Let's create a story - together - on Facebook Live

I had this wild and crazy idea. Full emphasis on crazy.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a writer. And I also have this belief that all of us are creative, whether we believe we are or not.

As I was pondering the question of what might be a fun thing to do for readers - and for me, because I’m selfish like that - the crazy idea popped right into my head. I thought:

What if I invited everybody in my world to hop over to my Facebook author page for a live story building session? How fun would that be?

Now, if a lovely group of people shows up, then this idea is really fairly sane and has the potential to actually be a super fun time. There’s not much that makes me happier than brainstorming a new story, and I’d love to bring you into that particular writer play space with me.

The crazy part is that if nobody else thinks it sounds like a fun idea, I could easily end up talking to myself, which is really a normal part of my usual creative day, but with the added pressure of talking to myself LIVE on Facebook.

But hey, now that I had the idea it’s a happening thing!

Come on over and play with me on Friday August 16th at 11 am PT (noon MT, 1 pm CT, and 2 pm ET). Put it in your calendar now so you remember.

Let’s see what we can create together!

fall of poppies.jpg

Extra incentive

I have a copy of Fall of Poppies, signed by authors Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor, that I’ll give to somebody who really gets into this story creation process.

Author Hangout with Christine Nolfi

I had this idea that it would be super fun to get Christine in a zoom room and then stream our conversation life to Facebook. It was a brilliant idea (I still believe this.) But then Tech glitches happened. We were way late by the time zoom decided to stream. Some of our loyal and devoted fans never did get to join us, but Christine and I still had a blast with our Facebook Live author hang out, and now you can be in on it too, after the fact! I hope you enjoy! We got into some interesting territory around tapping into the collective unconscious, whether we manifest life events by what we write in books, and where ideas come from.

I’d love it if you’d share your reactions and tell us what you think!

Check out Christine’s new release - The Road She Left Behind.

Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.  Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.

Crushed by guilt over the car accident that killed her father and sister, and torn apart by her mother’s resentment, Darcy Goodridge fled her family estate eight years ago and hasn’t looked back. Now an unexpected phone call threatens to upend what little serenity she’s found. Her nephew, Emerson, who was just a baby when his mother died, has gone missing. Darcy must return home and face her past in order to save him.

Once back in Ohio, Darcy realizes there’s more to Emerson’s disappearance—and to the sudden retirement of her mother, Rosalind—than meets the eye. As she works to make inroads with Rosalind, Darcy begins to unravel a decades-old secret that devastated her family and forced a wedge between her and Michael Varano, the man she left heartbroken when she vanished after the funeral. After carrying the scars of that fateful night for almost a decade, Darcy is determined to find closure, healing, and maybe even love where she lost them all in the first place—right back home where she belongs.

Because I love readers...

If you are an avid reader, then I love you, whether you happen to have read my books or not!

Seriously. Where would writers be without people to read their books?

So, today I want to give you a gift. I can’t give all of you a book (well, maybe I could but it would get really expensive and I’m not feeling quite THAT generous) but I can give books to some of you!

Comment below sometime today (February 14, 2019) for a chance to win a Kindle copy of either Closer Home or I Wish You Happy. I’d love to make this international, but Amazon won’t let me share the Kindle with you, alas, so US only for this one.

Tell me something about your love of reading AND which book you would like to win!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(Oh - and if you’re notified about winning, respond within a week in order to be eligible)

I have a gift for you valentine's.png
Kerry Schafer Comments
Christmas Giveaway

Exclusive Giveaway for Newsletter Subscribers

Whisper Christmas.jpg

Thank you for being you, and for reading my emails every week! I’m excited to give away three paperback copies of Whisper Me This. Just comment on this post to enter. I’ll draw a winner at random on Christmas Eve and announce them in the next newsletter. So make sure you read to see if you won!

Merry Christmas, from me and the Viking.


Kerry Schafer Comments
Listen to the Whisper Me This Original Song
Brandon Schafer and Keadrin Cain

Brandon Schafer and Keadrin Cain

I'm deeply happy to be able to share the recording of Whisper Me This with you.

This song was born of a creative collaboration between me, my son Brandon, a lovely cellist named Keadrin, and one of those magical moments I live for as a writer. You can read more about that here.

