Friday, November 25, 2016

The Best Kind of Therapy

Thought for the day:  I don't believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius, and we're very skeptical. [Arthur C. Clarke]


No post this week. I'm still digesting.

Actually, I'm hanging out with some of our kids and grandkids. My soul needed a healthy splash of sunshine and laughter.

                             Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Grateful in All Things

Thought for the day:  I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet. 

Next Thursday, the U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a time to reflect upon our many blessings, something we should do on a daily basis, but this is the one day of the year that's been set aside to do so with our families and friends, while stuffing our faces and watching football.

The following post appeared for Thanksgiving of 2011, and I kinda figured it was time to dust it off and run it around the block again. (Full disclosure: When the post was written as Gratitude, Grins, and Groaners, I didn't reeeeally have a zit. I was just trying to be funny while attempting to make a point.)


Thought for the day:  Gratitude is an attitude.

But it just isn't fair. When you get to be as old as I am, this simply shouldn't happen. The wrinkles, sags, and extra beef on the booty? Yeah, comes with the territory, and I expected it. No biggie.

But THIS????

Really? You've gotta be kidding me.

A ZIT? Right on the tip of my nose? Not just a polite little white pimple, either. This proud puppy looks like it's ticked off at the world, and to tell ya the truth, if it gets much bigger, it may qualify for its own zip code.  It's ... it's ... well, it's just plain UNDIGNIFIED is what it is. Not at ALL grandmotherly looking.

Oh well, if nothing else, this thing should help keep me humble, right? I mean, it's hard to get too full of myself when there's a flipping  horn growing out of my nose. Ah, what the heck? I've always liked unicorns.


Psychotherapist and radio talk show host Dr. Laura used to say, Gratitude is an attitude. Whether you like her or not, I think she was right about that. ( I don't have to rejoice over the zit, but I can certainly be grateful for the nose it's growing on, right?)

The most memorable lesson I ever received about gratitude came from the book The Hiding Place. 

Written by Corrie ten Boom, who died in 1983, this book tells the tale of how she and her Christian family hid Jews in their home, and then ended up in a concentration camp for their efforts. While she was interred, in spite of the deplorable living conditions and atrocities on every side, her faith remained strong. In fact, she embraced a Bible verse about "giving thanks for all things." So one of the things she prayed for? One of the all things for which she gave heartfelt thanks every day?

She gave thanks for the fleas.

Yes, the fleas. Can you imagine? The infestation in her tent was so bad, the guards refused to enter it. And because they stayed away, she was able to hold Bible studies in there, and to pray in peace.

There's something terribly humbling about the image of someone expressing sincere gratitude for something as vile and loathsome as fleas, isn't there?  Kinda puts things in perspective. Every time I start to feel a little ungrateful for something petty like this stupid pimple, I think of those fleas. And I make a conscious effort to ratchet up the gratitude. Come to think of it, maybe this gigantic pimple is intended to remind me of my gigantic blessings. And just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

Okay, how about some silly Thanksgiving riddles? Ready? Here goes.

  • What sort of glass should you use to serve cream of turkey soup? A goblet.
  • What's Alan Alda's favorite Thanksgiving dish?  M*A*S*Hed potatoes.
  • What do you call sweet potatoes that are very outspoken? Candid yams.
  • If I have relatives with Mohawk haircuts, multiple facial piercings, and a bunch of tattoos, what should I serve them for dessert? Punk kin pie.
  • Not only was my neighbor's turkey infected with salmonella, but she undercooked it.  Guess what all her guests suffered the next day? Yup, 'fraid so. The turkey trots.
  • The local restaurant served overcooked turkey, lumpy gravy, and cold mashed potatoes. Know how they advertised it? As the blooperplate special.
  • NYC is placing tall bleachers up and down Broadway so spectators can get a better view of what slightly renamed event? The May See Parade.
  • What famous play about a Thanksgiving turkey was written by Henrik Ibsen? Hedda Gobbler. 
Okay, enough groaners for now. Time to go spackle my nose with Noxzema, and try to get rid of this thing before I have to name it. (Hmmm, think we could claim it as a dependent?) And count my blessings. Care to join me? Check out this video  It'll put ya in the right mood.

