4 Things I’ve Learned from My Media Fast

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in that, kid...

I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in that, kid…

I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:

Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.

Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.

I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.

Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.

So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂

1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.

Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.

*Shakes head sadly*

2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.

Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.

I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.

I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.

3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.

Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.

Which leads me to my last point…

4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.

Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.


Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀

Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?

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Friday Fun – Make Up a Story!

“I had a hard day at the office…”

Earlier this week, I tried to get William to believe that he could come up with a random story with that wonderful imagination of his. He didn’t believe he could it.

Well, he didn’t. But I did – to prove it could be done. The resulting story is rather pointless, but both boys seemed to enjoy it, so feel free to share it with your own kids. 🙂


Once upon a time there a little mouse who wanted to be a fish. So he jumped in the river and swam to his heart’s content…

…until he came across a big frog.

“Hello, Mr. Frog!” the mouse said. “How are you today?”

The frog only said, “RRRIBBIT!”

“What does ‘RRRIBBIT’ mean Mr. Frog?”

The frog said again, “RRRIBBIT!”

“Well, yes, Mr. Frog, I heard that the first time, but I still don’t know what it means. Can you please explain?”

The frog merely said “RRRIBBIT” once more, and then hopped away.

The little mouse kept swimming. Soon, he came upon a mosquito.

“Hello, Mr. Mosquito!” the mouse said. “How are you today?”

The mosquito only said, “BUZZZ!”

“What does ‘BUZZZ’ mean Mr. Mosquito?”

The mosquito said again, “BUZZZ!”

“You know, Mr. Frog just did the same thing to me when he only said ‘RRRIBBIT’ but I still don’t know what either of you are saying.”

The mosquito went crazy and said “BUZZZ!” louder than ever. Then he quickly flew away.

The little mouse kept swimming. Soon, he came upon an earthworm.

“Hello Mr. Earthworm!” the mouse said. “How are you today?”

The earthworm said, “I’m doing well, thank you! How are you?”

The mouse was relieved. “Oh! I can understand you! I couldn’t understand Mr. Frog or Mr. Mosquito earlier. All they said were ‘RRRIBBIT’ and ‘BUZZZ.'”

“Turn around and look at them,” said the earthworm.

So the mouse turned and looked. Mr. Frog ATE Mr. Mosquito! “That’s all they were saying,” said the earthworm. “Mr. Frog was looking for lunch, and Mr. Mosquito was trying not to BE lunch.”

“Wow,” said the mouse. “What do you eat, Mr. Earthworm?”

“I eat dirt.”

“What does dirt say?”

The earthworm shrugged. “Nothing. What do you eat Mr. Mouse?”

“I eat cheese.”

“What does cheese say?”

The mouse shrugged. “Nothing. It was nice to meet you, Mr. Earthworm.”

The little mouse swam to the riverbank. He had decided it was time to stop being a fish and look for some cheese.


I’d love to hear from you!

Do you make up stories on the spot? Do your kids make up stories on the spot? What sort of stories do your kids like?

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Why Aren’t You Walkin’ the Walk?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s been almost a month since Dylann Roof shot nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina. And wow. Folks far and wide have been acting like Chicken Little over the Confederate Battle flag and what really caused the Civil War.

But I’ve heard a common statement that I agree with, especially when it comes to the Battle Flag. We need to change our hearts and minds if we are to end racism. 

Yes. Good! Let’s do it!

So when my local Barnes & Noble organized a reading of To Kill a Mockingbird, I signed up as volunteer reader. Yesterday’s event was to promote the release of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman.

What better way to promote the change of hearts and minds than with a reading of a beloved piece of literature which illustrates the evils of racism?

I probably should have promoted the event. But I get nervous when I speak in front of crowds, so I figured I’d let B&N do the promoting. They are better at it than me anyway.

I also figured, hey, everyone says they want to change hearts and minds, so there should be plenty of people there supporting such a book, right?

Right.

I had signed up for the evening read slot because my five- and seven-year-old boys probably wouldn’t sit for a reading with the lure of the Thomas the Train table calling to them from the children’s section. So they stayed home with Daddy while I went by myself.

And then I sat…by myself.

B&N had a great set up with a banner and a large circle of chairs with several copies of To Kill a Mockingbird for people who wanted to follow along with the reading. But like Kathleen Kelly, I was a lone reed.

Where were all the people who wanted to change hearts and minds? Huh? Everyone was talkin’ the talk. So why was I the only one walkin’ the walk?

Apparently, there were people there reading earlier yesterday. Kudos to them for walkin’. It was an all day event and folks still have things to do. Like me. I wouldn’t expect them to stay for the whole day.

