Jessi’s Story

A Little Bit About Jessi:

Jessi Elliott is a newly graduated law clerk and debut author of both young adult and new adult romantic fiction. Her love of writing was born after many years of reading and reviewing books on her blog. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her family and two adorable cats. When she’s not plotting her next writing project, she likes to spend her time hanging with friends and family, getting lost in a steamy romance novel, watching Friends, and drinking coffee. You can find Jessi at http://www.jessielliott.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on book news and upcoming releases.

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Jessi on writing and self-publishing:

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. In fact, it wasn’t until about five years ago I decided that was what my dream career would be. For the longest time, I wanted to be an actress.

I’ve been writing for almost twice as long (almost ten years), but when I started out, being published wasn’t a thought I had. I wrote only for me. Hindsight, that’s probably a good thing, because the first story I wrote was essentially a really terrible The Vampire Diaries fan fiction. Do I still have it? Yes. Will it ever see the light of day? Hell to the no.

Flash back to the last couple of years of high school when you’re being prepped to pick a college or university. You’re basically asked what you want to do with the rest of your life and expected to make a post-secondary choice based on that. Of course, I initially wanted to major in creative writing. I have a supportive family, but that wasn’t something they were going to get behind. I had to take something that would ensure a stable future. That was fine. I ended up taking a two year Law Clerk college diploma and wrote on the side.

Fast forward two years to where I am now, recently graduated and releasing my first book in February 2018, I’m happy with my life so far. I decided in January 2017 that I was going to self-publish my debut novel Twisted Fate. I did this for many reasons, but the main one being I wanted control over EVERYTHING. That’s probably the biggest advantage of self-publishing. On the flip side, the biggest disadvantage would be that I won’t see my book in stores worldwide, I’ll have to depend on mostly online sales. That’s okay with me. I researched A LOT before I decided to go this route, and I’m happy with my choice.

I’m not ruling out traditional publishing in the future, but for my next few releases, I have a plan for them.

My love of writing definitely stemmed from my love of reading, which I used greatly as a coping method for anxiety. I’ve been living with and learning how to deal with anxiety for six years now, and the escape of a fictional world and relatable characters has done wonders. I know how bad my day is going, I can pick up a book and be transported to a different world for a while, and that’s pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to see where my creative brain takes me next, and until then, keep reading and writing the things that you love.


I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is. 

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T-L’s Story

A little bit about T-L:

T-L Way is a poet, blogger, and occasional fiction writer from Buckinghamshire. Her topics of writing range from folklore and fairytales to sharks, conservation, politics, and space.

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Benefits, Council Houses, and Single Parents:

There is so much stigma in the UK around single parent households, people who live in council houses, and people on state benefits. I would hazard a guess that it’s no different in many other parts of the world. Perhaps people get angry because they have to work hard for a meagre life and don’t agree that others get subsidised housing or money from the government without working. People think a child cannot be brought up properly if it isn’t by a man AND a woman.

I have lived all three of these things. Now, as an adult, I am not on benefits, I do not live in a council house, and I have no children or partner. But I still remember the sequence of events that led to my mother, me,  and two of my younger sisters to fall into all three of those things. Perhaps that’s why I don’t immediately judge people in those circumstances. Perhaps if more people stopped to think about what happens BEFORE someone falls into one of them, why they are IN those circumstances, they would understand. And perhaps if they had lived those circumstances themselves, they would also be more sympathetic and less judgemental.
So here is my brief story of how we came to be brought up by a single mother, on benefits, in a council house:

My parents separated when I was six months old. My mother and I moved in with my grandparents and she continued to work, nursing.

A few years later, my mother, still a nurse, and I moved in with my mother’s new partner. A sister was born. Nothing changed. Another sister was born. My mum gave up working to look after her three children. Previously, the first sister and I had child minders for when both of them were working. That’s expensive enough for two children, let alone three.

