I Write Because……..

People often ask me why I write. Writer friends tell me that is a common question they also get. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I can tell you why I write. Perhaps not all the reasons but some that may make sense to at least a few of my readers.

I write because I’m always writing in my head. All that writing has to go somewhere so it comes out through my fingers on these blog pages, on pages of short stories, on pages of potential novels, onto articles I plan to sell. Why do I write in my head? That I can’t answer. I just know I’ve done that since I was a small child. I would look at an object and write about it in my head. I would watch a scenario play out and do the same. I would dream up short stories and longer stories. Sometimes, as a young person, I would write these musings down. Sometimes not.

I write because it is a creative outlet. I chose an analytical profession. Since my profession involved largely a “left-brain” approach to my work, I suppose my right brain now needs to exercised. I wrote as a college professor but because my field was analytical, so was my writing. It was also the academic style of writing which is very terse and controlled. It doesn’t really qualify, in my opinion, as creative writing. Now that I have retired from my college professorship, I have the freedom and time to do some things I enjoy with the creative side of what’s left of my brain. I’m not a painter, a sculptor, or any other kind of artist. I am a musician — a classical pianist. Beyond this, I am a writer and trying to develop my creative writing abilities as opposed to my academic writing abilities.

I write because it is both an emotional and mental release. Most of what I write never sees the light of day. Some of it does. Some of my writing is a mental exercise involving non-fiction topics I find interesting and that I think my readers will enjoy. I also am enjoying writing some fiction, though that is a new exercise for me. Other writing I do is an emotional exercise. Often to exorcise demons.

Last, but certainly not least, I write to supplement my income. I have been a professional writer since 2000. I write articles, largely in my field of finance and business, for a number of business publications, both offline and online. I am currently expanding my reach and writing about other topics. I market and sell many of the articles I write. This blog serves as a wonderful practice forum.

I write because I love to write. #writing #everydayinspiration

Looking Back, Part 2

Here is a recap of Looking Back, Part 1

Now, Looking Back, Part 2

As Serena sat at her table and cried, she realized she had been through this before. This man had been her husband for 20 years and they had divorced. Then, she had remarried him after 16 years without him and this had caused her to jeopardize everything she had and would have. Once she had looked up marriage statistics and found that with individuals who marry the same partner twice, only two percent have successful marriages. Serena suddenly feels like a statistic after she remembers reading that. She had spent 20 years learning how incompatible they were.

Serena and her husband have now been married five years, second time around. The first year was nice. The man kept the promises he had made to her before they married. Beginning in the second year, all those promises fell to the wayside and the marriage had gotten increasing bad. Now they weren’t even sleeping together and the house was quiet. They didn’t talk. They didn’t communicate at all, which was one of the promises.

She finds herself thinking back five years ago when she talked to the man again after being apart from him for 16 years. He was down on his luck. He was working a fairly blue color job but only part time. He told her that he didn’t want to work full-time ever again. He didn’t make any money to save any money, but that wasn’t the biggest problem he had. He was a heavy drinker and a gambler. He had gambled away most of his retirement portfolio, second-mortgaged the house several times to get cash, and a variety of other issues. He started coming to Serena’s house and she could not turn him away. He was trying to quit drinking and gambling.

Oh, she feels so angry when she thinks of all this! Promising her that he would quit his bad behavior, playing on her sympathies, is what got her into this mess. She remarried him to help him and, to be truthful, because she was lonely and didn’t trust anyone. It was the worst mistake she had ever made. He promised her things would be different than in their first marriage. Things aren’t different at all. In fact, they are worse.

Serena is a gifted painter. She has found her muse again and wants to capture her thoughts and feelings on canvas. The constant uproar in her household and in her head and heart is killing her creativity. She goes to her studio to paint and even though the knows exactly what she wants to do, it isn’t happening at the end of her brush. Anything she painted would be angry. As angry at herself for making such a stupid mistake as angry at him.

He doesn’t want her to paint again. He doesn’t want her to do anything but tend to him. He’s jealous. Jealous of even her painting. Certainly jealous of her friends and family. How can someone be jealous of even inanimate objects like a canvas that stands before her? Maybe she should just let those angry feelings pour our onto that canvas, but she hates for her cherished painting to be dark and angry.

