Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Meditation Readings

Part of what makes us functional human beings in healthy relationships is being mentally healthy ourselves. For me, and many others, that includes meditation as a way to get in touch with my inner being. My essence. My core.

My on-line dictionary defines meditation as:
a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject

I admit to a flaw that some meditationists (Is that a real word?) might call me on. I’ve never gotten to the point where I can still my mind enough, to make it blank, so that I reach deep for self-awareness. I cannot sit and think of nothing.

I know. I know. It takes practice to still the mind and just “be.” Call me impatient. Call me a meditation dilettante. But I am not willing to put in the work. Sorry, purists. But as Frank said, I’ll do it my way.

For me, morning reading meditations work best. I read, reflect, and apply to my life and what’s happening around me. Much as people who read the Bible daily do.

But my readings are varied and from several sources. I sometimes open up a book and read from what appears. Other times I go through a book in order. Some days I read the table of contents and pick the topic that appeals. It depends upon my mood.

The people I read are smart folk. Pithy points fall from their pens to the page. I just love coming across quotable, relevant ideas. I often read some of them to DH. That leads to conversation which typically deepens my understanding.

My newest source is Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age by A.C. Grayling. On his book jacket he tells us that he wants to stimulate thinking on “the problems and possibilities of being human.” Indeed, this book does that and more.

This thoughtful collection of sixty-one short essays, each presaged by an appropriate quote, is organized into three parts: Virtues and Attributes, Foes and Fallacies, and Amenities and Goods.

Under Foes and Fallacies, the first two-plus pages entry is “Nationalism.” The quote at the beginnins is from Erich Fromm: “Nationalism is our form of incest, it is our idolatry, our insanity. ‘Patriotism’ is its cult.” Isn’t that a whiz bang way to begin an essay? Erich Fromm studied demagogues (Hitler and Stalin) and coined the term “malignant narcissist” for them that I see making its way into today’s news. The first sentence of this essay is, “Nationalism is an evil. It causes wars, its roots lie in xenophobia and racism . . .  In his essay, Grayling’s perspective is that nationalism is short-sighted and dangerous for the health of democracy. Much food for thought in light of current events.

Under the category Virtues and Attributes, in the essay “Death”, Grayling states that to the dead person, to be dead is indistinguishable from being unborn or in a deep sleep. It is others who mourn that death really matters. If death cuts short pain and suffering, then it is good; if death cuts short a life of promise and hope, then we view it as not good. He states that. “If we base our understanding of death on evidence rather than fear or desire, we are bound to accept it as a two-fold natural process: the cessation of bodily functions [and] . . . the body’s dispersion into its physical elements.”  He also says, as a true humanist and naturalist, “Hopes for an afterlife are, in fact, a sad reflection on, and a condemnation of, the facts of this life.”

The essay from the third part, Amenities and Goods, that I’d like to share with you is “Peace.” Livy’s quote opens the essay: “Peace is better and safer than hopes of victory.” Grayling’s first paragraph of the four in the essay states: “Peace is the condition required for education, and the arts, and the formation of human relationships. . . Peace gives a society time for reflection, which is where most good things have their start.” But the essay isn’t merely about societal or national peace. As he says, “Personal peace thus mirrors social peace in having both external and internal aspects.”

Did I enjoy every essay equally? Of course not. Some topics are more relevant to me. Grayling’s tone varies from piece to piece. Sometimes biting, sometimes reassuring, but always contemplative. I highly recommend adding this to your reading list.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Intersectionality and Why It Matters

Have you seen the term “intersectionality” floating around cyberspace? It seems to be popping up, for me, in many areas.

My online dictionary defines the term as:
The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage: through an awareness of intersectionality, we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us.

As I read it, intersectionality goes beyond the common definition of identity by understanding the political implications underlying who you are, not just who you identify as. The phrase “creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage” casts a negative shadow over “intersectionality” that doesn’t necessarily apply to “identity.”

For example, my husband climbs and clambers around in the canyons and mountains when he can. He climbs mountains, but he doesn’t identify as a “mountain climber.” He will say he is a hiker. He is a white male in his 70s who had a successful career in education and remains somewhat active in his field still. All of these are identities that he’ll claim.

