mother should have to glare at a truck driver who was literally honking, ogling, and making lustful eyes at her 13 year-old daughter on the freeway the way my mother has had to do. I can still recall how my high school had the unofficial “Slap A*s Friday” where girls and guys (but in my case, mainly girls) would attempt to touch me inappropriately, and so on and so on.

It’d be easy to go into a whole essay on sexual harassment, but the point remains, when a person (man or woman) looks at me with lustful eyes and says, “Smile more, you’d look pretty”. My first instinct isn’t to smile… It’s to cover my body in close and hide what makes me beautiful. It makes me feel like nothing more than an object of pleasure to this random stranger. So, please, don’t tell me “I’d be pretty if I smiled” like a compliment. Even if it is meant as one, it’s hard to see it that way after dealing with trauma after trauma due to someone else selfish sexual desires.

Scenario B – Done as an Attempt to Cheer Someone Up

Okay, let’s get the lustful pervs out of the way and address the other side I’ve encountered. I’ve had well-meaning people, who are obviously not attracted to me or trying to flirt, say something very similar (both men and women), and again, it doesn’t warrant the effect they want. Here’s, for me anyways, why.

I know you mean well. You see a person who either has a blank expression or looks sad, and you want to cheer them up in the most simplistic way you can think of, but may I suggest some other options: “Hey, how are you doing today?” or even just smile at me, yourself. I’m generally a very happy, optimistic person, so more likely than not, if you smile at me, I’ll smile back. However, more importantly, contrary to the whole “it takes more muscles to frown, than smile”, sometimes a resting face doesn’t naturally turn upwards. It’s just still and straight. Some people say this, assuming I’m sad or mad, and actuality, I’m just walking from point A to point B. I could be thinking about something and not even paying attention to you at the moment. I could be tired from work or a long day. Or, I could just be walking.

So, guess what is going to happen if someone out of nowhere says, “Smile!” to me? I will instantly feel an awkward, forced smile appear on my face for the second they are in vision, and then, once they are gone, I’ll resume with resting me face… The effect is not likely to make me ponder, ‘Do I look that sad? Do I look mad? Maybe, they are right. Maybe, I should look on the bright side, and smile more.’ No, my thought process is, ‘Oh, joy, I was doing just fine, and now, I’m annoyed that some random stranger thinks I’m a performing monkey… Anyway, back to what I was doing.’

Scenario C – A Person Saying this to A Christian

Okay, this probably sounds very specific and random, but I make no attempts to hide my faith from people whether they co-workers, classmates, etc. So, I’ve encountered this moment where, again, a well-meaning person (either a Christian or just a random acquaintance) says, “Hey, come on. You’re a Christian. Smile! God tells us to feel joy in His blessings!”

Again, I know where they are coming from. As a Christian, I do have a hope for tomorrow that can never be taken from me. No matter what I face, I have faith that God is always going to have me in the palm of His hand. Still, I cry and feel pain as much as any other person. I feel exhaustion and burn-out. God even acknowledges this in His Word. In one of my favorite verses, John 16:33 (NIV), it says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Now, you may be saying, but that says to take heart! In other words, perk up! Yes, it can be a very inspirational verse, because it shows that God already won the battle long before I was even a speck in His plan, but remember the part, “In this world you will have trouble”. Other translations use “suffering”, “tribulation” “distress”, and so on, but the point remains. Yes, we are not to lose hope in the suffering of this world, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t feel it. God guaranteed it in that verse, but we can hope in His future. So, to recap, yes, we can feel joy in what God has planned for us, but at the same time, Christians are going to hurt, too. We aren’t always going to have the energy to scream “Hallelujah”. Sometimes, it may be more of a “broken Hallelujah”, and I believe that’s okay. God loves me so much, and He feels my pain and struggles. So, I don’t picture Him up in Heaven feeling disappointed that little Sarah Macatrao (Ham) isn’t smiling every moment of the day.

So, I’d lovingly say to Christians and mentors the same. Maybe, reword it as, “I noticed that you seem down. Can I pray for you, or is there something I can do?” I can’t guarantee I’ll always open up, but I’m far more likely to be receptive to that than, “Smile, goshdarnit, you’re a Christian, so act like one!” (Exaggerating, of course, but we get the point.)

Scenario D – My Husband or a Close Loved One says, “There’s that smile… I prefer that.”

We see this trope in romantic novels and tv shows of the love interest, trying to cheer their loved one up with this at the end. Some might roll their eyes and boo it along with the other scenarios, but I disagree.

See, the difference is the person telling me this, I trust. I love this person, so when they say something like this. I know it’s in love, not in making me an object or shoving random advice down my throat. Can it come across as condescending? I’m sure there’s some situations where it could. If I’m trying to vent, and this was the response without any other context or addition, then, yes, I might take it differently.

However, a person I love telling me that they prefer to see me smile than cry, to me, shows that they care about me. They want to see me happy. It’s not about the actual smile; it’s about knowing I’m okay. Again, this is generally in response to me letting out all my tears and frustrations, them consoling me, and then, pointing out that I seem happier now. So, I take it differently than any of the other scenarios.

To Summarize

Body language, wording, and personal context can completely change a situation from making a person actually smile versus look at you with repulsion. I know not every person that has said this is thinking, ‘Oh, that girl’s hot! I want to tap that!’ But, if you present yourself in a way that suggests that’s what is on your mind, my reactions will likely match that assumption.

If you want to cheer me up or see if I’m doing alright, ask yourself if someone else doing the exact same thing to you would make you want to genuinely smile, too. If you question it at all, then maybe re-approach it. Communication can be a tricky part of life, especially between different sexes, cultures, environments, and so on, so try not to make assumptions on what another person is or isn’t comfortable with. I still grow in this day after day and have constantly had to catch myself saying something that was well-intent but didn’t translate that way to the other person. Grow, learn, and love one another. After all, I think that’s what a person with genuine pure intentions is trying to accomplish with this statement… They want to see an actual smile, for you to be happy and encouraged.