A to Z challenge – INTENTIONS

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I started blogging again past the ides of March 2018. Inspired by a page I was following, a few days later I signed up for the A to Z challenge for April 2018. I was ready to go. As things go, I started five days after everyone else. No big deal. I’ll post twice a day until I catch up. Well, that didn’t work out and alas all my good INTENTIONS have left me feeling frustrated but not quite discouraged.

I’m not going to lie; I was ready to say OK, maybe this daily blogging is not for me. I put too much pressure on myself, and it stops being fun. I want to be creative, thoughtful and if a post calls for it, I want to be accurate. It feels lifeless, mechanical and automated. I went back to my Reader to find a wonderful post I read a few days ago in which I saw myself. The writer described her process, and I recognized it was how I’ve been operating all these years – Binge Writing. Something or someone will trigger my imagination which makes the sparks fly, and I’m out the gate writing every chance I get. I’ll make notes any time of day on my phone, on the back of an envelope, store receipt, etc. and stitch it all together to make a story. I’ll go at it for a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months but then I seem to hibernate. I am keeping this blog entry for future INSPIRATION.  https://brevity.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/staying-out-of-the-headlights-on-finding-my-own-writing-process/

I was about to try something different and throw in the towel for the A to Z challenge when I remembered that this blog was about ME. I took on the challenge with the honest INTENTIONS to get myself back in the habit of writing- period. Yes, was hoping that after 26 days, a natural part of my daily routine will be for me to get on my computer to write – after I walk the dog and have my tea with mini protein cakes. My apologies to the bloggers in the community that have diligently kept up with the challenge as described in the instructions but I’ve decided then that I will take a detour and resume my challenge for the rest of the month with the ninth letter corresponding to April 9th – I.

Onward to J!

Five Minutes of Fame

Every two weeks in the city where I live, a small group of bloggers and affiliates meets at a locally owned coffee shop to chat, troubleshoot, or share tips and ideas. I had been blogging somewhat consistently for a couple of weeks and wanting to keep the momentum; I finally made it to a meeting. As luck would have it, a journalist from a local news outlet had just surprised the group facilitator to do a story about Blogging and was asking to interview a few group members – today.

In one serendipitous moment, I found myself as one of only two bloggers to show up for the meeting today. I agreed to interview as an honest to goodness “blogger” with about ten posts under my belt and a page in the middle of reconstruction. The interview went well considering it was spur-of-the-moment. I was surprised at how relaxed I felt as I enthusiastically spoke of my “Self Censored” page for my five minutes of fame.

I watched the segment air this morning which caused cobwebs and dust to blow around those corners of my mind. I remember watching myself after another interview in what seems to be another lifetime. My dark brown hair was blown dry in a smooth shoulder length bob with professional, understated makeup. The dark gray skirt suit that I wore to important meetings was freshly out of the cleaners, and I wore a royal blue sweater because everyone still tells me that is definitely my color. I was to talk about a new independent living housing program for our clients and a family group which would help everyone with the transition. I had practiced and had index cards, and yet I froze. If not for my co-worker’s help, I would have been completely lost – what a disaster I thought. Whose idea was this anyway?

Today as I watched myself, I chuckled. I looked so comfortable in my own skin. My hair is short, gray and wild. My clothes were not pressed or laid out from the day before; plus my voice was still hoarse from a recent bout of laryngitis. I wasn’t prepared for the TV that day; I was flying by the seat of my pants, and yet I wasn’t afraid.

All is not perfect. My GPS doesn’t work very well, and the road is still crooked with plenty of bumps and ridges. I am content in my journey though, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the bend. I think my younger self would be proud and relieved.

How would you answer the age-old question? What would you say to your younger self?

