Scrambled Brain Challenge!

“The Scrambled Brain Challenge” makes me laugh. Great idea!

Inside Danielle's mind

As most of you know, this page is called TBI triumphs! I have a Traumatic Brain Injury, which I have gotten from a car accident that I was in high school, 16 years old, 17 years ago. My friend, Kristin, who I met through the TBI support group that I have recently begun attending [it’s at Fairfax Hospital, every 4th Friday of the month; comment on here or email me if you’d like further information].  The Scrambled Brain Challenge, is for TBI awareness, you can learn more about this condition and donate money on the Brain Injury Association.  It’s fun to show your support by cracking an egg on your head and post it on facebook-   but if you don’t want to crack an egg, please go to and read about these injuries.  Brain injuries DON’T discriminate, and can happen to anyone.

There’s a cute video…

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Wendy Davis Comes to BookPeople!

Anybody close enough to go? GO! Report back! #WendyDavisforGovernorofTexas



BookPeople is honored to welcome Texas State Senator Wendy Davis to BookPeople to sign her new memoir, Forgetting To Be Afraid: A Memoir, on Thursday, September 11 at 12:30pm.

Davis became an overnight political sensation and a hero to women’s rights supporters across the country when she single-handedly filibustered Governor Rick Perry’s sweeping bill that aimed to close all but five abortion clinics in our state. She is now the first Democrat to make a serious run for governor of Texas in two decades.

Tickets are required to attend this event and are now available in-store at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX)and via 

For more important info, please visit our website. We hope you can join us for this exciting event!

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Deadly Eye Makeup and other “Beauty” “Aids”: STOP USING THESE!

I know many people are squeamish about our eyes, as I am. I have had many years of allergies (itchy and runny eyes) and now I have “dry” eyes (ironically? relatedly?), which also makes them itchy and runny. Go figure.

I would be a horrible contact lens wearer; luckily, I am far-sighted, so that never came up. I have “baby cataracts,” which means I have to have surgery in about 10 or 15 years. Just the thought of eye-surgery already gives me the willies.

Perhaps it isn’t necessary, but I will tell you, mostly due to my distaste for having anything near or in/on my eyes: I have almost never worn any make-up, especially eye make-up, unless I was in a play. I hate the way make-up feels and it always bothers my eyes, even when it’s “hypoallergenic.” My eyelids are practically invisible with my eyes open, anyway, so lid makeup is a complete waste.

Furthermore, and increasingly more importantly, I am politically and socially against the entire concept of women’s “needing” to change the ways we look to attempt to conform to some random social norms (which keep changing and, once again, are NOT “universal”).

As a feminist, I have had many arguments with others who are unclear on the concept. They say inane things like: “Feminists are supposed to be in support of whatever women want to do.”

Really? Following that line of irrational thought, we would have no uniformity in the Domestic Violence Prevention movement and no mandatory reporting of DV to give “teeth” to anti-abuse laws that made violence against one’s partner a crime, since many women “choose” to stay with abusive partners and refuse to report the violence. We would also be without a whole host of other improvements to women’s lives. Should feminists “support whatever women want to do?” Of course not.

Mindlessly supporting women’s “right” OR “choice” to wear make-up is no different. Most of make-up is not harmful, I suppose, unless the creation of it harmed animals or the wearer happens to be allergic to it. At least, some make-up is not harmful in any physical way.

But what about the types of make-up, particularly eye makeup, that ARE harmful? These culprits can cause infections, irritations, even blindness or death!

Keep reading, then tell me these types of “choices” are what feminists ought to support.

I realize I’m preaching to the choir, here, since many of my followers are feminists, men, and/or don’t wear much/any make-up. So, please SHARE this post so it finds the women/girls who need to read it!

First, we “look” at make-up/alterations for Eyelashes.


Eyelash extensions

With and Without Eyelash Extensions. Image from:

I’ll give you the conclusion, first: DON’T. Or, if you MUST use eyelash extensions (and I can’t imagine who must, but I guess some of you could), please read the entire article (link below).

“The risks of eyelash extensions are not only an allergic reaction to the glue [used to attach the extensions], but erosion of the inner surface of the eyelid,” says Dr. Orly Avitzur, M.D., one of our medical advisors. “And that can cause permanent damage to your eyelashes.”

eye infection

Eye Infection. Image from:

All right. Suppose I have now convinced you not to “extend” your eyelashes in this way. What about changing their color or trying to give them more “fullness”?

Latisse, which is an FDA-approved treatment for thin lashes, has potential side effects as well, including:

  • Permanent changes in eye color—turning blue, green, or hazel eyes brown
  • Permanently darkened eyelids
  • Hair growth elsewhere on your face, if you’re not careful
  • Itching, redness
  • Lower eye pressure, which could potentially mask glaucoma or other eye problems

So, if I have this right, people who use Latisse to give themselves “better” eyelashes may also give themselves hairy cheeks, itchy, red eyes, changes in their iris’ color, and even make worse (by hiding) their actual eye diseases?

Sure, that’s worthwhile. Going out right now to get myself some of that. Gotta be “pretty,” don’t I?

But, how “pretty” are itchy, swollen, darkened eyelids and/or hairy cheeks?

Some make-up must be safe, you claim. You use/you know women who use it all the time with no ill effects. All right.

But, what about doing a serious costs-gains analysis, weighing the potential ill effects and the potential “benefits”: how can you compare impairing your eyes’ health or even the loss of your eyesight with the “benefits” of having a few hours of “looking better”?

Go ahead, ignore me, the research, the warnings: dye your eyelashes, anyway. What harm could it do?


Eyelash dyes are a big beauty don’t. Currently, there are no color additives approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for dyeing or tinting eyelashes, and the FDA cautions against doing so. The dyes can cause blindness.


Eyelash/eyelid infection due to make-up. Image from:

Read the entire article for the list of do’s and don’ts. SHARE!

What about PERMANENT EYELINER, another way to dye one’s eyelids?

It’s a great idea to get one’s eyeliner inked in permanently, right? Save money, save time: one and done. Until someone goes home crying….

While often cheap, work done by untrained, unlicensed practitioners may require expensive corrections and revisions later. This happens because in order to cut costs, such practitioners use cheap, low quality pigments and do not invest much into acquiring and updating their permanent makeup skills.

Some of the typical problems requiring corrections are odd eyebrow and lip colors, unflattering or asymmetric shapes and pigment migration…. Corrections are a two-step process.


Image of permanent eyeliner fail and info, above, from:


“Well,” you say, “I refuse to go out without a little mascara. That can’t be that bad!”

Oh, yes. Mascara CAN be that bad.

About seven years ago. one brand of $160-tubes of mascara was recalled from the market because it was found to cause infections and other problems, many leading to blindness. Did you hear about that? Probably not.

What about other types of mascara? Since we know expensive doesn’t equal better, now, what to think?

There are still problems with ALL types of mascara. The tubes are hotbeds for bacteria and some of those DO lead to infections and blindness, regardless of how careful the user is. What to do?

Side effects of mascara

“Mascara is used by most women to lengthen their eyelashes, make them appear thicker and to lay emphasis on the eye area. However, its applicants rarely have knowledge on the adverse side effects of mascara. Mascara contains harmful ingredients that affect the users’ lashes and skin. Mercury, bronopol, parabens and benzyl alcohol are just but a few of the harmful ingredients used to manufacture mascara.”

Some of the adverse effects associated with the use of mascara include:
–Mascara may lead to eyesight problems such as blurred vision and blindness
The presence of an ingredient known as pseudomonas aeruginosa is associated with eye blindness in mascara users.
Occurrence of cancers and breast tumors
Parabens is a preservative for many cosmetic products including mascaras. When mascara is applied, parabens is absorbed into the body. Frequent application leads to large deposits of the parabens in the body. This has been linked to the presence of breast cancers and tumors amongst women.

Thinning of eyelashes
–As much as mascara makes your eyelashes appear thicker and linger, its chemical composition reacts with the eyelashes to make them thinner. Mascara clogs up the hair follicles making the growth of eyelashes difficult.
They cause irritation to the eye
–Ingredients such as triethanolamine and methylparaben act as irritants to the eyes. This may lead to eye related problems and skin irritations especially around the eyes.
Loss of eyelashes
–When applied frequently, mascara tends to dry the eyelashes. Mascara is therefore one of the causes for eyelashes falling out.
Eye infections
Mascara may enter the eye of the applicant during application or thereafter by rubbing the eyes. The presence of these harmful ingredients may lead to eye infections.
–Mascara has been linked to neurotoxicity and infertility.

All above mascara info is from

If you are that committed to altering your appearance or you’re wearing a costume or something, try the safer alternatives listed in the above article.


“Fine,” you say, now. “I won’t use mascara, eyelash extenders, eyelash alterations or dye my eyelids. What about colored contact lenses? They have to be all right, don’t they”

Nope. Look what CBS reported last year (2103) after Halloween! “Color[ed] contact lenses for Halloween may carry blindness risk”

CBS reported:

Part of the risk is that people often don’t go to the ophthalmologist or optometrist to make sure that the contacts fit properly. Improper fit can lead to scratches on the cornea, which is the clear dome of tissue above the colored iris portion of the eye. People can also get an ulcer on the cornea, known as a corneal infection. There’s also the risk of getting conjunctivitis, or pink eye, and having decreased vision. It some cases, these problems could lead to blindness.

And the health risks could occur with only one wearing.

“Wearing it for a couple seconds could cause damage,” Dr. Edward Kondrot, an ophthalmologist and the founder of the Healing The Eye & Wellness Center in Dade City, Fla., said to “If it’s poorly fit, you could develop a scratch on the cornea, and it becomes an open wound.”

colored contacts

Colored Contacts for Costume Wearers. Image from:

CBS News reporters then warned/recommended: “If you still really want to wear the decorative lenses, the FDA recommended getting an eye exam from a qualified professional and getting a valid prescription. Buy the lenses from a retailer that requires a prescription and take care to follow the directions.”

So, go ahead: have fun with altering your eyes. Just be safe out there!

from Anne R. Allen, HOW TO/how not to #BLOG, for #author/#bloggers

Another great post from Anne R. Allen, filled with details, concrete advice, tips and warnings for #author/#bloggers.

My favorite part (and there are MANY great parts):

4) DON’T limit yourself with a restrictive niche

“For product bloggers and reviewers, niche is important. It’s better to be the #1 blogger for jelly doughnut reviews or vegan baby food recipes than the 10 millionth blogger “musing about stuff”.

“But you’re an author. Your product is YOU. Don’t keep yourself hemmed in by a limited niche.

“For a long time, I believed all the stuff about how you have to have a niche. So this is a niche blog. It’s serving us well, but it hems us in.

