Accountability

Pray for Venezula, and Demand World Action

Posted on Updated on

As someone who saw her childhood irrevocably changed by a military, totalitarian government, what has been occurring in Venezuela worries and angers me.  For years, the country has suffered an economic crisis and violence against civilians has escalated.  Now that the people, especially young people, have taken to the streets to bring awareness to these issues, the military has retaliated in a bloody, and unnecessarily violent ways.

Many non-profit organizations like Un Mundo Sin Mordaza (A World without a (Mouth) Gag) and Amnesty International have called for scrutiny and worldwide attention on the latest violence against peaceful demonstrators, in Venezuela.

The following video is one of the most unbiased, citizen accounts of the actions against the Venezuelan people, by their own government.  It is not suitable for young children. unless they watch it under the guidance of a trusted adult who can explain its historical context.   The images are disturbing, but keep in mind that these actions have been escalating over the years.   They did not begin in a bubble.  They were allowed to happen under our watch, by good people who turned a blind eye.

Pray for peace, but be prepared to wage it. 

Consequences of Poor Choices in College

Posted on Updated on

Followers of this blog, know I am a PASSIONATE supporter of sorority life for college women.  In fact, one of my favorite topics to discuss with parents of college-aged women is membership in Greek Letter Organizations and all its benefits.  I am excited whenever a young woman finds her sorority home away from home and creates lifelong friendship.   I enjoy submitting recruitment information forms (RIFs) for potential new members as they start their sorority journey.  And, I love writing letters of recommendation for graduate school and new jobs for women I watched grow though into themselves through sorority life.

My personal college experience was enriched the day I accepted my Bid in 1989.   I joined a group of women who accepted me as I was, but also pushed me to be the best version of myself.  Since I attended a large commuter University, Greek Life was my touchstone with extracurricular activities that enhanced my years at college.   There were socials, study parties, basketball games and all-night float-building marathons, and yes, keggers, where I learned more about myself and my fellow Sisters.

Together we supported each other through the good and bad times.   We were our Sisters’ keepers and responsible not only for following the rules and regulations of the organization and the University, but ensuring that our Sisters did as well.   The rules were in place to make sure we had a complete academic, leadership, philanthropic, fun, balanced and safe sorority program.  We knew that one bad apple could certainly spoil the bunch, and were cognizant of the greater level of scrutiny placed on sorority women by society – both by folks who wanted us to succeed and those who expected us to fail and take on the worst characteristics of the stereotypical “sorority girl gone wrong.”

fat drunk and stupid ecardToday, the actions of a few bad apples culminated in harsh consequences for the larger group, as the Chi Omega Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania was closed.   The investigation of this Chapter was prompted by a series of poor decisions, that were exposed by a deeply offensive event. I was disappointed in these women, not only as their Sister, but as a Latina and a woman.   As a former volunteer Sorority Adviser, I can attest to the fact that the collegiate leaders of this group were provided with close, one-on-one mentoring by older Alumnae members who were selected for their professional expertise and trained in how to supervise the activities of a college sorority.  These Alumnae very likely advised (and scolded) them repeatedly about appropriate party topics among other teachable moments in the management of risk for a group of collegiate women.  This advice was accompanied by sanctions, repercussions and intense education by the National organization, along with a timeline for successful completion of the sanctions and re-education.    It was the college women’s decision to follow sage advice, but, as a self-governing groups of adults, they did not have to.

Unfortunately, they chose the worst possible outcome and started the chain reaction that led the National organization to close the Chapter.  While I was sadden by the news, I fully supported the difficult decision made by the Governing Council (national executive officers).   National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) groups have no tolerance for behavior that demeans, ridicules, or hurts other people and these have been articulated in the Unanimous Agreements, as well as the Fraternity’s Bylaws and Constitution. The governance documents are how we hold ourselves, and each other, accountable.  Our goal is to uphold our ideals as we continually prepare women for life after college.  In short , we strive to build women up and it is not by accident that so many female leaders are members of NPC groups.   We have been doing it for over a hundred years, successfully, because we maintain the highest standards.

