31 May 2013

Free for All Friday

Can we just have a WTF moment, please?

I joined some coworkers and friends for a happy hour to celebrate a coworker's promotion to another program. We go to this great place called San Antonio's (go, if you've never been cause it's tasty, tasty food).

We're having a great time, socializing and laughing. We talked about traveling abroad, dream travel destinations, and how sad we were that the coworker is leaving us. SNIFFLE!!!!

At some point, the conversation turned to astrology - my sign means this; oh, you're a this so you must be like this; that kind of thing. I mentioned that astrology is more than one's sun sign, that you have to take into consideration the rising sign, the moon sign, and the relationship among the planets and their position in the stars (see, John, I can talk mildly intelligently about the topic now!) and all that jazz.

A friend of the coworker's, whom I met for the first time last night, asked me if I was "into all that astrology stuff." I told her I like to learn, that I've learned a lot from my dear friend and brother who has studied astrology for nigh on forever and has been a tarot reader for 20 years. She had an odd expression on her face and just said "Oh." Then it came up that I am a practicing witch.

I kid you not, she put her hands up and said, "Oh, that's too much for me. No thanks."

Crazy stupid woman say what?

I let it go, because it was clearly not worth a discussion. Her nonverbals were SCREAMING "OMG OMG I'M AFEARED NOW." Yes, I just used "afeared." Deal.

It does sometimes still astonish me how closed-minded and reactive people can be about this topic. This was a fairly well educated person. And yet...

Like I said, a WTF moment.

Happy Friday?

WIP IT GOOD Blogfest

So, DL Hammons and Elise Fallson are co-hosting this particular blog hop adventure. The WIP IT GOOD Blogfest was inspired by Hammons' love for Devo and the classic 1980s hit, Whip it Good. In the case of the blogfest, however, it's WIP, as in Work In Progress. See? So clever!

Anyway, the idea is that all of us aspiring writers can band together and share our current WIPs with the blogosphere. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll find a Critique Partner (partners who exchange material for detail critiques, usually chapter by chapter) or Beta Readers (test readers who read entire manuscripts and offer broad opinions).

So. Here goes nothing!

WIP Title: "Book" I know, that's pathetic. I'm horrible with titles, though. I didn't even name Pieces of the Soul, someone else did!

Word Count (projected/actual so far): 35,000 (so far), projected: ballpark of 75K-80K

Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Light Romance

How long have you been working on it?: Almost two years. I keep putting it aside and coming back to it.

Elevator Pitch (if you came across an agent in an elevator ride, what couple of lines would you use to summarize your book): A witch and former FBI agent comes home to start fresh only to find that her last case isn't done with her.

Brief Synopsis (250 words or less): Aradia is smart, and an extraordinarily gifted witch. She's returned home, to a town that was never all that welcoming to her unusual talents, after burning herself out at the FBI - and trusting her heart to the wrong man. Now, it looks like her last case has come back to haunt her. Her abilities are changing in unpredictable ways and the spark she's denied having for the sheriff could either break her or make her twice as strong. She has to rely on her witch's intuition, strong investigative skills, and the bond with her sisters to prove herself to the town, save her family, and save herself.

Are you looking for a Critique Partner?: Yes

Are you looking for a Beta Reader?: Yes

27 May 2013

Mental Health Monday: Boundaries, Relationships, and Loss

Today's topic is a Mental Health Monday topic.

Therapists are taught the importance of boundaries when we develop therapeutic relationships. A therapeutic relationships is not like any other. We share in the joys and sorrows of the individuals with whom we work, but it's fairly one-sided. Our role is to reflect empathy and provide an environment of validation and provide a framework within which the person is able to build on his or her own strengths. Typically, that means very little of our own experiences are shared with these individuals, unless it provides a therapeutic benefit.

Having said all of that, we become attached to these individuals. We are gifted with the opportunity to see them grow - through their own strength and choices - and we are fortunate enough to support them in these endeavors. So when one of these individuals passes, we mourn.

Last week, an individual with whom I was fortunate to work, over the course of multiple stays over many years, passed away. She had a sweet disposition, a quiet smile, and a strong love for animals. She was tormented by her illness, but had a good support network. Her primary treatment team had worked for a very long time to get her into a group home and, after a week there, she passed away from medical complications.

