Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Required for Travel

Whether you are a tourist, a long-term traveler, or engaging in the more recent titles of vagabonding or indie travel, you will need to carry these things along with you.  They don't weigh much, are easily packed, are not expensive, and won't rot, mildew, or freeze.  In spite of all their benefits, however, they are all too often forgotten, neglected, or misplaced.

A travel website out of Australia,, has put together the Indie Travel Manifesto.  Indie has become the modern term for anything independent.  Manifesto in my dictionary is defined as "a public declaration of motives and intentions by a government or by a person or group regarded as having some public importance."  Manifesto is a strong word, but I guess it fits.  My more simple advice -- "Don't leave home without them." 

I will mention a few of them in light of having spent about 18 nomadic years wandering the world, sometimes settling in for anywhere from one year to five years.   Although in the later years I sometimes stumbled upon internet cafes, almost all my travel was just me and my Lonely Planet guidebooks.  "Be humble, good-humored, courteous and patient" speaks for itself.   It's just common sense.  Two more, "Find  pleasure in simple moments and details," and "Listen" requires being able to observe details and and truly listen.  These are harder tasks than they sound, especially with over-confident, verbose Americans.

"Adapt as you go" rightly presupposes that everything won't work out as you plan.  So, pack enough flexibility to change plans for any number of "unknowns" and the wisdom to know when and how to do so.  "Slow down; enjoy the experience"  tells you that rushing through countries and experiences ends up a messy blur.  "Make meaningful connections" opens up the opportunity to gain more from your travels than you ever expected.  Solo travel, albeit with occasional, temporary hook-ups with other travelers, gives you much more opportunity to interact with locals.

"Seek to understand other cultures," is perhaps the best advice for indie travelers.  That was the driving force that kept me endlessly challenged and happily on the move for so many years.   You can read about other cultures, but the experience of living in these other cultures adds many dimensions to your understanding of the world we live in.  Go with questions and open eyes to see "the nuances of the world."

But don't forget to smile.  I remember looking out the window on a stopped train in rural China in 1988.  A Chinese peasant was walking near the train and stared hard at me.  I'm sure I was the first foreigner he had ever seen in person.  He looked surprised, fearful, and quite like one would look at an alien from another planet.  I broke into a wide smile.  I could read his mind and see his relief.  "She's a human being too," he must have thought because he shyly smiled back.

Travel can be an adventurous time machine either forward or backward.   So, don't gripe and whine about what's not the same as at home.  Explore and appreciate what is around you instead of what you left behind.  I can't say what travel with technology is like since "live streaming, filming, blogging, and vlogging" aren't my style.  But Mark Twain's words are as true today as when he wrote them - "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it solely on these accounts."

Chances are high that you won't come back the same.
Suellen Zima
Visit and Follow the Senior Hummingbird as she wanders, wonders, and writes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

TTC Virtual Blog Tour

As a member of MasterKoda and the Virtual Blog Tour they kicked off yesterday, I'm hosting my first guest today: Tara Chevrestt aka Sonia Hightower (Siggy Buckley)
What inspired me to write? Well, I've always loved writing. My favorite assignments in school were always book reports (I think this funny now as I review books constantly!) and essays. So I loved writing even way back then. But I didn't finally sit down and write a novel until I hit thirty. How it came about is pretty cool.

My husband and I were on vacation in South Dakota. I wanted to tour this lovely Victorian house in Deadwood, but we only had a few hours left to hit the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. The next day, we were driving home to Utah. Well the house wouldn't let us just tour it on our own. My husband got in a funk. "I want to visit the motorcycle museum!" I finally acquiesced though pouted all the way and watched that lovely Victorian house disappear in our rear view mirror.

Funny how life works out. While my husband was drooling over bikes, I walked around the museum in a state of semi boredom. I love bikes, but I don't need to read every bit of detail about them or their engines. Well, I came across the women's section and there was a poster board type thing about Augusta and Adelina Van Buren, two sisters who rode their motorbikes across the United States in 1916 in hopes of proving they could be motorcycle dispatch riders.

Being a fan of historical fiction and wanting to know more, I told my husband, "Soon as we leave here, I'm gonna check Amazon and see if someone's wrote a historical novel about these chicks." (I don't like biographies. They put me to sleep.)

I couldn't find a novel about or based on them I wrote one myself.

Ride for Rights was released in February.

