The Lost World

With willful arrogance,

Eyes wide shut,

We rage and hate,

Black and white,

Everyone sure,

Unbending,

They are right,

The other wrong,

Deaf,

Unwilling to listen

And hear

The hurt and fear,

Lashing out,

Ugly,

Dark with rage.

Fingers point,

Blame the game,

Guardians and protectors

Painted with

Bastardized brush.

Good and evil

Undistinguished

By jaundiced eye.

Bitterness watches,

Gleeful with success.

Good people vilified,

Heartsick,

Their calling

A mockery,

Guardians of the castle

No more.

Dreams to dust.

It’s time…

Lance the wound,

Release the infection

Of hatred and enmity,

Letting the blood of humanity,

Finally,

Flow clean and healthy,

Touching hearts,

Re-building our world

Together,

Living

Technicolor lives,

Fair and free.

Isn’t that why

Lady Justice

Is blind?With willful arrogance,

Eyes wide shut,

We rage and hate,

Black and white,

Everyone sure,

Unbending,

They are right,

The other wrong,

Deaf,

Unwilling to listen

And hear

The hurt and fear,

Lashing out,

Ugly,

Dark with rage.

Fingers point,

Blame the game,

Guardians and protectors

Painted with

Bastardized brush.

Good and evil

Undistinguished

By jaundiced eye.

Bitterness watches,

Gleeful with success.

Good people vilified,

Heartsick,

Their calling

A mockery,

Guardians of the castle

No more.

Dreams to dust.

It’s time…

Lance the wound,

Release the infection

Of hatred and enmity,

Letting the blood of humanity,

Finally,

Flow clean and healthy,

Touching hearts,

Re-building our world

Together,

Living

Technicolor lives,

Fair and free.

Isn’t that why

Lady Justice

Is blind?With willful arrogance,

Eyes wide shut,

We rage and hate,

Black and white,

Everyone sure,

Unbending,

They are right,

The other wrong,

Deaf,

Unwilling to listen

And hear

The hurt and fear,

Lashing out,

Ugly,

Dark with rage.

Fingers point,

Blame the game,

Guardians and protectors

Painted with

Bastardized brush.

Good and evil

Undistinguished

By jaundiced eye.

Bitterness watches,

Gleeful with success.

Good people vilified,

Heartsick,

Their calling

A mockery,

Guardians of the castle

No more.

Dreams to dust.

It’s time…

Lance the wound,

Release the infection

Of hatred and enmity,

Letting the blood of humanity,

Finally,

Flow clean and healthy,

Touching hearts,

Re-building our world

Together,

Living

Technicolor lives,

Fair and free.

Isn’t that why

Lady Justice

Is blind?With willful arrogance,

Eyes wide shut,

We rage and hate,

Black and white,

Everyone sure,

Unbending,

They are right,

The other wrong,

Deaf,

Unwilling to listen

And hear

The hurt and fear,

Lashing out,

Ugly,

Dark with rage.

Fingers point,

Blame the game,

Guardians and protectors

Painted with

Bastardized brush.

Good and evil

Undistinguished

By jaundiced eye.

Bitterness watches,

Gleeful with success.

Good people vilified,

Heartsick,

Their calling

A mockery,

Guardians of the castle

No more.

Dreams to dust.

It’s time…

Lance the wound,

Release the infection

Of hatred and enmity,

Letting the blood of humanity,

Finally,

Flow clean and healthy,

Touching hearts,

Re-building our world

Together,

Living

Technicolor lives,

Fair and free.

Isn’t that why

Lady Justice

Is blind?

Left Behind

Let me go.
I’m not here…
Chase your life;
Face your fear.
Find your passion
Feed your soul,
Reach for things
That make you whole.

Celebrate
Our memory,
Of laughter, tears;
A legacy.
Embrace the joy.
Never forget;
Keep moving forward,
Let go of regret.

Honor my gift,
Cherish and share,
The joy in remembrance;
You’ll find me there.
So open your arms,
Set yourself free,
And smile when you think back
On memories of me.

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here because life kind of got away with me. But today I was inspired to write something special. Something specific.

I was at a celebration of life service today. The mother of a friend passed away, so I went to help their family honor her. It also reminded me of some of my losses, but instead of focusing on what I hoped they knew, I found myself focusing on the message I’m pretty sure they wanted those of us left behind to hear.

