May You Choose Love and Light in 2018!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Loved By Many

Dr. William Glasser's revolutionary book Reality Therapy was published fifty years ago. Many of us who studied with Dr. Glasser as well as others who are interested in his work are coming together in Las Vegas later in July to celebrate this anniversary. Not only was the counseling process of reality therapy taught in 1965 the first brief therapy, at the core it recognized the importance of the counselor attaining and maintaining a friendly or even colleague-like relationship with the client. Dr. Glasser taught, fifty years ago, what is now termed "client-centered" therapy.

August 2013, Dr. Glasser died but his teachings are alive and well.

In my recent book, Hunter (due out summer 2015), Logan, the daughter of the main character, Hunter Compton, runs away and gets into trouble on the streets of the fictional Fremont, Oregon. When she is found and brought off the streets, she is shaken to the core.

How could anyone still love her if they knew what had happened to her?

It starts with two people who do know what happened to her and clearly and unequivocally state they love her.

As the story progresses and she comes to see that people who know her do not turn away from her, she begins to believe she is lovable. When the darkness of despair and fear creep into her thoughts, she lists by name the people she knows do love her.

Having a background in child welfare as well as over thirty years working in domestic and international adoption, I know how powerful the belief is that someone else cares about us.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to take a piece of paper and write down the first name of everyone who cares about you. Of course there are some names like family that easily go on the list, but stretch yourself.

Who else cares about you? Best friends, but they are also easy to include.

When I involved my granddaughters with this exercise, after family, we included their teachers, neighbors, doctors and classmates.

Seeing the list of names on a sheet of paper not only shows how connected we really are but is a very powerful experience.

My own list would include my local pharmacy. Just yesterday in 90+ degree weather, when I picked up my prescription and a pint of vanilla ice cream, the pharmacist checked to see how close I lived and offered me a cold pack to keep the ice cream from melting.

Judith Ashley
I didn't ask, it was offered.

Cynics will say, "well, yeah, you're a customer". However, if I'd been across the street at a major grocery chain, no one would have asked much less made the offer.

So do yourself a favor and make the list. Add to it from time to time as you meet and get to know new people.

And, unless someone is especially nasty to you, do not cross them off. I know I've several people with whom I'm not in regular contact, but that doesn't mean I don't care about them and vice-versa.

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle, romantic fiction that honors spiritual paths that nurture the soul.

Learn more at Judith's website.
Check out Judith's author page at Windtree Press.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Thoughts of Friendships Old and New: Part IV

By Judith Ashley

I actually didn’t realize it then but my life as I knew it started a Massive Change twelve months ago. My youngest granddaughter, who’d lived with me all her life, graduated from high school and turned eighteen. I spent the summer and into the fall using a steroid inhaler and using a nebulizer. My aunt, the last of her generation, died in April at 103. I traveled to California in August for the Memorial Service. A few other cousins from across the US attended. And I stayed a few extra days to support my cousin in the overwhelming tasks of packing up 60+ years of her parents’ life.

I came home to my youngest granddaughter moving out, my health compromised even more from the trip and looking at my own home where I’ve lived almost forty years from a different perspective. Why do I have everything I do? When was the last time I thoroughly cleaned and dusted every book in the house? Was it fair to leave all the ‘cleaning up and sorting out’ to my heirs or should I do more myself?

During this time, I was in frequent phone contact with my best friend in Ohio who had memory problems. I made a commitment to myself and to her that I’d visit in the Spring.

Many memories of our time in Ireland.
Other life events? My youngest granddaughter announced she was going to have a baby girl in May. My best friend in Oregon was diagnosed with gall bladder problems and had surgery. My first reader was having health and business issues (she had to move locations at exactly the same time she was going to start reading #5 Hunter.

Shifting and adjusting to the events around me there were times I felt I was in the words of the Simon and Garfunkle song “slip sliding away”. But I hung on. I was a friend and in that world, I knew it was my job to understand, make allowances for and make the adjustments when problems arose.

I kept my commitment to spend quality time in Ohio. I traveled on May 4th and arrived at my friend’s door at 7 p.m. EDT. I left on May 20th at 2 p.m. and arrived home at 10 p.m. PDT. I’d had many ‘hopes’ for my time with my friend. Some hopes were realized. We looked at photo albums and reminisced about trips we’d made together. We ate Grater’s ice cream. We ordered pizza from LaRosa’s. Other hopes were not realized – at least my hopes weren’t. While there was a subtle shift in cognitive thinking, it wasn’t a significant shift.  I left thankful I’d made the trip and yet a blanket of sadness coated my heart.

The “what if’s” bombarded me. The “if only’s” piled up. I was her best friend. She was
my best friend. We’d been friends since we first met in July 1980 at a Glasser Conference in Houston, Texas.

Since my return to Oregon, I’ve struggled with what my relationship with my friend would be, would look like. Would it help her if I returned and spent six months or even a year? Would it help if I called her every ________ at exactly the same time?

