Gratitude Saturday May 8

It’s my blogiversary!

Four years ago I started my blog!

Yay!

People often ask how I can write almost every day. The answer is simple: I love blogging. When I wake up I am excited to sit in front of my computer and pump out a few hundred words, even when I have no idea what I am going to write about, which, let’s face it, pretty much every day. I open my computer with a few scribbled notes that I probably wrote months before, or, like today, I just start writing and end up with long run on sentences. Who said I always have a plan?

Ha

I want to blog every day. I am excited to interact with everyone. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t write. Period. I pen a note that I’m taking a few days off (this gives me accountability in my head) and I chill until I get the urge to write again. If you don’t love sitting in front of some electronic device and blogging, you need to ask yourself why are you doing it. I once saw someone had named their blog something like “Why did I start this damn blog” and I wonder at that as a title- if your title says that you don’t want to blog, why are you doing it?

Blog because you love it. Any other reason is just not worth it. Unless of course it’s your job, but if it’s your job and you hate it, maybe you should consider another job maybe…

But anyway…

I am grateful for my blog

I am grateful for WordPress (most of the time anyway)

I am grateful for all those who choose to read me

I am grateful to all those who choose to randomly “like” my blog

I am grateful to those who choose to follow my blog

I am grateful for all those who comment!!!!

I am grateful for all the wonderful people who I have met on this journey! You inspire me!!

Thank you!

Lighten the Load

I love chick lit.

I make no apologies.

I do not plan on turning in my feminist card. If someone made me, I would gladly give up feminism in favor of chick lit.

I like a story of a plucky woman who has gone through some sort of adversity. I like how she screws up but all things come out at the end. I like a happy ending.

Now, this does not exclude me from reading other types of literature. I can do sad and depressing with the best of them. The books that fall under these categories are traditionally better for book clubs. What book club doesn’t like to bond over tears?

But back to chick lit…

There are two authors I’ve been reading for over 20 years. Let’s call them Jennifer Red and Jane Hotdog. In the beginning I loved these authors. I read everything they wrote as soon as it came out in paperback. Sometimes, I even sprung for the hardcover. I kept my copies of these books.

These authors spoke to me.

It was as if they were reading my mind.

And as the years went on, these authors changed up their books. They were no longer writing about plucky women making little errors, losing their way and then finding their way back. They began to write about deep subjects. Adultery. Depression. Drug abuse.

Fine.

Anyone can write about anything.

However…

In my opinion, maybe, just maybe, writing about these subjects wasn’t really great for these authors. Maybe these authors weren’t really cut out for heavier fiction. Maybe these heavier books weren’t quite as good as the other lighter fare. I no longer enjoy the works of these authors as much as I once did.

It takes a really good writer to write a good chick lit book. You have to make the characters real. You need to make the situations somewhat realistic. You need to have a good sense of humor. These are all skills…skills that should not be undervalued just because the book is not Booker Prize worthy…

Just like writing a weightier tome has its own individual skillset.

Writers of different genres are all talented: they are just talented in different ways.

We tend to undervalue light in favor of heavy.

I don’t know why. Can’t we have both, assuming they are done well?

I’d much rather have a well executed “light” book instead of a poorly executed “heavy” book…I want to read the best that any genre has to offer.

Food for thought:

  1. Do you think publishers/agents direct best selling authors to write things that are in vogue, even if it means changing genres?
  2. What genres do you prefer?
  3. Do you think chick lit is a waste of time?
  4. Have you ever had an author that you love disappoint you with their latest work?
  5. Anything else that I touched on in this post
  6. Do we undervalue light in favor of heavy

I made a comment yesterday that seemed to devalue reposting or reblogging an older post. Alas, this sentiment did not come out the way that I intended. I apologize to anyone that reposts or reblogs their work sometimes. Just because I don’t like doing it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t. Keep on being you. Sorry for the inference!

LA

How Do I Write? Let Me Count the Words…

What inspires you?