A lot has been going on in my universe this last year. I started a new day job; one that I love, but limits the amount of time I have for writing, but it allows me to help change people’s lives. My sister gave birth to our first nephew on my side of the family….waaaay early. There were fears that we could lose them both, but they’re both thriving these days. And then there’s the step-dad. As most of you know, he’s more a father to me than my bio dad. Keep him in your thoughts. He’s battling cancer. I effing HATE that word.

What I’m trying to say is…. Please be patient with me. I still love you guys. I’m still here. I’ve just had a lot going on…. Including a project that I can’t say anything about yet. But I will. I miss you guys.

Sexual Assault Does Not Negate Happy-Ever-After

As many of you know by now, sex positive discussions is intensely important to me. So many people have their sexual growth and understanding inhibited due to upbringing, religion, and worse, traumatic sexual experiences. Being closed away from one’s sexuality due to whatever reason stifles and inhibits personal, emotional growth and well being and can destroy otherwise healthy personal relationships.

Recently, when I discovered my pal, Jessi Gage, had launched her first ever holiday book, I reached out and asked if I could help her pimp it. I was thrilled when she mentioned that there was a sensitive topic of a sexual nature she’d wanted to address and thought my blog would be the perfect forum. When she gave me the specifics, I was honored. This subject is near and dear to so many hearts. (Don’t believe me? Check out my other pal, Bridget Blackwood’s post.)

Take it away, Jessi! (And please, guys, as always….share your stories, thoughts, and/or experiences because we’d love to hear from you!)

sexual assault

Thank you, Kitt, for hosting me today. I’m a huge fan of you as a person and as a blogger. You are one of my favorite advocates for women’s sexuality. Your voice and the voices of August McLaughlin and Ande Lyons are desperately needed and greatly appreciated by many.

I thought your blog would be a good place to confess my insecurity over a recent first for me. I’ve got a new release out, Cole in My Stocking. It’s my first holiday romance, and it’s the first time I’ve tackled sexual assault in a book. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about this.

In a romance, you want conflict and tension, yes, but you don’t want to disturb the readers, at least I don’t. That’s not my thing as a writer. I like to leave readers with a serious case of the warm-fuzzies. If people put down my book with a happy sigh, that’s my idea of success. So I wasn’t sure how to handle it when my heroine, Mandy, insisted she had survived a very traumatic situation in her past, a situation in which all her control was taken away: a sexual assault.

Fortunately, Mandy assured me her trauma was well past. It doesn’t appear on the pages of Cole in My Stocking other than as brief flashes of memory that still haunt her. But Mandy needed to spend time in this book working through issues that resulted from her assault. And Cole needed to be the man to help her do it.

See, Mandy has not been able to have a physical relationship with anyone since her assault. She has PTSD. As a counselor, she knows this about herself, but clinical knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to overcome the emotional scars of her past.

Fortunately for Mandy, Cole is up to the challenge of helping her tackle her physical and psychological issues. He does it by loving her, showing her he is trustworthy, and most of all, through his unwavering patience with her physical limitations.

To get this dynamic right (I hope I got it right!), I consulted my beautiful and generous sister-in-law, Kate, who has a counseling degree and has a heart for helping people. She helped me shape Mandy’s memories and reactions and encouraged me not to hold back when naming the horror that happened to her: rape.

Mandy’s story has a happy ending—of course, since I will never write anything that doesn’t end happily. But it might be a painful read for a woman who has experienced anything like what Mandy experienced. Then again, it might be helpful. Early reviews are indicating that Mandy’s journey is touching and realistic.

Excerpt from a 5-star review by Becca Moree of Breathless Ink:

Learning about what sweet Mandy has been through was tough. It was emotional, and for anyone that has been in a situation where their control, their power, their self worth has been stripped from them…just know that this book can be extremely difficult to read. Mandy’s reactions to what happened and how she handles intimacy after were very realistic. I’m not sure what Jessi Gage did to write this type of story in such a believable manner, but what I can say is that I appreciate the way she wrote this story. It means a lot to me that she managed to write a sweet love story (which I will talk about in a bit) while fitting in details that may help people who have never dealt with assault understand. I felt that it was written in a way that shed light on the way victims of assault think. The way they deal with what others see as a simple situation.

