Generation X

Does 50 Ever Become Nifty?

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About a month ago, I reached a new milestone – I turned 50. I fully embraced my inner Sally O’Malley and was ready to take on the second part of my century.  Heck, after celebrating my 40th birthday, and the entire decade, I expected 50 to have a similar effect on me.

It did not.

It has, in fact, had the opposite effect. 50 has only served to highlight my lack of youth and inevitable aging.  Updating my blog to reflect my new “status” made me reflect on where I am.

While I have continued to age disgracefully, there is a profound sense of loss. I just cannot pinpoint what I have lost.

Only time will tell…

I have not changed the world or even traveled as much as I had hoped. I have not made my mark in society, as I continue to be one of the millions of drones who go about their lives every day.

All I know is that I am scared.

Scared that I, like so many others before me, will simply disappear into the obscurity of the aging process. Scared that as an “older” woman, who is well into menopause, I have become obsolete. Scared that my days as a sensual, sexual being are numbered, and the clock is not on my side.

So 50, we have reached an impasse. Will you help me reframe my pessimistic view of my immediate future? Or will I continue to morph into one “those women,” the ones we see, but look right through?

Only time, as limited as it is, will tell. But, it is not on my side.

On My Faith and this Election

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Goldie Taylor’s latest article for the Daily BeastDonald Trump Is Exposed, And So Are the Republicans Who Are Sticking With Him, demonstrates the hypocrisy inherent in the extreme right-wing of the GOP,  and their “do as I say, not as I do” holier than thou cavalier attitude towards their Christianity.

“But no principled, Christian conservative can justify backing a thrice married, serial philander who essentially confessed to sex crimes. However, this race was never about principle. It was never about Republican themes like small government, personal responsibility or family values. From the start, Trump’s campaign has been predicated on sexism (and ethno-nationalistic racism). It is and always has been about white male resentment and anguish. Trump bottled that antipathy—for women and minorities— and put it on a chartered flight to Iowa.”

There IS a choice for voters of Faith who believe that we ARE our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. A candidate who has raised an intelligent, poised, confident, loving daughter; who remained faithfully married to an adulterous husband for 40 years; who has championed the rights and protection of children her entire life; and who has been an outspoken advocate for women, People of Color, LGBTQIAP people, military personnel, Veterans and their families; and people of all Faiths and beliefs.

HER name is Hillary Clinton and we KNOW what her credentials are.

You can vote for the GOP nominee, who is the very personification of the “ugly American” – undisciplined, greed-driven, arrogant, ill-prepared, unhinged, deranged, impetuous, irritable, pathologically unfit, and fundamentally dangerous.catholics_for_hillary_drink_coaster-rc1854bb3dafc4de1aea5b1f2801fb4f1_29m68_8byvr_324

Or you can vote for Hillary Clinton. Third-party candidates are simply not an option.

We know Mrs. Clinton’s record. We know that ALL of her Democratic primary opponents have not only supported her candidacy for President of the United States, but are campaigning on her behalf.  That says more about her character and their respect for her, than the slickest political advertising.

So, my fellow voters of Faith, it is time to search your hearts and spend time meditating on the teachings of Jesus.  Then, take a close, long look at His actions, the people he surrounded Himself with and those He ministered to.

Then, ask yourselves which candidate more closely embodies those ideals. She needs our votes in November. She has EARNED our votes.

Thank God, and may our Blessed Mother guide and keep Hillary Clinton safe from now, through Election Day and her Inauguration.  Use your voice and vote for Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States. She is the RIGHT choice. She is the ONLY choice.

As a Roman Catholic Latina, #ImWithHer and you should be too, because we Americans are #StrongerTogether.

Women So “Full of Rage” in Politics

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Ms. Causey makes the case for the rampant and institutionalized sexism and misogyny, in reporting and everyday speech, about women. 

If Hillary Clinton did not have an email “scandal” or been investigated time, and time again – and vindicated – for the death in Benghazi, the right wing would create some other scandal.   By the same token, they IGNORE and FAIL to similarly investigate Donald Trump.

It is abundantly clear that if this is to change, men must see, acknowledge and act upon this, WITH women. Until men understand that sexist language, images, and commentary about women is deleterious to ALL people, not just women. However, I am not confident they will. Unfortunately.

Trish Causey

Copyright 2016 by Trish Causey.

While riding the bus to the store recently, I overhead a man talking politics to two other men. The first man remarked that he didn’t like Hillary Clinton because she was always mad. “She’s full of rage!” he exclaimed, waving his arms.

I butted in, of course, and said, 1) “No, she’s not full of rage, but if she were, she’d be justified”; and 2) “As a female candidate, she would be judged as too soft if she were completely ladylike and demure.” To hear a man say that Hillary is “full of rage”, I had to laugh. Can you imagine how the media would have skewered Hillary if she were half as angry as Bernie Sanders or said even 0.05% of the awful things Donald Trump has said?

I went on to say that when a man is stern, he is viewed as a…

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My Vagenda of the day

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1.  Aspirin, fluids, benadryl and soup, to feel better.

