Concise Characterisation by James Gault

Please enjoy this guest post by author, James Gault, and feel free to share your thoughts.

Ogg Paperback

Name of Books :
Hard Times, by Charles Dickens and Ogg by James Gault

The extracts:
The beginning of Dickens’ Hard Times, where we hear Mr Thomas Gradgrind’s speech to the pupils of the school.
‘NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!’ 
from Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Ogg and Antonia have been transported in time and place to a shady night club in fifties USA.
A squat balding fifty year old tuxedo with a cigar stood before them. 
“You havin’ a good time?  I ain’t seen you ‘round here before.”
“We’re from out of town,” Ogg drawled, and Antonia choked on her sparkling water.
“Well, you sure picked the right place for good entertainment. I’m Harry. Harry Biaggi. This is my joint.  D’ya like it?”
“Well, yeah, Harry, I do. It’s a real nice place you got here.”
“We try to be classy. Howd’ya find us.” Harry snapped his fingers as he said this and a bow-tie appeared and slid a seat under him. He sat down.
from Ogg by James Gault

The explanation:
If we read the opening few pages of Jane Austin’s Emma we see a common way for authors to introduce characters. Emma’s family, biography and character are presented to us in intimate detail, and before we start her story we feel we know her like a good friend already, and we can sympathise with her successes and failures and feel the delights and angst which follow. For this particular novel, the detailed early establishment of the character is important because the author needs to arm us with the tools to judge Emma.
This kind of approach to characterisation is out of fashion now: it slows up the action and needs inspired writing to keep the reader’s attention, and is especially distracting for any but the very main characters.

Nowadays, we expect to discover our characters rather than be asked to judge them. We expect to get to know the characters slowly as we read their story. We form first impressions, then we develop these impressions and sometimes we misjudge and need to correct our assessments. The discovery of the characters is as important to us as the development of the plot.  The characterisation is drip fed to us, and the personality of each individual has to permeate each part of the story.
For protagonists that first impression is of prime importance, while for minor roles it is the only information we get. So we expect the author to imbue our first meetings with the characters with indications of what kind of people they are: by what they say, by what they do or by both.

The excerpt from Hard Times is only six short sentences of dialogue, but how much does it tell us about the speaker? He is self-opinionated, he at least claims to be rational, he expects to be listened to and obeyed. He speaks in short sharp sentences, in commands and assertions. No debate is permitted. We don’t know what he looks like, we don’t even know his name, but already we don’t expect we’re going to like him very much.

In the second extract, all the elements are employed to create an impression of Mr Biaggi: description, dialogue and actions.  All of this is condensed into a short dialogue. Biaggi is presented as middle aged and overweight but well dressed. He has the strong accent of a man from the gutter who has made it to the top – others jump to satisfy his every wish. But he also has an aura of feeling inferior: he is anxious to please and be liked and appreciated. In the novel his is a walk on part, we never meet him again, but he leaves an impression and sets the tone for what follows.

The point of both extracts is to note the denseness of the character information which is presented at the same time as the plot is developed. The reader has to work hard to catch all the points, but the ongoing development of the story never flags. This is what I am calling Concise Characterisation.

 

About the author:

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James Gault, born in Scotland, has recently retired to SW France after spending ten years in the Czech Republic. There he enjoys the sunshine, writes novels, short stories and English Language textbooks.

He also produces the on-line literary magazine Vox Lit with monthly notes by writers for writers and readers, news, features (short stories, poems and extracts from novels.)

He has written three novels, all available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks:
Teaching Tania (Young Tania tries to put the world to rights with the help of her English teacher – a comic detective story)
Ogg (Supernatural being tries to teach teenage Antonia how to think rationally as they try to save the world from destruction – comic philosophical thriller)
The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Young woman in ex-communist country tries to build a career in a totally corrupt society – political psychological thriller

He is currently working on a detective thriller set in Scotland, France and Spain.

As well as ELT books and his novels, he has written short stories published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, he won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for his short story ‘Old Honza’s Day Out’.

In his time James has been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. He has worked with and taught English to students of many nationalities. He has an international outlook on life and his writing reflects both this and his other interests.

Apart from writing, his passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and his grandchildren.

Books by James Gault:

OGG (Kindle Edition)

The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Kindle Edition)

Teaching Tania (Kindle Edition)

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE “ROSEANNE” MESS

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When you try to look at something from all angles, you make no friends, but I’m compelled to do it anyway. That said, I hesitated to write this because as others have wisely pointed out, horrible things are happening all around us every minute of every day, and here we are battling over a comedienne and the “right” to see a TV show.

Many seem to think this controversy is about one person insulting another. They’ve brought up Joy Behar, Jimmy Kimmel and other liberals who have “gotten away with it.”  I don’t watch The View or Jimmy Kimmel, but I do agree that anyone who has made bigoted statements or who does so in the future, should be called out the same way and, if necessary, face appropriate consequences.

I didn’t defend Michelle Wolf for roasting Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kathy Griffin and her decapitated Trump photo. I did notice, however, that the same people who were appalled by those two incidents are okay with Roseanne’s crap and Ted Nugent’s crap. So, it’s kind of like pot/kettle. There’s a lot of, “but he said, but she said, and hey, he started it.” It all seems rather childish, except the anger we feel toward each other knows no depths, and the venom feels poisonous.

As far as comediennes go, I have always liked the ones who target institutions, government, and politicians. All of that to me is fair game. I’ll admit, too, there are people I don’t mind them poking fun of, but those people are usually guilty of offending us and putting themselves out there in such a way that you kind of feel they deserve what they get. They are comedy gold, and I understand that.

But this issue is not about insulting someone. It’s about destructive and divisive hate speech, i.e., racism. There’s a big difference.

Some people claim that what Roseanne said is not racism. Let’s see, there was the “Roseanne didn’t know Valerie Jarret was black because she’s light-skinned” argument. Except she knows damn well who Valerie Jarret is, enough to still be talking about the woman when Obama is not even in office anymore. Roseanne follows politics obsessively and knows all the players. She has made a run for President. At the very least, she didn’t know Ms. Jarret wasn’t black, but the ‘ape’ reference was not  a coincidence. And it wasn’t the first time Roseanne tweeted something racist.

Then there was, “Why are they offended if they believe humans evolved from apes?” “They” includes all liberals, I presume, because, of course, they must all believe the same thing when it comes to creation, right? Wrong.

People who make this argument don’t seem to understand what it means to evolve. Per Merriam-Webster, it means to undergo an evolutionary change. It is “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.” So, you don’t evolve from something and still appear to be that something.

But the people who make that reference know this. They know full well that the ape reference is used to dehumanize and to subjugate. They did it to Michelle Obama. In fact, they were downright merciless in describing Mrs. Obama.

Those who make this reference believe they can pass it off as an innocent joke, or harmless insult, and that the rest of the world will be stupid enough to believe it.  Sorry, but no.

Alas, there is the freedom of speech cry! That is a good one when all else fails. People don’t seem to understand the First Amendment either. They think it means there should be zero consequences regardless of what we say, that no one should react unfavorably or reject it or use his or her power to handle the situation. These same people feel differently, however, when someone is saying something that they don’t like. Yes, double standards, indeed, but we’ll get to that.

Let’s get to that right now, in fact, because double standards exist everywhere between genders,  parties, religions, races, and more.

And, of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but when some celebrity gets caught with his or her pants down, as many have, I don’t care about their politics. It is not about left or right, and it shouldn’t be. It’s about right or wrong.

Yes, sometimes Democrats get away with things. Sometimes Republicans do. Just look at the “C” word argument. Both Roseanne and Ted Nugent have used the word against Hillary Clinton. That was way before Roseanne got a TV show and before Ted Nugent got invited to the White House.

The president gets away with saying despicable things all the time.

Similarly, people call out the predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, as they should, but then turn a blind eye to predators and pedophiles in the Catholic Church. They think because there are predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, all Hollywood celebrities are predators and pedophiles. No, wait—all liberals, according to some. Imagine if anyone said that because of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, all Catholics, or all Republicans must be pedophiles? Yes, it is absurd.

FFS, must everything be a competition?

Now, I am not here to defend ABC. Roseanne was the same person when they hired her. They knew who she was. Apparently, she also knows who she is, as she had serious reservations about doing the reboot in the first place.

It would have been one thing if she’d come on playing the character she played in the 90s, and the show didn’t have plans to explore and possibly heal the divisiveness with a real-life Trump supporter as the star pretty much playing herself, and liberal producers and writers. On the one hand, they were trying too hard to appease both sides. On the other hand, they were encouraging the series star in her belligerence and paving the way for her downfall.

Yeah, it was a bad idea.

And many won’t like this, but I do feel empathy for Roseanne. I can’t help that.  I do believe that this fallout has been hell for her and that she is not doing well. Besides that, something is clearly wrong with her.

Conservatives who watched her screech the national Anthem hated her then, and they hated her for many years after that, as she wasn’t their physical ideal or very ladylike, and they probably figured, on top of all that, she was a liberal. They pretend to support her now, but if they genuinely cared about her, they would not encourage her bad behavior.

The smartest tweet I’d read about this whole thing came from White House correspondent April Ryan when she tweeted Roseanne, saying, “Just stop.” Ms. Ryan told Roseanne to go on a retreat or something, stay off Twitter, off the phone, and stop listening to the enablers who are defending her mess. It’s easy to see that people are exploiting her in a way that will only make things worse.

She needs to fix this not dig a deeper grave.

And, okay, I couldn’t help laughing at the Twitter backlash she got from the Ambien excuse. She walked right into that, but I still feel bad.

Her “supporters” say she should not even have apologized. I say she should have stopped with the apology, no drama like, “I’m leaving Twitter,” only to come back and begin defending herself, justifying what she did with excuses.

It’s not a good feeling, watching someone self-destruct. It gives me no pleasure to see another human being crushed, humiliated, and used this way. There is that part of many of us, where we can’t look away from a train wreck, but it is no less awful.

And personally, I couldn’t keep quiet about any of it. I’ve hated racism and all forms of bigotry from the moment I was old enough to see it for what it was.  I was a child then, but I’d seen no evidence that any one group of people were superior to another and I’ve firmly believed that we are all entitled to dignity, justice, and respect.

Still, I don’t claim to be righteous and tolerant. I can’t because I am genuinely happy to coexist with people. I don’t claim to be tolerant because I am not a nice person who is just being politically correct. What I do or say along those lines is not for the sake of pleasing anyone.  When I speak out against racism, I am not defending the people targeted because they are more than capable of defending themselves. I’ve seen it. I am defending myself and what I believe. I’m fighting for the world I want to live in. Lastly, I don’t claim to be tolerant because there are things I can’t and won’t tolerate. And, yes, racism happens to be one of them. It is crucial that we call it out when we see it, and it’s about time.

© Copyright June 1, 2018 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com.

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

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I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is the first man a girl gives her heart to completely? The first man she trusts blindly and devotedly? Did you realize?

I used to think I was hard to love.

Whatever people said—men especially—I wanted to believe them. Deep down, I didn’t. Not a word. And every time a man took something from me that I didn’t want him to have, every time a man tried to silence me, belittle me, or make me doubt myself, I punished him, pummeling him with words and crushing him with goodbye. I could be angry with them but not you.

What if things had been different between us, though? Would I had been less vulnerable or had the confidence to be my authentic self, knowing I was worthy and lovable? Would I have chosen more wisely? Would I have stopped running and hiding, oblivious to my weaknesses and my desperate needs? Would I have respected myself more? Might I have found someone I could love, for real? Someone who could have loved me back? Because I didn’t let them … I made sure they couldn’t.

Well, no matter, that’s all changed now. I picked up the shattered pieces of my heart and began to love myself.

It’s hard not to feel that twinge of emotion when I hear father tributes of the heroes who boosted confidence and taught children to believe in themselves. I honestly wish everyone could beam with that pride, feeling safe, content, and protected in that eternal bond.

It’s easy to defeat someone when you have all the power, when you are on a pedestal from the start, and you make all the rules. You can create vulnerability and punish the very same, though you don’t mean it. You can erase one’s humanity because of your denial, your self-loathing, and your shame, though you’re not aware. You can damage a person almost beyond repair. And, after the wrecking ball, cleanup of that wreckage rests solely on those tiny shoulders. Yeah, those shoulders get bigger, but somehow it all gets harder and more complicated.

I cleaned up that mess, though. The void lasts forever, and many people can attest to that, but I got those things I needed. It just takes ongoing effort to hold on to them.

And by the time I had a child of my own, I knew all too well what a child needs. I was able to give him that, but I couldn’t give him YOU. Oh, he’s brilliant and kind and funny, and so very loyal. Like you, he’s hard and strong but with such a tender heart. He needed you, and he still needs you, though he’d never admit it now. He’d been shattered right along with me, but we rose to the challenge, and he loves with his whole heart like I do. I’m proud of him, and I’d like to think you’d be proud of him, too, but it doesn’t matter now.

Look, maybe you didn’t give me what I needed, but you gave what you had. I saw a brave and modest man, generous with assistance and advice—a hero to many, and I know why they love you. I know why I loved you. Sure, it’s easy to love someone when you think they are perfect; when you hold them up on a pedestal and pretend they are everything you need and always wanted. You fell off that pedestal when I was twelve, Dad, but I loved you so much, flaws and all, and I still do. That’s unconditional love, and though you couldn’t give that to me, you still get it. Because guess what? You deserved that, too, from the people who didn’t give it to you.

Yeah, I knew why you were the way you were, though you accepted no excuses from me when I fell short. You could never understand me, but I understood you. Though you couldn’t hear me, yours was the loudest voice I’d heard in my entire life—a voice that continued to bellow in my ear for a lifetime. It kept me from standing up. It kept me from fighting, and it kept me from winning until I did all those things because I couldn’t lose any more. I climbed in spite of you, because of you and for you, because you couldn’t do it yourself, and I understand that.

When you were angry, devastated, and tortured, I tried to tell you it would be okay, that I was sorry for you, and that I loved you, but it seemed too much for you to bear at the time. Then, in the end, I forgave you, and you forgave me. It took a lifetime, but we got there.

Sigh. There are many things we never got to do, Dad, and it’s too late now. You’re gone. But I do have some fond memories of you that I will cherish always.

And here’s what I wish.

I wish I could go back in time with you—to those boyhood days when you were punished severely for no good reason—when you were invalidated, shamed, ridiculed, and ignored, just to tell you how awesome you were, and all you could be and do with your life. I’d say I believe in you, and that you have everything you need to succeed. I would say over and over that I love you to the moon and back, so you would know how worthy you are of that love. And maybe you would have grown up to be what you wanted, and have felt no shame. Then when it was your turn, you could have done the same. You would have known I was not an extension of you and didn’t have to represent you or your ideals. Perhaps you would not have expected such a conformist “go with the flow” type of kid who didn’t make waves but sang to a song you couldn’t possibly hear. You would not have lost empathy. You wouldn’t have cared how others saw me or what they would think. You’d have simply treasured me for the person I am. Imagine that!

The aching in my heart is that I want that for everyone. I wish all men and women who didn’t get what they needed as children would give that and get it back in abundance however they can. And I’m infinitely grateful to every hardworking mom and dad who gets up every day ready and willing to get it all right, including you.

Rest easy, Dad, and know you will always be in my heart.

“Children are the most fearless souls on earth.”― Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!

Further Reading:

10 Ways Strong Women Move Past Their ‘Daddy Issues’

Why Dads Matter — Especially to Girls

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© Copyright May 31, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

CHANGING YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON CRITICISM HELPS!

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

Yes, I’ve heard that, too, but I agree only in part. We still have to be accountable for our behavior, and it doesn’t help to stubbornly insist we are fine—and that whatever we do is okay regardless of how many people say otherwise.

