One Way to Help France

How to Help France

How to Help France

I don’t know how to heal France.

The Facebook memes are flying, and the French flag covers everyone’s faces. I am not politically astute or well-versed on world politics, and I’m not a religious scholar. But I’m pretty sure that a new Facebook app or a trending hashtag probably isn’t enough.

If participating in the social media outpouring offers solace or a feeling of solidarity, I don’t judge that. But for me, it mostly seems like a temporary way to make ourselves feel better. And maybe that’s okay.

I don’t know how to stop ISIS.

Ranting with outrage and sadness, cathartic though it may be, doesn’t seem to offer much hope or substance.

Hating all religion seems illogical. Religion has rightly been blamed as a catalyst for violence, yet also relied upon as a source of immeasurable comfort to millions throughout the most painful moments in human history.

Invoking one religion over another doesn’t seem right either. How will more hate and blame fix anything?

My reflex is to binge-watch sitcoms on Netflix. Laugh. Escape. Medicate. But that’s just a deep, dark spiral toward over-referencing dated shows and too much snacking.

So what should I do? What can we do?

A quote from an unexpected source struck a nerve and echoed wise words from an old childhood friend, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

That feels right. Small, maybe, but at least it doesn’t seem useless or incendiary.  What if we went a step beyond and copied the helpers?

Help someone.

How? Where? Well, I don’t know anyone in France. I’ve never even been to France. But there are people there helping each other, taking in neighbors, hugging strangers, crying together, offering comfort.

Help someone nearby, someone you know, or someone you don’t. Help with something big or something small. Help one time, for one minute. Or help for an hour or a day or a week.

Our energy is either positive or negative. You choose what you spread.

Spread hope. Infect people.

Babysit for a new mom, or an old tired one. Rake leaves, shovel a driveway, send a note to a crabby aunt, or a piece of pie to the lonely guy down the street. Offer your seat on the train, a smile, or a compliment to a stranger on the sidewalk.

Become temporarily inconvenienced.

Delete negative postings. Don’t argue. Don’t try to convince. Seek first to understand.

I don’t know what the appropriate military response should be. I have no expertise on how to strategically stop attacks in other cities.

I love the idea of America sending assistance, but I don’t relish sending our soldiers. That means my niece and my child’s oldest friend and a classmate’s son would all be put in harms way.

But if troops are sent, support them, encourage them, respect them.

I have no public platform to influence world opinion. If I went on a hunger strike demanding world peace, approximately seven people would care.

But I can do good in my house, on my street, in my town. So I’ll be on the lookout for that.

Don’t watch all nine seasons of The Office three times in less than a month. (But do watch it. Steve Carell is amazing, and Pam and Jim? My heart can’t take it!)

Don’t accept hate. Don’t allow despair. Don’t invite rage.

We’re all swirling molecules of energy. Maybe our molecules never make it all the way to France; there are many other places I’ve longed to visit first. But if we all help someone closer to home, and that person someday visits France, maybe just maybe . . .

 

 

 

10 Thoughts on “One Way to Help France

  1. Exactly. Become aware of who we are and why we’re here. Remember our humanity. Inconvenience ourselves with helping someone else. Brilliant. I believe (that’s my religion), that we can create a tipping point of humanity. More love less hate, more hugs less harm, more help less judgment. I love (d) Mr. Rogers.

  2. Beautifully said, Suzanne. Those are wise words to remember when the ever-dour news starts to get me down. Thank you for this!

  3. this is beautiful, Suzanne. I wrote something so similar and am going to share too. Let’s keep the small kindnesses present every day. Thank you for posting!

  4. <3 this! Well said, Suzy B!

  5. Deb Chavez on November 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm said:

    So proud to have you as my BFF! Imagine if everyone did just one kind thing for someone every day?! Life is a blessing and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Awesome post!

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11 Things Writers Should Never Say (to other writers or humans, in person or on social media)

11 Things Writers Should Never Say

11 Things Writers Should Never Say

(1)  Writing is hard

Yes, but to misquote Cheryl Strayed, it’s not coal mining, it’s not sewer repair, it’s not wrangling live tigers (though sometimes you want to claw your own face off).

