Information Overload

breatheYesterday morning I woke up agitated, stressed and riddled with anxiety. I had just opened my eyes and hadn’t thrown back the covers yet, but I felt the anxiety overtaking my body.

My mind raced with thoughts of the election and the hateful things that were being spewed, the list of online things I had to do to promote my books, the emails I had to answer, the blog posts that needed to be written, a two-page to-do list and the thoughts of my grandson’s anxiety because of the hoopla of the clowns in the news recently. I realized I didn’t want to get out of bed and face my day.

Why was my mind playing all these things out before I even got out of bed? I was tired. I just wanted to cover my head and sleep and not talk to anyone.

The day before I had two friends tell me they were afraid to put a sign for their choice of Hilary for President in their yard because of repercussions from the opposite party, and they were worried about violence being directed at them. I can’t say I blame them. But it shouldn’t be that way. Those thoughts added to my anxiety. My stomach was churning and so I did what I felt I needed to do to recover—I pulled the blankets over my head and stayed in bed.

I could not face my social media. I could not peek at it. I could not deal with what was happening in the world. After a couple of hours of settling under the covers and snoozing in and out, I picked up a book and spent my day reading. I didn’t even answer my phone. Finally around 4:00 pm I knew I couldn’t ignore the world any longer because I had a book club I needed to attend. But I felt better.  I felt I could once again face the world.

I love Social Media but I don’t love what has been happening on my social media and I too have gotten pulled into the debate over the election. It is hard for one that writes for a living to keep her mouth shut and not voice her opinion, but I knew I didn’t want to be in this circus anymore.

I put too much time into debating the pros and cons of who should be President. It made me come away feeling vilified. I have spent too much time reading about the violence taking place in our society, especially the clown scare. The reason that concerns me is that my young grandson is scared. He is now scared of clowns and I and his parents spent the weekend reassuring him. I used to have a clown collection and I loved clowns and now that too has been spoiled for our children. My grandson will never think of clowns as funny creatures anymore. He didn’t hear this from his parents or the news but on the back of the school bus from 5th and 6th graders who heard it on the news.  He doesn’t feel safe anymore.

After my anxiety calmed I wondered what had caused my first thought of the day to be of the vile things that are happening today.  I came to the conclusion that I had been filling my life with treacherous news and it needed to stop. I can’t control the elections or what people believe no more than they can control how I feel. Our experiences are what makes us who we are and what we believe.

I can control what I put out into the world. I don’t need to debate nastiness but I can send out positive vibes. I can fill my life with positive things so I can handle the negative sources and challenges. I can only change what I do. I think that is all each of us can do. We are the only ones that can control what we contribute to others. So I want to fill the lives of my grandchildren and my friends with positive stories and positive vibes. I want to wake up with joy in my heart and not anxiety over the world.

I am going to try and do better. I am the only one that can choose that for me. Mohatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What will you choose?

Bedtime is Party Time for My Cats!

Today I am sharing my column from the Albert Lea Tribune. This blog is in transition and if you are looking for more about Authors and my writing, please visit my website at http://julieseedorf.com to view my blog there. Today I feature Author Jessie Chandler who I interviewed about her book Operation Stop Hate, Operation #1. My website will be where I am sharing my writing adventures. This blog will be about whatever hits my heart. Today it is my cats. I hope you enjoy both blogs. At the bottom of http://julieseedorf.com there is a place to sign up for my newsletter and to be notified when my site has changed.  Enjoy.

Today’s column:

Natasha and Boris

Natasha and Boris

Do you remember the cartoons and movies where the toys came alive at night after their owners shuffled off to bed? Thoughts of the toy cartoons pass through my mind every once in a while when I think about my shysters, Natasha and Boris, who are our cat babies.

Boris entered our lives first. He was a rescue my daughter found for us. He was approximately seven months old and a pretty laid back guy. He loved to snuggle and wasn’t prone to getting into much of anything. As long as he had a warm body and love he was content.

We spend time visiting our children, and I felt bad that Boris had to live by himself while we were gone. I thought he might get lonely, so we adopted Natasha who is part Siamese. She was not the typical noisy Siamese. In fact, she and Boris had the wimpiest meow ever, and they didn’t use it much. But Natasha changed our household.

In a matter of days she showed us she could get our folding doors open. She could jump through the opening between the kitchen and the porch if we locked her out of the porch. She could open cupboard doors. If she wanted to be petted she would flop sideways down on the floor for us to pet her. Boris watched all of this from the sidelines. He was still content to be a laid back and stay-out-of-trouble cat.

We have had them both about three years now. Natasha is a great teacher. Boris now can open doors and climb in closets. He too has become a jumper and can jump on the highest shelf. Doors are not a problem for him either. And after about six months of watching Natasha take a dive on the floor on her side to be petted, he now does the same thing. We never know what the two of them are going to think of next.

In fact, I have an old chair that is toast, so I let them have an entire chair as a scratching post. This chair also has a hole in the bottom, and Natasha loves crawling in the bottom of the chair when she is teasing Boris. Because he is 17 pounds, he usually can’t crawl under the chair. However, one night he managed to get under the chair and into the hole. The problem he had — he couldn’t get out. I might mention if we haven’t seen the two of them for some time we start looking, because we know they are in trouble and got locked in somewhere. Don’t worry, when we go away we barricade all the closet doors, and we also have child locks on the cupboard doors so they can’t get in and get locked up while we are away.

