Life Begins When You Get Back Up, Revisiting After The Fall By Dan Santat

Two years ago I went extra crazy.(Hormones can be very mean.)

The anxiety I inherited at birth skyrocketed. It got so bad that I could barely eat, leaving me too weak to leave the house for about six weeks. It was the second ‘dark night’ I’d experienced in my life, and just like the other one, I came out of it with wisdom that changed my life.

I realized that without peace of mind, nothing else mattered. Without peace of mind, I couldn’t create the life I wanted. I couldn’t be the person I wanted. Ultimately, I couldn’t really live.

The problem with anxiety is that it forces you to make your life small. The terror that comes when your anxiety is triggered is so overwhelming, you’ll do anything to avoid whatever freaks you out.

Humpty Dumpty suffers from anxiety too. After he falls off the wall, he becomes afraid of heights. This new phobia immediately robs him of his favorite activity, his favorite cereal and other things. I’ll stop here so as not to spoil the rest of the story for you.

Because kids dance with anxiety too, Dan’s picture book is for all ages.

This book is important because Dan takes mental illness out of the closet, and shows the stages we can go through on our way to getting back up again. And he does it in a subtle, powerful way without preaching.

As Dan says, “Fear is a really tough beast to tackle.” Maybe because Dan has had a front row seat to his wife’s journey through anxiety and back out the other side, he can stand in our shoes a little bit.

If I could, I’d give this book to everyone I know, and ask them to do the same.

I wanted to revisit this book with Christina, who hadn’t read it, because now that we’ve wrapped up play as a way into acceptance, recap video here, Christina and I will be looking at how fear and acceptance intersect.

Please watch or listen to our review, which I’ll post on our channel tomorrow. If it resonates with you, go out and buy my favorite picture book of all time. (At least so far.)

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

Purple Cereal

 

 

 

 


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Behind The Vids: Anny & Christina tackle Colby Sharp’s The Creativity Project

On the surface, Colby Sharp is a 5th grade teacher in Parma, MI. But scratch the surface a little bit, and you find out he is so much more.

For one, he’s a rockstar in the kidlit world. Among his achievements is Nerd Camp, which he, his wife, and a team of volunteers run every year in Parma, MI. It’s main goal is to promote a love of reading in children. In order to do that, Colby and Alaina realize they have to educate us too–us being writers, educators, parents, aunts etc. So the first two days of Nerd Camp is jam packed with chats and workshops led by some of the leading lights in kidlit and kid education. (R. J. Palacio, Wonder, Tracey Baptiste, Jumbies, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, one of my fav illustrators, teacher Chad Everett)

I had the pleasure of attending the event last year. Two takeaways of many: Discovered why it’s vital not to classify books by gender, i.e. ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ books, but to encourage kids to read whatever strikes their fancy. For one thing, a boy reading a book about girls can help him gain empathy for what it’s like to be a girl in our world, and vice versa. This wisdom supplied by the best-selling Fantasy author Shannon Hale (Princess Academy among others.) Met and learned about how to talk about and promote diversity in the kidtlit world from librarian Kathy Burnette, who is starting The Brain Lair, a diverse bookstore in South Bend, IN.

Colby’s latest contribution to kids, and the rest of us, is The Creativity Project. Colby asked well-known kidlit writers and illustrators to supply creative prompts for each other, and then use those prompts to create a short story or illustration. You see the fruits of the creators’ labor, and then there are about 40 prompts in the back of the book created for us, the readers. (Of course you can do any of the prompts in the book.)

For this week’s vid, Christina and I each did a prompt. Not only were we pleased with the results, but more importantly, they allowed us to stretch our creative wings. Colby’s book reawakens, or strengthens your creativity muscles. And creativity leads to innovation, a stronger and more diverse community, learning, and so much more. In my case, I discovered something new about my Uncle Earl.

I hope you’ll listen or watch our video about the Creativity Project when it posts tomorrow. For now, here’s a moment from the video: Uncle Earl and the journal I used to write his story.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
A purple Hummingbird


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Creativity, Empowerment, Imagination, Inspired Creativity, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids: Courage, a Middle Grade Story For All of Us-Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Barbara Binns did the impossible! She pulled a white privileged woman into the heads of two black brothers living on the South Side of Chicago! And I liked being there.

Courage centers on the consequences felt by T’Shawn and his community when T’s older brother Lamont returns home from prison. (Sadly this is not an uncommon event for many families, particularly those with black Fathers and sons.)