In terms of his intersectionality, he’d be categorized as a straight white male middle class senior citizen. He is like a part of Venn Diagram, sharing characteristics with some of his acquaintances but differing from them on other aspects. The only one of his characteristics subject to the “discrimination and disadvantage” of the definition is, possibly, senior citizen.

But, honestly, he knows he enjoys white privilege and straight privilege. Just as he knows that the majority of other senior citizens face discrimination and disadvantage on a regular basis for a variety of intersectionality aspects.

But why does the term intersectionality have to have negative implications? Why can’t the term be a neutral one that simply defines who each of us is? Whether we face discrimination or disadvantage doesn’t obviate that we are, each of us, of a gender, race, and SES level. Realizing we are all intersectional can bring us closer by seeing our shared characteristics.

Recognizing our commonalities should help us to tear down more of the separation barriers just as mixing black and white children in schools led to bonds forged that never could have happened before integration. Did discrimination disappear? No. Did everyone stop hating? No. But they are lessened because familiarity need not breed contempt. Familiarity can breed respect and civility. Interracial marriages, while still not the norm, do happen and they are no longer illegal. Gay and lesbian couples can adopt children in many states. Things are better. Not great, but we are not regularly lynching people with impunity these days.

Having said that, the state of equality that is the American ideal is still on the horizon. Perhaps when we embrace intersectionality as describing who we are, in all our aspects, we can come to see how we are all more alike than different.

I share commonalities with older, middle class, straight women. With mothers. With grandmothers. With educators. With writers. With the overweight. With . . . well, you get the idea.

If we broaden the discussion around intersectionality beyond race, gender, and SES, I think we can forge new respect, understanding, and support for all God’s children. God doesn’t make mistakes. ALL God’s children should see their connections to one another.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It's Not the Statues, Stupid

In a blog about relationships, I’d be remiss not to address the biggest relationship issue in today’s America. What is happening? Civil discourse seems to be an oxymoron in much of our discussions about politics, ethics, morality, religion, and social issues of various stripes. And I’m talking about both sides and even the middle.

How has it happened that we no longer assume good intentions (until shown otherwise)? Two Arizona Senators have been in the news lately making the plea for civility and respect in American politics.

Jeff Flake took Barry Goldwater’s 1960 title, Conscience of a Conservative, and gave it his own twist with this subtitle: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle. That is a powerful statement for our times. But what is he doing beyond writing a book about bridging the gulf?

John McCain returned after brain surgery and gave an impassioned speech to the Senate urging them to working toward common goals, find common ground, and create bipartisan solutions to the problems we face. And then he voted for a bill that violated all that he said he wanted. So where does that leave me in my respect for his speech and intentions?

When did “compromise” become a four-letter word? Ben Franklin realized that the future of the Constitution was at risk. He urged delegates to compromise and to sacrifice, not their principles, but their overwhelming need to be right. And that’s what I see happening today.

We are finding more ways to divide us than to bring us together. Division opens the door for despots to exploit our cracks. It is not overly dramatic to say that our republic, the finest governmental experiment in history, is at risk. And all because we cannot find common ground. Intransigence of our leaders is a threat to our country that might be even greater than outside forces.

The Founding Fathers had to compromise, on very hard issues, or we would not have the Constitution or a United States of America. Surely the issues confronting us today are not harder than the ones they faced in the creation of a new form of government. So why can’t our legislators, and even the common folk, follow the example of these Originalists who knew that compromise was hard but necessary?

The statues controversies are a smoke screen for much deeper issues that require resolution. If all the statues were gone, bigotry, racism, discrimination, and hate speech would, sadly, remain. It’s not the statues or monuments. It’s peoples’ hearts.

During the early days of school integration, I watched the images on TV of a nation struggling with inequality and unreasoning hatred. I said to my father something like, “It’s good they’re letting kids go to the school they want.” My father’s response was, “You can’t legislate peoples’ hearts.” He was against forcing integration and didn’t think it would ever work.