My sincerest wish for the women who lost their Chapter, by their own actions, is that they learned the lessons.  My heart breaks for those women who tried, in vain, to steer the group, back to a place of honor and class,  because I know they did not deserve to lose their Chapter.  However, I am a proud sorority woman because we police ourselves.  It is these events that remind me why I pledged to honor my Fraternity’s creed and support fellow Sisters.   Sisterhood is for a lifetime, not just for the four years of college.

Breaking Up With Friends

Posted on Updated on

The Drift: A Guide to Surviving a Friendship Breakup, by Lauren Foster, prompted me to look back at former friendships.  Her tips for working through the process included: allowing oneself room to mourn, letting go, giving thanks, and finally, forming new friendships.   It struck a chord with me, and I wondered if breaking up with friends was as difficult as breaking up with a significant other.

thank you for defriending memeSocial media allowed me to reconnect with many old friends, meet the man who became Hubby, and find new sets of like-minded people who shared my interests in Zumba, health and weight loss, Nursing and reading.   I met my Zumba instructor friends in 2008, at the ZIN (Zumba Instructors Network) Convention, after “speaking” with them on an everyday basis through a networking message board.   When we met in person for the first time, it felt like a reunion of long-time friends.   We had a wonderful time together and remained connected, through Facebook, even though we are scattered throughout the country.   Similarly, I remained connected with new Nursing school friends and old high school and college friends.

Facebook also brought new people into my life and several acquaintances became friends.   Because I craved the one-on-one interaction of looking someone in the eye when speaking with them, I wanted to meet online friends in person.  Logistically, that was impossible.  Additionally, there was a layer of anonymity and artifice as we could create an online persona different from our own.  There was a chance that we were getting a “sanitized for the internet” version of someone’s personality, but I think people’s true colors eventually surfaced the more we got to know each other.

Talk to the hand, because the face ain’t listening.

Recently, a couple of my online friendships reached a logical end.   One was easily dismissed, as she was not someone I felt comfortable confiding in.   She was an oversensitive, passive/aggressive person whose feelings were easily hurt.  Moreover, her definition of confidentiality and mine were incompatible.  Communicating with her was simply tiresome and reminiscent of volatile, hormone-driven Middle School friendships.  Peace. Out.

The other break up hurt.  She and I bonded over mutual experiences and beliefs.  Unfortunately, her image of me was influenced by others and she accused me of speaking ill of her behind her back.  At the same time she was speaking ill of me.   I freely admitted to speaking (er, gossiping…gulp) about her, but my “error” was calling her out for doing the same thing.

I developed my own thick skin, but that did not mean that I had not suffered at the hands of Regina George and her ostracizing band of Mean Girls.  After reaching out to her a couple of times, it became abundantly clear that she no longer wanted my friendship.  I took a  relationship break, as it became obvious that I was a”fan friend” there to build her up,  rather than a partner in the relationship.    I said goodbye privately to the friendship, and mentally moved her to my “cordial acquaintances” list.

The pain of losing the connections was similar to breakups I had with men.  The drama associated with them, however, was decidedly female.   While I didn’t have physical relationships with my female friends, I was still sad to see them leave.  Once these friendships ended I immediately felt lighter, as if a weight had been removed from my chest.  As  I realized I would not be speaking with these people everyday as I had grown accustomed to, I embraced a short grieving period.

Then, something astounding happened.

I found TIME.  Time to speak with other online friends, time to spend cleaning up my house, time to read other books, time to watch television,  time to work and most importantly, time to spend with my family!   It was not only liberating, but empowering and humbling.  As those doors closed, others opened.   I just needed to allow them the space, take a deep breath and plunge back in.

Tell me about your experience breaking up with friends.  Was it an ugly breakup or did you just drift away from each other?  Did you ever reconnect with the old friends?

Do You Own Your Copyrights?

Posted on Updated on

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Susan Spann

Last month, I kicked off a new #PubLaw guest series here at Writers in the Storm with a brief look at copyright law and the rights it covers.

When authors learn that copyright protection is automatic and attaches to qualifying works at the time of creation, many assume that means the author owns those copyrights.

How could I not own my copyrighted works? Many authors ask. I wrote them, so I own them. Right?

Usually, but not always.

Copyright law recognizes several types of copyrighted works which are not owned by the creator, or which are owned by the creator in partnership with another person or entity.

Let’s take a closer look:

1.The General Rule: creative works are owned by their creator.
As a general rule, ownership of copyrighted works, and all the related rights, belongs to the author or creator.