My thanks to Brandon Schafer, Keadrin Cain, Amplified Wax studios, and also to the lyrics of this song for showing up pretty much out of the blue.

Happy listening!

Copyright Kerry and Brandon Schafer. Lyrics, Kerry Schafer. Guitar and vocals, Brandon Schafer. Cello and backup vocals, Keadrin Cain. Recording by Amplified Wax

A Whisper of an Idea

Whisper Me This was born out of one of many conversations with my Viking about life, the universe, and everything.

We were soaking luxuriously in our hot tub (which is out on the back deck of our little house in the big woods) listening to the wind in the trees and reveling in the awesome life we are lucky to live up here.

And then the Viking started talking about this woman he knows who is not so lucky. She's trapped in a domestic violence situation--a bright, beautiful woman who struggles to see that there could be another way for her.

And then he asked this question:

"What does it take for a woman to get free of something like that? Or for anybody to make a total life change? Do you just wake up one morning and realize you've had enough? Is there one moment in time that changes everything, or is it a gradual process?"

And then he looked at me and said, "You should write about that."

So I did. 

This is a topic that resonates deeply with me. I am an extremely fortunate woman. I was raised without any shadow of fear by a father who was an awesome human being who respected women. My brother is the same kind of human being, and when I went out looking for relationships I found men who were like them.

But I've been a counselor and I've listened to so many of my clients, both women and men, trying to get past a legacy of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. I've heard my friends talk about the situations they are in, or have gotten free of. Not to mention what I see on the internet on a daily basis.

I have talked to humans who have been incredibly impacted by abuse and don't yet realize that what is happening to them is wrong. Their whole experience has been such that they believe these toxic relationships are normal. 

So in this story I delved into the stories of characters who have all been affected, one way or another, by domestic violence. And while I wrote I was always looking to answer that question - "What would it take to get free?"

And because this topic matters to me, deeply, I'm extraordinarily excited that this book has been chosen by my publisher as a Readers First pick this month on Amazon. I hope that it might make some small difference out there in the world, even if it just opens up some dialogue around this complex and pervasive issue.

And of course, being an author, I also hope readers love the characters and the story!

I Wish You Happy Celebration - Matchmaking for Beginners

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson is one of my favorite books this year so far. Here is the blurb I was lucky enough to write for it:

Matchmaking for Beginners walked straight into my heart, trailing a shower of golden sparkles. Dawson has created a magical world inhabited by characters so engaging and real it seems plausible they might drop by for a cup of coffee. By turns funny, wise, and poignant, this is a story about falling in love—with the painful, messy, joyful business of living.
— Kerry Anne King

And here's the copy from Amazon:

A Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller.

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.

When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.

And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

Enter! You definitely want to read this one.

I Wish You Happy Celebration - Week One Giveaway

I love this book - and I love it's author. Barbara Sissel is one of the kindest, most compassionate and lovely women you are ever going to meet. So I'm delighted to be offering a giveaway of What Lies Below. If you enter - be sure to check my newsletter to see if you won!

If you could wish somebody happy, who would it be?
“You can’t wish somebody happy, Rae.” 

I can, I want to tell him. I do. Every day. Not that it works, as far as I can tell. But it’s something, the only response I can make to the heartbreak and suffering floating around in the emotional atmosphere.
— I Wish You Happy

 Rae, the empathic, animal loving main character in my new novel, I Wish You Happy, makes special trips to the river so she can skip stones into the water, each one carrying a happy wish for someone who needs it. 

In honor of Rae's belief that maybe wishes really can alter the reality around us, even just a little, I'd like to introduce a different kind of contest - one in which you enter to win a prize for somebody else.

Here's how it works.

Between July 1st through 7th, I will give away one signed physical copy of I Wish You Happy daily. To enter, just post a picture of yourself with your copy of I Wish You Happy (ebook or physical), to Twitter or Facebook, hashtag it #mywishyouhappy, and also tag the person you will give the book to if you win. Multiple entries encouraged - just put up a new post and tag a different person!

Each evening between July 1st through 7th,  I will randomly choose a winner. The person who was tagged by the winner gets the book. The participating winner will be entered into a grand prize drawing. On July 8th, I will choose a grand prize winner out of the seven finalists for this prize:

GRAND PRIZE: $500 to go to an animal rescue or mental health nonprofit of your choice, PLUS this beautiful little wishing pot for making your own wishes.


