Flourishing Through Adversity

Let me start by saying this is not a short post. If you’re looking for short and fun, this ain’t it. I’m on a little bit of a rant but I’m also trying to reassure friends and readers who are finding it difficult to navigate the tidal wave of waters from the current administration of this country. I know I’ve said before that I wouldn’t get all political here, but sometimes I just have to. Especially since this morning the stress got to be too much for hubs and he blew up in such an out of control way, I had to yell at him, which I never do. And of course, it terrified all the babies and one peed on the floor.  I just have no words sometimes. Other times, I have to channel it into an almost rant. So here I go.

For those who wear Trump colored glasses (yes, I made those!) what I have to say today may not seem true nor resonate with you. That’s okay. You all can just pass on by since this post isn’t really for you. If you believe in alternative facts just keep going and don’t bother to read this or comment. I will, without malice, delete any pro-Trump/anti-what I’m saying comments unread. This isn’t the forum for those. There is enough negativity in this world and I’m not going to willingly subject myself to any more of it despite the fact that today’s post is indisputably political in nature which tends to draw out all the people who think differently than I do.

Just be aware that I bear you no ill will for being a Trump supporter. If you are one, that’s fine. Just don’t come to my blog or my Facebook feed and post your alternative facts in my space. I will unfriend you. I will block you. I will delete your Facebook posts and I will delete comments here if I have to. In return, I promise not to come to your space and post any proven facts or tell you that I think the POTUS is an irresponsible bully surrounded by people who will lie to support him (ie Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer) and people who got close to him in order to increase their own power base and agenda (Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson.) You stay over there and I’ll stay over here, and we can get together when the subject is something we’re not polar opposites on. We’ll get along just fine this way. Respect my space and I’ll respect yours.

That being said, some of us feel as if we are living in a time of great adversity. We feel as if we were cheated during the election because our popular vote meant nothing for the second time that I can recall in my lifetime (Al Gore being the other one.) We believe the president (not going to capitalize it when he can’t even behave like one) is going to ruin our country, that he’s only there for the rich people, that the poor like myself are only going to suffer more under his leadership. We’re horrified by the way he uses social media to attack not only our allies (Australia) but our own federal judges (“so called” judges.) And we’re afraid of his ties to Putin, his closeness with Breitbart’s Bannon, the way he’s provoking Iran, needling the Israelis, banning Muslims and pretty much making the rest of the world community take a step back from us. He’s allowed Bannon to basically tell the world that the media needs to be shut up, restrained. His administration has been caught in numerous lies in the first three weeks and instead of apologizing for it they try to skew minds and reality by calling the lies alternative facts. That right there is where I personally took a step back.

When the government tries to get rid of or muzzle the media, when they spout lies that are proven to be untruths, and when they straight up push those lies on the people of this country, trying to make them believe that the truth is not the truth…that’s not a democracy. That’s Nazi Germany, Orwell’s 1984 and Nixon during Watergate. Which is why so many thousands of people have taken to the streets, something that has given me a spark of hope.

Let’s go to Dictionary.com for a moment and I’ll get back to the protests in a minute.

Fact [fakt]
noun
1.  something that actually exists; reality; truth:

2. something known to exist or to have happened:

3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true:

Yeah. No room for “alternative” facts there.  What the administration is saying may be alternative, but in no way are they facts. In actuality, they’re about as factual as the Bowling Green Massacre that Kellyanne Conway made up. And this is the pap that this administration is feeding us and insisting we eat. It’s no wonder we’re all nauseous.

Anyway, this adversity we live with daily, the fear that the global community will turn their backs on us because our POTUS is a bully and an authoritarian, the fear that he’ll let the apocalyptic Bannon, sitting on the National Security Council, talk him into eradicating radical Islamic terrorism by pushing the nuclear button, these are real fears that people live with daily now in this Trump ruled country. So how do we go about our daily lives now while living with very real fears?

