Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Have You Met Anne?

This is from Anne Lamott’s Facebook page. She doesn’t know me. Doesn’t know I’m sharing it here. I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from her work for many, many years. From the time I first started writing seriously and was told to read her book, Bird by Bird. She’s a true blessing.

I don’t personally suffer from depression, but I know and love people who do. There’s no shame in it. My heart breaks to think people in my life don’t know how much they’re loved, cherished and needed, because they are.

So I’m sharing what Anne has to say, because she knows something we all need to hear.

Thank you, Anne, for caring.

This will not be well written or contain any answers or be very charming. I won’t be able to proof read it It is about times like today when the abyss is visible and we cannot buy cute area rugs at IKEA to truck out the abyss. Our brother Robin fell into it yesterday. We are all staring at the abyss today.

I called my Jesuit friend the day after the shootings in Newtown, stunned, flat, fixated, scared to death: “Is there any meaning in the deaths of twenty 5 and 6 year old children?”

Tom said, “Not yet.”

And there is no meaning in Robin’s death, except as it sheds light on our common humanity, as his life did. But I’ve learned that there can be meaning without things making sense.

Here is what is true: a third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both; and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.

And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Roger’s mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, “Look to the helpers.” That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.

I knew that those children at Sandy Hook were caught in God’s loving maternal arms at the second each crossed over, and the teachers were, too. I believe the shooter was too, another child of God with severe mental illness, because God loves, period. But this is controversial.

I know Robin was caught too, in both the arms of God, and of his mother, Laurie.

I knew them both when I was coming up, in Tiburon. He lived three blocks away on Paradise drive. His family had money; ours didn’t. But we were in the same boat–scared, shy, with terrible self esteem and grandiosity. If you have a genetic predisposition towards mental problems and addiction, as Robin and I did, life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.

We all thought after Newtown that gun control legislation would be passed, but no–not one new law. We think in the aftermath of Robin’s death that there will be consciousness raising about mental health, but I doubt it. The shock and awe will pass, like it did after Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Unless…unless we take action. But what? I don’t have a clue. Well, here’s Glenn Close’s astonishing organization to raise awareness and diminish the stigma of mental illness, where you can give OR receive help: http://www.bringchange2mind.org. Go there, OK?

In Newtown, as in all barbarity and suffering, in Robin’s death, on Mount Sinjar, in the Ebola towns, the streets of India’s ghettos, and our own, we see Christ crucified. I don’t mean that in a nice, Christian-y way. I mean that in the most ultimate human and existential way. The temptation is to say, as cute little believers sometimes do, Oh it will all make sense someday. The thing is, it may not. We still sit with scared, dying people; we get the thirsty drinks of water.

This was at theologian Fred Buechner blog today: “It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now.

Get help. I did. Be a resurrection story, in the wild non-denominational sense. I am.

If you need to stop drinking or drugging, I can tell you this: you will be surrounded by arms of love like you have never, not once, imagined. This help will be available twenty/seven. Can you imagine that in this dark scary screwed up world, that I can promise you this? That we will never be closed, if you need us?

Gravity yanks us down, even a man as stunning in every way as Robin. We need a lot of help getting back up. And even with our battered banged up tool boxes and aching backs, we can help others get up, even when for them to do so seems impossible or at least beyond imagining. Or if it can’t be done, we can sit with them on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. You know how I always say that laughter is carbonated holiness? Well, Robin was the ultimate proof of that, and bubbles are spirit made visible.

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Woolly Bully or . . . ?

So, bullying. Yep, a hot topic, especially if you have school aged children. I hate it when someone bigger or older or several people gang up on someone else.

Sometimes I wonder, “Do you know you’re being a bully? Do you think you’re funny???”

(Yeah, bullies are usually that stupid.) My solution?

Ignore them, come over and listen to “Woolly Bully” with me. Honestly, give it time. I can practically guarantee you’ll win in the end.

Kid bullies nearly always end up the same. They’re the ones you see on TV who get interviewed when something happens in your town. They have an average of about one tooth in their mouths (if they have two, they don’t meet up.) They can’t keep a job, and drive cars that barely make it from one stop sign to the next. (And if they don’t end up like that, they should!)

From what I’ve noticed, the TV ads about “don’t be a bully” work about as well as the ones that say, “Don’t do drugs.” Remember?

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.  

How about,

This is a normal brain. This pea is the size of a bully’s. 😉

There are all kinds of bullies, especially with all the in-the-air stuff these days.

  • Face-to-face. (Sometimes toe-to-toe with a bloody nose.)
  • Behind your back. (She said, he said, yada yada.)
  • Texted.
  • Facebook and Twitter
  • Cyber.

I had a cyber-bully on my blog for a while. What’s funny is, Bully Boy thought he was anonymous because he used a Blackberry and made up a fake email address each time. Took me about five minutes to check out who was sending them (every phone has an id) and set up a block so they didn’t reach me, then boogie to Woolly Bully.

♪♫ “Hattie told Matty, Let’s don’t take no chance, Let’s don’t be L-seven, Come and learn to dance.” ♪♫

So how do (did?) you handle bullying? And more importantly, how would/do you help kids handle it?

Please share! You could be the solution to today’s biggest problem. (But probably it’s Mr. Sham.)


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The Ten Best Things About Growing Up in a Small Town World

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I love, love, love living in a Small Town World. (In case you haven’t guessed.) And here are just a few of the reasons why . . .

