Blog Topics; how do You decide?

Complete set of the seven books of the "H...

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When you’re writing a daily blog, how do you decide what the topic will be?  For some folks a specific subject is the foundation and everything else is decided from there.  Parenting, politics, healing, pets, pests, ……………the list goes on.  What about when you don’t do that?  How does a topic become a topic?

It’s not like it’s assigned; like homework or a magazine article.  I think most bloggers are independent writers.  People with something to say and the blogging world provides the venue to say it.  Which makes it all the more interesting to me ; wondering about how topics are chosen.

It’s like imagining how best selling authors come up with stories.  If these folks really write what they know, they lead very interesting lives!  Wouldn’t you like to follow John Grisham around for a day?  How about Dan Brown?  I’ve always been curious what a day in Stephen King’s life would be like, he has a curious, not to say spooky take on most things.  If you assume, as I do, that fiction flows into reality.

And those were only the first three writers to come to mind; there are so many good story tellers!  I love Robert Parks books.  All fast reads and very entertaining.  He did a lot without using a lot of words.  Janet Evanovich  does well with that too.  When the characters step off the page and become three dimensional, escape from reality is complete.

I do seem to have two different modes when reading fiction.  With the lighter more humorous stories, the characters step out of the book.  With the more serious stories, I dive in, like I can be in the middle of things, yet keep the characters contained within the confines of the book covers.  Don’t want some of them in the real world, at all.  I read a lot of murder mysteries and have a fascination with fictional serial killers  and especially the psychologist types that draw word pictures of them.  Profilers!  Most intrigued by the process and ability, doubt I’d ever want to do it myself.  Is it just fiction, or, do you really have to guard against becoming like the monsters you hunt?  Some of this comes from having too much free time on my hands and some of it crosses my mind whether I’m busy or not.

I don’t read much in the fantasy genre and yet I have two authors I read over and over that fall into the category.  Marion Zimmer Bradley and J.K. Rowling.  Okay C.S. Lewis too.  I came across The Mists of Avalon so many years ago, I don’t even remember.  It’s Arthurian legend from a woman’s point of view and I reread it every couple of years, just because.  Bradley has written other books and I’m sure they are just as good and I haven’t read them, yet.  As to Harry Potter, well, that’s a kind of annual thing.  From book one to book seven, one after the other until I reach the end.  Each time something different catches my attention, more details stay with me even after I’ve closed and reshelved the books.  And there is no question of reading only one or two, definitely not out of series.  I don’t care much one way or the other about the movies, just have to read the books, in order, as if the seven were one.  It is all one story, just had to be in multiple books to prevent physical injuries.  My theory any way.  As for C.S. Lewis, his Lion in the Cupboard series was pretty good, I just relate more to Harry Potter.

As long as I’m talking about favored authors anyway, might as well mention James Clavell, Herman Wouk and James Patterson.  These are also authors I will purposely re-read.  There are a couple of writers I find myself re-reading by accident.  See a title and think, that looks interesting and then get a few pages into the book before discovering, I’ve already read this.  Most of the time I’ll finish reading it anyway, cause what I remember tends to build anticipation rather than spoiling the story.  I keep Clavell, Wouk and Patterson on hand, just in case…the world comes to an end and there is nothing new to read, or, I just can’t decide on a book.  Too many choices, what if I pick the wrong one?  These three are guaranteed likes, I know it from the start.  I’ve read them before.

And this just isn’t what I thought this blog was going to be about.  At all!  I had my Melodie Beattie meditation book at my elbow cause I was thinking about the reading for today’s date in Journey to the Heart.  I’d say it’s a good one, if I didn’t say that just about everyday.  To myself ,if not out loud.  She writes in a way that reading what she’s written is like having her in the room with you.  She’s comforting and reassuring without lying!  That’s my take on her writing anyway.  It’s like she hears what’s in your mind and heart and offers perspectives and suggestions for looking at things differently.  Nothing far fetched or difficult to do.  More like the difference between looking at a table setting sitting at the table and then looking at it from across a room.  Perspective.  Sometimes when you’re too close to a thing all you see are the flaws.  From across the room there is a beauty that shines through, even though you know the flaws are there.  The plate still holds food, the fork still picks it up and carries it to your mouth.  All the separate parts are functional and the flaws are minor.  When they’re not right in your face, they’re mostly unnoticeable.  It’s even possible to see the beauty when you stop looking for the faults.  Seems to work the same way with people.  Look too close and all you see are flaws.  Stand just a little away and there is a whole person and really so much more than acceptable.  A dear and loving, loved, lovable friend.  The magic happens when you can do that for the person you see in the mirror.  And Melodie Beattie has been one of my guides down this path.  That is almost what today’s reading was about.

