Patricia Ploss is the author of one non-fiction book, The Dandelion Picker, and three fiction books, Emery’s Promise, Letting Go, and Another’s Child. She is also the Associate Publisher of Centaur Books.
The Owl Network is determined to transform the world by encouraging and helping others to lead the life they are destined to share with the World.
Deep down inside every one of us, we secretly desire a dream in which we are happy, fulfilled, and an asset to the planet Earth. All too often, life and its experiences sidetrack us to living in the world rather than with the world. We all have been given gifts that if we allow ourselves to share with others, we enrich the lives of everyone. The Owl Network wants to provide encouragement, but more importantly, provide the tools and information we can use to transform our lives.
We are dedicated to providing a group of people who are authentic and know what they are talking about. We want to provide a direct pipeline so you can hear from the experts directly, and not through the filter of the media. And in the process, we want to encourage you to contact us to share your experiences and the knowledge you have gained by making changes in your life.
Defining Great Service
What is good service? When guest expectations are low, and we exceed them … not too exciting. But when guest expectations are high, and we manage to do even better, then we have accomplished something. In order to be able to seize every opportunity to do the things that help to create guests for life, we first must be able to identify those opportunities. Being aware of what is going on around us at the moment—and knowing what is going to happen in the future—helps.
A guest may refuse assistance with their luggage as they struggle to carry their bags up the stairs, but this does not mean we can’t run up the stairs ahead of the guests to open the door for them. What is the alternative? Watch the guest carry their bags and then open the door for themselves.
Our focus and mindset must be “What can I do to make a positive impression on every guest that I come in contact with?” It takes initiative, anticipation, caring, and sometimes a little hustle.
When you recall your most memorable hotel, dining, or other hospitality-related experience, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the room, the view, or the food?
When I think of memorable all-around top service experiences, the first one that I can recall happened soon after I was promoted to general manager. I was headed on a vacation to Florida with a buddy. The owner of the hotel arranged for us to play golf at The Jupiter Hills Club. Knowing it was ranked in Golf Magazine’s top 100 courses, I had high expectations and was looking forward to playing.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, and boy, did the Jupiter Hills Club get off to a great start. To this day I am not entirely sure how they pulled it off, but when we arrived at the security guard station and I rolled down the window of the rented minivan, I was immediately made to feel important when the guard said, “Welcome, Mr. Ruby, to Jupiter Hills,” as if he had been anxiously waiting to meet a celebrity. My buddy and I shrugged our shoulders and without saying a word we both knew that this was going to be an excellent day.
The staff seemed to sense we were out of our element and anticipated our every need. We were then escorted to the bag drop where an attendant opened my door and again greeted me by name. The attendant took our bags, the valet took care of the van, and a locker room attendant said, “Please follow me, Mr. Ruby,” and brought us to our lockers, which of course had our names on them. We were then escorted up to the pro shop, greeted by name by one of the golf pros and then introduced to our fore caddie who took us to the first tee.
We finished playing the front-nine, and we were just starting to get used to our caddies doing everything except actually hitting our balls for us … (However, out of mercy, I think my caddie used a wedge when he thought no one was looking so I would avoid an impossible shot). We were instructed that it was time for lunch.
A table was already reserved for Mr. Ruby, and the hostess acted like she had known me for years. Every staff person I encountered was not only polite and proactive; they also seemed to genuinely enjoy making two twenty-something average Joes from Chicago, who were not members, feel special.
The service afforded us was unforced, and providing hospitality, was clearly more than just part of their job. Every staff member seemed to have put themselves in our golf shoes and knew how to make two regular guys feel like rock stars for a day. The bottom line is I have no idea what my score was that day, or if played well or poorly. I can’t even remember anything about the course aside from I am pretty sure there were more hills than usual in Florida—and I have no idea what I had for lunch.
But the one thing I will never forget about that day was how the staff made me feel. Almost thirty years later, I can think back to my day at The Jupiter Hills Club when I need an example of what I consider to be great service.
When will the owls cease to be Watchers?
Owls have been known to perch among the branches—and have been accused of watching the world go by. While Truth has it that owls have been long sought out as birds of wisdom, so too does it tell that owls are tremendous observers.
And that the watchers of society need to heed the wisdom inherent in owls. For, although it is granted that owls do indeed see everything, they tend to be pictured as aloof—above the fray. And yet, in a turmoil-boiled world, comfort can be derived from the fact that owls are designated to observe, comment, and inspire.
Maybe, it’s not the owls’ aloofness that bothers watchers. But rather the owls’ ability to transform a moment of silence to a flutter of activity within a once tranquil sea of conformity.
Or maybe, it is the unknown quality behind those pictures of owls that seem to frighten people.
There seems to be a power gathering beneath the owls’ surface which will eventually be released—when the owls cease to be Watchers.
We are all Entrepreneurs
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a business executive, we are all running a small business, which is called our life.
Oprah Winfrey to be Keynote Speaker at U.S. Book Show
Oprah Winfrey will be the opening keynote speaker at the U.S. Book Show, the virtual book publishing trade show presented by Publishers Weekly.
Oprah Winfrey will give the opening keynote speech on May 25, 2021 at 10:45 a.m. EDT. She will discuss her newest book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, co-written with Bruce D. Perry, a child psychiatrist and neuroscientist. The book, released by Flatiron on April 27, discusses how people’s earliest personal experiences shape their entire lives. The book offers a new way to understand the way people behave. Winfrey, one of the biggest supporters of all members of the book industry, will also offer comments on her love for books and authors and offer her appreciation and encouragement for all those who support them.
Recognize the Changes Needed to Reach Your Dream as an Entrepreneur
As an Entrepreneur,
you are most concerned about yourself
since you are trying to build an extension of yourself…
If that is what you really want to do,
then that Spirit must be built with a delicate hand.
Go to where you feel at ease.
For, if this Dream is to happen,
then that is where it will happen.
If you want to become an entrepreneur, your dream will reveal the type of person you want to be and the life you want to lead. To realize your dream, you must nurture your Spirit and become that person. You need to merge with your vision in order to become the person you want to be. And turn your dreams into reality.
