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Friday, July 25, 2014

What Does It Mean to be True to Yourself?

Note:  I realize it's been a while since I've posted, but be patient with me. I'm still an unfinished soul. Actually, I've been working on my sequel to The Night Shadow, which will be out in September. It will be another thrilling mystery with Esther Charlemagne and her partner Aiden "Mac" McManus. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

I was reading a post from a fellow retiree and they paraphrased a quote saying, "Be true to yourself." That term has been applied over the last century to mean giving yourself license to think of yourself, alone. Like the picture of my crane above, people have used that expression to seek the truth within themselves.
Although, I agree that all of us need to take stock of our lives, we sometimes spend too much time thinking about ourselves. The longing for the introvert to be alone, to regenerate, I can understand being an intractable one myself, but what truly helps us to renew is to have faith in something greater than ourselves, to seek to understand the universe, to dream and wonder about the beauty of our world. Wandering down the corridors of boosting our morale, or finding yourself, can isolate us to the point we never can find the door to that Attaboy! moment, nor can we find the person we seek. But is it that pat on the head what we truly seek, or finding that mirror to understand ourselves? Or do we want to just see ourselves as a worthy human being?
As a person who has been abused, isolated, and wounded, I sought to find an answer to those questions. For years I sought that pat on the head, someone to tell me I was worthy, that what I created was good, and that I was important. I was so busy seeking a salve for my wounds that I never saw how often I received it from my husband, or my father, and my friends. But, still, those words of praise that I did receive didn't seem enough, didn't heal me, or make me feel better, normal, let alone happy. I kept looking into myself, seeking the kernel, the nexus of my universe within my soul.
Was it really that I wasn't being true to myself, or was there something else going on within me, a need that wasn't being met? What I discovered in my journeys to self-actualization is that I'm not small, nor am I big, but I'm an integral part of life, a necessary part. My life has meaning, purpose, and a direction. I know I need quiet, and I can spend that time reading, writing, and praying, sometimes doing absolutely nothing but staring up through the branches of a tree into the sky, but I remember that I'm never alone, that there is something grand about the spark of life itself.
Of course, I believe in God. I'm not spiritual, or a theist, or something on the hem of those skirts. I'm wholeheartedly a Christian, and in particular a Catholic Christian. I am assured of that fact through faith. In those moments when I feel the need to be alone, isolated enough to renew, I remember that we have been given the gift of life, and that wondrous spark can be used to start a bonfire to light the world, or it can be isolated in a dark room. What I mean is that I can spend time thinking about myself and never see into the dark corners because my candle is not capable of lighting up all the corners of my soul, or I can join my light with others and truly see the world, myself, and those around me for who we all are.
The quote they were looking for comes from the great Bard himself, Shakespeare. In Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3, lines 78-82 is a scene between Polonius and his son Laertes.
It goes like this:
"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And, it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not be false to any man,
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!"
What Polonius meant is debated wildly, but it must come from the viewpoint of an Elizabethan if we are ever to know exactly what he meant, what Shakespeare believed in his philosophy. In his own way, the character Polonius tried to do what he thought was right. This he asked of his son, and blessed him with that knowledge. Although, he is viewed as a silly man, sometimes duplicitous, I don't believe he was. I think, like many of us mothers and fathers do, that we try to impart the best to our children and to ourselves, to be faithful to that idea, to tell ourselves the truth, and therefore, not be false to others.
Being true to yourself may be the first step, but that doesn't mean to be introspective only. We are to know that what we believe is the truth and not some lie told to us by those in power or around us. Polonius wanted his son to be a good man, to be a truthful man, and do what was right. Polonius also believed that he was trying to do the right thing. From an Elizabethan point of view, he was looking outward to the world, not inward. He wanted his son to be filled with truth so he wouldn't harm others. There's a huge difference.
The character of Polonius is an integral part of the story of Hamlet, and without him the truth would never come out. We are a lynch pin from which those within our circle pivot. This is what Polonius meant, what Shakespeare meant. The tragedy of the story is that Polonius was the only one seeking the truth. It is why he imparted that valuable blessing to his son. And it was a blessing, but even Laertes didn't learn from what his father said. He sought vengeance, which is not truth.
It was the great lie that murdered everyone in Hamlet; that the king murdered to ascend the throne. Everyone, including Polonius, was fooled by the lies told to bolster that first evil falsehood, but that doesn't negate the truth of Polonius' instruction to Laertes. He sent his son away because he feared for the boy's life, and he sought the truth even knowing how dangerous it was to learn it within the world of lies. And he did find it, at the end of a sword he learned the truth while hiding in the Queen's bedroom.
The lesson from that quote, from Hamlet is to never hide behind a curtain of isolation to learn the truth about ourselves, or about others, but to be open and honest about what we seek. Truth is objective, not subjective. Truth stands alone no matter who looks at it, or who tries to bend it to meet their philosophy. Truth rises above everything and transcends time. The truth about ourselves must be sought outside of us. There is only one place where we can learn the truth of who we truly are; in the eyes of those who love us. And having quiet time is a place to seek peace, so we can be the best we can be. But never confuse the two, for they are as different as night is to day.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kev's Blog On Authors

