Old Words Made New

The following posts have been copied from my initial WP blog that I no longer use and have since deleted. Call me clingy, but I couldn’t bring myself to give these meandering thoughts the old ax, so here they are.

Eyes: A Defense Mechanism?

Maybe it’s just me (but I can almost guarantee that it isn’t), but our power of sight comes fully loaded with a defense system more powerful than ADT. Here’s why:

Imagine you’re walking through the house and every light is on. This isn’t difficult to imagine, especially if you have kids. (I’m also convinced we spend somewhere around 80% of our home-time turning off said lights, but that’s another story.) Okay, all the lights are on, and everything’s fine. You’re walking upright, pretty stable– even if slightly staggering toward the coffee pot– but then you walk into the bedroom. The lights are off and that’s not the only thing off. Your equilibrium suddenly becomes the spaghetti monster from the third dimension. Your arms go all akimbo, your feet are crab-walking, and you’re wondering if you’ve walked into a drunk tank where some evil scientist is pumping in tequila fumes.

You’ve been in the room a million times under blazing light. You know where every object is, yet suddenly, in darkness, the floor feels tilted. And here’s where the defense mechanism comes in… because your eyes immediately scream, “Oh, no! We can’t see! Better throw you into the floor now before you bump into the dresser across the room!”

And, blam! Just like that, for no reason, you’re lying sprawled on the floor, grateful that the new rug is so damn fluffy.

Thank you, eye defense mechanism. Due to your foresight, I didn’t bump into any of the things I wouldn’t have bumped into anyway, because I knew exactly where they were. No, instead, you saved me by throwing me into the floor, but it’s okay because I pretended to be a soldier on recon in the depths of the jungle. (I had to explain the fall to the other people in the house somehow. What should I have said? “I tripped over thin air because me eyes decided to save me from the dresser… way over there?)

You can all thank me later for this completely unscientific explanation of why we fall down in the dark for no reason later. And before picking yourself up in front of the entire family, remember to keep your arms in the perfect rifle-cradling position. Details make all the difference.

Live. Love. Write.

Blank Mind Passing Time

I’ve been remiss in sharing the churnings of my mind here. Time just seems to slip by, sometimes as quietly as the distant rain–sheets pouring down on the rest of the world while we stare in awe… or frustration.

Time passes whether we want it to or not. Whether we spend an entire day lounging at home in sweats or out on the town, the clock never stops. What we do with the time we’re given is our choice. (Well, for the most part. There always exist the uncontrollable things… But that’s another subject.)

So, think about the time you have– whether you feel you have no time or not is inconsequential. You have time. You may not have time to do the things you want, however. But if the time will pass anyway, why not spend at least a portion of it doing something you love.

Now, there lies the tough part. What do you love? Sure, watching entire seasons of your favorite show in a single afternoon while gnoshing those oh-my-god-these-are-so-flipping-good cookies is on our list of Things We Love, but none of us want to do that every day. What do you LOVE? Deeply, unconditionally, this-is-my-dream love. Because whatever that is is what we should all strive to make time for. Every day. Do something that makes you happy Every Day, because life with keep on ticking, one second at a time.

Before going to bed tonight, think back over the day’s events. Did you do at least one thing that truly makes YOU happy? Not the kids or the spouse or the boss… but YOU. Be honest with yourself.

If you’re missing a soul-happy moment, don’t get discouraged. Get busy. Get busy loving yourself enough to do the things you love. Make no excuses.

The time will pass anyway. May as well use some of of those waning moments doing something that makes your soul smile.

Live. Love. Write.

Floating

You know that moment when you’ve had your head down, staring at the path laid out before you for so long that you can’t remember the last time you looked up to catch a new view? When you’ve been on the same track for so long that you watch yourself step in the same footsteps from yesterday, last week… last year? You know, the rut you’ve trod with the day in, day out routine? Yeah? Of course you do! We’ve all been there.

Wake up, get kids to school, get to work, work all day, come home to homework and dinner and laundry and the myriad other tasks of adulthood, before bedtime finally comes and you realize you still haven’t finished the first chapter of the book you purchased last month or finished that paragraph in your manuscript, only to get up and start the whole process over again?

