Three Things and a Video

What do you see when you go outside?  There are thousands of things about which you could write, but you might not see them.  Another blog, the Daily Post, sent out a challenge to make a video part of your blog post.  So hang on, I hope mine doesn’t leave you flat.  Hardee-har-har…!  I’m mixing their challenge with a Three Things exercise.

Now for the Three Things Exercise, and my challenge to you.  The video is not of my street, but it shows very much what I saw outside a couple of weeks ago.  Only my reality was much, much more noisy.  Unfortunately.

Here are three things from the video.  Take them, or three other things you see in the video, and write until you’ve mentioned all them.  What you write does not have to be about the video at all.  Write about anything you please, just write. To be fair, here are three things from me, just off the top of my head.

Three Things:

Steamroller, sweaty, orange vest

Aunt Pam traveled all over the place.  Sometimes she played the “Flat Stanley” game with Dawn, sending the large paper cutout of a boy to Dawn with something added from each place she visited.  Dawn ran to the mail box, expecting the package from Aunt Pam.

It was a hot day, and Dawn was already sweaty, just running down her yard to the street.  She wiped her brow as she opened the mailbox.  Sure enough, the package was there!  She paused in opening it though because she heard the ding-ding-ding of the steamroller paving her street.  Dawn watched it in fearful fascination for a moment, but nothing could compete with her interest in the package from Aunt Pam.

As Dawn tore into the package she pulled out the paper boy, Stanley.  She stood at her curb devouring every detail that Aunt Pam had added.  Then a gust of wind caught Stanley, pulling him from Dawn’s hands.  Stanley sailed high into the air, and floated right at the biggest steamroller.  To her horror, the paper boy landed on the street, in front of the steam roller.  The driver seemed to see it, but wasn’t able to stop.  Stanley went under the big wide roll of the machine.

“It’s a good thing he was already flat,” Dawn murmured bravely about Stanley, though she was about to cry.

The driver saw that Dawn was upset, stopped, and climbed down from the steamroller.  As the man came to see what was wrong, Stanley peeled himself up from the pavement and motioned angrily at the driver.  “Couldn’t you see me?” he demanded.

The stunned driver only shook his head, while Dawn stood staring open-mouthed at the exchange.  Stanley put his fists on his paper hips and tapped his foot.  Then he grabbed the orange vest the driver wore and yanked it off him.  Stanley put on the vest and said, “Maybe you’ll see me next time!”

Then he stomped up the driveway, disappearing into Dawn’s house.  She and the steamroller driver looked at one another in amazement.

***

Trust? Seriously?

When my [then] boss asked me to write one of the Weekly Messages about trust, I told him I couldn’t write about that.  He stopped and looked at me in astonishment — I had never said that, no matter what topic, or what farfetched combination of topics, he threw at me.  There is no trust in me, I thought. So how could I write a message about it.  But I couldn’t let him down, and I actually could see our employees’ need for that message.

crowd surfingFeeling like I was doing an exercise in hypocrisy, I wrote the message about Trust.  Along the way I remembered what I’ve already told you.  In composing encouraging words for the staff, I was also encouraging myself.  Here’s the message.

Trust

Do you think it’s important to be able to trust the people around you?  Your managers?  Your coworkers?  Of course it’s important.  I know it can fray our sense of trust when things are in a continuous state of change – but that makes it even more important to have trust.

Maybe sometimes you feel like you just can’t summon up another little bitty crumb of trust – is that you?  Well, stop and think about it.  Every day we exercise foot get out of bedall kinds of trust, from the minor details of our daily routines to “major trust events.”  For instance, if you travel, do you put trust in the person flying the plane?  I’ll go ahead and call that one a major trust event.  When you get in your car and head home, do you trust the traffic lights to be working properly – so that they aren’t green at all directions?  How many times a week are you in that situation?  When you get home and put your key into the lock, do you have any doubt that your door will open?  When you get out of bed in the morning, do you trust that the floor is still going to be where it belongs when your feet touch down?

There, do you see?  You exercise trust all the time.  So why not put a little more trust in the folks around you?  While you’re at it, put some more trust in yourself!  Trust in your own abilities and accomplishments; in your ability to learn and grow.  Trust that you are capable of reaching your goals.

Sometimes having trust has unexpected results.  When I knew that I needed to write this message to you about trust, to be honest, I couldn’t think of where to even begin.  I decided to sleep on it.  Then I got up the next morning and noticed that a book had almost fallen from its shelf.  I couldn’t figure out how it got that way.  So instead of just pushing it back into place, I picked it up and started looking through it.  Then I found a little passage about trust.  Here’s the part that got my attention:

“Trust is a feeling of confidence or conviction that things can unfold within a dependable framework that embodies order and integrity.  Lilypad; nature scenicWe may not always understand what is happening to us, or to another, or what is occurring in a particular situation; but if we trust ourselves, or another, or we place our trust in a process or an ideal, we can find a powerful stabilizing element – embracing security, balance, and openness within the trusting, which, in some way (if not based on naiveté) intuitively guides us and protects us from harm or self-destruction…”  Jon Kabat-Zinn

I liked that.  It felt right to think of trust as a feeling of confidence; to think of trust as simply believing that things could do what they’re supposed to do, and in the right way.  If the negative self-talk takes over, then we are in danger of convincing ourselves that nothing can turn out the way it should.  That kind of attitude can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning.  But if you trust that the floor is going to be beneath your feet when you stand up, you’ve already started your day with confidence that it can go the way it should.