In the summer of 1916 women do not have the right to vote, let alone be motorcycle dispatch riders. Two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are determined to prove to the world that not only are women capable of riding motorbikes, but they can ride motorbikes across the United States. Alone.

From a dance hall in Chicago to a jail cell in Dodge City, love and trouble both follow Angeline and Adelaide on the dirt roads across the United States. The sisters shout their triumph from Pike’s Peak only to end up lost in the Salt Lake desert.

Will they make it to their goal of Los Angeles or will too many mishaps prevent them from reaching their destination and thus, hinder their desire to prove that women can do it?

It's available on MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, and Smashwords in ebook format.
Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor.  She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading. That led to her love of writing.  Between her writing and her editing, which allow her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is also very happily married.

She also writes as Sonia Hightower.  Sonia writes the racy stuff and argues that she was here first. She just wasn't allowed to be unleashed until the last year.

While Tara and Sonia continue to fight over the laptop and debate who writes the next book, you can find buy links, blurbs, and other fun bits on their website: or their Facebook page:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Standing Alone

Around millions of people
But no one I can trust
All the promises we made
Turned into ash and dust

Like we've never been here once
Like we've never checked hands
Like we've never said those words 
She's still there alone stands                

All the anger, hate and lies
Make me about to explode
When I think of what we had
It gets me feeling so cold

You still feel nothing at all
Inside there's no heart but a hole
I wish you get the wake up call.


Friday, May 25, 2012


There has been released, up to this point, a great deal of heat but virtually no light on the issue of the individual insurance mandate. No surprise there, this being a presidential election year, but perhaps it is time for a bit more analytical assessment.

1.      In spite of what some few extreme ideologues might prefer (see e.g. Mr. Justice Scalia in oral argument on health care reform at the Supreme Court), we in this country have not yet deteriorated so far morally that we refuse care to those who come to the emergency room lacking money or insurance. We provide the care required, even though in some cases it may run to several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hence the dilemma:

          A.      Hospitals are not allowed to issue currency. To do so would be a federal felony. (18 U.S.C. §471)

          B.      Hospitals are also not allowed to fail to pay wages (another federal problem: 29 U.S.C. §201).

          C.      If a hospital fails to pay its suppliers, it will soon not have any supplies (electricity, for example).

2.      Therefore, the hospital being required to achieve a balanced budget, several things happen in response to its caring for those who have neither money nor insurance:

          A.      The hospital raises right out of sight the prices it charges everyone who comes in with money or insurance (although the insurance companies negotiate a somewhat reduced rate not available to patients generally). This shifts the financial burden to those who have money or insurance, and who get sick or hurt, but not to anyone else. (Of course, this artificially inflates insurance companies' premiums.)

          B.      The hospital receives some payment from Medicaid for the care of the truly poor. This shifts the financial burden to everyone who pays federal and state taxes.

          C.      Municipalities and counties often contribute to these hospitals directly from their budgets, on the grounds that it would not be beneficial to their communities for a hospital to be closed down. This shifts the financial burden to everyone who pays local taxes.

3.      The net effect is that virtually everyone in America (including the very poor: they pay local taxes) is paying for the care not only of the very poor, but also for those who may not be so poor but who lack insurance. (The average middle class family, even with decent health insurance, can easily be wiped out financially by a major medical misfortune. How many people do you know who could absorb twenty percent of a few hundred thousand dollars?)

4.      Because of the bizarre structure of this system, we don't notice these costs. If the amount involved were totaled and divided by the adult population, and we each received a bill each month for our share, our awareness would increase dramatically.

5.      To summarize: we are already paying the entire cost of the care for those without (lots and lots of) money and without insurance, but we are doing so in a totally irrational way that masks most of the impact.

6.      The only sane way to solve this dilemma is to see to it that absolutely everyone is covered by insurance, from birth to death. This would distribute the costs in the same way that other insurance works: everyone pays a modest periodic premium and is protected from catastrophic misfortune. (The premium for those too poor to pay it would be paid from the public purse.)

7.      Probably some (but not all) employers would elect to pay all or part of the premium for their employees (exactly the present situation); some people would need assistance in paying the premium; and for some people the entire premium would have to be paid on their behalf.

8.      In practice, though, being certain that everyone is insured would require some form of individual mandate. In the absence of a universal requirement, some people who would be able to afford the premium (but unable to afford care for a major illness or injury) will choose to behave irresponsibly, spend the premium money on the good life, and let everyone else step in and foot the bill when the worst happens.

