Archives for January 2008
My sister gave my mother one of those Hallmark books designed to hold the family’s history, as recorded by the grandmother. It was pretty and contained a lot of questions that the author was supposed to answer about his/her childhood, including the music, films, books, etc. that were popular then.
My mother didn’t think too much of the idea, apparently. When we were cleaning out my parents’ house after she moved into an assisted living environment, we found it.
You guessed it. Blank. Each and every page was as clean, unwrinkled and utterly devoid of any notations as on the Mother’s Day when my sister presented the book to her.
I have written previously about the austere circumstances of my parents’ upbringing during the Great Depression. Although she never said it aloud, I know what my mother was thinking. “We didn’t have time to worry about movies and music. We had to work. We were trying to eke out a living.” To her, that book was frivolous, superfluous. Unlike her daughter, my mother was not a writer. Oh, she was intelligent, articulate and extremely insightful. But her hands never touched a keyboard. They were too busy cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening and, in her later years, crocheting. My parents told us what they wanted us to know.
And yet . . .
Imagine our shock when we found a scrapbook we had never seen before. A scrapbook full of my mother’s memories of an extremely difficult time in their lives: World War II. (That photo was taken on Washington Street right here in Lodi in 1943 when my father was stationed at Sharpe Army Depot in Stockton and my mother came from South Dakota for a visit.)
It was hidden away in the top compartment of the closet in my old bedroom, which has been MattieBoo’s room for more than five years now. After I moved out, that room became my mother’s sewing room and office. She had a sofa bed, television and desk there, along with her faithful Singer sewing machine (black with gold trim in a blond cabinet purchased in the early 1950’s before I was born — she used to tell us about the day the Singer salesman came to town and my father decided they should trade in her treadle machine for an electric model). The book was all the way on the back of the shelf . . . I had to stand on top of the step stool in order to reach in and pull it out.
When I stood up on my tippy-toes, reaching into the dark region of the closet, I instantly knew, as I used my fingertips to slide it forward and get a good grip on it, that I had never before seen the old-fashioned brown “Scrapbook.” The look on my sister’s face told me that she was just as surprised. Since she is eight years my senior, she sometimes remembers stories or people that I don’t recollect, but this was not one of those times.
We sat at my mother’s desk, mesmerized by the items glued to the pages and the notations placed next to them in a youthful version of the handwriting we knew so well. We examined the ration cards, Blue Star banner that my mother had displayed in the window, my father’s dogtags and all the other treasures contained there.
It’s hard to envision your parents as young lovers. But this was a scrapbook compiled by a young bride in her mid-20’s. After all, my parents were married in March 1941 and just one year later, my father received “greetings from the U.S. Government.” He served in the Army Air Corps in Australia and New Zealand while my mother waited for him at home with her parents on the family farm in South Dakota.
Earlier, we had surveyed the contents of her cedar chest. As a child, I happened upon bundles of letters stored there, but my mother promptly snatched them away from me. Sometime between that day and the day we found the scrapbook, my parents must have decided that those letters should never be read by their children because they were no longer in the cedar chest — or anywhere else in this house — by the time we were left to take inventory of all that they amassed during their lives. Gone forever, no doubt burned in the fireplace one winter evening to prevent the most private details of their relationship from ever being revealed.
I will never know for sure, but I suspect my mother might have forgotten about the scrapbook. Otherwise, I think she might have removed some of the cards and letters my father mailed from a variety of locales. My sister and I couldn’t resist a giggle or two as we read the messages. “Kenny wrote this mushy stuff?” I marveled, as she rolled her eyes at me. “I just can’t picture it,” I told her.
Would she have removed the telegrams included in the scrapbook? I wonder. But I’m glad she never did because my sister and I learned a great deal about our family history, as well as my parents’ relationship, when we saw the series of telegrams he sent as he worked his way back to South Dakota to resume married life with his young bride.
Over the first, declaring that the war was indeed over and he would be coming back to her, she wrote, in huge letters, “The happiest day ever.”
I live in a house that is filled with my family’s history, but I wonder from time to time what significance that history will have for my children — or my nephews. Sometimes I think about writing a narrative about it all, going from room to room, cabinet to cabinet, closet to closet, to detail the story behind each item and memorialize the events that have transpired in these rooms.
When I think about that scrapbook, I wonder what else is hidden away in the closets, cupboards, drawers . . . What will my children find in this house when I am gone and what will they learn about me or other members of the family via their discovery? What aspects of my personality or our family history will they learn about not by interacting with me every day over the years, but from clues contained in the artifacts I leave behind?
What’s in your closet? What do those items reveal about you or your family history?
How many times per day do you usually laugh?
Well, it depends upon the day, of course. But on average, I’d say dozens. In my profession, you learn to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Otherwise, you end up crying a lot.
What do your sunglasses look like?
Social Media Mega Project: Bloggers Unite
Have you generated traffic to your site and/or gained new readers/subscribers by participating at a particular social media networking or bookmarking site? Or have you wondered what all the discussion about social media sites is all above, finding yourself completely confused by all the various sites and the many blogs where articles are generated about social marketing each and every day?