So you can see now that you’re using trust all the time.  Does that realization help you see that you can work on and improve your capacity for trust?  Developing your trust can help you reach long term goals, and it can just help you get through the day.  Okay – I trust that everyone will have a great weekend.  Do something that enriches you.  Do something that helps someone else.  Do something fun.

Streaming Saturday

Today I feel a newfound sense of freedom.  This week I said “Bye-bye Comcast.”  Okay, so what I really said was “Take it with you now.  Take the cable, the box, and the remote.  Take it with you now.”

I won’t go into the frustrating details of the soap opera that led up to such a demand.  However, that is the only cable provider available to me, so I’ve been developing alternatives for my electronic companion [you might call yours a TV]. watching tv Wouldn’t you know that my DVD player went out right away, but it was old.  I got a new one for $40 at Overstock.com.

One of the local news channels has a free live streaming video.  Even though I have little patience for the news, I force myself to watch some.  And I do watch the weather.  So that’s covered.  I don’t need cable for that.

I’ve gotten really familiar with Netflix, something I had never used before.  I have a month’s free trial on both the “immediate” [to computer] or the DVDs by mail.  They are really quick with the DVDs, by the way.  They offer a much wider selection than I could get using my “economy package” cable.

Suddenly I’m using my Nook for much more than bedside reading.  I even have my Nook [like a Kindle] streaming Netflix video straight from Nook to TV so I can watch on the large screen — without waiting for the DVD in the mail.  [Yes, if I found the right cable I could do that with my computer too, but the Nook is smaller and much easier to place next to the TV.]

Okay, now let me talk economics.  My “Economy” cable package kept cutting channels.  It wasn’t much more than basic.  So how does this compare with my monthly cable bill?  With all the taxes and other nickels and dimes they tack on to the “price,” if I don’t add a pay per view movie, economy cable was about $55.02.

After my free month, Netflix will be 7.99 each for the “instant” and the DVD-by-mail.  Call it $15.98.  Even if I added the one-time cost of the new DVD player it would be less than “Economy” plus one movie.

I’m cable free!    So, is that cool or what?

Comcast, I have just one comment for you:

cat raspberry

Tomato Brunch

While I’m not widely traveled, I have lived in several different places.  I also enjoy talking to people from everywhere, hearing their customs and traditions, especially the little things.  Everyone is usually ready to share traditions and stories involving food.  Somehow the tastes and aromas trigger fond memories.  I invite you to share “food customs” you have enjoyed in the comments here.  I’ll start the game…

As a child I grew up in what I thought of as a suburban area.  Now I realize most people would see it as rural and countrified.  But we lived in a little subdivision, not on a farm.  There were houses on every side, a stone’s throw away – the homes were not on numerous acres of land.  However, my granny, a few miles away, lived in a farmhouse that my grandfather had built.  She had several acres of land and (to me) a large vegetable garden.  I remember being a child, standing between rows of vegetables in the bright Georgia sun.  I barely dusted the dirt off a ripe red tomato before biting into it, juice running down my arm, on a hot summer day.

tomatoesSo I understood small farms, vegetable gardening, and country living when years later I went to Alabama to visit a cousin whose grandmother really lived in the country.  I was fascinated that they ate sliced tomatoes with their bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved tomatoes and my family ate them for lunch and dinner.  (We would have called it dinner and supper.)  But tomatoes for breakfast?

 “Don’t you like tomatoes?” my cousin’s grandmother asked.

The tomatoes were so fresh from the huge garden in the grandmother’s backyard that the sharp smell of the leaves and stems lingered on the shining red skins.  As we sliced them, the juice sparkled onto our plates.  Beyond the window-screen insects already hummed in hot, humid summer sunshine.  “Oh yes.  I like tomatoes,” I answered the question, happy to have one at any time of day.

Sadly my tomato this morning was from the super market, but as those go, it was a nice one.  When I heard the July insects begin to buzz while I sliced the tomato, suddenly I could smell the sharp scent of the leaves and stems, as well as the hot, humid sunshine.  As I plated my food I imagined the huge garden, laden with beautiful vegetables.

PS:  That’s as close to a fond thought of humidity as I’ll have.  (Smiles)

Once again, I invite you to share your food traditions.

Don’t Lose Heart

San FranciscoThe lack of sunshine has a big impact on me — and not a good one.  On this rainy, gloomy morning I had to give myself a dose of positivity.  When I think of pep-talks, I usually think of the weekly motivational messages that were part of the work I did for a former boss.  Often as not, while I was writing encouraging words for hundreds of other people, I was really giving myself a pep-talk.  While I’m encouraging myself, I thought I would share this one with you.  I hope it heartens you.