AtoZ Challenge – oh, BEHAVE

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Here I sit on my second day at the challenge. I realize other members have very clear goals for their themes, but because I was living in the moment, I jumped in without thinking it through. So far I’ve started to think about the next theme B, as soon as I posted the first letter A – ABOUT. This morning I started to write about BEING: Existence. In keeping with my mantra of keeping it simple, I chose the definitions from Oxford Dictionaries. These include being alive, living and my favorite – the nature or essence of a person. This “essence” is really who we are; it’s the spark, it’s what makes us act the way we do depending on the circumstance. It’s what stirs inside when we are excited and hopeful or feels like a lead brick in our stomach when we get bad news.

I was just getting warmed up on this topic, or maybe I saw it was eventually heading towards that other B-word – Boring when a thought crossed my mind “Oh behave!”. It was Austen Powers in my head. True, I didn’t want to get all deep and philosophical about my existence. Getting all straight-laced, proper and preachy is easy. I decided instead to switch topic because as the oldest child, it seemed that “oh behave!” was all I heard from my mom.

I suppose she thought my being alive had a particular purpose. She reminded me to be a good girl, to get good grades, to stop whining or being mouthy or whatever because I needed to be an example for my younger siblings. To be fair, it certainly wasn’t the only thing I heard, my mom was pretty cool, and because I loved her, when I was home, I behaved, the way she wanted for her higher purpose.

Now and then I needed to take off my nerd hat and shake out my uncontrollable hair. Not that I was a wild thing or at least I never really thought myself in that way, but the other day in my memorabilia box I found a note. The note is probably 50 years old. It was from one of my best friends in high school, and it appears that she passed it to me when we crossed in the hallway during a change of class. In her note, she said she had to talk to me in person about something urgent. To which she added,” I know you’ll understand, I’ve seen your crazy side, I don’t think many people have, but I know ….”. I’m not one of those people who need a little “something, something” to get the party started but she was a quiet and serious girl; any number of fun things may have felt crazy to her. We loosely stay in touch through social media now, but I didn’t contact her to see if she remembered what that was all about.  I wonder if she’s learned to get “crazy”.

I am fully aware that I still I have a “crazy side.” I have great fun with friends and family, but mostly I keep it contained until I’m with my granddaughters or my grand nieces and nephews. Sometimes I hear “oh behave, Mom!” from behind my daughter’s stern grin. I enjoy the payback though. It doesn’t take much; a silly walk, a funny face or changing the words to a favorite song as you are singing as loud as you can. I love when we all get to that place where our bellies ache from laughing.

Enjoying those moments is the essence of my being, of my existence. When I’m feeling out of sorts and not very jolly, I seek out chances to laugh or even scavenge for some giggles. I try not to let the well run dry because that’s how I manage to keep it together. These are the memories that I summon up when I need enough energy to climb uphill or swim against the current.

How do you do it? What is the essence of you?

A to Z challenge – About

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Today, as I’ve started to feel human after a terrible allergic episode, I’m trying to engage in the A to Z Challenge that I signed up for last month. I’ve decided to keep it simple and start the Challenge with ABOUT and perhaps try to explain why I’ve decided to write a blog that seems to be about me.

I had been writing a blog with a running title of “Self-Censored/ A blog about me. Verbal snapshots of a simple life”. The other day I was discussing my blog with someone who asked, “why would you write a blog about yourself, it’s not like you are someone famous … You need to write about something that your reader will value and come back for …”. These were good points, so I took the information and filed it in my brain under “THINGS TO PONDER.”  Here I am, trying to ponder as I participate in the A to Z challenge.  Please join me.

Over the past few months, I finally had the chance to go through boxes of old photos and family memorabilia – which is probably why my allergies are out of control. The treasures I found prompted me to contact some people and take an opportunity to sit and talk. Some of these folks I’ve known all my life, some all of theirs, and others for at least a couple of decades. A constant theme in these conversations has been what was going on beyond the photo, beyond the eye of the camera.

