Book Break: Fried Nerves and Other White Meat

This post is a little different from some of my other book break posts, as it isn’t a review, and the book I want to tell you about hasn’t even been printed yet. However, I have had an opportunity to read it because I am currently editing it. So, even though it isn’t available yet, I still wanted to share with you a little about this book and its author.

fried-nerves-book-coverFried Nerves and Other White Meat is a book of memoirs written by a pretty amazing woman. Its text is compiled from the blog posts (Fried Nerves and Jam) that Micaela Bensko wrote during a particularly trying time in her life. While confined to bed for 11 months after a “freak” accident right in her own driveway, Micaela had a lot of time to think:

“not just about life, but about those random memories that float through the mind but life is so busy we are not able to take time to reflect on how each of them truly impacted our life. In each blog entry, I attempt to wrangle these memories and dissect them, unraveling the meaning behind each one, and how it taught a lesson I was never able to learn, until now.”

In future posts, I look forward to sharing some of Micaela’s “Aha” moments of discovery with you as well as some of the nuggets of hope and encouragement that you can eventually read for yourself in her book, Fried Nerves and Other White Meat. (If I can ever get my part of the process finished.)

hope-redefined

Here is a glimpse into the life of this multi-talented (and full of heart and hope) writer, photographer, friend (she is friends with one of my sisters), wife, and mother taken from her online bio:

Micaela recently published her first children’s book The Soldier and the Squirrel, which has been procured by The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to raise awareness of the Purple Heart to our youth. [You really should check this book out too; especially if you are a librarian (hint to my sis-in-law, Jana).]

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As a photographer, Bensko was featured as a leader in her field by Professional Photographer Magazine. Her photography has been displayed at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and has been the subject of an Emmy Award winning FOX News segment. Bensko is also Vice-President of Rebuilding America’s Warriors, providing free reconstructive surgery to troops returning from war. Bensko is married to Don Bensko who is a Producer (of TV and children). They have four children and live in Los Angeles, California.

micaela

Some other random thoughts from Micaela to describe herself:

“I worry if I’m parenting properly. I believe love is based on respect and without respect there cannot be love. The proudest moment of my life was completing my degree as a single mother of two. … I believe fame is fleeting. Feeling is forever. Relationships are the key to purpose and meaning is only found in following your truth. … I think we have many soulmates and not just one. Like many teachers so we learn different lessons. I think marriage is made by hands with hope for the future of our world. …

Perfection to me is fascinating and then boring. I like my dogs to sit on the sofa. … My husband is my best friend. …

When I feel strongly about something I will express it, but time has taught me to listen more than to speak. …

I believe in God. A power greater than anything our world could ever understand. So I don’t try to understand. I just believe. I believe God is in me. In my children. My husband. In my neighbor’s quiet house. It is in the boy who broke my heart and the man who stole it and made it whole. I believe one day it will all make sense. So for now the only thing I can do is be me. I am broken but aren’t we all? We connect because we have missing pieces that others fill. Life is a puzzle. When it’s complete we will see what it is. From above.

I know there is more to life but for now it is enough. Because grasping for it too soon will be fruitless. I believe in stopping. In letting life happen as it should. In showing up.

I will live until my time has come and embrace the end as the final chapter in the most wonderful book I’ve ever read. Like a child not wanting it to end, but too desperate to know the ending to stop. …

I hope you embrace your journey with observation and reflection. And to believe that all you are is already enough. Even if you are perfectly broken. Like me.”

micaela1Micaela Bensko, Copyright © 2013, Fried Nerves & Jam. All rights reserved.

I think you will find Micaela and her life discoveries intriguing, touching, heart-wrenching, entertaining, and encouraging. It just depends on what part of her book or blog you are reading.

Stay tuned, and I will share more with you later on The Soldier and the Squirrel, as well as let you know when Fried Nerves and Other White Meat has been printed and is available for purchase.

Meanwhile, keep on hoping and praying and trusting in God’s plan and in His grace.

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Defining Relationships

I was looking through old digital files, trying to find examples of some of my past work to create an online portfolio, when I came across a questionnaire on relationships that one of my nieces sent out in 2008. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and the topics of love and relationships so relevant at this time, I thought this would be a great piece to post. I read through it all, and wouldn’t change any of my answers, even today.

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Did you think you would find your soul mate?  I had doubts early on. In fact, when I was in my 20s, I used to say I would never get married. I had seen too many bad relationships to think it was possible. But then I did marry, and I really loved him. But we never had any deep conversations about life and our beliefs and our future goals. We didn’t communicate and we didn’t spend quality time together; we just sort of drifted, and in the end we drifted apart. Once again, I didn’t believe that I would marry someone else. But God has a way of redirecting your steps when you get off track, and I believe He set the situation up so that Bart and I would meet. And when we did, things started coming together more clearly for both of us. Do I believe he is my soul mate? Yes. I think we make each other better people than we were when we were alone. Do I think that a soul mate will meet your every need in life? No. I think that you cannot expect one person to be everything to you; that’s where your friends and family come in. So you need to always be sure to continue to cultivate your friendships as well as your love relationship and not let one supersede the other.