Pre-order now so you have a book in your possession for photo opportunities (or borrow one from a friend) and be ready to start wishing the world a happier place on July 1st! Don't forget the #mywishyouhappy so I can find your entries!

Inevitable Fine Print, left big enough so you can read it: International participants welcome. Must be 18 or older to win. I reserve the right of determining whether the non-profit selected fits the designated limits, and will mail the money directly to the organization. Purchase not necessary to enter. All winners must respond to notification within 7 days or forfeit their prize.

Easy Entry Giveaway - CLOSER HOME

Kerry SchaferComment
Epic #LakeUnionAuthors Twitter Party

If you are a Twitterer, you might just want to put Tuesday March 7 on your calendar.


I'll tell you why. 

Over 30 amazing authors (including me) will be hanging out on Twitter under the #LakeUnionAuthor hashtag, and each one is offering up a giveaway!!

As if that wasn't awesome enough all by itself, these authors are fun. They are smart. They are witty. They come from all walks of life and will be there to entertain, interact, and answer questions.

The festivities begin at 4:30 EST. I'll be showing up diva late at 8:15 EST, or at least that's when I'll be around FOR SURE. I'll probably pop in and out before then, for fear of missing out on the fun.

I will be giving away winner's choice of a signed paperback copy of Closer Home or an audio MPE copy or a CD Boxed set.

If you don't Twitter, you still have a chance to win. Check back here on the 7th for entry details. Or, you know, start twittering! I'm @kerry_anne_king. Come find me.

Mama Gena's Five Day Receiving Challenge

I stumbled across a post over on Facebook that snagged my attention. Here's what caught me:

As women, we struggle with receiving praise, love, and acknowledgment.

Whether we...
Avert our eyes and deflect the praise...
Respond with self-deprecation...
Or sabotage our own happiness because we don’t feel worthy of it...
— Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts

Sound familiar?

She goes on to explain some of the reasons why we so frequently fear our own power, and then invites us to join her in a five day challenge where we will "take one action every day that teaches you how to graciously receive love, praise, and goodness into your life (and encourage other women to do the same)."

I'm in! Anybody else want to play along?  Sign up here.!

Chronic Shock and What You Can Do About It

Last week I posted a screening checklist for chronic shock. We had some discussion about results over on Facebook. There were several instances of, "Hey, I score high on a couple of these things. Isn't that just temperament? I don't feel like I'm in shock."

Of course there are personality differences. From the time kids are little bitty some of them are more driven and some are more laid back. This was one of my excuses when I did the shock questionnaire. OF COURSE there are a million things on my To Do List. I have to do a ton of things in order to get where I want to go.

And there is truth to this. It's possible to be busy and still be connected, fully present, and mindful about what you're doing. And then there's the state I was in, which is not so healthy. I felt like a hamster on a wheel. My To Do List felt like Everest, and I was trying to climb it - alone - without any climbing gear. I felt disconnected, disenchanted, flat, and a little hopeless. Also, bone weary.

I've realized, now that I've moved out of shock, that I'd lost the ability to enjoy any one thing. If I was sitting and talking to the Viking, I was thinking about all of the things that HAD to be done. I felt disconnected from people, family and friends alike. I moved from sympathetic shock - running around like a headless chicken while trying to do ALL THE THINGS - into parasympathetic shock - exhausted, depressed, falling asleep while trying to write or drive or pretty much any time I was actually sitting still.

At bedtime, I'd crash for an hour or two, and then my body would wake back up and not know what to do with the whole concept of extended rest.

Who is most at risk for shock?

People who tend to be "care giver" types are at high risk. First responders, including therapists, counselors, and medical personnel, are continually inundated with intense emotions and life and death situations. They are often too busy caring for others to take care of themselves. Individuals who have had personal tragedies, been diagnosed with a serious illness, or had to deal with a financial crisis, may move from stress into shock.

When life comes at us too hard and fast, we move into a fight or flight mode, (sympathetic shock) and/or a freeze mode (parasympathetic shock) and some of us get stuck there. 

What can you do?

