Category Archives: Writing

How do you do Community?

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Community is the glue that keeps our society together. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been a part of a variety of different communities. These experiences with community have shaped me. They have inspired me. They have taught me so very much. They have most certainly been a source of joy.

Like the community of church folks who came together back in Wisconsin a few years ago to fix up a single mom’s beautiful old house to get it ready to be sold. This was a days long process involving probably 24 of us. We painted. We put up curtains. Some of us did some electrical work and plumbing. While working on these tasks, we also got to know each other better. We ended with a shared experience that benefited not just the single mom and her kids, but all of us.

Like the community of friends, many of whom hadn’t officially met before, who came together to make a home accessible for a friend’s spouse who in her 30’s suffered a stroke while vacationing out of the country and was soon coming out of rehab. We organized closets, we built an accessible ramp, we updated the bathroom and re-arranged the bedroom to accommodate the spouse’s new way of moving through their day to day world.

Like the community at our local brew pub, 3 miles down the road from our townhome here in Colorado. If ever there was a “Cheers”  in real life, this would be that place. The owners and bartenders know our names. The owners regularly schedule events that build community.

And this sign is prominently featured, which I very much appreciate. This one hangs in the ladies’ restroom.

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Then there’s our current church community. Our major fundraiser each year is a lawn mower clinic, held in May. Hubs and I, along with probably 2-3 dozen other church folks came together on three Saturdays this past May to check the oil, change spark plugs, and clean those well used, clunky machines up so they would be in good working condition for their owners when the time came to get back to mowing their lawns again. Each of these Saturdays were nasty, weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cloudy, cold, and breezy. From my perspective, only experiencing 2 years in Colorado, this weather was a-typical for the time of year. But yet we all bundled up, drank a lot of hot coffee, and got things done as a community.

The Facebook blogging community I’ve recently become a part of is another example of how I like to “do” community in my life. In this group, bloggers often lift each other up. They turn each other on to new ideas, new tricks to improve their writing and their blogs. They  We support each other as best we can. We seem to understand that while we all have our individual blogs, we’re in it (aka the Blogosphere) together. We all want to succeed at what we’re doing and we all love to write. We respect each other. There does not seem to be a sense of “my blog vs. your blog” competitive b.s. going on in this group. We all seem to engage with this group in an effort to build each other, and ourselves at the same time, up. I’m so glad I decided to join this community.

The bottom line, for me, is that being around others, especially with a clear goal in mind, energizes me. It appeals to my social and socially conscious nature. It opens up my world, teaches me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, both about myself and others. It helps me focus on the positive and reminds me that there is good in the world. That the number of good people in our universe far outweighs the number of bad people. It gives me hope.

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Seedlings and Randomness

Recently, I accidentally deleted all of the content in my “Seedlings” draft within my blog. I was innocently reviewing it for the millionth time, in an attempt to mine for some writing gold, and while going crazy with cutting and pasting content into other drafts I started, suddenly it was all gone. Blank as hell.

So now I’m sorta starting at square one. I do have a few little nuggets of the content from my “Seedlings” draft tucked into a few different other drafts, but the vast majority of it is gone. As if it never existed.

This means that I have to take a serious gander at the 15 other blog posts I’ve started and stopped. This is something I am starting to do at this moment in time. We’ll see where it goes.

But for now, let me get a few random things off my chest. A few (which is all I have left) “seedlings”, if you will. Thoughts and feelings that have been rattling about in my brain and in my heart.  Some things I want to expand upon on this blog when I’m feeling gutsy. Or overwhelmed. Or thoughtful and pensive.