Yeah. We all know what that’s called. It’s life as an adult, and as we may see so often on those Facebook memes, “This shit is not like I imagined.”

So what? We have to do it anyway. Regardless of how tired, disgusted, frustrated, or *insert emotion here* we feel. Why? Because we’re adults, model citizens, the foundation of a better society… hmm. Okay, we do it because we’re adults and that’s what adults do. The other stuff? Maybe.

But when you find yourself floating through life, sloshing through yesterday’s muddy footprints, what do you do? Continue? Of course! Break down into a babbling mess of tears and heartache? Maybe. I mean, it happens to the most model of citizens. It’s okay to be frustrated with the day in, day out routine… but we can’t stop. We can, however, change our perspective.

The smallest changes can often have a big impact.

Do you go to go bed every night before ten pm? Stay up later one night and read a few pages of that book. You’re tired of hamburger helper Thursday? For goodness sake, throw a roast in the crock pot. Any small change is better than no change, and what happens when you consciously make these small changes is that you’ll begin to tread beside those old footprints instead of constantly running that same gauntlet.

Yes, I know. Eventually the small changes will also become routine and we’ll have to change it up again. That’s life, though.

If it’s big changes you’re looking for, then preparation is necessary. Begin small; one step at a time. Rarely do big changes happen overnight. You have to plan for it, work toward it, envision it. Still, sometimes all the planning in the world doesn’t bring your wishes to fruition.

Life is about change. Big or small, make those alterations to your game plan. Mix it up a little. Be fearless, at least in your culinary choices.

The most important thing is to stop floating through life. It’s just too short. Make things happen. You’ll be happier for the trouble.

Live. Love. Write.

Your Internal Tuning Fork

Ok, well, maybe it’s not a tuning fork. Not exactly. But if you listen to your intuition, you’ll learn a few things. For instance, that nagging voice that warns you to stay out of the dark, spooky house? Yeah, you should probably listen, unless you enjoyed every horror movie you’ve ever seen so much that you just can’t wait to be part of one.

Okay, okay.

Intuition. Gut instinct. No matter what you call it, listen to it. If something feels wrong, it’s wrong. There’s no need to explain your logic to those who don’t understand. If you feel as if you’re breaking some  sort of unspoken code, you probably are. And if you feel this way, there aren’t a whole lot of things that can change that.

Of course, there’s always at least one person who won’t understand when you say, “It just feels wrong.” They may laugh and think you’re kidding. They may even wait for that tell-tale grin that reveals you were just pulling their leg. Cue the sullen attitude and even, in some scenarios, insults once the witness to your “No, thanks” realizes you’re actually standing up for what you believe in.

Trust your gut. Don’t allow anyone, no matter how dear, to sway you from how you really feel. Doing things their way won’t make you happy forever. Live on your own terms (as much as any person in today’s world is able, at any rate). Say how you feel. Don’t apologize. After all, the one person you have to live with for the rest of your life is You. It’ll be a lot easier to live with yourself if you learn to trust your gut, speak your mind, and live happy… even if that means living alone.

Do what’s right. Do what’s right for you in this moment and for every moment going forward. Be fearless about making yourself happy. Misery has enough company already.

Live. Love. Write.

Humility Over Arrogance

Humility goes a long way. It’s perfectly acceptable to feel pride in accomplishments, but if the horn is tooted too much, pride runs to arrogance.

It’s true that, sometimes, we must be our own cheerleader, but if your chants are always about you and your accomplishments, eventually people who were once proud for you will lose interest.

Be proud, but be humble. Remember that not everyone has had the opportunities you’ve had. You’ve finally graduated college? Fantastic! But be careful that you’re not allowing your intelligence to appear as arrogance and, in turn, ignorance, by constantly speaking on how intelligent you are.

Humility and education can go hand in hand, but only if you’re able to keep it real. No exaggeration necessary.

