Tuesdays with Ana: On advocating for ourselves

Last week, I witnessed a powerful act of self-advocacy from a child who looked about ten years old.

Yesterday in a public restroom, I met an adorable girl with a pretty pink-bow headband who was well-spoken and courteous. She also had a lovely speaking voice. I went into a stall, only to hear someone new enter the room and ask with a laugh, “What happened, did you buzz off all your hair?” The girl said in an admirably respectful tone, “I have alopecia, and it made me lose my hair.”

It didn’t stop there. The woman continued, “Oh, yes, well [name of someone famous] had that problem, too. He wore wigs, though. You should get a wig.” I was horrified and wanted to defend her, but I wasn’t out yet.

Her aunt (I’m guessing, or else a very young mom) came out of her stall and said, “She is beautiful exactly the way she is.” (She was!)

By the time I got out, the little girl was already leaving. I really wanted to say to her, “You are beautiful, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” But I was chicken. I didn’t know if I would come across as patronizing or interfering. Still, I hope she went home and looked in the mirror to see a smiley, bright-eyed, sweet girl who made me wonder what her parents had done to teach her such nice manners.

 

If I’d been able to get out of the stall faster I would have said something, but by the time I got out the moment was over. My jaw dropped as Ms. Ignorant could not shut her mouth. I couldn’t believe someone could say something that cruel. I was actually thinking to myself when I first met the girl, “Wow, she is so pretty!”

 

I wish I could have said something like, “It’s a heat index of 111 today. Why would anyone wear a wig who doesn’t need one?”

 

But really, if I had said anything at all it would have been a quiet undertone to the girl. “I’m sorry she was so thoughtless. You can’t fix stupid! I hope you grow up into a powerful, famous adult who will tell this story as an anecdote while you’re campaigning for US president.”

September is Alopecia Areata Awareness Month, and there are great resources available such as the Children’s Alopecia Project. You can find a small list of books on hair loss at Salon Revive.

Olivia Rusk has written a book about alopecia and appeared on the Today show. You can watch her interview here. I cringe at using “brave” to describe a confident and competent adolescent, but she comes across as a wonderful advocate for herself and others.

But while this particular story is about alopecia, I learned a greater lesson that day. A little girl answered calmly, clearly, and factually when she was inappropriately targeted by a stranger for unwanted attention. I don’t know how the little girl felt as she walked away, but she left at least one admirer behind.

How do you respond when people call you out for unwanted attention? How do you straighten out people who objectify you and intrude on your personal space? It’s easy to get hostile or disengage from the situation completely, but this little girl scored a victory.

 

 

 

“Kneel” (Saturday Spankings and Sunday Snippets)

Two weeks ago, I posted an unedited snippet from Taliasman, my newest book. It’s part of Decadent Publishing’s Beyond Fairy Tales series, and it’s a retelling of “Our Lady’s Child.” (Google the story! It’s obscure and jaw-dropping.) In my version, Vina the heavenly queen takes Talia the willful girl to the palace. In the previous snippet, Vina decided to show Talia who was boss. In today’s snippet, Talia realizes she’s in over her head.

Uncomprehending, I bend to inspect the parquet for a dropped fork. “Kneel,” she commands, and the blood courses through my veins. I double my fists, but she takes no pity. “You refuse to take your place at my side, so you may kneel at my feet. Or shall I strip you of your clothes and beat you into submission?”

 

She has proclaimed my happiness for the past year, and each assurance deepened my resentment. I did say this would be more honest, didn’t I? The powder blue velvet of my dress crushes beneath my knees as I fall to the ground.

 

For more spanking fiction snippets, visit Saturday Spankings or Snippet Sunday on Facebook.

Thursday Thankfulness, traveling edition

Thank you for all of your wonderful support this week! It means more than I can say. <3

Before I take off for a third day of “nourishing my soul,” as I call it, here’s a quick thankfulness list.

I’m thankful for:

  • Sunny (if hot) weather, clear skies, and no-rain forecasts through tomorrow
  • An evening of making blueberry waffles and chatting for hours after dinner
  • Wandering into a historic church just in time to participate in its weekly service (unique and touching)
  • I haven’t gotten lost (yet)!
  • Being able to take this trip :)
  • A phone able to take photos (since my camera died the second I left home)
  • Good company
  • Good wine
  • Good chocolate
  • Free wi-fi!
  • Being able to turn off wi-fi and explore the world around me
  • A plethora of things to do, places to see, people to meet, and experiences to have

And of course,

  • The many touching messages from everyone this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Won’t you please join me? I’d love to hear your thankfulness items today. :)

Tuesdays with Ana on creating memories: How to handle anniversaries of difficult events

I’m away for (at least part of) this week, creating memories. I’m writing this post on Sunday evening, surrounded by dishwashing, laundry, half-packed suitcases, piles everywhere, and a private little grocery store. Every time I go on a trip, I swear I’ll leave my home in pristine condition so I can return to a nice house. Every time I actually go on a trip, I’m lucky to get everything together!