Recently we talked about how my family always being underfoot has made it difficult for me to be creative, how I need solitude in order to tap into my muse. My muse is an introverted thing, and she needs to be alone in the house with music softly in the background and the scent of lemon wafting from the diffuser, and a cup of black tea with milk and sugar sitting on the side.

My muse took up residence somewhere else during COVID…

But anyway…

Turns out I need to be alone to actually put words on the paper…

But…

In order to be inspired…

in order to find things to write about…

I need to be out and about. I need people, places and things from which to get ideas. I am never going to get ideas from sitting in a room with my diffuser and a cup of tea. I mean, those things might make it into a work, but for the most part, how much can I write about them?

ok- expect a post about my desk sometime in July

I am a sensual person. I am inspired by the things that I can touch, taste, see, hear and smell. When you are a sensual person, you need to be interrupted. You need to be amongst the people. When you are a sensual person who is looking for those ideas, you need to be disrupted. You need some sort of controlled chaos.

Quiet to write.

Distraction to be inspired.

Look at the things that I choose to blog about. I do not get these ideas while sitting in my desk chair, smelling the lemon and drinking my tea. I might read a great comment, or be treated poorly by someone. Run out of toilet paper or talk to my sister. All these things get my brain working…makes me reach for my planner and pink pen and jot down the idea…At the time I write the note I may not know what my post will look like, but I know that I’ve hit on an idea that I can expand…

The toilet paper post of this week- do you know what my note was for that day?

things I did for my family that they didn’t realize

I wrote that note months ago because I knew that somewhere in those words was a blog post. As I sat down to write and thought about that note, the incident from the previous week popped into my mind…

Inspired by chaos and distraction…

Enough about me:

What inspires you?

Where do you get your ideas from?

How do you keep track of the things that you want to write about, paint, photograph, whatever your chosen medium is?

Do you just think of things, or do you need some sort of distraction to inspire you?

What activates your muse?

Discuss

Yelp

Do you write Yelp reviews?

I am not a believer in reviews.

I think that most people who write reviews have an agenda. Maybe it’s their own product. Maybe it’s a product of their best friend. Maybe its a product of their nemesis. Maybe someone is just a troll.

However you look at it, I take reviews with a grain of salt.

I also don’t believe 5 star or 1 star reviews. I think that nothing is so good to rate it perfect. I think that nothing is so bad to rate it 1.

Mainly…

I wrote my first ever Yelp review a few months ago. I had to open an account and everything.

What was the review about?

OK- here’s the story.

I was looking for a groomer so that my puppies nails could get trimmed. She wasn’t ready for a full groom, but I wanted to get her used to having her nails done, and she has black nails, so I didn’t want to try it myself the first time. I wanted a professional.

I have been trying to support small, local businesses this pandemic season, so I searched for groomers in my neighborhood (as opposed to the big name place I used to take my other dog)

I found one close by that said it did drop in nail trims.

Great.

Betty and I walked past it one day to check it out, and sure enough there was an “OPEN” sign in the window, as well as a sign that said “WALK IN NAIL TRIMS”. Right there in the window.

Perfect.

Betty and I didn’t go that day- we were just doing our research.

The next week Betty and I returned- this time armed with vaccination requirements and an excitement for a doggie manicure. The same OPEN and NAIL TRIM signs still prominently displayed.

I go to open the OPEN door. Locked.

I see a bell. I ring the bell.

Five minutes later very grumpy person comes out. Rudely yells at me. Screams that they don’t do walk in nail trims. I point to the sign. She slurs something at me.

Seriously.

You think I’m going to leave my dog with you ever?

So I went home and joined Yelp and wrote a review.

One star.

Which I don’t believe in on principle, but the rudeness…

Next day, the owner wrote a nasty reply to me.

I explained why I thought there was a problem and why I wrote the review.

Owner then tried to butter me up. Said all sorts of nice things. Asked me to change my review.