Your dream will oftentimes reveal a fresh, new exciting person who wants to emerge from within. Your vision will, more often than not, require you to change in order to become this new person. You will need to transform yourself so that this new person can emerge.
Why do I say that?
Because your dream will often highlight a part of you, in which you are not satisfied. Maybe you do not currently see yourself achieving the goals you want in your life because you lack perseverance. Perhaps, you lack commitment and have a problem maintaining your focus on your dream. Maybe, you become distracted too easily.
Whatever the roadblocks your dream may expose, there are also answers to reaching your dream. Those answers are within you.
Dreams reveal to us what we, at first, might not consider our destiny. And yet, we all have a vision of ourselves fulfilled, satisfied, and happy. But often our life experiences—and current situation—seem so very different than where we imagined we wanted to be.
Our everyday life often becomes so overwhelming that we soon forget that we create our own reality. We get caught up with living for the day and not creating the life we truly desire.
Stay out of that trap.
For as long as your focus remains on today and its realities, you lose your focus of where you are going and how to get there.
Let your dream or vision reveal its path to you.
So simple, yet so complex.
Maybe you see yourself as a highly successful person running your own business. Examine your dream to see where it takes place and what type of person you must become to merge with that image. As you nurture your dream, more details will become clearer to you.
Ask yourself these questions:
How do you look in your dream? Are you fat? Are you thin? How are you dressed? What type of personality do you have? Where does this dream take place? What are you doing in your dream?
These are the keys to understanding where it is you want to go. You will need to make the necessary changes in your life to realize your vision. Unless you merge with your own personal image in the dream, you will never fully experience your dream.
For example, if in your dream, you are thin and well-dressed, you will not achieve your dream until you reflect this image. Yes, this means the fat has to come off. Yes, that will require work on your part, but the payoff is reaching your goal, your vision.
How can you expect to reach your dream unless you become the person in it?
Your dream will reveal the image you seek. You must work to become that image in your conscious thoughts. Even if you do all the other mundane things involved, you will never reach the pinnacle of your dream unless you merge with your own personal image.
Of course, you can have all the other ingredients. Let’s say, you see yourself as a doctor. You surely can go to college and then medical school. You can finish your residency. But until you merge physically, mentally,and spiritually with your image, you will never experience the success your dream envisions of being a doctor.
A very important part of this process is to go to where you feel at ease. We have all experienced how some places work for us—and how others don’t. To be successful, you need to find the place where you feel at home—where you can nurture your Spirit as you begin to journey into yourself. For my Entrepreneur, the essence of your dream is you. You will never arrive there unless you become the reality you desire.
If your dream occurs in a certain city or country, you will have to travel there in order to become what you envision. It may not be today that you leave for your destination. Sometimes you have to make other improvements and changes before you reach your destination.
Most of the time, we are only willing to make changes when we are frustrated and no longer feel we are progressing. Use that frustration as a guide. It means that a new life awaits you if you are willing to do whatever is necessary to change. Simply moving to another city is not the answer—even if you see yourself in that city in your dream. You may have to make other changes physically and mentally before you proceed.
In order to create a new life, you have to examine your old one. What have you created so far? What do you need to remove before you can proceed?
Roadblocks exist in all our lives because we create them.
When you realize that you have created your own reality, you will also become aware that you can change it—so your new life can begin. You will still have to deal with all the things you have created. Your lifestyle. Your debts. Your children. Your family.
All these factors must be addressed and cleared before you can proceed with your new life as an Entrepreneur. You must discard the old and make room for the new. This is the way of an Entrepreneur.
So look at your dream and where it wants to lead you. Prepare yourself for its inception by preparing yourself. It may seem difficult to address all these issues, but you must before you can make real progress.
Consider who you want to be. Where you see yourself doing business. Where you see yourself living. The more you focus on your dream, the more details will be revealed to you.
Then you will know where this journey into Dreamland in Reality is leading you.
Veterans and Legacy
Money, power, fame and fan adulation appear to be important to politicians, sports figures, television personalities, and online influencers among others. Given all the headline attention that some of the people in those fields receive, it is no surprise that a combination of big bank accounts, influence, and the spotlight follow.
Veterans, the thousands of anonymous men and women who are asked to be constantly ready for the worst things that might happen the country, do their work for modest pay, no “power” beyond the power that comes with their rank and respect from their fellow men and women in uniform. Their “business” is done outside the limelight and make headlines when something happens that many would rather not see. No one gets rich while serving in uniform and the few that may have any fan following get it after some horrific events have occurred.
The unfortunate historical development of the past fifty-five years is that we demonized our combat veterans of the Vietnam era. Society’s reaction to those who met the call and served in Vietnam caused them to go “underground” in the sense that many who served their two or three-year commitments left the military and attempted to bury that experience and hide it for decades after their service.
Veterans of the Vietnam era were the last to confront something that the majority of Americans today may not comprehend—conscription, or more commonly referred to as the “draft.” Unlike today’s volunteer military, tens of thousands of young American men waited for the draft board to send them their notices, or facing the inevitable, some signed up with the knowledge that it was only a matter of time till they would be called upon to serve. Drafting manpower to fight in Vietnam invested more of U.S. society into following what the Government was doing and that resulted in the pressures to find a way out of an unpopular war.
During the past twenty years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we seemed to have made a deliberate effort to make a distinction between the politicians and their decisions about wars and those who have volunteered to serve and fight the wars. In recent years, on the streets, on television, on social media platforms, and elsewhere, we often hear or see notes expressing, “Thank you for your service.”
It is hard to determine if expressing that sentiment allays the bitterness that some of our Vietnam veterans have felt for decades. Whether it does or not, what is evident is that we do see more and more of our Vietnam combat veterans and other Vietnam era veterans wearing hats or shirts that signify their past service.
While the vast majority of the veterans of our most recent wars are still relatively young, we should remind ourselves that as the few remaining World War II veterans pass away, the youngest of our two other wars (Korea and Vietnam) are now at least seventy years old. Our Korean War veterans are well into their eighties. With the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Vietnam in 1972, the youngest of those veterans are nearing seventy years old with the vast majority having already passed that milestone.
