November 29th, 2009


Bathroom, Doubts, & Reviews

BATHROOM: I made it to and from Texas. Granted the three hour drive south took five hours due to an over turned 18-wheeler. I was fine with the delay because I entertained myself with my own in-car FANTASTIC singing. But after two hours, even Paramore's latest CD could not distract me from my bladder. I spied food and relief 15 miles after traffic jam is unjammed at a popular fast food establishment,. It will remain nameless because I would like to think this experience was isolated. (Ignorance is bliss) I ran to restroom. One stall was open, but there was no tissue paper. Ugggh. I cursed the gods. Then someone left one stall and I entered . . . yeap, no tissue. I waited for a third stall and . . . no tissue. And here is the yucky part. The person exiting was an employee who made a b-line for the door, despite the LARGE sign demanding employees wash their hands. I informed her none of the stalls had t.p. and she was puzzled. Exsqueeze me? She just left a paperless stall, right? The girl behind me said, "I don't want to know." We both shivered. The employee returned with t.p. and still did not obey the sign. I did not buy food at restaurant. You know I am all about a lesson. So here it is: PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS. This concludes this PSA.

DOUBTS: I got Diyari one feedback from fourth beta reader. It was the best and most thorough constructive criticism so far. A bit hard to address some issues . . . should I feel the need to do so. But I have some things to mull over. As if I need more. I have been toying with the idea that I may need to push back query timeline. I already know one beta reader is going to view this as me getting nervous . . . backing away from a challenge. I will have to search my motivations. But in this moment, knowing what I know about the editing process, knowing what I know about what I want to change and what other's have said. . . I am not sure Diyari will be ready in February. I am not blowing off the idea that self-doubts are at the root of this delay. Every few weeks that yappy little creature called self-doubt knocks on my door. Even when I ignore his knock, he pulls out the skeleton key to my mind, enters, plops down on my sofa, kicks off his shoes--stinking up the place, and pops open a soda. I know I should kick him out. But he always assures me I should hear him out. Today his words sound accurate. Tomorrow?

Yes, two quickie reviews (I prattle on longer at GoodReads). I read The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (writerjenn ). I read it in the car on the way to San Antonio. The MC's want want to be seen, noticed. Neither knows how to be seen. So they indulge in a secret affair--such irony. It is sad watching Colt mourn in silence for both the truth (Julia saw him) and the untruth (he failed to see himself). I love his brother's big announcement at Thanksgiving and the evolution of his character. Once he accepts himself, he is seen, loves, and grows. The ending is not happy walk in the park, but that is how life goes sometimes. Learning about yourself and relationships isn't fun. I think Ms. Hubbard has a long writing career ahead of her.

I finaly read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libby Bray. After hearing so much about the Gemma series, I had to read it. I liked it. I it read in two days--even during commercial breaks for the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas/A&M games. The story of four unlikely friends wanting to break free from the shackles of 1800's feminine oppressions and willing to use magic to make it happen, grabbed my attention. At times I did feel a bit frustrated with Gemma. The theme: choices are simply that, a choice. We assign value to them based on how we view the consequences. Some consequences we celebrate, some we can try to change, and some we have to accept. I will start book two today.

Hugs and Encouragement!


Every since I was little, my mom and I have picked at least one inspirational movie to watch during the holiday season. Often we see more than one. And we often shed many tears and share a lot of laughter. Our goal? We want to be reminded of the beauty of the human spirit. I don't know about you, but the incessant headlines about death, drugs, and double crossing leaves me feeling anemic, hopeless. The movies provide an escape. A much needed escape and reminder. This year, we saw Blindside. The premise--a young boy from impoverished background escapes-- is not new. What is unique to this film--but not a unque concept--is the idea that helping someone become who they are meant to be, also helps you become who you are meant to be.

As a psychologist, one of the words that kept pressing at my mind after I watched Blindside was altruism. In graduate school (and undergraduate social psychology classes) social psychologists study the term with the same scientific acumen as astrologists studing entities in and beyond our universe. In its purest form, altruism means helping without benefit to oneself. Many have argued that there is no such thing as a true altruistic gesture. Subscribers to this view, say the moment you help someone, you benefit, the world benefits. Others, in what I would like to call the Pollyanna camp (this includes me), like to expand this idea of altruism to include a person's motivations. We all know someone who helps others because it is the 'thing to do' or tax credits are needed. But hopefully you know someone who helps, because s/he sees a need. He acts without thought. She helps without thinking of her own needs. He intervenes without consideration to his own safety. If you don't know someone like this, become someone like this. And if you benefit from it, GREAT. Just like Sandra Bullock did in the movie. She saw a boy walking the streets in the dead of winter, and she offered him shelter. At the time she was not thinking about the Women's Auxillary or if the boy would harm her. She saw a need and acted. Her friends mocked her gesture, relegating it to a charitable cause and noting how she changed someone else. I loved her response. And I wish many would adopt it. She said, "Shame on you! He has changed my life." The altruism police would ding her on this . . . noting she benefited so it is not altruistic. I would argue her action is altruistic; she was merely blindsided. The joy, the hope, the empowerment she received from her actions attacked her from her blindside. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Children act altruistically on a daily basis: offer a friend without food, part of their sandwich, offer to be a new child's friend, help someone with her/his books. But somewhere a long the way, we get jaded and fearful. We stop helping as much, as often. I include myself in this infamous 'we.' Kind gestures possess nooses made of expectations. And when those expectations go unmet, we turn away. In doing so, I, you, we strangle ourselves. We become so focused on what we will get out of the deal, we miss out on opportunities to see our own internal worth, our beauty. And some times we miss opportunities to see it in others. For example, I talked with several people over the Thanksgiving break and told them Blindside was amazing. You know what I heard time and time again? "Oh, I don't want to see that." "That's that movie about football? No thanks." "You saw that? Wasn't it blah?" And then they proceeded to tell me about the wonders of 2012 and Paranormal Activity. Don't get me wrong, I think there is a place for the 2012 and the Paranormal Activity movies of the world. But I also think we owe it to ourselves to give, so we receive a different kind of gift.

My point is not to shame people into helping others. During the holiday season, I think there is enough of that going around. My point is to encourage you to open your eyes. Look around. Recognize that you can help someone. Notice people helping each other. Don't let the news drain your hope or force you to close your eyes. Watch the inspirational movies along with the 2012's. You have something to offer. Remember that. And when an opportunity presents itself--and it will--act. If you are lucky you will be blindsided.

Hugs & Encouragement!
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