Announcing a group writing project that will be of interest to and benefit all bloggers!
InspirationBit is sponsoring / coordinating the Social Media Mega Project. Participating bloggers will share their experiences with and tips/tricks/suggestions for successfully using some of the biggest social media sites.
Individual sites will focus their attention upon specific social media sites. The discussion on each site can take the form of a published article by the site owner or Guest Author, comments or e-mails to the host.
- Start Date: Monday, January 21, 2008
- End Date: Friday, February 22, 2008
- Result Publication Date: Monday, February 25, 2008
- Final Collaborative Results Publication Date: Friday, February 29, 2008 at Inspiration Bit
1. Write an article on your blog and share with your readers how you integrate Sk*rt or Blogging Zoom into your online experiences. Have your experiences with those sites been negative or positive? With regard to driving traffic to your site, how does their effectiveness compare with other social networking sites? What benefits, if any, have you derived from using those services? Share with readers any tips, tricks or warnings that you have discovered.
3. After I receive links or articles from all participants and publish them here, you may write another article and link to some or all of the other articles contributed to this project.
4. You may contribute only one article per project per participating site, but you are invited and encouraged to visit all of the participating host sites, each of which is focusing on different social media sites, and take part by submitting articles to those sites about the social networking sites featured there.
Participating Sites / Focus:
- Aaron Stroud from On Financial Success: del.icio.us.
- Ina from Inspiring Wear: Facebook
- Brian Auer from Epic Edits: Flickr & Zooomr
- Isabella Mori from Change Therapy: Twitter
- Isabella Mori from Alphablogs: LinkedIn
- Karen Zara from a1-fan-fun: StumbleUpon, YouTube, MySpace
- Simonne from All Tips And Tricks: Sphinn
- Dandellion from Living in the Metaverse: Second Life
- Pearl from Fresh Perspectives: Mixx, Propeller, Squidoo
- Vivien from InspirationBit:digg, reddit
- Monica from Me Like the Interweb: Technorati
- JHS here at Colloquium: Sk*rt and Blogging Zoom
The project organizers are eligible to win a prize. Vivien of InspirationBit is donating the $100 prize she won from Daily Blog Tips, along with the $25 she won from All Tips And Tricks, and awarding five $25 prizes to the top five bloggers whose projects are the most successful as judged by the number and quality of entries.
I would really like Colloquium to be named one of the top five participating blog and, toward that end, invite you to actively participate and help make this project a success!
If Colloquium is named one of the top five participating blogs, I will ask readers to vote for their favorite article submitted about Sk*rt and/or Blogging Zoom. The winning author will receive the $25 award provided by Vivien — and I will match that prize twice over by making a donation in the same amount to the charity of the winner’s choice, along with a $25 donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of my sister, a colon cancer survivor. That’s a total prize package of $75.
So what are you waiting for? Start writing about Sk*rt and Blogging Zoom! I look forward to reading and learning from your articles!
Yesterday, as I was blog-hopping, I happened upon a site named Andrew Olmsted where the words “Final Post” caught my attention. The post begins:
This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, . . . I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It’s not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn’t hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don’t know. I hope so. It’s frightening to think there are many people as neurotic as I am in the world. In any case, since I won’t get another chance to say what I think, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Such as it is.
What I don’t want this to be is a chance for me, or anyone else, to be maudlin. I’m dead. That sucks, at least for me and my family and friends. But all the tears in the world aren’t going to bring me back, so I would prefer that people remember the good things about me rather than mourning my loss. (If it turns out a specific number of tears will, in fact, bring me back to life, then by all means, break out the onions.) I had a pretty good life, as I noted above. Sure, all things being equal I would have preferred to have more time, but I have no business complaining with all the good fortune I’ve enjoyed in my life. So if you’re up for that, put on a little 80s music (preferably vintage 1980-1984), grab a Coke and have a drink with me. If you have it, throw ‘Freedom Isn’t Free’ from the Team America soundtrack in; if you can’t laugh at that song, I think you need to lighten up a little. I’m dead, but if you’re reading this, you’re not, so take a moment to enjoy that happy fact.
His words are also posted at Obsidian Wings, a site maintained by one of his friends.
You see, Andrew Olmsted was also known as Major Olmstead. He was killed in Iraq on January 3, 2008, the victim of a sniper. He was trying to talk three insurgents into surrendering when he was struck down. Last July, after he was deployed, he finalized his thoughts and entrusted his final message to his friend, with instructions to post it if he were to be killed while serving the United States.
In an English class, I was once assigned the task of writing a final letter to my family. I remember thinking that I did not have a lot to say. I was young, single, childless and completed the assignment in the manner you might expect — I wrote a letter to my parents, thanking them for all the sacrifices they made for me and my sister.
Major Olmsted’s words made me think about what I would say today if I were to compose a message to be published upon my death.
All of us have spent a few moments wondering what the world would be like without us. We’ve all pondered whether anyone would actually miss us, how our families would function without our presence, who would take on all the responsibilities that we bear on a daily basis.
