A kick in the ass means a good night’s sleep

I found WordPress and I said I wanted to blog every day.  Yes, this was a lofty goal but I was committed.  I had ideas. I was inspired.  I had opinions to share and a need to rant about my pet peeves.  So much positive energy and yet I have blogged with no regularity.  I have only disappointed myself, someone who claims they want to be a writer.

 Drastic steps had to be taken.

 I called upon Lulu, my alter ego whom also happens to be perfect.  Some have good angels who sit on their shoulders.  I have Lulu living in my head, prompting me to do the things I know I should do but seem to avoid.  Lulu is who tells me the justifiable excuses I am using in my defense are nothing but manure for the gardens in the backyard.  She is the reflection in the mirror when I am being completely honest with myself.

I grabbed a bottle a wine, (red, dry) and two glasses.  I’m not crazy but the second glass makes me feel like I’m not drinking alone.  I grabbed a cake pan, a lighter and sat at the table with a notebook and my favourite pen, affectionately named Herb. I was not leaving the table until I had listed the reasons excuses I was not committing one hour a day to a blog.

With Lulu at the helm and a pleasant glow from the wine, I had a fabulous, honest productive evening.  I faced the fact I didn’t know what to write.  I knew this when I first started the blog but I was trying to believe writing everyday was going to help me answer this question.  I didn’t blog – I found no answers.  I was also forced to admit I am scared to share with the world.  Another attribute not desirable in a want to be writer.  Like every self-help program tells you, the first step is admitting the problem.

In a symbolic gesture to the writing gods (Is there one?) I placed my pages of reasons, excuses, doodles and summary points into the cake pan and set them ablaze.  While I watched the challenges I faced burn, and pieces of ash dance about the dining room (an unexpected benefit) I listened to Lulu telling me that I needed to make a plan, map out the path to success.  I agreed but heard my bed calling me. The bottle of wine made me susceptible to the beckoning.  After a large glass of water and a couple of Tylenol, even Lulu felt a good night’s sleep was in order.

In the morning, the cake pan and its contents served to remind me of the honesty of the previous evening and inspired me to move on to phase two.  Plan your work, work your plan.  I did this, Lulu encouraging me all the way.  While she can annoy me and flip on the inner guilt switch at any time, she can also be my biggest supporter.  She reminds me I am a writer, a technical writer.  I am learning a new genre rather than a new craft.  I hear her telling me of all my accomplishments, some expected of me while others were surprises.  Lulu tells me she believes in me.  Having decided a weekly blog was a better goal and designing my outline and listing upcoming topics, I put my notebook next to the laptop and Herb in his case.  Then I bitch slapped Lulu and sent her back into the depths of my mind.  One can handle only so much honesty at a time.

Kharma is a bitch. I got rid of Lulu and nine days later I still have not posted a blog.  I had a plan! I did all the hard work.  I left my notes next to the computer.  All I had to do was spend a couple of hours in the upcoming week writing a one thousand word blog.  Let me be clear.  I have the abilities to do this.  I have the time to do this.  I offer no excuses.  I simply did not do it.

Lulu wouldn’t let me off this hook this time.  I called on her, again, and the first thing she did was give me a swift kick in the ass.  This time, no planning, just doing.  “Write anything!” echoes through my head.  She promised me she would not let me have a good night’s sleep until I posted something.  Lulu’s threats are not to be taken lightly and quality sleep is important to me.

So here I sit, confessing my insanity.  More importantly I am posting a blog.  Most importantly, I will sleep well tonight.

My Sounds of Silence

When you walk into my home, either the stereo is on, the TV is blaring from the other room or I am talking to my cats.  I do not enjoy silence, with one exception.  The last 45 minutes of my day, I listen to the same Sounds of Silence.

The hum of the air cleaner, annoying during the day, becomes the timekeeper for the night time melody.  One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight.  The rythm echoes from the basement through the hardwood floors, telling the rest of the house how to keep time.

The cats are the playful melody of the lullaby.  They have been sleeping all day and are now convening at the food dishes, planning their mischief for the night.  When the sound of crunching kibble stops, if I listen closely, I can hear them start their rounds, down the hallway and into the front window.  If there is a ticking in the music, one of the beasts needs a pedicure.  I will hear them dance through the house all night long.

The furnace always seems to chime in at the same time each night.  It coughs and sputters first as if to draw attention to the upcoming solo.  It’s opening note is strong and loud and makes its metal frame shake.  When the hot air of this blowhard has warmed the house’s sweet spot, the hallway where the thermostat sits, he retires from the spotlight and is quiet until he feels the chill of his next cue.

The owl from the neighbour’s yard chimes in at odd intervals.  His motion sensor is a bit too sensitive, causing him to hoot at stray cats, birds, the wind, shadows.  During the summer months, I’ve been known to wander next door and hide Mr. Owl.  In the winter, the closed windows seem to mute his hoot, making him part of the chorus rather than a headliner.