“Remember people surf the Web looking for two things: information and entertainment. Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you are putting it all in your own honest, unique voice.

“I used to caution writers against putting fiction on blogs. It is still less likely to be read, because people are mostly skimming blogs for information, but there’s been growth in the “story blog” recently, so if you have flash fiction you don’t intend to send to contests or journals, it’s okay to put it on your blog. But do realize it will be officially “published” so you have given away first rights.

“NOTE: It’s still not smart to post raw bits of a novel in progress. [italics are mine; Sally Ember, here] Agents and publishers won’t consider that book because it’s now published (unless you’re getting 100,000 hits a post.) Also, readers respond much better to self-contained short fiction than unedited bits of novels. And remember your job is to entertain, not seek free editorial advice.

“Another caveat: one of the least interesting topics to readers is your writing process [italics are mine; Sally Ember, here]. Hardly any potential reader wants to know your daily word count or your rejection sorrows. Other writers may stop by to commiserate, and you do want to network with other authors, but don’t make your writer’s block or attempts to get published the main focus of your blog.

“You simply want to offer your unique voice talking about the things you feel passionate about: the research you’re doing on medieval armor; your theories on why raccoons are going to take over the planet; the hilarious adventures of an erotica writer running for PTA president. Anything that will draw in readers will work.”

THANKS! Reblogging! Link is below. PLEASE visit and read the whole post if you are an author/blogger. Well worth your time!

#60for60 ENDS Today! 6/21 – 8/22/14

Read about my outcomes for #60for60, for my attempts to engage in acts of kindness and gratitude in the 60 days leading up to my 60th birthday.


image from

Pick one or more and engage in them yourself, any time!


image from

Comment on my blog to wish me “Happy Birthday” and tell your stories on or after 8/22/14.

Enjoy! 6/21 – 8/22/14

60 BD

60 FOR 60:

June 21, 2014 to 8/22/14

1. $
Give a very good tip. SEVERAL times.
2. $
Pay for someone’s gas. No opportunities (not enough extra funds)
3. $
Pay someone’s fees to foster a dog or cat from shelter. No opportunities (not enough extra funds)
4. $
Leave change in a vending machine. No opportunities (not near any machines)
5. –
6. $
Donate a random amount of money to a homeless person. No opportunities where it would have been private.
Open doors for people. SEVERAL times.
Give genuine compliments to someone’s very unseen blogs. SEVERAL times.
Donate supplies I don’t use. SEVERAL times: Turns out I’m moving!
10. Didn’t do.
11. $
Give someone an umbrella: Brought an extra one on my cross-country move. Maybe my sister will use it!
Let someone behind me go in front of me in a line. SEVERAL times.
Clean a neighbor’s curb area or put their garbage cans back after pick-up. SEVERAL times.
14. $
Buy someone’s groceries in the checkout. No opportunities (not enough extra funds, but gave away a LOT of food during my move give-aways)
15. $
Pick up the tab for a random family/person. No opportunities (not enough extra funds, but gave away so many items to single parents and seniors during my move give-aways)
16. $
Buy some carry-out lunch and deliver it to a homeless person. Told story about this in previous post.
Give compliments to people. Several times
18. $
Buy some toys a child might like and leave them on their porch. Gave to a parent, instead.
Post about something useful to others.Several times, according to comments and thanks.
20. $
Go to the bank and deposit money into other’s account. No opportunities (not enough extra funds)
21. $
Pay off someone’s layaway at a store. No opportunities (not enough extra funds)
22. $
Cook lunch or dinner for someone I know and bring to them.Several times, served here rather than delivered.
23. $
Buy a college student’s textbook or lunch. No opportunities (not enough extra funds)
Leave a thank -you note at every farmers’ market vendor’s stall. Thanked them orally, instead.
Collect coupons and leave at laundromats. Didn’t do. Don’t collect coupons. 
26. –
Leave Buddhist magazines at homeless shelters. Donated them to someone who is working at organization that serves homeless youth and families, instead.
Donate clothes, coats, shoes. SEVERAL times: Turns out I’m moving!
28. $
Reserve a coffee at coffee shop. I don’t go to coffee shops.
Read someone’s writing and give constructive feedback, for free, even though I’m a professional editor. Several times.
Send a thank-you note to every family member. Done by email and Facebook posts.
Send a thank-you note to every friend. Done by email and Facebook posts.
Offer to edit, rewrite, or help write something for someone for free. Did four+ times. Great responses.
Respond to someone’s comments with positive statements in FB, LinkedIn, Google+ groups. Several times.
Thank group moderators in above groups.Haven’t done all, but have done some.
Tweet about someone else’s writing, music or art. Several times.
RT or repost someone’s great quote. Several times.
Vote up someone’s submission on Reddit, StumbleUpon, Youtube. Several times.
Thank every cashier and waitron I can’t tip. Several times.
Offer to help someone who seems to need help at stores, farmers’ market, library. Several times.
Donate books to library book sale. Several times.
41. $
Donate food to food bank. Several times.
Offer a ride to someone with burdens walking to the BART or bus. No opportunity.
43. $
Buy a BART ticket and give it away. No opportunities (haven’t been near BART)
44. $
Leave tips in tip jars even when I don’t buy anything. Tipped two people who usually don’t get tipped.
45. $
Donate to my spiritual teacher even when I don’t see him. Actually, got to see him. Wonderful.
Get and give coupons for free ebooks to teachers. No opportunities. 
Write positive reviews for books and rank them on Amazon. Several times.
48. $
Visit one church or temple per month and donate to charity tray/basket Didn’t do.
Send thank-you notes to musicians, writers, artists whose work I appreciate Did a few.
Send thank-you notes to teachers or their children/spouses. No opportunities.
Scan then post/email photos from albums for friends, family and let them know. Several times.
Make Youtube vids thanking writing support groups leaders/members and cover artist, Willowraven, reviewers and beta readers then post. Started CHANGES Hangout On Air 8/6 and do THANK-YOUs in every episode.
53. $
Pay someone’s parking meter. No opportunity (no meters around here).
Compliment a parent on their parenting in public place. Done twice. Fabulous responses.
Compliment/thank a public servant. Thanked some BART guards walking around the Farmers’ Market (near the BART).
Write letter to editor thanking honest, dedicated local politicians. Wish I knew any around here.
Blog about gratitude to my/one’s ancestors. Not done, yet.
Share positive stories about people I knew who are now dead to their living descendants. Not done, yet.
Thank Buddhist sangha members and/or support one’s retreat. Donated books, clothing, ritual items to retreatants/practitioners./strong>

I LOVED doing 60 for 60, even though I didn’t get to them all, I did a lot more than 60 acts!

Find someone else whose birthday is today and wish them “Happy Birthday!” Do kind and generous acts of your own choosing, any day, every day.

Bras and Shoes: Breast Cancer, Bunions, Back Strain and “Beauty” Lies

WARNING: Naked breasts appear in this post, for instructional purposes only.

This post is meant to inform about some aspects of modern women’s (and men’s ) lives in Western nations that need changing. Yes, these are “first-world” problems. But, they ARE problems. If you don’t mind the problems these cause or you don’t have these problems, go read something more fun/useful. Or, pass it on to those who might benefit from reading it!


I have always hated bras. I personally hate wearing them and almost never do. Even when well-fitted, bras inform me that there is a special place in hell for those who design them. Bras itch, ride up, pinch and nonstop bother me.

I also hate the rationales people make for women’s wearing of bras. As a feminist, I am offended and disgusted by the so-called “reasons” for bras because these are based on modern, industrialized, Puritanically based Western cultural biases that “require” teenage or adult females to cover our nipples, to pretend not to have any. Also, we are told that we are “unprofessional” unless we are complicit in disguising our breasts’ shapes. These misogynistic attitudes are NOT “universal” and need to be eradicated.

However, I could put all that hatred aside and just accept that some women want (or claim they “need”) to wear bras, except for three somewhat newly surfacing facts, based on extensive research over many decades:

  • 1) Bras do not work. Gravity wins. It wins BIGGER when women wear bras: bras CAUSE breasts to sag MORE because wearing bras weakens the pectoral muscles that would ordinarily work and strengthen to hold up one’s breasts over a lifetime. With few exceptions, NO WOMEN should wear bras just to “hold them up.” Those whose breasts hurt due to hormonal changes and jiggling makes the pain worse: sure, wear bras. Those with extremely large breasts claim that wearing bras helps “carry” them, HOWEVER: the BRAS cause more shoulder and back pain than their breasts.

    Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor at University of Besançon in France, authored a study stating that women are better off not wearing bras. They are scientifically unnecessary, and, in fact, could be hazardous to breast health, leading to sagging breasts and increased back pain….”Medically, physiologically, anatomically — breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity,” Rouillon told France Info radio. “On the contrary, they get saggier with a bra.”

  • 2) Bras increase the risk of breast cancer.
    The Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are the main organizations who refuse to properly present summaries and warnings derived from the amassing research that shows a link between increased incidences (“Risk”) of breast cancer the wearing of bras, especially tight ones, for 12 or more hours per day, particularly all night.

    …at least five research studies have shown that there IS a strong connection between breast cancer and bra wearing for many hours per day.


    Lymphatic Systems of Breasts: image from

  • 3) Underwire Bras, in particular, cause health problems.
    The pressure points that underwire bras rest on are critically important, according to Eastern medical knowledge, to the functioning of major systems in the body. However, constant metallic pressure on these points is contra-indicated in all women and can cause a myriad of health problems over time.

    The UnderWires in the UnderWire Bra fall directly onto two very important NeuroLymphatic Reflexes. The one under the right breast goes to the Liver and Gall Bladder. The one under the left breast goes to the Stomach….If a woman keeps the metal UnderWires on top of those reflex points, over time that WILL mess up the functioning of the associated circuits: Liver, Gall Bladder, and Stomach. Bottom Line: It will likely make her sick, slowly and quietly.

If those three information points do not convince you to stop “supporting” bra-wearing and worse, if you are still committed to wearing bras yourself, that is illogical. Check out this infographic and OTHER problems caused by ill-fitting bras:

ill-fitting bras symptoms

% of Women Having Problems Due to Ill-Fitting Bras: image from

Almost half the women who wear bras that are ill-fitting (which, according to other research, would include MOST women), suffer skin rashes. Another 35% have shoulder pain. Are you one of these women?

If you are that irrational about bras, you might want to discontinue reading the rest of this post, because things are going to go from bad to worse for you.

