Time for another Defining Moments with someone who is totally at home being the other side of an interview when asking the questions. There is a great deal of information about this charming radio host and writer so I will give you a brief background and focus on one or two key subjects. I am certain that we will be treated to some fascinating defining moments later on in the interview, but one of the issues I am keen to cover is ‘Change’, as this comes up frequently in my guest’s writings. Also an appropriate guest for International Women’s Day as she is a staunch supporter of equality and welfare of women.
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old. She’s won prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays. She also very generously supports other writers with her conversations between authors live talk show most Wednesdays on Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) and YouTube, *CHANGES*, 10 – 11 AM EST USA. Change-agents talk with Sally about many topics. Watch conversations with her previous *CHANGES* guests any time: Here is a link to Sally’s playlist on YouTube and also an interview with one of our very popular authors and bloggers Olga Nunez Miret.
The show features Fiction and nonfiction Authors, especially of Sci-Fi and Buddhist-themed books, learn more about and get yourself or Readers, recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest on *CHANGES*: http://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/
As a teenager, Sally began to explore other belief systems and began a lifetime of meditation. Now, she delights fans of paranormal and romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction weaving fantasy tales that incorporate strands of utopian science fiction and Buddhism.
You can find out at great deal about Sally on Pinterest and her website, where she explores and shares many of her many interests and more info about her talk show, *CHANGES* conversations between authors, and The Spanners Series. She also writes frequently on her blog.
In her “other” professional life, Sally works/has worked as an editing/writing tutor and editor, a consultant and advisor, an educator and upper-level, non-profit manager in colleges, universities and private nonprofits for over thirty-five years in New England (every state), New Mexico and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sally has a BA in Elementary Education, a Master’s (M.Ed.) and a doctorate in education (Ed.D.).
The Spanners Series is a 10-volume (planned; two released as of 6/9/14), original, science-fiction/ romance/ multiverse/ paranormal/utopian/speculative fiction ebooks series for adults/new adults/young adults.
Here is a brief introduction to Volume 1 – This Changes Everything: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the Collective, the holos choose Clara as liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective to make the secret visits public and guide Earth’s new leaders. While Earthers adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are, rebellions and conflicts arise. The Collective works with Clara to create the Psi-Warriors who fight the leaders of the resistance, the Psi-Defiers. With multiple Re-sets needed to revise the past and future to save lives, in which of the timelines in the multiverse does her love, Epifanio Dang, get to be with Clara? Over Clara’s thirty-year term as Chief Communicator, Earthers must undergo major transformations. Are YOU ready for the changes?
You will find a great deal more information about Sally on her website and you will find all the links to her website and sites to buy her books at the end of the post.
I thought that since “Change” is one of the main subjects that Sally writes and interviews others about that we might explore it further before moving onto Defining Moments which are often the instigators of change in our lives.
Welcome Sally and thank you for finding time in your busy writing and interviewing schedule to chat to us.“Change” is an integral part of our lives but is not only feared by many but actively avoided by some. However carefully we plan our lives or relationships, they are subject to external factors or events that are often beyond our control. Perhaps we could start with some fundamentals.
Why is it that some people find it so difficult to embrace change while others relish the prospect?
I don’t consider myself an expert on change, Sally, but I do place it centrally in all my fiction writing. Plus, “*CHANGES* conversations between authors,” is the name of my talk show, so I could see that it would seem that I do.
What I can tell readers is that, as do all Buddhists, I contemplate every day that change (Buddhist term is “impermanence”) is inevitable. Only ultimate truth (rigpa, awareness, oneness) never changes; everything else is ALWAYS changing, even if those changes are imperceptible to our senses, we try to deny them or we’re not attentive to them.
People who struggle to accept or cannot adapt easily to obvious changes are in an illusion of control or permanence that doesn’t serve them and actually worsens the pain of their experience. I can remember well that, before I understood this fully, I habitually and strongly resisted change, argued and protested against it, using up all my energy to attempt to make something move my way, even though we do not have that power. It was exhausting and unsatisfying and impossible for me to succeed in that mode.
I don’t suggest that we become passive, accepting everything the way it is and never trying to improve anything. I believe that we are happiest when we (and we should strive to) effect the most positive changes possible in any given moment. While working towards improvements, I and many others like me also adhere to the central Buddhist vow—to do no harm—as best as possible, and then relax into whatever happens next, accepting whatever comes and dealing with that as best we are able.
The more we realize how central to our happiness a loose, open mind is and do whatever we can to cultivate that along with greater empathy and compassion, the happier we are with whatever occurs.
How can we all best prepare ourselves to journey through whatever comes our way?