During the daylight hours, I hear only what I’d describe as “traffic” coming from the main drag three blocks over.  By the time I retire, I can hear single cars and even tell from what direction they are entering the stage.  I can count them now, like counting sheep.

Behind the baton is the Sandman.  He leads the night time orchestra through the same routine each evening.  While his timing is never consistent, he manages to keep the whole thing going until the comfort of the harmony lulls me to sleep.

There is an encore performance again tomorrow night.

Answer why, not what

When I made the decison I wanted to write as a profession, I was forced to admit that I don’t know everything. If I am to establish credibility as a writer, I have an enormous amount of learning in my future.  While I have experience in technical writing (training manuals, corporate communications, league newsletters) I know nothing about writing anything else, never mind earning a living doing it.  I was not to be intimidated by the challenge.

Then I began my pursuit.  In the many scernarios that played through my head, none of them prepared me for the information I was going to have to digest and the decisions I was going to have to make.  Journalism, children’s stories, novels, novellas, romance, sci-fi, mysteries, ghost writing, non-fiction.  Just thinking of the different approaches to the same art is tiring.

The light came on slowly.  I have to answer why I want to write before I can answer anything else.

With 4o in my rearview mirror, I feel I have stories to tell.  I think there are issues that are not discussed often enough.  I feel others have something to learn from my mistakes.  The exact same sentiments as thousands of other frustrated writers.  They are only out numbered by out of work actors.  I need to exploit the reasons which make me different.

I want to write because I think it is a dying art.  Abbreviations, emoticons and the necessity of brevity when texting is killing our language.  Clear communication is giving way to whatever can be squeezed into 140 characters or less.

I want to write because I want to piss off people.  Sadly, angry people are more engaged than those who are content.  Angry people talk.  Conversation is good.  I’ve been known to take the less popular side of an issue for the sake of healthy debate.  Because we brag about the good side of something does not make the bad stuff go away.

I want to write to educate because there is a surprising amount of bad information out there.  I have no misguided notion that I can correct the gossip and erroneous “facts” but I can encourage people to be properly informed.  Learn to question everything and never stop asking “why?”. 

Some days I want to write because I spent good money on a bad book.  The inner writer in me knows I can write better than some the published material I have read.  However, the inner me never wrote anything and the horrible, published writer did.

I want to write because I want to leave something behind.   The rumour is if you post something on the internet, it is out there forever.

Funny can’t be forced

I am not quick on the draw.  I am the type that thinks of the perfect comeback an hour and a half after the moment has passed.  I laugh by myself a lot.

The hubby seems to have a comedic comeback to almost any situation.  His sense of humour is the secret to the success of our relationship.  In the worst situations, he still makes me laugh.  I don’t care that he’s losing his hair but if he loses his ability to laugh, he is out the door.

He never has to think about it.  He doesn’t try to be funny, he is funny.  Give him some time to think about a situation and he only gets funnier.  When he is at his best, my writing gets better. I think it’s because laughter gets me to relax and I stop thinking.  I don’t try to write, I write.  It’ s a very Yoda concept. 

Funny is important because there is not enough of it in this world.  We want it.  We need it.  We actually seek it out.  The most popular videos on YouTube?  The ones which make us laugh.  The more popular blogs?  The ones which make us laugh.  A theme is developing.  We want more haha in our lives.

In the middle of a stressful day, kids sick, husband working late, boss on your ass about your absences, you cannot just sit down and giggle.  Maybe you can force a smile when you recall a particular memory but we lack the ability to laugh on demand.  We had it once but we lose it  over time.  We exchange our sense of humour for ever-growing responsibilities. 

Watch a child, specifically the kids whom have yet to start school.  They laugh all the time.  They laugh at anything.  Their laughs come from deep inside their bellies.  A fabulous thing about this type of genuine exuberance is that it is contagious. I challenge you to surround yourself with laughing children and at the same time be a miserable troll.

Funny can’t be forced but it can be encouraged.  We should embrace every opportunity we can, to laugh loud and proud.  The chances are rare so jump on them.  If you miss and fall flat on your face, laugh at that too!

