Tag Archives: children

Grateful, in spite of….

Grateful, In Spite Of…

stairway-to-the-heavens

In spite of everything that has occurred this past year, I believe that we can build that stairway….together.

It has been a year now since a man and the Republican political party in the United States committed treason and colluded with Russia dictator, Putin, and stole the right to live in the White House. Many of the things we feared have come to pass.

–The stamp of approval in the form of an executive order has been given to businesses and government offices to openly and legally discriminate against LGBTQ people. Anyone in this once-great nation can openly refuse service and sales to us. My wife of nearly 29 years and I can be refused services by anyone from a waiter at a restaurant to a doctor during an emergency simply by them saying it is against their beliefs that she and I should love each other or should even exist. We could die, literally, from lack of emergency service if someone invokes their “religious liberty” to refuse us aid in the time of need.

The right to have a wedding cake baked at the place of our choice was analogous to the right of a black man or woman to sit in the front of the bus or to eat in a diner of their choice. Right now this loss of freedom, of legal protection against discrimination is only aimed at the LGBTQ community, but like in Hitler Germany it can and will be applied to any and all “undesirables” at a future time.

rights-vs-fears

–Women’s rights have suffered greatly. We are now facing back alley abortions and lack of birth control for millions of working women and poor women. Such lack of services will result in unwanted and unplanned pregnancies—even pregnancies from forcible rape where the father of the child, the rapist, can demand access to his victim via their child. Women, unable to control their reproductive abilities, will find it difficult and sometimes impossible to gain better paying jobs, complete their education, or even to recover from forcible rape and incest.

Employers will be able to keep a pool of underpaid female workers in the lowest positions by simply refusing birth control coverage through their insurance because those who don’t have supportive families will be saddled with children they cannot afford in any sense of the word. College and the ability to find a better paying job will become an impossible dream for many women and girls.

–Violence against minorities based on religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual identity, is being openly supported by the highest office in the land. Statements such as “rape doesn’t exist because a woman’s body won’t allow it” to “all immigrants are terrorists” and “all Hispanics are rapists” have resurfaced and are being given credibility by those in power. When violence is acted upon against minorities, the highest office in America gives statements such as “there are two sides to (this violent incident)”.

–Something I never thought would occur did indeed occur last November. A child predator and a self-acknowledged predator of women of all ages sits in the highest office in the land. A man who proclaimed “grab ‘em by the pussy” has initiated a regime of terror and chaos that our nation has not seen since the days before and during the Civil War. He has divided this country sister against sister; brother against brother. I fear for our nation, more each day.

–Never in all of Nixon’s dark days, did he ever utter a plan to pardon his own crimes against America. Yet, this traitor in the White House has boldly spoken out that he will pardon himself from any crimes that are proven against him. And what is even more frightening is this: some people are saying there is nothing in the law that will prevent this from occurring. Just as there was nothing in the law that prevented him from keeping his taxes secret and therefore, the illegal source of his money, hidden from the scrutiny of the people, though for the past forty years every president has been, at least, this transparent for the good of the nation.

–No other occupant of the highest seat of our nation has acted against the best interests of this nation and hidden his collusion with enemy powers beneath such secrecy and lies. Even to the point of hiding the Visitor’s Log to the White House from the public. Again, no law existed that kept him from hiding his interactions and secret meetings with Putin and other enemies of the United States from public knowledge; even from the knowledge of all of the members of Congress who are sworn to represent and protect the best interests of the citizens of this once-great nation.

–It has been many years since any occupant of the highest seat of government has so blatantly supported tax laws that took money from school programs, from programs for the elderly, from programs for the disabled, from Medicare, from Social Security–which is not a gift but is paid for by employers and employees throughout an employee’s working life—in order to give that money to the very wealthy. A reverse of Robin Hood—steal from the working person and give to the rich.

–Never in the history of our government has anyone appointed so many people who have openly vowed to destroy the offices to which they had been appointed. Betsy DeVoss—a great example–openly stated that she wanted to dismantle the Department of Education by 2018. She has made a lot of progress in that direction. She has gutted programs against rape on campuses across the nation. Once again women and girls cannot concentrate on their studies, but must be afraid for their safety and even their lives.

–Never in the history of the occupants of the White House and the highest office of the nation has anyone ever so openly spent taxpayer’s money for their personal benefit and the benefit of their own businesses and their own family and friends as this administration has done. Literally millions of dollars that could have easily funded Medicare, programs for school children, programs for the disabled, programs for research into medical cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, have been drained from the taxpayer’s coffers to pay for vacations for family and friends of this wannabe-dictator! A man who berated others who held that office before him for taking vacations, has spent nearly every weekend on vacation and spending taxpayer’s money in his own resorts.

