Tag Archives: Writing

Enjoy the Journey

I have this picture hanging in my house. It is by Bonnie Mohr and the first sentence reads, “Life is not a race – but indeed a journey.” When I stop and think, I remember that life is what I make of it. It is a conscious choice of whether or not I enjoy each moment or race through them. When I’m rushing about, the clock is my enemy – with every minute mocking me with a deadline. I feel like I’m a madwoman on a blistering roller coaster of noise.

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Living Life by Bonnie Mohr

This became apparent the other day when I left the house without my cellphone. Gasp! I know, how could I be so stupid? With three kids in school, a new business to run, and one hundred other things that would demand my attention that day, my lifeline was sitting on the kitchen counter. Quite frankly, I panicked. I debated on whether or not to turn around. I knew I was needed. There were a million things that could go wrong and I was unreachable. Out of touch. With everyone else, that is.

So what did I do? I decided not to retrieve my phone; thereby tuning everyone else out and tuning myself in. My cellphone has been an extension of my arm for years and my computer keys relentlessly glued to my fingertips. So on that day, I chose me. I chose clarity. I chose to connect, with Cindy. That day was a journey for me, not a race. And after I got over the initial panic, I enjoyed every minute of it.

What I did on the cellphone-less day was to give myself permission to be human. To breathe. To not look down at a screen, but to look up at the world. We’ve gotten so entrenched in technology that we scold ourselves for not being connected at every moment. Others call us out on it as well, “I was trying to reach you, where were you?!” Like we are doing something wrong if we don’t answer an email or call within five seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, I like technology. Actually, I absolutely love technology. But, as with everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. I want to continue to love technology, not to have it own me, and not to have it press my buttons to define responses. As it should always be the other way around.

They say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” And on that day it did. I came home renewed and with a clear head. Most importantly, I came home to no important emails, texts, or voicemails. Apparently, unbeknownst to my ego, the world will run just fine without my constant attention. It was a good reminder that I need my cellphone to be a productive member of my current society; to stay in touch with all that I love; to make me smarter; to make me feel connected with my clients, fans, and the world at large. However, I must always remember that my cellphone may need me to function, but I don’t need it to live. It is just one tiny part of my existence as I make my way through the bigger picture of Living Life.

Revel in your journey, friends, because if you race through your life, you may miss the finish line before you are ready for it to end.

Peace.

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Having Faith

On Thanksgiving morning, six years ago, my father passed away. Ironically, his father was born on Thanksgiving day so it seemed appropriate that a day of significance bore another milestone within my family’s history.

It was a morning like any other. As the day began, my sister was at her home busily preparing a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to provide us all with a sense of normalcy. My father was at home on Hospice care and I had spent the night before in my childhood bedroom to help my mother out. As my mother sat at the kitchen counter, I sat by my father’s bedside in the living room, holding his hand, and thinking about how thankful I was for him – especially on that day. I stroked his hair and told him everything was going to be alright, as he had done for me so many times before.

Then came a simple act. An act I knew not of the consequences, for I had no medical background. He appeared to be sleeping soundly, so I asked my mother if I should remove his oxygen for a while. She simply said, ok. As I shut off the machine, there was a calm and long-awaited silence that blanketed the room in a sacred stillness. My father was gone.

While sorrow bore its well-timed way into my heart, oddly enough, on that Thanksgiving morning, I was more thankful than ever. Thankful that I was blessed with amazing parents; that I was blessed with a sister who was holding up the world for the rest of us on a difficult day; and blessed with the unmistakeable knowledge that my father now had a quieted body that no longer needed to fight the good fight – for though he had lost a few battles, he had finally won the war of everlasting grace.

About a month prior to my father’s passing, we were discussing how I wanted to have a third child and he said that I should; that I would regret it if I didn’t; and that there was plenty of love in me for another. I thought that ship had sailed and was at peace with having my two beautiful boys. A week after my father passed, I became, quite unexpectedly, pregnant with my daughter, Faith.

My father has given me so many gifts over the course of my life: he taught me how to love the written word, how to mow the lawn, how to be an independent woman, and has given me an abundance of skills and knowledge that have served me well over the years. But his parting gift to me was a gift that is rarely able to be given twice – the gift of life. My birth was his first present, my daughter was his second.

