LOVE is Just a 4-Letter Word

For many, the idea that we should all love one another and get along invokes a warm, fuzzy feeling that just isn’t reality. Most people have no idea what the true meaning of love is. They equate love to a feeling, when love is a verb. Even that’s not enough of a description. To say you love something is wrong. Love is for people, animals, souls. Not stuff. It’s become such a commonplace word that it might as well be as taboo as other 4-letter words we’re told NOT to utter.

What’s the matter with love?

Nothing at all. The problem lies when you say, “I love my car.” Do you really LOVE your car? You’ve just stripped value away from the word. Even saying you love someone if you really don’t understand what love means deludes the word of its meaning. With kindness on the forefront of social media buzz, kids especially expect their ideology to alight like wildfire and spread love through kindness around the globe. On paper, it sounds incredible and something we can all agree upon: who doesn’t want peace and love? In reality most people define love as acceptance, and it’s a one-way street. Their love says, “You accept me and agree with me, but don’t expect that in return.” The assumption is that if you don’t behave the way you’re “supposed” to, you have set yourself outside the boundaries of the kindness fad and aren’t deserving of love.

“What are you, a love expert?”

I am not an expert in anything. I am a human trying to be the best I can be, and many times I fail. What I do know is that kindness cannot happen without love, and love is something that needs to be described in greater detail. Love is:

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Thoughtfulness

This is not what I see on social media when I share an opinion. This is not what I see when I drive down the road. I do not see people exhibiting patience, kindness, or thoughtfulness on a daily basis equally offered to everyone they come across. I don’t see it between kids in schools when I have author visits to talk about bullying. I don’t see it between kids in the neighborhood. I don’t see it when I look in the mirror. I hear about it everywhere, but I don’t see it…and LOVE is an action.

How can we as a society expect to exist in love and harmony when we haven’t a clue what that means or what it looks like once we’ve achieved it? What we’re enduring instead is a delusion, a fantasy, a fiction where we decide what we want selfishly and call it love, forcing everyone to comply and banning those who do not. That is the opposite of love:

  • Love is not JEALOUS
  • Love is not ENVIOUS
  • Love does not BRAG
  • Love is not PROUD
  • Love is not ARROGANT
  • Love is not RUDE
  • Love is not SELF-SEEKING
  • Love is not EASILY ANGERED
  • Love does not HOLD A GRUDGE
  • Love ENDURES
  • Love NEVER FAILS

The truth is that if we act out in any of the above-mentioned ways, we are NOT acting in a spirit of LOVE. If our motivations are not from the first list of what love is, then they are most assuredly from the second list of what love is not. And you know the worst part? As adults, we are modeling incorrect behavior for the next generation under the name of love, which is now just another 4-letter word.

My mother used to say, “What one generation accepts, the next embraces.”

What lies about LOVE have we accepted that the next generation has embraced? With wars, guns, violence, and bullying running rampant in all sects of society, where has all the love gone; the real love, the tolerant, patient, kind, thoughtful love that never fails and never gives up? Have we forgotten how to model this behavior behind the wheel of our vehicle? In our marriage? In our relationship with our children? Have kids even learned the correct way to tolerate one another or have they been taught that if someone loves you they will not hurt you? This is a lie. Have they been taught that if someone loves you they will agree with you always? This is a lie. Have they been taught that if it gets tough, you should walk? This is the biggest lie.

Our perception of love is wrong, and this misconception has caused the power and truth that love conquers all to become a joke hidden beneath a blanket of intolerance. It’s time we look inward and explore our own behavior. Are we patient with one another, forgiving without condition? Are we kind even in the midst of haters’ attacks? Are we thoughtful as we move through our days, even when those around us take advantage? If the answers are no, then we are not filled with love, and a world without love will only breed disaster.

It’s time we take control of ourselves and really fight to become human beings who truly love one another. Otherwise, the intolerant hatred we see today will never have a chance of becoming our past because our future will be built upon it. In the infamous words of Forest Gump, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”

ABOUT FEATUREJaimie Engle writes dark thrillers where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her books and creating the Stories that Shape You through JME Books. Fun facts: Jaimie danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show & played an alien on TV. Learn more at ABOUT.

swimming in social media?

here’s a life vest

With so many social media sites available and new ones being added every day, it’s always a wonder about which ones to join. Some people swear by Facebook, and others by Twitter. Some use only Vine and still others are loyal to Pinterest. Let’s break down these groups and get a better feel for their purpose and audience.

