Jul 23, 2014

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Ariana's Cafe - Prompt 4 - July 22, 2014

Find us on Twitter @ArianasCafe

I am @arianahbrowning

What is Ariana's Cafe?

Simply put: a place for the creative thinker.

How do I use the prompt?

However you like. Use it as inspiration for a discussion, use it to challenge yourself to blog on the prompt as a subject. Use it to help you with a scene that you're struggling with. Use it as inspiration for a piece of artwork.

Bottom line: use your creative mind to come up with something amazing from this prompt.

Share whatever you come up with below in the comments. If it's a blog post, share the link (always write some sort of description on the link so people will know you are not just a spammer). If it's a short story you want to share, again, share the link to it. If it's just a thought you had from the prompt, or maybe a scene that it helped you with, share that too. You do not have to share more than you want to, but even if you gained something from this prompt, I would love to hear it so I know they are of value, and which ones are valued most.

You're welcome to tag me on any social network if you share there, and I'm there. :)

Here is the prompt for this week! See you next week.

Ariana's Cafe

Prompt 4 - July 22, 2014

@arianascafe | @arianahbrowning

Popcorn

What does this mean? Only you can decide.

Here are some questions if you need help.

Why is this popcorn here? Who left it?

Is the popcorn sitting in a bowl, or a bag? On the table, or in the microwave? What sort of popcorn is it? Why is it there? Is someone about to eat it, or was it left abruptly? Why?

Do you remember a lovely story to tell about watching movies with popcorn? A funny one that included popcorn flying all over the place?
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Jul 22, 2014

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Overheard conversation between Cara and Julian

I overheard this conversation between Cara and Julian after Dark Illusions: The Final Chapter ends and I thought that I would share it with you. I’ll post this tomorrow on ArianaBrowning.com. My editor got uber excited to read Kober enter here. :)

“I have not heard from him in a while, Julian,” Cara says.

“I see.”

“I did not wish this pairing. Seems I was not the only one. He took off shortly after Kat announced—”

Julian, sensing the aggravation in her tone, cuts her off, “I understand how that must have felt, but Cara, what would you have me to do?”

Cara sighs. “Dissolve it, Julian. Only you have the power to dissolve the pairing. Would you have me stuck in this position forever?”

After a long pause, Julian speaks, “No. I will speak with Kat. I will ask her if she knows where he may have gone.”

Cara huffs. “I do not wish anything more to do with him, Julian.”

“No, I suppose not. But Sean cannot simply leave the city without word.”

“This has nothing more to do with me. Please do it quickly. I would like to believe that our pairing would have earned me some respect from you, your highness.”

Kober enters the room after Julian hangs up the phone. Julian explains the situation to him.

“This is not the first time he has left,” Kober says. “When Kat inquired about him, she told me as such. She told me she believed it innocent at first, but her gut instinct spoke of the opposite.”

Julian nods. “Wise woman. I trust her gut.”

Kober watches Julian. “Where do you believe Sean went?”


My goodness. Where do you think he went? And what is that man up to?
What are your thoughts?
Sean

Ariana
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Jul 20, 2014

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Thinking Outside the Box

Some years back, I was a health insurance agent…



One day at work, during our weekly meeting, the topic of discussion was overcoming objections in sales. The term “thinking outside the box” was brought up by the Regional Director, as he drew a square on the dry-erase-board. He asked us if we knew where the phrase “Think outside the box” came from. It turns out that it came from the concept of people having four main factors in their lives that governed their lives, those very same factors being the source of their objections to buying a product or service. Those four factors, be they family, finances, religion, occupation, schedules, lifestyles, biases, personalities, etc, make up the four walls of a square, or box. That very box confines them and prevents them from making or taking changes, risks, new directions, challenges, etc. So in order to get past those four main objections or life factors, or the fore mentioned confining four walls, the motivating salesperson needed to think of a way to get past the restraining sides of the box, and in effect, think outside of the box without the sides of the box affecting their thinking. In other words, enable the client to think past his or her objections without being biased by the sides of the box which were the source of their objections.