(2)  Buy my book

Ugh. Just ugh.

(3)  I don’t have enough time to finish my ___ (insert work in progress)

Yes. Yes you do. Single mothers with three jobs have written books. Medical students who haven’t slept in 137 days have written novels. Stop lying and finish already.

(4) I self-publish and do all my own editing

Why would you do that? Why? WHY? Unless your best friend from childhood is an editor willing to review your work for free, do not self-publish a thing if you do not secure the services of a professional editor. You will embarrass your mother, you will waste your time, you will ruin your credibility.

(5)  I don’t read – or any variation of this statement

Imagine an actor who doesn’t have time to watch movies, plays, or TV. Imagine an oceanographer who refuses to leave Kansas, or a trail guide with agoraphobia. Ridiculous, right? You have time to read. You make time to read. You read. Go to the library right now, for God’s sake.

(6)  Review me on Amazon, even if you haven’t read my book

No, no I will not.

11 Things Writers Should Never Say

(7) Buy my book

See #2

(8) I dream of being published (while not submitting)

Good luck with that.

(9) “Chick-lit”   or    “Women’s fiction”

Or any other gender-damning, soul-skewering, pigeon-holing phrase when used in the context of literary snobbery, including but not limited to: I only read literary fiction; Memoir is just journaling; Uttering the word romance with your nostrils flared as if sniffing dog poop. It’s not nice.

(10) Rejection is so hard

Yep. And? Stop being a baby.

(11) I don’t drink coffee

While this may be true, it’s enough to get you kicked out of the tribe or at least ostracized. Lie. Carry around a Starbucks cup filled with water if you have to. You’re ruining the mystique! Tea is acceptable, if you’re British, but just barely.

(12) Buy my book

*Bonus reminder, no charge, you’re welcome.

14 Thoughts on “11 Things Writers Should Never Say (to other writers or humans, in person or on social media)

  1. Very amusing, and a timely reminder, Suzy B! I also hate the ‘Chick-lit’ label, and absolutely refuse to use it. Good fiction is good fiction, and that’s all. Men aren’t banned from reading works from women authors, so why pidgeon hole it as ‘women’s fiction?’ We’ll be having ‘Menopausal fiction’, and ‘Mummy fiction’ next! And I for one, will be reading THAT!! Lol.

    P.S. How many copies shall I put you down for?? 😉

    Hedgey x

  2. Damn! Thought I was posting from Hedgeblog Times. Whoops! I just may have blown my cover! Shhhh…. 😉

  3. HaHAHA! I loved this and soooo true except you could never embarrass your mother!!!!

  4. I have writer’s block. Really? What if your plumber said “gaaah, I have plumber’s block.” Suck it up, buttercup.

  5. I still hate coffee! 😉

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Facehooked Going to the Big Apple!

How do you know when you’ve got a hit?

When Howard Stern invites you to New York to be on his wildly popular radio show, chances are your book has struck a nerve! Debut author Dr. Suzana E. Flores will be appearing on The Howard Stern Show in early December.

If you use social media and haven’t checked out her book yet…well, what are you waiting for?! Suzana also shares some great tips for writers here on my blog.

Check out my review of Facehooked: How Facebook Effects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives on Blogcritics along with a more in-depth author interview.  Good luck to Dr. Flores!  Check out her website for more information on appearance dates.

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Interview with Dr. Suzana E. Flores, Author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives

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Dr. Suzana E. Flores

Following the release of her book, Dr. Flores shared some insights on her writing process. Visit www.blogcritics.org for more on our conversation regarding social media and Facehooked.

What made you want to write this book?

I wanted to read this book but it wasn’t there.  Every book I found was either for academics or telling you how to navigate social media.  I kept waiting and waiting for someone else to write it and no one did.  I kept talking to my friends about my concerns with Facebook and after about a year of this, they said I should write my observations down. Fear or no fear, I thought, I have to do this.

What were you afraid of?

I’m not a writer, I’m a therapist. But we all are writers, if you have a story to tell.

So this is your first book and did you have any help?

