When I was 10 years old I walked outside in time to see the neighborhood bully pounce on a boy two thirds his size. A smarter person would have returned inside and notified an adult.
I didn't think I had time. I ran, inserted myself between the two of them. The younger boy backed up, blood dripping from his mouth. I looked into this bully's eyes and wondered what his fist would feel like on my face. He shoved me but I stood my ground. I knew that if I tried to run, he would only tackle me from behind. We were about the same size but I'd never been in a fight before.
Do Not Hit was a commandment in our house. In no time in my life have I ever made a fist and hit someone. I wanted to hurt him though. I watched his knuckles come at my face and stop within a few scan millimeters. He'd throw a punch at my chest and pound on his own, making a noise as if he struck me. Yell insults. He was taunting me. I don't know why he didn't strike me, maybe he had some small sense of honor or maybe teasing me was more fun . After some time I started wishing one of his blows would land...
Because I could not possibly hit him unless he hit me. Apparently my fear of my parents was greater than my anger at this kid. So he shoved, jeered and flung out his fist numerous times --whizzing past my cheek but leaving me unscathed. And I stood there. This went on until the younger boy retrieved one of the neighborhood moms. She came out on her door stoop, waved a whisk dripping with batter and insisted that he leave me alone and go home. He did.
And I was left alone in the yard with my heart beating like a frightened rabbit.
I'm pretty convinced that if I'd hit him, there would have been a different ending.
There's so much anger right now.
I'm not convinced its helping so I'm trying not to react to it.
Oh, I know whose fault it is...
It’s the liberals, the Republicans, the conservatives, the parents who don’t discipline, the Democrats, the blacks, the mentally impaired.
We don't have the luxury of just assigning blame and washing our hands of the problem.
I believe we're all going to have to make a sacrifice to change the status quo.
I bet lots of people are going to be angry about that too.
Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children. The world is judging us. We are standing by and watching our children die.
I know the issues are seemingly complex. Not for me.
The children come first. Always.
They're depending on us.
If you're having trouble getting rid of your anger...The American Academy of Pediatrics has a suggestion.
Try taking a walk.
Prior to medical school, I thought that cancer was the worst thing that could happen to a person. In training, I learned that we’ve made a lot of progress with different cancers- so now that diagnosis is not as terrifying as it used to be.
But, there are still a lot of medical problems that fright me (and most people, I suspect)
Going blind. Losing some or all of your extremities to a bacterial infection. Alzheimers.
All of those potential problems, and a lot more, lost significance when I learned about the diagnosis of Locked-In Syndrome. It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Something happens...a stroke, head injury, near drowning or infection and suddenly you are unable to move, speak or breath. But you are totally aware...you can see, hear and reason. You are ‘locked in’ your own lifeless body.
It’s the essence of a nightmare.
About 50% of the time, a family member will recognize that the patient is still alert. Maybe when they blink or move their eyes a certain familiar way. In some cases, though, the eye muscles are paralyzed too.
These patients can’t chew or swallow, all nutrition is through a tube into their stomach. They can’t breath and are totally reliant on a ventilator. An aide must bathe, dress and take care of all of their bodily needs. And during the entire time, the person is fully alert- with the same intelligence and ability to reason that they had prior to the injury.
Maybe I was trying to confront my fears when I picked up his book.
"4 Years trapped in my Mind Palace" by Johan Twiss is a book written about a teenager that has this condition. I’ll be honest, I was dreading the story but fascinated by the imagination it would take to write such a tale.
Fortunately, the book has a light-hearted, hopeful approach that is both sweet and inspiring. The title gives away that there is an end to the entrapment and in the meantime, you get to go with Aaron on several fascinating journeys.
But in real life, happy endings are not usually the case, most patients do not recover.
That may soon change. Researchers in UT Health Science Center in San Antonio have found that the injury associated with drowning is not as wide spread as they originally thought. It may be possible to intervene where the injury occurred. That research could lead to approaches for other cases of Locked-in Syndrome.
Maybe, someday... those victims can be saved.