And never has any political party kept its silence  while America suffers; while their constituents lose their healthcare and many will lose their homes due to catastrophic illness.

Even during military crisis, we heard no condemnation from the Republican party when the man they put into the White House was too busy vacationing to attend to national business.He played golf while American soldiers died. And then, dared to disrespect the memories of those soldiers, saying “he knew what he signed up for.”

And with the blessing of the man in the White House, the Republican party has thrown away healthcare for millions of Americans so that they could fund tax breaks for themselves and their wealthy friends and families.

No person has blatantly used taxpayer money to build a helicopter pad on his privately-owned resort.

–Never has anyone in that office embarrassed the American people when meeting with foreign dignitaries as much as this person. America, once looked upon as a leader in the world, is now officially the laughingstock of the world.

America has weathered many power-mad and power-hungry meglomaniacs in its past.

Elder Many Horses on Power

A responsibility not to the wealthy, but to all Americans. Can we unite and stop this wannabe-dictator from destroying our nation?

aDarkTime

I don’t know. And that is the saddest statement I have ever made.

light in darkness

In all the turmoil and the violence; the death and the destruction of the civil rights era, I clung to hope. Our nation clung to hope like a life raft in an angry sea. We bled and we wept and we buried heroes and heroines. And we got back up and we fought, side-by-side, until we won freedoms we had never before known.

From that point on, though it was often two steps forward and three steps back, our nation progressed to a level of diversity and acceptance that won applaud the world over. We forged new pathways in human rights and in saving our planet. We put aside national treasures to be protected and enjoyed by all Americans; not just a privileged few. Our national parks drew millions upon millions of visitors per year; enriched our economy and shone as a beacon of beauty in a world that was sometimes very harsh and barren.

 

Now those parks are being given away to oil companies to destroy. Freedoms are being rolled back to the bad-old-days.

Once the contracts are signed with those oil companies they will scream “in good faith” to cling to the ability to destroy our national treasures even after we unseat this regime of destruction and chaos. And, like all “law abiding” people, we will hesitate to act against their “good faith” claims. And they know it. This is why so much is being given away and destroyed now. Because we, who believe in the rule of law, will be hamstrung to reverse the destruction and to re-institute protections for those national treasures, for the freedoms being destroyed even as we read and write these lines.

Have so many fought and bled and died for nothing? Can we not see that we must unseat those who would destroy our nation and that we must reverse all of their doings, cancel all of their contracts, and remove those they have been illegally placed in power positions–whether that position is the highest court in the land or the Department of Education–if we hope to save our nation?

aliciaDoSomethingGood

Can our nation grow beyond where this regime of hate and divisiveness and violence has brought us?

During this month of gratitude, this month of thanksgiving, I fear for our nation. I weep for what we have lost. I ache for the destruction of those things of beauty that we thought generations of Americans would be able to see and to marvel at.

image quote open your heart...

There are things, however, for which I am eternally grateful:

–I am grateful that I have stood up and continue to stand up for what is right; for what is beautiful in our nation. I continue to fight in the only way I know how—with these words.

–I am grateful for all of those from Whoopi Goldberg and J.K. Rowlings to the women and men I met at various Resist meetings who stand with me; who speak out loudly and plainly; people who continue to fight and to hope in the face of terror and chaos. Those who refuse to quit; who refuse to give up on our nation; who believe we can once again rise to the greatness we were building into our laws and our society. Those who believe in diversity and tolerance and helping those who are less fortunate. Who believe that an investment in our children is an investment in our future. Who believe that even though they may never see a polar bear, or stand in awe staring up at the redwood forests, that these things make our world a better and more beautiful place by simply existing and that they are worthy of protection. That the call of wild wolves is more important than a corporate-owned farm being allowed to graze public lands for mere pennies per acre.

And I am grateful for these beliefs that I hold in spite of all that I have seen and all that is occurring in our nation today:

gratitude

–I believe in the American people, in the goodness of our hearts and the strength of our purpose in protecting freedom for all of us.

–I believe that we can and we will unite to take over our nation once again and begin the healing of America.

–I believe that we can and we will open our arms to welcome those huddled masses who yearn for freedom, once again. I believe that not only will we return to our past greatness, but we will go beyond it. We will embrace diversity.

diversity (2)

–I believe that we can and we will prevail and return our nation to its once-great state of progress and humanity. We will, finally, extend equal justice to all citizens regardless of color, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, culture, or any other artificial category  that divides us.

–I believe that we can make a better world, and that we will. Together. United. By concern, by tolerance, by understanding, by caring. By love for our country.

Hate destroys; but, love can heal.