Once you become a parent, an appreciation of your own mortality accompanies the realization that you have full responsibility for the totally vulnerable little person you have brought into the world. Close calls on the freeway or hearing about someone killed in a horrible accident or felled by a terrible disease, leaving young children behind, are among the events that remind us from time to time as the years pass by that we no longer live just for ourselves. Nowhere is the phenomenon demonstrated more poignantly or lovingly than at Toddler Planet where WhyMommy has been writing about her battle to defeat inflammatory breast cancer. Every post is permeated with hope and determination to survive — in order to raise her two adorable little boys.
Last week, one of those Hollywood news television shows reported that legitimate news organizations have prepared an obituary for Britney Spears. That practice is standard with respect to elderly or ailing public figures — the necessary research is conducted and a draft obituary readied in advance, with the details added at the appropriate time so that publication can be swift.
However, I was horrified when I heard the report about Ms. Spears. Frankly, I don’t know whether I was more repulsed by the revelation that members of the media have engaged in the writing exercise or that tabloid journalists publicized that fact.
Lastly, this past Friday, January 18, 2008, was the anniversary of my father’s death. On that day, I found myself thinking about his legacy, of which I am, of course, a huge part.
The cliche is true: Life provides no guarantees. Like Major Olmsted, our time here on earth could end quickly and unexpectedly. Any of us could succumb to a form of mental illness that would impact our ability to continue writing. For those folks like my father, who had a quintessential “iron will” to live, no number of years is enough — even when death is imminent and inevitable, its arrival still seems sudden and shocking.
So if you were to write a final blog post, a letter to your family or a last statement to be published in the event of your death, what would you say? What wisdom would you share? What feelings would you express? To whom would you address the words that are likely to be deemed the most important or memorable writing you ever did?
How would you compose the last chapter of your written legacy? I think it is a question that every writer can benefit from pondering from time to time.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. thought about his own legacy. He acknowledged numerous times in his writings and speeches that his life could be cut short because of his work. Ironically, he gave a speech in Memphis the very night before he was assassinated, April 3, 1968, in which he revealed that he was at peace with that knowledge, bolstered by his faith. Did he have a premonition? Consider his words: “I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.”
On this day, we commemorate Dr. King — his life, his accomplishments, his legacy. Let’s also commemorate Major Olmsted’s sacrifice and the service to our country of all men and women — including my own father who served honorably in the Pacific Theatre during World War II — throughout the world over the years. And let’s light a candle for all those who are struggling to overcome all kinds of adversity, including WhyMommy who is undergoing surgery in a couple of days. Because our most important legacy is, of course, our humanity and the manner in which we live out our humanity by caring for each other.
An entry in The Seventh Day: Fifth Edition Blog Carnival at On the Horizon; the Carnival of Family Life hosted at Confessions of a Novice; and Just Write Blog Carnival at Incurable Disease of Writing.
What Were They Thinking?
Included in the Carnival of Christian Women at Dandelions and Daydreams
“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Caught in a noose: Tilghman slips up, and Golf Channel can’t wiggle free.”
That’s the headline on the January 19, 2008 cover of Golfweek magazine. It accompanies a photo of a noose (which, because it is so offensive, will not be published here). The magazine’s former editor, Dave Seanor, who was fired on Thursday, described the cover imagery as “an attempt, and a poor one, to link it to the situation the Golf Channel is in.”
The Golf Channel’s problems began on January 4 when anchor Kelly Tilghman bantered with host Nick Faldo about how young up-and-coming golfers might be able to best the phenomenal Tiger Woods. Faldo suggest ed that “to take Tiger on, well, yeah, they should just gang up for a while until . . . ” at which point Tilghman interrupted him and added “lynch him in a back alley.” Although Woods said he was not upset or offended by the remark, chalking it up to a poor choice of words with no underlying ill intent, not everyone saw it that way.
Many people, including me, felt that the Golf Channel had a responsibility to discipline Tilghman because of her comments, even if she displayed no malicious intent and had no history of similar behavior. In order to set an example for the remainder of its workforce and take a public stand about its commitment to diversity, the Golf Channel had an affirmative obligation to take action against Tilghman commensurate with her employment history and her offensive comment.
Inexplicably, the Golf Channel failed to react immediately, instead waiting a full two days to issue an apology from Tilghman and a statement saying that no action would be taken against her. After public outrage, she was suspended from her duties for two weeks.
But the Golf Channel’s mishandling of the situation was mild compared with Golfweek magazine’s ill-fated decision not only to feature a photo of a noose on its cover, but also to attempt, via its headline, to compare the Golf Channel’s conundrum with the historical significance attached to the image. Seanor claimed that the headline was an attempt to “convey the concept that they were caught in a situation where it just continued to tighten around them.”
My pal Kailani at An Island Life hosts this great meme, Aloha Friday, based upon a very popular term used in Hawaii when island residents take it easy and look forward to the upcoming weekend – kind of like T.G.I.F. The meme involves no long posts, no deep soul searching revelations . . . just a little fun.