Serena calls the man her soon-to-be ex-husband because that is what he should be. In reality, no divorce action has yet been filed. He was so vicious when they divorced the first time. It frightens her that the same thing will happen this time. The first divorce almost destroyed her. She isn’t as strong now. What will a second divorce do to her? How can she have let herself get to this place? Where does she go from here?

She knows she has to go somewhere from here. Somewhere different. She has to take some action to save herself. But what? That’s what she has to figure out. She doesn’t feel she has much time left. #amwriting #blogging #writing #shortfiction #fiction #dailyprompt

Looking Back

Serena was shaking all over. She had just had another encounter with her soon-to-be ex-husband and it wasn’t pleasant. Of course, it never was. She sat at her kitchen table, trying to calm herself. It wasn’t working very well. He had burst into her home, his intent to take her jewelry. Serena had inherited the jewelry from a family member. It was not his. But, in a divorce, everything was up for grabs. She managed to keep him from taking it.

She made herself a cup of tea and went back to the table, hoping the effects of the calming tea would help her. As she sipped her tea, her thoughts slipped back to her youth. They married when they were both 19 years old. She had thought she was so wise and he was just what she wanted. He was kind and she was not used to kind. She had a steady boyfriend in high school and a couple of other brief relationships but those men did not fit the description of “kind.” When he was kind to her, she fell hard for him, even though there were so many other factors she should have considered. She considered none. She was too young and too inexperienced. No one had ever taught her what to look for in a potential husband.

Much too late, Serena’s parents tried to talk her out of the marriage but all she could think of was that he was kind. Things were peaceful between them and Serena was not used to a peaceful environment. She had grown up in a chaotic home. Kind and peaceful drew her in like a moth to a flame.

Of course, Serena could not know that he would become less than kind as they grew older because of other characteristics he had. Nor could she know that their environment would become as chaotic as the one she grew up in because of those same characteristics. We tend to seek youth all of our lives. But when we are young, we don’t have enough wisdom to always make good decisions.

Perhaps Serena could have seen the future if she had listened to her parents. They tried to tell her that their backgrounds were too different, their education differences too wide, their attitudes toward work too diverse. But, Serena, being a young, romantic girl, thought of nothing but what she defined as love. So they married.

As Serena sits at her kitchen table, musing about the state of her relationship with this man, it is 41 years later. Her parents are, of course, gone now. If they were still here, she can hear them saying, “I told you so.” As soft tears run down her face, she wonders what to do next. #fiction #shortfiction #dailyprompt

#weekendcoffeeshare 8/20/2016

image

As I waited for my friend, Jenn, to come by to have coffee this Saturday morning, I thought about the concept of disappointment. That’s been on my mind this week as I have friends suffering fairly significant disappointments right now. At least they are significant disappointments to them and seem to be to me. There she is!

“Jenn!” I said, “I’m on the back deck.” She was just getting out of her car. “Do I need to bring the coffee and tea back to the deck?” Jenn asked. “No,” I said. “It’s right here waiting on us.” Jenn made herself comfortable at the table and we made small talk for awhile. Then she asked me what was wrong. She, being a good friend, could tell something was on my mind.

I confided in Jenn that I had friends who had suffered disappointments recently and I  was struggling to figure out how to help them deal with their issues. Jenn gave me some helpful advice. She said that when she had suffered disappointments about people in her life, she had done a lot of thinking about her expectations of those people. Sometimes, she had found that her expectations were out of line with reality — with what was really possible. She had tried to shift her expectations regarding those people and it had helped lessen her disappointment in them.

Jenn also told me that it helps her to make herself get up, stop dwelling on the disappointment she has suffered, and do something positive – something she enjoys. She said she tries to something she enjoys every day. The disappointment is always in the back of her mind and doesn’t go away, but she feels better.

The thing about disappointment, in this blogger’s opinion, is that it is such a complex emotion. It involves sadness, anger, bitterness, and hurt. Sometimes, the person who disappointed you may not even be aware that they did so you’re in this alone. One of the first steps in putting disappointment away is to let it out. If you can’t express it to the object of your disappointment, express it to a good friend or family member. That will help you gain some perspective on the situation. How important is your disappointment in your day-to-day life?

