Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Owl Branch is pleased to announce new promotional memberships starting at $1.99 per month. New enrollees will receive 6 free novels.

Come join us as we provide new services for authors such as, Proofreading, Editing, Beta Reading, Promotional Ideas, Advertising, A Private Tab On Our Website, Social Media Sharing and lots more.

SC Clarke and Carissa Webb will be happy to answer you questions and provide informative suggestions for your books and work.

Contact us today! theowlbranch2015@gmail.com

We encourage you to take a look at the website. http://theowlbranch2015.wix.com/books-seller

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Now that the season is upon us to celebrate the 
birth of Our Savior and Lord Jesus we can reflect what giving a gift really means. For example: when the Magi (Three Kings) came to Bethlehem bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Mir, they did it because they had heard the savior was born and wished to honor him with these special gifts. Today we give gifts because it is commercial to do so. However I would like to think that in honor of Jesus Christ we give gifts just like the Magi...to keep the tradition alive of love, hope and faith. 

This year give a gift of love, a book. A simple form of entertainment which will light up a heart for just a bit. Consider the North Star that lit the way for the Magi making their way to Jesus' birth bearing those wonderful gifts oh so long ago. 

Many of you may disagree with the way I used the Birth of Our Lord and Savior to present my books for sale. However, could you have compared a gift any better? Would you give a gift in honor of a friend, loved one who you feel has been a savior in your life? Think about it.

My books are Time Travel, Paranormal, Historical, Romance they have nothing to do with the Bible or Jesus' Birth. But they can be given as a gift in the form of a paperback book, audio recording or an ebook. 

Share the love this Christmas Season! http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Miles-Gauthier/e/B00MEFQN6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1425413180&sr=1-2-ent

Thank you for being a member and viewer of this blog! 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Posted: 14 Dec 2015 07:50 AM PST
As promised, I'm keeping you aware of how that approach to change thing is going.  And here is the lesson that I've learned.  In order to create change, I have to be the person instigating the change.  I keep learning that lesson because most of my life I've learned something else. Which is that I'm not powerful enough to instigate change.  When I lived in the household with Maxine, I learned that nothing I could do would really improve things.  No matter how I approached it, Maxine was still mentally ill. I couldn't solve things.  I couldn't cure my Mom. I really couldn't make it all better for Dad. Or my sister. The result is that I felt hopeless. I also began to believe that I had no power to change the direction of my life.  As an adult, I have had to un-learn that lesson over and over.  And during the times that I'm totally clear, here is the result: I really do have some power. And it is amazing to realize this.

In the last few years in Tennessee, I've acted on that learning. As situations come up that are clearly going to challenge my recovery, I've had to take responsibility for moving things forward. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's been easy. There is still a child inside of me who believes that the world is stacked against her and nothing is gonna change.  And she has regular tantrums. When you see me stuck and unable to make decisions, that is probably who is in control. I love that little girl. But I can't let her stay in control of my life. The decisions that I have to make are too important. So, how do I handle it? I acknowledge her fear and hopelessness.  I tell her I love her. Then I take the next logical step. I learned as a case manager that there is always a step to take.  Many times they don't solve the problem. Solving problems can be an ongoing process. And it feels like it takes forever to solve things. The outside world and our own thinking patterns tend to get in the way. We've talked enough about how help is limited for those dealing with mental illness. And even when you are dealing with life things that are totally unconnected to your illness, the influence of that problem is still pretty intense sometimes.

However, on occasion, I've been able to solve a problem just by taking the next logical step. Which always really surprises me. I guess that is because I've learned the lesson that life is always a struggle. And I don't expect things to actually work for me. Can you relate to this?  I'm pretty sure that you can, because I hear you saying the same thing all the time. We have come to the conclusion that we can't make our lives better. And that very fact makes our ability to create change almost nil. I'm very clear that I'm almost re-parenting myself. Today, I'm willing to do it. What brought this all to mind? I took a risk recently to solve a problem at work that was really influencing my life. That was Judy re-parenting herself. And the problem was solved. Which is going to make a difference for me. I'm already seeing that.

