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Beauty: A Matter of Mind Over Matter

This post is for the 3rd annual Beauty Of A Woman blogfest, sponsored each year by my beautiful friend, August McLaughlin. The BOAW festivities officially begin on Thursday, so make a note to pop over to August’s site then for a whole list of great posts about what really makes women beautiful. The posts range from serious to light-hearted and they are always fabulous! (Oh, and did I mention there’s a contest and prizes? Well, there is. YAY!)

BOAW logo 2014

So what is the main ingredient that makes a woman beautiful? Good genes that bless her with smooth skin, good teeth and glossy hair?

Well, those certainly don’t hurt. But in my experience, they’re not the main ingredient in beauty.

Dentists, cosmetic surgeons, expensive make-up and hair products to create dazzling teeth, glowing skin and glossy hair?

close-up of woman putting on eye make-up

(photo by Manuel Marin, CC-BY license 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Not really, in my humble opinion.

So what is the main ingredient? It’s confidence!

When I was a young teenager, I was a mess–dorky-looking and totally lacking in self-confidence. Not a day went by in middle school (the purgatory of the earth plane, IMHO) that I wasn’t teased by one of the mean girls, or sometimes by one of the guys, most often about my appearance. “Pimple face” and “ironing board” (I was flat-chested) are the taunts that stand out the most in my memory.

me in 8th grade

My 8th grade school picture (told ya I looked dorky)

During the summer between middle and high school, my mother sat me down and gave me a fake-it-til-ya-make-it pep talk. She asked me if I thought a friend of hers (we’ll call her Mrs. H) was attractive. Now what fourteen-year-old gives a moment’s thought to her mother’s friends’ appearance?

I just shrugged. My mother pointed out just how homely Mrs. H was. Now that Mom was mentioning it, I realized that the woman did kind of resemble those drawings of witches you see at Halloween, complete with a large mole on her chin. Mom went on and on detailing all the flaws in Mrs. H’s appearance. I was beginning to wonder what evil spirit had taken over my mother’s body, when she pointed out that Mrs. H was married to one of the handsomest men in their circle of friends. I had to admit, now that I thought about it, Mr. H wasn’t bad looking, for an old guy (he was probably 40). Then Mom said that when Mrs. H walked into a room, every man and most of the women would turn to greet her with a big smile.

“Why is that?” Mom asked. Another shrug from me.

Because Mrs. H carried herself with confidence and was always smiling and friendly was my mother’s answer. “Kass, you’ve got the smiling and friendly down. They’re part of your natural personality. Now all you need is the confidence.” That’s when she told me to fake it ’til I made it.

Well, it took several years of faking it, but gradually I did become more confident. Then in college, I got some counseling to dig my remaining insecurities out by the roots.

I’m still not the best-looking gal in any crowd, but I don’t worry much about what I look like. Oh, I’m not saying I don’t do the best I can with what the good Lord gave me. I do. But once I’ve put on my make-up and fixed my hair (my best feature, despite it’s tendency to frizz), I walk out the door and don’t give my appearance another thought. I go about the world with confidence, and the world treats me well.

I’ll bet if you asked my friends and acquaintances whether or not I’m pretty, they’d shrug, like I did when my mom asked about Mrs. H. And then they’d say, “Oh, she looks fine. She’s so______.” (Fill in the blank with friendly, nice, smart, vivacious)

A healthy dose of confidence compensates quite well for my lack of outer beauty, and it let’s me relax and be me wherever I am. And frankly I’d rather be remembered for being smart and nice than for being pretty!

Have you ever known anyone who was naturally beautiful and yet so lacking in self-confidence that it marred their appearance? How about someone who was quite average but could light up a room with their smile?

And we’re excited to announce a new release by bestseller Stacy Green.

Speaking of confidence growing, check out what her character, Jaymee Ballard, is up to in this last book in the Delta Crossroads trilogy, Ashes and Bone:

cover of Ashes and BoneJust when Jaymee Ballard’s life seems to be on track, a massive derecho attacks the Delta Crossroads sowing destruction in its path. Her boyfriend, investigative journalist Nick Samuels, comes up missing, and she fears the worst.

Nick’s abandoned car contains evidence of his involvement uncovering a controversial case mired in political power and greed. While her friend and local detective, Cage Foster, heads up the inquiry into Nick’s kidnapping, Jaymee finds it impossible to sit back and do nothing.

Enlisting the help of her best friend, Dani Evans, Jaymee discovers a trail leading to the dangerous and secretive Dixie Mafia. Facing a fraudulent Confederate artifact scheme, dark local history, and a powerful enemy lurking in the shadows, the two friends find themselves holding the key to not only Nick’s disappearance, but a shameful town secret someone will kill to protect.

ASHES and BONE is an action packed thriller with a shocking twist.