Now comes the hard part. Are you going to live your life driven by what happens to you or are you going to live life on your own terms, in a positive manner driven by what you think and your core value system?  If you have a strong core value system, it will help you deal with disappointment.

Last is another hard part. You can’t control what other people do. There is really only one choice. You have to practice acceptance. You may be disappointed and hurt. Of course, this blogger knows how that feels. But, eventually, as you work through these stages of something similar to grief, you should try to move toward acceptance. If you can eventually accept that you have been disappointed and move forward, you will avoid bitterness and resentment that can negatively affect your life.

After Jenn and I discussed these points concerning disappointed, we wrapped up our #weekendcoffeeshare. We had a good talk as usual. #amwriting #writing #blogging #weekendcoffeeshare

*#weekendcoffeeshare is brought to you by Parttimemonster

 

A Thought on Extended Families

I know a woman who has a large extended family. Let’s call her Pat. Pat’s immediate family is gone. She was an only child who had no children. Her husband is still living. Pat has a large, but dwindling, extended family on her father’s side that she grew up with. They were all always close. Until one of Pat’s aunts passed away. Then, the family basically fell apart. The aunt was the glue that held them together.

The relationships within this extended family have gotten complicated. It makes Pat sad. She loved her extended family, particularly her cousins. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I feel sorry for Pat. She assumed, for her entire life, that she could always depend on her extended family. Now she knows there are a few that she can depend on, but most of them don’t care about her anymore.

There were seven aunts and uncles in this family. All had one or more children. Pat’s cousins. The brothers and sisters were all close even though there were occasional squabbles. They saw each other frequently. That meant the children, Pat’s cousins, saw each other and were also close. Right or wrong, since Pat was an only child, she saw those cousins as her siblings. The older cousins were mentors. The younger cousins were her loves. She felt like they were her’s.

Everyone, of course, grew up and went on to live their lives. Of course, everything changed. Pat didn’t understand why their relationships with each other had to change. Just like in any family, there were quarrels. Everyone seemed to hold grudges instead of working it out. Emotional distances grew between the cousins. But not between all the cousins. Pat remained close to a cherished few of her cousins. Those cousins are the ones who live far away.

There is one aunt who is left in Pat’s family and she is treasured. Besides the one aunt,  there are 17 cousins, including several first cousins, once removed. Pat loves them all. There are two cousins that Pat has no contact with for reasons she doesn’t know. That leaves 15 cousins. Out of those 15, Pat thinks there are about five she could depend on in a crisis. Earlier in her life, she felt she could depend on just about all of them. Worse yet, Pat misses her cousins.

Take my poll. How do you feel about your extended family? The poll is anonymous. #amwriting #writing #blogging #family

Baby Boomers: Obsessed with Staying Young?

image

I may do a series of articles on the topic of baby boomers. I am one. I’m interested in the characteristics of all generations, but I’ll start with the boomers. Are we baby boomers obsessed with staying young? Baby boomers, in the U.S. were born between 1946 and 1964. The post World War II generation. There are many characteristics and issues I could blog about regarding we baby boomers but, in this post, I’m going to write about whether or not we have an obsession with youth. Are baby boomers obsessed with staying young?

Right away, I will tell you how I feel so you will know my particular bias. My answer is an unqualified yes. Of course, not every member of a group have the same characteristics so there are undoubtedly many boomers out there who are growing old gracefully. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I don’t think the majority of boomers are growing old gracefully. I intend to fight growing old – kicking and screaming if necessary. Yes, I know that, ultimately, it won’t help. But, I can try. I can take care of myself from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint. I can do all I can do.

I contend that doing all you can do to take care of yourself and, yes, even fighting to stay young is not only an exercise in self-preservation but a positive outlook on life. Is it such a bad thing to want to look, think, and feel as young as possible? I don’t think so. I think many baby boomers would agree with me. Even doctors agree with me.  They say that people with a positive, young outlook and those who actively try to stay healthy, mentally and physically, tend to live longer and stay healthier

There are billions of dollars spent every year on anti-aging products and treatments. Since the baby boomers started getting older, the segment of the market offering anti-aging products and services has taken a huge jump and is expected to skyrocket by 2019. Not only do many of us not want to quit work, we also don’t want to get old, however you define old. We use treatments and potions on our faces and bodies. We get tucks here and there. We get shots of Botox and other fillers in our faces. We take our Vitamin D and stay out of the sun. We get facials, waxes, implants, dental work, and full-fledged face lifts when necessary. It isn’t your grandmother’s generation. I don’t see anything wrong with any of it.

