A low-cal social media diet.

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Every once in a while I take my life’s pulse.

Simply put, I scan for areas of improvement and start working on the better version of me.

(Blame Oprah.)

I’ve recently found one such area that I’m tweaking (twerking? hahaha…no), and I’m already feeling oodles better: my social media life.

My teeth are rotting. Help.

I hate Facebook and Instagram. There, I said it. And I know, I know, you’re all like, “But Ericka, you’re a social media maven with slightly decent hair and a Romanesque nose that just won’t quit.” And yeah, maybe the old me was. But now?

I’m tired. I just want to live. I want to stop comparing my life to others’. I want to stop inwardly seething at blatant political posts and getting all frazzled, not because somebody I know has a particular political mindset, but because they’d much rather exercise their right to incessantly chatter into an online void instead of realizing how it might make others feel. I’m also tired of taking photos of my sandwiches.

This me, me, me generation is starting to rot my teeth, you guys. And frankly, my soul.

And I don’t want to add to it.

Let’s start a different conversation.

When it boils down to it, I think blogging gives me the freedom to fully express what’s dancing between the sheets of my brain. Instagram and Facebook are just tiny nuggets of truth, and half the time, they’re not even that truthful.

Do you know how many times it takes me to snap a selfie? 72. And that doesn’t even include choosing a filter.

Here’s my truth: my skin isn’t always clear, sometimes I’m a little hungover, I snap at my kid, I snap at my husband, I love them more than my heart can take, I fail God like I’m Judas Iscariot’s twin sister Jane, and I don’t always shave my legs.

But I’m still loved and accepted and don’t need to worry about mindless swiping, mindless likes to make me whole.

Know thyself.

If you’re eyeing my home page right now, you’ll see links to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. For me, these don’t count. I’m never on them and if I do happen to take a stroll down Pinterest lane, I’m probably looking up 5 million ways aloe is going to turn me into Jennifer Lopez (I’ll keep you posted).

You gotta know what’s working and what’s hacking at your inner peace with a chainsaw.

And for me? Those channels barely tickle.

Challenge time.

So if you want to chat with me, human being to human being, I invite you to check out this page and send me your inner thoughts. I’d like to get to know you while having absolutely no clue what your lunch looks like.

(Oprah would be proud.)

Oh and one more thing. Which social media channel do you need to give the ax to?

Nice to Meet You

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Let’s start out Friday with an #introduction shall we?

My name is Ericka Clay, and I’m a traditionally published author (contemporary fiction) and long time poet (since like 6th grade, y’all). I oversee a department where I work (no getting specific since this is the interwebs) and love working with people (something I couldn’t say a year ago). What changed? Well, after years of anxiety, depression and night terrors I asked Christ to take the fracking wheel and now I sleep like a baby.

Thank you Jesus!! I was the last person on earth who thought she would ever be a Christian but after this experience, I fully understand that Christianity isn’t combing your hair and pretending your perfect on Sundays. It’s continually being a sinner but knowing God has granted you grace and forgiveness and all you want to do is pour that love out onto others.

So that’s what I’m doing, one word at a time.

Shout out to my amazingly creative daughter and my BFF husband and his super strong faith that builds up my own.

And shout out to you peeps. I know some of us are having a rough week, but have heart, my dears. WE are the change the world needs and YOU have the power to show your kind heart off to the world. ❤️🌎 And I can’t wait to see it shine.

Oh and one last shout out to our veterans on #veteransday! It takes incredible courage and strength to lay down your life for another. We appreciate you!!! #tgif #potd #poetsofinstagram #poetsofig #fridayintroductions #fridayintroduction #poet #thankyou #god #christian #lovegod #loveothers #christianpoet #christianpoetry #christianpoems via Instagram http://ift.tt/2eZ8gN0

21 Things I’ll Say When I Die

  1. I cried, too. You just couldn’t see me.
  2. Being brazenly proud of your Internet history should have been a warning flag.
  3. It’s awful that I can only sum up the entire contents of your heart into that moment you pressed a cold wash cloth against my head when my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding.
  4. I used to press my head against your car window, wishing you were anyone but you.
  5. You are my best friend, and I can’t wait to high five your face in heaven.
  6. You should stop talking so much so I don’t have to be sad for everyone’s ears.
  7. You taught me all the worst parts of myself and it only made me see the best in you.
  8. I wanted to be you when I grew up, but only if you would have grown up, too.
  9. I am not evil. You aren’t either. Let’s just leave it at that.
  10. It’s okay. I understand now.
  11. Wishing it away is like swallowing your own tongue.
  12. I stopped writing because the words began to break and fall apart and when I tried to pick one up, it bit my hand and called me a fraud.
  13. You are a whirling dervish on acid.
  14. It wasn’t fair of me. Not a single moment of it.
  15. I never wanted to be you. Not really. I just wanted, just one time, for you to want to be me.
  16. Don’t be me. Don’t ever be me.
  17. Unless you want to. I don’t blame you. I have nice ankles.
  18. But seriously, guard your heart, your loins and every tissuey organ that has the potential to give you grief. And when you do give them away, be prepared to never ask for them back.
  19. I loved you all the most. And perhaps that was my vilest sin.
  20. One more high five, best friend.
  21. Okay. I’m ready.