Check it out, then talk to me about how you see beauty influenced by confidence and vice versa. (And don’t forget to visit the BOAW blogfest on Thursday)

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

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 harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Of Brothers, Birthdays & Books!

This weekend, I’m participating in Stacy Green’s Birthday Blast, and there’s a CONTEST involved, with multiple chances to win an $80 gift card (details below). Yay!

Birthday Book Blast banner

Stacy got a bunch of authors together, and many of us have put one or more of our books on sale as part of this blogfest. My latest release, An Unsaintly Season in St. Augustine, is on sale for just $.99 and I’ve also reduced the price on two other books, Family Fallacies and Celebrity Status, to $2.99. This is a limited time offer so grab up your copies soon!

(More great book buys below!)

But first, my post on the subject of birthdays… and big brothers!

My family didn’t make a huge deal over birthdays when my brother and I were growing up. We got a present, usually sitting next to our plate at dinner, and a birthday cake (chocolate icing for me, coconut for him), and that was about it.

Which was kind of a shame IMHO because one’s birthday is a special day that is all yours! You’re the only one being celebrated. Now I’m not faulting my mom. My parents didn’t have a lot of money when we were little shavers and I know she did the best she could. But I think there should be a bit of a hoopla about one’s birthday, especially when you’re a kid.

birthday party

One of the few times my mother threw a party for us. This was my brother’s 5th birthday. I’m the one in the high chair.

My brother and I are now in our 60’s, so we have mixed emotions about birthdays. On the one hand, we’re damn glad we’re still having them. 🙂  On the other hand…

Since my brother’s birthday is coming up in just a few days, I decided to dedicate this post to him, and to brothers everywhere.

THINGS MY BIG BROTHER TAUGHT ME FOR WHICH I AM VERY GRATEFUL:

1.  How to say ‘brother’ as one of my first words. (No kidding, folks, he actually got in my face and actively taught me to say that word. It came out ‘bludder’ and the family story goes that I licked his face when I said it, as in “Ah, Bludder!” *tongue slurp*)

2.  How to ride a scooter. (I’ve long since forgiven him that little mishap involving a huge gash on my forehead that needed several stitches. But I’ve still got the scar… just sayin’.)

3.  How to ring the little bell on my bike handlebars with one hand while not losing control of my bike. (I’ve gotten a lot better at multitasking since then.)

4.  How to make figure-eights with my bike. (Okay, that one ended badly too; there was a concussion involved.)

5.  How to stand up to bullies.

6.  How to catch a softball (although I never quite mastered the football lesson) and dance the cha-cha.

7.  How to control my temper. (Okay, I’m still working on that one.)

8.  What to say to boys so I wouldn’t sound stupid (yeah, still working on that one, too).

9.  How to make the guys in my books sound and act realistic. (He beta reads all my books and advises on the ‘guy stuff’ even though he doesn’t particularly like to read.)

10.  How to be generous with the people you love (see above and below) and be a fiercely loyal friend.

If you’ve got a brother (or sister) you’d like to brag about, go for it in the comments below. But I won’t be able to respond until next week.

Why? Because my brother is very generously traveling with me today up to Maryland to help me paint the outside of my summer cottage up there. Even though it’s his birthday week!

My brother now, in my summer cottage sunroom.

This is the last project he helped me with… finishing off the sunroom in my Maryland cottage. It turned out great!

Don’t worry. I’m gonna bake him a cake! (And I’ll post before and after pictures of the house next week.)

Happy Birthday, Ralph! I love you, Bludder!  😀

Now the Book Deals and Contest!

The following authors also have birthday-related posts up today, and they are all featuring one of their books!We’ve got something for everyone’s tastes.

You can enter the contest at each blog site (i.e. multiple times) plus there are bonus opportunities to enter! Prize is an $80 gift card!!!

Stacy Green’s postIt’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to!

Stacy’s second novel, TIN GOD is an Amazon Hot New Release at just $3.99 ~ Black market adoption, two dead women, and a demented killer. How far would you go to bring justice?

Melinda VanLone’s post:  Birthdays: Looking Back? Or Looking Forward?

Melinda’s debut urban fantasy, Stronger Than Magic, is just $2.99 ~ Tarian Xannon fights demons, like the rest of us. Hers just happen to be real.

Julie Day’s post:  An Aspergirl and Birthday Celebrations, or Not

Julie’s Don’t Get Mad, Book 4 of Geraldine’s Gems romance series is just $1.99 ~ Sandra follows her aunt’s advice, “Don’t get mad, get even,” develops a buff body at the gym, falls in love with a new man and learns to stand up to her estranged control-freak husband.

Catie Rhodes’ post:  Time’s Ticking Away

Catie is featuring her debut novel, Forever Road, starring Peri Jean who owes a ghost a favor and must solve a murder to pay it off ~ $3.99

Tamara Ward’s post:  Birthday Cake Fiasco 

Tamara’s new release, Hidden Betrayal, is featured at $3.99.

