Writing prompt #6: Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort

I have almost made peace with the fact that my comfort zone has snuck off without my permission to play a demented game of hide-n-seek, determined not to be found!

My oldest son is graduating from high school this next month. Just a few weeks away. Right before that I’ve got my annual writer’s conference. Both are really big life moments.

I now have to stand on the sidelines and watch my son as he’s exposed to the hard cold world we know as life. He has to start making decisions for himself, and that terrifies me. I am no longer in control. My comfort zone is gone. Poof!

Then there’s my other child–my story–that I have to expose to the hard cold world of publishing. Oh my. It just hit me. I’m losing a child on both counts and I have to let it happen if I want either one of them to grow. It’s a good thing. It’s a very good thing. Then why am I petrified?!?

Fear of failure? I have survived failure, more than once.

Fear of success? I have survive that as well.

No. It’s the fear of the unknown–walking the tightrope of life without a safety net, outside my comfort zone. Yet, I haven’t regretted one step. They haven’t all been successful, but neither have they been complete failures. I’m hoping I can pass that knowledge and understanding on, so that both of my children can benefit from it.

I guess, I’m going to let my comfort zone play its little game of hide-n-seek, and I will put what I can’t control into God’s hands. For some reason I have to stress through it before remembering I can give it to Him. Ah well, He never holds it against me, thank goodness.

Writing prompt #5: No trees touch the sky

This is a German proverb, which in itself makes me wonder. I’m not sure if it is optimistic or pessimistic. Is the glass half full or half empty, as it were.

Maybe there’s no glass at all. Maybe it’s all in your perspective. Maybe it’s not. I can see as a child looking through the branches, higher and higher and higher, not understanding how the atmosphere works or what it is made up of, that the sky is just a ceiling you draw and color on a page, that the tree does indeed touch the sky.

I was going to say as adults we know that trees do not touch the sky. When you look at it from the scientific side of things, how the atmosphere is broken down into different layers, how the sun reflects against molecules or atoms in the air to project the color blue, there’s nothing for the trees to touch.

Then I got to thinking.

The molecules and atoms in the air the sun reflects against do indeed touch things, even though we cannot see them with the naked eye. Therefore, trees can and do touch the sky, or at least the sky touches the trees. Now there’s a twist to think about.

tree snuggy

Writing prompt #4: Oops… Wrong cookie

I wanted to wait and use this one down the road, but I’m randomly picking quotes and it came up today. I laughed when my uncle got this one. It reminds me of the episode of Big Bang Theory where they are complaining about Howard’s joke… (Bernadette pretends to read a fortune cookie) “Help, I’m a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory.”

As I sat waiting for my computer to update this morning, I had time to watch my cat, Eric. He came with the name. He’s a gray and white tuxedo (no clue if they have a name for their breed) and a great communicator. He sat on the edge of his table, looking at me, or anyone who walked by, intently, letting out the sweetest of small meows. My son asked, “are you going to ignore your cat?” I said, “yes,” but was unable to, because he’s so good at persuasion. My mama, may she rest in peace, would say a he’s good at making you feel guilty, but we’ll go with persuasion. He had a little left in his food bowl, but he doesn’t like stale food. I filled it and he was content, until he need a drink of water. It was my son’s turn. Eric sat next to the water bowl and started the same small meow. The funny thing is, the bowl was almost completely full of water, but he doesn’t like water that has sat over night. (he so fits in my family)

As I watch my son empty the bowl and fill it anew, I wish I don’t have to do the writing prompt today, so I can blog about Eric, except it’s actually the perfect prompt. So random, it can be about anything! Don’t be surprised if I use this one from time to time.

eric helping

Writing prompt #3: He who hurries cannot walk with dignity

I have fibromyalgia. Some people may turn their nose up at the word and not believe it is a “real” thing, but I’ve lived with it since before they had a word for it and it’s very real to me. Fortunately, my case is much milder than most. I have regular everyday pain like others, but then I have pain that reminds me I have fibromyalgia. It usually hits hard when the weather changes, like it’s doing now. We’ve had several days of wet rainy weather. Cold. Gray. Pain. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been used for a karate punching back. Medicine helps. I’m just waiting for it to kick in (pun intended? Happy accident).