From the veterans of our most unpopular war, there is a great legacy being left to us by our Vietnam veterans. The greatest legacy is the one they have given each other . . . life. When a group of these old warriors reunite with men from their old units, they may shake hands, they may give their buddies a squeeze on the shoulder or a healthy slap on the back, but many embrace each other, embracing the life they gave each other for these additional fifty-plus years.
That gift of life to each other has led to spouses, children, and grandchildren. They provided each other a return home to see parents and siblings, living decades that were denied their fellow warriors who fell in battle. Reunions are a time when each of these old warriors can see the legacy of generations that they gave each other.
Today, the men and women who served decades ago in that most unpopular war are proud of their service. Many proudly wear hats or shirts that signify their service. These warriors, having their service and sacrifice disparaged for many years, have aged with the knowledge that, in the eyes of those who matter—their brothers in arms, they served with honor. They had each other’s back. They gave each other the legacy of life, allowing them to raise their families. As individuals, they may not have fame or fortune, but the gift they gave each other is priceless.
Perseverance and an Open Door
The next time you are thinking of giving up . . . not stretching yourself . . . retreating back into your comfort zone . . . Remember a guy out in the desert who happens to meet someone through an open door.
Have you ever had that moment when you thought you could go no further? When one more step was going to kill you?
When I first started this journey of self-exploration, I did not know that was what I was on. Rather, I was a burnt-out man who did not know who he was or where he was going. Having defined myself by what I did occupationally, I found myself in a remote desert house seven miles from town on a dirt road. I did not have a reason to get out of bed in the morning because I had no place to go. No one was dependent on me . . . no one called me. In fact, except for my father, no one knew where I was.
After being involved in so many different occupations and lives, suddenly I was in a self-imposed exile. I wasn’t sure who I was. I never stopped my world enough to even consider that question. But I digress, or is that regress, a little.
My journey to this self-imposed exile was not planned by me. Not even contemplated by me. It was the result of a series of events which stopped my world.
About six months earlier, I arrived in Austin, Texas, to meet with a man who possibly could help me expand the market for our tote bags in the Southwest. It was 1979. As I arrived at my hotel, my uncle had decided to impress the clerk by phoning the front desk to inform them that Willie Nelson was at our house awaiting my call. Willie Nelson was a huge star, especially in Texas. The front desk person was very impressed and promptly told me when I arrived. Smiling, I nodded my head and proceeded to go along with my sudden increase in stature.
After the meeting the next day, I toured President Lydon Johnson’s Presidential Library on the campus of the University of Texas and thought about how much the world had gone through during his presidency. I had really just gone as a tourist, but it affected me.
Anyway, the next day I flew to Phoenix to meet my uncle and a family friend who had a strong connection with a large convenience store chain. When we got to the hotel from the airport, I just decompressed. I had had enough of everything . . . especially the demands on my time and expectations of being able to make this into a successful company . . . and it wasn’t working.
I did not want to go to the dinner meeting that night and almost stayed in the hotel. My uncle finally got me to go. The evening was a fascinating mixture of business, and unknown to me, an introduction to some family members. The next day we were off to California.
I had heard about a place called Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs. I booked a room for two days there during the week. It was a wonderful, soothing resort which helped to restore me. But what happened next was expected. My world stopped . . . and I was never the same.
While walking to the main building, my uncle and I passed a room whose door was open. He was always outgoing, so he popped his head in the door and found two young women playing a board game. He thought he had struck paydirt. Somehow, he got himself invited in and dragged me with him.
At the time, we were making tote bags out of recycled gourmet coffee bags . . . very socially conscious although that part was an afterthought. He casually mentioned that to the two women. One said she owned a boutique in Joshua Tree, California. She suggested I might come up there and show her our bags for the store.
And thus, that is how I met Sally.
As we sat on the king-size bed, the four of us played some board game. Sally talked about the magic of Two Bunch Palms and revealed she had studied Polarity, which is a therapeutic healing technique. After an hour or so, we departed, but before we did, Sally gave me her card and said to contact her the next time I was in the area to show her our tote bags.
About a month later, I was on airplane headed for Palm Springs to see Sally, but the tote bags were not the main reason.
My uncle and I returned to San Francisco where I was running the company. We were not having great success with selling tote bags.
We had negotiated with a man in Chinatown who had a sewing company to produce the bags for us. He would give out machines to women in the community who would sew the bags in their homes and bring them to his shop.
The warehouse that housed the coffee bag material was in San Rafael, which is across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. I would go back and forth checking with them on stock. At one point, we ran out of lining material for the insides of the bags. As I had done before, I flew down to the Garment District in Los Angeles where I would find suppliers for the material. This particular trip was a morning in, evening out.
I flew into Los Angeles and immediately went downtown. I found a store which had exactly what I needed at a price I could afford. We put the bolts of cloth into the rental car, and I started to return toward the airport. Since it was early, I decided to stop for a late lunch. My choice would be one that changed my life forever.
I decided to eat at a small seafood restaurant which was owned by a friend of a former, maybe current, girl friend Laurel. I loved their food, and for some reason since I had only met the owner once, I never thought anyone would recognize me. I was wrong.
After eating and just before I left, the owner came out and said hello to me. I told her I was in town for the day and heading back to the airport. She asked me if I was going to call Laurel. Now, this was before cell phones (yes, there was an era where you had to call someone, and they had to be sitting in their home and pick up an instrument which had a cord running to the wall). This was the era I was in.
I told her no and that I was only in town for a few hours. She said that was too bad and then gave me a hug which was unusual. I thought nothing of it at the time. The woman was pleasant. She was nice to me. I left and went to the airport on my way back to San Francisco.
A few days later, I had a growth on my inner thigh just below the buttocks. It was not infected. It was not discolored. It was just a growth which slowly kept growing. After nearly a week, I was barely able to walk. There was no medical explanation for my condition. I knew that I had to do something or else I was going to be in big trouble.
Desperate, for some reason, I felt led that I should call Sally.
