Compassion in the 21st Century
Compassion: a desire to help someone in need. When you show compassion to another person, it enriches your life as well as his. Yet to show compassion to someone, you must become involved in his life.
How do you become involved in another person’s life? Usually you talk to him, and learn about what is going on. Where he’s having problems and needs help. When he needs it. He will tell you! Last century, the telephone was invented, and people could now talk to each other even over large distances. People communicated, and reached out to each other. It was wonderful. I remember using our party line, how everyone knew everyone’s business, and how we came together as a community to show compassion for each other.
Then, in this century, with the invention of the cell phone, texting became the normal way of communicating. Everyone texts, it seems, short sentences sometimes with the words shortened to U and FYI, which require an interpreter to read them. People text while they are walking in traffic, while shopping, while in a class, but worse, people text while they are at home, alone. How involved can you become when you can’t even hear the other person’s voice, whether he sounds tired or discouraged or happy or defiant? How do you know that this person needs the compassion or friendship you are willing to give?
Instead of becoming an aid to communication, texting on cell phones has become a tool of isolation. Many people isolate themselves at home, reaching out only through texts. Teens shut themselves in their rooms, when they should be out developing social skills needed for life. Texting should never replace conversation, which is how we interact with other people. When you talk to someone, you find out much more about him and his life, his feelings, and thoughts; more than you will ever find out by texting. Texting is great for setting up appointments, but it should not be used to as the sole way to sustain friendships. Everyone needs friends, as man is a social being.
Cell phones have replaced our computers, watches, alarm clocks, maps, and our way of communicating. Lets not let them replace our families and friends.
In my book, Turnagain Love, the heroine is isolated on a small island. With no cell tower close by, she can’t call for help. Since three of anything—three large rocks, three honks, three shouts—is the universal signal of distress, she places her white clothes into three groups, making three large white circles out on the beach. Her efforts are rewarded by the arrival of the hero in a large motorboat. But he hasn’t come to help her. If fact, he never even noticed her signal. So what is he doing?
Turnagain Love is the first of the Sisters of Spirit series. It is part of the Sweet & Sassy Collection, #1, which is available for 99¢
Hello and happy merry month!
Or, I hope it’s merry, anyway. Not harried. Not stressed.
The other day I played hooky from my work day and went to a matinee showing of “Bad Moms” with two of my friends. We all felt deliciously “bad,” all right. Watching a movie. In a theatre. In the middle of the day. How decadent!
I’m almost embarrassed about how much I laughed because normally my sense of humor isn’t quite so . . . in the gutter, LOL. But the characters are just . . . hilarious—and, despite being quite different from me in most ways, very relatable to. (If you must know, I’d want to be Amy, but I’m probably more Kiki. I wish I was brave enough to be Carla, at least a little bit, in some ways.) But I digress. . . .
Watching the movie moms stress themselves out about Christmas prep was over the top and triggered giggles, but struck a few chords, too. A lot of my extended family has moved away and my children are adults now, so Christmas at my house is easier and quieter (and not as fun, truth be told). Still, I remember the intense desire to create happy Christmas memories that would last forever (no pressure!) very well. And though my hubby and I purposely tried to avoid having the season’s focus be gifts, gifts, gifts, we did give presents. And we wanted each one to be meaningful (and fun) and to not break our tight (at times, very tight) budget. (Again, no pressure—ha ha!)
At one point, the children in the show express their longing for quiet Christmas, where they just hang out and do fun, relaxing things together as a family. It reminded me of something from when my kids were small.
Then, over coffee, when the movie was finished, my friend who still has three kids at home shared her family’s schedule for the next two weeks with dread. As I listened I was like, okay . . . maybe the themes in “Bad Moms” aren’t so over the top after all. On top of school, her kids literally have another event every day—including the weekends—in addition to their regular clubs and activities. Plus, in the week leading up to a concert they’re all in, they have a practice every day. (And my friend is not the type of parent who over-schedules her children; it’s just that every group and their dog wants to do something “special” for the holidays.) And it underlined the thing I’d remembered while watching the movie.
One day when my kids were six and nine or so, we’d had a very hectic week. I still had a day job (as in I wasn’t writing for my livelihood at that point, which I do now—and is more flexible), the kids had school, and an activity or two, and my husband’s non-working time was sucked up by an organization he volunteered for. We were gearing up for Christmas and we were all tired and grumpy and . . . blah. Which is the worst way to feel any time, let alone the time of year when you’re supposed to be celebrating the joy of family togetherness. Anyway, I had a bazillion things to do and as I nagged my poor gray-faced, glum little children, I suddenly stopped, horrified by my behavior. What the heck was I doing? I was going to hound my family into extra chores and stomp around like a mad woman preparing for Christmas joy?