With the newest baby only months old, the husband left, taking all financial support with him. My mother, having given up work, could no longer pay the mortgage, and he wasn’t contributing at all. The house was repossessed and we were, technically, homeless. A mother and three daughters, lost their home. We were placed into emergency accommodation which was a single room in a tower block. It was horrible, not altogether safe.

We were then housed in a council house on an estate. Even if she’d gone back to work at this point, my mother wouldn’t have been able to afford childcare for all of us, so we lived on benefits. Was it a nice way to live? Rarely having money for treats or new clothes or school trips? No. Not having enough money for packed lunches or birthday cards and presents for friends? No. Learning to eat everything on your plate because there really was nothing else? No. Personally I don’t understand the headlines about benefit frauds and people on benefits living lavish lifestyles; we were poor.  And being poor is hard.

When we were old enough to be at home by ourselves, my mother went back to work. Later she remarried and had two more children, who I hope will never have to experience what we did.

But you know what? Us older three all got good grades at school. We were extremely close, and happy for the most part. We have good manners. We’re kind. We’re not perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with the way we turned out. Except maybe I’m disinclined to be anything but single after what I’ve seen my mother go through, but that’s another thing entirely.

On the other hand, we’re now the kind of people that have to sit listening to rude and derogatory comments about poor people or people who lived in council houses, and then hear the whispers as someone is informed that that includes us. Then of course there’s the apologies and ‘but not you or your family of course!’. As if that makes it better.

I’m not asking for sympathy, any adversity I faced growing up has shaped me and made me more resilient to a lot of things. Looking back on our childhoods, my sisters and I can find many wonderful things to allow us to not dwell on the hardships.

What I do ask, is for people to think. This is just my story, how many millions, or billions of others are just like it and worse?


I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is. 

Bri’s Story

A little bit about Bri:

My name is Bri, and I’m a 17 year old Asian/White American. I’m from the small state of Iowa (if any of you know where that is, it’s midwest). Anyways, I grew up in a regular size town then moved to a very small rural school when I was 9 and stayed there until I was 15. During the summer after my freshman year of high school I moved again, but this time it was to a populated, suburban (mostly wealthy and white) town. Right now, I’m about to start my senior year of high school.

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Growing up biracial:

My name is Bri, and I’m a 17 year old Asian/White American. I’m from the small state of Iowa (if any of you know where that is, it’s midwest). Anyways, I grew up in a regular size town then moved to a very small rural school when I was 9 and stayed there until I was 15. During the summer after my freshman year of high school I moved again, but this time it was to a populated, suburban (mostly wealthy and white) town. Right now, I’m about to start my senior year of high school.
I want to touch a little on the environment I’m currently in before I launch into my history and life. The town I live in currently is near 60,000 people who live here (pretty big for the state of Iowa if you don’t live directly in a city). As a suburban area, compared to the diversity of cities, the people who live here are generally on the higher end of the middle class and mostly white (my high school is 90% white with 1,200 students). This is just to show you all how much diversity I am actually exposed to.
Anyways, my background. My mom originally hails from Thailand, she moved here when she was about 13 years old or so. She grew up in a big family of 10 kids, so big that an older brother of hers passed away when she was just an infant. Her family fled to the United States during the Vietnam War. My grandfather worked for the U.S. government, and being targeted for giving the U.S. intelligence, the whole family was forced to move overnight to seek refuge. My mother and her family then began their lives as refugees of war now given a home in the state of Iowa. My father, on the other hand, was born and raised in Iowa and a brother to 4 sisters. So, I’m half Thai and half white.
Now, back to my life. The small rural school I used to attend was very, if not completely, conservative. The town was surrounded by miles of cornfields and soybean fields, many guys I knew planned on being farmers when they grew older and many of the girls were content with being a farmer’s wife. I’ve never been a small town girl, I always craved the hustle and bustle of cities. For the most part, I tolerated everyone’s conservative views because I figured there was nothing I could do to sway their minds, which is sometimes true. Now that I live in a much bigger town with a lot more people in my school, more share my liberal views, but it’s still not great. There’s always going to be conservative people I know, but there are many more liberals out there that I see. There’s still “discreet” racism, as I like to call it, from many around me and even a few of my friends at some times. People I see daily aren’t familiar with other races or different sexual orientations or genders that aren’t the “norm” around here. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard slurs about people of color (including myself) or the LGBTQ+ community. My friends have openly said things to me like “I just can’t picture your parents together” not trying insult me or mentioning/seeing ANYTHING Asian and immediately connecting it to me (which is so annoying). If people have to look at someone in fears that what they’ve said or done has been even slightly offensive, maybe it shouldn’t be said. The moral of the story here is, people are still uneducated and not willing to understand anything about diversity. As “progressive” a nation we are, we’ve barely made any gains.

