Friday, April 27, 2012

Give a Little to Give More

Every so often, I remember how easy it is to give to others.  What reminded me this time, was answering my email.  There, in the middle of requests for my support for this cause or that cause, quick notes from family and friends and work related emails was one of the easiest ways to give that I have ever found.

I clicked on the email and it opened to the page I have become so familiar with that I often don't really remember if I have visited it, some days.  The Greater Good Network has several tabs on its Gifts that Give More page. Each tab opens to a new page that offers an opportunity to help one of several different causes.  

The simplicity of this site is amazing.  No purchases are necessary.  You don't have to sign in or have a password.  All you do is click on the button, when the window shows it has registered your support, then you go to the next tab, click on it, then, click on the button on that page, until you have supported all eight causes.

 What causes are there?  There are the Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, Veterans,  Autism, Child Health, Literacy and Rainforest sites.  

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting nature. Pre...
The Nature Conservancy: Protecting nature. Preserving life. The Nature Conservancy logo is copyright © 2007 The Nature Conservancy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Each time a person clicks (you can only do it once a day), the sponsors give financial support to those causes.  So, for instance, when I clicked on the rainforest button today, donations were made by sponsors to support the efforts of organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Conservation Fund, and World Land Trust-US. 

How much time does it take? In less than a minute, you can click on each tab and support these causes.  The best thing - it costs nothing monetarily!  All you spend is a minute of your time.  If you want to get a daily reminder, like I do, go to their subscription page to sign up for emails that will open to the Click and Give pages.  It doesn't get much easier than this!

Together, we CAN make a difference.


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Listening to the Children

Every so often, I feel the need to share information on a difficult subject.  As a mother, grandmother and survivor, child abuse is one of those subjects that I refuse to sweep under the rug.  

Back in the 70's there was a sign I would see that said, "It shouldn't hurt to be a child." Today's guest, author Chynna Laird is speaking to this directly. After her post, learn about her new book, White Elephants, a memoir of her childhood. 

Listen to the Children: How to Know When A Child Is Crying Out
April is an important month for several different awareness campaigns. There are a few that run during this month that are particularly close to my heart. One of them is Child Abuse Prevention. 
There are so many movies, television programs, books and media coverage on this issue but, sadly, it still isn’t focused on or understood as much as it should be. Most of this is due to the fact that people tend to focus on what’s obvious—what they can see—such as bruises, burn marks, cuts or even overt behavior that points to possible abuse. What isn’t addressed nearly as much as it should be are the more ‘invisible’ types of abuse like sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological and even non-physical sexual abuse (the last category is when a child is exposed to pornographic materials, peeping, sexual innuendos or explicit displays or conversations about sex, etc.) 

The most important thing I try telling people is that a child going through these things may not come right out and verbally tell you that something is going on but there are always signs to watch for. We need to listen to what they’re trying to tell us, even if there are no words. 

 You can see it in his face. Children who are abused aren’t happy. They don’t laugh and enjoy their youth the way other children do. Maybe he seems withdrawn or shy, often consumed with sadness or is ‘overly sensitive’. Or perhaps, he’s aggressive and destructive, doing everything he can to push others away. Another less obvious clue is the child trying a little to hard to tell you he’s doing okay by joking around or caring a little too much that he’s ‘doing good’. I was in the last category, often being told to calm down, slow down or stop doing so much. 

She’s showing you in her play. A child who has endured abuse may not be able to say what’s going on, but they often transcend feelings, thoughts and emotions into play. Play is a powerful way to connect with children because it’s a ‘safe’ way to work things out without actually having to say anything. It’s why many therapists use it as a tool when working with younger children. Listen to how she plays with her dolls and what the toys say to each other. Watch how she gets the toys to interact with one another. Are they saying/doing things a child her age wouldn’t know about? If people had paid closer attention when I played with my Barbies as a little girl, they would have seen a lot. 

She’s showing you in his school or art work. As with play, drawing or creative writing gives a child a way to express inner most thoughts and emotions. Using these tools he can talk about issues he has without actually having to shine the spotlight on himself. Are his stories violent or discuss subjects at a deeper level or understanding than his age? Are his drawings dark or explicit? My art teacher noticed that my pictures were often dark and my English teachers often praised how deep I could go emotionally in my essays. Neither took the time to dig deeper, though. 