Life is tough sometimes. And there are situations that we cannot change. But in realizing that, we also have to recognize that we do have some power. We have to harness that power, which comes from our mind, and work to make the changes. That is the lesson of The Serenity Prayer:

G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I've told you how much I rely on that prayer on a daily basis. The hopeless child inside of me is frequently soothed by that prayer.  You don't have to believe in G-d to recognize the wisdom. Come on, say it with me.....

Sending much love.  Let's talk!

All my thanks to George, Adam, and Stephanie.  You helped me believe again. (Ashley, thanks for the support.)

Monday, November 30, 2015

More...Insights by Judy

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The power of depression.......

I had an interesting question from a reader after my last article.  He asked me if my depression had "faded" so that I could recognize the positive in life.  I told him that it didn't fade, but it was managed.  I am very aware that depression is part of my biochemical makeup.  I believe totally that it is going to be part of my life until the end.  It is a lot like the diabetes that I struggle with.  It's just there.  I have had periods in which it seemed to be more of an underlying issue.  It could be seen in my total lack of confidence.  I could recognize it in my lack of hope that I could create a life that would be satisfying.  And even during those times that things were going well, I still had the anxiety that I would somehow screw it up.  And sometimes I did. In the last approximately three years, I've had a period that I would consider peaceful. And the depression is at bay.  Kind of like a remission.  I work hard to keep it that way.  I've had situations and problems that would normally lead to a serious bout with depression. I'm getting older.  Having health issues.  Job problems.  But I'm coping.

I have always recognized that situations can and do tip off my more serious experiences with depression. Moving to a new place.  Job issues.  My divorce.  Struggling with single parenthood. Breakups.  One of my hospitalizations was the result of a breakup. Which is why I always talk about how I see depression as a problem with coping skills. When I'm faced with a situation that I can't control...or seemingly get through...I give up. I do know that there are going to be times in my future that will be difficult. So, I'm very aware that depression is a possible future issue.  How do I plan to deal with that potential issue?  The same way I'm dealing with it now.  Using the tools that I recognize help me. I take medicine because it helps. I may not need medicine when things are going smoothly, although I could debate that, but when problems are there...it makes a huge difference. And we all know that life happens. I use support.  My daughter is a prime example of the support that has kept the last few years so peaceful.  I also use online support groups because I don't have the transportation to get to face to face meetings. I have utilized therapy during times that things threaten to get out of control or I have an issue I can't seem to get through. It helps me to have a professional to provide suggestions and help me process feelings. I get out and get some exercise even though I have physical problems.  My walks to and from work and to other places have been a miracle for me. The hills of Tennessee are beautiful.  I find much peace in walking them. Basically, I try to take care of myself.  I recognize that my chances of staying healthy are better if I work on nurturing Judy.

Is any of this a guarantee?  Definitely not.  We only have to look at people who have killed themselves to know that.  I remember one client that I worked with in my social service career.  She was a lawyer.  Bright, capable, and VERY bipolar. When she was involuntarily hospitalized, she kept the doctors hopping filing briefs to be released.  I loved her spirit, although I also recognized her very severe illness.  And she eventually killed herself.  I remember hearing about her death.  It was truly a sad event in my opinion.  This was a smart woman. Who had an overwhelming disease.  That led directly to her death. Brains and knowledge aren't always enough to save people.

So, to my reader.....thanks for your question.  It led me to consider the absolute power that mental illness can have on us.  How can you relate to this discussion?  Let's talk!  Sending love........

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sunshine and Support...........

