Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: writing Page 1 of 11

Storytelling in the Form of Movies

I’m 100% in love with Disneyanity by Douglas Brode, but I do have a few complaints. First of all, he uses the title or a character’s full name once and then abbreviates it for the rest of the essay and that drives me crazy. I’m constantly trying to remember who or what it stands for. It uses up brain energy, people. You’re typing, not writing it out by hand, please.

Second, I think he’s wrong in a lot of places. I know. Crazy. I could be wrong too, but I doubt it. (Read that in “sarcasm font.”) Honestly, though, I think he’s definitely reading into a lot, but it’s still fascinating to read. We all interpret movies and books from our own world view, seeing what we want to see, connecting the dots to create the picture we really want. We’re not scientists or historians! We’re artists and lovers of craft!

And what’s better than pulling apart and peering into the inner workings of a great story?!

“And yet numerous critics, professional as well as (in the age of the Internet and IMDB) amateur, complain that “Disney get the story all wrong.” Which is a naïve approach to the continuing art of storytelling. In fact, there is no original version of the Persephone tale in existence. During the Greek Golden Age, poets drew on oral versions of fables dating back to Mycenean and other early agricultural societies, existing long before anyone set down narratives in writing. What Disney achieved is what those storytellers earlier did; take a tale with ongoing/universal appeal for humanity itself and relate this so as to ring true for the citizenry of the artist’s own time.”

disneyanity by douglas brode

I’ve heard that complaint from people when new Disney movies came out and agreed with it. If you’re going to present movies about historical figures, shouldn’t they be as true to life as possible? Pocahontas was the first movie I heard people losing their minds about.

I guess it depends on why you’re making the movie, why you’re telling the story.

I mean, history books and biographies have already been written, probably a documentary has already been made. So why create another?

In the past I might have said because it hasn’t been told by you, in your words. But why are your words and images so important?

Disney isn’t teaching history. He’s creating mythology. He’s taking characters from our past and telling their story (and his own) in the context of our time. Not himself these days, since he died in 1966 (or did he), but his company of storytellers.

That’s what all movie makers are. Storytellers.

When we watch something, anything really, we need to remember who is telling the story and why, not simply digest everything we see on a screen as the gospel truth.

Instead of screaming to yourself, and the online community at large, “This is false! That’s not what that person did!” Try asking yourself, “What did the presenter of this try to tell me?” We can spend some time reading more about the real-life character or situation if we like, or we can take the entire thing as mythology, a story that attempts to convey a message about humanity and the world around us using names and places we already know.

As a sidenote, the Disney company should pay the author of this book for all the new subscriptions to Disney+ it is probably generating. Reading about each tv show and movie, I want to go back and watch some of them to see if I see what Douglas Brode is talking about. I can’t be the only one. Besides, there are so many new Disney movies that I haven’t seen.

Over the weekend, I watched Encanto while my husband was working on our bathroom remodel. He came in several times to find me cross-legged on the couch, bouncing along to the music like a child. Once, toward the end, when I heard him walk into the room, I shouted, “I’m not crying!”

That movie…oh, wow. Absolutely gorgeous and completely unexpected. I found myself talking back to the tv more than once, which isn’t unheard of around here. I tend to get a little excited about what I’m watching. One of the world’s most beautiful inventions? The pause button!

Words on the Heading “Men’s Interests”

In search of literary magazines, something bugged me yesterday, and I HAVE to tell you about it. Let me start by saying, that I’m not that easily offended…usually. Come on, everyone has things that bug them! I tend to have knee-jerk reactions to some things, and then come back from them pretty quickly to see the bigger picture or someone else’s point of view. Even now, after this issue I’m about to report caused me to squint my eyes and think, “What the…?” I’m considering how I could have misinterpreted what I saw. And to be totally honest, it looks as if it were an oversight, one that could easily be resolved.

What got me so hot and bothered? What made me get back in my truck and text three different people the news? Do hear Clopin again?

literary magazines
Hush! And Clopin will tell you!

Yesterday, I was between friend visits. That sounds so funny. I went down into the city to have breakfast with one friend before he went to work, and then waited for another friend to get off from work so I could have dinner with her before I came back home.

What to do in between those times? THAT is the question. Go shopping, of course!