Abruptly, I called, “Stop whatever you’re doing and come here right now!” They obeyed grudgingly. I could practically read their sullen faces: Oh, great, what do we have to do now?
I explained that I thought it was sad and terrible that we were all feeling so down and grouchy. They agreed—but weren’t cheered until I suggested the remedy: a silent reading break. I asked them if they wanted tea or hot chocolate. Then we all had a one minute to go find the book(s) we wanted to read or look at. We met back in the living room. I set a timer to countdown to when we had to be quiet and read (because timers are always fun! No, I’m not joking. They are!). We only read for half an hour or an hour, then I really did have to make something for dinner and get us off to whatever it was . . . but it completely changed the whole evening. And you know what? No one anywhere was adversely affected by us skipping a few chores. In fact, no one even knew except us. It was a win, win, win.
Over the years, reading breaks became a treasured habit—especially when our schedules got hectic because let’s face it, that’s when you need to take a deep breath and destress the most!
I also learned that, while I love to cook and quite often make things from scratch, pre-made appetizers and snacks are enjoyed by crowds just as much and sometimes you just don’t have time or energy or the desire to slave away in the kitchen. Houses you clean for parties will just get dirty again, so tidy rooms that guests might enter and wipe down your bathroom—and that’s it. (How dirty my floors can get is actually a running joke with my friends now—but I’ve seriously given up. I have two dogs—and one’s a Newfie and we live on five acres of mud. Just wear your shoes in! I’m happy to let you see that you’re a far better housekeeper than me!)
My traditions changed from must-do-everything-that-has-ever-been-one-of-our-“traditions” to: do whatever feels fun this year. So occasionally I make cookies (usually the 23rd-ish—and never more than 3 varieties. But if you adore baking, make as many that are still fun!
Ditto re: decorating. Sometimes my house looks like Santa’s Elves visited. Other years it’s very minimalistic. I must emphasize it again: only do those things that actually bring joy to you or yours. We potluck style most family celebrations.
I love to host a games night or two—but again, if they don’t work until the New Year, that’s okay.
The only thing I’m firm about is that I steal alone time sometime just before or just after December 31st to daydream or plan for my upcoming year. That, and—of course—at least a few special, intentional reading breaks. Whether you’re feeling joy and anticipation about the busy weeks to come, or stress and angst—or, like I do now, have quieter holidays, where disappearing into the busyness of other peoples’ lives via a book is the treat you’re after—cook up this recipe for a perfect night. In fact, the busier you are, the more I insist you should try it.
Wishing you merry days and cozy nights this winter, filled with good reads, chats with people you love and lots of laughter and snacks,
P.S. *Chef’s note: It should be stressed that while this recipe seems simple at first glance, the results of following it are anything but.
People who make a habit of regularly incorporating it into their days will experience mental stimulation, increased knowledge, and improved memory function. They will have larger vocabularies than their non-recipe following friends, family and coworkers—and stronger analytical thinking skills, improved focus and concentration, and better writing skills.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to “cook” this up regularly, know that those who do—and who vary the first ingredient—will also have increased resiliency and empathy. Best of all, diehard recipe fans report that the more they consciously set aside dedicated time to follow the recipe, the less stress—and more positivity—they feel.
Good morning readers! I have been seeing some pretty amazing cookie recipes going around, and creative bakers getting their treats ready for holiday gifting—which made me remember baking cookies with my mom. As in, she did most of the work, lol. She would buy a pretty plate to put her cookies on and green or red plastic wrap. Fudge, sugar cookies, wedding balls, thumbprints with raspberry or apricot jam—but my very favorite was a candy cane cookie, which was red and white ropes of cookie dough twisted and shaped to look like a candy cane. They were so cool!
I regret not making these for my kids—however, I am now a grandma, and so I need to brush off my baking skills. I’ll be starting with this recipe…
Christmas Candy Cane Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup real butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Red food coloring gel
- 2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- In a large bowl, beat together butter, both sugars, both extracts, and egg on low, just until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Divide dough in half, making sure you have 2 equal portions. Add red food coloring gel to half of the dough until the desired color is reached. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 3-4 hours.
- In a small bowl, combine peppermint candy and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- To make a candy cane cookie, take 1 level teaspoon of each dough. Roll each teaspoon into a 5″ rope (use a ruler, if necessary). Place one red and one white rope next to each other and begin twisting the two colors together, while pressing ends together so that they won’t unravel.
- Place on an ungreased baking sheet, curving the top to one side to form the look of a candy cane. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle cookies with the sugar/peppermint mixture.
- Move cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.
This recipe adapted from the Betty Crocker Original Candy Cane Cookie recipe and copied from this website:
Do you have a family favorite you’d like to share? My other fave was a deep fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar that my Russian grandma used to make. Hmm. I might need to go hunt down that recipe too. Happy holidays!
