Ampersand Gazette #15
Welcome to the Ampersand Gazette, a metaphysical take on the news of the day. If you know others like us, who want to create a world that includes and works for everyone, please feel free to share this newsletter. The sign-up is here. And now, on with the latest …
“A pregnant Plano [Texas] woman who got a ticket for driving alone in an HOV lane plans to fight the citation, arguing her unborn baby should count as a second person.
“The woman, Brandy Bottone, was driving down Central Expressway approaching the exit for I-635 when she was stopped at a sheriff’s checkpoint targeting HOV drivers breaking the rules. By law, in order to use the high-occupancy vehicle lanes, drivers must have at least one passenger in the vehicle.
“‘He starts peeking around. He’s like, Is it just you? And I said, No there’s two of us! Bottone said. And he said, Well where’s the other person. And I went, Right here, pointing to her stomach.
“At the time of the incident last month, she was 34 weeks pregnant.
“But the officer told her that doesn’t count.
“And then I said, Well (I’m) not trying to throw [in] a political mix here, but with everything going on (with Roe v. Wade), this counts as a baby,” she said.
“Though Texas penal code recognizes an unborn child as a person, the state’s transportation code doesn’t.
“Bottone got a $275 ticket. She said she plans to fight the ticket in court.”
from a news report on NBCDFW by Scott Gordon “Pregnant Woman Cited for HOV Violation Says Her Unborn Baby Should Count as Second Person”
July 10, 2022
It is the very rarest specimen of superhero who appears at thirty-four weeks pregnant, but unusual times call for unusual measures. Her court date was set for July 20th, but was postponed the minute she hired an attorney.
One of the things I so enjoyed in a wince-y way about this story was Ms. Bottone’s insistence that the law is the law. She draws attention to a fact oft pushed aside on both sides of the political aisle as irrelevant. Yes, of course, laws are changed. Laws are changed all the time. But it seems to me that so often laws are changed without even considering, let alone measuring, their, if you will, hidden costs a.k.a. consequences.
Recently there was an essay in The New York Times [May 10, 2022, before the official decision was handed down] called “Overturning Roe Will Disrupt a Lot More Than Abortion. I Can Live With That.” by a seriously pro-life person, Matthew Walther, the editor of The Lamp, a Catholic literary journal.
Mr. Walther says, “For opponents of abortion, it is worth asking what might follow from overturning Roe — apart from the joyful fact of hundreds of thousands of additional babies being born — and how we should reckon with the arrival of any apparently unwelcome social or economic consequences.”
Social or economic consequences. Ohhhh, those.
He outlines briefly but doggedly the needs of all those babies and their mothers and their school districts and their daycare structures and their fathers and their siblings and their communities — all of which will need to be paid for. Mr. Walther says he’s in. He’s glad about Roe and he’s willing to work to cover each and every consequence of the change. It’s worth asking: is anyone else? I’m actually asking if anyone else is even asking.
Brandy Bottone and her superhero child are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consequences, Beloved. And inasmuch as we love to speculate that we can and will and do anticipate all consequences, if we’re totally bald about it, we just can’t. What we can, however, know is that there will be consequences no matter what. Ones we anticipate and ones we don’t.
Living with those consequences of change is what life is all about.
Remember I said I had a surprise for you a couple issues ago? Well, here it is. I was a guest of leadership business coach Kc Rossi on her podcast, Women Developing Brilliance, which should air on August 30th. Kc and I decided to do a swap — my podguesting for her article in The Ampersand Gazette. Here’s some wisdom for all of us, Beloved. Read on.
3 Easy Ways to Minimize Energy Drains and Maximize Your Potential
By Kc Rossi, Leadership Coach
You expend a tremendous amount of energy every day. Even if you’re unaware, there is a multitude of micro-erosions chipping away at your innate power. Let’s take a look at three easy ways to minimize energy drains and maximize your potential.
According to research conducted by Statista, the average person spends 2.45 hours on social media per day. It’s easy to get attracted by the plethora of posts, cute cat videos, and clever marketing ads. It may feel like an entertaining outlet, but the content you consume leaves a lasting imprint. You are being influenced on a cellular level by each media impression. To some degree, these layer upon one another secretly burdening your system. This residue can weigh you down and over time cause stagnation, comparison hangovers, and general suppression.
Practice: Notice your mood when scrolling through social media. Ask yourself if you feel energized before, during, and after engaging online. Once you know what works, you can consciously partake in what boosts your state and ignore the rest.
Living a life where your best is never good enough is soul-sucking. Those plagued with overworking everything from writing to personal appearance are often deeply unhappy. If you find that you’re procrastinating because you fear the results will be less than stellar, it’s time to pause. Taking a moment to get to the root of why you feel it’s necessary to pick and perfect will help. Once the cause is illuminated, it’s easier to change the pattern. This doesn’t mean you have to stop striving for excellence — it’s just adding a supportive perspective. This alone will conserve a massive amount of wasted energy!