                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Understanding Veterans

Thought for the day:  The willingness with which our young people serve our country shall be directly proportional to the way they perceive our nation and how it treats our veterans. [George Washington]

Today is Veterans Day, a day devoted to honoring the men and women who have served in the military. These dedicated  people put their civilian lives on hold, and if need be, put their lives on the line to defend our way of life. They selflessly personify the meaning of words like honor, duty, and sacrifice.

Today, there'll be a smattering of small-scale parades throughout the country in their honor, and some restaurants will be offering them free meals. Then tomorrow, it'll be back to business as usual. For civilians. Not so much for many veterans. Shutting off the experiences of military duty, especially for those who experience combat, is much more difficult than most civilians realize.

The following was originally posted for Veterans Day in 2011 as We Owe Them. With some editing, here it is again. Hopefully, it will help promote better empathy for our veterans.

To all of you veterans....Thank you.

To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace. [engraved on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans memorial]


Thought for the day:  As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.   [John F. Kennedy]

It's  Veterans Day, and although this day was set aside to honor all veterans, I'd like to dedicate this post to our combat veterans, in particular. There's a definite disconnect between those who fight our wars and those of us who remain safely at home. This is nothing new, but it's still troubling. The reality of war is such that when soldiers in Vietnam talked about returning home, they referred to it as going back to the world. And when they did come hometheir faces often wore a bone-chilling thousand yard stare. That stony expression didn't go away overnight, either; in many cases, it didn't go away for decades. If at all. I can say from experience that it took twenty years... twenty years... before my husband started resembling the easy-going man he was before he went to Vietnam.

In earlier wars, the lengthy ride home via ship allowed time for decompression. Not a lot, and certainly not enough, but more than our soldiers coming home from Nam got, and more than our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get. One day, our soldiers are in a stress-filled war zone, and the next, they're sitting around the family table, shell-shocked, asking someone to please pass the eff-ing potatoes. (Yep, also from experience...)

And yet, many of us treat our soldiers as though they should simply put the war behind them. Get over it. 

It isn't that simple. Psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, author of Odysseus in America, describes what our returning soldiers face as follows:  In combat, you have to shut down those emotions that do not directly serve survival. So sweetness, the gentler forms of humor, grief --- all shut down. And this is profoundly disconcerting to families when a soldier comes back, and he seems to be made out of ice. It's not that he is irrevocably and permanently incapable of feeling anything. It's that this adaptation of shutting down those emotions that don't directly serve survival in combat is persisting. 

Registered nurse Alison L. Crane, a former Captain and mental health observer-trainer for the 7302 Medical Training Support Battalion, is all too familiar with the difficulties veterans face when trying to re-assimilate into civilian life. In 2007, in an attempt to help civilians better understand our returning soldiers. she produced a startling photographic essay, which I'm pleased to share with you now. Our veterans deserve not only our respect and appreciation, but our understanding, as well. Ms. Crane's photographic essay is called

                                                  WHEN A SOLDIER COMES HOME

 When a soldier comes home, he finds it hard to listen to his son whine about being bored.

                              ... to keep a straight face when people complain about potholes.

           ... to be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work.

                        ... to be understanding when a coworker complains about a bad night's sleep.

                                        ... to be silent when people pray to God for a new car.

                           ... to control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower.

                     ... to be compassionate when a businessman expresses a fear of flying.

   ... to keep from laughing when anxious parents say they're afraid to send their kids off to summer camp.

                      ... to keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather.

          ... to control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold.

             ... to remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog.

                                      ... to be civil to people who complain about their jobs.

             ... to just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year.

               ... to be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house.

                                                The only thing harder than being a soldier

                                                                      is loving one.

And when you meet one of our returning soldiers, please remember what they've been through, and show them compassion and tolerance.  [Pictures and text courtesy of Alison Crane]

A very special thank you to all our veterans out there. For all you non-vets, with an estimated 24.9 million veterans in the country, it should be fairly easy to find one to thank. God knows, they've earned it. How about making it a point to hug a vet today?

Congress should stop treating veterans like they're asking for a handout when it comes to the benefits they were promised, and they should realize that, were it not for these veterans, there would be nothing to hand out.   [ Nick Lampson -former Texas Congressman]

Let's end on a feel-good note, shall we? How about a video of soldiers being welcomed home by their four-legged best friends... HAPPINESS personified.

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Voices are Crystal Clear

Thought for the day:  I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper. [Steve Martin]

Here we are again. It's the first Wednesday of yet another month, which means it's time for another gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the inspired brain child of ninja writer Alex Cavanaugh. For hundreds of writers all over the world, the support starts here. 

