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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jules Renard Said...

"The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it."
~Jules Renard, "Diary," February 1895

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Terri Guillemets Says...

"A notepad by the bedside accounts for half the earnings of my livelihood. If it weren't for bedtime, half my novels would still be stuck at dock."
~Terri Guillemets

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reflection: No Cell Phone Service/Internet in the Country

                                           (photo by author)
   Sometimes one needs to go to a place without cell phone/Internet service (the mountains in my case) to realize where we stand within the realm of social media.
     I am a writer and artist, so I depend on my blogs, twitter posts, followers, Facebook, etc. to promote my craft.  I am encouraged to do this by professional people who guide me. By fellow writers who are on the same ladder of aspiration toward similar goals.
      In 2004 I published a self-help book that I share excerpts from on one of my blogs. I do so with the hope that it helps those suffering with specific anxiety issues to gain some relief. If I miss too many days of posting a helpful 'hint,' I feel somewhat lacking in my concern for my readers. It also keeps my book 'alive' and thriving.
     Okay, so now we know my main reasons for delving into social media...or not!
      Let's take...Facebook, for instance, of which a friend once claimed, "is the place where everyone has the perfect life." I've thought about that these days up in the mountains. And I realize now that maybe that is the exact draw of it. Not that we have the perfect life. Not by a long shot. It's that we can pick out the fun or meaningful moments from whatever kind of life we are living, and bring them alive by sharing them. Focus on the positive and for some, gain a little support or a smile for the not-so-easy days.
       Turn on the news and all you get is unhappy, even frightening reports. Read the papers...same thing. On Facebook we share some silly but uplifting things more often than not. Just yesterday morning I shared the fact that I love Starbucks Chai Latte made with coconut milk. This is a special occasional treat for me because I don't drink cow's milk. Once I tried their alternative version this past week, I loved it, and shared it.
                                                                   (photo by author)
So what?
Does it really matter to anyone that I like Starbucks Coconut Milk Chai Latte?
Maybe not. Is it an important announcement? Noooo. But it's a small happy one that some friends might like hearing about...another tidbit of getting to know me better through these little things. Maybe one of them will even give it a try and like it too. That's how I came to enjoy Starbucks. It's how people get to know about the small gems in life at times.
     Facebook can also bring us to know others on the 'inside' by the things they share. The accumulation of these seemingly insignificant posts can actually begin to define a person. Sort of like a painting. You start with one brush stroke at a time. Eventually you get to see the various colors and then the whole painting. For me, that is the positive aspect of Facebook.
    There is always two sides. To be overly engrossed in any one thing can be 'unfruitful' for lack of a better word. Living for Facebook. Spending hours on Facebook and avoiding 'real' life experiences, can't really be viewed as beneficial. But that goes for any activity, even such things as exercise and working. Overdoing anything is tipping the balance.
    I began to wonder if I'd been tipping the balance when I was 'craving' e-mail, FB, Twitter, and the like, while having no cell phone signal in the mountains. It seemed a shame not to be able to 'share' some of the natural beauty I was experiencing at the moment. I'd think how certain people would enjoy seeing some of it.  How specific friends might get a laugh or a smile from a pic or two, like the one below of  a bird who flew into the nesting box right when I'd arrived. He or she, peeked out looking at me, almost posing.
                                                                  (photo by author)
BUT the key to all my pondering on this, is that I noted that I paid attention to the moment. Delved into it. Not like what the late Tony DeMello once described as people missing out on their vacation because they see the whole of it through a camera lens and actually 'miss' the entire thing! I don't want to be one of those people.
    Maybe I stand somewhere in-between.
    Picture it...I go walking along the country road looking for a cell phone signal. I get one bar in front of someone's house. I stand there for a long time with an intermittent signal. The bar goes to two, I get excited. Then it goes to zero. My phone reads: No Service. Sigh!
                                                                    (photo by author)    
     I go to church in town. Afterward, I sit in my car and get online on my cell phone with no problem.  Most of the other cars are gone. I check FB, maybe post a pic or two. I text a few friends to see how things are going and to fill them in on my end. Then I realize an hour has passed. Sheesh! It seemed like only a few minutes! Better get back.  
                                                                  (photo by author)
    We meet this lovely couple for the first time just two minutes away (by car.)  In their spirit of kindness, they  allow me to go onto their property to tap into their signal (made possible with a cell repeater booster) any time I want. They have a fabulous place with a gorgeous view. I jump at the chance. I bring a small plastic table to sit on in the spot they said has the strongest signal. I get a good one. Yay!  I'm connected. In more ways than one.
                                                                   (photo by author)
     Out in a fairly isolated area it felt good to be able to 'keep in touch' with my back home friends and my FB friends. To read about their 'goings on' and to share some of mine.
     Not so long ago, I found a bunch of letters my mom and her brother had written to one another when she first moved from Italy to the USA. No Internet, and long distance phone calls were too costly. So, they made do with long letters. Imagine the anticipation of receiving a reply to a letter written back 'home' across the ocean? Waiting weeks for the latest news like that? Now, it can be done via e-mail in minutes. Did we lose something in the process of instantaneous communication?
    Well, I must say that just a week or so of sporadic communication with friends/relatives gave me a teeny taste of what my mom and uncle must have felt. And an appreciation and feel of comfort for quick communication. It doesn't seem that we've lost anything along the way, because the underlying factor is that we aspire to keep in some kind of contact with one another...we think about each other....and that's a good thing. Don't you agree?   

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"It is what it is."

     John McWorther, a linguistics professor at Columbia University and author of The Language Hoax, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, and The Power of Babel, says that  the term: "it is what it is,"  is one of the rudest, meanest catch phrases that has caught on in the past ten years. He says, it means basically nothing.
      He goes on to say that, if someone talks about something that is bothering her and you reply, "It is what it is," you're saying that there's nothing to be done about it. That you acknowledge what the person said and you have nothing constructive to add. It's so brutally vacuous.
     Years ago, he says, people said, "Life sucks and then you die." That was better. At least it implied judgment. When someone is sharing her problems, you can't have perfect answers, of course, but you should show a little feeling and genuine empathy. Indicate that you have some sort of emotional investment, that you can imagine how she feels, rather than simply intoning this phrase.
Credit: John McWorther - June 2014 Real Simple Magazine