Saturday, November 7, 2020

Zozobra



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Anyone left breathing? Yikes and yikes.

We are so lucky, here on Jungle Red, to have the world’s most perfect blog today.

And we always love to learn new words.


Seeking Serenity

By Gay Yellen


I learned a new word this week. Zozobra.

An article in The Conversation, an academic newsletter, describes zozobra as a form of anxiety that occurs when at one moment life is normal, and then suddenly everything shifts to near chaos. This year feels like that, as we struggle through political upheaval, pandemic fear, economic uncertainty, and more.


When our lives feel off-kilter, we suffer from zozobra. We've each likely felt it, even in the before-times. Losing a job, ending a relationship, facing a serious illness. Any number of things can make us feel like there's no stable ground under our feet.


In The Body Business, Samantha Newman has had a pretty rocky life. Still, she's managed to survive the loss of her family to a house fire, put herself through college, and build a stellar career. But when her company's recent financial reports don't add up, doubt creeps in. Add to that a jealous co-worker, a breakup with her long-time beau, and the disappearance of her best friend. Her life is crumbling again.


Consumed with problems and hell-bent on finding her friend, Samantha can barely appreciate the peaceful surroundings of Serenity, the beautiful ranch she visits in the rolling hills of Central Texas. She's so focused on her own problems, she hardly notices that the loving folks who live there have survived their own battles, too.









The writers of the Conversation article suggest a remedy for overcoming zozobra. Whether we've hidden our suffering behind a happy face, or we continue to seethe with anger and blame, we need to rely on a trusted community. One where we share a sense of what matters, where we can have honest conversations about our suffering, and find comfort.

Perhaps, like Samantha, we're too stressed these days to breathe in the sunshine. Though we're hoping for a happy ending, fingers crossed. In the meantime, let us also hope that we can acknowledge our collective zozobra. May we find a circle of trust wherein sympathy and honest dialog abide.


What about you? How are you coping these days?

HANK: Did I tell you? How perfect is Gay Yellen? So...what’re your answers, Reds and readers? And yes, a trusted community. Love you all so much.


 



The Body Business, Book 1 in the Samantha Newman Mystery Series
, follows the up-and-coming V.P. of Media Relations at a global staffing firm as she searches for her missing friend. Suspecting foul play, she asks the FBI for help. But they send Carter Chapman, a man with secrets of his own. When the two wrangle over how to proceed, Samantha risks everything to forge ahead on her own.

 

 


Before becoming a full-time writer, Gay Yellen was Assistant to the Director of Production at The American Film Institute (AFI). She's a former magazine editor and author of the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business and The Body Next Door. She is currently working on Book 3 in the series. Having survived a killer California earthquake, an encounter with a deranged gunman, and an elephant's prodigious sneeze, Gay lives in Texas and blogs monthly at The Stiletto Gang. Follow her on Facebook and Amazon, or read more at GayYellen.com.


48 comments:

  1. Here’s hoping for a happy ending for Samantha . . . adding this to my must-read list, Gay . . . .

    I guess I’m coping about as well as most everyone else these days . . . I love this trusted community.
    Mostly I just sit home and read . . . .

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    1. Reading is the best escape for me, too, Joan. And bless you for your wishes for Samantha. I know she'll be fine in the end, as will all of us.

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    2. we love having you here Joan! and welcome Gay!

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    3. Thank you for the welcome. I love it here.

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    4. It's always safe inside a book! I say that every day... Joan, you are such a joy. xx

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    5. Speaking of joys, Hank, you bring so much to all of us. Thanks for inviting me to be here today!

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  2. I have to say life has been the old roller coaster anxiety-wise this year, and this week has been especially up and down. I had convinced myself that all was well tonight. I took a walk with husband on a walking trail this afternoon. I was beginning to breathe a little easier, and then boom, in the last couple of hours I have let anxiety derail me again. I’m going to try reading some and hope I can sleep in a bit. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it once again, having the Jungle Reds blog is one of the best ways I have of keeping sane.

    The Body Business and Samantha Newman sounds like a great read. Thank goodness my reading focus is better right now. It’s still not normal (whatever that word means anymore), but I’ll take better.

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    1. It's great that you have a walking trail and a companion to share it with. I love walking in the park near us. To hear the birds singing is a joy.

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    2. Hope you feel better today Kathy! It's just a darn hard time...

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    3. Walking is so wonderful. But hey--we're all anxious, and I really think there's no reason to be anxious about being anxious. It's the way things are now. Maybe you are just...wise. xoox

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  3. Welcome to JRW Gay. I love the cover and the title, just WOW. Are the Samantha Newman books cozies? Like Joan, I too am putting Body Business on my must read list. Tell us more about your series.