So, I’m curious to know.  Blog topics; how do you Decide?



It’s November, I have Much to be Grateful For!

The First Thanksgiving Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

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It might be that because Thanksgiving is celebrated this month, whatever the reason, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  And I know it!  Sometimes it seems I’m not as aware of gratitude at other times.  What I believe is something about November brings it all rushing to the front of the line.

Blame it on the weather or the shortening of daylight hours.  Something about it being November causes me to pause and reflect on people, places and things I’m grateful for in more depth than at other times of the year.  Sunshine and warm weather invite activity and other distractions.  November, especially the early part of the month, seems to invite nesting and contemplation of the joys of simple things.  Hearth and home, hot soups and stews, warm drinks with spicy aromas.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  So many good smells coming from the kitchen.  People gathered at tables displaying abundance and variety.  The “good” dishes, flatware and crystal seen in use, not just on display and gathering dust.  More people “dressed up” than usual.    There seems to be an unspoken agreement that this is a time for appreciating life and sharing in the wealth and abundance of it.  It’s a party, just not the same kind of party as Christmas, New Years or a birthday.  It doesn’t seem to have the raucousness those events bring up.  Subdued isn’t the right word.  There’s a quiet peacefulness to it.

Once the holiday rush starts this mellow time comes to an end and doesn’t seem to return for another year.  Yes, there are definitely moments from one November to the next.  We all have to take time out occasionally to reflect and absorb.  Something about November seems to concentrate it all.  October seems to involve finishing things, maybe some preparation for the nesting ahead.  I’m just guessing at things here.  Trying to tell if there really is as much of a pattern to things as I suspect.  I like things to make sense, as much as possible.

This year has been totally jam-packed.  So much has changed since last November.  Some friends have moved away, some new friends have been found.  My attitude and outlook on life has improved dramatically.  I’m not sure I would recognize the person I was last year and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thinking these kind of thoughts.  Gratitude, quite likely, just, differently.  I don’t know if I can clarify.  Wonder if grateful is different from thankful.  Are the underlying motives different?  You know, like the difference between suggestions and advice…strings attached.

Gratitude is a way of life.  A way of thinking, feeling and acting that recognizes the many graces in each and every day.  Not just acknowledging them, giving them active attention and notice.  Looking for them, cause you know they are there, no matter what is going on.  A smile from a stranger.  A green traffic light where it has “always” been red.  Money in a pocket you had forgotten was there.  The way the sunlight hits a tree or a crystal prism or creates silhouettes in the distance as it sets.  A friend gets good news that lightens his or her spirit or heart.  Choosing exactly the right thing for a meal.  A chance to do something you’ve wanted to for a long time and “everything” falls into place and you do it!  And it’s grand!  SO many daily graces and because we’re not looking for them and at them they just go by, not recognized for what they are.  I kinda think we start out just saying thank you at the odd times we happen to notice.  The more we notice and say thank you, the more we notice.  It seems to be self feeding.  Before we know it, we are living gratitude.

I don’t think it happens  over night.  It starts slowly and gradually and we do have to participate in order for it to begin building on itself.   For as long as we fail to notice the variety of daily occurrences of grace we slow the process.  There are other things going on at the same time and we can get bogged down in the stuff we don’t like to such a degree that we don’t give much, or even any, notice to the stuff we do like.  When we only see grace every other day or week or month or year, life looks hard and tedious and rewarding.  It’s as if gray days are twice as gray and sunny days are dimmer than they could be.