ChooseToBe

 

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WIN FREE E-BOOK!

Guess which of my novels these headlines apply to and win a free copy of my latest Special Crimes Team novel, Twisted Minds!

PaperCover

–Woman eats people!

–Terrorists take over White House!

–After 30 years woman discovers true identity!

–Runaway kid battles pedophile!

–2 women battle racists in small town!

–Women expose police corruption!

–Renegade cops bust serial killer!

–Psychic tracks kidnapped children!

–Raid saves 40 puppies!

–85-year old woman outwits killer!

–20-year old secret rips family apart!

–Women warriors save humanity!

–Girl saves horse from slaughter!

The first ten to send the correct answers–or the most correct answers–to ayawalksfar@gmail.com win a pdf of my latest book, Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team. Winners will be announced on my blog on Labor Day Weekend! Winners will be determined by time and date stamps on emails. ALL decisions final.

HINT: You can find my books at https://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

 

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No Perfect People: A #Mother’s Day Reflection

aliciaDoSomethingGood

When I wrote those words in the novel Run or Die, they came from growing up with my mother. She was a woman who became the first female remodeling contractor in our state to do her own work.  Never play the damsel-in-distress because if you play it long enough, you become it.  Never back down from a bully; they only get worse. And, whenever you get knocked down, pick yourself back up and throw yourself back into the fight. Never settle; constantly strive to improve, to grow, to become more.

All very necessary lessons as I grew up in a ghetto. A poverty-stricken area where dreams died fast and so did most people. But most people weren’t my mother.

Flying saucers were part of my childhood–they were the things my mom threw at my stepfather. She liked knives, too, but unlike the cups and saucers, she deliberately missed with the knives. A friendly warning; that’s all. Her temper was well-known in our neighborhood. No one wanted to set it off, including me. All too frequently, I was at the wrong end of her temper; often for reasons I never understood.

You’d think that with memories like that, that I would despise my mother. Honestly, I did go through a phase of hating her, but it never diminished the fact that I also loved and admired her; respected and idolized her. Why? One time she told me to wake her up and when I did, she threw a Vick’s jar at me. I ducked and took off out of the house until she calmed down. So, why do I retain good memories of my mother? Why do I speak of her with respect?

Because, in spite of the violence, my mother was a kind and caring person. No, that is not some illusion succored by someone who can’t accept the truth; the reality. Let me tell you about the woman beneath the violence.

My mother grew up in a coal camp–tarpaper shanties where coal miners and their families lived while the miners eked out a piss poor existence. Water hauled from the creek, kerosene lanterns rather than electricity, outdoor latrines. A tough life. My grandmother cleaned a rich woman’s house for a pittance and the rich woman’s castoff clothes that Grandma altered by lantern light. My mother’s father–my biological grandfather–like most men in the camps believed it was his right to get drunk on money needed for food and to come home and beat his wife and children.

My grandmother, like most women of that day and that place, put up with the beatings until the night he staggered home and went after my mother. My grandmother grabbed his gun from the cupboard. She told him to “Get yerself right with your Maker, John.” Then she pulled the trigger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, (I never could decide on that) John took those seconds to dive out of the tarpaper-covered window hole. Grandma plugged him in the upper thigh, but he’d learned his lesson. He didn’t return and died in a coal mine cave-in years later.

Didn’t matter. He had used his money for booze and women. It was Grandma’s work that fed and housed the family.

Fast forward to when my mother turned fourteen. She had a beautiful singing voice and from somewhere managed to scrounge up a battered guitar and taught herself how to play.  Big dreams for a girl in a coal mining camp. Eventually, she ran away to the city where singers, even women, could find jobs as singers and guitar pickers. Yes, some women did find lounges and places to launch their career as singers. My mother wasn’t so lucky. She scratched out a living doing whatever it took to survive.

But, she never gave up. She wrote songs and found small venues where they hired her to play and sing. Sometimes, the pay consisted of a plate of food and beer. It was rough trade and a tough life.

Fast forward again. Birth control wasn’t available to my mother back then. She wound up eventually getting pregnant and getting married. Still, she refused to completely give up her dreams of singing. She continued to write, to sing and play when she found the gigs, but a woman with kids didn’t enjoy the same kind of freedom to pursue her passion as a man with kids. Over time, finding work to pay the rent and the bills took priority over pursuing her dreams. My mother accepted her responsibilities to provide for children, but alcohol and drugs soothed the wound left by her unrealized dreams.

Yet, even under the burden and the anger of thwarted dreams and passion, the despair of watching her life become a drudgery, of never having anyone with whom she felt able to truly share, the true spirit and heart of my mother shone. In large actions and in small ones, her kindness and caring spilled out.

