My First Movie Review: Victoria, Abdul, and Active Acceptance

Have you seen the film Victoria and Abdul yet?

If not, I recommend you do. 

Full disclosure, I worship Dame Judi Dench. Can’t remember a movie she’s been in that I haven’t loved.

But I didn’t choose this movie for my first YouTube review because of the Dame. I chose it because it’s an unequivocal example of how to practice active acceptance.

Active Acceptance: a willingness to stand up for another whether you agree with, or understand, their beliefs/choices or not.

That being said, defending those who are persecuted due to race, beliefs, sexuality etc. isn’t easy for those of us who don’t  rule our own countries. (Though Victoria faced all kinds of opposition and threats while standing up for Abdul. You can read more about it in my review.)

In recent weeks, people in Hollywood have found the courage to stand up for themselves and others as whistle blowers. Not easy to do when your paycheck/career is on the line.

I guess what each of us has to ask ourselves when faced with an unfair and potentially harmful situation is what are we willing to endure to defend another’s right to be who they are…whether we agree with their beliefs/choices or not.

I’ve never had to risk my livelihood to stand up for another, so I hope, but don’t know if I’d have the courage to do that. But I have continued to hone my active acceptance skills in daily life, especially with my husband.

My aim is that we model and teach the practice of active acceptance to our kids so they won’t have to face as much prejudice, judgment, and even harm due to their choices. That we can raise a generation that when faced with ‘the other,’ will use their initial fear as a trigger to activate their curiosity and acceptance towards that person, and courage if necessary.

Check out my review and let me know what you think by replying to this letter, or posting your reactions in the comments section of my YouTube page. 

And if you go see the movie, please post your own reviews and thoughts about the film on my YouTube page comments section too.

Click here to watch my YouTube review.

Please spread the word about my project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to my newsletter/YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Feel free to suggest other neat ways I can expose folks to Active Acceptance. You can send me video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on my YouTube channel. I can use all the help I can get.  
 
#AcceptanceIsAChoice

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
My Queen Katherine of Aragon (the only wife of Henry the VIII to keep her head) purple wedding dress.


Posted in Acceptance, Active Acceptance, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Review: After The Fall, or How Humpty Dumpty Got Up Again

Any picture book readers out there?

I don’t write PBs, so I don’t read them often, but AFTER THE FALL by Dan Santat caught my attention right away.

But it wasn’t the book itself that first grabbed me, it was the story behind it. Long story short, Dan’s wife has struggled with anxiety for years. After many attempts, she’s finally found her formula for creating a peaceful and meaningful life.

While watching her journey, Dan realized the courage it took to dance with terror and rise above it, so he decided to write a book about it. He chose to look at what happened to Humpty Dumpty after he fell. Could he get back up on his wall?

It’s a powerful tribute to all of us who manage brain illnesses, and a great example of Active Acceptance. That’s because Dan shows us that the first step to wellness is actively accepting our own fear. Not trying to hide it, or deny it, or beat ourselves up about it, but just sitting with it and maybe even making adjustments for it at first.

For more of the story, but not the surprise ending, check out my YouTube review.

Please spread the word about my project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or my YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them. (If you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube Channel, I hope you will too.)

Feel free to suggest neat ways I can expose folks to Active Acceptance. You can send me video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on my YouTube channel. I can use all the help I can get.  
 
#AcceptanceIsAChoice

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Humpty Dumpty of course!


Posted in Acceptance, Active Acceptance, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

My New YouTube Channel-Changing The World One Video At a Time

At long last, I’d like to unveil my YouTube Channel to you, my dear subscribers!

So far I’ve posted 4 videos with three more being edited for uploading. (The next one should be uploaded today.)

Because the characters in my books wrestle with acceptance, and choosing to make decisions from a place of curioustiy and self- love rather than fear, the current focus of my channel is my Active Acceptance Project.

What is Active Acceptance? I’m still figuring that out, but here’s my definition so far:

ACCEPTANCE DOES NOT DEMAND AGREEMENT. By ACTIVELY ACCEPTING others we learn to find delight in the diversity around us, and to break the cycle of confrontation embedded in the idea that we must agree with others in order to co-exist with them.