Gregory Carrico’s post:  Missing Child in Gator Infested Swamp. sort of.

Gregory is featuring Children of the Plague ~ Can teenage Lanni save her brother, and what’s left of mankind from plague infected mutants in post-apocalyptic Manhattan? ~ $3.99

Patricia Sands’ post:  Look Out! Here Comes Another One!

Patricia is featuring her new release, The Promise of Provence ~ Is home exchange in the south of France a remedy for heartbreak? ~ $3.99

book cover

 

And last but not least, don’t forget that my new novella, An Unsaintly Season in St. Augustine, is on sale for just $.99.

I’ve also reduced the price on Family Fallacies and Celebrity Status, to $2.99, for a limited time only.

 

Here is where you enter the contest!
It starts at 12:01 a.m. April 12 and runs through Sunday, April 14th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

We’ve Got a T-Shirt Contest Today!

No, I did NOT say a wet t-shirt contest. Get your minds outta the gutter, you all!

Our book designer came up with a gorgeous stylized death’s head for the cover of Kirsten Weiss’s upcoming paranormal mystery novel, The Infernal Detective. And Kirsten thought – why not turn it into a t-shirt? And then… why not give one away?

To enter, just type your e-mail into the form below. We promise not to use it for nefarious purposes – but Kirsten will need it to contact the winner. You can, however, get bonus points by signing up for Kirsten’s Metaphysical Detective newsletter. It’s quarterly and discusses her books and the paranormal research that goes into writing them.

We’ve got men’s and women’s versions of the t-shirt up to XL.

 

Win an Infernal Detective t-shirt!

 Check it out… Cuz there’s no such thing as too many T-shirts, and Kirsten’s newsletter is awesome!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. I’ll be posting my serious post this week on Tuesday. And then a Just for Fun post on Friday about my wonderful big brother!

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Do You Experience More Ennui or Joie de Vivre?

This is the second installment in our Just for Fun Friday series on Emotion Words Around the World. And we have hit on what we think is a great prize for the best comment. Whoever comes up with the best story about our emotion word or words of the day will get a free e-book.

Yay! Who’s gonna turn down a free book, right?

Today we explore the deeper meanings of two French terms, ennui and joie de vivre. These may very well be words you’ve heard before, since they are often used in English as well. But just as often something gets lost in their translation.

Ennui is defined in English dictionaries as boredom and listlessness. Well, yeah, but in French it means a bit more than that. It often connotes a certain level of dissatisfaction with life, and maybe even an unwillingness to do anything about being bored. When someone is suffering from ennui they are mired down in a weariness and discontent that may be hard to shake. Indeed, the root of the word, from old French, means annoyance. So there’s a certain amount of low-grade irritability involved. The word is not synonymous with depression, but it is describing the feelings that we often experience when we are mildly depressed.

(photo by Jessica Mullen, CC 2.0 license, Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s contrast ennui with bored:

American teenager (with slouched shoulders and glazed-over look on face): “Mother, I am sooo bored!”

French teenager (with head thrown back, eyes closed, back of hand against forehead): “Maman, j’ai ennui!

American teenager isn’t annoyed so much as she is annoying–to her mother. French teenager, you’re starting to worry she’ll become suicidal. Either that or you want to enroll her in drama school.

Now joie de vivre on the other hand, does translate more directly into English–joy of living. And yet we Americans never say that. We don’t walk around saying, “I’m feeling joy of living today.” But it is okay to say, “I’m full of joie de vivre today.” Why is that?

My best guess is that because we’re not too comfortable with public displays of intense emotions in this country, it is somehow more acceptable to express feeling crazy happy with life via a French expression. That’s okay, because you know those French, they’re an emotional lot.

I’m a fairly intense person (just ask my husband; he’ll be happy to tell you all about my mood swings), so I feel both ennui and joie de vivre a good bit.

For me, ennui is definitely not simple boredom. I rarely experience boredom, except in doctors’ waiting rooms when I forget my kindle. But some days I do have ennui. Not because I have nothing to do; au contraire, I usually have too much to do on those days. And yet I don’t feel like doing any of the things I should be doing. For me, ennui is a vague, itchy-in-my-own-skin restlessness combined with a not-quite-depressed-but-definitely-less-than-happy feeling.

Needless to say, I’m not fond of ennui.

Joie de vivre, on the other hand, is wonderful. It’s chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a cherry on top!

(photo by Zachariah Judy, CC 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

(And nuts. I forgot to mention the nuts! Because what would life be without a few nuts in it, right?)

Even though I’m not a morning person, I most often feel joie de vivre early in the day (maybe because I’m not all that tired yet). And it’s not usually associated with something spectacularly wonderful that’s happening in my life. I most often feel it when I’m driving somewhere in the morning or early afternoon–usually to someplace relatively mundane, like the grocery store or Zumba class. I’ll get this light, bubbly feeling in my chest and I’ll just feel happy to be alive!