It was in those memories that we learned things about each other that were hidden in plain sight. For example – who knew that you sang and played guitar on stage at a coffee house in New York City when you were in college? Or that you had looked up who Ty Cobb was and were proud to be part of the team, wear your uniform and play at those little league games that your Dad dragged you to each weekend. Who knew you didn’t really get lost on the subway that day when everyone was so worried – instead, you had a crazy adventure with friends. Who knew you stepped up to take care of the family dog and neighborhood strays when your older sister went off to college? Who knew that at age ten you already knew how to make something beautiful out of repurposed materials? Who knew that you always wanted to play the clarinet but when it was your turn to chose, the trumpet was the only instrument left, and yet you thoroughly enjoyed jammin’ with the band? Who knew all these things, these little sparks, you would carry in your heart alone until the time was right to shine?

I want my reader to feel a smile creep across the face as he or she joins me in the memory. Do you remember walking out of the comfort zone and then feeling ecstatic and relieved all at once. What a feeling to know you survived – you did it, and you enjoyed it! What if you haven’t yet? Well, why not. Tomorrow is another opportunity. What if you don’t have an experience readily available in your toolbox? I’m hoping you can borrow the energy from one of the stories I share.

I worked in a state-run system of human services for many years where I provided rehabilitative and supportive counseling for countless clients. Some didn’t have much of an opportunity to make happy memories, but somehow they knew there was something better, and that’s what kept them going. Some folks, knowing that they had nothing more to lose, took more chances. The strength and resilience I saw in these people were a blessing to my own life.

Those are the kind of stories I want to share – true stories of simple everyday people, putting one foot in front of the other walking the path before us. Few of us can skate through life on Easy Street. Most of us will follow the scenic route with all its twists and turns. Let’s take plenty “snapshots”.

The lovers, the dreamers and me

For this assignment, I try to conjure up a visual of who will read my blog- my audience. I’ve spent the past couple of days visiting other writers, looking at style and content while trying to imagine their respective audience. I find that there are some fabulous sites out there and I try not to be intimidated by the talent or expertise that I see. I know that I tend to enjoy sites that have a personal component even though it may be a business page. I decided to focus on MY passion – why am I writing? I’m writing to tell a story – simple as that.

Someday I may publish these writings for my granddaughters. However, I am envisioning my reader today, and that person looks something like me – in my soul. Regardless of gender, it will be someone who understands that there are great treasures in our simple moments.  It’s not an original idea I understand. I’ve seen memes that say “we do not remember days, we remember moments.” or “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  I’m sure you have too.  I picture my reader as someone who just needs an interruption, a break from this crazy, fast and furious train ride that we call life.  That someone is looking for a pause button– a quick light, read to go with a cup of coffee, hot tea or a glass of wine at the end of the day.

When I was a young adult, every weekend my siblings and I would take turns visiting our grandparents. During a difficult work week, I started to look forward to the day when I would drive my mother to her parents’ house – especially when my grandmother’s younger sister was in town. She was sassy, and her green eyes sparkled. She knew how to bring a blush of color to my mild and meek grandmother’s cheeks.

It was that time when people still sat on the front porch to talk and greet the neighbors as they walked by. We had an unspoken appointment with my mother’s sisters and every now once in a while one of my uncles or another cousin would join us. We would sit for hours and have a beverage with a delicious treat from our favorite bakery.  My grandparents took turns with weekly news updates about the extended family which included anecdotes of comparable events of long ago and almost always ended with the question “What is the world coming to?” This simple statement would lead us down a crooked path filled with the twists and turns of current events and politics.

I came to treasure those afternoons filled with stories. I felt connected to the generations before me who had overcome hardships that I couldn’t even imagine and yet, they sang and laughed and wrote poems.

As I was thinking about the mood and the spirit of my blog, the melody of the “Rainbow Connection” kept playing in the background of my mind and I hummed along as I wrote.

…Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it’s done so far
What’s so amazing
That keeps us star gazing
What so we think we might see
Someday we’ll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers the dreamers and me…

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/S2DTLbTQj0I 

 

Back at it again

Here I am trying to start blogging again… you know “fall off the horse and get back up”; “you only fail if you fall and don’t get up”… You get my drift.   Last time I was in a Blogging 101 I began following other writers.  I still get emails of posts from people from 2 or 3 years ago.   Looking for inspiration I decided to log into the page and go beyond the emailed Weekly Digest for Impromptu Promptings and peculiar ponderings.

https://promptlings.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/friday-favorites-grace-paley/

A couple of her posts inspired me today but in this particular post she asks –  Have you ever had one of those epiphanous moments when something triggers a childhood memory and suddenly you experience your inner child waking inside you? I’ve had SO many over the last few years that I’ve been digging around in my cave on this blog. In fact, I’ve had one very similar to the poem Paley wrote. Lots of memories came tumbling out of the past when I read it.   

Yes!  This was quite timely for me.   I had just the thing to get my juices flowing again.   It’s a piece I wrote many years ago as I was getting ready to enter my half-century marker.   Truth be told the 50’s weren’t bad for me but I didn’t know that then.  My mom had died at 54 and I couldn’t help but wonder.   One crisp winter night in New England as I was leaving the gym, I had one such “epiphanous moment”.     I need to work on my presentation and appropriate reposting but just wanted to get this out.  Please come with me, tell me what you think.

Angels in the Snow

She was here today,
And almost got away.
Every now and then she tries.
But I won’t let her have her way.
Can’t you know—I’m too old!

The snow mounds were soft
Each flake sparkled with light.
The air crisp and enticing.
“It would only take a moment,
And who was there to see”.

Awakened, Restless,
She stirred within my soul.
But her jailer I’d become,
Forbidding, stern, and unmoving.
No chance to break and run.

In the lot, boys packed
Two arsenals of snow
With giggles in camouflage
Waiting for the battle cry-“CHARGE!”
Was the coast clear to start?

They glanced at me there,
And her eyes looked back.
Awaiting still her release
From the open cell of time and
This society’s constraints.

Don’t stop, keep moving.
No snowball fight for you,
And think not for a moment
That middle-aged women can
Make angels in the snow.

 

 

My Prompt_ The Cottontail

I’ve decided to start my blogging and attend to my 101 assignments early in the morning before I get bogged down with work. I’ve been getting to Blogging U later in the day when like my mobile devices, my charge is running out.

I didn’t get my prompt from the Daily Post but from a Cottontail Rabbit hopping in my neighborhood.

The other night I saw my first cottontail of the season hopping quickly away from us into the night and into the woods by our house. I’m sure he or she wanted to get the lead on Eliza before she would attempt to chase it.  It was gone before she knew it.  She had sniffed into the air and followed the faint smell as one would a sweet perfume or fresh bread by the bakery. It drives her crazy when we are out on our walks.  Of course she smells them long before I can see them and she starts pulling me in their directions with SuperDog strength. Even at 16 lbs, I swear one of these days she’s going to pull my arm out!

I’m not ashamed to admit that I always get excited when I see the first cottontail of the season hopping by. Of course it always reminds me of “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, hippity hoppin’, Easter’s on the way.  Bringin’ every girl and boy baskets full of Easter joy, things to make your Easter bright and gay…”   In an instant, my mind had looped back a few decades to pull out this tune from the “corners of my mind”.

Now, you need to understand that I’m a city kid from the Northeast and you can be sure I didn’t see any cottontails’ hippity, hoppin’ down my street in Brooklyn, NY or even at the Prospect Park nearby.  As my daughters were growing up, I never saw one hippity hoppin’ in the old mill city north of Boston either.  However, stored in my memory, I can still recall that with each season, our elementary school music teacher would have new songs for us to welcome and celebrate it. These were usually sing-a-long folk songs from long, long time ago.  We would sing at the weekly Assembly when all the classes would come together to share the arts before things got COMPLICATED.

