Tag Archives: emotion

In Need of a Hug…

Feel the presence of love, wrapped up within a hug – Robert M. Hensel

In Need of a Hug - How Hugging offers affection, love, protection, and compassion - the last krystallos

I read this week that the more you hug your children the faster their brains develop. New-born babies shown more affection had stronger brain responses. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Touch and hugs show affection, love, protection, and compassion, everything a child needs. It’s one of the reasons babies are born and placed on their mother’s chest or at their breast – skin-on-skin touch helps bonding and gives comfort.

I also watched a report of a man, Antar Davidson, working with children recently separated from their mother in a migrant detention home in Tucson, who was asked to intervene and explain to three siblings aged 16, 10, and 8 that it was against shelter policy to hug. He was told to tell them to stop hugging. Antar refused and quit his job. These children only had each other left in a terrifying and alien situation and they were asked to relinquish touch between each other. It seems an atrocious and altogether backward move to make.

Then I saw this video of ten abandoned baby ducklings released into a pond. The pond’s resident mother duck, having recently hatched her own family of nine, immediately rushed to their side and ushered the orphans into her own family.

 

These three reports had a lasting effect on me this week. I’ve been distressed at the news of families being ripped apart at US borders. No matter your thoughts on immigration, removing a child from its parent is categorically wrong and never, ever the answer. Compassion seems to have taken a holiday from the current administration’s hearts.

A hug is worth a thousand words – anon - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Removing touch from a relationship can be dangerous. The ability to convey love and emotion within a relationship is paramount to keeping a bond and an emotional connection. One of our basic needs is to feel closeness, to touch each other, and to feel security within love. Animals know this. My dog welcomes us home with physical touch, and my cats rub against us and crave being stroked.

Most of us welcome each other with a hug, or a kiss, or a handshake, depending on your relationship. I’m not a tactile person, and if I don’t know you don’t try to hug me. I have personal space, control, and consent issues and to share a hug with me I have to be emotionally connected to you. My immediate family, and very close friends are the only ones who can break into my physical hug circle. But I crave touch as much as my cats do!

You can't give a hug without getting a hug – anon - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I love holding hands, hugging, and snuggling with my husband, and my children give me the most amazing hugs! The act of a hug offers me security and love. To be denied this would damage me as a human being.

The mother duck immediately knew what the little ducklings needed. Affection and security and she offered both within moments of meeting them. This world is so divisive, judgmental, and bigoted we need acceptance, compassion, and love.

Can we welcome all those in need the same way this duck embraced an expanding brood?

In Need of a Hug - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The best place in the world is inside a hug – J Quest

There are myriad articles out there extolling the benefits of hugs
and physical touch – and as long as consent is given – always ask first –
you should get and give as much as you can!

Dreams and how to be Happier

Have you ever wished you could be happier?
Life can be tough, but it’s important to find sunshine even on rainy days.

dreams-and-how-to-be-happy-the-last-krystallos-titleMy bishop spoke on being happy just the other week and, having recently gone to an Emotional and Mental Health Training Day organised by the church I attend, and currently battling depression, I listened with great interest.  What he said made a lot of sense and he later introduced me to the site www.actionforhappiness.org. Action for Happiness has no religious, political or commercial affliations, and welcomes anyone committed to building a happier and more caring society.
Today I’d love to share their GREAT DREAM poster with you:

greatdream_full_400 actionforhappiness.orgSo here we are: Ten Keys to happier living:

1. giving-dan-giving-blood-the-last-krystallos

Dan giving blood… © Lisa Shambrook

GIVING Do things for others – They say the best way to forget your own troubles is to help others and give service. There’s an old Hindu proverb: Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo! Thine own has reached the shore.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

RELATING Connect with people – I’m a known loner, a typical INFJ, but when you are part of my life, it’ll be forever. I find socialising very difficult, so Facebook has become a life saver, quite literally, the place where I discovered my people. Without this connection, though I love my own company, I’d be lost.

Walking the dog © Lisa Shambrook

Walking the dog © Lisa Shambrook

EXERCISING Take care of your body – This has become more important to me as I’ve begun to understand how much exercise deflates depression. Your general health has a lot to do with how you feel, so look after yourself. I love walking Roxy, our german shepherd, and daily walks allow me to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Last year, as a family, we learned how important exercise was. We used MyFitnessPal and lost a combined eight stone between us. Never have we felt fitter and better!

