Thursday, January 28, 2010

Follow Your Heart

There's a song I like on one of my Beth Nielsen Chapman's CDs called, "I Keep Coming Back To You." I've interpreted the lyrics of the song to mean the woman is in a relationship with a man that's like a see-saw--the two have their ups and downs, but always seem to get back together. I think it's an interesting song because it can relate to both couples who are dating and couples who live together. Married couples have their share of fights or arguments, but don't have the luxury of "going home" if they're mad. No, it's more a matter of slamming some doors and finding another room to occupy for a while until things cool off. Slowly, when one or both have decided to test the waters and actually speak to the partner, they get "back together again."

A couple of lines of the song I especially like are, "Hold me now, just think about this room that we have shared so long/ We've studied that map of cracks on the ceiling, talking 'til the break of dawn".

I love that part because it rings so true. When you've shared a bedroom with someone for many years, there's a closeness and familiarity that's unmistakable and unique. There is safety and comfort in snuggling up to someone you trust completely and telling him your thoughts and concerns and listening to him tell you his.

That's why when I hear the line that goes: "there is something strong as history telling me this love is true", I nod and think, yes, there is something about having a history with someone that reminds you to remember the good times you've shared in spite of the bad. When you've had a lifetime of memories with one person, you have a connection that's worth keeping.

And the summary of the song is:
"They say follow your heart and you'll be happy, so I keep coming back to you".

I think that writers can also take something from these song lyrics. Was there a genre you used to love to write in, but gave it up for one more marketable? Did you once dabble in poetry, but stop writing it because "there's no money in poetry"?

Writers need to follow their hearts to accomplish their best writing.

Monday, January 25, 2010


First, I'll do my writing exercise. For ten minutes I'll describe what I'm hearing. But today I'm also going to look outside, too.

Ten minutes on the timer:

Raindrops pattering on my roof. Outside the wind howls, and like a huge mouth opening wide, blows, rustling leaves on the trees, whipping and scattering loose leaves across the street.

The street is slick with rainwater, like large tears flowing from a giant's eyes.

Winter grips us in its hands, indecisive about the outcome. Will it be snow or rain or some of both?

Well, the timer just went off. That was interesting. I might be able to use those images in one of my stories.

I'm really trying to focus more on descriptions. I've looked over my WIP and find it sorely lacking in description. I think I need to remember what I learned in college poetry courses. One of my instructors told us to make sure we use all of our senses when we write. She said the readers need to see, smell, hear, taste and feel what we are sensing.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Do You Hear When You Stop to Listen?

I thought I would try something different today. I'm just going to sit here and record what I'm hearing. Just a little experiment to try tuning into my environment.

Outside noisy trash truck's brakes screeching to a halt. Trash cans bumping and scraping as they're emptied, then tossed back on the ground. Sounds are fading now as the truck makes it way around the block.

Inside: oil burner kicks on, hums steadily. Crackling sounds emanate from the baseboards as heat is passing through them.

Outside: a dog barks at something unseen to me. On my roof, the sound of little feet scurrying across the surface. Squirrels no doubt.

Another truck outside. Glass shattering as it's emptied onto other glass.

Try this experiment yourself. Take about ten minutes when you can, sit at your computer, listen to the sounds around you and write down what you hear. I think it's a good exercise for writers. If you come up with some sentences that sound particularly good, use them in your work in progress.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Battling the Ah-choos...

I've been battling a cold the past few days and noticing how different everything smells and tastes. Well, foods don't actually taste like much. They are absent of flavor. And smells? Let's just say you could stick a skunk in front of my nose and I'd never even notice.

As for sitting down to write and trying to string together coherent sentences--that's not so easy either. My mind is muddled due to medication. I like the sound of that. Alliteration of the m's. Writers are supposed to write no matter what. Okay fine. But you get what you get.

I did manage to throw together 11 humorous greeting card ideas and email them off. How funny they are remains to be seen. Humor is such a subjective thing. I've noticed that even my sisters and I have different tastes in humor. Two of them love the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. I've tried getting into it, but it doesn't really do much for me. I have laughed out loud at 30 Rock but my sisters don't find that show funny. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

So now I need to go find some tissues before I sneeze all over my keyboard and screen.

Winter is such a fun season, isn't it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

One More Time...

This post is intended to be an update on my New Year's resolutions.

Last week when I took my son to a music store to get some equipment for his electric guitar, I spoke to an employee about piano lessons. He told me they charged $19 per week and you pay on a monthly basis. That sounded pretty reasonable. I took a pamphlet home to read and I'm hoping to begin lessons in March.

I've been exercising regularly and did indeed tape a picture of a woman with 6-pack abs on my fridge. This is a reminder for me not to pig out every time I go to open the door. It seems to be working so far. I'm thinking of taping up similar pictures all over my house. I have found however that many family members and friends sabotage my efforts by tempting me with cakes, brownies, chips and various other goodies. It does teach a person to use self-control.