Love is seen in the most unexpected places.  Being a depressed person, I don't always see the love. I've been given a lot of love and support throughout my life that I didn't see as clearly as I needed to. I was so busy judging myself and my weaknesses that these expressions of love were a blip in my ongoing negative self-talk.  I would take them in and feel gratitude. Then I would feel guilt because for some reason, I thought I shouldn't need the support. But that has changed. Now I see support as an expression of love.  Basically because I've put in a lot of effort to recognize that I'm human and weaknesses are part of the deal.  We all have them.  How have I changed my attitude?  Through constant affirmation that I'm worthwhile. Being able to take in the love is something I had to learn. So, what brought this to mind?  I've had my struggles at work.  But there have been times that I have truly seen love in the people I work with and the people I serve.

I'm pretty good at my job.  At this time in my life, I've chosen to work in a retail establishment because I love the constant public contact.  I like to 'schmooze'.  Talking to people is essential to my nature. If I can't talk, I am TRULY depressed. When I get quiet, you should start worrying. Working in retail is a pretty good thing for me. And you can see the full range of human interactions there. So, the other day I had a situation occur at work that was an example of support in its most basic form. As you know if you read my blog regularly, I have a 'walking stick' (cane).  I use it regularly because I have leg problems.  I'm not totally disabled, but the walking stick is an important tool for me. I use 'pool noodles' on the handle because I tend to grip the handle of this cane too tightly, which leads to an extremely sore hand.  I have enough soreness, so the pool noodles are important.  They really make using the cane more comfortable. I have three of these noodles in various colors.  And I need them because these things eventually rip and break down. They are not able to be used at a certain point. So, I simply cut off a new piece and go on.  I'm not going to run out of them for quite a while.  I haven't finished the first one.

The other day, I noticed that my noodle was really getting pretty broken down.  It was ripped and not staying on the handle as well as I needed it to. But I was heading out the door for work and thought I could get one more trip out of it. But here is where I saw the love.  At the end of my work day, I went into the break room to pick up Barnaby. (My cane) And the pool noodle had been very carefully and beautifully taped. I was stunned. What a little piece of love! I don't know who did this. But I owe them a hug. I felt so cared for. And I'm very proud that I could see the love.  Many times in my life, I would have judged myself for needing that walking stick.  Or even for working in a retail store. (Retail isn't 'professional' enough.) Now, I am simply grateful for the fun in my job. And I think Barnaby is a totally cool walking stick. I see the love. I see the joy. This is quite a change....especially since there is no attached "BUT".

What about you?  Do you see love, joy and support for what they are?  Or are you still struggling with judgments that don't really serve you? Find the sunshine. Let's talk!  Sending much love..........

Thursday, November 26, 2015

On a day of giving thanks......

I've been really blessed in my lifetime.  I've had experiences that have confirmed for me that people are basically good. Even the clients I worked with gave me many memories of basic goodness.  I have much love in my life.  So, today, I'm giving thanks for that love.  My daughter, Jana, and my 'other daughter' Julie, are the motivation for my continuing to strive and keep going.  Both of them are wonderful, loving human beings who put up with and celebrate me.  I can't tell you how much I owe them.  Really, I owe them my life. If I hadn't had the love and support from the two of them, I might not have made it out of Orlando. I really was in pretty bad shape, not seeing solutions, and not able to make decisions. Because of that, I know the power of depression.  I know the feeling that a lack of hope brings. If I had been able to figure out a way to kill myself without pain in Orlando, I might not be here. There were many nights that suicide looked like the best solution. But there was this spark.  I knew that my daughter loved me.  I knew that my death would cause her considerable pain. So, I kept going. And eventually that spark grew into a flame that carried me to a bus and the trip to Tennessee.

