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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Safety Pin Nation: The Movement

As one who truly cares about human relationships, I immediately adopted the practice of wearing a safety pin to signal that I’m against bullying, hate speech, and discrimination in any form. My safety pin places me with the larger Safety Pin Nation Movement.

My pin also signals that I will intervene if I see/hear bullying, hate speech, or discrimination. I will not tolerate it and I will stand with those being so treated. For example, I have told people I don’t appreciate a deprecating joke and point to my pin. If someone is being bullied, you can place yourself between the bully and the bullied and ignore the bully while engaging the bullied in neutral conversation about the weather or what a sports team is doing.

I introduced the movement to my Unitarian Universalist Church last winter. I provided a container of safety pins for congregants, and a small dish of others remains at the back of the church for others to pick up and wear. Some of us wear our pins every day as a reminder to ourselves and others how we can live what we profess to believe.

This is an excerpt from Safety Pin Nation-AZ (
Not sure about the significance of the safety pin? Here is our take on it: The safety pin first presented itself after the "Brexit" vote as a symbol of solidarity representing those who stand with immigrants, those who are against racism and the hate crimes that surged after the decision to leave the E.U. The safety pin later became a symbol of unity among the anti-Trump movement, continuing the idea that those who wear safety pins are considered "safe places". In Spanish, the words "safety pin" translate to "los imperdibles", or, "those which cannot be lost".

And this from the same source:
Safety Pin Nation™ AZ is a movement of individuals that believe in the power of unity and community-based action. Safety Pin Nation™ AZ is composed of bully blockers, embracers of diversity, advocates for the environment and its wildlife, supporters of women’s rights, Arizona Dream Act Coalition backers, troops for better veteran care, champions for the disabled and mentally ill, defenders of black lives matter, fighters for healthcare as a human right, LGBTQ allies, helpers of the homeless and hungry, supporters of sensible gun control, supporters of refugees, defenders of children's rights, fighters against human trafficking, leaders in comprehensive immigration reform, backers of religious freedom, front-runners for equal pay and paid maternity leave, supporters of prison reform,  cohorts for properly compensated teachers and quality preK-12 education, Native American allies, believers in higher education access for all and much more.

You can come together on Facebook with others who are embracing the movement to ensure everyone is safe from discrimination, hate speech, and bullying. Go to the Facebook page and “like” and “follow” to be part of something larger. Here’s the link:

There are strategies about how we can respond if we observe inappropriate language or behaviors. We don’t want to put ourselves at risk, but we can’t stand idly by when we notice wrong doing.

I am asking my church members to help produce a list of pacifist strategies to put in our newsletter so everyone could have the resources they need to spread love and acceptance while combating hate and intolerance.

If you found this post interesting, please share with others. I’ve even prepared some messages you can copy/paste.

Facebook: Have you heard of Safety Pin Nation? Sharon Arthur Moore tells you why she wears a safety pin on her clothes every day. If you’re against bullying, hate speech and discrimination in any form, maybe you’ll wear one, too.

Twitter: Wear a safety pin to signal you are against bullying, hate speech, and discrimination. Learn more:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: The Haunting of Thores-Cross

Maybe this is not an overtly romance novel, and the relationships displayed in the book are often not the healthy kind given the pedophilia, possession, and rape, but I really got caught up in the tale and wanted to share it with you. Besides, this blog is about relationships, not just romance writing.

I left this review on Amazon for The Haunting of Thores-Cross: A Yorkshire Ghost Story by Karen Perkins:
This book had a lot going for it that I already liked: ghost story, two time periods, alternating entwined stories, well-researched historical fiction, triggered by a true circumstance. Then you add in the engaging ghost story across centuries, and I couldn't put it down. Such empathetic characters and wonderful villains. My first book by this author, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

This story was inspired by the author finding, as a child, an old ink pot in a stone wall at her family’s frequent vacation area. She has her protag in the novel find an ink pot, too, but the protag, Emma and her husband, Dave built her dream house by the stone wall and awakened Jennet, the 230-year-old ghost owner of the ink pot.

Perkins said she felt compelled as a child to tell a story about the inkpot and this is it. She has Emma feeling compelled to write Jennet’s story. But it is even more than a compulsion. Emma is driven and possessed. The book is handwritten in ink from the old ink pot and in a handwriting that is not Emma’s. Vengeful Jennet wreaks havoc on the present-day ancestors of her adversaries in the 1770s. Two marriages are jeopardized and death has to happen before Jennet is put to rest. Or is she?

I’d love it if you’d share this post on social media. I even made a FB post and tweet for you to share easily. Thanks for spreading the word.

Facebook post: Angelica French reviews Karen Perkin‘s book, THE HAUNTING OF THORES-CROSS: A YORKSHIRE GHOST STORY, a tale across centuries told in two voices

Twitter: @romancerighter reviews @LionHeartG’s book THE HAUNTING OF THORES-CROSS

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Turning 10 Big Marriage Fears into a Romance Novel, Part 2

Continuing on with the story premises/concepts started last week, here are five additional ideas for your next romance novel.

