Monthly Archives: August 2015

Do You “Should” On Yourself?

by Kassandra Lamb

We didn’t get to one of my favorite places this year on our summer sojourn to Maryland. There’s a street of shops in Annapolis that I love to poke around in. Several of them have some pretty unique stuff.

One shop is devoted mostly to handmade pottery jars with cork stoppers and all kinds of interesting things written on the labels. Years ago, I bought a couple of those jars. Here’s one of them:

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I used to use it in my therapy sessions, when clients were “shoulding” on themselves, i.e. telling me all the reasons they should do something that wasn’t in their best interest, because that’s what they had been taught to do.

Now before I go on, let me put this caveat out there. I’m not advocating that we should all engage in purely self-serving behavior and ignore the morals we were raised to abide by. We have to have moral codes in order to live in families and communities.

The problem comes in during the teaching of those moral codes to young children. Kids by nature are all-or-nothing thinkers. So the rules about what we “should” or “ought” to do tend to be absorbed as absolute truths rather than guidelines for behavior.

Then as adults we often feel we should do something a certain way even though it may not be the best approach in the current circumstances.

As adults, we have more of these.

As adults, we have more of these.

A friend of mine once got into a major financial bind herself because she kept bailing out her grown son when said son got in over his head with credit card bills and such.

I finally couldn’t stand by and stay silent any longer so I gently confronted my friend. “Why are you doing this? You’re draining your own savings, and all you’re doing is enabling your son to continue to be irresponsible with money.”

She huffed and rationalized for a few minutes and then said, “Parents should be selfless where their kids are concerned. They should always put their kids’ needs before their own.”

I suggested that she stop and examine that belief. It was one she had learned as a child and teen modeling her own mother, who put up with a bad marriage until all the kids were grown in order to keep food on the table because “at least he’s a good provider.” (I heard that phrase a lot from unhappily married women of my mother’s generation.)

Finally she got it that she wasn’t really helping her son by bailing him out. It was time for some tough love.

Then I went downstairs to my office (it was in my house at the time) and got my shoulds and oughts jar. I had her write down that “should” on a slip of paper, as I often had clients do. Laughing, she put the slip in the jar and smacked the cork firmly back into the top.

And the son… After he had his car repossessed, he got it that he needed to straighten out his thinking about finances. My friend paid for him to go to a financial counselor for several sessions to learn how to handle his money. Now he’s a responsible young man who is raising a couple of kids of his own.

As adults, we need to bring those all-or-nothing rules out into the light of day and ask ourselves if we truly “should” keep following them in such an absolute way. Now we have the ability to weigh the circumstances and the various options available. Often we can find an option that allows us to do the right thing but without harming ourselves in the process.

A funny addendum… One time, a colleague and good friend (who had a warped sense of humor) visited me in my office. As a joke, he grabbed my shoulds and oughts jar off the bookshelf, opened it and dumped all the little slips of paper out on the desk in front of me. I literally jumped back as if they were snakes. 🙂

How about you? Do you have some shoulds and oughts that sometimes trip you up as an adult?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series and has started a new cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy series (coming soon).

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Why Murder and Mayhem?

by Kassandra Lamb

I’ve touched on this subject before, but I find myself once again questioning why I write murder mysteries.

I’m a pacifist at heart, who believes violence is only justifiable in self-defense. And I’m an optimist. For me the glass is always half full and I’m savoring the half I’ve just consumed.

My favorite kind of half-full glass ;)  (photo by cellar door films, WANA Commons)

My favorite kind of half-full glass 😉 (photo by cellar door films, WANA Commons)

So why do I write about the darker side of humankind?

The simplest answer–the one I give at cocktail parties–is that mysteries are what I like to read, so it’s the genre I’m most familiar with. But why do I read mysteries, to the exclusion of almost every other genre?

With the book I will soon be releasing, I found myself really struggling with whether or not it was too depressing. It features a young woman with bipolar disorder who commits suicide. (Or does she?) My early readers and my misterio critique partner on this project, Kathy Owen, have all reassured me that the story is not too dark, that the depressing elements are counterbalanced by humor and lighter subplots.

Good! That was my goal. But still this book is making me contemplate again my choice of genres.