So as I sit here on the eve of another Thanksgiving, the phrase “having faith” has manifested itself in so many miraculous ways. I asked the question, “Why do you believe in God?” on Facebook the other day. Among many of the wonderful answers was this one, “I can just feel Him…” And today, having faith allows me to feel God and my father as ever-present spirits working to guide me on my journey. Faith allows me to feel blessed in so many ways. It allows me to feel a never-ending joy that mitigates any and all sadness, especially as I look to the heavens and feel nothing but the radiant sun of souls on my face.

Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving day and every day, remember those who have passed on before you. Those who remain as a special tenant within your heart. It is ok to cry for them, for you honor what they meant to you with every tear. But also rejoice in all that they have given you, and continue to give you, with each breath you take. They gave your life meaning and defined you in a special way. By having faith, you can now live for them by carrying on their life, within yours. Make them proud.

Happy Thanksgiving and love to all.

Peace.

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In My Opinion

If you were born and are breathing at this moment, then you have an opinion. It seems as though the advent of the internet, forums, blogs, instant messaging, social media, and the like, have given a larger majority of people a platform on which to express their opinion. Right or wrong, good or bad, we now live in a world of commentators, posts, articles and pins that define how our perfect world should be if it were left up to our singular voice.

The other day, I was counseling one of my children and the words, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all,” popped out of my mouth. This is a go-to phrase I’ve uttered frequently over the years, but in this particular instance, it seemed to carry a bit more weight than normal because I realized that my child was merely expressing his opinion. Therein lies the dilemma of having a voice and an opinion, and the proper balance of the two.

An opinion sums up a person’s view, judgement or belief.  Inherently, there is nothing wrong with an opinion. Yet, you can voice your opinion to one audience on any given day and get a round of applause. Announce the same opinion to a different group and you might get vilified. So is there any safe universal territory when it comes to opinions? Unfortunately, the answer is no. And that fundamental fact is why we will never come together wholly as a human race.

As humans, we group together based on our opinions. Pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-environment vs. pro-fracking, and so on. As for myself, I adhere to one simple rule when it comes to my opinions…they are mine and mine alone. Unless it goes against a moral code (ex. thou shall not kill), then my opinion is for me to live my life by; I do not force it upon any other adult – period. Just as my child has the right to an unkind word in his opinion, he does not have the right to make anyone else feel inferior, demeaned, or saddened by it should he choose to voice it to the world as a newly dispensed law.

You see, humans can’t come together wholly because of our need to not only have an opinion, but also because of our need to control others and force our opinions on our fellow mankind. We even force it upon Mother Nature. Whether it be through casual conversation or jamming it down someone else’s throat, our egos can’t let go of the fact that although we might have an opinion, it might not be right – or for everyone. Or even valid outside of our mouth.

Within the very definition of an opinion therein lies the conflict – it is a belief or judgement. As a belief, it is a beautiful part of the foundation of you. As a judgement, it can turn ugly and redefine you as inflexible and needing to be in control, no matter the consequence.

If we were to spend more time forming our opinions into tolerant, respectful manifestations of who we are, then there would be a lot less suffering and wars. Maybe leading by force and judgement is not the way to go. Maybe living an opinion sets a better example. Think about zealots solely praying peacefully vs. suicide bombings. How about pro-life activists showing a spared life becoming a life-saving surgeon vs. a picture of a unrelatable fetus on a demonstrator’s sign? How about working through the issues of healthcare with enlightened minds vs. shouting across the aisle like a spoiled child? How about it?

While negative opinions seem to capture more headlines, it is the positive beliefs that, when nurtured, are truly the catalysts for slow and sustainable change.

But then again, that is just my humble opinion.

Peace.

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A Short Story -Uncovered

Bob had decided his morning run was going to be part euphoric and part dreadful. For the former, he was on an unanticipated paid vacation that would allow him to spend additional time on the golf course, as well as convincing his wife of thirty years to have a few more dinners with him, in lieu of shopping for trinkets she didn’t need.

For the latter, there was a sense of dread at being alone with his own thoughts for the next five miles. Oh sure, the Frank Sinatra blasting in his ears might mitigate the sound of the issues he was wrestling with in his mind, but he knew better. Adding to his anxiety was the eery fact that the buildings he was running past – usually bustling with life, artwork, debates, and history – stood quietly, as if their only purpose now was to hold up the sky.

As he turned down the avenue, he inevitably began to think about the recent turn of events. Specifically the issue that precipitated his unscheduled vacation. He struggled for clarity as to how he really felt about the subject as an individual versus how he presented himself when part of a team. Although he was seemingly just one person, in reality, he represented so many more. And with too many egos and no consensus on the horizon, was this really what he signed up for in the first place? Endless arguing and agendas?