9.      Here's the great irony:

          A.      There are people in America who are bitterly and implacably opposed to anyone expecting others to shoulder what should properly be their own responsibilities

          B.      There are also those in America who are bitterly and implacably opposed to anyone being forced to buy health care coverage.

And THEY ARE THE SAME PEOPLE! They somehow manage to walk around all day with two totally irreconcilable ideas in their heads at the same time, without causing themselves injury. Surely this is a phenomenon worthy of serious scientific study.

Joque Soskis is a humanist, retired attorney, retired professor of criminal justice and a former law enforcement officer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2 Recommendations for Writing Classes

I am a junkie for workshops, classes, seminars and anything remotely academic.  There are two that have been particularly important for me as I learn the craft of writing.
In Person Workshop: Saturday, May 12, the Calgary Association of RWA presented Michael Hauge in an all day workshop Story Mastery.
My head is still spinning from all the information.  My brain feels like I’m hungover but it’s from the influx of new terms and ideas.
Michael has a well developed story structure that he explains using video clips and anecdotes from his experience in Hollywood.  He also used examples from some of the novels in the room as well as some of the authors he has collaborated with. Best of all, he spoke knowledgeably and intelligibly about romance novels - a feat that some consultants haven’t mastered.
For me there were two aha’s that will make my prep work for the next novel easier.  First let me say that I am a pantser - I really have no idea of what is going to happen before i write. But I always know the backstory and my characters really well.  After yesterday I have some new terms (essence and identity) to use in figuring out those characters and their character arc.
The second thing that was key for me will be used in editing the first draft: a story structure that is totally logical and easy for me to understand.  I’ve taken many workshops and sometimes the story structure given is so complicated I can’t work through it. Sometimes it’s not intellectually right for me (which means I can’t get my head around it). And sometimes it’s so far from my experience that it makes me yawn.
Not this one.  And everyone at our table agreed - this method of approaching a story made it a lot easier to get it right the first time.
Well done, Calgary RWA and Michael Hauge.  Saturday was an interesting and informative day and I can’t recomment this workshop enough.
Online Workshop: In August of last year I took 21 Steps to Fog Free Writing from Don McNair.  Don taught us more about ‘writing tight’ in that workshop than any other editing class or program I’ve taken.  It was succinct, direct and full of examples and worksheets to practice what we’d learned.  He was available and answered questions promptly. Best of all, with all the worksheets he provided, we can go back to review and hone our skills. 
Don is teach a Master Class June 11-22, "Editor-Proof That First Chapter"at Based on my experience with his first class I’m going to be there.  I’m sure it will be excellent.
 I am an academic at heart.  I love classes and educational opportunities. I am often frustrated at conferences because a one hour session does not allow instructors to get into the depth of any topic.  But if you’re looking for information on how to structure a story for major impact, spend the money and hear Michael Hauge.  If you’re looking for an improvement in  your ability to write clearly, watch for Don McNair.  Both experts in their field and both very nice men.

Louise Behiel                                                                              

Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Learning Disabilities You Should Know About

Every day, there seems to be more and more learning disabilities in the world. However, sometimes problems labeled as 'disabilities' are really not what they seem. This is why many doctors wait for years before diagnosing anything. However, here are 5 common disabilities that everyone should know about.

1. Dyslexia
This is a very common leaning disorder and has been known for years. Dyslexic people have problems reading. What would otherwise look normal to a regular person often looks backwards to someone with dyslexia. This is sometimes confused with the inability to write properly, but that in itself is something different. Dyslexia is usually not diagnosed until a later age. Often, test scores and academic performance in school are not satisfactory, and this is a common catalyst.

2. Dysgraphia
Dysgraphia is marked by problems with learning to write letters and numbers. Those that have this learning disability are frequently going to write their letters backwards or incorrectly in some other manner. However, this is normal to them and they seldom know that they are doing it. It usually takes a specialist to notice that there is a problem, but concerned friends can do a lot by keeping an eye out on handwriting.

3. Dyspraxia
This is a learning disorder that keeps people from producing complete sentences or thoughts. They have problem understanding things. However, when they start to talk, they have a hard time finding the right word.

4. Dyscalculia
This particular learning disability is associated with math. Those suffering from it also are usually going to have problems with the concepts of money and time. This is a lesser-known learning disorder, simply because not as many people are diagnosed with it, which does not mean that less people are afflicted by this disorder.