We grieve when one of these individuals, who has left their own indelible stamp on our lives and experiences, leaves this world. Whether by natural causes or by an individual's choice, the passing of a former client leaves a different kind of mark. There is a sadness that we won't see them again, hear how they've accomplished something else or tried something new. There's, in some cases, a sense of quiet acceptance or even relief that the individual is no longer in pain (whether physical, emotional, or mental, or some combination of the three). And there's a reflection on the gifts that the individual gave us through the therapeutic relationship, which we'll cherish always.

I hope you find peace. I hope there was little pain. I hope you know that your loved ones will be supported. I hope you know that you will be missed. Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. Bright Blessings.

22 May 2013

Writing Wednesday

Well, today was a bust.

I've decided I do not like the schedule function. My posts either don't post at all or they post on the wrong day. Or they just outright disappear, as in, no posting or saving.

The latter is responsible for today's lack of post. I think I'm going to have to go back to saving as a draft and going into blogger myself to post it. Grr.

Today's topic was, of course, beautifully written and deep. After an adventure filled day at the full time job, I got nothing for you people. Nada.

Instead, I leave you with this thought:

dappled, dancing
filtering through
     leaves fluttering
warm and golden
without the edge of
     noontime;'s glare
fading, softening
     end of the day

almost time to go home

20 May 2013

Mindfulness Monday

So, I did talk about Mindfulness a little bit during the A to Z Challenge, but I'm going to go in a little more detail today.

Mindfulness is, simply put, paying attention in a particular way. You're paying attention with intention, in the here-and-now, and without judgements. It's practical and it helps us notice what we're thinking, how we're feeling, or anything else that we might not normally clue into in our day to day lives. It sounds easy, right? It is. It's just that it's such a different way for our minds to process, that it takes practice to get the hang of it. Usually, we're too busy lamenting trouble in the past or borrowing trouble in the future to really be mindful.

Here's another way to explain it: the antithesis of mindfulness is automatic pilot. You know what I'm talking about - when you get to your destination and realize you weren't really paying attention to where you were going and have somehow 'lost' that trip. You do a task that is so routine to you, that you're doing eight hundred other things at the same time. Well, mindfulness says stop. Focus on the one activity with the whole of your being.

One of the examples in a handout I'll give residents involves washing the dishes. THIS is how it could be a mindful activity, according to Carol Vivyan: "Washing up or another routine activity can become a routine (practice of) mindful activity for us. We might notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on the skin, the texture of the bubbles on the skin, and yes, we might hear the bubbles as they softly pop. The sounds of the water as we take out and put dishes into the water. The smoothness of the plates, and the texture of the sponge. Just noticing what we might not normally notice."

Here is a simple grounding exercise that is mindful, in that it forces you to focus on the sensations of right now:
- What do you hear? Is the AC on? Can you hear your neighbor’s tv? Is there a dog barking? Is it quiet?
- What do you see? Is it light in the room? Is it dark? Are there posters or pictures hanging on the walls? What kind of furniture is in the room?
- What do you smell? Can you smell food? Is there perfume or another fragrance?
- What do you feel? Are you sitting? Are you standing? Are your clothes soft? Is the chair you’re sitting in comfortable? Are you cool? Warm?
- What do you taste? Can you taste your toothpaste? Did lunch leave an aftertaste in your mouth? Do you not taste anything at the moment?

Focus on your senses for several minutes until you begin to feel more calm and relaxed.

13 May 2013

Mental Health Monday

Today's Mental Health Monday post is about getting help if you need it. Often, people find themselves in a crisis and they don't know where to start. There are tons of resources out there for finding treatment providers, or just finding someone to talk to about what's going on in your life.

SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a national agency whose purpose is to "target effectively substance abuse and mental health services to the people most in need and to translate research in these areas more effectively and more rapidly into the general health care system. Over the years SAMHSA has demonstrated that - prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover from mental and substance use disorders. Behavioral health services improve health status and reduce health care and other costs to society. Continued improvement in the delivery and financing of prevention, treatment and recovery support services provides a cost effective opportunity to advance and protect the Nation's health." (SAMHSA website)

SAMHSA has several tools to help individuals in need. One is their Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. This website's sole function is to help a person find mental health or substance abuse treatment programs throughout the country. SAMHSA also has a toll-free, confidential Treatment Finder hotline, available 24/7 in English and Spanish: 1-800-662-HELP (4357), 1-800-487-4889 (TDD).