Approaching an intersection, he cautiously looked both ways before proceeding. His mind so full of thoughts and Sinatra though, he didn’t hear the taxi cab blare its horn.

Upon awakening in the hospital, he could hear the doctors arguing about saving his life with a woman in a business suit who was advocating for the most affordable course of action.

“Affordable? Do they know who I am?” He thought to himself. It was a question he couldn’t ask aloud though, with the all of the tubes protruding forth from his severely deflated lungs via his mouth. Questions that struck fear in his weakened heart, because at the time of the accident, he had no identification on him.

As he faded in and out of consciousness and heard the doctors and the woman in the suit ramble on and on about the shutdown ending, Obamacare going into effect and the like, he realized his vacation was now over, and he would have to go back to work. But as the doctors and businesswoman argued both sides of his life to no satisfactory conclusion, Senator Robert Servison’s eyes closed for the very last time.

On his death certificate, the cause of death simply read, Politics.

Peace.

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A Short Story – The New Writer

Natalie wondered if she would ever make it as a writer. In a way, she had arrived late to the game. While she’d always loved the written word and was quite good at expressing herself with a pen and paper, it still didn’t equate to the volumes of work successful writers had amassed by her age.

Many of her writing projects to this point revolved around corporate affairs. A press release here, a company statement there, and even the solemn task of a writing a recall notice for a product that had taken lives. All of which was done just on the other side of receiving her weekly paycheck.

So when she decided on a creative writing path – leaving the doldrums of describing the features and benefits of the latest must-have product behind her – had she veered too far off course? Life changes come in many forms, and she wondered if she was redefining herself a bit too dramatically, a bit too late, and for a bit of what? Were the company mission statements really all that bad?

These are the thoughts Natalie was having as she was sitting in her local library. Today was her first book signing and the turnout had been mediocre at best. Of course, the family and friend well-wishers were there, for which she was most thankful, but her core audience was missing. There was not a single child in sight.

So while she packed up and courteously smiled, thanking everyone for coming, she was startled by the little voice behind her saying, “Am I too late?” Natalie turned around to see a raven haired boy about 10 years of age, clutching a tattered and well-read copy of her book.

All he asked was, “Can you please sign this?”

All she heard was, “You’ve made it.”

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To a Child: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I am a artist at heart. I majored in it in college (along with marketing) and ended up on a non-fine arts career path. How? Who knows. Life takes over and that’s that. I regret it often, but I love soaking up everything I can from others who chose the path I didn’t. I am especially mesmerized by children’s book illustrators as they have the daunting task of taking a childlike view of the world and translating simple subjects into pieces of art a two-year old can understand. It is truly amazing. Like magic.

So one thing I stress when reading to my children are the emotions, colors, and actions conveyed by the pictures in each book I’m reading. When the words and illustrations blend flawlessly, a masterpiece is created for all to enjoy. Here are some of my favorite children’s illustrators and the reasons why:

Mark Teague is a genius. Anyone who can make a dinosaur so emotive is brilliant. You just want to hug each and every one of them; despite their size, scales, and claws. Felicia Bond uses white like a pro, by pulling her subjects front and center. A giant moose in a teeny tiny sweater is priceless. Sandra Boynton is the queen of simplistic charm. Placing pupils on eyeballs may seem like a mundane task, but those two black dots speak volumes when illustrating a hippo staring quite uncomfortably at his rabbit friend’s broccoli stew – “ew”. Jan Brett has cornered the market on texture. You can actually feel the finely weaved wool of the mitten scratch your eyes. Dr. Seuss is just plain ol’ fun. Not only are his verses rhythmically light and full of dance, his characters are too. Unrealistically curling furry toes to masterful lengths makes all the difference in the world. David Shannon is a nut, and I love it (so does my daughter who makes me read Alice the Fairy every night), and so are his characters. His wild and crazy offline pen marks and self-styled font superbly matches the storyline of each of his books. Last but no least is Eric Carle. With colors and texture, he boils down creatures of all sizes (not literally – ew) to be palatable (double ew) to a toddler who craves predictability.

A great children’s book can convey the story through pictures alone as well. A superb example of this is the book Hug, by Jez Alborough. He says it all via his emotion filled pictures and by only writing the words, “Hug”, “Bobo”, and “Mommy”. Books like these allow the readers – big and small – to become the writers of the storyline. Another good one along this vein is Good Night Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann. It is a great accomplishment to say so much without saying much at all.