5. Visual Processing Disorder
Those that have this disorder will find that they have trouble visually taking in information. They are not only going to have trouble reading and writing though. They will also have trouble looking at graphs, pictures or anything that is visual. This disorder gets easily confused with Dysgraphia, since anyone suffering from that will demonstrate problems that are similar to this disorder. However, a professional can diagnose this, based on the other symptoms that the person may be exhibiting.

Those that believe that they or their child has a learning disability need to realize that it takes quite a while for people to be diagnosed, due to the amount of testing that takes place. Then, learning how to cope is a lifelong process. It is not uncommon for those with learning disabilities to have feel stress and anxiety, so if you have a friend or family member that exhibits symptoms, do be understanding, patient and sensitive. You could very well save a life.

Rory Tyco writes about health, wellness & saving money at

Guest Post U
The University of Great Content

Saturday, May 19, 2012

'What the Kindle Forums are Saying about Us'

While checking my offerings on Amazon I had a wander through the Kindle forums. This is my take on what they had to say about us Indie authors.

The number one complaint seems to be about typos.
It's one of my pet hates too, if you can't afford an editor make sure you turn on the inbuilt spell & grammar checker in your word processing package. Yes, I know this is basic but it's surprising how many don't activate the grammar check. Trust me it does work, and if you get funny squiggly lines under the word or sentence it's because you've done something wrong. Don't just ignore it, keep working at it until you lose the squiggle I promise it will make the sentence sound better. Eventually.

If you're still not sure it's spelt right or looks odd, use the thesaurus to check for synonyms (alternative words), you'd be amazed how many times I've done that and found I was using the wrong spelling of a word to describe something. Oh, and watch for missing words, this usually happens when you're editing for the nth time, 'can't see the woods for the trees' syndrome. Don't give the Kindle trolls grist for their mill,

The second complaint was about homophones.
Now, I must confess I had no idea what a homophone was but I do now, it’s just a technical term for something I’ve always known, and I have to admit they have driven me mad when I see them in a book. For those like myself who have lived most of their life in ignorance of the technical term homophone, they are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings IE: there/their, your/you're, hair/hare, break/brake, flower/flour, night/knight, affect/effect.

The list is long so if you don't know the correct spelling for the sentence you are writing, look up homophones on line, there are plenty of sites 'spelling 'it out. Don't get too down about this I've read books by famous authors with incorrect or missing words. However, because we are self published we need to think like the women pioneers in a male dominated job, we need to be better than the established authors to rise to the top.

Number three was dubious reviews.
It seems they don't like it if we get too many 5 star reviews because they think we get our friends and family to use reviews as propaganda to improve our sales. Well, as we know, friends and family will always give a good review, although my family haven't so far... :( So, what do we do about our love ones?

I suppose we could always be as honest as one author I read, he commented below the review that it was from a friend. His frank disclosure was refreshing so I bought the book. You could always ask some of those loved ones to give 3 & 4 star reviews, though I doubt they'd be able to force their finger down the star list. Maybe I'll try that, if any of my family or friends, ever get round to giving me a review.

Number four was cover art.

Apparently, according to the trolls, too few Indie’s take the time to obtain a good cover for their book. We all know the saying 'don't judge a book by its cover' but the trolls are turned off by some of our covers. Ok, this again comes down to cost, and not all of us can afford to employ cover artist.

Of course, you might just be capable of doing it yourself, so think about exchanging skills with another writer. Do you need an editor? Offer to do a cover for their book, and they return the favour.

The only other thing I can think of to combat this is, to capture a geek. Awww! come on people, we all know a geek of some sort, ask around and pick the youngest one, they are the most clued in. They often do it free for the kudos. Just promise them a credit in the book, and don't forget to follow through on your promise. Having said all that, I don't judge a book by its cover, I mostly go by the blurb so make sure it's a killer.

So there we have it, the top four complaints from the Kindle Trolls. Check your books my friends and let's make them the best they can be, our reputation depends in it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Old Odd Man: A Poem

He woke up from his bed, getting ready for school
His back hurt him much, but he ignored it as a fool
He walked to his bathroom; he forgot to close the door
Someone called him “Hunnie did you take your medicine?”
“What medicine mum?”, then he looked down to the floor
It was a reflection of an old man, and a wrinkled skin

He hurried to the mirror, and it was him, the real 
He panicked, and started Screaming what he feels
He heard fast foot steps on the stairs coming to him
And when she appeared he got paralyzed, numb
she looked at him for a second, his face was so grim
She said “I’m your wife”, and he felt so dumb