Unfortunately, having lived the past year homeless, with fear a constant, daily companion, I’ve learned a thing or two. I can tell you unequivocally that yes, you can do it. No, it’s not optimal, but it’s doable. First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. Even someone as poor as me finds small ways to take care of myself whether it’s a bottle of special lotion with witch hazel from Mother’s Market for my neuropathy or a small bag of sugar free dark chocolate covered mints, it’s something that makes me feel good. And for those few moments that the lotion or the candy makes me feel good, I rise above adversity. I found out Friday morning that my friend and mentor Steve Duff had died the night before. The only thing that has made me feel good since the moment I found out and right now was those damned chocolates.

To rise above adversity, to flourish even, you have to commit to not giving in to it. Don’t let the fear mongering of our current government take away all the things you enjoy most in life. Don’t stay holed up in your home, watching the news, waiting for the next bad thing to happen.  Or conversely, don’t stay away from the news just because there’s the possibility of more bad stuff happening. With this administration, we can pretty much guess that more bad stuff WILL happen. But don’t let the fear keep you from being informed, don’t let them drive you away from the news or other shows that tell you what’s happening in the world and your local area. I watch the morning news because I want to know if there are protests scheduled locally. I want to know what my community is doing to fight back. I want to know if other cities are protesting. I find hope in the fact that so many people across this great nation (yes, it was always great and doesn’t have to be made great again) are taking to the streets in a show of solidarity against a man and an administration that would turn our democracy into an authoritarian society.

But to flourish, you have to continue to find joy in your life wherever you can. Hug your kids. Pet your furry kids. Cuddle them, cuddle your partner, your spouse. Watch your favorite shows, go to the movies. Eat the foods you love. Read books. Write and write and write. And post the good stuff!

I know I need to do more writing. The first new material I’ve written in more than two years, a military MM novella Extraction, came out Nov 18, my oldest brother’s birthday. I haven’t written a whole lot since but I need to.

And speaking of my brother reminds me that he always rose above adversity when the world was scary. My brother Tom marched with MLK. He belonged to the Democratic Central Committee and should have been at the Ambassador Hotel the night Bobby Kennedy died, but he got the Asiatic flu. He wore a “Legalize Marijuana” button in the late 60’s, something kids today probably can’t even comprehend as having been an issue so long ago. I remember him and my parents chanting “Impeach him!” during Watergate. Today, I see how many ways Trump is like Nixon.

I might have been young during the Nixon administration but I come from a family of individuals who were not afraid to be political, not afraid to tell me what was going on. Cesar Chavez visited my father’s barbershop in Gonzales, CA.  So did Leon Panetta when he ran for congress. Panetta knows my brother who has worked as a California lobbyist.  My brother Tom, at 76 years old, is still a voting member of the Democratic Party.  He’s never given up on democracy despite all the bad stuff he’s seen and lived through and causes and candidates he fought for — Vietnam, Watergate, assassinations, impeachments, protests and the eventual legalization of marijuana at least at the state level.

We shouldn’t give up either. We have options even though we feel as if everyone, everything is against us. Trump’s been put on notice as of last night that the judiciary isn’t going to stand for him making executive orders that are unconstitutional. They aren’t going to stand for him calling out our federal judges like a bully on a playground. And ultimately, more of us voted for Hillary than for him and he’s not untouchable. If Nixon can be impeached so can Trump. So just think about that for a moment, and then remember that we need to rise above adversity.

Join me in rising above, in flourishing during adversity. Let’s write and read and enjoy what we can in this life. If you feel bad just reading for pure enjoyment, go get a copy of All the President’s Men and read about history and the tenacity of two reporters determined to get the truth even if it brought down a presidency. I’ve read it before. It’s an amazing read. I’m going to read Switched by NJ Walker, about a guy who was switched at birth. It sounds like a really emotional, angsty read.

Speaking of angsty reads, I’m about 20K from finishing Out of the Pocket, the sequel or companion really to Scrambling. If you thought Scrambling was angsty, Out of the Pocket blows it out of the water. The first five thousand words of this book won the Rebecca Award a couple years ago. I wrote the rest of the book under the influence of Percocet and ended up having to scrap everything but that first 5K and start over. Now, it’s become a really heartbreaking story of two men torn apart by their jobs in the NFL.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to watch the news and see if there’s anything else good today. And even if there isn’t, I’m going to spend an hour reading and an hour writing before I head off to work on book covers for Louisa Bacio and JM Dabney and begin adding books to Sean Michael’s website. Have a great, flourishing Sunday!

