For whom the writing bell tolls

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“Better to write for the self and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly

It never ceases to amaze me how simple it is to get lost in the world of words.  How easily we become swayed by others opinions can have an enormous effect on what and when we write. We work so hard to keep our momentum flowing that we become exhausted in the process and dehydrate the well of our writing essence.

Although I still have muddied water in my reservoir of ideas, I have been caught up in the impetus of the WordPress world, as well as other writing competitions, and found myself being pulled in different directions when it comes to the content of my writing. There are no posts that I wish I didn’t write but I’m sure if I read back through some of my earlier posts I would find entries that were written in expressions far removed from the inner voices I contend with on a regular basis – posts written to impress others rather than being written for the sake of writing.

An artist is always unique. Whether a masterpiece is painted on canvas, developed into photographs or has a myriad of materials blended to create a single form, no two depictions of an idea will ever be identical. Each artist has a vision that can only be created by their idiosyncratic brain.  I cannot imagine an abstract artist would ever pause to wonder how many people will appreciate their work – they simply have a need to create.

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(image courtesy of mayhemandmuse.com)

The same can be said for the art of writing – authors simply feel the need to write.  Each wordsmith is encouraged by the ubiquitous string of letters that form into words in their imagination and the story will then develop a life of its own.  Writing is an adventure and one that each mind should be free to express on a whim. It should be a journey that begins in our mind and flows through our veins until it reaches our fingertips.  It should embody our true creative process and be written for the sole purpose of expressing ourselves.  Our creativity should not be stifled by the boundaries of an audience but should be free to shout at top decibel to all who understand our passion.

Writing for self is writing from the heart.  This freedom with the written word has no structure, it has no defined audience and it allows us to reach deep within ourselves to convey what lurks behind our conscious mind.

Helicopter parenting and stating the obvious

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Helicopter-Parenting

 

(image credit: teenlife.com)

I had a remarkable interaction with a parent of a teenager who will be ready to face the working world next summer.   This particular parent just happened upon our resort to scope out potential lodging to stay at next spring while his son pounded the pavement to find himself a job.  The most important part of that previous sentence are the words  “to find himself a job“.

Too often over the last few years I have had conversations with parents gushing about the talents of their children and why said child would be perfect for a job at our resort.  Never in those golden moments of being told how great “Johnny” was did I ever speak to “Johnny” himself.  It has become the norm for parents to act on behalf of their offspring in hopes of finding them gainful employment.  One of the most unfortunate parts of this new trend is that the child will never gain that self-confidence that you can only achieve by creating a resume, making that first phone call to ask about a job and securing a job with a face-to-face interview.

While it is regrettable, I am among many in the position of hiring students who inevitably put “Johnny’s” resume at the bottom of the pile.  What kind of employee will “Johnny” be if he is not eager and hungry enough to seek out and secure his own job?   These kids learn nothing about achieving goals if somebody else does the work.  They will never understand the concept that the world owes us nothing – that you have to work for what you get.  The blades of their helicopter parents are slicing away at their chance of being successful on their own merit.

Life is about disappointment, but still having that drive to succeed.  Life is about making mistakes but learning lessons from those mistakes.  If our future generations are to succeed, they need to learn how to try and, potentially, learn how to fail.  They need to fly on their own and crash a couple of times before they have clear skies.

Thank you to that incredible dad who was allowing his son to leave the nest and fly on his own.  Please send him our way.  I’d be happy to have a look at his resume and chat with “Johnny” for a while about a job for next summer.

Reworking the image of a mid-life crisis

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I have noticed a few things about myself as I gracefully grow older, particularly over the last few years.  Grey hair and wrinkles notwithstanding, my perspective has evolved from the relatively carefree attitude I once enjoyed.   Gone are the days I flippantly put that first toe into the soothing waters of a hot tub and let my body follow.  Public pools are a distant memory and the frequency of my hand washing has increased exponentially.  Hell, these days I even avoid soaking in a bathtub.  I refuse to call myself a germaphobe but, if the label fits, I have three letters for myself – O C D.

I don’t know when this nuance in my psyche first began to form but it has taken root and branched out at an uncomfortable rate.  I haven’t reached the breaking point of color coding my closet or having my remote controls in a line at a 45 degree angle, yet, but I do notice the trending pattern and it has become somewhat disconcerting.