Here, we can air our concerns, and share our successes. Want to join us? To sign up, or just to find links to the posts written by other members this month, please go HERE.

Now then, what do I want to bellyache about bring up for discussion this month?


Yes, I know we can't put too much stock in reviews. But come on; admit it. Don't you do a serious get-down-and-boogie happy dance every time someone writes a fantastic review of your book, especially if that review shows (s)he got your book, and by extension, got you? That's validation in the highest degree, people!

So here's my beef. Why, oh why, oh why do people tell me how much they loved my book, and tell me they're going to write a review right away... and then never do? As a suitably insecure writer, when I know for a fact someone is reading my book, but they don't follow up by posting a review, I assume they hated the book, and don't want to hurt my feelings by telling the world how much it sucks. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who reacts this way.) But when people actually take the time to send me an email to declare their love for my book and promise a review that never happens... I don't get it.  

There. Rave over.

Now for this month's question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

When the muse is pushing me forward at warp speed, and the voices in my head are crystal clear, that's pretty darned exciting, but I think my favorite part is getting positive feedback from readers. Knowing that readers can relate to your story, and laugh at the things you think are funny, and cry at the things you think are sad, is to me, the greatest reward of all. (Even if they don't write reviews!)

Okay, it's time to strike up the band and throw some sparkly confetti as we celebrate the much-anticipated release of the final book of Crystal Collier's Timeless trilogy. I'm going to go ahead and close out my portion of the post, and let Crystal take it away. NOTE: This is the only post for this week, but I'll be back again NEXT Friday, Hope to see you then.

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                                                  And read Crystal's books... they're great!

Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her brand new book!


Series: Maiden of Time, #3

Author: Crystal Collier

Pages: 253

Publication: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Raybourne Publishing

ISBN: 9781629830056


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

Buy: Amazon | B&N

What reviewers are saying:

“A magical, fast-paced, romantic adventure…” --T. Drecker, Bookworm for Kids

“A story of love...true and forbidden love. There's mystery…tension, action...everything.” –Chrys Fey, author of Ghost of Death

"SWOON." --Sherlyn, Mermaid with a Book Reviewer

Alexia had assumed his home was a
hut in some local village. “Where is it you came from?”
Deamus motioned upward.
Alexia followed his aim to the
warming sky, stars fading. “From the stars?”
Both hands disappeared behind his
back as he considered her closely. Something in his stare solidified, and he
leaned forward, lifting an arm and pointing. “There. Out beyond those lights
waits another earth, one where…where we live without fear. Only those with Passionate
blood dwell there.”
The idea whirled her head like a top
he was spinning just to watch her grow dizzy.
Amos stepped between them. “Tell me
about this place.”
Deamus backed away, gaze shifting
shyly to the ground.
Alexia touched his arm. “Tell me.”
“The other land was created long ago by a powerful man.
There has never been a man more powerful.”
To create an entire world… Alexia
still couldn’t quite fathom it. Only God possessed that kind of power.
“When humanity began destroying…the
Passionate, he knew he had to stop them.” He brought his fists together and
pulled them apart to illustrate. “It would mean separating two worlds. He
studied and gathered and worked for decades to make his dream a reality, and at
last, he did it.”
Alexia gave him a skeptical frown.
“Separated two worlds out of one?”
“I heard me somethin’ like this
story before.” Regin scratched his chin. “Weren’t there two sons and some kind
of battle?”
Deamus stilled and shifted away as
if he’d forgotten about his larger audience.
“Do continue,” Alexia urged.
“A bridge was erected, a bridge of
light that allowed our kind to pass over, but the cost of channeling so much
power was the man’s life.” Deamus bit his lip. His chin shook and he looked
away. Quiet accosted them. Alexia wondered if he would continue when he
straightened his shoulders, lips puckered in a frown. “He left two sons.” He
gave a quick nod at Regin. “Both studied his arts and followed in his path, but
one was tempted and drawn into dark powers, the kind that consume the soul.” A
line appeared between his eyebrows. “The other watched over and protected the
Passionate—mostly from his brother.”
Alexia glanced up at the
disappearing stars and shivered, feeling suddenly very small. “And how do you
know of this other world?”
Deamus’s head tilted, hope shimmering in his
gaze. “It is my home.”

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE.

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