 Then He told her in a low pitched voice “what did I miss?”
Was I in a coma and I just woke up, just give me a glimpse”
Then She said to him “No, not at all you did not miss anything
Due to a problem in your brain you will be able to remember childhood only”
“What problem will I die?, is it tumour?, just say anything!”
She cried “No do not worry it is just dementia”, a truth that is so ugly

A Minute later he asked his wife if he can play football or not
She was not shocked, she remembered his memory year by year will rot
Though She whipped her tears and brought him his sleep pills
So he can rest, and stop thinking about issues he will later forget
 Just Another empty day, wife life, with depression is filled
She many times wished him peacefulness of death

Because if he stays like things on him will get tougher
And he will not be able to endure it and surely he will suffer
Even if he forgets what happened, the physical pain will remain
And pain cannot be forgot, it strikes every now and then
She even thought about giving up to him her brain
When she remembered god words and said “amen”

Written By: Adel M. Fakhry, 17 Yo
Facebook Profile:
Follow on twitter: @adelmfa
My Blog Link:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do as I say, not and as I do

“Do as I say, not as I do.” That’s what my dad used to tell me when he talked to me… with his mouth full. I spend a large part of my waking life advising people how to write, giving them feedback on it, interviewing authors (and agents, editors, publishers etc) and blogging about writing, but when it comes to the actual doing, I don’t seem to have found the time.

Over the past six years I’ve written four and a bit novels, 100+ short stories, a few articles and some poetry so I have been prolific but I need a deadline to be so. Give me the November NaNoWriMos or May StoryADays and I’ll write (type) my wrists sore, but in between?

I run two writing groups, one of which is a workshop (the other is pure critique) and every other Monday night I set three or four exercises each with 10 or 15 minutes each and we all write like mad until I say “stop”. Until recently (or in between the write-loads-in-a-month projects) that’s pretty much the only writing I was doing.

Early 2012 however I was invited to join Tuesday Tales, an online writing group which produces a story per week per member from prompt keywords and my first story was Two backwards, one forwards. This now meant that I was writing every week and it felt great! Then came StoryADay again and another 31 stories in 31 days and I’ve loved it so much (and realised how easy it was to write c.500 words a day) that I’ll be keeping going come June and 5PM Fiction was born… so I still write every day, even if it’s 300 words, because 300 words every day for a year is a 100,000 novel, albeit made up of 365 short stories. :)

Competitions are a great inspiration and not only get me writing something new (certainly for the themed ones) but even if I don’t get anywhere I still have the story to do something else with, like submitting to women’s magazines here in the UK (although it’s more advisable to write specifically for their markets) or self-publishing to add to my collection of eBooks.

So, don’t do as I say, and put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard because if you don’t write anything you can’t submit it, but before you submit it you have to edit it and you can’t edit a blank page.

Morgen Bailey biography
Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger and freelance author of numerous short stories, novels, articles, has dabbled with poetry but admits that she doesn’t “get it”.
Host of the fortnightly Bailey’s Writing Tips audio podcast, she also belongs to three in-person writing groups (based in Northamptonshire, England) and is Chair of another which runs the annual HE Bates Short Story Competition.

Even her local British Red Cross volunteering is writing-related (she’s their ‘book lady’) and when walking her dog she’s often writing or editing. She also loves reading, though not as often as she’d like, but is spurred on by her new Kindle Touch.

Somewhere in between all that she writes a short story a week for online writing group Tuesday Tales and for the second time, a story a day during May for (last year’s becoming a 31-story eBook and will be doing so again with this new collection), although this year she plans to keep going and has created a new slot on her blog called 5PM Fiction.

Acutely aware of how important a writer’s online presence should be, she has recently set-up an inexpensive blog-creation service at

You can also read / download her eBooks (some free) at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with her novels to follow. Being an advocate of second-person viewpoint, she also recently had a quirky story published in the charity anthology Telling Tales.

She has a writing-related forum and you can follow her on Twitter, friend on Facebook, like her Facebook Author Page, connect on LinkedIn, find on Tumblr, look at her photos on Flickr and join her every Sunday (8pm UK time) on Radio Litopia where she is a regular contributor.

Her blog, which like her, is consumed by everything writing-related, is and she loves hearing from other writers and readers, who can comment on any of the blog’s posts, contact her via any of the above methods, complete her website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email her.