First, I stopped at Target for some essentials. We don’t have that store in my town, only a very crappy version of Walmart. I’m not opening a Walmart trash session. I love the place in other towns. It has always been one of my favorite stops when we are traveling with our trailer, but in California…I’m not sure what the deal is. But I digress!

Then I decided to get a cup of coffee and a delicious snack at Panera. I brought the book I just finished and my journal so I could sit there and read and write some notes, maybe plot out a blog post while I relaxed indoors. Ok, yes, it made me feel like one of the cool kids. I love seeing those people working on their laptops and tablets in coffee shops. I want to be them! But I don’t live in the city, so I have my quiet little porch, all the coffee I can drink, and pastries I make myself, so I don’t need a coffee shop.

But I still felt cool.

That’s when I realized I was right across the street from Barnes & Noble and I remember seeing a magazine rack there. Maybe I could browse through them and find something interesting to take home. I love magazines for short stories and articles far more than the internet. They are curated, printed, and (the best part) no comments!

When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a man thumbing through a book he had just bought, right in the middle of the road. We’ve all been there, right? You see it on the shelf, have to have it, make your purchase, and then crack it open as you walk to your car, only to be sucked into the smell, the words, the feel of it in your hands.

I smiled at him. He smiled at me. The connection. Hot.

Walking inside, I went straight to the magazine section at the front of the store. Where would I find literary magazines? Hmm…

I found them at the bottom of the section labeled “Men’s Interests.”

I knelt down to get a closer look shaking my head. I picked through them, finding one I used to subscribe to, Creative Nonfiction, along with a couple new ones, Oh Reader and American Short Fiction. Then I took a step back and looked at the display again. Maybe I was reading it wrong.

The shelf was labeled “Literary Magazines,” so maybe it was just thrown in at the bottom like this because it was only one shelf? But other shelves were labeled there as well, “Sports,” “Health,” and “Outdoors.” Over the top of the display was a different sign for “Men’s Interests.”

I’m not liking this. I think it’s bizarre that the two labels are even there, men’s and women’s interests. Why not just a shelf for sports, fashion, business, or writing and reading? It feels like a vestige from the past, a tail or gills in utero that has evolved away.

“Did you make a scene?” is the first thing my husband asked when I told him. No, that’s not like me. I’m too shy. I may have…if I were with friends or drinking. That’s funny: drunk bookstore shopping. Who’s in?!

And later, while telling my friend the story, I thought I should have asked where the literary magazines are and when they told me I could have made a face or some comment about how bizarre it was, especially since most of the names I see in those magazine look like female names.

Now I’m sitting here wondering if I should say something the next time I’m in there buying magazines. It’s a simple fix. There are several rows and sections of magazines, business, current affairs, food, etc. Why not get rid of men’s and women’s and just put fashion with fashion and sports with sports?

Am I being crazy here?

literary magazines

Oh, before I go. I swore I would only buy a couple magazines to check out and…maybe just walk around the store, browse the poetry section…and then I found this:

How to Live, What to Do: In Search of Ourselves in Life and Literature by Josh Cohen

How can I possibly pass that up!?

Something Crazy, Hold on to Your Potatoes

My dear, dear reader, I have done something crazy. You may want to sit down while you read this. Oh, wait, most people ARE sitting down while they read. At least, I hope they are. Maybe you’re one of those, “I’ll read on my phone while I walk” people. What? Why?! Explain yourself!

Never mind that. Here comes the news.

I have joined an in-person book club.

I know! I warned you it would be crazy!

And guess what? It’s local, like right here in my own town kind of local. And I’m going. I have the book and I’m reading it, now all I have to do is summon (that world does not look right at all) up all the courage I have and actually get in my truck, drive over there, walk in the door, and introduce myself.

“All I have to do…” Ug…my heart races and I feel sick just writing that. But I’m going to do it!

There are lots of reasons not to join a book club. First of all, there are people there. And second, they may be reading books that mean absolutely nothing to me. And then…did I mention people?

But, you guys, I need to get out and meet new people. I’ve gotten out of practice and THAT’S why it seems so complicated. What better way than at a book club? Nothing can go wrong, not really. And I’m not bound to keep going for any reason. The worst can only be showing up and feeling a bit awkward for an hour or so. I can handle this. I’ve been awkward all my life!

