All posts by dixonl2014

The Patriarch

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I just read a book called Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi which was another lucky find from the local library.  It tells how four children’s lives are adversely affected when their father walks off and leaves the family without an explanation.

He, Kweku, is an African doctor living in the States and wearing his white coat means the world to him.  But when he is unable to save an older member of a wealthy family, he is fired.  His younger son happens to see him in an embarrassing position as he pleads for his job at the hospital.

He never tells his wife, Fola and  just simply leaves town and starts over, eventually returning to his homeland in Ghana.  Olu, his oldest son is affected but finds a companion to help him cope, but the twins, Kehinde and Taiwo, are sent to an uncle in Nigeria and they endure mind-boggling abuse from the uncle and his wife. Sadie, the youngest daughter, is hiding her bulimia and her secret affinity towards girls.

Fola does her best to manage and all four of the children eventually reach adulthood.  She relocates to Ghana after receiving some unexpected property.  Upon hearing that Fola has returned to the country, the father, though remarried, has a heart attack and suddenly dies.

The children travel together to attend his funeral and this gives them time to bond. The mother, Fola learns more of their personal stories, pains and irreparable damage done from the father’s absence.  She listens, nurtures and tries to erase some of their grief.

Patriarchs have key roles in families and even for those of us who were not deserted, we are still stymied by their deaths.  We never really get over it but their absences force us to leave our childhoods behind.  We gather what gifts they have left us and we utilize them as we take ownership for being adults.

Our next mission is to pass on the wisdom, share the knowledge and personal stories as we try to equip the next generations with some sure-fired guidelines for living a decent life.  As one cousin said, “We become the family griot who passes on what we know and keep the wholesome traditions alive!”

Lynn M.                                                                                September 23, 2017

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The Theater of Good Writing

curtian call

I just read a book called Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and I could not put it down!  I stayed up well past my bedtime to see who had killed the narrator’s older sister.  The beginning of a well-written book is comparable to the opening of the curtains of a highly-acclaimed play at a theater. Both must draw the audience in quickly and keep them engaged to be considered top-notch writing.

Good writers and playwrights have the ability to take us on excursions into another place and time.  They can keep us spellbound by the descriptive scenes, choice of words and make us care about the welfare of the characters.

When we have read or heard that last line, we silently push back and pause as if we have completed a hearty meal. We become quietly reflective and a thousand what-if’s race through our minds. Good writers reveal life’s beauty in spite of its many imperfections.

Ingredients such as an irresponsible wealthy family, clandestine affairs, murder and suicide will definitely keep those fingers rapidly turning pages or keep audiences sitting on the edges of their seats.

Sometimes, the entire tale is spilled out in the book or on stage, but often there are those soft innuendos that leave blanks and questions. Those unknowns can become the meat of great book club discussions because life can be seen from so many slants and points of view.  Sometimes, it is what was not said that says the most.

Ernest Hemingway said, “In order to write about life first you must live it.”  William Kent Krueger has obviously seen life up close and felt it personally because his writing was like witnessing a great play.

Lynn M.                                                                                  September  16, 2017

Meandering Journeys

journey

Life is a meandering journey.  It is quite different from a clear, cut path.  There are often no quick, pat answers, so the journey continually eludes us.  We have to become quick, change artists and alter our courses as life dictates, one day at a time.

We may have to change our plans an infinite number of times as an alternate path may be commanded from on High.  Birds such as falcons, switch their flight plans at a moment’s notice.  Some unforeseen circumstances prompt them to do so and they take heed.  They follow their intuitive leads which usually warn them of some threat.

We have just embarked upon the hurricane season here in the States and the meteorologists are scrambling to predict the paths of each hurricane.   The residents seek to make good choices to guard themselves against danger. Yet, as in life, only Mother Nature knows the direct path of the hurricanes.

So, out of an abundance of caution, it behooves those who could be impacted to make their journey meander. They must roll with the punches and twist and turn their plans if they want to hold on to life.

We all are on a journey.  Our paths are not known to us but if we listen to our whispering angels, we will get where we are supposed to ultimately end regardless of the route.

Listen, take heed and wind on through to those higher places that offer greater reward and blessed safety!

Lynn M.                                                                         September 9, 2017

Our Own!!

rose single

We must come into our own,
Discard what does not belong.

Weigh the good against the bad,
Delete all that makes us sad.

Dispose the tattered and torn,
Let go, so the new is born.

Battling nerves destabilize,
Tweak, assess or otherwise,

We will suffer under weight.
Of that dark and clinging bait!

 

Lynn M.                                                                                          September 1, 2017

Timeless Thoughts

Agnes Grey

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anne Bronte’s Agnes Grey.  It is an account of her life as a young governess in two different households.  It is told in the first person and it very much reads like a diary or what we would call a journal today.