Live. Love. Write

Shadows of Grief

Death renders us defenseless. An overwhelming urge to do something, say something, that could take the pain away and possibly wind back the clock forjust one more moment

The shadow of death taints everything. Songs we’ve blasted in a feel-good moment now bring tears to our eyes. Thoughts of our family and friends are bittersweet as we realize that no life is promised and all we can do is hug our loved ones close, tell them how we feel at every given opportunity. Even watching the first leaves of Fall twirl to the ground has a profound effect on one whose life is suddenly thrust into the shadow of grief.

Death is inevitable, yet most often is unfathomable, as we never want to imagine our time on this earth without those we love. Parents can’t imagine losing a child, and those who have lived that kind of grief can’t imagine how they survived through it. Spouses can’t imagine losing the loves of their lives, yet somehow find the strength to push through the pain. Children, too, are forced to try to understand a tragedy that has no rhyme or reason.

In the shadow of death, the smallest memories, memories that may seem insignificant to an outsider, grow into an insurmountable force that occupies thoughts and, often, causes tears to fall. The last words spoken, the last photo taken, the last smile that curved the lips of our loved one– all these things haunt our dreams and waking moments. What if and why are spoken so often that it seems as if these are the only words now capable of making it across our lips.

What can we say when asked How are you? There aren’t enough words to express the depth of pain, confusion, and frustration after the loss of a life. And yet, I’m okay tumbles out, when, in fact, we are far from okay.

There are no words. The world shines on, yes, but a little dimmer for its loss. One thing is certain, though– your place in this world shall never be forgotten by those you leave behind. We will think of you often, and sometimes, even years later, memories of you will still bring tears to our eyes and smiles to our faces.

Forever a smile; forever a tear.
Never forgotten.

Change is Knocking

The winds of change are battering the door again. No polite, “Avon Calling” raps, but hearty I’m-coming-in-whether-you-want-me-to-or-not knocks. Not that it’s a bad thing, change, but it affects me in strange ways.

It begins innocently enough with the urge to cut my hair. Hair is, after all, the easiest thing to change about oneself. But I’m usually stricken with this urge at one in the morning when the house is quiet, save the peaceful sound of dreams. I’m not sure if you know this, but at one in the morning, scissors take on a mystical glow and the idea to give yourself a haircut sounds like the best idea since afternoon coffee. It’s not, however, always the best idea.

Nevertheless, once the hair has fallen to the floor and gotten stuck in every conceivable way in the shirt, well, then other ideas take root.

Moving cross-country, for instance, begins to sound like something that should happen at the first sign of dawn. It would be so easy, so fun, to uproot, breaking all current ties, and head into the Great Nowhere. Probably not the best idea to have at three in the morning, but it warrants a Pros and Cons list, at least. (I’m quite fond of these kinds of lists, and for good reason. They’re often the deciding factor– meaning the list will inevitably have a Con tally that far exceeds the Pro tally, thereby allowing me to cast aside the idea of running away to some unknown place.)

But wouldn’t it be fun? A new hair cut and a new city, all in a day’s work? Well, maybe. The idea isn’t completely ludicrous and as the first fingers of dawn begin to peel back the night, all I can honestly agree upon is that I’m tired, bored with the current way of things, and am aching for something new. Maybe the “something new” can wait. For now, I suppose I’ll be content with a new flavor of coffee creamer– something exotic, like… well… French Vanilla it is.

I’ll save the spur of the moment ideas for another sleepless night. For now, my pillow is lonely and I haven’t slept a wink. Here’s to adventurous dreams and the battering winds of change settling for a new haircut and a creamy cup of Joe.

Live. Love. Write.

There’s No Business Like the In-the-Know Business

Disclaimer: Rant.

Gossip. We know what it is. We all have that one friend or family member who spouts gossip as if it were the honest truth. Perhaps we’ve even gotten in on a lively round of gossip (which is probably true for most of us, whether we want to admit it or not) or been the subject of it.

But the thing about gossip is that it’s based on rumor, not fact, and it usually stems from a less-than-reliable source. Or perhaps gossip stems from a very reliable source, from someone who always seems to be “in the know,” from a person who has the latest information on everyone you know and plenty of those whom you don’t know. It’s a lucrative business; columns and TV shows thrive on celebrity gossip and, sometimes, even local folks.

You’re probably thinking: Yeah. So what?