What diversity means to Bri:

Diversity, to me, is just understanding and appreciating lifestyles and cultures and customs of those who are different from you. I will forever be grateful for the United States accepting my mother’s family here and giving them a safe place to call their home, but I would be ignorant to believe that this country doesn’t have problems that need to be fixed. I owe my life to this country accepting refugees, I wouldn’t be here (nor would my mother’s whole family) if they hadn’t. It’s precisely this that we should continue to accept refugees from war torn countries. America has the opportunity to change and save so many lives, yet we aren’t, we’re turning people away based on race and religion.
I’ve had the luxury of being raised in a household with loving, liberal parents and where I could learn the issues with diversity in this country. There’s still a lot of people, so many people, who haven’t been opened up to anything other than their small, white communities. Like there’s people who will never change their views, there’s also people who change and grow if they’re just exposed to things. I knew a guy who used to be one of my closest friends that was homophobic and “discreetly” racist when we were growing up, but he’s changed his views based on the people he surrounded himself with and the information he was exposed to. I used to tell myself when I was younger in the couple years before starting high school that there was nothing I could do to sway people’s minds, but I was wrong. Some people will never change, but it’s our job as humans to stand our ground and call out injustices we see in the world.
I was a quiet, relatively reserved person who just dealt with what people said, but I shouldn’t have been. I could’ve, and should’ve, said a lot more when I’d been given the chance but I didn’t. I used to hate when people called me “triggered” or “overdramatic” when I’d get worked up about things, but I don’t care anymore. There are serious issues in our society, starting with diversity is just the beginning. How can we expect to grow as a nation if we aren’t willing to accept the people who live in it? If I’m angry about what’s going on in society, I have a right to be angry. If I’m angry about what’s happening on the news, there’s most definitely a justifiable reason as to why I am. Diversity is so important to me, half of my history is Asian. I’m tired of Asians, along with other races, being pushed aside and not acknowledged as if we don’t exist in this nation. Diversity doesn’t make a country bad, it’s those who aren’t willing to understand it that make it bad. It’s time minorities are given the recognition they deserve. Just because they make up a smaller part of the whole doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s our duty to keep growing as people and keep our minds open so we can change the prejudices that still carry on and fix them.

I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is. 

Mary Kate’s Story

A little bit about Mary Kate:

Mary Kate Carroll is an fresh entry-level occupational therapist figurin’ it out and doin’ her best. She graduated from Gannon University in May 2017 with her Master’s degree in occupational therapy. She’s probably at the Root Cafe in Lakewood, Ohio, reading a book about conspiracy theories or buying tickets for the next Front Bottoms show. Follow her on twitter @MaryKateCarroll

What makes Mary Kate unique?

First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to Brandi for allowing me to be a guest contributor on her blog! I’m so happy to help her on her new series! Brandi explicitly stated “Make sure anything you write you feel comfortable enough to share on social media.” Well, I guess I’m an open book. Sorry in advance, readers. It’s about to get personal.

