Thursday, September 29, 2016

Also completed -- The Addicted Brain through Emory University

Also -- I completed a course on The Addicted Brain through Emory University back on August 8th. Even though the course was over, I checked to see if I could get financial aid to obtain the official certificate post-completion and they approved my request! So I also got an official certificate for THAT course as well :-). On a roll here, folks!

Final grade: 94.7%

Psychology of Popularity -- finished two weeks early

Yay! Finished the course almost two weeks EARLY! :-)
Final grade: 94.1%

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Guess they didn't deserve a burger or a future day in court, huh?

Too bad Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Michael Brown, and other black men shot and killed because police *thought* they were on PCP, reaching for a gun, carrying a gun, stealing cigarettes, looking at them the wrong way, acting funny, [insert excuse here], etc. weren't Dylann Roof (the white guy who murdered 9 black parishioners at Charleston's AME Emanuel Church) OR Robert Lewis Dear (the Planned Parenthood killer) instead.

If they had been Dylann Roof, then maybe they, too, would've been taken alive and driven to Burger King for a burger like Dylann was before he was transported to the police station. Gotta feed that murderous asshole, right?

Or maybe they would've been taken alive, just like Robert Lewis Dear was. He was the murderous asshole who took over a Planned Parenthood office here in Colorado Springs, killed a UCCS officer, injured other officers, and killed two innocent people. That son of a bitch is still alive, isn't he?

Now, what if Dylann Roof and Robert Lewis Dear had been black? Any bets on whether a black perpetrator would've been taken alive in those two scenarios? I guess allegedly stealing items from a store or walking with your hands up in the air both merit being shot to death right then and there as opposed to committing cold-blooded murder and being given the chance to remain alive for a future day in court.

And no, I'm not against cops, so don't start that bullshit with me. I used to work in a police department and I know how hard and risky being a police officer is because I've seen it firsthand.

However, I am against badly trained, psychologically unfit, or trigger-happy civil servants with bad judgment. Cops are human beings; therefore, not all cops are good, and not all cops are bad.

And yes, police officers' lives do matter. I never said they didn't and I never will. To assume such a thing is ludicrous and shows a lack of critical thought.

The entire system needs an overhaul because there is systemic failure occurring throughout the country. The more the issues are ignored, the worse things will become. Let's save lives -- both police officers' lives and civilian lives -- before more are needlessly lost.

Need I say more? I don't think so.

Sit or stand. It's your right as an American.

I see a lot of people upset over Colin Kaepernick. Here's the thing: even if you don't agree with him or his method, this is America and he STILL has the right not to stand for the national anthem.

Remember, FREEDOM of speech, expression, and religion are all at the CORE of the ideals this country was founded upon. So you can be pissed off, disagree, and outright livid about it, but if you understand America and its history at all, you will understand that him exercising his right to express himself in that manner IS an outgrowth of what this nation was founded upon.

I come from a military family. I was a military brat. I wanted to go into the Air Force to be a pilot but was too short. I am a proud American and I come from a long line of proud Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War AND who helped found this country in the first place (I'm a DNA relative of President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams -- two presidents).

So, here's the thing: all the people who have fought for our country and are fighting for our country? Three things they fought and died for include the RIGHT to freely speak, express, and practice any religion you want. You can be as pissed off as you want and disagree with what Colin Kaepernick did; however, this is freedom of expression and speech in action.

It doesn't matter if you agree or like it. You have to defend ALL speech, not just the speech you don't like. Doing so is at the core of what it means to be an American. If you don't believe me, go back and brush up on United States history.

Friday, September 23, 2016

More family mystery to unravel...

Received a nice, long e-mail from my first cousin

More info came out about my birth father...but it's info I had an inkling of a long time ago.

My first cousin, Debra, doesn't know much about my birth father, but she did mention a few things: he was a lawyer, he was a jerk to my mom (this much I knew because it's why she left him), and he was a witness in a murder trial.

My cousin found it interesting that I have an interest in forensic psychology and said it does make sense given that my father was a lawyer. Like Debra, I do believe many things are encoded into one's DNA, and those things get passed down to future generations. In fact, there have been recent studies on that very subject.

I'm pretty sure I know which trial, because for a small town of fewer than 5,000 people, it was a BIG DEAL. If I'm correct, the trial had to do with a music teacher who was murdered back in the 1960s...mainly because she was a lesbian and that was the reason why she was murdered (how awful is that?!).