There are a few people on this blue orb spinning through space, who transcend the mundane, who go the extra mile, who reach out a helping hand to those of us struggling in the world of writers. Kev Cooper is one of them. Below is the link to his book site where he allowed me to be showcased. I cannot thank him enough for this opportunity, and I send blessings and my prayers his way. Thank you, Kev, for being a friend to writers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nature Is a Balm

Too often writers, like theologians--and I belong to both professions--can get restless and dry. We try to wet our whistles by reading others' work, but even that can make you feel more twitchy, and it can be like you were dropped into the Sahara on the hottest day of the year. Water! Water! Give me a drink, please!

During those times it's best to turn off the computer, walk away, and find a quiet place to sit under a tree, or take a short hike up a trail you've been longing to trek. Rivers and lakes qualify, as do the stretches of sand meeting the sea where you can curl your toes into the grainy substance, roll the legs up on your trousers, and feel the water wash over your feet. Your cup really does run over when you fill it with the unadorned great outdoors. Nature is the balm for renewal, cleansing, and peace. There is nothing like it when you breathe in the velvet air by the ocean, drink in the smell of the fecund earth and trees of a forest, or while gazing at the calm of a lake or fingerling river.

We are made out of and for this blue orb circling through space. These are the places where we can connect with our substance, our nature, and learn how to truly listen. Take five or ten minutes, if that is all you can afford, and touch the leaves of a tree or a flower, and feel the miracle that is life. Once you've been renewed by the most basic part of ourselves, then embrace your child, or spouse, or parent. Renew that relationship. Don't forget to laugh. Laugh often and hard. Then, return to your keyboard and see if you don't feel invigorated and filled with ideas. See if you don't feel like praying, or reading.

We all need to feel that tenuous thread of nature running through our veins to anchor us to reality, to our destiny. Without it we become concrete, fixed in our ways, stultified to the point we are intractable in our opinions and philosophies. Remember, a rock cannot grow, and we are meant to grow until we leave this life for the next.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review of Tiara

The great pulp fiction authors, who wrote their serialized stories for magazines, have long disappeared. Cheap paperback novels nudged the serials into nonexistence, and everyone could read the whole story in their hands rather than wait for the next installment. However, those magazines launched many a writer's career into the spotlight of fame, and some authors went on to write literary classics, novels that are read and discussed in the hallowed halls of universities, and required reading for the young. Readers could expect everything from a horror story to buxom damsels in distress rescued from villains by the square-jawed, rippling muscled heroes, and villains dispatched with extreme prejudice. The stories were fast paced, based in exotic climes, or set in romantic surroundings like a ship at sea or out on the range. Every chapter ended in a cliff-hanger leaving the reader salivating for the next installment. John Reinhard Dizon brings us back to those good old days of a fun read, where you can get lost in the action, and expect the beautiful girl to be pulled from the jaws of death just in the nick of time.
His latest escapade, Tiara, takes us to the conflict within the five provinces of British occupied Northern Ireland, where the beautiful princess of Edinburgh is about to open peace talks between the two warring factions: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Defense Army (UDA). The action packed story begins with an explosion, then you are neck deep in secret meetings and covert deals and cabals of mercenaries.
On the eve of the talks arranged by the British government, a ball is given, and the Princess is snatched by an Ulster faction in order to prevent the talks from moving forward. Everyone takes advantage of the confusion, and some look to further their own careers or hide their criminal enterprises from the light being shed on the region by the media and the British government. Enter a dashing mercenary who wants to rescue the princess because of his own agenda both political and personal, and you have the makings of a classic pulp fiction story with characters right out of those magazines of yesteryear with a touch of Paddy Chayefsky thrown in.
Dizon paints a woeful picture of each faction, but an accurate one. He does his homework, and understands the motivations behind all the players. Bearing in mind that the thorny mess in the north is rife with factions within factions, and motives are legion, everywhere from suspect to criminal, he brings a clarity to who these people are in reality. In the story, all the players have their own agenda, just as they do in fact, and if the peace talks succeed there will be millions of pounds lost for some of those factions. One has to wonder if the reason the Ulster factions in reality don't want to negotiate a peace is because they have too much to lose if there isn't a war. As long as their power is consolidated, sanctioned, and codified by the British government, peace is a too distant prospect. Dizon doesn't hit you over the head with the idea, he just lays it out on the table, making it available for those who want to see it outside the story.
The best part is that he never forgets the Irish people who are caught in the middle; the moms and dads and children both Catholic and Protestant. They are the ones who suffer the most, and that is where he places his hope for a future of peace.
Tiara is available on Amazon, as are Dizon's other books.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Relativism: The Religion of the Faithless in the UN