The RD told us that the best way to overcome the client’s confining box is to not create the box to begin with, as in not to enter the room agreeing with or fearing what their objections may be. That is all well and good in business, and I agree with that, but hindsight is 20-20. In life, most of us already have our boxes in place; our walls are up around us confining us, so it’s too late to say what we should not have created the box from the start in our lives.

As our big chief was discussing all of that, my ADD kicked in and I began thinking about the principle of thinking outside the box and how in our very lives and dreams, the four aspects of our lives, the four walls, the main objections, so often come into play. What follows are my own thoughts:


 I can’t take that new step in life because:
“I have to take the kids to their game three nights a week, and Cub Scout events, and…”
“My husband will laugh at me if I tell him about my lifelong dream…”
“I have my bowling league, my lodge meeting…”
I just can’t motivate myself to do it, what with all the other things I have to do during the day…”
“I don’t want to embark on another project that I probably won’t get to finish…”

We do not try new things because we are boxed in by memories of past failures, present hectic schedules, and future perceived problems or expected events. Our objections to change, to fulfilling goals, to reaching higher, get in the way of our inner desires to do more with out lives. Our four walls that hold us back from fulfilling dreams or simply enjoying new hobbies may be responsibilities to or time required by family and occupation; and personal restraints such as insecurities and fear of change. The thing that we must do, by thinking outside the box, is find a way to get out of the confining box; get over the wall, or go right through it if need be. By thinking outside the box, we must determine a means to scale the wall or diminish its mass so that going through it will become easier.

But wait…before we go to such lengths to overcome the walls, we need to ask ourselves, is the wall really there? Who built that wall? Oh…we did, we built it. But only in our minds, our psyche, did we build it? It is time to realize that the wall of our emotional perception is not really there.  Did we imagine the wall to be there because we sensed something holding us back, something that could only be explained by the presence of such a wall? Or did we fabricate the wall to justify being held back, because we were too afraid to move past it?

So now that we realize that the wall is not really there, why haven’t we left the confining room? Why are we still in the box? Why aren’t we thinking outside of the box yet?

Those fleas sure can jump.
Fleas have the greatest jumping strength, proportionate to their size, of any living creature. Several years ago I attended a four-day self-help seminar called the Landmark Forum in Action. It was there that the speaker told me and about 399 other people that there had been a science experiment where scientists put several fleas in a jar and covered it to observe the fleas’ activities. They watched as the fleas jumped up multiple times to get out of the jar, only to bang themselves on the lid and fall back down, defeated. The lid remained secured on the jar for some time. How long, I do not recall from the story whether it was hours or days. What I do remember is that when the scientists finally removed the lid from the jar, that the fleas continued to jump as if to leap out of the now open jar, but yet fell short of escaping; that they jumped only as high as the confining lid had been before it was removed and no higher. The fleas, convinced that defeat would halt their efforts, would not jump high enough to clear the jar’s edge, while yet escape was easily within their means. They would have made it, if only they weren’t convinced that the lid was still holding them back, if only they had learned to think outside the jar.

The fleas thought the lid was on the jar. They thought that they couldn’t go anywhere, that all leaps led to nowhere. And sometimes, perhaps all of the time, we think that too. But just where is “nowhere”? Nowhere is a location that exists only in our mind. We create it in convincing ourselves that we are indeed headed for the perceived place known as “nowhere”, but in fact “nowhere” has paths to “somewhere” branching off to all directions. “Nowhere” is but the starting point, from which the multiple paths to ‘everywhere’ begin.

I say that in life there are no obstacles, only speed bumps. They can slow you down, but they cannot stop you. Remember, the walls are not really there. They are but elements of your subconscious, so think outside the box, use your imagination, and step over them.

Nike says to “Just do it”.
I say, “Just shine.”

Well why don’t you?
What are the four walls in your life that are confining you?
When are you going to see that the walls are no longer there?
When are you going to feel that the walls never were there?
What is preventing you from leaping out of the jar?
When are you going to realize that the lid is not on the jar?
Why don’t you think outside of the box?

On your mark, get set…

Are you ready?



Shine on...
~inSpireShine
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Jul 18, 2014

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#ArianasWriting - today's bit of writing is from the Ellie story

Sharing a bit of the story I'm working on.