It is altogether too easy to overlook grace unless you actively start paying attention.  We have become so accustomed to being worried and stressed that more than a few of us start thinking not only that’s all there is, we also think, that’s how it’s supposed to be!  We get a lot of encouragement in that direction; however unintended.  Parents, bosses, spouses……the press, books, movies….even some churches.

Noticing daily grace has a kind of Pollyanna flavor to it and may be seen as superficial.  Something.  It’s rarely what you hear people conversing about.  I guess that mostly depends on your usual contacts, more than anything.  Most of my friends, now, don’t just notice daily grace, they talk about it.  Sometimes with a quiet smile, sometimes in total excitement, sometimes with a sense of awe.  Hanging around with these people has definitely rubbed off.  I’m encountering more people in different situations and circumstances who also notice and acknowledge daily graces.  I no longer think it is limited to people who have chosen a particular set of life principles.  It’s like, they are living the principles without having them literally spelled out.  Interesting!

Looking forward to each new day as a surprise and an adventure, the good kind, is still pretty new to me.  If you’ve never lived any other way, none of this will make sense.  If you have lived another way, I hope this makes sense and offers encouragement that different good is possible.

One of the daily graces I have discovered and been paying close attention to is how much joy there is in writing.  Putting thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs is my idea of a good time!  I do have other ideas of a good time, it’s just that writing is almost always available.  Between starting the blog and NaNoWriMo, I am definitely in seventh heaven!  It’s like a walk through continuous scenic country and I always have just enough light to see obstacles ahead.  Putting things in black and white (unless I’m in a rainbow mood) shows more choices than just thinking and worrying ever do.  Seeing the obstacles means I can avoid them, work around them or work through them.  The biggest difference is actually “publishing” thoughts and musings and opinions and such.  Might be that it forces me to look upside down and inside out; more than one way.  However you choose to express it.

So, it’s November and I have much to be grateful for.  How about you?

I must be having Fun, Cause Time sure does Fly!

Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits

Image by Steel Wool via Flickr



I must be having fun, cause time sure does fly!  It’s already Friday and it just doesn’t seem possible.  If I didn’t have specific references to  each of the other days of the week, I’d swear they hadn’t happened!

Monday was Halloween, had candy and everything.  Got my favorites and darned glad of it too!  Our porch light is on a motion detector.  Might have mud on it or something, cause it sure didn’t detect any motion and there was plenty of it to be detected. I think it’s just contrary, it detects the hell out of people trying to sneak up and doesn’t shut off for hours, unless you want it to!  Oh well, Snickers and Milky Way….all mine now!

Tuesday I met with friends and then went to a gift making class.  Wrote about it in my blog, so it must be true.  And of course, first day of NaNoWriMo, how could I forget to mention that?

Wednesday, met with a friend, wrote more on my novel and even got my postaday2011 published.  Not bad.

Thursday was more novel writing, a conversation about one of my favorite bloggers which distracted me from doing postaday2011 and an evening with friends that was the usual Thursday night party.  We have dinner at Popeyes and meet some other friends and it can run the gamut from ordinary to quite life changing.  Thursday nights have to be experienced, never predictable.

So, now it’s Friday!  I have to say it once or twice more, I think.  Just until I can believe it. Of course, it might already be Saturday before that happens!

All I can conclude is, I must be having fun, cause time sure Flys!

Checking in; Life beyond NaNoWriMo

Mother's Day

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I’m just checking in today; looking to see if there is really life beyond NaNoWriMo.  I suspect there is and felt compelled to do a reality check.  Yeap, life still going on in all it’s glory!

I’m not sure what the tempo is going to be from day to day, so, I’m really playing it all by ear.  I missed postaday2011 yesterday cause I let NaNoWriMo run me most of the day.  Only stopped at all because I’m a grown up (sometimes) and meet my commitments.  Having said that, I found out how great a friend a couple of my friends really are.  My friend in NYC was so cool about my obsession and totally understanding about my delayed response to her text!  And another friend, closer to home cut me some major slack!  seems when I typed our appointment into my calendar all I put was the time….When she arrived I was surprised to see her.  Couldn’t figure out why she was there and she was right on time too!  She graciously rescheduled and went on about her business.  I’m going to have to activate sticky notes again.