How about you? When do you tend to feel either ennui or joie de vivre, and how would you describe your experience of those feelings?

Remember the most interesting (or funniest) comment will get you a free e-book. And you get to choose from any of the books put out by our misterio press authors. So make something up it good!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

DDPP: Surviving the Stress of the Holidays (and a Contest!)

In my practice as a psychotherapist I did a lot of work with stress management. When my clients were in stress overload, I would recommended that they Dump, Delegate, Postpone and Pamper.  “Just remember, DDPP,” I would tell them.

One client jokingly said, “That sounds like a pesticide.” And thus DDPP was dubbed the ‘stressicide formula.’

As we move into this hectic and very stressful time of year, it is all too likely that we will end up in stress overload.

(photo by Benson Kua)

And once we’re there, everything becomes overwhelming. The thing about stress is that we have this threshold. We can be doing fine, reveling even in how much we’re getting accomplished in our fast-paced lives. And then suddenly, we’ve passed our threshold for coping with stress and suddenly we’re a basket case. We’re not dealing with ANYTHING very effectively anymore.

The stress threshold is like that. It’s an on-off switch. We’re good, we’re good, we’re great even as we multi-task and get revved up to accomplish even more, and then whammo, we’ve used up all our coping ability and we’re burned out big time!

That’s when we need to apply DDPP.

DUMP: Is it really necessary or can we just stop doing it, temporarily at least. In the course of everyday life, when I’m stressed out, the first thing that goes is making the bed. I like a neat house and a bedroom with a made bed. But this is not essential stuff. I can let it go when other things are demanding my coping resources.

At Christmas time, DUMP becomes even more important. My to-do-list gets pared down to what is truly essential to do to make the holiday what I want it to be.

Two years ago, when my oldest grandson was right smack in the middle of the terrible twos, we dumped the formal turkey dinner and had a cold buffet instead. I cooked a couple turkey breasts in advance, sliced them and took them to my son and daughter-in-law’s house. We served them with a variety of cold salads and breads. And you know what, we actually had a better time than we’d had the year before while trying to put together a formal Christmas dinner and deal with an 18-month-old who tends to be hyperactive.

It’s become a new family tradition. I doubt we will ever go back to the sit-down meal, at least not until my grandchildren are a bit older.

All this baby needs in a big green wreath on it!! (photo by Ildar Sagdejev)

DELEGATE: Is there someone else who also legitimately shares responsibility for the task you are stressed about? Or is there someone you can trade off with to deal with the current stressors, and you’ll pay them back later?

We all go through periods of stress overload. So trade off with those with whom you share your life. You help me now, I help you later.

In the mid 1990’s I was getting burned out as a therapist, so I started teaching part-time and cutting back on my psychotherapy practice. My husband and I negotiated a new deal. During the last three crunchy weeks of the semester, when I had a gazillion papers to grade, final exams to write, etc., he would do pretty much all the household chores. Then during my winter and summer breaks, I would do pretty much all of them.

POSTPONE: I’m not advocating procrastination here. But if it’s anything that can legitimately be put off until after the first of the year, postpone it! A lot of things that are not Christmas related can often be postponed. I’ve learned not to schedule routine doctor, dentist or vet appointments after November 15th. If my body, teeth and dog have made it through the first 10.5 months of the year, by golly, they can hang in there for 1.5 more.

My husband started teaching a few years ago. Now we both have the end of semester crunch right before the holidays. One of his Christmas tasks has always been writing the Christmas cards. The year after he started teaching he decided to adopt the European tradition of sending New Year’s cards instead.

Now he can relax over the task and enjoy writing notes to old friends, catching them up on the happenings of the last year.

And last but definitely not least…

PAMPER:

SANTA, I WANT ONE OF THESE!! (The hot tub, not the blond tyke — photo by Bin im Garten)

Unfortunately when we’re stressed out, the first thing that goes is taking care of ourselves. But that’s when our bodies and minds need pampering the most. We need to pay more attention, not less, to getting enough sleep and trying to eat a healthy diet. Because when we’re in stress overload we are putting more wear and tear on our bodies than they can really handle.

A few minutes of relaxation, about three times a day, can do wonders. Stop, sit, put your feet up, close your eyes, take a deep breath. And do something relaxing, if only for ten to twenty minutes. Read, take a bubble bath, or just sit there and meditate (and maybe daydream about January 2nd!)

You can also use guided imagery to go to somewhere relaxing in your head. Imagine yourself strolling down sandy beaches on a warm day. It doesn’t even have to be someplace you’ve actually been. Make it up. I have this lovely rose garden inside my head that has never existed, and never will exist in my brown-thumb real world where I can’t even keep a potted cactus alive.