Jeremiah smirked—a rare thing—and grabbed a piece of bread to stuff in his mouth. Why they bothered, she had never figured out. Maybe it was nothing more than the entertainment factor. Food did nothing for them. It went in and turned to dust, as anything else they consumed. They didn’t feel hunger, their systems didn’t need it. Anything that went in, dissolved into nothingness.

“Nothing,” she said with a blank face. He would never understand. None of them would, or could. The last thing she wanted was another lecture from Stone.

“Then come eat. You need it.” Stern. As he always was. Forever assuming she needed to be taught. To be disciplined. Despite him being her husband.

Ariana

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Jul 16, 2014

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Ariana's Cafe Prompt 3 - July 16, 2014

I am so happy to see you came back for the next round!

 What is Ariana's Cafe?

Simply put: a place for the creative thinker.

How do I use the prompt?

However you like. Use it as inspiration for a discussion, use it to challenge yourself to blog on the prompt as a subject. Use it to help you with a scene that you're struggling with. Use it as inspiration for a piece of artwork.

Bottom line: use your creative mind to come up with something amazing from this prompt.

Share whatever you come up with below in the comments. If it's a blog post, share the link (always write some sort of description on the link so people will know you are not just a spammer). If it's a short story you want to share, again, share the link to it. If it's just a thought you had from the prompt, or maybe a scene that it helped you with, share that too. You do not have to share more than you want to, but even if you gained something from this prompt, I would love to hear it so I know they are of value, and which ones are valued most.

You're welcome to tag me on any social network if you share there, and I'm there. :)

Here is the prompt for this week! Feel free to steal the image and share. See you next week.






Archive  
(feel free to go through these and contribute whenever you like - no time limits!)

Find us on Twitter @ArianasCafe or click for the Facebook Group 

Ariana
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Jul 15, 2014

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Living in the Dark

I should have realized when I didn't want to go into Zumba. I love Zumba but today it did nothing for me.

I should have realized when I felt on edge when someone talked about the differences of children at home with parents or in public with strangers.

I should have realized when I didn't feel well enough to workout at all. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball.

I should have realized when every little thing my son did seemed to pinch a nerve.

I should have realized when my husband asked me what went wrong today to make me think my son hated me and the rage roared through me.

I should have realized when my husband pointed out a very trivial piece of information and my world felt like it was crashing down.

I should have realized..... but I didn't and now I slowly creep out of the dark abyss that is all I knew for the past few hours; where being touched even feels painful. It wasn't as long as some times but the rawness is still the same.

I should have realized I wouldn't be able to stop the depression from setting in.

I was going to have this be my first post but as I was writing it I thought it was too dark of a way to start out our acquaintance. So instead I wrote about a poem which meant something to me and while that is all and good I fear I have hidden a part of myself from you due to not wishing to alarm or turn you away. This is the sort of thing which goes through my mind every time I write and wonder how much of myself I can share with you and how much of myself I wish to admit is me. But to be honest with you and myself I believe I need to share this with you and understand that some will understand and some will not. I am comfortable with this and understand myself that not everyone has this piece of the puzzle.

Back when I was a teenager and beginning the agonizing journey through changes in my body and also beginning to understand the chaos which rules society, I at least did not have to worry about the coldness of the Internet which teenagers today have to navigate through as well. My hormones have never been something I can count upon, which makes it difficult for a young teenage girl to understand what her body is supposed to be doing. Looking back I know when my hormones began to have issues if for no other reason than knowing when people started looking at me differently. For example, I had been taking Junior Lifeguarding for years but one summer the instructor actually pointed out how she was so disappointed to have me that summer due to the change in my attitude. I thought it was a normal teen attitude change but looking back I always think of those times as darker and just more gloomy. It could have been a clear summer day and my mind conjures up a dark overcast day.