The ACTIVE part of active acceptance is our willingness to defend others against bullies or other types of challenges, especially when we don’t agree with their beliefs or lifestyle choices.

My videos will include examples of Active Acceptance in the form of reviews of books, (see my first book review below) movies, and tv shows that model active acceptance, interviews, some of which are already up, and activities that you can do with kids of all ages. These activities are designed to introduce tools and concepts that will help you, and those around you, practice active acceptance in your daily life.

For active acceptance is a muscle–a muscle that must be used as much as possible. And like building any other muscle or habit, it takes time to incorporate it into your daily life.

My first video book review.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Please suggest books, tv shows, activities, articles etc. that I can use to help make Active Acceptance a mainstream concept and provide folks with more tools to help them practice it every day.

You can share by leaving comments below, or by leaving comments on my YouTube Channel.

Learning to meet those that are different from us, and life’s challenges from a place of curiosity and self-acceptance instead of fear, will change our world.
 
FYI: Please share this post with others you think would enjoy it.
 
#AcceptanceEmpowers

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
YouTube’s logo if I were in charge!


Posted in Acceptance, Active Acceptance, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Girls, Imagination, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.

Anny’s Grand YouTube Experiment

How many of you watch YouTube videos regularly? Raise your hands.

Hopefully at least a few of you raised your hands!

In my quest to find the main ‘gateway’ to my audience, I’ve decided to double down on YouTube and see what happens. I picked YT because it’s the only platform I know that spans all ages from 8-60 or so. My goal is to create an engaged community made up of my potential readers and connectors.

Kid lit authors are in a unique position because they often can’t interact directly with their readers. (Unfortunately in this day and age an adult author reaching out to a kid on social media is considered creepy no matter what the intention.) Also my young readers can’t buy the books themselves. So I have to reach the connectors first…i.e. educators who can recommend my books, parents who buy the books, and booksellers who sell them. (Of course I hope the adults will enjoy reading my books too, but you can’t plan to have a ‘crossover’ book.)

The downside of YouTube for me, and many others, is that it’s arguably the hardest platform to participate in. Besides the equipment you need to film the vids, the software you need to edit them, and the months/years it takes to become decent at editing, YT can trigger a whole host of insecurities.

For me it’s my round face, the potential glare in my glasses, what should I wear each time, can I keep your attention, what kind of comments will I get, will I get any comments at all.

Emily Graslie, a YouTube champ, who also happens to be the Chief Curiosity Correspondent for the Field Museum in chitown sums this up eloquently in her video entitled: Where My Ladies At?

So why do it? Besides what I said above, to me video it the most intimate and engaging way to reach you, my community. Plus, I’m drawn to try it despite my fears.

In the coming weeks I’m going to be posting my first interviews for my Active Acceptance Project. (More about that later.) I hope you’ll tune in and let me know what you think!

Please spread the word about my project/channel, feel free to suggest other neat ways to expose folks to Active Acceptance, send video ideas, and whatever else you can think of to me by posting a comment below, or tweeting me or posting a comment on my YouTube channel. I can use all the help I can get.  

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

#AcceptanceEmpowers

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
YouTube’s logo if I were in charge!


Posted in Acceptance, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pulled Me Back In

Something remarkably unexpected is going on in my life–I’m being pulled back ‘home.’ (Home in this instance refers to my hometown.) And I like it.

It’s remarkable because I disliked living in my hometown so much that at eleven I told my mom that I was leaving and never coming back. “You can visit me wherever I am though,” I reassured her.

It’s remarkable because I wanted to get out of dodge so badly, that I convinced her to let me go to boarding school in Boston starting at age fifteen. (I never felt safe or accepted in my hometown.)

It’s remarkable because she and I knew I’d NEVER come back to live in my hometown.

Never say never!

Though I moved back to Chicago in 2001 for business, something else I swore I would never do, I maintained a healthy distance from my hometown.

Sure I’d visit my family who still lived there, but I’d done that when I lived in LA too. I’d swoop in, have some fun and catch-up time, and swoop out. Nothing serious, no mingling with the natives, no dealing with the you-don’t-belong-here stares and snickers.