I did take time out yesterday to get together with friends and go to a gift making class at YBN!  We had so much fun!  I made bath salts and the toughest thing to do is decide who to give them to.  Denise made a candle and it smells great!  I actually debated with myself for several minutes before deciding to do the bath salts, the smell of the candle is quite inviting.  Some folks would only burn it around Christmas because it is spicy, citrusy.  I’d burn it any time I could get one together with a match; it smells that good.

If you live in or near Crofton, MD go to YBN and take a gift making class.  Check out the website for schedules and costs.

Well, thoughts are completely drifting to the novel now and I do have to be ready to leave my little nest at 2 p.m. today, so…

Just checking in;life beyond NaNoWriMo……All is well!



NaNoWriMo…Only hours from Start!

This is it! Last day of October! NaNoWriMo…Only hours from start!  After the build up, dang!  I’m getting nervouser and nervouser and I doubt that’s going to help.

I found out how to turn off spell check.  That’s a good beginning, right? The web site suggests it to encourage maximum production, minimum perfectionism.  I haven’t tested myself yet to see if I can function without it.  This isn’t like writing long hand.  It might be, without spell check.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to start at 12:01a.m. or follow habit and start in the morning.  I’m curious to find out what the novel will be about.  I have a general idea what I think I’m going to write.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.

I found a new distraction today, sitting on a bookshelf here.  Web site design.  Looks a lot like blogging to me, without all the code.  Sadly, it’s an old book and my initial experiment was a crashing defeat.  And NaNoWriMo is only hours from start!  What the hell was I thinking?  Oh, yeah, this is cool. Wonder if I could do this?  Maybe, just not now!  Maybe next year.

It is also Halloween.  I am prepared if trick-or-treaters come a knocking.  Don’t know about the dogs though.  I suspect they will lose their little dog minds.  They are new arrivals here and maybe, just a little, excitable.  At least it’s not fireworks.  Something to be said for that.

There’s a little chill in the air; our preview to winter has come and gone.  We got a little snow.  Very little.  It sure was a weird Saturday, for October.  Today has been rather quiet.  I did see one little princess waiting, with her Mom and sister, for the schoolbus.  I wonder if everyone “Trunk or Treated” this year? I only bought candy I like, so, whatever.

Sorry if I sound like a broken record…NaNoWriMo is only hours from start!

o hai, did u need spell checkz?

Image by annieee via Flickr

If it’s Trendy, it Certainly doesn’t require my attention!

Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood

Image via Wikipedia

I came to the conclusion, don’t ask me when, that if something is trendy it doesn’t require my interest and especially not my attention.  If it’s trendy far too many minds are giving it interest and attention already.

I do understand that if more people thought like I do, unemployment would likely be much higher.  People magazine would not exist.  How many people do they employ?  How about MTV?  The list could go on.It’s not like I’m totally incognizant or even immune to trends.  Being human and having a need to be part of society I see and hear things and even form opinions. I don’t often feel compelled to share them; most often they are more wait and see anyway.  Wait for the initial excitement to die off and see if anyone even remembers the next day, week, month, etc.  I most especially don’t follow “news” trends.  When they learn to tell only who, what, when and where, I might try listening again.  There are a couple of reasons for this perspective.

  1. they seem insistent on why, which is most times inexplicable, especially where crime is involved.   What makes their best guess any better or worse than mine or yours?  And that’s all it can be without knowing a great deal more than is revealed by the “investigative reports”.
  2. placement matters.  Lead stories sell lots of product.  Selling product is why there is “news” at all.  Wonder if those folks are in the least insulted that more and more people consider them “infotainment”?  As i fail to see either information or entertainment, I don’t miss them.  Never formed the habit of watching, so, don’t miss them even though I don’t see them.
  3. it insults my intelligence when they rehash, well, most everything really. At first i was going to mention debates and presidential speeches; things like that. Then realized they rehash most things.
  4. Can you remember a time they asked a question you wanted answered?  I can’t.
  5. they trivialize or ignore important things, especially if it’s contrary to the thinking of sponsors.  Tell it all or shut up.
  6. I , personally, don’t care what “celebrities” think about any given topic, more often than not.  When we become personal friends, I’ll ask, if I really want to know.
  7. Since I wouldn’t choose to have my tragedies, screw ups and personal business scattered to the four winds, I certainly don’t like being bombarded with sound bytes and photos when it’s done to other human beings, celebrity or average citizen.   I’d suggest turning the cameras around except that would be cruel also.