The time spent relaxing will be well invested, and not just from a health standpoint. You’ll find that you are more focused and productive when you go back to doing the multitude of things you need to get done.

And when each hectic day is over, treat yourself to a relaxing wind-down before bed so that you sleep well.

Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time. Somewhere along the way in our society, it has turned into a major pressure cooker. But if we can apply a little stressicide, some DDPP, to our holiday preparations, we may just be able to recapture the joy and peace of the season!

Please feel free to leave a comment, but if you’re too busy, I’ll understand. Do take a moment, however, to check out our MEGA December Contest that runs thru 12/23.

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

Did Your Mom Give You ‘The Look’?

As we head into the season of overspending, overindulging, and dealing with relatives we don’t always like, I figured it might be helpful to pass on some advice I learned years ago about guilt.

My mom had this look. From across the room, she could make me want to crawl under the nearest piece of furniture. She didn’t have to say or do anything else. The Look was enough to tell me I’d screwed up big time!

Nobody but nobody can make us feel guilty quite like our mothers can. And that’s a good thing, because moms and dads are responsible for teaching us right from wrong. It’s their job to instill guilt in us!

I'm 5, Mother just gave me The Look

Me, age 5, looking quite subdued, after my mother (the one with the crossed arms) just gave me The Look! (This was an in-laws’ Christmas night party my father endured for many years.)

As kids, guilt may stop us from doing stuff we know our parents wouldn’t like, even if we’re not too sure why that stuff is wrong. We just know our folks will be mad, and disappointed in us, if we do it. Guilt starts out as a variation on fear. Fear of rejection by someone we care about, i.e., our parents. So at first we feel guilty mainly if we think we’re going to get caught, or if we’ve already been caught doing something wrong.

But once we’ve got a fairly good conscience established, the guilt isn’t necessarily linked anymore to whether we’re likely to get caught. Indeed, children will sometimes confess to their parents that they did something wrong, just to make the guilt go away.

Now guilt has become a motivating emotion in its own right. It keeps us on the straight and narrow.

The Big Guy in the Sky knew exactly what He was doing when He invented guilt. He was the first parent to give The Look, as He tossed Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying Him.

Adam and Eve beingin banished from the garden

(from free clipart by christiansunite.com)

The purpose of guilt is to remind us of the rules we internalized as kids. It’s supposed to stop us when we are about to do something that breaks those rules. It keeps us from stealing or from hitting people when we’re pissed at them. If we feel the desire to do those things, the guilt kicks in. If we don’t do the behavior, the guilt goes away.

The problem comes in when we’re not quite sure what we’re feeling guilty about, or when we feel conflicting emotions about something. Then what do we do with those guilty feelings? When I was still a novice psychotherapist, more years ago than I am willing to admit, I learned a simple five-step approach for dealing with guilt.

  • First, you determine exactly what behavior you are feeling guilty about. It may be a behavior you’ve already done, or one you want to do, or something you feel you should’ve done but haven’t, and/or don’t particularly want to. Sometimes it helps to say it out loud: I feel guilty because I want to/don’t want to/did/did not __________ (fill in an action).

  Example: I feel guilty because I don’t want to go to my in-laws’ for Christmas dinner.

  • Second, you identify the internalized rule that the behavior is breaking. You may notice that the rules often have the words always or never in them. This is because children are all-or-nothing thinkers by nature. So the rules get recorded in our conscience in this child-like absolute language.

In our example, the rule might be ‘One is always supposed to be nice to one’s in-laws.’ Or perhaps, ‘One should never make people feel rejected and unloved.’

  • Third, you analyze the rule to decide whether or not you still believe it is valid as it stands, or does it need to be modified, or perhaps ejected completely from the rule book.

Let’s say in our example that the in-laws are not very nice people and they don’t treat you or your spouse (their own grown child) very well. Every holiday spent with them is totally miserable.

Do you really have to keep being nice to people who aren’t nice to you?

(A word of caution here. This exercise is not meant to be used to justify whatever you want to do by changing the rule. Ask yourself if you honestly still believe in the rule!)

Or perhaps your in-laws are nice enough people but you just really hate the long drive and the boring conversation.

Is it okay to make them feel rejected and unloved just because they’re boring?

  • Fourth, depending on how you now feel about the rule, you either modify the rule and/or the behavior so that they are in sync with each other again.

First Scenario (nasty in-laws): You might decide to change the rule to ‘One should be nice to one’s in-laws unless they are nasty people who mistreat you and/or your family members.’

There are several alternatives for changing your behavior. If you really hate going to your in-laws, is it time to take a stand and insist they treat you all better? (This, of course, must be discussed with your spouse and it’s their call ultimately, since it’s their family.)

If your spouse isn’t ready to deal with it, then you might decide to suck it up and go anyway. But now you are doing it to support your spouse, not out of guilt because you’re supposed to be nice, even to people who aren’t nice to you.