Morgen Bailey

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Exceptional Announcement

Bullying Book by Florida Author to be Offered Free on Kindle

Manatee County FL – (May 10th 2012) – The Bully Vaccine, written by Florida author Jennifer Hancock, will be given away free to Kindle owners on May 14th and 15th 2012. This book is designed to help parents vaccinate their kids against bullies and other obnoxious petty people. By preparing for them in advance you can effectively inoculate yourself against the worst of their behavior.

In the book, Jen teaches parents practical ways they can protect their kids from bullying. Using techniques she learned from her mother as well as from her experience as a dolphin trainer in Hawaii. The skills taught in this book are based on operant conditioning techniques that really do work. But don’t let the fancy name fool you, these skills are so easy to learn even a kindergartner can understand them.

As a mother herself, Jen taught these skills to her son this past year while he was in kindergarten and he was easily able to put them into practice the very next day. And, yes, they worked; he even publically endorsed her book.

This is a great opportunity to get a book on an important topic for free and it will help a local author out as well. According to Jennifer, “The more people that know about the book and the more people who can get a copy of it for free, the more children who will be helped.”

About the author:
Jen Hancock – Humanistic Parenting expert: Jen helps parents focus on the real purpose of parenting: which is to teach our kids the skills they need to succeed in life. Whether the topic is bullying, choosing friends, being financially responsible, or simply why not to cheat, she makes difficult topics seem easy. Her advice is so practical it will leave you thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  

Jen Hancock 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Top 5 Ways to Overcome your Fear of Crowds

Many people all over the globe suffer from severe anxiety when in the middle of a large crowd. If you feel that way, you are definitely not alone! You may have been through a traumatic experience or you may have been afraid of crowds for as long as you can remember. If you live in a city or are going somewhere like a theme park soon, then it would be helpful to remember the following five tips – they can be very effective in helping you overcome your fears.

1. Small Events
Going to a party or a get together is a great start to overcome your fear of crowds, because you are taking it one step at a time, instead of placing yourself in a huge gathering without preparation. Start hanging out with a few people at a time in a quiet place, and then the next time, join a few more, so you are easing your way into a large crowd. A crowded restaurant where you can find a spot of solitude would also be a great further step.

2. Companions
A lot of people cannot stay away from theme parks, clubs, or other large gathering places. It could help to go with these people, so you can talk to them about the fun parts and keep your focus on the positive. That way you are not paying attention to anything that is going on around you.

3. Deep Breaths
One symptom of fear is anxiety. If you feel your heart start pounding or a big headache coming on, then take a deep breath and close your eyes. If you have to escape to a quieter area where you are not in the middle of a crowd, then you should definitely do so. You may want to try some breathing exercises or simply close your eyes and count to ten. This is often exactly what people need – to just take a step back and get some perspective. Remind yourself that in a short amount of time, you’ll be heading home to your cozy home, and that this is not the end of the world.

4. Relaxing Music
Bring your iPod with you anywhere that you’ll encounter huge crowds. This will help you calm yourself. Listening to something familiar and happy can do wonders, and this trick is especially effective if you are listening to relaxing tunes, such as classical music. It is very soothing and you will feel much better, since you will not be able to hear any chaos around you.

5. Reassurance
When in a crowded area, you may feel unsafe, for a multitude of reasons. If you feel that way, reassure yourself that you are safe, and do whatever you have to to reassure yourself of this, such as being aware of your surroundings. Friends can also help with these feelings, because they can help you take care of any problems, such as familiarity with a specific area or more.

These five common methods will help anyone who wants to overcome a fear of crowds. It is important to not rush the process though, and take your time going through each method. If you feel that nothing is working for you, then you may want to see a counselor and see if they can come up with a better solution.

Rebecca Ford likes to write about health, saving money and visiting
Guest Post U
The University of Great Content

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elizabeth Noble: The Way We Were *spoiler content*