  1. Become Mindful. Notice what your body is doing. Is your heart racing, your adrenaline pumping, your brain trying to perform gymnastic feats? Or are you dragging yourself around and constantly hitting caffeine and energy drinks to try to get things done? Are you hitting the sugar or the chocolate by early afternoon? When do these things happen? Are there triggers that send you one way or the other?
  2. Meditate. Meditation calms the body and the mind. It begins to balance out the brain-body chemicals that get out of whack when we are in shock. Five minutes a day can make a big difference.
  3. Practice Yoga or some other form of mindful exercise that includes breath work. Again, just a few minutes a day has profoundly healing effects.
  4. Take a walk in nature. If you're a city person, find a park or a place with trees if you can. 
  5. Drink water. This is legit! Drink water slowly. Focus on it. The water is good for you, but the experience of mindfully drinking it helps move you out of shock.
  6. Heat or ice packs. I scoffed at this. I'll admit it. We were watching videos of some intense, highly emotional hypnotherapy work, and an assistant came to me and offered an ice bag. I declined and said I was fine. Truth is, I was sitting there with tears pouring down my face, my body clenched tight. Not so fine. Next time the ice bag offer came around I accepted. It helps. Especially when I'm drifting off into parasympathetic shock and my body is trying to just shut down.
  7. Essential oils. This works like the ice and heat. Find something grounding and comforting, or something that wakes up your brain. I'm fond of peppermint.
  8. Be fully in the now. Breathe, slow and deep. Focus on being aware of your body. Feet on the floor. Hands on a desk.  
  9. Take a good long social media break. I'm amazed at how much I was being impacted by my Facebook and Twitter feeds. It's important to be informed and connected. But having all of that emotion coming at you all day long can be pretty overwhelming. 
  10. Consider finding a mind-body therapist. This could be hypnotherapy, massage, acupuncture, Reiki, or a number of other modalities.
A Thought for Friday, Thanks to Lao Tzu

This quote found me this morning, and I'm carrying it with me to work today. I thought I'd share, in case it resonates with anybody else.

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will be blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.
— Lao Tzu
Chronic Shock and How it Affects Your Life


It came to my attention during my recent six day intensive training in heart centered hypnotherapy that I've been living in a state of chronic shock for years. 

Stay with me, here.

I see you flitting away to go look at something else because you're too busy or this doesn't apply to you. Guess what? 

Divided attention, crazy schedules, overflowing to do lists - these are all symptoms of shock. Who knew?

Certainly not me. When our teacher asked us to turn to the shock questionnaire you'll see below, I took one look and burst out laughing.

"What?" she said.

"You're telling me people have less than three things on their To Do List? Like, for real?" said I.

She smiled at me, very kindly. "Yes," she said. "People do."

I probably rolled my eyes. What sort of functional person doesn't have an overflowing, insane list of stuff to do?

So I did the little screening test you'll see below, and guess what? I'm insanely high on the sympathetic shock scale, and I flip over into parasympathetic on a regular basis. I'm going to talk about this more, but for this post I want to gently suggest that you take a deep breath, and then either read through this check list or print it out and actually check the boxes and score yourselves. 

I'd love to hear from you in comments how you score.

I'll be writing more about this, so stay tuned. You can also buy the book and go straight to the source. 

I'll be writing more about this, so stay tuned. You can also buy the book and go straight to the source. 

Natural Food Mood Boosters That Actually Taste Fantastic

As it turns out, not all foods that are good for you taste bad! 

Last week I ran across this fantastic list of ingredients to boost and brighten your mood. You know what's on there?


Maybe you already knew about the chocolate. But also cinnamon. Cardamom. Vanilla. 

Just writing these words makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Acting on this information, I added cinnamon and cayenne to my morning smoothie. It zinged. It woke up my mouth. It tasted maybe a little too good to be healthy. And I'm all about it when the healthy things are pleasurable, because I also believe in Vitamin P.

When I say Vitamin P, I'm not talking about the actual factual Vitamin P. I didn't know there was such a thing until Google pointed it out to me right this minute. In mental health, sometimes we talk about PLEASURE as Vitamin P. A lot of us are so caught up in the daily grind that we don't treat ourselves nearly often enough. Pleasure is healthy, so long as we find it in ways that are not destructive.