Second Scenario (nice but boring in-laws): You may very well decide that the rule should stand as is. Wait, let’s take that word never out of there. Absolutes like that are rarely a good idea.

 How about: ‘One should try very hard not to make people feel unloved or rejected.’

So you probably want to suck it up and go spend one evening with the boring but harmless in-laws. You don’t need to feel guilty, however, about not liking it!

Which brings us to step 5…

  • Fifth, once the behavior and the rule are in sync, thank the guilt for doing it’s job and then send it on it’s way!

But wait, you might be thinking, I still feel guilty for not liking my in-laws!

Why? No, no, not why don’t you like your in-laws; we’ve already determined that they are either nasty or boring. Why are you feeling guilty about your feelings. Guilt isn’t about feelings; it’s about behavior. We can’t control how we feel; we can only control how we act. (See The History of Emotion for a somewhat tongue-in-cheek description of how our society came to the erroneous conclusion that we should control our feelings, not just how we express them.)

If you’re doing the right thing, it’s okay to let go of the guilt–pat yourself on the back even–and move on.

This really hangs some people up though. I had a client say to me one time. “Well, I know it really is okay to do that, even though I was taught not to. So if I feel guilty about it, then I can go ahead and do it.”

Is your head spinning maybe just a little? Mine did at the time. I finally figured out what she meant. Her guilt was the sacrifice to the Parent Gods so that she could then go ahead with the behavior; i.e. it’s okay to break the rules Mom and Dad taught you, as long as you feel guilty about it.

No, no, if you don’t believe in the rule anymore, then change the dang rule! You’re a grown-up now. You get to think for yourself.

If you really have trouble letting go of the guilt, sometimes a ritual is helpful.

For example, I’ve had clients write out the whole thing on a piece of paper. “I feel guilty about… The rule is… I have changed the rule/behavior to… The guilt has done its job. Thank you, guilt. You can go now.” Then I’d give them a book of matches and have them burn the piece of paper (over an empty trash can) as a symbol of letting go of the guilt.

I love this 5-step exercise. It has helped me sort out my guilty feelings more than once and pointed me in the right direction to act appropriately.

What about you? What do you tend to feel guilty about? Can you let guilt go once you’ve figured out what to do?

By the way, the contest celebrating the release of Celebrity Status, A Kate Huntington Mystery, is still going on through next Sunday. Clcik HERE to enter.

 (Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

Are Psychopaths/Serial Killers Born or Raised? Yes, All of the Above.

Sorry, no post here because I am the guest of Stacy Green today over at Turning the Page, talking about The Making of a Psychopath–the Ultimate Thrill Seeker–how psychopaths and serial killers are both born and raised. Guaranteed to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!

But before you hop over there, check out the contest below if you haven’t already entered. And I’ve got a Fun Friday post planned for this week on Christmas shopping–Are you a Pro-crastinator or a Pre-crastinator?

THE Celebrity Status (Book 4 in the Kate Huntington Mystery series) CONTEST!

Win a $30 gift card and more (everyone who enters gets a FREE e-book copy of Multiple Motives, the first book in the series) HERE!

This book is also available in paperback. Good luck to everyone who enters!

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us (by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right) so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

“I WON, I WON!!!” – Aren’t Contests Fun?

I’ve never been all that into contests, mainly because I never, ever win them. And then I won one, totally unexpectedly.  And it launched my publishing career!

My church has a Holiday Bazaar every year in November (indeed, this year’s starts tonight; I’ll show you the goodies I score next week). They usually have a raffle and I always buy $10 worth of tickets, sometimes without even knowing what the prize is. I’m just trying to help out my church.

A few years ago, I was shocked when I heard my name being called out the last day of the Bazaar. For a minute I reverted back to childhood and thought I’d done something wrong. A woman’s voice kept loudly and persistently calling my name, and then she called out, “Please come to the raffle table.”

Holy Moly, I’d won! They’d pulled one of my lovely little Christmasy-colored raffle tickets out of the box!

I didn’t even remember what the prize was. I approached the table and the woman, DeeDee, handed me a tan box. All it said on the outside was Amazon. And then it clicked. I’d just won a Kindle! Cool, I thought.

Not much of a reaction, huh.

You see, I’m a bit of a techno-idiot. Up to that point, I hadn’t given e-readers much thought. Just another annoying newfangled gadget, I’d assumed. For a few minutes, I even considered giving the Kindle to someone on my Christmas list. Boy, am I glad I didn’t do that!

It took me about a month to figure out how to use my new toy, but after I got the hang of it, I loved it!

And then I went to a writers’ conference and one of the presenters was talking about how e-books were turning the publishing industry upside down. I also met misterio press’s co-founder, Shannon Esposito, at that conference.