I could have written so many notes to put aside as keepsakes because her innermost thoughts and word choices held great meaning for me. Though the work was written 170 years ago (1847), the human experience has not changed.

Due to her proper English background, she had learned to hold her responses to others in check though her feelings ran quite deep.  Today, many people would have spoken these feelings with little hesitation but she had learned to hold them in abeyance.

Here are several scenarios along with the surrounding circumstances taken from the text:

New Boss – “Her company was extremely irksome to me.” (Mrs. Bloomfield)

Job Duties – “The task of instruction was as arduous for the body as the mind.”

Job Stress – “They may crush but they shall not subdue me.”

Self-Talk – “’Be calm, be calm whatever happens,’ I said to myself.”

The Incorrigible Children – “And night and morning, I implored Divine Assistance to the end.”

Applying Parental Advice – “My mother had warned me before to mention them as little as possible to her, for people did not like to be told of their children’s faults and so I concluded I was to keep silence on them altogether.”

After traveling in the snow – “I sat down beside the small, smoldering fire and amused myself with a hearty fit of crying.”

Further prayers – “My prayers, my tears, my wishes, my fears and lamentations were witnessed by myself and heaven alone.”

I really cherished this book by the youngest Bronte sister, Anne.  Haven’t we all had these feelings?  Shouldn’t we pause before we actually voice our deepest sentiments so that we will not offend others?

Lynn M.                                                          August 26, 2017

 

 

Scraping off the Barnacles

sailboat

A barnacle is something that attaches itself to the bottom of a boat.  It weighs it down over time and one might say that it gets a proverbial free ride.  In life, sometimes, things and negative people have subtle ways of latching on to us as well.

For a long time, like the boat, we don’t realize what is impeding our progress.  We just know that we are not advancing or gaining at the desired speed. Our movement has been comprised and hampered.

So like boat owners, we must periodically pull our boats ashore and do a thorough inspection.  When we see that we have been besieged by barnacles such as bad thoughts, unhealthy conditions or toxic company, we know that it is time to make an investment.

It is time to have the barnacles scraped off of the bottom of the boat, no matter how deeply they have managed to lodge themselves onto our backs or hidden sides.  They have multiplied because they act deceptively and operate in low lying places that we rarely have a chance to examine or view openly.

Once we, have had an overhaul, we will naturally feel our movement’s original buoyancy.  We will then be free to move at a mercurial pace as we sail into new and wonderful adventures!

Lynn M.

August 17, 2017

Smoother Air!

airplane

What do airplanes do when they hit a pocket of turbulence?  They change altitudes until they reach a more comfortable path.  When chaos ensues in our lives, we must do the same thing and change our levels of existence.  We have to go higher in our thinking and take action.  Dr. Wayne Dyer said. “When we change the way we look at things, things change.”

Most difficult situations come to teach us something that we need to know.  Many things of beauty grow away from the light.  We may not understand what magnificent thing is taking place, but in the due season, it will become crystal clear.

So after wiping away tears and spending hours of precious downtime in the darkened closet of our thoughts, the fog will eventually evaporate.  We will witness how things fell into place and take note of all of the lessons learned.

Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Sorrow has its rewards.  It never leaves us where it found us.” We will change in some form or fashion and end with a clearer view. We will see that the so-called villains appeared to push us higher onto our correct flight plan.

We all have a divine purpose and some of us actually find it while too many others continually circle and circle around and never touchdown. Unfortunately, some are never able to put the pieces together and align themselves with the best courses of action for their lives.

Our greatest possible achievement is to land safely.  When it is all said and done, we want  to leave a blueprint for those who are coming behind us.  We should want our lives to matter to others and not be one who simply takes up breathing space.

So, when the next bumpy pockets of air encompass us, we should make a concerted effort to switch gears and ascend to newer heights.  Though we may have feelings of fear during these harrowing times, we must move on up a little higher as we change locations, mindsets and altitudes.  As we rise in our thinking,  we can make the necessary adjustments so that we can breathe easier in the thinner, smoother air!

Lynn M.                                                                                           August 12, 2017

Inspired to Write?

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Writers, what inspires you?  What makes you pick up a pen or pull out a laptop?  Many things inspire me.  It can be the singing of the birds, the laughter or tears of a child, the rising or setting of the sun or some lyrics or special tune. Or, inspiration may come from conversations with newly acquired friends or from fond remembrances of old acquaintances.

I personally feel that writers need a muse. They need something or someone who piques their interest and heightens certain emotions.  Then, ideas began to flow onto the paper or computer screen. During the overflow of ideas, many of life’s past situations come forth to aid in clearly telling the tale.

Writers may have to take a host of positive traits seen in others and bundle them to create one likeable character or use a composite of adverse attributes to develop that not-so-likeable character.  Yet something has to impress the writer’s consciousness so that they will start a new project because writing itself is no easy task.