I explained some stuff, and I was not being nasty. I was just calling it as I saw it…

Then the vitriol. The nastiness she spew at me. Telling me about all the dogs and owners that love her and her services. How I was so wrong…

I didn’t reply. I don’t take to being nice to me because you want something. I don’t play to scare tactics.

I do know that I would never leave my dog with this person…

So here’s the thoughts for today:

Do you write reviews?

Do you believe reviews or do you take them with a grain of salt?

Was I justified in reviewing the person as I did?

Do you think I’ll ever write another Yelp review?

Are you annoyed that I used “grain of salt” twice in this post?

Gratitude Saturday April 17

Have you all noticed the new WordPress thing, the one where other posts by the blogger show up at the bottom of the screen, as well as posts along similar subject area? Tater and I were talking about this the other day, as he posted about it. I was telling him that one of my posts, the one about whether or not reading was better than other pursuits, was getting a lot of hits (well, lots of hits for me) I told him that last week I gained like a hundred new readers (again- abnormal for me). So I wondered what my blog about reading had linked up to.

A few days later, tater contacted me. He told me that my post about reading was at the top of the Discover page. That’s when the lightbulb went off. My post was at the top of the page designed to highlight a post or blogger and introduce them to others.

Fine.

Now the hits and the new readers totally made sense.

So I am grateful that my post was at the top of the page for a bit of time and I found some new readers and exposed my ideas to more people.

However…

You knew there was going to be some sort of angst along with this, didn’t you?

The past ten months, I have not been really writing blogs. I have been asking questions to get the conversation started. I thought we needed something to focus on that wasn’t necessarily what was featured on the news that day. I wanted us to come together and discuss ideas. This didn’t start out as my goal, but it seemed to work. People were joining the discussion. There was a roundtable of sorts where people presented their thoughts and reflections and I know I certainly learned a lot of things, and thought about things in different ways.

This has been fun. I’ve enjoyed posing these questions.

However…

This does not mean that these have been the best blogs that I’ve ever written. Far from it. These have been pieces that have gotten me through all the challenges that we have faced throughout the past year.

So, the piece that was at the top of the charts so to speak…The reading post was like a bubblegum pop song that makes it to the top of the charts. It was cute, it sparked reaction, but it was by no means representative of what I have done or could do as a writer.

I have so many blogs that I am proud of, so I am a little sad that one of those did not get the same recognition as this one did.

Part of me wants to scream to the new readers-

“This is not the best of me- let me show you the posts I think are good. Let me show you the posts that made me cry as I wrote them. Let me show you the posts that I still laugh about. Let me show you the posts that made me who I am…

See how something “good” can be a blessing and a curse?

My guess is, knowing myself, I am going to try to up my blogging game. I am going to try to write the Great American Post. I am probably going to check my blog for error and spell check…I’m going to try to appear smarter or better or just more…

But at this moment in time….

I am grateful for having a little bit of the spotlight..

I am grateful for 4000+ followers

I am grateful that I want to open up my computer and blog everyday

I am grateful that there is no blogging award acceptance speech…could you imagine what a train wreck that would be?

I Read…Therefore…

A few months ago Never Not Reading Posted asked if reading makes us better. Simply, is reading more valuable than say, watching TV. I thought this was a pretty interesting avenue to drive down so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Do we think that people who read a lot are smarter? Better educated? Erudite?

Or are people who spend their time doing other things just as smart?

I can argue that reading words off a page is active…you are pushing your brain more because you are deciphering the letters and words and sentences to make sense of what’s in front of you. To read means that you are paying attention to not only reading the words but understanding the meaning.

Do you engage your brain the same way by watching TV? By listening to a podcast?

How do you describe readers? What words would you use?

How do you describe non readers? What words would you use?

Prepandemic, I read about 5 books a month. During pandemic we all know that my reading was off the charts. I read because I enjoy reading, but it was also one of the few outlets that I had to keep engaged. With the warmer weather and more things opening in New York, I definitely can see that I’m reading less- I only finished one book last week…But with all my reading, did I become “better” or was I just less bored? If I had watched TV that whole time instead of reading, would that have changed the person I am now? Would I be better or worse or would nothing change?