Drexting

I rant on occasion. Not as much as I used to, but I do. I don’t always rant about the world of publishing either. I could seriously rant about the state of the economy in Southern California where middle class people like me make double the minimum wage per hour, haven’t had a significant raise in years and can’t even get an apartment because the price is so high and the main requirement is to have 2 to 3 times the rent in income. Yeah, that’s a huge rant with me. Being homeless because of the economy sucks ass. No one will help you because you have a job.

DSC_0099Despite how much and how long I could go on about the homeless situation in Orange County, I have something else on my mind. Like being homeless, it’s on my mind daily or almost daily anyway. It’s on my mind the five days a week I venture out into traffic in the Catmobile to go to work.

Drexting. Driving while texting.

At first, it only happened once in a while. I’d glance into my rear view mirror while approaching a red light or stop sign and find the person behind me not slowing down, their head tipped down. It dawned on me that they were texting or checking their email on their smartphone and not paying attention to the road in front of them. So I started keeping a little bigger gap between me and the person in front of me in case the person behind me with their face in their phone didn’t stop.

TrafficOptimistically, I thought this sort of thing would stop happening as the police started ticketing people for using their phones while driving. Not so. Now, when I look in the rear view mirror or at the cars on either side of me, it’s the exception rather than the rule to find the drivers paying attention to the road. It seems like everyone around me has their face tipped down to their phone.

I’m an excellent driver. I’ve been to racing school twice. I know about mechanical things in my vehicle because I worked in a repair shop in college. I understand my car and the ones around me. And yet, it’s scary to drive out there with all the people who don’t get it.

Obviously, they are not thinking. They are texting. And texting while driving is not what an intelligent person does. I look at these people and many of them don’t LOOK stupid, but they are sure ACTING stupid. It reminds me of the saying “Stupid is as Stupid does.” And boy, do they does.

So many rear ender accidents from this and so many people who see the accidents, know it’s against the law to be holding your phone and using it in any manner while driving, and yet they still do it. I wonder how many times they’ve looked up from their email or text and had to slam on the brakes. Yet close calls to no deter them.

greenlightWe wonder why the traffic is so much worse these days. Think about it for a moment. How many times have you been behind a slow car and passed them only to find the driver either talking, texting or doing email on their phone? Same thing for drivers who don’t go when the light turns green. And the drivers who drift over the line? Them too. They are all part of the traffic problem because they are impeding traffic.

It’s rampant. I know it’s not just here in SoCal. It’s everywhere. And it’s also causing accidents which cause our insurance rates to go up. I wonder why the people doing this don’t realize this, especially if they’ve gotten into an accident. Rott tells me that these people know what they are doing. They know and they don’t care or think it will never happen to them because they’re such a good driver. Such utter bullshit.

I find myself using my horn far more than I ever did before. I honk at people at lights almost daily. They, of course, are busy with their phones. Many times it takes two honks to get them to go.  Rott yells at them a lot. “GO STUPID!” is probably his most frequently spoken phrase, followed by “It’s the big pedal on the right!” Nice.

DrextingAnd I can see how road rage would increase from all this drexting. I know I’m a lot more angry than I use to be when I’m driving and it’s all because of these inconsiderate drivers. I try to find a station on my satellite radio that engages me and makes me sing along so I care less about these idiots. And the one thing that keeps going through my head as I look in my rear view mirror and deal with these morons day in and day out is…don’t you want to get where you’re going? Don’t you want to get home? Because someday you’re going to be paying more attention to your phone and you’re going to run into something big in front of you and you may never go home again.

Much love to you all out there. Drive safely.