It doesn’t mean we have to believe every negative thing anyone says about us. It’s more about the willingness to consider what others have to say, whether we like what they’re saying or not. It’s about our responsibility to learn, grow, and evolve.

Everything comes back to balance for me, but when you’re able to set aside ego and keep an open mind, discernment about what to take personally and what to blow off becomes easier.

You can surely tell if something is malicious or plain stupid.

For example, and speaking as an author now, we put our work out there before a world that seems divided on just about everything. Everyone has opinions, not all of them based on reality or given by someone who has a reasonable frame of reference. Someone may read about a tragic event and say it isn’t an accurate portrayal. You can write something that did happen or describe someone that was very real, and someone might see it as a misrepresentation because that’s not what they’ve experienced. People also have personal biases and triggers. And, yes, sometimes the reason they don’t like something has more to do with them than you. I have seen fellow writers get two-star book reviews for reasons that had nothing to do with the book. Some trolls will say negative things merely because they can.

But most of our antagonists or legitimate critics in life, personally and professionally, are people with their own agendas who may or may not have a vested interest in us. And sometimes, they are right on the money.

Unfortunately, however, some people fear criticism so much that they’re not able to live their dreams or find true happiness, They may put a toe in the water but never dive in.

What I have to say may help. It’s worked for me.

  1. Change Your Relationship with Criticism

Years ago, I grappled with panic attacks and debilitating pain. I read somewhere that I could change my relationship with pain by changing my perspective on it.

That helped tremendously, and I soon realized you could do that with just about anything.

Criticism, like pain, isn’t comfortable. It feels horrible, and we don’t like feeling horrible, so we tell ourselves we can’t handle it.

Take yourself out of fear mode and the feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. Acknowledge that you’re not comfortable. Tell yourself you can handle it, then decide how you will do that. You want to find the solution, control whatever it is you can control, and let go of whatever you can’t. Stress only makes things worse.

You’re not alone. What’s happening to you is happening to others, maybe even at the same moment. So many people have been through it. You are no different from any of them and no less capable of handling it. Maybe it seems so much worse because it is happening to you.

  1. Take Yourself Off the Pedestal

On a professional level, people could tell us a thousand times about all the famous people who’d been rejected over and over before the world realized how amazing they were. Many will say, “Well that won’t be me. Oh, but, what am I going to do if it is? How can I control that?”

You can’t, and it’s not easy to get past all that righteous indignation you feel. Someone is criticizing or rejecting you or your behavior or your work, and you instinctively want to defend yourself. You become angry. You feel sad or ashamed. It hurts.

Understand first, that you are not the exception to every rule.

In recovery circles, we laughingly refer to ourselves as “just another Bozo on the bus.” It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s a way of humbling yourself, and taking yourself off the pedestal. I like to think of myself as just another writer, another voice in the choir, and mostly just another person trying to learn and figure things out. That’s an accurate description. We are babies in this astounding old universe, and it’s okay to accept that we’re all vulnerable—not only to the force of nature and random happenings but to each other.

When we respect that, we don’t see people as enemies and haters. We see them as people struggling to survive, like we are.

You are not this person the whole world is watching, and with ridiculous expectations, all the while hoping you will fail or die. I know we meet some nasty people in life that make it seem that way. It’s not surprising that we end up seeing people through such a negative lens. But let’s refuse to believe anyone is that obsessed with us or that petty.

No matter what’s happening, we need to believe that the world is with us, and that the universe supports us.

And with this shift in perspective, there’s little need to be competitive or combative, no need for drama or denial or damage control.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of better things to do than spend my time and energy doing damage control for the sake of my ego. It’s a full-time job, really, with plenty of overtime—controlling how the world sees us and everything that we do. In fact, the business of hiding an inferiority complex behind some shield of superiority is downright exhausting. It becomes impossible to admit you are wrong and say you are sorry. It has you taking credit for all the good in situations and relationships but none of the bad.

  1. Listen to Learn

Do you enjoy a challenge? Do you love to overcome problems and obstacles? I know I do. Understanding that you can do better helps. Wanting to do better can save your life.

Sometimes, we are lazy about fixing stuff. It’s overwhelming. It’s too much work. The reality of life is harsh and can bring unbearable pain. Denial is much more comforting.

I can tell you that, in the past decade, many people have praised me for things I once sucked at, and that’s because somewhere along the line, someone provided me with valuable insight. I was willing to work at it, and so I benefited in the end.

Every critic is a teacher, planting seeds for our improvement and healing.

As far as I can tell, we have to keep listening to learn. On both a personal and professional level, there is always room for improvement. I am obsessed with learning more and more about things that have affected me in my life—things that tripped me up when I had to deal with them in others or myself. I want to learn all I can, not because I’m looking to point fingers but because awareness is everything. I’ve loved those big hallelujah moments where I’ve said, “Hah! So, that’s what’s been going on!” Those were game-changing, life-altering moments. I can’t help feeling grateful for every one of those opportunities.

So, fall in love with the process of learning, growing, evolving, and recovering. It helps us to succeed more and suffer less. And do it with the understanding that this is precisely how it’s supposed to go. Everything is an opportunity for growth, and even shitheads can make valid points. Embrace it. Accept it.

It’s all part of a divine process that is always happening, and we are both a part of and a child of that divinity.

 

 

 

Related:

IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY  Kyrian Lyndon

© Copyright April , 2018 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

The SockKids Book Blast for Friends of Kids With Cancer!

It is my honor and privilege to offer a blog spot for this book tour because I truly love this series! Kids will, too! You’ll want to read it to your children and grandchildren. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and as colorful as the characters. You will love the sweet, heartfelt and poignant messages. It’s just adorable and will make you smile ear-to-ear! 🙂

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BeachBoundBooks is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for Author Michael John Sullivan and the SockKids. The SockKids are partners with Friends of Kids With Cancer, a non-profit organization that helps kids be kids during their cancer treatments. We are honored to help out with YOUR help too. The blast will run from April 30 – May 14, 2018.

SockKids Book Blast


The Socks

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The Socks are available for purchase at http://thesockkids.storenvy.com/.
Sale of the Socks will benefit Friends of Kids with Cancer.

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About the Book

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The SockKids – Solving The Mystery Of Your Missing Socks! Where do our missing socks go? Readers find out in our children’s series, The SOCKKIDS. We follow the Socker family through many adventures; from encountering the slobbery mouth of the family dog to meeting Santa as he comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve to helping a fireman save a baby to the most shy Socker going to the school dance for the first time. Thanks to the time-travel opportunities afforded by the spin cycle of the washer, they learn about some of the most important humans in the world. Children two and up and their parents will be drawn to the diversity of the family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences, treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course, beware of the spin cycle!

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Where Do Our Missing Socks Go? We tell you! Readers find out in our children’s series — The SOCKKIDS. We follow the Socker family through many adventures, from encountering the slobbery mouth of the family dog to meeting Santa as he comes down the chimney to helping a fireman save a baby to the most sky sock going to the school dance for the first time. Thanks to the time-travel opportunities afforded by the spin cycle of the washer, the Sockers learn about some of the most important humans in the world. Children two and up and their parents will be drawn to the journeys of the family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences, treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course beware of the spin cycle! In this book’s story, we read about Sudsy landing on the foot of inventor Ben Franklin. Sudsy, the bug-playing boy sock, discovers with Ben Franklin the wonders and dangers of electricity. The book includes safety rules and discussion questions put together by an experienced classroom teacher in helping parents and children respect the power of electricity.

Sockkidssaynotobullyingcover The SockKids focus on educating children and adults how bullying affects us all and what we can do about it.

Do you know where your socks go when they go missing in the washing machine? Well, the SockKids know! The SockKids are a mismatched family of socks that sometimes time travel through the spin cycle, teaching universal lessons of love and kindness, and focusing on creating a greater awareness of the many social issues that children are faced with today. The SockKids help to educate and encourage children from 2 to 92 to find solutions in helping to make this a better world.

In this story, Sudsy and Wooly discover their human is being bullied at school and team up against bullies with Ethan’s newest friend, Olivia. They discover bullying hurts everyone and staying silent is not an option.

More Inside! Children’s counselor and licensed therapist, Jamie Ross, gives adults and children guidelines on how to handle bullies.

Book available at http://thesockkids.storenvy.com

About the Author

MikeDIMichael John Sullivan is the creator of the SockKids. Constantly searching for his socks, he wondered whether the missing foot comforters had found another pair of feet to warm. So he searched and searched, until he discovered these elusive socks likely time traveled. Before his interest in socks, Michael started writing his first novel while homeless, riding a NYC subway train at night. After being rescued off the train, he spent much of the past two decades helping raise two daughters while working at home in New York.

Michael eventually returned to his subway notes in 2007 and began writing Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness (Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books imprint). Library Journal named Necessary Heartbreakone of the year’s best in 2010. His second novel, Everybody’s Daughter (Fiction Studio Books, 2012) was named one of the best books of 2012 by TheExaminer.com. He completed the trilogy by having The Greatest Gift published by The Story Plant in 2015.

Michael has written articles about the plight of homelessness for CNN.com, The Washington Post.com, Beliefnet.com, the Huffington Post, and America Online’s Patch.com service. He is a former board member of the Long Island Coalition For the Homeless.

Facebook ~ Website ~ Twitter

About the Illustrators

shelley

Shelley Larkin performs many tasks for the SockKids. She develops ideas, co-writes books, and is the marketing and promotions director. She has spent a lifetime of wondering where her missing socks go. The SockKids are grateful to finally solve this mystery for her.

She loves that children and their parents are drawn to the diversity of the SockKids family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences; treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course, beware of the spin cycle! In addition, she is dedicated to finding the right soap for Sudsy.

Shelley is also a passionate child advocate, working with a variety of cause-driven organizations such as Destination Imagination, Up & At It!, Child Abuse Prevention Council, 3 Strands, the International Bullying Prevention Center, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters Youth Organization. Shelley has developed a keen sense of awareness of what children experience today in dealing with such important issues including bullying and recognizes the importance of putting into place the type of value-added programs that will effectively strike a nerve in preventing our youth from losing their way to a safe and productive future.

In her spare time, she is an event planner and resides in California.

SusanPetroneSusan Petrone lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and two silly dogs. When she isn’t writing SockKids stories, she writes novels and short stories (her work has been published in Glimmer Train, Featherproof Books, The Cleveland Review, Muse, Conclave, and Whiskey Island) writes about her beloved Cleveland Indians at ItsPronouncedLajaway.com for ESPN.com’s SweetSpot network. Her most recently, Throw Like A Woman, was published by The Story Plant in 2015.

SugarSnail

Alexandra /SugarSnail dreamed of becoming an illustrator since childhood, even though she didn’t know the profession actually existed. She later graduated from college with an MFA in graphic design.

She never gave up on her dream, so she decided to do what she loved best – become a children’s illustrator. SugarSnail’s beautiful artwork can be seen in many children’s books.

To reach Alexandra Gold/SugarSnail, follow her on Facebook.

Book Blast Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice and a second winner will receive One pair of SockKids Socks
Giveaway ends: May 14, 11:59 pm, 2018
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Michael John Sullivan and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway ($50 Amazon Gift Card)

a Rafflecopter giveaway (Sockkids Socks)

BEFORE YOU FORGET AGAIN: YOU ARE AN AMAZING TRIUMPH!

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The robin in your tender heart
Hungers for the red berry
That titillates your tongue.
She carols as the snow falls—
And not with the chorus of the dawn
In radiant spring.
What might have been?
Your voice silenced,
The spirit of you
Destroyed,
I see glimpses of your fire
From the light that has vanished
From your eyes.

Your wings soar,
Only not to follow
Your heart.
And your heart is that of
A child,
Deeply vulnerable,
Precious,
So sensitive,
And sweet.
You inspire me
To change my perspective
With your unique vision
Of the world.
You shine with your brilliance,
And you don’t know.
Your bursts of laughter
Make me smile.
As always, you are the light
In my darkness;
Your spirit is the fire I feel
In the sun’s warmth.
You were the dawn of my awakening,
And the splendor of my dreams.

And I have cried
For your heart
More than I have ever cried
For my own.
I am torn apart by
The intensity of your pain.
It is profound sadness
I feel,
When I think I’ve reached you
And then hit another wall…
Hard.

I fear losing you forever
To your grief,
As I grieve, too,
For the subtleties
And cues
You don’t understand.
Avoiding the eyes of others …
Your intense frustration
In trying to get it right,
And thinking you have it all wrong.

You have it right,
So right—
Always did,
Always will.
I only wish you could know
The joy
Of being free.

The tentative smiles,
The looks of uncertainty,
Prompt me to tell you,
You got this.
You’ll be fine.
Whatever the passion,
Let it burn.
It will save you.

Retrieve every shattered fragment
Of your soul.

Accept it,
Embrace it,
Bless it with your peace.
Give it mighty and glorious wings,
And let it fly where it leads
Without fear,
Into the twilight of an infinite sky.

Be happy,
Shine,
Glow.
Love,
Dance,
Sing.
Celebrate yourself
And don’t stop singing
Your life’s song.
The song is your vision,
Your passion;
It belongs to you.
Without it,
You wither and die.

Don’t you, for one moment,
Let anyone crush your beautiful spirit.

Know, too, those who have crushed you
Have been crushed.
Those who pain you have been pained.
Still, you can rise again,
Become completely alive again
And shine on,
Just as you did before all the hurt began.

You are not defective,
My dear one,
Not a burden,
Nor do you struggle alone.
I’m here with you.
I will always be with you.
You are
In every way
Beautiful.
Though you don’t see that,
And you never have.
I just love you.

 

© Copyright October 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Old Honza’s Day Out by James Gault

Please enjoy this guest post by author, James Gault.

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I’m really amazed that this seventy-five year old brain still manages to think every day.   Well, not every day, exactly!   I found myself this morning wondering what the hell happened to yesterday.  I suppose I got up, I suppose I ate something, and then I suppose I sat in front of my half broken Russian TV watching fuzzy images without seeing.  But I can’t be sure. I read somewhere that half of my brain cells must have died by now, but that’s not why some days my mind doesn’t seem able to do anything.   I think it just says to itself, ‘Why bother?’   Hopelessness gets you like that.   You try to switch on but there’s just no power.  The thoughts just never get started.  A whole day goes by and nothing moves.

But today is better.   Somewhere I find the energy to get up and get out.   I can’t go far.  I walk slowly now, and there’s no spare money for tram tickets.   So my Prague has shrunk to the little area I can shuffle around in the couple of hours before my physical energy gives out.   Out of this old apartment block, across the tram lines, to the Golden Angel Shopping Centre and back again.

I totter to the glass doors of the Novy Smichov centre and they fly open with a deceptive gesture of welcome that reminds me of the promises of the five year plans of forty and fifty years ago.   Repeated promises that prosperity was on its way!    Am I witnessing its arrival now? I stumble around this packed, noisy bustle hoping no one will knock me over.  Preoccupied crowds too busy to see me!   I don’t belong to this purposeful hustle.  It’s not for me and my generation. This is my little bit of Prague, but they’ve taken it from me.  Again!

I can’t remember the golden age of the first Republic.   I was eight when the Nazis came. Since then, I seem to have always lived in a desolate present between a past that was better and a future full of empty promise.   Like I seem to have always lived in a place they told me was mine but where someone else was firmly in possession.   It seems that there’s always someone from outside who has to come and save me from something.  Nazis saving me from Jews, Russians saving me from capitalists, and now capitalists saving me from oppression!  So many well meaning people helping themselves by helping me!

