Day 26

Fear’

Big subject! Something we can all relate to. However, it was one of the prompts I left for later. I was afraid of it. Ha ha ha

We all have our fears. Some are unfounded, fear of the unknown, which will most likely not be as scary as we think.

Some fears are based upon previous experiences. One of mine is the dentist! Eek! I know I’m not alone, but sometimes I know it’s a bit irrational, more like a phobia. Nevertheless, it is there. Past experience as a child has fuelled it, and no matter how much ‘better’ the experience is now than back then, the fear does not abate. In fact, I’m having anxiety just writing about it.

So, a change of subject is in order.

Some fears are well founded and can provide protection in potentially dangerous situations. For example: Fear of bodily harm from straying too close to the edge of a cliff keeps us back far enough, or cautious enough to check the stability of the ground we are standing on, so as to keep from falling.

Other fears, while somewhat overvalued, as in the case of snakes and spiders (my apologies to those arachnophobes amongst us), can bring caution when walking in wilderness areas or working in wood piles or the like. After all, there are some poisonous varieties which can cause harm.

For an unfortunate few, fear can become all encompassing. Life for them is severely restricted and unenjoyable for all the fearful things that are around them, and could potentially harm. For these I am truly sympathetic. For, once fear gets a hold of us, we can easily succumb to its bite. (Sorry for the unsympathetic pun…I just couldn’t stop)

I also applaud those who put in serious work to overcome their fears.

Courage! That’s what is needed to overcome many things, fear likely being the biggest. The courage to stand up and say, “yes! I am afraid! But I will do it anyway.”

Quite often our fears are worse than the consequence of the proposed action. Unless it’s some extreme sporting activity or a course of action that others have warned us about, knowing it is too dangerous.

Our average fears are mostly ones we can work with to, at the very least, minimize or perhaps in time eliminate altogether. Such as a fear of the dentist. I do go, albeit not as regularly as I perhaps should, and deal with the fear. And no, it’s not really better, I just take something to cope, most recently essential oils which work to calm me without the effects of drugs. A subject for another day!

Fear, whether good (as a deterrent) or bad, warranted or imagined, is a part of all of us. Our fears may not be the same as someone else’s, however, we can bond and be empathetic of the fears of others, knowing it’s a part of life.

Writers can identify with the fear of publishing. The fear that those who read our work will laugh and say we’re dumb, stupid or that it’s just garbage.

Our self esteem, or ego if you will, is involved. We put much of ourselves in what we write so what our readers think of it can affect us deeply.

Of course, we understand what we write isn’t for everyone. So in that case, respect of our work and our opinions is enough. We don’t like every piece of art or music either. The arts are all much like that.

So, if you’re still reading and following, I am grateful and humbled you appreciate my work enough to continue. Perhaps you feel a little camaraderie, or just supporting me in friendship.

I’ll take that. With thanks!

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Day 25

Justice.

This is one writing prompt I passed on at first. Thinking I would perhaps get back to it.

Not an easy subject, and often highly controversial.

The definition alone is complex. Look up the definition yourself and you’ll see.

Justice is defined as:

‘Fairness, equity, impartiality, objectivity, neutrality, honesty, righteousness, and morality’.

‘A concern for justice (so assuming people have an understanding already), peace and genuine respect for people’.

‘Due fairness and appreciation’.

As you can see, these definitions vary by person and culture. Justice being meted out by a ruling body, or marauding band of mercenaries in some cases. It may then seem just to some but certainly not to others.

While there are legal systems in most countries, are they just? This would most likely depend on who you ask. The rich, connected, powerful person might say the system gives justice. However, you may speak to the poor, innocent, perhaps indigenous, and wrongfully accused who would say it is not a fair or honest system. No justice was meted out in their case.

So, where do we even get this sense of justice? This sense of right and wrong? It isn’t always something we gain by life and experience. Often those things may actually skew our sense of those things in the wrong direction, depending on how our life has progressed. Oppression and unjust treatment may bring on a virulent streak of resentment and anger to bring about retribution.

Small children have an inborn sense of justice. What parent hasn’t heard their child say, “that’s not fair!” Of course, a little selfishness might be in the mix if a sibling has privileges they don’t, etc. but you get the idea.

When we feel for those who are mistreated, our sense of justice is crying out. At times we can do something in their aid. Other times we rejoice when we feel they have received justice in their case.

As I researched ‘justice’, I found a comment on ‘restorative Justice’. Where a criminal was seen to perpetrate an injustice to a person or community. This is practiced to a small degree. “Community service”, work crews of prisoners instead of sitting in a cell, the destruction or injury to the victim’s life or property not really being addressed. Often why two court cases will be held, one for guilt and sentencing, another for compensation.