Through school I felt like I was fighting to keep my head above water. Not with students or teachers but in general. I preferred to hide in my studies and if I had I am not sure how different things would have been, at least socially. Most of the teachers liked me but there were a few who did not for one reason or another. Students were another issue, I had always been the type to make friends easily but for some reason there were groups who just did not like me. I have always had a knack to allow people to let go of their problems upon me and be used as either a pillow, tissue, sound board, or a number of other useful items. If anything it helped me as well to allow others to unburden themselves upon me. But, there was also a self destructive element to it as well.

As I grew and my hormones stabilized at least a little, I realized how lucky I had been to not succumb to the darkness I fought each day as I prepared for another. I had friends who were not as lucky; two landed in the hospital and later another in the morgue. My summers were kept mainly to myself, as a time to recharge, but I always felt as if I was living day by day and in a fog. Now those summers were at an end as I was expected to go to college and become useful in the workforce. Thankfully it was also easier to surround myself with people of a more positive flow, which helped ease my darkness.

Fast forward to more recently. In September of 2012 I gave birth to my son. A child which my body would not have given to me if it had not been for medical intervention. My hormones had gone completely against me and while I had eggs I was not going through the cycle and menstruating. It only took a nudge but still it was a blow to my feminity. How was I to be okay with my being if I could not even make a child with the body of a gender which was to populate the world? After his birth I was over-joyed and yet miserable. I have always believed fate allowed some to have children and others to not as a way of keeping the populace at bay, but then I broke that belief to give my husband a child of his blood. I felt as if I had betrayed myself along with having betrayed a child who had had no choice in the matter. I pushed those feelings back and tried to become the mother I believed this little guy deserved, but months went by and I felt like I was drowning. My husband saw it as well and I went in for help. Turns out I had Postpartum Depression. This was the first time it had been diagnosed but at that moment I realized I had been suffering with depression for far longer than this little guys dreams and existence.

I was diagnosed in January of 2013 and have now been off medication since April 2014. During that time I learned a lot about depression, myself, and different things I have done without knowing and things I can do in the future to help with things. We are trying for baby number 2 and while it may take some time, the long trip I have taken to get me here has given me strength to carry on. It helps there is a cute smile and giggle for me each day now. The journey has not ended as depression is always there but hopefully having past experiences will help with the future as well. Of course then there episodes like the one above which happened last night. One day at a time.


~Chelsea Haller - HallerWriter~
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Jul 12, 2014

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Developing Our Negatives


One day, in the timed release of the shutter of my mind, the aperture of my thought process opened wider, leading to the development of a philosophy and the exposure of an idea. They say a picture tells a thousand words, but my words will tell you about a thousand pictures. So picture this, if you will, and take a snapshot of this concept:

Unless you have the perfect job—or the perfect life—we’ve all focused on the negatives from time to time in our careers and our lives, right? Many times in the past, in jest I’ve commented on a prior job in which I dealt with a great many negatives, a job I had as manager of a one-hour photo lap, where we developed film and in allegorical fashion worked with a countless number of negatives. On my way home from work yesterday, inspired in part by a person at work whose negativity seems to know no bounds, and a reminder of the metaphoric negatives I dealt with in my former job, I reflected on my old photo-lab career and decided to write about the topic.  So let’s read along and see what develops, shall we?

For those more attuned in this age to digital media and imagery, here is a brief but relevant reminder of the films we used so often in the age of yesteryear…
Strips of print film are called negatives, while rolls of slide film—the individual frames--are called transparencies, positive film. Film negatives are like some of the things in our life that bring us down when we see them for what they really are, or aren’t. On film, what is light is actually dark, and what is dark is really light. Colors appear as opposite of what they really are on the light spectrum; false colors, deceptive, never appearing as they really are. It is enough to say that when you look at negatives, you don’t always know for sure what you are looking at and you can be easily fooled by the deception of perception.

In slides however, positives, the hues and tones are true to life, reflecting natural colors and accurate depictions. Not many people used positives--except mainly professionals—and we did not process slide film in our lab. Not many of those films were sold on a daily basis, but we did sell them.