2. Bringing all the boys to the yard, to crush their fragile egos, as we begin the manocide.

3. Slutty books and doggie cuddles.

4. Gilmore Girls marathon.

What’s on your  Vagenda of ManocideVagenda of Manocide?

 

The GOP Platform Goes Completely off the Rails

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Each time the GOP lowered the bar for itself, during John McCain’s presidential campaign, I hoped someone would step up and say, “Enough!  We are better than this.”  But, once Sarah Palin became a  “leader” of the party, I knew the only hope for the party of Lincoln was destruction from the inside. Then, deep and careful introspection and a return to actual conservatism.

Sadly, I was wrong. Not only was Michael Steele fired as RNC Chair, but his suggested reforms, based on actual data, were  summarily dismissed. Mitt Romney, who had been a successful, but moderate governor, transformed himself into a bitter, angry man, in order to curry favor from the Koch brothers and others of that ilk.

This year, one of the most bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic and crazy platforms in the GOP’S history was unveiled.  As Esquire Magazine detailed, Republican Party Platform: Porn Is A Public Health Threat; Guns Are Not.  Wait.  WHAT?!!

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton said, “the party of Lincoln has become the party of trump.” Lynsey G. was a little less delicate in her blog post, GOP Platform Names Porn a “Public Health” Crisis.  Yes,  folks, pornography is a bigger health risk to our Country than poverty, the Flint Michigan water supply or even the  Zika virus. Bigger than gun violence.

The clown car of chaos has officially been taken over by Toonces, the Driving Cat, with the  GOP leadership’s tacit blessing. By doing nothing, they allowed themselves to sink into a hole of excrement they can no longer escape.

Trump’s GOP is little more than an episode of reality television, complete with undereducated surrogates, carelessly thrown out sensational lies, tabloid-worthy headlines and dangerous rhetoric that appeals to the very worst part of our society.

It is like a Maury Povich audience, on crack, with live ammunition, overdosed on Viagra, gone completely off the rails.  Only much much worse.

I am terrified for our country. Terrified.  We must vote as if our lives depend on it.  Not voting is no longer an option.

Revisiting My Jealous Bitchfriend, Depression

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Waterolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of womanIn April 2015, my self-exorcism post went live.  It was, by far, the most difficult and soul-consuming blog post I had ever written.  Yet, as cleansing as it was to post, I had unfinished business with it.   A few days ago, I saw August McLaughlin, talking excitedly about her Beauty of a Woman Blogfest V, on Facebook.  Knowing the type of exposure and scrutiny my blog would receive, it was the sign I needed to revisit this post.   Here it is, in its entirety – still unedited – followed by an update, of sorts.

 

[April 15, 2016]  This post has been a long time coming, as it has been dwelling and languishing in my house of avoidance.  Typically, I composed blog posts, edited and posted them.  This one was minimally edited, against my better judgment as a wordsmith.  It needed to remain in its raw, almost draft state, in order to convey the events accurately.

I am Clinically Depressed.

No, I am not “sad” or “melancholy,” as those terms lack the depth to describe what I have felt.  Or in my case, haven’t felt.

According to Web, MD., “clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.”  Signs and symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
  • Restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)   [Yes, there should be a proper citation here, but I need to exorcise this post from my psyche before I chicken out and retreat into my fortress of solitude.  So, fellow wordsmiths and scribes, bear with me.]
RN school books
My social life as of Fall 2011.

I started this blog when I returned to undergraduate studies to complete prerequisites to apply for nursing school.  After attaining a 3.8 GPA, being wait-listed, then accepted, I began the RN Level I course in the Fall of 2011.  The material was challenging, in ways I never expected. To say that I was ill-prepared would be a gross understatement of epic proportions.

I graduated with my BA in Criminology in 1991, so my expectations were completely inconsistent to the new way of work of higher education.    For example, I went to class with a course syllabus, notebook and pen, took notes, read my textbooks and supplementary materials, studied both and took written exams.   In 2011, there were syllabi, textbooks, e-textbooks, videos from the textbook manufacturer, YouTube videos, Power Point slides, sample tests from an outside company used as predictors for the NCLEX Board Examinations, digital records of lectures and my own personal notes.   This was for the lecture portion of the course, only.   The practical/hands-on Clinical portion had it’s own syllabus, notes, “check-off” preliminary skills practice and finally, the formal hospital rotations working directing with RNs and their patients.   I received a “B” in this class.  I was 43 years old.

Spring of 2012 brought Level II (Medical Surgical Nursing and Labor and Delivery) and Pharmacology.   I received a “B” in Pharmacology and a “D” in Level II.  My instructors revisited and regraded each of my tests and quizzes because they could not understand the disconnect between the student they saw explaining concepts to classmates and practicing safely on the hospital floor, with the final grade of 79% (D in my RN school).  My Clinical Instructor, who has sense become a good and trusted friend, asked me if I had ever been tested for Learning Disabilities.   Having gone to a major university in the 1980s/1990s, before Learning Specialists were on staff, and performing well in my classes, I never considered it.   I visited our college’s Learning Specialist who referred me to a Licensed Mental Health Therapist, specializing in Adults with Learning Disabilities.

Welcome to my nightmare.
Welcome to my nightmare.