Writers can peer into a glass darkly and see the light that others simply cannot detect.  They have great imaginations which often hinge on speaking to the unvoiced emotions of others. Their art awakens those identifiable feelings in its readers though they may not have been spoken. That is the link! That is the voice!  Mostly, that is the hook!

I would venture to say that writers need a muse. They need some form of inspiration that sparks that flame. Then they can write something which will take others along for an unforgettable and vicarious experience.

Writers, “What inspires you?”

 

Lynn M.                                                                                                         August 5, 2017

 

#Am Reading Other Writers

book

To the writers out there I ask, “Do you read other writers’ works  without being asked?  Why do you read them?  Is it because everybody else is reading those books? Or do you take a chance and pick books at random?  Someone recently said, “If you read what everybody else is reading, you will think what everybody else is thinking.”

I’m simply curious!  These are some of my reasons for reading others’ works:

  • I want to stay positively engaged and reading relaxes me.
  • I read different authors’ works but I do limit my genres and steer away from being too alarmed or horrified.
  • Reading opens my mind to a variety of topics, settings and scenarios.
  • It allows me to study other writers’ writing styles. I notice their uses of language, vocabulary, colloquialisms, puns, metaphors, similes or whatever literary elements they happen to use.
  • Lately, I have been reading less chick-lit and I am making a conscious effort to read more works written by men. It helps me to understand how they think so when I do attempt to write in a male voice,  I hopefully sound more believable.
  • Reading others’ books gives me new perspectives as I chew, digest and ponder what has been written.
  • It expands my thinking and others’ writings transport me to places that I would never visit on my own volition.
  • Ultimately, I have more to write about when the muses inspire me to put pen to paper.

On rare occasions, I will read a book that is wildly popular but I do not choose books from the Bestsellers’ List.  However, I read The Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance during the Fourth of July weekend. When I posted my online review, I could not believe the huge number of people who were also posting their opinions about the book at that same time.

I normally choose random books which some may consider to be ‘off the beaten path.’  I  find my treasures either on the public library’s New Book Shelf or from a used bookstore.  Yet, every book I read impacts me in some way.

Some aperture is opened. Some new slant is gained and some veil is pierced after completing each book or story.  Oodles of enlightenment rain down because every work somehow changes me as it opens up new worlds of thought and wider points of view.

Charles de Gaulle said, “Don’t ask me who’s influenced me.  A lion is made up of the lambs he’s digested and I’ve been reading all of my life.”

So writers, I ask, “What do you gain from reading others’ books?”

Lynn M.                                                            July 29, 2017

How is Your Summer Going?

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I had to pause and ask myself, “How is my summer going?”  Initially, I can say, things are going well even though no big trips have been planned. Honestly, I must admit that I do not want to be standing in a line at an airport trying to get through security nor waiting to board a flight.

Nowadays, after I do board the flight, I would have to go into immediate prayer mode and hope that no one loses self-control while flying mid-air.  It may sound comical but in reality, it would be quite unnerving.

After checking into a hotel, I do not want to meditate for calm because the wait staff did not bring back any face cloths or towels or she might choose to ignore the DO NOT DISTURB sign and knock anyway because she wants to finish her rounds. Needless to say, these are scenarios that I have experienced while traveling.

At this juncture, I am having a stay-cation and I must admit that it has been rather nice.  I have been able to sleep later and have breakfast sitting close to the scenic lakefront.  I can think and reflect as I look out over the great yonder at God’s beatific bounty.

I just finished writing a book which is the final installment in a series and I have written a few blog posts.  I have found some more creative ways to market my books and I have read books which have allowed me to study other authors’ writing styles.

I have traveled to the Pacific Northwest through reading Summer Island and Distant Shores both by Kristin Hannah.  Mary Higgins Clark gave me a look into the private lives of George and Patsy (Martha) Washington in her Mount Vernon Love Story.  J. D. Vance shared his Appalachian background in The Hillbilly Elegy.  I privately chuckled because his sharp-shooting grandmother reminded me of some of my relatives.

I have had a few very special outings.  I went to see a play called Pamplona about Ernest Hemingway and I visited a dear friend who happens to live in a neighborhood where I had my first apartment and the place of my humble beginnings.  Our rich laughter and my simple remembrances of days gone by helped me draw a valid conclusion. I would say that my summer is going, “Pretty darn good, all things considered.”

I am now engaged in Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander.  O’Brian’s British Naval Lieutenant Jack Aubrey is about to set sail on a sloop called Sophie.  He has his men in place and the supplies are all stocked as they are about to embark out onto the high seas during a war with Napoleon.  Oh boy!

So, I ask, “How is your summer going?”

Lynn M.                                                                         July 23, 2017