  • Observation about myself: Negative people suck me dry. I need to find ways to fill up my soul and creative spirit directly after being immersed in their gloomy muck for more than 2 hours (give or take).
  • I ought to write a post about expressions. Ones I frequently use, ones I hate, and ones I ought to use more. Considering the times and all.
  • Why I almost titled my blog “Dumb Ass 2 Wise Swan”.
  • Sometimes I wonder if other bloggers tell people that they have a blog. I generally don’t. But why?
  • I hope that we can all agree that no one, regardless of political party, gender identity, sexual orientation, weight, economic status, or emoji preferences when texting friends or family should be judged for expressing their opinions or interacting with others in a manner authentic to themselves. With the exception of those who have committed a crime or were intentionally cruel to another human being. Then all bets are off, IMHO.
  • I have a very strong urge to pen a political post. I’ve been suppressing it for some time now. I’m feeling overwhelmed (I’m guessing I am in good company, right?) by the barrage of bad news lately. Overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending joke of a presidency we are subjected to on the daily. However, I feel like if I did go hog-wild with my political opinions, 1) I’d for the most part be preaching to the choir, 2) it would not have a positive impact on the world at large, and 3) my Facebook blogger’s group might kick me out. So, at least for the time being, I will refrain from publishing purely political posts. The one thing I will say, which is of the utmost importance is this: VOTE! Our futures, as well as our children’s and their children’s futures, depend on this one simple thing.
  • In keeping with the random, unexpected, stream-of-consciousness theme I’ve got going here, I am publishing this post today. The day I started it and the day I finished it, instead of sticking with my regular Wednesday morning time slot.  I think I’ve only done that once or twice since I started blogging. So here’s to shaking things up a little!
I would love, love, love, to hear your random commentary today (or any day for that matter). What is it that you want to write about, but haven’t yet?

Quantity over Quality or vice versa?

I recently read a blog post, written by one of my most favorite bloggers, that turned my approach to writing on it’s head. For the longest time, I’ve been tied to the notion that I needed to focus on quality over quantity with my blogging. This has led to many hours of starting and stopping blog posts, editing and re-editing, and not a small amount of anxiety. Because in my mind, it will be the “high quality” (according to me, and why am I only considering my opinion anyway? Good question) blog posts that will launch my writing into infamy.

Thankfully, CJ set me straight. She explained so clearly in her post how writing more, producing actual crap, and then writing even more leads to improvement as a writer. Quantity begets quality, if you will.

The lesson of the students in the ceramics class being split into two, with one group being tasked to produce one “perfect” pot and the other group tasked to produce as many pots as they possibly could within a set time frame was spot on. When I began reading this post, I made the assumption (you know, making an “ass” out of “you and me”) that the group that was tasked with making the “perfect” pots were going to “win” in the end. Because they were going to be taking their time. Visualizing what the end result was going to look like. Focusing their creativity on one simple “perfect” thing.

I was so wrong.

Of course, the students that made multiple pots were the winners in this scenario. They learned from their mistakes as they created pot after pot.  They no doubt tried different techniques and let their creativity flow, being untethered to the idea of creating just one perfect pot. And I’m sure they had way more fun than the other group.

That’s what I’m starting to do with my blogging. I think it could also be referred to as “Spitballing”, a term of which I am especially fond. As in, writing like a madwoman on random topics or just random thoughts about random things and putting them out there on my blog (or not). Seeing what sticks. Being okay with those posts that end up not sticking.

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Onto the next topic, which is slightly related. But maybe not. 

There are cases, of course, where quality should trump quantity. For instance, my t.v. watching habits. Because while I enjoy getting all comfy at night and gorging on the boob tube, my time is precious. I don’t necessarily need to thoroughly analyze each and every television show I enjoy and weigh their merits, but I think it behooves me to be a little thoughtful about it.

I figure I’ve got roughly 14 hours per week (is that high or low? I have no way to judge this) of time to watch television. There are several shows I enjoy watching. Some with Hubs. Some all by my lonesome. This 14 hours per week is not counting the approximate 1.5 hours daily of news/political programming Hubs and I always watch together (local news, MSNBC, and of course Full Frontal with Samantha Bee).

Perhaps I am watching too much t.v.

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My couch potato inspiration, Liz Lemon

Anyhoo, here’s my list of quality television, according to me-don’t judge, that I will resume watching this fall:

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • 9-1-1
  • The Orville
  • The Good Place
  • Shameless
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • This is Us
  • SNL

So there is some room there for new programming. Approximately 4 hours per week  (perhaps more if I skip to the end on that second, mostly unnecessary second episode of DWTS, to learn who’s dancing abilities sucked enough that they are booted from the show) left. This is where my radar for quality television needs to be employed. I’ve been semi paying attention to the new crop of shows coming out this season, and so far the only one I’m certain to check out is “Murphy Brown”. I watched that back in the day and always found it smart, funny, and entertaining. The re-boot of this show is featuring the same four actors playing the same four characters but in current times, aka “The Trump Era”, which particularly piques my interest.