I am a Unitarian Universalist. Our first principle is that we “affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” Don’t most religions believe that? How can one say heesh is Christian (for example) and go out and burn a Black church or synagogue? What if people actually believed the creeds they say in their religious setting instead of mindlessly repeating them? Would bullying stop if people lived their religion instead of using it as a shield?

What if our legislators looked to the common good instead of the bribes from corporations that keep them in office? What if compromise on hard issues were seen as a sign of strength, not weakness? What if compromise were to be elevated again to the status of statesmanship?

Let me leave you with a couple of more quotes on compromise:

“Fight as hard as you can, and then understand there’s going to have to be some amount of reasonable compromise.”   ~Andrew Cuomo

“Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.”  ~Jane Wells

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Only Character-Naming Guide You'll Ever Need

Did you read about the mom who wanted to give her toddler a new name because the one given at birth just didn’t work very well. Hmm. Seems weird, but it happens to authors all the time.

Naming for me has never been a big issue, but I hear from writing friends that they suffer with the search for the right name for each character. So I know I’m pretty lucky. Of course, I’m also a wimpy Libran. Mostly my characters name themselves and announce that to me as I write. I don’t fight back very often. Mostly the first name out stays in.

But if I did have trouble, what would I do?

Just for you, I did a bit of research on naming characters and found some good stuff out there. Okay, it wasn’t an exhaustive search, but good enough to generate some ideas if you struggle with character naming. When I googled “how to name book characters”, 112,000,000 sites popped up. I only got through the first million. (Only kidding—you can go for it!)

1)   Unsurprisingly, the most common advice given is know your character well and see how the name fits his personality, attitude/outlook on life, background, and foibles. It is so obvious, but Frank may not be the best name for someone who lies for a living. Or maybe you want to play off that bit of incongruity.

2)   Choose a name you can turn into a nickname. Umm. Maybe, but I’m not a nickname person (never had one, never used one with my kids). Some say this personalizes your character, makes her more knowable. Maybe. You are the one who knows your character best. I do have one character with a nickname. She named herself with the nickname. I had to figure out what was on the birth certificate.

3)   Make a list of first names of all friends. Make a second list of your friends’ surnames. Mix and match to find a wide range of usable names.

4)   Make sure the name is era-, ethnicity-, social status-, and age-appropriate. Even with the modern trend to past names, Agatha is not a likely choice for today’s six year old. There are tons of lists of names by decade to help you with this.

5)   Another piece of common advice is to check out name etymologies. You may love Linda for your villainess’ name (I know a Linda who fits the bill), but when you read that the “lind” stem means “weak, soft, gentle, friendly”, you might want to choose Imelda (from “hild” meaning “battle or fight”). For one of my books, I searched etymologies for female Gaelic names so I could imbue my character with those traits.

6)    At Debbie’s blog, “Moon in Gemini”, I found a really useful catalog of options, some of which I hadn’t seen before like a couple of baby naming sites. (It’s been a while for me to need to update that resource.) 

She also listed a site for Deep South names that could work very well for certain genres and eras. Debbie’s post listed nine naming resources: telephone book, movie credits, most-common surnames in 1990 census, two baby name sites, two southern names
sites, fantasy names site, and magickal names book. As I said, a great resource!

7)   It is suggested that you take a few minutes and look around the room. What objects or animals could become names? “Pen” could become “Penn”; “book” into “Booker”, the dog is “Barker”, and so on.

8)   I’ve been told a way one author names his characters is to get out maps for the setting and find town names to put together for first and last names. For example on a map of Louisiana, I found Goldonna Pollock, Clinton Mangham, and Erath Patterson. What fun, too, right?

9)   A great suggestion for naming that appeared a few times, was to choose and name and then say it aloud. Is it harsh sounding? Can you see yourself saying the name easily and often? Hard consonant sounds add strength to characters; soft consonants can sound more pleasing to the ear.

10) Another idea I ran across for naming was to scan books of a similar type to see what names are used. I think this would be especially helpful in science fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. Those names can be quite unfamiliar to readers. I love how books with aliens use a lot of consonants together to create unique names.