By making the story from T’Shawn’s point of view, Barbara has given those of us who live far from that world a way into it. We empathize with T and the choices he’s forced to make. We feel a Mother’s need to help her son overcome his criminal past, while trying to keep her family together. We revel in, and maybe envy, 4-yr-old Rochelle’s ability to simply accept both of her brothers. It’s the an old adage, the more personal the story, the more universal.

In a time when we need more diverse books, Courage provides a mirror for those who don’t always see themselves on the printed page, and offers all of us some insight on how to handle a complex family situation.

Readers 11+ and up, should run to pre-order this book, which comes out 7/31/18.

Our detailed review of Courage will be up on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can watch, or just listen to our interview with Barbara if you haven’t already. Reminder: You can listen to our vids in the car, on the bus, while you cook etc. We don’t mind if you don’t stare at our silly faces!

Fun Fact: Barbara teaches a course for female writers on how to write male characters.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Swim Trunks
(Okay, T’Shawn probably wouldn’t wear these, but I would!)


Posted in Acceptance, Books, Diversity, Inclusion, Self-Acceptance by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids, Barbara Binns, Blue Spaghetti and #OwnVoices

Barbara Binns is a unique children’s author. She is obviously female, but she writes from a male point of view. In fact her website’s tagline is: Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men…and the people who love them.

She even teaches a course for female writers who want to learn to write from the male point of view. (I should probably take it. I hear it’s terrific!)

Writing from another gender, or race’s point of view is tricky. They say write what you know, but how can you fully stand in the shoes of another who is so different from yourself?

This is a big debate right now in children’s literature too. It’s called #OwnVoices. There are those that believe we can only tell our “own” stories and others who believe that if we do the deep research, and get a ‘sensitivity reader,’ one who is from that gender or race or country etc., to vet our book, then it’s okay.

For ex. J.K. Rowling’s book The History of Magic In North America which is up on Pottermore was crucified by Native American scholars/writers. Debbie Reese,who writes the blog American Indians in Children’s Literature, which carefully reviews young people’s literature with representations of American Indians said, “I don’t think she has the knowledge necessary to do justice to marginalized peoples.”

In my opinioin, Barbara gets the male voice right in her new book, Courage. And she is writing what she knows. She hails from the South side of Chicago, where her book is set. 

What do you think? Would you be open to reading a book done by an ‘outsider’ if it were researched and vetted properly? Let me know by replying to this letter, or posting in the comments section on Barbara’s vid tomorrow on our YOUTUBE channel.

Barbara also did me a solid without knowing it. Luckily for me her favorite food is spaghetti! Mine too. At last I got to eat something I love, even if it was blue.

Below a special moment from the video.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
My favorite food on the planet..well minus the ‘eyes!’


Posted in Acceptance, Books, choose acceptance, Creativity, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids, Betsy Bird, Kidlit Rockstar Librarian, and Tough Conversations

Becoming well-known in any field is tough. There are only a handful of superstar librarians in the children’s literature realm, kidlit as we call it–Betsy Bird is one of them.

For authors/publishers, this means if Betsy gives your book a great review, it’ll generate sales. She’s the ‘Oprah’ of kidlit.

This all started in 2006 when Betsy launched her blog: A Fuse #8 Production.

At the time she had a full-time job as Youth Materials Specialist at the New York Public Library. (She has since moved to Evanston Public Library, which is great for me cuz I get to hang out with her from time to time.) So she could only blog at night.

Her passion and prescience about all things kidlit was obvious from the start. Soon School Library Journal asked her to move her blog to their site, where she’s been since 2008.

Betsy receives about 80,000 visitors monthly. She’s the one to read when you want to find that picture book for your grandkid, or a Middle Grade for your son or friend’s kid, or a MG/YA for yourself!

Betsy combines detailed/precise reviews, with an openness to unique and daring books combined with a quirky and fun sense of humor. On top of that, her passion, some may say obsession, with kids books shines through.

It’s her openness and quirkiness that made us want to interview her for our series on play and acceptance.

A tidbit from our interview: Betsy said that reading children’s books and blogging about them is a form of play for her. “My blogging allows me to have conversations with people who don’t necessarily agree with me . . .we can have discussions/conversations that I wouldn’t usually have [Because I’ll go out of my way to not confront someone about something].”

Kinda reminds me of the Dalai Lama who said that if China ever meets with him, he would invite them to a feast with music and dancing to get them laughing before he ever brought up Tibet.  They need to be in a happy mood before you talk about something difficult, he said.

Does playing with others help you ease into tough conversations you’d avoid otherwise?

