Unite to Move Forward

Not all Trump voters use vulgar speech to objectify, belittle, or humiliate women. Not all Trump voters are members of the KKK. Not all Trump voters are violent, and many even follow a God whose highest commandment (after loving Him) is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Let’s remember that we’re in this together – we have to be if we want to rise above the fear that is holding us down as a country.

unite
Thank you to rickkarasaki.blogspot.com for this beautiful Hawaiian proverb.

 

I understand that you voted the way you did because you felt it was the right decision. But I need you to meet me halfway. I need you to understand something too.

Violence against minorities has skyrocketed. This is not your fault, because you’re not violent or xenophobic or misogynistic. But it is your responsibility to inform your fellow Trump supporters that their violent actions are unacceptable. Because it is every human being’s responsibility to stand up against violence, wherever they see it.

People are afraid. Not just about losing their health insurance or their ability to feed their family. Not just about whether their marriage will be torn apart or their children carted off to foster care because of who their parents love.

No, people are afraid for their very lives.

And with good reason. Since the election results came in, hateful people have become emboldened to follow the lead of their president-elect. Minorities across the country are being attacked.

Your fellow Americans – your own family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, people you know and love and see every day – are afraid that they will be next. And the way things are going, they might be.

Look around at the people in your life. How many of them are women, Muslim, immigrants, LGBTQ, differently abled, or otherwise marginalized? Now imagine someone attacked them because of this.

Are you willing to protect the people you love?

Do what your president-elect has failed to do: Take a stand against discrimination and hate crimes.

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Thank you to Meredith Nudo (writer) and Isaiah Brousard (artist) for this helpful how-to comic. Originally posted on draw-the-line.ca

Be an ally. Attend rallies and protests. If you see someone being attacked – physically or verbally – step in. And even before it comes to that, stand with those of us who are in danger, and vow to protect us from the extremists who threaten us and our loved ones. Offer to walk with someone to a safe place. Make conversation with the scared person sitting next to you on the bus. Call or write your legislators and demand action against hate crimes.

islamophobic-harassment
Thank you to the Middle Eastern Feminist for this wonderful description of a successful technique used in psychology.

Educate yourselves as well as your friends and family. Read books about and written by people  of various backgrounds, and teach your kids that differences are to be celebrated not feared. Actively seek out ways to help, rather than waiting for someone to ask you for help – because until they know you, they might be afraid of you.

Here’s the thing. A lot of us “bleeding heart liberals” feel betrayed by you. You may not have voted the way you did because your candidate uses hateful speech and actions against women, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, differently abled people, etc. But the hatred he spewed was not enough for you to look at his name on the ballot and say to yourself, “Oh hell no.” You were willing to look the other way when we were threatened.

It’s time to stop looking the other way.

You cannot change your vote, but you can take accountability and start to heal the betrayal that more than half the country is feeling.

I’m not asking you to support same-sex marriage. I’m not asking you to be pro-choice. I’m not asking you to welcome immigrants or provide them a reasonable route to citizenship.

All I’m asking is that you defend human beings’ right to live, and live with dignity.

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Please share on social media to let your loved ones know that you have pledged to protect them from hateful attacks both verbal and physical.
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From “Mom of the Group” to Real-Life Mom

Everything changes when you have a baby.

People have been telling me this for years, and for the most part I believed them. But I also thought, I know who I am. In a way, I have always been a mother. My friends used to call me “the mom of the group,” because I’m the kind of person who put a blanket over my friend when I found her sleeping on her couch. I’m the kind of person who tells my friends to call me if they need a sober ride, even in the middle of the night. I’m the kind of person who cried when I dropped off my sisters at elementary school shortly after getting my driver’s license. Even though I knew my mom had been dropping them off for years, and they were more than capable of walking twenty feet by themselves to get into the school.

Still, being “the mom of the group” is different from being a mom.

No matter how focused you used to be on the needs of the people around you, it cannot compare to the focus you have on the needs of your child. You know your child’s needs before they do – literally, because a baby does not yet have the cognitive ability to recognize or understand when they need something.