11)   Several sources suggest keeping a master list of names that strike your fancy. When stuck for a name, try your list first since those are ones that resonated at one time.

12)   A unique idea is to randomly choose two words from the dictionary, maybe move some letters around, and voila!

13) I’ve seen people advise you to consider your character’s occupation and choose a name that fits. Not that I named my culinary mystery protagonist “Cook”; I chose “Wesson” as her last name. The cooking oil. Get it? Sometimes I crack myself up!

Some caveats:
a)    Keep an alphabetical list of your character names. Don’t use “C” for twelve people even if the sound varies! (I’ve done it.)

b)   Don’t get names from the newspaper to avoid lawsuits. Okay, so maybe I’m paranoid, but why risk it?

c)    If you’re writing historical fiction, make sure you know if last names were in use. Generally speaking, 12th century and earlier didn’t have surnames. When they did come into use, they were often reflective of birth place (“Cliffford”), occupational (“Carpenter”) or demonstrating relationships (“John’s Son” became “Johnson”).

d)   Do a search to make sure no one famous already has that name. Avoid the hassle by choosing another name. There are a million options. You’ll find another.

e)    To save yourself a hassle with possessives and plurals don’t use names that end in “s”.

f)      Don’t wear out your readers by using too many odd names. Odd names can interrupt the reading of the story. Use with caution.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Head Explodes with Story Ideas

I will not live long enough to write all the story ideas I have. And it’s not like this is a fixed set. Every day I get at least one more new idea. Remember the expression “ripped from today’s headlines”? I often think of that expression when people who don’t write fiction ask me where I get my ideas for stories.

Where don’t I get ideas? They beat me about the head until I capture the idea in a computer file for later examination. I have hundreds of tickler files!

On the other hand, this frequently asked question pushed me to consider explicitly where my story ideas originate. Of course, I quickly realized the sources are as many and varied as the stories I write.

The stories push themselves into my consciousness as I notice a mom and recalcitrant toddler at the grocery store, when I see the woman facing away from the man in the car at the traffic light beside me, when I read a “Dear Abby” column. I am unable to escape the stories. I often respond to those who ask about story ideas that I feel as if I am downloading life into my computer and won’t come close to living long enough to complete the task.

To those who don’t write fiction professionally, it must seem like magic of some sort that we see stories all around us. That the hard part of writing is not the story idea, but in bringing life to the idea with characters will readers care about.

But, for those who might be reading this who are not bombarded with stories, let me share some other things I do on a regular basis to keep the story well filled with water. My sons would say that saving this stuff is just further evidence of my OCD problem, but, in the interest of art, I’ll put up with their abuse.

Decades ago I began collecting Chinese fortune cookies slips. Sometimes these are fortunes, sometimes they are aphorisms, but either way, they are story topics. I have hundreds of these, and have even strung some of them together in a story outline about my best friend, Pat, in which we meet together every year for Chinese food and then the intervening chapters tell how our cookie fortunes played out between our yearly dinners. 

Another source is the newspaper/online articles. I have stacks of news and feature articles (typically feel-good stories about locals who overcome obstacles) and piles of advice columns. These provide a structure for your story way beyond the kernel of cookie fortunes. I have a whole folder on articles and story plotting about the mummified babies found in a storage room in California. I create a now-what story for the girl who beat cancer. Who hasn’t imagined what the letter writer did after getting the professional’s advice to dump the chump she wrote in about? 

I practice describing settings and characters while traveling. It’s something to do to while away the time. The airport and plane are filled with opportunities to bring what you see to life. Sometimes you need a background character for a scene and having a set of character or setting sketches handy can help. Even if you don’t ever use them, just paying attention and describing is a good writing exercise.

I collect overheard conversation bits as I am walking down the street, in a meeting, or buying pickles. People talk on their phones as if they are in the phone booths of long ago. Hello! We all can hear that conversation! Another great source of conversation bits is restaurants. Again, people carry on the most intimate of conversations in the most crowded locations! Always keep a notebook (file cards, fast food receipt) at the ready.