I won’t bore you with the details but that conference set things in motion. Shannon and I hatched a plan, and we started looking for top-quality mystery writers to join us (we’re still looking for a few more, by the way; we’re a bit picky). A year later, misterio press was born!

And it all started with that contest. If I hadn’t won that Kindle, I wouldn’t have really understood what that presenter was even talking about.

So now I LOVE contests!  And we’re holding TWO right now here at misterio press.

One is to celebrate Kirsten Weiss’s launch of The Shamanic Detective. Hurry, that one only has three more days to go! I’ve also got a contest going because I’ve just launched Book 4 in my Kate Huntington Mystery series, Celebrity Status.

We love contests so much here at misterio that we’re holding another huge one in December, so stay tuned!

The Shamanic Detective (3rd in the Riga Hayworth series)

Win this fabulous swag pack:

HURRY! Contest ends November 18th! Enter HERE to win!

 AND the Celebrity Status (Book 4 in the Kate Huntington Mystery series) CONTEST!

 

Win a $30 gift card and more (everyone who enters gets a FREE e-book copy of Multiple Motives, the first book in the series) HERE!

 

Both books are also available in paperback. Good luck to everyone who enters!

Tell us about some of the contests you’ve won.  Or do you believe, as I once did, that contests are a waste of time because you never win?

(Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.)

 

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us (by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right) so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

 

The History of Emotions (and a contest to celebrate the launch of a new book!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about emotions lately, for a lot of reasons.

One was Veterans Day. Nothing makes our hearts swell quite so much as thinking about the sacrifice our troops make for us.

So first, let me say a huge THANK YOU to all the brave men and women through the years who have left home and family in order to protect and preserve our country! We owe you everything. Big HUGS to all of you!!!

The other day, I stumbled across this interesting tidbit. The English word, emotion, comes from the Latin word, exmovere, which literally means “to move out.” Ah, apparently the ancient Romans knew a thing or two about emoting. They got it that feelings needed to “move out” of us, not be suppressed or bottled up.

This made me curious, so I went cruising around the cybersphere to see how different cultures feel about feelings. Here are some of the random things I discovered that you can use to impress your friends at the next party you attend.

The Giriami people of coastal Kenya don’t separate reason from emotion, nor do they feel the need to segregate emotions from one another. Their word utsungu refers to bitterness, resentment, anger and grief–feelings that are often experienced together.

For the Ifaluk of the Caroline Islands, emotions are a social event. One of their emotion words is song, refering to justifiable anger at someone who has behaved inappropriately toward you. That person, when they find out you are experiencing song, is supposed to feel metagu. This word translates as fear/anxiety but it’s probably more about guilt and fear of social rejection. However, if the person who supposedly caused the song does not feel the anger is justified, then the two parties negotiate how they should feel, and depending on the situation, others may join the discussion.

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about that. On the one hand, they’re talking–always a good thing. But on the other hand, emotions determined by a committee? Yikes!

Most Native American cultures view emotions as part and parcel of the whole human experience–body, mind, emotion, spirit and the social context are inseparable. One’s goal is to remain in harmony within oneself, and also with others and nature. Physical illness is viewed as evidence that something is out of harmony and the healer’s task is to help the afflicted person regain that harmony.

Hmm, very interesting. In other words, many very old cultures, that would be considered ‘primitive’ by the standards of modern industrialized society, view emotions as a natural part of being human that is inseparable from reason or even from our bodies.

So how did Americans end up being so–well uptight I guess would be the best word–about emotions?

A little more messing around with Google and I had some answers. Seems that started with the Romans as well, although they never intended to promote the suppression of emotions.

They pretty much invented civilization. The Latin word civilitas, from which our words civilization and civility are derived, has several translations: politics/government, citizenship, and the behavior of an ordinary person. The Romans believed that every person, in order to be a good citizen, should behave in a manner that would avoid social friction. (The key word being behave.)

Cicero Maccari--fresco in Palazzo Madama, Rome

The Romans invented the Senate–now we know who to blame! (public domain in USA)

This concept of civilitas became one of the basic building blocks of European societies. Regardless of what one was feeling, the expectation was that one would behave in a civilized manner, i.e., exhibit self-control. Makes sense. We can’t be civilized if everybody is running around impulsively acting out every emotion!

So things hum along for quite a few centuries with most folks trying to be civilized, except when they were trying to conquer each other.

Then along comes the Age of Enlightenment, also referred to as the Age of Reason. There’s some debate about when exactly this age started, but it was somewhere between 1650 and 1700. A bunch of philosophers started to question two time-honored traditions, the authority of the church and the idea that monarchs were ordained by God to rule. They introduced the novel idea that all human beings could think for themselves. Wow, what a concept!

 A lot of great stuff came out of the Enlightenment, including the scientific method, democracy, free enterprise, the concepts of individual freedom and religious tolerance, the spread of literacy and the idea that books should be available to all people, not just the upper classes.