One of Sally’s gifts was she was an intuitive, although at that time I really did not know what that meant. What she said to me floored me. She said what I had sounded like an energy block. OK. Cue in the Twilight Zone music. But the next question could have soiled a strong man’s pants.
“Did anyone recently hug you? Someone you really didn’t know. Someone who seemed outwardly pleasant to you but was really very angry with you? As if you had betrayed the trust of a friend of theirs?”
“No, Sally. I can’t think of anyone who fits that description.”
“Are you sure?” Sally asked. “This is very important.”
“Well, last week, I stopped at a restaurant owned by a friend of my former, maybe current, girlfriend . . . and the owner came out to say hello. She did ask me if I was going to call Laurel. But she seemed to understand when I said I was only in LA for a few hours.”
“And when did this growth start?”
“When I returned from LA. A few days later.”
“Interesting. Well, I think I can help you if you want to come down. But I would not wait too long if you want to keep that leg.”
“You got to be kidding me.”
“No, I’m not.”
Two days later I was on a plane to Palm Springs. Barely able to walk, I drove up Highway 62 to someplace called Joshua Tree, California. And my whole perception of the world was about to change forever.
After my years of training in medicine and years working in a hospital with patients, I was not prepared for what I experienced with Sally. After forty-five minutes, the swelling was gone. I had experienced a healing that would soon transform my life forever and lead me on a journey that I am still on today, forty-three years later.
What I want to convey to you is that a chance meeting in the desert was not a chance meeting at all. When I look back and see the various points on that trip where I wanted to have a pity party and give up, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I did.
What if I decided to ditch the people who were waiting to meet me in Texas and Phoenix? What if I had decided that I was much too important and stood them up? What if my crazy uncle had not peaked into an open door in Desert Hot Springs and start a banter with two young women? What if we just stayed in the room and never ventured out?
Perseverance does have its rewards. Following through does have its rewards. Being true to your word has it rewards . . . they might not be earthly, but rather heavenly.
So, the next time you are thinking of giving up . . . not stretching yourself . . . retreating back into your comfort zone . . . Remember a guy out in the desert who happens to meet someone through an open door.
Let me repeat that, in case you missed it.
Through an open door.
Who proceeded to walk through that door.
Who accepted the invitation to play a naïve board game and get to know two other human beings.
Who were smart enough . . . or maybe intune enough . . . to keep their door open so a searching young man might wander by . . . and have his life changed forever.
Perseverance. Don’t shortchange yourself. But rather stretch yourself. And one of the best ways of doing that is to be of service to another.
When you want to give up . . . stop the music . . . think of that poor guy or girl who may be walking by your door . . . hoping someone will notice them . . . and their pain . . . and keep the door open for them.
When we focus on ourselves, we miss that we are all here to serve others.
Push through your pain so that you can show others how to escape theirs.
I thank God every day that Sally had kept her heart open . . . for I might not be here today.
My prayer is for you to return the same favor to someone you may meet on your journey through life that needs your help . . . and will receive it because you left your door open.
And invited them in.
Sarah Jessica Parker Headlines the U.S. Book Show
Sarah Jessica Parker is among the marquee stars who will keynote at the 2023 U.S. Book Show.
“I’m thrilled to be introducing Kim Coleman Foote in person at the U.S. Book Show. Kim has the rare talent of completely immersing you in time and place, and her stunning debut novel, Coleman Hill, places you into the lives of two families across eighty years of secrets and humor, feuds and love affairs, tenderness and connection. I am beyond thrilled to be publishing such a sweeping yet intimate family saga—I know you will come to love the Colemans and Coleman Hill as much as I do,” said Sarah Jessica Parker, who will participate in person with Ms. Foote in a one-on-one conversation at the lunchtime keynote on Adult Books Day.
Sarah Jessica Parker is an Emmy– and Golden Globe–winning actress and television producer best known for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, which ran on HBO from 1998–2004. Her new imprint, SJP Lit, launched a year ago with independent publisher Zando Projects. Ms. Parker is working with Zando’s CEO and publisher, Molly Stern.
Kim Coleman Foote is the debut novelist who will be in dialogue with Ms. Parker at the show. Coleman Hill: A Biomythography (SJP Lit/Zando, September) fictionalizes the author’s family’s experience of the Great Migration from Alabama and Florida to Vauxhall, New Jersey, from 1916– 1980s.
The U.S. Book Show is presented by Publishers Weekly and hosted by the NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts.
U.S. BOOK SHOW RETURNS TO NEW YORK AS A HYBRID EVENT
The third annual U.S. Book Show returns to New York City as a four-day hybrid event, May 22–25, 2023, taking place live at NYU’s Kimmel Center and livestreaming for a virtual audience of publishing professionals, librarians and booksellers. Meg Medina, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Newbery Medalist whose middle-grade books dive into Cuban American and Latino culture, will give the morning keynote on Children’s Books Day, May 24, 2023.
Celebrity and A-list authors open each show day with not-to-be-missed keynote addresses. Focused on what’s hot for Fall 2023, the show features themed author panels, authors in conversation and the highly acclaimed Editors’ Picks series.
“AAPI Community in Conversations,” featuring authors, creators and librarians, is a new highlight of opening day, Monday, May 22, 2023. The special livestreaming event centers around Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices, books, cultures and experiences. The program is a collaborative effort from Publishers Weekly, the University of South Carolina’s Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and Penguin Random House Library Marketing.
On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, a day of live educational programming designed for agents, editors and publishing professionals will be presented by the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA). The much anticipated day will feature panels, networking sessions and bring the industry together for continuing education around issues of mutual interest.
Two targeted, livestream-only tracks include a new program for publishing professionals moderated by Publishers Weekly editors that will take up hot-button issues such as publishing salaries. “Libraries Are Essential,” the well-regarded slate of discussion panels for librarians and curated by Publishers Weeklyeditor Andrew Albanese, will run on Tuesday.
The show dedicates days to various segments of the industry, including comics and graphic novels (Tuesday), adult titles (Wednesday) and children’s books (Wednesday). Editors’ Picks panels, to be held virtually, cap off the event on Thursday with preeminent book editors in conversation with Publishers Weekly reviews editors.