The game we made for Betsy.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
One of the best purple books ever!


Posted in Acceptance, Books, choose acceptance, PLAY by with no comments yet.

Behind the Vids, Claire Harfield, BBQ sauce and Triscuits

Claire Hartfield uses stories that explore the past to create a brighter future. Her latest book, A Few Red Drops, looks at the various racial, financial and political conditions that came together to create the Chicago race riots of 1919.

What I love about Claire’s book is that it is a primer on prevention. By focusing on what created the event, rather than just the event itself, it can be used to disrupt and better current tensions to prevent the violence that pervades our country. True to her mission, Claire’s book uses the past to help us better our future. If we’re willing to use it that way. (Too modest to recommend it for our book review this week, she chose another book, We Are Okay, which you’ll hear about on Thursday’s vid.)

A Few Red Drops reminds me of what my Gramps used to say, “Money doesn’t care who owns it.” Seen from that lens the poor, be it Irish,  Black, White or whomever, have more in common than not–a desperate desire to survive, even thrive.

Part of the key to choosing acceptance more often it seems, is the ability to focus more on our similarities than our differences.

What we’re beginning to see with our play experiment is that by laughing and sharing a common goal, such as getting out of an escape room, we focus on our similar needs, or on the strengths we each bring to the task, not our differences or weaknesses. We see our commonality.

Maybe if schools brought in more play, such as an escape room exercise once a week, or fun team building events, our kids would grow up choosing acceptance more often.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts with me either by replying to this letter or commenting on one of my channels. (Links below.)

If you haven’t tried an escape room yet, I highly recommend it!

For those of you who haven’t watched our interviews yet, Christina takes perverse pleasure, as do our guests, in making both of us eat weird stuff related to our guests’ preferences. It’s all part of the torture, er game, of acceptance. Here I’m eating a Triscuit dipped in BBQ sauce.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance
 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Giraffes


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Creativity, Empowerment, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: Laura Jimenez, Tossing Books, and Blue Tamales

Laura Jimenez, a prof at Boston University, walks around with a bullseye painted on her back. That’s because she’s the voice behind the popular and controversial blog BookToss.

Book Toss tells its readers which books to toss, to keep, or to share. Laura has lambasted some pretty popular books, such as Wonder. Laura feels that Auggie’s attempts to make others feel comfortable in the face of his deformity is a form of ableism. It’s not his job to make his deformity palatable for others.

No Easy Book Love

Her quest to shed light on creators and books that reveal what it’s like to be the ‘other,’ and toss books that continue to perpetuate an outdated, or harmful point of view, made her perfect for our Acceptance Game.

While having fun, we touched upon how play can allow for serious topics to be discussed, and she gave us a practical tip on how to evaluate books, movies etc in terms of whether they validate racism, sexism, ableism etc. or not. And I gotta tell you, it’s not easy to spot some of these things if they’re outside of your immediate experience.

Her take on Wonder really threw me at first.  As Mike Moody, a writer with a craniofacial disorder similar to Auggie’s said in a School LiIbrary Journal article, Initiatives such as Choose Kind “[force] marginalised (sic) people to be ever gracious and polite in the face of people who ignore, mock, or vilify us.

Gotta admit, before we interviewed Laura, I only saw the Choose Kind movement as positive. But I’m learning every movement’s meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Nothing works in every situation for every person. Even choosing acceptance has its limits.

Because Christina and I continue to explore the limits of acceptance, please share an experience with me where choosing to accept someone or something was the wrong response. We value your experiences.

Below a special moment from the video. Watch here.

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Tamales


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Empowerment, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

Behind The Vids: Elisa Gall, Inclusion and Play

This week we’re playing the Acceptance Game with Elisa Gall.

Elisa is the Youth Collection Development Librarian at Deerfield Public Library in Deerfield, IL and is also a contributor to the Reading While White blog. (One of the best blogs about diversity and inclusion period, and esp if you fit the title’s demographic.)

Reading While White’s Mission:
We are White librarians organizing to confront racism in the field of children’s and young adult literature. We are committed to working in the ongoing struggle for authenticity and visibility in books. We are learning, and hold ourselves responsible for understanding how our Whiteness impacts our perspectives and our behavior as we strive to advocate for this movement.

Because Elisa’s passion is inclusion and empowering underrepresented voices, we wanted her to help us test our theory that play makes it easier to choose acceptance. That play creates a safe space where tough and honest conversations can be had.

Watch this week and let us know what you think. Does playing with others allow acceptance to flourish?

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.
 