I posted this on my Facebook:

I will be offline for most of today, all of tomorrow [today, Tuesday, by the time you read this post], and possibly parts of Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not comfortable sharing details, but tomorrow is the anniversary of something that happened many years ago. In the past I’ve quietly gone off the grid or kept things superficial around this time, but by now there are too many connections and friendships here to just disappear.

I believe I have taken care of all the responsibilities for while I will be MIA. If I owe you something, please forgive me and email/message me on Wednesday.

If you would like to send a smile my way, please feel free to post a photo of cute babies/children/kittens/wooden spoons in the comments. Or your favorite joke.

I’ve scheduled a blog post to go up tomorrow as well.

Hugs and from your favorite Cookie Lady. (It’s not you, baby. It’s me.)

–Ana

Instead of oversharing (who wants to hear about the Ana pity party, anyway?), I’d like to talk a bit about anniversaries and how to handle them. There are two times in the year that are difficult for me (astute, long-time readers of Governing Ana can probably guess which ones). I’m not alone. Most people, except for the extraordinarily lucky and sheltered, have at least one anniversary of something painful. The death of a loved one, the loss of a loved one (including a child who never got to be born), a break-up, an assault, an accident, an act of terrorism…

As a society, we suck at dealing with grief. We spend a great deal of money and time on everything but facing the difficult parts of being human. Spoiler alert: Life is difficult.

Instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself today, I’ve put aside work and will immerse myself in new experiences. I’ve never been to a wine-tasting before (don’t drink much) or a chocolate factory tour, but I’ve scheduled both. :D Plus there will be a visit to a museum, dinner at a cafe, and an evening at the theater. I am grateful, immensely grateful, for life and professional circumstances that have made this possible.

Sometimes we need quiet moments to grieve and reflect in our own way and in our own time. Other times, it’s good to keep moving. The problem comes when we work ourselves to exhaustion and find ourselves run down at the very moment we need all of our emotional resources.

This year and this week, I’ve done both. :) So it’s time to take a break.

I’ve (sort of) packed my bags (messily) and have planned (what I hope will be) a lovely day. Sometimes, I think we need to create new memories. We can’t replace old, painful ones, but we can add something to the mix. And in future years, I’ll be able to look back on this day. A few years ago, a dear friend and her husband created a wonderful day for me on this anniversary. They allowed me to take time out when I needed it, but they also took me on a day filled with tender, thoughtful surprises. Other friends have surprised me, two years in a row with a party. I cried each time, but I gave thanks for the best friends anyone could ever have. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less open to new experiences and more likely to shut myself into solitude. I’d like to change that today.

Grief isolates by its very nature. No one can know what it means to experience someone else’s pain, but human nature means trying to understand. Trying to connect, to make meaning, and to love.

When the tears come today, as they surely will, I will give thanks for the love, support, and thoughts of my wonderful online family.

Thank you.

With all of my love–

Ana

“Nothing’s too good for you”: Saturday Spankings and Snippet Sunday

Apologies for the delay! (For Saturday Spankings, at least. For Snippet Sunday, I am early.) After a few sleepless nights, I crashed yesterday. I should learn to schedule these posts ahead of time.

The following sentences are a sneak peek (unedited) from Ana Adored, a Masters of the Castle book I am co-authoring with Maren Smith. Thank you to Thursday Threads judge Layla Wolfe, who gave this snippet an honorable mention. Her comment? “Anastasia’s story of speed and bad impulse control also scared me into wondering what was going to happen.”

“Mapquest says it’s seven hours to Chicago. Want to bet we can do it in four?” They hurtled through a four-way stop sign, and Ana fought nausea. She’d never gotten carsick before, but she couldn’t handle much more of this thriller theme park ride. “We’ll wander around the Loop, and I made dinner reservations for the fireworks at Navy Pier.”

Shocked, Ana gave a sharp laugh. Workaholic Peyton had scheduled the vacation Ana always wanted? “Shut up, that’s not true.”

Peyton slammed the gas pedal as soon as they merged onto the highway. “Nothing’s too good for you,” she proclaimed.

Thursday Thankfulness, quilting edition!

(I will refrain from making a snarky comment about the changes to WordPress’ interface. It’s Thankfulness Thursday, after all. Hehe.)