Be the change.

Be the Change | erickaclay.com

This has always been a tough one for me.

I’ve always been one to talk a big game about being selfless and loving others, but I was also always the first one to wave my middle finger out on the road.

Sorry, traffic.

It really wasn’t until I allowed Christ to be part of the equation that I could really even consider putting others in front of my needs, my wants, my ambition.

It was easy to guard my heart in the name of self-preservation. It only made sense to constantly defend myself because humility and kindness meant weakness to me. It meant setting yourself up just to get torn down.

But then I became tired of being so bitter. I wanted something more for myself. And I wanted something more for the people who came in contact with me.

I realize I’ve been given the chance to give love in such a way that it reworks the course of humanity and heals a slew of broken hearts. We all have. And that, for me, is more than enough reason to celebrate today and the opportunity it brings.

from Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/93mrAott1e/?taken-by=erickaclay

 

Why Christians Should Write Secular Fiction

WHY

Okay, first thing’s first: as a Christian, I don’t believe anything is secular. I feel God and have vibed out on evil in the past and wholly and fully understand both can be felt when you least expect it – even when it comes to literature.

So “secular” fiction is a bit of a misnomer for me. But alas, it’s still a thing, and to keep confusion at bay, I’ll be calling it as such throughout this post.

Secondly, I really don’t think anyone SHOULD do anything, so if you read this post and think, “No thanks,” then it’s all good in the hood, and I’ll still share my Cheetos with you.

Now, let’s get down to brass tax.

Before I became a Christian, writing was easy peasy. I just fired up my inner demons, threw the words they inspired on the page and called it art.

After becoming a Christian, I started to take issue with this process, namely the inner demons part because I suddenly (and luckily) found that I no longer had any. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still human, but the the little thoughts that used to badger me and tear me down were gone, and frankly, I had made those bad boys my friends.

So what’s a Christian gal to do? Keep on keeping on.

Listen, I know I can still write. And I know there’s a fire burning in my belly. But now it’s a matter of using that fire to bring others into the light instead of letting it devour my soul in smoke.

Really, when you think about it, it’s not a bad trade off.

It’s also why I choose to write secular fiction over Christian fiction.

There is a whole audience out there struggling, my friends. There’s a whole segment of our human population that needs someone to send them down a little miracle and make the shitty existence of every day living worth SOMETHING. As a Christian and an author, I intend to do just that.

The way I figure it, you can’t heal a broken heart with rainbows and unicorns. You can’t go up to someone who’s hurting, actually decomposing from the inside out and say, “Isn’t the world such a beautifully golden and God-filled place,” and then start twirling on a hillside a la Maria from the Sound of Music.

People generally don’t like that.

And I mean you may feel like twirling until your wooden clogs go flying off your feet, but remember when you didn’t feel that way? Remember when the only thing you thought about was the exact temperature you needed to set the oven before sticking your head in? 

Look, I’m not trying to be graphic here. I’m trying to be real. There’s nothing wrong with truth even when the truth is a dark and ugly thing. Because truth gives birth to light.

And fortunately, we all have the ultimate guide when it comes to writing this way. It’s called the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t sugar coat the reality of this world. The Bible is up front and in your face when it comes to sin and how it can slowly and methodically deteriorate everything in its path. And I appreciate the Bible for its honesty.

If it wasn’t so darn honest, I wouldn’t believe a lick of it.

So this is why I’m a Christian and write secular fiction. I want to be honest, transparent, and let the world know – the hurting, crying, miserable segment of it that feels like the sun is a burnt out star – that hope flickers through my words, through my waterfall of pages.

It is a light I’ve been given from God, and I love you to the point of setting your heart on fire.

*Inspiration for this post:  The Dilemma of Being a Christian Who Writes Fiction

How to Heal a Broken Heart

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All my life, I knew I was going to be SOMETHING.

Something great. Something wonderful. Something rich and something famous and something so intellectually on point, I would lightly stab the world between the eyes.

“Here I am, World. Eat your heart out.”