There’s a bench up ahead that I’ll be able to sit on if I’m lucky.   We had benches under the communists and now we have them under the capitalists.   The only difference is that capitalist benches are busier, more productive.   Demand carefully researched and efficiently undersupplied.  If I manage to fend off low-flying attacks from shopping trolleys, and if none of those shouting, fighting school kids get there before me, there just might be some space for me on this bench.  And, even in the new market economy, bench sitting is still free of charge.  Without paying a heller, without even having to buy an overpriced cup of coffee, you can sit on this wooden bench in this opulent palace of plenty, with these excellent views of displays of merchandise you can never hope to afford.   Enjoy!

Damn! A fat lady has just sprawled herself and her two overflowing supermarket plastic bags over most of the space I had my eye on.  Not much chance she’ll think of moving one of those bags to make a little room for me. I wonder if I can squeeze into the narrow vacant strip at the end.

Made it!   The fat lady is looking at me as if I have stolen something from her.  I understand how you feel, my dear.   Sharing is no longer in fashion.  You got to the bench first, it’s yours!  I’ve no rights even to this little bit of it.  If I’m too weak to take part in the struggle, it’s my problem.  But this is one of my strong days.   I would smile at her defiantly, if I could just find enough spare breath.

I lean back to relax and the idea crosses my mind that while this bench is pretty, the old pre-revolution benches were more comfortable.   No, Honza!   No! No! No! No!  This is the new order.   No complaining!   Everything is better now!  I am enjoying myself. Everything is wonderful.   Get a grip on yourself, Honza!  This is the new Czech Republic, land of liberty and luxury. You’ve got fifty crowns to last you until the end of the month and the freedom to work out for yourself that you’re happy.

A grumpy boy of about ten comes up to the bench and complains to the fat lady that he’s tired.   ‘I’m sorry, Petr’ she tells him, ‘there’s no room on this bench,’ and, after a pause, she adds a pointed ‘Now!’  Both of them glare at me.  I’m an old, decrepit waste of space, using up resources without making a contribution.   Well, hard luck, you little monster!   I got here first and this little corner of this bench is MINE!   The new market economy, survival of the fittest!  And, for just this once, I’ve been the fittest!  Put your plastic bags on the floor and make room for your little whine, you fat hag!   Or give him a clip across the ear and tell him to behave himself!  I ignore them, and fix a defiant gaze on clothes I wouldn’t wear even if I had the money to buy them.   God, but I’m having a good day today!

Eventually, faced with my unreasonable determination not to move, the awful Petr changes tack and begins whinging about a new computer game.   The woman lifts her bags and struggles after her son, who is bouncing triumphantly towards the game shop.   That’s the new Czech Republic – the younger you are the more power you have.

I take the chance to spread myself out in case another overloaded shopper sees the empty space beside me.   Should I be really anti-social and sit right in the middle of the bench?  Stretch out my walking sticks on either side so nobody can get near?   Be like everyone else? After all these years, I should have learned by now to play the game, whatever the rules of the times might be.   But I don’t spread myself out; I don’t hog the whole bench.  I leave space for others.   For sharing, for solidarity!  I’m a dissident by nature, I suppose.

I’m so full of energy today I’m wondering if I might make an attempt at shopping.  Maybe I could spend twenty crowns on a couple of vegetables to feed me over the next two days.   Then it’s the weekend.   My son will come and take me to lunch on Saturday.   My daughter will turn up with a bag of groceries and cook for me on Sunday.  She’ll put the leftovers in the old fridge and I’ll be able to live off them for the rest of the week.  And then it’s pension day.  If it all works out I might just have the price of a bottle of beer to celebrate the end of the month.   I would get a job if I could only move just a little faster.  A lot of people of my age work.   Lucky bastards!

God but I’m having a really good day!   My thoughts all make more or less sense to me, and I can even feel myself getting a tiny bit angry.   I’m not dead yet.   I’m going to tackle the supermarket.   I know it’s dangerous.  The space is more restricted in there:  the crowds are faster and more determined.   All of them out to get me!   The slightest touch and I’ll be flat on my back all over the floor.   But I need to eat.   I can face the scorn of the other customers at the checkout.   ‘Look at the old ones, eating like they always ate’.   You think we choose a starvation diet?  Thin vegetable soup and meat twice a week if we’re lucky!   You think it’s because we just can’t adjust to the change?  ‘It’s what they’re used to. It’s what they want.’  Come on, give it a rest!   Stop playing at doublethink to salve your guilty consciences.   You’re living in comfort while we’re bloody broke.

I’m in the supermarket, hanging onto a trolley.   I know I’m only going to put a couple of things in it, but it helps me stay upright.   I feel something pushing into my back.  This is it, head over heels and I’ll be looking up at the fluorescent lights.   But by some miracle I manage to stay upright.  I even find the energy to turn around and face my assailant.   And even more power within me to glare!   A look to wither!   A harassed young girl pulls her trolley complete with toddler out of my back.   She looks embarrassed, almost to the point of apologising.   Another victory!

I hobble home, my plastic bag with its tiny cabbage and single carrot dangling precariously from one finger as I try to manage two walking sticks and my shopping with two feeble arthritic hands.   Always so slow, always this constant fear of falling!   But, all in all, it’s been a good day.   If I’m lucky, I’ll have another good day tomorrow.   One half as good would be O.K.

About the author:

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James Gault, born in Scotland, has recently retired to SW France after spending ten years in the Czech Republic. There he enjoys the sunshine, writes novels, short stories and English Language textbooks.

He also produces the on-line literary magazine Vox Lit with monthly notes by writers for writers and readers, news, features (short stories, poems and extracts from novels.)

He has written three novels, all available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks:
Teaching Tania (Young Tania tries to put the world to rights with the help of her English teacher – a comic detective story)
Ogg (Supernatural being tries to teach teenage Antonia how to think rationally as they try to save the world from destruction – comic philosophical thriller)
The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Young woman in ex-communist country tries to build a career in a totally corrupt society – political psychological thriller

He is currently working on a detective thriller set in Scotland, France and Spain.

As well as ELT books and his novels, he has written short stories published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, he won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for his short story ‘Old Honza’s Day Out’.

In his time James has been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. He has worked with and taught English to students of many nationalities. He has an international outlook on life and his writing reflects both this and his other interests.

Apart from writing, his passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and his grandchildren.

Books by James Gault:

OGG (Kindle Edition)

The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Kindle Edition)

Teaching Tania (Kindle Edition)

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

 

Some truths can be deadly.

Danielle isn’t mopey or filled with teenage angst. Danielle and her cousin were abducted, drugged, and raped. But her cousin doesn’t remember, and her best friend won’t believe her. Now, her predators have returned, stalking her, harassing her at every turn. Nightmares plague her sleep, pushing her to the brink of exhaustion. Isolated, terrified, and grief-stricken, Danielle is paralyzed, unable to face the unmerciful world around her. Can she awaken her spirit and blossom into a woman of defiance and courage before the darkness eclipses her sanity?

Shattering Truths, the first volume in the Deadly Veils series, is a haunting and heartbreaking coming of age story. In the tradition of Judy Blume, and following in the footsteps of Thirteen Reasons Why, author Kyrian Lyndon doesn’t shy away from exploring the darker side of life that every teenage girl fears. Filled with suspense, a heart wrenching emotional journey, and twists that will leave you breathless, Shattering Truths will take hold of you on page one and never let go.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THIS KINDLE BOOK FOR FREE ON AMAZON.COM BETWEEN MARCH 15 AND MARCH 19!! SEE LINK BELOW. READ SAMPLE CHAPTER, REVIEWS, AND MORE!!!

Chapter One:

Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.

The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.

I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.

Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.

I prayed, always.

Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.

The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.

Sickened to my core, I hung up.

It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.

I lifted the receiver.

“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.

“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.

They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

Available now on:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes & Noble.com

iTunes

REVIEWS

“I find it difficult to express the depth to which she pierces emotional barriers in order to share the struggles the characters in the book were required to face. I was literally brought to tears on a couple of occasions. Her profound understanding of human emotion and spirituality are evident in her poetry as well. Basically, a brilliantly written novel by a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to read more from her.” – Reservoirguy

“Deeply nostalgic and full of the dark, seething pressures of youth, combined with the colorful background of the late 1980s, Kyrian Lyndon’s first book in her Dead Veils series will transport you to another place where secrets can kill…or set a lost soul free. An amazing literary journey!” –K. H. Koehler

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“While this is a young adult, I know both teens and adults will enjoy this book. Fans of 13 Reasons Why will devour this book!” –N.N. Light

“An emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“A startlingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present-day America!” –Deepak Menon

“It was truly a novel I will always cherish and always remember.” –Chelsea Girard

*Shattering Truths was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original.

Author’s Note: Deadly Veils Book Two is well underway! It tells the story of Valentin, a character that  intrigued many readers in the first book. Danielle will appear again, but readers will see her only through Valentin’s eyes.

I can tell you, too; this second installment will include plenty of romance and excitement.

Related links:

My review of Thirteen Reasons Why and thoughts about the issue.

Listen to the Shattering Truths’ story playlist on YouTube.

Connect with Kyrian Lyndon:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

Amazon.com

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Cover Design (feature photo) by KH Koehler Design

WHEN YOU HEAL YOUR HEART, YOU LOVE BETTER

 

Photo credit: Jasmine Waheed

 

Not everyone likes to plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing.

Some deliberately avoid it, or they scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper.

People like us, though, we want to keep digging.

We’ve already been traumatized and shattered, you see, and, in those moments, we learned some of the best lessons of our lives. So, we know we’ll be okay. We know, too, that we are learning to love with our whole hearts.

Amazingly enough, we’ve been walking away from people that have exploited our vulnerabilities. We’ve been doing it for a while now, and we’re getting better at it. Maybe we were condemned for it, too, at one time or another, but we’d do it again in a heartbeat.   You see, we know we are vulnerable. We know how vulnerable we are. That is good because before we understood this, it was easy to lead us, to fool us, and to enslave us.

We’ve become patient with our healing process, and we’re trying hard to become more patient with the healing processes of others.  We’ve been around long enough to wonder what is worse— dealing with our own fears or the fear that motivates the masses.

It often seems that people don’t truly want to understand each another, or they simply want people who are different or feel differently to go away.

Letting go is easy for some; I know.  For us, it is painful and confusing. Maybe the energy needed to explain isn’t there, or we’re tired of explaining, tired of the world, tired of ourselves. We examine our motives, our expectations. We don’t always like our motives. We don’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll just keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

So, yes, the world can overwhelm. It makes some of us want to keep our worlds a little smaller, and, in our broken moments, we need time to fix things in our hearts.

We will work through the sadness.  In a poet’s heart, anyway, it has its honored place. We’ll embrace it, feel all of its intense beauty, and we’ll let it run its magnificent course.

Those of us who do this work and this digging do it because we’ve had it with being terrified, with trying to protect our hearts and our secrets—the image, the illusions, the payoff. We’re tired of the denial that was our sole comfort, our only way to survive. When we came to fully accept that we are all just struggling humans, equal in importance, the shame that drove us to compete and control began to dissipate.

We kept replacing false with real, and we’ve hung on to hope. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better.

For what it’s worth, as I see it, the truth is never one extreme or the other. There’s a lot of gray, and we always need balance.

But just so you know? When we shut down, when we distance, when we go deep or even go away, we don’t hate you. We don’t want to hurt you. We’re grateful that you have been part of our experience. We’re grateful for what you’ve taught us. We’re grateful for every blessing we have. Our hearts are bursting with love and often joy, and we still care. We continue to root for you, no matter what, and we’re always ready to listen, ready to resolve, and ready to heal.

Yes, we finally learned to love like that.

Recommended Link:

How to Make Your Ego Your Bitch by Gary Z. McGee

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission. 

SHADOWS OF MY SOUL by Kyrian Lyndon

 

SHADOWS OF MY SOUL

Reality to me is the dusk,
Prevalence in the shadows.
It is cloaking,
Grasping,
Discerning
In a world of darkness.
It is torment.
It is restraint.
The beauty of the peaceful lull amid the
Trees just before sunrise
Lies in contrast with the hazy tumult of my
Self-inflicted tomb.
I am in awe of every vision.
I bask in the passion of every caress.
Every bit of air I breathe is a godsend.
I could listen with the stillness of the ocean
Before daybreak
To the waves amid a blue-violet sky.
I could dance with flair and gaiety to the music
With a glow that illuminates me.
There is no one else I’d rather be—
Unless it were to love you.
You are all that I crave.

© Copyright March 1, 2005 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission from the author.

l-31567

I CAN NEVER AGAIN FORGET TO BE GRATEFUL

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Feature photo by Carli Jeen

Years ago, I thought I had accepted that life was unfair. Coming to terms with that somehow unburdened me. It cured me forever of the “why me’s.” What it didn’t seem to cure me of, however, is the “why anyone?” With countless people suffering all over the world, I have spent the past couple of years feeling anxious, feeling frustrated.

I’ve come to realize that no matter how much I hurt for the world, I must acknowledge that I really am one of the luckiest people alive. I love my life. I love what I do. I have everything I need and more than enough of what I want.

I have to remember that, no matter what is going on.

So here is a just a short list of reasons I am grateful. I decided to share it because so many of us are trying to find some peace in this challenging time.

I am grateful to everyone I have ever known, and what they have taught me.

I am grateful for the forgiveness that brings peace and second chances.

I am grateful for solutions.

I am grateful for change.

I am grateful for truth.

I am grateful for freedom.

I am grateful for all our heroes, warriors, and survivors.

I give thanks for everyday pleasures.

I am grateful for all the beauty that surrounds me.

I am grateful for home.

I am grateful for people to cherish in my life.

I am grateful for this moment.

I am grateful for imperfection, silliness, and madness.

I am grateful for fantasy and imagination.

I am grateful for kindness, for hugs, and for all the love and light in the universe.

I am grateful because there is something beautiful in everyone.

I am grateful to be alive, to have this day.

I am grateful for fond memories of childhood that overshadow the painful ones.

I am grateful for increasing clarity and for having been ready to heal.

I am grateful for all I have been able to resolve internally, for the darkest moments, and rising from every fall.

I am grateful for the realization that my ego was my worst enemy and distorted my perception.

I am grateful for learning from my mistakes, for being able to work through the tough stuff.

I am grateful that I am not bitter.

I am grateful for not giving up, for hanging in there until it was okay.

I am grateful for laughter.

I am grateful for all the learning and evolving.

I am grateful for the beaten dragons.

I am grateful for finding my truth and my voice.

I am grateful for letting go of unworthiness, for self-respect, and learning to stand up for myself.

I am grateful for learning how to be strong, how to share joy, for having learned to trust my instincts and myself.

I am grateful for defying limitations.

I am grateful for the desire to grow finally exceeding my desire to hold on, for the strength and courage to let go of the things that weighed me down.

I am grateful for the doors that opened for me and the doors that, after teaching me what I needed to learn, closed behind me.

I am grateful for the shedding of masks and my embracing of authenticity.

I am grateful for the ability to see people and things as they are, including myself.

I am grateful for being able to see things from another’s point of view.

I am grateful for the ability to feel empathy and witness the empathy of others.

I am grateful for the amazing struggle that is life.

I am grateful for the ability to keep learning, for all the opportunities to be better and do better, and for all these reasons to smile.

Lastly, I am thankful to those who care about my journey and what I have to say. Thank you for reading and for listening to me.

To those who are struggling, I walked through fire to get here, and I am still walking. Don’t you give up!

Every bit of gratitude brings hope.

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© Copyright November 9, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

 

CHAOS OF THE WORLD’S TRAUMA, SHAME, AND PAIN

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When the ‘Me Too’ campaign went viral, some people spoke up just to say that the anger of the women coming forth made them uncomfortable. They felt bullied, and that they’d done nothing wrong. Women were dismissed (by some) with counterarguments, justification, comparisons, etc. None of that makes what we are saying less true, but it’s clear that certain people don’t want to hear or accept what’s being said.