  1. Public workers are often people you went to school with. (That’s especially good when you’re speeding and get pulled over or you forget to pay the water bill.)
  2. When you call someone and get a wrong number, it’s usually someone you know. (At least they know someone you know.)
  3. You went to church with some of your teachers. “Mr. Ritchie, do we have to take that test tomorrow?” (That can be a bad thing, too.)
  4. Your kids play with the kids of your friends when you were a kid. (That can be a bad thing, too, too.)
  5. Directions are often, “Turn at the Dari Diner, go past Doc Saddoris’s house and the old school to the street where Mrs. Jordan lived.”
  6. Instead of street addresses it’s, “The old Johnson House” or “The Mullendore Mansion.”
  7. If your kids do something wrong, you hear it before they get a chance to lie to you about it.
  8.  If you friended every one of the kids you graduated with on Facebook, you’d have a whopping 69 friends. (My cousins from Old Ford would only have twenty-something friends.)
  9. When you apply for your first job, you usually call your prospective boss by his first name. (My first three jobs.)
  10. The people you grew up around are nicer than people anywhere else in the world. In fact, they’re THE BEST!

Mullendore Mansion

Bonus #11: You know where the bodies are buried. 🙂

I know I’m missing some like, “kids from all churches attend various church functions” (especially if there’s food) and “when a dog gets lost, someone across town will recognize it, call it by name and return it to you.”

What else am I leaving out?

Next time–the worst things about living in a Small Town World. (If I can think of any.)

woodland


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BIG! SURPRISE!

Guess what!

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MAKE ME HOWL (my werewolf book) is going to be available, exclusively on Kindle, on July 26, 2013. JULY 26th! That’s this Friday!!! (I found out yesterday.)

Wow. Wow, WOW, WOW.  That’s four days from now.

I’m kind of in shock.

Okay, I’m really in shock. Big time!

I keep wondering if it’s a mistake. 🙂

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If MMH was a real book with pages (and it won’t be until November) this is what the back cover would say:

When Chase Holliday’s gaze first met mine, something tingled on my end. He was hot. Dark blue eyes, a square jaw, hair that was just a little too long, and this way of focusing that made me wonder if I should attack or run.

 And I never run.

 Together we’d make a pair anyone would sit up and notice–at least that’s what I thought. Then I learned that he planned to wipe werewolves from the face of the planet. And since I was born with an active werewolf gene, well, let’s just say our twain could never meet.

 Until a Blood Moon occurred while I was in heat and all my hard earned control went slamming out the window with me right behind it. That’s when I learned that, like wolves in nature, werewolves mate for life.

 I’m in deep trouble.

Not your normal shape shifter story. But Jazzy isn’t your normal werewolf, either. Like her grandmother, she was born with an active werewolf gene. (Her twin sister got the gene for straight hair, so it all evens out.)

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I set up a Facebook page for MMH. Please take a moment to pop over there and “like” it. Or pretend you like it. Either one. Here’s the page.

BTW: This is the last manuscript I finished before I started trying to write Christian Women’s Fiction. (aka: Inspirational Romance.) I’m working on and praying about that now.

So (please!) come see me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MakeMeHowl

Thanks, guys. (I need all the help I can get.)

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And, no. That’s not me on the cover. 😉


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Intention Living

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Don’t you love this? Wouldn’t it make a wonderful blog header?

It was posted by Intentional Living on Facebook. (Intentional Living is my FAVORITE talk radio!)

 This is what was written under it:

It is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16 NIV

Check out today’s eDevo at http://archive.aweber.com/edevo/MzMgA/h/Finding_power_for_life.htm


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Christmas in Heaven

This is a repeat from last year, with a few changes. 😉 I hope you’ll enjoy it.

another-merry-christmas

I started to repost this on Facebook yesterday. At Christmas, I like remembering friends and loved ones who’ve passed.

But when I really looked at that picture and read the words, it sounds almost as if my loved ones were gone. Over.

That’s not true. Those who’ve gone on are in HEAVEN! (No doubt about that.) They’re with the Jesus, face to face!

Can you imagine the celebration There when it’s Jesus’s birthday? The joy, happiness, the atmosphere of pure love that happens when they celebrate The Day the creator of the universe and everything in it became a helpless human child, so that thirty odd years later he could take our sins?

Try to imagine the colors. The songs. The absolute explosion of joy that inundates everyone during the celebration!

In my imagination, when the heavenly choirs sing, their music is visible,  colored light, like rainbows and sparkling stars. But that’s my weirdness showing there. LOL!

Christmas was Mom’s favorite holiday. She loved it, worked HARD to make it special for me, my siblings and my kids.

One year she made our picture window look like stained glass by coloring a giant picture and doing somthing to it (seems like baby oil was rubbed on it, but I was just little, so I’m not sure) to make it transparent.

And because there was no Internet, she drove to Tulsa day after day, Christmas shopping for all her loved ones. I remember many nights when she’d come in, exhausted from being over there and going from store to store, not only for our family’s gifts, but for Grandmother’s, too, since Grandmother didn’t drive.

Nope. I can’t just light a candle to remember her at Christmas. I’d have to set off an entire pyrotechnic display!


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Teach the Children

 

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

From Facebook–

This isn’t original with me (it’s all over Facebook) but I love it. I’m sharing it here in case you missed it. Wednesday, we’ll be back to our regularly schoeduled program.

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Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.

I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.

“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.

“But Santa, the children love you,” I said.
“Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them,” Santa said, “but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children.”

“Teach them what?” I asked.

Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent.”

Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him.”

“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. “Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave His life and shed His blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful Gift.”

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God’s Son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s foot steps… to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkling lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy: white to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God’s promises. The candy cane is in the form of a ‘J’ to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd’s crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life.”

“Teach these things to the children.”

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”

I asked, “But where does that leave you, Santa?”

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why bless you, my dear,” he laughed, “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll ever be forgotten.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“That’s why I came,” said Santa. “You’re an adult. If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”

(Author Unknown)