Abuse & Sexual Assault Awareness: Things to Never Say to a Survivor

 

The month of April is both Child Abuse and Sexual Assault Awareness month, causes that are personally significant to me as a survivor of both as a child and as an adult. That’s why, as difficult as this topic is and was for me personally, I felt it was important to share a little information.

There are few subjects that can be as difficult to broach and talk about, but need to be, as child abuse and sexual assault, not least of which where there is overlap; no one wants to discuss something as terrible and deplorable as abuse and sexual assault, let alone when it’s perpetrated on children.

Starting a discussion isn’t easy for anyone involved whether “victim”, survivor, or friend or family of someone that is. Shame, guilt, anger, and fear are just a few of the emotions that play a huge role in the conversation about abuse and sexual assault, no matter how time has passed.

No one knows the “right thing” to say, if there even is such a thing, but there are a few comments that should never be said to a survivor of any trauma. Intentions are often good when loved and trusted friends and family members enter into conversation about these delicate and difficult topics, but even the best intentions sometimes end with poorly chosen words and possible unintentional consequences; words have weight and careful attention should be paid to them, particularly in such sensitive matters. And then there are some who speak without thinking and out of a lack of understanding or knowledge, out of ignorance, and that can be just as hurtful, even if not intentional.

Here are 7 relatively common responses that you should never say to a survivor of child abuse or sexual assault.

  1. A lot of people have been, so what? – This, to say the least, is a callous response; what’s worse is its disgustingly accurate depiction of the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse in our society. And in case you’re wondering if anyone actually says that to another person, yes, there are people that respond like this. In case it isn’t abundantly clear, this is a completely dismissive and belittling response in almost any scenario, so it’s hardly surprising that this should never be said. It doesn’t matter how many others have been treated badly, it makes each one, individually, no less terrible, and thus worthy of more compassion than this reply offers. This comment can often come with comparisons to other abuse stories, as if hearing how much worse someone else had it negates or makes someone else’s trauma any less real, tragic, or worth listening to.
  1. That was a long time ago, get over it/aren’t you over it, yet? – This is another obviously callous response, and chances are that it will most likely be heard by someone who has experienced complex trauma and may subsequently deal with C-PTSD. There is no rule book that everyone follows on dealing with trauma. There are patterns and correlations that can be made about the healing process, but in the end, no one has the right to put a time limit on how long someone has to heal, no matter how “small” a trauma it may seem from the outside, or how long ago it may have occurred. I would hope that this question stems more from a lack of knowledge and understanding of the complicated and highly individualistic process of healing instead of a purely insensitive response.
  1. Any comparison to any television show or movie depicting abuse or sexual assault- You may be surprised how many people will compare having seen a movie or TV show about abuse or assault to understanding someone’s actual story. There may be some elements that are right in the theatrical version, but there are somethings that will not and cannot be understood by anyone that hasn’t lived through the experience (not usually a fan of her work, but Lady Gaga nailed it with this song, Til it Happens to You) . I understand that comparison to something as easily absorbed as a movie or TV show is also a way for those that truly don’t fathom an experience like assault or abuse can help put it into a context they understand. But it’s vitally important that you distinguish between actors portraying an experience and following lines in their script, and the real people sharing real trauma that has no script and never has to make sense in the end after 45-120 minutes. Don’t do this. (Conversely, there’s a chance a survivor may refer to a show or movie, or other mediums in some cases like books, as a way to convey an image, action or, feeling that they are not able to put into words themselves; then by all means, discuss, but follow their lead).
  1. You seem fine- While this may be what you hope to hear after taking a fall and fearing you’ve sprained your ankle, it is not one of the best responses to someone sharing such a difficult, personal, and painful topic as abuse and sexual assault. You never know what someone else is going through everyone meet fighting battle 2 or how they’ve come to be who and where they are in their life and personal healing journey. There’s often a fear of not being believed in sharing stories of sexual assault or abuse perpetrated on you, particularly as a child, or if a lot of time has passed and you’re able to be even a passable functioning member of society. People do not fully realize the damage and changes wrought on the brain and what it means for the future cognitive development of a traumatized child and so don’t fully understand the possible future ramifications it will have for each individual (here is a paper with more information and details for anyone interested). In the end, it doesn’t matter how put together someone seems, you aren’t in their shoes or their mind and so have no idea how they really feel. There are better responses than as subjective an evaluation as “you seem fine”; keyword there is also seem.
  1. Why didn’t you say something sooner? – This may be at the forefront of your mind when someone discloses a history of trauma in the form of abuse or assault, especially if it is over the span of days, weeks, months, even years with silence prevailing, but it should never be asked. Chances are high that the survivor will tell you themselves, often with a heavy dose of shame, guilt, pain, and anger attached, but the question should never be posed. The reasons really aren’t important about why a survivor stayed quiet, so instead, perhaps discuss what made them decide to speak now; focusing on the future is better all-around than trying to make sense of past events that don’t have to make sense.
  1. Everything happens for a reason- This one is incredibly easy to say to someone without realizing, and on the surface it can sound like a promising, possibly even hopeful or positive comment. The idea that struggles and trials we go through are meant to happen and that we are equally meant to rise above it in some way, that it was necessary for some unknown, yet to be realized reason can sound reassuring, but this is not always true. The problem is that this can be an incredibly difficult and troubling sentiment for someone that has experienced sexual assault or abuse, and this can especially be true of those with C-PTSD. You don’t need to fill every silence with something, and sentiments like this can do more harm than good in the end, so leave this one out of the conversation.
  1. Any statement that starts with or includes “at least”- At “best” such starts are usually followed by things like “at least you made it through”, “at least you survived”, “at least you’re strong/resilient, etc.”, which can sound positive and supportive but can also come across along the same lines of “everything happens for a reason”. Intentions are usually good, but there are better ways to convey actual sentiments instead of grasping at easy words. At worst you get comparisons like “at least you didn’t have *insert something horrible* happen to you like *insert other story or possible reference to television*”, or “at least you have family/friends, etc.”, or any other irrelevant point or topic that bypasses responding to the individual story relayed, which can be dismissive and belittling. Leave “at least” out of the conversation, no matter what you follow it up with.