Facebook

Facebook is the Mother of All social media networks. Family, friends, high school reunions, viral photos, and places to conduct business, all under one virtual roof. Facebook is best for:

  • Communicating with broad groups of people
  • A place where people can find you and like what you do
  • Conversational
  • Build relationships
  • Build your business

Create a business page or community page (they are different) so fans have a place to find you and catch up on what new products or services you have, and not on what you ate for dinner. You can also manage ads, target customers in your niche, and tally how many views each post brings in. Building lists off these groups mean you can create perfect ads that Facebook will recognize and share. Facebook is ever changing their logarithms, so be sure to keep up to date on what works. The current trend is to create multiple conversations within your post between people engaged by your post, and not you. You can’t ask a question in the post, but you should present a topic that inspires conversation among members. Facebook Live is also a huge new tactic to stay in front of your audience, competing with YouTube to become a new source of show programming.

Twitter

While Twitter is probably equally as popular, it tends to be geared toward older adults aged 65+ (Facebook demographics are women ages 35-45) and reaches a much broader market than Facebook. Many get their news for the day through what’s trending on Twitter. Twitter is best for:

  • Finding what’s trending
  • Following trendsetters
  • Studying markets in your niche (readers for me)
  • Analyzing what’s working for others in your field and what isn’t
  • Posting short tweets to entice readers to visit your website as part of the funnel

The cool thing about both Twitter and Facebook (and other social media sites) is that you can link them through tools like Hootsuite or weave them into your blog so that when you post on one, you post on all. It saves time and provides you with a greater reach.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site in the marketplace. Like Google, Pinterest is a search engine which means it utilizes keyword phrases instead of hashtags. It’s the #3, behind Google and YouTube. People love visuals, they love sharing, and they love discovering new pictures. What benefits does it have for you building your brand?

  • Pins of you interacting with clients
  • Pins of your videos or business/book trailers
  • Pins of you creating your product or service through the process
  • Pins of what inspires you to build, create, and live

I love to use Pinterest for storyboards to give my fans an idea of what I see as far as the actors I imagine portraying my characters, examples of settings, cover and interior art, etc. Pinterest allows you to share every visual aspect of your book business with your fans. And the best part is you can link everything back to your sales page on your website.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your professional network. You can connect with other like-minded individuals to help promote one another or even to find someone to mentor beneath. If you are a blogger, this is a great place to post educational articles based off your business entreprise. On LinkedIn, you can:

  • Build your professional portfolio
  • List your credentials for speaking engagements and conference availability
  • List your awards, publications, and resume
  • Find other professionals in your niche to sell to or learn from

I’m not very active on LinkedIn, but I keep my account up to date as a professional platform for potential fans and followers.

Instagram

Instagram provides a quick and easy way to upload images, like pictures from school visits or short video clips from conferences. This social network connects you to likeminded individuals by niche market or topic, allowing a much kinder platform, in my opinion. There’s not as much trolling on Instagram as you find on Facebook, in particular. I use Instagram:

  • To build my following at events through engaging photos
  • To entice through product placement and clever phrasing for sales and bookings
  • To instantly publicize speaking engagements or book signings
  • To post on ‘one and done’

Instagram offers connection options to Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, which is awesome because you can choose to share with each photo. I link to my business accounts, and now that Facebook owns Instagram, it makes marketing so much easier and reaches twice as many people with one ad. It’s a much easier way to share what’s happening in your world because it doesn’t require any writing if you don’t want to add it, plus you can post in real time as opposed to blogging about it later or doing a Facebook Live, which you many not want to or be able to do depending on the location and service.

There are so many other social media sites to choose from, and so many other ways to use the ones I’ve mentioned. It’s so easy to get caught up and lose yourself in social. Just make sure you’re not working for the social media, but it’s working for you!