Practice: Find ways to celebrate the simple and mundane. Journal on the following questions — How can I find joy in my current accomplishments? What do I appreciate about myself right now at this moment?
Open-ended obligations are consuming energetic space. It’s time to free up your internal hard drive. Closing loops is an effective way to seal up anything from communications to commitments. This practice will cultivate opportunities for respect and provide more freedom to create unencumbered.
Practice: Take a moment and close your eyes. Think of any people you have extended a promise or offer to. Next, think of any pending personal or professional commitments that are
outstanding. Do you owe anyone money? Is someone waiting on you for something? It’s a good idea to make a list, prioritize the items, and commit to closing the loops.
You have untapped potential within. Part of carving the way to unleash it is being mindful of your inputs, letting go of procrastination and perfectionism, and closing loops. For a free “Reclaim Your Power” visualization, click here. Until next time … breathe joy.
Kc Rossi is a Business & Leadership Coach who helps mission-driven CEOs and entrepreneurs optimize their performance, productivity, and profits. She is the host of Women Developing Brilliance® — The Spirit of Business; a show dedicated to cultivating confidence, increasing visibility, elevating vibration, and leading with purpose.
OMG, closing the loops! If only we all just did that practice, we’d have buckets more energy!
“As citizens we have many rights, but we also have obligations,” said Wayne Lesperance, a political science professor at New England College, in Henniker, N.H. “And when we don’t fulfill our obligations, we often end up with results we don’t like.”
from an article in The New York Times “One Small Step for Democracy in a ‘Live Free or Die’ Town” about a proposal to cut the town’s annual school budget in half and what happened when the indifference of its residents was shattered to the degree that they had to take action
July 10, 2022
Apparently, there are two hugely disparate political factions in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. When one of them suggested that residents no longer needed to cover the public school budget, apathy turned into activism maybe not in the blink of an eye, but with a few judicious phone calls and some citizen advocacy.
The phrase that caused me pause in this quote was “when we don’t fulfill our obligations.” I’m not even really interested in talking about the consequences of that inaction. What intrigues me is the notion of obligation at all.
In fact, it seems like a lot of what my parents and grandparents assumed to be tacit parts of the social contract amongst those of a society were obligations, most of them unspoken.
The word obligation comes from Latin roots: ob- means towards + ligare means to bind. Obligations are part of what bind us to one another as these New Hampshire citizens discovered.
Anyone notice that word ligare? It’s the same root as our word ligament — also, the principle part of religion, which means to link again. Ligaments, Beloved, are the sinews that connect and keep our skeletal systems in order.
Give some thought this week, would you, to what you consider your obligations? To yourself. To your family. To your job. To your friends. To your neighborhood. To your society. I think you’ll be surprised at how comforting they are.
Obligations are part of what creates belonging.
“I hold one share in the corporate earth and am uneasy about the management.”
E.B. White, writer (11 Jul 1899–1985)
At the end of each day’s A.Word.A.Day by Anu Garg, there is a quote, usually by someone whose birthday happens to be that day.
Here the author of Charlotte’s Web is the Master of Understatement, no? In fact, the understatement was so under, meta-under if you will allow me, that I laughed when I read it. So, uh, yeah, uneasy is a word.
When you get to feeling uneasy about this world, Beloved, I want you to do a practice our family does when we read or hear “bad” news or “scary” stuff or just “things we don’t like.” We add two words. Try them on.
Sometimes when we say them, it’s through clenched teeth. Other times, they’re a prayer. Other times, a mantra. Still others, a seems-so-far-away wish. But … no matter the delivery, we take comfort in them. And as an added bonus — in any given circumstance, only one of us has to remember them.
Remind yourself. Things change. They are the way they are — for now. And they will change.
“We live in an age of dumb demographic stereotypes. Millennials, we’re told, are entitled snowflakes and boomers are selfish egotists. Describing huge groups of people in a few traits is absurd, but that doesn’t mean those reductionist ideas don’t shape us.”
from an article in On Comedy profiling comedian Janeane Garofalo
“Janeane Garofalo Never Sold Out. What a Relief.” in The New York Times
July 14, 2022
This is the easiest one-way ticket to the Despair Bucket that any of us has. There’s no other way to put it. These broad strokes reducing persons, souls, actual human beings, to one aspect of ourselves can send anyone down the proverbial rabbit hole faster than fast. This is why, when we encounter these broad brushes, we need to remember Brandy Bottone.
One mother. One driver. One baby. An individual. Who makes a difference in the lives of those whose intersect with hers. To climb out of the Despair Bucket, zoom in, Beloved. Look at the human millennial in front of you who needs help. Or the boomer in the grocery store who can’t reach or read such tiny type.