I should probably open my guest post by explaining a bit about myself. I attended the same school and program as Brandi, although I’m two years older than her. I graduated this past May with my Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. Since graduation, I’ve probably experienced every single life stressor described on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Moving from school back in with my parents, studying for my boards, job hunting, apartment hunting, a breakup with someone who I thought was my “forever,” loss of my college social supports, etc. It’s a lot to handle. Due to all these changes, I’ve reluctantly booted up the old Tinder profile and updated the LinkedIn page. I’ve been haunted with the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question for weeks, whether from a professional viewpoint, like in an interview or from a romantic scope, like on a date.

The truth is, I’ve been struggling with finding out “who I am” ever since leaving college. I think I lost myself amidst the challenging coursework my program mandates. When I wasn’t studying or in my grueling classes, I was padding up my resume with volunteer work or extracurriculars. When I wasn’t padding my resume, I was writing for Gannon Edge as a contributor. When I wasn’t working, I was trying to cling to my last bits of social time with my friends. When I wasn’t with my friends, I was trying desperately to make my long distance relationship work, finding a way to move to Pittsburgh after graduation. When I wasn’t with my then-boyfriend, I was trying to catch up on sleep. I didn’t really have any hobbies, any major outlets to find myself. If people were to ask me “What makes you unique?” I would struggle answering the question. Why am I special? How am I different from any other 23 year-old recent graduate? Why should you hire me? Why should you date me?

I still sometimes struggle with answering this question, even three months after graduation. The nice thing about this Huge Tidal Wave of Change was that it gave me a clean slate. A fresh start to figure out my life. Since May, I’ve passed my boards and have started my career as an occupational therapist with the most amazing healthcare organization. I’ve found my very first apartment, as empty and new as I feel. I’ve explored some new hobbies, like signing up for dance classes. I’ve returned to some old interests as well, like playing my beloved ukulele or getting involved with theatre again or writing (yay!). I’ve explored new places near my future home while still visiting my frequent haunts from time to time. Slowly but surely, I’ve expanded my social circle, like meeting the loveliest couple at a 50’s prom themed bar crawl or asking out potential love interests for coffee.

Through my journey, here are some things I discovered about myself. Here is how I can finally answer the question “What makes you unique?”

My name is Mary Kate Carroll. I am 23 years old. I am an occupational therapist. I love my job, especially interacting with my patients, hearing their stories, watching them progress. I no longer run out of the room when one of my patients puke. I’ve mastered how to put on compression stockings. I really love how welcoming and friendly my coworkers are. I still like going to gigs at the local bar-turned-bowling-alley-turned-concert-venue, but I also like the little outside patios and cafes in my new place of residence. I’ve adopted a “Let People Enjoy Things” attitude when it comes to interests—no more judging people for doing what makes them happy (mainly listening to country music. This was a huge bridge to cross). I will probably always have a soft spot for musicians that aren’t good for me, but I really want to be with someone who has a career plan. I am among my own kind at the weekly pub trivia nights. My friends are slowly making me enjoy craft beer. My burlesque name would probably be “Atomic Blondie.” I love alien/crime/paranormal documentaries on Netflix. Black coffee is still gross. I love that I’m finally forming a closer sibling bond with my brother now that we’re both older. I will forever be grateful to my parents for giving me the world, and then still letting me bum around in their house until I get my feet planted on the ground. I really, really can’t wait to move into my own place. My best qualities are my empathy and compassion. I want to continually be in the process of discovering myself. I am still figuring it out. I am happy, happier than I’ve ever been. I am a work in progress. Most importantly, I am unique.


I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is. 

Jessica’s Story

A Little Bit About Jessica:

Hi I’m Jess from rosiejess.blogspot.co.uk! I’m a sixteen year old beauty lover from Liverpool with a passion for writing. I also love reading, pizza and pugs (all the good stuff). I started my blog to meet new people and share my thoughts with the world. I hope you enjoy! 😊


How Jessica Conquered Anxiety & Depression:

Anxiety is an awful emotion to feel. It creeps up on you when you least expect and turns your life upside down. People feel anxiety in different ways, and the way it affects us is totally different too. I’ve been suffering with anxiety for over a year now, so I wanted to give some advice and remind those of you who suffer that you are not alone and it is not permanent.