Another tool is their Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990. You can also reach them via SMS by texting 'TalkWithUs' to 66746. This hotline provides 24/7, multilingual crisis counseling and intervention for individuals who have experienced a disaster (think Hurricane Sandy). Know someone who has been impacted by a disaster? There's a great list of warning signs that the person may need some extra support.

Well, that's all the SAMHSA links.

Next up is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (see the badge over on the right?) This is another 24/7, toll-free, and confidential helpline. You call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and you are connected to the nearest crisis call center in their network (which spans more than 150 centers). This hotline provides crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

For the Northern Virginia area, there's the more local Crisis Link (which is our regional provider for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Their number is (703) 527-4077. Crisis Link started as a teen hotline and quickly expanded the services it provides. They have a great flyer for how to help someone in a suicidal crisis and another one about suicide warning signs.

Need support? NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness often has lists of support groups in your area. This agency is a huge advocate for individuals experiencing mental illness. There's also DBSA, the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance. They run support groups all over the country. Having a substance abuse crisis? You can try to find an AA meeting close to you, you can call the Coalition against Drug Abuse's hotline at 1-800-943-0566, or you can look into SMART Recovery (866-951-5357).

Hopefully these links will help you, or someone you know, get the help that you or they need. The hardest part is asking for help!

10 May 2013

Free for All Friday: Moving and Cleaning

Also known as "I love my sister but I must be crazy."

So welcome to the new schedule of posts here at Lyre's Musings! In honor of our first Free for All Friday, I have a fantastic rant for you.

Last weekend I helped one of my sisters move. Now, I've been helping her off and on over the last month with packing in preparation of said move. I didn't think we'd survive. :-) She got a late start and, boy, I thought there'd be packing right up until the last minute. By some miracle, she got most of the packing done in advance. Her husband, well. I love my brother-in-law, but woah. He has many, many talents. Packing is not one of them.

So, Saturday is "U-haul brings belongings from townhouse in Pville to apt in Woodbridge" day. Being the good sister I am, I managed to be available (with some help from my supervisor who needed someone to switch from Sat night to Tues day for coverage and asked me first). The plan, according to my brother-in-law, was for my sister and I to stay inside the apartment and direct incoming boxes/items and/or move boxes/items to their designated places. This is one of many reasons I absolutely love my brother-in-law. Allow me to delegate and NOT have to lug boxes out of the U-haul and up the stairs? HELL YES. No prob, Bob.

Things are plugging along fairly nicely and then it's after 7pm and the U-Haul is empty. My sister needs to take my brother-in-law's nephews back to Pville. Ugh. She also has to return the U-haul. Double Ugh. Plus, her cats (my fur nieces and nephews) are still in Pville and she really wants to bring them back to the apt. She's been up and moving since 7am. Does she need sleep? Desperately. But she goes and does all of that, leaving me to help unpack.

Love is letting your sister set up your altar for you so it's done. Love is also using that trust to set up the altar in a way that your sister will be happy. Needless to say, it took me an hour to unpack all the altar supplies and another 30 minutes to set it up in a way that would make her happy. Then I started unpacking the bedroom stuff, so that her room was more the master bedroom and less of a room with a ton of shit in it. As a military brat, I have moved more times than I care to remember. Bedrooms and kitchen were always the first to be unpacked. In that order. She came back, cats in tow, and we set them free in the apartment to explore.

She cried when she saw her bedroom. Boy, did I have moment of "Crap! She doesn't like something! I can fix it, I can fix it!" Fortunately, it was a good kind of cry.

The next two days were clean the townhouse so that they'd get the security deposit back.  Want good exercise? Scrub the hell out of a townhouse - kitchens, bathrooms. My arms ached for days afterwards. Good workout, though, I guess.

The most important thing is that my sister (and brother-in-law and fur nieces and nephew) are back in Woodbridge and I don't have to drive over an hour to see them. :-)

Happy Friday!

08 May 2013

A to Z Challenge Reflection

First and foremost, allow me a moment of pure, unadultered glee.