At my first visit with  the LMHT, he tested me for Learning Disabilities and determined that I had Adult Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with an emphasis on Distractions.  He described my brain as being a shelf with cubbieholes.  Each cubbiehole was a part of my brain and as long as each cubbie was filled, I was able to function well.  My challenges were when I had to concentrate on only one item and leave all the rest of the cubbies “empty.”  My brain would naturally want to fill them up.   In layman’s terms,  I was/am fantastic at multitasking, but terrible at concentrating on one project alone.  This served me well when I was working professionally, but was my kiss of death in Nursing school, where any tiny distractions would pull my attention away from the material I was supposed to be learning.

The college allowed me to re-slot back into a Level II course in Fall 2012, while my classmates moved on to Level III.  Along with swallowing my pride, ignoring the growing guilt about “wasting” money again, trying to ignore my feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment at having to repeat a course for the first time in my life, I retook Level II, this time with appropriate accommodations for tests, which included a quiet, private room and extra time to take the test to allow for mental “refocusing” breaks.    I don’t think I ever fully processed my personal biases against needing ADA accommodations, because I expected I would “snap out of it,” as my father suggested.   Of all the courses to repeat,  the irony and agony of retaking Level II, with its emphasis on Labor and Delivery, was not lost on me – a childless middle-aged woman.   I made it through with a “C.”

Spring of 2013, brought with it Level III (Medical Surgical Nursing, Pediatrics and Hospice Care) and Psychosocial Nursing.  I received a “B” in Psychosocial Nursing was the only person in my class of 30 students who actually looked forward to our clinical rotation with Mental Health patients, or “my people, as I began to think of them, almost immediately.   I passed Level III with a “C” and thought it was the most rewarding Medical Surgical Nursing rotation, because I had so many hands-on experiences, it re-energized me for the final semester and was working with a population very precious to me – Veterans.

Summer passed quickly and I looked forward to completing Level IV, Role Transition in Nursing and the Nursing Care Management Practicum (aka. Management rotation).  I received an “A” in Role Transition in Nursing, because it was not academically challenging, but took precious time away from my Level IV study time.   Level IV and Management ran consecutively, and in order to qualify to take Management you had to successfully complete Level IV with a “C” or better.  Adding to the pressure was the knowledge that at the end of Level IV were two exams,  the Level (or class final) exam and the ATI comprehensive test.  Students who did not pass the ATI test – a predictor for success on the NCLEX  – were ineligible to proceed to the Management rotation.   Consequently, the amount of stress we were under was tripled.  Needless to say, I cracked under the pressure and finished Level IV with a 78%, another “D.”  Ironically, once my grade was posted I felt an immediate sense of relief.   Unfortunately, I had to share the news with everyone I knew, including my parents who had changed their travel plans to ensure they could attend my RN Pinning Ceremony and Graduation.  That was probably one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make.

Additionally, at a time they should have been celebrating, my classmates were stunned, sad, and angry….very, very angry.  Out of 112 students in our Level, 27 of us failed to make the Management rotation.   As competitive as we were with each other, the nature of Nursing school (and the Nursing profession) was infinitely more congenial, team-oriented and we became  a “family.”   They wanted to know why their teammates would not finish the program with them.  And they vocalized this, loudly.   It was just before Thanksgiving  2013 and I was 44 years old.

As this was occurring, I took to my bed.

For the next two and a half months.

I dragged myself out of bed, showered and participated in holiday activities, or what I labeled, resentfully as “mandatory family fun.”   When December ended and January began, my husband, who had been my rock during this entire episode, suggested I speak to my Primary Care Physician about my “lack of moods and tired feelings” at my annual physical.   I will forever be grateful to him for this, but at the time, I simply wanted to be left alone to be in my room, pretending to read, sleep or watch funny animal videos online.

My Primary Care Physician was a Puerto Rican woman, whom I adored, admired and respected.  She was the right person to discuss my condition with me.  All of it.  The comforting numbness, the security blanket of obesity that I had started weaving around myself, the lack of interest in anything and the heart-stopping pain of knowing I had disappointed everyone…including myself.     In our typical Spanglish, we went through issues I had never discussed with a doctor.  Ironically, Nursing school deserved a great deal of the credit.  One of the skills we practiced from our first day on the floor with patients, was teaching.  I was a natural teacher and I enjoyed it.  So, if I was able to ask men in their 60s, 70s and 80s about their current sex lives, and ensure they were using condoms correctly, answering similar questions about myself should not have been a barrier.   It wasn’t.  In fact, it was the first time in my life that I had been asked many of the questions.

My doctor became concerned when we discussed my mental health. and she asked me to describe how I felt.

I never felt sad.  

I never felt happy.  

I felt mildly to severely inconvenienced and numb.

Numb.

Devoid of all emotions, feelings and sensations, as if I moved into

a fluffy, shock-absorbing, grey Cloud where all lights and sounds were muffled.  

Waking up and engaging the world required more energy than I could, or cared to, muster.   Showering, washing clothes and spending time with people entailed bracing myself for questions I had no answers to, conversations I had no desire to participate in, and were physically and mentally draining.

