There are some phrases in widespread, common use that seem to be universal hot buttons to piss people off. Really, I don’t understand how it became commonplace for people to say things that erode the very respect that relationships are built on, and yet I hear people say it – and complain about having these things said to them – frequently.
Certainly, we should always be honest and authentic in our dealings with people, but discernment is an absolute necessity in our dealings with ALL people. Just because it flies through your brain doesn’t mean it needs to fly out of your mouth, and in fact there are many times when it’s best to keep that thought in your head and fake it till you make it with your words (or silence, depending on the situation). For example, here are some phrases you should eliminate (or at least, drastically reduce) in your vocabulary that will garner more respect, motivate people to cooperate and work well with you, and make you appear more intelligent and savvy:
1. “Whatever.” Nothing coveys the ignorant-inconsiderate-jerk trifecta like this one word phrase. You have the entire English language at your disposal and that’s all you’ve got? If it is, then it’s time to recognize the uncomfortable fact that sometimes, the best course of action is to gracefully back away and let silence be golden. And if you refuse to exercise the right to remain silent, then a simple “I hope that works out for you and wish you luck” is much more dignified than throwing out something that makes you look like a cross between an immature tween and a person that’s learning English as a second language - and isn’t quite getting it.
2. “Do what you’ve got to do.” I don’t hear this one as much as I used to, but it’s still out there, and it’s a sin for the same reasons as “whatever.” More accurately, that’s redneck for “I don’t like what you’re doing and would move Heaven and Earth to stop you, but that would reveal me as a selfish jerk to the rest of the world and I don’t want to do that, so go on and get this over with so you can get back to doing things that make me happy.” It isn’t your job to like or even understand everything that other people do, so let go and accept that people have a right to lead their lives, do things, and make decisions that work best for them regardless of what you say, think, or need. Instead, say “I understand this is important to you.” Even if you don’t and you hope it blows up in their face, just fake it and at least acknowledge their right to live as they see fit. Because I guarantee you’ve done things that made them go “Hmmm” in the past . Plus, if you want people to stay interested in your life, then you have to at least act like you give a crap about them and their life, even if you don’t care about them any more than you care about the extra 40 minutes in a Martian day.
3. “That’s not my problem.” I stand back when people say this because it’s an open invitation for the universe to hit you with its best shot, and that’s a challenge it ALWAYS accepts. Sure, you aren’t responsible for every single thing that happens in the world, and there are some things that aren’t your business, but have some dignity in declining to accept responsibility that you feel isn’t yours. “I’m sorry I can’t help you with that” is much more gracious and doesn’t invite fate, the universe, the world, or whatever you wish to call it to deliver an entirely new batch of problems into your life. Fake sympathy for the other persons’ plight even if you don’t really feel it because you WILL be at the receiving end of this one day, and the measure you get will be the measure you’ve given. It happens to us all.
4. “You don’t really want that,” or “Stop wasting your time on that and do this instead.” Excuse me, when did God appoint you to His position, because that’s what it looks like you’re playing at with either variation of this. You have no way of knowing what’s in other peoples’ hearts or what plans are in store for them, and they aren’t required to get your approval for it, either. People have a right to make their own decisions. You never know what might happen and statements like this may very well make a fool of you one day. Don’t take a chance.
5. “I told you so.” Even if you preface it with the I-hate-to-say-it-but clause, it’s still ridiculous because they already know. Demonstrate some maturity and don’t gloat over somebody’s failings, even if they asked for it and everybody knew it was foolishness from the start. As I said in the last statement, people have a right to make their own decisions and that means having the grace to let them make their own mistakes. Pray they’ve learned from the experience, and don’t gloat lest you wander into folly someday. Because none of us are as smart as we think we are.
6. “ I did that too, and let me tell you how I did it better.” Nobody likes a know-it-all or a show off, and a constant need to one-up people blinks “I’m insecure!” brighter than a digital billboard. You don’t have to be in the spotlight every minute of every day. Back down and let others have their day in the sun every now and then. Because we all know that nobody’s done everything under the sun, and there will always be people out there that have done it bigger, better and more recently than you have. Let go of the competition to always be #1 and learn to be happy with the life the Lord gave you.