But now I participate in two non-profits, one of which is located in my hometown, and the other one is near it. I not only mingle with the natives, but I CHOOSE to hang out with them, and there’s a mutual love fest going on. My teen self can’t believe it! 🙂

#Acceptance Empowers

These are the two non-profits referenced above:


SCBWI


K9 Reading Buddies of North Shore

What’s your relationship to your hometown? Please post your comments below, or put your answers on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
I wish I grew up in this house!
Purple Carson Mansion


Posted in Acceptance, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.

Do Books Spark Activism in You? Anny’s first panel…

Sorry I’ve been MIA—been prepping for conferences.

I was lucky enough to be asked to speak on a panel at C2E2, Chicago’s Comic Con, about how to use books to spark activism in our kids, our friends, our community, and ourselves.

‘Twas my first time speaking on a panel as a writer. Nervous I was, especially because the moderator declined to give us any talking points or questions in advance, so we had to wing it. Definitely one of those trial by fire experiences.

It had a happy ending. We had a full house, which is rare for the educational panels at the con, and to my utter surprise one of my comments garnered applause.  A short clip of my answer is up on my YouTube channel.

This was the applause getting comment to the above question: Books provide insight into ‘another.’ They let us travel the world so that we can see into others’ hearts—feel their struggles, their joys. They expose us to their beliefs. Through more understanding, we can practice what I call the platinum rule. Help others the way THEY want to be helped, not the way YOU want to be helped. (Throwing money at certain African nations, instead of empowering them on the ground comes to mind as an example.)

I first learned the inaccuracy of the press when I went to China as a kid, before it was westernized at all. It was a traditional Communist country, and therefore something to fear if you believed our government and their press. We were also something they were told to fear, the white devils of democracy.

We weren’t allowed to travel on our own, but instead were escorted by a Communist guide. Mrs. Yung was generous, kind, warm and took excellent care of us. We were mobbed like rock stars everywhere we went because most Chinese had never seen foreigners, let alone American kids. But it was curiosity, not fear, that met us as we traveled around the country. The language barrier prevented much conversation, but their gestures conveyed warmth and friendliness.

What that trip taught me, and hopefully those who met us, was that people are not their government. They are not the propaganda. We have so much more in common than the powers that be want us to believe.

I returned from that trip wishing I could give American students a scholarship to go to China to see for themselves what I’d seen. I was sure it would lead to more unity between our countries. (I felt the same way 3 years later when I went to the Russia.)

But since I can’t send everyone to China, Russia etc., books are the next best thing.

Here’s a short list of graphic novels that shed light on folks you may not know much about. (Because it was a comic con I focused on the graphic format.)

March
Persepolis
American Born Chinese
TomBoy
Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, No Normal, Vol 1
Hereville

This list is just a starting point. I’d love to add to this list.

Please send me book titles that sparked empathy and/or action in yourself or someone you know. You can share by replying to this letter, or posting your titles on my Facebook page, or tweeting me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

#AcceptanceEmpowers

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Cobalt Chinese Foo dogs. (At least cobalt has violet tones in it.)


Posted in Acceptance, Creativity, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Am I Doing What’s Needed?

I’ve been struggling with the best way to help move our country forward in light of recent events. Am I doing enough? Am I doing what’s needed?  In the end I always come back to the same conclusion I’ve had for years. FOCUS ON THE KIDS.

So in that spirit, The Patronuses* are launching our next campaign, #LendAHandLikeKamalaKhan, tonight! (For those of you who don’t know, Kamala Khan, is the first Pakistani-American, Muslim Ms. Marvel.)

I’m co-hosting an event for the The Comics Education Outreach program. CEO is a non-profit tax deductible group that’s devoted to getting educators to view comics/graphic novels as an integral part of their school’s curriculum—no different than regular non-graphic textbooks/books.

Their first initiative is their Lending Library, which puts graphic novels and comics into the hands of students in need. The library link will take you to their Amazon Wish list. If you can buy a book and send it to them, thank you! If you already have the book and want to donate it, let me know so I can get it to them.

The library will create classroom kits that focus on issues of social change/justice and then loan these kits out to schools in need.  Topics such as civil rights, or gender equality, or what it’s like being different can be shared with kids who otherwise would have no access to these books, and maybe even these discussions.

Though I believe wholeheartedly in CEO’s mission, sometimes I’m frustrated I can’t do more the way a J.K. Rowling can, or a Warren Buffet. But it’s said that a thousand mile journey starts with the first step, and through the Patronuses, and SCBWI (The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) who’s sponsoring the event, I am taking some first steps.