I had become comfortably numb, just as described by Pink Floyd.

The truth was…I liked it.  It worked for me.  On every level.

Numbness required little or no time away from wallowing in my own self-pitying disappointment.  Unfortunately, as a “responsible adult,” numbness is frowned upon as a way of life.   It prevented me from engaging in life.   I was a failure in school, unemployed and rudderless.   My security blanket of obesity had taken me past the point of being an unattractive “fat person,” and into the realm of “the invisible people” quite effectively.

To my doctor’s credit she listened.  Carefully.   She referred me to a therapist and prescribed an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reutake Inhibitor), that I immediately researched in my Nursing Drug Guide.   Simply explained, serotonin, a neurotransmitter,  is responsible for sparking the body’s natural chemicals that control feelings of happiness and well-being. The body distributes it when needed, and then collects it, when not.   People with depression, tend to lack enough naturally-occurring serotonin,  or too much is recollected at the end of emotionally difficult or sad moments – resulting in the “numbness.”   Additionally, the SSRI prescribed me would help my lack of focus, related to my ADHD.

cloud of depression
“You don’t look depressed though.” Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot to bring my literal, dark raincloud with me today.

I resentfully, took the loading dose (30-90 days), and noticed a gradual change in my moods and energy levels.   Not a “magic pill,” by any means, as all it did for me was begin to dissipate my Cloud.  But, I resisted.  Dissipating the Cloud would allow the sunlight of self-exploration to take place.  It would require me to notice and acknowledge my obesity blanket and begin to reconnect with others.   I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any of that.

I really loved my Cloud, dammit.     Cloud understood me without judgment.  She was my mistress and best friend.  She was also my greatest enemy, and a jealous one at that.   That was February 2014 and I was 46.

For the next few months, I struggled to find myself.   Every day Cloud waited patiently for my return, letting me I know she loved me more than anyone, just as I was.   I am disgusted to admit that more often than not, I would let myself float into her beautiful numbness, as my medication would begin the arduous process of pulling me back out.  As I was experiencing the allure of numbness and the frightening thought of leaving Cloud behind, I stopped being a wife.  I simply was not interested in any of it.  For months, my husband would come home from work, only to find me lying in the same position I had been in when he left for work at 5:30 every morning.  Dishes went unwashed, dogs were not walked, dinner was not cooked.  His patience, already worn thin from dealing with my stress during Nursing school, disappeared.   For weeks, then months, we lived an existence of cohabiting strangers.

In October 2014, a dear friend whom I met working on political campaigns sent me a Facebook message.  He recommended me for a job as a Regional Field Canvass Director for a political action committee.  After all, I had done community organizing work for years and had  the necessary networking and human resources experience to successfully do the work.   Thinking this would be a great transition, from unemployed to temporary employment, I accepted the position.  Then lasted two days.   My husband saw me for my dinner “break” on the first day and grew concerned, as he said I was simply staring into space and speaking in tongues.  On the second day, he visited my office, helped me out of my chair, waited until I had sent my resignation email, and escorted me home.  The only word out of his mouth when he saw my work environment, was, “no.”   In fact, he called my parents and in-laws to give them his impressions of the “cold, ugly, white box” I would have to work in.   He told them, “I just got glimpses of my wife back.  I am not willing to knowingly send her into an environment that will only make her worse.”   Like I said, this man was my rock.  He knew and supported me like no other.

charlie brown teacherBut, Cloud was already there.  Soothing me, reminding me how much better I was wrapped up in my blankets at home.  She was right.

This proved to be but a minor setback and the climb out of Cloud was easier.

In December, my Father arrived for a Christmas visit, and repeated his “my daughter was confident and fearless, this is only a phase, just snap out of it,” mantra.  I heard similar versions, in various  levels of resentment from my mother, mother-in-law, and several friends – dissonance.   I have always been able to tune people out so well and quickly, that it makes my own head spin, sometimes.  Frankly, I have never cared if they knew it.

2015 arrived with a renewed, albeit cautious, sense of purpose.   And Cloud.   Always waiting patiently to embrace me in her soothing emotionless depths and play my new theme song, Bad Day by Fuel.

Before I flunked out of Nursing school a dear friend I met in Level I and I found very inexpensive tickets to New York City and planned a girls’ weekend to celebrate my graduation and Pinning.   Needless to say, I neither graduated nor received my RN pin, and now had nonrefundable tickets to New York for the four days before St. Patrick’s Day.  I asked my family to help me take the trip, and they agreed.   By now, my parents were fully paying my mortgage, so I was asking two retirees for money to take a leisure trip.  The ugliness and lack of fairness was not lost on me, but I was learning my new normal.   I had a wonderful time in New York and was reminded of when I would travel there for business, years ago.   Suddenly,  I began to see, and miss, the old me.    And Cloud knew.  She always knew.

Cloud reminded me that my “new” life was online – a mixture of reality and fantasy.  Interactions with strangers who now knew more about me than my own family.   Sharing myself in depression-themed and other chat rooms, finding kindred spirits who never asked me to change or leave the house.   Cloud approved of my new friends and generously created more space for me to experience these relationships within her numbing comfort.