If I'm right, my birth father was a witness in that trial. I'll need to confirm that by researching, but I am betting that was the trial she was referring to.

When I first mentioned to my adopted mom, Shirley, that I wanted to find out more about who my birth mother and father were, she strongly advised against it, telling me there were things I might find out that I wouldn't want to know. She used the term 'bad blood,' matter of fact. Naturally, this only intrigued me more.

So, in 1999, it took me all of two weeks to locate my birth mother and birth brothers, and then I began asking questions, trying to piece together who my birth father was and everything about who I was and where I came from. It's been a long journey and it's not over yet, but I'm not giving up. There are more mysteries and unknowns to be solved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Find a way

The older I get, the more I feel this way:

I don't want to hear WHY something can't be done or WHY an idea won't work, etc. Find a solution...somehow. If you can't get through an obstacle, go around it, over it, beneath it, or forge a different path that might take you on a detour but will ultimately lead you to your goals.

Throughout my life, I've had people tell me why this, that, or the other won't work. I was told I wouldn't make it as a freelancer for more than a year or two, mainly because few freelancers last past that time. I just celebrated 19 years of being a full-time freelancer. It's not been an easy road, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's FREEDOM for me. I DO NOT miss working in a cubicle, surrounded by office politics and corporate bullshit. Nope...that scene isn't for me.

Second, I was told SUN SIGNS FOR WRITERS probably wouldn't sell to a publisher because it was a hybrid book, and one combining subjects that hadn't been done before. Glad I didn't listen, because I sold it to the FIRST publisher I pitched it to—Writer's Digest Books, an imprint of F + W Media, Inc. I got a nice advance (for a first-time author) and snagged the agent I wanted, too.

I could give numerous other examples, but you get the gist of what I'm saying. It may take me a long time -- years or even decades -- to reach goals that I have set for myself; however, I'm tenacious and determined to soldier on despite naysayers or critics. I simply DO NOT CARE what they think.

So I leave you with this: when you make a decision or set a goal, you'll usually have a bunch of naysayers or critics who will tell you WHY you shouldn't do it, HOW it cannot be done, or WHY it would be easier for you to give up and go back to being an obedient lemming. Don't listen to that bullshit. Smile, nod, and do whatever you wanted to do in the first place (like Robert Downey, Jr. claims he does).

It's your life. You hold the cards. Play them any way you damn well please! After all, (eventual) success is the best revenge, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crucial bit of info about my birth father—finally!

Holy crap! I'm sitting here and my mind is blown. I just found out a crucial bit of info about my birth father that has taken me since 1999 to find out.

For those who don't know, I was adopted at the age of six days old. My birth name was Starlette "Star" Ferris, but my adopted family (my mom and dad) named me Beverly Renay. In 1999, I began searching for info on my birth family because I was driven to fill in the blanks about my past and who I was.

I've gotten lots of info (and even met) my birth mother, Fay, and my two birth brothers, Jan and Van. But hardly any info about my birth father, save for his name and what my birth mom told me. They were never married. They were engaged and then she broke off the engagement.

Anyway...I digress.

My first cousin Debra, who contacted me last week (I think it was) just sent me info I didn't have before. Cut to the chase is that my birth father, Richard Ferris, was a LAWYER. Holy crap!

In a strange coincidence, my cousin has her MS in Psychology, which is the same thing I am pursuing! And she's a teacher, something I plan to do after I get my MS. It also turns out that the two of us are probably the only cousins on that side who have gone to college. Wow! There's more info about ancestry, too, like the fact that my great, great, great grandfather came from England and was a judge. That makes sense because my birth mom told me there were judges and law people in that side of the family.

Here is her e-mail to me. It's long, but given all that I've shared about my search for info about my birth family (both sides), I'm going to post it. I tell ya, each time I find out more info, it fills in more of the blank holes that I've wondered about my entire life. Each time I find a piece of the puzzle, my eyes well up with tears. I am grateful that 23andme helped me connect with my first cousin, Debra.:

I have a friend who is adopted, and so I understand the "wanting to know more". Like I said before, I did not know about you until a couple of years ago when Van told me. My mom did not know about it either. Back then things were handled differently than they are now.

I can tell you anything you want to know about the Rider family history. I have searched census records online and found all the information I could without paying any money to and other such companies. I do not have it organized in a good way to send it all at once, but that is on my to-do list for someday.

