Hi, and welcome to the close of the Perspective Series from the Single Dad’s Guide to Life. It seems surreal we have come to the end of the month. If you have followed us for the month, you know we partnered with Brandi Kennedy of Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman to give you a whole series of posts with the same theme and differing viewpoints. And as we were wrapping up this series, we felt like we needed to give our audiences a biography of the other person. And what better way to accomplish this feat than to do an interview with the other person. It’s like a “meet and greet” from thousands of miles away. I want you to meet Brandi Kennedy: mother; author; blogger; and undaunted woman.
But first, a little background to Brandi. I remember when I met Brandi on Facebook for the first time. She was in one of my blogging groups. And she was really earnest. She wanted to find people she could really engage with. I know with bloggers we focus so intently on the task at hand, we forget to really engage with the people we want to establish relationships with. I am all for giving a person a hand up when they are doing the same for me. But sometimes we lose sight of things and don’t really establish the relationships we should. I really began to pay attention more closely to what she was saying once I had more contact with her. She’d comment on my post. I would comment on hers. And a running dialog began.
I didn’t hear from her again until I had another fellow blogger reach out to me. She wanted to add me as a friend on facebook. I was still relatively new to the blogging scene, barely writing a few months, but I figured I could use as many friends as possible. When she reached out to me, I quickly realized she was asking me a bunch of questions about what I was doing and how I accomplished things. (I’m still not sure I feel accomplished enough to help people out yet.) I told her what worked for me and what didn’t up to this point. And she informed me that Brandi Kennedy told her to reach out to me if she wanted help.
I was very flattered, even if I felt like I wasn’t up for the task. I knew I wanted to talk to Brandi and say thank you. So it took me a couple days, but I finally got up the nerve to say hi in a more informal way. (Somehow a comment on a blog post felt too formal a place to have a more personal conversation.) So I reached out on facebook messenger and said hello.
What I found was a kind-hearted, intelligent and engaging woman, happy to reach out to any person and give them help. She seemed good at the relationship building and networking aspect of everything, beyond being a terrific writer. I knew there was a lot I could learn from her. We became fast friends and started to get to know a bit more about each other on a personal level.
Aside from being a terrific blogger and an amazing mother of two wonderful girls, I found out about her love for writing above and beyond the blogosphere. She is a published novelist with books to her credit. And she publishes content outside of her blog. The blog is both a way to connect with her audience on a deeper level and a means of driving people back to her work.
Beyond the writing, she has a heart for others and a peaceful spirit. Even though she suffers at the hands of an abusive former partner and raises two kids mostly on her own, she never lets things get to her. It’s this spirit that drew me to her and will draw you to her as well. I am sure I could write more, but I would rather let her words speak for themselves. So without further ado, I present my interview with Brandi Kennedy: Undaunted Woman.
Interview With Brandi Kennedy: Undaunted Woman
1) At what moment did you realize you were a writer?
I’m not sure there was one singular moment. But as far back as I can remember, I remember writing stories, poems, little bits of conversation, ideas for books. I remember writing stories all the way back when computers ran MS-DOS and files were saved on little plastic floppy drives. So I’ve sort of always been a writer, in a lot of ways. But when I knew I wanted to do it for a living – when I knew I wanted to be known for that and to succeed at it – I was standing in a convenience store in Deltona, FL with my dad. I don’t remember how old I was, what store it was, or what we were there for.
I remember asking for a book, and feeling completely gleeful when he agreed to buy it. He couldn’t have known what was in it, or I’m sure he wouldn’t have agreed; I was much too young at the time to read that, and would be appalled if my own children were to pick it up. But I remember the cover was a beautiful pale yellow, and Johanna Lindsey’s name was embossed on the front in a flowing script font. And I fell in love right then with the idea of seeing my own name on a book cover one day. It was like a door opened up inside me, and I found a room I hadn’t previously known was there.
2) If you had your readers take away one thing from your blog, what would it be?
