Looking Like you Know What to Find

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Maybe this is just me, but I feel like as I get older I am not paying attention as well as I should be.  I am probably mixing up my memories from when I was younger about how much I remembered, but I feel like I have been missing some obvious and not-so-obvious details and events that happen around me.

Well before I drain my local Drug Store of all its Gingko Biloba I’ve been looking into another potential solution.  Being a book lover, writer, and a librarian my mind often looks for solutions in literature.  This time my mind went back to some British novels of the 19th century written by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

When you’re trying to come up with an example for someone who is an expert at paying attention to the details there aren’t many (if anyone) who can beat out Sherlock Holmes.

When you pour over the texts certain things come to light, facts and ideas that could help each of us become a little more attentive, a bit more like the great detective himself.

Step One is to learn how to deduce things from observing other people.  You can tell things about them by looking at their clothing to figure out their job (i.e. carrying a stethoscope), being familiar with an accent to learn where they come from, etc.  Noticing these details is a step in the right direction to being someone who is better at picking up and remembering the little details that can make a big difference.

Step Two is learning to rely on more than just one of your senses.  Using sight, smell, taste and sound can help you round out what details and other information you are taking in from your observances.

Step Three is akin to Step Two, but can be a bit difficult.  The third step is to become a better listener.  This requires the skill of not thinking about what you are going to say next when someone is talking, but instead to actually hear the words coming out of their mouth.  You also need to find a way to remember and recall these details at a later time.

Step Four incorporates all the previous steps by remembering three simple phrases: see it, observe it, and decide it.  See the situation, pick up on the details that others ignore, and decide what they mean, even if it initially doesn’t make any sense.

Don’t just rely on the Biloba; use what you have and trust your intuition.


Thought in the Face of Drama

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Humans, as a species, are good at a number of things.  We can rationalize and intellectualize to work out a situation, we can build and create and develop on our ideas to the point of improvement, also known as innovation.  Our brains are capable of holding a massive amount of information.

Yet, for all of our intellectual prowess, we can still let our emotions get out of control, short circuit our rational thought from time to time and when that occurs its either going to be highly appropriate or completely out of control.  Rarely does it seem that emotions reach a middle ground: happy or sad, depressed or joyful, angry or mellow.

It’s difficult to be human and never let your emotions come into play.  In fact, in my opinion, it’s impossible.

Emotions have their place in our lives as long as it produces a benefit such as empathy or sympathy, expresses our feelings of caring for others, and situations like these.

Unfortunately we can let ourselves get overly emotional even to the point of attacking one another because we feel offended–this is prideful selfishness, not pure, honest emotion.  This damages relationships, not heals them.

We should never let our emotions control our thoughts; it generally more productive and conducive to keep it the other way around.

For a time such as this

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Have you ever heard that oldies song that talks about everything having a season: living, dying, peace, etc?  Some people don’t know that the lyrics to this particular song is found in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes.  The point of those lyrics/verses is that many things happen over the course of our lives and there is a planned time for each of them.  Things happen at necessary times and for specific reasons.  Sometimes we don’t understand the reasons for these events happening, but tragedy and triumph comes to all of us, just at different times.

Back in junior college one of my literature professors had us write a brief essay on which Utopian world we would most want to live in.  At the time I was really into Alice and Wonderland so I picked that, much to the dislike of the professor.  Wonderland isn’t exactly a utopia by the classical sense of the world.  I guess different people have different definitions of what constitutes utopia.

Someone who clearly understood what type of world he wanted to live in, simultaneously knowing the tragedies and triumphs that can befall us just so happens to be one of my personal heroes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The impact of Dr. King on our culture resonates across time.  He came at a most needed time when our country was losing control of its moral compass and was seeking to redefine itself while still holding on to some absolute values.

While Dr. King’s life, his ministry and work of the 1960s was plagued with tragedies and struggles, ultimately ending in his own death by assassination, he achieved great triumphs with his life that have brought our culture to an awareness of acceptance of different ethnic groups based on the simple foundation of principle that “all men are created equal” as both he and Lincoln, another great man in American history spoke at very perilous times in our country.

Every year my fifth grade students go on a trip to Washington, D.C., much like many other students across the country and from around the world.  One of the most inspiring monuments we visit is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  It’s an awe-inspiring monument to a man who proved with his life and success and triumph are possible in spite of personal struggle and tragedies.

Write like the wind!

Last year about this time I was sitting pretty in my little corner of the world.   I had a self-published book,  cushy job, great family and circle of friends and life couldn’t be better.  Unless, of course, you count the fact that I was wondering if the fact that I might only be a one time writer and couldn’t finish another book.  
The doubt came despite the fact that I have been writing since age ten, wrote hundreds of poems, several short stories and had built up a stockpile of ideas.  I still hadn’t written a novel and, to be honest, wasn’t sure how to attempt one.