Perhaps this is a natural evolution from childhood to adulthood.  Maybe this is simply my acceptance of dealing with reality from an educated viewpoint.  Or just maybe, this is my mid-life crisis.  Conceivably I am taking things far too seriously but I cannot seem to access the earlier frame of mind that allowed me to live with reckless abandon.  I am stymied by my overwhelming urge to retreat from public spaces and the sharing of any bodily excretions that are emitted into public water.

midlife crisis(image credit:  someecards.com)

I can only hope that the misgivings of my mid-life irrationality will subside.  I hope to be able to, once again, access that childhood abandon that allowed my to enjoy my life without second-guessing it, or at least bring me reasonably close to that feeling again.  If not, I fear I may be sending my future blog posts via Skype from the bubble I have inhabited while banging on the keyboard through my rubber gloves!

Have you noticed any noteworthy changes as you’ve gotten older?

Back in the saddle

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Life happens.  It travels at a million miles per hour (unofficially clocked….we are awaiting confirmation) and it has a nasty habit of redefining our original trajectory.  I had been transported to an alternate dimension of my own reality but I finally figured out a way to get back to my blogging home.  I’m back in the saddle, baby!!

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(image credit: godoreen.com)

I have to admit….getting back into the WordPress groove is making me feel good.  Just taking the time to read and comment makes me feel more like myself than I have felt in a while.  I have missed the witty banter.  I have missed all of your literary and poetic genius.  But most of all I have missed that feeling of community that I find when I participate.

I’m looking forward to catching up!!

Old habits die hard….or get hit by lightning

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Last night we had a pretty epic lightning storm.  It didn’t hit as close to home as the bolt that struck a tree at the resort in late June but the pyrotechnic show was phenomenal.

As kids during any great thunderstorm, my brother and I would turn our couch to face out the picture window to watch the display in the sky.  While I could count the high number of my friends who I knew were shuddering under their beds, my brother and I were face to face with the awesome display of nature and the power of a storm.

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(image credit: National Geographic)

Last night I felt just like that kid again.  I propped myself up on my couch, faced out the window with a glass of wine in my hand and watched in awe as arcs of light graced the sky.  And although my brother wasn’t on the same couch, he was watching the storm through a different window.  Some things will never change.

 

Self-doubt and a flamethrower

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Who knew it would only take a bit of positive feedback to light the spark that had been snuffed by my lack of creativity.  It’s difficult to think that a mere 6 days ago my mind was a blank.  I took a huge leap of faith and gave the beginnings of my novel to a very creative girl who works at the resort.  She studies language and had been very persuasive about wanting to read it.  I was almost physically ill as I timidly handed her the manilla envelope containing the fruits of my labor.  Wanting to do nothing but slink back into my office and rock back and forth in the fetal position, I powered through the rest of my day and headed for home.

The next day I waited patiently (who am I kidding, I was a wreck) and, after not hearing from her and stressing myself to the maximum level, I reached out via text to see if she had read it.  She had and the result was remarkable.  She laboriously made notes as she read through each chapter and all of her feedback was great.  She loved the story line.  She was intrigued by the characters and she gave helpful insight into making the lead character a little more engaging and interesting.

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Her positive and insightful observations started a chain reaction.  What had been an extinguished pilot light raged into a deadly flamethrower and the ideas would not stop.  I immediately re-worked the first chapter and began developing new plot lines for the upcoming chapters.  I was writing again.  My brain was firing on all cylinders and I felt that writing mojo for the first time in a long time.

To be continued……I hear the characters calling and I have to answer that call.

I’m at a loss for words…no, really…they’re gone.

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I was having a relatively simple conversation with my brother at my house when I realized there was a problem.  I was trying to bring a word from my brain to my lips and it just wouldn’t come.  I pondered, I furrowed my brow trying to push the word closer to my tongue but to no avail.  The English language, the language that I love to use so creatively, now evaded me.  I struggled to grasp for the word ‘futon’ but it was nowhere to be found in the cavity in my head.

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 I’ve been stumped before but usually, with a little persistence, the drum in my head begins to move and the words tumble like clothes in a dryer and eventually settle on my tongue.  But this time there was no drum, nothing tumbled, nothing settled and I stood there, muted by my exhaustion.

I have been lethargic, to say the least, when I get home from work and can’t find the energy to conjure words from my brain to my fingertips or even to transfer words from a page to my brain.  Writing and reading, once two of my favorite pastimes, are evading my realm of consciousness once again.

I am determined to tuck my body into the cocoon of my bed tonight, sleep until mid morning and wake feeling refreshed and ready to absorb words and create once more!

 

 

The good, the bad and the nails on the chalkboard

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As my friend The Hook can attest to, working in the hospitality industry produces great blog fodder.  That, and it provides limitless material for a comprehensive sociological study into human behavior.  My mother used to tell me it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round but I don’t think she knew the extent of all of the “kinds” when she issued that seemingly harmless statement in my teenage years.