Today a friend came over to visit. When she asked how I was doing, I got up and danced for her. She was amazed, not because I’m a great dancer but because I could do it at all.
A month ago, as I write this, I got a new right knee. This is not something you want to do on a whim. In fact, you probably don’t want to do it until you are desperate—or until you come to grips with the realization that you are not getting any better or any younger.
There was nothing sudden about my knees giving out. Ten years ago I had arthroscopic surgery on both of them, where an orthopedist fixed up the rough edges of the cartilage. For some people, that’s a useless procedure. It kept ME out of pain for a decade. But finally there was no cartilage left in my right knee. I tried a cortisone shot. It did nothing. And when I came back to the doctor six weeks later, I made my decision. If I wanted to walk pain- free, I had to take the plunge.
For the month before surgery, I religiously did exercises to strengthen my leg muscles. And I also stayed away from crowds, terrified that I’d arrive for surgery and a nurse would tell me, “Go home. You have a cold, and we’re not going to operate on you.”
After leaping that hurdle, I found myself at an orthopedic hospital at six in the morning on Halloween—of all auspicious times. And for the next two days, my life was kind of a surreal hostage situation. If you’re having major surgery, you turn yourself over to the doctors and nurses. And now you even get a wristband with a bar code.
My first memories of the whole experience are kind of fuzzy. The anesthesiologist told me my main anesthetic would be spinal—after a nurse had already attached an IV line to my right arm. He said, “Stand up, face away from me, and hold onto the bed.” That’s the last thing I remember before waking up in the recovery room and being asked to wiggle my toes.
After that, did Norman meet me in my private room? No idea.
Blessedly, they had put something magic in my knee at the end of the operation. For the first day, I really had no pain. And within hours of surgery, they had me up and walking to the bathroom. Some patients went home the next day. But my blood pressure crashed in the morning, and I had to stay two nights.
After the magic bullet wore off, I would have liked what I’ve heard other hospitals do—give you a morphine pump, so you can press a button and have pain relief. My hospital didn’t use them, and I had to rely on oral medications which weren’t all that effective. But the good news for me is that I tolerate pain pretty well. When they asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, I rarely got above a four. And that, they said, was unusual.
Once I got home, it was a gradual uphill climb. At first, I could barely move my leg. But inch by inch the muscles started working again. I went from a walker to a cane. I made it up and down the stairs—first, once a day and then more. And slowly but surely I got back to normal activity—with the help of first a home nurse and physical therapist and then trips to the therapy facility (aka torture chamber). Finally, one day I could stand long enough to cook a meal. And when I could pull on my slacks without gritting my teeth, I knew I was on the way to dancing again.
The latest Rebecca York release is Christmas Spirit.
I love to give homemade gifts, and my friends and family seem to love receiving them. Pre-made Brownies in a Jar can be purchased for $12.99. However, you can make these yourself for a fraction of the cost. Here’s a how-to for Brownies in a Jar:
What you’ll need to make Brownies in a Jar:
2 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup chocolate chips
- Into a clean 1 quart mason jar, pour the sugar. Tap the jar lightly to compact. Pour in the cocoa and tap to compact. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Tap to compact. Lastly, add the nuts and chocolate chips. Screw on the lid.
- Attach the following instructions around the neck of the jar: Empty contents into a large bowl and stir all ingredients to combine. Add 3/4 cup of melted butter, 3 eggs, and 2 Tablespoons water to the bowl. Stir until all ingredients well incorporated. Do not over mix. Pour batter into a greased 13” x 9” pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350º oven for 30 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares.
Have you ever given homemade gifts? What have you given? I love to get new ideas!
~ ~ ~
It’s a Christmas Sale! Save $2 on GROWN-UP CHRISTMAS LIST. On sale for just 99¢!
Available at regular price in paperback
I Have a New Release This Week Two Hearts Find Christmas was just released independently this week, and it’s the fifth story in my Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Book series.
Although I do like to inject humor wherever I can, I tackle some pretty serious subject matter, and Two Hearts’ Find Christmas is no exception. Josh has serious self-esteem issues as a victim of physical and sexual abuse, while Nina has spent her entire life taking care of others, and not considering what would make her happy.
Until Josh comes back into her life again.
Since December is the season for giving, I’m listing some of my favorite charities.
Want to do something to make sure our men and women wounded warriors are never forgotten?
Why not donate to The Wounded Warrior Project?
Your generous, tax deductible donation to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) will change the lives of over one hundred thousand injured warriors, caregivers, and family members. You will help bring independence back to our nation’s most severely wounded veterans.
I recently had a lovely review about my new Daydreams & Dragonflies Sweet Romance Series, and Josh visits the Crystal Rock Shelter to choose a service dog in Two Hearts Find Christmas.