I know the Dilley family (Fay's mother) came to the US in the late 1600's from Germany. Fay's father's family came from England. Grandpappy told me that his grandfather came from England and was a judge. I found him, Otho Wade, in the census records, so I am only back to early 1800's on that branch of the family.

There is a cemetery in WV near Sherwood Lake that has most of the old family burial places. The Rider family used to own Sherwood Lake in WV but the government took the land to make the lake and camping area. They let Grandpappy live on the land for the rest of his life, but they tore down his 2 story log cabin and other buildings and split rail fence as soon as he died.

I live in Charlotte, NC. I am 63. I was married 22.5 years, but now I am divorced. I have 2 sons who are 36 and 38. They also live in Charlotte. I am a teacher. I am the only one of the cousins who went to college as far as I know. I have a BS Math and BA and MS in Psychology. I teach at a Community College. Right now I am teaching Math because they do not need a Psych instructor.

Grandpappy went to William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va and majored in pre-med. He did his residency, was a medic in WW1, and then never practiced medicine. I do not know why because no one ever told me about it until much, much later, so I never got a chance to ask questions.

He was a hermit and lived at Sherwood Lake the last 23 years of his live in a cabin, no elec. or running water. Granny took the 7 kids and moved to the town of White Sulphur Springs. I know they were poor and lived in a converted chicken coop which she fixed up as nice as she could. There was a bathroom with a sink and a commode, but she never did have a bathtub or running water in her kitchen. She made do all of her life.

My son has a flat tire. so he needs a ride. I will type more later. I am full of information that I do not mind talking about. My email is xxxx You can ask me anything.

Your father was Richard Ferris, and he was a lawyer in Covington, VA. More later because I have to scoot now!"

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Oh, the drama!

Ever notice how, when you mind your own business, other people—and sometimes even strangers—can't stand the calm and feel compelled to start drama? I'll never understand it. It's like some people cannot bear to have a calm atmosphere, so they take great pleasure in stirring up shit just to get a reaction or to annoy others.

Example: late last night, Paul and I left Britt's apartment and headed over to where we are currently parking our RV while we are in town. It was late, and I was tired. All I wanted to do was go to bed. We crawled into bed, talked for a bit, and settled in (with our dogs) to go to sleep. Next thing we know, there's a woman outside our RV yelling. I couldn't make out what she was saying. Turns out, she was griping and intentionally antagonizing our dogs—AT 5 IN THE MORNING! She returned to her RV, which was parked to the left of ours and across the way, but then a little while later, she came back over to where we were and began yelling again. This time, she started yelling, "RUFF, RUFF, RUFF!" to get the dogs stirred up.

My first reaction: WTF?! Was she drunk? High? What the hell was her problem at FIVE in the morning that she would intentionally try to antagonize our dogs?!

Paul and I prefer to dodge conflict if we can, so we didn't engage her and got the dogs back into the back of the RV, into our bedroom. They'd gone up front to react to the stupid shit she was yelling and the RUFF RUFF sounds she was making. Finally, we fell asleep. I still felt uncomfortable because I had a feeling she wasn't done with us yet. I was right.

In the morning, around 11:45 a.m., Paul and I are sleeping—as were the dogs—and guess what happened? Yep, you probably figured out that she walked over by our RV and started raising hell again, talking loudly and intentionally trying to stir things up again. *sigh* What in the hell did this woman want, and what was her motivation for disturbing us and antagonizing our dogs?! I must admit, I was trying to figure out what her motive was, but then I became annoyed...and later on, angry.

Basically, Paul and I want to be left alone to do our thing, which is primarily our jobs, studying, gaming, reading, or watching movies/shows. We are pretty simple people and we like our peace. Now here we had a complete stranger who decided that, for whatever reason, we were going to be her target. Just great.

You know, I just don't understand most people. I haven't for most of my life, though I've tried my level best to figure them out. But often, I feel like I'm an alien from another planet and that most of society is speaking another language or something. Might be why I'm so interested in psychology and why I've thrown myself into my Social and Forensic Psychology studies. Human beings are like exotic animals to me at times, even though I KNOW that I am a human being myself.