7. “If I were you, I’d …” Turn off anybody that prefaces a statement with this immediately, because it’s a clear sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Wisdom gives options. Experience shares insight. Ignorance says that if they were you, they’d go out and kick the world in the you-know-where, and that’s most often foolishness that would make a bigger mess of things if anybody were dumb enough to take this advice. Plus, they wouldn’t have the guts to actually do it, because some people are good at telling people to do things they wouldn’t dare do themselves.
8. “You should make them do it.” Guess what? Scientists have found the center of the universe and it’s not you. That’s the fastest way to run a person out of your life. You don’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to do, and if you try to then trust me – you’re ego can’t handle what they really think about you. If you have to control someone every minute to “keep them in line,” then you’re trying to force them into a place or relationship where they don’t belong. Don’t beg people to be your friend or try to force them to your will. Pray for what Joyce Meyer refers to as “divine connections.” Those are friends and acquaintances that you get along with so well that you don’t want to change them because you appreciate how their uniqueness enriches your life.
9. “I would NEVER do that/accept that/put up with that.” Never say never or the Lord will make you do it to show you who the boss really is. One never in your life that’s absolute: you never know what life has in store for you. Someday you could well be dining on crow while dealing with something that you thought you were too smart/special/good for. Life has a way of humbling us, and the “I would never” statements are a GPS on how to get that done.
10. Anything other than “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I’m praying for you and your family” at a visitation or funeral. Anything else sounds stupid and believe me, there’s nothing clever or inspirational you can say that will get through people in the depths of grief. The dumbest things I’ve ever heard have all been said at visitations and/or funerals because people try to justify death and offer comfort in religious platitudes. Folks, I’m Christian too, but this isn’t seminary or time to play preacher. I remember what C.S. Lewis wrote about death not being natural because human beings weren’t created to die and it’s the most painful consequence that we pay for sin. He’s absolutely right. There’s nothing right about death and there’s no way to wrap it up in pretty phrases or platitudes that makes it suck less. So give it up. Don’t engage in conversations with the bereaved if they try to start one, either. This isn’t the time or place to engage in theological discussions, discuss anything beyond condolences for the loss (no gossip or “what’s up with me” statements), and it certainly isn’t appropriate to leverage your personality or make a big impression. It’s a subdued occasion so dial it down, make an appearance, and for goodness sake, shut up.
Maybe you relate to some of this and are nodding, saying thank you for revealing it! Or maybe you see it as a calling out. I certainly don’t mean it that way, and I admit that I’m guilty of uttering some of these phrases. In fact, I had to work at cutting the “whatever” and “I told you so” out of my vocabulary, and I get along with people so much better now that it’s gone. My point is not to say “shame on you.” It’s to shed light on small things that chip away at trust and give guidance that I’ve learned in building bridges to cooperative relationships that last. It takes time and effort, but if modifying my vocabulary slightly will help with that, then it’s an effort worth making. I believe if you’ve read this far then you believe it’s a worthy effort, too.
That’s all today. Take care. I hope you have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.
I did it! I completed the final draft of Move last night and sent it to one of my publishers! Now cross your fingers and pray they accept it for publication. I hope they do. I've put a lot into this one. It's my longest novel to date at around 60,600 words. And you all know that I've worked on it, and worked on it, and researched it, and slaved over it. But it's worth it. I feel it's a good story and it's ready for the world - or at least, it will be when I get the right publisher and editor working on it with me.
Another world created. I enjoyed working on this one. In a way, I'm sad that it's done! I loved that world and it's sad to leave it - and the characters that really do seem like familiar friends to me - behind. I pulled from all over, passed along some lessons learned (and reinforced), drew from lots of experiences, and relationships, and people that have come and gone in my life over the years. Indeed, a writer's muse draws from reality and experience. Every time the world cracks open a bit more, it's a ray of inspiration to creating our own new worlds.
Such is the life of a novelist. You bleed it out through your writing. All you learn, all you know, all you do, everything around you, inspires you to create new characters and worlds that mirror reality and reflect what you know to the world in visions that allow them to escape, and yet take your world back to their own.
Yes, I love being a novelist. And even though I plan to take a break from novels for a little while to focus on writing short stories and articles, I know I'll be back. I always am. I hope the ideas never run out.
Naw, that won't happen. Where there's life, there's inspiration. And that's a ray of hope that keeps me going.
That's all today. Take care.
As we head into a new year, I ponder my resolution to have better balance in my life on a number of levels. One of those (very important) levels is in the area of stress reduction and reducing worry in my life. I think these are things we all struggle with, and recently I've come to realize there's a great deal that we impose on ourselves, especially when it comes to our relationships.