Which brings me to the present, and the impetus for finally writing this post: a new friend.   A new friend who sees more of me than I am comfortable showing, and yet, accepts me as a I am.  A friend who asked me, rather audaciously,  to share how I got here.   The boldness of this request both surprised and frightened me, as it would require tracing my steps back to my bottom: the end of Nursing school.   It would mean taking responsibility for my own selfish behavior, regardless of whether or not, it was related to my Depression.   But most of all, it would necessitate a level of introspection that I had avoided.   That I have always avoided.   I would have to see my own beauty and worth and begin to tear down walls erected in my late teens and college years.   SCARY STUFF, as I preferred to see the beauty in others.  Never myself.

So, to my friend, I say, challenge accepted.  And to Cloud…bitch, you need to find another mistress.  I am 47 years old and Clinically Depressed, battered, bruised, incomplete, but not defeated.   May soothing rain fall on me and help me chase Cloud away.

Thank you Ed Sheeran for sharing Foy Vance’s angst-filled lyrics, that moved me beyond words and allowing me to cry real tears of pain for the first time in over eight, or more, years.  “Make it Rain,” indeed.

UPDATE – April 30, 2016:

I am still here.

No.  Scratch that.

I am more than simply “still here.”

sidepony2016
April 2016. I make crazy look GOOD, people.

I am a a better version of myself.  Still sassy, snarky, loud and opinionated, but also a little wiser and more gentle on myself.   Still obese, but 30 pounds lighter than I was at Christmas time. Listening to my body and working out with that tiny English dynamo, Gemma Fountain, while embarking on a journey as a Plexus Ambassador with my Sister-in-Law.  While still high, my “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and liver enzymes (indicators of possible inflammation and impaired function), are only one number out of “normal” range.   I have more energy, my libido is back and I feel like participating in life, for the first time, in a very long time.   I am still an extroverted introvert, who loves to socialize, then regroups by spending quiet time at home with her dogs, working, reading or chatting online.  And, at 48, I KNOW I look good and can still rock a side ponytail, like it’s the 80s  or 90s.

Thanks to Paxil, mental health therapy, a primary care doctor who is not afraid to say, “lose weight and clean up your eating habits,” my very own Drill Instructor/US Army Veteran #10 Can ‘o Whoopass Facilitator/Husband, family, friends, classmates and K9 kids.   It has taken a village.

I Live in the “New Loneliness”

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In her article This is the New Loneliness Jamie Varon focuses on the Millennial Generation. She categorizes them as both the most and least connected generation, due to their inherent, almost organic, use of social media.

I believe millennials have a arrested interpersonal communication skills, simply as a result of being born into a technology-dependent culture.  Communication requires “doing.” As children, millenials were not encouraged to physically be present. Most of their play needs were met by technology. So, it is unfair to paint them as disconnected.  They connect differently.  Social media, rather than face-to-face interactions, is their preferred vehicle.

Ms. Varon overlooked the original disconnected generation – Generation X. 

image

We were latchkey kids. Loneliness was ingrained in our lives.  Sure we participated in every activity we wanted to, but most of us held a piece of ourselves back – a self-preservation piece.

These early experiences served us well as we entered an unpredictable, and sometimes volatile work environment, vastly different from the generations that preceded us.  The days of a life-long career with one company ended, just as we came of age.  So we became latchkey adults.

Social media paired nicely with Generation X, because it allowed us that “separation” we learned in childhood.  Technology offered the buffer against anonymity. We were still communicating, just indirectly.

I work primarily from home, so I have limited contact with others. And, even though I prefer to work alone, I genuinely miss the everyday interactions among coworkers in an office.  

Sometimes, I force…no…motivate myself to physically interact with other people.  As a natural “loner” and “homebody,” this is as unnatural and outside my comfort zone, as it gets.

Additionally, I am an extroverted introvert, suffering from clinical depression. Not only do I have to psych myself up to “participate,” I then need several days within my soul cave to regroup and recharge.

The paradox for me has been that even though social media is  “artificial” (as in manmade, rather than preexisting) I am still myself when I am online.  Some people create entirely new personas and lives. I did not and have not. Regardless of the clever nicknames I take on, given the site, my personality remains intact. Acting as someone else, is just not in my skill set.

Missing in technology-based interactions are the subtleties of speech, inflection and body language.  For someone who joyfully wields sarcasm and dark humor, this is a slippery slope.  Not only have I written/said things that were not understood as I had intended, I too have felt the string of a poorly worded online barb.

And, those words that are carelessly hurled around under the guise of anonymity? Those words injure, sometimes fatally. They bring the loneliness to a level that surpasses having a “dark/gloomy” or even “sad” day. Social media gives us the liberty to erect  invisible walls to hide safely behind.

The key is to peek over the wall, open the gate and talk to our neighbors…but it’s easier and quicker to just text them, isn’t it?

Dominant Persuasion’s Author Spotlights – Bella Juarez

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I’ve been a fan of Bella Juarez’s for several years, having become addicted to her “Black Ops Brotherhood,” series. She was one, of a select few authors, who featured strong Latinas as heroines, in a sea of “New Adult,” early-20-somethings mania.