Lex_Sig

 

New Ways To Be Offended

Every day on the internet, on the streets and freeways of Orange County, on the news, at work, getting lunch, going to the grocery store, the gas station and more…I find things to be offended about. And I sadly know that is true for you too. It’s called, The World We Live In. Yes, you can also find positivity everywhere you look too. It just seems that it’s harder and harder to find those positive things.

responsibleadultWhen I turn on the TV, I hear the GOP candidates fighting, almost literally cat-fighting, with social media memes and picking on each others’ wives, name calling, and behavior any good mom knows is that of a truculent five year old. Even CNN’s Anderson Cooper pointed this out, telling one candidate, “That’s the answer of a five year old.” I can’t help but wonder what is happening to our country. And then I see responses to blog posts that remind me how damned childish people in this country are. No wonder we allow political candidates to behave so childishly when we can’t behave any differently on the internet.

So an author friend blogged about a publisher. The comments on the blog really reminded me of how childish people behave on the internet. To me, and I could be wrong, it appeared that some of these childish comments were not from the author’s usual readers and friends but by people, either staff, friends or authors, of the publisher. I’m not a fan of publishers or other people who send their “troops” to defend them on a blog they would never normally read. That, in and of itself, is an immature and classless way to act. If you’re a good publisher, you don’t need people to defend you. You take the high road and you ignore that stuff. It’s like ignoring bad reviews. Most authors don’t engage in arguing with readers over a bad review. We ignore them.

2614477212_ba712347ba_oI’ve been out of the blogging loop for a couple of years and I should have realized that this kind of thing still happens out here. I guess I forgot because, geez, those people that came over from the publisher to get their point across on the author’s blog, a blog they wouldn’t normally read, totally offended me. Like really pissed me off, offended me. That’s a new one for me!

I don’t know why a publisher would condone such behavior. The publishers I’ve been with have been much classier than that. I guess I’ve been lucky on that front, to have publishers that take the high road, that embrace diversity, that care for their authors and don’t want them to look like fools out on the internet.

UnbreakMe2_432I suppose I just found my positivity in that mess I read yesterday and this morning. I’ve been lucky in my publishing career to have publishers who care about me and my work, who are professional and behave in a professional manner.

That being said, I’m slowly getting back all my rights to my books at Jupiter Gardens. Unbreak Me will be back in my hands as of April 30. Not sure when it will go back out as a self pub, but it does have a revised cover.

Thank you for reading! Go forth and find the positivity in the middle of all the offensiveness out there!

Lex_Sig

 

The Art of Winning

In the four years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve probably written on this topic before. I don’t have the time this morning to slog back through four years of posts though so here I am all prepped to talk about winning an argument. Yesterday, Nikki (Motley) and I were talking about arguing with people on the net. I’ve been around the net long enough (18 years) to know there is an art to winning when people on the net are contentious. It’s simple really. You walk away.

Now, for those of you who say walking away isn’t winning, I beg to differ. First, you have to understand the very nature of arguments on the internet. You have people who feel emotion A about a subject. You have people who feel emotion B about that subject. Each side tries to convince the other to change their mind/stance. And they do this knowing full well that they have an audience who is critiquing their argument, some of whom back stance A, some of whom back stance B, some who like to stir the pot, and some who just enjoy watching the fur fly. This leads me to the key to winning.

People engaged in arguments on the net or who are watching or backing those who argue on the net are all in it for one thing…attention.  Therefore, the key to winning is to walk away. Give no attention to these people. Ignore their contentious behavior. You will come out on top guaranteed.

I know lots of you aren’t going to agree with me on this. One reason is because none of us can stop ourselves from correcting someone who has their facts wrong. This type of argument isn’t exactly the kind I mean though. I often have to answer argumentative posts on loops from people who think that just because I used Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven in the video posted on this blog that I must be infringing on her copyright unless she gave me permission. Um, wrong. And I can prove it. Get your facts straight before you accuse me of copyright infringement. The video is posted to YouTube who has an agreement with most labels for the use of their music. And a lot of artists can’t give permission for the use of their music anyway. Oftentimes, their label owns the copyright not the artist.

So the people who want to be contentious about copyrights and videos need to be told the facts. I don’t argue with them. I state the facts baldly (as I have above) and I usually post a couple of links to articles on news sites about the agreements with the labels and a link to YouTube’s own blog that goes into detail about how the agreements work. End of the argument as far as I’m concerned. I corrected their misguided statements with the facts and at that point, I walk away because there is nothing more to be said. If the contentious person wants to keep arguing their point, they can talk to themselves and their minions. I’m not going to argue with them.