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ABOUT FEATURE

From social media and marketing to gaining support for your cause, the art of storytelling enables business owners to connect with their intended audience. Using experience as an independent author, Engle shares:

 

  • Social media best practices
  • Storytelling to share your brand
  • Finding your audience
  • Blogging and other ways to connect

Learn best practices for connecting, engaging, and inspiring followers who not only buy products, but share them with their circles. Use the CONTACT page to request pricing & availability.

Gun Control? How About Tongue Control?

I know what you’re thinking: REALLY?

Gun control is a concept as easy to enforce as tongue control would be for a bully. Here’s what I mean… I would support both if everyone played along. If all the bad guys willingly turned over their guns, I’d be more willing to turn over mine as a regular, law abiding citizen. But we all know that day will never come. Haters are gonna hate, right? Bullies are gonna say and do mean things. If we all agree that gun control isn’t the answer and tongue control is an equal impossibility, then what is the solution for our society?

In my school visits, I work to get kids to see their part in the problem and the solution. I think too often we are focused on what’s going wrong or who’s against our belief system, without seeing our part in the scenario. We all have a part. I’ve heard it said, “There’s his side, her side, and the truth.” It’s not that people lie; people just see the world from their own skewed perspective and forget to see it from anyone else’s.

Do you want to see bullying cease to exist?

I do. I could live the rest of my life without learning of a new school shooting or mass murder on a college campus. I could happily die without another mention of child abuse or spousal abuse. To me, the answer is simple, yet extraordinarily difficult simultaneously. In it’s easiest form–and what I share with students–is following the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would have them treat you. Not HOW they treat you, necessarily. No one wants to be bullied or abused. No one wakes up in the morning and gets excited to think they won’t find acceptance or love in the world. So if that’s truth, then the Golden Rule in practice means none of these events would ever take place again.

But that’s like saying “Gun Control” or “Tongue Control” is the answer. They look great on paper and sound good in a meme. They just won’t work, because people are broken. We just are. Broken people are in pain and people in pain hurt. It’s really that simple.

So what’s the solution?

Part of the solution could be trying to live each moment and make each decision based off the Golden Rule. Truthfully, if we did that as a collective group, when one of us fails, the others would fill in. If we live others’-focused we will develop a sense of empathy, which will zero out our sense of entitlement, status, and ego. When you live by the Golden Rule, if someone bullies you, your first thought isn’t about how it makes YOU feel, rather what must THEY feel to be acting this way? It flips your thinking, and if we all did it, then 95% of bullying would disappear.

Another strength we could develop to fix this crisis is accountability.

Accountability means I take responsibility for my actions and words. It means I think things through and say words like, “I’m sorry,” instead of giving the middle finger. It means I don’t make excuses for my behavior. When people become accountable, they think and act differently. Knowing you can’t pass the buck onto someone or something else means you might have to do the hard work of changing yourself, or allowing another the freedom to be who they are and love them anyway. These things are not easy, but don’t we want people extending those same kindnesses to us? Don’t you want someone to be accountable when they make a mistake or extend grace when you’re the one who messed up? Here we are back to the Golden Rule.

Words truly do hold power.

We can build one another up, stand up for someone who can’t, and allow those around us to speak what they believe while we listen with courtesy, even when we vehemently disagree with them. We can let someone who is hurting know that we have hurt too and found our place in this world, in spite of our shortcomings. How many young people have nothing to build their hope on except the opinions of others who are also building their hope on the opinions of others? Throw a parent in the mix with an addiction or their own junk that life throws out, and you’ve got someone who feels desperate…dead inside…beat down.

Hopeless.

Today is the day we can each decide to live by the Golden Rule. We can become the voice of hope for someone who is desperate. Our lives can be the answer someone is looking for. And through all of this, when we face our own despair and pain, there should be someone on the other side living the Golden Rule waiting to be our support with open arms. Gun control isn’t the answer. I’m not saying I am for or against it; I’m just saying that gun control won’t fix the problem it’s being attached to. Until we are able to treat others the same way we want to be treated, there will be no end to the destructive behavior of hurting people. While we can’t change them, we can change ourselves and in so doing, maybe…just maybe…they will begin to see hope in our lives and accountability for their own.