Chiefly, I would want them to be encouraged by the fact that even if the very worst things happen in their lives, they can heal. It might be slow and it might be painful, and it might take a very long time … but it can be done, and there are lessons of value to be learned along the way. But along with that, I’d want them to know they are not as alone as they may have been made to feel – that this world is absolutely brimming with people who can understand because they’ve been there too, and that even if it’s only me, there is ALWAYS someone they can reach out to who will try to offer understanding, compassion, and the companionship of shared experience.
3) What is your best memory from being a parent?
There are so many good ones, and it seems the “best” one changes all the time – always surpassed by something new, some new moment that bursts my heart open with love for my daughters as they become whoever it is that they will be someday. But most recently, there was a moment where I was struggling and overwhelmed, overtired, frustrated.
Both of my girls have ADHD – among other things – and my youngest was in a particularly horrible mood that morning. I dropped the youngest off, but as we drove away from her school I broke down quietly in the driver’s seat of my van and started. I was quiet about it because I didn’t want my oldest to see me losing control, but as we turned the corner back onto the main road, she said – quietly from the backseat – with the softest, most compassionate tone, “It’ll pass, Mom. She’ll learn better ways to deal with it, just like I did. And it’ll get better.”
This, of course, made me cry harder, but it definitely changed the tone of the tears. I’m honest enough with myself (or hard enough on myself) to admit that I’ve failed at a lot in my life, but I’m incredibly proud to have raised such amazing young women. That being said, let it be known that the youngest is quite amazing too – when she’s not being Mama’s Little Wretch. (What’s that old nursery rhyme? “When she was good, she was very very good – and when she was bad she was awful?” Although, I guess there’s also some truth to the idea that it takes one to know one.)
4) What is the most rewarding thing about your relationship with your children?
I think the most rewarding thing is seeing them turn out right, for the most part. They’re both wild and headstrong, willful and temperamental … but they’re also really witty and funny. They’re smarter than me and only growing more so and they’re both so totally beautiful, both outwardly as little women and also inwardly as people in general. Ultimately, they’re the best of me, but they’re also each so totally their own. I’m just thankful to have them. I also love that they teach me so much about myself and who I want to be, just by being who they are.
5) If you could change one thing in the world for your children, what would it be?
If I’m being philosophical, I’d say I’d change the societal culture that demands them to struggle all their lives to reach an impossible standard. In beauty, they have to have the right mix of the right body parts and features. In social life, they must be the right mix of funny and smart and witty, but also just the right mix of lighthearted airhead so that they can be JUST fun enough without being moronic. And in business, they should strive to work as hard as possible to make as much money as possible and impress as many people as possible – and it doesn’t matter if they’re fulfilled or living up to their strengths.
I would change that and raise them in a world that teaches them to love and accept themselves, to find and nurture their God-given talents, and to seek fulfillment in faith and love rather than in dollars and accolades. I would give them a world that accepts them and allows them to accept themselves.
6) What things help you to engage with your children most? Under what settings do they talk the most to you about their lives?
Actually, we engage in a lot of different ways. Everything becomes a lesson in our family, from a book to a TV show plot to a movie to a song. We talk very openly about our emotions and what we’re feeling, and we joke a lot. But as for what gets them talking? That’s almost always found in the one-on-one moments we share in the car. The way it works out, I drop my youngest daughter off to the elementary school about half an hour before dropping off the oldest at the middle school, which gives my oldest daughter and I a few minutes alone each morning to chat.
Then in the afternoon, I pick the youngest up about half an hour before the oldest, which gives us a few minutes alone too. When we don’t have those moments, they actually bicker together more, competing for Mom Time – which is sometimes harder to arrange as a single parent. But those car moments alone, without the radio on and nothing to do but fill the time and the silence with talking? Those are rich moments indeed.
7) What is the hardest thing about being a single parent? What would you tell single father’s about the difficulty of being a single mother?
I think the hardest thing about being a single parent is just the neverendingness of it. And I don’t have a co-parent really, so there are no relief days, no every other weekend to look forward to where I can pee in peace and sleep in if I want to. Being alone means being in demand all the time, and it can get very overwhelming – and very lonely.