Here are my suggestions (which I cannot take credit for first suggesting; these all help me and many others for many centuries):
Learn to meditate or some practice of mindfulness. There are hundreds of research outcomes now proving how useful this is to everyone regardless of their situation or ability, age or infirmity. Follow your breath. Walk attentively. Sit upright or walk through and listen well. Meditation offers many options, some quite simple to earn, easy to do and free, up to and including the more intricate and life-altering practices I engage in which require more training and time.
Pay attention to your physical and emotional states when strong emotions (fear, anger, resistance) and other intense reactions to change arise. Just observe. Don’t judge. Accept your reactions and do not speak or act until you’ve calmed down a bit. Breathe more deeply. Sit down or walk around. Be alone. Learn to recognize and understand your triggers and extreme reactions so that you aren’t ruled or driven by them.
Get healthier. Exercise regularly. Eat better/more healthfully. Stop smoking or using tobacco. Drink less alcohol. Do fewer or no recreational drugs. Create a physical environment that allows your emotions to flow more freely and change more quickly.
Surround yourself with and embody more positivity. Kind people, something beautiful to look at or listen to, comfort in some form need to be in your life more frequently. Think at least one grateful, positive thought every day about yourself and about your life, regardless of how difficult it is to find that. Do something that you like doing as often as you are able. Volunteer/help others. Contribute time or money to causes you want to support. Be as generous as you are able with what you have/are.
Prepare for your own and others’ deaths. We all die. Stop pretending we don’t. Stop ignoring how suddenly that can occur. Cherish your time with everyone, with your own and their lives. Be grateful for every moment you are alive. Take care of business for death’s details so your loved ones and friends won’t have to guess your wishes. Stop having unimportant competitions and petty arguments. Be less materialistic, less greedy, less selfish. None of that really matters: it’s just stuff. Cultivate patience, caring, spaciousness. Do well with less. Recycle, reuse, repurpose. Care for humans and animals, the environment. Decide what you believe about what happens after you die and prepare for that experience as best you can. Start now. Try to make sure that the world you leave behind is better for your having lived in it.
If change is unexpected and we are suddenly faced with a major event, how can we manage these new circumstances to ease ourselves through the transition period?
Again, I’m not an expert. But, I have had decades of education, therapy (from both sides of the “couch”), meditation and life experience to learn from, so here we go.
In addition to following all of the above advice (and PLEASE do, ASAP), next would be to create a plan that includes supportive people and organizations to help you implement it. ASK FOR HELP from family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, professionals, and the government: any and all possible sources of support should be tapped.
Think long and hard about any and all ways something could assist you and then ask for someone to provide it or help you acquire it. Small, medium and large supports should all be included (meals, clothes, fun activities, moving help, relocation advice, medical possibilities, research, support groups, online forums: be creative!).
Remember: change is inevitable and unavoidable. Change occurs every day, all day, for everyone. You are not alone, you are not being singled out, this is not just “happening to you” or the ones you love. Spending time or energy asking “why” isn’t helping you cope. Just keep going.
Focus on helping others: that is another sure-fire way to stop obsessing about your own reactions and doing some good in the world, which will help YOU feel better as well.
You are not “specially suffering.” Read “The Mustard Seed” teaching story http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/btg/btg85.htm and you’ll understand your genuine position in the world: you’re human. We all suffer/deal with difficulties.
When we can learn to hold less tightly to what has been and be more open to what comes, while expanding our consciousness to breathe into every current moment fully, we become happier and more relaxed every day, every moment, regardless of what happens.
Just so you all know: my life has been filled with change, and much of it would be termed “loss.” [I write about all my residential moves, e.g., in my blog.] Fortunately, many decades ago, one of my astrologer friends gave me this helpful perspective: because of my birth time and date, an unusual number of my astrological aspects are “on the cusp,” which means they overlap, on the edges of two signs, houses or planets, for every part of my astrological chart. She interpreted that to mean that I would always be “moving”: houses, jobs, relationships. Frequently changing circumstances of all types would come my way. The sooner I got used to, expected and stopped resisting my “always-being-in-transition” state of being, the happier I’d be, she said.
Combining that knowledge with my ongoing meditation on the truth of impermanence has given me an ability (actually, the freedom) to accept change that few people seem to have. I am grateful for that, since she was so right!
Given all the changes we encounter at whatever age we are, how can we best be open to learning, getting help, and allowing for ourselves to grow and change throughout our lives?