You know what I’ve been doing lately? I’ve been praying for people. I’ve been praying for our family.

I’ve completely removed my tumored heart from this ruthless world, and I’ve never felt better.

How does a woman of this world focus less on BEING something and devote herself to DOING something?

Prayer, you guys. It all comes down to prayer.

In the past, I’ve been what you would call a “casual” pray-er. If an anxiety attack comes on, God’s the first dude I call. If my plane is doing the turbulence dance, I’m all over the prayer stuff. If anyone I love has a suspicious looking mole on their cheek and even if it only turns out to be a sprinkle from their cupcake, I’ll pray so hard, I’ll forget to eat my own cupcake. (But then I eventually will eat it because it’s a cupcake. Duh.)

But for the longest time, prayer wasn’t necessarily something I sought to do on a regular basis, nor was it a thing that I believed actually worked. Really, it was just a way to focus my mind on something so worry wouldn’t gnaw a hole in my stomach.

So I never really thought of prayer as something powerful, something that could really change your life because God isn’t some genie in the sky who blinks and grants your every wish. And I’m right, He’s not.

But He’s love. He’s the connection between your heart and mine. And when we pray with intention for another human being instead of our own selfish needs and wants, we’re helping to connect those we’re praying for to God and wrap them in his warm embrace.

I know this because it happened to me.

I went from caring only about MYself, MY accomplishments, MY tush sitting on a chair next to Oprah so I could drone on and on about some bestseller I just penned and the way MY hair would look on camera to caring about others, their lives, their beautiful souls.

How did this change happen??

Prayer.

A few family members prayed for me and kept praying for me even when I insisted The Secret was the true religion, and if I focused hard enough, I’d be able to have more than my fair share of Oprah in my life…and a BMW…and maybe a few more cupcakes. But my family never stopped praying because they understood that His love is what I needed in my life. Not the glittery yet transient things that kept catching my eye.

It’s funny how I gave more credence to people and things and entire ways of thinking than I gave to God.

But when you live in this ill-stricken world, the one that cares more for Oprah, BMWs, and cupcakes than truth, it’s hard not to become a suffering patient right along with it.

So how about a little activity? I heard about an organization called CURE International that would greatly appreciate our prayers. They help A LOT of people and they fully understand that they’re an active representation of God’s love in this world.

Just click here to pray for these people. There’s even a prayer guide that you can download that will help your heart find the right words.

God never abandoned me, you guys. I abandoned him. But he’s in my life now because I’ve finally allowed him to be.

And he’s there for you, too. Just let him hear your heart. Let him hear your prayers.

 

 

 

Dirty Words: Finding Hope in Honest Writing

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Photo credit: Jennifer Jones

My book is about a man who has sex with another man in a cemetery near a Catholic church.

My book is laced with profanity and the difficultly digested truth that darkness can worm its way through a weakened heart.

My book deals with piss and bleach and infidelity and marriage and drunkenness and slurred words and dried mascara and manipulative sex and co-dependent love and all those other things that would never work as a Facebook status or yearly Christmas letter.

My book is honest. It is real. It is humanity in its dirtiest form.

So how, then, can it be Good?

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe certain things about Goodness, especially about those who attempt to live in the name of it. They are close-minded, judgmental, bitter little individuals who would rather wallow in their self-righteousness than actually give two cents about you.

For some people is this truth? Unfortunately, yes. But is this what REAL Goodness is all about?

Fortunately, no.

This is the thing: the world hurts which means we hurt. My characters are hurting in their own world. They feel disconnected and cut off and unloved. They feel alone and embarrassed in their attempts to connect. They feel scorned and hopeless.

They just want to be truly themselves and respected for it.

And my hope is that this book is a testament to what I believe. That even when things seem the most heartless and scary and downright suffocating, there are still Good people who want to lift you up and bring you to the light. They want to be the shoulder, the rock, the way. They just want to help, no strings attached.

This is what I want my book to teach. I want my writing to be a reminder that those same feelings of unworthiness boil in the bellies of all of us. And that no amount of make up and staged photos and new cars and cool clothes will ever be able to wash away that fact.

Because when we’re reminded of our humanity and seek it in others, we’re more apt to do the Good thing, the only thing: love.


dear hearts

This post brought to you by the discussions I had in the comments of this post with Jay Wilson and Michelle Terry. And a book that I hope brings peace to anyone who reads it.

I’ll Admit It: I’m a C-Word

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Photo credit: Michelle on Flickr

Why is this the hard one to write?

Why is this one freezing up my fingers and slicking my skin with ice cold sweat?

Why is this the one I think you’ll stop reading me over when I have no issues whatsoever talking in detail about my poop, my period or the color taupe. (Gross, man. Taupe is just gross.)