Long story short, I told Britt about what was going on and she said, "I'll be right over." My first thought was, "Oh, shit." Mainly because Britt is a lot like me when she gets riled up. Once she's there, she doesn't take anybody's shit. A few minutes later, Britt and her fiance, Tack, arrived. They went over and talked to the woman's boyfriend (who was embarrassed about the whole ordeal) and to the woman herself. Turns out the woman and her boyfriend were having serious issues, and he'd already thrown her stuff out of the RV and was going to break up with her and leave her after 6 1/2 years.

The woman, whose name is Lisa, shook my hand and told me she owed us an apology, that she'd projected her anger over her personal situation onto us. I felt compassion for her and told her that Paul and I didn't like to have conflict with people unless we had no other choice. We chatted for a few more minutes and left to walk back over to our RV. On the way back, her boyfriend indicated that he was sorry for the drama she had caused us. And I'm glad it was resolved—permanently, I hope—but as I sit here, I wonder how things will turn out for them. I saw the expression on her face and on his face. My heart dropped to my stomach because I knew it was a trying time for both of them, exacerbated by her acting out toward us and the dogs due to misplaced anger.

I've mentioned this before, but one unexpected side effect of living full-time in an RV is that you are THIS MUCH CLOSER to humanity and you're face-to-face with the real nature of human beings and society in general. It's unpleasant, it's often shocking, and it's a wake-up call. When you're in a house or apartment, you might get exposed to these things for a short time as you run errands and the like. But when you live in an RV and your home is wherever you park it, you SEE the pain, the trials of life, the layers of hurt, the disappointment. You also hear the tales of hard times and heartbreak. And you can attempt to steel yourself against all of this as much as you want, but in the end, you can't help but be affected in some way.

I would've never had some of these experiences otherwise, and it's added a dimension to my compassion, my mercy, my tolerance. I'm realizing that we're all just trying to make it on a daily basis, and for some people, it's damned hard to wake up and face another day. I've been there before, and I understand how they feel. And no matter how good my fortune gets in the future, I will never forget the things I've seen and heard so far, or the lessons I've learned. With everything in me, I truly hope Lisa and her boyfriend reconcile and they have a better life together than they could've ever imagined. No more pain, no more suffering.

Drama is so uncomfortable to me and is becoming more so as I become older. There are times when you cannot avoid conflict and you DO have to speak your mind, stand up for your rights, and set or reinforce boundaries. But I guess it's all about choosing your battles, and some are so trivial and basic that communication can usually resolve the problem. My first reaction was to leave and not even address the issue with Lisa because confronting or talking with strangers can lead to hair-trigger reactions in this day and age. You never know when someone will pull a weapon or do something off the charts in a fit of overreaction. But to my daughter's credit, as well as Tack's, they took the bull by the horns and addressed the issue in a direct, non-threatening manner.

Today I was the student and my 24-year-old daughter was my teacher. How cool is that?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Two mentions

Just a heads-up that Paul and I are both going back to school. This means we will have reading, assignments, and homework on top of our jobs. As a result, our time will become even more limited for social activities. I know that's a bummer, but we are committed to our current goals and dedicated to achieving them.

If we aren't available to socialize, either online or offline, this will be why. We are excited to get back into an academic routine and our jobs and studies will take priority over anything else. Thanks for your understanding and encouragement. ;-)

In other news, my Smashwords author interview just went live. Pop over and give it a look:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The meaning of life

I wrote this back in December 2005 (except for a few words I added just now), and it still holds true for me. The meaning of life could be something entirely different for you, but for me, I think it is this:

Do the best you can with your circumstances, try to love others, and care for them as best you can (even when they're being assholes) and choose to live as authentically as you can in the process. Nobody gets an instruction manual and no one gets a guarantee when you're born into this life. How you play the game is up to the individual and many factors/variables go into the playing of the game. You must straddle doing what's best for you versus what's fair and right for others. It's not easy and you won't always make the right decision. When you screw up, apologize if it's warranted. And sometimes—just sometimes—you have to love people even when they don't deserve your love. And sometimes you might have to forgive them even when you'd rather stick your foot up their ass.

Life can be hard, cruel, and unexpected. It can also be joyful, surprising, and amazing. You can't control life; you can only control your actions/reactions in the framework of this short period of time we call a lifetime. Our charge is to be present and aware—a tall order indeed. And a mission I've yet to master since I tend to live in the future ALL the time and, more often than not, skip over the present. The truth is, we only have NOW. Make the best of it.