There is no easy way to talk about such sensitive topics as child abuse and sexual assault, no matter the age of the trauma or point in time a dialogue begins. If you find yourself having this conversation with someone, the important things to remember are simple:

  • No judgement or preconceived notions
  • Don’t ask for more details, let the survivor decide what they want to share; also there’s a chance they can’t remember, or have very disjointed or confusing memories/feelings about what happened
  • Offer love and support but be mindful of how the person best receives it (some people need physical touch, others it could induce a panic attack, dissociative episode, etc.)
  • Read- learn about trauma. Here are some suggested reading for anyone wishing to understand more about trauma and recovery: ….The Body Remembers, Trauma and Recovery, The Body Keeps the Score. There are many other out there, but these I’m familiar with, personally. The first two were for a trauma class to get my degree in psychology. The third one is written by a man named Bessel van der Kolk, who wrote many articles I read in those same psychology classes and he is one of the most incredibly knowledgeable people on the subject of trauma and healing.

There is no easy way to converse when the topic is related to trauma, but it is important to have it, on whatever scale, in whatever fashion it comes. The best way to prevent child abuse and sexual assault is to spread awareness and information about them.

Thank you for reading, be sure to take care of yourself if this subject is a trigger in anyway. My best wishes and love to you all.

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Love for the Lost Art of Letter Writing

I believe it was in third grade that the idea of a “pen pal” was first introduced; the concept was to enter into an exchange of letters with someone in another part of the world. I cannot for the life of me remember much else about the experience other than the feeling of exhilaration at receiving and opening my first letter of response from a stranger…

What would they say? Where were they from? How did they live? What did they want to know? What would they be willing to share with me? What were the first thoughts that came to them when talking to someone they didn’t know? Would they have questions and be curious? So many possibilities!!!

Ever since that point, I will honestly say that I’ve loved the idea of receiving letters in the mail. You can tell I’ve read far too much fiction in this life by a secret desire, harbored deep within my heart, to receive a letter, out of the blue, from someone I’ve never met. I just love seeing what people have to say.