On a typical day; in fact, every day: Customers handed me their film all day long; all day long, they gave me their negatives. Lining the back counter were rolls and rolls of negative film waiting to be developed. In the catch tray atop the film processor were many just-processed negatives waiting to be retrieved and hung. Hanging on metal trees next to the printer were dozens of strips of negatives waiting to be printed. On another tree beside the sorting table were many negatives waiting to be cut and packaged. In the storage bins were hundreds of bags of finished prints and negatives waiting for their customers to pick up.

 Everywhere you looked, there were negatives, and if you didn’t enjoy the job, that was something to become negative about indeed! However if you looked hard past the developed negatives, the hanging negatives, and the stored negatives, you would spot on the supply shelf the boxes of slide film, the positives.

In the cabinets below those shelves was where we kept our stock, boxes and boxes of film stacked front to back, side to side, and top to bottom. The majority were of negative print film, that being the majority of what we normally sold; but stacked up in a smaller area admittedly outnumbered by the negatives, were the packages of positive slide film. The positives were there all right, surrounded by negatives, you just had to look harder to find them.

Now ask, what did I do with the negatives after they were developed? Most people aside from Fhlehm and Goober Johnson have seen a one hour lab and have a basic idea of how they work, at least on the most basic level, right? We took the negatives, but instead of focusing on them, we used light to shine through them and cast images onto photographic paper. Then, after some twists and turns through fluids and heat, out came the finished prints, which were in and of themselves positive images. So from the negatives, via light and transformation, came the positives.



 An inspired brain with inner shine...


How are you using light and personal transformation to turn negatives into positives?
Back in the day, from time to time I had to remind my employees not to let anything an irate customer said in rudeness get them upset; to let it fly right over their heads. That reminds me of a particular customer who was irate and insulting, upset that he was sold slide film by mistake. I found his unceasing tirade to be quite negative despite my apologies, but his demeanor was no more improved when I suggested that perhaps what he needed were more positives in his life anyway. Some people just come for the negatives, all they want is to develop their negatives, and you just can’t sell them on the positives.

Who else enjoys the positives in life? I know I do, do you? We just have to look for them on the dusty shelves of our stock of negatives. As a former photographer and photo manager, I could sell you negatives all day long, but I’ll wager you’d much rather come for the positives, don’t you agree?

So now what?
Why not move forward with a brighter, wider outlook in a search for the positives, and see what develops? Let the positivity and the passion for life shine through the dark negatives, and let it be your inspire-shine. Your shine comes from your confidence in yourself, your passion for what you love doing, your creativity, and who you are inside. The true light comes from God, so don’t rely only on your light and turn from His, but still use your light—and His—to shine through the negatives and turn them into positives!


Shine on!



~inSpireShine
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Horror Thriller . . . I am home

Started my 5th book. 
You will find that under the sidebar as "Grace – Horror Thriller - Haunted"

I ask myself as I read the number 5, why do I like to challenge myself so fiercely? I do not know. But one thing I know . . . I love horror books! I started my writing with writing short horror stories that were supposed to be based toward the teenage crowd. (You know . . . like the Scary stories to tell in the dark series?)

So I'm happy that I started one like this. I didn't know it would be a horror thriller, but sure nuff, it turned out that way. 

Despite the weather being near 90 today, I have been able to work on it for a bit. Taking constant breaks so laptop doesn't get overheated is fun! lol

I tend to take it easy in this heat though. I get heat sickness fairly easy if I don't. So mostly I've been catching up on some reading today, not writing. 



Here is a tiny [draft] sample of the beginning of this book: 


[ . . . ] Grace nearly crashed down the entire staircase with the speed she was moving. She followed Reagan on her heels, watching as her best friend turned the corner off the porch, and out of sight. She hopped over the snakes on the floor, gasping as one tried to bite her. Another slid over the toe of her boot.

She grabbed the snake and in one motion, ripped head from tail with a loud snap. A plume of black acrid smoke drifted upward. [. . . ]

Ooo sounds interesting.

Ariana
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Jul 11, 2014

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I've been thinking . . will you join me?

For a while, I have had an idea about how to share wonderful stories from the growing community that is ArianaBrowning.com. Oprah does it through her TV show, Ellen DeGeneres does it through hers. And I would love to do it as well.