(not Deodorants, which merely mask smells)
are those products that attempt to “dry up” or prevent the armpits from sweating. What about the causal connections between anti-perspirants and breast cancer? After much “debate” and “debunking” of the “myth” of this connection by the research FUNDED BY THE COMPANIES THAT MAKE ANTI-PERSPIRANTS in the USA, we finally have unbiased research results from the UK showing several causal links between the key ingredients in anti-perspirants and DNA changes and between the lymphatic blockages intentionally caused by these products that lead to increased incidences of breast cancer in both men and women.

Britain has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world and every year almost 13,000 British women die from it. Britons are also among the biggest users of antiperspirant deodorants, getting through £300 million worth of bottles each year. The rising incidence of breast cancer in men may also suggest a connection. Breast cancer in men has doubled in the past three decades to 300 cases per year – a time frame that coincides with the increasing use of underarm products by men.

Guess what gets the attention of researchers, health commissioners and the public? when the problems affect MEN. Sigh.


Enough about breast cancer? Depressed, yet?

Let’s talk about shoes. I do not understand some women’s obsessions with shoes. I really don’t. But, obsessed or not, most of us wear shoes most of the time.

How well do our shoes serve us? Do they support our best posture, provide safety from h

Luckily for me (!?!) I was in a serious car accident my senior year of high school that caused me to have life-long problems with my right leg. This prevented me from ever getting into wearing “high” heels, or ANY heels, for that matter, for more than about 30 minutes per… year. I say “luckily” because both my mother and her mother had/have bunions and hammertoes. So far, I do not.

I also have many back problems and hip issues from other injuries that continue to plague me and keep me wearing the most supportive, comfortable shoes I can afford.

What about you? Do you go for fashion at the expense of your comfort or health? I hope you don’t.

If you do, read on and perhaps I and the research can change your mind.


Hammertoes: image from

Bunions, Backstrain and Hammertoes

Because of her own problems with shoes and foot health, Ivey Allison wrote a great post which I recommend you read in its entirety. Here is a salient quote, based on her research:

…almost every shoe on the market, flat or heeled, has a toe box design that is too small and tapered to allow the foot to be properly aligned. The result? Foot deformity — and painful bunions….Every single pair of shoes you own is likely deforming your foot. Permanently.

The Huffington Post‘s Rebecca Adams & Ellie Krupnick did some great research and wrote summaries of their findings in last October’s post on what shoes are the worst offenders, causing bunions, hammertoes, and back strain, among other problems (not to mention costing ridiculous amounts of money!). here is a sample and the link to the full post:

Wearing heels shifts your weight to the balls of your feet, which puts pressure on your foot. This also creates a balance problem: It forces your knees and hips forward, hurting your back and legs. Wearing these shoes can cause: hyperextension, ankle sprains, midfoot fractures, neuromas (benign nerve tumors), pinched nerves, bunions and hammertoes.

They also summarized the impact and effects of wearing Platform Wedges; Converse-style Sneakers; High-Heeled, Rain or Thigh-High Boots; Ballet Flats; and, Flip-Flops.


Bunion: image from

The worst offenders? I guess it depends what you think are worse. Each shoe type they mentioned came with its own list of problems, such as:

  • mold, fungus, bacteria, wart viruses and blisters;
  • inflammation, tendonitis, heel pain, strains, fractures and external injuries (e.g. stepping on a nail);
  • chronic stress injuries, particularly to the heel;
  • inflammation, tendonitis, heel pain, strains and stress fractures;
  • inflammation, tendonitis, heel pain, strains, stress fractures and external injuries (e.g. stepping on a nail);
  • hyperextension, midfoot fractures, neuromas (benign nerve tumors), pinched nerves, bunions and hammertoes;
  • hyperextension, bunions and hammertoes;
  • hyperextension, ankle sprains, midfoot fractures,
  • neuromas (benign nerve tumors), pinched nerves, bunions and hammertoes.

Choose which group of symptoms you’re willing to acquire and then merrily (warily) go shoe shopping.

Or, buy better-fitting, healthier, more comfortable shoes.


image from

#iamsubject story: I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s #iamsubject project Here is my #iamsubject story.

I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

#iamsubject story: I Find Myself Wherever I Live and I Move A Lot!

Whenever I interact closely with females, my menstrual cycle changes its start date. I am never the anchor. I am a mover.


Maybe because I was born near the beginning of the last hour for a Leo to be born in St. Louis, MO, 1954, so I am almost a Virgo. Being on the cusp shows up all over my life. I don’t completely believe in astrology, but one astrologer read my chart and told me: “You will always be in transition. This is good for being a Buddhist. You are quite familiar with impermanence!”

Or, perhaps it’s due to my never quite belonging in any one place, group or category. Whenever I take a personality or any other kind of test whose results divide people into groups or types, my answers put me in more than one, straddling two or more, often.

Then, there is the ridiculous number of times I have relocated. I lived in fourteen places before the age of 22. During one three-year period, I moved with my infant, then toddler, and his father, my full upright piano, his woodworking tools and wood collection, three times every year)!

The number is about to hit 30 more, totaling 52 places of residence before I turn 60, averaging out to almost one per year. Most of those moves were not of my own choice, meaning: I didn’t want to be a nomad; I had to go. Next month (July, 2014), I have to move again.

I have lived in this place for fewer than eighteen months. Before that, I was housesitting nearby for three months. Before that–almost a record–I had practically seven years in my own place. Luckily, my next move is back to that same town, north of San Francisco, an area I dearly appreciate.

Some people believe that roots are important. I do not know.

The longest I’ve ever lived in one place is twelve years (twice), but even during those periods, I was away for two to four weeks during some summers, attending or working at camps. The longest circumstances have allowed me to stay in one job is almost five years (also twice).

How do I “find myself” when I am not located anywhere in particular? Many philosophers say: “Wherever you go, there you are.” I have become a lifetime believer in that aphorism.

By others’ reports, I am reliable, organized, stable and calm, yet I am also unpredictable, unusual and “different.” How am I “different” and from whom?

  • I do not identify with “stuff.” I do not collect anything for the sake of having a collection.

  • Even though I have framed pictures and art, I do not often hang or display most of it. In this current, almost 18-month tenure, I “never got around to it.”

  • I read constantly, but the books I own do not even fill one bookcase. I always belong to and avidly use libraries.

  • I don’t talk like anyone else in my family of origin. I have no regionally identifiable accent.

Because I’ve lived in so many places–Missouri, Wisconsin, every state in New England, New York state, New Mexico, California, the Philippines), I have an unusual conglomeration of ways to pronounce and articulate certain words, phrases and concepts. I also know some Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, French and Tibetan. It’s impossible to determine where I’m “from” by hearing me talk.

Another way I’m a “mover” is that I adapt to and adopt others’ cuisine, ways of living, schedules, customs, preferences and styles rather quickly. Most people see me as having my own unique, eclectic “style.” Little do they know that most of these “ways” aren’t originally “mine” or even from any one person or place.

“My weird ways”:

  • I get up between 3 and 5 AM.
    Because I attended or set up on my own several ten-day to eleven-week Buddhist meditation retreats for the last fifteen years, I got used to rising early. Before that, not my schedule.

  • I eat very differently from the way I was raised.
    Housemates brought me into eating and cooking organic, whole, healthy, mostly local foods in 1977. After a few years of that, the new food habits “stuck.”

  • For over thirty years, I hated and altered my curly hair, then set it free.
    I tried to get my curly hair to “go straight”–I ironed it with a clothing iron, used chemicals, wrapped it in giant curlers or used my head as the largest curler, used hand dryers in public bathrooms–all in the pursuit of unnaturally straight/er hair. Every day, even when I stopped using methods, I brushed and tried to “tame” my wavy/curly hair, usually unsuccessfully. One day, one of my younger sisters who shares these genes of mine showed wearing her hair in an abundance of curls. I asked her how she managed them? She said: “I stopped brushing my hair.” This was a revelation! I haven’t brushed my hair since. It is cooperatively curling on most days.

  • For almost twelve years, I suffered through shaving, then happily stopped.
    I acquired numerous scars from cuts, had painfully ingrown hairs, developed awful deodorant rashes and a host of other problems. I hated shaving, but I kept doing it. One day in 1977, I arrived at an interview to teach in a parent-cooperative school in Rhode Island. The director, a woman a few years older than I, didn’t shave. I was fascinated. Since I was spending the late summer weekend with the group of parents, teachers and staff, I plucked up my courage to ask her about not shaving. She said: “Why shave? It wastes time, causes problems and isn’t necessary. Men have the choice. Why shouldn’t women? I choose not to shave.” Dumbfounded at the simplicity of her argument and eager to discard this horrible habit, I happily haven’t shaved since that day in 1977.

  • I hate bras. Always have.
    I used to wear bras. Mostly I don’t, now. Similarly, this same mentor demonstrated the irrelevance of bras. That was an amazing liberation to my 23-year-old self. I have eschewed bras ever since and research has vindicated us on that choice: bras are BAD for circulation, ventilation, and overall lymphatic health. PLUS, they do NOT prevent, but rather exacerbate gravity’s sagging effects. Unless aging hormones cause me to need “holders,” I do not wear them.

I can attribute my “personality quirks,” “life choices,” and many “unique characteristics” of “mine” to others’ influences. Yet, I don’t feel off-balance each time I incorporate a new aspect or habit, often from someone I am newly acquainted with or getting to know better. I am actually very choosy about which traits I adopt and whom I select to emulate. Having been around thousands of people spanning many places, I can be that particular.

My friends, bosses, colleagues, relatives, neighbors, housemates and acquaintances often offer up one habit of speaking, dressing, interacting, leading, thinking, living that I decided to make my own. THANKS to you all!

With each “move,” I re-affirm the central parts that comprise “me” and jettison everything extraneous. Paring down, weeding out, separating the wheat from the chaff, I spend time being grateful for and treasuring what (and whom) I keep in this peripatetic life.

Here I go, again. Let’s see who I become this time!

My best Give-Away Story: Our Family Table becomes Ryan and Gina’s Family Table

As most of you know, I am moving cross-country this week and spent the last month giving away almost everything substantial I own. By the time I leave, I will have shipped only 5 cardboard boxes and filled just my car (including my sister and HER carry-on bag!).

My mid-Swis, Ellen, and I are driving (after she flies up from LA to Oakland) from northern California to St. Louis, MO, where I will live with our mom. I grew up about 10 minutes from where my mom now lives.

I have had the BEST time arranging for where my “stuff” would next live. Friends, family members and then, strangers arrived in a steady stream to peruse and take things almost every day for the last three weeks. This relinquishing has been poignant, fun, interesting and a bit strange. I actually like to watch “my” things walk out the door, one by one (or by the bag or box), quickly becoming someone else’s possessions.

One of the last things to go (and I wasn’t sure I’d get anyone to take it) was my 5′-round, plywood table and its iron stand, which lived outdoors for the last 18 months.

