Monthly Archives: May 2015

Rear Mirror Views

Conversations with old friends can trigger a host of story ideas. Revisiting the events and happenings of yesteryear remind us of so many pivotal moments that we have shared with others. After these lengthy talks, reflective moments may inspire us to pick up our pens and add some funny, repressed detail to a literary work in progress.

One old friend and I laughed about our days in Georgia when we were so broke that having breakfast at McDonald’s was like dining on the French Riviera. That usually included a cup of coffee and a Danish. And, if we could afford a Big Breakfast, then, it was a really good day. We religiously played the bingo games which offered us a glimmer of hope in those lean, financial times! She and her husband recently drove pass that spot and she could truly sigh and say, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”

I also took a long hike down memory lane with another old friend the other day. We remembered having breakfast on the Chicago River after spending the morning at the spa. We laughed as we imitated one of our mutual friends who is no longer with us though she remains with us in Spirit. I can still hear her voice and wry sense of humor. After the conversation ended, so many story ideas rolled around and before I knew it, I was writing.

We all live life every day and we just keep bustling forward to stay afloat. But on occasion, it is good to pause, reflect and see how far we have come. Those days are gone, but they helped shape us into who we are right now. William Shakespeare wrote, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

We are still evolving and we welcome the opportunity to laugh, cry and share with those who walked with us for several seasons and over many miles. Then, after taking a brief look backward in the rear view mirror, we can clean off the windshield, pull out into the lane and head forth.

Lynn
May 30, 2015

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Daily Interactions

We writers are like birds perched on a high limb as we take in the daily interactions of those around us. We continually feel life’s flow while we note the little things that others may be doing. A lot of simple moments are taken for granted by many, but those of us who are keen observers see small events as possible scenes or images for a creative work.

Sights and sounds are essential to setting the tone to a piece or deciding where those characters will have their conversations. It could be the tick of a watch, or the voices on the television from another room or the evening sun streaming in from the living room window that serve as an impetus for putting words on the page.

We are reminded that we are still being energized as we float through life. We may hear the laughter of co-workers on break, or the rolling wheels of a food cart going pass or the tapping of the keys as someone works on a laptop. It could be the shrill cry of a baby which almost everyone will stop to see if things are under control. Any of these may be later used to add imagery for a scene.

We hear of the traumatic circumstances on the news every day, but even in the midst of trials and tribulations, there is a steady river of goodness that envelopes us, if we take note. Co-workers often become like second families. They laugh together, cry together and support each other in the tough times. We look forward to seeing them in the morning and having small chit chats during the work day.

Or, it may be the local store clerk that we have come to know and expect to be there. We look for some stability in this ever-changing world and those daily interactions make us know that all is right with the world. There are many stories being told throughout the day if we really take the time to reflect.

I am reminded of The Stylistics’song, People Make the World Go Round. They truly do and we, as writers pay attention to the small nuances, gestures and voice inflections of others. Then, when it is time to put pen to paper, we may have an “Aha” moment and say, “Yep. I got it!” I know exactly what they will say and where they will be standing for that chapter.

Daily interactions are great writing prompts if we are tuned in to our everyday surroundings!

Lynn
May 28, 2015

Keep it Moving!

After recently reading a book called Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy, I thought of the importance of moving on.  Those of my generation came to admire this iconic woman who was stoic in the unimaginable loss of her Presidential husband.

But this book focused on her accomplishments after her husbands, Kennedy and Onassis.  She went on to help save the beautiful Grand Central Station in New York City; assisted in setting up a historic landmark society; continually worked as an interior designer after re-decorating the White House and became a successful book editor with Viking and Doubleday publishers.

She went from a woman of privilege to one who actually reported to work on daily basis. She encouraged me to keep it moving.  I have always been inspired by strong women like this and many are on my “watch and take notes” list.

When the canoe has begun to go around and around, a smart person will take to the helm and continue the journey forward.  Kathryn Hepburn said. “As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.”

Moving on is essential.  When one door closes, another one truly opens but we must be vigilant so that there are no missed opportunities.  When life knocks us down, we pause.  We may stand still for a while and even wallow in our grief.  But after the tears have dried, we pick ourselves up and keep it moving.

As long as we are still breathing, we have a responsibility to keep the train chugging forward.  As Curtis Mayfield sang, “Keep on Pushing.”  If we stop, look and listen, we will see which new door has blown open.  We will see that beckoning hand gesturing, “This way!”

Lynn                                                                                May 25, 2015

Best!

In this changing economy, one must have the will and inner drive to continually reinvent oneself and do what is necessary to remain marketable. Some identify themselves by a certain job or profession such as an economist, or a lawyer or a transportation scheduler, to name a few.