What basis do we use for justice? What group of humans has the right to set justice for all others? Aren’t we all prone to mistakes? Could the ruling body make a mistake in their idea of justice? This is why laws and systems of justice are ever changing and being challenged.

Of course if we believe there is a creator who knows us best, then would his justice not be superlative? I do so believe, and while I don’t use this as a forum for said beliefs, I adhere to that superlative justice. One that can see to the heart of a matter, or a person to see the real facts.

Many judicial systems have laws against those things written down from our creator’s standpoint. Basic things such as murder and stealing are still seen as wrong. That is unless you are a soldier, or in the fictional realm, Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor.

I look forward to the day when true justice abounds. We all want it, see the need for it. We only don’t see how. Unless we understand things higher than ourselves. A higher purpose, design.

In the meantime, we can be just in our own dealings with others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. At least on a personal level we can practice justice, and in a small way have a part in better things.

Day 24

Write what you know.

Hm, what do I know?

Well…I know a little of many things. Some are only interesting to a few. Other things I know are only useful to even less.

I mean, in what instance might it be useful to know how to count from 1-10 in seven languages? Of course I have used them individually, but at once?! Ha ha, perhaps as a party trick?! Ok, if you must know – English (of course…I’d hope so!), French (and since school in England and not since I emigrated to Canada), German (again, school), Spanish (adult classes….just because), Japanese (a trip made many years ago), and ASL (courtesy of my Son and Daughter-in-law). Aren’t you glad you asked? You didn’t? Ok sorry for being long winded then.

I must know something about running a home and business as I’ve done both of those for many years. Child rearing as well, since I had three. Which means there were often many more children, teens around the house and yard.

Along the way as offshoots I have learned how to cook and bake and preserve food, sewing I knew before I was married but added to the skill. Basic first aid was done ‘on the job’. Teaching, or helping with homework came along and were refined as well as drivers training and a whole lot more things I could add if I put my mind to remembering it all.

None of these skills are earth shattering or out of the ordinary as most mothers and fathers have learned the same.

‘Write what You know?’ Given that most of my skills are ordinary and mediocre at best, how do I find something I have knowledge of, which would interest an audience?

Well, Writing I suppose. Personally I don’t see my writing as a particularly uncommon skill. Though as we have progressed into the modern electronic age Writing has evolved as well. No longer are there letters. Even an electronic newsletter is nearly extinct.

Books though, especially e-books, abound! Self publishing has exploded the book market beyond anything we could have imagined. Though self publishing is freeing to an author who has not landed a traditional publisher, the world beyond the simple publishing has become murky. Even with a publisher an author needs to do his own publicizing. I kid you not.

With the never ending book publishing in our world, “to the making of many books there is no end” as the scripture says, what to write that people will read?

Well, mystery and intrigue seem quite popular, as well as sci-fi etc. I happen to enjoy reading about people’s lives in centuries gone by, the ups and downs of life, the heart aches and the loves.

So, my leaning is toward the often troubled pathways of love and happy endings. I know, I can see some of you with your finger down your throat, and rolling your eyes. But, there it is. For good or bad, I like the things that make us tick… and one of them is love. We all need it, in its many facets. Not everyone finds the happy ending, or a fairly smooth road along the journey, with your life’s partner at your side. I have been blessed that way, so I suppose I want to see that for others.

What do I know? Many words later, I’m not too sure. Odds and bits and nonsense mostly, but if you feel like coming on the journey with me, I’m happy to have you along.

At least, perhaps you’ll have a smile for the day, or a chuckle with the roll of your eyes. I’m ok with that too.

TTFN.

Day 23

Write about work.

These writing prompts are vague. The work I do? Have done? Like? Hate? Find difficult?

So, where to start. School was work! Didn’t get along with school while I was there. Never had a teacher who inspired me… well I had a few who inspired me to leave as soon as I had the chance…. learning was different. Learning is ongoing in life, whether formal or otherwise.

I was trained as a telephone operator once out of school. I enjoyed that actually. Speaking with different people all day. It had its moments too however, with several bomb scares. I took one such call myself one day. Unnerving to say the least. That was during the times when the IRA was active. Of course we never knew if one were real or not, so I spent a few hours out in the cold with my coworkers while the building was being searched. Funny, I was never really scared. Young? Never thought one would be real?

911 calls could be traumatic. I never had one like that, but still I remember a couple of my coworkers did and it upset them for a while.

Then, I married and emigrated. My work became a homemaker. Domestic engineer? Then ‘mother’ added to the list. It’s hardly thought of as work these days. If asked what you do for work and you reply that you are a wife and mother, the look will often silently say, ‘is that all?’

We did things that many don’t these days. We were busy. We cooked, from scratch, and baked. Sewed clothes and other things around the house, and mended. We gardened, canned and froze, made jams and sauces. Decorated, painted, and landscaped. Helped out at the school. Shovelled snow, which I did on my due date with my second child. Didn’t help! Actually she was the one I was most overdue with.