I’ve lived in Florida for several years now, also in the city and yet each year around this time I start seeing brown rabbits with tails that look like a wad of cotton stuck to the rear end. They start growing in numbers as the days go by too.  They make nests in the landscaping around the neighborhood, in the bushes, tall grass, behind trees in backyards.  When you least expect it there is one jumping out on the walkways or sidewalks, followed by another and another.  I tend to be a bit simpleminded at times and seeing the first cottontail affirms that this seasonal event must be why there’s a connection with bunnies and Easter.  Nothing sinister about that.

My reminiscing was interrupted my “left brain” and by that I mean, my tendency to lean to the liberal minded side of politics and religion.  I know that soon I will start seeing my Facebook feed cluttered with posts demonizing the Easter Bunny with its colorful eggs in a basket.

Don’t get me wrong, spiritually; Easter is actually my favorite season.  I like the idea of Lent-forty days of personal soul searching, reflecting and spiritual cleansing.  I hope to be writing more on that as the days go by.

But back to Peter and the eggs…

It drives me crazy when all the holier- than- thou take away the beauty of the season and start preaching fear from the pulpits to make everything bad and ugly.   Most of our treasured traditions practiced from time immemorial, religious or not, have origins in some “pagan” ritual. The Apostle Paul in Acts 17:23 did a nice job of reconciling the religious traditions of the Greek community with what he believed to be true.   Look it up if you haven’t read it or if you have, look at it this way.  Let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more of my reflections during the Easter season…

Checking out my Blogger Neighbors

Greetings fellow bloggers,

Today’s assignment is checking out our neighbors.  I’ve enjoyed going in and checking out sites of other folks here at Blogging 101. There are so many talented writers again in this group.  When someone comments on the main Blogging 101 section, I go in and check that blog. I usually try to make a comment about the content or the page.

I tend to enjoy blogs similar to mine with observations and musings of everyday life.  The student, the grandmother, the mom or dad putting one foot in front of the other as each goes about the day, letting us share in the colors of life as they know it. I guess I find life amusing.  I also like artsy blogs of poems and prose or those with lots of pictures or unique crafts and handiwork.

I wish I had the time to follow lots more but there are only 24 hours in my day and by the time I finish reading the most recent posts, it seems like there are a hundred more in queue. I’ve chosen only a few to follow because even if one is attractive, well written and interesting, it may not be my cup of tea.

As for my  blog, right know I just concentrating on completing the assignments.  I plan not to get bogged down with technical difficulties this time.

Thanks for stopping by.

Taking control of my First Impression for my blog

Blogging 101- Assignment #2

This time around I’m pretty satisfied with the title of my blog. I’ll spare you a repeat of my post on how I got to this name from the original “Swirling Around in My Head”.  I find that this title simply describes me and what the blog is about.

Truth be told as I get older, I censor less of my thoughts and ideas. Its quite liberating, I have you know. I consider it perks of getting older.  It’s really not in my nature to be rude, cruel or careless but I do intend to explore different topics inspired by the world around me and the people in it.  Names and relations may be changed to protect the innocent.  After all, I don’t want to totally alienate my family and friends.

The visual presentation is plain, that’s where I will really need to work on and get creative.

If you want to know more, please feel free to take a look at my original posts from the previous Blogging 101.

Getting to know my blogging neighbors- Assignment #3

Day three and Blogging 101 is turning out to be quite fun.  I’ve checked in on other bloggers in the class and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  As someone else mentioned- it can be a full time job!  I’ll check out more new ones again at another time.

I find that I prefer light hearted musings of everyday life. There are quite a bit of really great ones with great pictures and creative storytelling.  Some already look quite polished.

What have I learned from the experience that I will use in my blog?

  1. There is no end to the possibilities!
  2. Take my camera out more or figure out a good place to get good stock photos that won’t break the bank.
  3. Be creative, have fun and don’t make it a chore
  4. A complicated topic needs to be dished out in increments or the reader may zone out.
  5. Use the preview button

Hope to see you around some time.