When Pleasure and Things That Are Good For Me line up, I'm a happy camper.

As for the turmeric sun tea referenced in the article above, I'm a little more skeptical. Oh, I have no doubt at all it would be healthy. I'm just not so sure it's a thing I want to put in my mouth. But hey, maybe I'll try it.

After I get home from this fabulous six day Heart Centered Hypnotherapy training I'm at this week.

In the meantime, be well. And hey - if you happen to try the turmeric sun tea, please be my guinea pig and let me know what you think.

Ten Thankful Things - by Virginia Franken

Today's guest is a brilliantly funny and insightful author friend who has the sort of attitude toward life I am always seeking and falling short of. Seriously. As you'll read below, she has the capacity to be thankful for dental pain. Yes, you read that correctly. DENTAL PAIN. GRATEFUL FOR. Maybe she'll inspire you to make a daily gratitude list of your own. (You'll probably also want to read her delightful novel, Life After Coffee.)

 18 pt 
 18 pt 
 /* Style Definitions */
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	font-family:"Times New Roman";
	mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";
    Virginia Franken was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She currently lives in suburban Los Angeles with two kids, a dog, an overweight goldfish, and one bearded dude, in a house that’s just a little too small to fit everyone in comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping.  Life After Coffee , is her first novel.

Virginia Franken was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She currently lives in suburban Los Angeles with two kids, a dog, an overweight goldfish, and one bearded dude, in a house that’s just a little too small to fit everyone in comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping. Life After Coffee is her first novel.

Today's Ten

I found planet earth a bit of a difficult place to be last year so to pep 2017 up a little, I thought I’d try and turn my perception around by writing about some of the things that WERE working out.

So in 2017 I’m writing down ten things every day that I’m grateful for.

Here are today’s TEN:

1.     Dental pain. That’s right, I’m grateful for the dental pain I’m currently experiencing. I had braces fitted a few months ago and they are THE WORST. According to my dentist, my crappy British teeth are all misaligned and sunken in like an old horse so unless I wanted to be sucking on grey gruel at the age of 57, braces are needed. They’ve been on for months and nothing’s happened. My teeth appear to have roots of cement. However, she recently put a bunch of springs in there, like I’m some kind of defective clock, but now those suckers are shifting…. Finally. Hence the pain. And hence the gratitude. More pain = fixed teeth.

2.     Change. I’m grateful for change. Most people hate change as is the way of the human, but I like it. Change can be rough (see 2016) but it can also be transformative – which of course is all kind of tied up the in the word CHANGE. In the 1900s teenaged girls were dying after getting burned in cotton factories with no fire escapes and crap, but now they have iPhones and medication to help them with their acne. The world today always seems like it’s a bit useless. But really, stuff is changing and mostly for the better.

3.     I wore a black bra to work under a pale pink shirt today. I didn’t realize this would be an issue until I saw it in the mirror in the bathrooms. And why is this on the gratitude list? Because I realized I didn’t care… Because I’m almost 40 and I don’t care if people are judging me for a poor choice of dark-colored bra. I just don’t.

4.     I’ve been watching with a kind of sad caution recently as my eight-year-old turns from child to tween before my very eyes. It’s cool but also (like every parent on the planet) I wonder where the time went, and most of all I wonder if I spent it in the right way. Again, like many parents I work full-time and I often feel like I missed a good chunk of my eldest’s childhood. I’ve been off and on glum recently that I’ve missed it. It’s gone. And I was too busy working for the man to really dive in appreciate it. However, this weekend at the play place filled with toddlers and train sets and stickle bricks and princess costumes he played like a toddler too. Except minus the black tantrums he used to throw when he was three. All in all, it’s all good. He’s still a little boy. Even though he’s a big little boy. 

5.     The pizza guy rang the door bell this evening and the explosion of activity that went off in the house at the sound of the doorbell actually seemed hilarious instead of highly stressful like normal. The dog yapping, eldest child yapping too, the youngest screaming “POLICE!”. Instead of alarmed, I could see it how the pizza guy must see it and I was mildly amused. 