Not long after I learned about a website called NaNoWriMo; it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Apparently in November you can start your own novel and finish a fifty thousand word rough draft through the encouragement of these webmasters in love with writing.  

I was, at first, skeptical much like many first time novel writers.  Even when I signed up and was told it was doable if I wrote 1,967 words per day it still felt like a pipe dream to me because over 1900 words per day felt like an arduous task.  Thankfully I was wrong.

I jumped into the NaNoWriMo process and even though I didn’t always meet my quota some days I would get really into a scene or section and exceed it other days.  By November 30th I had my 50K novel and couldn’t help feeling that instead of being at the end of my writing career I was just getting started.

If you’d like to try out NaNoWriMo and make your author dreams come true click this link: NaNoWriMo

Dream Job: Foley Artist

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Ever since I was a old enough to read I began to soak in the letters and their combinations that magically seem to form words.  It soon dawned on me that they weren’t just in books, but could be found everywhere!   Billboards and license plates became consistent reading fodder for my sponge of a brain.  It was a couple of years, though, before I realized that movies have tons of reading after the film is over.  Once I realized this I would try to read as much as a I possibly can before my family would stand up and walk out of the theater.  Part of this may have had to do with the fact that a couple members of my immediate family were claustrophobic and preferred to let the crowds thin out.  Whatever the reason it was a benefit for me!  I had no idea that it took SO many people to make one single movie, even back in the 1980s when most movies didn’t possess much of a story.  One job that I became fascinated by as time went on was ‘Foley Artist’.

Remember all those career fairs they had once a year at school?  I never remember hearing about this one.  I wish I had; maybe I would’ve gone for it instead of floating along through high school and early college with no idea what to do for my future career.

You can’t help but think that this job is cool!  You’re getting paid to make noise and break things while watching a movie!  That’s just the basic step–of course it’s much more complicated than that, but still: getting paid to do the stuff your parents and teachers always told you to knock off or you’d get in trouble?  How awesome would that have been?!  I spent my entire elementary school life being told by teachers to “stop making those weird mouth noises” which, in retrospect was a good start for Foley artist, or professional rapper.

The job I have now is not Foley artist, or anything in the film industry, however, as the saying goes: “never say never”.

What dream career would you switch to, if possible?

The Importance of Being Viking Famous

When I was in high school (and this seems to still be true) there’s always a huge portion of the population obsessed with becoming famous.  Some of my high school friends wanted to be artists, others actors (stage or movies), some singers and musicians, and of course athletes always seemed to be the most popular way to become famous–a statement that I still hear about despite the fact that most people who plan on being athletes never make it to professional status, or get injured and don’t get to play in the big leagues very long.

Me: I planned to be a famous writer, and while I didn’t hit the famous part of it (thankfully, because that seems to be more of a headache than it’s  I worth judging by the celebrity/paparazzi relationship) I am glad that I am living the writing life in my own way.

While my friends and I were making our plans to become celebrities I heard something very interesting in one of my high school literature classes.  We were reading that classic of high school ‘must read’ lists, Beowulf.  My teacher at the time brought out an interesting fact about viking culture, that part of their afterlife was tied to how well they’re remembered.  That’s why some of them would build statues to themselves or family members, why stories were repeatedly told of certain individuals.

Even now it seems like there are some celebrities who are passed that other celebrities (be they actors, directors, athletes, musicians, artists, singers, comedians, etc.) still talk about, their movies are still shown and discussed because we are trying to remember them and their contribution.

Of course we don’t need to be celebrities to be remembered.  We each have family members that have passed that we think about fondly.  These people weren’t celebrities in the typical sense, but even more importantly we remember for better things: their love toward us and others, their personality quirks, and many other special things about them.  Which brings up the question: what are you hoping to be remembered for, and who are you hoping will be the one to remember you?  Our contribution to society can be measured in many ways: financial success, career related success, your service to your family or community, and a myriad of others.  What will you choose?  What stories will they tell about you when you’re time on earth is done?

Head lines

At fifty everyone has the face they deserve.   This quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw has some people thinking back on (and regretting) some of their past choices, no doubt.  

While no one can.predict what their fifty year old face will look like there are some choices we make that happen to have an effect on our appearance.  The results of our diet, habits like smoking, etc. can take its toll and increase the odds for our skin having a more distressed look.

Before this post begins to sound an awful lot like a wrinkle cream or  body lotion commercial allow me to get to the point.  Wrinkles will be in everyone’s face eventually.  We can’t really control that.  There is one thing we can do to reduce the effects: stop worrying so much.

To worry for a human being is.almost as natural to breathing air!  We stress ourselves out over every little thing when the reality is that most things don’t affect our lives as much as we think they do.

There are many things in our lives that stress us out,  but the truth of the matter is there are two simple solutions to each and every problem.  I found an awesome flowchart about it (great for visual learners like me):  

How not to get head lines