His curiosity level is different. All children are naturally curious about the world around them and the people in it. It’s how they learn. But when a child is abused, that natural curiosity gets distorted. He’ll either want nothing to do with things or people, not wanting to participate in conversation or inquire about things. Or he’ll be overly curious to the point of being invasive and what he’s asking about are subjects he shouldn’t be as curious as he should be for his age. I was usually much more on the introverted side but I did understand more than I should have for a younger person. 

You can see it in the play partners she chooses. Most children, especially when they’re younger, will freely interact with and play with other children. Children who have been abused aren’t as open. If a child is on the introverted side, she’ll gravitate to children as equally as withdrawn or moreso that she is. This is a way of protecting herself from kids who are too friendly or too interactive for her comfort. On the other end of the scale, a child who is more overt will gravitate to kids as equally as aggressive or gregarious or more so than she is. That way she won’t stand out or have to deal with the touchy-feely stuff she isn’t comfortable with. In either case, kids will stay in the ‘play alongside’ stage rather than ‘play with’ stage. I always chose friends who stood out more than I did. I often hid. 

There are many signs and symptoms to watch for, many listed on the Abuse Prevention websites. But these are five of the less obvious things to watch for. 

Always take the time to listen to a child, even if the words are silent. I wished I had been heard when I when I was younger. But what I learned from back then will, hopefully, help another child today. Now, my heart is fine-tuned to hear even the most hidden cries. 

 For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month, check out the Child Welfare Information Gateway  or Prevent Child Abuse 


Chynna Laird has been a guest her before.  In her new book, White Elephants, she sensitively shares the story of her past - a past that I could relate to on many levels.  I won't sugar-coat it - this is a tough memoir to read, but in reading it, I found peace.
Chynna is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their three daughters [Jaimie (almost nine), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (five). Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs. 

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync to be released March 2012), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). 

She’s also working on a sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues and a few other projects in the works for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. Please visit Chynna’s website at, as well as her blogs at and, to get a feel for her work and what inspires her. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

Language of Flowers

Today we have the extreme pleasure of a guest post with author, Barbara Taylor Sissel. Her new novel, The Ninth Step is a wonderfully crafted tale of love, deception, fear, mystery and redemption. Intermingled with the knowledge of the Language of Flowers, The Ninth Step is steps us back in time, while remaining completely relevant to today.

So, without further ado, let us hear from Barbara Taylor Sissel!


Thanks so much, Linda, for hosting me on your lovely blog, today. Coming here is like landing in a peaceful space. I so enjoy visiting and have hopes now of leaving something behind as tangible thanks for the enjoyment I’ve had.

Because it’s spring and because The Ninth Step incorporates it, we thought it would be appropriate to talk a bit about the Language of Flowers, a language that was created during the Victorian Era to express a variety of sentiments, not all of which are romantic. But, as I settled down to write, I started thinking about the ways in which certain elements come to be included in novels. 
I know, I am often asked why I chose a particular setting or plot twist. It may sound disingenuous to say this, but I seldom feel as if I chose any of it. I have a central story idea, one that usually revolves around a family in jeopardy. Often a crime is involved. I’ll see that much unfold … the crime and the ticking away of the ordinary hours before the blade drops, before the meaning of “ordinary”, is forever altered for everyone involved and I, as the author, am left with: What happens now?

I admit, my novels are darker than some. They grapple with difficulties that tend toward the more calamitous events in life. The story lines test the limits, I think, of what is forgivable and what isn’t. I wonder, where is the line? Are there situations, acts, people that, regardless of circumstance, can never be considered worthy of understanding or compassion? It’s heavy stuff and I am always grateful to weave a lighter thread, an element of something beautiful, even joyful, into the story fabric. 
So, I was happy about it when Livie in The Ninth Step—and again this may sound contrived—when she herself told me of her interest in the language of flowers, that she knew it well enough to teach it to someone else. For her that someone was Cotton, the man whom she thought was the love of her life, but who turned out to be heartbreakingly human, instead, or a selfish coward, depending on how you view him. In any case, Livie’s interest sent me on a journey of discovery. 

I have gardened most of my life, but other than the gift of a small, illustrated book my sister once gave me on the language of flowers, I knew nothing about it. However, it did sound romantic and I immediately imagined I would include all my favorites. For instance, when Livie finds the bouquet of irises on her front porch swing, I initially planned she would find hydrangeas, perhaps mixed with clematis. Well, guess what? Hydrangeas—to me the most romantic looking flower of them all, those colors, the lushness of their blooms—in flower language, they symbolize heartlessness. They say, You are cold. So much for romance! Clematis stands for mental beauty, not exactly speaking to the sort of affection I hoped for. In fact, I was amazed when I began researching flower meanings and symbols at just how lacking in affection and sentimentality the language is. Like my fiction, a lot of it conveys a darker meaning.