Appreciating beauty © Lisa Shambrook

Appreciating beauty © Lisa Shambrook

APPRECIATING Notice the world around – This matches exercise, get out and see what lives around you! I have so many posts on this blog about the wonder of nature, which you can find in the menu at the top under Articles in Simply Nature. I love wading through the ocean and rivers, wandering through woodland glens, climbing mountains and exploring the great outdoors. When I feel down, I need to be reinvigorated by nature, it makes me happy!

Learn more © Lisa Shambrook

Learn more © Lisa Shambrook

TRYING OUT Keep learning new things – Knowledge, you should never stop learning. There’s always something new out there, whether it’s keeping up with technology and the children or learning a new skill just for yourself. Just because our school days are gone, it doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, get out there and learn new things, have fun!

Set goals, dream big © Lisa Shambrook

Set goals, dream big © Lisa Shambrook

DIRECTION Have goals to look forward to – I once wrote this as a reply on someone else’s blog about achieving their dreams: I began life as a contemplative dreamer…a quiet, shy child with an imagination that spanned so many ideas. It took until I was thirty to turn those gossamer dreams into concrete goals, but I did and now I’m working hard to keep those dreams-turned-goals alive!

(There’s a)… difference hence my gossamer dreams and concrete goals. Putting something in writing, or into action changes the aspect of a dream into something solid.

Dreams have meant so much to me that my (first) book ended up with the tag line ‘it’s those silly dreams that keep us alive’…we need dreams to inspire us and we need to turn some of them into reality to make us grow. Goals are a way of growing and making things happen, but sometimes we just need those airy fairy dreams to give us hope and inspiration!

Bounce back © Lisa Shambrook

Bounce back © Lisa Shambrook

RESILIENCE Find ways to bounce back – Life wasn’t meant to be easy. If we didn’t know the sour we wouldn’t know the sweet. We need the bad to love the good. Opposition in all things is the way of life, don’t let it get you down, let it build you up instead. Be resilient. Be a cat. You know when a cat slips, or makes a mistake? They right themselves immediately and look at you like it never happened… be a cat.

Love life © Lisa Shambrook

Love life © Lisa Shambrook

EMOTION Take a positive approach – Life has negative and positive people. Be someone who people want in their lives. We all suffer at times, and it’s important to be there for each other through the tough times, but as with resilience, we need to embrace the difficult and allow it to strengthen us. The process of refining silver includes being blasted with fire…a lot, but the finished piece is beautiful and brilliant. Let’s concentrate on the good, the positive and embrace the sunshine in our lives.

Be yourself! © Lisa Shambrook

Be yourself! © Lisa Shambrook

ACCEPTANCE Be comfortable with who you are – Love yourself. It’s as simple as that. Whatever your beliefs as to where we come from, we’re all wonderful human beings, with amazing miraculous bodies. I love the Marianne Williamson quote, from ‘A Return to Love’: ‘…We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually who are you not to be?’

Our deepest Fear... Marianne Williamson quote © Lisa Shambrook

Our Deepest Fear… Marianne Williamson quote © Lisa Shambrook

MEANING Be part of something bigger – My bishop spoke of our faith being something bigger and I took comfort from that. My faith to me is something that encompasses my entire life, my reasons for living and being. You may find something different. There are plenty of things in my life that give me reason to be, from my faith to my family, to my writing and many more wonderful things…embrace them and live happily!

Be part of something meaningful © Lisa Shambrook

Be part of something meaningful © Lisa Shambrook

Do you agree with these points
or do you have any more ideas on how to live happier?

Why Do You Read – The Results

Last week, I asked Why Do You Read, and this week we learn why… To sum up the results, I’d like to quote Blue Harvest Creative who pretty much hit the nail on the proverbial head
‘I read to learn, to experience, to feel, to escape, to immerse myself
…it’s something I have to do.’

why do you read, the results, the last krystallos, reasons we read,

This is why we read.

Thank you so much for all those who voted in the poll, I appreciated your time and responses. As an author it’s valuable to understand the reasons why people read. As writers we read much of the time we’re not writing, but sometimes we become so absorbed in our own little worlds, it’s good to remind ourselves of the motives readers have for indulging!