Bella’s characters were unique in that they were “Everywomen.” Many were middle-aged, yet in the prime of life. They were intelligent, confident, and fully embraced themselves as sexual beings…with some scorchingly sexy, strong men at their sides.

I am looking forward to the “Dominant Persuasion” Anthology, and “Out of Touch,” in particular, because it is based in my stopping grounds of the Tampa Bay area. I’m interested in how Bella handles the dynamic between a Domme and her gentleman love, who just happens to be a Dom. It should make for an erotically good time! Can’t wait!

Welcome to Sunshine Reads!

CoverOut of Order

by Bella Juarez

BIO:

BellaBella Juarez has a passion for writing and tells her stories with a high level of military suspense and erotic romance. A few years ago, Bella was an IT technician with a craving for military and espionage history and would devour anything, fact or fiction, about the subject. Today, she lives on a south Texas ranch with her family and dogs.

With stories of intrigue running through her imagination, she always dreamed of writing a novel. Finally, in 2012, she wrote and released Rapid Dominance, book 1 of the Black Ops Brotherhood Series. Since then, she has released five more novels in this series. Branching out, she’s written three erotic romance novellas all with military elements.

Her stories blend today’s headlines into thought provoking, intricate plots interwoven with razor-sharp suspense, intrigue, and scorching, white-hot romance.

Bella’s idea of a perfect day starts out…

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Exploring New Things and the Joy of Finding Like-minded People

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Over the past month, I have been learning more about myself and focusing time on things that interest me.  I have met several people who are similar situations, and equally committed to understanding and working within their circumstances.

What I was not expecting were the friendships that have evolved along this journey.   I believed I was alone in my quest, but I was not, and will not be, at least in the near future.  So, thank you for bearing with me, readers, as I promise to return.   I do have several book reviews to share with you, once I have deciphered my almost unreadable notes.

In the meantime, I leave you with the words immortalized by the great Casey Kasem, whom I grew up listening to and set the bar incredibly high for radio DJs.   He passed away last month, entirely too soon.  “America’s Top 40” will never be the same.

casey kasem rip

 

30 Days of Thanks – Day 19

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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.

 

 

To Do Wednesday: Re-examine Bridget Jones

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I received my copy of “Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” in the mail, yesterday. I fell in love with Helen Fielding’s characters over 10 years ago and love that she progressed their story to the present day. I look forward to spending time getting reacquainted with Bridget and her zany antics, now that she is a middle-aged Mom.

Book Review and Trailer – “Moore to Lose” by Julie A. Richman

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Followers of this blog will recognize Julie Richman’s name as the author who knocked my socks off with her debut novel, Searching for Moore.   My review, on July 11th, was one of the most organic posts I have written, since starting this blog.    Julie’s words inspired a friendship between Kristen, Samantha, Cleida and I that culminated in the Searching for Moore Book Trailer, on July 23rd.    These relationships have continued to evolve and I am proud to count these women among my dear friends.

Julie and I stayed up countless nights this Summer analyzing publishing trends, discussing the merits of stand-alone books versus book series, realizing that we had worked at similar agencies at different points in our careers and bonding over her “Needing Moore” series.   I knew she was writing a follow-up book to Searching for Moore, but was conflicted.  She originally intended to write two books for the series, not three.   However, her characters, namely Mia Silver, guided her into writing a beautifully, heart-breaking second book:  Moore to Lose.   Julie received advice from many “experts” in the publishing world, who told her not to write this book.    What the “experts” failed to realize, was that when Julie’s characters spoke to her, she listened.   And wrote.

Then she shared her words with Mom Richman, Kristen, Cleida, Samantha and I.

After reading Moore to Lose I was speechless.  Breathless and hyperventilating, I cried.   I was unprepared for the myriad of emotions and memories it would trigger in me.  It was a deeply personal experience, for I have known Mia my entire life.   I have been Mia.

Moore to Lose focused on Mia’s journey. We already knew she was not the typical, innocent ingénue – she was a tough New York City girl.  This story showed us the dichotomy of the sweet teenager versus maturing young woman, in some of her early decisions. Decisions that many readers have made in their own lives – good, bad and ugly. Julie approached these events with great sensitivity, knowing how deeply the readers were invested in Mia’s happiness.

What Julie did not know was that as I was reading these incredibly difficult, gut-wrenching scenes, I was reliving events from my college days.   Events that were entirely too common for college women.  (Still are, unfortunately.)  As Mia continued on her life’s path, I revisited similar situations that my friends and I found ourselves in and our reactions to those situations.   As the story progressed, and Mia’s past caught up with her, my heart broke alongside hers.   Later, Julie placed Mia at the center of one of the most agonizingly painful events in recent history.   As Julie suffered writing those words, she crafted a grief-stricken, yet delicately fitting homage to her beloved NYC.  She should be proud of the way she honored her resplendent and resilient hometown.

Julie continued to weave the rich tapestry that became Moore to Lose by revisiting familiar secondary characters and using New York City as a vivid backdrop for the action.  In fact, NYC served as another character in the story and served as a touchstone for Mia’s voyage of self-discovery.    Julie further incorporated her trademark use of music and popular culture references as touchstones throughout the story. They helped mark the passage of time and kept Schooner with Mia, connected across the miles and years.

