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There's a photo I keep on my desk to remind me to keep dreaming, keep striving and to always remember who I was...who I am. This is a difficult blog to write because I've always kept so much of who I am... hidden.

In this photo I am 16 years old. The picture accentuates how I very much felt and identified myself back then.

Lonely. Insecure. Awkward. Alone.

I never grew up with a lot of friends. Sure, there were people I would hang out with, but nobody ever really knew me. How could they? I didn't know myself. All I knew is that I wanted something more. I wanted to live, to travel, to see, to dream.

On so many days and with many things in my life, I simply felt inadequate. Often I just simply felt like I wasn't good enough... It's a terribly feeling to be a puzzle piece that just never fits into the picture.

But then again, I couldn't visualize the bigger picture for myself. I had tunnel vision and if there was something I could accomplish, I gave that something 100% of my focus. I made it my mission to have perfection in those moments... to feel bigger on that particular stage to compensate the moments where I felt so small in others.

Yeah, I was an idiot. But almost every 16 year old is.

All I did know is that I needed to find a new environment, one where nobody knew me. When I went to college, I had to pull my walls of security down. As I did so, I stumbled, I failed, but I learned who I was. I lived, I dreamed...

I keep this photo to remind me that when those old feelings surface, I don't have to dwell on them. Instead, I can let it motivate me. When I work on my books, my eyes drift to that photo and I think, "Don't be afraid."

Part of why I like to write is that I can create characters who don't have to hide, who can challenge themselves and this, in turn, strengthens me. I had to quit hiding parts of who I was in order to have enough of a backbone to let others read my stories, my thoughts, my dreams. Over time, these characteristics show up throughout my books, the good and the bad.

Silly as it may be, writing has been my therapy. To write, vulnerability occurs naturally, because it's the only way to express emotion on a page.

I encourage anybody who reads this to find their own form of creative therapy. An outlet lets out your anxieties, insecurities, stress - but brings in strength, will power, truth and security. Pretty big trade off.

Find my therapy online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Smashwords and more!

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