I support the “Me too” campaign because people are talking and listening. I want to weigh in, not because I want anyone to feel bad for me or what’s happened to me, but because I want to advocate for awareness. If speaking up helps anyone at all, then it’s worth it. Shame not only keeps us from talking ; it keeps us from listening. It keeps the culprits or would-be culprits from acknowledging their mistakes. Nothing changes.

It’s sad but true; we are conditioned to feel ashamed. Some people even fear to go to the doctor for problems having to do with private body parts. I’ve seen that over and over. People are ashamed of their bodies and how they work. People can even die because of shame.

Not only do they hide behind their shame; they take on the shame of others. Like their family members, their gender, their ethnic group or race, their religion. Here is my motto, if I didn’t do it, I don’t have to get defensive over the people who did. I just have to listen to the heartache and the grief. I have to want to understand, and I have to do what I can do to help fix it.

Indeed, shame has kept us from believing and supporting each other. I’ve heard, “Well it never happened to me, so why would it happen to you?” People start comparing and justifying.

They don’t get that it has more to do with being vulnerable in the moment than being attractive, or that vulnerability alone is attractive.

It’s particularly disheartening when women join in the chorus of saying that someone may have been asking for it. Rape means there was no legitimate consent, so nobody asks for it. There are no circumstances where anyone deserves rape, and that includes prison. I don’t care who you are.

As for the counterarguments:

“Men are also sexually harassed and abused.”

“Women can be predatory, too, and often their harassment or abuse is not questioned.”

Yes, it is unacceptable and appalling that anyone would dismiss male rape and abuse or expect men to suck it up or enjoy it. That’s just bullshit.

I agree, too, there is no limit to the amount of damage some people, male or female, are willing to do to your psyche, to your reputation, to your body, and to your soul.

The thing is, if someone of either gender were to come to me and tell me they were harassed or abused, I would listen. I would give that person the benefit of the doubt. I would feel empathy and offer validation, support, or comfort. I wouldn’t sit in silence, attempt to dispute their claims or get defensive because, hell, I am a woman, too, and I don’t do that. Nor do you need to justify to me that you felt threatened or abused. I will not dismiss you. I won’t stand for your being mocked. And I’d like to think many others feel the same way I do.

I’m thinking back now, and it’s hard to remember every single incident of sexual assault and harassment in my life. There were many.

I escaped two rape attempts by fighting and getting away. Another time, I fought and lost. I was groped on the street twice. One of those times, the guy told me if I didn’t like it, I shouldn’t wear a tank top. Not that it matters, but it was over ninety degrees. He followed me for blocks taunting me, and no one did a thing. For the rest of the summer, on workdays, no matter how freaking hot it was, I wore a jacket when I went out to lunch. I was followed several times in the streets of Manhattan by men talking to me about sex. I was fired twice for rejecting my boss’ advances. There were elevator incidents with higher-ups, train incidents with sleazeballs. Male doctors have often felt entitled to say or do things that were highly inappropriate. And I must include emotional rape. Predatory narcissists excel at it. They devote a lot of time and effort to perfecting their game. It can leave you feeling traumatized and violated, but a lot of people don’t understand emotional rape, and the narcissist, ever the charmer, can come out smelling like a rose.

These things didn’t happen to me because I was a perfect ten, as someone suggested that most victims are. I’m not—never was and never will be. I wasn’t dressed provocatively beyond looking pretty good in my clothes. Evidently, it doesn’t take much to provoke—especially when you are young. It seems you can do that without even trying.

So, for those who feel uncomfortable when this issue comes up, know that many of us feel uncomfortable walking on the beach, going out alone at night, wearing shorts, wearing tank tops. And we are used to being uncomfortable. We’ve been uncomfortable about all of this through most of our lives. We’ve felt bullied, and we’d done nothing wrong. To this day, I am uncomfortable having to pass any group of men whether on the street or in the office, especially if it is a confined space.

A thing I hear often is that men worry about being falsely accused. They say the “catcalling” complaints confuse them because many women like compliments from strangers and to have men flirting with them. They assume women like feeling sexy, and that the response from men makes women feel good about themselves.

First, let’s not confuse the issues. Catcalling, like rape, is about power and control, not desire, and it may also be about anger or hate and deeper issues. With catcalling, there is often an assumption about what a woman wants. Both groups prefer to target the vulnerable, like someone who is alone or someone very young, etc. One man put it to me this way, “How are we supposed to tell the difference between women who like it and women who don’t?” He said he thought that the way a woman dressed was the signal.

Catcalling is usually more than one guy, often a group of guys hollering at you, among other things. Their “compliments” are extravagant, although the goal, for the most part, is not to get to know you. You can shield your eyes, walk faster, refuse to respond, and they won’t stop. Your discomfort either amuses them, or they are clueless about how you feel and don’t care. It’s particularly confusing for young women. They may want to be pretty but not be the center of attention, and they are scared of what these men may say or do.

People are often of the mindset that a busty woman or a woman who happens to be sexy is a good target and probably looking for it. Being well-endowed does not justify harassment, and while it is normal to want to feel sexy and attractive, it doesn’t mean sexy and attractive women are open for business to all.

A lot of time, too, overt sexuality stems from having been previously victimized. That includes feelings of unworthiness and a need for attention, admiration, and validation.

I get that some women may enjoy the attention simply because it feels good, just like some women enjoy rough play and manhandling. Whatever two consenting adults enjoy is their business, and that’s why it’s good to get to know people and what they like. We can’t assume.

Flirting, to me, is a mutual thing. People smile, say hello, and they take their cues from each other. There’s no assumption, no disrespect. It doesn’t dehumanize anyone. I think people who flirt with one another genuinely like each other, and they care about one another’s reactions. Making someone blush is different from making someone cringe or fear for her life. For that reason, flirtation can be flattering. No one is saying a woman should never feel complimented by a stranger finding her attractive.

Most of us don’t want to make false accusations about harassment or abuse. It is hard enough coming to terms with these things when they do happen, and we share your concern about false reporting. Many of us are mothers. We have sons. We don’t want to destroy innocent people. We know a little something about that. And we want people to believe true victims who come forth.

Anyone who would falsely accuse someone simply isn’t normal and, unfortunately, you have to learn how to spot the toxic people, like we’ve had to and watch for the red flags. In addition, ego and obsession will cloud your perception and impair your judgment, so it’s important to work on that, like we must. I feel you.

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The answer, as I see it, is empathy and mutual respect. We must put ourselves in the other person’s place and observe and respect boundaries. It’s not a contest if we’re all on the same side.

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© Copyright October 17, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

 

THE THIRTEEN REASONS WHY BACKLASH: MY THOUGHTS AND BOOK REVIEW

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*WARNING- SPOILER ALERT*

If you’re planning to read the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, or watch the Netflix series, you may not want to read further. This blog does contain a few spoilers.

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I became interested in the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, when a reviewer of my book, Shattering Truths, said that fans of Thirteen Reasons Why would absolutely love Shattering Truths.

It is true that we explore similar topics, even though the premises are different.

In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah Baker takes her life and leaves behind cassette tapes that retrace her steps and explain her reasons.

In case you haven’t heard, the backlash over Thirteen Reasons Why is the perception that the book glamorizes suicide.

Romanticizing suicide in art isn’t new. Did people want to ban Shakespeare? I’ve listened to Don McClean’s Starry Starry Night and Chord Overstreet’s Hold On song tributes to suicide victims that inspire hauntingly beautiful imagery, and their lyrics have moved me to tears. Maybe there is something about giving up that most of us can relate to—the notion that if worse comes to worse, no one can make us stay here. At the same time, we are also filled with profound sadness over the depth of another human being’s despair.

Interestingly enough, I once wrote my own book about the aftermath of a protagonist’s suicide— not Shattering Truths but an earlier workI was nineteen at the time. The editor I submitted it to felt readers would not find this character sympathetic because, as a suicide, he’d be considered psychotic. That bothered me more than anything else—the distressing mentality—the heartbreaking reality—that even in these modern times, people are uncomfortable with any mental instability and quick to reject it. I submitted it anyway. The publisher said they would be interested only if I changed the ending and had my character survive. I wouldn’t do that. My whole point in telling the story was that the guy died, and he shouldn’t have. I shelved the project.

At the time, I did romanticize my character’s suicide. I hoisted the guy up on a posthumous pedestal and became obsessed with his life and death. But I didn’t want to die.

Sorry (and not so sorry) to say, that as a poet, a writer, and an artist, I embrace all of it—the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the dark, the light and the scary.

But I am also an adult who realizes that death is not pretty, and it’s likely to be quite lonely and painful. Nothing about Thirteen Reasons Why gave me the impression that it would be anything but lonely and painful. There was never a moment I envied Hannah Baker or wanted to be her—before, during, or after. What happened to her seemed anything but glamorous.

I’d go so far as to say the story makes it clear that taking your life is not the solution; that there is always hope. A few minutes, days, or weeks could make all the difference in the world. That hope is extinguished when your light goes out for good.

I also happen to think that people who hurt you don’t deserve to take anything more from you!

From my perspective, the book actually provides clear examples of how not to behave, how not to treat others. It brings to light how little thought teens give to how their behavior may affect someone else, although, this is also sadly true of adults. Some will live their whole lives hurting and punishing others without thinking it through, without ever trying to understand the people they target.

That’s one of the messages in Thirteen Reasons Why. We need to be kinder to each other.

No doubt, some people will read this book and see it all differently. They’ll see that Hannah is talked about more and with more sensitivity after her death. They’ll see that people feel guilty. They may think that would bring satisfaction, but true bullies who destroy other human beings are not usually the ones who feel guilty. They don’t have consciences.

To a lesser degree, Hannah Baker herself lacks empathy in this story and is rather self-absorbed. That’s okay. Victims don’t need to be depicted as saints. A character can be tragically flawed in fact, and still not deserve the torment. It is normal for a trauma survivor to go through a period of victimhood that includes a great deal of introspection and a degree of self-pity. She has a human response to a rude and painful awakening. Yes, trauma does quite a number on the psyche. It changes a person, causing behavior that won’t make sense even to the survivor. The point is, what happened to Hannah Baker should not have happened to anyone. It’s sad that she’ll never have the chance to heal and evolve beyond what she became, so it’s a story worth telling and worth telling right.

I’m willing to bet that most of us can make a list of at least thirteen people who screwed us over and/or possibly scarred us for life. Some of the reasons might be the same or worse than what Hannah Baker experienced, but, for most of us, suicide was never an option we considered.

We are all different. We have varying degrees of ability to cope, and those who are coping well may be at less challenging stages of the healing process. To some of us, a burden is a challenge, and we push back. No matter what happens, we keep pushing. But not everyone can do that. It’s not weakness, and it’s not for lack of trying. We are where we are. None of us have control over the circumstances we are born into or everything that happens after that. We can’t be sure why we take the paths we take or what we need to learn. Healing begins when we are ready. It’s a long, grueling process that, unfortunately, some people will never begin.

I think it’s safe to say that Thirteen Reasons Why will be triggering for certain people and not others.

There’s always a chance that any one of us will find something we read, see, hear, or experience to be triggering. But that doesn’t mean we should censor ourselves, as writers, or as artists. We can’t. We can’t shy away from controversial subjects or prevent others from having those important conversations. For those wanting to sue and to ban, do we really want to set that precedent? Where would we draw the line? Would we have to stop talking about rape, about murder, about mental issues, and about everything that could be triggering? I hope not!

A common complaint people have made is that the book doesn’t delve into the mental illness factor when it comes to suicide. No, it doesn’t. Thirteen Reasons Why focuses on raising the level of awareness for bullying/harassment/character assassination, etc. and depicting how the victim feels—how a suicide victim feels. Hannah, in my opinion, sought to educate the culprits. She may have wanted them to feel her pain, too, but more for their benefit, I think, than in retaliation. As a trauma survivor, I can relate to wanting to raise the level of awareness. Even if the people who need to hear it most are not listening, someone is. And making a difference to anyone at all is a great start.

It doesn’t mean we should ignore the mental illness factor in our conversations about this topic. According to the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, “Of those who die from suicide, more than 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Mental Health America states that “substance abuse may be involved in half of all suicide cases with 20% involving people with alcohol problems”.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that drug abuse is a mental illness.

Sadly, families often have a difficult time acknowledging and accepting mental illness in a loved one. There is rejection, ridicule, even mind-boggling cruelty. For the person with issues, it leads to a social ineptness that only results in more ridicule and cruelty. The damage is hard to shake, and it’s heartbreaking because, with acceptance and unconditional love, a lot of the issues can be minimized or managed.

Shame is a key word here. Many parents and siblings are more concerned about what others may think. Are we sending a message of, I will not love you unless you are normal by my standards and anything less will be ridiculed and rejected? Are we teaching our “normal” kids to ridicule and reject?

The truth is, we have dangerous psychopathic narcissists running amok in this world, and they are considered normal by many. Meanwhile, people who struggle with things like autism, Asperger’s, bipolar, anxiety, etc. are met with skepticism.

I’ll admit, due to lack of acknowledgment/acceptance in my own life, it took me quite a while to realize and understand the problems I had with anxiety, OCD, and possibly other afflictions. I may never have realized if I hadn’t met some of the people I met along the way, people who had the same problems and steered me in the right direction. Awareness is key, and it helps to learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with. It is a lifetime struggle with good days and bad, but it can keep getting better.

So, in light of all I’ve stated above, I believe Thirteen Reasons Why, is a profound experience for the reader. I felt like a part of the story, swept right in and completely absorbed, turning page after page. I loved the powerful descriptions of how the characters felt in critical moments. The book, written straight from the heart, shows compassion in abundance, and it brought me to tears.

Co-protagonist, Clay Jensen, in fact, shows considerable empathy while listening to Hannah’s tapes. He wants to understand what happened to Hannah. He not only forces himself to listen to every excruciatingly painful word—he follows her instructions, putting himself in her place and allowing himself to feel what she felt.

Imagine living in a world where everyone sought to understand one another like that! That would be beautiful indeed!

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© Copyright July 24, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without proper attribution.

WHEN PEOPLE AVOID THE TRUTH AND RESOLVING CONFLICTS

Sometimes people are not getting whatever it is they want from you, and they’re not fully aware, or embarrassed to say. They want love, sex, friendship, attention, admiration, approval, money, an acknowledgement, an apology—whatever. Other times they are making assumptions and, for whatever reason, they would prefer to stick with their assumptions rather than get to the truth. They may say, if you confront them, “Oh, no, nothing’s wrong,” or “it’s not you,” thinking that will keep you on the hook. Or they try to shame or silence you, maybe even become passive-aggressive instead of seeking a solution.

What I take from that is, “I can’t risk feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable, or possibly having to admit any wrongdoing or, gasp, apologize. You’re not worth that to me.”

Reaching out to people when we’re feeling something’s wrong can be difficult. In doing that, we’re putting something on the line. We’re willing to be vulnerable and take the risk because that person means something to us. I keep that in mind whenever anyone reaches out to me because I honestly don’t know if, in the past, I’ve ever made a person feel they’re not worth a genuine resolution. If I have, I’d never want to make someone feel like that again.

In any relationship, you need two people to give a shit. At the very least, it’s a matter of mutual respect. If someone can’t be honest with you, if they can’t take your concerns seriously, if they can’t deal with your anger if that should come up or your frustration, then this is not a person who is invested in or committed to the relationship. Nothing about the relationship can be authentic when things don’t get resolved. It merely allows for a superficial connection that will always have some tension, even when we try to focus only on the good and having a nice time or a nice conversation.