I know one of the reason I read and write mysteries is that I love solving puzzles.

(photo by CrazyPhunk CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by CrazyPhunk CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, murder mysteries–I love them all!

I think I get that love from my maternal grandmother. She had a passion for crossword puzzles. She said they kept her brain stimulated. (I still have the unabridged Webster’s dictionary she kept by her favorite chair.)

Mysteries definitely stimulate my brain. I can get all comfy and relax my body while letting my brain flex its muscles by solving a riddle or two.

Of course, all good stories, regardless of genre, must have realistic characters one can relate to. We live vicariously through those characters. Some people might love to vicariously fall in love in a romance or explore uncharted worlds in a sci-fi story, but my favorite vicarious experience is the thrill of a mystery.

The stakes are high for the characters, perhaps because they themselves are suspected of the crime or because the murderer comes after them at some point. I can live through the danger with them, my heart pounding as they confront a killer, but without any risk to myself.

I guess I’m an armchair adrenaline junkie. 😀

Reading for me is also about learning. I love finding out more about other vocations than my own, other geographical locales, other periods of history, etc. all while being entertained by a good story.

As the saying goes, a reader lives a thousand lives. We can broaden our experiences so much through reading, regardless of the genre. But for me, the best experiences have to do with murder and mayhem.

How about you? Do you read mysteries mostly, or is it only one of several well-loved genres? Why do these genres appeal to you?

Psst!! Here’s a sneak peek at my cover. Available soon for preorder ~ Ta da… Suicidal Suspicions, Book 8 in the Kate Huntington series.

SuicidalSuspicions FINALPsychotherapist Kate Huntington is rocked to the core when one of her favorite clients commits suicide. How can this be? The woman, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had been swinging toward a manic state. The client’s family blames Kate and they’re threatening to sue for malpractice. She can’t fault them since she blames herself. How could she have missed the signs?

Searching for answers for herself and the grieving parents, Kate discovers some details that don’t quite fit. Is it possible the client didn’t take her own life, or is that just wishful thinking? Questioning her professional judgement, and at times her own sanity, she feels compelled to investigate. In the process, she stirs up her decades-old ambivalence for the Catholic Church. Is her client’s death somehow related to her childhood parish?

When she senses that someone is following her, she wonders if she is truly losing it. Or is she getting dangerously close to someone’s secrets?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Can We Go Home Again?

by Kassandra Lamb

“You can’t go home again.” That phrase has become iconic. (It’s actually the title of a 1940’s novel by Thomas Wolfe, published posthumously by his editor — I looked it up.)

The question of whether or not we can “go home again” has been on my mind lately, ever since we returned from our annual summer sojourn to my native Maryland.

Leaving the harbor at Rock Hall, Maryland

The harbor in Rock Hall, Maryland

It was a good vacation. Unlike some previous visits, nothing drastic went wrong (if you don’t count the broken crown on my tooth the day before we were to return to Florida). Nobody got sick, no vehicles broke down or had flat tires, and all scheduled get-togethers with friends and family went off without a hitch.

We even survived babysitting our two rambunctious grandsons so our son and daughter-in-law could have a mini-getaway to celebrate their tenth anniversary (OMG, I’m old!)

Nonetheless we came home feeling like we might not be doing this quite the same in the future–not in the same way nor for quite so long. Until two summers ago, we owned a summer home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We sold it because it became a maintenance headache. The last two summers, we’ve rented a house there. It’s a very nice house and we’ve enjoyed our stays in it.

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Our home away from home is the one with the van in the driveway.

But still, it’s expensive, and, well, you can’t completely go home again.

Things change over time.

The landscape is different. Houses have sprung up where cows used to graze. Businesses you frequented in the past have moved or gone bankrupt.

And people change too. Some friendships have waned, not able to survive long-distance status.

Others have, interestingly enough, become stronger. We savor our time together, knowing it is limited now.

We still enjoyed our authentic Maryland crab cakes (those produced elsewhere are never quite the same) and the mouth-watering sweetness of Silver Queen corn. But sadly the ice cream parlor on the corner of Sharp and Main Streets has lost a lot of business to the young upstart down the street with the clever title of “Get The Scoop” (they promise “from the cow to you in 48 hours”). We must confess that we probably added to the old ice cream parlor’s demise by “getting the scoop” quite a few times while in town; their ice cream really is delicious.