    Zozobra indeed, and what a week! Since the Pandemic began, all I have been doing is reading. Really, I need more exercise but cannot seem to find my rhythm to do anything. Besides reading, I've spent tons of time in the kitchen, then back to the books. The JRW blog has been a godsend.

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    1. Judy! Thank you for your kind words. Funny that you ask if my books are cozies. Some readers and reviewers say so. There's definitely humor in them, and no explicit sex. To me, the second book is more cozy than the first. If you read them, you tell me.

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  4. Thanks for the new word! The writing community is certainly a trusted one, as is my faith community of Quakers.

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    1. I love being part of the writing community, Edith. Such a sharing, caring group. So glad you feel that way too, and that your faith is sustaining you. Be well!

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  5. My family, my friends, my JRW. Reading. Baking. Yardwork. Sleepless nights. That's how I cope these days. Zozobra, indeed. Looks like I've got some new reading material to add to my list, Gay!

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    1. You've pretty much summed up life as it is, Flora. I constantly remind myself to take joy in these things. Baking? Cn I come over?

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  6. That's why they burn Zozobra every year in Santa Fe! I think we could all use a collective burning right now.... https://burnzozobra.com/all-about-zozobra/
    Pat Remick

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    1. Wow! I didn't know about this, Pat. Thanks for the heads-up. A trip to Santa Fe is on my list, soon as the smoke clears. Thanks!

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  7. I love learning new words and meeting new authors and their characters. Thanks for the introduction to Samantha, Gay. Wow, those shoes!

    Coping these days? My work-from-home routine. Forcing myself out for walks. Writing in my Daily Log. Reading. Watching something on the screen, anything...though this week has been all about votes and ballots and counts. Keeping my fingers crossed for the right outcome.

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    1. Those shoes, indeed, Amanda! Will we ever go back to wearing such instruments of torture, now that our stay-at-home toes have been liberated? Just have to say that I admire your discipline to write a daily log. How interesting it will be for you to look back on this year, once the zozobra is history. Fingers crossed for that!

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  8. Always love new words! And that is certainly appropriate for our times, but what are it's origins or was it totally made up? In any case I'll be using it. I'm doing okay, I think, at least during the day. Night time is another story - I wake up and can't go back to sleep so then I try to think of things that might help. What does not help is trying to remember the names of characters in TV shows or the last name of my neighbors of 20 years ago. Best to just do state capitals.

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    1. Judi, zozobra is a Spanish word for the particular kind of distress so many of us are feeling. Take a peek at the comments here from Pat and Coralee. They've done a great job of sharing their knowledge of zozobra. On my part, I may start using it as a replacement for a swear word I've been using much too often lately!

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  9. Congratulations on your new book Gay . Your description is enticing.
    Nature, family, friend, books and this community help me to cope.

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    1. Your wonderful list of comforting activities seems to sum up how most of us are getting by, Danielle. It's like we're sharing the same life, only separately-together. Thanks!

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  10. Zozobra. It is always interesting to see a word from another language be adopted by English speakers. I am sure you know that 'zozobra' is Spanish for 'distress'. That is why having a zozobra celebration and burning an image can be so much fun and healing. Your series is something I hope to start reading soon. These times call for inspiration; Samantha is a good role model.

    For me, I learned a long time ago in times of chaos to focus on the small joys. This morning a squirrel ran across a phone wire above me. When I looked up I saw the half moon. Half dawn and half moon, cool enough to walk some more.
    I have gone back to needlework. Stitch by stitch the picture forms. Vote by vote the nation changes. I am reminded of John Milton's Sonnet 19 last line "They also serve who only stand and wait". Just for today I will write and wait.

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    1. Thanks for the etymology, Coralee.

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    2. Thanks so much for deepening our knowledge of zozobra, Coralee. And thanks for your interest in Samantha. I'm with you when you talk about small joys. Just reading about yours is a stress reliever.

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  11. Congratulations on your new book and welcome to Jungle Reds! One of the things that I love about reading novels is that I always learn new words.

    For example, I learned a new word "meandering" when reading a mystery novel. I remember reading Agatha Christie for the first time at the age of 12 and it was hard because of many new words and No pictures in the book. LOL. Now they are easy to read.

    How do I stay calm during these pandemic times? I work very hard to stay calm. First, TRY to get enough sleep. Exercise or at least stretch my muscles in the morning to smooth out the knotted muscles. Eat breakfast is always a must. And READING books.