I can’t speak for other wives and mothers who chose to look after the family as their ‘job’, but I enjoyed it. I never felt deprived or unappreciated. Sometimes I miss those days. Children around playing, laughing, me reading books to them. Serving cookies warm from the oven. It’s rather quiet in the house these days.

Bookkeeping, and general home office management doesn’t give me near the sense of accomplishment. It does help with our business. However, seeing babies thrive, turning into active children, teenagers, then productive, pleasant, smart, funny, talented, mannerly adults (yes. Ok. I’m a little biased!) who are now our friends. Well, that’s a sense of accomplishment.

I understand it’s different these days. Times are gone when one income is enough. Most families have both parents working, at least part time. If there is a way to cut back on nonessentials and spend more time back to basics, I think there might be some moms or dads who’d enjoy that time, that slower pace.

Children are happy with less, if they have more of mom and dad. Working at home doesn’t have to be a bad thing, or unfulfilling. If I had to do my life over again, I’d chose the same career.

Day 22

Write about disappointment’

I’ve heard it said in passing, “Life’s little disappointments”. Those we can usually throw off; move on to the next thing and it doesn’t slow us down too much. We simply sigh, tsk, or some other word or phrase that is less desirable…. and move on.

Then there are big disappointments. Those can sap our strength and rob us of our joy in life, and stop us in our tracks.

Didn’t get the job. Didn’t pass the test. Didn’t lose the weight. Didn’t get the house we offered on. There are some disappointments that can be life changing.

More personal disappointments are hard to take and can even cut deeply. Family and close friends especially, are in this category. Particularly at a time when we need those close to us to rally round and pull us up out of despair or just a really tough spot in life.

I read something once, related to this, that resonated with me. It’s helped me to be understanding at those times.

Not everyone is able to be what you need them to be.”

For whatever reason, their own background, insecurities, baggage they are dealing with, the person you expected to be there for you, can’t. I don’t believe it’s that they won’t.

When we can understand that, we can give people some slack. No sense in piling up more heartache on top of whatever we happen to be dealing with at the time.

We need to give them that. Allow them their autonomy; their own insecurity. Perhaps they are as disappointed in themselves, not being able to come to your aid.

Don’t we want others to do that for us? Understand we surely want to be there, but for some reason, we simply cannot.

The biggest disappointments in life often come from within. I’m not smart enough? Not thin enough? I’ve forgotten their anniversary, again!! I should have known better!! How could l have done that! I was late, again!

The negative talk we have of ourselves often surpasses our view of others. We find it easier to excuse them than our own imperfections.

That’s the trouble with sensing perfection is out there and we are unable to attain it. Our best never seems good enough and our frustrations with that, our disappointments, grow.

Though it’s good to have goals, attainable ones will move us forward. Goals too lofty will disappoint us every time. Breaking them down into bite sized pieces can keep us from that, and give us small victories along the way.

Am I disappointed my blog reaches only a few people so far? A little. However, a larger audience comes with more responsibility… so this is good for now. Since I write for me first and foremost, any extra hearing ear is ok.

I am not disappointed in the growth of my writing, where my life is at, I was always a late bloomer anyway!

Make this a positive self talk day. As well, think of someone who has disappointed you and give them that. Let it go. Find the freedom forgiving provides.

Day 21

Writing prompt: Travel.

I was introduced to travel when I emigrated to Canada. First time in a plane, in a car for 6 hrs…..on the ‘wrong side of the road’!

Who knew, a country where they speak English, but yet could be so different. Of course I haven’t been to Australia or South Africa, whose language is also the same as mine. However, from speaking with people who are either from there, or have travelled there, differences abound.

In the many years since I came here, the world has gotten smaller, not literally of course. People know much more about each other now, they travel more, see more movies and tv shows regarding countries and areas of the world they’d otherwise know nothing about.

Once you have the travel bug, you’re sunk. Well, hopefully not if you are taking a cruise.

We did that once, my husband and I. Friends who have cruised numerous times talked us into it. As with all travel, there are pros and cons. My husband was sure this was going to be ‘the Poseidon adventure’, a definite con. The fact we had bad weather the first two days did not help change his view.

Plane trips are more work these days. Making sure you have everything packed where it should be. So much more security, restrictions etc. If you want to travel, it’s just part of the whole adventure. Might as well go with it.

Car trips were always interesting. Pros, you get to look around and see the scenery as you go by. Cons, it’s a long, long, time to get anywhere. The hours also seem longer when you have three children in the vehicle. There never seemed to be enough space between them, or things to occupy them, or food, or bathroom stops. My husband had the best job. He just drove. Once in a while I would spell him off, however he enjoyed driving and can keep going for long periods without tiring.