I've wanted to review this book for a while, but I was always held back by the fact that I wasn't sure what my opinion was. I read it in about 2 days, and I couldn't put it down. Yet, I felt a sinking disappointment when I finished. I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't like the ending. Did I want Rob and Susannah to end up together? Initially, yes. But, the more the novel progressed, and the more choices I saw them make, the more they went down in my estimation. I started the book rooting for them. Rob, especially. Ask my best friend; I bombarded her with text messages throughout, insisting that Rob was the epitome for men everywhere. But, once he started seeing Susannah again, I wasn't so sure. Some of the decisions he made didn't reflect those of a perfect gentleman.
But, what did I want them to do? In reality, people do have affairs. Sad, but true. And they don't always fall head over heels and leave their current partner. So, why did I expect Rob and Susannah to?
When he turned up at the house in France, I thought, "Brilliant. Whirlwind romance, here we go!" Now, the scenes described in that magical, romantic house did make me weak at the knees and sigh dreamily, but it was short lived, trust me. They decided not to "go all the way" out of respect; they wanted it to be right. "Ok." I told myself, "I admire them for that at least." But, when did they finally find that "right" moment? In Rob and his wife's bed. With the clueless-wife's photograph watching them.
I'll be honest with you, I felt very sick. It invalidated all their prior reasoning. Once Rob's wife decided to forgive him and they attempted to make their marriage work, I closed the book huffing in disappointment. What? No unrealistic, sweep-me-off-my-feet ending? Nope.
So, as I sat sulking for a about a week and a half (whining on the phone to my previously-mentioned best friend, demanding she not give this book the time of day). Why was I so bothered, though? It was a realistic enough ending.  

After staring at the cover, turning the book over in my hands, I realised. I wasn't expecting a realistic ending. I didn't WANT a realistic ending. I didn't pick up a Jodi Picoult novel for that very reason!
The next question I had to ask myself was, why didn't I expect that ending? Why did I automatically assume everything would work out in a beautiful, romantic finale? Let's look at the cover:
Beautiful, isn't it? The swaying branches, soft petal buds, and sweet little birds watch the silhouette couple as they embrace on the bench. Not to mention the cute little heart at the bottom. This cover radiates “innocence” and “romance”. Which is exactly why I picked it up; I was in that kind of mood. But, don't worry, I know better than to judge a book purely on its cover (excuse the cliché), so I read the back.
 The synopsis was all well and good; it described two people who were longing to give love a second chance.
"Has the perfect love each now remembers been given back to them?"
This is just one line from the synopsis. Terribly sorry, but this screams "happy ending" to me.
Let's move onto the recommendations:
"Tissues are essential. You'll ricochet between delicately watering eyes at the romance of it all and howling sobs at the unbearable tenderness." Heat
Sorry, I really am, but there is nothing “tender” about them getting it on in his wife's bed; nothing “tender” about the pathetic ending of the affair.
So, you can see why I was disappointed with the ending. But, up until that? Loved it. I fell in love with the teenage romance of Susannah and Rob, and I fell in love with the irresistible attraction that pulled them together. Elizabeth Noble so eloquently described the sweet flutters of chemistry, and the deep longing of love.
So, in a nutshell, I would definitely read this again.
I'd just stop once they leave France.
Khadijah Stott-Andrew

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Perfectionism Is Highly Over-Rated!

This is for all those perfectionists out there. We want to think that perfectionism is about having a high degree of excellence. Not true! It is actually about fear. That's right. . .FEAR.

Perfectionists are not able to separate their self-worth from their work. Any flaws in their work are considered measurements of their personal worth. So they try to pinpoint all the details about a project and consider all the possibilities for error [which, by the way, is impossible] because they take it personally if anything goes wrong or is not as good as someone else's. That is the fear of rejection. It is the fear that your flaws will be revealed for all the world to see.

The truth is—no one actually expects you to be perfect. Your intent is more important than the millions of details you manage to paralyze yourself with. If you will allow yourself to do a good job, aware that you can make adjustments if they are needed, wondrous things will occur.

·         Your stress level will reduce
·         You will be surprised to discover that you don't make as many mistakes as you thought you would
·         Plus, you will realize that some of those things that stared back at you so glaringly in the past were actually quite unimportant to anyone but you.

Relax! The tension you create by striving to be perfect cuts you off from the flow of well-being. So despite your efforts to be perfect, you can never achieve as high a standard of excellence as you will achieve when you are calm, centered, and at peace with yourself.

My Personal Experience

As a recovering perfectionist, I can remember times in high school—in the days of typewriters) when I would re-do a term paper from start to finish because there was a single typo! How ridiculous is that? When I started working, I often worked later than I should have because I spent so much time reviewing my work.

What was I afraid would happen? I was obviously investing a great deal of energy to ward off something! Strangely enough, I don't remember actually putting my feelings about it into words. Of course, if anyone asked, I always chanted my mantra about my desire to do excellent work.

Now that I am much older and find myself being more particular about where I invest my energies, I realize that all that craziness was based on the fear at that time that I wasn't quite good enough. My question now is:  Good enough for whom?