However, an author may license…

View original post 770 more words

So Long 2013, I’m Leaving You.

Posted on Updated on

2013 sucked2013 was filled with lessons.  I learned to listen to my inner voice and my true self more than ever.  I also learned there were things that I was not meant to conquer.  While I was temporarily upset, I ultimately felt elated.  The weight was removed from my chest and I was able to breathe again.  It was empowering.  Sometimes the best lessons learned are those associated with loss.  They may be painful, and show us parts of ourselves we may not be comfortable or satisfied with, but the mirror they hold up to us reflects reality, and helps us move forward.  Grieve, for what was lost,  if we must.  Then grin, as we say, “Whew! Time to try something new.”

Books were my constant companions and led me to amazing friendships with readers, authors and bloggers.  These authors’ words helped me through a year of personal and professional failure.   They provided bright spots on bleak days and a few moments of escape, while I regrouped.  I will be forever grateful.

My “daughters,” Kristen and Sammy, and I solidified our bond and I look forward to meeting them in a few short months.  They are some of the strongest women I know and unbelievable examples of motherhood.  I thank Julie Richman for writing the books that brought Kristen and Sammy into my life.

Hayson Manning’s books brought this sumptuous Kiwi goddess into my life.   She has been an amazing Facebook pen pal, whom I hope to meet someday soon.  We have a date on a beautiful island in the South Pacific to sip frosty beverages and ogle gorgeous, shirtless, alpha men.  For research purposes, of course.

Julie Leto, whose work I have admired for many years, joined the ranks of independently published authors with her Dirty Dare novellas, which have recently been released as one novel Dirty Dare (Sexy Suspense Novel).   She has been writing intelligent, strong female characters for many years and I highly recommend her work.   (I hope I don’t lose my fangirl mind, when I meet her in 2014, for café con leche.  I really have loved her, since the old Blaze days at Harlequin.  And, I do mean old days.)

Military romances, a longtime passion of mine, also featured predominantly in 2013 and I read books by Heather Long, Tonya Burrows, Kelsie Leverich, Bella JuarezJeanette Murray Melissa Schroeder, Laura Kaye, Kaylea Cross, Cristin HarberJ.M. Madden, Tawny Weber and Ann Mayburn.    Many featured Veterans finding, and keeping love, while dealing with the aftermath of their service, like PTSD and injuries sustained in combat.   These women write with an understanding and deep respect for men and women in uniform and I am excited to read their offerings in 2014.

Towards the end of the year, I “discovered” Robin CovingtonAvery Flynn and Kimberly Kincaid or the “Man Warriors.”  I was drawn to their quick, yet snarky, senses of humor and began to read their books.  I was not disappointed, as their characters reflected each one’s unique style and attention to character development.

My paranormal “jones” was satisfied by Shelly Laurenston, Rosanna Leo, Milly Taiden, R.E. ButlerLauren DaneAlexandra Ivy, Lauren Wright, Laura KayeHeather Long and Christine Warren.   Wolves, big cats and bears…oh my!   Last, but not least, were Gina Maxwell who made tough, tattooed MMA fighters lovable and Tymber DaltonJoey W. Hill and Cherise Sinclair, who have known how to push my “envelope” just right, for years.

24384685-happy-new-year-2014-replace-2013-concept-on-the-sea-beachMy other constant companions were Hubby and our K9 kids.  They kept me sane, grounded and made me laugh when I could not and smile when I thought I would drown in my tears.   I am blessed to have them in my life.  Hubby, your gentleness, strength and patience knows no bounds.  I love you more today, than the day I married you.

So 2013, I bid thee adieu.  Don’t let the door hit you on the ass, on the way out.  You will not be missed.

Why Hello, 2014…you’re a sexy beast.  Sit right down here and let’s get to know each other, shall we?

Duck and Cover

Posted on Updated on

I am not, nor ever will be, a fan of “Duck Dynasty.”  However, the brouhaha over the suspension of a public figure who made ugly, unthinkable, regrettable  homophobic and racist comments made me long for the days when “A&E” signified ARTS and entertainment, only.   The duck person’s right to free speech was not infringed upon, as he spoke honesty and freely, in the GQ Interview.  As a result, he was suspended from the show (I suspect due to violating terms in his contract with the network).   People face these types of consequences every day, as corporations may create whatever policies they want for their employees.  That is all that occurred, in this case.