Add to the “life imitating art” file, when my daughter was 2 1/2 years old, she only spoke gibberish. Speech therapy ensued. But she was able to get her intentions across by illustrating them with her body movements. So the pictures in her books were teaching her how to get along in the world, even more so than the words. These wonderfully talented illustrators provided her with valuable tools when everything else seemed to be failing, including myself. She eventually learned to speak, although pronouns are still kicking her butt, but I’ll always delight in the imprint Sandra Boyton’s hippo illustration made on her from day one. That being, she can make her pupils go “hippo sideways” at any given moment to express disgust and annoyance at anything – even broccoli stew.

Peace.

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6 Seconds

Fleeting moments seem to be becoming the norm in this world of instantaneous connections, messages, and social media feeds. 78.1% of the population is online. From shopping to cruising through YouTube videos to socializing and gaming, the engagement is a matter of flitting in and out of one thing and on to another in minutes, or even seconds. Sure, there are the 30 minute TV episodes and movie downloads that last longer, but 30 hours a week on average (40 for Millenials), is spent on tuning into conversations, pop culture, news, Twitter and Facebook feeds – and then tuning out.

While wearing my marketing executive hat, in the social media world I talk about things like “engagement” and “building communities.” This basically means that we, as marketers, are searching for loyal consumers in an environment where price is king. No longer can a brand rely on their product and retail channels for sales. Added to the mix are things like core mission statements and corporate philosophies that redefine a company as a person whom you’d welcome into your home. Where you don’t matter how much they cost because they are a welcomed guest based on more meaningful attributes than just something that ends in 98 cents. And considering many of these brands have people behind the keyboards, the connection is still wholly human, worthy of your attention, and of your loyalty.

I, for one, have never worked for a company whereby I didn’t fully believe in the product, the people, and the cause. I was proud to represent those companies in building communities that shared in my passion for what the employees were hoping to achieve – permanency in the minds of their consumer and a shared love for what they were doing. Marketing has adapted and become a truly dynamic entity in an ever-changing world; one that is characterized by fleeting moments that have been whittled down to 6 seconds on Vine, yet still extols the true value in building longterm relationships.

While wearing my writing hat, I long for moments that are much more enduring. I want someone to dive into my writings and connect for more than a few seconds. Whether reading or just living, I long for offline moments that are real, grounded, and invested. Enduring moments that are discussed eye-to-eye, with hands being shaken, life stories being swapped, and thoughts being traded and truly appreciated as a different perspective versus an annoyance. 6 seconds should be counted only if you are refilling your coffee cup with the intent of speaking with someone further or reading for another hour.

Paradoxically, as a writer, I’m still looking for engagement and to build a community. However, I seek these attributes on a deeper level that is not nearly as transitory. Loyalty needs to be earned and above all else, be personal. Through my words, I’m inviting you into my mind. To share in my beliefs, fantastical thoughts, mundane musings, high points fueled by joy, and low points punctuated with depression. To think of me not as a brand, but as a person worthy of at least a few minutes of your time.

Relationships exist on many levels and in many forms: mother/daughter, sister/brother, consumer/manufacturer, consumer/service provider, and more. Some are fleeting and some everlasting. Yet even the everlasting ones can end up being over in a fleeting moment. This saddens me as both a marketer and as a writer – and as a person. A company can do everything right, and one mishap can destroy them. A person can do everything right, and one sentence can level a wonderful friendship in a tearful blink.

In our society, we have become fleeting and fickle. We obsess over the misspoken word, the out-of-context sentence, the off-the-cuff remark, and the unpopular opinion. We obsess for exactly 6 seconds and then move on – leaving the company and person to pick up the pieces, scratch their head, and sometimes, just have a good ol’ cry. Granted, some things are unforgivable, and a we need to hold people accountable for egregious acts, but our fleeting mentality has taken us so far as to make mountains out of molehills, leaving confusion in its wake.

I’d love to see our society become less momentary and, instead, build more enduring moments. To engage and build communities – and mean it – even when times get tough. For example, to choose a 25-year friendship over a 9-word sentence. Or to weight a stellar career over the brief emergence of a very human flaw. To replace instantaneous anger towards a person, no matter how they have come into your life, with patience and forgiveness.

I challenge each and every one of you this week to invest. To turn a 6 second encounter into 6 minutes. And then to turn that 6 minutes into 60. Long enough…

  • To make an impact.
  • To explore a topic fully.
  • To learn about a life.
  • To turn a fleeting judgement into understanding.
  • To support a cause or a brand.
  • To read a good book.
  • And to not…be fleeting at all.

Peace.

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