The article I used as my basis for this series is “How to Conquer Your 10 Biggest Marriage Fears” by Jane Greer, PhD a marriage and family therapist. See Part 1 for the first five novel ideas in this series. 
"I'll resent him for the sacrifices I've made."
This novel could also use the prompt from last week about forgetting who one is. But this prompt goes further. Resentment fosters revenge often. Maybe you’ll write a domestic romance thriller. Brian and Melissa have been married for a couple of dozen years. Since Brian was an established entrepreneur at the time of their engagement and Melissa was just out of clerking for a Supreme Court judge, they decided that she would stay at home and be the corporate wife helping foster his successful career. He told her that with her credentials as valedictorian at an Ivy law school and her several clerking opportunities, she could always pick up her law career at some future time. But she didn’t. And, over the years, as she read court decisions and trial transcripts she regretted more and more the decision to leave law. Now it was too late. She wanted to get back at Brian for her lost years. And her brilliant logician’s mind finds just the right tool.

"I'll get less attractive with age while he'll get 'distinguished,' leading him to look elsewhere."
Ripped from the pages of yesterday’s headlines, the royal Elizabeth, never a beauty, is besotted with the elegant, erudite Philip. Despite warnings from her parents and others around her, she sets her mind to capturing Philip for herself and marrying him. After all, as future monarch, she has a lot to offer. The years show her to be a pedestrian monarch with little imagination but great heart for her country and her responsibility. Rearing children when one has a full-time job is difficult not matter the job, but when the mother is also mother to a nation, something has to give. More and more parenting duties fall to Philip and as he is limited in the role he plays in the marriage and as her subject, he fills his time in wastrel ways. He hangs out with men who encourage him to get the intimacy he is lacking in his marriage from other sources. Rumors swirl around the royals and Elizabeth confronts him many times about his indiscretions. Increasingly he is critical of his children and Elizabeth. Would being prettier help her with her marriage or are other factors in play?

"Money problems will ruin us."
Champagne tastes but a beer budget. Barb used to tease Dave about that when they were dating. More than half the time, she picked up the tab. But she didn’t mind. Dave was exciting, fun, and very good looking. Plus, he adored her, and after her last several disastrous relationships, Barb needed the self-esteem boost. Even his $50K in student debt didn’t deter her. She figured he’d pay it off with his salary from his social worker job. Maybe if she’d known about the additional $30K in credit card debt she would have hesitated. But she didn’t. And as a computer programmer with a good salary, she figured he made good money, too. Not! Dave and she financed their own elaborate destination wedding and reception because, as Dave told her, “Your parents $5000 contribution can’t give us the wedding we deserve.” It was her dream wedding, and her American Express credit card happily recorded the $40K cost. Barb was shocked that they were turned down for a mortgage after she eventually paid off the wedding. How could that be? Since they maintained separate accounts, she didn’t know that Dave was in arrears on his student loan and that his credit card debt had ballooned to $50K. In a desperate attempt to get more money, Dave was taking kickbacks from suppliers at work. When did Barb find all of this out, and what can she do?

"I'll never be first in his life."
She loved the way he cared for his mother. Widowed when she was in her late 20s, Jack’s mother was his best friend when he was a youngster. They remained close even during his teen years. As an adult, he lived away from his mother for several years since he worked in another state. But as his mother’s health deteriorated, he gave up his dream job and took a lesser position so he could take care of her. Eventually he realized that living with her would make that easier. Jack had never dated much, but when, Gillian, a new associate joined his firm, he fell hard and fast. The decision to marry hinged upon Gillian agreeing to move into his mother’s home. “So sweet,” she thought. “A man who is that thoughtful will be kind and generous to others.” She agreed. Jack didn’t know his mother was jealous of his wife. She didn’t want to share him with anyone and thought Gillian was selfish to marry before she had died. With Gillian she was nasty, snarky, and manipulative. In front of Jack, she was sweet and kind. He never saw what Gillian complained about. In fact, he discounted it because his mother had never displayed such behaviors before. Gillian wrestled with how to handle it. She loved Jack and didn’t want to leave him, but she couldn’t tolerate the atmosphere Mom created. Should she tape some interchanges? Talk to an attorney about a separation? Should she issue an ultimatum: put Mom in a facility or I move out?

"A vice will spiral out of control."
They met in rehab, so Frankie knew that Joey battled demons, the same ones that afflicted her. But they were both clean and committed to staying that way when they moved to a remote rural community in Northern Arizona. Rural, sparsely populated—that signaled safety to Frankie. Less access to drugs increased the likelihood of losing control again. A fresh beginning. Frankie had plans. She’d go back to school and become a dental hygienist. She encouraged Joey to get more training, too. But Joey was a school kind of guy. Instead, he patched together a network of part-time jobs to meet his half of household expenses. Getting full-time employment with their histories was nigh impossible. Frankie found that to be true as well. Graduating in the upper third of her class didn’t mean dentists were lining up to offer jobs. Depression set in for both of them. For Joey, the solution meant dealing drugs. Not using them, he told Frankie. There was money in drugs, and he meant to get some of it. But when was self-control ever one of Joey’s strengths.

So there you are. Five more book ideas. What? Still here? Why aren’t you writing?

I’d love it if you’d share this post on social media. I even made a FB post and tweet for you to share easily. Thanks for spreading the word.

Facebook post: Angelica French gives romance writers five more book ideas based on the biggest marriage fears people have. Check out these story starters at

Twitter: @romancerighter gives #authors 5 more ideas for #writing about the biggest marriage fears at

Twitter: @romancerighter gives authors five more ideas for writing about the biggest marriage fears at