Moore to Lose is so much more than a “romance” novel. It is the story of a woman losing, finding, healing and honoring herself and her spirit. We fell in love with Mia in Searching for Moore. In Moore to Lose, we understand why we love her. As Mia lives her life, we live the experiences with her. Searching for Moore was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Moore to Lose took that ride, plunged it into complete darkness and added loops, spins and rolls.

Julie promised that all issues would be resolved in the third, and final, book in the Needing Moore series.  I will be anxiously waiting for that book, and highly recommend Moore to Lose, for readers who want rich characters who evoke tears, anger, joy, heartbreak, forgiveness, friendship, acceptance, and ultimately, love.

Here are the links to my reviews on Amazon and GoodReads.

In the meantime, please enjoy the Moore to Lose Book Trailer. 

Etiology of a Book Trailer – “Searching for Moore,” by Julie A. Richman

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Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman
Cover used with permission by author, Julie A. Richman.

Summer of 2013 has been the Summer of books and reviews, where I rediscovered the joy that leisure reading brought me.   My newest ventures have been writing book reviews and beta reading books for independent authors.  I am still learning how to do both, but writing reviews is definitely my favorite of the two.

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman (Book 1 in the “Needing Moore” series).    Julie’s book kept me up all night,  deeply invested in Schooner and Mia’s story and I was emotionally drained but my mind kept spinning.   That inspired my best book review to date, as words flew, organically, off my fingers, onto the keys, and onto the screen.  When I hit “publish” on the blog post, the sun was rising and I knew I had to know more about the woman who wrote Searching for Moore.  I had to talk to her.

I “met” Julie on Facebook.   There was the initial awkwardness of the clichéd OMG-when-are-you-releasing-book-2 comment.  Followed by the blubbering on of a fangirl who had too little sleep, too much coffee and not enough Schooner Moore or Mia Silver.  Finally, we started to talk.  Like lifelong friends.   Who had never met before.    The more we talked – about music, college, jobs, life experiences, relationships, etc. – Julie and I found that we had been separated at birth!    Synchronous would be the best way to describe our connection.

Our friendship brought three other women into my life.  All fans of Searching for Moore who had similar reactions to the story.   As, we began “hanging out” together on Facebook, the bond became stronger.    Sure we talked about our favorite parts of the book, but we talked about ourselves.  If someone had a bad day, there were four other women to help her through it.  If we needed a laugh or bawdy comment, we were there.

Together.

Together, we decided to create the following book trailer.   Kristen was our computer guru, taking all the pieces and creating something that represented all of us, even after the infamous crash of “Video Version 1” (shudder).   Cleida brought us Mia and Schooner and had the uncanny eye to spot the right photos of them.   Samantha was our cheerleader, keeping everyone in good spirits.  I suggested “If I Should Fall Behind,” by Bruce Springsteen as the accompanying song and critiqued the final product.     We accomplished this in about two days and presented it to Julie, on Sunday, just past midnight.

As we waited, impatiently, for Julie to view the video, so many thoughts went through our heads.  “What if Julie doesn’t like it?”  “What if the fans don’t like it?” “What if it’s not good enough?”  “What if it doesn’t capture the essence of Schooner and Mia?”  These were the longest three minutes of the entire process!

Julie loved it!

She immediately posted it on her Facebook page.  It was received warmly by other fans, who then shared it with their friends and family.    Now, I share it with you.   Please share, reblog, buy the book and fall in love with Schooner and Mia.   (Book 2, “Moore to Lose,” will be released in September 2013.)    Amazon     Barnes and Noble

After reading Searching for Moore please visit Julie’s author website for additional scenes, written in the point of view of other characters, and find her on Facebook.

Here is our labor of love for Searching for Moore  .

The 10 Reasons Why Generation-Y is Soft

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Please read this article then come back and share your thoughts – The 10 Reasons Why Generation-Y is Soft

I hoped this article, written by a member of Generation-Y, would spark a heated discussion, on his site.  Unfortunately, it created a forum for people to question his facts, but not offer any alternative thoughts.   Sadly, I suspect it will continue to degenerate into a list of “I know you are, but what am I,”  “you’re WRONG,” or “______ you” comments, so I brought the discussion over here, so we could delve into it with a little more in depth.

Source: ARMA International
Source: ARMA International

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of Generation X.  I received extensive human resources training in generational differences in the workplace, but I am a product of my generation and it certainly impacts by world view.  I identify with many of the characteristics ascribed to my generation: independent, due to being a latch key kid; suspicious and mistrusting of companies/corporations, after seeing many of my friends’ parents lose their jobs in the 1980s and 1990s; comfortable in a diverse workplace (and world), and place a great emphasis on work/life balance.  I work to live, not live to work.  I am also aware that we are not one of the larger generations (population-wise).   I graduated college in 1991 and in the mid-1990s returned to advise a couple of student organizations, at the same university, as a volunteer.