“We are pleased to extend the success of the first two years of the U.S. Book Show into this year’s live and livestreaming event for the entire publishing and bookselling community,” said Cevin Bryerman, CEO and publisher of Publishers Weekly, noting that the return of the virtual exhibit hall and popular Grab-a-Galley Hall will allow all comers to receive galleys of forthcoming Fall books.
Buzz has already started in the book publishing industry among publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents about the event, which is presented by Publishers Weekly and hosted by NYU School of Professional Studies Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts.
About Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly is the international news platform of the book publishing industry. Founded 150 years ago in 1872 and published weekly since then, the magazine boasts 1.23 million social media followers; publishes 10 e-newsletters, BookLife (a website and semimonthly supplement), Publishers Weekly en Español (in partnership with Lantia), two blogs, podcasts, a mobile edition, digital editions and apps; and features a thriving website that reaches 14 million unique visitors annually. In conjunction with the Sharjah Book Fair, the magazine is also published in an Arabic edition.
What do we mean when we say becoming “Mentally Healthy?”
According to the Mental Health Association: “Mental Health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well. Also, being able to offer positive contributions to their surrounding communities.”
Well, that is a powerful statement, isn’t it!
So, how do we get there, and more importantly, how do we stay there?
Do you think life always has a perfect balance?
That answer is a firm NO! Life is not always balanced, and we are faced with many situations, stresses, and unknowns all the time. When we are faced with quick changing life situations, that definitely interferes with our daily lives. We are creatures of habit, so when these circumstances happen, that is when we become strained and off balance.
Now, let’s go back to the original question. How do we maintain our mental health?
So, we know life gives us twists and turns all the time, and to be able to maneuver through each obstacle may prove challenging. If we can work on remaining grounded, and ride out that wave of uncertainty, we will make it.
The first steps to become mentally strong is to look at our strengths and weaknesses.
YES, I said it out loud “weakness,” because we all have them. Listen up! Nobody likes to look at their weaknesses (myself included), but it is a must to find true balance. We have to be honest with ourselves, so that we can achieve this very important goal.
Once you can establish what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can move forward putting a game plan together.
Think about what your struggles are during a stressful situation and look to find solutions that you can connect with. Seek out the solutions that you feel comfortable with. It is there that you can find your grounding.
You may want to take a walk for a few moments or sit quietly to bring yourself back down to a calming level. We all have different things that help us, so tap into your toolbox for support.
It is so important to learn about yourself. The more that you understand about what makes you tick, the more that will help give you the fuel you require to get you to where you need to be. You need to know what your triggers are, and how you react to them. Sometimes these unknown thoughts and feelings can put you over the edge. Again, if you take the time to do the self-work, your toolbox will become filled with many options to choose from during your times of need.
I know for myself I love change of scenery. When I start to feel like I am riding that emotional roller-coaster, I tell myself it is time to get off the “crazy train.” I do actually talk to myself. I believe it is very healthy to be our own “Cheerleaders!”
As soon as I can break away from what I am doing, I go for a walk. I get outside in the fresh air and take in my surroundings. I am a very visual person, so I like to look around to see the sights and be in the moment. As the sounds and smells surround me, I feel myself unwinding. When I do this, I am shifting gears inside my mind giving myself a brain break. This is so important for all of us to do. We all need that break!
There are many ways to switch gears, you just have to find out what works best for you. Here are some examples:
- Listening to Music
- Meditating/Sitting in Silence
- Reaching out to a family member or friend for a brief conversation
- Take a quick ride in the car and blasting your favorite music
- Watch funny mindless videos, and allow yourself to Laugh Out Loud
These are just a few to mention, but there are so many more. Again, YOU have to figure out what works for you.
Also, becoming mentally healthy may mean change in habits. You may want to add more water consumption throughout the day. It can make you feel cleansed and lighter.
Working on a healthier lifestyle with food, alcohol, tobacco, etc. can be another way to find yourself feeling more balanced.
I believe what is hard for many, many people out there is to turn it all off and find time to rest and sleep. Let’s face it we are a highly connected generation to social media, news, drama, and work. Our minds are on over drive 24/7. To shut it all out for a bit, feels very foreign and abnormal. Think about disconnecting for a little while and use that as one of your tools for self-care.
Having a phone and social media addiction is now a thing! This is not only about our youth, but for countless adults as well. This addiction wreaks havoc in the lives of all who simply cannot put that phone down. It is like an appendage, attached by the veins of craving, seeking, and fear of missing out on the next adventure.
I know for myself included, I have a very hard time putting the phone down and saying to myself, “let it go until tomorrow.” This is something I am personally working on as a goal for 2023.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONES!
I cannot stress enough that our BRAINS need a rest from everything.
Allow yourself the gift of calm and quiet time. Read a book, watch a favorite show, or just listen to some soothing music. It is amazing how relaxed you can feel when you decide to shut out the world for just a little bit.
The other night my husband and I did just that. We sat in the living room, no tv, just listening to music and it was wonderful. At one point I felt like I was sinking into the chair, actually feeling my body destress. It was amazing. When I went to bed that night, I felt calm and relaxed! I had a wonderful night sleep.
The next day I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead of me.
It is these important gifts that we must offer ourselves as often as possible. We must work harder on allowing self-care to happen. It is time to teach ourselves to let go a little bit and bring in that positive and peaceful energy.
Also, work on having a positive mindset. Taking your negatives and turn them into positives. This is a practiced skill, but one that is quite effective as you move forward in your days ahead. Again, every day is not going to be a great day, but if you approach your situations in a positive fashion, you would be amazed on how you can overcome many stressful experiences.
It all starts out with a game plan and a strong mindset to make it happen. Make 2023 your year to become mentally healthy and strong. If you can make that commitment to yourself, life will become lighter, and you will crave that time, “just for you.”
What are you waiting for?
Just DO IT!
