Friday, June 27, 2014

The voices in my head

Before Jebba came into my life.
I have conversations in my head – ALWAYS. It may have begun when I was small and had a make believe friend named Jebba. I don’t remember her, but my older siblings assure me she existed, if only in my mind.  Maybe it is like that for everyone.  I think that’s why I write. If I put one of those “in my head” conversations to print, then I can move on to the next conversation – and the next.  It’s my way of sorting things out.  It’s also my way of preparing a lecture, life lesson, or a battle plan when approaching a dilemma with a service provider or insurance claim representative.  (I could expound all day on the subject of insurance claim battles.) Maybe everyone has those conversations.

Some days the conversations are dull and unworthy of sharing.  Some days I want to have something fabulous to say and there really isn’t much there.  Other days I stumble upon great ideas when I am not near a computer or pencil and paper.  The awesome thought leaves and seldom returns.  I don’t like that.

I discovered a definition of writer’s block on Pinterest the other day.  Check it out HERE!  I think the description is correct!  If I can’t hear the thoughts in my head, they never seem to make it to the page. Those are the days that I struggle to be productive.  Should I sit here and force myself to write something? Anything?  Or … should I get up and do something more physically demanding until the conversation begins on its own?

I’m really not crazy.  I’m just a writer struggling to find the magic formula that gets readers to follow and engage in the conversation. After all, if the reader joins in, my friends won’t all have to be make believe! 

Save a writer’s sanity – read and reply!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Everybody has a story

I have observed of late that everybody has a story.  I’m not talking about the novel they haven’t yet written, rather the thing that makes them special.  It is most evident on reality television. (I don’t watch a lot, just The Voice and Biggest Loser) I think, perhaps it is a tactic to create empathy for the contestant, thus swinging the popular vote.  Some of them are true examples of triumph over hardship.  Other stories are a stretch – “Your parents are so mean that they won’t pay for ALL of your private college tuition!  How ghastly!  You have to work a job? Incredible!”

When I complain that “Everyone has a story,” my son retorts, “Well, yeah.  Everyone does.” He is correct, but what bothers me is that we forget to value the regular guy that goes about his life doing his duty day-to-day without any sensationalism.  His story might read something like this:

Steady Eddy was born in a regular town to regular parents that made him go to school and taught him to work.  Eddy grew into a responsible adult, married his sweetheart and was faithful to her throughout his life.  They raised four regular children who in turn led regular lives.  Eddy held a steady job and made a modest yet dependable income.  He taught his children to fish and drive a standard transmission.  His wife and children were secure in his love for them and his devotion as he steadily provided for them.  He never won a race.  Eddy never wrote a best-seller, his name was never in the news or on MSN, nor did he ever blame his lack of fame or social status on anyone else.  Eddy didn’t care about fame.  He simply loved his family and went about his life caring for them.  As Bill Wilson might say, “To the world Eddy was just one person, but to those who depended on him he was the world.”

Let’s hear it for Steady Eddy!  He’s more valuable than you might know.  I’ll bet he knew this secret!
It's true.  Everybody does have a story.  Some of the best stories might be boring, but they are the ones that make the world go around. I think that's pretty special, don't you?

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Goal setting, blogging, and experience

Day's End

It is 10:30 pm on a Monday night and I am doing my best to follow through with a goal I set last week.  I determined to post to this blog or The Other One every weekday for one week. I almost made it through, but Friday’s post got bumped to Saturday.  I guess that counts as I posted five times during the week.  Having made it through one week I chose to tackle a second.

Goal setting is not always about the end result, many times the progress towards the goal is as valuable as reaching it.  For instance, when I published my first book, Gold Pans and Iron Skillets, I went through an editing process that I thought would never end!  Eventually it did and I finally had a book in my hands.  The skills I learned through the process, however, still serve me well.  This is not to say that I am always typo free, but I do know some things to watch for during the early stages of a document that make proofing and editing go more smoothly.  I still write fragmented sentences and sometimes I choose to hang onto them because I like the way they read, but I don’t use them as much as I once did.

Training for a half marathon, or any race distance for that matter, is a great teacher and it improves physical fitness in ways that simply going for a regular run around the neighborhood or farm fields cannot.  It has also provided me much material for my next book.