This meant my job was to keep the peace, find things for the kids to do, feed them, (this helped the second problem) and alert the driver when pit stops were necessary. Hopefully not right after he had passed all the slow trailers and motor homes. We were not popular if this was the case.

Stopping was preferred only when the vehicle needed refuelling. It was hoped, bringing on food and letting go of fluids, i.e. bathrooms, could all be accomplished at the same time. Mostly that was wishful thinking on my husbands part.

Though family driving vacations were fraught with problems, they were also times of bonding. Thrown together in a van for a few days, we became closer. Well, that was our feeling anyway. If you ask the kids they might disagree.

Travel by train, (planes, trains and automobiles… it had to happen) I’ve rarely done since childhood. In the UK, train travel is still much used. There are other cheaper alternatives though, that I’ve seldom had the opportunity in recent years.

The Euro train that connects London to Paris is different to the old trains I grew up travelling on. There is no ‘clickity clack’ sound of the train on the rail. These are smooth and fast. You hardly can fathom you’re traveling at high speeds. We did travel on the Japanese bullet train once. That was a similar experience. Fast and oh so smooth.

If I had a bucket list, which I don’t, (Mentioned in a previous post) I would love the opportunity to travel on a fancy, upscale train like the orient express. An opulent, old world alternative to modern travel. A dining car with fine linen and china on the table. Hm, I’m picking out my cashmere suit, designer hat and gloves, shoes and bag to match. Evening gown for dinner. The men in tuxedos….. a story? No. I think Agatha Christie has done it, and far too well for me to venture in.

I found a sign in a store some time ago. It reads: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”. I thought it summed us up rather well.

I know we are likely in a small percentage, when looking at the population of the world, who has been privileged to travel outside our town, province, country. It has provided a perspective many aren’t able to grasp since they have not had the chance.

I hope one day, anyone who wishes, will be able to travel to his or her heart’s content.

Bon voyage!

Day 20

Cut the fluff”

Ok, don’t get excited. I’m not being rude. The prompt could have said, “get back to basics”, or “pare down your writing”. It’s a good lesson, even in life. There is an adage in sales called the KISS principle. No, the salesperson is not encouraged to go around showing unprofessional affection for his clients.

KISS stands for “keep it simple stupid”. Perhaps not the best way to say it. However, keeping things simple is often the best. Life in general and in specific areas of it.

In writing, an editor may make the writer ‘cut the fluff’. Cut scenes which have no real bearing on the story as a whole. Cut characters not needed for the plot, or outcome. Too many characters can be confusing to the reader. Speaking for myself anyway.

As was expressed by the originator of the Writing challenge, the words ‘that’ and ‘very’ are often overused and are extraneous. Guess we all have our word whiskers, in writing as well as speech. We often don’t even notice unless it’s brought to our attention. When speaking, it’s suggested you tape yourself and listen to how you sound.

In writing, reading aloud what you have written is a good idea. Even then, I seem to miss things. Another reader, an editor, is helpful. As is critique from readers, though we sensitive writer types will ask you to go easy on us. A little positive input along with the real serious criticism is appreciated. You wouldn’t want us to stop writing because of being discouraged now would you? No, right?!

He said, she said, sometimes gets too much. Then again, he responded, she grudgingly replied, if done too many times in succession becomes cumbersome as well. It’s all about balance isn’t it.

In life, if we get rid of too many things we think we don’t need, we might find ourselves buying it again as we were too hasty in our clear out. The same with Writing. There are times for more explanation, description, and then there is simplicity, which allows the reader to use their own imagination.

Perhaps like me, you’ve read a book, then watched as it is transformed into a screenplay for a movie. At times we praise the Writing and casting. No so, other times. What were they thinking casting so and so? Our mind has a chance to fill in the blanks. In some instances, in a completely different way than the author, and that’s perfectly ok. In fact, that’s the variety our individuality brings to life. Making it the ‘spice of life’.

There are times when a screenplay cuts too much. What the writers might think is ‘fluff’. It works when the essence of the story, the integrity of it, is kept.

A reader’s worst nightmare in a screenplay, is when the writers leave out too much, for time perhaps, or for a particular rating. For me, the latest Hollywood Pride and Prejudice was a disaster. The heroine was transformed into the very thing Jane Austen declared her not to be. Silly! A silly giggling girl as the youngest two. As well, the times Elizabeth and Mr Darcy were in each other’s company were so depleted, when he declared his love, we wonder how he could have such deep feelings for one he had barely met.

There are those who enjoyed the movie, I’m sure. If I had not read the book and seen the BBC 6 hr miniseries, I suppose I could have enjoyed it. What the screenplay writers thought was fluff…. In this case I would have preferred ‘the fluff’ left in.