Violence in poverty-stricken areas is sharpened by  physical hungers as well as despair. And, no one in our neighborhood ever had enough to eat. Somehow, Mom talked to the “bulls” that guarded the train yards back then into allowing her and me to gather the crates of fruit and vegetables that had fallen and busted during transfers from train cars to trucks for delivery. We hauled those crates home in the back of Mom’s dilapidated pickup. Then she would send me around to invite the neighbors to help us out, since we “couldn’t possibly eat it all”. I learned a valuable lesson back then: sometimes the only thing poor people have left is their pride. You don’t offer charity; you ask them to help you.

Another time, a child in our neighborhood needed medical care that her parents couldn’t afford. Mom set up a street fair on our deadend street. Now, for most people that right there would spell disaster for the fair. Not my mother. Even to this day, I have no idea how she pulled all those people to our street; to her fair. People paid to walk past those cars parked across the end of the street and they paid to play and laugh and eat. After two days, the fair ended and the little girl received her treatment.

It wasn’t just what my mother gave to others that impressed me. My mother was a consummate oral storyteller, telling stories in such a way that tears would pour down my cheeks and then the next story would have me laughing so hard my stomach ached. I would sit at her feet and listen for hours, transported to other worlds and far-off times.

Like the stories, I recall the nights my mother played her battered guitar and sang. Even today, I remember many of the songs.

My stepfather and mother both worked, so I was given chores such as cleaning the house and making dinners. Pride swelled inside me when she’d lay her arm across my shoulders and say “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

When she discovered that I wrote, she told me to never give up my dream; to never stop, no matter what happened in my life. After I left home, I found out that she bragged to neighbors, to friends, to acquaintances that her daughter was a writer.

At the age of nineteen with my life in turmoil, I returned home and worked with my mother in her home remodeling business. It was during that special time Mom introduced me to her lover. Her lover, a woman and a nurse. I had noticed something different about Mom during the months we had  worked together–her rages and violence had decreased; she laughed more; she drank and drugged less.

Unknown to either my mother or myself, that year I spent working with her was the last year of her life. I am grateful for it allowed me to see the real woman; the woman who could have been had life been kinder. We worked together, and laughed together. And, sometimes, we would have lunch or dinner with her lover. My mother’s eyes shone.

I had never seen my mother’s eyes shine like that.  Love had soothed the wounds in my mother’s soul.

Journey you make

A short blog post can never capture my mother’s journey, nor the strength it took for her to walk it. Here are a few of the footsteps she left behind for others to follow.

–No one is perfect. Just do your best.

–Never give up your dreams.

–Love is a most priceless gift. Don’t let others tell you who to love.

–Joy awaits those whose hearts never stop seeking.

–You’re tough. You can do anything you decide to do.

–Don’t let fear decide your life.

–If you don’t allow yourself to grow and to become, you will have nothing to offer others.

 

 

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1st Amendment: Stand Up or Shut Up!

While most people’s attention is on national politics, the Republicans in our own state of Washington are attempting to slip a few unsavory laws through the legislature. The worst of these laws are what the Republicans are calling anti-riot laws, but are really anti-protest laws.

Six reasons no legislation should be written that dampens the citizen’s right to protest:

1.We already have vandalism/malicious mischief laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

2.We already have trespass laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

3.We already have assault laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

4.A law that makes the organizer of a protest or anyone participating in the protest liable for the actions of another person essentially forces an untrained civilian into the role of law enforcement. It does not matter whether the person breaking the laws is with the protest or is a rogue attempting to disrupt a peaceful protest.

5.Placing a civilian in such a position is a no-win situation for everyone, including innocent bystanders and law enforcement. Civilians are seldom trained to deal with violent offenders, regardless whether the offending is trespassing or assaulting someone. When you force a civilian into this role, you are very possibly forcing that civilian to break the laws against assault which would lead to legal repercussions from jail time to fines to civil lawsuits.
In addition, anytime civilians act as law enforcement they place real law enforcement in danger. Law enforcement officers have a specific protocol in matters of riot containment or offenses by individuals during a peaceful protest both to ensure that the offenders are stopped and the law enforcement officers are kept as safe as possible. When you inject civilians into the situation, that protocol is disrupted.

6.The right to peacefully protest is part of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment. Without the right to protest, a tool for citizens to force government to change is taken away. Without the right to impact our government, our democracy is seriously endangered.

7.When any part of the Bill of Rights, or the First Amendment, is compromised it then weakens that amendment and the Bill of Rights and other parts can then be more easily destroyed. Without the First Amendment not only will you, as a citizen, have no right to protest government actions, you will eventually have no right to speak out against the government. This leads to dictatorships.
setworldonfire
Peaceful protests have always been the match that people lit to change government; sometimes, protests are the only way to change government.