Please read these emails to find out its story, then look at the photos.

Life can be very sweet!

One bit of background:
After Gina and I emailed back and forth a few times, it was determined, based on all of our schedules, that Gina’s father and Ryan, Gina’s financé, would come to get the table on Friday, mid-day, two days before I left. Ryan and Gina are about to be married.

I told them a few things about the table as they circled it, preparing to move it. As Ryan and his father-in-law picked up the tabletop to carry it to the truck, I asked Ryan: “How are you going to use the table?”
Ryan told me: “We are going to use it for our wedding!”
I smiled and asked: “And then what?”
He replied: “Then, we’re going to keep using it!”


On Friday, August 15, 2014 9:53 PM, Ryan wrote:

Hi Sally,

My father and I got right to work on the table. I attached some photos of the finished top and primered legs.

We will take great care of the table for you.

Thanks again,
Ryan & Gina

I wrote back on Saturday, 8/16, at 7 AM:

Hi, Ryan and Gina,

This makes me so happy!

Thanks so much for taking care of, fixing up and bringing our family/community table which hosted, from 1982 – 2013, countless holiday, birthday, graduation and other rituals’ parties, costume-making and other crafts and arts projects, games’ and toys’ foundations, family meals, work project meetings, tutoring sessions and homework/homeschooling (this table was even featured in the local newspaper in Keene, NH, in 1986, showing my son and me playing an educational game during a homeschool lesson!) into your lives and ceremonies.

This table started out on Court Street in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1982, our family’s first collective households in Keene. It was mounted on a tall barrel that was temporarily filled with fabric; the top was made to be removable so the co-maker, Bonnie, who was doing many sewing projects, could utilize the fabric. We were low on storage space, so, there it was! We celebrated our son’s 2nd birthday and many others’ birthdays in the three years we lived on Court Street with several housemates. We had Thanksgivings, Chanukahs, Christmases and other parties there.

The table came with us in 1985 when we moved to Leverett Street and then in 1986 when we moved to Water Street, also in Keene. We stayed on Water Street for 12 years. During that time, both my son and I had two graduations, each (my master’s and doctorate; his 8th-grade and high school), dozens of birthdays of our families and others, up to 11 people around it for holidays and other parties.

The barrel eventually dried out/fell apart despite many years of repairing and re-circling it with extra metal bands, so Christopher found/made its 4-legged, removable iron stand.

A fledgling Assisted Living/Buddhist Center my then-partner and others started with me in Saco, Maine, received the table when we moved to it in 1998, but then we sold that and we then moved the table and this community to Silver City, New Mexico, in 1999.

The table then followed my peripatetic existence as I lived in five different houses (and it lived on one patio) in Silver City before finding its way with me to Santa Rosa, CA, in late 2001.

There the table was in storage above my housemate’s garage for almost five years. In late 2005, the table happily came out to live with me in Sebastopol, CA, where I used it well for about 8 years.

In late 2013, I had to leave Sebastopol, so the table again went into storage until early 2014, when I moved to Hayward. The table didn’t fit into my little Cherryland house, so it lived outside (that is the way it became so weathered and needed your great craftspersonship to refinish and restore it!). Living alone and not knowing anyone in Hayward, it didn’t get much use but I knew it was there.

So, here we are. I gave the table to you! May you and your loved ones get to enjoy this well-used table in good health and happiness for another 30 years or more!

I’m CC’ing this to: the makers of the table (our friend, Bonnie Insull and my son’s father, Christopher [please forward this, Christopher, to Bonnie]); our son, Merlyn; my mom and some friends and family who lived with and/or enjoyed the use of this table many times with us: they will also be made happy by this news!

I feel much better about leaving it “behind” knowing it’s in such good hands! I love this whole story, so I’m posting it on my blog, with your photos and others I have. The story will appear Monday, 8/18.

Best to you,


Sally Ember, Ed.D.
nonprofit manager/educator
author, The Spanners Series

PHOTOS of the Table

Original Craig’s List Give-Away photo, August, 2014:


Before and After Refinishing, 2014


table legs unfinished

table top unfinished


table top finished

table legs finished

#RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary’s latest Social Media Tools

Thanks, +Ian Cleary and #RazorSocial for posting your quarterly finds. This time, 9 Social Media Tools we can all understand and benefit from using!

My favorite one TO BE TRIED is:

2. Optimize Your Content for Google with Seologies
Seologies is an SEO tool that can help you optimize your content to improve its relevance for Google.

If you want to rank for a particular keyword combination in Google, you need to make sure your content is very relevant to that keyword. If it’s relevant, then Google will expect to see a lot of content related to that keyword within your content. Also, when you rank for a particular keyword combination, you have a good chance of getting more traffic for other, similar keywords so it’s useful to consider these within the content.

This is not about just throwing in content for the sake of it. You use Seologies to find out if there’s content that you haven’t considered for your post.

There’s a couple of ways of using it. For example, you can put in an existing post and enter the keywords you want to optimize it for. Or you can just enter in keywords and get a list of words that it considers to be related.

In the example below, I entered ‘surfing’ and got a wide variety of keywords. When you hover over the keywords, it will show you the relevance of the keyword on the right-hand side, and it will also show you some sites with articles related to that keyword. These are sites that could be worth linking to.


Go to Ian’s site for the rest of this and the entire post!

Notes from the SUBstitute Teacher Underground: Back-to-School Special Guest Post!

It’s that time, again, when students and adults go back to school. Here’s a report from the point of view of the itinerant substitute teacher in secondary schools in northern California. How much of this story (the “good” and the “bad”) might be true in schools where you live?

Education in the Trenches: My Life as a Substitute Teacher

by D.G. Mitchell

substitute gratitude

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It’s 5:30 AM when I get my first call for a substitute teaching assignment. A robotic voice tells me “This is the XYZ School District” and instructs me to push “1” if I am interested in a job. I’m only half-awake, but I dutifully push “1” and hear the description of a job at one of the local secondary schools.

PE teacher/wood shop. No, thanks. I press another number, telling them, “I can’t take this job, but call me back if you have another.”

Then, I go back to bed. At 8 AM, I’m having breakfast when the robot calls me again. They need an English teacher at another school. Of course, school has already started, but it was an emergency. They’re also getting a little desperate. So I take the job, rushing to get dressed and get out the door, travel mug in hand.

For about two years, I have had this routine, working as a substitute teacher in several school districts in Northern California . Many jobs are listed online, so one can avoid the early wake up call if one finds an assignment the night before. But, I am never quick enough: those jobs get snapped up in a hurry. More often than not, I get the wake-up call. Not knowing if I’ll be working until early each school day is nerve-wracking, but I am glad for the work.

Walking into a new class for the first time is something I never get used to. Years ago, I taught full-time in a junior high school in San Francisco, so I’m not new to teaching. Now, being in semi-retirement, I can always use the extra money, which is why I signed up as a “sub.” I didn’t realize how different “subbing” is from regular, full-time teaching. It’s also not very easy. Some teachers tell me they would never consider doing it.

It was many years ago that I was a full time teacher. A lot of things have changed.

Computer technology is one of the biggest and arguably more positive changes. Standardized testing is another, not so positive. A relaxation of discipline in the classroom, a lowering of expectations, gang violence on and off the streets: these are all definite negatives. It’s a very different world these days.

Let me describe my worst teaching day as a sub. After that, I will try to balance your understanding of my experiences by presenting one of my best days.

I believe that if one maintains a professional attitude, good days can make up for bad ones. See if you agree.

And just to be fair, I won’t mention any specific schools or teachers. I do think some of these observations apply to all schools at one time or another.

Interestingly, my worst-day experience occurred at one of the “better” high schools in the North Bay. I arrived on time, got handed a key and a folder, and tried to figure out where the classroom was before the bell rang. When I plan it right, I have time to review the lesson plans, scope out the classroom, and act as if I know what I’m doing when the kids come pouring in.

Substitute seating problem

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And they did come pouring in, loud and boisterous, nearly oblivious to my presence as the substitute teacher. When the bell rang, they all but ignored the fact that I was standing there, waiting for the class to settle down. It was First Period. Many of the kids came in with their heavy backpacks, hoodies and hats, holding their cell phones and their breakfasts.

My first request to them was to quiet down so that I could take attendance. That was routinely ignored. So I announced again, much louder, that if I called a name and did not get a response, that person would be marked absent. That request almost worked. But many of the kids had ear buds in their ears, listening to music or the radio, so they still did not hear me. And, they continued eating their breakfasts and texting on their cell phones.

I asked: “Are food and drink allowed in this classroom?” I got what is by now a familiar response: “Our teacher lets us do it.”

I was disgusted. There was food everywhere. It was very hard to maintain some kind of order while kids were eating, texting, or plugging their ears with ear buds and listening to music.

It’s hard to believe a teacher actually allows all this, but unfortunately in many high schools, this turns out to be true more often than not. But that wasn’t the end of the problems.

The school announcements came on, beginning with the Pledge of Allegiance. To my dismay, I noticed that fewer than half the class did not bother to stand up for the Pledge. Worse, those that were standing did not say the Pledge or even mouth the words. Most of the kids stayed in their seats, not even bothering to remove their hats or their hoodies.

I wouldn’t have thought this would bother me, but it actually upset me. Maybe because I’m considerably older than these kids and older than many of their teachers, I can’t help recalling another era, when it was unthinkable to show such disrespect for the flag. Maybe I’m showing my age here, but that “other” era was when I was in high school, in the early 60s. As I said before, a lot of things have changed since then.

At this point, I decided to attempt to utilize what is called a “teachable moment.” I temporarily turned away from the lesson plan the regular teacher had provided. Instead, I asked the class: “Why do so many of you refuse to stand up for the Pledge?”

Teachable Moments

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I got a variety of sneers and laughs, but I saw that they were actually thinking about this. So, I pressed on.

Becoming the patriot that I never thought I was, I asked: “Do any of you have family members or friends in the military?” I saw many nodding and some raised their hands.

I chose to follow that question by reminding them that, at this very moment, “Some of your family and friends might be risking their lives for that flag. Did you think about that during the Pledge?”

It suddenly became very quiet. I think I made my point. I could have gone further, ignored the lesson plan and insisted on a short essay on a topic like: “What does the flag mean to you?” But then that “teachable moment” was interrupted when someone got a phone call, two kids got into a fight, and, inexplicably, one kid got up and left the room, never to return.

It was going to be a very long day.

With great persistence, I returned to the lesson plan. I should mention that I was fortunate to have been given a good lesson plan. Sometimes, I get just a brief description of what the class is doing, or maybe I get lucky and I can show some videos. At times, I am without a lesson plan or even a seating chart, so I’m completely on my own. In the schools that observe a “block” schedule, where the basic period length is just under two hours, this lack of direction from the absent teacher can create total chaos for a sub.