“If you want to do something, just do it. No one is going to do it for you.” Jaime Pressly
“Throw caution to the wind and just do it.” Carrie Underwood
“Everybody is different. Everybody has different styles. Just do it the best way you know how.” Vince Carter
POSTNAB | Broadcast & Post Production Tech Roadshow
May 18, 2023 Chicago Expert Speakers | 30 Exhibitors |
Get all your tech and budget questions answered at one event! Key Code Media is bringing the best of the AV, Broadcast, and Post Production tech industry to a location near you with our annual PostNAB 2023 Roadshow. Don’t miss over 30 top exhibitors and interactive industry speaker sessions! Come for the technology, education, and the chance to mix and mingle with professionals from the area.
12:30PM BUILDING AN IN-HOUSE STUDIO: IMPROVING COMMUNICATION FOR EVERYONE
1:30PM LEARN FROM THE WORLD’S BEST EDITORS W/ STEVE HULLFISH
2:30PM POST PRODUCTION WORKFLOW TRENDS IN 2023
Mourning the Living
This Subject is not Talked About Enough
Mourning—When we hear that word we think of the passing of a soul.
Did you ever think about mourning the living? What does that feel like?
MOURNING Definition: In the simplest sense, grief over someone’s death. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviors in which the bereaved participates are expected to participate.
This process of mourning is universal all over the world. Each culture grieves the same but different. We all have our own way of handling death, personally and as a community. When someone passes away, as difficult as it is to lose them, we know it is final in the sense that person has physically left this earth.
We know that we can never have another face-to-face conversation or receive that long-awaited hug. Our minds process the physicality of someone passing away. Of course, that doesn’t take away the emotional anguish, but in some sense, we can rationalize it.
WHAT ABOUT MOURNING THE LIVING?
Have you ever thought about that?
As we make our way through life, people do come and go. Friends, work associates, neighbors, and family. How do we handle it when someone is gone from our sight but is still physically roaming the earth?
Our brain is wired in such a way that when someone has affected our lives, we cannot just turn it off. Those images stay present long after the person has moved on. There will be a certain moment when you are triggered by a memory, and instantly you are transported back to a time of the past.
What do you do with all of those left-over feelings and connections?
You must process them the same way that you would the death of a beloved person in your life. As you move forward, take the time to revisit the good, the bad, and possibly the ugly. You must learn how to make peace with the fact that you will not see that person anymore and why.
These feelings and emotions may be difficult to face but are necessary to be able to release all the baggage that have been left behind. The reality is that people do come and go in our lives for various reasons. Sometimes it is for a lesson, or other times it is better that they moved on, but the hardest part is when someone close to you leaves and brands your heart with a hole that is quite painful.
How do you fix it?
It may not always be fully fixable, but again putting understanding and meaning to the reasons why will help you move forward.
I always like to share my life experiences, because I want people to feel connected to what I am writing about. The life lessons along the way are the most important ones we will ever learn. I feel very strongly about sharing for purpose.
Here is a true example of how I have personally “mourned the living.”
As a mother, I take great pride in all of my children. I have raised three of them, two boys and a girl, and I lost one due to an unhealthy embryo. I am now a grandmother of three. My husband and I are also raising two of them. I have learned so much along the way as a parent/grandparent.
The Good – The Bad – The Ugly.
My oldest child (my son) was born premature, and we almost lost him. Through endless love and support, my husband and I willed him to live and survive. With an incredible team of doctors and our unconditional love, he did survive. The doctors told us because we spent so much time with him in the hospital, and gave him so much physical touch, that actually stimulated his will to live.
His life growing up was difficult, with many ups and downs as he struggled with ADHD/ODD/Anxiety/Depression. As a family we all supported him through his trials and troubles, which included being bullied profusely, beaten up, isolation, depression, and risky behaviors. It was a very dark time in his life, and ours as well. As a teenager growing up into a young man, he made many, many poor choices. One could say he would choose every wrong choice first! He got himself into quite a bit of trouble, and he had a few run ins with the law.
As his dutiful family, we stood by his side every painstaking step of the way, continually reaching out to him every single day. We did everything humanly possible to try to connect with him and keep him close to us. His response was always to ignore our pleas to let us help him. Instead, he always pushed us away, leaving us feeling defeated every single time, but we never gave up on him, ever! His years of poor choices and awful behaviors affected our family as a whole. It broke us!
It was me, my husband, and the two kids. Then there was our other son, lost refusing our support, guidance, and love. There was a great divide completely created by him. We never understood why!
It was a constant battle of the wills with a mother’s undying love for her son holding onto those heart strings for dear life. That statement “A mother’s love is like no other” is one of the truest statements I know, because I live it every day.
Fast forward to the present time, my baby boy is now a thirty-five-year-old man, that I mourn every single day. He continues to shun us every step of the way, not allowing us ever to be close to him. This hurts my heart more than any other pain I have felt throughout my life; and my life has been quite a difficult journey. I grew up in a dysfunctional household with a severely mentally ill mother. I went through horrendous abuse of all types (mental, physical, emotional, sexual) by more than one abuser. I also lost my brother to Leukemia at the age of nine (I was six), and by the grace of God and a strong will, I survived.
I always knew when I had my own family one day, it would be very different from the household I grew up in. I put my heart and soul into my husband and children. We built a home together, giving our kids an environment that they could grow up freely with safety, security, happiness, lots of laughter, and unconditional love.
Who would have ever thought this is how our story would play out? My son and I have a “texting” relationship. I do not see him very often, maybe once or twice a year for a few moments! We are raising two of his children (that he has zero contact with), and he has a daughter (our other grandchild) that we have not seen, but only a handful of times. To use the word “heartbreaking” is an understatement.
Without going into further details of our complex story, there have been a lot of events that brought us here. As parents we did absolutely everything we could to help him, and we fought with every ounce of our being. We jumped through hoops and climbed mountains. Our love for him was so immensely strong, and we did not ever want to give up on him.
I always said, “We were trying to save him from himself.”
I know firsthand what “mourning the living” feels like, and it is far worse than mourning the dead, in my opinion. This is because that person is still physically here on this earth. WE can connect with them if it is actually meant to be. Knowing my son is only fifteen minutes away from me, hurts so much because we are still a world apart. It is truly a devastating feeling.
So, what do we do with all of that?