We make a difference, Beloved, one person at a time. Starting first and foremost with ourselves.
“This ain’t about dance for me anymore,” she continued, taking on the cadences of a preacher. “My practice is more motivated by spiritual unification, harmony, rolling on the same rhythms together and moving forward. That’s what the world needs. I want to heal the world. Just let me strut.”
The words of Michelle N. Gibson
in an article in The New York Times “She Wants to Heal the World Through Second Line”
July 21, 2022
Dancer Michelle N. Gibson is a PK, a preacher’s kid, so when The New York Times wrote that her speech cadence took on the rhythm of a preacher, I smiled. Of course it did. That has to be how she learned persuasive speech.
And, glory to be God, she’s taken it onto stages all over the world to teach people how to “second line,” which is the jazz dance parade tradition of Black funerals in New Orleans. She maintains that there’s no right way to get it done, but that everyone — anyone — can learn to second line in their own way.
Think, just think, of the deep roots second line has. It’s meant to turn a funeral procession into a celebration of life. As she says, “spiritual unification.” Second line says implicitly, yes, of course, things die, but things are born too, and anew.
Ms. Gibson captivated my heart when she talked about “rolling on the same rhythms together and moving forward.” Isn’t that what we discussed moments ago? Obligation. Second line is all about acknowledging the links that bind us together.
And even though, at its very worst moments, it feels like those links are dissolving or dissolved, never to return again, then along comes an Ampersander like Michelle Gibson.
“That’s what the world needs. I want to heal the world. Just let me strut.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of it quite this way before, Beloved, but has it ever dawned on you that world needs your strut? Because … we do.
And in publishing news …
When It Comes to Historical Fiction, More Is More
A headline from New York Times’ Books
July 16, 2022
773, 474, 820 — these were the page counts of the three historical fiction books reviewed in the article. Not to be a size queen but … Jezebel Rising beats them all. 852. Still up for pre-order on Amazon, I am thinking that I want to start a sneak peek podcast of me reading a chapter an episode — for free. Then I’ll figure out how or when or with whom to do an audiobook later on. This won’t be an audiobook, nor will it be a perfect recording. Nope, just me, the author, reading aloud. Look for it to start this fall …
You’re not the first person who’s asking: Why a pre-order? Why isn’t it up NOW?
Two reasons. First, I still have beta readers’ feedback to accumulate and integrate, but second, (and MORE) pre-orders change the ranking of a book on Amazon more than any other single determinant! I picked my birthday as the pub date — October 12 — so that I can ask for pre-orders so that the book might debut at a higher rank.
So, if you love subversive women who (nevertheless) persistently refuse to do what they’re told, pre-order.
Or if you love cross-dressing oldest sisters who were raised as first-born sons, pre-order.
Or if you love the Gilded Age in all its splendors and excesses at both ends, pre-order.
Or if you love rags-to-riches stories wherein people who don’t expect to rise in the world do, pre-order.
Or if you love turn-of-the-century New York stories, pre-order.
Or if you love the heroine’s journey à la the brilliance of Gail Carriger, pre-order.
Or if you love really delicious, long, long, long (852 pages) saga-type novels, pre-order.
Or if you love my writing just because, then by all means pre-order, darling. Above.
I’m still working on research for Jasmine Increscent, and by grace, fell over a little essay by G. K. Chesterton that has given me all the arguments on every level I could want. Fortunately, it’s in the public domain so I am free to lift whate’er I choose. Yippee. I think it’s likely I’ll be starting serious writing on Subversive Lovelies, Book Two soon enough.
I’m featured on another new podcast — this time: The Exploding Human. Bob Nickman, a self-described “failed party animal,” (which made me screech with laughter) and I had a blast. We even worked on an issue of his using the chakras!
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-exploding-human-with-bob-nickman/id1241798211 or click on the image and it will come up on YouTube.
I’ve got more podcasts scheduled in August. It raises my level of enthusiasm about chakras, healing, and even fiction writing every time I do one. Speaking of chakras, I’m investigating creating what are known in the industry as “tiny courses.” Instead of the big-ticket training programs with beaucoup modules and 93 bonuses, these are about an hour, and focused on one issue, one solution. I’m daydreaming tiny courses for chakra depth work.
And, finally — I cannot believe I can write this — I GOT THE RIGHTS TO RENT!!!! Well, I got the Larson Family approval, and now I just have to jump through legal hoops. I’m hoping to have Rent Rx, Mex Mystery 9, out this fall.
You will recall, Beloved, that I asked for your prayers to get some motion on this issue in my last Ampersand Gazette. Well, what do you know? Prayer works.
Of course it does.
So from my house to yours, I wish you whatever coolth you need, and be Ampersand.
Until next time,