All my life I have truly enjoyed listening to incredible stories about the past. About what people have been through, about what grandparents have passed down through the generations. I have loved to get to know people on a deep level. And I'm talking about so darn deep that there may not be oxygen, but once you come back, you are changed. Okay, maybe not life-threatening sort of deep.

Stories tell us the battles people go through. Stories tell us the amazing feats that someone has accomplished.  They inspire us. Stories remind us that we are not alone. Stories about the little things impacts us, they impact others.

For a while I have been thinking about this, but I have been busy with everything else, so I haven't had the time to implement it. I haven't had time to chat about it. But frankly, when is it ever a good time? We are all busy, we are all rushing through our days, but we need to remember to stop for a moment and realize that right now? Right now is all we have. This second. This moment. If we don't take the time to tell our story, or another person's story, who will? At what point are we going to be lost to the past with nothing left?

We should honor our memories. We should honor our grandparents memories. We should honor memories of anyone who has a story to tell. Whether it was life-changing, or whether it was an anecdote, maybe even a recipe. We should cherish those. If you don't tell what story you have inside, where will it go when you're gone?

What I hope to see with ArianaBrowning.com is for it to become a daily stop in site where we learn and grow as individuals so that we see the world differently. So we see the world as beautiful as it is, and we put that same energy out into the universe. Because each one of us has a responsibility only to one person. Even if you have kids, or other dependents. Until we become better people for ourselves, we cannot do better by others. Until we change ourselves because we want to, we cannot expect the entirety of the world to change.

Life is beautiful. Life is abundant. Life replenishes. So let's collectively add to that and tell stories that will change what that one person views, and like the butterfly effect, their energy begins to change those around them to see the beauty and peace that does surround them. We are free. In our minds, our hearts, our souls. What we choose to see, what we choose to hear: that is what we then put out. We need to change that inner dialogue.

I speak as an individual who has known the deepest parts of Hell. I have been there. Yet all I see around me are good people. I see beauty. I trust. I smile most of the day. Because it is what I choose to see. Beauty. I could dwell on the bad things around me, what I've been through, but then I would become as jaded as many people are.

Don't become so jaded that you stop seeing how incredible this world is, or how many great feats are being done each moment. Don't stop seeing that there is so much to be thankful for. Don't fear throwing out the old and paving way for the new.

Maybe many will shake their heads when they read this. Maybe many more will think I am naive, or that nobody cares. You know what? I don't think they are wrong to think that. To let go. To move on. Whatever it may be. They just aren't ready. I am okay with that. I choose to live this way for me. Nobody else. I have spent many nights crying myself to sleep and I finally learned that it was up to me to change. It was up to me to stop seeing the negative and build a better life for myself. You know how I did it? I believed in it. I stopped seeing the bad, and started to appreciate what I do have. I changed that inner dialogue and the universe gave me the life I sought, and it continues to grow and build around me. It continues to grow in abundance. I overflow with happiness because I decided that I would, and I do.

Maybe many aren't ready for this change, but I think you are.

The news likes to show us the worst of the worst, and glaze over the beauty of this world. Yes, we have wars. If you look back at history, we have always had that. We have always had people killing. But what about the great stories?

We need more of those.

Whispering Winds

I want to hear your story. I want to hear your grandparents story. I want you to tell me about someone amazing you know, for whatever reason they have inspired you. For whatever purpose, you know that their story needs to be told. Or maybe it's a family recipe that you're allowed to share. Maybe it's an old-fashioned anecdote. An old skill. An old way of doing something that continues to work for you better than the new way.

I feel that rekindling those old stories will remind us that we are all more connected than we know. It is a step. A step in the right direction.

I want to hear what you have to say. We are sitting on that warm country porch (or beach porch if you like the beach) in the early evening hours just before the sun sets, and you are telling all of us a story. You have the floor, and everyone's attention. You have a story that you, or someone you know, needs to tell.

Tell me that story and I will publish it on ArianaBrowning.com. Tell a friend and encourage them to tell theirs. Tell it in whatever format you would like. Tell it however you would like. An interview, or just to have the floor and write.

If you'd like to remain anonymous to tell that story, feel free to tell me so. I will keep your name out of it. Email me at ariana@arianabrowning.com or use the contact me button in the navigation bar.