ABOUT FEATUREJaimie Engle writes dark thrillers where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her books and creating the Stories that Shape You through JME Books. Fun facts: Jaimie danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show & played an alien on TV. Learn more at ABOUT.

Identity Theft: Social Media Stole My Identity

I was born in 1977, which makes me a Gen X-er. I’m proud to be a Gen X-er. We learned the power of working hard, thinking outside the box, and being proactive in our lives. We exercised competition, free thinking, and the American way of free enterprise. In fact, when I was seven, I walked door-to-door in my neighborhood selling hand drawn pictures and colored pages from my favorite coloring books. I came home with more than $40 bucks, something that shocked my mother. In middle school, I bought boxes of Blow Pops from Sam’s and brought them to school to sell for $0.25 a piece. I would pocket about $50 a week, until I got called to the principal’s office for interfering with the vending machines’ making money. (I’m serious)

I guess part of my competitive, entrepreneurial spirit was a result of growing up in the 80s. We didn’t have the internet, so if it wasn’t in the store, you weren’t getting it. I remember my first Cabbage Patch Doll was the last in the store (after we ran from the entrance to the back to grab one). It was a little boy with dark, curly hair and I put a barrette in that doll’s hair and made it a little girl (until I was made fun of and I tossed that thing in the corner so fast…)

In light of the world I’m living in, I wondered what happened to kill that entrepreneurial spirit in society; where did the desire to work hard for and earn your place in life go? I watched videos of kids claiming status as sovereign citizens and I was awestruck. The level of disrespect for the law, for the lives of those who died in war to give them the freedom to even make that choice, disgusts me. Then there are kids shooting up schools, the most recent and newsworthy being in my home state at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I can’t even wrap my brain around anyone thinking they have the right to take another’s life, especially in a school, especially as a child.

As an author, I talk to kids–mostly in grades K-12–about their part in bullying, with my focus on treating others with the Golden Rule as a compass and that their words have power to build worlds or destroy people. I teach accountability, because it is the only thing we have control over in our lives. These simple ideas would eliminate bullying completely if everyone followed them.

The truth is the upcoming generation has a fatal flaw: ENTITLEMENT.

Growing up in a society which promotes self through social media, participation awards, and celebrations of every single milestone, even if none exists, has created a society of young adults that expect. In a sense, it happened in my generation too. Gen X-ers lived with the sitcom society of “happily ever after” by the end of the 1/2 hour segment, told we could be anything we wanted, and we believed it…we expected that one day we would gain fame, fortune, and our own happily ever after. This new generation has just drank more of the Kool-Aid. And you can’t necessarily blame them, with YouTubers playing video games or goofing off to the tune of millions of fans and just as many dollars.

But someone needs to pay. Accountability is gone.

Social Media is a wonderful tool, but it steals accountability. It’s easy to unfriend and unfollow. It’s much harder to listen with respect. Identity is personal and should never be found in opinions, likes, or follows of others, yet too many are so wrapped up in the numbers they disregard the person. Watch people in a restaurant or waiting for a bus. We aren’t accountable to each other because we don’t even interact with each other. It’s identity theft when you allow social media followers to determine your worth, dictate how you spend your time, and decide your value. Social Media is a tool, not a place to find validation. 

I am in the process of altering my life from being just a writer / speaker into becoming a licensed real estate agent to assist my husband. I won’t lie: it’s been torture. Who am I if I stop being a writer? What happens when I slow or stop posting on social media? I realized the truth was none of that defined me, yet I allowed it to shape my own thoughts about myself. I gave my identity away to followers of forums I had no faith in. The world of social media had become so predominant in my existence that I didn’t know who I was without it. And my identity as an author had become so encompassing that I felt empty inside without it.

What changed? My accountability.

I am accountable for giving away my life to social media and allowing identity theft to take place. I am not a result of likes and shares, but what I do might result in them if done for the right reasons. Today, my identity is found in myself and who I am is not what I do. Will I still use social media? Absolutely! I just won’t let it use me anymore.

ABOUT FEATUREJaimie Engle writes dark thrillers where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her books and creating the Stories that Shape You through JME Books. Fun facts: Jaimie danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show & played an alien on TV. Learn more at ABOUT.

JME Books by Jaimie Engle: Stories That Shape You... Dismiss