But guys, I have a confession: I’m a Christian.

This is kind of exploding every single brain cell in my skull right now because sometimes when I even say it out loud, I think, No you’re not. You’re a cat glitterer, you crazy woman. You’re a car keyer and avoider of all office situations. You’re the person who lies on the floor in Target and puts nacho cheese in her bra.

You’re Ericka, gosh darn it.

But see, that’s the thing.

I’m still Ericka. I’m still Ericka “What Did Her Mother Put in Her Bottle?” Clay. I still love cats and glitter to the point that I’m not allowed in the state of Vermont anymore. (Spluh, like I need their stupid cheddar…sniff.)

But even more than that, I’ve taken to re-sculpturing my life so that it can support a more loving and open heart. I’m taking steps that have left me less lonely, less dark and more willing to smile and ask you your name than write you off as something you may not even be. Because fear is easy. Fear and misunderstanding is the name of the game in this world.

But I’m learning it doesn’t have to be. And man, does that feel good.

So really, this whole Christianity thing isn’t taking me away from Ericka. If anything, it’s made more Ericka-like, so much so my face won’t stop sticking this way. It’s okay. I have amazing teeth.

And no worries, you guys. I love you for you. There will be no requests to follow me down this journey because everyone has the exact road they need right beneath their feet.

All I ask is that you accept me for me. That’s it. (And to smuggle me some cheese from Vermont.)

Because “me” I fully am now, and I can’t wait to unleash all that I’m on this amazing world.

Cats, I’ll give you a five minute head start.

 

Change, Stumble, and Fall

Ericka Unplugged #resolutions
I’m as surprised as you are that I haven’t shaved my head yet.

Change is one of those things that comes easy for me. Too easy.

So I never understood the concept of resolutions because I didn’t need them. I was too spontaneous, too “fly by the seat of my yoga pants,” too “let’s get bangs sober” to even think about planning out my next life step.

And really, I kind of am now.

But that doesn’t mean that this year isn’t big for me.

I turn thirty soon, and there’s a crazy excitement that comes with that number.

I feel like thirty is adulthood on steroids which Type A/super responsible me is majorly thrilled about. I’m also excited because I’ve been feeling this change coming on, a sense of self that is blinding any doubt/regret/guilt that used to overpower me.

I’m Catholic and a mother. Doubt/regret/guilt pretty much courses through my blood stream.

But I’ve decided to put the kabosh on that. Here’s how:

  • Give up Facebook. I’ve officially DELETED (yup, not just deactivated), my account. It was funny how I thought doing this would be the end of the world, but frankly, it’s just the beginning. I no longer have everyone’s lives cluttered in my head, and I don’t have to deal with Facebook’s absurdity, like refusing to take down a graphic dog fighting page I reported because it somehow didn’t violate their Terms of Service. That place is toxic. Ditch it and breathe, my friends.
  • Listen to classical music. I’ve only been listening to classical music here lately, and it’s weird, but I actually feel smarter. It’s probably because Pitbull is nowhere near that station.
  • Infuse yoga into my daily schedule. Seriously, y’all, this shit is addictive. I’ve tried it before, but my relationship never lasted with yoga because I have the attention span of a yorkie. But I found Adriene, and she’s become my new best friend. She doesn’t know it yet, but that’s fine. She’ll be excited about the matching outfits I bought us.
  • Clean eats. We were vegan for about a year and a half around these parts, and I think, for me, that’s the very reason I ditched the whole healthy living thing in the first place. I felt too restricted giving up a major part of my diet, and it brought out my “naughty” side. So this go round, things are different. I’m choosing to infuse more healthy things into my life instead of focusing on taking things out. That being said, I’m lessening my dairy, gluten and alcohol intake, but that’s because these things wreck my body, and I can actually feel that damage. As my new bestie Adriene puts it, find what feels good, and for me, those things don’t.
  • Reading and writing – oh my! I’m cooling the whole “market my writing like a badass” thing to focus more on my ACTUAL writing plus taking the time to read more. It feels wonderful. I’ve also found I have more time for my amazing family now that social media is an occasional thing for me and not the reason I exist. I told you. That shit’s toxic.

So those are the things that I have “resolved” to do to grab my life by the balls and make it fit like a comfy sweater.

My friend, Cristina, calls it “shifting,” and I love that. A shift in perspective.

I know there will be a lot of stumbling and falling along this journey, but I’ll be documenting it here to clear my head and chat with you folks about it. Feel free to talk me down off the ledge, my friends.

Also? Thanks for ingesting my crazy in advance.

So tell me, how will you be shifting your perspective this year?