What steps are you taking to make your world a better place?

Please share your efforts with me, whether it’s with your own kid’s soccer team, or something for a colleague, or helping refugees, whatever it is, I want to know. MORE THAN THAT, I WANT TO SPREAD THE WORD, AND HELP YOU IF I CAN. So please respond to this letter, or post something on my FB page, or tweet me.

If you’d like to help CEO, please spread the word to your friends by sharing this letter, or posting some info and the library wish list link to your social media channels using the hashtag: #LendAHandLikeKamalaKhan. More info about our campaign can be found on The Patronuses FB page.

*The Patronuses are the Chicago Community Chapter of the non-profit Harry Potter Alliance. http://www.thehpalliance.org/what_we_do

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

#CreativityEmpowers
#AcceptanceEncourages

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Ok, so it’s not purple, but it makes the point. 🙂


Posted in Acceptance, Empowerment, Inspired Creativity by with no comments yet.

Using Our Imaginations to Create Social Change

hpalogo

Creativity Can Encourage and Empower Us All.

The above mantra grew out of my response to recent events.

Truthfully, I’ve known it all along.

I was born wanting to inspire, provoke, and empower myself and others through the arts.

But my family saw a different future for me. They pushed me into politics, wanting me to be the first female President of the U.S. I tried that route for a while, but discovered quickly that I could help a lot more people through my music and writing than I could through policy and politics.

So I hopped on the artistic roller coaster and never looked back. Well, I do look back on occasion when I get a bad review or another rejection, but I never get off the ride.

Though politics didn’t agree with me, my family’s notion that one should support the causes they believe in every way they can, i.e. money or time or both, did resonate. I’ve been volunteering since I was 10 yrs old. In fact I think volunteering is one of my best skills.

Imagine my delight when days after I’d found my mantra I discovered the non-profit Harry Potter Alliance whose values include believing in magic and my personal favorite: Fantasy is not only an escape from our world, but an invitation to go deeper into it.

HPA’s mission is to turn fans into heroes by engaging them in fan activism.  The idea is to harness the passion fans have for certain characters like Neville Longbottom, a shy awkward Harry Potter classmate who became a badass when his back was against a wall, and direct them to fight like Neville for causes such as net neutrality and the electoral college vote. The Neville campaign page gives sample scripts of what to say on the phone to congress humans, where to find phone numbers, and info on the cause etc.

Within a day or two of discovering HPA, I started The Patronuses. The Chicago community chapter of HPA.

FYI: A patronus is an silvery white animal spirit that holds a magical concentration of happiness and hope, which protects against the dementors, those that would suck the happiness and hope right out of you.

We are barely a few weeks old, but already have a mission statement:
The Patronuses fuse the powers of imagination and fan activism together to support and/or create campaigns designed to bring positive change in areas such as diversity, acceptance and education.

I’m overjoyed to finally marry my two loves, imagination and activism, in such a direct way!

We are already discussing our first campaign, which will probably revolve around partnering with Comic Education Outreach to use comics and graphic novels to teach the skill of acceptance perhaps using Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, as our role model/fandom base. (Tho HPA grew out of Harry Potter fandom, any fandom is welcome. There are already campaigns using The Hunger Games, some Marvel Cinematic Characters, as well as Potter campaigns.)

As our journey unfolds I’ll continue to fill you in, hoping one or more of our campaigns strikes your fancy and you’ll join us. You can help as much as you want. The key is to have fun and be of service at the same time.

There is no limit to what we can do if we do it together.

To be kept in the loop, please email us at acceptopatronus@gmail.com so we can add you to our Patronuses list. Feel free to include a cause or two you would like to support and/or a character or two that you feel would be a good symbol/role model for a cause. You can also leave your suggestions by replying to this letter, or posting on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

My very own amethyst wand

annypurplewwand


Posted in Creativity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Imagination, Thinking Outside The Box by with 2 comments.

Using Creativity to Encourage Grrl Power

a-mighty-girl-logo

All of the stories I’m working on have one thing in common: they feature strong female protagonists. My aim is to empower girls, and the guys around them (Think #HeForShe ) of all ages through my writing.