When you work in the hotel and resort business, you become accustomed to adjusting to many sorts of personalities.  Some are completely harmonious with your current state of being and some are like the ‘Lee Press-On Nails’ to the serene chalkboard of your life – although they may look beautiful on the outside, there is a spine-chilling quality that is undetectable upon first impression but makes its presence known very quickly.

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After only a brief glimpse of elapsed time following the summer solstice, I have already had the pleasure of experiencing the opposite sides of that personality spectrum.  My heart has been warmed by familiar faces and genuinely caring hugs.  My face has been creased with new wrinkles from so many smiles and so much laughter and the pool of new connections has become much deeper.

But the harsher side of reality has also made its presence known to our unpretentious sanctuary .  It has hidden in a well-packed suitcase and freed itself to roam our pathways.  It has infected the minds of children and made them question things that should not concern a child.  It lurks in the corners and it has the potential to become those aggravating fake nails careening down a piece of porcelain enamel.

Regardless of which side of the spectrum I find myself, I continue to love my job because I love being around people.  It’s in my blood…it’s in my heart….and I can only go into work each day hoping that the good will always outweigh the bad.

 

 

Getting into trouble at school

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Last night was my nephew’s graduation from Grade 8.  Like every other family, we collected en masse in the auditorium and slowly felt the oxygen leaving the room as the number of attendees multiplied exponentially.  The ceremonies were late in getting started and after the first tapping of a finger on the microphone the noise of the audience was dulled and the festivities began.

The first thing that struck me about the celebration was the overwhelming difference from my grade 8 graduation to last night.  The girls looked like they were dressed for the red carpet and the boys were dressed to the nines.  Back in 19(illegible numbers) at my grade 8 grad, I recall wearing something that could have passed as a hand-me-down for Holly Hobby, minus the apron, and the boys wore jeans, running shoes, short-sleeved white dress shirts and clip-on ties.

The program for the evening kept to the letter of the printed description, minus the timing.  As speech tumbled into speech, I made the mistake of leaning over to my brother and whispering something about the extended ceremony and the fact that the grad class may miss their boat cruise after the graduation.  It was at that precise moment that my brother chose to whisper a response that not only shocked me, but made me start to giggle.  Now, when you are in the middle of an important rite of passage for a 14-year-old, giggling during the ceremony is frowned upon.

I did my utmost to stifle the laughter but that only made it worse and a small snort escaped.  This sent my brother into fits of silent, but convulsive laughter as well and we slowly lost control.  Tears streamed down our faces as we sought some sort of relief from our fits of hysterics but, every time we looked at each other, the inaudible giggles were compounded by more tears and several sideways glances from those sitting around us, including my sister-in-law.

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My younger nephew, who was sitting beside me, leaned over to quietly ask what was so funny.  I could only respond with a wave of my hand and more fits of silent laughter while trying to catch my breath.  Thankfully a somber moment in the ceremony grabbed our attention the restrained giggling came to an end.  I wiped the moisture from my cheeks and eyes and avoided looking in my brother’s general direction for the duration of the grad ceremony.

My nephew graduated with Honors and his class quickly exited the hallowed halls of their alma mater to board the steamship that was waiting for their arrival.  Like ants leaving a picnic, the cars sequentially left the parking lot and the evening came to an end.  I got in my car, a few chuckles escaping as I recalled the fun I had with my big brother, and heard the distinctly familiar ring of my cell phone.

My first words were, “I’m still laughing”, and I could hear that familiar sound on the other end of the phone.  We laughed again for another five minutes and I had to pull the car over because I couldn’t see well enough to drive!  That is certainly one graduation I will never forget – and when my younger nephew goes through the same ceremony, I’ll make sure my brother and I are not sitting beside each other!

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Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt

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I haven’t been writing much lately.  Whether that is a matter of dried wells of creativity or life getting in the way, I have been denying the reality when it comes to my lack of imagination.

calvin n hobbes

I wish, with every fiber of my being, that I could plunge back into that benevolent ocean of words and ideas and feel buoyant in those familiar waters.  I wish I could ride on the waves of imagery and fantasy and surf on the crest of that elusive swell of inspiration.  But lately the words evade me.  I am a helpless surfer sitting in the middle of a tranquil body of water with no tides to move my motionless board.

I need a storm in my brain to strike and gain some momentum.  I need the winds to tickle the chimes in my stagnant imagination and create a funnel cloud that gathers stories in its fury-filled path.  I need that still ocean to become animated and my lifeless board to carve its way through a sea of new tales.

Or maybe, I just need to write.

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