In my younger 20’s, I wrote a thank you letter to an aunt and uncle in Philadelphia and was delightedly surprised when my uncle wrote me back. He wrote freehand on unlined paper and had beautifully scripted penmanship that I couldn’t hope to emulate to save my life. I still remember how it made me smile. It was unexpected, and things like that are why I love the art of letter writing (even if my penmanship is wanting…)

There’s something about taking the time to write out a letter by hand, thinking of the V8A98C0U96person you’re writing to, getting envelops and stamps, writing out the address, and finally mailing a letter that you cannot replicate with an email, blog post or anything particularly internet related. Writing something just for them, sending paper out across miles to find its way in someone else’s hands. Letters are not dependent on a wifi signal, and there’s something more….substantial, more real about them. At least that’s how some part of me has always felt.

The internet, besides being an incredible source of knowledge and information, has some wonderful purposes (this blog for instance wouldn’t exist without, and we know what a shame that would be ;)), but there is something to be said for some old school ways of doing things on occasion.

If you’ve grown up in mostly the digital age, it can be difficult to understand the anticipation of waiting for the mail, hoping and expecting something other than bills or junk mail when it isn’t your birthday or a card worthy holiday. Believe me, it’s a wonderful feeling.

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Perhaps part of the allure is the anticipation of an expectant letter, particularly when there is habitual correspondence and you’re waiting for a certain comment, question, answer, or idea, or just waiting to be surprised with its contents.

For this reason, I have obtained a PO Box for the purpose of inviting anyone that wishes, to send me a letter, and I will write one in return. I would like to open up this opportunity to connect on a different level with those that perhaps feel this same appreciation for the handwritten letter arriving by snail mail.

I will have this box for the next three months, after which I am moving and at that time, depending on the response, I will either cease use of or move my address, and will be sure to update accordingly. So please join me in revisiting the lost art of letter writing. My PO Box is:

**UPDATE** At this time, I no longer have a PO Box. I’ve moved and have not yet decided to find another. Thank you for the lovely people that wrote to me!!! ❤ ***

Request encouragement, tell me about your latest project, something you’ve dreamed about, a book you can’t get out of your head, how you feel. Your letter can be about anything, tell me something I don’t know, either about you, or in general. Share something with me, and I will happily share with you.

I will probably check it every week or so when a good day finds me, so seeing a couple of letters would really make the spoons worth it, not to mention absolutely make my day.

I’m looking forward to your letters. 🙂

On that note, I’d also like to share this TEDtalk I recently found that encapsulates my own appreciation and love of letters. Please enjoy Hannah Brencher’s beautiful talk about love letters to strangers.

When is the last time you received or sent a letter in the mail?

 

 

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The Author’s Oracle- Questionnaire by Tarot

Here are my answers to The Author’s Oracle Questionnaire from Angela D’Onofrio. It was a lot of fun to do 🙂

the fool 0.  The Fool:Which of your characters is the most intuitive?  The worst decision-maker?

The intuitive one is incredibly easy, given the fact that the novel is called The Foretelling Spark, that would be Aisling Hunter. Even aside from her gift, she is very much driven by what feels right to her; a lesson her mother taught her well.

As to worst decision maker, that might be Tindra. While she’s smart and logical, her creative side often takes over and she can be very impulsive, making some of her decisions more questionable and less thoughtful than others on occasion.

 

TheMagicianI.  The Magician:What character, location, or object has the most positive influence in your story?

Mona is probably the most positive influence; she is Aisling’s mom, and though she is not actually in the book alive, her influence is apparent. She believed in family, friends, kindness, believing in people, and giving her daughter every possible positive opportunity she could. It’s through Mona’s friendship with Sable (friends since childhood), that the Grants are in Aisling’s life, even when Mona no longer is.

 

high_priestess__tarot_by_mari_na-d3e1b7yII.  The High Priestess:  Do any of your characters have very strong beliefs?

Sable Grant, that’s Tindra’s mom, has an incredibly strong belief that everything can be made better and eventually all problems solved with a home cooked meal.

Aisling has a strong belief in doing what is right; she has a big heart like her mom and has trouble resisting the urge to help in whatever way she can, even if it puts her at risk as well.

 

the empressIII.  The Empress:  Who is your biggest supporter?  Give them a little love, here.