Just writing that made me think of something I could use to get through this first encounter with new people. During my meditation practice, I’ve been learning to simply BE in my feelings, allow them to hang out even if they are ugly, and not react to them. What if I did that at the meeting?

Instead of working myself up these next few weeks, worrying about who they might be, what they might say, or whether or not I’ll make a fool out of myself, I’ll just read the book. And that day, when I’m supposed to be getting my stuff together and driving over there, I’ll simply do that.

I’ll be nervous about getting there on time and not getting lost. I’ll feel sick about it and not be able to eat dinner before I go. But that’s ok. That’s only ancient instincts reminding me that new people, new situations, may be dangerous. This is not dangerous, so I’ll calm myself by taking deep breaths and giving myself a hug, maybe bring a nice, iced lemonade with a shot of tequila hidden in it.

Want to know what my other biggest fear is? My mouth running out of control.

When I’m nervous, I fill any pause with incessant chatter, and sometimes it’s not pleasant. It’s like I’m two people, the person making noise and the person in my head saying, “Shut up! Oh, my…why must you open your mouth?! Wow, that’s just great. They are never going to invite you again.” Which only makes me more nervous and then more talkative.

I’m wondering how I can solve this problem. How do I find a way to be ok with some pauses in the conversation? How do I relax and think, instead of filling up space with anything that comes to mind? I really don’t know. Tequila probably doesn’t help.

Wait…there’s more to this book club thing. You’re going to laugh.

I’ve joined two of them. Yep. I heard that Meet-Up was a good place to find groups, so I joined it…again (I have run away from it before) and started looking around. I found several that meet online, but virtual people will not help me get back into the swing of making friends, so I kept looking.

something crazy
I have a new book journal too!

One that I settled on is local, like right here in River City kind of local. And the books they’ve read over the past year are ones that I would read. One book is actually sitting on my TBR shelf! The book I’m reading for that group is God’s Hotel: A doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine by Victoria Sweet.

The other group is a little more outside my comfort zone. It’s a little farther away and it’s only for women. You know how I feel about women, right? That’s a whole other story. A sad one. A “Why do I not fit in!” kind of story. But it’s time to face my fears and get out there. Besides, they are reading an awesome little book called The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn, a self-help book written by a woman and published in 1925. If a self-help book is still in print 100 years later, it has to mean something.

The best part, the part that says these women might be fun? They’re meeting at The Yard for drinks while we chat about the book. Drinks AND books? Yes, please!

The book club reads mean that I’ve had to put aside How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler to read other books. How funny is that?! I haven’t completely abandoned it. That would be so cruel. I’m reading it for about a half an hour in the morning each day, like an appetizer. The first chapters have been depressing, talking about changes in the education system and how it had been affecting college students and university professors.

It was written in 1940, so we can see where those changes have gotten us, but then again everything changes and it’s not the end of the world. Reading The Opening of the American Mind by Lawrence W. Levine softened my stance quite a bit. But that was written in the 90’s in response to the same changes that Adler is complaining about, so things have kept changing for sure and we all see the negative effects that Adler was worrying about.

I’m hoping he gets to the part that tells me how to read better soon. I love to read, but I find myself forgetting most of it and I’d love to be able to connect the dots between books more often, which is why I picked up the book in the first place.

And here I am, over one thousand words later, on a day in a month that I said I wouldn’t post. It looks like over the last four months I’ve created a habit that I don’t want to break. I think what I’ll do this month is keep it up, but instead of making sure I write and post every single day just to get that dopamine hit when I see this:

I’ll not make myself (more) nuts trying to create and post on days when I need to be out of the house at 7am.

So, you WILL hear from me in May after all! Aren’t you excited?! I am. I like sharing my thoughts here, what I’m reading and thinking, what I’m seeing and experiencing. I hope you enjoy reading it.

How To Read A Book: New Read

Four straight months of daily posts, you guys. That’s a personal record. And now I’m facing a dilemma. Do I keep going? Part of me loves habits, the other part loathes them.

Should I keep writing daily? Yes, I believe so, but what? Posting about what I’m reading doesn’t seem to be catching anyone’s eyeballs or interest, but it is what I love and that’s why I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to share my daily thoughts about the books I read. I learn more than what the author originally intended when I read. Every book I read triggers new ideas and memories, links one thought to another, and pushes me forward. How do I do a better job of conveying those ideas here?