I sit on a swing and notice the plane overhead, and a novel of the passengers and crew who face an emergency landing in a remote location pops into my head. The odd-shaped passageway into a tree’s core calls forth the little people who live under it and their struggles with another race. The unexpected chill on my neck brings forth the tale of an unhappy spirit seeking peace and release.

I seem to have the knack to convert a kernel into a creamed corn casserole. It takes but a spark to get me doing my “what ifs” to unravel a tale. Isn’t it great to be paid to lie? That no one will chastise you ever again for a runaway imagination? That in fact your ability to expand and develop characters and situations is admired by many?

The world is stories. Keep an eye and ear out for all those you happen upon every hour of every day. And please share your sources below in the comments so we all learn more.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Romancing the Genre

I, Angelica French, write romances of varying degrees of heat. Unapologetically. Other nom de plumes accompany other genres I write. Why have alter egos? Why don’t I write all my books under a single name?

Well, I think it could be awkward for someone who enjoys my culinary mysteries to pick up Streetwalker and go hunting for non-existent recipes but while hunting find explicit sex scenes that simply never occur in a cozy mystery. Sharon Arthur Moore, Angelica French, Caroline Adams, and River Glynn can have their own audiences.

Angelica enjoys romance of various types depending upon her mood. Romances are quite as variable as my panoply of pen names. Do you read romances? Do you wonder why people read romances if you do not?

When discussing the romance genre, several questions arise:
1) What are the various romance genre? Why so many?
2) Who reads romance?
3) Why do they read romance?
4) What makes a romance “good”?

1) What are the various romance genre? Why so many?

Romance genres heat levels range from sweet to erotica. By the way, pornography is not a romance, since romance requires more than sexual acrobatics. By definition a romance has to have, well, romance.

“Sweet” romances depict love with yearnings not backed up by action (certainly not outside of marriage), whereas, some accuse “erotica” of not having any subtlety at all--it’s all about “the act.” Erotic romance, on the other hand, does keep a relationship as a central component.

There are multiple levels of heat along this continuum and when authors submit to a publisher, they must identify the heat level according to each publisher’s guidelines. Even the erotica publishers have their limits, however. No pedophilia, bestiality, and other acts generally deemed offensive or illegal.

Within the heat levels, there are categories of romance genres. These include historical, contemporary, inspirational, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and so on, as in general fiction categories. And, as with general fiction categories, historical romances might be the Old West, Regency, Civil War, Pre-World War I, Post World War II, and so on.

It’s pretty obvious why there are so many categories and heat levels. If there weren’t readers, there wouldn’t be books produced. That simple. Lots of folks like romances, men and women.

2) Who reads romance?

There’s been a good bit of research to identify the demographic for romance readers. In a study by Romance Writers of America (RWA) a few years ago, 42% of romance readers had at least a bachelor’s degree, and 15% earned or were working on post-graduate degrees. While still mostly women, nearly one-quarter of romance readers are male.

In the RWA study, half of romance readers were married, four percent were divorced, thirty-seen percent were single, one percent were separated, and eight percent were widowed.

Most romance novels readers in the study were ages 35-44. The next largest group was 25-34. The third highest age group of romance readers were ages 45-54. Only seven percent were 17 or younger.

After I (Angelica) finish the trilogy for my “Sex Sells” series, I am going after crone lit. There are LOTS of older women looking for romance and titillation in their reading. Old folks can have and enjoy romance and sex, too!

3) Why do they read romance?

People read romances, I think, for the same reasons they read anything. A peek into how and where others live. An escape from their own reality. An examination of how others solve a problem they have. A chance to live in another world for a while. Maybe a bit of titillation and fantasizing.

4) What makes a romance “good”?

A good romance shares the same things that make any fiction book good--interesting characters you care about (Gone Girl is a notable exception), unpredictable twists and turns that still make sense, authenticity of setting/characters/events, or learning about another place/time/event.

Romance, more than most genres, has been criticized for being clichéd and formulaic. I admit to boredom with those overtly predictable stories as well. The best romances, as in any genre, provide surprises that weren’t foreseen but were still logical in the story. I also am weary of the women who must have a man in their lives to define them and solve their problems. Give me a romance with a woman who takes charge of her own life, and then, oh, by the way, falls in love with a fellow (or gal).