My mother and stepdad, as well as my friend Grim are probably my biggest supporters. My mom, who is not a big reader (let alone a fan of the genre I wrote my first novel in), and yet she read (and I dare say even enjoyed) it. It’s also with her support and generosity that I was able to attend my first writing conference, and so much more. My stepdad has been wonderful; he’s one of my biggest fans and truly believes I have a talent, which I cannot thank him enough for believing and for telling me so, repeatedly.

Grim has been a great cheerleader. Sometimes I get a random “you can do it” picture message or text that will make me smile and it’s nice to have someone believe in you that doesn’t mince words and is known to tell you the truth.

I have to add that I have an amazing writing community made up of supporters that I love, and together, they are some of my biggest supporters. It’s wonderful to feel so encouraged and loved, especially on the tough days.

Thank you all!!

tarot__the_emperor_by_azurylipfe IV.  The Emperor:Do you outline or plan?  (You know … plotter or pantser…)

A little of both. The pantser thing didn’t work very well for me. There was even more staring at a screen without progress than with some idea of what I was doing. I take a middle of the road approach. I like knowing the base I’m starting with, but allow for room to grow and the story/characters to change as the story requires.

 

hp_tarot____5_the_hierophant_by_ellygatorV.  The Hierophant: What do you feel is your most valuable piece of writing advice?

I would say two things: write, and find how to work with fear if you can’t work past it. Not doing either of those will suffocate your writing quicker than a contained trashcan fire….oh and reading, lots and lots of reading.

 


the loversVI.   The Lovers
:Which of your characters follow their heart?  Is it for the right reasons?

Aisling and Tindra both follow their hearts, but in different ways. Of the two, Tindra is much more comfortable following her heart, acting on her impulses and desires, whatever the reason. Aisling believes in following her heart as in trusting her instincts about people and situations, listening to what her heart tells her is true.

 
the chariotVII.  The Chariot:  Tell us about the first “darling” you ever “killed”.

If you mean “darling” in the way that Faulkner meant it….maybe I’m weird (okay, I am, but it may or may not include this scenario), but I have yet to recognize something as “darling” and killed it. Either that or I honestly cannot put it into context to remember a certain scenario (my mental Rolodex doesn’t seem to have that particular connotation marked for use). I’m sure there have been…I have plenty of idea jot lists, but can’t bring to mind a particular “darling” that met its end….

As far as character “darlings” that I’ve killed, even though her death doesn’t happen within the book itself, my first is Mona and she is dead before The Foretelling Spark begins, but her absence is felt and is important in the book…it was difficult to write because she is Aisling’s mother and there are few things more heart breaking than writing about the death of a beloved mom, dealing with the emotions afterwards. I got choked up writing a couple of scenes in particular…so many feels Lie-Down
legacyStrengthVIII.  Strength:   What do you feel your greatest creative strength is?

I would say my curiosity and ability to empathize; I ask a lot of questions out of curiosity and do my best to connect with and understand each of my characters so that their thoughts, actions, and reactions reflect who they are as individuals instead of creating puppets that enact a plot.

 

 

the hermitIX.  The Hermit:Can you write in coffee shops or other busy places, or do you need quiet?

Depends on my mood and how I’m feeling physically…I usually write in my lair alone, mainly because I’m an introvert and there are people out there, plus it can be difficult for me to go out some days depending on how I’m feeling (chronic illnesses and a compromised immune system can be such a joy…) But occasionally it can be nice to write somewhere else; it’s good to shake up your routine on occasion. I don’t do well with things being too busy and there being too many people I don’t know around me when I’m trying to focus on writing something.

 

wheeloffortuneX.  The Wheel of Fortune:Do you have a set routine or schedule?

Hahahahahaha…here is a post about my adventures into that attempt,  but no, I have no “set” routine or schedule…every day becomes a writing day, any moment could become a working moment

 

 

 

justiceXI.   Justice:What’s the biggest consequence that your main character will have to face?  (If it spoils the plot, feel free to be vague.)

Well, I can’t say too much, but Aisling has to deal with the aftermath and repercussions of the truths she learns, including dealing with a genuinely dangerous man that wants something from her.

 

 
the hanged manXII.   The Hanged Man:  What sacrifices do you make for writing time?  Or, what must your main character be willing to choose between?