Sometimes we fall short of our goal.  It is then that we should take a hard look at the process or journey toward that goal.  Even when the target isn’t quite attained the experience and knowledge gained while working toward it is often of great value. 

Week 2.  Day 1.  Check.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frozen Digits - from my upcoming book

I made a commitment to post on this blog, or the other one, every day this week. This doesn’t include Sunday.  I take Sundays off.  Today I thought I might share something from the book I am currently writing. (Okay, I’m working on more than one, but this one takes priority.) Although the book is about lessons learned through running, it is not a book just for runners. The running stories are simply a tool to teach a lesson.   Read on and you will see what I mean …

Frozen Digits Lesson

I do my best to run all year long. When the weather turns cold, however, it is often tempting to remain indoors, aborting the morning run for a warmer, more sedentary activity such as sleep. I do love my sleep!  I have learned, however, that I am happier and healthier if I continue to go outside and move year-round.  This is true even when we are suffering a weather inversion that makes the atmosphere dark, cold, and gloomy for weeks on end.

Frost accumulation from inversion air. Check out the eyelashes!
During the winter I don more layers and step out into the brisk winter air.  As I brave the elements and go for a cold weather run, the first mile or two can be rather uncomfortable especially for my fingers and toes.  Experience has taught me that eventually, my frozen digits will respond to the increased blood pumping through my veins and they will warm. During these runs I often find myself removing my cheap knitted gloves because the discomfort of the cold air is no longer a factor. In fact, running has warmed me to the point that I remove the gloves to help cool down.  It is true that if I run in the cold long enough, I become comfortable. I have a cold threshold.  I draw the line when the temperature drops below 10◦! I have not found a lesson in running in weather that cold.  Some runners may.  I don’t intend to find out.

What did I learn from the Frozen Digits Lesson?

Some pain is meant to be endured.  What appears as uncomfortable in the beginning, often transitions into a comfort level once we have put up with it long enough. 

For instance, one can be tempted to avoid a growing experience because he is hesitant to endure the discomforts the experience is sure to present.  Consider the discomfort level of a job change, especially one that involves relocation.  This can be daunting to anyone, especially those with families.  When our children were in high school and middle school, we were presented with an opportunity to relocate for a new job.  We investigated the opportunity and determined that it wasn’t the right fit for us. While we were gathering information to make our decision, our children were in mourning.  Their anticipation of the move was fraught with anxiety.  The decision to move was never made, yet they were convinced their lives were soon to be ruined.  Surely, had we made the change, there would have been a period of adjustment, discomfort, and growth.

Think for a minute of someone who has overcome addictive behavior. Before they begin, the discomfort of change can seem too much to bear.  Just as sleep is more inviting than a run on a cold winter morning, familiarity is more comfortable than the sacrifice required for change.  Before he begins, the smoker might believe he cannot exist without his nicotine.  With each cigarette that is not lit, his body becomes stronger and healthier and he gains mental strength as his confidence increases.  Might he stumble?  Of course, but the longer he endures, the better his hope of success.

When my father passed away, I did not sleep for a week - not well, at least.  This may seem silly to those that struggle with sleep regularly, but I am a good sleeper! I was concerned and saddened by the event, as most would be.  I discovered, however, that as time went by the pain became weaker and the memories grew sweeter.  As I passed a haystack one day, I was reminded that my dad had been an expert hay stacker in his day.  I, on the other hand, had only recently learned that there were patterns to haystacks and my father had a talent for building them.  I smiled as I remembered this and a single tear escaped my eye.  Over the years, the smiles have become more frequent and they are seldom accompanied by tears. 

Does time truly heal all wounds?  I don’t believe every wound is healed by time, but most are healed or softened to some degree.  Others are more easily endured as we continue to bear them.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, and many have quoted him, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.” 

Cold weather running has taught me to be patient during times of difficulty.  Either the trial will pass or I will gain strength to overcome it. Unfortunately, unlike running, it is difficult to measure how long patience must be exercised during life’s difficulties.  When I run in the cold, I can expect that by the time I have completed the first mile, my digits will no longer feel frozen. Life experiences are not quite so predictable, but if you keep running or enduring, sometime the pain may become bearable.