Chick Lit, one of the categories in romance, is characterized by the growth of the woman (apart from a partner) who with humor and good will stumbles around in life and relationships before finally getting it all together.

The Romance Writers Report, journal of the Romance Writers of America, published an article about the canon of romance books. The author took on a critic of romance genres who was critical that there was no set of generally agreed upon representative books.  

According to the author, a canon is not necessarily those books that are the best in the genre so much as game-changers, books that initiated a change of direction in format or content. It was a pretty compelling article. “Is There a Romance Canon?” By Wendy Crutcher, June 2014, 34 (6), Romance Writers Report.

It’s interesting to me how romance genres are more likely than any other genre I know to be denigrated. And, on the other side, hotly defended. Do you read romances? Are they one of your guilty little secrets? Or do you disdain romance readers as unsophisticated and naïve?

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Somewhere in Time

Richard Matheson wrote one of the most appealing stories I’ve ever read/seen. It’s a story that floats into my mind over the years. For me, the endurance of the tale is tied to several things other than the romance it describes. But that’s very well done as well.

Somewhere in Time (1975; original book title is Bid Time Return) is the story of a dying man who falls in love with a woman he has never met, in fact cannot meet, since she is a portrait of a famous actress from the previous century. He is drawn again and again to her picture. He seeks additional information and pictures of her. An obsession takes hold. The movie omits the brain tumor.

The biggest hook, for me, is time travel. What does one do if one falls in love with a woman long dead? If you’re an accomplished modern fantasy writer, you figure out a credible strategy for bridging the decades, and let your hero make the trip. I’m not giving anything away here, because surely from the early pages it’s pretty obvious Richard has to meet Elise.

The setting for most of the book is the very real, luxurious, and classic hotel, the Hotel del Coronado, in San Diego, a place I have spent many days. It is elegance personified, even in the modernization the Del has had. The setting for the movie is the fictional The Grand Hotel in Illinois? Michigan? Wisconsin?

The book was made into a 1979 movie starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. I was surprised to learn that the movie I saw IRT (in real time) is now considered a cult classic. Feeling your age, anyone? Apparently, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, fans gather yearly to honor the wonderful movie they love.

The differences between the book and the movie (I stopped counting after a dozen) ranged from small (room number, lake vs ocean, added Arthur character) to huge (no brain tumor, Elise giving young Richard a watch, timeline forwarded 16 years). Whereas I preferred the book to the movie (as I typically do), the movie has its own charm and niche. And Elise’s dresses are worth watching, if nothing else!

Elise is an acclaimed actress who is performing at the Del in 1896. Richard plots out how he can arrive on time to see her performance and to declare his love. Of course, there are a few impediments, his brain tumor, for one, that make the planning and execution difficult. His time travel method almost makes you think you could do that-almost. Also, what does one say to a woman who doesn’t know you exist and wonders why you are being so forward in contradiction of 19th century etiquette? Will he remain in her time or will he bring her back to his? Did he even cross the timeline or is it a delusion from his sick brain.

This love story across the decades resonates with us because we all want to believe in eternal love, right? That there is one person we’ll love above all others. That one would do anything for someone heesh loves. That nothing can keep true love from consummation.

How does it end? Does their love endure across the decades? Can this star-crossed couple achieve happiness? I’m not telling. Read Somewhere in Time and see the movie. They are both well worth your time. (Okay, the movie is a little sappy. DH left off watching.)

Caution: There is another book with the same title, also a time travel romance, but I haven’t read it. Look for the Matheson title and let me know what you thought of it. Does it haunt you, too?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Happiness is . . .

I have a necklace that I like to wear. In fact, I wear it a lot. But when I put it on today, I thought of its words in a whole different context, the context of our current atmosphere in America.

The words on the mobius strip necklace are from Gandhi: “Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

Imagine that congruence. That happiness results from the congruence, according to Gandhi, is an interesting thought. Is that an Eastern religion thing or is it TRUTH?