But, it is wise to open the floodgates of skills and hone as many as possible to remain lucrative. The bottom line is to have an income and a variety of fields that are there for the taking. The old saying, “Jack of all trades, yet master of none,” used to imply some level of defeat. But in 2015, I would say that we should be able to do several types of work and give each one our best shot.

We can only pledge to be our best in whatever is ours to do at that time. I think of the Girl Scout’s Law which partially states:

“I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do.”

When we can truly apply this to any work or duties that we undertake, then we can go home with a clear conscience knowing that we gave it our all. And after that, I think of one of my father’s favorite sayings, “Let the chips fall where they may.”

So brush off and use those rarely used talents whether it is filing, organizing, being cordial to a customer, stuffing envelopes for some big event, or teaching and showing someone how to do something new. And, mostly, when possible, smile. It lights up the world and it may also help shield hidden tremors inside as we strive to give it our best!

Lynn
May 24, 2015

The Good Shepherd

After seeing the movie, Far from the Madding Crowd, I was inspired to write this poem. There was a heart-wrenching scene where the entire herd of sheep was led off of a cliff by a new sheep dog. He did not know what he was doing and it reminded me of how dependent sheep are on the guidance of their shepherd. They are known to have poor eyesight and need to be kept safe. Yet, they are of immense value. After their loss, the farmer went bankrupt!

The Good Shepherd
Good shepherds watch over their flock,
Understanding their need to dock.

In a safe, stable field of hope,
Where assurance is never a nope.

Shepherds’ integrity is key,
So the lambs can roam and be free.

A caring heart, a steady hand,
Guiding their ways throughout the land.

Lynn
May 22, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from Madding Crowd

This movie did not in any way disappoint me.  Far from the Madding Crowd is based on the novel by Thomas Hardy and wonderfully directed by Thomas Vinterberg. In the opening scene, Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan), a free-spirited farm girl, is seen riding a horse leaning all the way backwards across the greens in England.  She is considered to be too wild to even take a job as a governess and enjoys being uncommitted.

She does not know that she is being observed by the landowner, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts) who later returns her scarf that she lost during her ride.  He, then, proposes to her.  She is caught off guard, but assures Gabriel that she does not plan to marry and become some man’s property.  A change of fortune occurs when Bathsheba inherits her uncle’s estate and she becomes a savvy businesswoman. She is often seen haggling over crop prices with the other men.

In the meantime, Gabriel loses his farm and his herd of sheep through an unfortunate accident.  He ends up seeing Bathsheba again and this time she hires him as a shepherd.  He takes care of her sheep and he continually observes her as she makes varied decisions along the way.

Her independence seems to make her that much more appealing and the suitors continue to pour in and try to conquer her. The dashing William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) is her wealthy neighbor.  He also proposes to her and offers her items such a piano.  She reminds him that she already has all of these things and she denies his hand in marriage.  He is devastated but he does not stop trying to win her over.

But, the third suitor, Sgt. Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), is a soldier.  He seduces her and offers her the passion that she has never had.  She marries him secretly but it does not turn out well.  He has a lot of skeletons in his closet and generally is not a nice person.  Gabriel and William sit back and watch as Bathsheba’s life unravels.

This movie is a romance which is beautifully cast and the scenery is breathtaking.  The costumes are great period pieces showing how people dressed during the Victorian era.  Every part of the movie is of high-caliber and all parts of the story are tastefully told.

But, who will Ms. Everdene end up with?  Will it be Gabriel or Mr. Boldwood or someone new?  Or will she relish in her freedom and simply continue to go it alone?  Go see this movie.  I think that Thomas Hardy would be pleased. Far from the Madding Crowd will take any viewer on a journey well worth traveling.

Lynn                                                                                                               May 20, 2015

Many Versions!

I wonder how many writers have had a many-layered approach as they created their works. We have an idea in mind and then some reviewer’s sensibilities may make us change the original plan. Or it could be an editor who decides what goes and what stays.

When researching writers’ works, there have often been many versions of a manuscript. Ultimately, a decision has to be reached and a writer’s original intent may have been comprised in some way. If the readers are pleased in the end, it is okay.

But, sometimes writers end up ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water,” so to speak. I looked over a revised version of my original work and I was a little disappointed to see that in the altered state, perhaps out of fear, I took out a portion which I was about to capitalize on in a new work.

Oh well. I now see what other writers have endured when writers’ closets are finally opened. There are often several variations of the final product. Sometimes, popular opinion or the fear there of, force changes to be made. No one wants to be offensive nor politically incorrect. Some readers have actually told authors what they wanted to read in their novels.

So, in an effort to get it right, writers may end up throwing the meat from the sandwich. And once they have discovered that they have done this, it is  then their responsibility to go and get the meat or substance and put it back into the piece. Plan A usually works best. And after that has been done and the work has been digested, the reader can sigh, “Ah. Yummy!”

