Did you know that the term ‘holiday’ began as Holy Day? Did you know that the holly and the ivy were considered sacred by the ancient Druids? Did you know that the Christmas tree is a continuation of the practice of bringing greenery inside the house in winter to make sure that Spring comes back?

There are so many traditions this time of year, no matter what holiday you celebrate, or don’t celebrate. Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Festivus, New Year.

So whatever you celebrate, thank you for a wonderful year with your comments, your blog posts, and your support. May Peace and Joy surround you now and always.

Gender Expression

I came across a new blog today that made some interesting points and I wanted to share it with you:

Gender expression is a social construct. I’m sure you have seen the old pictures of little boys with long, curly hair and wearing dresses. And if those pictures were in color, the dress would probably be pink. Today, any young child wearing pink with long curly hair is assumed to be a girl. Any child with long hair is assumed to be a girl, regardless of what color he/she is wearing. And the reverse is also true; any child wearing blue and/or with short hair must be a boy.

Having raised two sons, trying to be gender-neutral in their clothes and toys isn’t easy. One of my sons decided at one point he wanted to take ballet; so he did. He was the only boy in the class, and didn’t keep it up very long as his friends made fun of him. And he was at the age where friends’ opinions mattered more to him than the opinions of his parents. Both boys had dolls when they were very young in spite of their grandparents’ disdain and belittling comments to us, their parents. Society in the early 70s wasn’t ready for anything other than traditional gender expression.

Then there’s the whole issue of sexual orientation (No, it isn’t a ‘preference’!!). Our society can easily tag a man as homosexual if he acts ‘effeminate’ or likes ‘girly’ things; or tag a woman as lesbian if she has short hair, dresses like a man, or doesn’t wear makeup. We judge by appearances before getting to know a person. And I have been guilty of the same thing.

I wish that we didn’t have these labels; I wish that it didn’t matter what a person does in her/his private life; I wish it didn’t matter who a person loves or has sex with. Because it really isn’t anyone’s business but theirs. We are far away from the traditional hunter/gatherer society where men and women had defined roles. But even then, those who broke the mold weren’t belittled, ostracized, or murdered.

Many Native American cultures honor and celebrate the “Two Spirits”. They are considered special and blessed and are allowed to live their life as they want. Or they were until Christianity came along and changed many things about their culture. Two Spirits is a recently coined term, from the 1990s, when it was used to replace ‘berdache’, which is a term derived from the Latin for male prostitute and is thus derogatory, used by anthropologists and others to describe those members of the tribe who were both male and female. In native society, the two spirits were considered third and fourth genders, and each tribe had a term to describe them. So there were male, female, male woman, female man.

But back to today. Wouldn’t our world be better off if there wasn’t this duality-only? Thinking about it, there is male-female; black-white; light-dark; good-bad. Life isn’t that simple, really. Things are on a continuum, not either/or. Most people are somewhere on the continuum, not at one extreme or the other, although the political discourse would have us believe there is no middle ground and that if you are not on the side of (fill-in-the-blank) then you must be wrong/bad/doomed.

Society can change; I have faith that it will. And one day, it won’t matter how any child or adult expresses his/her spirit.


One of the bloggers I follow just posted a thoughtful piece about writing, and comparing ourselves with other bloggers. You can read it here:

So that made me think about how often we compare ourselves to others, and wrongfully I might add. It’s like comparing apples and oranges; both have their place but one is not necessarily better than the other. We can aspire to be as good as someone else, but we should never compare ourselves to that ‘someone else’ because we are not them. I used to do that with my writing. I would read someone’s story or poem, then read mine, and feel totally depressed because my writing wasn’t as good as the other person’s. But then one day I had an epiphany; my writing was just as good as anyone else’s, just different! And the same goes for blogging. I write now because I want to write; I enjoy writing. I’m not trying to impress anyone; I’m not trying to write the next Great American Novel (of course, if that happens, I’ll be thrilled!!). I am writing for me.