Meanwhile, back in the class, I had kids read aloud and answer some written questions. It took a while to get kids to read and to make sure the rest of the class could hear the reader. To a casual observer, it looked and sounded totally chaotic, with the food and garbage, the ear buds, and the low clamor of side discussions. But, in fact, the kids were actually doing the assignment.

However, about 45 minutes into the hour, two girls suddenly walked into the class, ignored my questions (“Who are you? Why are you 45 minutes late?”) and simply sat down as if I didn’t even exist. I was appalled at their disrespect. I asked that they leave to get a note from the office explaining their lateness. They stormed out, calling me some horrible names as they exited.

We tried to return to the assignment.

About 20 minutes later, those two girls returned, with the Assistant Principal. I usually never meet the administrators of a school, so I had to admit I had no idea who this person was nor why these girls were returning.

The Assistant Principal told me to admit them. I requested a private conference with this administrator, outside the door. We stepped into the hall where I explained how these girls had been belligerent to me, called me names, refusing to acknowledge me as a teacher. And, “By the way,” I asked, “why is it OK for these kids to have all their garbage all over the floor in this classroom? Is this typical?”

Unfortunately, the administrator did not see this as a problem. She informed me: “Each teacher can make their own rules for their classroom.”

I pointed out that my Substitute Handbook explicitly stated that there should be “no food or drink in the classroom.” I inquired, “Why is this not enforced?”

She dismissed the whole thing, again saying it was “up to the teacher.”

Substitute handbook

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Not the administration? Doesn’t it work from the top down? I kept those questions to myself, as the Assistant Principal did a quick about-face and walked back to her office.

I re-entered the classroom. That class ended soon after. I collected the papers and the kids left the room, as boisterously as they had entered it. There was a short break, when kids could go out and get snacks (which, of course, students brought back into the classroom the next period).

Things went from bad to worse as the day wore on. The next period was just as bad as the first. Fighting a losing battle with distractions from the food, drinks, cell phones and ear buds, I could not get them to even look at the assignment. I tried to intervene in another very loud and vulgar verbal battle. It could only be resolved by my referring one of the proponents to the Assistant Principal, presumably for detention.

That student also yelled at me as he was leaving, calling me a “faggot” (among other things). At that point, I really started to come apart. I admit, I used some inappropriate language myself to get him out of the classroom. This was not very wise, as I later found out. It was a little better to get him out of the class, but not much was accomplished. In fact, nothing at all. Apparently, the class sided with the disruptive kid so they refused to cooperate with anything I asked them to do after I ejected him

After lunch, as I was preparing for my last class, I had a visit from another administrator, who turned out to be the school’s Principal. She said: “We need to talk.” Those were fighting words; never a good thing.

She arranged for another sub to watch my class so that we could go to an empty classroom. We had a rather uncomfortable discussion. Justifiably, she was appalled that I had used a four-letter word while kicking out the unruly student. Of course, I had been listening to four-letter words all morning, but that was irrelevant. I had to plead guilty.

But, I also recounted some of the “highlights” of my morning, trying to explain to her, based on my having subbed in so many schools in this district, just why this particular school was the most unruly, slovenly and disrespectful (to the teachers, to the flag, to education).

Needless to say, she did not take my criticism of “her” school very well, particularly on the heels of my unprofessional behavior. She told me not to come back to her school. End of discussion.

Substitute Vegas button

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Thinking I was through as a substitute teacher, I was surprised to continue to get calls from other schools. Luckily, I returned to several junior high/middle schools that I had particularly liked. Since my original teaching experience in San Francisco had been with that age group, I noticed that I was a lot more comfortable with the younger kids.

Middle school kids seemed to have much less “attitude” than the high school students, and they were basically fun to be around. Not that eighth graders can’t also be a handful (raging hormones, etc), but I never took it personally. Bonus: since my original credential was in English, with these gigs, I enjoyed a lot of very fun assignments, teaching poetry, writing in journals, showing movies.

One of my best teaching days was in an eighth-grade English class at a middle school, where kids were expected to work in teams and come up with an original poem by the end of the period. As a former English teacher, I found this to be the perfect assignment. I had them read a few poems to get started, then talked about rhyme schemes and “scanning” a line. This was something new to them, so they actually showed a lot of interest, especially when I threw out some long technical words, like Iambic Pentameter and Anapestic, and challenged them to come up with some lines in those meters (my own favorite, and my alma mater, The University of Michigan, is a perfect line of Iambic Pentameter; I shared that with the class, as we all recited the familiar rhythm.

Typical eighth-graders, they tried to best and put down each other, occasionally getting a little silly or risqué, but actually enjoying the assignment. They were actually writing poetry. By the end of the period, each team was challenging each other, shouting their lines across the room.

Substitute middle school hands up

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Collecting their papers, I felt that they had really learned something and had fun at the same time. I felt validated as a teacher who instructed, not just filling time as another “sub.” On top of that, the school Principal actually came in to see what was going on and gave me a “thumbs up.” That made my day!

Good teaching days are few and far between, as every teacher knows. As a sub, they are even fewer. Returning to the same school and getting to know the kids better each time certainly helps. Getting support from other teachers and administrators also helps. Though I had one bad experience in one particular high school, I had enough good experiences in some of the middle schools to encourage me to continue subbing.

I’ve learned that there are certain things I simply cannot change. Cell phones, texting, electronic devices, computers are here to stay and I have to get used to them. Some teachers will insist that these items stay in the backpacks. As a sub, I don’t always have the authority to make such a rule, but it’s nice to see that some teachers have already instituted it. Food and drink will continue to bother me, as will the ear buds, baggy pants, hoodies, tattoos, and so much more of the current teen culture that I don’t fully understand. But I’m working on it.

It all starts up again in mid-August when the schools resume.

substitute costume

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I’ll be watching my computer screen to avoid that 5:30 AM wake-up call. And I hope to be seeing some kids that I already know, finding out how they’ve changed over the summer. I always have a hopeful feeling at the beginning of the school year. Maybe this one will be a lot better.

My Blogaversary and 1st year of Book Marketing: Report Card

First of all, thanks for financial and technical support to my niece, Sarah Miranda, my sister, Ellen Fleischmann, and my son, Merlyn Ember. Thanks, also, to techhies and Q & A and fora participants.

Second, but equally important, I am grateful to all of my readers, responders, rebloggers, guest bloggers and/or followers for your interest, suggestions, support and interactions. My site would be dead air without you!

On my one-year Anniversary of my Blog, what many call a “Blogaversary,” I am summarizing and analyzing my accomplishments and progress, to date. Let me know what you think!

My Blog Stats

I ended my first full year of blogging with 243 Followers. 208 followers are on WordPress; 35 are on Tumblr.
THANKS, all!

I started with a site that was new and unknown so it wasn’t even rated by ALEXA. I had zero “backlinks.”
Today (8/9/14), I have 128 Backlinks. My ALEXA international rating is 419,061 out of over 4 millions sites.
For the USA, is rated 68,034 out of over 2 million sites.

If you want to check your site’s rankings on ALEXA, get the free extension to your toolbar and check about once every few days by going to your main page/splash page, then clicking on that icon on your toolbar.

I aspire to have a Google Page Ranking: yet to be earned.


Total Number of Visitors/Views: 8326

I figured out early on how to cross-post each of my blog entries to my personal/author’s pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (although I mysteriously have to “refresh” this connection periodically, according to prompts from WordPress).

Later, I added Goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari, BookLikes, and Google+ as well as my Spanners Series page on Facebook as automatic recipient posting sites.

About twice a month, I utilize one of the images in each of my original content entries and put those posts on my Pinterest “My Blog Posts” board, which then automatically cross-posts to Twitter and Facebook, again.

Mostly due to these cross-posting, my Followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Goodreads have all increased dramatically. When I started my Blog, I was brand-new to Pinterest, Author Central, and my series’ pages, and mostly inactive on LinkedIn and Goodreads; and had only 7 Twitter Followers. Here are the Blogaversary comparison stats.

FOLLOWERS/LIKES/CIRCLES TALLIES, August 10, 2013 – August 10, 2014
(all links are on the right sidebar of my website)
Twitter 7 to 3441
Pinterest 0 to 208
LinkedIn 200 to 500+ (LI maxes out the count at 500)
Facebook personal 232 to 1438
Facebook Series page 0 to 937
Google+ personal 0 to 1301
Google+ Series page 0 to 29 (not much action, here; can’t get blog to cross-post)
Goodreads author page 110 to 1113
Amazon Author Central page 0 to 142


My highest-ever number of views in one day was 197, spread around several posts and pages.

Month-by-month Views/Visitors:
Aug, 2013 = 114 (first day was August 10)
Sept. 200
Oct. 307
Nov. 528
Dec. 535
Jan., 2014 = 999
Feb. 1,144
Mar. 740
Apr. 580
(concussion/accident 4/6/14; offline a lot April – June)
May 830
June 872
Jul. 1,161
Aug.(to date) 326

Highest single-day Views = 197

Average Views/Day
for 2013 (5 months): 13
for 2014 (7 months): 30

Blog Posts
200 of my 357 posts (about 40 are reblogs) had 10 or fewer views. These include ALL of the Serialized Excerpts of my sci-fi series, Volumes I and II, most of the reports of these books’ reviews, and many others that I thought were more popular than that.

Freshly Pressed

One of my posts was featured on “Freshly Pressed,” the elite selection gleaned from among all daily blog posts, highlighted for that day in WordPress’ Blog Reader!

Views by Country
Views by visitors from 111 countries
Highest = USA, with 5,909
2nd = UK, with 484
3rd = Canada, with 354
4th = Australia, with 155
5th = Germany, with 128
6th = India, with 125
The rest are 60 or fewer; many are just 1 or 2, so far.

Highest page views were for my site’s main pages:
–ABOUT (my blog’s splash page), with 2,001
–the Home page’s Archives, with 1,703
The Spanners Series page, with 492

For individual posts, the highest number of views were for:
#Buddhism and #Science: the Facts, the Yogis, the Practices , with 232
My #Literary #Meh List 2014: 15 Plots, Devices, Characters I’m BORED with, with 205
Why My First Experience with Using #Pre-Orders Will Help Get My NEXT #Ebook Higher on #Best-Seller Lists, with 185
15 Points about the #Effects of #Concussions on #Meditators’ #Brains, with 160
Pros and Cons of #Writers’ Critique Groups, with 112
When #Spiritual #Teachers Respond with #Countertransference, with 110

Total number of comments (and half or more are my replies): 202

Setting aside the two posts with the most comments that were part of Blog Hops, the next-most commented-upon post was
15 Points about the #Effects of #Concussions on #Meditators’ #Brains, with 12


I learned a lot about how to assess my book marketing efforts from many people. I excerpt from PROMOTING MY BOOK , by Lee Gale Gruen, with my commentaries as to my progress/use of these ideas and link to Lee and her sites at the end of this section.
(I first saw this article posted in “Funds for Writers,” compiled weekly by the wonderful Hope Clark: Thanks, Hope!)