You have an invisible tether to your child, so that no matter how far away you may be, you feel their presence. You know when your child wakes up from their nap, even before there’s an audible noise on the baby monitor.

Your entire perspective of the world shifts. You see the world through your child’s eyes. Birds and squirrels used to just be part of the scenery, but now they are magical creatures whose graceful movements cause you to smile.

Your own mother becomes more human. This is what she went through? These are the kinds of thoughts that went through her head? The way I feel about my baby – this unbreakable, inexplicable bond – this is how she felt about me?

(Here’s a little insight to my main character in Finding ‘Ohana: Cinnamin is figuring out motherhood. Is she a mother, even though she did not give birth to her son? How can she be a mother without a role model, without her own mother in her life? How could Cinnamin’s mother abandon her, if she felt the same way for Cinnamin as Cinnamin feels for her son?)

When I was a kid, people told me, “You’ll understand when you have kids.” Well, I’m an empathetic person. I thought I already understood.

I was so wrong.

Because no matter how you try, you cannot put motherhood into words. Some things just have to be experienced.

1.2

You Matter

This post is gonna be a downer. Sorry. But it has to be said. And I promise that if you stick with me, I’ll end on a happier note.

 

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screenshot from Reddit

In the past month or so, it seems like everyone online has spent at least some time remembering Robin Williams. And although I do not tend to get especially upset by celebrities passing (not in the same way as when I lose someone I know, at least), this particular tragedy has affected me more than others involving people I’ve never met.

Here’s why: I’ve known more than one person who has attempted suicide. I can count at least five friends, family members, and acquaintances who have done so. None of them have succeeded, thank goodness. But I have known people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

And there are many more whose stories I don’t even know.

(This is part of the reason why I included attempted suicide in Cinnamin’s story. It’s a reality of too many people’s lives – it cannot be ignored.)

The thing is… you never know who your actions are affecting. For better or worse, everything you do ripples.

ripples

Like I said, for better or worse. Meaning, if you were to attempt suicide, your actions would affect people for the worse. But the other side of the coin is, the good you do affects people for the better. And I guarantee you, you have already affected people for the better. Maybe some people you don’t even know.

Look at the above story about Robin Williams. He might never have known that Redditor’s name. We know they never saw each other again after that day. But he made his life a little better. He made his burdens a little easier to bear.

Believe it or not, you have done the same thing for someone you may never meet again. Someone whose name you will never know. (This happens to be the idea behind my novel in progress about hair donation.)

When I was in high school, a classmate of mine drove drunk and ended up killing his best friend, who was in the passenger seat when they got into an accident. I did not know either kid. I’d never known their names before. But the Monday after it happened, I heard other kids talking about it. I saw how it affected them. And it affected me. I cried. I mourned. Not for someone I’d lost, but because I saw others who had lost someone.

I called my friend in Maryland after school and told her. We cried together. She was with another friend when I called, someone I’d never met or spoken to. But she cried too.

Do you see the ripples? Three thousand miles away, death can affect a friend of a friend of an aquaintance of a friend.

The good news is that the possitive impact you have on a person’s life can do the same thing.

Whoever you are, you are the Robin Williams to the above Redditor for someone out there. Some small act of kindness you’ve done has affected someone’s life for the better. True, there’s no way of proving this, of tracking down that person and finding out what kind act you don’t remember that changed everything for them. But every action ripples. If you have ever done anything good, chances are it helped someone in some way.

You matter.

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Comic Relief

I’ve been wondering lately if there’s a lack of interest in Finding ‘Ohana because of the heavy subject matter.

I mean, have you ever been in a bookstore and read the back cover of a book that sounds great, but you didn’t buy it because it sounded a little depressing? For example, a book that deals with death, and an identity crisis, and parents disowning their only daughter because she’s a lesbian?

If I’m completely honest, I’d say that upon seeing such a book I might not buy it. Maybe it’s because I get a little too emotionally invested in fiction. It feels real to me – possibly because I know that no matter how far-fetched the story, it most likely has happened to somebody.

But maybe the fact that it has happened to real people is exactly the reason why it should be out there. People should know what the reality is. Ignorance is only bliss for the people who don’t have to live with the consequences.