    Diana

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    1. Meandering perfectly describes what it means, Diana. And fun to say out loud! Thanks for reminding us to exercise. It's not fun to work at relaxing the muscles, but it's oh-so-good when they finally let go!

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  12. Off to teach a class this morning! Back in 90 minutes! Love you ...

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  13. Who knew there was a perfect word for what is happening now? I love the idea of vanquishing Zozobra. We should all do this, one these chaotic times end. I AM optimistic that they will actually end.

    If it weren't for gardening and reading I'd have been far less calm this year. And avoiding TV unless it's a movie or commercial-free series on Netflix or Acorn. It's no wonder there's so much stress, with all that cacophony coming at us constantly.

    Poor Samantha, she doesn't deserve this, clearly! I look forward to seeing how she copes with her own challenges.

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    1. I'm with you, Karen. This, too, shall pass. As for small joys, I love gardening. Living in a high-rise now, I miss it. The planters on the balcony are a small comfort, but nothing compares to yanking out those pesky, tenacious garden weeds. Such great stress relief!

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  14. Love your words. I think zozobra snuck up on me this year. So, I'm going to go on a walk and listen to the birds at your suggestion. Then, I'm going to read outside. As always, you offer clarity and calmness. Can't wait for book #3!

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    1. Yes, the birds--we have fallen in love with them even more over these months!

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  15. Aww... CJ, thanks! Here's hoping the birds are full of cheer for you today. As for book 3, it will launch early next year. Thanks for being a reader!

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  16. Great word. Coping. That changes day by day. Still going to an office daily helps. Reading. Picking up a crochet hook again has helped until I get too tense, then I put it down for a while. I don't find it relaxing when I hold the hook so tight my hand cramps. I also am able to arrange flowers at church again. Services may be in Zoom, but our priest is back in the building for them and we can add flowers to the reredos, like pre-pandemic days. It is that little comfort from over the generations that helps.
    My list of authors is getting longer by the day. Samantha sounds like a person I'd like to know. Is the landscape picture someplace near you? I like it. It's clean and simple. Hey, I just NOW got a news update on the election.... :-)

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  17. Yes, Deana. The photo was taken at sunset from a hill in Central Texas. In the Samantha Newman Series, I call the place Serenity Ranch, in hopes that Samantha will eventually find comfort there. I love that you're crocheting. For the past few months I've regretted having abandoned my knitting, which I loved to do as a child. I still have the sweaters I made. If only they still fit!

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    1. Seems like many of us miss our visits to Central Texas, Deb. But isn't it a comfort to have a word that perfectly defines what we're feeling? Until the next time we meet in Houston or beyond, stay safe!

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  18. Zozobra. What a fine word. I'll have to ask my husband if he knows that one (Spanish speaker). He is off de-stressing in the woods this weekend. Central Texas is a little heaven on earth that could make anyone feel better. My sister lives near LaGrange and I love to get away there to goof off. But not since March. I'm specifying Central Texas, not just the hill country, which is also lovely. Oh well. My sister and I exchange snarky texts and phone calls in the mean time. I read a bunch and try to keep things at home in reasonable shape. I need to run over to my niece's house to pick up a bucket of pecans from my sister's yard. Bumper crop this year! I'll happily take a trip to Serenity soon in your new book.

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    1. Pat, I love that you know Central Texas, the hill country that's Hill Country-adjacent. There are lots of pecans there, too. The native ones are hard to crack, but so tasty, it's worth the effort. Do you eat them raw or cook with them?

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    2. Once I shell them I pop them in the freezer for future cooking. Of course I have to taste them while I’m shelling!

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    3. Of course! So good when they're fresh. Also in pies, and cakes, and cookies. Crusted on chicken and fish, roasted and salted...

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  19. Hi Gay! As a fellow Texan, I so love the photo of the ranch. I've spent a good deal of time not only in the Hill Country but in Central Texas--alas, for those trips to Brenham and Roundtop... Maybe next year. In the meantime I'll just look at your photo and breathe a big sigh. And I'd love to read about Samantha and her journey to vanquish zozobra. What a great new word!

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    1. Seems like many of us miss our visits to Central Texas, Deb. But isn't it a comfort to have a word that perfectly defines what we're feeling? Until the next time we meet in Houston or beyond, stay safe!

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  21. YOu know what? I;ve never been to central Texas. I have to say, as today goes on, it even feels possible that some day I may be able to visit there!

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  22. That would be so great, Hank! We'd love to show you around. And, again, thanks again for sharing this space with me today. I've had a great time here!

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