Ok- what are your thoughts on readers versus the rest of the world?

Never Not Reading is on hiatus right now, but if she does return to blogging I will supply her information.

Social?

I sort of pride myself on my limited use of social media. I made up a certificate and proudly magnetized it to my desk….

LA hereby decrees that she keeps her social media usage to less than an hour a week

Huzzah

However…

I blog every day.

So the question is:

Is WordPress social media?

I obviously don’t thing it is. I think of WordPress as being more informational. We go to WordPress to hear people’s stories, listen to their issues, learn about things we did not know.

But am I….what’s that word that I don’t like to use when talking about myself….hmmm…oh yeah…

Am I wrong?

Could I be mistaken about something?

So simply…

Is WordPress social media?

Yes or no?

Why or why not?

Discuss:

I Love a Good Oxymoron

What do you think about things that seem to embody opposite qualities?

An animal that is so unique to almost be considered ugly but in that uniqueness it’s totally adorable?

A food that is both sweet and spicy?

A work of art so incredibly genius yet hard to look at, read or experience because it contains so much that is awful?

I love a good contradiction: to me, contradictions add depth where there really ought not to be. And the one I’ve been thinking about lately is thus:

Hard working lazy people.

How do I define these people?

Well, I will use my poor husband as the example. He will decide to mop the floor. First he will get the mop out and ask me to assemble it properly…because…you know…my degree in engineering and all…(not). Then he will proceed to do about half the area that he should mop. Then he will leave the mop and the cleaning solution out somewhere in the house. Like, the solution will be on the floor next to a chair, and the mop will be against the wall in the bedroom.

Hard working enough to decide without nagging that the floor needs to be mopped. Lazy enough to not do the job thoroughly and put the utensils away.

I, on the other hand, am an energetic slacker. When I decide to do something I do it 100%. I have the right tools, I set up a workstation, I have a lot energy when I get involved in a project. However, I really really really need to be motivated to tackle something. I will not normally wake up and say- “Gee- I need to mop.”

I wonder if this has to do with the planner/no planner mentality. I use a planner. I detail everything I need to do. I keep lists. My husband is the opposite- though he keeps a date book he rarely checks it. Maybe he makes one list a year…

We are both self motivated- yet our paths of motivation are different. I need to think about it and know that I can do the whole job in a certain way. My Husband is more impulsive- he gets the idea and just does it.

Neither of us are right or wrong: it’s just how we handle things. Luckily our shared traits have produced our daughter: energetic and hard working. But never fear: she has her own particular brand of oxymoron’s.

What are your personal oxymoron’s? What qualities do you have that seem to be opposite in one way or another?

Do you have a favorite contradiction? A combo that is a little bit (or a lot) odd that really makes you feel something. I know the chocolate covered bacon fad is something I can’t really fathom but there are people who LOVE it…

Think- reflect-

Discuss…

Self…?

We’ve bandied about the word selfish quite a lot recently.

Do we have the right to call anyone selfish?

When we say the word selfish, what do we mean? Of course I went to New Oxford American Dictionary for an actual definition:

(of a person, action or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Is it wrong to tell someone that they shouldn’t look our for themselves first?

Realistically, is it better to be selfless? (New Oxford American- concerned more with the needs of others than one’s own)

A few years ago my neighbor sent me a letter saying that she did not like the scented candles I would burn at the the end of the day when I was chilling before making dinner. In this specific scenario, who is right? Should I be selfish and light the candles because it was good for my peace of mind? Should I not use them so I can be a better neighbor?

Should I be selfish or selfless? Why?

Ok- take a minute and argue that one out…

When my daughter needed to choose a High School (high school choice in NYC- which after reading about some disastrous ELA programs, I’m selfishly happy that she had) was she supposed to choose a school that was best for her, knowing that if she got in, someone else wouldn’t? Or was she supposed to choose a school that was inconvenient and not inclined towards her academic interests?