For the past eight years, I have noticed a growing disconnect with the students.   I knew I was “aging out,” or identifying more with their parents, than the students themselves.   Every year I felt as if we were growing apart, even though I tried to keep up with their cultural trends and interests.  This year, however, the gap became too great.  I knew it was time to move on, when my patience dwindled to nothing.

One of the minor reasons I stopped advising college students, was that I felt they were too “fragile.”  The women I worked with directly, learned quickly, that I never minced words.  To some, it was a rude awakening.   Some rose to the occasion immediately upon being treated as an adult.  Others did not, and discovered the “joys” of personal accountability, or cleaning up one’s messes.   I may have been the adviser, but ultimately, they were responsible for decisions made.   Time after time, I was impressed by these women, but they seemed to be the exception, not the norm.

When I read Eddie Cuffin’s article it resonated with me, because it hit upon many of the things I witnessed, not the least of which was a delayed emotional maturity.   At that moment, I knew my “honesty is the best policy”….well, brutal honesty, in my case, would not work with the newest generation and it was an opportunity for someone else to take my place.  I was also exhausted of being “misinterpreted,”  “translated” or worse, “watered-down” to make my words less harsh to delicate Generation-Y egos.   So, I moved on, but left with a sense that there was unfinished business and that I never really understood the newest 18-20-year-olds.

Generation-Y followers, do any of the ideas brought forth in this article resonate with you?  What about my Generation X and Baby Boomer followers, what have you observed?   Please share!

Book Review – “Searching For Moore,” by Julie A. Richman

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My Mazel of the day goes to Julie Richman, for tearing my heart out to Bruce Springsteen, the soundtrack of my youth.    I have some beautiful Mazel Shot Glasses from Andy Cohen’s Bravo Clubhouse, just for you, Missy.

I will start by publicly flogging myself for thinking this was a “New Adult” novel, featuring a bunch of entitled, horny, self-centered, shiftless college students.   It is not.   I will further admit that I purchased it on sale, thinking it was a New Adult novel, featuring a bunch of entitled, horny, self-centered, shiftless college students.    Therefore, my Catholic girl penance is that I am writing this post at 4:45 a.m. ET, after staying up all night long to finish reading Searching for Moore   Enough said.

Used with permission by the author, Julie A. Richman.
Used with permission by the author, Julie A. Richman.

Ok,  I took a couple of cat naps last night and work from home.  Don’t feel too badly for me.

Holy debut novel, Batman.

I mean, HOLY.  FUCKING.  DEBUT.  NOVEL.

The premise is simple:  what if you were only one Facebook friend request away from your true love – that one person who knew you better than you knew yourself – 24 years after you last saw each other?  Would you reconnect with her/him, even if it meant uprooting the life you had been creating for yourself?  If you were given that chance, would you take it?

Searching for Moore begins in the present day.  Schooner Moore’s wife, CJ, is throwing a lavish party to celebrate his 43rd birthday.   It is filled with “the beautiful people,” superficial individuals who only wish to be seen at this party to rub elbows with the rich and famous.  Schooner Moore is both.  What CJ and her “guests” fail to realize, however, is that Schooner dislikes the shallow displays of artifice that are his life and social circle.   Then, his college buddy, Beau, casually mentions that he has chatted with Mia Silver, a classmate from college, via Facebook.

As Schooner reminisces, we are transported back twenty-four years into the past.  He remembers their freshman year of college and the first taste of independence, of “finding himself,” meeting diverse people and learning about true love.   Schooner meets and is immediately attracted to CJ, the quintessential, beautiful prom queen.  They are the “perfect” All-American blonde couple, who would be featured in an ad for Ralph Lauren.  He also meets Mia Silver, antithesis to CJ, sassy New Yorker, attending school in California, who marches to the beat of her own drum.   CJ fits into his world, effortlessly, like a well-decorated room that lacks personality.  Mia challenges his mind, steals his heart and completes his soul.  Schooner and Mia are each other’s first true love.  Then, Mia leaves him, without a word.

We return to the present day and Schooner sends Mia an innocuous Facebook friend request.  A friend request that she is fated to accept.  The story continues as the veil of time is lifted, a lifetime of betrayal by CJ is exposed, and that first true love is renewed.

Ms. Richman writes Schooner so that the reader is able to see the “real” Schooner that Mia sees.  He has spent his life as a handsome shell, a chameleon who morphs into whomever he is expected to be.   He has been incredibly successful in business, but we know he is so much more.  Conversely, Mia is a ray of sunlight, warm, ebullient, full of life and loyal.  She is successful, loved and will bring balance back into Schooner’s life.  Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with this reunion, especially CJ and Zac (CJ and Schooner’s son – who inherited his personality from CJ).

We live a lifetime through their story. There is the angst of first heart break, the ambivalence and acceptance of life’s circumstances, and the joy and hope for renewed, healing love.  Then, Ms. Richman ends this rollercoaster ride of emotions with a cliffhanger the reader sees building from the middle of the story, but is incapable to stop.   Searching for Moore is funny and quirky, profound, poignant and moving – all at the same time.   It is the best book I have read about aging Generation-Xers, this year.

Exceptional debut for Ms. Richman!  I need the second book NOW!!

The “cleaned up” versions of this review are on Amazon and Goodreads.