Don’t Lose Heart

Thank you, thank you for coming out to our organization-wide event, OIMS Has Heart.  It was great to be able to put more faces with names.  I hope you left with good spirits and a positive mindset.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, don’t lose heart.  We’re still working together, building friendships and trust, and cheering you on.

With this message I’m continuing the “heart” theme from the all OIMS event.  There’s a song…  (Are you surprised?)  It was made famous by Tony Bennett, but it was created by two then unknown song writers, George Cory and Douglass Cross.  It’s supposed to be about two amateur writers who were nostalgic for San Francisco after moving to New York.  I know you’re hearing that famous melody by now.  That’s right; I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

While the song writers lost their heart to a place, the song made me think about a different way of tony and judylosing (your) heart – don’t lose heart.  Don’t lose your inspiration; your motivation.  Like I’ve said before, I know it’s hard to stay motivated.  Sometimes it can be so hard that it might seem like the words are true, “high on a hill, it calls to me;” as if you actually did leave your beating heart in a faraway place, and now you just don’t have the heart to try again.  Yes, it truly can be hard.  But there’s somebody who can do something about it.  You!

Sometimes you are the only one who can motivate you.  Think of motivation as a “contraction” of motive and action.  It is like an inner force that causes your actions or behavior.  Remember the desire to produce the very best that is within you.  If you think of the satisfaction you get from doing something – from doing it the very best that you can, sometimes that alone is motivation.  Real motivation does come from within.

It seems like it’s even harder on days when the sky is gray, but you still can’t give-in.  It seems like it’s even harder when you’ve tried and tried, but just keep on trying.  Don’t lose heart.  If you’ve tried and failed, don’t lose heart.  Try a new way.  If somebody “moved the cheese” again, don’t lose heart.  Find where they put the new cheese.  If “the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew…”  Don’t.  Lose.  Heart.  Be persistent, and to borrow from the song, and that “…golden sun will shine for…” you.

 

 

 

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A Back-Story: Innusha

LynnSexySaturday_buttonHave you heard of My Sexy Saturday?  Trust me — if you go check it out, it will live up to your expectations of the name!  It uses “sevens.”  That would be seven paragraphs, seven sentences, or just seven words.

It’s also a “blog hop” where writers can share snippets, and it gets your work noticed by readers in places where your writing might not always be seen.  Call it exposure.

Well, you know I’m trying to learn all I can about indie publishing, and that includes blog hopping.  My stories aren’t what I think of as “Sexy” whether Saturday or any other day of the week.  Okay, so “Atonement, Tennessee” has a moment or two where things warm up; maybe it even brushes against Romance territory.  However, “The Dead of Winter” only hints at relationships.

That said, I wrote a scene from one of the dozens of back-stories that roam around in my head for “The Dead of Winter.”  These two people are only briefly mentioned in the book, as the parents of the Zasha character.  However, the “Emlyn-verse” holds many stories that are yet to be written.  Here goes a snippet for My Sexy Saturday

Innusha

Innusah tossed her long dark curls and gave a joyous and free laugh.  The sudden and certain knowledge of what she was about to do was so liberating, so exciting, so… arousing.  From the moment she saw the amber haired stranger with his twinkling blue eyes and lilting voice she knew she wouldn’t let him leave her homeland, Rus, without her.  Oran was his name, and his accent rolled the “R” in a way that fascinated her.  Her lips puckered as she unconsciously tried to make the sound.

She hugged herself and twirled.  He meant more to her than escape from the frozen tsardom.  From the first moment he spoke her name Innusha never wanted to leave his side.  She bounced on her toes with anticipation.  She glided around her suite gathering the things she would need.

Even as she laid her plan, Innusha realized that if she went through with it, she probably would never see her country again.  Oran’s home was that far away.  Even her father, Count Bolyar, didn’t know anyone who had traveled there.  However, that only made her plan more exciting.

She hesitated for the space of a heartbeat.  She knew no other home than Rus and the lands within it.  But what was Rus to her anyway?  A Dažbog forsaken place where spring came so late that it was over before it arrived.  The sun god didn’t smile upon the tsardom any more than her father smiled upon her.  All of her younger siblings were already wed.  Innusha was neither of importance nor interest to her family.  Still, she would miss them.  She frowned for a moment.  Then she thought of his eyes and his musical accent, and her frown disappeared.

Her feet were light as a dancer’s as she ran to her hope chest.  The carved wooden chest was an object of ridicule from her family.  If they knew about the satin and lace sleep-shift she’d never hear the end of it.  It unfolded even as she lifted it from the trunk.  The golden satin poured down her body as she slid it over her head.  Its caress was cool against her skin and she shivered in anticipation.

She thought of the way Oran’s strong hands had been so firm on her waist as they waltzed.  Innusha twirled around her room, closing her eyes at the memory and imagining his hands moving to more intimate places.  The satin of the sleep-shift swirled around her ankles as she moved like a dancer in the royal ballet.

Still dancing, Innusha took her fur lined cloak from the wardrobe and tossed the cloak onto her bed with a flourish.  Then she spun faster and faster as she thought of Oran and remembered his warm breath against her ear, saying her name in a lilting whisper.  She twirled until finally she collapsed onto her wide bed, dizzy and spent.

***