6.     I dyed my own hair today and managed to cover the grey without ending up looking like a tabby cat in mourning. My sister is a color technician at a fancy hair salon in London so the fact that I’m coloring my own hair is a straight up betrayal of blood. However. It worked out fine. Birds did not fall from the trees. I was not struck down by the angry zap of the hair goddess straighteners in the sky. It was fine. I covered the grey and it looked ok and cost about 1/8 of the price of the salon situation. Just sayin’…

7.     Steam-free mirrors. I don’t have steam-free mirrors and every morning when I have to wipe a little hole within the steam cloud to put on my makeup I think, hmph. However. I know that some people in this fine world do have steam-free mirrors (I’ve been told this happens in hotels in Japan) and for them I’m grateful for the saved convenience. Also my great grandchildren will probably have steam-free mirrors as a matter of course so I’m grateful on their behalf too.

8.     It’s been cold. I love a bit of cold. Chilly at night, putting on an extra blanket, snuggling between icy sheets wearing long sleeve pajamas. And the reasons I love the cold so much are A. It makes me nostalgic for my English boarding school childhood where we would wake up with ice on the inside of the windows, Jane Eyre style - I’m not kidding - and B. It’s such a blessed contrast to the roaring heat of the summer that attacks the valleys of Los Angeles at the first hint of the June. Yay global warming (not not not not not.)

9.     Eldest child is hot on the case for me to buy him seaweed. He traded some at school for a pack of Fritos and now he’s mad for the green stuff. I love that my eight-year-old is even aware that seaweed can be eaten. I lived on an English diet of boiled potatoes and chicken till I was about 18 and I didn’t even eat an avocado till I was about 28. Progress people. The human race is progressing.

10.  Us LA folks get very excited about rain and it’s been raining a lot here recently. I should really live in Seattle or really anywhere other than LA as too much sun makes me miserable and itchy. But anyway – today the clouds were sitting halfway down the mountain like a bunch of smug cotton balls and I swear it was like Buddha had farted and wrapped it up in a puff of smoke and stuck it on the hillside. The whole thing was transcendent.

What everyday transcendent experience did you have today?

Want to hang out more with Virginia? You can find her here:

Blog: http://www.virginiafranken.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/virginiafranken

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiafrankenauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virginiafranken/



Surviving and Thriving During a Kerfuffle

My dears, we are living in a kerfuffle, which is a fun and fluffy sounding word describing a state of affairs that is anything but:

Kerfuffle: a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views

I love words. This is the main reason I became a writer. And kerfuffle is a nugget of awesome. It also happens to be the perfect word for all of my social media feeds and the world at large right now. (Hold tight, this isn't going to be a political rant.)

Now, while I love the word kerfuffle, I'm not so fond of the situation it defines so nicely. I'm a lover of peace and harmony. I'm a little bit like Rae, the main character in my not-yet-released novel I Wish You Happy. Rae is an empath who is nearly incapacitated at times by the intensity with which she feels people's emotions.

I don't think you need to be an empath to struggle with that problem right now. Raw, dramatic, emotions are blaring at us every time we open Facebook or Twitter.  They are on every street corner, on the news. They are coming at us from family and friends, co-workers, and random people in the grocery store.

Unless you stay home, turn off all of the electronics, avoid all of the people, and stay curled into a ball in fetal position it's pretty much impossible to avoid the splatter. Even then, there's a problem, because chances are good that you too are having some messy emotions right about now.

So what are we to do?

I'm still working my way through the answers. But I believe the answer lies somewhere along the lines of the old saying: be the change you want to see in the world. Maybe we could switch it up a bit, and go with this:

Amplify the emotion you want to feel in the world.

This is NOT to say that we should just sit in our ivory towers and try to feel love and believe that's going to change anything. Love in action is important. I think we need to also DO things. Contribute to causes that matter. Join with others for peaceful demonstrations. (The women's march is a fantastic example of this. No violence. No arrests. But an incredible display of solidarity and HOPE.) Use the political channels. Do fact checking. Circulate facts. Donate time or money to causes that matter to you.

But emotion is what drives us to do things. Or keeps us from doing things. Or gets us so tangled up that we can't work through the conflict of WHAT to do. So let me suggest a few guidelines and then we can work it from there.