I do think in my case, and the friends around me, that the intersection, like the common strip in a Venn diagram, is where happiness lies. I certainly know that I have less anxiety, less stress if I am in congruence. In balance. In sync.

And isn’t the assumption that the congruence is good thought, good words, and good deeds converging on happiness? But what if there are bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds? Is that person happy, too?

Gandhi doesn’t qualify (in this quote) that these are to be good actions and thoughts—only that the confluence of thought, words, and deeds must be aligned. Take Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, for example. Was he happy?

Given the current political divide, no matter which side you favor, surely we should all be wondering how to achieve the balance in a positive way. What if all of America’s people were in a state of happiness, but for some the happiness stems from a congruence of negativity and for others the happiness results from positivity?

What kind of a world are we talking about? Everyone is happy. But for opposite reasons. Can we compromise with one another from these states of happiness (given our individual sources of happiness) or would Americans be even more entrenched in the belief that each is right? What kind of America would we have is everyone were happy?

Can we hold onto happiness from a positive stance? I’m going to say yes. But, like marriage, one would have to work at it. But, going out on a limb here, I posit that happiness from an alignment of bad thoughts, bad words, and bad deeds would be transitory.

I expect that negative happiness, if it even can exist, would be in flux. Always something nastier to think, say, and do. Always comparing one person’s nastiness with others. Who can be “happier” through negativity, they might ask themselves?

But what a great premise for a novel, eh? Probably one of the futuristic dystopian variety. Everyone is happy. How do you keep them happy? And what are the consequences, foreseen and not, of a “happy” populace, particularly if happiness stems from negativity for some and positivity from others? Would negativity ultimately defeat positivity? Or would, in the end, the love you take equal the love you make?

If you found this an intriguing post, please share with others. Here are some copy/paste posts to use. Or make up your own!

Facebook: Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you do are in harmony.” Does that mean evil people can be happy? Angelica French cogitates on the conundrum.

Twitter: What’s the source of #happiness & can we work with others who have opposite sources? See @RomanceRighter’s post

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Persistence and Resilience

Related research strands a number of years ago in my previous life was about schools that beat the odds and kids who did well in school despite the odds. These kids and schools not only survived but thrived. How did it happen that some kids/schools succeed and others have fewer options.

Out of the studies, two things emerged that really caught my attention. Kids who were successful despite everything stacked against them were described (in part) as persistent and resilient. That resonated with me. We educators could be part of helping that be realized in their lives. We couldn’t change home. We couldn’t change the way society viewed them. But we could work toward imbuing them with a strong sense of self.

A quote that I tried to live my life by was stated by Haim Ginott: Treat every child as if he already is the person he is capable of becoming.

Of course, it was not that simple. But since I had spent my entire 39 years as an educator, I had to try. It was important that we try to intervene and develop at least those two life skills. I wish I could report that we saved every kid we worked with. But that wasn’t the case. It does not make our attempts futile, however.

In that spirit, let me share some quotes that I feel attached to. Do you know someone who needs to be more persistent and/or resilient? A sense of identity and self-efficacy will provide the extra strength needed to keep at it. Try to help that person live like this:

Perseverance and audacity generally win.  Madame Dorothée De Luzy

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.  Beverly Sills

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure. George Eliot

I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.  Madeleine K. Albright, Madam Secretary: A Memoir

Hardships make or break people.  Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next. Mignon McLaughlin

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.  Martin Luther

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. Charles Spurgeon

When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself. Isak Dinesen

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t. Henry Ward Beecher

If you are going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill

Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.  Robert Strauss

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. Marie Curie

You don’t have to be strong to survive a bad situation; you simply need a plan.  Shannon L. Alder

We will either find a way or make one. Hannibal

Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.  Catherine of Siena

Did you find a quote that spoke to you? If so, share this post with others in your circle. Here are some copy/paste ways to do that.

Facebook: Self-efficacy and identity. Persistence and resilience. These are tools we all need in our toolbox. Read the post by Angelica French to find your pertinent quote to live by.

Twitter: Use these quotes to remind yourself how to be more persistent and resilient from @romancerighter.