The only other show I can fathom adding to my list, based on my personal standards of quality  is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. I watched the first episode when it initially came out and really enjoyed it. I suppose the only reason why I haven’t picked it up again is because it was too “chick flick-y” for Hubs. So clearly this is one to watch all by myself, on those odd days when I’m home alone or the nights when Hubs goes to bed extra early.

Time will tell if there will be other shows I check out.

Tell me, fellow bloggers, what is your take on “quantity vs. quality” or vice versa, in relation to writing and/or t.v. watching? This curious mind wants to know 🙂

AFA: AKA-Appreciation for Acronyms

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As a person who delights in the English language, I particularly enjoy a good acronym. With the exception of the times when I’ve begun a new job. Co-workers fling acronyms around like our President lies, and until I’m there for a decent chunk of time, I’ve no idea what they mean.

Just for fun, here’s my commentary on my acronyms:

NOAA: Someone I know and love very much works for NOAA (clue: he’s a scientist). He has been known to refer to this acronym as the “National Organization for the Advancement of Acronyms”. Because of course in his field, acronyms abound.

MIAT: This one was created by the great comedic writer, Sarah Silverman. It stands for “Make it a Treat”. I know from personal experience, however, that this one can be overused, especially when the “treats” are the edible kind. I truly need to utilize this one sparsely. Or perhaps I ought to create myself a list of what qualifies under the MIAT acronym that doesn’t involve food.

FEPP: Focused. Engaged. Patient. Positive. This one is my own creation and I pull it out whenever I feel like my brain is all over the place. Like now.

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AF: I learned what this one meant shortly after I began using Twitter. It seemed to punctuate so many tweets and I was simply clueless as to what it meant. So I asked other folks in Twitterland what it meant. I eventually got the correct answer: As Fuck. I believe some of my fellow tweeters enjoyed my naivete as the first response (from the Bloggess, no less) was Air Force.

FYI and ETA: these are ones I commonly use, especially via text. FYI is an attention grabber; it emphasizes the importance of the forthcoming information to the textee. ETA is straightforward and requires a specific response, which is especially appreciated if the texter is anxiously awaiting your arrival.

YOLO: While admittedly overused in our society, this remains a favorite of mine. It speaks the truth: that at least as far as we all know, you only live once. So make it an interesting ride by saying yes to adventure in the here and now.

KISS: A very versatile acronym/mantra I use very liberally. I wrote about it here.

FML: This is actually one I despise,  because it’s typically used in the context of someone complaining about a first world problem. It’s negative and hopeless. A total downer.  I am so turned off when people use this one on Facebook.

WIP: What does it mean? This one was used by another blogger in a comment she made on a recent post of mine. I asked her what it meant and I am honestly still awaiting a response. Perhaps she thought it a dumb question, unworthy of an answer. If that’s the case, so be it. I suspect it is one of those special acronyms specific to the blogging world. But I like to think it means “Work in Progress”. Seems appropriate, right?

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My new favorite acronym!

 

Writing Neurosis

True confession: I have been beating myself up for the past week because I didn’t publish a post per my usual schedule, on Wednesday.

Let me go through the reasons why excuses why this post did not materialize.

  1. I had 13 different blog post drafts that I had started in the past, say 3 months or so, and while I made some progress on a few of them since the last post I published, I wasn’t gung-ho about publishing any of them. AKA, I was feeling indecisive. Not an unfamiliar feeling for me.
  2. Life interrupted my trains of thought. Hearing news about my mom’s declining health and the subsequent worrying that has followed (magnified by feelings of guilt for not living closer to her).  Lending an ear to others in my life who are struggling through some major changes. Having a busier-than-usual social calendar.
  3. It was our youngest spawn’s 25th birthday and it didn’t feel right to focus on myself that day (that damn mother’s guilt).

I’m guessing that there are other bloggers who can relate, right?

One story I tell myself when I fail to publish on Wednesdays is that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I likely don’t have any followers that will be crying into their coffee or adult beverage of choice because they didn’t see a post from me that day. They aren’t going to send out a search party or anything because I’m temporarily MIA. I will check my site and see that I still have 92 followers after it’s been 2 weeks since my last post. My world and the blogoshpere will keep spinning.

What a cop-out, right?

Now, while this story I sometimes tell myself is more fact than fiction, where on earth does it get me? Nowhere, that’s where. It puts me in a place, at least in my mind, of self-pity. Poor, poor, pitiful me-right?