On the writing front, I'm not living up to my vows. This is another area where family members attempt to keep me from writing by talking to me and bugging me while I'm trying to concentrate. Thinking is a very big part of writing. Just because I'm not typing doesn't mean I'm not writing. Much of the plot plays out in my head before it ever gets to paper (or computer). But I don't think non-writers understand that.

Oh, and the children's picture book. My daughter has not done any drawing as far as I can tell. That means yours truly will have to do it herself. That should be quite a challenge, but probably fun.

Thomas Edison once said: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friends are the best medicine

Friendship seems to be something many people put on a back burner due to time constraints. Those of us with families, jobs and household and other obligations simply have to give something up. Unfortunately we let our friendships fizzle out and that is just so sad. Friends can brighten our lives in so many ways, offer support, lend an ear, make us laugh.

Recently I went out to dinner with two girlfriends I met at two different jobs. One I worked with about 26 years ago and we've remained friends to this day. The other I met in 2002 when we both worked at the same bank. They're both very different, but together we have common bonds. After dinner as I was driving home I was in such a good mood and thought how great it would be to meet with these two friends at least once a month. I'm so glad I've kept in touch with them over the years instead of letting life and its many complexities get in the way. They make me smile when I don't think I have any smiles left.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said the only way to have a friend is to be one.

Sounds like good advice to me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Watch Out for Those Over the Counter Drugs!

Something happened while I was shopping at Target over the weekend that still has me amused and bewildered. After plopping all my items on the counter at the check-out, I waited for the clerk to total it up standing ready with my credit card. As he was finishing up he sort of casually told me he'd need to see some ID for one of my items. Huh? "Just get out the card and I'll scan it." I looked at him through narrowed eyes and wrinkled eyebrows. Not understanding, I started sliding my credit card through the machine. That was fine to do at that point, but not what he meant. No, I was supposed to get out my license, some form of ID.

I stared at him and said, "I don't understand. Why?"

He then told me that since I was purchasing a bottle of NyQuil, he needed to see my ID. WHAT?

A dim light of reason filtered through my brain. Ah, alcohol. NyQuil has alcohol in it. Here I am a 54-year-old woman buying a product with alcohol in it. The clerk wants to make sure I'm over 21. Ha Ha ha! Good God.

I laughed out loud. Being in a hurry, I simply complied with his request. I left the store with my purchases mulling over the whole thing. Never before have I had to show my ID in order to buy items such as NyQuil. Is this something new? Are stores so petrified about getting in trouble with the law (in case some minor decides to swig a whole bottle of NyQuil to get drunk) that they now force everybody to whip out their license if they want to purchase a bottle?

Or is it everybody? Does everybody have to do it? I don't have to show my license at the liquor store whenever I buy wine or beer. Why do I have to show it at a department store?

It doesn't make sense to me. I got home and took out the bottle. Another laugh when I looked at it. It isn't even NyQuil, it's DayQuil. There's no alcohol in it! Gee, I guess I could have stood there arguing with the clerk. I could have made a scene!

Sigh. Maybe the clerk was just paying me a huge compliment (if looking younger than 21 is a compliment at this stage of life).

Nah, that can't be it.

I wonder what will happen if I try to buy some glue.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Technology: friend or foe?

As you've probably noticed there are different kinds of blogs and bloggers. Some people write theirs as a kind of daily journal, like so: This morning I got out of bed. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, flossed, combed my hair, got dressed, fed my goldfish, and got ready to begin my day. Then I....

Well, you get the idea.

Not too interesting, is it? No, it's not. I wonder why anyone would think such daily rituals are fascinating enough to share with readers. If you want to keep a diary, buy one of those lovely little cloth books with blank pages, tuck it in your top drawer and write in it at your leisure.

But blogging? Let's have something meaty! Writing, current events, politics, pop culture, fashion, cooking--the list is endless. I think people need something to chew on.

So today's topic to chew on is new technology and how it might be making us all dumber. Why do I say that? Well, because I think people rely on modern gadgets so much now they can scarcely function without them. For example, let's take clocks and watches. When I was learning how to tell time (back in the caveman days), we used a round object with numbers on it. My kids, on the other hand, can't seem to fathom how that works. "What does quarter of three mean?" They need to see 2:45 on a digital clock to understand quarter of three. No thinking is required with a digital wonder. It is what it is.

Then there are calculators. My kids grew up using them in math class. Instead of figuring out math problems on paper, step by step, they simply whipped out the trusty calculator. My husband is always amazed that they can't do simple adding and subtracting mentally.