What would I tell single fathers? I would tell them to man up (like you have) and not to let their resentments and their hurts poison their children. I would tell them that even though sometimes there’s no other option than quitting a relationship with a former partner because it didn’t work or because someone is horrible or because of … whatever … that doesn’t make it okay to quit on a kid and walk away as if they don’t exist. This may succeed in hurting the former partner – the other parent – but it also REALLY hurts the children impacted, and it is not okay. They are not tools to be used, and they are not pawns to be sacrificed in the name of winning a game. They’re people. And they matter.
And they should never feel forced to choose sides or feel abandoned because of things they had no part in. I would tell single fathers to keep loving their children, keep fathering their children, and to remember that this child is literally made up of both parents. They are a product of you, but they are also very much a product of your former partner, the one you once chose to love and commit to. This child is a product of love, and they deserve to be loved and treated as such. I would tell single fathers to NEVER give in to the temptation to quit because being abandoned by your father leaves lifelong wounds behind.
8) Being a novelist, where does the inspiration behind your stories come from?
Ahh, my stories. They come from life, honestly – from the life I’ve led, the life I’ve wished I led, and the life I want to lead in the future. The characters are bits of people I’ve known and people I’ve wanted to know – and people I’ve wished I didn’t know.
Inspiration is a funny thing; it’s true that art imitates life, but not in the way we tend to think. It doesn’t mean every book is written from the author’s memory or direct experience, like a desperate autobiography of sorts. But, it is generally true (in my opinion) that the book is probably colored by the author’s experiences and personal opinions. There’s a reason behind the old saying, “You write what you know,” and I tend to think this extends to other art as well. Movies, music, sculpture, paint. I mean really, how can you express love in art – and with your art, make other people FEEL that love – without having loved in the first place, right? The same is true for pain, fear, etc.
9) Most men aren’t considered to be very good at romance. If you wanted to teach all men one thing about romance, what would it be?
If I could teach all men one thing about romance … now there’s a loaded question. But truly, I think all the things I could say here boil down to one thing: Read. Romance. Novels. (But not the 50 Shades ones, please – they don’t count because domestic abuse, obsession, and control are not romantic.) But seriously, there’s a reason romance is a strong genre. There’s a reason women eat these novels up, some women reading at least one every single day.
There’s a reason we love them … because we’re created to crave what’s in them. Contentment in a relationship, the sense of finding exactly the right match for who we are, the forward momentum of growing WITH our partner instead of APART from them. We crave the pretty words and the flowery gestures and the sense of humor and yes, we crave the mind-blowing, earth-shaking, sweaty bodies, mindless, passionate sex.
We WANT to feel wanted and desired and flirted with, and the reason we love these books is because we can have the thrill of dating and falling in love over and over and over again. If men learn one thing from reading my answer to this question, let it be that romance novels are not competition – they are textbooks and study guides. You want to learn how to romance your woman? Make it your mission to love her so well she stops needing to spend time falling for “book boyfriends.” And believe me, it can be done.
10) Where else can my audience find your work?
Your audience can find my textbooks and study guides (aka, “romance novels”) pretty much wherever books are sold. They’re available as e-books on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo, and they’re also available in paperback on all the major book markets. More information about them can be found here (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/p/bibliography_10.html) – or just by hitting me up on any of my social media outlets (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/p/find-me-elsewhere-on-web.html). For more about mental health, self-empowerment, and life as a single mom, readers can find me on my blog (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/) several times a week. And for a more in-depth look at what I’m writing as I write it – almost in real-time – readers can follow me on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/authorbrandikennedy), where they’ll help take charge of what I’m writing and when it gets published.
Continue The Conversation
I just want to thank Brandi once again for this partnership throughout the month. It has been an amazing experience. Although I have to admit, my bed was beginning to get jealous. She saw the constant dark circles under my eyes and felt like we were growing apart. I’ll have to spend the next month convincing her I will always need her. (Just don’t tell her I’m going to cheat on her by purchasing a new bed. She will become despondent.)
If you have any questions for me about Brandi, I will be sure to pass them on to her. I am sure she would be more than happy to answer anything you needed to know. And if you had any questions for me about the series, all of the posts, themes, or anything else that had been driving you to distraction for the last month, please comment at the bottom or get in touch with me through the contact page. I’m always up for collaborations like this with the right people.
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Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life