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!


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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!


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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


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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.

Take Me To Your Leader…Space Aliens and Acceptance

“One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this,” Hawking says in the documentary, referring to a potentially habitable alien world known as Gliese 832c. “But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.” From: Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, a new documentary streaming now on the CuriosityStream video service.

Why do we assume aliens are evil?

In some ways it’s hard wired into us. As cave people any unknown species or human could spell trouble. The first time a cave person saw a lion he/she probably became the lion’s dinner. So after a while, a lion was an automatic ‘uh oh, where’s the spear?”
 
This likely happened over and over again every time a cave person encountered a new species, or humans outside of their own group. Thus to survive, we learned to fear unknown people, places and things. And that made sense back then.
 
But it hurts us now. Lions and marauders no longer sneak up on most of us in our daily lives.  There are those who live in war zones or pockets of cities where their survival is in danger almost daily, and sadly, their being on high alert is warranted. (Though for many I talk to who live in Israel for ex, they choose to exert limits on their fear. They avoid areas which may be dangerous, but don’t dwell on the possibility that a scud missile could crash into their house any day. Because fear sucks the joy, the life out of life. And if they’re choosing to live there, they may as well make peace with the situation.)
 
But Fear wants to be expressed no matter what. After all it reasons, it has the most important job of all, keeping us alive. And that’s how it hurts us. Fear runs amok, making acceptance difficult if not impossible.
 
It sees danger in every unknown face we encounter. It blocks us from getting to know each other, from seeing the joy, the peace, and the kindness that exists in most of us.

I prefer to view possible aliens like Neil deGrasse Tyson does.

“In our own civilization we know the consequences of a more advanced culture coming upon a less advanced culture. They get enslaved, they get disease-ridden, and they get put in camps or slaughtered. It disturbs me a bit as an astrophysicist to have we humans portray aliens based on how we know we would treat one another.  Rather than on how they might otherwise treat us given our highest and noblest causes. I don’t fear sending out our return address to aliens. Maybe aliens are beyond us in every way, including their capacity to treat one another kindly.”

And I strive to transcend my fear so that my encounters with new humans are bathed in acceptance and kindness rather than fear. (Though I’m batting about 500 at this right now if I’m lucky. )

What tools/skills do you use to be accepting of people you don’t know, or ideas that are different from your own? ( I can always use more tools in my how to be more accepting toolkit!)

Please share your answers by posting your responses in the comments below or on my FB page.

P.S. I now have a private FB group. If you’re not already a member, feel free to join and post your answers there!

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

#CreativityEmpowers
#Acceptance Encourages

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Maybe the first aliens will come from this planet and have purple skin! Oh I’ll be jealous about the skin!


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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.

Is It Good Luck, Bad Luck or Both?

endings-are-beginnings

Every time a boyfriend would break up with me I’d think, this is it. There’s no one else out there for me. I’ll be alone forever.
 
I’d be sad and lonely for a time, only to wake up one morning and realize I was grateful that he’d broken up with me. That we weren’t a good fit—he’d just figured it out before I had.
 
I mourned the loss of my music career for two years. But finally letting go of being a pop star allowed me to embrace the writer in me. To acknowledge that my home was in the children’s literary world, not in clubs or on the road.
 
The bottom line is that we want to label everything that happens to us as good or bad. But in reality, ‘Good’ things can have unintended ‘bad’ consequences and vice versa. The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis, explores this notion.

theulgyone-r

When we meet Micay, she needs us to know that a horrible scar runs down the side of her face. She does her best to hide her disfigurement, but still suffers taunts from the boys in her village. An apprentice to a shaman, she fears that most of her people are too disgusted by her hideousness to allow her to heal them.
 
A series of unpredictable and fascinating events transform Micay’s attitude towards her scar. Resentment morphs into gratitude.
 
The Ugly One reminds us that it’s our perception of things that determines their value to us, and perceptions can change.
 
“Learning to live in such a way that nothing is experienced as either an advantage or a disadvantage is the source of enormous empowerment and liberation.”

Do you have a story about an event in your life that seemed like a curse, but then changed into a blessing? Tell me your story by replying to this letter, or posting 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:
Fun Peru Facts (The Ugly One is set in Peru)

Print


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What Do You Expect?

when-i-let-go

In my case letting go of myself meant releasing my huge aspirations. Aspirations that I thought were my way in…into connection, into being loved. They were my lifelines. How would I survive without them?

But once I saw what my aspirations had become, I knew I had to let them go. They’d morphed into paralyzing expectations that seemed to move me further from my dream rather than closer to it. And in addition, they prevented me from enjoying the journey.

Letting go also means I have to float in the present, and allow the future to unfold on its own. To accept that I might not become a best-selling author who starts a foundation to serve kids’ needs. That I may give on a smaller scale like George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) rather than on a J. K. Rowling scale. And that that’s okay.

I’m still struggling with this, but I can acknowledge that there’s a certain freedom and relief in casting off expectations in all areas, not just my career.

Lack of expectation makes room for acceptance, for amazing surprises to happen, and removes the possibility of resentment. For we all fall short of our own, as well as others’, expectations at times.

17mqagd77sswwjpg

Deenie, the heroine of Judy Blume’s book by the same name, knows all about failing to meet another’s expectations. The popular girl in school, whose mother expects her to become a model, falls from grace when she’s forced to wear a body brace due to her severe scoliosis. Freed from the expectations of her classmates as well as her mother, Deenie eventually discovers who she can become.

I loved the book when I read it as a kid. Perhaps it’s time to read it again.

Have you let go of a dream, or expectation recently? How has it changed your life? Where/how did you find the courage to let go? Please share your stories in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page.

FYI: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Floating in the purple present

floating-in-purple-sea

 

 

 

 


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