What does it mean to be in love? That’s a tough one. Many people confuse being in lust with being in love. Or they enjoy that excitement you get when you first meet someone and you can’t stop thinking of them and you want to spend all your time with them. That doesn’t make it love though. In fact, you may feel strong feelings of love or attachment for someone and yet that person is still not who you are meant to spend your life with. I guess being in love means that you begin to realize that life is not all about you and what you can get out of a relationship, but what you can do for that other person to help them grow and know that they are truly special in someone else’s eyes. It’s about wanting to give someone else the bigger piece of pie even if you’d like it for yourself (and knowing that if they were serving, they’d give you the bigger piece).  🙂

16What makes you happiest about your relationship? That I know I am truly loved for who I am and that he would do anything to make me happy (well, not anything horrible).

Do you believe that you will be with this person forever? Yes

Do you believe God has a plan for you? Yes. I have been learning a lot about this through a class I have been taking called “Following God’s Will.” I also found this great passage in a devotional that I wanted to share with you:

“God’s plan for your life is not a written script that you must follow; rather, it is a journey with various important destinations and appointments, but also a great deal of freedom as to the pace and scope of the travel. God’s plan for you will always have a sense of mystery about it, but you can be certain that as you seek his leading, God will guide and direct you on your journey. Most of God’s promises are conditional. In other words, they depend on something that you are asked to do. If you separate yourself from God, you are removing yourself from his plan, his guidance, and his promises. Come back to him, and he will redeem your lost time.”

What do you believe is an unhealthy relationship? One where you find yourself crying more than laughing; one where the other person belittles you or hurts you in some way on a regular basis.

Do you think that people are alone because they make themselves that way? Some people choose to be alone, but I do not believe it is the case for everyone. I have heard a lot of single women talk about how they wish they could find the right person and get married. I feel for those women, but I don’t know how they are living their lives or what they are doing to actually find that right person. But sometimes God has other plans for their lives and they will continue to be unhappy until they are open to God’s will rather than their own.

Should you change for a person? You should be willing to change if that change is actually growth and something positive. But, no, I don’t think you should change in your overall belief system or in a way that is uncomfortable to you simply to keep another person around.

What are grounds to end a relationship?  physical abuse, mental abuse, unfaithfulness, unhappiness that cannot be reconciled, a total disconnect spiritually

What do you think is the biggest mistake you ever made in a relationship?  Not communicating. Also staying in a relationship simply because it was easier than getting out or because I didn’t want to be alone.Heart leaf

Can you be friends with an ex? Yes, I believe that is possible. In fact, it would be a preferable situation than to one of animosity. But it’s not always realistic.

Can girls and guys be [just] friends? Yes. If you are in a serious relationship, and your significant other has a friend of the opposite sex, as long as you have a strong and trusting relationship, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if there is something missing from your relationship and it is not complete, then you (or your mate) may find yourself still in search of that elusive thing, and in that case — opposite sex friends may begin to become more than just friends. In those situations, it’s not possible to keep an innocent friendship. If neither of you has a significant other, then I guess in that case, it depends on how you feel about yourself (your self-esteem) and what the friendship provides for you.

What do think the most helpful information is you can give a person about relationships?  I just read a quote the other day that I thought was appropriate for this: “Just because you had a nightmare doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming.” —Jill Scott, Grammy Award-winning singer

You’re probably going to have some bad ones, or at the very least unfulfilling relationships, but you shouldn’t give up on love. Of course, no one’s going to come knocking on your door to find you. You’ve got to go out there and live your life. Do the things you enjoy with people you like to be around. When you’re out there participating in the world, being yourself, that’s when you will be open to the opportunities of finding someone who shares your interests and dreams.

Are you happy? Why or not?  Yes. Life may not be easy and all roses, but despite what the world tells us, I don’t believe that’s the way it is supposed to be anyway. We’re all going to have trials, but it’s how we react to them and what we do with them that moves us along our life path. And it’s who you have beside you, to help you get around the potholes and over the speed bumps, that makes the trip easier — whether that is a spouse, a friend, or a family member. We need other people in our lives and we need a purpose. Those things can help us be happy, but in the end it’s still up to us to choose to be happy. You shouldn’t always be in “pursuit of happiness,” however, but learn to be happy where you are . . . in every moment.

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Think about it. Are you in a fulfilling relationship? Are you happy?
What do you need to do today to get on the right path for YOU?