If you believe that our “blue” state would never stand for such a law being passed, you are asleep while driving your citizenship. Such proposals have already been introduced into our state legislature. If such a bill can be proposed, it will be passed without sufficient protest from the people. Such protest might be physical actions like marching or the protests might take the form of calling, emailing, and writing to not only the representatives for your district, but also the representatives for other districts to let them know they answer to our state, to all of our citizens.

Many people thought Trump would never be elected. They were asleep while driving their citizenship. If you want your rights protected, you need to stand up. Democracy is a choice: stand up or shut up!

The state of Washington is not the only state where laws are currently being proposed that would dampen or violate First Amendment rights to peaceful protest. As of February 24, 2017, seventeen states have bills being proposed that would deny citizens the right to protest. To see if your state is one, go to the link below. It has a map of the states of concern. These laws would, according to the Washington Post do such things as: “…indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least one case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.”

According to Cornell University Law School:
“…The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities….”
Cornell University Law School:
“Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Three important changes in the United States that were brought about by protesters:
1. The right to form unions
2. Voting rights for black Americans and women
3. December 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party signaled the colonists’ determination to live in a country where their needs were clearly represented.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/24/republican-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-curb-protesting-in-at-least-17-states/
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

To read about protests that changed history, go to https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan

democracy

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8 Methods for Self-care During Stressful Times

There is no doubt that we have entered a highly stressful point in our national history. Such extreme stress–especially when added to everyday stressors we all face such as jobs, family, and time constraints–affects all of us and causes a number of physical and cognitive issues from headaches to stomachaches to sleepless nights and depression to mention only a few.
Regardless whether you have girded up to resist the current administration or if you simply want to survive the insanity of it, there are things you need to know.

Signs of Stress:
–Overeating/undereating/loss of appetite/nausea/diarrhea/constipation
–Inability to sleep/change of sleep patterns/restless sleep
–Feeling hopeless/helpless/defeated/being pessimistic
–Restlessness and irritability/snapping at people/losing your temper more easily
–Low energy/that blah feeling
–Headaches/body aches, pains and tense muscles
–Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
–Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
–Nervousness/shaking/ringing in the ear/cold or sweaty hands and feet
–Clenched jaw/grinding of teeth
–Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
–Constant worrying/racing thoughts
–Forgetfulness and disorganization/inability to focus/poor judgment
–Procrastinating/avoiding responsibilities/wanting to ‘hide under the bed’/wanting to ‘hide in the bed’
–Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
–Increased nail biting/fidgeting/pacing/restlessness

If you, or anyone you know, are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms they may be warning signs that stress levels have reached unmanageable proportions. The more symptoms or the more severe the symptoms, the higher the degree of stress.

Stress is not only unpleasant, but it can cause or exacerbate such things as heart ailments, skin disorders, sexual dysfunctions, mental health problems, and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As an author, I am deeply involved in a career that is, during the best of times, stressful. Because of the current political climate, as an author I have certain responsibilities to use words to keep people informed and to do my part to protect the freedoms that we in the United States enjoy; freedoms that are facing unparalleled challenges during this administration. Here are some ways that I manage the stress that is inherent in my life:

8 Methods for self-care during stressful times:
1.The first and best defense against stress is someone to talk to. This person needs to be non-judgmental, accepting, and someone you can trust not to repeat what you said. If you don’t have a family member or friend to whom to turn, I would recommend seeking professional counseling services or speaking with your doctor.

2.Eating regular meals, preferably eaten with people you like–can fuel your body to fight off stress. During meals, avoid discussing upsetting issues. Let that occur after you eat and have had a little bit of time to digest your food. If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, carry healthy snacks with you such as cheese and apples. This will give you the extra boost of energy while also supplying protein for repair of the body.

3.Exercise not only allows you to blow off steam, but it strengthens the body, and releases internal chemicals that lift our moods. Exercise does not have to be complicated. Depending on your physical condition is the level to begin exercising. You can take a brisk walk outside, go jogging along the street in your neighborhood, use a treadmill, do sit-ups/push-ups/ running up and down stairs or stretches at home.

4.Baths/showers can help overcome stress. A long, warm/hot bath or a long shower can wash away not only the grime of day-to-day living, but it will relax muscles and give you a time to quietly decompress. The sound of showers can be very soothing to some people while a decadence of a long bath will relax others.

5.Sitting down with a cup of tea or decaf coffee or a cool glass of water will also aid in managing stress. The water actually assists in washing toxins from the body. The warmth of tea or decaf coffee can be very soothing. Peppermint tea is good for digestive upsets; chamomile tea is good for restlessness and sleeping problems. Ginger root (made from real ginger root brought to a boil and then simmered for 15 minutes and then left to steep until it reaches the potency you wish) is great for infections, colds, sore throats, and upset digestion.