I am therefore scoring myself on Book Marketing for my first two self-published ebooks according to Lee’s great list, below, of marketing tips and ideas. Let’s see what I learned!

Lee recommends these activities, below, and I agree:

  • 1. Read websites and books such as APE by Guy Kawasaki and Michael Kremer’s books. I also join and watch many free webinars, teleseminars, and Google+ Hangouts On Air regularly for more tips.
  • 2. Join writer’s organizations. Learn from your peers. I joined several here in California with great successes. I will be looking for writers’ groups/clubs in St. Louis in September. Any recommendations?
  • 3. Network at writers’ groups, conferences, online forums, etc. I’ve only been to one conference, so far, but may go to more. How are they worthwhile?
  • 4. Check writers’ websites, materials, author talk/book signings. Learn from their examples. I need to more of this but I do follow quite a few writers’ blogs and learn from their posts.

Lee also talks about “creating” one’s own marketing “tools,” and I get an A+, here! I’ve done them all and I hadn’t even seen this list prior to doing them!

  • 1. Have a website to refer interested people. I have that via my blog,
  • 2. Purchase your website name (domain) immediately. Thanks to my niece, Sarah Miranda, I did this right off! is MINE!
  • 3. Print flyers with your book cover, synopsis, photo, and bio to hand out at events. I have done this and gotten some new readers from it by handing them out at my writers’ groups.
  • 4. Get business cards. I got free ones from KLOUT, at first, then ordered almost-free ones from
  • 5. Compose a cover letter to email to prospects. I have done this for, in my case, book reviewers.
  • 6. Post a video of yourself discussing your book on I did this by accident: the Q & A for my Book Launch talk didn’t work, so there is a 2-hour monologue of me on my youtube channel. Also, 2 more vids of me reading chapters from each of my ebooks and book trailers are on that channel. Starting August 6, almost-weekly episodes from CHANGES, my Google+ HOA, are also there.
  • 7. Add an electronic signature to your emails with links to your website and video. I had done this, but then my son said a signature with many links after it is viewed as “spam” and “shouting” at email recipients, so I removed them. What do you think?

Lee’s advice for how to “Promote Yourself” caused me to realize how much I still have to accomplish here. The BOLD ones are TO BE DONE.

  • 1. Sell yourself as well as your book. Develop a useful message other than just “buy my book.” I mostly do this by curating interesting content and creating it on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. I also repost on some sites like Suvudu, StumpleUpon, Reddit, etc. I’ve also joined and interact with folks in a lot of Groups on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn and Communities on Google+
  • 2. Give author talk/book signings.
  • 3. Volunteer to speak at book clubs, speakers’ bureaus, panels, etc. I have volunteered to some book clubs, but no invitations have arrived, yet.
  • 4. Mention your book in conversations using your “elevator speech:” a one-minute synopsis of your book with a hook to grab the listener. I don’t do this as often as I should, but I do it.
  • 5. Ask readers to post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If I could find my readers, I would do this more! I wish readers could “opt in” to “author can find me” lists.
  • 6. Submit articles. I’ve been published in my local newspaper and my retirement newsletter. I want to do this.
  • 7. Join HARO ( to submit yourself as an interview subject for writers and journalists. I’ve had 6 interviews and will be in an upcoming book. I’ve started my own Google+ Hangout On Air, submitted responses as an Expert on Quora and Ask an Expert, and am considering joining this org, next.
  • 8. Write a blog of interest to your target audience. is mine. Is it of interest?
  • 9. Look online for similar blogs. Submit guest blogs. Links to my guest posts are on my site. Look to the right and scroll down.


  • 10. Build an email address list. Email a notice of each appearance, blog, etc. I’ve been slowly building this list, but many commenters or followers don’t provide and I can’t find their email addresses, only Twitter handles or website URLs. How do I get email addresses without paying to get them via a service?
  • 11. Host a book giveaway on Goodreads still doesn’t allow ebook giveaways. SNOBS.
  • 12. Network or search online for professional reviewers. I submitted my book to for small press publishers. I only do this when there is no fee. I refuse to pay for book reviews.

BIO: Lee Gale Gruen is an actress, author, speaker, and blogger. Her book website is: Her blog, “Reinventing Myself in My Senior Years” is at:

My Overall Grade/Score for Year One in Blogging and Book Marketing

Well, I give myself an A+ for effort
I earned about a B- for effectiveness, I think (but it’s difficult to make comparisons since I don’t have others’ stats nor know their efforts).

If I’m going by the numbers of books sold (Volume II of The Spanners Series, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, just went on sale June 9) or sold and downloaded since Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, went permafree on April 1 and went on sale December 19, 2013, the dates don’t jibe and the numbers won’t be impressive (to me, anyway). We all have Hugh Howey to thank for that, right?

Plus, even though I can get rankings or paid sales stats from some sites, I can’t get sales or free download numbers from all sites. So, the numbers below are not all-inclusive; they’re just what I can get. Here are the stats for book sales and downloads:

12/19/13 – 3/31/14 Sales and 4/1/14 –> Free downloads for
Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything
66 books sold
2296 free downloads
(about 40 for reviewers)

6/9/14 –> Sales for
Volume II of The Spanners Series, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever
4 sales
4 free downloads
(all for reviewers)

I look forward to becoming more “visible” via this and other parts of my “author platform” in my second year blogging and being a fiction author.

Please comment and share your experiences! Best to you all!

A mantra and mudra of compassion for all beings

We all need to pray, meditate, wish: whatever moves you, to try to get these morons and horrible leaders to STOP THE KILLING!

Blazing Light, Love's Song

Meditate every day for world compassion. We are one. Anyone’s suffering is all people’s suffering. War is possible because we are at war within ourselves. Bring compassion to each moment. This is the true power.

View original post

Are Humans Superior Creatures?

Thanks for posting. I see Cetaceans as the most intelligent, or perhaps Cephalopods. Certainly NOT humans. Best to you.

Auxiliary Memory

I believe the people of the future will look back on these times and judge us harshly, like we judge the people of the 19th century for slavery, colonialism, genocide and other atrocities those folks committed without any apparent ethical qualms.  They will see even the most liberal of us as heartless in our neglect of poor people, animals, the Earth and the environment.  I’ve always wondered how people like the abolitionists gained their insight to see beyond the ethical status quo.  There have always been a few people that were more empathetic than the common crowd, and I think they were the bellwethers of their times.  If you you read and watch the news carefully, there are always stories that portend the future of human kindness.  To change requires going against the tide of common opinion, and that’s hard.

We like to think humans are different from animals.  That…

View original post 924 more words

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.



Facebook page


Mia’s Legacy

The Twin Rings of Ra

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf and

5-Stars for Volume II of The Spanners Series on Goodreads!

John Betts’s review of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, The Spanners Series, from Aug 01, 14 on Goodreads

5 of 5 stars

Read from July 09 to August 01, 2014

I enjoyed reading this following on from book 1, book 1 give the groundwork so you really get into book 2 quickly and understand what is going on from the very beginning, if I had more time to spare, this is a book I would have read cover to cover non stop.

final cover print

Cover art by Willowraven

Thanks, John! More info about and links for author, John Betts, below.



Facebook page


Mia’s Legacy

The Twin Rings of Ra

An Adventure of Bunny Bertie and Blueberry Elf and

What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books?

Who knew sampling would overtake covers, genre and anything else to consider for readers? Ebooks are now on an even par with print books for readers who access both, for sure!

Tara Sparling writes

In this post, I discussed the findings of a scientifically incontrovertible study (of myself) on the factors which influenced me when buying a self-published book.

The findings surprised me (which surprised me, because I was surveying myself). I found that I knew what made me buy a self-published book when it was in front of me, but not what put that book in front of me, unless I was browsing by genre (e.g. today I feel like reading a romance set in Ulaanbaatar: therefore I will now search specifically for such a story).

It was still hard to know what put those books in front of my eyes in order to buy them; to quote one of the commenters on that post – this is the thorny issue of “discoverability”. How will we find these books in the first place?

So I did the unthinkable, and asked some other people…

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Nebula Nights A Science Fiction Romance Boxed Set

From my POV, ALL “romance” books are speculative/science fiction! LOL Check these out!

Veronica Scott

NN_squareOver at the USA Today HEA blog, I’m interviewing ten science fiction romance authors (and myself) today on what we love about SFR and which SF hero is our favorite. I’ve been spending  lot of time with these ladies lately, not just because we all love to read and write SFR, but also because we’ve put together a boxed set of eleven stories. I have my award-winning, best seller Escape From Zulaire, as my contribution. The boxed set contains quite a mix of elements from cyborgs to aliens, space opera to adventure on alien planets.

Best of all, the set is priced at $.99! For over 800,000 words of  exciting SFR….

Here’s a quick synopsis for the included stories:

Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires
Her gentle cyborg servant helped her escape violence–but now he’s changed into a warrior! Is he safe?

Removed (The Nogiku Series, #1) by SJ…

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*CHANGES* Episode 1 on Youtube Google+ HOA with Sally Ember and Shay West

Did you miss it? We had a blast! Catch the recorded version of my LIVE conversation on CHANGES with Dr. Shay West here.

or here:

Shay West photo

Dr. Shay West

We talked about writing, biology, teaching, optimism, gratitude, epigenetics, horror, real-life medical horrors and community support as motivations for writing, writers’ groups, Google + Hangouts on Air, and more!

Next week, August 13, CHANGES welcomes Connie Dunn. 7 – 8 AM Pacific USA Time.

Tune in and get involved with your comments and questions, LIVE, or watch CHANGES Episodes later on YouTube.

If you are an author, philosopher, creative sort who likes free-wheeling conversations and wants to be on CHANGES, watch a show or two, then contact the host, Sally Ember: and request a slot in October or beyond.

CHANGES occurs on most Wednesdays, but not all. Watch this space for schedule!

Are YOU ready for the CHANGES?

*CHANGES* Episode 1 on Youtube Google+ HOA with Sally Ember and Shay West

Did you miss it? We had a blast! Catch the recorded version of my LIVE conversation on CHANGES with Dr. Shay West here.

or here:

Shay West photo

Dr. Shay West

We talked about writing, biology, teaching, optimism, gratitude, epigenetics, horror, real-life medical horrors and community support as motivations for writing, writers’ groups, Google + Hangouts on Air, and more!