1. Negativity doesn't generally motivate change. It just tends to amplify into a mass bitchfest. I've been falling into this trap on Social Media. It feels good to retweet or share a post that is snarky and sarcastic, and if it's slamming something (or, I'm ashamed to say, someone) you think is wrong, then you also get to feel good and a little self righteous. There. I've done something positive to share the truth. Um, not so much. When we retweet and repost these things, I think we're preaching to the choir and promulgating ugly emotions. Nothing is accomplished. No purpose is served.

2. Maybe the best place for our messy and difficult emotions is in a private journal. Write them out. Allow yourself to feel them in all of their wide, glorious, and sometimes difficult intensity. Talk to a close friend. Engage a counselor. Emotions are important and need to be tended much like gardens. Take the time. Do the work.

3. Choose, consciously, what you want to project out into the world. Do loving kindness meditations. Radiate positivity. Amplify hope.

4. If you're just plain angry and your anger is justified, direct it somewhere. Anger is an incredibly powerful and useful emotion if it's harnessed. Not so much if it's just spinning aimlessly like a hamster on a wheel. Point it in a direction - not at people - and run with it.

In case anybody is wondering, I'm talking out loud to myself here. I do that. Feel free to hold me to these principles if you should happen to see me stray. Because I will. I'll need to check myself over and over again. I'm like that. Life is like that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, and how you're all getting on. 

Sleeping Better

Sleep heals us, body, mind and soul. Unfortunately, insomnia is a wide spread problem. All sorts of things can interrupt sleep:

Pain, kids, cats, worry, stress, noise, electronics, light.

Cats. I mentioned the cats, right? Jumping on your head. Attacking your feet. Running insanely through the house at 3 am howling and knocking glassware off the counter...

Personally, my sleep has been fragmented ever since my first child was born, twenty-five years ago. Somehow, I've never been able to regain the ability to sleep through the entire night, even though the kids have all moved out of the house. Of course, there are the cats. And now there are also hot flashes. I should mention that once you've flung all of the covers off so you can bask in the tropical paradise of a 3 a.m. hot flash, your bare feet are now fair game for the claws of a playful cat.

Of course, there are sleeping pills available, all of which have side effects and drawbacks. Most of them interfere with the normal sleep cycle, what is called the Architecture of Sleep. A lot of them leave you feeling hung over in the morning. Some carry the potential for addiction or at least dependence.

Seeing as I'm all about natural health whenever possible, I've tried most of the standard sleep advice (with the exception of giving up caffeine. They will pry the last beautiful mug of coffee out of my cold dead hands). These are all things that have helped:

  1. Yoga
  2. Relaxation breathing
  3. Keeping a regular sleep schedule for bedtime and waking
  4. Dark room
  5. Cool room
  6. White noise
  7. Valerian root (warning: this stuff stinks. We call them the Cow Pie PIlls at our house)
  8. Melatonin
  9. Cutting out electronics for at least thirty minutes before bed
  10. Keeping a worry list
  11. Meditation

The latest experiment is working with a CD using what's called "the Aurelis Method" by J.L. Mommaerts. This is from the Aurelis Project website:

"The purpose of the AURELIS project is to use autosuggestion as a means to communicate with the subconscious and to direct its tremendous power in order to gain better health and well being."

In practical terms, this method seems to be part auto-suggestion, part guided imagery, and part hypnotherapy.

I've had the Mommaerts CD sitting around for years and never bothered to try it. I'm not sure why. This last week I pulled it out and loaded it into my iTunes. I've loved working with it, and even though I'm still not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a stretch, I'm sleeping more deeply and have more energy.

Mommaerts has a lovely voice, a delightful accent, and the endearing trait of sometimes using English words that are not precisely right. For me, this adds charm to a system that does seem to work to invoke better sleep. 

I tried to find a place where you could buy this CD or the MP3, and all I can find at this point is a subscription to the Aurelis site. But, there are a lot of other guided imagery sleep CDs here, at Health Journeys. I plan to try a few of these in the very near future.

Next week I'm off to a week long training in heart-centered hypnotherapy, a practice that I hope will bring better sleep to me, as well as allowing me to bring better sleep to others. I'll be sure to share my adventures here, as well.

For now, I wish for you sweet dreams and a good night's sleep. Please feel free to share your sleep experiences in the comments.