Should I change my posting schedule? For the past four months, I’ve been posting every day what I wrote that morning after I read. It’s more of a stream of consciousness, triggers, and reactions, than planned thought and ideas. I don’t know what I’ll end up telling you every day. Is there a way to change that?

Should I take some time off from posting completely, but keep writing daily? THAT is what I think I’ll do in May. I’ll keep reading and writing every day, and then work toward a more manageable posting schedule to start in June. For the month of May, I would like to commit to one post a week to keep myself accountable though, I’m just not sure what that post would entail. Maybe only posting when I start or finish a book?

So, my faithful reader, you may not hear from me much the next few weeks, but rest assured, I am not dead.

how to read a book

I’ll leave you today with the book I began reading yesterday, How to Read A Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler. This author was a bit of hero of mine when I started homeschooling 18 years ago…sheesh, I just said that, scary. I first heard of him when I heard Oliver DeMille speak at my first homeschool conference. That presentation changed the way I looked at education and how I ended up educating my kids and myself.

Reading great books was the basis of our whole system. No curriculum, no testing, no writing essays or answering detailed questions. We simply read books, any and all books, together every day. We talked about them, questioned the story and what the author intended, looked up words we didn’t know. We found other books (both fiction and non-fiction), movies, and documentaries, related to what we were reading. And we learned so much.

I found this book in a friend’s collection of giveaways and saved it for myself. I’ve decided to read it now because I feel like I need a reminder of why I read, and a refresher course on how.

Sitting here, writing this, I’m not sure where I’m going, both with my reading and this blog. And writing? Well, I’m not sure that’s my main focus anymore. I just don’t know. What I need is some quiet focus time and I’ve never been very good at that.

Do I need a goal, a reason to write here? Do I need a purpose at all? I’m not sure that I do. Can’t my reading and writing follow my interests the way my mind and heart always has? It seems to have served me well this far.

Holding Space Today

I’m trying something new today. Instead of freaking out and burning the world down, I’m holding space for feelings, just putting everything aside and relaxing with myself.

I’m not sure what to write this morning, or even if I should. WordPress reminded me that I’ve been at this for seven years today and I’ve been spiraling in existential thoughts ever since.

This is how my morning went.

holding space

I decided to take an extra cup of coffee out on the porch to think. Of course, I took my phone with me…can’t miss a text, you know. But I’m glad I did because I got these pictures.

It’s spring in the desert, so the morning sun is gorgeous to sit in. This is my favorite morning spot, staring out at the desert. Chili followed me after a couple minutes, and Abe was close behind.

“So this is where we are sitting now? Hmm…ok.”

They both watched the desert with me a while.

So what are my existential thoughts this morning? Hmm…dare I share them?

Considering why I write and if I should. Wondering if there is any point to social media lately. Longing for in person conversation over deeper subjects than what my kids are doing. Thinking about taking a break from posting (but not writing) for the month of May, but that limits my contact with the outside world even more.

I’ve recently joined a local Meetup book club and I am wondering if I’ll actually go. Meeting new people in new situations is one of my most difficult pursuits. I think it’s time, and it could be a great way to face my fears and start… I don’t know, branching out?

I feel like I’m in a rut.

Maybe writing just isn’t my thing?

So I’m holding space today just to think, in this post and in my physical surroundings.

I finished reading From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks and I know I’ll have some words about that tomorrow. For now though, I think I’ll just leave it in my head to roll around some.

Blooms, Messages, and Luck

I’m just not ready. For what? Anything really, I’m not a big fan of changes but then I get bored and HAVE to make a change. But that’s not what I’ve come to talk about. This is much more simple topic.

I’m not ready to come back to my morning routine. I’m not ready to read in the morning. Therefore…I cannot write to you about books just yet.

I have early plans this morning so I had to make a choice. I don’t have time for EVERYTHING. Read, yoga, meditate, write, breakfast. I’ve got a “pick two” from the menu type of situation here.

It took me a while but I’m picking yoga and write. And write comes first. But write what?