Reality TV show “celebrities” opened themselves up for a greater degree of scrutiny when they signed their contracts and agreed to be filmed.  They had the opportunity NOT to participate.   Many who have been interviewed after their shows aired, stated their lives were forever changed and lamented the loss of privacy, relationships and sense of themselves.   Notably, the Osbornes, who were no strangers to the public eye, ultimately regretted opening the doors of their private lives and homes to a television audience.

Unfortunately, the duck person was being touted as a “champion for Christian values,” and the angry mob of his “fans” began calling for boycotts of the network, petitions to be signed and have spewed more hate-filled speech towards A&E and organizations that promote LGBT equality and rights.  This non-controversy will result in more sales for the duck people’s products as their “fans” rush to “support” them, enriching their coffers even more.  Their “fans” will continue to vilify and marginalize people whom they believe are “beneath” them and continue their scorched earth campaign against “others.”   Just as Jesus would do, I’m sure.

“Christians” could follow Pope Francis’ example…but they have already labeled The Pope as “anti-Christian.”  Oops.

The aftermath will be must-see TV, although my sincerest wish is that the duck people, the baby pageants, and the Kardashians are canceled and replaced with educational programming.  Or all shows of that ilk are grouped into a new network entitled “Dumb Me Down.”

Pass.  The.  Popcorn.

Another Year. Another Birthday. Hell, Yeah!

Posted on Updated on

happy-birthday-to-me-21117388Ponder this thought for a moment: middle age rocks.  I speak of this from experience, as a member of the last generation to have a truly “innocent” childhood and adolescence.

I grew up during the Cold War, learned what GRID/HIV/AIDS was and how it was really transmitted, in middle and high school.  I watched the Challenger accident happen live.  I remember the launch of MTV, and when the “M” was synonymous with music, like the “US Festival” and “Live Aid.”  “Lollapalooza” was a little known festival advertised on college radio that took place in an empty field in Orlando, which now houses another shopping center.   Trips to New York City included a stop on the observation deck of the World Trade Center, as well as, dodging drug dealers and prostitutes on Broadway and 42nd Streets.

Some days I feel every bit of my age, as I reach for my bifocals to read menus or an article online.  Often, however, I do not.   I have been told consistently that I look about ten years younger than I am.   I have no desire to pretend to be anything but 46.  I earned each grey hair, extra pound and stiff joint and muscle.   I have also earned the right to look back upon my life fondly, but choose to look forward with a renewed sense of adventure.  I have no desire to be in my twenties, or thirties, again.  Did you hear that Madison Avenue?

The best part about being in my mid-forties is the ability to say, “fuck it,” and mean it.  I am not going to be an attorney, police officer or super-heroine, as I dreamed about in my youth.  I am happy to know it and move on.   Age brings wisdom, but also self-reflection and self-care.   It is liberating, sexy, peaceful and joyful.

My goal is to help contemporary fiction authors realize they are missing a rich demographic by not writing about middle-aged characters, who are sexy, intelligent, independent, quirky and fully developed.   After all, we have more disposable income to purchase books, and will, if we see ourselves reflected back.  The beauty of self-publishing is that consumers, not publishing companies, are driving demand.   I will be demanding more experienced characters, loudly.   I am 46 today, hear me roar!

30 Days of Thanks – Day 30 Reflection

Posted on Updated on

today i am thankfulI give myself  a”B” for this challenge, as I did not write a post for each day.

Some days the posts were easy to write, but some required prodding and I looked for suggested topics on Facebook and online.  Current events helped generate some thoughts, but I realized that the project was more difficult and deeply personal.  I learned to look past the superficial and focus on the important people and things in my life.  However, I was not prepared for the emotions that would be stirred up as I wrote each post.  I plan to do the challenge again next year, to compare where I am today versus in 2014.

Next week, I shall return to the lighthearted, humorous posts I prefer to write and catch up on my posting my book reviews.    But, for now, thank you.  Namaste.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 29

Posted on Updated on

Black Friday violators may be found in Dante's 4th through 9th levels of Hell.
Black Friday violators may be found in Dante’s 4th through 9th levels of Hell.