Sorry, went on a little tear.  Is it any wonder there is so much stress in the world?  It is my personal belief that all the wrong people are being stressed.  I’d really like to see bright lights trained and doors unlocked on many of the dark places where decisions are reached.  All those places protected, shielded by moneyed sponsors.  The places where some ONE  decides you and I shouldn’t be bothered with information we wouldn’t understand.  It might confuse us!!!!  What’s to be confused about?  If we knew what you were doing, action would be taken to delay or stop what you are doing!

I will say right here, in case you haven’t already guessed, these are my opinions, thoughts, ideas.  They are only being expressed here and now because I found a safe venue to express them, as completely as possible, that no one has to hear, or read or watch.  If you like them and agree, good.  If you don’t like them and disagree, good.  If it gets you to thinking and verbalizing without causing harm, even better.  We need more people thinking, weighing and evaluating.  Most particularly about things we are effected/affected by that don’t ever get presented on the “news”.

Here’s the thing; for many years I said and even believed, “I don’t care”.   Ignored the anger, resentment, frustration in my tone of voice.  Imagine my surprise at learning how much I actually do care.  And learning that powerlessness is not the same thing as hopeless.  It’s a whole new way of looking at things and I’m curious to see where it leads.

Denial doesn’t actually make things go away, it just removes things from our active focus and attention.  It might be what is necessary, for awhile.  And if you’re not diverted by the infotainment, chaos and disarray of modern media, it’s entirely likely you are depressed to some degree.  Maybe not.

There’s a thought running through my mind and I can’t quite catch it.  I think it has something to do with change of attitude and perspective, sorry, no bells ringing yet.  Something about denial involved and I still can’t pin it down.

Ah, yes, All or nothing thinking!!!  If you had confronted me on just that topic, even a couple of weeks ago, I would have told you “I don’t do that anymore”.  See, denial!  Right now there are any number of times I would still say “off with their heads” or “This is the only way to go”.  Or, things similar to that.

Please hear this, before reading further; what follows are sarcastic, cynical, tongue in cheek solutions to a few of the challenges we face as humans and citizens in the world today.  I do not own weapons of any kind!  I do not suggest, recommend or encourage the use of violence or weaponry for solving interpersonal, international differences.

So, tongue in cheek, ………………never mind.  Old thoughts, clearly seen as no longer valid and mostly encouraged by the vicarious catharsis of revenge movies.  Can I hear a big round of applause for Dirty Harry!  I used to have other favorites, but they just got too outlandish to be believed.  Maximum destruction of property and no collateral damage! Please!  Only the “bad” guys got maimed or killed?  Truth is, I don’t even know how Clint Eastwood movies still make my view list.  Still watch’em, still enjoy watching ’em.  Go ahead, make my day!

Another old habit, hard to lose is taking things personally.    It’s another one of those things I would have sworn I’d given up.  Until I found out I hadn’t, not really!  That was surprising.  Note to self: denial is not your friend.  It leads down so many wrong roads.

And I don’t know how well this transitions, but, the above got me to thinking about things I hear people say and the single thought that runs through my mind, when I hear them saying some of these:

  • I’m not a victim
  • I’m happy, joyous and free
  • I am (or am not)____________________

The single thought is: I think thou doth protest too much!  Okay, there is a common corollary thought: Who are you trying to kid?  And, in the interest of mental and spiritual health, I have to ask and answer myself, honestly, first.  Not new, just recently refreshed.  Backed up by self examination and revelation to a living breathing other.  I can bs myself quite well.   It all changes when the information is shared.