I found it kind of funny pulling this quote out of the bunch this morning, because I can in no way hurry today. Every step is going to take effort and time, and my slow pace will not look dignified. I do like the quote though, because contradictions make you stop and think. I’m not sure if the hurried are less dignified than the slow and steady, but they are going so fast you can’t tell one way or another. I do know if you hurry you miss out on the little things, and it’s the little things that make life worthwhile. However, you can spin it and say those who wait around will miss the bus (not a fortune cookie quote, but it would work for one, wouldn’t it?). You can be too slow and miss out on something important, and there’s no dignity there either.

So, the moral for today is balance is the key. If you have to hurry, don’t forget to slow down later and watch the sunset. If you are stuck at a standstill, pick up your feet and start moving. Just remember to do both with dignity.

balance

Writing Prompt #2: Only the educated are free.

So, I keep all of these fortune cookie quotes in a pocket of my billfold. I decided to just pull them out randomly and run with it. WOW did I get a doozy today. If there is something I believe in, I believe in the freedom of education. I’m not talking higher education, like college, masters, and P.H.D.’s, which are all fine in their place. I’m talking about learning anything and everything. Knowing how to read. Learning how to write. Understanding what is going on around you because you pay attention. Having a voice. Using that voice. Fighting for the underdog. Knowing who the real underdog is. Not blindly following the masses. Carving your own path. Trying new things even if they frighten you. Learning more today than you knew yesterday.

Reading is the key to the world.

All you have to do is Google the phrase “literacy statistics” to find groups and organization with plenty of numbers and consequences to a society without the skills to read. Everything from prison, to welfare, to teen pregnancy. Not saying that illiteracy is the cause of all of those things, but it is directly linked in a high majority of cases. Reading is the first step to a successful society. Keeping if from anyone, should be a crime.

There have been plenty of times throughout history where it was against the law to teach certain groups how to read. I hate to admit it, but I know it still goes on today, maybe even closer to home than I would like to believe. Why?

Reading is power.

If you don’t like where you are in life, start reading. Anything and everything. If you don’t like what you are reading, put it down and find something else. Newspapers, magazines, books, blogs {wink wink}, even the Bible.

Only the educated are free.

Writing prompt #1: Love mankind, trust the majority, and never owe anyone.

For me, this fortune cookie isn’t very interesting. Three very different statements pieced together to sound like a proverb of some sort, but it is one I don’t agree with fully.

Love mankind gets no argument from me. I strive to love mankind everyday, even those who don’t love it at all. They love their family, and what friends they have. They have their favorite sports or movie stars, but as a whole they don’t love mankind. What has mankind ever done for them? My question is, what have they done for mankind? Both answers can be “nothing”. I have to confess there are plenty of memories, where I wish I had done more to help out in a situation on a bigger scale. I’m good at helping out in the little situations, sort of that “pay it forward” kind of thing. But I do love mankind. I know there is a lot of evil and darkness in the world, but there is also light, and I want to be part of that light.

Trust the majority get’s a Ha! from me. When has the majority ever proved to be trustworthy? There is oldie but goodie that everyone should keep in mind no matter what they do. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The sad thing about it is there are a lot of potentially great leaders out there (don’t get me wrong, some current leaders are doing the best with what they have), but they get sucked into the majority and lose that tenacity that made them great. They feel forced to compromise their beliefs all for the benefit of the greater good. Ha! again. I’m all for compromise when there needs to be, but I’m also for standing your ground when necessary, and very rarely does the majority like that.

Never owe anyone is a good idea, if you’re talking debt. But debt is everywhere, always has been, always will. The less debt you have, the better, obviously, BUT what about owing someone a favor? Not the bury a dead body kind of favor, but the hey, you got lunch last time, it’s my treat today. There are  plenty of things you can owe someone, or anyone, and make your life   (and theirs, hopefully) better for it.

There’s no place like Oz

Oz

I just spent two days in the Land of Oz, and I didn’t want to come back to Kansas!