This realization came after having several people tell me things that other people said and/or did over the past few weeks and asked what I thought of it. I remembered that when I was under a therapist while going through my life changes a few years ago, one of the things she told me was that the secret to finding balance was realizing what was and wasn't my business. "You concern yourself with your responsibilities and what you control and let go of the things in the hands of others," she said. That's certainly true, and in fact remembering this advice upon being asked my opinion on these various situations and issues made me realize that people, in general, bring on a lot of their own stress by worrying about or fretting over things that other people think, say or do - things they have absolutely no control over.
Why do we do this? My first reaction was that it's arrogance. Frankly, we all have a tendency to beleive that everything is all about us - and that's wrong. The truth is that everything people think, say and do is all about THEM. It's a reflection of how they see the world. Even if they say that "others made me do it," the truth is that they made the decision on how to perceive things and on how to proceed. Nobody "makes" anybody do anything. Plus, by nature, people are going to do what's best for them and the ones closest to them. Why should they do something that benefits you 100% and them none at all when you aren't the center of THEIR world?
So there's one reason, but I don't think that's all of it, nor the major portion. In fact, I think if that were the whole reason, then it would mean that people in general are extremely selfish and short sighted, and I don't believe that such a narrow view applies to most people most of the time. Some maybe, but absolutely not all. Maybe not most. And remember, I said there's some truth to this. Maybe it's a small part, but I don't think that's a "once size fits all" explanation for it. Most people learn, grow, and gain a wider perspective on the world and as such, they aren't so shallow.
I believe another reason is that we want everybody to like us. The problem is, I recently read that there was actually some scientific study that at least 10% of people aren't going to like you. Frankly, I was surprised the percentage was that low. I thought it would be closer to 30%, but the latest study I read said 10% so we'll run with that. Why is this? Plain and simple, personality differences. Some types just don't play well together. If you don't believe it, ask any extremely emotional person I've come in contact with and they'll tell you I'm mean and don't give a crap about their feelings. I am, by nature, a person that leans more toward logic and reason in making decisions than emotion. I usually don't get along well with extremely emotional types that "just want peace" and "want everybody happy right now" because I beleive happiness comes from investing the time and hard work to do things right no matter how you feel about it "right now." If you do what's right, then it will work out in the end, and that's a happiness that last; not a vapor of high emotion that wears off when the party is over and the consequences have to be paid. In fact, since I've been working in professional licensing, I'd say my tendency to make decisions based on logic and reason have become a stronger because by nature of my profession, I'm obligated to do what's right no matter how people feel about it. I don't think that's a bad thing (of course), but I've caught some flack about it because I'm female, and by stereotype I'm supposed to be all about feelings. While I'm ok to say "alright, forget the 10% and thank God for and enjoy the other 90%, well, some people get awfully fixated on that 10% and believe that if they work harder then they can get a 100% approval rating. It seems their effort would be better spent nurturing relationships with the other 90% but in fact, sometimes they turn on the ones on their side to gain approval they'll never have, counting on forgiveness from that 90% that might come, but not realizing that it will have a higher price than they bargained for because broken trust is a very hard thing to rebuild. But it happens, all the time. I've experienced it; I've seen it; I've written about it. Hey, I'm a writer. The ugly underside of humanity is a playground of inspiration. Expose it to me at your own risk.
Just kidding - maybe. And a sidenote on the emotion thing: I'm interested to see if the stereotype of "hysterical emotion" in women downplays as more generations of women have careers.Working women don't have time to fret over every little wayward comment, rolled eye, questionable social media post, tear or tirade that comes their way. Or at least, me and my colleagues don't. But we'll see as time tells this particular tale.
So there's that. But not all people are emotional and out for approval ratings that would make politicians jealous, so reason #2 can't apply to everybody. But it does apply to enough that I believe it should be considered.
There is one more reason, and I think it applies to most of us. I believe the reason people get tied up in what others think, say and do is because they don't want to be alone in how they think or feel. They want to know that others agree with them. They want others to have an opinion with them, or to get mad with them, or to be sad with them, or to take up the cause with them because they don't want to be the only freak swimming against the tide. They want to know they're like everybody else and what the other person is doing is wild/selfish/stupid/crazy/nonsense/whatever. They don't want to be alone in their opinion or feelings because they don't want to look in the mirror and ask "is it them, or is it me?" We all want to be right. We all want the world to understand that our opinion is just as important as everybody elses'. We all want respect. Nobody wants to be a nobody. They want people to know that they're here, that they have value, and that they are just as important as the other 7+ billion people in the world.