Honestly, the biggest issue I have with writing is that I can’t be reading a book at the same time….there’s nothing like fighting the war between wanting to read as a bookworm, and the urge to write as an author…talk about sacrifices….

 
deathXIII.  Death:  What do you do after you’ve finished a project?

It looks a little something like this….

belle just finished wonderful story

high five a million angels tina fey

..then it’s time for a well deserved reading breakyomiko22

before turning to edits…

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…and then my mind switches to plotting the next one…
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temperanceXIV. Temperance:  Please share your best tested & proven tip for balancing writing and “the rest”:

….when I figure that out, I will be sure to let you know…I guess I could add that, when it’s important to you to write, you will find the time, even jotting quick notes in a notebook (keep one with you!!), or your phone, you will make the time. For the other side of the spectrum, speaking to myself here too, it’s important to stop yourself and play, in whatever form that takes for you, it’s the only way to refuel, and it’s better to do that before you run out of gas, not after.

 

devilXV.   The Devil:Everyone has a nasty habit they can’t shake.  What’s your main character’s?

She can be timid. She is incredibly strong and has no problem fighting for those she loves, but when it comes to some aspects of her life, she can be nervous and hesitant about the relationships she pursues in her life. She also is sensitive to making people upset or uncomfortable; if it’s justified she has no problem, but otherwise, she often relies on Tindra to spur her on or take the reins in uncomfortable situations.

 

the towerXVI.  The Tower:  Have you ever had to scrap an entire project and start over?  How did it feel?  Were you frustrated, sad … relieved?

Haha, it’s funny you mentioned that. I started writing a very different novel that I ended up scrapping entirely, but I eventually reworked the original idea and it became The Foretelling Spark. I’ve also actually deleted 30,000 words of a story, saving only the first 12, 000 but knowing I will most likely scrap it and start over completely, with the same core idea, but I assume what I come out with will become a different story as well in much the same way.

 
tarot_card_17__the_star_by_rannsama-d4y2q3zXVII.  The Star:  What is your favorite part of starting a new project?  New notebook smell?  Getting to know the characters? Building the plot?

I love the moment when you’re plotting, working things out for a new project, getting to know your characters to see what happens,  and everything just clicks…it’s a ZING! moment. When I have this moment, it’s like my entire body is vibrating, skin sizzling, and I then I cannot wait to get started and see what it will become.

 
the moonXVIII.   The Moon:  What’s the biggest lie that your main character is telling themselves?

That would probably be Aisling telling herself that it didn’t make her heart ache for a real father to love her like Tindra’s had when seeing them together when Donovan Grant was alive; or that the truths Aisling uncovers about her own father don’t scare her into wondering want kind of darkness she would be capable of if she didn’t care about the consequences.

 
the sunXIX.  The Sun:  Do you have any themes, symbols or objects which come full circle in your work?

Morality, truth, trust, dreams and visions…there may be a theme or symbol or two. I’d rather others read and decide what they see as themes or symbols though; that’s far more interesting to me, and  I get to know the person that read it a little better.

 

 

judgementXX.   Judgement:Do your characters get what they deserve?  Why or why not?

I’m not really sure how to answer this one….a couple do in some ways, but not so much in others. As in life, the good and bad often come hand in hand, leaving many with not quite what they deserve.

 

the world
XXI.   The World: At what point did you know that you had to write this project?

It wouldn’t leave me alone, and as happens with many of my ideas, they marinate as I process and thinking about them usually without even realizing it; then one day ZING!, and there was nothing else to do but hold on.

 

 

If you fill out the Author’s Oracle Questionnaire yourself, please leave a comment with a link to your post!

My Amazing Night at The Fox: 2Cellos

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or are familiar with my blog, then you might have heard me mention 2Cellos a time or two. More often than not it’s me sharing a song that’s inspiring me, creating fantastic images in my mind that I have to write down; sometimes I just love watching them play and then fuel that same passion and love they have of playing their music, into my own writing.

When I was writing my novel for NaNoWriMo, there were many pages hastily written after listening or watching Luka and Stjepan play over and over again. In the midst of my frantic search for more of their work and information on them because I was curious (they’re from Croatia, which endeared them to me all the more; a friend of mine that died a few years ago was also from Croatia), I found that they were playing at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta in February, on the 9th.