While on vacation, I’ve been waking up, getting a cup of coffee, scrolling and smiling thru IG and the previous days photos, and then writing something ON MY PHONE, and I’m loving it so much, I may just keep the habit. Maybe not on my phone though. We’ll see.

So…hmm…let’s see what I have in here this morning. Not everything has to be brilliant, right?

How about some simple pleasures?

Blooms

This is a tiny houseplant a friend bought me at the grocery store for Valentine’s day. I’ve repotted it and it has bloomed again! ❤

Clouds

A day dreaming type of sky. I was on my way back to the house from the laundry room behind my garage when I decided to take a break and watch this gorgeous sky. I laid in the bed of my truck in the driveway for about ten minutes just experiencing it.

The sun was warm but not hot. The wind was blowing gently. And these clouds, so dynamic. I wished I could take a video of them floating and changing as I watched. I imagined them working themselves into a private message in the sky.

Cat

And then there’s this guy. Years ago, my brother brought him over. “He’s supposed to be good luck but so far he’s failed miserably at his task!” So to test whether it was the cat or something else, he left it at my house. If my luck turned for the worse, there you go!

Yeah… we torture each other. ❤

My sons carried it back with us on a road trip and secretly left it back in his house. Another experiment! He found it and returned it the next time he came to visit. And here he sits.

He lost his arm a while ago but I can’t bear to throw him out. He makes me smile. Last week, as I sat here reading my book, I heard a weird clicking noise and turned to see the morning sun fully resting on his little solar panel. He has no arm to wave, but he cares not. The mechanism inside him clicks back and forth anyway when the sun powers him up.

Don’t we all?

Early Saturday Morning Post

It’s very early on Saturday morning, and I’m so tired. It hasn’t been an extraordinarily busy week, but my body and mind seem to think so. Why am I here, writing to you THIS early? Why don’t I sleep in? Because I’m heading out for a mini-vacation today and I don’t want to break my daily writing streak!

saturday morning

Like said in an earlier post, I finished reading The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight and I left it every bit as in love as when I started it. So much was beautiful there, I wanted to jump into it and disappear. So many gorgeous characters, so many books written and read.

It inspired me to go looking for a book club again and this time I found one AND it’s local. They meet next month; I’ve bought the book and you know I’ll read it. But will I bring myself to attend? I want to, but I can’t say for sure. I need an emotional support human, but I think I’ll be facing this scary thing alone…maybe I could bring one of my personalities!

I was going to go back and quote this book a few more times, but the first one I saw this morning when I flipped through the book was perfect, so I’m leaving you with it.

“I stopped writing, so much more on my mind, and yet so little to say.” Yeah…I’ve felt that way all week and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I need more quiet space to think.

Lexicon! Let’s go!

I saw the word “lexicon” and immediately went into a dialog with myself.

lexicon

Lexicon? I want to go!

Go to what?

The LexiCon.

It’s not a place. It’s a word for a collection of words, a vocabulary used by a specific group.

Well, it sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Would you dress up as a word and see if people can guess what you are? Or the group the words are used by? That doesn’t sound like as much fun.

What in the world are you talking about? Dressing up for what?

The con, silly! The Lexi-Con! It’s like ComiCon but for word nerds like you, a whole convention center filled with word nerds. I went to a Library Conference once. I imagined it would be so quiet, wall to wall stereotypical libertarians from every movie you ever saw.

Was it?

Sort of, but not really. I saw Ray Bradbury there. He was the keynote speaker and read from his book The Halloween Tree. I bought that book for the kids. It’s one of our very favorites!

Why were you there? You’re not a librarian.

At the time I was volunteering for a state-wide homeschool advocacy group, CHN, and we had a booth there. The idea was to show library’s our publications, what we do, and how they can share information with their communities. Homeschoolers LOVED libraries when I was homeschooling.

Yeah, I remember those days. Story times, craft activities, and all those books the kids would bring home every week. They’d have them all over the coffee table. The one place we never had to say, “No, you can’t have that.” The answer was always, “Yes! Let’s get that one too!”

…sigh…yeah. Good times.

And remember all the weekly walks to the library?

Through all those neighborhoods. We’d play at the park a bit, stop to look at gardens, the train tracks. An all-day adventure.

And totally free.

So, are you going to go?

To what?