We continue to live. We process what has happened and put it into its proper place. It is hard, very hard. YES, IT IS PAINSTAKING, but it is a necessary task, because if we do not face it, then we are not truly living.
As I move forward with my life, I pray for him every day. I pray for his safety and good health. I pray one day for answers that may never come. I also remain hopeful that he will return to us wanting to engage beyond the world of texting.
My husband and I will always keep that door open for him, if he chooses to step back in.
I am reminded of him through his two children and our countless family stories of the past.
Mourning the living is beyond all of us and something I do not believe many people talk about or share. This is another silent topic that need to come to the for front. For many people, they travel this earth with that pain buried deep inside their hearts holding it privately, not allowing anyone to see the “unspoken truth.”
I chose to share my story here, because I always hope that my experience will help someone else in mourning find a way to cope with the loss.
We must face what hurts us the most in order to learn, overcome, and hopefully heal.
Time . . . Is it on our side?
Embrace the Journey.
Break The Silence, Break The Stigma
Mental Health Awareness Month
As we are stepping away from child abuse/sexual awareness month, and placing our feet firmly into Mental Health Awareness Month, we are continually reminded that we still have a very long way to go in regards to awareness and change.
There are many things going on in our world right now that are affecting everyone’s mental health, especially our youth. During the pandemic, child abuse, domestic violence, depression, and suicide all rose to record breaking numbers. We are still feeling the aftermath from this very difficult time period.
As our youth made their way back to the classroom, the damaged had already been done. They were filled with high anxiety, depression, and internal anger. This time of isolation and home schooling brought about a new set of problems for all of our children.
Now, imagine being the child who was living in a household filled with dysfunction, violence, and abuse. How did they fare up? I can tell you, not well at all. For many of our youth, school was their only safe haven, where they were cared for and nurtured.
The security blanket of school was pulled away in the blink of an eye.
This is why mental health and child safety go hand in hand. We must find balance in how our children are cared for, not only in the classroom, but in the home. As adults we must be proactive in caring for our overall mental health. It is our moral responsibility to do so, because our thoughts and actions affect all that are involved in our daily circle of life.
I personally lived in a dysfunctional household, riddled with abuse.
As a young girl growing up, my own mother suffered from severe mental illness, which was quite a complex mixture of depression, mania, psychosis, and grief from the loss of her only son. She also suffered from diabetes and a thyroid condition. This combination of mental and physical diseases fought against one another for years as she battled it all ferociously. She could never find balance.
Many times, she was misdiagnosed because she was such a complex case. You can imagine the chaos that was going on inside of her body and mind. Unfortunately, there were limitations and lack of knowledge at this time in our lives (the 1970s era), and mental illness in general was frowned upon (The Stigma). The term “Being Mentally Healthy” was not a thing during this time period. You just didn’t talk about it, which further complicated my mother’s conditions.
The question that always comes to my mind is this.
“When a parent or guardian is mentally struggling without proper support, who helps the child”? This is a daunting question!
Long story short my mother fell through the cracks of a flawed and limited support system—and I fell with her. We tumbled into a dark hole together. My mother’s instabilities opened me up as prey, because my mother was making very poor decisions. She allowed many strangers in our home from all walks of life.
During her times of mania, she felt like she could conquer the world with her psychotic strength. Then in her times of what she called “the great depression,” she was like a lead balloon basking in deflated air. You can imagine what all of this dysfunction did to me as a child. As time when on, I was subjected to mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse (sexual abuse was by another source).
Because of the lack of care and support, my mother’s mental illness festered to the ultimate levels, and she unknowingly brought a perpetrator right into our home and basically offered me up to him. Her rational thought process was clouded by the voices inside her mind.
I was a twelve-year-old little girl already damaged by my traumatic home life, and this was the icing on the cake. The abuse I endured was horrendous, and the daily battle was excruciating.
I am sharing all of this, not to put my mother or mental illness down, but to bring awareness to people. This is what happens when someone who is struggling from this disease does not get the help that they so deserve. Bad things can and do happen. The repercussions of “lack of support” travel on throughout a whole family!
We need to continue to advocate for mental health and break the stigma of silence. I say this so many times “Silence can be deadly!” It is not just a physical death; it is an emotional death.
Mental Health struggles comes in many forms.
We say mental illness, but that is a broad term. There are countless people young and old struggling from PTSD (due to trauma/abuse/combat), depression (chemical imbalance), mania, psychosis, schizophrenia, anxiety, suicide ideation, etc. The list goes on as there are many different components, terms, diagnoses, and physical health factors that can play into this whole equation.
The best defense that we have to combat this problem is to talk about it, learn about it, and be proactive about it. This is why I say mental health and child safety go hand in hand because I was on the latter end of this problem. I suffered tremendously because of lack of knowledge!
I have struggled with my own mental health issues due to the abuse that I endured. It has taken me years to sift through the ashes and deal with the rubble of my past to clear the air and reclaim a strong mindset. I do not wish this battle on my worst enemy because the pain and suffering can be unbearable, and far too many people get sucked up into that madness—and do not make it out alive!
I am one of the lucky ones, and I am so grateful! Now, I can stand here today stating my case because of all the work that I put in. The healing journey is a long treacherous road of countless uphill battles, but the worthiest battle that you will ever face in our life!
I also believe I am here for a reason and that is to raise awareness, educate and share my personal experience with all of you, so that maybe one day more children will be saved from this horror and more people who struggle with mental health issues are acknowledged and helped.
People who are struggling deserve validation.
We can do great things together if we can support one another along the way. I ask you to take the time and educate yourself on mental health issues and learn how to get beyond the stigmas.
I ask you to STAND WITH ME, as we raise awareness together.
Look around you right now—what do you see? There may be someone sitting right next to you struggling tremendously inside his/her mind and you do not even know it.
TIME TO BREAK THE SILENCE ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Masks – What Are We Hiding?
Mental Health Awareness Month
The definition of a mask: a disguise to cover up the face.
Why do people feel the need to hide themselves from the world?
For countless people, before they step outside to start their day, they choose to arm themselves with a mask. This process automatically puts their brain into protection mode. You surround yourself with this invisible bubble of safety. The mind shifts to a place where everything is guarded.