6.Sometimes, you have to simply leave the current reality. Find a good movie or book to take you on an adventure that transports you from everyday reality. Put on soothing music and sit back and immerse yourself in the notes and the tones of the instruments.

7.Attitude of Gratitude List is remarkably helpful in managing stress as it pulls us away from the feeling of helplessness and reminds us of the beauty and joy in our lives.
butterfly

8.Resist.
HumansSaveSelves
Join a group or organization that is fighting for the issue you are most invested in. Sign online petitions from reputable organizations (FYI: do NOT donate money to any organization you have not researched. Now is a great time for SCAM artists to rip people off!),email your senators and representatives about issues that are important to you, handwrite letters to your senators and representatives about issues or to simply thank them for their stands on different issues (since emails are easily done and senators and representatives get tons of them a day, a handwritten note of no more than one page will often catch their attention faster. Also, this gives them physical evidence of their constituents concerns to wave under the noses of the opposing senators or representatives), phone your senators and representatives and leave short messages of concern or thank you.
Volunteer on the campaign of people who are running for governmental positions. Tweet to your senators and representatives.
And don’t be hesitant to contact senators and representatives to let them know that once they hit Capitol Hill, they represent all the people of the nation, not just their narrow constituency. Be polite, state your concern, be brief.

Remember that stress can make us feel that we have done nothing of any worth, that we are failures. Stress lies.

creators-child

If you have other stress relief methods, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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Si?ab: A Tribute to a German Shepherd #Dog

adultSiab blog
Everything in a writer’s life shapes her writing whether that is joy or sorrow. On Saturday at approximately 9:30 a.m. my beloved German Shepherd, Si?ab Vom Das Massiv, died. My wife and I were with her when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Her beautiful and gentle soul has been a guiding light in my writing and in my life. She was my Muse. It was she who guided my decision to write Death by Dog, a Special Crimes Team anti-dog fighting novel.

For several years, I bred Si?ab to a wonderful working line GSD, Griswold Von Grunheide owned by #SuzanneEviston, a police dog breeder and trainer. They produced excellent pups. Shortly after the sale of the last pup from Si?ab’s last litter I read an article in the newspaper about a German Shepherd who had been beaten nearly to death and tossed in a dumpster in Seattle to die. Fortunately, some kind soul heard a whimper from the dumpster and rescued the dog. He survived. I shuddered and quickly checked the photo of the dog. It was colored differently than any dogs birthed by Si?ab. I inhaled a relieved breath; however, the seeds of Death by Dog were sown.
dbdcover1

Dogs and books have been constants in my life. One of my first memories is of a dog named Trixie, a German Shepherd rescued from the Animal Shelter. After I learned to read at the age of six, I often hid in the attic of our old three-story house next to one of its grimy windows. As the dull light seeped through, I read for hours with Trixie lying next to my leg. For those hours, I was transported from my violence-ridden neighborhood into a different world.

My imagination fired by the stories I read had me scribbling stories of my own. My grandfather, Pap, would have me sit on his lap and read my latest story to him. He suffered through every childish word as if he listened to the next Pulitzer Prize winner.

As spring gave way to summer of my fifth grade year and school edged toward its three month closure my teacher, Mrs. V., made me promise to continue writing during vacation.That summer my family moved out of the neighborhood where I had grown up, yet I faithfully kept my promise to Mrs. V. Though Trixie died a couple of years before we moved, that June my mother took me to the Animal Shelter where I purchased a black Lab. I named him Laddie.

During those long summer days Laddie gamboled by my side as we walked up the grassy slope to the copse of trees at the back of the property where my mother had moved us. He would sniff and wander about, and then return to lie down by my side as I scribbled story after story. By the start of school that fall, I was hooked on writing.

Later in life during those times I found myself either living on the road or homeless, dogs and books remained my constant companions. They stoked the guttering fires of hope; they fueled the flames that burned inside of me. And I wrote.

I wrote articles for newspapers about racism and the horror of the child welfare system. I wrote poems and flung them into the world through the pages of anthologies and newspapers. I wrote short stories and published some of them in small magazines. And always a dog lay next to me.

During the past ten years, Si?ab led me into the experiences of #Schutzhund and #agility.
SIAB_TUNNEL

She followed me as I planted trees and fought back invasive blackberries as my wife and I transformed a neglected farm into a wildlife/wild bird habitat. She trotted next to me as I rode on horseback through forests and along mountain trails; and camped far from city lights.