And if an agent or a publisher could just read Finding ‘Ohana through to the end, they would know that it’s actually quite uplifting and inspiring. All the trials Cinnamin goes through only make her story more beautiful when she comes out of it a stronger person.

 

(I could go into more detail here, but I truly hate spoilers. If any of my blog audience has read Finding ‘Ohana in full, please leave me a comment and let me know whether or not the end of the book made the journey worth it for you.)

 

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Finding ‘Ohana is not all doom & gloom until the last page. It does show happier times in Cinnamin’s life, with Naali as well as with family and friends. And Finding ‘Ohana does have a few humorous moments too, they’re just not what I would call laugh-out-loud funny.

So here’s my question for all you readers out there: Do you need comic relief in a book in order to enjoy it, especially when the book deals with heavy subject matter? Or do you think that some books need to be serious?

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. This is mainly because… I had a baby! It’s been an amazing journey so far, and it’s far from over. But things have settled down a bit, so I’m going to try to get back into writing, editing, and posting here.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to make more changes to Finding ‘Ohana before sending out query letters again. I put it off due to my focus being on other things. More important things, yes, but still.

 

Life requires balance. So along with taking care of my beautiful baby boy, I want to continue to pursue my love of writing. So here I am.

 

 

This week, I finally started making those changes I’ve been wanting to make for the past year or so. What made me finally just do it? I saw a link on Facebook to a bunch of inspiring Walt Disney quotes. (In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a pretty big fan of Disney.) While some of them are not my cup of tea,

a couple were exactly what I needed to start a fire under me. I started on my edits that day, and I’m still going strong!

 

I’m beginning to think I’ll never really be finished with Finding ‘Ohana. I’ll either get it published, or I’ll keep tweaking it until I grow old & die. Then maybe it’ll get published posthumously! Here’s hoping!

Why

In his first published book, Nicholas Sparks wrote that it’s not the whats and hows and wheres that matter in life, it’s the whys.

While Nicholas Sparks’ writing certainly has its faults (which I won’t go on and on and on and on… and on… about right now), this quote has always stuck with me. Focus on the whys in life, and life will be simpler, happier, and less stressful.

While reading through some old blog posts, I was reminded of why I write, and why I’m trying to get published:

 

There’s one story… on one of the special features of The Little Mermaid DVD that I borrowed from my parents. One of the creators of the movie tells the camera about the various fan mail they received after the movie was released. In one letter, a man told the studio that immediately after seeing The Little Mermaid in theaters, he called his daughter, whom he hadn’t spoken to in years. I get teary even rewriting this story that happened to people I will never meet. Possibly because remembering it instantly brings to mind the image of Ariel hugging King Triton and whispering, “I love you, Daddy.”

I love you, Daddy

This is what I want to give to my readers. This is what I think about when I’m discouraged about my lack of being “discovered.”

Among other things, Finding ‘Ohana is also about a young woman wanting to reconnect with her parents, even though they cut her out of their lives years ago. If I could reach someone who’s in a similar situation, I would consider my book a success.

Just Keep Swimming

Something I’m trying to work on this week is to just keep going. It’s a mantra that’s applicable in various areas of my life right now, writing and trying to get published included. It’s been pretty rough, and I’ve been getting a little discouraged…

So I looked back over a couple of posts I made over a year ago. The first one was exactly what I needed, so I want to reblog it now as a reminder to myself:

 

[To] “Keep Going” is all about perseverance. It reminded me of a Bible scripture, believe it or not. James 1:2&3 “Consider it pure joy, my [sisters], whenever you face trials of any kind, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” I’m not very religious (anymore), but this scripture has always had a nice ring to it for me. Maybe it’s my annoying tendency to be optimistic. It’s like the scripture that says that God works for the good of those who love God. Bad things can’t always be bad. There’s always something good that comes from them. If nothing else, perseverance.

So maybe I’ve gotten some responses from agents saying that my novel isn’t what they’re looking for. But that’s only testing my faith that my novel is worth representation, and as long as I hold firm to that faith with perseverance, it’ll pay off.

I know, ever the optimist. Annoying, right?   : P

Just Keep Swimming