Next week, August 13, CHANGES welcomes Connie Dunn. 7 – 8 AM Pacific USA Time.

Tune in and get involved with your comments and questions, LIVE, or watch CHANGES Episodes later on YouTube.

If you are an author, philosopher, creative sort who likes free-wheeling conversations and wants to be on CHANGES, watch a show or two, then contact the host, Sally Ember: and request a slot in October or beyond.

CHANGES occurs on most Wednesdays, but not all. Watch this space for schedule!

Are YOU ready for the CHANGES?

College President Gives $90,000 Of His Salary To Lowest-Paid Employees On Campus

Every #overpaidCEO/President should follow Raymond Burse’s example. We’d all be better off and the economy would BOOM!

Kindness Blog

Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University, elected to have his salary decreased from $349,869 to $259,745 in order to boost the paychecks of the university’s lowest-paid workers, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Raymond Burse, interim president of Kentucky State University

Burse’s pay cut will increase the salaries of 24 KSU employees, some of whom were making as littles as $7.25 an hour, to $10.25 an hour, WLKY reported. Burse said that his giving up $90,124.96 is a response to “tough times” and wanting to ensure that university workers know the school’s board and president “care about them and want to do the very best by them,” according to the Herald-Leader.

Burse has experience dealing with KSU employees — he served as KSU president from 1982 to 1989, according to KY Forward. After his presidency, Burse held an executive position at General Electric Co. He retired in 2012 after 17 years with good benefits, the Herald-Leader reported.

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Promote yourself: how to do it on this blog

#Authors: Promo opps!

Jane Dougherty Writes

For all writers, poets, photographers, artists who would like to get a promotional blog post together, this is for you.
Using the contact form makes it all rather cloak and dagger, so to simplify things for those of you with questions about what to include in your post, here are a few guidelines you might want to follow.

1) Introduce yourself in whatever way you prefer, personal or professional, and give us an idea of what you do.

2) Choose a sample of your work—prose, poems, photographs, illustrations—that does you credit. It can be as long as you like. Book excerpts are fine, just bear in mind that reading a lot of unbroken text on the computer is tiring, and you might lose readers if it’s too long.

3) Send any images that are relevant, like book covers, illustrations, author pic if you want. Again, be reasonable. Please don’t send…

View original post 87 more words

Thanks, Anne Allen: Tips on Best Ways to Utilize #Writing Critique Groups

#Writers: great info and tips, here, for what kinds of critique/writing groups there are, what to do with the advice you get and the people in them.

I like the names she gives each type of group and I especially appreciate her tips for making the best of even the worst advice or participants! Thanks, Anne!

Full post link is below. It’s well worth your time.


Disability in Speculative Fiction by Rose B. Fischer

Fabulous post and great insights, here, Rose. In “The Spanners Series,” the main character, Clara Branon, discusses having had a mobility disability due to a car accident and all the ways it changes her life. She gets the chance to “re-set” her life, from the point of the accident, thereby avoiding it, but when she sees all the ramifications of that one change, she declines.

Thanks for having her on, Tonya! Best to you both!

Sally Ember

Proven, Long-term Effects on Physical Health of those who suffered childhood Trauma, Abuse, Neglect and Bullying

In case you’ve been unaware of the last several years of research from all over the world, with children, adolescents and adults, some after 40 years since the trauma, they all come to the same conclusions: those who suffer childhood trauma, whether through abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic or neighborhood violence or being bullied by siblings or peers, have observable, lifelong negative consequences to not only our psychological but to our physical health. Traumas include war and threats of warlike activity, sudden natural disasters, neighborhood or school-site gang warfare and violent encounters of other types that children and teens experience, even if “only” as witnesses.

consequences of childhood abuse

image from

Is there any “good news”? Only a bit.

  • When responsible adults who have the power to act curtail or stop the abuse or trauma early on, some of the effects may be reversible.
  • If adults whom the victim/survivor encounters treat the traumatized child, teen or adult consistently and appropriately by supplying effective psychological therapy and immediate environmental improvements, an almost-complete recovery is possible.
  • When the child reports the bullying or abuse or reveals that domestic violence or parental neglect is occurring and the listening adults immediately take the child’s reports seriously followed by taking obvious supportive, preventive and/or protective actions, these responses also improve the child’s chances of developing fewer problems later in life.

Links to some of the research articles recently published are below. My favorite points are in this post. Thanks to all the researchers, reporters/journalists and participants in these studies who made these understandings possible.

May all abuse, neglect, bullying, domestic violence and other causes of childhood trauma CEASE in our lifetimes.

May all children grow up and be educated in safe, healthy environments.

20_circle_TLG network model_Lives of Children_24_07_08

image from

Sources and quotes:

I. Abuse Casts a Long Shadow by Changing Children’s Genes

By Eleanor Nelsen

July 2014

“For abused children, that trauma is just the beginning. Most will likely struggle well into adulthood.”

trauma to early death pyramid

image from

“Living with an abusive parent has increased their risk for depression and other psychological problems while decreasing their chances of successfully maintaining close relationships. Even physical ailments, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are more likely in adults who were abused as kids. Early abusive experiences can leave a stubborn imprint on those children’s brains and bodies, and Seth Pollak, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and head of the study, wanted to know how, exactly, abuse was changing these children’s bodies on a cellular level.”

“… people’s experiences exert a strong influence on their biology by silencing genes or turning them back on, significantly changing the way a cell functions without changing its DNA sequence. It’s a phenomenon known as epigenetics.”

“’Epigenetics makes the genes tick,’ explains Moshe Szyf, a professor of genetics and pharmacology at McGill University. Epigenetic changes modify DNA to keep genes from being expressed, and they can explain dramatic differences between cells with identical DNA—for example, how stem cells can turn into either liver cells or heart cells, or why only one of a set of identical twins gets cancer. It’s also, Pollak found, why children who grow up in abusive homes have physical and psychological problems that haunt them well into adulthood.”

“‘… something like parenting, parental care, was flipping the switch.’… trauma might be turning this stress-management gene off…”

“…for children in abusive homes, who are in threatening situations every day, having more cortisol floating around isn’t necessarily bad—at first. ‘You may need to remain vigilant more often. You may need to flip into vigilant state more easily. That’s keeping you alive under harsh conditions, but it’s also making it really hard for you to function.’”

“…The long-term results are the chronic psychological problems like anxiety and depression and chronic physical problems like heart disease and type II diabetes, which often surface years later in victims of childhood abuse.”

“… Having too few receptors for cortisol keeps the immune system from learning to manage inflammation and infections, helping explain why children in abusive homes seem to get sick more often, and are at a higher risk for chronic health problems.”

“’The idea that these things aren’t fixed is really encouraging,’ Pollak says.”

II. Bullying affects children’s long-term health, study shows

February 2014

“In the first study of its kind to assess the compounding effects of bullying over 5 years, researchers have found that a child experiences more severe and lasting health implications the longer he or she is bullied, suggesting that early interventions could reverse the “downward health trajectory” that victims of bullying may experience.”

“At any age, bullying was linked with worse mental and physical health, more depressive symptoms and a lower sense of self-worth. And students who reported chronic bullying also experienced more difficulties with physical activities like walking, running or playing sports.”

“‘Our research shows that long-term bullying has a severe impact on child’s overall health, and that its negative effects can accumulate and get worse with time,’ says Bogart.”

“She calls for more intervention around bullying, ‘because the sooner we stop a child from being bullied, the less likely bullying is to have a lasting, damaging effect on his or her health down the road,’ she adds.”

“…recent events may be more important than distant ones to a child’s health, but the team notes that health consequences “compound over time” and may stay even after the bullying has ceased.”

“… their findings emphasize the importance of stopping bullying early and continuously intervening to help with the lingering effects.”

Sally Ember wholeheartedly recommends the nonprofit USA-based organization, Community Matters, for their advising and trainings for improving school climate through research-based and clinically-proven effective bullying prevention and education programs, “Safe School Ambassadors,” for youth, school staff and parents.
Contact them (they offer programs around the world): 707-823-6159 or

Medical News Today reported on a 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science, which suggested victims of childhood bullying fare poorly in adulthood. Findings from the study showed that individuals bullied in childhood were more likely to have a psychiatric disorder, smoke, struggle to keep work and had difficulty maintaining friendships.”


compiled in 2013

While other forms of bullying are commonly taken seriously and relatively well-researched, bullying between siblings often gets ignored or minimized. However, two recent studies call attention to the potential pitfalls of discounting the effects of sibling bullying. One of these studies indicates that children who bully their brothers or sisters take this activity less seriously than other bullying behaviors, while the other study indicates that sibling bullying can cause just as much mental health harm as other forms of bullying.

Risks associated with childhood trauma

image from

“…childhood bullying substantially increases the chances that an individual will develop a diagnosable mental illness during adulthood. These same risks also apply in magnified form to bully-victims, a term used to describe bullying victims who go on to perpetrate acts of bullying on others.”

“… more siblings (85 percent) actually identify themselves as bullies than as bullying victims (75 percent)….[T]his finding points toward a widespread childhood acceptance of sibling bullying as a non-consequential behavior that has no meaningful impact on the well-being of affected individuals. This acceptance also almost certainly reflects the attitudes of the larger culture toward the seriousness of sibling bullying.”

“…both relatively moderate and relatively severe bullying produce a decline in mental health marked by things such as anxiety, depressed moods and uncontrolled outbursts of anger. Moderate physical bullying by a sibling has a greater mental health effect on younger children than on older children. However, the authors found that all other forms of sibling bullying have an equally negative effect on both younger children and teenagers.”

“… current social tendencies to downplay or dismiss the importance of sibling bullying contribute to the problem and seriously increase the chances that sibling bullying and other forms of bullying will continue to diminish the psychological/emotional well-being of large numbers of individuals.”

“…pediatricians can help decrease the impact of sibling bullying by looking for signs of such bullying in their patients on an annual basis.”

IV. The neurobiological effects of childhood maltreatment: An often overlooked narrative related to the long-term effects of early childhood trauma?

by Jennifer Delima and Graham Vimpani

“… some current societal dysfunction may well be an overlooked significant consequence of childhood maltreatment, with its associated trauma effect upon the developing brain. These changes prevent and impair the ability to remediate disadvantage and its effects through purely social policy and justice measures.”