But after hearing all the talkin’, I expected to see SOME people there for all parts of the reading. I wonder how many people would be there if it had been a reading of Grey?

While reading comments whenever the news outlets publish an article about the Battle flag, I find the reactions dismaying. What I see as the problem has less to do with North vs. South and more to do with a breakdown of comprehension and communication. Everyone is talking history but hardly anyone is citing sources. When did everyone become a credible historian?

And then there are the ones who go completely off topic:

Original Commenter: “The Civil War was about slavery, not States Rights. “

Replier: “You ain’t taking my flag away. It’s my First Amendment right!!!”

That “argument” might as well go:

Original Commenter: “French Fries are made from potatoes, not cauliflower.”

Replier: “You ain’t gonna eat all the pepperonis off of my pizza!!!”

As a fellow writer friend pointed out, “When two people are shouting no one is listening.”

Pretty much.

The thing is, I’ve illustrated what I would hope would happen among arguing people within The Stone of Kings. This scene calls to me over and over because I wish there were a way to get more people to see it and use it to bring about peace.

If you’ll indulge me, here it is. Ireland has had their own North vs. South problem. In my book, Ciaran has tried to pull a Dylann Roof (remember, I published this almost a YEAR ago) by murdering innocent people in Northern Ireland. Thomas is tasked with talking sense into him. I liken him to the beautiful families of the nine victims who forgave Roof.

Ciaran fired back his answer. “Because he wants to be a Brit! He wants to defile his Irish blood by subjecting himself to the British crown. On our own Irish land, no less! It’s an abomination. The Brits must either clear out or die!”

“What have they done to you that you feel this way?” Thomas lowered his voice again, displaying an image of calm intelligence.

“They have seized the North of our country. The whole of Ireland must be free!”

“That is not what I asked. Did Robert, or any o’ the British, take your home, your land, your language? Are you prevented from representing yourself in a political assembly? Have they taken your livelihood, murdered your family?”

“Well…no. But they’ve maintained their grip on the North of our country.”

“Do you want to live there?”

“No.”

“Then why should you care?”

“Because they’re dirty Brits!”

“I see. And you are a true Irishman to the core?”

“Absolutely.”

“And no one from the British island deserves to live here in any part of Ireland?”

“Not even their dogs.”

“So how do you feel about Saint Patrick?”

“Huh?” Ciaran blinked and stared at Thomas, obviously unprepared for this turn in their conversation.

“Since only true Irishmen deserve our country, we ought to find a different patron saint. Better still, we shall leave off Christianity altogether since ‘twas Patrick who brought it to us. And we all know how villainous those Brits are.”

Thomas paused a moment to let his words stew. Ciaran opened his mouth, closed it, and frowned. He opened it again but could not seem to find the right word to say.

Finally, he said, “But that was different. That was Saint Patrick…”

“I wonder if Patrick would approve o’ you murdering your cousin and all those strangers in the pub. If he lived in your time, would you kill him simply because he was a Brit living in your country?”

I would love NEED to hear from you!

Do you think anyone will ever be able to “argue” as effectively as Thomas? Have you read To Kill a Mockingbird? Do you cite your sources when discussing history? Are we EVER going to live up to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream? Please! Please, tell me there is hope. I’m so disappointed about all this bickering!

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Grannie’s Memories – The Infamous Root Beer

Image credit: Pumpkin Sky via Wikimedia Commons.

Here’s the next chapter in my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.


On mornings, I’d make my “rounds” which I called “help opening stores.” If any of those people ever felt I was “in the way” so to speak, I can never remember them telling me it was time to go home. Only once upstairs in Grubers Department Store I recall a nice lady who worked there telling me to be real careful. I was checking all the room size rugs which hung on the wall, a great fascination for someone my age.

Her name was Edith Ryder and she always called me “Honey Girl.” Fifty some years later a cousin, who is a nurse, called me when we visited Marietta one summer and said Edith Ryder had asked about me. My cousin took me to see her, and she still called me “Honey Girl.” I’ll never forget her.

I’ll never forget the night Grubers Department Store burnt down. My husband and I heard the sirens and walked up front street to that alley. I watched a lot of childhood memories go with it, but I’ll never forget them ever.

Now, I’ve covered one side of the street up to the alley, but as the old saying goes “the grass is always greener” you know the rest I’m sure. On the other side starting at Green Street, I remember Glines Cleaners. Then the Dime Savings Bank and next to it Richards Drug Store.

Mr. Ed Richards owned it and he had a big soda fountain in there. One of my favorite fountain drinks was Cherry Smash. I used to call it “made by hand” because it came in a glass with ice instead of a bottle. My next favorite fountain drink was root beer. And for two or three years he gave me a “Free Root Beer.” Just one, mind you, and always in the springtime.

That was my favorite side of the street. The other side of the street was a “no-no” to me unless I asked Mom’s permission to get someone to take me across if she was too busy to do it. There was a streetcar track in the middle of the road and I might get hit by a streetcar or one of those big touring cars or a Model T Ford. It was my favorite side of the street because all the “goodies” I liked were there.

Getting back to the root beer.

One spring day, a year or two later, Mr. Richards hired a new boy behind the soda counter. They called them “soda jerks” back then, I guess. Anyhow, Mr. Richards told him to fix my “free root beer.” The glass was a lot bigger than usual and he smiled when I thanked him. I put a straw in the glass and took a big gulp. What happened next I’ll never forget because the taste in my mouth was not root beer!

Anyone my age who has had to take CASTOR OIL will know immediately what I’m talking about. Castor oil has a flavor all it’s own and once you taste it you will never forget it or never want to taste it again.

This story goes like this. Every spring, my mother went over and paid Mr. Richards for my “root beer.” Back then, castor oil was to rid your system of any germs you might have picked up during the winter. What finally caused this plan to fall through was because Mr. Richards forgot to tell the new soda jerk to mix it up. All the oil was in the bottom of the glass where I put the straw and the root beer was on top.

I don’t think I care to talk about this any longer. My mother was one smart lady, but today I still don’t like root beer.


*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice.

I’d Love To Hear From You!

Have you ever ate or drank something and got a surprise? Are you completely turned off a food because of a bad experience? Have you ever had to take castor oil?

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Friday Fun – Chicken Little

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Yesterday, I had to return a book to the library. Unfortunately, it was just one.

You see, I had both boys in the car, and I had already told Charlie that he could be the one to put the book in the slot as we drove up to the book deposit.

William wailed. His face got red and tears streamed down. “This is the worst day ever!”

I think that the next book we borrow will have the story of Chicken Little.

It’s a story that I think a lot of people need to re-read. When William is old enough for social media, I will not let him take part until he can control his sky-is-falling attitude and remember what matters in any situation. Right now, he’s an irrational seven-year-old. It’s my job to teach him how to be rational.

“This is the worst day ever!”

Yeah, that reminded me strongly of “We need to get rid of all the guns!” “They’re gonna take away all our guns!” “We need to ban all Confederate flags!” “They’re gonna to ban all Confederate flags!” “We need to take down Confederate statues!” “They’re gonna take down Confederate statues!” “We need to rename Washington D.C. because George Washington owned slaves!” “They’re gonna rename Washington D.C. because George Washington owned slaves!”

Yep, because the sky is falling and I’ll NEVER have another chance to put a library book in the slot.

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How the Confederate Battle Flag Could Have Been Empathetic

All week, I’ve heard people argue history. “The Confederate flag is not a symbol of racism and hate.” They go in circles about the flag’s true meaning. I’ve heard all those arguments before last week’s shooting. Others say “This is not the time to debate the Battle flag.”

However, none of those people seem to have used the power of empathy. Maybe I can help them. After all, I’m a writer. This is what I do. I’ve never been to the State House in Charleston, SC. But this is how I’ve felt this week.


I stand in the sun at the State House of South Carolina. Drops of sweat slide down the side of my head. I wipe them away with the sleeve of my shirt. Tears remain on my cheeks for the nine slain. Dylann Roof wasn’t a lone wolf in his ideals. He may as well have been one of my students who exhibited similar notions in the superiority of their own race. My race. Ugh. It hurts to think about it.

What could I have said or done to have gotten through to them?

There is a Civil War monument on the north side of the grounds. Such a dark time in our history. Our history. We still argue over why it was fought. I suppose, in a way, it rages on. Some people like to pick and choose which parts of history they’ll affirm actually happened. Kind of like picking and choosing Bible verses to live by. Forget the rest because secretly, it makes us uncomfortable.

An occasional wind passes and the Confederate Battle flag flaps above the monument. I saw that flag all too often as a teacher. The racist students wore them all the time. It bothered me. It was jarring at first, but I got use to it. It was their right. I wouldn’t want someone telling me that I shouldn’t wear something with an Irish flag on it.

But Dylann Roof didn’t show off the Irish flag. He showed the Battle flag. He also showed flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa. But it’s the Battle flag that flaps above my head.

Why isn’t it at least at half-staff? Oh, there’s no pulley. Can’t they at least take it down temporarily? It looks arrogant. The US and State flags are at half-staff. But the Battle flag could care less that nine people lost their lives.

If it would come down just for the mourning process, then I could give some credit to the people who keep shouting that the Battle flag is not a symbol of racism and hatred.

But it didn’t.

The same flag that the killer proudly waved, flies high while the rest of us grieve.


Yes, I understand that the law keeps the flag up there. That particular law has as much empathy as the flag.

We are humans. We identify with symbols and have done so for centuries. If the Battle flag had come down out of respect for the nine slain, it might have taken on a new meaning. A meaning that would negate the images of Roof and his ideas of white supremacy.

Whatever it’s history, whether Civil War or Civil Rights, we had a chance to CHANGE the meaning the Battle flag holds for many Americans. It was time! Not two years from that day! If you believe that the flag isn’t a symbol of racism and bigotry, then prove it isn’t. You had a chance  – but you didn’t take it. That might make you uncomfortable, but I value the lives of our multi-ethnic country more than your comfort. Perhaps if you had been more empathetic, there wouldn’t be such a call to have it removed from government property.

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Wednesday Welcomes – Jessica Freeburg!

Living in Shadows Cover

Oooh! I’m so happy to be able to pick up Wednesday Welcomes with a fascinating ghost story! Living In Shadows is Jessica Freeburg’s debut novel, but she is definitely not a novice when it comes to things spooky! Enjoy! 🙂


Vivian is able to see things other people can’t; things like spirits, both good and evil. After a tragic accident, she begins a new life with her estranged father. While coming to terms with her own inner demons, Vivian realizes that she must help the lost spirit of a girl who disappeared in her new home 15 months earlier; her life depends on it.

Excerpt:

Vivian’s feet planted on the second step from the landing, causing her father to stop abruptly to avoid crashing into her back.

Rebecca was still walking toward the room. “I’ve always thought this pink room would be perfect for a girl.”

“Stay away from the door, Vivian. This shadow is evil. You can’t let it know you can see it!” Thane disappeared before the dark spirit could see him speaking to Vivian.

“Where’s your bedroom?” Vivian pretended not to know as she turned toward her father.

“It’s just at the end of the hallway,” he replied pointing away from the room where Rebecca was standing in the open doorway. She’d already flipped the light on. Pale pink wallpaper dotted with tiny white and fuchsia flowers burst into view behind her.

A shadowy figure darted across the dimly lit room like a large, black dog rushing to examine an unfamiliar house guest, pausing just inches from Rebecca. It was at least a foot taller than her, even as it stood in front of her hunched over awkwardly, partially hidden from Vivian’s view by the bedroom wall flanking the doorway in which her stepmother stood. Its head cocked sharply to one side as it seethed like an angry cat.

Vivian wanted to scream for Rebecca to get out of that room. Instead, she took a deep breath and said calmly, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a room closer to yours.”

Rebecca and her father exchanged looks. Vivian held her breath, while the vaporous shadow figure reached a jagged, bone-thin finger toward Rebecca’s face and gently stroked her cheek, its bulk still partly obscured by the wall that separated the room from the hallway. Rebecca shifted her gaze to Vivian, unaware of the touch.

Most people never knew the spirits were present. They didn’t hear them, they didn’t feel them, and they didn’t see them like Vivian did. Sometimes Vivian wished she was one of those people. Life would be so much simpler.

“Of course.” Rebecca flipped the light off as she stepped out of the doorway. The vapor sucked itself sharply back into the shadows of the room. An unearthly shriek pierced Vivian’s ears as Rebecca pulled the door shut behind her.

“We just thought you might like a bit more privacy, but there’s a room right next to ours.” Rebecca smiled at James as she walked past the stairs where Vivian’s body had rooted itself.

Vivian closed her eyes against the high-pitched screeching, as if not seeing would somehow stop her hearing, as well.

Buy Links:

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Jessica Freeburg Author picJessica Freeburg has always been inquisitive and loves the challenges of all that life, and the afterlife, has to offer. Her fascination with history and the paranormal fuels many of her creative works. She embraces the fringe and relishes in the examination of what others may take for granted. As the founder of Ghost Stories, Inc., Jessica has performed paranormal investigations at a variety of reportedly haunted locations. LIVING IN SHADOWS: BOOK ONE OF THE SHADOWS SERIES is her debut novel. Her second book, a middle grade nonfiction about the Holocaust will be released in the fall of 2016. She is a news correspondent for the wildly popular paranormal radio show DARKNESS RADIO. She also serves on the editorial staff of FATE Magazine and is the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for the state of Minnesota. In addition to writing books, she enjoys working in screenwriting and documentary production. She lives in Lakeville, MN with her husband and three children.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @jessicafreeburg

https://twitter.com/JessicaFreeburg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicafreeburgauthor?fref=ts

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jessicafreeburg/

Author Website: www.jessicafreeburg.com

Ghost Stories, Inc. Website: www.ghoststoriesinc.com

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