Close relationships don’t become what they are by silent treatments, grudges, hoping to punish, or wanting the other person to suffer. They become that way because of genuine caring and a willingness to resolve and forgive on both sides. I believe you have to give each other the chance to make it right or clear up any misunderstanding.

In truth, the people who genuinely care will care about what makes you happy, what makes you angry, what frustrates you, and what hurts you.

And, at some point, it’s time to let go of the others—stop fighting for them because hanging on can be heartbreaking, and it hurts your self-esteem.

The sad thing is, and I see it all the time, the day will come when it’s too late to resolve things with someone. The person is gone forever and sadder still, they’ll just be hoisted up on a pedestal and history will be rewritten. The one who chose not to resolve will remember only the good and times when they were close, but that’s isn’t love. That’s creating the person they are comfortable with, not the one who is human and flawed— maybe even a little broken, but worth so much more than they realized.

 

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© Copyright June 25, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SHE STOOD ALONE ON THE EDGE IN DARKNESS

Through forests of emerald-green bliss,
She pranced,
Embracing the colors of endless play—
The rainbows of summer.
She was a child of the earth.

Her tiny voice sang,
And she danced!
No danger lurked in her twinkling eyes.
Everything in her fearless laughter
Was colored with mirth.

She built castles on the shore
By a peaceful and provident sea
That was never foreboding.
She skipped beneath the golden clouds
Like the world belonged to her,
As if there were no cares
And all who loved her
Would keep her safe.

“Do not lose her,” I said.
“Do not lose that child.
She needs you so desperately.”

And then she had this grave fear of the sea,
This somber foreboding.
It seemed so vast and so deep
From the shore,
A leviathan-green, hellish monstrosity
Full of strange creatures that devoured things.
It was all that lay between her
And some faraway place
On the other side of the globe.

Somehow, it was not so frightening now.
Neither was the past,
The present,
Or all the future obscurities—
Not even those people she once had cherished.

The peace of the waters subdued her now,
As she listened to the thrash of the waves.
She was just playing with a stick in the sand.

There was a noted ambiguity
Whenever she spoke of this place.
Certain moments when she embraced the glorious light
And gazed intently into the darkness.
There were moments, too,
When she felt it creep and crawl around her,
When she ached and trembled,
Longing to free herself from its grip.

While seething within,
She wore the mask of kindness,
Harmless and alluring,
With resentment like hemlock,
Beautiful yet wilting,
Glowing yet tarnished,
Beckoning,
Flourishing,
Standing tall,
And unyielding…
Toxic to all
In her flowering beauty.

The sun was setting,
Salmon clouds under a sky of dodger blue,
Flocks of geese
On a sprawling lawn.
A waxing gibbous moon
Beckoned
Like she needed a guide,
A divine light.

“Come forth,” it said.
“Come home.”
And some of the fear waned
As she went forth,
But nothing really changed.

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.

She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.

The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.

Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.

She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.

Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…

Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.

The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.

Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.

Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.

The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.

She was free.
No jewel could sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years could not tarnish its shine.

From Remnants of Severed Chains © Copyright October 17, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

WINNING THE SELF-SABOTAGE BATTLE WITH SELF-LOVE

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We all become conscious, at some point in our lives, of ways we can sabotage our physical well-beings. When it comes to sabotaging our emotional well-beings, and even our financial security and stability, things seem to become more complicated.

Brilliant individuals are sometimes incapable of motivating themselves enough to change their lives or gravitate toward the ideal. They tend to become problem-oriented rather than solution oriented, boxing themselves in with an almost unwillingness to compromise. They may set impossible goals instead of practical ones.

Maybe someone convinced them they didn’t deserve success, or they convinced themselves based on how someone made them feel about their competency or their judgment. Either way, these old tapes keep playing in their heads, telling them they can’t accomplish anything, can’t succeed, can’t win, and there’s not enough to go around. In this predicament, we fear success as much as we fear failure, because they are two sides of the same coin. We keep that coin as a reminder that we don’t trust ourselves with the dreams we cherish or the plans we’ve made.

We tell ourselves we don’t deserve success any more than we deserve money. Perhaps once we get our hands on the latter, we don’t manage it well. I’ve been there. I can attest to the fact that when you finally realize you do deserve these things, you’ll likely find yourself working your tail off, accomplishing one goal after another. We have to be rid of whatever that little voice is in our head that says we can’t do it, and we’re not good enough, and that all this is impossible. We can, we are, and it’s not.

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We get into this pattern of self-pitying victimhood. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that we’ve been a victim of something or someone, or expressing anger about it, and shedding tears. We have a right to our grieving process. But sometimes we get use to the payoff—attention, pity, praise, the temporary ego fix. So instead of becoming solution oriented, we become more and more problem oriented, more and more likely to want an audience of sympathizers. And we get stuck there because solving problems would take that attention away and whatever else we get from being constantly burdened. It’s not that we don’t deserve to be comforted. It’s that we don’t move forward. We don’t get better.

This pattern normally goes hand in hand with excessive worry about people and things. Social media is a perfect example, because it mirrors life. I have seen people in a pattern of deactivating accounts only to resurface in a matter of days. Sometimes it may be that they legitimately need a break, but very often it’s because expectations are not being met. People are not responding to them in a way they could perceive as favorable. They’ve made assumptions about what people think or what someone meant, and after a considerable amount of time wasted on obsessive worrying, they take a drastic action to disengage. When they come back, it’s because they need to try it all again. They have too much riding on acceptance. It’s all self-defeating because we create unrealistic expectations, and we tend to assume wrong. Comparing and assuming tends to cause more mental anguish than is warranted or bearable. All we can do is be who we are, our ever-improving version of that.

Many stress about their looks, their bodies. Perfect is boring, and there is beauty beyond someone else’s chosen ideal. Beauty does, indeed, come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and people will have all sorts of opinions on what looks good.  In fact, I realized at one point, that I never cared if someone didn’t like the hair color I chose. I knew how I wanted to look. I would never consult anyone about it, not even my significant other. So if we are trying to satisfy ourselves rather than appeal to every single person on the planet, we should set the standards for ourselves not appease clothing designers, the model industry, or the men who rate women on AskMen.com. Because when we’re finally okay with how we look, imperfections and all, we exude the confidence we need to get oh just about anything. And if that’s not enough, we get to focus more on being the best human we can be. When we finally love who we are, we learn to respect ourselves and treat ourselves better.

While it’s normal to want attention and approval, it’s the excessive, almost desperate need for it that can destroy us if we let it. People take unnecessary risks for the fix without realizing. They may trust the wrong people, throw caution to the wind, make excuses for bad behavior, cling to people who have repeatedly demonstrated the harm they’re capable of inflicting upon others. We don’t even realize that the payoff is attention we craved, validation we needed, admiration we couldn’t resist. Because it comes at just the right time, and creates such a bondage that we continue to crave it from a dangerous source.

Sometimes it’s less extreme. We try to be generous with people regarding our time, our attention, our praise, but we do this with relationships we don’t honestly want to nurture because we want to be nice. I find that when people want to be nice or perceived as nice, they immediately have expectations and create obligations. Then, on top of the resentment about doing something they don’t want to do, and the expectations or obligation that likely won’t be met, they go from ‘nice’ person to fire-breathing dragon in a matter of seconds. So what happens next is far from what they initially intended. People get hurt.

Well, it’s okay not to want to be friends with everyone. It’s okay to feel emotionally exhausted and want to have only genuine relationships. It’s okay to walk away when you’re not feeling it, not trusting it. It’s okay to save that overflowing generosity of spirit for those who matter to you. You can still do nice things for others along the way if you want. Quite simply, it doesn’t have to be like wearing a thorny crown while carrying a cross over your back.

I’ll say this. The more I become aware of how people think (thanks to social media), I tend not to want to meet any more people or reconnect with people from the past. I’m happy to avoid everyone outside my window… even while loving to hear them all out there—the comforting humdrum. Isolating can be a peaceful, healing thing, but it can also be another way of self-sabotaging if we don’t check it. I’ll admit, I have to push myself to get out there and deal with the world as it is, on its terms. Whether I like it or not, it’s necessary. I’ve had to accept that I’m not always going to be comfortable, and I’m not always going to be safe.

I still believe, though, we have to take our time getting to know people, especially when we are very empathetic. Because while we can recognize serious issues people have, our compassion for what they’re dealing with can override any need to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, we have to because these people can hurt you and will do so again and again. We need to pay attention. We need to be careful. We have to stop tolerating disrespect under the guise of being noble and humble. That only creates a perception of some superior self that is false. Yeah, we want to be the nice guy, but if we are real with others, we become something better than ‘nice’. We are kind.

I’ve come to believe that one of the best things we can do in life is heal the vulnerabilities that make us susceptible to all this self-sabotage. Once we find the courage to seek answers, then acknowledge, accept, feel, cry and release anger, we heal, we learn, and then we grow and evolve. It’s an ongoing thing that just keeps getting better. We deserve that.

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Of course, life would be so much easier if we could make a habit of staying in the moment and being fully present in that moment. We wouldn’t be worrying about what happened yesterday or an hour ago, or what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to remind myself constantly, but it works particularly well in moments of crisis and panic. A wise friend taught me to stay in the solution. Think about what you can do at that moment, not what you can’t do. Control what you can. Amazing how that helps. tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-032

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Healing Shame by Robert D. Caldwell, M.Div.

IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE! (WHY I REFUSE TO TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY.)

photo credit: Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement

 

Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!

Accept that you are vulnerable, and make peace with that.

Be fearless!

If I had said these things to my younger self, it would not have had much of an impact. I wasn’t ready. But at some point in time, other people said these things to me, and even though I still wasn’t ready, they planted a seed. And every time someone plants a seed, he or she brings us closer to eventual healing and understanding. It certainly worked that way for me because, despite my stubbornness, I am always listening, and I always want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday.

So, last year, I read the first criticism of my work from a reviewer. Admittedly, it wasn’t scathing; she had many nice things to say, but I was able to handle that in a way that I couldn’t have all those years ago.I was curious more than anything, and I wanted to understand her point of view.

It was because, by then, I had stopped seeing myself the way I saw myself at the age of seventeen and for many years to come—as the writer, the destined one, or, ack, some kind of chosen one. I had come to accept that I am one writer in an endless sea of writers— just another voice in the choir.

Some people don’t like this perspective—at all. Back then, I would not have liked it either.

I’ve heard, in response, “You have to take yourself seriously or no one else will, right?”

Oh yes, for sure, but we can be serious, and we can be too serious. For me, the shift in perspective, from taking myself too seriously to taking myself just seriously enough has worked well.

When we see ourselves as a part of everything and not the center of everything, we begin to want for others what we want for ourselves—success! We’re not in competition for that because we know there is enough to go around. When we’re taking ourselves too seriously, those other people do not exist except as competitors. It’s about us and us only, so whatever happens to us is more important than what happens to everyone else. Less than favorable outcomes are magnified and often unbearable.

It helps to take it down a few notches and strive for a little humility. That includes checking ourselves and questioning the motivation behind decisions we make.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, and, eventually, it becomes a part of who we are.

By striving to keep my ego in check, I’m in a better position to handle criticisms and failures because I don’t have to prove I am beyond reproach. I haven’t placed myself up on a pedestal where I see myself as superior to and separate from others. I don’t believe I am so important that my haters are just sitting around watching and waiting to laugh at me when I fail. If they are, then they’re wasting precious time and won’t be able to achieve very much in their lives.

What this mind shift does is; it gives us permission to be vulnerable—permission from ourselves because no one else is stopping us. Then, instead of worrying about what others will think, we just write from the heart. We focus on learning to master our craft—something we absolutely cannot do when we think we already have it all down.

Of course, we all want praise. We want the glowing five-star reviews. There‘s nothing more gratifying than knowing your work has touched someone profoundly or thoroughly entertained as intended.

Friends kindly remind us that we all face rejection and that no one is above criticism. That’s true; someone has criticized every successful writer we know. But hearing that is not quite as comforting as it’s intended to be, so we secretly hope to be the exception.

We might be—if we tiptoe around—if we ask only our friends for reviews. We’ll get fewer reviews, but they’ll all be five-stars, right? On the other hand, if we want to reach millions of readers, we have to throw ourselves fearlessly into the arena, making ourselves more vulnerable to criticism.

Writer friends have said to me, “But, what about the internet trolls?”

Well, the truth is, people who take themselves too seriously are the perfect target for trolls. They are the ones who will argue with the trolls, thinking they will somehow get that person to sympathize or agree. It won’t happen because trolls lack empathy, or, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be trolls. If they know they’ve upset you, they will continue to provoke you. You can’t get caught up in the futility of that.

At the same time, not everyone who doesn’t like your work is a troll. There is legitimate criticism. We can get it from beta readers, good editors, and yes, honest reviews.

When it comes to betas and editors, we want that person who will say, about a particular scene, “You can do better than that.” We get lazy sometimes even with so much at stake. It’s wonderful to hear someone say, simply, “Oh, it’s great, I love it!” But if you’re still trying to iron out the kinks in your story, that’s not going to help you. I want to know where they got confused, where they got bored, what annoyed them, what characters they liked and didn’t like. That will help me determine whether I’m getting the effect I want. Not everyone will agree, of course, so it helps to get several people looking at your work—people who are not afraid to be objective and possibly upset you. Personally, I will not beta read for most people because I know I will give the honesty that I’d want myself, and I realize not everyone can handle that. I have gotten upset myself once, but I got over it fast. We don’t always have to agree with someone’s criticism, but we need to be open to it.

My beta readers have me laughing hysterically with some of their comments, especially with things that need fixing or clarifying. A simple, “Really?” or “Seriously?” can have me in a fit of giggles. The times we are laughing together on the phone or in person are the most fun. Even if they say, “This guy sounds like a douche,” I’m only going to be concerned if he’s not supposed to be sounding like a douche, and then we talk that stuff out. A bit of lightheartedness and a good sense of humor is key.

In an early draft that I wrote many years ago, I had decided to start at the beginning of my character’s life. By page 455, she was still twelve! I can’t help laughing now about how ridiculous that was. I had so much to learn about brutal editing (cut, cut, cut), where to begin a story, proper outlining, etc., and I’m still learning!

In my latest book, Shattering Truths, I was anal about how I wanted to tell this story. It is deep and personal, not my story, but a story about things I had witnessed over the years and one that had become very precious to my heart. It’s hard to be flexible when you are that emotionally involved, and, honestly, we become emotionally involved in all of our books, so we are incredibly biased. I needed feedback, and then, simply, to let go of what wasn’t working.

The truth is, we never stop learning, and there is always room to improve! I’m sure even the most successful writers would admit that, so it helps to embrace the learning process. Our confidence will increase as we evolve.

It’s all about honesty and integrity, and just being the best you can be. 🙂

 

© Copyright April 15, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

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NEW CHAT AND FORUM FOR WRITERS AND OTHER CREATORS!

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As part of a community I’ve developed for writers and other creatives, I’ve added a message board and chat room to my website.

The message board has sections of interest to writers and areas for general discussion. Users may request additional topics that might be of interest to them.

A regular writer’s meeting will take place every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. EST. We can also arrange other meeting times. The room will be available for informal chat at any time.

I hope to have scheduled presentations and readings in the same chat room— by writers, editors, designers, advocates, and others. It would be a wonderful opportunity for people to promote what they do and to help others. Suggestions for presentation topics are always welcome.

Please note that presentations may not take place without approval, and presentations are always free. Presenters do not receive payment from anyone. I will, however, promote the event and provide moderation for the event. Presenters are encouraged to invite others.

You can bookmark the forum and chat room links:

http://somuch2talkabout.freeforums.net/

http://officialkyrianlyndon.chatango.com/

Or you can always bookmark my site for access. The links are under my Community menu.

https://kyrianlyndon.com/

We may eventually need additional moderators, but we’ll see how it goes!