Unfortunately, however, as this movement took hold, the idea that reason should rule supreme evolved into a distrust of emotion. Emotions were the enemy of rationality. They were evil. Now it was no longer sufficient to control your behavior. Now you were supposed to control your feelings as well. It wasn’t enough that you refrained from hitting your neighbor or calling him names when you were mad at him; you were not supposed to feel that way!

The Age of Enlightenment gave way to Romanticism in the late 1700’s and emotions came back into vogue in Europe. But in the meantime, the British colonies in America had gone and thrown themselves a revolution and they were now the United States–a country founded on the concepts of the Enlightenment. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are pure Enlightenment philosophy.

The Romantic Era not only influenced art and literature in Europe, it had a huge impact on politics and nationalism there. American art and literature were also strongly influenced by it, but from a philosophy of life standpoint, the rugged individualists who’d braved leaving their homelands to settle in a new land still preferred the ideals of the Enlightenment.

So the attitudes toward emotion did not swing very far back toward the middle ground in the U.S. It was okay for poets and artists to be emotional but the rest of us were still expected to keep a lid on our feelings.

 Now as a psychologist and professor of developmental psychology, I know research has established that all human beings, regardless of race, culture or gender, feel the same feelings. We are born with the same basic emotions.

crying newborn

Indeed, we come into the world howling in protest, which is considered a sign of good lungs! (photo by Ernest F of his daughter, from Wikimedia Commons)

Tiny babies express happiness, interest, surprise, distress and disgust. Anger, fear and sadness show up around six months old. In the second year of life, pride, guilt and shame, called the self-conscious emotions, develop as the toddler realizes s/he is a separate entity from others, that s/he has a ‘self.’

Almost all other emotions are variations or combinations of these basic ones. We all feel these emotions. What varies from culture to culture is to what degree and in what way we express them. And how much we are allowed to acknowledge them within ourselves.

I also know, as a psychologist, that you really can’t suppress emotions. Pushing them down and trying to ignore them just makes them go underground, and then they’re likely to come out in unexpected and undesirable ways. One of my professors in college used the analogy of a volcano to describe the futility of suppressing emotions, especially anger. He said that if we manage to drop a huge boulder in the crater and stop the volcano from erupting, the pressure from the hot lava is still there. It will look for every crack and fissure in the sides of the mountain to come spewing out.

spewing lava

Lava spewing from side of volcano (Stromboli, Italy–photo by Wolfgangbeyer at German language Wikipedia)

So the Romans had it right, all those centuries ago. We have to move emotions out of our systems in some way, shape or form, but in a civilized manner.

Another reason emotions have been on my mind lately is because of the new book I’m launching today in my Kate Huntington Mystery series. Of course there’s an intriguing mystery to be solved, but the other theme of the story is what happens to the main characters when they are being hounded by the paparazzi (often not a very civilized bunch). How do they cope as their feelings of frustration and helplessness build up?

Check it out below. And there’s a contest to win free stuff! You even get a free e-book of the first novel in the series just for entering the contest.

And don’t forget to tell me what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we handle feelings in our society? And those of you outside the U.S., how do you think your culture’s approach to emotions is different or similar to ours? 

Celebrity Status, A Kate Huntington Mystery

Kate is now married to Skip Canfield, the man who patiently courted her through the last two books in this mystery series, and life is good. Skip’s private investigating agency may be doing a little too well, however. They’ve attracted their first celebrity client, a pop singer whose anonymous stalker has a twisted concept of love. Before Skip realizes just how twisted, he involves first his psychotherapist wife and then their lawyer friend, Rob Franklin, in the case.

Soon they are being hounded by paparazzi and someone is planting evidence to convince Skip that Kate and Rob are lovers. As they try to cope with this onslaught of unwanted attention and a stalker who will stop at nothing to remove the obstacles in his path, Kate and Skip struggle with the reality that you can’t always keep those you love from harm.

About the Author

Author Kassandra Lamb

Writing and psychology have always vied for number one on my Greatest Passions list. Since psychology was more likely to pay the bills, that’s what I studied (I’m partial to eating). But now that I’m retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, I can spend most of my time in an alternate universe in which my protagonist, Kate Huntington, is always the kind, generous and insightful person I wish I was. When not at my computer, transported in mind and spirit into Kate’s world, I live in Florida and Maryland, with my husband and my Alaskan Husky, Amelia. I hang out a lot on Twitter and Facebook as well, so feel free to track me down there.

 Purchase

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Follow Kassandra Lamb

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The prize: a $30 gift certificate from Amazon, a canvas tote bag and a signed paperback copy of Celebrity Status. EVERY person that enters the contest will get an ebook of the first book in the series, Multiple Motives.

Ends 12/2 Fill out the form to participate

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We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address toward the top of the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!