It is most definitely not trendy to admit perceiving oneself as a victim.  How else would you describe a fairly constant, possibly low threshhold, state of feeling hopeless and helpless?  Compounded by attitudes and beliefs that life is tough, I have nothing to offer, good things don’t happen to me, if they do it’s a fluke……shall I go on? Before I forget, aided and abetted by the fear mongers spewing scarcity and chaos at every flick of the dial. (click of the remote)  Sounds a lot like depression, doesn’t it.  And, odd as it seems, I believe depression is trendy.   Between that and bi-polar, ADD and ADHD, seems everybody is at least one of them these days!  Why is that?  Because the drug companies have a pill for it?  If the first one don’t work, there’s three more we can try.  In succession or altogether.  Whatever your insurance will pay for!  Doesn’t pay to be depressed and uninsured, at all.   Unless you’re willing to take a non-drug approach and find a way to look at the person in the mirror, honestly.

Finding a comfortable place in the middle ground is something of a challenge.  Sometimes, finding the middle at all is a gift.  I didn’t get to where I am now all on my own and I didn’t get to where I was before on my own either.  The difference between now and then is, I do less kicking and screaming.  I still balk at some things, however, I choose who to follow, who to believe, who to trust.  It makes a difference.  Remembering that my feet are made of clay and the same will be true of any person I ask for help keeps me from idolizing anyone.  It helps.

This has been a rambling diatribe if I ever wrote one.  If you’re still here, thanks.  If you’re not…….

I’m still thinking what I started out saying:  If it’s trendy, it Certainly doesn’t require my attention!

Is it Winter, already?



Autumn colors

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sitting here in sweats and wrapped in blankets wondering what happened to autumn.  Is it winter, already?  We might get snow tomorrow.  We haven’t even had Halloween yet!  Who do I see about a refund?  I thought this season included a brief intermediate between the hot and the cold.  I’m pretty sure that’s what I asked for.

The older I get, the more I appreciate spring and fall.  Even though it’s the worst time of year for allergens.  It’s such a nice interlude.  A reasonable amount of clothing; perhaps a sweater.  Is that too much to ask for a quick three months?  Cause autumn always does seem to be over before it really gets started. Have you noticed that?  I think it’s all the kids praying for Christmas to get here.  Just a thought.

I like summer well enough, except in humid places.  Humidity makes life a living hell.  And I’m not backing down from that.  The only thing worse than hot and humid is cold and humid!  Must be why I enjoyed living in desert climate so  much.  It didn’t seem to matter what the temperature was, I could dress for it.  Enough clothes to satisfy modesty concerns in the summer and mobility concerns in the winter.  That is not how things work in a more humid climate!  Buck naked is too much clothing when the humidity rises in summer.  And quite frankly, they just don’t make anything warm enough for when the temperature drops and the humidity rises.  Once I’m dressed like the Michelin man all thought of productive functioning are put on hold.  How much can a person who cannot bend her arms even to scratch her nose, realistically, be expected to do?  Ever heard the saying,”expectations are planned resentments”?  It applies here. 

I just thought of my explanation!  Summer heat = vapor lock.   Winter cold= frozen fuel lines!  Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!

In springtime, when nature is refurbishing, the temperature usually feels just right and the scenery is pure joy.  The pollen can be obnoxious, but, the absence of it is unthinkable.  I’m finding that’s what essential oils are for, easing physical discomfort, so the beauty of spring can progress as it will, as it must.  The resurging of life is so worth some discomfort.  There’s an allegory or a metaphor in there somewhere.  When I thaw out, I’ll let you know if I remember what it was.

In autumn, when nature is closing up shop for a well earned rest, the temperature usually feels right and the scenery is pure joy.  The colors are rich and bold.  It’s like a last hurrah.  I know there’s actually color all year long and spring has it’s own splendor.  There’s just something about autumn colors!   Must be the reds and the golds  sprinkled in amongst the greens. 

Summer has it’s moments, I won’t deny it.  The only thing that saves winter from being a total bust as a season is fires in a fireplace!   Okay, the pristine first snow and icicle lace on the trees is spectacular.  Too bad it can’t happen and still be a reasonable temperature!

Cool!  Here I was thinking there wouldn’t be a post today cause I’m too cold to think.  Still wondering; is it winter, already?

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