I had one friend in particular who helped me organize it. He helped me form the skeleton of the book, the proposal and helped me to find my voice.

How long did this project take?

It was a 3-year process. It took me a long time to start because of self-doubt in my ability to write a book, but it also took a long time because I interviewed many people and collected case studies for the book.

How did you go about getting an agent?

It was trial and error. I read the books on query writing and proposals and the same friend that helped me organize the book helped me with the query and proposal. I then emailed different agents based on similar interests to my book.

What was the publishing process like for you?

Well, I’m kind of a crazy anomaly. I had an agent in about 15 minutes.  This agent was fascinated by the subject but I let her go because she wanted more of the highbrow book. I wanted to write a book for everyone not just academics.

Did that make you nervous?

Yes. People said I was crazy to not sign but three months later, I met Elizabeth Kracht with Reputation Books and it was a match made in heaven.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

To not listen to negativity.  Thoughts are very powerful. “You will never find an agent. Never find a publisher.”  I was scared enough. If I had listened to any of it, I would never have written the book.

Anything else?

Just write. Don’t edit. Just write. If you’re passionate, just do it.

Dr. Suzana E. Flores is a practicing psychologist in Chicago.  Visit her website for more information. www.drsuzanaflores.com   Facehooked is available on Amazon.

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Are YOU Facehooked®?

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Check out my book review of ‘Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships and Lives’ by Dr. Suzana E. Flores.  You can find it on Blogcritics.org or at the Seattle Post Intelligencer!FACEHOOKEDeCover

Check back soon for an interview with the author on the project’s origins and her advice to aspiring authors!

 

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What are You Saving?

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Writing isn’t only about business. You tweet, you text, you update your status.  Now more than ever, everyone is a writer. But how many of these electronic treasures do you preserve?  You probably still save handmade cards from your kids but what else are you missing?

Who remembers notes passed in school?  You don’t have to reveal your age but I will.

I have a box in my attic filled with meticulously folded sheets of notebook paper.  Some are in little origami-type squares, some with a special fold that “locks” the note in place.

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Some are written in pencil. Some with every other word in a different color ink.

Some are written as a page-long acronym – the challenge was to decipher every word from just one letter.

Some are 30 pages long (thank you, Wendy Morris); a fulfilled promise to write the longest school note ever.

And some of my favorites are from a guy named Tim (now my husband) who was in love with a friend of mine and wanted my help getting to know her.

It’s an in-depth history of my adolescence.  OK, I admit, many of us would rather forget those times.  But much of what we know about our collective history is due to the written record preserved in letters.  The brilliant biography of founding father John Adams was based almost entirely on letters he exchanged with his wife. More than 1,100 of them!

Much of what passes as communication these days evaporates as soon as we hit the send button.  Are there treasures we’re missing?

Recently, my favorite uncle was hospitalized in critical condition.  The family rallied spectacularly and in hilarious fashion via private messages on Facebook.  These words and images were a perfect reflection of what makes my family distinct.

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As the self-appointed family historian, I printed and saved the entire thread.  I knew it would entertain and delight my uncle.  More importantly, I didn’t want it to just evaporate. It was worth preserving.

I do this every now and then when something catches my eye on Facebook or other sites.  Maybe no one will read it but then again, maybe my kids’ kids will be happy they have something of their family’s history and wit to keep.  Facebook will go the way of MySpace some day.  Who knows what might take the place of Twitter?

You read more than ever – Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest.  You write more than ever before, at least electronically.  What are you saving?

 

 

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Before You Hit Send

“It’s hard to take someone seriously when they leave you a note saying, ‘Your ugly.’ My ugly what? The idiot didn’t even know the difference between your and you’re.” ― Cara Lynn Shultz, Spellcaster

Social media has enhanced communication in some ways and diluted it in others. If I were a superhero, I’d wear a cape made of dictionary pages and run around with a magic red pen correcting the Facebook posts and Tweets of those too quick to hit the enter/send buttons.

Even if your friends don’t judge you by the way you communicate, customers, clients and superiors DO. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be careful.

If you notice an error after you hit send, give it a beat and then decide if it’s worth following up. Sometimes the answer is yes.

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