And over arcing those questions? How can I call myself her best friend if I don’t do each of those things and more? After all, best friends show up however they are needed.
So I’ve been on a journey reframing my concept of who I am within the context of the words “friend” and “friendship”.

Dr. William Glasser, MD was a very wise man. His psychological theory “Choice Theory” is an explanation of how and why we behave. One of the concepts is about ‘true conflict’.

Thinking about my conundrum from that perspective I know there is no way I can be in Ohio for six months or a year because I have other commitments here. And, to be honest, she is used to living alone. I’m not sure that having someone, even me, living with her 24/7 would make her happy. My visiting again? Yes.

So, the conundrum is of my own making in many respects. It is the picture I have of myself as a friend that is not being matched by my actions. And, if I did match my actions to that picture of myself as her friend, I’d have other pictures of myself as an author, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, friend, circle sister, neighbor, etc. that would not be matched. There is no decision I can make that will assure all my expectations of myself will be matched. And that is a True Conflict.

Which is why I’m reframing my idea of what being her friend is.

So far I’ve come up with “as long as she knows who I am, I’ll be a part of her life. I’ll call and talk to her on the phone, send her cards and notes, and hopefully have another in person visit with her”. 

Judith is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

Learn more by visiting her website.
See her author page at Windtree Press.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts of Friendships New and Old - Part Three

By Judith Ashley

The words "friend" and "friendships" bring specific 'pictures' to mind. When I think of the word "friend", my list is short in that there are not hundreds of people on it. I tend to separate that general category into more specific ones: acquaintances, colleagues, friends, best friends.

One reason this is important for me is that I have personal expectations for myself and the people in each category.

Acquaintance: someone I know either in person or in cyber-land. This person is not a colleague but also not really a friend. I engage with this person but do not on an 'in depth' level. We may enjoy talking about books we've read, flowers we like to grow, favorite foods/restaurants, etc. But while in some ways this is personal information, it is more superficial. There are people in my neighborhood I see as 'acquaintances'. I know who they are. We wave or even stop to chat about their garden or a neighborhood event when I'm out on my walk.

Colleague: someone with whom I have a special interest connection. They may be a member of one of the Romance Writers of America chapters to which I belong, or another author who does not write romance. Perhaps I know this person through my long association with The William Glasser Institute or my past employment with The State of Oregon or Multnomah County.

Friends: Obviously this is someone I know however they've moved from the acquaintance or colleague category to 'friend'. Why? Our relationship is broader based. We spend social time together. We talk about world events as well as topics near and dear to our hearts. We listen and problem solve when life's challenges appear. We support each other's life journey through encouraging words and celebrating successes.

My friend, Lois
Best Friends: Considering the number of people I know, I've very few people in my life at this level. We share our journeys through life by being with each other in the good and the bad times. We know many of the intimate details of each other's lives. We're attuned to our friend's energy (or lack of it). We'll put our own needs aside in order to support each other.

It may seem strange to some to separate people I know into different levels of engagement but it works for me. The main reason is works is because I have a set of expectations for myself as the other part of the relationship.

I'm friendly and present when engaging with an acquaintance. 

I'm friendly and present when engaging with a colleague but beyond that, I'm open to sharing information, resources, etc. In other words, when appropriate, supporting them 'up the ladder'.

With friends, I expect myself to still be friendly and present when engaging with them. I also expect that I'll share more of my feelings/emotions about things. Perhaps adding some past experiences that color where I'm at these days. I'll offer to help this person by listening, calling to check in, or whatever they need when life is challenging. I'll also show up with chocolate, a gift, or a song (at least in my heart) when things are going well. If a friend needs me, I'll make an effort to be there.

A best friend is all of the above and more. I pay closer attention to my best friends. If they ask, I will rearrange things in my own life so I can show up. I make the calls without being asked. I listen with a heightened intensity to the words and what's behind the words. I look for ways to be supportive. And, I have a higher level of expectation for people who are my best friends. They are loyal. I trust them implicitly. They are honest - even telling me things I'd rather not hear but most likely need to.

What I've learned about myself and this categorizing of relationships is that I have certain standards for myself that impact how I feel when I don't meet them. And, my meeting my own standards is more important than my friends and best friends meeting them. After all, how can I expect them to meet a standard I've set that they don't even know about?

Am I alone in this? Do you categorize or "see" the people in your life differently depending on the relationship?

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nourish the soul. Hunter the fifth book in the series is due out this summer. You can learn more about Judith's books at Windtree Press.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thoughts on Friendships Old and New - Part Two

Me wearing a lei from Hawaii

The story behind this picture also has to do with friendships-friendships of the cyber kind. You know, the people you meet through social media from around the world.

Sarah Raplee and I launched Romancing The Genres four years ago May 1. We've been fortunate to find authors who are committed to putting posts up at least once a month which means there are twenty of us and we post once a month.

I've met some wonderful authors these past four years including Marcia King-Gamble! Check out her website to learn more about her amazing life! And if you click on this link, you can read her June 08, 2015 post.