And a wonderful advocacy for a cause close to my heart, stray and shelter dogs! I think people all too often write shelter dogs (and cats) off. But they are loving and loyal….. Amazon Reviewer
SERVICE DOGS, INC
Your donation helps us rescue dogs abandoned to animal shelters and transform them into lifelines for veterans or other adults living with disabilities.
I have a severely autistic son, and there are many great organizations conducting research.
DONATE TO AUTISM RESEARCH https://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/autism
And my autistic son also developed diabetes at age nine.
Donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
JDRF’s mission is to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and its complications through the support of research. Every dollar we are able to direct toward this critical research comes from donors like you. Your generosity makes real progress possible and propels us toward our goal of a world without T1D.
Your tax-deductible gift today will help continue work to bring life-changing treatments and therapies to the millions of people living with T1D until they find a cure.
And finally, my Two Hearts Christmas Wish has been shortlisted for one of the top 50 Indie Books of 2017. Your vote would be greatly appreciated!!
May all of you have the best and brightest holiday season, as well as a
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
TWO HEARTS’ CHRISTMAS WISH
The Benefit of a Writer’s Group
A few months ago Mimi Barbour, creator of The Authors’ Billboard, a group of over thirty bestselling romance writers, came up with the ingenious idea of setting up box sets varying in size from six to eight books and enrolling them into the Kindle Select program.
The hope was to gain new readers, and of course sales, of our individual books. We started out with two or three sets, just to see how they would do.
There was such a fantastic response from our readers, three more followed. Then three more, then… well, you get the picture 🙂
As quick as we could put them together, they were getting read; to the tune of millions of pages read (Kindle Select’s method of determining how much to pay authors from a fund Amazon adds to each month)
It has proven to be a snowball effect, benefiting the group in ways we never expected.
We’ve become stronger as a group.
Friends who have each other’s backs. We support and promote new releases. Celebrate achievements. Share information. Build on our successes. And commiserate our failures.
No matter what, we know there’s someone who will listen when we need advice.
If you ever get the opportunity to join a writer’s group, I highly recommend giving it a try!
If you’d like to meet our group and have some fun at the same time, stop by November 29-30 at our 2nd Annual Christmas Bash on Facebook. There’ll be plenty of chatting, games, and giveaways! You don’t want to miss the party, we’d love to meet you there!
And here’s a listing of our #boxsets: available for a LIMITED TIME!
Reviews are the lifeblood of any successful author. Without you, we can’t be heard.
If you enjoy the story, please consider sharing on your favorite social media sites, as well as GoodReads and from wherever you’ve bought the book and visit us online for great deals, interesting blog posts, contests, and much more!
We’d love to have you subscribe to our blog and to sign up on for our Weekly Newsletter.
~Happy Thanksgiving ~
This year on the Authors’ Billboard, we have much to be thankful for.
When a group of 30 authors continuously work together, like and respect each other, that’s a truly beautiful thing and something to be proud of.
Over the last year, we’ve managed to support each other in an unprecedented manner, I mean when one of us asks for help, it’s forthcoming. Of course not by all – every time – but enough of the girls kick in so we know someone is always listening and… they care.
Our group, collectively, has put out a huge number of Box sets this year – please visit our Author’s book page on this website – and you’ll see what I mean. I’m particularly proud of our Christmas collections, and by the comments the readers have left on Amazon, they’re well received and enjoyed.
Many of the girls take their turn to write a blog post each month, to share with you special interests they have, giving you a glimpse into their lives, their hearts and their worlds. These posts are fun to read and I look forward to a new one being released most days.
We’ve also built a strong community newsletter – please sign on if you haven’t already done so. We try very hard to provide goodies every Friday that include free books and those on sale. We know how much people depend on authors to be generous and, in turn, we believe our readers pay us back by buying books when their favorite writer releases something new.
In today’s fast-paced, cutthroat world, it’s a lovely thing to be a part of such a warm and delightful gang of ladies who have realized that thirty hard-working souls can have a far longer reach than one solitary person trying to make her way alone.
So – I’m thankful! For the lovely ladies of the Billboard and the folks who support us.
I hope you all have a truly wonderful, family-filled, fun-filled, (and turkey-filled) Thanksgiving weekend.
P.S. By the way…
We’re having a little shindig on our Facebook page – a Christmas Bash for whoever wants to join us. Believe me, we have a lot of fun at these parties and all the many authors involved have numerous, fantastic Giveaways for the folks who participate. (Eg: A beautiful new Kindle, two $25 Amazon Gift certificates, free paperbacks, etc, etc.) So…please go here and sign in that you’ll be joining us and we’ll look forward to seeing your on Nov 29th and/or 30th. Invite your friends, too 🙂