Each Friday, Kailani posts a simple question or topic of conversation. Visitors leave a comment on Kailani’s site and then post a question or short discussion topic on their own site. Participants visit each other’s sites and respond with a comment! Even if you do not post a question or topic on your site, you can still play by simply leaving a comment!
Here’s my question for this edition:
This Monday, January 21, 2008, is a state and federal holiday — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Will you be commemorating the occasion and, if so, how?
Yes! I am looking forward to the three-day weekend and will definitely spend time thinking about the reason for the holiday, reflecting upon the life and work of Dr. King, the principles he espoused and the ongoing fight in this country for equality and tolerance.
Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. You can read my tribute to him here.
What is your favorite beverage?
White mocha — hot or cold.
Name 3 things that are on your computer desk at home or work.
Home: A pile of unopened mail to be sorted, three or four pairs of reading glasses, the bottle of water with lemonade flavor Crystal Light in it that I am sipping.
Photo from the Lodi News-Sentinel/Jennifer M. Howell
‘Tis the season for fog.
Any writer who tells you that he/she does not care whether his/her written work finds an audience is a disingenuous writer. Intellectually dishonest.
We all want someone to read what we write, even if it is only one specific person to whom we have addressed a letter or e-mail. Even if we only address our words to a small, select group of readers. Even if we know that our audience will be small in number, but perhaps large in terms of influence, valuable feedback or the ability to secure a broader target audience for us.
I think this is especially true in the context of blogging. Even though many of us will never measure our loyal readers in the millions, hundreds of thousands or even thousands, we would not be clicking that “Publish” button unless we hoped that someone somewhere would happen upon our words and take a few moments to read and consider them.
So this past week, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my audience and the process of sitting down and writing with a particular reader or group of readers in mind.
My writing goals vary from day to day and post to post. Sometimes I just want to have fun and engage in a little silliness such as a meme. Other times, I feel compelled to write about a serious topic of extreme importance to me or someone close to me. Either way, I want someone to not only read what I write, but interact with me in a meaningful way about my contribution to the blogging cacophony.
Different articles may be more or less compelled by a desire to evaluate and organize my own thoughts and feelings — because writing is extremely cathartic, of course — but still, I never write in a vacuum solely for the purpose of engaging in the intellectual exercise. At least not deliberately.
You can find an infinite number of articles on the Internet about “niche” blogging, i.e., the science or art, depending upon your viewpoint, of writing for a specific audience on a particularized target with success measured by the number of subscribers to your RSS feed you amass, the number of Diggs or Sphinns or Stumbles or votes or clicks you accumulate or, in many instances, the amount of money you earn. The latter is all good and well, but for the vast majority of us who do not blog for anything other than personal satisfaction, I think the answer is different than for those who earn their daily bread posting articles and selling advertising.
When I write an article that I really hope will find a large (by my standards, anyway) audience, I find myself hearkening back to my musical theater and marketing roots. I studied both in college and one song from “Gypsy” sums up the approach: “Ya gotta have a gimmick.” In marketing it is known as the hook. Zillions of dollars and countless effort is spent annually studying the most effective way by which to “hook” an audience.
Today, for instance, I was pleased to see that the “hook” I consciously employed worked — at least for one reader. I wanted to write about what happened to our family this past Thursday night: My youngest son was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Fortunately, it was a low-speed impact, he was wearing his seat-belt, and his injuries were very minor. But it was a very long evening that began with a simple phone call in which he announced what had happened. Every parent knows the emotional roller coaster that I rode, even if only for a few seconds. And I confess here that I deliberately sought to manipulate my readers’ emotions for the purpose of hooking them into my writing and compelling them to read my entire article.
I titled the article, “Mom, we were in an accident,” surmising that it would resonate with parents. Next, I mined the common ground theory, beginning the article with this sentence: “Those are the words that every parent fears.” Then I relived the events of that night, starting with my son’s telephone call, writing as I thought about each detail. My goal was simply to take my readers on the ride with me, to have them nodding their heads empathetically as they read and, ultimately, to have them leave comments like this one: “I swear my heart skipped a beat as i read the introduction of this entry.”
It is important never to lie to one’s readers, so I was also careful at the outset to make sure my audience understood the story was going to have a happy ending. But I purposefully strove to make that ending as emotionally powerful as possible — while providing an accurate and truthful account of what happened, of course. For that reason, I deleted a whole section of the article. After I finished writing and began editing, I realized that I did not need to tell my readers every tiny little detail about the evening’s events, explain the nuances of my emotions or even spell out the moral of the story.
Rather, I stepped back and decided to trust my audience. The ability to trust is a distinguishing feature between seasoned and novice writers, I believe. I concluded that my readers are sophisticated and intelligent, and deliberately left the task of “tying it all up with a pretty ribbon” to them.
So I deleted the entire final segment in which I discussed how thrilled and relieved I was when the doctor pronounced my son healthy, if a little banged up, and released us to leave the hospital. I spared my readers the dissertation I had prepared about the importance of wearing seat-belts at all times. I even deleted many of the conversational details, essentially relegating my husband to the status of “supporting player” in terms of the number of words ascribed to him which, in the final analysis made him, in my opinion, an even more important “character” in the story I wanted to tell.