Arguing on the net is a waste of time and the ability to walk away from wasted time and emotion is definitely winning. You are not ever going to change the minds of contentious people. No amount of logic and arguing your points will make them change their stance. You truly need to understand this before you let one of these people suck you in. And those of you who get into these “debates” in order to support, protect and/or defend a friend need to be especially cognizant of the fact that you aren’t going to change anyone’s mind. The best defense of a friend is to teach them to walk away.

People left standing on their own screaming their stance like Chicken Little look pretty ridiculous and pathetic. And they look like losers. So learn to walk away from these people because it really is the only way to win.

Now that I’ve given my lesson on winning net wars, here’s another Marcus from a past post to cheer up your Monday.

A winning stance wouldn’t you say? 😉 I think so, but then I think his arms are pretty sexy. LOL I hope you all have a wonderful, contentious free Monday!

Changing Times

Have you noticed the freakish weather across the US? Seems like weather patterns are changing. And that’s not the only thing changing. They caught Osama Bin Laden and executed him. He’s been a thorn in our side for years and finally, we got him. Changes the face of our war on terror a bit now, doesn’t it? The publishing industry is undergoing shifts as ebooks and epublishing and self-publishing are all on the rise.  A royal prince just married a commoner. (And woot! for that! Must have been his mother’s influence there.) And I bought a house. Haven’t actually managed to move into it yet, but it’s ours. The last time I had two bathrooms of my own was when I lived in my parents’ house.

Life is constantly changing but sometimes the changes are small things that we just don’t notice until one day we wake up and realize we’re very different than we were five years ago. I found a forum thread during a Google search yesterday about a popular male model who just closed down his website and social media, left the city he lived in, severed his modeling agency ties (supposedly)  and just walked away from his life.  Speculation ran wild about his reasons for doing this. My first thought was that maybe that life he’d been living got to be too much for him. Too over the top. Too frenetic. Too unreal. After all, he’s just a Mormon boy from Utah which means he wasn’t raised to live such a party lifestyle.

I’m sure the gay community in Miami has a thousand reasons why Levi Poulter left them. My sense is that times maybe changed too much for him and he needed a return to something simpler. I’ve been in that position before a couple of times. This last time is why we bought a mobile home in the canyon as opposed to in one of the more heavily populated areas. When the world changes so much and so often and so inexorably, having a part of your life be a place where you can go to escape it all becomes necessary in order to find balance and cope. I certainly hope that Levi found it. I’m hoping I have with our new house.

Rott said the place is soooo quiet at night. And really dark. Being at the end of the park, right on the edge of the canyon means there’s no building next to us to lend light to our yard. Rott got some solar powered lamps that you stick in the ground that light up the steps and the area around the deck, but he wants some of the tall tiki style ones too because the depths of the yard are really very dark.

And moving from a place where you have to watch out for the skateboarders and surly neighbors to a place where there are coyotes and rattlesnakes is a big jump. Not that they aren’t all things you have to be aware of constantly and watch out for. Human predators and predators of nature. They can all mess you up if you aren’t careful.

So the changing times are something that I’ve been noticing much more than usual lately. I’m not sure why my senses are more on alert but they are. I can see that everything is on a collision course with change. Tornadoes forced change on the south this past week in a big way. I don’t want to be taken by surprise like that. I want to walk into each day with the sense that something big could change at any moment. I don’t want life to get the drop on me. Rott swears the end of the world is at hand. Maybe he’s right, sort of. The end of the world as we know it is something that changes every single day with each event that occurs. Keep your eyes peeled for it. It’s happening all around you.

Okay, I’m done being philosophical for this Monday. I need me my Marcus despite that uber hot photo of Levi Poulter up there. No one tops my Marcus.

 

Oh, that chest. It never fails to brighten my day. For whatever reasons have you cheering this morning – a sexy Marcus or a dead Bin Laden – I hope you have a wonderful day!