This will be another quick version of Thursday Thankfulness as I am rushing to a morning with quilting grannies. I haven’t been able to attend for a while due to all of the craziness of events and projects, but today is a special day. :D Isn’t today always a special day?

Thursday Thankfulness, let’s hear it! I’m thankful for:

  • Robin Williams’ genius, laughter, and the warmth he conveyed to everyone who saw him perform. Watch this amazing duet with Wayne Brady on Whose Line is it Anyway?
  • A WIP that’s rocketing along at unbelievable speed. It might be finished *ahead* of schedule. Holy cow!
  • That the main character, Ana, from Ana Adored, is no relation to yours truly. Completely different person.
  • All of the amazing talks, brainstorming, strategizing, and collaboration of my first attempt at co-authoring.
  • Maren Smith! She knows why. :D
  • Sleep! I need to get some more often. (Wait, that’s not how it was supposed to come out…)
  • This brilliant Frozen parody of the Fifty Shades trailer. It’s almost enough to make me like Anna! (We all know Elsa’s the best…) Thanks for showing it to me, Louisa Bacio!
  • Wooden spoon photos sent to me this week. Can never have too many wooden spoons. :D
  • All of the wonderful friends who helped me with questions about horse riding. Thank you!
  • Finally signed and sealed the contract for Taliasman to join Decadent Publishing’s Beyond Fairy Tales series! Still hoping for publication in early fall.
  • Thankful for resolving printer issues so I could sign and seal the contract. My printer tried to claim (for two weeks) it couldn’t recognize the printer cartridges. After kicking, screaming, and calling the printer mafia, I tried the high-tech solution of taking each printer cartridge out, shaking it, and putting it back in. Worked like a charm. Well, then.
  • I’ll just go ahead and say this. Next Tuesday will be a hard day for me. It’s an anniversary of what should be a celebration but has always brought up mixed emotions. So I am thankful, ahead of time, for the support and understanding of friends and loved ones.
  • Thankful for the unexpected chance to see one of my favorite quilting grannies yesterday. She had a health scare and stayed home for a few weeks, and I’ve missed her. We all have. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of her because she came into my life when I needed someone like her. We all need someone to beam at us and think we’re special, and she does that every time. She doesn’t often let me do things for her, but it always makes me happy when I can. The worst part of making friends with people a great deal older than I am is wondering how much time they have left, but isn’t that true for any relationship? Thankful for every day, every smile, and every expression of love.
  • Sweet, understanding visitors who continue to visit and leave comments even when Bad Ana hasn’t gotten a chance to reply yet. I ADORE reading your comments and thank you so much! Please don’t stop.

I’d say more, but I’m late. As usual! Hugs to everyone, and tell us your thankfulness in the comments.

O Captain, My Captain: What We Learned From Robin Williams

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdXhWS7lLvs

The first time (in my memory) that I cried in public was watching Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society. Despite the misogynistic, cliched subplot of trying to capture objectified female love interest, and despite the stunning lack of any female characters…Robin Williams spoke to me on levels that have shaped my entire life. He taught me:

  • It’s all right to have dreams and passions that don’t fit in with the world around you.
  • You can make a difference in someone else’s life even when those in authority tell you that you were wrong.
  • Sometimes you will try to help someone, and your efforts will fail. Even so, you shouldn’t give up.
  • Honor, integrity, and truth come from an inner moral compass, not what someone in authority tells you.
  • Honor, integrity, and truth are earned at great cost and require a lifelong struggle.
  • It’s better to lose by trying to do the right thing than to win by doing the wrong thing.
  • Sometimes bad things happen in your life, but it’s not your fault.

Robin Williams made me laugh. He made me howl, and I cringed at his off-color jokes.

The first time I heard about Robin Williams, someone mentioned his name as a joke. I didn’t understand until someone else explained that he was a comedian. Then I saw him in Dead Poet’s Society, and he shook me to the core of my being. I had to do the usual switch to repopulate the school with female students or imagine myself as a boy (typical requirements for a woman watching film), but once I did so his words seemed to be given to me.

Find what you love, Robin told me. Find what you love and cherish it.

What a sad irony that the man who remains famous for a movie raising awareness about suicide most likely died by suicide. I can’t imagine the years he struggled with depression, the anxiety, and the personal demons that drove him to drug addictions and his death.

Robin (if I may be so bold as to call you that), thank you for taking your gifts and sharing them with the world. May you find peace in your final journey, and may you find relief from your pain. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful (and humorous) place. You left us far too soon, but your suffering is over.

A few weeks ago, I found this video of Robin Williams meeting Koko. It’s how I’d like to remember him–laughing.

Robin Williams meeting Koko, the gorilla trained in ASL (American Sign Language)

What are your memories of Robin Williams?

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