The so what comes in with the idea of truth versus reality. Often it seems that those who gossip the most are so unhappy with their own lives that they must spread rumors about others, and –just like in showbiz– we feed into it. But why? Does the fact that Susie got caught cheating on her husband make us feel better? What about the time we heard that Scott had been stashing liquor in his golf bag even though he’d promised his family that he’d quit drinking? Did that make us feel better?

Well, yeah.

Hearing these kinds of things about other people, especially if the people in question have some sort of elevated status, does make us feel better about our own fallacies, our own humanity. It’s human nature to find comfort in the mistakes of others because it reminds us that we’re all human; we all make mistakes.

But when feeding into, and spreading, gossip turns into a full-time job (without the benefit of a paycheck), then some reassessment may be required. Everyone has flaws, yes, but not everyone wants their dirty laundry aired to the world (whether in terms of the actual world, or the immediate world), and one who gossips will be the first to complain when rumors start flying about them.

At any rate, the point of all this is: Sweep around your own doorstep before you start sweeping around mine– meaning, tend to your own flaws before readily pointing out others’.

Flaws are symptoms of humanity. We all have them, and it’s okay to have them. Accept each person as he or she is, and spend less time trying to cast them in some idealistic mold.

Besides, if every person were the same, you’d have nothing to talk about. (Or write about.)

Live. Love. Write.

Real Conversation

I love those rare moments when I read an author interview that makes me sit up and take notice. Too often it seems as if authors are cut from some magically derived mold that could never fit my lifestyle. Yes, reading about the rags-to-riches successes of authors gives me something to dream about, but after reading so many that seem the same, I’m left wanting more… reality.

With that said, I’m pleasantly surprised by Writer’s Digest’s interview with David Sedaris (October 2013 issue, pp.42-47).

Not only does David Sedaris eradicate the author mold, but his unapologetic interest in people, in humanity, is refreshing.

In the interview, titled “David Sedaris: The Naked Truth” (written by WD editor Jessica Strawser), Mr. Sedaris recounts his book-signing experiences and how they often last for hours upon hours– simply due to real conversation. He explains how fans may gush over his work, but insists that he doesn’t want to hear that. Instead, he prefers real conversation. I’m stunned by the admission that he’d rather ask questions of his audience–gritty, real-life questions– than talk about his work.

Yes, he’s building his author platform through real conversation, but he’s also leaving behind more than just a fan. He’s also cultivating fodder for future stories, sure, but to a fan it’s greater than that.

The very idea that a literary celebrity would ask personal questions to cultivate conversation is priceless, both to his fans on a personal level and to his professional platform. Hats off to you, David Sedaris, for helping us remember that striking up a conversation is more important (and sometimes more inspirational) than a cookie-cutter interview.

“And all of a sudden, we’re having a real conversation.” –David Sedaris

[My thanks to Writer’s Digest magazine for consistently providing inspiration.]

Live. Love. Write.

A Unique version of Yourself

Listen up! It’s way past time to stop beating yourself up. The people around you are growing weary of seeing you with self-inflicted tears. They ache for you, want to see you happy and smiling.

So, why aren’t you? Happy and smiling, I mean?

Everyone has bad days, and I’m here to tell you that sometimes a bad day lasts all week. There are days where there are no more rocks left to hide under, no more holes to crawl into, and no more tears to shed– but it gets better.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes by now and thinking that your life will never change. Well, you’re right, it won’t. Not with that attitude.

In order for anything to change– life, love, career, location– you must be willing to make the change. No one else can do it for you. Being hard on yourself doesn’t help.

When life starts slinging out lemons, often the first person we point fingers at is ourselves. Maybe we think the situation would, through some magical act, be better if we were prettier, taller, thinner, had more hair… The list is endless. And what kind of malarkey is that anyway?

The world sees the way we feel about ourselves. Our lives are affected by our visions of ourselves. Your attitude is everything, and attitude is a choice you make every day, whether you realize it or not.

The point is, make peace with yourself. Embrace your flaws and shortcomings. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful your eyes are instead of fretting over the acne. Smile at yourself. Be nice to yourself. Celebrate your unique qualities and talents and stop trying to be a carbon copy of the world around you.