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”  ~ Randy Pausch

I am thankful to have worked in retail while in college.  I enjoyed my jobs and have pleasant memories of flexible hours, great customers and fun co-workers.  With one glaring exception – Black Friday.  I was left so traumatized by the experience, over 25 years ago, that I never shop on Black Friday, and only patronize small, locally-owned or socially-conscious, green businesses.

Black Friday traditionally marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  It was the period of the year where retailers would operate “in the black,” or at a profit, versus than “in the red,” or at a loss.  For folks employed by retail establishments, it simply meant earning more money in a shorter amount of time.

Sadly,  Black Friday has become synonymous with greed.  And violence.

I urge you to consider whether or not those items are dire necessities worth dying for today.  Or ever.

In the meantime, enjoy the dulcet, acapella tones of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s  “Greed.”

30 Days of Thanks – Days 27 and 28 – Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day

Posted on Updated on

snoopy charlie brown thanksgivingWishing you continued blessings and gratitude for being on the blog journey with me.  Please enjoy time with loved ones, as it is precious and entirely too short.  Pause for a moment to think about and thank all the people who work on holidays, sacrificing time away from friends and family, to keep us safe, healthy and free.  Let us work together to ensure they come home quickly, safely and are fully supported upon their return. Happy Thanksgiving!

30 Days of Thanks – Day 20

Posted on Updated on

Guest-Blogger
Stop in and leave a note.

When I started this blog I needed an outlet for my feelings.  Not only has the experience been cathartic, it has given me the opportunity to read other bloggers’ thoughts.  But, the unexpected blessing has been the thought-provoking discussions I have had with people all over the world.  Over time, I my readership numbers steadily increased, and I started to find my voice.   Thank you for taking the journey alongside me.

Today is about you.  Whether you focus on books, humor and satire, fashion, or life, please leave a post with your name, the name of your blog and a brief description of it.  This post is a forum to celebrate your blogs and pay it forward.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 19

Posted on Updated on

christopher motto
The Christophers, Inc. believe that each person has a unique and important purpose in life. Their motto is the ancient Chinese motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

Today I was reminded of the motto of the Christopher Society, as I met to finalize some paperwork. When I thought I had reached a dead end, a good friend made a phone call to start another ball rolling, in a different direction. She did this, not out of some sense of obligation, but because she was a good friend. I am blessed to have MC in my life and look forward to the day I can thank her face-to-face for having my best interest at heart.

As I child I remember watching public service announcements, called “Christopher Closeup” that focused on inclusion, social justice, living a righteous life and being good to one another.   Founded by Father James Keller, a Catholic priest from the Maryknoll order, I was drawn to their commitment to tolerance.  While my beliefs have expanded to include Eastern religions, earth-based and pagan spiritual practices, secular and Catholic rituals, the message of The Christophers, Inc. resonates more each day.

 

 

30 Days of Thanks – Day 17

Posted on Updated on

I am thankful to live in a City that embraces spiritual and faith openness and religious tolerance. ALL faiths, or spiritual/non-spiritual paths, are equally important and should be respected, unconditionally.coexist

30 Days of Thanks – Day 15

Posted on Updated on

love my online friends
I love my online friends.

I am thankful for the wonderful people I have met online, who have become dear, dear friends.  Technology shrank the miles between us and I am blessed to know each of them.  My goal is to meet each one face-to-face one day.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 6

Posted on Updated on

Time to pause and regroupI am blessed to have parents and in-laws who are supportive, loving and still “worry” about me, even though I’m middle-aged.   I shared the news of the temporary pause, yet again, of my nursing education journey with them.  While they were upset for me – probably more than I was – they immediately had words of comfort and support for me.

This marks a new chapter in my life, into uncharted waters.  Do I want to continue on the same course, or try something different?  Is this my passion or something that seemed like a good idea at the time?   Am I ready to make another leap?   These questions remain unanswered at the moment.

What I Know

1. I have a passion for reading and writing.  Until this Summer, when I was writing consistently, it was only a hobby.

2. I like to help others.  In the broad sense.   I am the person you turn to when you need tough love, or when tough choices need to be made.

3. I like to work for myself.

The key will be to combine 1, 2, and 3.   Stay tuned.