The Lexi-Con!

Thanks for the fun inspiration, Sammi Cox!

I’ve been suddenly inspired by one of her “challenges” before. If you’d like to read it, hop over to The Temerity of that Woman. I should do them more often. They always make me think and smile.

Slightly Painful Reminders: Re-Post

Sunday means Re-Post Day and this one…well…it was a little painful for me to re-read, but I’m posting it anyway. Painful memory? No, it’s just a few painful reminders that progress can be slow and that I have so much farther to go.

Opening my old blog on Sunday morning is a lot like sticking my hand in the lottery jar and seeing what numbers I pull. I’m not sure what I’ll find, and to be completely honest, sometimes I throw the number back in and choose another.

There has been progress on the self-confidence track and I’m proud of that. I’ve learned a lot and I’m happy with where I am and where I’m headed. You can teach an old dog new tricks!


What Are You Trying to Tell Me?
July 2019

I recently woke up from a dream that was so different, so excitingly new that instead of sighing peacefully and going back to sleep hoping I’d remember it in the morning, I jumped out of bed to jot down my impressions to insure its survival.

My journal was on my desk, not beside my bed, so I slipped out of bed and quietly padded to my office. I flipped on the light and sat down at my desk to write. As I opened my book and picked up my pen my phone dinged. A message at this hour? Everyone knows I’m sound asleep and I haven’t touched anything to alert the all-seeing social media of my activity.

“Are you sleeping?”

A message from an online friend.

“No! I just woke up from an amazing dream and came to write it down. And here you are!”

“About what?”

The conversation went on for half an hour. I dreamed that I was talking with an old comedienne that looked a lot like my Grandma Shirley. She told me that I was funny, hilarious in fact, and that I should try stand-up comedy, try acting. I told her I had acted in the past but was never very good at it. She begged to differ and told me she knew talent when she saw it. She took me to a party with her and there were other famous people there, actors, directors, and such. She introduced me and they all confirmed that I had something. And then I woke up. I wasn’t startled awake, I was laying there content. I felt accepted, proud, self-confident. I wanted to remember that feeling. That’s why I got up to write it down.

Telling my friend about it, he suggested that I do what my dream suggested. I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it before. When I was teenager, I took plenty of acting classes and was in several high school shows, but I was too self-conscious to do it well. Acting takes complete self-abandonment; going up there as if you are the center of the universe, with no thought to whether or not anyone will like it. Talent or not, you can’t see it unless you throw the robes off and stand there naked before the whole audience. I could not do it. I hid myself.

These days I wonder, would I be able to do it now? Am I self-confident enough to let go? There is a small community theater here. I could go down and audition. I went back to bed with these thoughts on my mind.

When I woke up in the morning, I was still thinking about it. I’d slept soundly knowing the dream was safe in my journal and the idea tucked away in my messages. I started my morning routine thinking I’d go back in a few hours and rethink it all. Nestled down in my spot on the couch, book in hand, I relaxed into my morning.

After a bit, I mentioned the dream to my husband who listened attentively, but as I told it something started to swirl around in my head. This dream wasn’t about acting. It’s about self-confidence. I got another cup of coffee and picked up my journal.

As the morning progressed, more ideas started to fall into place. I accosted my teenage sons as they stumbled sleepily into the livingroom. I had to talk more of this idea out and they just happened across my path as it was coming together. I don’t know what I’ll do when they move out and I lose my captive audience. Pity my poor husband!

I’ve always been a dreamer, not the pie in the sky, big ideas kind of dreamer, but I almost always dream when I sleep. I dream vivid and realistic dreams generally every night, especially when my anxiety is high. While most of the time my dreams are varied and colorful, there are a few that are recurring. They revolve around being left behind, trying to be understood, or being without help in a crisis. This dream was different and that’s what got me so excited.

This dream was encouraging and left me feeling supported and loved, pushed from beyond. And it wasn’t about acting at all. It only took that form because that was my experience. Like I told my sons, I know not everyone believes in spiritual dream stuff and, to be honest, I don’t either, but I do believe in subconscious work. I’ve been working on some big things the past couple of years. For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck and unsure how or if to proceed. This dream shook something loose in me.