Reviews like this certainly help me feel less nervous about Mandy’s story. I’m so glad I wrote it and I hope lots of people find some holiday hope and cheer in it. I want to leave you with some words from Kate and some resources on sexual assault. Here’s Kate:

Sexual assault is an almost scientific term for a vomit-inducing nightmare. Alas, we are forced to contend with the term, so let’s be clear on its definition. According to the Justice Department’s website, sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient… forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

http://www.justice.gov/ovw/sexual-assault 

Recent government-funded studies have brought to light some shocking statistics about sexual assault and rape specifically:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/219181.pdf  :

Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped.

Only 16% of all rapes are reported to authorities.

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv13.pdf

35% of all sexual assaults are reported to authorities.

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/saycrle.pdf

Teens aged 16-19 are 3.5 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the general population.

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_executive_summary-a.pdf : 90% of rape victims know their rapist.

50% of victims are raped by their intimate partner.

There are a ton of implications in these stats, but I’ll highlight just a couple. What strikes me most about these stats is that rape is so common. We encounter women who have survived sexual assault every day. Eighteen percent of US women have gone through this. You are friends with rape victims. You are family of rape victims. Let that sink in for a minute.

Next, most rape is being done by guys we know. That is actually a pretty scary statistic. Think about it. Women are more likely to get raped by a man they know than by that ominous lurking predator in black, looming in the dark behind that bush. And to top it off, rapes are underreported. In other words, the bad guy is getting off way more often than not.

Sexual assault clearly affects our culture and us personally more than we realize, because it is happening all the time. I encourage you to ask questions and have conversations. Educate yourself on why and how sexual assault is so prevalent in our society. (I’ll give you a hint: It’s not because men are uncontrollable animals.)

Learn about victim blaming:

rape culture

consent:

and ways you can help the women (and men) in your own life who need support after sexual assault.

Here are some resources for you or a loved one needing immediate help after sexual assault:

Resources:

National directory of rape crisis centers: via RAINN website or call 1-800-656-4673

Online sexual assault support group: AfterSilence

Advice for loved ones of assault victims: RAINN website support

Bandbacktogether Blog

Thank you for reading! Please forward this post at will since you never know who might need the resources Kate shares above.

Thanks again, Kitt, for having me! It’s always a pleasure to blog with you!

For more information about Cole in My Stocking and Jessi Gage’s other books, visit her at:

Website | Blog | Facebook Fan Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter

JessiGage_ColeInMyStocking_1400px

Cole Blurb and Buy Links

Mandy never planned to return to Newburgh, New Hampshire, the hometown that unfairly branded her a slut, but she has no choice. Her father has died, and she’ll be spending Christmas settling his affairs. She hopes to get in and out of town without attracting the looks of disgust that drove her away, but when a certain Oakley-wearing, Harley-riding cop starts hanging around, an old crush is revived and the rumor mill restarts with a vengeance.

Cole has always been attracted to Mandy, but he has never acted on it. Besides being sixteen years older than her, he was friends with her father. The rumors people in town spread about her were bad enough without an inappropriate relationship adding fuel to the fire. But when Mandy returns to Newburgh fully adult and looking more gorgeous than ever, he can’t keep his distance, especially when an old secret of her father’s surfaces and puts her in danger. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her, but convincing her to stay in Newburgh, with him, will take a Christmas miracle.

Reader Advisory: Contains references to a past sexual assault 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | All Romance | Goodreads

Highlight:

He cupped her chin and made her look at him, even if they couldn’t see each other in the dark. “What did he do after?”

“What do you mean?”

“When you freaked out. What did your boyfriend do after that?”

Tension straightened her shoulders. “What any decent guy would do. We stopped. He stopped. He was a perfect gentleman.”

He scoffed.

“What? He was. I was a total spaz and he was cool about it.”

“He was cool about it?”

“What? What’s that superior tone for?” She was getting angry. He loved that about her. She’d stood up to Tooley a few days ago. She was standing up to him now. If she didn’t like something, she let you know about it. Now that was a characteristic he could believe she’d gotten from Gripper.

“You said you freaked like always when things get to a certain point, that you always blow it. You think you blew it with that guy because a single attempt at second base went poorly. I meant what happened afterwards? Was there a conversation? A second attempt after you had some time to process what happened? A third?”