By concluding with a description of his relieved smile, I sought to invoke in every parent reading a memory of similar moments in their own lives and, concomitantly, an acknowledgement of the importance of normalcy in any family dynamic. My discussion of my own son’s dietary habits would, I believed, resonate with parents whose children display their own idiosyncrasies, signaling to their parents that they are, in fact, just fine. I sought to manipulate my readers, in essence, by inspiring them to have a “Me, too!” moment that would allow the story to end on an upbeat note.
In the process, the reader would inherently glean an understanding and appreciation of the importance of safety precautions and breathe a sigh of relief not only because of my own son’s continued well-being, but when reminded of their own children’s good health. My hope was that they would walk away from their computers after reading about our family’s experience and go hug their own children.
Did I succeed? Well, the first comment received was “now I understand why this was under ‘Blog Your Blessings.'” I never specifically mentioned blessings or gratitude in the body of the article, but that reader got the idea!
Another reader said, “I hope your post reminds everyone to buckle up and go slow!”
If it does, I will have succeeded at identifying my audience, drawing them into the story, and communicating its underlying meaning. If not, I had a good time drafting a story on a cloudy Saturday morning.
For whom do you write? How do you ascertain the identity of your target audience? How do you gear your writing to that group? I’ll be anxious to hear about your experiences, as well as your opinions and suggested techniques.
Tupelo Kenyon presents Is Food Your Medicine or Poison? posted at Tupelo Kenyon, saying, “Food is not what it used to be. In the relatively recent past, food was universally recognized as the fruits and nuts that grow on trees, the vegetables that grow out of the soil, plus some fish and game. If you were to take a ride in a time machine and show our ancestors what we eat today, they would recognize very little of it. For the most part, it’s over-packaged, over-processed, over-rated and under-nourishing. Every day, we choose our future health and vitality by what we choose to put in our mouths. Three times a day we have the opportunity to act upon our resolve to experience optimum health and vitality . . . at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bon appetit. (Enjoy soothing instrumental music as you read plus song selections with lyrics related to each article – all free.)”
Veteran Military Wife presents My Run In with the “No Flat Tires” posted at Life Lessons of a Military Wife, saying, “I think we can all relate to a purchase that seemed great initially, and then later, one realizes it was the dumbest thing you could’ve bought!”
werelax presents Dealing With Children’s Stuttering posted at Where We Relax, saying, “Stuttering in children has a variety of causes, and affects each child differently. All kids have trouble learning how to talk because they are learning a new skill.”
MommyAuctions.com presents Tips for Traveling with a Baby or Toddler | Mommy Auctions Blog posted at Mommy Auctions.
MommyAuctions.com presents Organic Baby Food – Why Should You Be Using It? | Mommy Auctions Blog posted at Mommy Auctions.
Micellaneous Mum presents How the United States of America caused a war (of sorts) in our household posted at Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum, saying, “Mums are competitive too!”
Justin Duval presents www.DarkGrin.com – The Unhappy Childhood. posted at The Dark Grin, saying, “This is meant to be an inspiring article on how you should never let your past dictate your future.”
Alvaro Fernandez presents Learning & The Brain: Interview with Robert Sylwester posted at SharpBrains, saying, “An overview of how adolescent brains work…and how we can improve learning and teaching.”
David B. Bohl presents What’s Your Definition of Success? | Slow Down Fast Today! ~ David B. Bohl posted at
href=”http://www.slowdownfast.com/blog”>Slow Down Fast Today!, saying, “When I think of the old paradigm – my old, ill-conceived, self-taught definition of success (that success means money, wealth, status, and power) – I am reminded of an old parable that goes something like this:”
Abel Cheng presents Five Things Every Married Person Should Know Before Signing Any Credit Application posted at Parent Wonder.
Millionaire Mommy Next Door presents Financially Unfaithful: Are You Keeping Money Secrets? posted at Millionaire Mommy Next Door, saying, “The symptoms, causes and cures for financial infidelities – those little white (or not so little and not so white) lies we tell our significant others when it comes to money matters.”
glblguy presents 3 steps to a personalized income plan for your children posted at Gather Little By Little.
Brip Blap presents and lo, at the Outback they rejoiced posted at brip blap, saying, “The owner of a prominent small business in his small town had two sons. The younger son asked one day if the father could lend him a substantial amount of money. The father was a little bit puzzled, but he did it. What happened next?”
Family Health and Wellness
GP presents Start your New Year Right .. and Green posted at Innside Montana-Your Home at the Range, saying, “This time of year, we start thinking about what we could have done better. Maybe you regret how much family time you wasted watching the idiot box or that night you let your kids eat ice cream for dinner. Good news: 2008 is a clean slate. So, what will you do with it?”
Alfa Mercado presents Healthy Eating When You are Dining Out posted at Wellness Junction by Kavit Haria.
pickel presents When Adoptions Go Wrong posted at A Child Chosen.