One answer: have friends of many ages. Too often, because we were age-segregated in school, we age-segregate our social networks. Sometimes, though, we make new friends who are not in our own generation. I would encourage everyone to seek out people older and younger than we are and get to know them, let them get to know us. The gym, workplace, shopping centers, family events, online: so many opportunities exist for expanding our circles. Do it. Expand, also, out of your own social identity: if you are straight, cultivate LGBTQ2S friends; whatever your ethnic /racial heritage is, cultivate friends outside of that; learn a new language or jargon and find people to use it with, frequently; make friends whose bodies function differently from yours due to injury or birth or other causes; if you are male, have female friends (ones you don’t have sex with and vice-versa. Once you have a larger variety of people close to you, you won’t feel so “left out” of anything “going on.”
The key is, I think, to be interested. Don’t get complacent, don’t let fear of failure or new things prevent you from trying, from learning. Be willing to fail, to look “foolish,” not to be so good at some things. Then, your life will continue to offer you many chances to grow and learn and you will take those chances.
Consider this: “By 2050, if we continue this endless growth, 30% of earth’s species will have disappeared. The damage is not reversible.” [from my friend and fellow writer, Inger K. Kenobi, in her blog post of 2/1/15, “Long Live the Altruistic Revolution!” on https://www.theviridescentconsumer.wordpress.com] Many of us will still be alive but perhaps have now no plan to prevent this: change your beliefs and behaviors. Collaborate. Other things will subsequently change.
These are some of the reasons I write utopian science-fiction of the near future: we need some ideas on how to improve our lot. We do better when we share inspiration, support, encouragement, hope.
Could you tell us more about Volume II in the series and also a brief overview of Volume III?
In synch with the existence of the multiverse and the known simultaneity of all time and events (which were not as factual when I started this series in 2011 as they became in the spring of 2014!), I organize The Spanners Series in a somewhat unusual way: the odd-numbered volumes of the 10-book [planned] series are featuring and focusing more on older adults while the even-numbered volumes feature and focus on children, youth and younger adults/new adults. The main characters of the series appear in every Volume: Dr. Clara Branon, Ph.D., Earth’s new Chief Communicator, who is 58 at its start; her on again/off again lover/husband, Epifanio Dang, who is 57 when the series begins; her chosen Chief Media Contact, Esperanza Enlaces, who is 31 when she begins working with Clara; and one of Clara’s nephews, Rabbi Moran Ackerman, 27 when the series begins, who becomes Chief OverSeer and leader of the Psi-Warriors.
Many other members of Clara’s immediate and extended family appear in many Volumes, depending on their ages and roles: she has two sisters and one brother and each of them has children; some of those children also have children. Clara’s mother, Rose, is also alive and involved early on. Clara has a few other friends, mostly around her age, who appear as well.
As you know, Volume I, This Changes Everything, “spans” the entire series’ time frame, moving freely and non-linearly between events that occur [the series is written entirely in the present tense, remember, to remind us all that all time is simultaneous] many millennia prior to Clara’s meeting with the first five alien holos from the MWC in late 2012 and extend throughout Clara’s entire term as Earth’s CC, about thirty years. As the introductory Volume for the series, it lays most of the groundwork for all ten books.
Volumes II and III cover the same time period as each other, the five years of Earth’s “Transition.” These five years are the time that starts with Clara’s revealing her visit with “The Band” of alien holos and the deadline given to Earth for deciding whether or not to join the Many Worlds Collective. Each of the Volume’s narrators come mostly from the two different age groups, so we get their perspectives. Volume II also includes “Snapshots” from ten Octobers in Clara’s life, about one every five years for a while then one every year after the aliens visit her, starting in her childhood and extending beyond the Transition, to allow readers to get to know her and her generation better.
Volume II also provides more details and scenes that show both her and her nephew, Moran’s, Excellent Skills Program trainings, Moran’s “Interludes.” The main Chapters for Volume II are the interviews Espe conducts with Clara’s son, Zephyr (32 when the series begins), and each of Clara’s nephews, nieces; her grandnieces and -nephews make a few appearances.
Both Volumes II and III refer to Earth’s internal Psi-Wars, the extreme consequences from the problems that occur when Fragmenters and Trenchers protest Earth’s accepting the MWC’s invitation. There is more about those conflicts in Volume III than II.
Volume III has more narration and scenes from the older group of narrators, including Clara’s siblings, friends and her mother; Epifanio; and a few new characters, some not human, while also including Espe and Moran as well, providing more stories from the five years of Earth’s “Transition.” Some allusions to later Volumes and their events appear in Volume I and each of the earlier Volumes, leading to Volume IV, which is entirely set at the Earth’s first Campus’ Excellent Skills Program (ESP) trainings.