Change is possible, but only for those who are willing to accept it. But first, you have to accept yourself. Don’t wait to change until you’re thinner, taller, have more hair. You deserve to be happy right now, right this instant.

So, give yourself a break. Be a unique YOU just by appreciating the life you have. We all want to change something, but nothing will ever change without first changing that attitude. Once you begin putting positive vibes out into the universe, those positive vibes will begin circling back to you.

You get what you give. Make sure what you give includes a celebration of your unique self.

Live. Love. Write.

On Being Positive

As a general rule, I try very hard to be positive. I wield positivity like a shield against the Negative Nancies out there. You know the ones I mean. They wear frowns like badges and their level of expectation is high for everyone except themselves. Now, to be fair, not every Negative Nancy is this bad. But still, you get the idea.

What these Negative Nancies may not know, however, is that one positive thought is worth more than a baker’s dozen of negative thoughts. Just one reason why you CAN will get you so much more from life.

Now, I know it’s tough being the positive little birdy all the time. Trust me; it’s tiresome. But even when we’re feeling our worst, it’s imperative to find a positive spin. Positivity, my friends, is sometimes all we have that we can control, so why not use that control to our advantage?

My challenge to you: Find one positive aspect in your life. Write it down. Post it on the fridge, on your mirror… any place where you will see it regularly. No matter what’s going on in your life at the moment, there exists that tiny spark of positive energy. Grab that spark, fan it, and watch it grow.

Be positive. A smile won’t kill you. I promise.

Live. Love. Write.

Love Like an Artist

Aside from parental love, there’s no greater love than that of an artist for the world. Artists of all mediums see the world through a different lens, using the slanted eye to showcase beauty that would otherwise be passed over.

An ordinary apple becomes a thing of beauty beneath the bristles of a paint brush. A knothole in a widespread oak, beauified through a photographer’s lens. A fleeting moment in time, immortalized through an author’s writing.

A world in which fear and loathing are ample is colored with love and understanding by artists of all strains.

So, love like an artist. Allow yourself to see the mysterious beauty of the world. Share that beauty, in the way only you can, and brighten a dreary life. We never know when the seemingly uninspired will find the inspiration they’ve been searching for in our words, colors, and photographs.

Live. Love. Write.

Just because

The best moments in our lives often occur during times when we need to be lifted most. People walk into our lives unexpectedly, and they walk out the same way. Maybe we don’t know the reason. “Just because” seems to be a good enough reason. After all, it’s the reason children rely on.

Giving a gift “just because”
…a hug… flowers…a smile…
“Just because”

No reason is necessary. The meaning of any gift, meeting, or moment stemming from “just because” is a moment to relish.

Accept the gifts. Return the hugs. Engage in conversation with people you’ve only just met.

Just because.

Live. Love. Write.

Growing Up Means Paying Bills

Let’s face it. Each and every one of us raced through childhood with the outlook that adulthood would bring freedom. Freedom from parents telling us what to do, freedoms from chores, freedom from bedtime and curfew…

But that’s not what happened, is it?

Growing up means paying bills, being responsible for ourselves (and others, if we’re parents), and STILL having a bedtime because, well, there’s work in the morning.

Growing up doesn’t mean freedom, although a certain freedom of choice comes in the package (along with the checkbook and the mortgage). As adults, we can choose what to eat and what to wear. We can choose what to watch on tv and what to read… after the bills are paid.

If you’re among the many whose freedom of choice is limited to which store-brand cereal to buy, have no fear. The Fruity-Os on aisle 6 are 2/$5, and you may be able to get some milk, too.

Live. Love. Write.

Oh, That’s What Writing Is?

image

There’s no right way to write. We just do it. Like Nike, only with less running.

Most of the time.

But what about life? I mean, it happens. Doctor’s appointments and school plays, work schedules and that amazing Fall TV lineup… So, where does the writing come in?

Well, writing can happen anytime. Just pay the piper and put pen to paper. Whether we’re making sense of the life that happens around us, or we’re making life happen with our writing… it all starts with that first step.

So, do it. Just write, whenever and wherever you can.

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One thought on “Old Words Made New

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