We proceed up the driveway bookended by a rustic fence and matching antique water pumps, here sits a ranch home with a front porch for rocking. Wayward rock paths cut through English Gardens and lead naturally to a whitewashed gazebo containing benches for relaxing. This center piece is ideal for gathering as we could commune among the budding fruit trees and gentle nickering from the stallion begging for a treat. The large floppy dogs gravitate to conversation and take up their positions of comforting and warming feet regardless of outdoor temperature.
Introducing Alycia Neighbours: capturing life.
Alycia, how long have we known each other? Do you recall how we met?
I believe it’s been about 3 years (give or take a month) We met through a blog challenge using Problogger’s book, “How To Build A Better Blog In 31 Days”
Alycia was running a comments competition and I wrote to ask if I won would she really send the Journal Notebooks all the way to Australia. She said yes. I won, and she did. I still have them.
You’ve done some serious evolving in the years I’ve known you. .
For years, I plodded along in the blog world journaling about my day, sharing pictures about my kids or just telling humorous mommy stories. I used it to escape the life I lived at home and to flex some writing muscles. I gained a large following, but I never felt good because I wasn’t being true to myself or my readers.
After my world exploded and the online world got to witness the truth of my life, I felt led to abandon who I had been and explore more of who I was to become. Hard truths and great hopes began to weave into my writing and I came to discover that 99% of us are hurting in some way. I dared to write a memoir of those dark moments in hopes that one person might know they weren’t alone and there was hope.
The book, “Deciding To Dance,” was a bigger success than I could’ve dreamed and touched more people than I counted on; leading me to write more on my personal blog about the aspect of hope, healing and struggle.
Alycia – I’m aware of some tragic events you and your daughters have come through. Will you share this and how it impacted on you & the girls.
After more than a decade of marriage to Dan, who struggled with mental illness that led to domestic violence, I sought a divorce after taking our daughters and walking from our family home. Two days before the divorce was to be final and seemingly in a calmer and more stable relationship, Dan committed suicide.
The girls were so young, they didn’t understand any more than their Dad was gone forever. I couldn’t understand a single bit more than them. It’s impossible to make sense of the senseless.
We all went through a lot of anger and despair. I shouldered a lot of guilt. We were overwhelmed and felt misplaced in this life. Children are very resilient and soon their love for life propelled me out of a depression as we sought how to live in this new reality.
We still have moments of anger, sadness and loss, but we have learned that the best that we can do is embrace what we were left with and use it to mold us into willing participants in life.
How did God stand by you through all this?
Honestly for a while, I thought He wasn’t there at all. How could a God that is supposed to be so loving allow for suicide? Domestic violence? Divorce?
The guilt and anger I felt was beginning to threaten my own life and in a moment of total despair, I found myself daring Him to save me; to show me that He could make something good out of this and prove that we were worth it.
As I sat crumpled in the floor, broken; it was like my soul was suddenly caught in an embrace. Comfort took a foothold in my mind and prayers began to be answered in ways I couldn’t fathom. I began to understand that God doesn’t allow these things to happen because He thinks we should suffer, but rather His heart breaks with ours when we are a victim of free will and He helps guide us through the pain and into purpose.
On a happier note, I’d love you to tell of the impression you received that bought about the New Chapter in your life.
One of my prayers was that I would find love, trust and companionship in a man again. I wanted my daughter to have a father. As God answered this prayer in an amazing way, I began to understand my value in God’s eyes and how desperately He wants us to have faith, hope and love.
He brought to my arms an amazing man that was willing to step into a very broken woman’s life and show her the love of a husband. He brought this man who embraced my daughters as his own and demonstrated the love of a father. He gave us this man who bravely stepped through the shattered parts of our hearts and began piecing them back together.
What did you learn from the healing process?
I’ve learned that no matter where you are or where you’ve been, you can have a glorious purpose on this Earth. The times that you believe that you are broken beyond repair are painful moments preparing you to live a life that can change the world around you. I’m being taught that I am worth loving and I can take these messy parts of my life and mold them into a message for others. I’ve else armed not to define myself by my hurt, but rather by my healing. I also learned that healing is not a spot you finally and definitively arrive at. Healing is a constant flexing, living process.
You’ve written a book…? Tell us…
I’ve written two books that are currently available at amazon.com. “Deciding To Dance” spent several months in the top 10 grief books. Written as a memoir with journal type entries about domestic violence, suicide and healing. “Wake Up In The Mourning” is a book written with the intention of encouragement during the grieving period of loss. Loss of a spouse, child, parent, job, hope….loss is loss and grief is grief.
Blog: “Diary of ‘…and frankly…‘” –
What advice do you have for women writers? And for women struggling with an emotional load.
Women writers are automatically lumped into the “sensitive natures” genres. We are expected to be weak and a moment from tears at any moment, but also pressured to tie everything into a neat little bow to present to our peers. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t “get it” or that you are fighting. Don’t be scared to present your life without a pretty package, because you are never going to change or challenge others if you do.
If you are currently struggling with an emotional load; realize that you are part of the majority of those here on Earth. It’s part of our journey; all of us. People, believe it or not, are wonderful and seek to help those who are floundering. I’m proud to say that I know first-hand that this is most people’s nature. Don’t be afraid to reach out and say “I can’t handle this alone.”
Finally Alycia a few quick questions…
What worries you?
That I will not fulfill God’s plan for me and somehow I am missing the “big picture.”
What makes you laugh?
There is so much that makes me laugh, but my favorite is puns and plays on words. There is something about them that are unexpected to our logical thinking brains and the twist is a refreshment.
What are you grateful for?
I am most grateful for this new chance in my life. A chance to leave the ugliness behind and transform what has been left. A chance for my children to grow without fear and see love with no reserve.
What so you daydream about?
I daydream about travel with my husband in the driver’s seat plotting our course. I daydream about warm temperatures and playful smiles from my children. I daydream about a picture perfect clean house. I daydream about my next book and live my characters as I weave their lives.
Thank you Alycia, for your time and your openess. Also for your example of courage and tenancity.
Alycia has previously been a Guest here with on ‘A String of Pearls’.
As a photographer presenting Serenity, and as a writer.