Aparna presents Beauty and Personal Grooming: Cucumber for beauty and health posted at Beauty and Personality Grooming, saying, “Cucumbers have a very high water content of around 96% and are excellent body rehydrators. A widely cultivated vegetable in India, it has a cooling and refreshing effect on the body. This nature’s cool customer is also a beauty enhancer.”
David B. Bohl presents Action or Inaction: Which Will You Regret More? posted at Slow Down Fast Today!, saying, “How many times have you heard someone saying, “I sure wish I would have…” or “If only I had taken the chance and…”. Our lives are full of decisions. And a decision we make every day is whether or not to do certain tasks. The question is which will you regret doing more – an action that you took, or an action that you didn’t take? For most us, we end up regretting the actions we didn’t take far more than we regret those that we did.”
Laura Scarborough presents now we are six posted at Adventures in Juggling, saying, “we are celebrating more than just a birthday. we are celebrating a miracle. i wonder if it will ever get old…probably not.”
Hueina Su presents My Young Living Story and Exciting News posted at Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul, saying, “Ever since a health scare last summer, I’ve found the tools to help me regain my physical & emotional health. My husband and I are amazed at the turnaround I’ve made since last winter. Here’s my healing journey and some exciting news to share.”
Stephen Kuusisto presents Road Trip posted at
href=”http://kuusisto.typepad.com/planet_of_the_blind/”>Planet of the Blind.
Kate Baggott presents My Little Fertility Promoter posted at Babylune, saying, “Babies are great little PR machines. As long as the cause is: more babies.”
CouponFetcher presents Grandmas Ready To Rumble at The My Little Pony Show posted at Coupon Fetcher.com.
Lynnae presents Mama, Marry Me? posted at From Under the Clutter.
Eric Ellen presents “Mommy, She’s Black!” A Short Story of How a Mother Turned an Embarrassing Situation into a Humorous One posted at Husbandhood.
Shamelle presents 7 Things To Be Cautious Of In Year 2008 And Beyond posted at Enhance Life.
Kyle James presents More Kitchen and Food Hacks posted at Rather-Be-Shopping.com Blog.
HowToMe presents How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree posted at HowToMe, saying, “Unfortunately, part of our pre-lit Christmas tree died this year. My darling husband reminded me that we paid $20ish dollars for the whole thing. Without much effort, he took the lower third off, re-seated in the stand. As for the “lower third”… eh, what other productive thing do I have to do while watching TV? lol. Since my dh took care of the reduce part (lol), I’ll tackle the Reuse and Recycle part.”
Parenting Tips and Advice
Mandy presents Please Help Me Out – Have You Seen This Stuffed Animal posted at Building Blocks Blog, saying, “Please post this entry as a cautionary tale. I was defrauded on Ebay purchasing a christmas gift for my son, to replace a lost beloved stuffed animal. I think it will serve to remind people to be very careful buying from auction sites, and warn of people passing reproductions as authentic items.”
Matt presents Romantic Welcome Home Ideas: Part 2 Attract the Senses posted at Romantic Tips for Married Couples.
Christine presents Finding the Right Job for Your Teenager posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France.
karen alonge presents R-E-S-P-E-C-T posted at advice for parents, saying, “Don’t confuse respect with fear. It wasn’t respect that kept so many of us in line when we were kids, although many of our parents called it that. It was fear. Fear that if we didn’t do exactly as we were told, we’d pay an uncomfortable price.”
Heidi Saxton presents Story Time! posted at Mommy Monsters Inc., saying, “Especially for adoptive parents, this post offers helpful pointers to Catholic/Christian parents on how to transmit their family’s “story” to their children.”
Melitsa presents Rebus reading posted at Play-Activities.com, saying, “easy reading activity with your child.”
pickel presents Going Against the Grain?Attachment at Its Best posted at A Child Chosen.
Raymond presents My Super Sweet 16 – Messing Up and Spoiling Kids For The Next Generation posted at Money Blue Book.
All Women Blogging Carnival
I am delighted to be hosting the All Women Blogging Carnival for the first time! The Carnival is a weekly roundup of the best in blogging by women from all over the blogosphere, designed to help female writers share their talent. Any woman can join in, no matter what topic(s) she blogs about!
Enjoy this amazing collection of articles from an eclectic and talented group of women!
GrrlScientist presents Some Thoughts About The New Hampshire Primaries posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “Just some thoughts about New Hampshire’s primary results and the news coverage of it. Reader comments are also interesting.”
Tali presents The Pin up Queen: Artist Tali Shapiro Brings Cheesecake Back in Vogue posted at Lesbiatopia, saying, “Being dubbed The Pinup Queen doesn’t happen everyday.”
Miscellaneous Mum presents Where I went to donate blood – but they wouldn’t let me posted at Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum, saying, “Donating blood is harder than you think!”
GrrlScientist presents Playmate of the Week: Mr. Potato Head posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “Did you know that octopus like to play with toys, and they favor some toys over others? Includes images, streaming video. [May not be appropriate, but this is a story of really interesting animal behavior.]”
Mad goat lady presents Stop typing so loudly! posted at Mad Goat Lady.