And Johan Twiss will have to change the name of his book to “I was almost trapped ....”
Johan Twiss was one of the speakers at the writer's conference I attended.
Click here to get more information on his book.
Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy for anyone.
Going to a writer's conference can be intimidating. At least it is for me, a new author. I went last weekend. You want to know what kind of thoughts were going through my head?
Driving downtown...crap, was that light red? Did I just drive in a circle? Where is that parking garage?
Hearing about the other participants and speakers...
Formerly worked for the CIA, now writes action packed adventure novels. She looks so normal, I wonder if they're based on fact? I also wonder is she carries a gun.
A pastor who is working to bring one of the books of the Bible alive. We need more of that.
An author who has written more than fifty books and served as mentor to many best selling novelists including Stephanie Meyer (Twilight books) I'm in the same room with him. Stay calm.
Formerly a playwright. Wow.
Listening to the lectures...
Here is a list of fonts you absolutely should never use on your cover art. Wait, does anyone have a laptop? Did I use one of those?
Write these down. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Pinterest. Linkedin. Youtube. Google Plus. Do all of these. Now. Is she kidding? I thought Linkedin was to network for a job. I don't even know what Google Plus is. I'm starting to feel sick. Why did I come?
Google forms is cool and will take all your information and put it into a spreadsheet that you can manipulate. I don't know what google forms is either and I find it highly unlikely I can manipulate any spreadsheet. Seriously, does google do everything? Do I need a degree in IT to write books?
You will lose readers if you try surprise endings and bring someone back from the dead. Unless we're taking about Wesley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride). Okay, I can do that. Anyone that dies, stays dead. Check.
Let the cracks in their identity fall away to allow the reader to see their essence. Maybe after I've written a dozen books, I will understand that line. It sounds important. My neck is tight. I'm getting a headache.
Choose a sexy setting. Readers want to be transported into an exotic location like Italy or the Swiss Alps. Tulsa. I wrote about Tulsa. That's not exotic. I mean, I like it a lot but it's probably not on the top 50 vacation destinations.
The average book has 72 to100 scenes each with their own setting. OMG. Really? I feel like running for the door.
By the time the conference was over, I was mentally exhausted. I felt defeated, didn't know if I could do half the stuff they talked about. I wondered how I'd ever gotten to this place. I entered the elevator, leaned against the wall and shut my eyes for a moment. I opened them again when the door slid open on the next floor. A woman walked in bundled in a shabby winter coat. She wore a backpack and carried a sleeping bag.
She got off at the parking garage with me. Homeless men and women take shelter in the library during the day but when the library closes, they have to leave the warmth of the building. Dallas was expecting severe weather, a winter storm advisory. I'm worried about doing a good job writing books that a reader will enjoy...and she's probably wondering how she will survive the night.
When I got home, my husband had gone shopping and bought prepared food so that I didn't have to worry about cooking for our guests that night. I wonder if she had anything to eat that night?
We all went to a show and listened to a performer that has traveled around the globe. If you live on the streets, when do you get to listen to music?
Afterward, my girlfriend and I walked ahead of the rest of the group, ended up standing outside waiting for them to unlock the car. The breeze went through my pants, made my eyes water and my fingertips grow numb. How cold is she tonight? Does she have some place to go?
I'm so very, very blessed. If you're reading this, I bet you are too. I need to remember that when I let the little stuff wear me down. Writing is terribly, wonderfully fun and I love the idea of getting better at it but I'm not going to stress about it-not when there are so many people with real hurts and needs.
I was a medical student and he was...a psychic.
I met him when the surgeon who was my superior insisted that I take a scalpel and remove all the dead and infected tissue from the man's foot. "Keep cutting until you see blood or he can't take the pain." Those were the instructions I was given, along with a silver handled blade and handful of gauze. This was back in the day when the surgeon's mantra was "a chance to cut is a chance to cure." Maybe they still say that?