I love Foxgloves, but didn’t use them. They mean insincerity. Lavender means distrust, Lobelia, malevolence, Begonia, dark thoughts, Geranium, melancholy. When I went looking for something wonderful like white roses, say, to signify motherhood, I found they translate to: I am worthy of you. I didn’t want to imagine what would happen if Cotton gifted anyone in The Ninth Step with those - not after what he did. I went looking for a floral symbol for the maternal and found it was moss. Moss? Where did they come up with that? Or this one, Locust Tree, green: Affection beyond the grave. Or, how about Lady Slipper, another of my favorites, a gift of them means capricious beauty.

So, all of this in a very roundabout way brings me to an exciting piece of news I want to share, that I recently signed to publish two books with MIRA. The first, Evidence of Life, will come out in April of 2013 and the second in March of 2014. I am thrilled. Of course, I wanted to express my gratitude to my wonderful agent, Barbara Poelle. I looked it up and found a bouquet of full-bloom roses is significant of gratitude and so I sent her exactly that. I could have sent only pale pink roses or wood sorrel to convey joy, or, gooseberries for anticipation. The meanings depend on the source you consult. 
Yellow Calla Lillies (Lysichiton americanus)Yellow Calla Lillies (Lysichiton americanus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I hope you will come with me on this journey. I plan to blog about it here from time to time. Until then, imagine yellow lilies. They mean, I am walking on air and cyclamen say, goodbye.
Learn more about Barbara Taylor Sissel and her books on her blog:

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Creation Beckons

 Tiergarten Berlin, Wiese mit Osterglocken.Tiergarten Berlin, Wiese mit Osterglocken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)April is here!  The first of the spring flowers are in full bloom.  The Earth is once again bursting with the miracle of Life.  Rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation resound everywhere.

One of the events of this month that I look forward to most, is the Poem a Day Challenge sponsored by Robert Lee Brewer and Writer's Digest.  This is the third year I have taken the challenge to write at least one poem a day.  
I have to say, the first time I attempted this, I thought I would never be able to create a poem "on demand." However, to my surprise, I only had one or two days when the task seemed daunting.  As I proceeded over the past three years, I have found that the minute I get the prompt, my mind immediately goes into creation mode! 

The following are several of the poems I have written during past Poem-a-day challenges.  I hope you enjoy them!

at the edge
of water and land
while the fire
of our love
burned hidden
in the shelter
of our hearts.

had traveled
down the dark canal
of pain and fear.

gray clouds
a new life,
in sunlight,
our two souls

LMN 2009
Passion in detail #2Passion in detail #2 (Photo credit: Aedo Pultrone)

Pilgrim fingers march
over contours of your face.
Lips, Landmark of Heart.

LMN 2009


Looking up from the reading,
Our eyes meet -
muted whispers fade to white noise -
colors swirl.

The beating of my heart
syncs with yours.

I blink, taking off my glasses,
so that you will no longer be visible -
too late - your look is etched
in my heart.

LMN 2010


No one wants to admit
that they left the cap off the toothpaste;
that the meatloaf was too dry;
that the kids used the toast for a hockey puck;
that the last time he was with us,
we all sensed that something terrible
was transpiring within the cells of his being.

No one wants to admit
that staring death in the face is personal.

LMN 2010


They tell you that they can fix the problem,
that the heart broken and torn
can be repaired, however -
(Ah, yes, the great "However")-
Life, as you knew it, must change.
No more running along the beach.
No more climbing the tops of mountains.
No more lifting children to rest on your hip.

What they don't understand;
what they don't see with all
their medical magic,
is that they have only fixed
the heart's shell,
The spirit that lingers within
remains crushed.

LMN 2011 

April dawnApril dawn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just before the Sacred Orb
      climbs over the tips of Mountain,
Just before Silence rings
      with a Cantata of gentle Breezes
           and Avian Harmonies,
The Soul releases,
      Walking through portals of Time
           Into this World –
or the Next
      Into Dreams –
and Back

LMN 2011


The poems above are copyrighted. The conditions of use are: Users may print or download excerpts of reasonable quantity for personal, non-commercial use. No re-distribution or publication in any manner is permitted without the express consent of copyright holder. For further information and/or permission, please contact author at Thank you!

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