I went to Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. (OWFI) annual writer’s conference this past weekend. There’s nothing better than a good conference to get the writer juices flowing. I met old friends and made some new ones… a couple of which would fit right in the Land of Oz—but all writers are a bit of crazy, aren’t we? How else could we survive doing what we love?

I was very fortunate to have a budget this year (yea tax refund!). I got to go out to eat and buy lots of BOOKS! I even had a couple of them signed. (Score!)

I have to say the craziest part was helping a friend get dressed for the costume contest. I have a new appreciation for people who dress in steampunk attire. That’s hard work!

The icing on the cake… winning 3rd honorable mention in the Short Story category!

winners

I zoomed on a writing high for two days straight and floated through Sunday on the remnant fumes of that high… but it is Monday again, and time to go back to Kansas (reality). Sigh… I have survived reality, but only just. I want to close my eyes, click my heels, and say,

There’s no place like Oz…

There’s no place like Oz…

Procrastinations Evil Little Brother

I don’t suffer from procrastination, but paralysis–mind numbing paralysis. Maybe it’s the same difference, maybe not. All I know is I planned on writing after my show was over. Plenty of time before bed. Instead I wasted almost 15 minutes surfing channels. We don’t have cable. It doesn’t take that long to surf. You can just imagine how many times I went through the list. 2nd to the last round that little voice in the back of my head said, “You know, you only have to write for 20 minutes, like the book says. What’s the big deal?”

I’m almost finished reading the book, “Secrets from A Creativity Coach” by Romney Oualline Nesbitt. I’ve talked about it before, and I WILL be talking about it again.

So, I spent a few more minutes (still surfing), trying to figure out “what’s the big deal”.

I couldn’t think of anything.

I just felt paralyzed.

But paralyzed isn’t going to get my manuscript finished before the conference (in 10 days…no pressure). One more turn around the channels and I turned the TV off. I took one unsteady step and I turned on the computer. I took another wobbling step and set my stop watch for 21 minutes (I like odd numbers) and I kept walking a stiff and halted gate, cranking out 321 words and the beginnings of a new scene.

Will I be able to do it again tomorrow, or will the paralysis return… until next time…

Epiphany Strikes Again

When an epiphany strikes, it’s usually when I’m in the car all by myself, or in the shower… mostly in the shower. I’ve had some AMAZING epiphanies in the shower… I have figured how to kill people, how to rescue people…all sorts of stuff. Well, I need to kidnap someone, and haven’t been able to figure out who it should be… I didn’t want it to be my protagonist, because the story is from her point of view and she’ll miss out on all the excitement. I decided I didn’t want it to be her friend, because her friend has a small roll, and I didn’t want her to be any bigger.

Then this morning…it hit me… I discovered who, I figured out how, and I KNEW WHY!!!!!

E—PIPH—A—NY (gotta sing it to get the full effect)

I share moments like this with a fellow artist at work, but she recently moved to a new cubicle further away and I just hadn’t had the chance to go by and give her the exciting news. So, I decided to text her. She gave me her cell phone number a while ago, but this was the first time I ever used it.

Being myself, I wrote: “I had another shower Epiphany. :-)”

First thought was, maybe I should let her know who it’s from. Second thought was, Naaaah! She’ll know! When I didn’t get a response back, I started a little panic dance… What if it’s not her number? What if she gave me her husband’s number (in case of emergencies or something)? And on and on it went.

Finally, I got the chance to go by her desk and discovered she had shared in my panic dance. She had read the text and started doing some thinking of her own… Her sister is having a baby, and she is in charge of the baby shower. First thought was: Who is this and do they want to help me with her shower? She called her sister and asked if she might know. When they were still clueless, she worried it might be a prank of an “inappropriate nature”, because she knew it wasn’t from her husband, but who else would be talking about showers and epiphanies? We artistic people tend to have wild imaginations…

Her sister Googled the number and found it belonged to someone named Shelley Pagach (pronouncing it pay-gosh). My friend had her OWN epiphany and we had a fantastic laugh as we swapped stories.

I’m still a little pink the cheeks, but she’s got my name in her phone now, so I can be myself once again!