A side note, but related, I haven’t thought much about my Aunt or Grandmother since they passed away years ago, but over the last couple of weeks they have come up several times. I reconnected with my uncle and cousin, I randomly met someone he knows, my cousin posted about his mother, and then this dream with the face of my Grandma. Those two women were a big part of my life growing up, but I lost them in my early thirties. I hadn’t thought I had lost much until now. What could they teach me now about being in my forties? Those were strong, bold beautiful women. I’m feeling a need for their confidence and support. This dream is a piece of that.

What in the world am I talking about? I’ve been rambling on for pages! Writing! I can’t say I’ve always wanted to write or that I’ve been writing since I could read. I can’t say that I have several stories, books, or poems stored up just waiting for the right publisher to come along. I can say that I have always had something to say.

I feel like I’ve had something hidden away from me for years. Like those stories you hear about a princess raised by farmers and finds out who she really is. I’ve never felt like I fit in with the women in my mother’s family and when the women in my father’s family were alive, I was too afraid of them to really embrace them. I feel like a combination of both, not quite as crazy and wild (the slightly self-destructive that I thought they were) and not as timid and reserved as my mother’s family. I need to tap into the “training” of my mother and her mom; the quiet, calm, and respectable side; AND the wild, free-ranging, self-assuredness of my dad’s sister and mother.

I wrote these words a couple of days ago and closed my notebook thinking it all seemed like it was an idea going nowhere, just like the thousand other times I’ve felt like I had something solid in my hands but when I looked directly at it, it turned to air.

Today, I’m in a RV park in Montpelier, Idaho, reading it over again and seeing something else. That’s a realization in and of itself. I’m reminded of a story somewhere when someone is blindfolded and writes in a trance, then goes back to read what is on the page and finds someone else’s words. It does make sense. There is a message there. And if the message is there for me, the odds are that someone else might need to hear it as well, so I keep writing.

Where am I going? That’s probably what you’re asking, and exactly what I’m asking myself. I think the point my subconscious is trying to make is that “fortune favors the bold.” I’ve never been one to self-promote. “I’m shy.” I tell people, but not in an introverted way. I’m not happier when I’m alone. While I do enjoy the pleasure of my own company, while I do love making time to sit quietly alone with my thoughts so better to write them down, I am not fueled by that. I crave regular interaction with people, as if fueled by the energy of our connections. But I am so self-conscious, worried about doing the wrong thing, offending someone with my words, not fitting in with others, that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to do. That’s something I am working to change, and my next step is this blog.

I’ve been plagued with a few thoughts since I finished the big project of writing my first story. The first of which is, now that the story is down on paper, what should I do next? It’s memoir and very personal to me. I’m terrified of promoting it and then having to defend it. As I’m writing these words something just dawned on me. Maybe that story shouldn’t be the first thing I promote. I have so much more I could be writing and promoting.

I recently came across a Tim Hawkins sticker that struck me as perfect for what I really want to do here (on this blog).

“Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.”

He was talking about comedy, but I think it’s so much bigger. Maybe comedy isn’t just an entertainment, maybe it’s philosophy for the lighthearted. Which connects me to my dream again. I’ve always been someone who notices things. It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always carried so much anxiety. I love to read. I love to watch, to experience. I love being among people, maybe not in front of, or leading, but quietly among them, soaking up their energy.

Throughout my life I’ve taken notes; journals and notebooks full of my thoughts and ideas, questions, and observances. When I write I rarely know where it will go, what will be the outcome of my tapping at the screen. The connections come to me while I write the same way they come to me during a conversation, spontaneously and not always fully formed. The more I write, the more I think, the more the idea takes a stronger form.

In the past, my blog posts are written on the spot. I have an idea, or want to review a book I just read, so I sit down and tap out the first words that come to mind. I immediately look back through it and post it that same hour. I’d like to change that.

As I spend my first two-week vacation alone with my husband since we had kids, I’m spending a lot of time walking, driving, thinking, and talking. With no kids to care for, and an introverted husband that thoroughly enjoys his quiet time, I have had plenty of time to think, write, and rewrite. I have been using this time as a writing retreat and my intention is to build up a few articles, like this one and others, so that I can begin posting something more complete several days a week while I work on new observations to post later.

I’ve had a terrible time putting that into coherent words!