A week of learning

  • No matter how creative or motivated I feel, I cannot write with the television turned on.  Even if it is only the news or Sportcentre, turned low, in the other room.  I am easily distracted.  For the record, this is not new news to me.
  • Blogging means something different to everyone.  Some use the forum as a personal confessional.  Funny how it seems so easy for people to share their deepest secrets with the world, while writing how they will die if their husband/wife/friend/mother/father/sister/brother should ever find out.  I’ve read other blogs that seem to be elegant advertising in disguise.  There are an amazing number of bloggers who appear as professional as daily columnists of the big papers.  I blog as a daily commitment to improve my writing.  If you read blogs, you understand.
  • I like WordPress.  I admit I haven’t used any other blogging host.  However, I haven’t quit yet, this is a good thing. Some of the simple things elude me.  I still can’t set the correct date and time.  Those who know me, know there ain’t no way I was up at 6:18 am posting anyting on the internet.  I also know that I did blog Thursday and not Friday.  But I do love a challenge.  I am continually playing with the themes.  I know sooner or later the page will become what I want but until then I will click and cancel and see what happens.
  • I still have issues with sharing my posts. I allow myself an hour to blog and I am finding it easier than I expected to keep this commitment.  My inner, anal editor has not given her approval to anything I have posted.  I find my blogs are great brainstorming sessions. They are not reflections of what I want my “reputation” of a writer to be.  Sharing things I feel are incomplete is difficult.  Getting easier but still scarey.
  • I continue to prefer paper and pen over a keyboard and mind numbing screen.  I find the flashing cursor intimidating and the blank screen stifles my creative process.  I like to doodle between thoughts and scratch out and highlight.  I like to write in a spiral bound notebook, several of them on the go at once. 
  • In the back of my head, I find myself always trying to find a unique spin on a routine situation.  I think others call this humour.  I don’t recall ever being so aware of possible writing topics.
  • When I write, I prefer to be outside or near a window.  I find greater inspiration in the outdoors than I do in any set of painted walls.

I’ve been saying I want to be a writer.  Writing on a daily basis has only reaffirmed this desire.  A week into this experiment and I am only feeling better about my decision!

To age or not to age

If only there could be a choice.   Age is a measurement of time.  As long as the sun continues to rise and set and rise again, the oceans ebb and flow and we don’t kill off the honeybee, time will continue to be measured.  Despite the guarantees of thousands of products on the internet, nothing can turn back the hands of time.  There are no sure things except taxes, death and the fact time moves forward.  Tomorrow you will be one day older.  When compared to the alternative, this is a good thing.

For some misguided reason, we associate age with personality.  You can say you read it here… this just ain’t so.  Experience yes, age no.  It makes sense that people with the same age have shared many of the same experiences so may have the same tendencies. Those traits like the ones on TV telling us 1 in 4 men in their forties can’t get it up.  Age is just one more thing on which to base silly stereotypes.

Age is to be celebrated.  Every new day is going to present endless challenges.  Even unknowingly, we create endless solutions while we learn and grow at the same time.  We shouldn’t worry about admitting to fifty.  We should be screaming as loud as we can:

I have lived for fifty years.  I have survived sickness and poverty, heartbreak and a broken home.  I have met every challenge life has thrown me and I am here to brag about it!

We do celebrate birthdays, some landmarks more than others.  Most often, it is an excuse for a get together or gift grab rather than a celebration of accomplishments or simply the survival of the past 365 days.  You want to give a fabulous gift to a friend?  Give them a list of the best things that happened to them in the last year.  Remind them of the hurdles they cleared.  Point out the scars that used to be open wounds.  Tell them someone loved every single day.  This is how we should celebrate age.

When we get honest, really honest, the “I know I’m 200 while I continue to tell my friends I’m no more than 180” type of honest, it is not our age that problems us.  It is how our bodies have let us down and will no longer tolerate the abuse that has put them in such a condition.  Why are our bodies rebelling?  Experience.

We cannot hear it enough!  It is not just about getting out of bed.  It is about being grateful for the experience of getting old. 

I don’t have to do anything

You might be surprised to know you don’t have to do anything either.  Our actions are our choices.  You get out of bed and go to work because you want the money to pay for your toys.  Own your life.  The gift of free will should be celebrated.

When we wonder why we aren’t where we think we are supposed to be, we must look at why we make the choices we do.  Everybody claims they don’t have enough time to do the things they want to do.  Bull shit!  We make deliberate choices to do what we do.  What we forget is that for each choice we make there exists a consequence.  Good, bad, maybe not even instantly evident, but it is there.

A decision to do one thing comes with baggage but we accept this as part of a package deal.  I choose to play in an 8-ball league on Wednesday nights.  This means I also agree to pay league fees and green fees on a weekly basis.  I made a commitment to my teammates that I will be there every week.  I don’t go to “Girls’ Hump Night” dinners and I’m the last to learn the good gossip.  I haven’t taken a specific course at the college because it is repeatedly offered Wednesday evenings. It’s my life and I decided to play pool. 

 Take “have to” out of your vocabulary.  Stop saying you “have to” be at work for 6am and say instead you start at 6. You don’t “have to” keep the meeting with your parole officer but jail is the alternative.  It’s not that you “have to” go to dinner at the in-laws rather than poker with the boys but you choose matrimonial harmony.  You can stop using “have to” in your sentences completely and the only thing that will change is your attitude.