#ChooseAcceptance

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Watch the video to find out why…


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, Inspired Creativity, PLAY, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

I’m baaack, New YouTube Channel, New Point of View

Doing a YouTube channel by myself got lonely. I needed a partner in crime. So at the end of last year I found the perfect criminal, I mean partner.

Her name is Christina Hoover Moorehead. She is a teacher, a writer for kids, and a former TEDx Kyoto head curator. But more than that, she’s able to create the right mix of silly and serious for our channel.

I mean the Dalai Lama giggles most of the time not because he doesn’t see the seriousness of what he’s dealing with, but because he knows it puts others at ease. People at ease, are open and more willing to face tough topics and/or discussions.

So by sucking up to Christina, I got her to join me in creating a brand new YouTube channel. It’s called CHOOSE ACCEPTANCE.

We want to explore an on-going challenge for humans–the ability to accept that which is different.

Our goal is to join with other equally curious people to explore acceptance. Our guiding question: must we have agreement or approval in order to accept that which is different?

We have no idea where this journey will take us, or you, but our hope is that we’ll discover tools that can help each of us choose acceptance more often in our daily lives.

For the first phase of our experiment, we’re looking at whether play makes it easier for we humans to accept each other. What does it mean to choose acceptance?  What are the potential benefits—and limits—to choosing acceptance?   

Towards that end, we’ve created the Acceptance Game. I’m’ not going to ruin the surprise, but I will say it has a high silliness quotient! And we’re grateful to the participants who’ve agreed to go boldly where no one has gone before! The ‘game’ will be posted on Tuesdays, followed up by a book review suggested by our contestants on Thursdays. Our first new video was posted today!

Please spread the word about our project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to this newsletter and/or our YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Because we view our channel as a shared experience, we’d love it if you’d send us suggestions of what you’d like to explore next on this journey. Ex. You want us to look at how personal identity plays a part in choosing acceptance. You may even know someone who can help lead us along this path. If so, brilliant! You can send us names/contact info, video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on our YouTube channel. We can use all the help we can get.  
 
#ChooseAcceptance
 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Purple Pudding. You’ll see why when you watch first video!


Posted in Acceptance, choose acceptance, PLAY, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.

My First Movie Review: Victoria, Abdul, and Active Acceptance

Have you seen the film Victoria and Abdul yet?

If not, I recommend you do. 

Full disclosure, I worship Dame Judi Dench. Can’t remember a movie she’s been in that I haven’t loved.

But I didn’t choose this movie for my first YouTube review because of the Dame. I chose it because it’s an unequivocal example of how to practice active acceptance.

Active Acceptance: a willingness to stand up for another whether you agree with, or understand, their beliefs/choices or not.

That being said, defending those who are persecuted due to race, beliefs, sexuality etc. isn’t easy for those of us who don’t  rule our own countries. (Though Victoria faced all kinds of opposition and threats while standing up for Abdul. You can read more about it in my review.)

In recent weeks, people in Hollywood have found the courage to stand up for themselves and others as whistle blowers. Not easy to do when your paycheck/career is on the line.

I guess what each of us has to ask ourselves when faced with an unfair and potentially harmful situation is what are we willing to endure to defend another’s right to be who they are…whether we agree with their beliefs/choices or not.

I’ve never had to risk my livelihood to stand up for another, so I hope, but don’t know if I’d have the courage to do that. But I have continued to hone my active acceptance skills in daily life, especially with my husband.

My aim is that we model and teach the practice of active acceptance to our kids so they won’t have to face as much prejudice, judgment, and even harm due to their choices. That we can raise a generation that when faced with ‘the other,’ will use their initial fear as a trigger to activate their curiosity and acceptance towards that person, and courage if necessary.

Check out my review and let me know what you think by replying to this letter, or posting your reactions in the comments section of my YouTube page. 

And if you go see the movie, please post your own reviews and thoughts about the film on my YouTube page comments section too.

Click here to watch my YouTube review.

Please spread the word about my project/channel and encourage others to subscribe to my newsletter/YouTube Channel if you think they would speak to them.

Feel free to suggest other neat ways I can expose folks to Active Acceptance. You can send me video ideas, and whatever else you can think of by replying to this letter, or tweeting me, or posting a comment on my YouTube channel. I can use all the help I can get.  
 
#AcceptanceIsAChoice

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
My Queen Katherine of Aragon (the only wife of Henry the VIII to keep her head) purple wedding dress.


Posted in Acceptance, Active Acceptance, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Self-Acceptance, Thinking Outside The Box by with no comments yet.