Please share this information and these links with people you’d like to join you, or people you think might be interested in the promotional presentation opportunity.

Lastly, join my street team, and never miss a thing! It’s going to be exciting and mutually rewarding, I promise. Read all about it here!

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Photo #1 source by Surian Soosay

Photo #2 source by Elizabeth Cooper

 

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FIRE IN THE SOUL

Interesting conversations with readers give me a lot to think about, so I like to provide a platform for those conversations.

Someone recently brought up amateur/aspiring v. professional.

I have known people who create guidelines for when a person can call himself or herself an author (or even a writer). It’s the same with most artists. Are they amateur and aspiring or professional and experienced?

Many of us have had this burning passion or determination to do something since childhood. Ideas and urges came, and we responded. We delivered. I feel we know whether we identify as poets, writers, artists, musicians before we ever have a book published, show our work in a museum or get on stage with a band. We may be aspiring to succeed and to master our crafts, but we are not aspiring to be what we are.

I remember a fifth-grade poetry assignment. The kid behind me copied my poem. When the teacher (nun) caught him, he told her he copied it from a book. I imagine he thought he’d get in less trouble for that, I don’t know. Maybe he just wanted me to go down with him. Nevertheless, she believed him. She asked for the book, and I was so confused that I was trying to find this book that didn’t exist… in my desk. (Nuns raising their voices to me invoked terror.) Then something strange happened. All these kids began calling out that this boy was lying because I was a writer, and I had always been a writer… other ten-year-olds! Amusing as it seems, they touched my heart for a lifetime. She asked me again if I copied the poem from a book, and I finally found the courage to say I didn’t. She gave me a gold star and displayed it on the wall for Parent-Teacher Conference Day. I will never forget this; how the kids knew this thing about me because it was already part of my identity.

As another example, my nephew was drawing since the age of five. I have never seen anything amateur about his approach, his expression, or his final product. (As an aside, he’s amazing.)

People may tell you things like, well you’re not published, you’re not an author, or you’re not a writer, even though you have been doing this thing ever since you can remember.

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If there is anything to separate the amateurs from the pros, for me, it is the desire and willingness to give your best and give your all.

Pros focus on mastering their craft. They set goals. It is a priority in their lives, and they will devote as much time to it as is possible. They can’t “not” do it. They know the passion is the fire in their soul. It’s their heart. They know it’s who they are.

Whether we are good or not, that is another story, but we have control over that, too.

From early on, characterization and dialogue were my strengths. Description was my weakness. I was not observant. I kept my mind clouded with other things, the obsessions of the moment. Eventually, I realized I had to work hard on that area, and I did with much success.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we often feel we don’t measure up, as people, as artists. If we believe that, that’s when we work to get better: identify problems, find solutions, expand our knowledge, and hone our skills. The desire exists for a reason, and learning is perpetual. We can always do better. That is all a part of mastering.

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© Copyright February 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

THE TRUTH CAN BE DEVASTATING, FRIGHTENING, AND DEADLY!

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Young/New Adult-Dark Suspense-Literary Fiction

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

Available on:

Amazon
(If you buy the paperback on Amazon, you can get the $2.99 Kindle edition for $.99.)

Barnes & Noble
(for paperback & Nook versions)

iTunes
(for iBooks on your Mac or iOS device)

Free review copies are also available. If you’d like to review this book, please contact me for your complimentary copy.

Here is a preview of the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

***

Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

***

 

© Copyright January 30, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Shattering Truths Cover by KH Koehler Design

SO EXCITED ABOUT REVEALING THIS SPECTACULAR NEW COVER!

This beautiful cover is by KH Koehler Design. I highly recommend both her editing and book design services. KH is uniquely talented, honest, knowledgeable, and reliable. Her rates are affordable. Her work is excellent. She is considerate, professional, supportive, and kind. I can’t say enough in singing her praises, and I could not have been more pleased.

This book, Shattering Truths, was originally published in January of 2016 under the title Provenance of Bondage. The re-release has a lot of new material but is a bit shorter than the original, since I decided to cut some of it as well. I’m very happy with the new version, and I think readers will be, too!

So why the title change you ask? The original title alluded to emotional or psychological bondage, but many, despite the book’s description, took it to suggest BDSM like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Here is the book’s updated description:

She was left fighting her demons alone . . .

For sixteen-year-old Danielle DeCorso, the old house in Glastonbury was an eerie place to grow up. Coping with mental health challenges exacerbated by a traumatic family dynamic, Danielle watches from the window for two men in a dusty black sedan who keep circling the house and harassing her with phone calls. The two predators drugged her and her cousin, Angie, and then lured them from Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport to a secluded cottage on Long Beach West. She remembers feeling dizzy, the room spinning. She recalls screaming, crying, fighting, and then slipping in and out of consciousness. Angie, however, has no recollection of the incident.

When Danielle attempts to jog Angie’s memory and convince their best friend, Farran, that the two strangers had victimized them, no one seems to believe her. Alone in her pain, Danielle remains guarded, obsessed, and withdrawn. Soon she is sinking deeper into a tumultuous world of adolescent isolation and change. Grief, guilt, and anger send her spiraling into an even darker place.

Tormented by terrifying nightmares, she fears she will lose her sanity, or possibly her soul. Is she having post-traumatic stress hallucinations, as one of her friends suggest, or are her recurring nightmares as real as they seem? Trapped in an unyielding emotional bondage, Danielle continues the fight to reclaim her power. Startling revelations awaken her newfound spirit, inspiring a once naïve girl to grow into a woman of defiance and courage.

***

The new version should be available soon, and I’ll have free copies for people who’d like to read and review the book. Please let me know if you want a free copy for that purpose. I will also have the links available for anyone wishing to purchase the book.

Here are just a few lines from the previous edition’s reviews:

“A dark, alluring and fascinating book about a girl trying to crawl out of the darkness and despair and grow in strength and spirit.” –Books Are Love

“A gripping and emotional story about trauma and abuse…” – Elizabeth Greschner

“…an emotional roller coaster…” –Love Books

“…a startlingly intense look into the lives of the young teens in present day America!” –Deepak Menon

“This book will catch you right in from the start.” –Peggy

“…a powerful story right from the start.” –Joanne Dore

“I can’t wait for her next book because now I’m hooked!” –Lori Stanley

“I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.” –Denise Buttino Terrell

And if you care to read on, here is the first chapter:

CHAPTER ONE
Connecticut, Summer of 1987

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room.
The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window.
I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds.
Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment.
I prayed, always.
Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight.
The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it.
“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed.
Sickened to my core, I hung up.
It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall.
I lifted the receiver.
“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy.
“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam.
They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I thank you for reading!

© Copyright January 24, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

JUST THINK NOW: IS IT LOVE OR OBSESSION?

Some people have the discernment required in connecting with others. Many, despite their intelligence, self-sufficiency, and well-meaning hearts often find themselves in unhealthy relationships.

There was a time that I, too, lacked that discernment. I had to learn the hard way never to ignore the following.

1) Red Flags Waving

We witness behavior that raises an eyebrow, things we don’t ordinarily condone. It could be cruel, inappropriate, abusive, or manipulative behavior toward another, derogatory remarks, infidelity, and lack of boundaries or respect for boundaries. Sometimes a person admits to being a jerk, a bastard, or a bitch, and our first instinct is to contradict and thereby comfort them. Sometimes we think because a person can be sweet and charming to us, we are the exception, the chosen one who will make it all better. We’re not, and we won’t.

2) The Pedestal

Our perception of this person goes from one extreme to another. He or she walks on water or is a monster. We have defined who they are—essentially, a paragon of the ideal. We decided beforehand how they should behave and respond. It’s not reality-based, and it’s not love. It is obsession—a persistent and disturbing preoccupation with an unreasonable idea. What we’re feeling has nothing to do with that person. We can’t love someone we don’t see. They are no more than a channel for what we need. An obsession is an addiction. It distorts our perception and impairs judgment. It comes with denial and control patterns that become manipulation. There is no direct communication about needs and desires. Resentments build, fester, and then erupt into anger. When reality kicks in, it is a long tumble for that person up on the pedestal to the ground. Unrealistic expectations create devastating disappointment.

3) Unnecessary risks

We are willing to compromise ourselves and our well-being when we don’t have to and sometimes the safety and well-being of others. We may rush headlong into a physical relationship with little knowledge and a good measure of denial instead of awareness, education, and caution.

4) Compromised principles

There is unwilling compliance to avoid wrath and rejection. We find ourselves continually compromising our principles and lowering our standards.

5) The Stranger in the Mirror

We don’t recognize ourselves. We don’t like who we are in this situation or relationship, or we don’t like who we are becoming or the way we feel, act or think. We were never this whiny, this controlling, this hurt, this confused. We sometimes feel like a basket case. At the same time, we have an unbalanced self-esteem. We feel the other person could not possibly want to live without us, even while we find it increasingly difficult to live with ourselves.

6) Goals On Hold

The relationship distracts us from our goals or seems to have replaced them. It happens in new relationships, but if we are unable to get back on track or have abandoned our dreams entirely, it’s a problem.

7) Confusion and More Confusion

We don’t know what to believe because our judgment and perception remain clouded.

8) Way Too Much Stress

We are not taking care of business or ourselves. We may feel more paranoid, more OCD, more anxious. People have a lot to work through in relationships. Stress is normal, but constant stress that renders our lives unmanageable is not.

9) Bondage Without Leather & Chains or That Monkey On Your Back

We try to fight it. We want to be free of this person. At the same time, we want nothing and no one to come between that person and us. We may isolate to have more time to focus on our obsession. When what we want dangles before us, we can’t resist. When deprived of it, we are sick—mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically. We may feel we cannot be honest about this relationship or situation with anyone including ourselves. We continue to want the same thing from this individual not realizing that after a while, we don’t enjoy it, and maybe we never did, yet we still need it. The moments of comfort and bliss are fleeting. A feeling of emptiness prevails. It causes agonizing pain for us. We may feel as if we are in bondage because we are. At times, we can’t stand up for ourselves because we are somehow at a disadvantage and at the mercy of our obsession.

Here is the question to ask, what is the payoff? Because there is one. An issue we likely didn’t know we had made us vulnerable in this situation. We were addicted to at least one thing this liaison was getting for us, and it’s doing a lot more harm than good.

Love, on the other hand, is good, but to feel comfortable when loving and receiving love in return, we must know we are worthy. Getting to that place opens another door in the journey of our recovery from past trauma and emotional abuse. Beyond it, more beauty awaits and more joy.

Nine Inch Nails: The Perfect Drug (1997) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo.

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9 Warning Signs That You Are In A Dangerous Relationship

What Self-Love Means: 20+ Ways to Be Good to Yourself

© Copyright May 24, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

GRIEF: THE DEVASTATING TRUTHS BEHIND THE TEARS

Sometimes we lose someone who may not have been that close to us, yet we think they should have been. Those ties were supposed to bind but didn’t. Instead, they turned out to be so weak, they broke a little more at every difference of opinion, every instance where we stood up for ourselves, every time people looked at us and didn’t see themselves. Maybe it was some argument, someone else’s stupid meddling, someone’s denial. Maybe it was all because of lies and fragile egos, people trying to turn one against the other, smear campaigns, and the rush to judgment.

So there was a death that day, but we didn’t lose the person then. We lost this person long ago, and it broke our hearts a thousand times already. Is this someone we really had or truly knew? We lost that chance. We lost to the dysfunction. Not even the obligatory love and commitment could save it. It got to a point where suiting up and showing up simply hurt too much.

Somewhere along the line, we’ll see some display of genuine family love and laughter, and we want that, all the while wondering why we didn’t get it, and so we grieve that.

Yes, we mourn what we couldn’t have, and death is not only a reminder; it is the finale. We say goodbye with so much weight, with a burden too hard to hold. There are holes that will never be filled, stories that will never be heard, never told, and scars that won’t heal. There is grief in isolation. It’s more than sorrow. It’s devastation.

You miss what you wanted that to be, but you don’t want it back, not any of it.

Quite honestly, it becomes clearer to me every day, how complicated grief is with all of its added dimensions.

People celebrate certain individuals and shun others. Maybe the shunning was because of addiction or disease, or maybe it was the wrong sexual preference. I don’t know. But one mother and child may have the world to grieve with her, and so she should. In the other case, a parent and child can go through hell with no one comprehending the loss or caring. Others simply deemed the person mourned unworthy for something beyond his or her control, while others are worthy regardless of their choices, because their choices were ones people could relate to, things people didn’t fear for lack of understanding.

I think about these things… and all of life’s unfairness. Life is not fair, nor will it ever be. Accepting that helps but doesn’t heal. There are moments we can’t handle anymore, not just then, no, and we shut down. We have to. And we ask, what’s wrong with me that I feel this way? What’s wrong with me that I see these things others don’t see, that I can’t accept what they accept? What’s wrong with me that I couldn’t fix it, couldn’t explain it, couldn’t stop it, didn’t protest, cried alone? You say, what if they had heard my heart? What if we had resolved all of this? But they wouldn’t have heard, and it wouldn’t have gotten resolved, and we know it. We have to deal instead with feelings of unworthiness, our inadequacies and our excuses, our humanity, and our pain… so much pain.

The burdens we share should inspire universal love and compassion. It does for me, and yet all I see is ever-increasing hate in the world. Another reason to grieve. It’s no wonder I would rather write and live in my own little world than continually bear witness to the imbalance, the insanity.

Oh, I know grief has its profound beauty. We can experience joy, happiness, sadness, hurt, and none are permanent states. They are moments that come to us, moments to awaken us, moments to experience with all of our hearts. In that sense, we must embrace every one of them. And I do.

“Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.” ― Mark Twain

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The Most Beautiful Piece On Loss and Grief

Coping with Grief: Guided Spoken Meditation for Healing After Loss of a Loved One
 

© Copyright February 5, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

A PERSPECTIVE ON THE MIND-BLOWING VICTORY

{Photo by Aia Fernandez}

Most of us are not turning over cars, damaging property, or advocating violence, and most of us would not be doing that regardless of the outcome. Yes, some people are doing it, just like some people threatened to overthrow the government in a bloody revolution if we had the opposite outcome.

But revolutions are not usually peaceful. They are ugly, and I have no doubt it would be just as ugly or worse if Hillary Clinton had won.

People pretend not to understand why protesters are so alarmed.

Here’s a short version.

White supremacists are celebrating! They believe this is a victory for their agenda. They feel validated in their narcissistic delusion that they are superior to other races. They can hardly wait to begin intimidating, bullying, and oppressing minorities. Others are happy as pigs in shit because they believe apathy has won, and they don’t even have to pretend to care about or acknowledge the rights of others. They can lay their head down on their pillows every night and take comfort in the belief that they will be safe and protected.

Many of our fellow citizens are not feeling safe and protected right now. Only a week ago, Trump supporters didn’t feel that way either. It’s why they voted for Trump, so though they pretend not to understand, they should.

Instead, they tell us to get over it.

How about this— we will get over bigotry about the same time people get over their need to discriminate, oppress, and devalue others. Does that sound fair?

Were they crybabies for the past eight years every time they spouted off about President Obama? People constantly made disgusting racist remarks about our president, his wife, and his children.

It amazes me that many who felt they’d been denied free speech simply because others responded unfavorably to things they’ve said are now telling us, just shut up. Yes, just shut up, even though they will never shut up about things that don’t meet their approval. No free speech now, unless it is for me. Me, me, me, that’s how it seems to work. Make America great for me and the hell with everyone else.

Those who abhor political correctness now want you to be politically correct in showing nothing but admiration and support for their candidate, even though President Obama could not get that throughout his two terms in office. It is the constant double standard.