I see much power in love and kindness.  I've seen it work miracles. Which means that when I see unkindness and anger, I know there is another way. I see a great deal of unkindness and hate in this world. Given my tendency to become depressed, I probably shouldn't even watch the news. But unfortunately, because I grew up in a Jewish household which experienced the Holocaust on a personal level, I believe that my only defense is being aware.  I can't hide out. The current political season in the United States is really very frightening.  Our candidates, at least on one side, are celebrating hate.  They want us to hate all Muslims. They want us to hate all Hispanics. They want us to hate all Black people.  And for many of them...Jews are the enemy still.  I'm watching this with a great deal of fear.  I know where hate leads.  I heard the stories that my relatives told about their experiences in the Holocaust.  Whole branches of my family tree died. I really do know that hate is always there. But something about this seems very ominous.  Hate has become not only accepted in certain circles, it is truly celebrated. Why did this come to mind on a day that is dedicated to giving thanks?  Because I saw a truly disgusting example of that hatred.  And I'm going to share it with you because I think we ALL need to be aware.

Donald Trump is under "fire" for making fun of a man who has a disability.  He was taped doing so. There is no denial here.  He actually went there.  And as I listened to this truly horrifying episode, I was reminded that Hitler despised those with disabilities.  We know that because he gassed them along with the Jews. It is a short leap from fanning hatred to coming up with a 'final solution'.  And there is one important lesson that I learned from my recovery:  I cannot ignore the elephant in the room.  I have to identify it and challenge it.  So today, on a day in which I would prefer to be giving thanks for all the love in my life...I am instead writing about hatred. I hope you understand why this has to be so.  I truly have to do my part.  I have no choice. Thank you so much for listening.  And for all of you reading, I am sending my LOVE.  With true recognition that you come from all sorts of different races, ethnic groups, and religions.  Love is the answer.  We CAN work out the problems without resorting to all this hatred.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving....and a beautiful holiday season. Let's talk!

If you feel a need to actually view the video, here is the link:  http://aol.it/1XinKj0

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Is love really the answer?.......YES!............

As someone who believes totally in the concept and practice of support, I think I tend to look at human relationships as the most important source of hope in dealing with mental illness. I know that love can do a whole lot to help people cope. And to lead to healing. Whether that love is romantic or not, love really is the answer in my book. I've told you about my anger at Maxine as I was growing up.  I've told you about the impact that she has had on my life.  But I'm not sure whether I've been able to adequately describe the love that permanently changed my life as I grew to understand her mental illness. While I never had the opportunity to tell her how much I really loved her, I know that somehow she knows. I know today that in spite of her illness, Maxine had an underlying loving spirit. And that spirit is part of my soul. And anything that I've accomplished started there. With my very severely mentally ill mother.

Over the last week at work, I've had two women reach out to me to tell me their stories.  I'm kind of used to that.  I make my interactions with the human beings I serve at work very personal.  I tease with them.  I welcome them.  I ask how they are doing. And amazingly, they tell me. One shared with me that she is facing her second Christmas at home without her beloved husband.  He died last year before the Christmas season. And she is clinging to her grandchildren to anchor her and move through this painful season. The second is a woman who always greets me with a smile. She laughs at me and with me.  I love seeing her because she is always dressed in pretty colors and a bright smile. The other day, she told me that she doesn't have to go back to her oncologist for the next ten months because she is cancer-free. We hugged and celebrated for a few minutes. I have to tell you that I was extraordinarily moved by both of those interactions.  I was thrilled that they shared with me.  I was honored that those two women are part of my life.  I was filled with love. And it made me very aware that love is really my antidote for the depression that has ruled my life.  Love.

So, today I got another reminder.  Two of the people that I value the most in my rather interesting and eclectic support system announced that they are in a relationship....with each other.  They are both sweet. They are truly adorable. And they live with mental illness. These two individuals have touched me in many ways. I've felt their support many times over the last couple of years. And it has made a difference for me. Because I utilize online support, these individuals reside in another country. But they've felt as real in my life as the people who live next door. And the love flows in every interaction I have with them. So, to hear that they've found love together was such a touching thing. It gives me hope.  Love is there. And all is right in my world at this moment.  Thanks so much, my friends.....I truly feel joy at your good news.