She never knew a stranger unless he threatened my wife or me, and then her teeth would warn him away. Children mauled her as she lay waiting patiently for her turn on the agility fields. Inevitably, people who met her came to love and respect her gentle soul.

When my wife’s old German Shepherd, Katrina, died last spring, Si?ab spent a lot of time during those first few months comforting my wife. These past few weeks, undoubtedly sensing that her time to Travel to the Other Side loomed close, she spent nearly every waking and sleeping moment next to me as if she knew how much I would soon need those memories.

Now the job of comforting and inspiring me falls to Isis, Si?ab’s daughter. This morning she wrapped herself around my legs and pressed against me; she dispensed kisses and laid quietly on the couch as I drank my morning tea—a job Si?ab always performed to get my day off to a pleasant start.
Start day w Siab

Dogs and books. They have been constants in my world, grounding me; inspiring me. They give me strength and courage to face life and to send out words that I hope will–someday, somehow–help transform the world into a better place.
5 GSDs in a row
Siab Rainbow Bridge

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Socially Conscious Writer

BookWingsSoar
During this past election we all learned a painful lesson: words are powerful. Words were used to fire the fuels of hatred, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny. Words shouted loud and often enough besmirched a powerful woman’s career and called into question everything she stood for and everything she had accomplished; they skewed our perspective of Hillary Clinton. Words are powerful.

I learned how powerful words are while sitting at the feet of my mother and grandmother, listening to the oral stories they carried. They transported me to another era, a different culture, a different physical place–a place far different than the ghetto in which we lived. The year of my sixth summer, my maternal, illiterate grandparents presented me the keys to freedom. They talked a Carnegie librarian into teaching me to read and write. Words are powerful.

Words are powerful, especially for those with no voice. I was born with a speech impediment. Combined with that speech difficulty, living in an unpredictable and violent home and neighborhood, I learned that silence often kept me from harm. Even when I started school, I didn’t speak very much. Not talking isolated me from children my own age, and from most other people. Between the pages of books, I met numerous friends, partook of great adventures and traveled to new worlds. Many days, I crawled beneath the concrete city steps that went from our street to the street above and read to my dog. There, in that manmade cave, I shut out the violence that bled all around me. Words are powerful.

Three years after my grandparents helped me learn to read and write, my beloved grandfather was murdered; his killer never discovered. Through pencil and paper, words unclamped the talons of rage and pain that gripped me. I had gained an important weapon to battle the demons in my life. Words are powerful.

My grandfather’s death heralded years of upheaval. Several times during my teen years I arrived at the cliff’s edge of suicide. Each time, I picked up pen and paper and wrote myself back away from that abyss. Books waited to transport me to places far from my despair. Each time I returned from between their covers renewed; stronger. Words are powerful.

During my fourteenth year, cities across the nation erupted in flames and blood. Fired by Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the bus riders, I wrote a seven part series called Racism: America’s Criminal Disease. A black-owned, black-run newspaper ran my article. For the first time in my life, my words reached beyond the circle of my family. The newspaper staff asked to meet me. They shared some of their dreams with me, a fourteen-year-old kid as if I, too, was a warrior for justice. At age sixteen, a mainstream newspaper published an article I wrote entitled The Forgotten Children: A Look at the Child Welfare System. With words I contributed, albeit in a small way, to important changes in our world. Words are powerful.

Fast forward to the present. Words mold our subconscious; and, our subconscious guides our conscious. You are what you read. You are the stories you learned sitting beside your parents; listening to your history teachers. You are the words spit at you in anger; crooned to you in love. You live the images that you read over and over whether those images portray people of your gender, your sexual orientation, your race, your nationality, your religion, in a positive or a negative light. Words are powerful.

Little girls grow up believing they should aspire to be a helpless princess and wait for a knight in tarnished armor to rescue them. Years later they wonder why they are held prisoner in their own lives. Words create the glass ceiling as much as they build the rape culture. Words can shatter the glass ceiling; words can destroy the rape culture. We see it every day, inch by painful inch as people speak out and rip apart the cloak of acceptance and silence. Words are powerful.

Words are my mantra; words are my weapons. I hone them with story plots and characters; with dialogue and narrative. I intend to change the world, book by book, because I know words are powerful.

The first edition of Good Intentions, an award-winning, coming-of-age novel was published in 2002. Not long after it was released, I received an email from a young man who had been adopted. He said my book helped him cope with the pain unwittingly caused by his adoptive parents’ well-intentioned lies about his biological origins. He thanked me for helping him to heal. Words are powerful.