Here's the thing, though: Going about it by getting tangled up in other peoples' business is a sign of insecurity. If you truly walk in faith and you're confident in yourself as the authentic human being you were created to be, then you don't need to beg or scream for attention. You humbly go about your own business, believing that the life God set before and the purposes you serve speak for themselves.
That's the cure. That's how you break free from this stress. You get busy living your own life and tending to your own businss and have the grace to accept others and the decisions they make without intruding into their lives with your opinions.
Does this mean you ignore others and don't care what they do? Of course not. You should always do your best to help people in need and if there's something you can do to help others on their life path, you certainly should. The key is to use common sense and discernment. Yes, we all have opinions on things, but we don't need to share them all the time. Everything that flies through your head doesn't need to fly out of your mouth. If you aren't asked for your opinion or advice, assume it's not wanted or needed and keep it to yourself. I'd even go so far as to say that you should still use caution in giving advice even if you ARE asked for it. As one of the elves said in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, "elves don't give advice because all paths may run ill." Think before you speak. If in doubt, don't. And realize that advice is a take it or leave it thing - and in many cases, people leave it, so be prepared to have your advice or opinion rejected just in case and be prepared to not get offended. And please, for the love of God, if it won't make any difference and you have a thought - don't. Stop right there and go no further. If it's done and/or there's no way it's changing no matter what anybody says and you really need to get it out, set up a private blog or buy a journal to work it out, but don't go off on tirades and complain to everybody in the world about things you can't control involving people close to you. And don't ask or expect people to take sides with you unless you want to do the equivalent of renting a billboard that says I'M THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. It makes you look bad and it makes other people run like hell from you when they see you coming. If it's something so big that you can't live with it, find a way to either deal with it or distance yourself from the situation. Just because a war's going on doesn't mean you have to be a soldier in it. Other people might want you to have their problems, but they can't draft you. You don't have to accept them and if you choose not to accept their problems, well then, it's over.
The point of this mile long blog is that I'm coming to understand that balance is something that we have to strive for in every area of life, and personal relationships are certainly a big element there. We do live in the world, with people, so having good, balanced relationships is an extremely important thing. And one way we can achieve balance in our relationships is by not being a busybody, minding our own business, and having the grace to let it be.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one. I hope you had a Happy Friday and that you have a great weekend.
Yep, that's the right word to describe my schedule these days. It seems there's always something going on. Over the past few weeks we've visited with family, visited with friends, did work on our committees at church, and cleaned house. Work is chaos with license renewals for our biggest program and the legislature making the final push to get things running before regulations time out this month and next month. This has been a brutal session because they're questioning everything with fees down to the jot and tittle and guess what? There are fees in one of my regulations.The June 7 close of the session will be a huge relief - for better or for worse. So that's meant a lot of meetings, on top of meetings I've already had.
Add to that the fact that I didn't feel 100% well with my sinuses 2 days this week but couldn't take off because I had meetings (big surprise), that our big "Share Our Stuff" spring event is tomorrow morning at the church, and I started writing my new book (Move), this week and - yea, insanity.
Incidentally, it's not really out of place for me to start writing a book when things are crazy. It seems the inspiration always hits when I don't have a minute to spare and it seems I have to sledgehammer time into my schedule to peck some research here and a chapter there. I can't explain it. Things will be calm and I'll have writer's block, but let my schedule fill up with dots on every day of my calendar in my iPhone, and the muse is firing off left and right. Maybe the high level of activity feeds inspiration, or gives me more to draw off of. I have to admit that I pounded out a chapter today durning my lunch hour with no problem. In fact, sometimes I find it easier to write scenes there that are in a work related setting. Maybe it's because I'm already in a work-mindset and I can draw inspiration from what I've been dealing with recently. Yes, it's easiest to write in the quiet with free time, but sometimes those short slices of free time feed my muse, I guess by allowing me to draw inspiration from recent experience.
