Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our Assumptions Fuck Us... (not in a good way)

We interpret actions of others based on our assumptions. 

Someone laughs... 
                  Oh God! They're laughing at me... cause I suck!
 Why not: They heard something funny. I wonder what the joke was...

Based on our life experiences we have learned to expect certain things under a particular circumstances... many times even when it doesn't make sense to do so. 

Someone doesn't say hi to you...
                    They're ignoring me!
                    They're mad at me!                    
Why not: They didn't see me. Their mind was somewhere else.

Especially if we have bad experiences we are going to see the negative possibilities before anything else. The world has trained us to do so to minimize the damage. 

I just read an article: Challenging Negative Self-Talk by Ben Martin, Psy.D.
 ((  The idea is if we challenge our negative dialogue we'd lessen the impact of our assumptions.

How to do this? Ask challenging questions. (I nabbed these four types of question from the article. See link above)

"There are four main types of challenging questions to ask yourself:

1. Reality testing
  • What is my evidence for and against my thinking?
  • Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
2. Look for alternative explanations
  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What else could this mean?
  • If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?
3. Putting it in perspective
  • Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • Is there anything good about this situation?
  • Will this matter in five years time? 
4. Using goal-directed thinking
  • Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?
  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?" (Challenging Negative Self-Talk by Ben Martin, Psy.D.)

When my characters first come to me I think about what assumptions they are living their lives by... In With Wings Darius thinks he's straight... so doesn't quite understand his feelings toward lead singer Angel Luv. Dare's low self-esteem makes him question what could the sexy rocker possibility see in him so how could he keep him...? Angel has assumptions of his own (how could he ever satisfy someone who is bisexual and mostly attracted to women >>>> he's a product of a society with some truly misleading views on bisexuality) These assumptions were what lead With Wings to be a happy for now ending... They need to work challenge and hopefully change these assumptions. (Psst, they do I promise). 

                                                                         Buy Link 

Whenever possible:
I try not to jump to the worst possible conclusion.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
I try not to assume someone knows my trigger issues.
I try not to assume they know what's going to push my buttons and are doing it to hurt me.

Assumptions... let's not. 

Hugs, Z. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fuck You Cancer

Dear Cancer,

Fuck you! I hate you!

I’m not so cocky to think you won’t win in the end… pretty confident you’ll be the death of me. But you won’t take my life.

I will fight you, but I will live while I do it.

While I freak out every three months awaiting blood results to see if you decided to make a reappearance... But I will live.

I still wear the scars from surgery that won’t ever heal… I know the two new rips in my flesh from the biopsies are still fresh and have yet to scar…

Every doctor's appointment holds a terror I never experienced before but after every test I await to hear you've returned somewhere.

You terrify me. You've taken people I love. You're taking people I love. You will take people I love...

But I will love and laugh and write and play and fight for others. I will live.

So fuck you cancer while you will end me you’ve forced me to enjoy every second of my life. You've given me a perspective and a laser focus to be happy and to bring as much happiness as I can to others. Even while I say fuck you... thank you for making me grab every opportunity available to me without hesitation or guilt.

Hugs, Z.
((written only because these words need to be set free out of my brain.))

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Showing The Spectrum

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not a bit too neurotic in showing the spectrum.

Recently labels have been getting a lot of attention. Whether you see labels as great or terrible isn't what I'm going to debate... (My personal feelings on labels since you're wondering... oh you're not? Well, skim on ahead then... Labels can be good or bad based on how they are applied and what they are used for. Good if it helps find a community & an identity and bad if used to pathologize or exclude).

Labels are HERE. People slap labels on people whether we want them or not. At times, accuracy doesn't seem to be a determining factor in their application. I want to direct your focus on the spectrum within labels themselves.

There's a spectrum to everything. Each and every label has a range. Take this tube labeled Carmine Red:

I studied Chinese Brush Stroke Watercolor in Suzhou for about five years. Carmine Red was the go-to-color. It produced the lightest shade of pink I'd ever seen to the boldest fire red I could have imagined and all that diversity came from the same tube labeled Carmine Red.

When I'm writing a character sexual orientation is an important building block to the character's development (along with a host of other things). I tend not to stop at the basic tick off rainbow boxes of LGBT. I dig deeper. How does the character express it? What's their relationship to their sexuality? Where are they on the spectrum of within that sexual label? Are there other things they identity with that shape and redefine how they see this label? What do others think of this label? Has this label evolved over time?

I tend to not assign only one character a specific notch on the given spectrum. I'm driven to show the variation within the spectrum. So usually two or more characters (within different books and across my series) will have similar labels attached to them. It's an easy way to explore the variations within any given label.  (Psst, between you and me: when someone says well I'm X and this is how X is=it drives me insane... um, that's how X is for you and you might even be the average for X but I twitch a little because we can't invalidate other Xs who aren't exactly like how you are X. RIGHT?)

Josh (The Dark Angels: Tied Together) & Dusty (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen): Both demi-sexual but Josh doesn't even think past his love interest to an orientation where Dusty's bi-sexual with strong preferences toward men.

Boon-nam & Lalana: (Illusions & Dreams): Both women are transgender. Boon-nam needed affirmation surgery to live an authentic life where as Lalana did not need to live and love. 

Dare (The Dark Angels: With Wings) & Dusty (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen): Bi-sexual and were in denial... Dare struggles to accept a new label (and after 4 books he's still not settled with it...) while Dusty shrugs and wears it almost immediately.

Justin (The Dark Angels: Finally Fallen) & Adirake (Illusions & Dreams): Both guys crossdress and neither are transgender. Justin uses gender bending his clothing as a way to deal with a horrible past and Adirake is a performer.

Robin (The Dark Angels: Tied Together) & Cutter (Club Zombie: Zombies Suck): Both are into BDSM. Cutter uses it as an escape... a break from life. Robin needs it as part of his life.

Jake (Illusions & Dreams) & Xander (Lock and Key coming out in July): are pansexual... Jake is very sexually expressive (he literally fucked a hole) where Xander is monogamous and shy.

Walker & Lafayette (Club Zombie: Zombies Suck): Both are Doms but their submissives need something very different so the expression of their dominant sides appears different.

Okay, let's circle back around to the bathroom issue & why I flip out when people use the "Do You Want Him In The Women's Room" argument. (To be clear if you haven't seen my rants on this topice you've been under a rock or avoiding me... I FULLY SUPPORT people using the bathroom matching their gender identity. I don't freaking care what's in your pants just hand me toilet paper if I need it, don't talk on your cell phone, and flush.) There's a wide spectrum of what someone who is transgender looks like for a host of reasons.  I don't think any of us are in a position to police anyone else's gender identity. (Fuck me there's a wide range of what any of us look like!!!)

If I'm honest I think I buck the binary and worship the edges of any spectrum because that's where I usually find myself.

May we all appreciate spectrum and the variations within it. Invalidate no one...

Hugs, Z.