With twenty (counting me) Genre-istas, why am I featuring Marcia today?

First: she gave Sarah and me and the other Genre-istas a fantastic gift for our 4th Blog-O-Versary and second: she had this lei sent to me.

If you read last week's post, you'll know much of May was challenging. To have this wonderful lei arrive a week after I returned was a special gift.

Over the past four years I've "met" several other people from around the world who have become friends --- not in the sense that we have lunch together or spend the day at a coffee shop for an impromptu writing retreat --- but they are people I've gotten to know beyond mere superficiality. I know a bit about their personal lives and they know a bit about mine.

Some of them are authors I now read...and some are authors I admire because of the challenges
they've overcome. (There are some sub-genres of romance I seldom if ever read even if I know and like the author. Why? Because I'm one of those people who have a difficult time separating reality from fiction to read a horror novel or thriller, a dark paranormal or sci-fi, even some fantasy is beyond me. A week of nightmares is not an enticement to read in these genres, even if they are really good books.

However, that doesn't mean I don't like a bit of suspense and conflict but keep the blood and gore to a minimum. Think Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes - the old Sir Arthur Conan Doyle version.

But I digress.

I've made friends over the years I've been involved with the Romance Writing Community. Some I hope to meet one of these days. Others will be long distance friends. I'll see their picture from time to time, I'll read their books, we'll exchange emails but the probability of meeting them in person is minimal.

Does that mean I value their friendships less? Absolutely not! Look at my picture and think of Marcia King-Gamble, I know I do!

BTW: Marcia spearheaded Romancing The Genres' first Facebook event held the last two days in April. We had authors from the UK, North America and Australia. We shared our love of books and travel and had a glorious time. I learned something from Marcia I'll use when we do this again --- she asked for ideas to heighten the conflict in a story she is writing. That's how I got the lei. Who knew at the time I typed in some ideas how important this flower necklace would be to me!

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nourish the soul and celebrates the journey from relationships to romance..

Check out her website for more information on The Sacred Women's Circle series.

Check out my Windtree Press author page.

Hunter, the fifth book in the series is due out by the end of June, 2015.

And for more about another amazing friend, read my post about Juanita Garnow and her work with Beading The Odds.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thoughts on Friendships Old and New - Part One

I'm Judith Ashley. I write romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nourish the soul.

I’m one of those people who don’t have lots of friends but the ones I have, I keep. May 2015 was a month about friendships.

My friend of almost 35 years whose name is also Judith lives in Ohio. I’d missed visiting her last year due to some health problems. This year I was determined to make the trip—and I did.

Judith, Gimi, Connie
However, my month of friendships started on May 1 when I spend time with my Intention Sisters, Gimi and Connie. We’d just spent a couple of days in Depoe Bay, Oregon my all-time favorite place on the Oregon coast. Saturday, May 2, they both left for their homes in Texas and Arizona after we shared breakfast at Elmer’s.

Monday, May 4th I traveled from Oregon to Ohio—an exhausting trip in many ways but I did read Paty Jager’s first Shandra Higheagle mystery. If you haven’t read Paty’s books, I highly recommend them.

My friend, Judith was waiting on her front porch for me and the delight at seeing me rejuvenated my tired body. We’ve always talked on the phone in between visits but it had been almost 5 years since we’d seen each other. It is no surprise to people who know me that we were up until 2 a.m. Ohio time talking!

That really set the pattern for my visit—10 to 14 hours of conversation each day, much of it intense, over the next 15 days. Why were there intense conversations? 

Because my best friend of 35 years has significant memory loss and so I answered the same question numerous times during my visit. And, some of the questions were challenging: Did I think she was safe in her home? Did I think she was a bad driver? Did I really think her short term memory loss was that bad? Why did I think she needed to wear a ‘life line’ button?

Sunset just north of Depoe Bay, Oregon
We got out picture albums and revisited our trips to Ireland and the Balkans both during the war and a few years later. We reminisced about other adventures we had. She has fond memories of New Orleans and I don’t. I have fond memories of Seattle and her memories of that last visit are vague. We both love the Oregon Coast and I’d love to have her back for another visit there but she doesn’t think she wants to travel any more.

Because she no longer drives outside her neighborhood, I offered to take her to places further away that have been important in her life and that she continues to talk about missing.

She declined.

We talked about getting our picture taken together but never followed through. We talked about my coming back next year or maybe this fall. Time will tell.

On the left is a picture of me with a lei from Hawaii.

Check back next week to see the story behind this picture.

To learn more about The Sacred Women's Circle series, check out 

June 5th I'll have a post up at Romancing The Genres. June is our "Shout Out For Charity" month. I'm spotlighting "Beading The Odds", a non-profit that is making a difference in the lives of young men who are incarcerated at Oregon's McClaren's School for Boys.

If you are looking for great books to read over the summer, check out the posts from the Genre-istas at RTG as well as at Windtree Press.