Or maybe I'm just weird and have a busy lifestyle where I've adapted to being able to write anytime I can find a minute. I learned in college that there's no such thing as dead time. They taught me to be a master at handling my schedule and I learned I can squeeze things into every minute of every day. In fact, sometimes I have to plan to take time off. I guess I'm driven. It seems I always have some personal project going on top of everything else. No sooner do I finish the birdhouse village than I'm off and running on my next novel. This one should keep me occupied for a while - and there's no telling what's next.
That's all for today. Happy Friday to you. I hope you have a great weekend.
I’ve had 2 people ask me if I miss working at my old department this week. I could understand if one person asked, but to have 2 people ask from completely different places does make it seem a bit odd. Another thing that makes it odd is that I was transferred almost 2 years ago. It seems to me that I wouldn’t be psychologically stable if I hadn’t adjusted to my current department in such a long period of time. But one of them pressed on and asked if I missed anything about the former place.
At that point, I naturally wondered if I was being baited for some reason. I honestly told them that I did have a couple of friends that I missed from time to time when I saw or heard things that reminded me of them, but the overall answer to the question is that I’m happy where I’m at and I wouldn’t go back even if I could. This is where I am, this is where I belong, and I’m 100% ok and happy with it.
It was a curious question, but I think I made a good admission. Things are always passing in and out of our lives, and it’s natural that we will miss some things. We miss people that have passed away or whose paths have diverged from our own. It’s natural to be nostalgic for what was from time to time and to miss things that have passed us by. And, of course, there are those “little blessings” along the way that we miss – things so little that sometimes we don’t realize it until they’re gone. For example, I miss:
1. My parakeets. Zack, Chloe and Ollie aren’t the first birds I’ve had. When I was in my teens, I had 3 budgies named Petsy, Samson, and Delilah. Funny thing is, I came upon them much the same as I came upon my current 3: We bought Samson, decided he was lonely so we got Delilah, and then adopted Petsy from my great-aunt when she had to go in a nursing home with Alzheimers. (Remember we got Zack, he got lonely so we got Chloe, then they found Ollie at Rick’s work and we wound out keeping him too.) Like our current 3, they each had a unique personality and were full of personality and spunk. They died in 1996 rather close together – Delilah of an infection in August, Petsy of pneumonia in October, and Samson probably died of heart failure (he was 13) two weeks after Petsy. I was so hurt when they died that I said “never again” to pets. Yea, right. We got Zack in 2000, and after we got Chloe and Ollie in 2010 I finally admitted that I’ll always have birds and will clean cages for the rest of my life. See http://conurecorner.weebly.com
for more on my current flock. They even have a blog!
2. My 1993 Dodge Daytona. We all have that one car that’s just perfect, and this was mine: a metallic blue sports car I got just before high school graduation. I got it brand new and absolutely loved it. I drove it until late 2006 when someone hit me in the parking garage at work. Although it wasn’t a bad accident, the damage was bad enough that they couldn’t 100% fix it, especially since the last Daytona’s were made in 1994 and replacement parts were becoming scarce. I now drive a 2006 Grand Prix. I like it and am very satisfied with it, but it just doesn’t have that same “zing” that the Daytona had. And ironically, Pontiac died a few years after I got the Grand Prix – so it seems that whatever car I buy is doomed to be discontinued or the dealer will shut down altogether. Looks like the chances of me being a repeat customer are slim with this track record.
3. Cross stitching. A friend at my former workplace taught me how to cross stitch in 2004 and I absolutely loved it. I even got adventurous and did a large pattern of a dragon and wizard, which I entered in the 2009 State Fair. I didn’t win anything, but it’s still hanging over my mantle and I get a lot of compliments on it. I did a few projects after the dragon, including one of Jesus that graces our entry way, but getting published required more of my time because I had to add doing publicity to my already full schedule with a full time job, home, family, work, writing, and church activities. I had to cut several hobbies and I finally had to make the painful decision that this one had to go on an indefinite hiatus while I build up my writing. I fully intend to take it up again someday when my life is less busy but for now, I’m focused on building my lifelong dream of being a good, well-respected novelist.
4. Smallville and Supernatural on Thursday nights. Ok, it’s not so much the shows themselves as it is that we
designated Thursday night as our “TV Night” every week. It was very nice to have both shows that we watch come on back to back on the same night. Smallville wrapped up after 10 years last season, Supernatural comes on Fridays now, and the new show that we watch, “The Secret Circle” comes on Thursday nights. At any rate, I discovered that I’m usually done with household stuff and writing by 9PM, so having the shows on separate nights doesn’t crimp my style at all. And, as I said, we can always make Friday our TV night with the advantage of DVR, although it’s not completely the same.