You don’t get to tell people to unite and support the president-elect if you are mocking and shaming them for how they feel. Your attitude is not unifying. Nor is the president-elect’s choice of a white supremacist wife beater as his chief strategist. He needs to be a unifying voice, not someone crying on Twitter about the unfairness of the protests. We’re not going to allow him or anyone else to normalize bigotry. It’s not normal, and it’s not acceptable.

One commenter on a forum said the people have spoken, thus proving they don’t care about the rights of women and minorities. The truth is, the people have spoken, and Trump did not win the popular vote. His opponent was over a million votes ahead at the last count. So yes, a lot of people do share our concerns and, sadly, we still have a country divided on whether we should treat everyone with kindness and decency.

Generally speaking, do people even want to get along with those who don’t share their views, their race, their religion? If we look back throughout history, it’s always been a battle of egos or madness propelled by fear, men willing to risk everything for dominance in the world. I suppose this will continue until there is no more world left to conquer.

Think seriously, too, about whether you want to go back hundreds of years to when people were a thousand times more callous toward anyone with an affliction or anyone they considered beneath them. Ignorance was no excuse even then. No one is above anyone else. With ego and apathy run amok, we could devolve once again into a world of barbaric savagery.

So, yes, this is devastating. It’s heartbreaking. It sucks. Many of us felt we were moving to a higher level of consciousness, and we are stunned.

We have made so much progress in advocating awareness, in fighting to end the silence, stigma, and oppression, yet our leader will be someone who mocks the oppressed and the afflicted. One of his supporters told people concerned about rape culture to “grow up.” The president-elect has called soldiers with PTSD “weak.” Unfortunately, narcissists can’t see this as a problem, because they lack empathy. So, what are young people learning about how to treat women, minorities, and the disabled? I hope their parents will teach them what consent means since many are eager to point out that sexual assault is okay because Beyoncé dances around in skimpy clothes and women use foul language. I lost track of the excuses. These young males could be the future Brock Turners of the world who will one day shockingly discover the world does not revolve around them and their needs. Except they may not escape justice as easily.

My belief has always been; when fellow human beings share their excruciating pain about injustice, assault, or oppression, we need to listen. It’s not the time to talk about yourself or other things going on that you feel deserve attention. It’s not the time to get defensive or feel resentment. It’s not the time to talk about when it doesn’t happen or all the other wonderful things the culprits do. Simply put, there is injustice in the world, plenty of it, and when it’s there, we can’t ignore it.

As far as coping, we’ll put one foot in front of the other, and we’ll take it one day at a time. We won’t waste our time arguing with Internet trolls. Trolls don’t care about the points you concede on. They won’t appreciate your being fair-minded and open to debate. Trolls will not have compassion for your heartfelt statements or your disappointment. Simply put, they don’t care how you feel. They just want to torment anyone who does not fully support what they wish to believe.

Yes, we got thrown back, but we’ll move forward again. Let’s lead by example. Continue to love hard, love fiercely, and be kind. We are warriors, and the fight is never over.

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Interesting reading:

10 Signs The Global Elite Are Losing Control

 

“Love A Soft Person,” The Importance Of Having A Gentle Soul

 

© Copyright November 12, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

RECLAIM THE GIFT THAT MAKES YOUR SPIRIT SOAR

Photo Credit – Angela Marie Henriette

 

My nephew, Christopher, was about six when he gazed out the window in the backseat of the car and said, “I’m just afraid I will run out of things to draw.”

He began at an early age, sketching and drawing—leaving people in awe of his talent. You see the brilliance in his eyes when he talks to you, especially about art. When I ask him if he can do a certain thing, the answer is, “Of course, I can!” He is chock full of confidence.

It is not hard to believe in someone like him. We not only believe in him, but we also celebrate him. He touches our hearts and remains such a light in a dark world.

I feel the exact same way about my son who was educating strangers about Jupiter’s moons in the first grade. They are two people who came into the world with gifts and talents, and a clear sense of who they were from an early age. I can attest to this much: when you know, from childhood, what you are and what you love, you cannot imagine any other life. I feel strongly; people must allow you to be the person you are, not the vision of you and your future that they have in mind.

It is easy to recognize the apathy and pain of someone who never lived their dream; someone left to wonder what the outcome might have been had they followed their heart. You see glimpses of their fire, traces of the light gone from their eyes. They had their spirits crushed, their voices silenced, their true selves obliterated.

Children need to hold on to their natural confidence and infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to trust their instincts. My heart tells me, we need to not only believe in them but also show them how much we do.

Perhaps this is one reason experiencing an incredible contribution to the arts– everything from singing and drawing to dancing—can move me to tears. I realize people make incredible achievements every single day, ones I don’t see. They may not have an audience or applause, but their achievements are no less important. But seeing people get out there, doing the thing they love most and nailing it speaks to the person inside many of us that might say, I want to do what I love as fearlessly as that. I want to celebrate that moment where I have the audacity to succeed and reach the hearts of others, all of us sharing the passion and joy. It is one of life’s beautiful and most cherished experiences.

For me, it is.

In these moments, I don’t think about the harrowing destruction of our world or of humanity. It is a brief lull because I don’t want to ignore that. It has affected me profoundly since childhood, and while I search my heart for solutions, I can only counteract with love and a message of oneness. I believe each of us can do that in some way, especially if we have a voice or means of communicating our passion and love to the world. It is one small contribution of many until we can do better.

Those of us who have made it thus far with our dreams intact are eternally grateful. Whatever the passion – no matter what happens in life, it is there, and it saves you. It just might save others, too.

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

GOOD PEOPLE DROWNING IN FEAR AND TOXIC SHAME

I know what it’s like when your mind doesn’t stop – the thoughts, the ideas, the worries, the obsessions. Many people struggle, and I think it’s important to not only acknowledge that, but to share how we have been conquering one battle after another. It tells others they are not alone in their struggles; that things can and do get better.

The shame many of us live with often begins in childhood where we are not able to sort out what is ours to claim and what is not. Ultimately, the combination of what is ours and what we take on as ours can be difficult to bear.

Some people, in the throes of their hidden shame, are afraid to be seen authentically, and maybe even afraid to see others as they are and allow them to shine. The serpent that bedevils us is ego. It is an ongoing effort to keep that sucker reigned in and right-sized.

Shame traps people in a fear of failure/fear of success mindset, two sides of the same coin. The result is the same, more ridicule and shame. Many feel they don’t deserve success, and there are some who pacify themselves believing that others don’t deserve it either.

But we all are all capable of learning from our mistakes, growing, changing, and finding happiness. It depends on whether we heal or not. External validation is  a temporary fix until we resolve things internally. Past turmoil is a boulder we carry everywhere we go. Some hold it up forever while others chip it away, one piece at a time.

We heal when we come to believe we deserve better, and we do. For some, that healing takes a long time and some, sadly, never heal.

But if the process of healing has begun in another, patience is key, as beautifully expressed in this piece by Jeff Brown @ http://soulshaping.com/

“Emotional armor is not easy to shed, nor should it be. It has formed for a reason- as a requirement for certain responsibilities, as a conditioned response to real circumstances, as a defense against unbearable feelings. It has served an essential purpose. It has saved lives. Yet it can be softened over time. It can melt into the tender nest at its core. It can reveal the light at its source. But never rush it, never push up against it, never demand it to drop its guard before its time. Because it knows something you don’t. In a still frightening world, armor is no less valid than vulnerability. Let it shed at its own unique pace.”

We have no idea about anyone else’s pain. We don’t know how hard they’ve tried to bear it. Addiction and obsession will distort perspectives and impair judgment, and addiction and obsession are not simply about narcotics or alcohol. The world we live in and the circumstances of our lives heighten sensitivity, and it all begins when we are too small to comprehend it.

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Some Great Reads:

Toss Your Expectations Into The Ocean

18 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Is

© Copyright August, 2014 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Featured Photo by John Hain

LITTLE TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU CONQUER BACK PAIN

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People suffering from lower back pain often ask me how I manage scoliosis and lumbar spine disk disease, because I do manage it, despite having a disk determined to be “shot” rendering me a bad candidate for back surgery. One doctor told me I would end up in a wheelchair, but I haven’t had a back episode in years, and I do not take or need pain medication of any kind.

As an advocate of healing mind, body, and soul from all trauma, I hate to see people suffer, so I’m happy to pass along what has worked for me.

I am not a doctor or any authority on health. I’m just someone who has learned a lot through experience and from chiropractors who are willing to teach you what you need to know. These solutions won’t be enough for everyone dealing with pain, but most of it will help tremendously, and it will certainly help people who are in a situation similar to mine.

Let’s start with the mental stuff. I read somewhere that I needed to change my relationship with pain. If this sounds hokey, it’s not. I learned that while I could endure almost unbearable emotional pain, the biggest fears I had were things that could lead to physical pain. I was terrified of physical pain. I wanted to be comfortable all the time and couldn’t accept being uncomfortable ever. I feared it so much; it caused anxiety, and that only made things worse.

Changing my relationship with pain required getting to a place where I could accept when I was uncomfortable and hurting. I needed to remind myself that I wasn’t the only person on earth this was happening to, that aches and pains were normal, in fact, and people deal with it all the time. I also came to recognize that the physical pain I had was not solely a result of this inevitable thing inflicted upon me by some disorder I had no control over; it was my body telling me that something needed attention. Something I was doing or not doing needed to change. I hadn’t realized how reckless I’d been with my body throughout my life, never giving it the tender loving care it deserved. I needed to take care of it and take care of myself, and I needed to know I was worth that. This realization helped, as did the relaxed attitude of seeing myself as just another person on the planet dealing with something unpleasant and seeing myself as a more confident, take-charge person who could address and remedy situations. It means not only learning to love yourself but to trust and believe in yourself as well.

So let’s talk about treating the pain.

I don’t know about you, but I used to panic whenever I felt pain. It made me want to stop everything and get to a place where I could lie down and stay there. That’s a good time to stay away from coffee and sugar. These days, I don’t have to avoid coffee or sugar if I’m feeling a little off, because I understand how everything works, and I don’t panic. Until you get to that place, avoid those things when you’re feeling vulnerable.

Now, for me, ice treatments are everything. A chiropractor taught me to lay on my stomach with a small pillow rolled under my navel to elevate the lower half of my body and then put the ice pack right in the middle of my lower back (no matter where the pain is). Another way is to lie on your back with a pillow under your legs and the ice in the middle of your lower back, never less than twelve minutes, never more than twenty, and the ice pack should have a sheath. If you don’t have a wrap for it, you can put it over your thin T-shirt rather than under it, but it should never be directly on your skin. While in the worst pain where I could barely move, I did twenty minutes of ice every two hours. People who can’t stand ice can use heat, but it’s best to do ice at least for the first couple of days to reduce the inflammation. I rarely have to do an ice treatment now, but I try to do one at least once a week. It just feels good. 🙂

I do have an ice pack I can use at my desk, too, with a wraparound belt that has a pocket for the ice. I bought an extra one to take to the office with me when I worked for a law firm. I kept the ice in their refrigerator and the belt in my desk.

Years ago, I used back braces. They help but can also be a crutch, so it’s good if you use them as needed and wean yourself away as you can.

There are those who can’t function without pain medication, and I understand that. Back when I was struggling, I took Tylenol every four to five hours for days until I was better. That worked to reduce the inflammation, and there were occasions doctors had prescribed stronger medications. However, even Tylenol and Advil are getting a bad rap these days, so for people like me who don’t want to use these medications, I’m including a link below about natural alternatives.

A lot of time, too, our neck is out of whack, and it throws everything off. Take a small pillow or towel and roll it up tight, lie on your back and put that pillow behind your neck. Relax like that for twenty minutes or so whenever needed.

As for prevention, you may already know some or all of these things, but since I run into so many people who don’t know, I’ll cover it all.

First, having a solid abdominal core is essential. For some people, this means changing eating habits, making healthier choices, but others who may not necessarily be out of shape can still have weak cores. In my experience, I would always exercise but then stop for weeks when I felt any pain and slowly rebuild my strength. I was also causing injury by not doing the exercises correctly. While it’s true that you shouldn’t exercise while you are in pain or to the point of pain, sometimes the pain issue is resolved within a day. The trick is to get back on track when you can, even if you can only manage pelvic tilts. When your core is strong, your back is not so vulnerable. For people who can’t get to a gym, there are great exercise tapes on the market. You can do your workouts at home, and the instructors tell you how to do it right, so you aren’t injured. Ideally, you want to work all the muscles in your body, and you want to include strength training, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics in your routine. However, if you don’t have a lot of time to work out, you can at least do abdominal exercises five times a week for ten to fifteen minutes.

I mentioned that pain sometimes resolves itself within a day. I’m talking about food digestion. Very often, the pain people feel in their lower back comes from being bloated and unable to digest food. If this is going on for days, maybe you’re not drinking enough water. I try to drink eight to ten glasses daily. When people get older, they need to add fiber and probiotics. There is a probiotic drink called Kefir that is all natural, and the strawberry one is super yummy.

When my back problems began, one of the first things my doctor told me was to stop lifting my toddler and bending at the waist to pick up his toys and all that. You should always bend at the knees anyway.

If you have back issues, it won’t help you to stay in any one position for too long. That sucks, I know—especially if you have to sit all day at work. Get up and stretch when you can. It’s the same with standing and walking. If you have to stand a long time, walk around a little or sit when you can. A mile-long walk is usually fine but can backfire if you’re hurting. Lying in bed for days isn’t good either. When you are injured, you can’t help that, but as soon as you can, get up every so often and walk a little farther and for a little longer each time.

Everyone knows it’s important to stretch after exercising, but when you have lower back issues, you can take time to stretch even when you’re not beginning or ending a workout.I have a big purple Pilates ball that I can use for stretching at home. You don’t need one to do stretches, but they’re awesome, and they usually come with instruction on how to use them.

Your doctor may have already told you that you need a good mattress and to get a restful sleep every night.

Your back should always be flat against the chair you’re sitting in, no space between your back and the chair. You’ll probably find chairs with arms and high backs to be more comfortable and supportive. I also use a lower back pillow when I’m working at my desk.

All this may sound like a lot of upkeep, but it’s a lifestyle change and becomes second nature to you once you get used to it, so please don’t be discouraged, or give up. Believe me; I know how debilitating this can be, so I don’t want you to suffer for years as I did.

Hope you feel better!

Suggested Reading:

Changing Your Relationship with Pain

Doing Yoga Changes the Way Your Brain Handles Pain

Can Natural Supplements Help with Pain?

7 Stretches In 7 Minutes For Complete Lower Back Pain Relief

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© Copyright October 9, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Dodinsky photo with quote by BK

WHEN YOU RECLAIM YOUR FAITH, HEART, AND SPIRIT

In Catholic elementary school, one priest admitted to our eighth-grade class that none of the Bible stories we’d learned in the lower grades were meant to be taken literally, that they were just “examples” to give us an idea. I had to ask. An idea of what? What the church wanted? What God wanted? What men who were writing this book thousands of years ago wanted? He wouldn’t say, and though I went on to Catholic high school, there continued to be mixed messages from adults regarding religion.

At first, I took what was worth keeping and dismissed the rest. I read that in a quote somewhere, and it sounded like a good idea. 🙂

Someone later told me if I didn’t believe and support 100% of what the Bible said, I was a “cherry picker.” It ruffled my feathers at the time; I was young, but, in truth, most of the people I knew were cherry picking right alongside me.  They wanted to believe in a higher power, in eternal life. They wanted to feel safe and protected, be loved unconditionally and always forgiven, and to know they could always count on prayer. We wanted to be loyal to our faith while having empathy for others, realizing it isn’t all or nothing, one extreme or the other. We knew that fear-based worship had nothing to do with love.