In everyday parlance, what does selfish really mean?

What is the line between self advocation and putting others first?

My friend’s Mom felt bad because she got an appointment for the vaccine before her friend did. In this case, she was over 75 and clearly entitled to the vaccine. Why should someone feel bad because in this particular instance they got lucky? Was she selfish to get the vaccine before someone else?

What about survivor guilt? How many people feel bad because they didn’t die but others did?

I have to admit, much of what I do on a daily basis could be considered selfish in the right circumstance. I live in a home with heat and air, hot and cold running water that I presume to be potable, have a building maintenance person to take care of apartment issues. Pre COIVD I had a biweekly cleaning person to clean the bathroom and the kitchen because it’s easier on my knees if I don’t do that. Should I use less of these resources because others don’t have access to them? Should I take someone in off the street to shelter them?

I have volunteered in the public school system so that my daughter would benefit. I mean, obviously, my securing grants helped everyone, but my motivation was clear: do what I could to help my kid. Is that selfish?

We can think about public policy. Is it selfish to want your tax dollars to go to something you support, even though someone else might not support it?

If someone is anti-vax, are they selfish to not get inoculated?

Are smokers selfish because they pollute the air?

Do we have the right to tell anyone what they can and can not do with their body, their time, their money and their life?

What is your definition of selfish?

What do you consider a selfish act?

Pretend you’re a high school debater and argue both sides of the argument:

X is selfish because they _____________

X is not selfish because they ____________

The guy that tried to pickpocket me- was I selfish to not want him to take my wallet? Or should I selflessly have given him my cash because he obviously needed it more than me?

Discuss…

Draft Pick

How many drafts do you have in your WordPress folder?

One?

Five?

Ten?

More than that?

Do you know how many drafts I have in my WordPress draft folders?

Three.

My Waking folder has one draft with pictures I took on my ipad during the past week because I found it’s easier to import pictures if I add them into a fake post using gallery. At some point today I will delete it and then I will have zero drafts in that folder.

I am working on a post for someone else’s blog- I do have two working drafts of the same piece because I’m trying to figure out what opening works best and I’m still mulling this over, but I consider this to be the reason why there is a draft folder- because one is thinking of different ways to explore the exact same topic. I may do five more drafts, but it is the exact same story…I’m just presenting the idea differently. And these drafts have an expiration date…I know that in a week or so one of them is going to make it to the finish line as a post…

Those of you with draft folders- how many different ideas do you have in there? I could use the same numbering system, but you get the drift…But how many different ideas are you turning over in your head?

Do you ever intend to write the posts that accompany the drafts in your folder?

I know. I’m going back on a decluttering binge. I’m telling you to empty out the drawers of your WordPress site…

Clutter is clutter, whether it resides on your shelves or resides in your head.

Is having a bunch of drafts in your folder making you a better blogger? A better writer?

Or does seeing the number of drafts bring you down?

Is it just messing with your writing energy?

If you want to get all pop psychology…what is stopping you from writing those posts? Why are you hesitant to tell those stories?

A draft folder shouldn’t be a diary or a journal. If you have things that you need to get out on paper, by all means do it. Writing can be cathartic- it can be a great way of getting all your emotions out on a page in a healthy manner. And if that’s the reason that you have all those drafts, just move them someplace else…

I know. I’ve become the draft folder dictator. I’m telling you how you should keep your draft folder. Am I right to tell you how to live your life?

Of course not.

I’m just looking for more people to be like me, with few drafts in the folder. I often feel like I’m the only person with no drafts hanging out. I’d like more members of my club.

So for today’s assignment I want you to look at your draft folder- consider it spring cleaning now that March has arrived. Write the post if you love the idea. Delete it if you hate it. Move it if it’s important to you but know that it will never see the light of day.

Ask yourself why it’s sitting there…

And here is the next podcast- How excited are you?!