5. Free time in the afternoon on weekdays. Wow, I didn’t appreciate what a precious gift that was until I graduated from college and was in a full time job. It’s rare too, only enjoyed by those in school and retirees. That was truly a “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”situation for me. I fully appreciate it on days off, vacations and even sick days now.
And come to think of it, I missed one with that person I talked to about my former job. It’s not just the friends I miss. I also miss those outstanding ham subs they made in the canteen on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’ve checked everywhere and I’ve found close, but not as good as that!
The point is that I believe it’s natural to miss things with the changing nature of life, and that’s ok. Life takes us through many paths and seasons and it adds to the richness of our experiences. But we also need to be mindful of where we are and enjoy the blessings that we have, because you never know when things will change – and sometimes, things change quickly and with little warning. So be grateful for those things that have blessed you, but don’t live in the past. They added to who you are so you can appreciate the present.
That’s all for today. Happy Friday to you, and I hope you have a great weekend.
Rick and I got out and raked the yard over the past couple of weekends. We hired somebody to do it for us at Christmas because Rick was sick and I was working a lot, but decided to do it ourselves again. Why not, we reasoned. We're healthy, the weather is nice, and it's just a waste to pay somebody to do it when we can do it ourselves. We did the front and side yards last weekend and aside from some sore arms, no problem. But yesterday we did the back yard, which is bigger, and it was about 10 degrees warmer.
OMG. For all of you that tell me "oh, you're still young!" that's crap. I got overheated. It took forever to cool off. Rick's sinuses have been giving him grief and my back is so sore that it's been a struggle to move all day. I've been trying to hide it - pride, you know, because I hate to admit that it's getting the best of me, but the truth is that my back has been killing me today. Good grief!
Yea, this wouldn't have bothered me 10 years ago. I might have had some sore arms and been tired, but it would have been gone the next day. Not so this time. I started out ok, but as the day has gone on, I've lost my energy and felt cruddier and cruddier. I didn't know what was wrong until Rick informed me that the yard work yesterday was probably still taking a toll on me. After all, we aren't in our 20's anymore.
Most people complain about seeing those first grey hairs. I'm here to grip about the loss of energy and how much harder it is for me to rebound from pushing myself. Now I understand why both of our parents have hired out the yard work. If this is how it is in my mid-30's, I can't imagine it's going to get any better from here.
Well, crap. How did I get to approaching middle age? A day at a time, I suppose, just like everyone else.
I have to tell you that age isn't something that I give much thought to most of the time. I just keep going on, doing my thing, until something like this happens. These are the instances where I say that age is "the creeper" coming up on me. Most of the time I plug along just fine with little mind to that DOB on my driver's license and CWP until some little thing reminds me that I'm not a kid anymore. Like taking longer to recover from illness and injury. My aching wrist when the weather changes, from that bout with tendinitis I had 2 years ago when I was working on the final draft of Anywhere But Here. An ache here and a pain there. Hearing grunge songs on "remember when?" countdowns on VH1. Things like that remind me that the clock is ticking and time is creeping up on me, slowly now but it's coming, like a thief in the night.
It's not all bad. I have to say that wisdom is an advantage of your 30's. You might be jaded by life and it takes more to impress or excite you, but you're also more patient a understanding. Things don't bother you as much. You know yourself better and find a confidence in that that gives you the boldness to embrace your individuality. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have considered e-publishing 10 years ago, when I started out in writing. I wouldn't have believed that I could learn or do what it takes to be an independent author. But after adopting 3 birds, buying a car, recovering from a stomach infection, building a house, a job move, an in-law move, joining two church committees, and a 3 year dry spell with my writing - yea, I figured why not step outside the box and give it a try. And so far, so good. It's building, and I can tell this is the way for me to go. I didn't believe I could do it on my own until I was knocked flat on my butt and crawled back up again a few times. Then I finally knew who I was and that I could do anything through Christ. Intellectually I knew it all along, but it took life experience for me to really see and believe it.
Still, though, I look at my wedding pictures and know I'll never be that 110 pound pixie again. Not that Rick's complaining about how I look. He's still gracious and tells me I'm beautiful, and I belive he's a good looking fellow. But sometimes that rising number on the size tag in my clothes bugs me and I think, gee, I wish I could have the mind I have now and the body I had at 23. Especially today. Because my back didn't ache so much when I was 23!