And we had two lovely sunset sails on the Chesapeake Bay with charter boat captain, Mark and his first mate (and wife), Suzanne. They were a delight as always.

But even they are talking about retiring in another couple of years.

Captain Mark

Captain Mark

 

 

 

 

 

My sister-in-law enjoying a complimentary margarita.

My sister-in-law enjoying a complimentary margarita.

Still, the drive on I-95 has become more challenging every year.

And really the bottom line is that WE have changed. We’ve pulled up our roots that were planted in Maryland for so long and have sunk them into the sandy soil of Florida.

(photo by Geoff Gallice CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by Geoff Gallice CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The Sunshine State is home now.

And while it’s good to visit the people we care about in Maryland, can we really go home again?

Probably not, because after a while, it’s just not home anymore.

But we can still enjoy visiting.

How about you? Where do you call home? How successful have you been at “going home again” to your childhood home?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

“Survivor”–Sisters in Crime version

Vinnie Hansen is starting off our August blog schedule with a bang today, with her own version of a reality show. And she’s got some really BIG news to share!

Shh, not until the end of the post though. But it’s definitely something she can BRAG about.

“Survivor”

by Vinnie Hansen DSCN0415What would happen if a villain dropped one of our protagonists into the wilderness? How would our heroine survive?

That question and a love for camaraderie propelled 13 brave members of my Sisters in Crime chapter to attend a Wilderness Survival Camp.

Dan, our fearless leader

Dan, our fearless leader

We met our fearless leader Dan, a consultant to various reality television shows, in the redwood forest of a private vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The first rule for survival is: Don’t Panic.

Air is our most essential element. We can live for only a few minutes without it. Adrenaline sucks up oxygen.

Lack of oxygen can make our limbs go numb and our brain lose perspective. Perfectly outfitted hikers have been found dead in the wilderness because they became disoriented, forgetting where they set their pack or the direction back to their shelter.

After some deep breathing, the sacred order for survival is:

1. shelter
2. water
3. fire
4. food

Before our training, I thought water was the most important concern, but a person can go for days without water. Exposure, not dehydration, is the leading cause of death in the wilderness. Shelter allows one to thermo regulate, which conserves water, and protects against heat or cold.

Dan divided us into three teams, and after a brief lesson set us off to build shelters given the materials at hand. Some simple rules: create plenty of insulation under and around the body, and create a small area of dead air space for one’s body heat to warm. In other words, the shelter should be a snug fit.

DSCN0420 shelterHere’s what my team built. Dan tested the shelter by standing on top of it. All three teams built “tents” that withstood his test

Next we tackled finding water, easy in our spot with a river flowing below us. But even in the desert water exists. Look for the lowest point, signs of vegetation, and animal tracks. Animals have to drink! Even butterflies and bees need water. You can collect water by running your shirt through dew points.

If you have a choice, choose running water over still water, and water that supports algae and tadpoles over water that appears devoid of life.

Boil if possible. We learned how to rock boil water even without a pot.

That brings us to fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Making friction fire is an arduous task, involving many steps. Nonetheless, a couple of my sisters did create fire before our camp ended, lifting them to goddess status.

Most of us left vowing to carry matches–everywhere.

Jenny, aka the SiN Fire Goddess

Jenny, aka the SinC Fire Goddess

 

 

 

One participant already reported back that the TSA allows one book of matches.

This was a rewarding experience even if not a single detail finds its way into one of my mysteries. I came home exhausted, but in the way one does after a day outdoors in the sun with a lot of good friends.

Have you ever taken any survival training? How well do you think you’d do out in the wilderness on your own?

BLACK-BEANS-&-VENOM w BRAG medallion

And now the news… Drumroll please. Black Beans and Venom, the most recent book in my Carol Sabala mystery series has won a B.R.A.G. medallion.

This honor is bestowed on top quality indie books by the Book Readers Appreciation Group, and I’m thrilled to have received it. Check out the gold medallion that now adorns the book cover. 😀

 

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her cozy noir mystery series, the Carol Sabala mysteries, is set in Santa Cruz, California.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )