#UpbeatAuthors: The Little Things

One way to show friendliness is to speak kindly to strangers. I don’t mean start random conversations with someone who could turn out to be an ax murder. I mean if someone is wearing an awesome hat, tell her. If you admire a person’s dress, let them know. “I love your hair!” Let people know their efforts have been noticed and appreciated.

This habit has been known to startle people, but then they smile and say, “Thanks!”

Who Invented “Birthstones?”

A few weeks back, I started wondering where the idea of “birthstones” came from. To me, it sounded like a marketing ploy invented by a greeting card company.

Turns out I was wrong. Sort of.

The origins are Biblical. Old Testament Biblical. The Book of Exodus describes the breastplate of Aaron as having twelve stones, one for each of the Tribes of Israel. Sardius*, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure**, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper.

Both Flavius Josephus (1st century AD) and St. Jerome (5th century AD) made the connection between the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac. Naturally, this connection evolved. Some early cultures believed you should wear the stone corresponding to the current month. In 18th century Poland, the idea that a person should wear the stone corresponding to the month of their birth was born. The modern list of stones was standardized in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers–not a greeting card company.

  • *believed to be either ruby or carnelian.
  • ** possibly an orange zircon

#UpbeatAuthors: Saying Good Morning

My husband has a pet peeve. If someone can’t be bothered to say, “Good morning,” or otherwise acknowledge you–even a “Hi!” will do–he thinks poorly of that person. If someone always greeted him, he maintains a good impression of that person.

I always try to say good morning to the people with whom I work. I also try to say, “Have a nice night,” when I’m leaving.

Being friendly doesn’t take a lot of effort.

My Stupidest Injury

A few months ago, someone on Facebook asked, “What was your stupidest self-inflicted injury?”

I didn’t even need to think about it.

When I was three or four, I had my three pet toads (1 big one, 2 little ones) in one of those big, barrel-shaped pickle jars. My dad had helped me poke holes in the lid with a hammer and nail.

It was a Sunday. After church. We were getting ready to sit down for dinner, when my mother very unreasonably declared my toads could not be at the kitchen table with us. In fact, they didn’t belong in the kitchen. I was to take them to the back porch.

The cinderblock chimney was right there. I thrust down the jar of toads. The glass shattered. My toads were getting away! I started crying. I wanted my toads. My mother started yelling. I looked down. Oops. There was a huge bleeding gap on my left knee. I don’t remember pain. I remember my toads escaping.

My dad drove me back to town. Someone must have called Dr. Opalot, because he was in his office, waiting for us, on a Sunday afternoon. He must have numbed my knee before he started stitching, but I don’t remember. What I remember about that is it tickled. Turns out I have ridiculously ticklish knee caps. I kept twitching my leg, and the doctor would tell me to be still. “But it tickles!” I said. He laughed. He told me that was the first time anyone had ever told him getting sewn up tickled.

It took five stitches in my 3 or 4 year old knee to close the gash. I carry the scar to this day.

If only my mom hadn’t been so unreasonable about toads at the dinner table.

#UpbeatAuthors: Friendliness

This month’s #UpbeatAuthors theme is FRIENDLINESS.

When I think of friendliness, I think about the first time I walked into a CNYRW meeting. I “knew” one person, the president, because we’d been on an Internet group together. This was before email groups and the massive use of the Internet by RWA and its chapters. The president and I had spoken on the phone when I reached out to the chapter. Beyond that . . . I was a stranger in a strange land.

You have to understand. For an introvert, walking into a room full of the unknown is a huge step.

That was 20 years ago. Twenty years since I found my tribe. Twenty years since I made the friends who have seen me through the ups and downs of not only my writing life, but also some personal situations.

The chapter welcomed me.  Without that initial friendliness, I might not have stayed. The friendliness kept me there.