It has become abundantly clear, with the Affordable Care Act's decree that contraceptives and abortion services be provided by all employers, that the Federal Government is not just reaching the prize to remake the entire health care system in their image, into a single payer and more "fair" system, but as an attack against our First Amendment Rights. Instituting a single payer system may seem to be the goal, but it isn't. Something worse is brewing under the surface. Something so heinous and chilling that you can almost feel the breath of the beast of Fascism on the back of your neck. Within the newly defined rights of children by the United Nations, we now see the scourge of "Relativism" rearing its ugly head again. We may have been mistaken that it went away, tossed into the trash heap of stupid ideas. But it hasn't. Many have felt that Obamacare is an attack against our Freedom of Religion, and they are correct in that assumption. More than that, under the faith banner of "Relativism," fundamental rights have been redefined, repackaged, and moved forward by the United Nations in their latest decree on Children's Rights.  What we see is not just an attack on Freedom of Religion, but on all our rights as defined in the Bill of Rights, as defined by everyone in centuries past.

I have posted a link to an article written in the National Catholic Register. Read this. Read it immediately. Tell all your friends to read it. Read it twice. Make your Pastors, your employer, your neighbors read it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are my favorite days of the year. Both days are reflective ones. We too need to take the time to reflect on the price that has been paid for our sins.

A friend of mine sent me this little boy's explanation of who God is. It is said he is eight and this was printed in Chula Vista, California. Even if it isn't, it's still gives you food for thought. I also challenge you to not cry. Here's food for thought on my favorite day of the year:

It was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista , CA . He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to 'explain God.'
'One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'
'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'
'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.'
'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista ... At least there aren't any who come to our church.'
'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God.. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'
'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.'
'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.'
'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!
Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.'
'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.'
' shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.
And...that's why I believe in God.'
* * *
Have a beautiful and heartfelt Good Friday! And Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Truth and Nothing but Lies

The past few months I've been busy editing my second novel. My editor has pushed me to make hard choices about the content of the story, and some of the more incendiary parts of the novel. In the end, I feel she was right about keeping true to the characters within the story, and to let the events speak for themselves. We'll put the story to bed once the manuscript is proofread, with a few minor tweaks for continuity in the story, and we'll begin the process of choosing a cover for the book. I've been through this process before, but not with a traditional publisher, so this recent process is much more intense.

The story is about an FBI agent investigating the bombings of abortion clinics in the Pacific northwest. I used true events as the backdrop for my novel, taking the headlines and details of the Gosnell case, and reports from Human Life groups all over the country. The explosions, of course, are fictional, but each description of the victims of abortion are all true. The story is a thriller/mystery, filled with interesting and deeply drawn characters fighting to let the truth be known.

I wrote in anger, and on the advice of my editor, had to tone down the political aspects of the events and characters to make it more saleable, but I did not compromise in the description of what happens inside those clinics where women have died, and the children from millions of women have been butchered.

The book will be released sometime in late spring or early summer. It will be for sale in the usual outlets on-line. The time has come for everyone to know the truth about abortion, and the toll it takes on men and women. There is nothing private about an abortion. The consequences of killing a child touches all of us.