“What guy would want to try again after something like that?”

“This guy would.”

Jessi Gage

Jessi Gage

 

Jessi Gage bio:
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. She’s a passionate reader of all genres of romance, especially anything involving the paranormal. Ghosts, demons, vampires, witches, weres, faeries…you name it, she’ll read it. As for writing, she’s sticking to Highlanders and contemporaries with a paranormal twist (for now). The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.

A Simple Sorry Will Do

“I’m Sorry”

The words aren’t exactly difficult to pronounce. They’re not complicated. In fact, next to “I love you” it’s probably the most important sentence in the English language. So what makes it so difficult for some people to say?

Through the years I’ve come to recognize several different avoidance tactics… Maybe you’ll recognize them too.

The first, and probably most popular, avoidance tactic is the guilt purchase in lieu of an apology. This is my mother’s go to technique. An example? How’s this…

Back when I was in high school my mom accused me of going on birth control without her permission. She was furious. She wanted to know where I’d managed to go to get on the pill and didn’t believe me when I told her I wasn’t. She swore up and down that I was having sex and swore that if I got pregnant, she’d disown me (yeah, that part I know she was exaggerating about…she’d never do that to me). It didn’t matter how many times I tried to defend my innocence. She was sure I was lying. Well, until my sister came into the room, grabbed the packet of pills she was waving around in my face and told her that they were her cleaning enzymes for her contacts.

You know teenagers…we feel things intensely. To say I was furious and wounded would be a mild understatement…especially when my sister vindicated me. I wanted an apology! So, I did what any loudmouth teenage daughter would do. I gave her the silent treatment. Hey, I’m not stupid. I knew she’d realize quickly that I was mad and hurt.

That evening, while I lay on my bed reading a book, she popped her head into my bedroom.

Mom: (Tosses cool black leather and silver metal barrette on the bed next to me) Hey Kitt. I went shopping today and bought this for you.
Me: (Head comes up from my book to look at her. Glares at her because I realized she didn’t apologize and feeling as though she’s trying to buy me off…because she is. Looks back down at the book. Not a word said.)
Mom: (Pretending nothing’s wrong) Do you like it?
Me: (Looks back at her, one eyebrow raised & shake my head as I look away again)

She finally walked away. I was determined not to accept the blackmail or her non-apology. After several hours of silence, she finally broke. She flounced into my room (yes, moms can flounce, too) and said. “Fine, I’m sorry. Okay?”

I looked up and smiled and said “Thank you.”

I won’t lie…I grabbed that hair clip and kept it after she gave her apology. No sense in letting it go to waste… And to be fair, I know my situation is not the norm…many people will just continue on with their business and never say the words.

The second avoidance tactic is the “Sounds like an apology non-apology”.

There was a guy I used to manage with. He was so proud of his “faux-pology” skills. He used to use it on customers a lot. An example?

A customer was frustrated with her treatment by one of his employees. She felt the employee misled her on her plan and how returns worked.

Him: I’m sorry you didn’t listen to your rep about the return policy.

or

Him: I’m sorry you didn’t think to read the fine print.

or

Him: I’m sorry you waited until two weeks later to tell me about how your rep treated you, now that you’re outside your return policy and my hands are tied.

As you can see…none of these things were real apologies. Nothing to validate their feelings.

All I could think was…would it have been so hard to tell the customer “I can only imagine how frustrated you’re feeling right now. I’m sorry you were made to feel unimportant. We value your business. Why don’t we take a look at this together and see what options and alternatives we can come up with”?

Somehow I doubt his customers were pleased with their service….or stayed very long.

The third avoidance tactic is where you tell someone that you love them, but never that you’re sorry. This is used most often on family. It’s very similar to #1, except that instead of blackmail with something of monetary value, you resort to twisting up emotions.

For example, you embarrass your significant other…maybe you lose your temper and yell at him/her in front of other people. Your partner is hurt and walks away. After you cool down you realize you might have overreacted. Instead of an apology, you seek him/her out and tell them “I love you”.