Do you have something in your life that might require a little more patience - a little more enduring before the blessings are realized? Can you resolve to “just keep running?”
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jumping through hoops

Take time for the most important things.
I was once told that “People are not an interruption of our work, they are our work.” This was in reference to all the phone calls, extra questions, broken appliances and other things that interrupted the scheduled work in a busy medical office. It was a reminder that although we had tasks to complete, those tasks were for the patients coming to our office to receive services.  We were in the business of treating people, not things.

This is not so different from our daily lives.  Why do we do all those THINGS that somehow encumber us from day to day?  I described my day yesterday as one spent jumping through hoops.  This simply means I was tending to tasks that had to be done, yet seemed an interruption of things that I thought were truly important.  Some of those hoops, were just that – required busy work.  However, some of the interruptions were directly related to individuals’ needs.  At the end of the day I thought, “I didn’t get anything done today!”  I took a moment to evaluate the day and realized that some very important things had, indeed, been accomplished.  Some of those things directly involved people and their needs while others, like registering my automobile, indirectly served individuals. (It’s a long story, but it required two trips to the DMV 20 miles away.)

It is important to keep in mind that the laundry, the dishes, and the bill paying, are all a service of some sort.  They seem like busy work that needs to be done, but someone needs clean clothes and food on the table and a legally driven vehicle.
It is also important to keep in mind that although completing the busy work might be a worthy goal for the day, sometimes people and their immediate needs will interrupt us.  Don’t forget that they are your true work.  Without them, all the other stuff wouldn't matter.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Old Fort Boise Days. Ready, Set, Go!

I am taking a few minutes break from preparing for Old FortBoise Days to remind myself why I love writing.  The selling is fun, when one actually sells.  The visiting with folks who love to read or write, or both – well those things are also fun.  It’s the getting ready to sell and trying to sell that feels tedious to me.
Come see me and I will give you a cool bookmark!

Here is my problem … I really just want people to read my work! However, selling somehow justifies all the time spent writing. So I feel a need to sell, but marketing isn’t my strong suit. Therefore, neither is selling.

Yesterday I spent a couple hours working on the PainBook.  I’m still mulling over a title. What do you think about “Painful Lessons from a Running Granny?” 

Anyhooo, a few minutes spent writing seems to get the creative juices flowing while thinking about writing and not doing it works just the opposite for me. Today’s tasks (counting change, gathering pens, making flyers, and packing the table and chairs in the car) are not nearly so intellectually stimulating. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to making some new friends, visiting with fellow writers, telling people about my writing, and hopefully selling a few books.  There is also the promise of a Bloomin’ Onion or some other sort of Fair Food.  That is always fun!

I will trudge on today getting ready for tomorrow for I know tomorrow will be great.  It’s kind of like one of the chapters in my next book, “The Anticipation of Pain Lesson.” The run is never as bad as the anticipation of the run.  Well, sometimes it is!  Read about one particularly difficult run HERE.

Well, now to pack the car …

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Taking inventory - It's a busy life

I think that is Pennsylvania down there.
What a busy couple of weeks I’ve had! Just look at this list:
Lake Erie.  It's like an ocean!

Six plane rides

One visit to the beach at Lake Erie

One road trip to New York State

Lots of hot dogs

One ice cream cone at Alli’s Cones & Dogs (Very nice people!)

Gotta have ice cream!
Two running workouts with a toddler and a stroller

One walk with a five year-old, a toddler, and a stroller

One visit to the Erie Zoo
One camel that didn't live in a zoo

About twenty walls scrubbed (It’s just an estimate)

One oven cleaned

One refrigerator cleaned
Hilly run in Erie!

Four windows and tracks scrubbed

One Krispy Kreme Donut

Two copies of Gold Pans and Iron Skillets given away on airplanes

One batch of princess sugar cookies baked with two princesses

One difficult eight mile run

One day of yard work

For making cookies.
Lots of Grandma Time

One outing with a standard transmission (I can still drive a stick)

One reminder to the Tooth Fairy

One dozen (roughly) bedtime stories

One rake and one shovel stuck in a tree

New grass sprouting

One goat head stuck in my foot
A rake and a shovel

Three or four broken hearts

Countless hugs


It’s a busy life!  It’s also a wonderful life.  If you don’t think so, stop and take inventory like I just did.  You are sure to find something to smile about. 
Remember, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” 2 Nephi 2:11

In other words, you would not know happy if you had never known sad.