Before giving you the results, I’d like to comment on the ‘Other’ reasons almost 5% of you gave in the poll and you came up with some great reasons:

To maintain my sanity

Reading helps me hone my writing skills

Improve both my writing and reading skills

Research, to be a better writer!

It’s a de-stresser

Ideas! To discover new ideas and new perspectives!

I want to know everything…and…read every single book ever written!

I can attest to all of these, especially how reading improves both my writing and my sanity! As an author, I need to know my market, my subject, and what’s already out there – reading and research aids this. And to the final answer I replied: so many books so little time – the reader and writer lament!

So, to the results – Why Do You Read:

21% read to escape to another world

18% tell me it’s in their DNA, they have to

14% want to experience life they never can without reading books

10% desire to learn something new

9% read to elicit a strong emotion such as fear, joy, grief, or another emotion they might not otherwise experience

8% read to understand the world around them better, to learn about their surroundings

6% read to fill spare time

6% want to experience a different culture or life

5% give us the other reasons listed above

And our final 3% read for school and other education

In conclusion – the most popular answer is to escape…over a fifth of us choose to leave the world behind to escape into another world, to have an adventure, as our main reason for reading. I know many people chose multiple answers, and our reasons are varied and sometimes complicated, but the one most of us choose is to escape.

why-do-you-read-results-books-fantasy-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Reading offers a chance for our brains and our minds to breakout of the lives we lead, to indulge in fantasy, dreams, diversity and essentially time to let our minds catch up with our souls.

Thank you for sharing your reasons with me…

why-do-you-read-results-books-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I read for escape, for emotion, for encounters that I cannot experience myself and I read to diversify my life. I want those highs and lows, I want to feel crushing pain and soaring joy – I want to know I’m alive!

I’ve included pictures of some of my favourite books – they have broadened my horizons, encouraged me, informed me, and helped me escape.

why-do-you-read-results-books-classics-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve wandered through the Misty Mountains with Bilbo, I’ve raced across the ice fields with Lyra on the back of a polar bear, I’ve searched the library and the Old Kingdom with Lirael, I’ve sailed upon a surrealist ocean with Pi and his tiger, and I’ve been there when the dark rose. I’ve learned about the holocaust and survival, and wept, with both David and the boy in the striped pyjamas, I became what I was, I learned about the power of memories and colour from Lois Lowry, and Loser didn’t lose. I was delighted by the little Prince, and intrigued by the alphabet. I cried with Beth and loved with Jo. I was anorexic, I loved like no other, I had adventures with the Famous Five and I fell in love with silver brumbies. Books bring me home, they take me away, they let me live and love and when stars fall I know they can still shine!

This is why I read.    

Tell me where books have taken you?

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me – How to Write with Emotion

Make me feel your story, make me sense it and experience it.
Take me into your world, and let me live it with your protagonist.

how to write with emotion, don't show tell, show don't tell, the last krystallos, I’m an emotive writer, and my pieces concentrate much on the senses and the old adage: show, not tell. Not every writer swears by this approach, but my writing works more in this field than with explanatory description.

Emotions rule our world and fuel our stories, without emotion our stories become a boring and grim lists of actions. Stories begin with a dilemma and continue with the reactions to that impasse. All our reactions are emotional, we’re human beings, not robots, and even if you’re writing about robots, your story will need emotional content if it is to survive!

Showing emotion is vital to fire up your writing.

life and characters, charles dickens, lisa shambrook, the last krystallos,

Life and Characters © Lisa Shambrook

Don’t tell me your protagonist is angry, show me their fury, show me the whites of their eyes, that vein that throbs in their temple, the clenching of fists, and the heat flushing through their body… Don’t tell me your character is sad, show me them picking at their food, their trembling chin, glistening eyes, show me how their voice breaks as they utter words, and how their hopelessness demonstrates itself by listless expressions and hands hanging at their sides… Don’t just say they’re happy, let me see their mouth curl in delight, their laughter lines, how they dance as they walk, a lightness of being, their confidence and relaxed shoulders…

Writers can use speech to demonstrate emotions, but nonverbal cues are even more important. We are told that body language conveys more information than words ever can. Statistics say that: words (what is said) account for 7% of the overall message we hear, tone of voice (how it is said) accounts for 38% and body language accounts for 55%…so 93% of all communication is nonverbal.