We will be here. We will be listening.

Whispering Winds 

Within the wind, you can hear all the stories of our ancestors, of current stories being told. Whispering through the leaves of the trees, whispering within the ground beneath our feet. Within our souls and others out there, there are hundreds of stories waiting to be told, waiting to be uncovered. Waiting for someone with the courage to come forward and start. We are all connected. We all have a story to tell. So tell it for yourself, tell it for another.


When I have enough of these stories to fill a book, I am thinking that they need to be made into a book too. So one day that too, will be a part of this. A free book, but one that we can hold in our hands and read daily when we want to remember.

Join me.
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Jul 10, 2014

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Breaking the glass ceiling for female guinea pigs

One of my favourite running gags from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is the way Marion Ravenwood, Indiana Jones’s love interest in the movie, manages to hold her liquor. First, she outlasts every male brute in a drinking contest in a Nepalese bar. Later, she outwits her captor and Nazi collaborator, the French archaeologist Belloq, by feigning inebriation after pouring themselves one too many drinks. But, despite an appreciation for the humor created by this role reversal, it’s a scenario more unlikely than locating the real Ark of the Covenant. 

Fact is, women and men metabolize alcohol differently. Women generally possess less body water than men of similar height and weight, which means they accumulate higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol. Women also have smaller quantities of the enzyme dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol in the stomach. A woman will absorb about 30% more alcohol into her bloodstream than a man of the same weight who has consumed an equal amount of liquor.

And this is only one example of gender divergence in biology. Recent studies, for example, have exposed that: 1) though multiple sclerosis is more prevalent amongst women, they are less likely to have severe symptoms; 2) gender-skewed observations in Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and stroke research; and 3) the finding that stress influences women’s substance abuse more than men.

So, besides the obvious superficial differences, in physiological terms, men and women really do come from different planets. Unfortunately for the Venusians that make up more than 50% of the world population, it seems Big Pharma is controlled by Martians.

In a recent research article published in Nature, two leaders from the US National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Janine Clayton, strongly urged pharmaceutical companies to start using more female test subjects in early drug trials. Currently, most animal testing is conducted with male pigs, rats or dogs. "The over-reliance on male animals and cells in preclinical research obscures key sex differences that could guide clinical studies," Collins and Clayton write. "And it might be harmful: women experience higher rates of adverse drug reactions than men do."

So why do researchers normally prefer male test subjects in early trials? Well, apparently they fear that female hormones and fertility cycles will interfere with the results of carefully calibrated experiments. And developing more varied and detailed tests require lots of additional funds. Never mind if these annoying ‘aberrations’ could actually end up killing women who experience adverse effects to drugs that were never tested for female suitability in its early development (a 2000 study found that eight of ten drugs taken off the market had disproportionately adverse effects on women, including a cardiovascular drug that actually caused heart failure in women).

As Dr Clayton explains, “The sex of the cell makes a huge difference, because the pre-clinical studies, where we’re testing drugs or therapies, are those studies that build the evidence base and inform the clinical studies. So if you are going to be studying a disease that affects both men and women, it’s really important to think about male and female cells and males and females in the animal model work when you are doing that pre-clinical research.”

Of course, pharmaceutical corporations will argue that they’re simply trying to prevent an even worse side effect – the allergic reaction shareholders develop when they see an impacted bottom line.

For now, the American National Institutes of Health have announced that they’re developing policies to require all state funded medical researchers to use a balance of male and female cells and animals for all future preclinical research. As for the corporate world, only one thing will change the status quo – consumer pressure. But for consumer activism to succeed, we first need transparency. And ordinary people face a big challenge in this regard. The pharmaceutical industry is the single biggest lobby group in America, spending nearly three billion dollars in buying influence the last sixteen years (source: opensecrets.org).

Perhaps these corporate behemoths should bear in mind that women control more than 80% of most families’ purchase decisions (anecdotal industry figure), which includes pharmaceuticals. Because, in retail at least, it’s a women’s world. Just imagine what could happen once they realize this…

Raymond Steyn
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