My thoughts of toys in movies waking in the night, and causing havoc, were brought about by my two cats. Boris and Natasha spend most of the day sleeping. Natasha’s favorite place to sleep while I am watching television in the evening is right in front of my computer screen on the Tivo box so she blocks my view. It doesn’t matter how many times we move her, she goes right back, and she isn’t afraid of noise or water spray. She is fearless.

Boris sleeps in my husband’s arms or anywhere he can find a soft spot. He is not fearless and is easily directed.

The minute I and my husband start our journey to bed for the night they wake up. First they meow so I remember to put food in their bowls even if they have food. They can’t stand a hole in their bowl. It is a crime if I let the bowl show. Then they sit at the door to our bedroom waiting for us to leave the room.

The party begins. The chase goes up the stairs, through our upstairs bedrooms and into the living room. You can hear the stampede going on for hours. Occasionally we hear thumps from jumps or mischief. Once in a while Natasha lets out a curdling meow. The first time we heard it we thought she was dying, but it was only her attacking her play mouse.

In the morning I will find drawers opened, socks from one of the drawers strewn around the room. Rugs will be out of place, the food dish will be showing through the food, blankets will be on the floor and once in a while in their foraging they find an old candy wrapper or some of their toys I have not seen in a long time. Did I mention Natasha hides toys and other things?

As a child, I would always dream I had a secret toy room at the end of the hallway in my grandmother’s house, and the toys would come alive at night. Who knew this many years later part of my dream would come true — only it is my cats that come alive at night and make me smile in the morning while surveying their playtime damage. And for some reason my cats missed this tidbit of wisdom.

“Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures and cats like authors for the same reasons.” — Robertson Davies

 

I Have A Sister, A Sister In Crime

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune August 15, 2016

13537689_10153733599128786_7094521427898770244_n

Sisters In Crime: Julie Seedorf, Barbara Deese, Jessie Chandler, Pat Dennis

As my blank mind stared at the computer screen this week and my fingers froze over my keyboard, a friend suggested I should write about my sisters. Sisters? I know, many of you know I have no siblings, but yes, I do have sisters, Sisters in Crime that is.

The title, Sisters In Crime, doesn’t mean we get into trouble and have the law after us, though maybe if you looked at our search history on our computers, the law might be tempted to investigate. Sisters In Crime is a national organization. Its mission statement is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. To belong to the state chapter you must belong to the national chapter.
Being new to the writing scene in 2012, I was surprised to hear we had an organization like this in the state of Minnesota. A friend of mine, Allen Eskens, author of “The Life We Bury” and “The Guise of Another,” advised me to join the group. Even though he is not a sister, they accepted him and other brothers into the organization. I took his advice and found by joining the group it provided me with a group that not only supports each other’s writing, but also provides valuable information for writers.

The Twin Cities chapter of Sisters In Crime and Iowa Sisters In Crime, of which I am also a member, (Iowa Sisters, if you are reading this I will pay my dues soon) is comprised of a varied group of writers and guppies, those who belong who don’t have books published yet. Because creative people have different talents and styles of writing, it is a win-win situation because we learn from our differences.

Twin Cities Sisters In Crime and Iowa Sinc meet every month. Unfortunately, I don’t get to attend many meetings because of the distance, but I still feel a part of the organization because of opportunities to meet outside of the cities.

Now what do we do at a Sisters In Crime meeting? Our meetings are not boring. Usually there is a presentation by an author or professional guests who give information on bookkeeping for taxes, what happens during an autopsy, different styles of guns and poisons and law enforcement, to name a few.

You see, readers are smart and they pick up on anything that might not be accurate, although in my books, Granny and Fuchsia don’t need to be accurate because it is the high end of fiction and fantasy and nothing should be too real. But for crime writers or true crime, details are important, and the organization provides information to help us become better writers. Yes, published authors still take classes. We are never too old to learn something new about the written word.

Granny_Pins_A_Pilferer_jpeg (2)My fifth Fuchsia, Minnesota, Mystery, Granny Pins A Pilferer, was released last week. Belonging to the Sisters In Crime keeps my spirits and energy up to keep on writing when the going gets tough. It helps connecting with those that understand what happens during the writing process and after the book gets published.

When a book is published the real work begins and that is promotion. Promotion means social media, interviews and speaking engagements. The Twin Cities Sisters In Crime travels and provides panel discussions on writing at libraries and book stores. Various authors take turns taking part. I love being a part of these panels. It is easier to do things together then alone.
If you sit at a table near us when we are talking, please don’t call the police. We might be discussing the best way to murder someone or the best poison to use that can’t be detected. We might be looking for new places to stash bodies or new hiding places in buildings and houses. Or the best way to pick a lock.

We might be having a more mundane discussion on the best way to use Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to promote books. Sharing different festivals and book conferences also might be thrown into the conversation. And of course we also might run a character past the other Sisters to get their opinion.

Our organization also connects with professionals to give us information. I am excited to attend a workshop which includes FBI 101, cyber crime and violent crime. Since I was a computer technician, I am especially excited about the cyber crime workshop.

I guess if I think about what I want you to know about authors is that writers work hard. It is our dream job, but it involves more than putting pen to paper or getting on the computer and writing away. There are many hours of research, many hours of promotion and many hours of editing. I am working harder now than I did at a nine to five job. Writing is a solitary profession unless you reach out to those who share the profession along with you.

It is a profession we chose, a profession we love, but it can also be a profession where you are lonely and that burns you out unless you take time with people like the Sisters who walk the walk with you. The reward is not only the writing, but friendships that will last a lifetime.

If you are a mystery writer and are looking for Sisters, let me know. We can always use another mystery sibling. Or visit our Facebook fan page at @TwinCitiesSistersinCrime or @SincIowa.