Then again, I'd also like to see robot maids, self-cleaning cages, and laptop computers and smart phones with retractable power cords, but that's not happening either. So I suppose the point is that in life you can have it all - but not at one time. Great body and great wisdom come, but not in the same day. And I somehow doubt that robot maids and retractable cords will be around before I hit retirement either. I suppose I'm better off enjoying where I'm at on the path to where I'm going. I know better - I just don't look it!
That's all today. Have a great start to the new week.
I once read where someone said "you can have it all, but not at one time." I believe this is true. In light of my last entry on the sacrifices I've made to accomodate what's most important in my life, I realize that the issue of having too much to do and too little time to do it is a universal theme.
The world is such a big place, and full of endless possibilities. The problem is that we are always limited by responsibilities or obligations that bind us and force us to choose which we would rather have - this or that. We only have so much time, or money, or energy, and we must set priorities because of these limitations. No human being is free of this. There's always going to be at least one thing that binds us and keeps us from total and complete freedom - and more likely, it will be several things, or a combination of factors.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. After all, what happens when there's no sense of accountability? Chaos, that's what. It turns into a state of anarchy and all civility goes the way of the wind. I'm thinking about the Israeliltes during the time of Moses as an example of this, and how the 10 commandments were sent down not once but TWICE. Why? Because the people went wild and out of control when their leader was gone for 40 days to get the law that was set to guide them to a better life, and they descended into a state of anarchy where they made up their own rules of what was god and what was right.
Yes, freedom would be nice, but is it really what we need? I think not. Perhaps God gives us responsibility and obligations not to bind us, but to give us a framework for seeing what's really important and helping us see what's a distraction so we can enjoy what we have to the fullest. After all, Christians are supposed to be accountable not only to God, but to one another. We are to deal fairly and honestly, as Jesus would. And really, accountability is a good thing. It promotes responsibility, cooperation, harmony, balance, and the most important thing in life: relationships.
If you consider it, we really do get our freedom a piece at a time. The changing nature of life allows us the freedom to experience a full spectrum of life through each passing season. Nothing stays the same forever, adn the changing nature of life gives us the freedom to experience a broad range of experiences when the timing is right for us.
It's a paradox to be sure, but I'm learning that life is full of paradoxes. I think the bottom line is that we should enjoy each and every relationship we have when we have it, and to enjoy life in the right ways - no matter where it may have us at the moment.
I wonder where inspiration comes from. It's a funny thing. For example, I haven't written a single new thing since November, yet I've done a lot with promotion of my work and a great deal of blogging. It's odd. It seems I'll go through these odd spells then all of a sudden I'll get hammered with more ideas than I can possibly keep up with.
Here's another puzzle: I've been agonizing over what to do with our front yard for a year. When you build on your own lot they don't do a thing for your yard - I mean nothing. Rick and I even had to plant grass, which we did, but we did little else because we were getting the inside of the house settled. Well, we finished that about a year and turned out attention outside, but came up blank. Then all of a sudden the entire vision of how to fix the front yard up came to me in Sunday School this morning. Just like that. I actually did a rough diagram of it while we were waiting to take communion on the back of my bulletin in church.
A lot of people have ideas of where it comes from. The most common that I hear is Holy intervention - the Spirit speaks and our mind moves. Some say it's how our experiences affect us. Some say it's where we are in life, or what we're going through - the situations we face and how they shape us. Others say it's more organic and inspiration comes through exercising regularly or eating right. Some say working your mind by doing puzzles. There are so many theories.
I believe they all have merit, but I think it's a more mysterious combination of it all. I sure do wish I could pinpoint what causes those flashes of inspiration that artist live for, though. I suspect I'd be a rich woman if I could find, bottle and sell that secret.
Unfortunately I don't have the answer, so I just have to work through it like everybody else. And hope that today's flash of inspiration for fixing up the yard will be the first of a wave that will inspire me in other areas of life. All I know is that my mind did start moving today, and I hope it's on a train that keeps on rolling.
Take care and I hope you have a great start to the week.
I think I finally figured out why I wasn't having any luck with my short stories. It's because I was taking the same approach to them as I did to writing a novel. Unfortunately, what works for novels just doesn't work for short stories. It can't. It's a totally different form.
Novels are about creating a world and weaving a tale that takes readers on an adventure. They should come out of it feeling like they know the characters and have lived the experience.