What don’t we do? The very things that would make a difference. We don’t eat right, at least not as well as we should, and we don’t exercise as much as we should. Both can and do slow aging. There are pathways in our biology that can be used to manipulate aging. For example, the simple act of fasting can slow down the aging process. Short periods of fasting work. Intermittent fasting, or longer periods of fasting, work even better. Other techniques to slow the aging process can be learned from the people of Okinawa. They eat very lightly and only certain foods. They do practice fasting. Fasting shuts down growth and metabolism pathways.These people  live to be considerably over 100 years old and work into their 90s. The books written about their way of life are fascinating

Even for boomers who eat well, the downfall for many of us boomers is exercise. Exercise is an elixir for we who want to delay aging. We just choose not to drink it as often as we should. Exercise changes the way our genes work.

The good news is that there are ways to delay aging. When we reach late middle age, things start happening. Medical conditions happen. Some we can get under control. If we practice some of the techniques that science know work, we can delay the aging process. We can help that along, regarding physical appearance, with some of our treatments and potions. Of course, genetics plays a role. We have to start with the basics.

More to come on baby boomers and aging. Here is a link to one of the books on the people of Okinawa. It is fascinating reading. #amwriting #writing #blogging #BabyBoomers

The Okinawa Program: How the World’s Longest LIved People Achieve Everlasting Health and How You Can Too

 

Appalachia: The Foxfire Books and Magazine

 

image

The Foxfire Magazine and the Foxfire series of books are some of the most fascinating works you will ever read on the culture and traditions of Appalachia. The Foxfire Magazine was started in 1966 in Rabun County, GA and was the result of a writing project by one of the teachers at Rabun Gap Nacoochee School in that county. The students were challenged by their teacher to interview local people about Appalachian customs and write an article about what they discovered. What happened was a phenomenon. The stories told to the students about different bits of Appalachian culture were so fascinating that by 1972 they were gathered together in book form and published. It became a bestseller and brought attention to the Appalachian region and the Foxfire project.

Before the books came the Foxfire magazine. It was a compilation of the stories told to the students assigned this project in Eliot Wigginton’s English class. This magazine has been in publication continuously since 1966. The name “foxfire” came from a naturally occurring bioluminescence in fungi in the mountains of North Georgia.

Gradually, there were so many stories about crafts, folklore, recipes, Appalachian history, and culture, that a series of books were developed. The first book was an immediate bestseller when it was published in 1972. Other books were published and the proceeds were used to develop the Foxfire Project. There are now eleven companion volumes to the original Foxfire book.

The Foxfire Project has been able to build an Appalachian Heritage Center in Georgia. It is the repository of material having to do with Appalachian culture and, of course, the Foxfire books and magazines. It also is a source of learning for teachers about experiential teaching and learning, which is what allowed the Foxfire Project to be born. Much later than 1966, experiential education became commonplace in high schools and colleges.

The Foxfire Project, books, and magazines are true Appalachian treasures. You can find how to subscribe to the magazine and donate to the project at FoxFire Project. You can find the fascinating Foxfire series of books wherever books are sold. #foxfire #amwriting #writing #blogging

 

 

Breckinridge and the Reunion

 

imageTim and Skip looked at the picture fondly. They remembered the days of soccer at Breckinridge. After finding it, they were discussing a reunion of the soccer boys who were in their class.

“That’s Kenny and Scott,” Skip said. “Here is Clif and Reggie,” Tim added, “and Jerry and Peter.” The other two were them. “I think we can get all of us together,” Tim remarked. Of course, Scott would not be there. He had passed away a number of years ago. They divided up the names and agreed to make phone calls.

Breckinridge had closed many years ago and was now a university building. After they all connected, they agreed to meet at a local restaurant for dinner, drinks, and a lot of reminiscing.

The reunion was a great success. Everyone had gone their separate ways but coming back together, except for the missing one, helped keep them grounded and gave them strength.