Leigh presents 52 things i love . . . 365 challenge for the lazy and forgetful posted at crazy meezer.
Kay presents 52 blessings posted at Moggie Madness.
GWN Lifestyle presents She’s Got the Look! posted at GWN Lifestyle, saying, “As a successful woman entrepreneur, the key to success when it comes to your look is to consider your appearance to be part of packaging your brand.”
Tip Diva presents Top Ten Tips – Getting To Sleep posted at Tip Diva, saying, “Many people have trouble falling asleep easily – Tip Diva included. Not getting enough sleep may affect your health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you fall asleep faster.”
Megan Bayliss presents Jay Jays is the Little Loser posted at Imaginif . . ., saying, “They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I invite readers to join me in boycotting Jay Jays. Let our kids be kids.”
GP presents Free Falling Horse Lessons posted at Innside Montana-Your Home at the Range, described as “life lessons learned from our horses.”
Christine presents Monetizing Your Website Through Inspiration and Desire posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France.
Becca Ribbing presents My New Jean Rag Rug posted at Diary of a New Old-Fashioned Gal, saying, “My jean rag rug is finally completed and sitting prettily in our bedroom. Waking up and stepping out of bed onto the nice warm rug is much better than stepping directly onto the beautiful but cold hardwood floor.”
Patricia Singleton presents A Season Of Gratitude – Home From India posted at Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker, saying, “My trips to India always make me grateful that I was born an American and I am always glad to be back home to a warm shower and drinking water out of a faucet instead of a bottle. I admit it. I am a spoiled American.”
Shamelle presents 7 Things To Be Cautious Of In Year 2008 and Beyond posted at Enhance Life.
Lastly, don’t miss my Blog Your Blessings Sunday offering, “Mom, we were in an accident.”
I extend my appreciation not only to all of the outstanding female bloggers who submitted articles for this edition, but also to Leigh for affording me the opportunity to host!
Submit your contribution to the next edition of the All Women Blogging Carnival using the carnival submission form or volunteer to host an upcoming edition!
“Mom, we were in an accident”
Those are the words that every parent fears. And for a split-second after MattieBoo uttered them in my ear this past Thursday evening, the world went dark.
He continued, “We got rear-ended on the way to the game.”
I snapped back to reality when I realized that, since he was calling me from his cell phone, he was obviously conscious and coherent.
“Are you hurt? Where are you? How are the other guys? How did it happen? How long ago?” I’m a litigator so I’m an expert at asking questions. I was rapid-firing them at the poor kid as I sought to understand what had happened, how it occurred and, most importantly, whether he was all right.
“Well, at first I told Mr. Williams I was o.k., but now my back and stomach hurt, so he canceled the game.”
That was all I needed to hear. “Put Mr. Williams on the phone.”
How do you go about your writing? That’s the question recently posed by another blogger.
I’m a creature of habit so I always write in the same spot: Right here at my desk.
A few months back, bloggers were posting photos of their personal workspaces. I did not participate in that briefly popular fad — nor do I intend to because nobody needs to see my messy desk! I know exactly what is in each stack of papers and other items, and my family is well-trained: None of them would dare to disturb the organized clutter that is my “command center.”
A few years go, my housekeeper decided that she would tidy up my work space for me. I have no idea why, given that there was plenty of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing to be done. When I came home and saw what she had done to my desk, I was appalled and furious — I felt violated. I called her and told her kindly, but quite emphatically, that if she ever touched my desk again, she would be minus one very loyal and steady client. The price of my privacy? This corner of the room is rarely dusted and she only vacuums when I leave her a note instructing her to do so.
When we sold our house and took up residence here in the home my parents built, I decided to put my desk in the corner of the living room. I gravitated to this room because it is literally where I grew up — my piano was in this very spot throughout my childhood so I spent countless hours practicing that instrument here. These days, I have my piano in the hallway but there is a music stand next to the desk so I remain in front of my computer when practicing my flute and piccolo. This house did not have a family room during my youth — my parents added that room after I had grown up and moved out — and Bob sort of claimed that room in which he watches the History, Biography and Nascar Channels.
My desk is next to the fireplace and on these cold winter evenings, I have been enjoying a cozy fire while writing. Although I won’t show you my desk, I will share with you the view from this side of the room! My kids love my mother’s comfortable old couch that I kept, along with my parents’ RCA XL 100 television set that they purchased in 1977. Yes, it works just fine and there is not a single scratch on the walnut cabinet! I still laugh when I remember the look on the cable television installer’s face when I told him that I did indeed expect him to reconnect a television set that was obviously older than he was! When it finally quits working, we will haul it off to the dump. But in the meantime, my human and canine children spend a lot of time watching it while I’m blogging, reading e-mail, etc. If they want to watch any premium cable stations or a DVD, however, they abandon me in favor of the modern equipment in the family room.
When I’m here at my desk, that television set is pretty much always on because I need background noise. In my office, I listen to classical or soft jazz music, but at home I tune in a news, talk or reality program. I rarely “watch” television to the exclusion of all other activity. Rather, I frequently say that I “heard” something on television and my words have more meaning than most people realize: I “hear” a lot of snippets of information and news stories. Occasionally, they are compelling enough to force me to stop reading or writing and briefly refocus my attention. But I rarely see many of the images that flash onto the television’s screen.