My first finished project is my fictional, science-based graphic novel story for tweens, Hidden Heroes. Think the movie Inside Out starring Estrogen as a superhero, and Samantha, the girl Estrogen has to turn into a woman. Think a story, not a textbook, on the beginning stages of female puberty.

Facts I had to learn about graphic novels before I could attempt to write one:

–GNs are comics, but usually much longer, and don’t have tons of issues. They can be a series though—think Zita Spacrgirl, a trilogy, or Hereville, trilogy.

–Graphic novel text is written for the illustrator, NOT the reader.

–The text is written in script form. From Hidden Heroes:

PAGE 1
SPLASH PAGE: (This means only one panel for the whole page.)
Estrogen and Antibody come around the bend in a vein, cruising on the blood stream. Estrogen is in an inner tube. Antibody is swimming. Estrogen is wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Antibody resembles a friendly Mammalian sea creature. (This is the panel description that the illustrator needs, but won’t end up in the published book. BTW: Things like captions and dialogue do end up in book.)

Caption: Inside Samanthaland, Estrogen and Antibody are riding the blood slide around Ovarian Island.
Estrogen: Wheeeeee!
Antibody: Owamp!

–A typical graphic novel as 4-7 panels per page.
This is an example page from Zita Spacegirl (6 panels):

zita-page

–Because a picture tells a 1000 words, your words can’t repeat what’s going on in the panel illustration, but rather, need to show what’s not going on…think dialogue, sound effects etc.

–GNs ask readers to engage with its story on two levels: Language and pictures. This means kids are using two parts of their brains to comprehend what they are reading. Schools are noticing a significant increase in test scores when kids can study complex topics, like the Constitution, using a graphic novel instead of a regular textbook. (Check out my buds at: The Comics Education Offensive to learn more about it!)

This is the advantage of doing a science-based story as a graphic novel…accessibility and deeper comprehension.

If you haven’t read a graphic novel yet, try one out. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

Some suggestions of fictional graphic novels with strong female characters for tweens:
Zita Spacegirl
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Princeless
Lumberjanes
Find these and other suggestions at the A Mighty Girl site.

A list of posts on  graphic novels for older girls, aka women, can be found in this Huff Post page.

Which graphic novels have you enjoyed and why? Send me your answer by replying to this letter, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Batgirl costume

purplebatgirlcostume

 


Posted in Creativity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Girls, Inspired Creativity, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Do You Know How To Use Fear? I’m Still Learning.

“But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good {love} and evil {fear} will follow on that act. {Power} must follow knowledge, and serve need. To light a candle is to cast a shadow…”
The Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin
 
Sometimes I want to give my reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brains, a lobotomy. With no lions or tigers to face down, it feels useless. So it injects fear into all sorts of situations where it doesn’t belong, and makes them ten times worse.
 
If there’s one skill I wish I’d learned as a kid, it’s how to use fear properly. Being scared when confronted by a bear while hiking in the woods is appropriate. Suing a stranger because you’re scared of being broke, or getting your colleague fired because you’re scared they’ll take your job is not ok. Yet it happens everyday.

grizzly-bear

What if we were taught from birth to slow down? What if the golden rule required us to question our actions, to identify whether we were motivated by fear (evil) or love (good), and to act only if the answer was love?
 
For the wizards in Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea, it’s not enough to learn how to control your magic; you must learn how and when to use it as well. This is because abusing magic upsets the natural order of things. When that order, known as The Equilibrium, is disturbed, bad things happen.

wizard-of-eaethsea

Despite being trained to do otherwise, Ged, a powerful young wizard hero, lets his pride and hate unleash a shadow creature that destroys everything that stands between it and killing him.
 
Ged flees from the shadow until he discovers he must face it in order to stop it. Along the way he learns to use magic appropriately, even if it serves others’ needs instead of his own.
 
Books like The Wizard of Earthsea remind us that it’s important to disengage our autopilot, so that we act, rather than react.
 
Have you read other stories that address using fear properly?  If so, please share them with me by commenting upon this letter, or post on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A glow-in-the-dark purple magic wand! Oh, I want one!!

purple-magic-wand


Posted in EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Inspired Creativity, Self-Acceptance, World Building-Fictional Lands by with no comments yet.