I had little hope of being able to go, The Fox not generally being in my price range, but I had vague hopes and intended to try. To my surprise, my mother, at the persistence of my sister (thank you both!), gave me a wonderful Christmas present: Two tickets to see 2Cellos when they came to The Fox!!

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So last week, an old friend of mine joined me, and we went to see 2Cellos at The Fox!! I have never been to The Fox, despite having lived in and around Atlanta most of my life. The entire night was an experience (especially for this homebody introvert.)

So how was it?

At the end of the night, I absolutely enjoyed myself, which was in great part due to my friend, Grim, who took the anxiety of driving in the damned city and need to budget the energy for it out of the equation for the night, which was wonderful and helped a lot.

We arrived, in the freezing cold with wind quite capable of blowing me off course mid-step (no exaggeration), at The Fox, a solid 45 minutes before show time because you never know what Atlanta traffic will do…and parking…parking can be a nightmare. We were able to park across the street from the theatre, which was infinitely grateful for, and we arrived.

We bustled through the doors amidst the throng of other freezing people vying to get in. We each had our tickets ready, following the crowd through this large hall until meeting another set of doors. Through here was the carpeted theatre lobby, at the foot of the large staircase that would lead us up to our seats.

We went straight to our seats and had this fantastic view while we waited:

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We were there early, so we spent some time taking pictures of the theater around us from our seats.

 

And of course:

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We were there early, the show started 15 minutes late, and the theatre slowly became packed with people. It was interesting to hear snatches of conversation, see people who recognize each other from seats across the aisles; I was enjoyed some people watching while we waited, what author doesn’t?

By 7:45, the lights dimmed, and Luka and Stjpan took the stage with confidence seen in people following their dreams. Their smiles lit up the theatre, the bright lights were unnecessary. They greeted the audience and regaled us with the last time they played at The Fox, it was opening for Elton John. After saying that they’d made it back to the same stage on their own, they claim that Elton John will be opening for them next time they return 😉

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It was a joy getting to see some part of their personalities; they had a fun sense of humor, but more than that, there was the love of their music, which was intoxicating and uplifting. Soon after their greeting, the fingers were flying at the strings and they warmed up with a little classical, showing off their years of skill and technique.

Things didn’t take long to heat up, Luka and Stjepan’s bows shredding as they played; I cannot begin to describe the awe and appreciation I have for such skill and talent and such love and enjoyment of music as shown by 2Cellos.

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In between some of the songs, Stjepan or Luka would take the mic and speak to the crowd. Often time it was to make the crowd laugh. Stjepan, in his dramatic and rugged way repeatedly mentioned how “beaut-i-ful” the music was, and as the flirt he is, dedicated the beautiful music to the beautiful ladies in the audience.

It was so easy to melt away in my chair listening to them play. I wished I could have done more actual watching them play, but unfortunately, the lights continued to arc right into my eyes, particularly during the fast paced songs where I pretty much kept my eyes closed instead of accidentally meeting with the brutal flares.

We didn’t stay for the entire concert, an accumulation of reasons equating to the final decisions to leave sooner than the end. A booming and sensational rendition of Thunderstruck, which included adding a drummer and some pretty serious sounding bass, heralded a switch in music style. The drummer stayed, and between the bass making my heart feel it would explode within my chest cavity, a headache beginning from the unfortunate and continued glare of lights in my eyes, and a general escalation of energy, my skin was practically sizzling and I was very much ready to be in a more reclined and relaxed position, as much as I was reveling in the music of Luka and Stjepan as they played live.

We did manage to snag this picture before heading out

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Pay no attention to the frightened animal look, I did enjoy myself!

I enjoyed hearing songs I knew, and ones I had not heard before; truly it was a fantastic experience I was not sure I would have. I cannot say enough how thankful I am to my sister for championing this desire of mine, my mother for this heartfelt gift, to Grim for joining me, and for two sensational musicians to while the night away with.

Is there a concert or show you have attended that you were particularly excited to see? Or one you’re looking forward to? Tell me about your experience!

 

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A Special Word of the Day : Amalgamology

First blog post of the New Year and well on the way to my first full year of blogging…I can hardly believe it. So much happened the last half of 2015, and I’ve managed to find myself in an excellent launching place for the start of 2016; a lot is going to happen this year.