Why do you not want others to see who you really are? What are you so desperately hiding?
These are great questions that you should be asking yourself if you are living in darkness behind that mask of shame.
As you march forward, the mask thickens with many layers sugar coating the reality of all that harbors underneath. Silent thoughts, “Do not look me in the eye as you may get a glimpse of the reality hidden so perfectly, tucked away beneath the iron clad wall of pain.”
As the years pass, countless covers overlay one another forming a thick surface that refuses to budge, hardening, tightening until you feel suffocated by the harsh reality of life. You are now lost in between the lines of disaster waiting to unfold as the grip is faltering at the seams, boiling up, and getting ready to burst.
You hold on for dear life, fighting tooth and nail to keep that mask secured so tightly, that nobody will ever see the truth that lies beneath your sweat-soaked coverings. As your shaking soul quivers, breaking down, head drooped, completely saddened by the unspoken words written on the notepad inside your mind. You are totally lost in a time warp of the past.
As the soul withers in the darkness, it scrambles to seek the light. That inner spirit does not want to be suppressed any longer. Ultimately, it wants to abandon this life of silent hell, refusing to succumb to the madness any longer. The silent whispers are calling out to you, begging to be set free only to be subdued for a moment, and then pounding back in your ears. This is silent but deafening at the same time, “I need to be FREE!”
“Help me say the words out loud” – “I know you hear me.”
Our souls do speak to us!
Now, take a step back for a moment and really think about this scenario going on inside your mind. As you read this passage above, what do you feel?
I say all the above!
When children and young adults go through abuse, trauma, or neglect, they start to collect these masks along the way. Daily, they work so hard to hide everything that they are feeling inside, so nobody will ever see. What makes sense in the moments of survival is to cover it all up and pretend it is not happening.
Some people do this out of fear or shame. Others will do this out of some misguided loyalty or duty. Many will do this because they do not want to be labeled different or damaged. That wanting to be accepted, overrides all rational thoughts.
The common denominator to all of this is people have a huge fear of not being believed or validated! The brave ones that have had the courage to step up and say the words out loud, have been ridiculed and shut down by the non-believers, and naysayers. These actions send a disturbing message to the brain of warning signals to remain silent at all costs. Time to build up your masks.
As we grow older, the mask becomes a dysfunctional security blanket hiding the hideous unspoken truths from the world. Moving forward onto adulthood, it is apparent that these battles scars overflow into everyday life, and we step forward with much discomfort, anxiety, and sometimes paranoia. The pains of the past are secretly controlling our every move as its insidious hold claims all that is good and turns it into a pile of rubble.
How long should we allow the past to claim our future? For some people, it’s a life time of silent hell, living in between two worlds at the same time. It is like a coo-coo clock’s pendulum swinging back and forth to the rhythm of a dysfunctional beat.
I say it is TIME to switch it up, turn back those hands of time, and let it all flow. Slowly bring up those old pains to the surface one by one looking it in the eye and facing it once and for all.
Make the choice to do the work and break down each mask as it shatters to the floor. Piece by piece you can rectify the wrongs of the past by claiming your life back, reminding yourself, you are in control.
How do we make this happen?
Do we need support to overcome it?
Is therapy effective?
Yes, therapy is effective when you find the right fit.
You can overcome the past, if you are honest with yourself.
The work that you will do is going to be very hard, and some masks are much thicker than others. You will need a strong mindset, a lot of determination and courage with a big dash of faith. Tell yourself over and over again, you can do this. You must become your own personal cheerleader of encouragement.
Grab your journals and get to work!
The first step is to start at the beginning and make your way forward. I always encourage people to write it all down. Purchase a journal, and start at the beginning. Writing is for you, and only you, so there are no mistakes.
When you are done writing, read back your thoughts, stories and memories. Work on making peace with each one. Your journal will become your bible during this time of your life, as you seek the answers you have always been looking for.
Read – Re-Read – Embrace – Let Go
As the masks release one by one, you will feel a sense of freedom that you have never felt before. It is a glorious, profound moment when earth and air meet with a total cleansing like a new fallen rain with dew drops of emotions popping one by one, as the sun shines through the clouded waters.
If you are ready to take this journey of awakening, seek out positive support and make a strong game plan for yourself. This is a process, so you cannot go from A-Z in a moment. You must take all the steps, do not skip a beat.
Slow and steady wins the race.
You will never know if you can do this for yourself if you do not start somewhere, so the best place to start is the beginning. Once you start to do your self-work and become stronger, shift your gears towards focus on the win! The stronger you become is the prize that you will gain, as you walk forward in your life. The abuser does not get to win at this game called life, you do! The best revenge is living a full life despite the abuse, pain, and shame.
The forgiveness that so many doctors, professionals, and spiritual leaders speak of actually comes from within. Remember you are in control now, and as the healing continues, the hatred fades.
Will you ever forget what happened to you?
The answer is NO, but it will finally have a resting place, and you will be the only one able to access it if you need to go there.
Throughout life there will always be those pings, triggers, and sadness attached to those masks, but once you have a better understanding of yourself, you will learn how to deal with them in a positive way.
Purpose for pain.
It is ok to have your moments (because you will). During those times, remind yourself to embrace those triggers with this new found knowledge, that those past pains are only a part of you who you are. The more that you know yourself, the better equipped you will be to offer self-soothing supports during these difficult times.
As you face those triggers with courage, allow them to flow through you, feel it. If the tears want to flow, allow it, reminding yourself that even though it feels awful, you are still in control because you have the ability to let it go. You have now become the playmaker of your own story.
The silence is now being broken as the masks are crashing to the floor. Make sure you celebrate the breaking of this vicious cycle, as you shine brightly in light of day.
No more masks, they have now faded away.
Embrace the journey and continue to take your steps forward with strength and conviction.
“The law is reason free from passion” Aristotle
Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study of practice of law, and of life. It is with passion, courage of conviction, and a strong sense of self that we take our next steps into the world, remembering that first impressions are not always correct. You must always have faith in people, and most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.
Elle Woods – Legally Blond