Now let's take GPS systems. Lots of people are installing them in their vehicles these days. Sure does make getting places easier, right? I won't argue that point. But recently, as I sat in the passenger seat while my daughter drove us to the movie theater, I had to laugh at the "woman" guiding us to our location. Sitting between us was this little device SPEAKING each turn, each direction along the way. While my daughter and I tried to have a conversation, the mechanical passenger kept interrupting with street names, route numbers and highway exits. It sure does take all the thinking out of trying to figure out where you are, doesn't it? It made me think of the old days when cowboys and Indians had only the sun, moon and stars to guide them.

So, that's my theory. Technology seems great, but we'll pay a steep price for it in the end.

We're all gonna get dumber.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What do you like to read about?

So I've been surfing around the various blogs I follow and noticing that there seem to be many more female bloggers/participants than there are males.

Why do you suppose that is? I'm curious. And after you're done pondering that question, here's another one: Do men and women enjoy the same blog topics equally? Now, I suppose if the topic is fashion, there are bound to be more women jumping in with comments. Sports, probably men. But I'm wondering if it's a good idea to try to choose topics both genders will enjoy.

I've always tried to be versatile with this blog, choosing a variety of topics. I like the idea of giving everybody something to think about.

So what do you think? What subjects/topics interest you?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Abs of Steel!

>Good morning! See, I am already keeping one of my New Year's resolutions to blog every day.

I was looking over my list of goals for 2010 and realized I forgot one. Even though I managed to lose about 12 pounds last year, what I'd really hoped to do was flatten my stomach. Not an easy task for sure and one I failed to accomplish. So recently I asked a fitness expert for some helpful tips. She told me I needed to do cardio exercises (which I'm assuming refers to jogging, speed walking or swimming), ab muscle training, and try to maintain a healthy diet. So.

Of the 3 cardio types of exercises listed above I'll choose speed walking. I can't jog these days because I've got a little bit of arthritis going in my knees. I never learned to swim, so that's out. I love going for walks; it's just a little tricky navigating those icy sidewalks and streets during our New England winters. But I'll do it. In fact, yesterday I braved the snow and wind and took a 25-minute walk.

Now for the ab muscle training part. She told me I need to re-train my abdominal muscles to get them to tighten up. How would one do that? I am assuming that means I should suck in my stomach and hold it for, I don't know, 30 seconds or so? Maybe do that at intervals all throughout the day. Like when I'm standing in line at the bank or grocery store. Yes, other customers might look at me a little weird. (Why is she making such a strange face?) I won't be able to converse since I'll be holding my breath. Guess I'll just have to hold up my index finger in a "just a moment" gesture.

And now for the third thing: maintain a healthy diet. Hmm. Yes. Well. I did a pretty good job of that last year. Right up until the holidays hit. I hate to admit this but about an hour ago I hopped on the scale expecting to see a certain set of numbers and...well...somehow the scale had jumped ahead about 5 pounds! My eyebrows shot up. (Must be something wrong with this scale!) I stepped off and played around with the dial. Got back on. Same set of numbers. It's not the scale. Oh no! Could it have anything to do with those chocolates my husband tucked in my Christmas stocking? Or the 7-course Christmas dinner? Or the goodies that popped up everywhere I went in December? Have some of this, have some of that.

Well, it's time to return to a healthy diet. I can do it. I won't always like it, but I can do it.

I'm thinking of putting a photo of someone with six-pack abs right on my fridge so I'll have to see that every time I open the fridge. That could work. Nice visual motivation, right?

So that's another of my New Year's goals. Abs of steel. A lofty endeavor, to be sure. But I do so love a challenge.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Making Goals For 2010!

So it's a new year and I've yet to post about it. Shame on me.

First off, I'll comment on my last post which was about making plans in 2009. I had mentioned I wasn't too keen on making plans, but preferred to wing it as I made my way through the year. Of course, there are drawbacks to that method, such as not much gets accomplished. I can admit that. I think the only thing I did accomplish in 2009 (of the things I'd hoped to do) was lose weight. We all know many people begin a new year vowing to lose weight/get in shape. It's a noble idea, but not so easy to accomplish. Probably because I had health concerns, I worked hard to lose the weight.

Now when it came to writing goals, I fell short. I did not complete my romantic/erotic novel. I did not self-publish my children's picture book (lack of funds and because my artist didn't work on the drawings). I did not blog as often as I should have. I did not come up with a decent recording of the song I wrote.

So...I have much to accomplish/shoot for in 2010. One of my goals is to take piano lessons. That will require money. Another goal is to finish my novel. That will require dedication and discipline. Another is to complete and publish my children's book. That will require money and my artist's doing her part. Another goal is to blog every day. Again, that will require dedication and discipline. Another goal is to find a steady source of income. That will require good luck, job/career availabilities, and stubborn persistence.

So there you have it. Wish me luck! Or just tell me to get busy and work my butt off!