The stories in Volume IV focus on the experiences of the youngest and youth/young adult students, human and not, but Clara, Moran, Espe and a few others appear again, including a new/returning love interest for Clara, Steve. Epifanio, as her husband (and not), depending on what timeline Clara happens to be experiencing on any given day, also keeps appearing.
What writing projects have you planned for the rest of 2015?
I hope to finish both Volumes III and IV this year, but I may not. I am also continuing my show, *CHANGES* conversations between authors, and may write some posts related to that as well as ongoing posting in my blog.
I have some research topics for the series and my own interests which I regularly blog about: physics, astronomy/cosmology, the multiverse and parallel universes, medicine/health, meditation/brain mapping, feminist topics, book reviews, movie reviews, and much more: whatever I’m in the mood to learn and write about, I do. I also plan to create some guest blog posts (most are about writing or indie publishing), some more interviews like this that are really more writing projects than interviews, per se, and who knows what else?
Time now for Defining Moments and with so much experience of researching ‘Change’ and its dynamics and effects, there must be some very interesting key defining moments in your life. Can you tell us about those that you feel have had a profound effect on where your life is today?
More than key moments in my life are some key people. These people helped shape and define who I am by the choices we made together and the choices we made both before and after being in one another’s lives.
SPIRITUALITY: There are a few people without whom I may not have learned to meditate or trained in any higher types of meditation, and these practices and their effects on my life are profound, defining me more than any other education or experiences I can name.
One of them is a boy I knew slightly from 7th – 12th grades, and we dated for a few weeks after we both graduated from high school. It was during that time that he, having already learned and was practicing himself, brought me into Transcendental Meditation. I then practiced diligently twice a day for over twenty years, but I didn’t see or speak to him at all during that entire time. We were forced apart by his parents a few weeks after he brought me to a TM class. Strangely, he made no effort to reconnect even though he could have, and I eventually gave up, too, for all the subsequent years. Yet, he was pivotal in my life.
I recreated that time in my life and lent that part of my biography to Clara in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of The Spanners Series. Then, for wish-fulfillment and curiosity purposes, included some other interactions we had and invented some new ones for Clara and “Steve” to have in that and subsequent Volumes. Those scenes were written purely for fun.
LOVE: I know several men somewhat similar to Epifanio Dang for whom I carried quite a torch for many years but mostly my love was not reciprocated. I created a composite of those men who rejected me for that main Spanners Series character, the on-again, off-again lover/husband of Clara, without realizing how angry I am at a few of them. I found that out when some of my beta readers told me how unlikable Fanio was, asking me why I hated him so much!
I had thought I was creating this romantic lead when I had actually devised an anti-hero. Wish-fulfillment? Revenge fantasies? Who knows? I do know that unrequited love is one of life’s most intense kinds of suffering, according to psychologists, topping even that of losing a child or parent to death, so I have a lot of grief to process, I suppose.
FEMINISM: Having a brother one year older than I am, growing up in the late ’50s – early ’60s into the early 70’s, defined me specifically regarding gender: I became a feminist before there was a word in my mind for what that was. I was compelled to try to even out the playing field, make things more fair and petition for/demand gender parity at school, at home, in my Jewish summer camp and temple and everywhere else we both were. I didn’t always succeed, but I became quite the activist because of the obvious and irrational discrimination I encountered throughout my life just by being female. I continued feminist activist work and still hold those beliefs quite dearly over fifty years since the first seeds were planted.
WRITING: There was not ever a time when I considered not writing, from my earliest memories of knowing I could. Perhaps the defining moments came at each opportunity for “publication” in school or camp newsletters, for prizes or other recognition, and I kept succeeding, showing me that my writing was worthwhile. Poetry, songs, short stories, articles: I wrote them all and still do.
If you are in a position to encourage any young writers, please do! Help them get “published,” whatever that means. Encourage them to enter contests, put their work “out there” and get public feedback and perhaps acclaim. Every positive remark or positioning of our work creates more confidence and encourages us tremendously when we’re young, and those create a boatload of support that can carry us far into our adult lives.
My thanks to Sally Ember for her openness and very interesting and detailed interview and I encourage you to follow the links to her various sites to find out even more.
Author Central Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Ember/e/B00HEV2UEW/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC
Website / Blog: http://www.sallyember.com
Facebook Spanners Series’ page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber
Spanners Series‘ page on Google+ http://goo.gl/tZKQpv
Sally Sue Ember on Google+ http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber
Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/in/sallyemberedd
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember
Thank you so much for stopping by today and please feel free to share on social media or reblog.. Do consider being interviewed by Sally as I am sure that it will be both an enjoyable experience and an opportunity to talk about your work.
For previous guests in the series here is the link.