But first! For those that have been following and perhaps wondered, or those new and curious, a special word of the day: Amalgamology. What is it besides the name of my blog? Well, first, it’s not technically a word (as in not in the dictionary)…yet (that’s right, I’m channeling Shakespeare  and Dr. Seuss here). I fused two words together, as many words are. First there’s amalgam, which is a mixture or blend, and then ology, or simply, the study of a subject or branch of knowledge. So what does it mean? Here’s my definition:

amalgamology
Amalgamoology: the study of a mix of blend of thoughts and ideas

 

The easiest way I can explain why I call my blog this is because…I don’t do the whole niche thing. There are many fantastically talented writers that have one area their platform is known for or raised on, or one topic in particular they focus on.

I completely understand the benefits involved with having a niche and working within that scope, a lot of things become a lot easier for marketing, finding your audience, much more. However, if I tried to pin myself down to only one aspect of….almost anything, I think I might combust.

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The same thing happens when asked about my favorite book…singular

My interests are many and varied. Another way to say it is that I’m eclectic. I have a handful of useful “go-to” answers to the question of my interests, but if I were to give my full list, it would overwhelm anyone, including me.  In fact I will, most begrudgingly, admit that I probably will not have enough time to delve as deeply into everything that I want to in this lifetime…there are just so many amazing thing to read, learn, see, do!

Admittedly, a good chunk of what you will find on here is writing or literary related, but why choose when you don’t have to? I understand what is typical, but this is me forging my own path and I don’t think I should start changing that about myself now…I’ll save you any possible suspense, but me choosing one focus, topic, interest, otherwise, is not likely in the cards. I’m okay with that, I hope you are too! Who doesn’t like to shake things up occasionally? Believe me, there will still be plenty of writing related goodness (have I mentioned I’ve got plans?) 😉

If you’re curious about what topics might be on the horizon, or just in general where some of my interests in and out of writing and books lie, then here you go:

Writing– competitions, tips, useful resources, updates on my own, sharing of others’, etc. the list could go on. (stay tuned for an influx of fiction to be shared as well..plans, you know?)

Languages– this could come in many forms, I love languages and wish I spoke others as fluently as English. I know some German, a little French, bits of Russian, Italian, Spanish, Latin, ….the list I want to know encompasses and goes beyond these….(I said  a lot right?)

Awareness/Causes– many issues that could use attention including mental illness, abuse in all its many forms, Lupus and a few other medical issues close to my heart, etc., posts to raise awareness, combat stereotypes, offer help, and more are likely candidates.

Art– paintings, drawings, sculptures, mixed media, photography, artists I know, artists I’ve newly found, and more! Any way that I can slide some art in, you can bet I will.

Travel– it’s a big world out there, so much to see and experience, so much to learn! Places I want to go, sharing interesting tidbits from research, either for my books, or my own inte-…okay same thing, my interests, varied as they are.

Books– anything to do with books, reviews, suggestions, etc. also this and travel may overlap in the area of libraries, but you can definitely expect books.

Crafting– this could involve sewing, knitting, jewelry, clay, stuffed animals…anything that comes to mind when I’m in a crafty mood.

Anything!

Really, I could probably be here all day but you get the picture: I have lots of interests, and I couldn’t choose just one or even two to focus on. If I end up doing so naturally, that’s perfectly fine, but I won’t purposely restrict myself to a few topics to suite a niche. That feels too limiting.

Thus, Amalgamology is the name of my blog (if you were curious). Does your blog have a specific name, word, or phrase for a reason? Please share what you named your blog and why in the comments.

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Falling for Autumn: 10 Reasons to love Autumn