So now when I experience déjà vu watching some younger person driving themselves over the edge worrying about details that no one will ever notice but them, I try to reach out and touch them. I just can't help myself when I think about how much valuable time they waste fretting over the small stuff!

©Dannye Williamsen

Twitter: @MindSlapDannye

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Japanese Maples and Dogwoods

All around the revolving ball of flames
A day in the hay makes way for the blooms of May.
Japanese Maples and Dogwoods….
Azaleas and Marigolds, groundcover for purple and white kings
And the hydrangea smiles while bluebirds beam.
Periwinkles wink at Snapdragons whom shed angel’s wings.
While lullabies overrun ballads, and a ballad describes a name.
And a heart aches, and a soul breaks….
I long for the story, and the definition of a dream.
Japanese Maples and Dogwoods….
Willows weeping, tulips creeping, and a fresh surface adorned in green.
Lantana blended with divinity and sincerity.
Wax Begonias blended with an orange mane.
A hidden voice pollinates colors while enriching fresh waters hymns.
And African Violets exhale through vines replenished with diamond sugar-cane.
While imagining enlightened caverns drowning in your beauty’s gleam.
Japanese Maples and Dogwoods….
And Pansies grow in the winter-time.
For solstices change due to divine Petunias in Heaven’s name.
With Gladiola’s gladly gathering in spite of rainy days
Azaleas and Marigolds, groundcover for purple and white kings
:) These lilies are for you.
Because perfection deserves Jehovah’s resurrected sunflowers’ seedlings.
You, dearest daughter of Eve, are a Queen.
Robert Alexander Deason           Peace
© All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 4, 2012

Going Solo

There seems to be a new trend. According to renowned New York University sociology professor Eric Klinenberg the latest trend in North America's largest cities is to be single...and to remain it by design. That would mean the greatest demographic shift since the fifties. And singles stay single deliberately, not for lack of opportunity but choice. No longer is "single" an embarrassing epithet. In Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Washington and Minneapolis more than 40% of households consist of one person. Canada has even more staggering results:
  • Vancouver -- 58 per cent  Toronto -- 53 per cent  Edmonton -- 55 per cent  Montreal -- 66 per cent
  • Victoria -- 70 per cent 
Prof. Klinenberg refers to singles as singletons which in my view still smacks a little of a stigmatized term. In the context of his research it must be an endearment! But their economic power is undeniable. Single people spend more money on socializing, restaurants, clothes etc. To quote the man "Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization — all prized aspects of contemporary life."
News out of Japan has confirmed this for a number of years: Japanese find sex and relationships too messy, tiring and "potentially humiliating". All of this will have implications for Japan's birthrate that has been dropping for years. In addition, the economic disaster of last year makes it too expensive for many young Japanese to get married. Well, what do they do instead? They are renowned to love technical devices: The young people featured in that report were playing video games - instead?
If you find this an interesting and novel fact that appeals to you, his book is called " Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone."

In addition, one of the evening news channels aired a similar report in the past few days. According to some latest poll, it's the over 50s who go for a divorce and choose to return to the path of singledom. The overall number of divorces has remained about the same, but the number of 50+ divorcees has doubled.
Possible reasons? Having had the experiences of a marriage, having raised children together, people are now more confident and comfortable to go it alone instead of holding out with a partner that they can barely stand anymore. Consider this: a lifetime of marriage in the last centuries meant 20 years max. With humans getting much older now, this stretch of the future can look very long and insurmountable if the love is gone. In addition, the baby boomer generation is probably financially more comfortable than any other generation before them. And let's not forget the commercial: Because you're worth it. The news report introduced some new singles who had not split up because they had been cheated upon--thought that may often be a contributing factor as well. They just wanted a fresh start in life, fulfill a long-held dream, move somewhere else or turn a hobby into a business. Hardly any retiree is ready for the armchair but wants to leave this life exhausted--as another commercial currently goes.
Whether you’re freshly divorced and enjoying your new found singledom; whether you’re tired of having played the field for a while, there may come a time where being solo loses its attraction.  Human nature looks for company, not necessarily marriage but a kindred spirit, attraction, intimacy and trust—in other words: a companion. When you’re ready to look for an exclusive mate again you have lots of options and help at your disposal. Books are one of them, dating agencies another. My book Next Time Lucky: Lessons of a Matchmaker combines the two. It’s written by a professional who went through the whole process herself.

Twitter:# Hernibs