Lynn
May 18, 2015

Holding Hands!

One of my coined phrases is, “Hold hands and trust the process.” A little child reaches for an adult’s hand which offers reassurance and security. It can offer strength to a little one, and in turn, offer the feeling of being needed for the adult. The warmth and comfort of this simple gesture speaks volumes.

I listened to a family member speak at his father’s funeral and he talked about how his parents always went on walks together and held hands. I thought then, “How beautiful!” That is how they problem solved. Walking, talking and holding hands.

I recently wrote a scene where my two characters are holding hands. Readers may wonder how writers come up with so many things to share with their audiences. It is simple. We listen intensely, we observe and we notice details. We replicate real life and we never know when something we heard long ago will serve as a great model for describing a scene.

I am glad that I heard that story because it gave me a nice picture to envision. Now I am borrowing it. I am also happy that the speaker remembered that about his parents. Some see and really see and some see and only look. There is a difference.

The fact that these are adults holding hands is significant as well. Many couples are not brave enough to show that level of affection in public spaces. But for those who are oblivious to the opinion of others, it sends a strong message.

It truly says:
We are going through this together.”
“Or, “We are in it to win it.”
Or, “Don’t worry about a thing.”
Or, “This is the person that I am walking through life with and I want the world to know.

And the list can go on and on. It definitely says that these two individuals are linked together. They can safely say, “Let’s hold hands and trust the process.

Lynn
May 16, 2015

It is Already Happening!

There is a children’s book called “You’re Better than You Think.” I thought of it as I was about to write my daily “Gratitude Page.” We often focus on what’s going wrong or we wait on that next item on our wants list to manifest itself.

Sometimes, we have to slow down and see what is going on right now. I had a former supervisor who reminded us to take time to simply “be.” We are so busy saying give me, give me, give me and we forget to check off what has already been received, received, received.

Life is not perfect and sometimes we are dancing right in the middle of a long-awaited dream. We dreamt it and if we clear away the fluff and be really honest, we are actually fulfilling one of our long-held dreams. It is happening as we speak. Now. The conditions are already ripe and our dreams are in fruition and a continual work in progress.

How many times have I said, “I wish I had time to write.” And when I stop complaining and take a moment, I have to say, “I am writing. I am writing now.” I have published and I blog on a regular basis. I am sharing my innermost thoughts with those who care to listen.

So when we slow it down, breathe, take an honest inventory, we can see that we are living our dream. Two years ago, I was not able to do what I am doing now. I suggest that we do a checklist and compare what was going on two years ago to where we are now.

How many of our dreams have come true? Are we working that plan and seeing the fruits of that labor? Take a close looksy. Some of those dreams are already happening!

Lynn
May 14, 2015

The Beauty of Change!

I recently did a slideshow on all of the places that I’ve lived over the past years. It was nostalgic as I visited my old haunts and stomping grounds through Google Earth. To those deeply rooted persons who have spent most of their years in one locale, they would probably say, “Wow!”

I said, “Wow, too, after I started the project. But for me, giving up was not an option so I just went with the flow. Dr. Wayne Dyer said that we should bless our roofs and shelters and this allowed me to take a brief look back.

As we know, jobs come and go and those determined to hold on must change with the ebb and flow of the tides. In retrospect, all of the movement has made me quite a chameleon continually changing with the times. I did not understand it then, but I now see that the Muses were graciously preparing me as a writer.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I would venture to say that good writers need good material and that often comes from a wide range of experiences.

I am reminded of a book that I read a couple of years ago as a Battle of the Books coach called The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. During The Great Depression, her family became homeless and transient. They had set out to find their father who had gone off to look for a job and hadn’t returned to provide for the family. Their money had run out and they were forced to move on.

During their wanderings, they ended up in a tent city right outside the city of Flint, Michigan. I could picture the place as I read these words.
“We walked past hut after hut and tent after tent. Some of the places looked like Father or some other real carpenter had put them together, some looked like they’d just tumbled down off a tornado. Miss Shew showed me where she lived with her little boy, it was just like all the other places neat and tired.” (p. 194)

After, Deza Malone, the main character, had settled into their temporary home, here were her first questions.
“Ma’am? Does Flint have a library and what’s the limit of books I can check out?’
‘Of course! It’s ‘bout a twenty-five minute walk from here. But you won’t be able to
check out any books unless you’ve got a Flint address to put down. You a big reader?’
‘I live for books! One day I may even be a writer.”
(pgs. 196-197)

Many writers and artists experience their fair share of turbulence in their lives. Works of beauty are often created out of some inner frustrations. Priceless pearls and butterflies evolve after a series of agitations and frictions. Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve beauty.”

So, during those unsettling changes, we should keep creating and surely some beautiful work of art will emerge!

Lynn
May 11, 2015