 

*Photo courtesy of Yinglan

*FFfaw sponsored by Priceless Joy

On Being Decisive And Donald Trump’s Use of “Maybe”

image

Are you a decisive person? Do you make up your mind about something and stick to it? Or is your favorite word “maybe?” I can tell you that this blogger has a definite dislike, perhaps hatred, for the word “maybe.”

Based on the 2016 Random House Dictionary, the word maybe means possibility or perhaps if used as an adverb; a possibility or uncertainty if used as a noun. Nothing decisive about any of that, is there?

How do you like it, dear readers, if you ask someone a question and their response is “maybe,” or “possibly,: or “it’s a possibiity.” Do you know any more than you did when you asked the question in the first place? No, you don’t. This blogger considers herself a fairly decisive person. I think I usually can evaluate a situation and make a decision fairly quickly. It’s not always the right decision, but it’s a decision nevertheless. I don’t think I leave people hanging with a “maybe” very often. Sometimes, I have to look at my calendar and I have to put someone off and give them a decision after I look at my calendar, but I try to carry my calendar with me so that won’t happen.

Donald Trump’s speeches are an example of the power of the negative power of the word “maybe.” Slate.com runs a column called Lexicon Valley on the power of language. The author, Andrew Kahn, analyzes Trump’s speeches and his powerful use of the word “maybe.” He categories Trump’s use of the word “maybe” by Levels. For example Trump’s Level I “maybe” happened when he was discussing President Obama’s birth certificate and he says something “Maybe It Says He’s a Muslim.” Of course, Trump doesn’t know that, but the word “maybe” plants just enough doubt in the minds of his supporters.

Kahn’s Level 2 “maybe,” is not premeditated like a Level 1. In referencing the Orlando shootings, Trump suggested that maybe President Obama was soft on terrorism. There are other examples. The Level 2 maybe shows uncertainly about what this candidate thinks and believes but fires up his supporters. That is his point.

Then there is the Level 3 maybe which Trump uses when he wants to portray modesty and humility. He says that his campaign and support is a phenomenon that has “maybe” never happened in history.

The word “maybe” can be powerful in a negative way as candidate Trump proves. He has used it masterfully. #realDonaldTrump #amwriting #writing #blogging #dailyprompt

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/06/22/donald_trump_uses_the_word_maybe_as_a_crutch_and_a_bludgeon.html

 

Our Unhealthy Eating Habits

image

Sometimes, in the United States, I think the food industry is out to kill us. Scratch that. Not sometimes. All the time. Then again, I suppose they feed the people what the people want, what the people will buy, which is an even sadder statement on the American diet.

Here are a few interesting facts and figures. We eat around 2,775 calories per day. Only 205 of those calories are fruits and vegetables. About 600 of those calories are in a category called “added fats and oils.” Those are not found naturally in our food products. They are what is added to processed foods like crackers and other off-the-shelf products. Bread and other grain products, like rice and corn, are around 610 calories. We have increased our grain consumption 45% since 2000.

The lack of consumption of vegetables, particularly, and fruit has depleted our essential nutrients, compromised our immune systems, caused us to gain weight, and inhibited our digestion. Only 22% of adults report eating vegetables daily. In all but three states, the average servings of vegetables were less than 1.7 per day.

The wheat we eat today does not contain the minerals it once did. It is not as nutritious as it used to be which has led to a plethora of health problems including gluten intolerance, magnesium deficiency, and lack of absorption of calcium and zinc, among others.

The fats and oils category indicates that we have decreased our use of saturated fats but increased our use of hydrogenated fats and oils. We were told for years that saturated fats were bad for us. While we still should limit our intake, they are far healthier than hydrogenated fats. Eat real butter instead of margarine. Use olive oil on your salads. Instead of canola oil or sunflower, peanut or corn oil, use coconut oil to cook with.

Then there is salt. We average 3,400 mg per day. Twice the daily recommended amount and seven times more than our body needs. No wonder so many people have to take high blood pressure medication. Too much sodium may lead to stroke and heart attacks.

Maybe the worst statistic of all is this one. Of that 2,775 calories per day that we average, 25% comes from animal products, 12% from plant products, and a whopping 63% from processed food, sugars, hydrogenated fats, and oils.

We wonder why insurance costs and prescription drug costs are high. #amwriting #writing #blogging #HealthyLiving