I was no surgeon. I looked at that blade with trepidation, had no desire to hurt anyone. He was a diabetic and he'd developed an infection that worsened - so I knew cleaning out the wound was necessary. I sat on a stool and got to work. I flinched when he changed positions, nervous that I'd hurt him or worse. I pictured myself accidentally cutting some tendon or nerve. What lunacy was this to hand me a blade at this stage of my training?
For the most part, he did fine. Diabetics have less sensation to their feet. But every once in a while, I could see his jaw tighten. I spoke to him, distracting him from thinking too much about me paring off small pieces of his foot. I'd asked him what he did for a living and he answered that he was a Boy Scout leader.
My son was in Boy Scouts, I knew most of those men had 'day jobs' so I asked what else he did. "I'm a psychic," he answered somewhat hesitantly. He didn't look like any psychic I'd seen (on tv). I was really interested now and continued to work on his foot while I asked him more questions. "Mostly missing kid cases, not often happy outcomes." He looked sad when he spoke and I thought to myself. This is real, this man is not a fake. He went on to explain that everyone has a bit of psychic ability. He said that if you walk into a room with two dogs-one friendly and one vicious-you would immediately sense which dog to stay away from. Hmm.
Fast forward to another rotation in my training. The psychiatric emergency room. The attending psychiatrist took me into an exam room, told me that the patient would be escorted in shortly. He asked me to move away from where I was sitting, to pick a seat further away from the door.
I saw and heard some of the activities in that emergency room. I thought staying by the door was a really good idea. He insisted, informed me that I should never be between a patient and their escape. He also said to respect my 'gut' and if I felt like I was in danger, I probably was.
The patient was escorted in the room. He answered questions in the beginning but eventually paced back and forth in the small room. I felt my stomach tighten. He stopped looking at either of us. Muttered and repeatedly ran his agitated fingers through his hair. I heard alarm bells screaming in my head. I looked at the psychiatrist but he was busy writing notes. The patient's pace increased, he swiveled, stomped on the floor. And suddenly erupted into motion. He leapt at the door, yanked it open and flew out. I almost vomited I was so scared.
Meanwhile the psychiatrist scribbled a few more lines without looking up. He finally spoke, "Did you feel it?" I nodded, still unable to talk, and followed him out of the room.
You have to respect your intuition. I've spoken to mom's who removed their children from a situation, only to find out later that their 'gut' had been right and their child was spared... just because a little voice was telling them that something wasn't as it should be. And how many times have I heard..."he just doesn't look right." I've learned to take that seriously!
So trust yourself when you get that inkling....
I'm going to a writing conference next weekend. I've been to one before and its a great way to learn from other writers how to be better at creating realistic scenes, building tension...improving your writing. My first conference took me by surprise.
I've been going to medical conferences for years. It's pretty much the same each time. You show up somewhere, grab a badge, a syllabus and find a seat. If the conference was on a weekend, I would wear jeans (along with a blazer or cardigan) and feel like I was pushing at some invisible professional barrier.
I noticed the dress code was different at the writer's conference. A woman in a long cocktail dress. Another in black and white. Okay, I wear black and white...black pants, white blouse, black sweater. This was different. Black stripped hose, black polka dot skirt, white stripped shirt and black hat. I blinked, confused by the mixture of patterns. She was one of the speakers. One man showed up sporting a manbun held together by a wrench. Honestly, I've never been around so many eclectic people in one setting. At lunch I sat next to a woman who was dressed in steampunk garb. Fascinating. I kept taking peeks between bites of my chicken and asparagus. She was really kind, offered me advice on creating newsletters.
The conversations are different too. Speakers are asked questions that make your eyebrows go up.
"Where can I go to learn about killing someone?"
"Would a teenager turn her family in if she discovered that they were all serial killers?"
"What are some other terms I can use for &^%?" (I almost blushed at that one)
The writer's conference recommended we have business cards to exchange to keep in touch with other writers. I thought about the steam punk lady and wished I'd exchanged information with her. So I ordered business cards.
And when they arrived, I looked at them and came to a big realization.
THIS IS REAL!! I'm really an author! How cool is that!!