Courtesy of sweetstuffcalledlove.tumblr.com

Courtesy of sweetstuffcalledlove.tumblr.com

Two words. Two simple words… So why are they so hard for some people to say? How can accepting responsibility for injured feelings or poorly chosen words be so hard for some people? The funny thing is, many of these folks are sorry. They feel remorse for their careless/thoughtless actions…but they just can’t say it! Granted, there are those who refuse to apologize simply because they’re narcissistic enough to believe they’re never wrong…but usually that kind of arrogance spills over into every other aspect of their personality, making it a trait that’s fairly easy to recognize.

One thing I’ve learned…with love, there’s no room for foolish pride. Someone who loves you won’t take an admission of wrongdoing as an opportunity to browbeat you and hold it over your head. They recognize your willingness to humble yourself in front of them as a gift…and it strengthens your love and makes it easier to let go of hurts and move forward together.

When it’s left unsaid, resentments fester. Doubt creeps in. Feelings of inadequacy and lack of appreciation become so strong. All the good becomes overpowered by memories of every hurt and each slight. Yes, withholding the “I’m sorries” in my opinion, are just as dangerous as never saying “I love you”.

Before you ask… Yes, I’m well aware that there are also those people who overuse I’m sorry, but never mean it. But those people…their actions speak so loudly that they make it easy to walk away. The other ones, though…they devastate. You want to fight for your relationship. You try to fight. But after a while the battle feels one sided and you wonder if you’re the only one bothering. You begin to wonder WHY you try.

The words may be scary to say…especially if you’re the person who’s always held it back. But if you put yourself on that limb. Say the word. The rewards are so much bigger your fears. You’d be amazed at the difference it can make. Try it! I promise it won’t kill you.

What are your experiences with “I’m Sorry”? Which of these non-apologies do you see most frequently? Have you seen other avoidance techniques that we should be on the lookout for? Have you been the victim of this kind of hurt? How did it impact you?

In the meantime…I thought I’d share a little Elton John….

Life And Curve Balls

I had this whole big blog post set in my head, but as often happens with life…we were thrown a curve ball. Instead I’ll simply ask this… Please keep my father-in-law in your thoughts and prayers. At his annual physical his doctor noticed one of his eyelids drooping and ordered an MRI. He wants to rule out a stroke. The up side is that his eye lid is the only symptom he’s exhibiting that may point in that direction.

More serious is the fact that this strong, determined 2x cancer survivor has found a mass in his lung area… His doctor is insisting he see his oncologist and do more tests immediately…so our fingers are crossed. Hubby is very concerned as the uncle that died a few months ago was his dad’s brother. As I said…good thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. (I could use the prayers to keep me strong for him…and the rest of our family, especially since I was blessed with amazing in-laws).

I could also use advice from my Filipino friends/followers. My sister-in-law will be heading to the Philippines on business for about 2 months and staying in areas I’ve never been. If any of you are familiar with Bohol, Boracay & Apo Reef, I’d appreciate any advice or feedback that I can relate back to her.

The icing on the cake? I also got my summons for jury duty today. Yeah, it’s one of those days… So I’m gonna lean on you guys for a while… Any feel good songs or words of encouragement for me today?

 

Holiday Challenge

From here until Christmas I’m going to post at least one Christmas song a day.  More than likely it won’t be the only thing I post, but sharing my love of music is one of the ways I enjoy the holiday…so you’re stuck with it!  LOL!

This world is filled with so much potential…really, it is! Unfortunately, we have proved…practically since our inception, that the one thing that we’re most good at is coming up with the most creative and painful ways to destroy each other…both body and spirit. The last few weeks have been proof of that…all over the world.

No, I’m not going to weigh in on the gun control battle, though I do have my own opinion. I will say this…we don’t need guns to kill each other. Proof? China…those kids were killed by a knife.  McVeigh…he learned how to make a bomb online…and took out hundreds. Where there is a will, there is a way. Sad, but true fact…

So if we can be so quick to kill, it stands to reason that we’re probably pretty good at healing, too…but it’s gonna take all of us. One act of kindness at a time. I truly believe every act of selflessness we do is one more step to battling apathy and hate. So my challenge for you? Look around you…find someone who could use an act of kindness…and if it’s within your power, make it happen. The bigger part of that challenge? Do it anonymously! Then share it with us….  See if you can’t be someone’s Christmas miracle.

With that, I leave you with this song… Reminding us…that even in the darkest times, hope can be found….Love Johnny Cash’s narrative in this song.