Let’s look at an example, and because May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and I missed it due to chaotic family obligations, let’s look at anxiety:

In this chapter from ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ Meg’s mum is getting impatient, irritated and her anxiety manifests. First, a basic excerpt:

“Excuse me?” said Meg’s mum. “Could we please try these in a size four?”
The sales-boy nodded. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother took the football boots from him. Mum glanced at her watch and sighed.
Meg moved to her mother as the boy and his mum left. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”
The sales-boy returned with one trainer. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”
“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” said Mum.

This paragraph works in that we can see Meg’s mum is trying to get trainers for her daughter and we can see she’s getting irritated, particularly by another customer and her son, but we can’t really feel the emotions surging within her. Let’s try the paragraph again with some small additions:

“Excuse me?” Meg’s mum waved the black trainer at the sales-boy over the child’s head. “Could we please try these in a four?”
He nodded, adding the trainer to his teetering pile of boxes. As he disappeared Mum glared at the whining child as his mother tried to prise the football boot from his grasp. Mum glanced at her watch and pulled an old receipt out of her pocket. She stared in the direction of the stockroom and began tearing the receipt into thin strips.
Meg sidled up to her mother as the boy’s mum finally wrested the boot from him, returned it to the shelf and dragged him away, his complaints still echoing. Mum ignored her daughter’s grin. “He’s going to be a real brat one day. Ah, here are yours.”
Meg noted the single trainer in the sales-boy’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, “only got these in a three and then a seven, sold out.”
“That’s a vast difference in sizes, no others in stock? This is a shoe shop isn’t it?” The receipt in Mum’s hand turned into confetti.

We immediately have more information about Mum’s impatience, as she waves the shoe over the other customer’s head. We see the sales-boy is busy, with teetering boxes. We also see the strain between the other customer and her son in two additional sentences. Meg notices only one trainer in the sales-boy’s hand, which adds to the tension. Finally we make an addition that shows the anxiety building inside Meg’s mother, and this is in an unconscious action displayed by her. Think about things you do when you’re anxious and include them in your writing.

Meg’s mum pulls an old receipt, a piece of paper, from her pocket. It’s irrelevant except for the action which will show you her state of mind. She begins to tear it into strips, and the final sentence shows you just how much her anxiety is rising, by the fact that she’s ripped the receipt up into tiny pieces, like confetti.

Meg’s mum’s anxiety grows as the chapter proceeds.

“Stupid boxes…” Mum groaned as she tried to fit the bulky shoes into the tight box.

“And it’s too hot! We come in wearing coats, because it’s winter. Why do they make it so hot?” Mum trembled, her fists clenching and unclenching at her sides.

Meg’s sigh matched her mother’s as she pulled off the shoes. She left her mum to pack them away and moved, in her socked feet, back to the display. Not a moment later she heard a frustrated grunt and a trainer flew past her ear. It rebounded on the wall and knocked three shoes to the ground. Meg ducked and twirled round. Her mother stood, red-faced and furious.

See how the actions clue you up on Meg’s mother’s growing anxiety, irritation and irrational behaviour.

emotion thesaurus, angela ackerman and becca puglisi,

The Emotion Thesaurus – invaluable!

We’re often told to write what we know, and I’m lucky, or unlucky – your call, as I know what anxiety feels like. I’m able to write from experience and convey the very emotions I’ve undergone in my own life in my writing. But what happens if we’ve never experienced the things our characters do? After all, the average murder mystery wasn’t written by a killer! One of the most comprehensive resources I have is The Emotion Thesaurus, it’s invaluable! Written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, you won’t find a better guide to character expression out there*.

“As writers, we must take our innate skills of observation and transfer them to the page. Readers have high expectations. They don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves. To make this happen, we must ensure that our characters express their emotions in ways that are both recognisable and compelling to read.”
(The Emotion Thesaurus Introduction)

So, fire up your writing, infuse your stories and take me on an adventure…
don’t just tell me, take me with you!

the emotion thesaurus, angela ackerman and becca puglisi,

From The Emotion Thesaurus

Note I have no arrangements or sponsorship through or with The Emotion Thesaurus or its authors, I just believe it’s a darn good book!

Beneath_the_Old_Oak_front_cover_finalTo read more of Meg and her mum’s battles, ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and Etsy.

‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’ Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.