Acts of commission (actions against the child)
Physical– The child is subject to disciplinary action by his/her caregiver(s), with resultant bruising, severe pain, temporary loss of mobility, scars, burns, shaking etc. This may lead in some cases to more serious and life-threatening injuries, including inflicted brain injury.
Sexual – This involves the sexual abuse or exploitation of the child and /or exposing them to sexual acts.
Emotional – The child is subject to repeated verbal abuse, being sworn at or receiving hurtful and demeaning comments about his/herself. This form of maltreatment also includes the child hearing about violent acts perpetrated upon a significant attachment figure for the child.

Acts of omission (actions of failed care)
Witnessing family violence – The child hears or watches aggressive verbal altercations and/or physical violence.
Neglect – This type of maltreatment ranges from failing to provide basic food, shelter, clothing and care (including relevant medical care) to exposure to harmful substances. This is often labelled as “environmental circumstance”, but studies of documented behavioural features and neuro-imaging tests demonstrate that the resultant brain injury patterns are similar to those seen in children exposed to acknowledged trauma and maltreatment.
Sources: Chrousos & Gold (1992); De Bellis (2002); MacMillan et al. (2009)

“Neglectful acts have also been extended to include the exposure of children to cigarette smoke when they are motor vehicle passengers, although this does not yet apply to the unborn foetus. Exposing foetuses to harmful agents (teratogens) could also be regarded as neglectful when there is a known causal relationship between the substance and resultant structural malformations to the developing foetus (e.g., continued thalidomide use despite knowledge of its effect on foetal limb growth, or continued alcohol use with knowledge of its causality in foetal alcohol spectrum disorder). Such actions are neglectful regardless of the intent of the child’s parent, caregiver or other responsible adults.”

“The common factors in trauma or maltreatment that adversely affect early brain development appear to be those events and conditions in which the child experiences or repeatedly experiences, in a prolonged and uncontrolled manner, circumstances that they perceive as being likely to be significantly life threatening for themselves.”

They can use “non-invasive static-scan neuro-imaging tools, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) and SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography). More recently, assessment with ‘functional MRI’ (fMRI) has provided even further evidence of the impact that maltreatment has upon a child’s brain, including the assessment of not only structural changes but also the dynamic processes occurring within the brain as the child recalls or listens to an account of the varying types of maltreatment to which they have been previously exposed.”

“Maltreatment that comprises severe, prolonged and uncontrolled life stressors activates a prolonged biological stress response. This response is mediated through the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a system that describes the brain’s interaction with the peripheral body through neural (sympathetic nervous system) and hormonal (adrenal gland) tissues that regulate the body’s response to perceived longer acting stressors (infection, trauma, neglect, substance exposure, etc.).”

“The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to stress, especially with respect to the pre-frontal cortex, hippocampus and corpus callosum. Through prolonged activation of the biological stress response system, structural and functional brain changes occur. The behaviours resulting from chronic stress include poor self-regulation, increased impulsive behaviours, and emotional responses such as high levels of experienced anxiety, aggression and suicidal tendencies and, in some, a learned helplessness from the constant impairment of self-regulation.”

“…the response to chronic stress impairs the function of noradrenaline and dopamine within the limbic system and that this may account for the typical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms of persistent hyper-arousal and hyper-vigilance that continues to occur after the trauma, despite resolution of the initiating experience. These neurotransmitters also interact with the serotonin system to modify mood and anxiety symptoms.”

“The impact of maltreatment on the brain – structural, functional and behavioural – has been shown to worsen the longer the duration of trauma experience and the younger the age of onset of the trauma experience.”
Substance misuse and dependence

“Early onset adult depressive, suicidal and personality disorders have also been shown to be significantly increased in those with documented histories of childhood maltreatment….This has been postulated to be the outcome of cortisol hyper-secretion.”

“… ‘antisocial’ personality disorder is a more frequent occurrence in those with a history of physical abuse and/or neglect, whereas “borderline” personality disorder is more frequently associated with childhood sexual abuse.”

“Cognitive development and academic performance are also adversely affected by childhood exposure to violence. MRI studies show that exposure to violence is associated with children having smaller intracranial, cerebral and prefrontal cortex volumes, with particular effects on prefrontal white matter, temporal lobe volumes and the corpus callosum….these children have been found to suffer increased levels of depression, dissociation and both externalising (aggression, self-harming) and internalising (depression, anxiety) symptoms.”

“…male children are more vulnerable to the consequences of maltreatment, and this is reflected in changed brain structure….The corpus callosum volume in males is especially decreased in the isthmus region of the corpus callosum, which appears to facilitate more externalising behavioural symptoms of aggression and suicidality.”

“A similar decrease in volume is noted in the superior temporal gyrus and hippocampus, with a resultant observed deficit in executive function ability and sustained attention and focus, a limited verbal response ability, and poor short-term memory and capacity for future planning. Also observed has been a decreased ability to learn through both motor and non-motor means. Further, the cerebellum is generally decreased in volume in these children, with an observed attendant behavioural pattern of having difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and general irritability.”

“Maltreatment in early childhood has also been shown to result in adverse adult onset physical health; in particular, chronic disease and reproductive and adult sexual health problems….childhood abuse and exposure to domestic violence can lead to numerous differences in the structure and physiology of the brain, which affect multiple human functions and behaviours.”

“…not all children are adversely affected in this way. Some of this resilience may be attributed to the ‘neuroplasticity’ of the brain; that is, the ability of neural tissue to modify brain function and response, so enabling a different response to an experienced memory. Neuroplasticity occurs as a result of some synaptic pathways being enhanced rather than others following activities that stimulate specific sensory, motor and language development. This is especially seen in children under the age of 7 years and continues to a lesser degree into the mid-teenage years, but it decreases significantly around the third decade of life, when the brain has reached maturity with completed myelination.”

“…appropriate and early remedial therapy provided to children who have suffered maltreatment (either in utero, or during their childhood), may mitigate many of the adverse behavioural, learning and cognitive effects of the maltreatment.”

“Early identification of such affected children would permit the implementation of remedial social supports, education and behavioural treatment measures to enhance the modifying mechanism of neuroplasticity to reduce the functional neurobiological effects of child maltreatment. Additionally, early modification of the child’s environment to decrease the biological stress response may also assist the expression of the child’s genetic make-up (epigenetics).”

“Elevated cortisol biological stress responses in children and adolescents reflect the prolonged stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which normally is an acute stress response system. This prolonged stimulation in turn adversely affects physical and mental health and wellbeing, resulting in conditions such as reduced immune function, cardiovascular disease, dysthymia (persistent mild depression), major depression, oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, persistent exposure to stress results in damped responsiveness to new stressors.”

“…females tend to express their responses to maltreatment through internalising symptoms such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, compared to males, who express themselves more through externalising symptoms such as aggression, harm directed at others and suicidality.”

” [However], the younger child tends to display a similar level of distress regardless of the magnitude of stress to which they are responding.”

“…not all children are adversely affected by maltreatment, and this is hypothesised to reflect their access to appropriate environmental and familial supports at the time of the event. Additionally, differential epigenetic responses to environmental circumstances may also play a part. If the biological stress response is rapidly curtailed through appropriate support, and safety and security measures are instigated, then structural changes within the developing child’s brain are likely to be minimised, along with the adverse behavioural consequences.”

“The effects of maltreatment on children extend further than the children and their respective families to affect the wider community. The learning and cognitive deficits observed in these children are then reflected in their poorer educational and life skills development, particularly their capacity for self-regulation. This in turn affects the community’s ability to control violence and ensure an environment that promotes individual safety.”

“Child maltreatment eventually also affects the broader society with which the child’s community articulates. When adults in these communities have also been affected in their own childhoods by significant and chronic maltreatment, and witnessed or experienced personal, family and community violence, as well as engaging in chronic alcohol misuse, the intergenerational “cycle of poverty and community dysfunction” continues; the adults who would normally be responsible for providing the leadership, supervision and caring roles are themselves limited by their own reduced cognitive capacity and executive function ability.”

“Identification of these children through early and appropriate screening … and targeted remedial treatment has the potential to mitigate some of the cognitive, learning and behavioural difficulties that may arise, such as poor literacy, unemployment, incarceration, childhood pregnancy, or substance dependence.”

“Where brain injury results from maltreatment, current social and justice strategies, often introduced relatively late in the individual’s life, are by themselves of little benefit in achieving remediation, as the damage to neuropsychological functioning may be too entrenched to be overcome. This is especially so as most of the remedial programs available commence after the age of 7 years, thus missing the most sensitive ‘neuroplastic developmental’ period.”

“Providing a safe environment for children and their families will enable the next generation of children to achieve their maximum adult potential through normal neurobiological development.”

V. Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

April 2014
This study was funded by the British Academy and the Royal Society.

“Dr. Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the paper from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says: ‘Our study shows that the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later. The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood.’”

“Individuals who were bullied in childhood were more likely to have poorer physical and psychological health and cognitive functioning at age 50. Individuals who were frequently bullied in childhood were at an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders, and suicidal thoughts.”

love should never hurt

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“Individuals who were bullied in childhood were also more likely to have lower educational levels, with men who were bullied more likely to be unemployed and earn less. Social relationships and well-being were also affected. Individuals who had been bullied were less likely to be in a relationship, to have good social support, and were more likely to report lower quality of life and life satisfaction.”

“…’what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children. Programmes to stop bullying are extremely important, but we also need to focus our efforts on early intervention to prevent potential problems persisting into adolescence and adulthood.’”

Interesting Spec Fic Markets for August and Beyond!

#SpecFic #Authors: chances to earn money for your writing! Thanks for sharing, Chris White!

chris white writes

Toy Shop (Sirens) – Simon Cottee, for The Lane of Unusual Traders

Just some interesting speculative fiction markets I’ve come across this month, with a deadline sometime this month – I thought it’d be nice to share. All of these markets are pro-paying, by the way, unless I mention otherwise:

The Lane of Unusual Traders (Short Story component 1500 – 3000 words) – Tiny Owl Workshop, 31st August

The Lane of Unusual Traders is a world building project. The aim is to write or otherwise bring the Lane, the City of Lind and the world of Midlfell into existence through stories, illustrations, comics and, well, through whatever other creative means present themselves as the story grows.

The story begins in a lane known only as The Lane of Unusual Traders.

The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography (less than 5000 words) – Unlikely Story, November 1

 Genre isn’t particularly important to us—speculative, mainstream…

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“Would I rather…? or…?” We had such a rollicking good time! Listen to Sally Ember’s on-air Author Interview!

Catch Sally Ember’s #Author #Interview with the funny and insightful Scarlett and Nathan from the UK on their amusing, informative, unique site, Intertainment Hub, on their Youtube channel.

The interview (audio only) goes live on 8/2/14.

Intertainment hub logo

Intertainment Hub’s logo

Please listen, then comment there and here! Thanks!