Life intervened in 2003, delaying any further writing as my days became consumed with other obligations, including the care of two elders who lived with my wife and me. In 2012, Dead Men and Cats, a novella about the impact of hate crime on an isolated community, was published. After that the books refused to be ignored; the characters woke me from deep sleep and chattered incessantly until I arose and wrote their lives; told their stories. Words are powerful.

As a socially conscious writer, my first sacred duty is to entertain. The stories of my mother and grandmother first captured my imagination then they grew their morals in the fertile field of my mind. Any storyteller must first entertain her audience or they will walk away. Sketch of a Murder, a Special Crimes Team novel, is an action packed story about a unit of renegade cops who are set the task of stopping a serial killer who murders wealthy men in gruesome fashion. Detective Suzanne Eviston said, “Loving the book! Especially the killer talking in first person.” Words are powerful.

The second sacred obligation of a socially conscious writer is to enlighten, but not in a preachy, in-your-face manner. Every book I write is well-researched. The management of the crime scene I learned from police officers; how fast a house fire burns I learned from a fire fighter; the length of prison terms for women convicted of violent crimes in 1957, I learned from treatises on the prison system. Through character action and interactions with other characters and their environment, I broach the subject of the impact of gender stereotypes on the working of a unit of cops. In Sketch of a Murder, I dismantle the generally accepted image of homeless people through Molly the Pack Lady. Near the end of the book, I explore how some women discover their sexual orientation. Words are powerful.

Empowerment is the third sacred obligation of the socially conscious writer. Words plant the seeds of what we believe we can do; of what we see as life’s possibilities. In Sketch of a Murder, Sergeant Nita Slowater, a mixed-blood Native American, co-leads a team of difficult cops on a case that has stumped three other police departments. In the end, she learns about love and she rescues her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams. Women are written as complex people. They don’t wait for Prince Charming or Princess Charming to rescue them. They act on their environment; for good or bad, they control their lives; they impact the world in which they live. When a reader closes the cover of Sketch of a Murder, the seed of women as powerful people is planted in their minds. Words are powerful.

In Backlash, another Special Crimes Team novel, successful women are being stalked. They are snatched from their cars, from their homes, from public spaces. Raped, and then discarded and left to die. Yet, these women refuse to curl up and hide in the dark of their houses, in the dark of their minds. They band together, they fight, they learn self-defense, they refuse to be intimidated, they continue to grow and to succeed. It is long past time for women to be celebrated for such strength in the face of terrible adversity; for the strides they have made, not because men allow it, but because women refuse to be stopped. Words are powerful.

Because words are powerful, we can wield them to harm or to encourage. Encouragement is the fourth sacred obligation of a socially conscious writer. On February 14, 2015, I released Hard Road Home, a stand-alone, coming-of-age novel. Eleven-year-old Casanita Redner is battered by life, abused by those who are charged with her care. Yet, she refuses to be a victim; and though she sometimes loses her way, she never gives up. It is a story of terrible abuse and the ultimate triumph of a young woman. Words can encourage us when we are swallowed by the deepest despair. Words are powerful.

As pwindsinspirations says in an Amazon review: “This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself…. I could feel for Casanita, became her in her search, her struggles. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.” Words can release the pain of our pasts; can help us realize we are not alone. Words are powerful.

Denise Beaumont, another Amazon reviewer, said: “A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.” Words can enlighten us to issues in our society; issues we can take action to fix. Words are powerful.

Barb Keogan, an Amazon reviewer, said: “Wow….just WOW!!!! This book grabbed me from the very beginning and I could not put it down It’s not often I find a book that keeps me up late because ” I want to read just one more chapter”…..this book did exactly that. The plight of this young woman and what she endured probably happens much more than we would like to even admit. It is hard to read in some places and think that this is a sad reality of our world, even if the book is fiction.” While entertaining the reader, books can open their eyes to a wider world. Words are powerful.

As a socially conscious author, to entertain, to encourage, to enlighten, and to empower women and girls and their allies–this is my sacred obligation. Words are powerful is my mantra.

Short Bio
Aya lives on 12 acres of wildlife/wild bird habitat designed by her and Deva, her wife of 28 years, at the foot of White Horse Mountain. One old red pony, two Papillons and three German Shepherd dogs live with her. When she isn’t chained to her computer by her characters, you’ll find her working on the land, reading, riding her motorcycle, traveling, or visiting with family and friends.

You are invited to connect with Aya at any of her Social Media Hangouts
http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar (FB profile page)
http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor (FB author page)
http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar
http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar
http://www.twitter.com/BooksRDoorways (book recommendations, reviews, etc. for women and girls and LGBTQ positive books)
http://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan (a social action site)
http://www.twitter.com/2getherWomenCan (companion to FB book page Together Women Can)
stairway to the heavens

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