Short stories are about hitting emotions. You don't have time to develop complex plots or deep characters. The limited space of a short story (or even flash fiction) requires that you hit the readers emotions hard and back off. Readers should come out of short stories relating to feelings or emotions.
I was missing this, until now. Lately, I've been trying to tweak my approach. It's a work in progress, but I recently had a bit of success. A flash fiction piece I wrote for Paragraph Planet will be posted there tomorrow. I hope this means I'm getting on the right track.
Don't get me wrong - novels are still my passion and my #1 form. But I enjoy short stories too. My inability to write ones that really "pop" (or get published) has been frustrating me for a few years. I hope I finally learned the secret to nailing this particular form and that I will continue to improve. I'd like to be able to write short stories well too. Nobody wants to be a one trick wonder.
I saw that my New Years Resolution to research ways to write better was paying off with the book contract, but maybe it's paying off in other ways too. I should have done this long ago but better late than never, right?
It's definitely a process, and I see that it needs to be a continual process. To become a better writer is not only about writing and reading - it's about studing the craft as well.
That's all today. Bye!
Last night was the big, huge, series finale of Smallville - one of my favorite TV shows. You notice I said series finale, as in this is the last episode of this show they will make forever and ever. I worked my butt off all week to make sure all the chores and errands would be done so I'd be free to watch it because, of course, I've looked forward to this epic episode ever since they announced the date and that Michael Rosenbaum would return to reprise his role as Lex Luthor. So last night, I made supper and went to special efforts to feed the birds, do the filing, and take my shower before the show came on at 8:00.
At 7:55, the power went out. Surprise! We had an unforecasted thunderstorm. The power was out for nearly an hour, meaning we missed half the show. Then the weather service kept breaking in during the remainder of the show with alerts of storm warnings as the storm moved to counties to our east. So not only did we not really know why things got where they were, but we missed a good portion of what we were able to watch. And no power means no DVR so - there. Gone. Just like that.
Now before you say "But Sherri, you can watch it online!" stop. I've heard that 4 times already, so just stop right there because it really pissed me off all 4 times. They missed the fundamental point. I know they will not only post it online, but that an encore presentation is scheduled to air next Thursday (and I may be able to buy it from iTunes too). Having to wait a bit longer is a minor frustration. I'm frustrated because I was looking forward to having the experience of watching a new episode of one of my favorite TV shows one last time, and it was taken away from me. It's not that I missed the show. It's that I missed the experience of seeing a new episode, as has been my habit for years, for the last time. I'll never get that back.
If this were just one thing passing out of my life, perhaps I wouldn't be so upset. But considering all of the major changes I've seen in the past year and all of the things that have passed out of my life already, it's a bitter pill to swallow. It's not just this. It's this on top of everything else that's passed out of my life over the past year, much of which I also did not get to bid a proper farewell to because they passed out suddenly, unexpectedly, or not as I planned. That seems to be a pattern in my life.
The point of this entry is not to gripe, but to tell you to please be sensitive to people. If they're sharing something with you that seems trivial, it's not that simple to them. It's something that's hurting them on a deeper level because, after all, if the simple solution worked then they probably wouldn't bother to share it at all. To throw out the first thing that flies through your brain, while seemingly helpful, can be slapping a dab of ointment and a Band-Aide on a wound that needs stitches. So please, don't be dismissive with a plithy reply. It may be that they aren't looking for answers. They're looking for somebody to understand and respect the fact that something small hurt them in a big way.
I'm not upset because I missed a TV show. I'm upset because I missed having an experience for the last time. I am consoled to know they will rerun it Thursday. I don't understand why they can't do it over this weekend, but considering that CW has been wanting this show to go away for at least 2 years, I guess we'd better be glad they're being gracious enough to show it a second time at all. And since they used to run new episodes of Smallville on Thursday, this may be a better experience for me. It won't be the same, but maybe it will be good. At any rate, nothing better get between me and the TV Thursday night. Or Friday either, for that matter, since the season finale of Supernatural comes on then. I already checked the weather and the weather is supposed to be clear. Then again, they didn't call for anything but the possibility of a stray shower last night and we had a wrathful storm that knocked out power out, so I don't trust the forecast too much!
That's it for this time. A deep entry, but we're done swimming for now. I pray for better luck for the rest of the weekend and that your weekend will be a good one.