Those brief bits of information often inspire me to read more about the particular topic on the ‘Net and regularly serve as the basis for a blog article or comment posted on someone else’s blog. I keep mind maps handy and jot down ideas for future articles, notes about research I need to complete, titles of books I plan to buy, etc. I carry those mind maps in my physical calendar/organizer that I keep in my purse so I have access to them at all times. I also utilize Bloglines and clip articles so that I can easily find them later in case I want to refer back to them when I have a chance to write.
The main reason I remain here at my desk, aside from the comfortable familiarity of this room, is the fact that I have a 22? monitor which helps me avoid over-taxing my eye. Due to retinal detachments, tears and “lattice degeneration,” I read with only my right eye, so assure that I also have adequate light.
I always have cold water to which I add lemonade flavor Crystal Light. On Friday or Saturday night, I might enjoy a glass of fine Lodi wine, but I always have a bottle of water on my desk or in my purse, along with travel-size packets of Crystal Light. Each morning, I stumble to my desk only half awake and start the day reading e-mail and sipping mandarin orange flavor Advocare Spark Energy Drink with which I take my first packet of Advocare Metabolic Nutrition System multinutrient dietary supplements. Again, e-mail messages are frequently a source of ideas for articles so it is not at all unusual to find me opening links contained in them, bookmarking web pages to be read in more detail later and jotting notes on my mind maps before I get dressed and head out to experience the day’s many adventures.
I generally check my e-mail again each evening before retiring and it is not uncommon for me to click “publish,” just as I am about to, while David Letterman is saying good-night or Craig Ferguson is introducing his first guest. I am a terrible “night owl” — always have been — and find that my creative juices really start flowing about 10:00 p.m. I have tried over the years to mold myself into a “morning person” with absolutely no success. If the world were a perfect place, I would never have to get out of bed before 9:00 a.m. and never turn in before 2:00 a.m. Unfortunately, since I don’t write fictional works, I will never publish a best-selling novel that provides me the luxury of working and sleeping when I want. Alas, the legal world keeps pretty regular business hours.
My annual stay-at-home vacation has ended and today I returned to the demanding world of employment defense. I am back in my routine, struggling to tear myself away from the computer or my flute before midnight, and writing in “dribs and drabs” whenever I have a few free moments during the week and more freely on the weekends.
I really would not change anything about my writing habits except that I always wish I had more time to devote to all of my creative endeavors. I laugh at people who say that if they were to win the lottery or inherit a substantial sum of money, thereby having the option to retire, they would continue working because they love their job. If I had the financial means, I would retire right now because I could amuse myself endlessly with all of my various hobbies and interests, not to mention desire to travel.
As I mentioned last week, I want to write less “fluff” and focus on more substantive, multi-part articles, as time allows. Among the topics I plan to broach here at Colloquium in 2008 are divorce and subsequent parental alienation, living with post traumatic stress disorder, and the sociological and psychological implications of living in a celebrity-obsessed culture.
Hopefully, 2008 will be healthy, productive and interesting for all of us — as writers and readers of each other’s work.
If you could, what would or will you change about the way you write in 2008? Leave a comment!
When was the last time you received a surprise in the mail, and what was it?
We received a lovely Christmas gift from friends. Totally unexpected, but delightful and appreciated.
If you could have a summer and/or winter home, where would you want it to be?
I intend to purchase a rental property in Pismo Beach, and enlist a rental agent to manage the property for me, reserving a few weeks for our family in the summer and over the holidays.
Colloquium’s Best of 2007
It’s a New Year and Colloquium has a new look! Hopefully, 2008 will also bring many new friends — in the blogosphere and real life — as well as exciting personal and professional opportunities!
If you are a new reader, welcome! Sit back, relax and enjoy some of my favorite work. If you are a returning or regular reader, thanks for your support and encouragement. I also invite you to review some of the articles listed here in case you missed them the first time around.These articles are my personal favorites, for a variety of reasons. They may not necessarily be the most popular entries from last year or, in some cases, even the best-written. But they are the ones that resonated with me as I looked back over the titles from the past twelve months.
- January 2007: Thirteen Reasons Why I Wish You Could Have Known My Father
- February 2007: It All Began at Chuck E. Cheese’s
- March 2007: “What Would Jesus Do?” — The ElCA Chose to “Stand Silent”
- April 2007: Rooted in Reality . . . and Blessings
- May 2007: Breaking My Own Rule in Order to Speak Out
- June 2007: A Cautionary Tale: The First Amendment, Good Taste and Writers’ Rights
- July 2007: Knowing Our Own Worth
- August 2007: I Get That Sinking Feeling . . .
- September 2007: Surrounded By Angels and the Peace They Bring
- October 2007: The Power of Words and Need for Restraint
- November 2007: The Remnants of My Misspent Youth
- December 2007: What Christmas Means to Me
- Bonus Selection: The Surprising End of My Innocence