Ahem. Thanks. :-)

I didn't think I would enjoy this as much as I did. Don't get me wrong, I struggled a lot of days (even having planned ahead for almost all of my topics). I was inspired by the themes that people created to keep A to Z interesting. I may... maybe... try a theme next year. If I am crazy enough to do this (shush). A poetry theme? A photo/poetry theme? Oh, a photo that inspires a poem? Meh. I'll ponder some more.

The biggest issue, however, was time constraints. April turned into a rather hectic month, with my sisterm oving, extra shifts at work, and just general chaos. There was some days I might have read one or two other blogs, and other days where I was not only reading that day's posts, but also the last day (or sometimes two days) of posts. The last five days? Forget it. Between work and helping my sister move (wait for that post in a few days!), I got to read NO ONE's posts and was barely able to get my own posts up. Time management is clearly going to be a priority if I do this again next year.

Yes... the big consideration that I'm still mulling over: repeating this wild adventure next year. Mostly, I think I'd like to do it. Maybe I'll be able to use the time to come up with better "x" and "z" posts. Then I think of the time crunch and waffle. If we're rating here, I'm about 65% sure I'll do it next year. Ask me again in a month, when there's a bit of haze over the experience and I've romanticized it because the chaos of A to Z is way easier than the chaos of my job.

Looking back over the posts last month, I don't know if I could pick a favorite. Maybe F? No, C. Well, S. No, F. Definitely F. Maybe. I am so indecisive about this!

06 May 2013

Book Birthday Bash: Medusa, A Love Story

Welcome to today's stop on the Birthday Bash Blog Extravaganza! We're celebrating the birthday of the first book in Sasha Summers' Loves of Olympus series Medusa, A Love Story.

About the Book
It's said love can change a person. Medusa wasn't always a monster…

Medusa is ruled by duty, to her Titan father and the Goddess Athena. She's no room for the tenderness her warrior guard, Ariston, stirs. When Olympus frees her from service, her heart leads her into the arms of the guard she loves... and curses her as the creature with serpent locks.

Ariston goes to war with a full heart... and dreadful foreboding. He learns too late of the danger Medusa faces, alone, and a Persian blade sends him into the Underworld. But death, curses, nor the wrath of the Gods will keep him from returning to her.

Poseidon will use Greece's war to get what he wants: Medusa. He does not care that she belongs to another. He does not care that she will be damned. He is a God, an Olympian, and she will be his.

Holy moly, people. If you have any love for, interest in, or curiosity about the Greek pantheon at all, GET. THIS. BOOK. There are multiple links below to help you acquire this gem of a story.

First, what a unique and truly beautiful slant on the story of Medusa. We have this character who we all more or less know - or so we think. Ms. Summers has opened a door to a whole new view of Medusa as a woman and as a pawn of the gods. There are moments where you ache with her and for her as she tries to find her way, when so many others have laid claim to her future.

Ariston - could someone please deliver me my own? I'd like one posthaste. He is the epitome of honor, valor, and what a man should be. The depth of his love, the lengths he will go… I am not one to swoon, but allow me this once, m'kay?

As for Poseidon, well. Capricious, arrogant, wild as the seas that he rules. Ms. Summers has brought to life the very turbulent and demanding god of the ocean in a way that makes him so very real. I definitely caught a little tug on my heart strings for him at one point.

I didn't see the ending coming and it was beautifully done. This was a novel that not only kept a good pace, I couldn't put it down. I read it during an overnight shift because I just couldn't stop! This is one that I could read over and over, and never tire of it. I can't wait to read the next one!

About the Author

Sasha is part gypsy. Born June 9, 1974, stories have always played an important role in her life. Her passions have always been storytelling, Hollywood, history, and travel. It’s no surprise that her books include a little of each. Her first play, ‘Greek Gods and Goddesses’ was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She’s been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she’s doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.

Here are some of the places you can find Sasha!
Website/Blog                               Twitter                           FB Author Page
Goodreads                                   Pinterest                         YouTube

Ready to get your own copy of Medusa, A Love Story? Here are a few places you can find it.
B&N                         Amazon                      Kobo                            All romance ebooks

You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here. Make sure you hit all the stops along the way to increase your chances of winning the following prizes: 

  • Autographed copy of Medusa, A Love Story (Loves of Olympus Series, Bk #1)
  • Autographed copy of For the Love of Hades (Loves of Olympus Series, Bk #2
  • Thea (owl) Necklace
  • "Medusa" car charm
  • Series Swag