Granted, I do get a little twinge of prideful happiness when someone tells me s/he likes my work, but in the end, that isn’t why I’m writing is it? I do enjoy getting kudos or pats on the back for my work, who doesn’t? But sometimes I have to remind myself that just because nobody has viewed/liked/commented on that particular post doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. It just means it didn’t resonate with that particular person(s) and it will with someone else.

I don’t really have a ‘theme’ for my writing on this blog (my other two blogs do have themes), I write about whatever I want to write about. Sometimes my posts are inspired by something I’ve read, like this post; sometimes it’s something that pops into my head; or it can be triggered by something I see or hear; I never know what will inspire me. People who are well-known authors often describe how they go about writing, figure out plots, and all those other mundane parts of writing. But just because that works for them does not mean it will work for everyone else. I can no more write an outline for a story and stick with it than I can fly to the moon; I know, I’ve tried it. Same goes for blogs; I can write about something that moves me in some way. If I try to write about something just to be writing, it sounds forced, and isn’t very good.

Just last week, I found this quote that I think is quite appropriate here:

Yet we always envy others, comparing our shadows to their sunlit sides. ― Margaret George

So my advice to me is to write when I want to write, about something that means something to me, whether it’s my blog or my fiction. And if other people like it, that’s just lagniappe.

Excellent blog post!!


I am going to lose it completely.

Some of you read Kristen Lamb, who writes a blog about writing. It’s extremely popular and usually very helpful. But her latest post was a digression — an extended piece about being a size 10/12 and why she feels fat:

I am healthy, have beautiful skin and hair. I have enough energy to power a small city and am never sick, but I am still a size 10-12 and 170 pounds.

Why is it no one looks like me?

When we look on TV, we are confronted with extremes–super skinny or clinically obese. We are calling anorexics “beautiful” and calling dangerously obese women “curvy.” We are an a country that is dying because of euphemisms. I hear parents call morbidly obese children “husky,” “big-boned” or “muscular.” We have retailers calling anorexics “curvy.”

I get it. I’ve written about this as well.

But, seriously…

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December Blues

It’s a good thing I did NaNo last year, because this year I knew what to expect. I have heard from other participants that this is not uncommon. I call it the post-NaNo blues, or letdown. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a reaction to a month of living, breathing, writing, a novel. The pace is frenetic, the feeling is one of frantic panic. And then it’s December 1st, and there’s nothing to write. There is time to bask in the knowledge that we spent 30 days writing in every spare moment, and whether or not we met the goal doesn’t matter, we survived NaNoWriMo.

So now what? It’s a curious feeling, and one that is strangely familiar. It’s like those first few days and weeks after graduation when I could read whatever I wanted; I could read a novel, or two, or three; there was no research to be done; no papers to write; no deadlines to meet. Yes, it’s like that.

And then there’s the fact that it’s December, and the hours of daylight are dwindling fast. It’s dark when I leave for work and it’s almost dark when I get home. My energy level sinks, and by around 7pm, I’m ready to go to bed. But I don’t. I stay awake and keep busy, writing, reading, playing with the dogs, watching TV. I know that winter doesn’t last very long. I spend time outside as much as I can because I know sunlight is good for me. I take Vitamin D, extra Vitamin B & C, watch what I eat, and wish I was a bear so I could hibernate through these months. I remember when I lived back East, and it was dark by 4 or so, and the days were cold and the nights colder, and I’m glad I live in Arizona where here in Dec we’re still seeing highs close to 80 and think it’s cold when the lows get in the 40s.

So the December blues only last for a month. January comes and the hours of daylight start increasing again. And before I know it, we’re all complaining about how hot it is, and it’s a dry heat so it’s somehow not quite as bad as the heat and humidity in places like Alabama and Florida. But it’s still hot, and miserable, and we start wishing for fall.

And the cycle continues.