What needs to happen here is I need to get off my self-imposed pity train and make writing a bigger priority in my life. Maybe instead of checking off my “to do” lists on Tuesday mornings (which is my most perfect time of the whole entire week to actually put my thoughts and feelings into words on this blog of mine), leaving me mere minutes for any writing before I have to call an Uber and get my ass to work (aka self-sabotage), I ought to do my writing first. Like I am today. That’s a start.

Maybe instead of publishing posts about my wishful thinking (btw, we still haven’t adopted a dog), I should spend my time and energy on improving my writing and my blog; search for new ways to express and improve myself in the blogging realm.

I recently read a great post by a favorite blogger of mine. She shared some great advice about blogging, some of which I am already doing, a portion of that I could be doing even better, and one particularly special nugget that I know I must act on: joining a blogger’s group online. Not that I haven’t already done this; it’s just that I’m not entirely certain the one I joined months ago is my bag. She suggested two of them. So I put in a request on Facebook to join one of them. They accepted my request yesterday. Yay!

I’ve got a truth bomb: I really really really really really really want to see more comments on my blog. I get why readers often don’t comment on other blogger’s posts: it is simply easier to click the like button instead. I mean, our time is valuable, right? We’ve got other blog posts we want to read, our own blog posts to write, and lives to live. However, to me, comments are golden. They make me feel heard, understood, appreciated. Isn’t that the main reason we are all here, blogging into the ether? It’s about community, camaraderie, and improving as writers and as people.

How about we make a pact? I will commit to more frequently commenting on your blog posts if you will commit to more frequently comment on my blog posts. I know that’s pretty forward of me, but I feel we will all benefit.

Now that my neurotic diatribe about blogging/writing is over, I have one question for my fellow bloggers:

Do we have a deal?

ISO something new

Life is really, really good for me right now. I have few legitimate complaints. I’ve got a solid marriage. Together we earn a steady, livable income. We are both in good health. I have a part time job that I truly enjoy. A church family. Loving relationships with our spawn. A good routine.

I feel, however, that I am in danger of becoming complacent. Too comfortable. Boring, even. I am craving something new in my life.

I started something new about a year and a half ago-blogging. I continue to enjoy it but suspect I have yet to reach my full potential. I feel that I ought to be bolder, edgier; take more risks with my writing. This feeling was reinforced by my realization this summer after sharing a couple of blog posts on my Facebook page, that my fears of family, friends and other random people I have friended on Facebook over the years reacting in horror and disgust do not seem to actually give any f*cks about what I’m posting. Actually, the few responses I got were pretty encouraging.

So there’s that. It’s time for me to take some risks on this blog. To you, my sweet readers who I am so totally thankful for, the risks I undertake with my writing may seem timid. Maybe you won’t even see them as risks. But I will. Because while the topics I will write about are not exactly fleshed out at this point (I like to think of myself as quite the planner, but not so much with my writing, if I’m being real), I will be embracing a quote I heard recently which I find to be quite awesome: “Growth does not come from a place of comfort”. What that means is that before I hit “publish” on a post I’ve penned,  I need to feel at least a teensy bit uncomfortable.

Okay, onto my diatribe about my craving for something new in my life. I’ve got a few thoughts rattling around in my brain about that. At the top of these thoughts is adding a new member to our household: a furry one. Hubs recently told me, and I think this time he really truly means it, that now is the time to start the dog-shopping process. We absolutely adore canines. We haven’t had a dog in our house since our beloved bichon, Homer, passed away in 2013. It has been long enough. We are ready.

However, I do have other ideas about ushering in something new into my life. Maybe I ought to make a list of these ideas of things I want to do, things that are foreign to me now.

Here goes nothing:

Learn to speak Spanish. Those “Babbel” commercials have got my attention these days. Though it bugs me that this company chooses to spell their name incorrectly. It’s “Babble”, people!

Start writing a comedy show for Netflix about our alter egos, Rita and Max. They would be the interesting, somewhat wacky empty-nester couple who are always up to some type of shenanigans. Netflix does appear pretty open about producing new shows at this point in time right? Trying my hand at fiction would most certainly be a new endeavor for me.

Volunteer with the democratic party in Colorado, specifically to get people registered to vote. Then I can at least look back on this period of my life and know that I did my part to get our country’s people’s heads out of their asses and engaged in politics. 

The dog is going to be the first priority, however. First things first.

Stay tuned….