What does this lead me to?  How can I harness the joy I find in love to keep myself happy and stable? By recognizing it when it occurs. Depression thrives for me when I feel alone. I don't have to be 'in a relationship' to recognize that I'm part of the human community. I have found more sense of belonging than I ever did in "relationships".  Now, I'm looking for the love. And I'm finding it. How about you?  Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  I'm sending much love to you right now.  Let's talk!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spotlight on Author Iliki Stergiou

Welcome Iliki, thank you for answering my questions. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I don't think I actually realized it, it just happened. I have been writing short stories and poems since the time when I was a little girl, but I never realized that I wanted to really be a poet. As I began to make friends with other poets and writers on social media, most of them told me to keep writing free verse poetry and develope my short stories.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It takes about a year. Mind The Gap (*poetry collection), took me about a year to write, because I wanted it to be complete in every way. I wanted it to be the best possible reflection of my writing—like a good play. When I write, I keep myself focused on the beginning, the middle, and the end. I like a smooth transition from one to the other.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I do the marketing thing in the morning. In the afternoon I devote my attention to whatever there is that I need to get done so that I can stay on my schedule. Nighttime is when I usually write. I try to write every night, even when I'm too tired. I may be tired when I start, but writing gives me energy when I need it, and it relaxes me whenever I feel tensed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

The amount of coffee that I consume is probably my biggest quirkLOL! It is probably my only quirk. At least, it is the only one that I am aware of.

How do your books get published?

Both self-publishing and traditional publishing have pros and cons, but I decided to self-publish my first book. I wanted it to be me that would put the finishing touches on, Mind The Gap.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

When it comes to poetry, I never get outside information. Instead, I just express my innermost feelings—I write what I feel inside. For the novel that I'm writing, my inspiration comes from people's daily lives, social rules and events. They are social standards that everyone hate, yet no-one does anything to try to change them.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote, Mind The Gap, at the age of twenty-two. I was going through a very tough and emotional period of my life. The only escape for me back then was writing.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love sketching portraits, cooking, physical workouts, and reading. I also am a beauty/fashion editor on a blog. When I have some free time, I attend seminars about history and literature

What does your family think of your writing?

My parents don't understand the concept of ploughing heart and soul into something and not getting much in return. But I'm staying committed to my artistic works—writing is a way of living.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I realized that people have the ability to be whatever they want to be. They just have to do things step by step. Everything is easier that way, even writing a book.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Mind The Gap is my first book, my first poetry collection. It will always be my favorite, because it is dedicated to my aunt's memory. I wrote it for her and for me. Losing a loved one can destroy you, and writing helped me not only to avoid destruction, but I became a stronger person with the ability to create beautiful things even in the worst of times.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Write, write, and write, and read, read, and read. A good writer should never stop reading and writing. Moreover, please control your perfectionist tendencies – perfectionism can make you end up with nothing but a lot of blank pages.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I’ve not heard from them much, probably because my book was just recently published. I get really nervous discussing my book with readers, but the good thing is that no-one has contacted me to tell me how awful my book was.

Do you like to create books for adults?

I love writing, and I believe that my writing style has no boundaries when it comes to age. At the same time, I don't think that I could write a book specifically for children.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story must have characters that are passionate as well as characters with visions and flaws. I believe that writing is like “living...” , like Standford Meisner said about acting, “...truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” A good story is all about truth and I couldn't agree more with the quote by Ernest Hemmingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be the prime-minister of my country.


Iliki Stergiou was born in Athens, Greece but grew up in a small a seaside town, in East Attica. She is a poet and a poetry blogger since 2012.

blog: ilikistergiouofficial.blogspot.gr

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RdixBV

Createspase: https://www.createspace.com/5328078

Book description:

Iliki Stergiou - A Young Poet From Greece, And The Land of Sorrow

In this poetry collection, Iliki Stergiou describes the struggles that every person has to make at some time or another in their life—crossing the labyrinth of losing someone that they truly love. The author experienced the unwanted but ever-present trauma of loss and grief following the loss of a loved one—a loss that cannot be replaced, but one that is sure to come, and one that must be accepted, because there is no other way.