What will I write? Observations. I’ve struggled with that for a long time and with Tim Hawkin’s bumper sticker, it finally dawned on me. It’s perfectly acceptable to live life, take notes, and tell strangers. It is simple philosophy and something I enjoy and feel confident doing. Hopefully, someone out there will find my observations interesting or helpful!


I wrote this post in July of 2019. Here we are nearly three years later, and I’d forgotten all about it. Painful reminders can be so frustrating; to have such a vivid vision and then let if fade. But it’s not completed faded, the bones are there, the direction on the map still laid out. I’ve just gotten a little stuck at some road-side attractions.

I’m printing this one out, highlighting it, and making a better plan that includes reminders! One thing I do know better than I did then is that I am where I need to be. I’ll get there when I’m supposed to get there.

Want to read last weeks walk into the past? Check out Relaxing and Philosophy: Sunday Repost

Influenced? Yes, But That Can be a Good Thing

It’s me, folks, here to ring my own bell and say…

One hundred posts!

Wow. Who would have thunk it?!

Yesterday almost didn’t happen. I know numbers don’t mean anything specifically. Ninety-nine posts in a row is just as awesome, but there’s something about round numbers. You know?

Why did yesterday’s post almost not make an appearance? Because I started to get caught up in the idea that every post needed to mean something or be something great. That wasn’t my goal when I started. My goal was only to create the habit of posting every day and that’s what I’m succeeding at.

Now I’m wondering… What if I posted every day for a whole YEAR?!

And then I started to get a bit inside my head. I mean, it’s great that I’ve come this far. One hundred posts in a row IS an accomplishment, but when will I start writing better posts, ones that take more time and effort, ones that MEAN something?

I don’t know. Maybe this is all there is. And then this crazy feeling came over me…

That’s ok. I like this just as it is.

…sigh…

That felt so good.

Does that mean I’ll never do more than write posts about the books I’m reading and what they bring up each day? Not at all. I might submit an article to a magazine. I might write a book. I might even try to get the one I’ve written published, or at least posted here for download. And I’m moving steadily toward those things every day, but I’m completely happy with where I am right now, not sitting here brooding about what else I could have and do.

And THAT feels amazing.

Guess what else!

I finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell this morning and it was every bit as great as I had hoped. But here’s my problem. The book is listed as Non-Fiction/Current Affairs/Business, but that’s not what I was reading it for. To me, it feels more like sociology, and I’ve listed it as such in my book stats file because…I do what I want!

Some words from “Conclusion” are what made the book sociology and not business, in my opinion.

“The world – much as we want it to – does not accord with our intuition.”

“To make sense of social epidemics, we must first understand that human communication has its own set of very unusual and counterintuitive rules.”

“We like to think of ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, that we are who we are and how we act is something permanently set by our genes and our temperament.”

“We are actually powerfully influenced by out surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us.”

“That is why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable.”

And here’s my favorite part:

“In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.”

Doesn’t that make you feel powerful? You, your behavior or product or idea, could be the very thing that tips the world toward something better.

The whole book goes through examples of ideas, products, and activities that have caught fire and spread, and why. It’s not a book about how to market your product and get rich. It’s about understanding human nature better.

This book was originally written in 2000 and my edition was put out with an additional “Afterword” chapter in 2002. In it, he starts to reflect on our coming “word of mouth” age, where we can all communicate with each other freely and at no cost. He was talking about email but, of course, it made me think of social media.

“The fact that anyone can e-mail us for free, if they have our address, means that people frequently and persistently email us. But that quickly creates immunity, and simply makes us value face-to-face communications – and the communications of those we already know and trust – all the more.”

Remember when we first discovered Facebook? I do. It was just as I moved away from my hometown for the first time in my life. There I was in a new place, close enough to go visit home regularly, but far enough to make me look for new friends. And I open my computer and there were all the old faces and names for as far back as I wanted to go.

I spent hours scrolling through other people’s feeds, commenting, and sharing my new world with them. It was fun.

Why is it not fun anymore?

Malcolm Gladwell might say, “Immunity.” There’s so much that we can’t keep up, so we shut it down and move on. But we haven’t, have we? It’s all so complicated, but I closed the book thinking about it. I made some quick notes and wondering if I could write a better post about it. Put that in the idea file!

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