It’s a week into September and I can already feel the whispery touch of autumn in the air. While out on my balcony as the sun begins to set or rise, I can feel the change in season, and it’s nearly my favorite time of the year. It hasn’t quite enveloped us yet, but every summer haze that is overtaken by crisp autumn winds brings us ever closer. Nearly everyone has a favorite season, a time of the year they look forward to the most, and apart from the true feeling of Christmas come winter time, autumn is my favorite time of the year. Here are 10 reasons I love autumn:
1.       Change in Weather-
Aside from the fact that I have no tolerance for the heat or humidity of the summer here and eagerly await the more habitable change in temperature, it’s that shift in the weather where it’s cooler outside but not cold, and there’s a crispness on the breeze that you can smell and feel tickling your skin announcing autumn that I adore.
2.       Coats and blankets-
I *love* trench coats, in the varying cuts and styles available, and fall is an excuse to break them out without dying from heat stroke (as a teenager, I used to wear a big heavy trench coat even in the summer…ah, youth…).  Blankets take up station over laps in the mornings while sipping coffee or settle over tired shoulders in the evening while enjoying the clear night air with the slight chill that comes with the season. The reason autumn wins over winter in these aspects is that they become mostly necessary in winter time, leaving the novelty or enjoyment to make way for the desire to not freeze.
3.       Lighting-
As we learned somewhere around fifth grade in science class, the seasons are caused by the changes in Earth’s proximity to the Sun and the differences in weather because of it. Somewhere between around the end of September, the lighting for outdoor photography, to me, is wonderful. October is my particularly favorite month, lighting wise. There is an ineffable quality to the light in the autumn afternoons and evenings that I find irresistible for photography purposes and am often most inspired in the fall months.
4.       Leaves-
Of course, anyone else who appreciates the fall knows that I would have to mention the change in leaves. When the colors of the trees begin to change it’s almost a magical place to me, something from a fairy tale or a story, picturesque in its beauty. More than that, I love the sound leaves make as they crinkle and scrape against the ground, the way they appear drifting through the air on the breeze. Autumn scenes depicted in pictures and paintings fill me with inspiration and wonder.
5.       Ray Bradbury-
The genius that gave us Fahrenheit 451 and gems like The Illustrated Man and Something Wicked This Way Comes, and so much more, is integrally linked in my mind to the autumn season. Ray Bradbury, may he rest in peace, is the man who brings the season to life for me with his words…no one writes autumn or that Halloween feel like Mr. Bradbury, as an example, I give you : ”October Country. . . that country where it is always turning late in the year.  That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay.  That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun.  That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts.  Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . . “
6.       Halloween/ Dia de los Meurtos-
Ah yes, the time of the year where you dress as something other than what you are, and also remember our loved ones that have passed on the Day of the Dead. I have a great love and respect for this cultural celebration, and adore the art and beauty that comes with it. There’s so much to enjoy and respect about these respective holidays that adds to the appeal of the autumn season.
7.       Home Decor-
Something about this time of the year brings out some wonderful items for around the home, the types of things that make it *your* home. This is helped along by Halloween because often times it is Halloween décor that often becomes the daily décor for my home. Sometimes it’s lights (okay, often times its lights), but sometimes its candle holders or wall/door hangings, I’m never sure until I see it, but this time of this year is the best to find something I like.
8.       County Fair/Carnivals-
Hay mazes, hay rides, petting zoos, rides, games, funnel cake, cotton candy, and all the rest that comes with a county fair or carnival is synonymous with autumn. Children run around with coats unzipped, rushing from one ride to the next with bright cheeks and chilly air in their lungs as they plunge through the crowd with smiles painted on their faces as their parents call for them to slow down. Even as an adult, some rides still hold their appeal, and there’s nothing like watching the pure enjoyment of those around to remind our hearts of childhood merriment.
My favorite ride since childhood
9.       Pumpkin Bread-

No one was more surprised than I to find that I enjoy pumpkin bread…I was at a friend’s house one autumn evening and he and his girlfriend had made some pumpkin bread. I wanted to be polite, so I decided I would at least try it, even though I’ve never been a fan of anything pumpkin. Low and behold, it was delicious, and so I found something new I enjoyed this time of the year.  You can keep your pumpkin spice lattes or whatever, I will just take my pumpkin bread come the fall.

10. Family-
Even though Thanksgiving comes near the close of autumn, often right before or as winter gets her chilly grasp into us, it is a time I look forward to because of family. I see so many people and it’s a time to hear what everyone is thankful for, to see what the year has brought us, and what we can all look forward to next year, in between inwardly suppressing the urge to kill them all because while we love them, family is frustrating sometimes too; it’s part of why we love them.

So there you have it, ten of, I’m sure, plenty of other things to love about the autumn season. Please feel free to add anything that may be special to you about this change in the year and mark of passing time, or any favorite memories you have from this time of year.