Sunday, August 25, 2013

Showing one face

September is my spiritual birthday. I pretend it's my actual birthday. I set goals and make resolutions. Maybe it's because school starts, and I was always a school person. And I teach. 

So as I approach my spiritual birthday, I want to publicly declare that I am better off than I've ever been. I feel healthier, more grounded, less anxious, stronger, more myself. This past few months of talking about my book and exploring the many faces of abandonment issues have made me more self aware-- in a good way. A core component of abandonment issues is not feeling okay, not feeling things are quite right. It's the "when this gets resolved" syndrome. "This" can be a job, a relative's dilemma, relationship, money issues, an illness, whatever.

But this summer I was all over the place, and after all this public outrospection, I get it. In the words of Popeye, I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam. My skin has grown thicker from being out of my comfort zone for five straight months. I've had to talk to strangers and "sell" myself. I've shared details about my life that I never considered public knowledge. I learned stuff I didn't want to learn (tweeting), and I had to do everything without getting to complain about how uncomfortable I was-- because it is all related to what I say I want out of life.

 I think what has happened is that I've finally merged my inner and outer lives. Sometimes we hide parts of ourselves. We shrink from our potential in order to stay safe, and we create a "face" for the public-- also to protect ourselves. Without even knowing it, we have subtracted something from both our private and public selves. Once I got the courage to put one shaky foot in front of the other, one day I noticed the footing was firmer.

So this is my advice:

Get the hell out of your comfort zone by accepting yourself as whole right here and now-- warts and all. Do what you can do with what you have. Then go forward like you're the hero of your life-- even if your legs feel like spaghetti and your heart is jello.

Get your copy of Salt in the Sugar Bowl, a novella. Find out why Sophia Sawyer leaves her six children, and how those children fare as they try to live, love, and prosper as if their mother hadn't broken their hearts. Order today at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Talk @ Barnes & Noble in Cary!

I'm excited to discuss Salt in the Sugar Bowl @ Barnes and Noble in Cary on Thursday, August 15th. The Sawyer family is a case study in abandonment issues! Their mother leaves her six children to be raised by their father. He's a hard-working man, but as the children grow up and begin their adult lives, they find they aren't as healed as they would like to believe.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What exactly does your mirror have to tell you?

You probably know I'm on this healing journey. I believe our childhood hurts and fears and pains live in our bodies like alien creatures. And like alien creatures, they must be dealt with; otherwise they take over your life and you wonder what the hell happened.

So I deal with issues by a) paying attention to my feelings when they creep out of bounds, and b) catching myself behaving in ways that go against my "personal philosophy." I then spend a bit of time figuring out what happened to pull me off balance. This works for me because: 1) it breaks the habit of having underlying feelings run my life, and 2) I get more insight about who I am at the core and why I do what I do.

Case in point....
I ran into a former student today. We hugged, and she smiled as students do when they meet their teachers in public. The onus is always on the teacher to ask questions and give feedback, etc. I LOVE meeting students in public, so we chatted on and on, then I went to back to my car. Before I pulled off, I caught myself looking in the mirror! Hmmmnnnnn. Then I think! AHA! A little remnant of my abandonment issue! Why? How?

Because abandonment issues (and probably a host of other issues) play out by making the irrelevant relevant. Instead of going with the flow and taking life as it comes, "abandonment survivors" (just coined this phrase) take stock a lot by

  • looking in the mirror to see if something's wrong, 
  • reviewing a conversation to determine whether we sounded like an idiot, and
  • coming up with what could've, should've, would've gone differently.
But my true self cares less than a cent about what I was about to see in the mirror after a random conversation. So I looked away from the mirror and didn't give another thought to what the student saw or what either of us said. 

Because this mental and physical scrutiny is all about that underlying feeling that something unexpected can blindside me and I wind up in an unpleasant place. Maybe I looked like a hoochie in my exercise clothes; maybe sweat had dried and I had eye boogers, etc. My instinct was an expectation of something being wrong, expecting to be judged harshly, or even to be judged favorably. I was about to relinquish my power and give it to somebody/anybody else-- and have her make a difference in my psyche. I mean, really?!

I'm a grown woman, and I have been living long enough to have conversations and interactions all day long without needing an assessment of how I'm doing!  

So this is going to be my homework for the week: Be present when I'm engaged with somebody, then move the heck on. Don't waste my time reflecting or going back over it unless it's for some clearly positive and healthy purpose. 

My AHA experience is this: Before you look in the mirror, ask yourself why you're going there. Most times, you'd be better off just going with the flow and putting yourself all the way into your agenda. Because the truth is that retouching the makeup, recombing that bang, or seeing if that pimple got bigger will not create the experiences you want in life. Trust me on that! 

Don't forget to order a copy of Salt in the Sugar Bowl! See how abandonment issues run rampant as the adult Sawyer children deal with life and love after having being abandoned by their mother, Sophia. 
$10, plus S&H

Salt in the Sugar Bowl by Angela Belcher Epps
"Just finished Salt in the Sugar Bowl. Read it slow to savor every word, every character. As I read from character to character, each became my favorite at the moment. Great story,  one that can be found in any big family. You are an incredible writer, a writer from the heart. Loved that you mentioned Brooklyn, Ft. Greene. Laughed, smiled, smirked in some parts. Can't wait for your next."     
 --Maria Villafane, New Yorker