At first, my anxiety was not as noticeable, as I was always a nervous and shy child in social situations. But as I got older, I noticed that this nervous feeling was happening a lot more frequently and randomly; soon, I was having panic attacks on a daily basis, which was so frustrating as it disrupted my life and stopped me from doing stuff I wanted to do.

For those of you who don’t understand what a panic attack is, it is basically a sudden feeling of dread, as if everyone is staring at you and smothering you as the room shrinks around you. Then our body releases adrenaline, which causes our muscles to tense and breathing to quicken. We also feel light-headed and dizzy as blood rushes to the muscles. This causes us to feel nauseous too.

For me, panic attacks could occur anywhere and everywhere, but a lot of the time it was in school, which was where I had my first major panic attack. I was sitting in maths on the front row with my classmates when all of sudden I felt this tightening in my throat and this horrible dizziness. My heart then rapidly started to pound. I felt incredibly claustrophobic and as if everyone was looking at me as the room starts to close in on me. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I had to rush out of the room immediately. At this point I didn’t care what my classmates were thinking, I just needed to get out. Afterwards I remember thinking “Why is this happening to me?” and I feared this was going to be my life forever now. Well I want to tell those who are thinking this that it is definitely not permanent and will go away with time and determination.

Here are some tips that have really helped me when I ever feel anxious or feel a panic attack coming on:

  • Slow, deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth
  • Fresh Air – Walking away from the situation

Long Term:

  • Therapy- Talking to a professional about your anxiety can really help you get to grips with it.
  • Listening to relaxing music or mediation apps before going somewhere you may panic in: I recommend the apps Mind and Headspace. I also find that drawing or doodling help me to relax too.
  • Writing down your thoughts and feelings whenever you feel anxious
  • Taking it easy- Try not to rush to places or stress about deadlines, as this can trigger your anxiety. Taking a break can help gain perspective and think clearly again.

This goes for depression too. At the start of this year, I was at a really low point. I felt worthless and hopeless and didn’t have motivation for anything. But I got through it, and so can you. I thought I would never be happy again, but soon I realised that I deserve to be happy, and I have a place on this Earth. And so do you reading this right now. YOU are loved and YOU deserve happiness. You just have to believe it.

“The important thing to remember when trying to feel better is to make reasonable goals. Anything has the possibility of making you feel more depressed if you set an unrealistic goal. For example, exercising is positive, but setting the goal for yourself to run five miles a day might make you feel more depressed if that’s not something you’re able to accomplish. Small goals and small steps forward work best.”

So here are my tips for a happy and healthier mind. I am no therapist or doctor but these are the methods that I found really helped me get back on my feet, and I hope these can help someone in some way too.

  • Start a new hobby, it can be anything from football to photography, as long as it is something you enjoy. For me, it was blogging.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Pamper yourself- Evenings I would de-stress by running myself a bubble bath, using a face mask (I recommend the Lush ones!) and then getting a good nights sleep.
  • Talk about how you’re feeling with a loved one. You don’t have to suffer alone.
  • Surround yourself with the people who love you and avoid spending long periods of time alone.
  • Yoga and Meditation
  • Exercising to release endorphins.
  • Remember that feeling better takes time, but those bad feelings will not last forever.

I am now a much more positive person. I can control my anxiety as I will not let it defeat me and get in the way of my life anymore. By developing this positive mindset, I have not only got a hold on my anxiety, but also gained understanding of my depression and how to not let it control me anymore.I hope this post has helped in some way, and has provided some motivation for those who are going through a rough time right now. Things will get better.

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I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is.