Since then, I’ve watched many of the most faithful people suffer— not just from financial difficulties and health problems but feeling lost, feeling down, fearing they’d never get what they wanted, what they needed. Despite their praying and continuous efforts, their unmet expectations continued to disappoint them. They often repeated the adage that if you don’t suffer here on earth, you suffer in the hereafter (something like that). Well, we all suffer, but I don’t believe there is a loving father of all creation who wants his children to suffer continually and mercilessly.

Granted, a lot of the time, too, we cause our suffering, thinking everything is about us. Because we can be such masochists, we don’t want to confront certain things to find out that what we’re torturing ourselves with has no basis in truth or that, much of the time, whatever it is doesn’t matter. Some people, too, while vulnerable and suffering, want others to suffer with them. They want to punish and destroy, harm where they might have helped, and I don’t believe that is part of any divine plan. We have the capacity to cause ourselves and others so much pain. 😦

Stopping negative thoughts, for so many of us, is often easier said than done. Even a simple concept like staying in the moment so that we won’t worry needlessly about our past or the future often eludes us. We need a constant reminder to do that! We have our distractions, our obsessions, things that may impair our judgment and distort our reality, and all the time we spend living in false realities, people can take advantage of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and keep us in bondage. But that’s something we have to fix. No one can fix it for us. No one can even help us fix it if we’re not willing to do all the work. And it’s hard work. 😉

This aside, there were many reasons I questioned what I’d been taught as a child. My indoctrination had sorted me into a belief system that worshiped a patriarchal god whose texts subjugated women, enabling a patriarchal society where that subjugation could continue to varying degrees across the globe.

And the funny thing is, for the longest time, I still wanted to believe much of what I’d been taught in my younger years. I was so desperate to believe that, at one point, I sought out devout Christian friends who had what I saw as unshakable foundations. I thought they could say something that would convince me I was wrong. Those people shut me down or shut me out as if I could corrupt their thinking.

You know, it was okay at one time (even cool) for people to go on their little spiritual journey, and the outcome mattered only to the individual. Mine went all the way from Siddhartha and The Prophet to Way of the Peaceful Warrior and beyond. I read about Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Pantheism and more recently the beautiful Bahá’í faith. Everything I learn fascinates me. Back in the 90s, I befriended an Egyptian family who passed along much of what was good about Islam and talked about some of the things they struggled with, not unlike many Christians with the harsher truths of the Bible. These days, however, people seem to get upset when you don’t believe what they believe. Even the word journey seems trite.

Exploring is important, though—especially having that freedom to explore. When you do it extensively, the outcome, whatever that may be, brings you to a much higher level of authenticity. You can embrace whatever you choose to believe with less concern about whether someone is going to try to prove you wrong, mock you, or corrupt you.

Still, when you dare to conclude that you don’t believe what your parents and teachers taught you, you find yourself struggling to figure out where you do fit in and what you do believe. You tough it out without your happy place in moments of distress, without feeling safe or protected, and you listen to people make harsh judgments about people like you—that you edged God out, that you don’t have a moral compass, that you are egocentric.

And yet, in my own moment of truth, I became a better person than I ever was, an increasingly more authentic and less narcissistic person, because I wasn’t trying to believe something that didn’t  make sense to me or fit in where I didn’t belong. I wasn’t pretending to be something I wasn’t, without realizing, and I had stopped building the false self I continually needed to expand on with the accumulation of more shame and feelings of inadequacy. I’m not saying this is true for everyone. It was true for me because I lived in a false reality about everything, including who I was.

While I never believed there was anything about me—ethnicity, religion, color, socioeconomic status, that set me apart from anyone else or made me better than anyone else, I did start out in life believing I was on some mission empowered by God. And without realizing, I had disconnected myself from others.

Of all I had learned, one of the things that stuck with me above everything was the whole love one another thing. Yes, I really liked that part. Isn’t it a basic theme in all religions? But it wasn’t the non-believers I’d see hating and punishing one another without conscience.

And there was that perfect love hath no fear business in a society that seems overrun by fear. It began to seem as if allegiance to a god was some way of feeling righteous and superior enough to justify atrocious behavior toward one another—all fear-based and with this tunnel vision about getting to this perfect place called Heaven where we never have to die. Of course, we are human, and as humans, we often fail, but at some point, we have to look at the bigger picture, realize what’s happening and start looking for answers. Because we want to do better, don’t we?

One of the biggest problems in this world is that people don’t get along, don’t respect each other, and often don’t regard one another as fellow human beings. They can’t understand one another because they don’t listen to each other. They don’t put themselves in someone else’s place and say, “That could be me.” Instead, they look for reasons why that wouldn’t happen to them because they always behave the right way, or they are the “right” sort of person their god wants them to be. It enables them to detach. It’s always this idea that people reap what they sow until tragedy hits home. And it’s easier for some to believe what they want to believe without further exploration because they can be like the child who has to hide and protect his or her cherished toys so that nobody can take them away.

I would never want to shut down people who don’t believe what the holy books say or the people who don’t know what to believe. I don’t want to dismiss the cherry pickers trying to find a safe middle ground or silence the faithful. They are all entitled to their beliefs, as long as they are not committing or condoning crimes against humanity.

I believe, too, those who bring hate into the universe, using it as a weapon, and a divisive tool, these people are significant only at the moment because their time is over. People advocating hate, violence, and oppression serve no divine purpose in doing that. Our higher power is not a means to bury others, to condemn them. That power would connect us not divide us and bring us all together in the end. No loving deity would send some hateful bully to fix what is wrong in our world, and no one who carries that much hatred will go very far, because hate cripples and ultimately destroys. We have defeated that before, and we will defeat it again.

We can fight with a warrior’s resilience and never fight alone.

Our job is to keep resolving things internally, so that we continue to evolve as humans, deepening our understanding, our empathy, and our compassion. Suffering can be a beautiful thing when we are constantly evolving, but not if we’re stuck in the same place emotionally without learning from everything we endure. Every one of us can enlighten as we evolve, heal, learn, grow, and transform.

I truly believe the continuous goal is healing—not simply individual healing but collective healing. We each have our gifts and our tools for contributing to the greater good, and it’s one big, collaborative effort, during which time we need to remain connected as part of a larger entity.

If we must keep influencing ourselves with thoughts, let those thoughts be reminders that we are divine, created by the divine, and divinity surrounds us, and in that way, we have much more power than we know.

We have that power for a reason.

We don’t see everything just yet, and we don’t know everything, but we are creating the future, the world we want to live in, and the world we will leave our children. I’m also going to dare to believe we can keep evolving toward a much higher consciousness and create the idyllic world we envision.

 

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Photo credit: The Goddess of Every Sweet Dream by June Yarham

© Copyright August 2, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

TERROR WILL MAKE YOU TERRORIZE—THE INSIDIOUS ALLIANCE FAIL

It’s easy to get pulled into a state of terror these days. There is deliberate fear mongering and propaganda, so it’s often hard for people to know what to believe.

They want accountability and honesty from their leaders, and they deserve that. It is understandable that people are tired of oppression by corrupt and manipulative bullies who don’t care about the people they serve (and yet many turn to other deceitful and manipulative bullies to fix it.) But I don’t blame hardworking people for saying they’ve had enough of their tax dollars spent on benefits for others that they don’t even get for themselves. I’ve worked in law firms, too, where attorneys boast about getting disability benefits for clients who are not disabled. So yes, many of the systems we have in place do not work, and we need leaders who will reassess them—whether it be border control, gun rights, our welfare system, or disability eligibility.

What I can’t relate to, however, is all the tribalism, elitism, and hate. None of that is necessary or important in achieving our goals, and it’s just devastating. This behavior has sickened me to my core since childhood.

People say things like, well how can you not get defensive when you hear that there is white privilege, or “they” accuse white people of doing things you don’t do and never did? They also argue that white people also find themselves in difficult circumstances.

Okay, well, here is why I don’t get defensive.

1. It is obvious that I don’t do those things.

2. I have seen other people do this stuff, and it breaks my heart. The injustice is my primary concern in addressing the matter, not my defense. So I feel that speaking out against it is the very least I can do and, believe me, it’s not much and not enough.

3. As a person perceived as white, I have experienced white privilege. It’s something we take for granted, and it’s not simply about socioeconomic status, but about justice and human dignity denied. As only one example, people see me and assume they are safe, whether it’s a cab driver, an employer, a coworker, and so on. Overall, they treat me better, and I can make the comparison because I have always had relationships and friendships with black people. If we look at it as women, we should be able to understand it on some level, since women are often not treated the same way men are in the workplace, walking down the street, or in social situations.

The white privilege defensiveness is similar to men’s defensiveness when women talk about rape culture. Many men know that they are not guilty and feel no need to defend themselves but feel compelled instead to stand up for the people who do have to deal with the trauma, the abuse, and the injustice.

I do get defensive when I’m talking about rape culture, and someone has to point out something like women can be mean and aggressive, too. Um? It’s not that I don’t know that, but what does it have to do with anything? Don’t take attention away from the issue at hand. It would never justify anything anyway.

With white privilege defensiveness, the rationale seems to be that we keep people as victims by validating them, empathizing with them, and fighting alongside them for equality and the dignity they deserve. I don’t think people are kept down by that. I believe what keeps people down is the constant dismissal of their pain, the degradation, the humiliation, the fear of injustice, and the continuous crushing of their will, their faith, and their hope. This type of oppression kills the self-esteem people need to empower themselves, and it’s flat-out terrorism.

And please don’t tell me that those of us who want to help in this ongoing crisis support laziness and everyone getting free stuff. As someone who worked in the corporate environment for nearly a quarter of a century, almost half of that time with chronic illness and disabilities, I can attest to the fact that so many out there are doing their utmost to cope. We don’t know their stories, their circumstances, or what challenges they face, and it’s not always the narrative we hear over and over.

Enough with the stereotypes already. Just like all the gun violence—a white man is evidently the good guy with a gun, while the black man with any type of weapon is a threat. Honestly, I don’t mind any mentally stable, rational person owning a gun. The problem is everyone thinks they are stable and responsible until they’re not, and so many apparently are not. How do we even address that?

But for so many, it is all or nothing.

I see a lot of middle ground, which is an impossible place to be in these days. You cannot form alliances like that, and yes, people want allies. We are the same color. We have the same ethnicity. We agree about who God is and what he wants from everyone. We have the same political view. We hate the same person, so we know who the enemy is.

Here is my question, though, all or nothing people, where is the balance? Because life has taught me, it is always about balance, and the truth is often somewhere in the middle. Extremes are inflexible and maybe even a little insane.

And it’s the apathy that kills me.

Even today, as the nation mourns the deaths of brave police officers and two more young African-American males, we have people out there trying to divide and spread hatred—blaming Obama, Hillary, liberals, etc. I may be a little more of a Centrist, but I highly identify with liberals and their concerns, especially these concerns, so if you are blaming liberals, you are blaming me, and I am not okay with that.

Hey, I’m sorry that some people who are feeling terrorized now think “Kumbaya” is for hippies on drugs, and that it’s not popular anymore to ask that we love one another. Fear has everyone in a panic.

I guess somebody turned the tables when we weren’t looking. Those of us advocating compassion, kindness, and acceptance are the enemies. We have a far religious right believing there is an eternal reward for elitists who lack empathy because it’s part of their “religion” to do so and because they want all the power and control.

“The devil made me do it” defense applies only to priests.

And I don’t care what they say. When people shame and scorn you for speaking out against pedophile priests, that’s part of the problem. When the Hollywood community conveniently ignores the child abuse, sexist culture to avoid discrimination, that’s part of the problem. Anytime we close our eyes to horrific things happening because it interferes with our agenda or someone else’s agenda, that’s part of the problem.

Some people go so far as to say that empathy is Satan’s new agenda.

Well if that’s true, Satan has an army of candy-ass peace seekers who feel the pain of humanity and speak out for dignity and justice for all. Kind of like Superman. Except we are no more superior than the next guy. We just care about other people, and when they suffer, we suffer, too.

So let me tell you; Satan’s bad-ass, powerful army includes honest, law-abiding citizens who cry for this world—not the proud, greedy, gluttonous, and covetous bunch of bullies, or those merely in bondage to cognitive ease.

And I’m just going to say this one more time. Love and acceptance are what feels healthy and right to me. I want that for everyone, along with plenty of peace, happiness, and success to go around. Is that too much to ask? If so, what is the point of this life really?

“The world is getting too small for both an Us and a Them. Us and Them have become codependent, intertwined, fixed to one another. We have no separate fates, but are bound together in one. And our fear of one another is the only thing capable of our undoing.” ― Sam Killermann

Here is something else I’d like to share.

The police officer in this video talks about much needed change, and it’s worth watching.

Why Police Are So Violent Toward Black Men – In the words of a Baltimore ex–cop.

© Copyright July 1, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

SURVIVAL OF THE COUSCOUS INVASION, POINTLESS PANIC, AND MORE!

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It began as a typical Friday afternoon, working at home on my books, breaking every so often for a workout, a stretch, some cleaning, or a meal. I finished lunch but the TV was still on, and when I happened to glance at it, notice of a tornado warning trailed at the bottom of the screen—in effect until ten p.m.

I always get nervous about these things. We’ve had them, but they are so rare here in New York that I still associate tornadoes with Kansas and Oz and okay maybe Texas.

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My son, Jesse, would be on his way over soon, so I went on a detail-seeking mission, like what time exactly might this event occur and the exact percentage of its likelihood.  The internet said it was a watch, not a warning. Still, I wanted to know how fast it could change from watch to warning.  I was obsessed.

Once Jesse arrived, things just about returned to normal. I was making a  honey mustard/barbecue chicken stir fry  (always so delicious over couscous.) The place was lamp-lit with the a/c on, nice and cozy, and I was listening to the rain. Then, in my still “kind of nervous” rushing around, I managed to drop half a box of the couscous all over the kitchen floor.

I had another box—good thing. (I’m so prepared.)tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-024

But we have this thing about bugs. Jesse always had a slight phobia when it came to insects or rodents. As for me, well I just don’t want to see them crawling or watch them die. My place has been a pest-free zone. Seriously, I have not seen a bug since I moved in here two years ago. Jesse had always been appalled at the notion that they could casually stroll in like a guest, and I’d be all like oh, damn, the thing has to suffer a horrible death now. I can’t have that.

So I had to get every single morsel of that couscous off the floor because bugs. I thought it would be a quick vacuum, and that would do the trick, but it managed to get under the oven, so we had to move that. Still not a huge deal, but my son has this way of catastrophizing that is right on par with my anxiety. Every time I thought I had finished, he’d be like, no there’s a truckload more under there or a ton more under that thing. I was arguing there wasn’t even a truckload or a ton in the box to begin with! A lot of it did manage to get wedged under the cabinet on both sides, though, so I had to lay down and reach under with utensils and paper towels until every trace of it was gone. Meanwhile, Jesse managed to get a paper towel sucked up into the vacuum and had to take the whole thing apart to get it out. We laughed, and I cautioned him about getting the fork sucked up and confiscated it so that couldn’t happen.

This unanticipated ordeal took about an hour, but it got done, and soon after, dinner was on the table, which looked a lot like this:

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Despite everything, it came out great, and after that, we sat down to binge watch “How I Met Your Mother.” I bought that whole series along with “Big Bang Theory,” because I love funny stuff, and laughter is everything.

So with the disk loading up now, my son turns to me with this really serious look on his face and says, “So now a tornado is coming to finish us off?”

I laughed for ten minutes.

Yes, now that we survived the zombie apocalypse, Armageddon and all—

And there was no tornado, but clearly, panicking and catastrophizing never really does any good.

 

© Copyright July 1, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.

Wizard of Oz 1939 photo by Insomnia Cured Here

Chicken photo by jeffreyw

And here is his recipe

This is the recipe I used except I add jalapenos.