This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zig Zagging

Zig Zag White Papers

        I have been all over the place in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2011 edition.  I have zig-zagged through the alphabet as I have touched upon one topic and the next.  There was no common theme over all in my posting and stylistically I have experimented in some ways and stayed safe in others.

          Not only have I been zig-zagging in my blog posting, but I have also been hither and yon from one end of cyberspace to the other reading a myriad of blog posts by I'm not sure how many total different bloggers.  This has been one wild and crazy blog trip, dude.  And it may very well be that I've barely scratched the list.  I'm honestly not sure at this point in this blog party.

           Disoriented and bleary-eyed, I feel like I'm wandering in a blog fog-filled roomful of happy hipster word ripsters jibber-jabbering about so many different things that I can hardly keep track.  Is this the coolest party ever or what?

             Thirty days of blogging--yes Sundays do count cause I never stopped even then--and now it's done.  Not!  We've still got a Reflections post on Monday and even then it won't be over.  I may be a little unsteady on my feet and bumping into a few walls, but I'm having fun and I've still got the A to Z Challenge list to get through.  Not to mention the Reflections list.  

              So roll me another blog my way and pass it over to me.  Just don't bogart my brain, my friend.  I've got blogs to visit before I sleep--a lot of blogs before I sleep.  And I've got promises to keep-- if I can remember any of them.


           Don't  forget The A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd (this Monday!).   The Linky list will be up on Sunday 12:15 AM California Time.  Make sure that the link you put on the list is the one for your Reflections post.   If you need help let me know.


                Do you feel like you've been on a blog high?   Can you remember how many blogs you've visited?   Did this Challenge seem like kind of a cool, often sophisticated, and frequently wacky party sometimes?


Friday, April 29, 2011

Your Yesterdays

"Refuse to write your life and you have no life."Patricia Hampl

        Your past is the wellspring that supplies all interpretation of who you are and what you know.  A writer who attempts to shake his past becomes a mere amalgamation of the thoughts of others.  In the end that writer who tries to reject his past is merely a poseur who has betrayed his own true essence and is little more than a puppet master of word manipulation.

"Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will."    ~Goethe

           Good or bad, everything that has happened to us in our lifetime shapes our world view.  We are who we have been and what we have known in our lives.  In natural writing this will come across organically and without shame.  No matter how much we try to force our words our true self is hiding somewhere within.  

"Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door."--   Saul Bellow

             Sometimes I hear people saying that they don't want to talk about themselves, they just want to write.  But why do we read a particular writer?  Sure it's the story and the writer's skill, but isn't it also the style?  The style comes from the writer's unique voice and the uniqueness of the writer's voice comes from who that writer is.  That writer persona has been formed and molded from the memories and experiences of the author.  If you want to be known as a writer, then you must speak in your own unique voice.

"Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days." --   Flannery O'Connor

         We sometimes hear the protest, "But my life isn't interesting--I've never done anything and nothing has ever happened in my life that's special!"  Therein lies your mission.  You've witnessed plenty in your lifetime. You've got plenty of data stored in your memory banks.  Now it's up to you to put it together into something interesting.  Like the letters of the alphabet can be formed into an infinite number of words, what you know can be put together in countless ways and told over and over.  No one has seen life from your unique perspective.

"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time." 

George Bernard Shaw

Still the stubborn cry may be raised, "I can't keep writing about myself--my readers will get bored."  But perhaps you're confusing the uniqueness of your personal story and the shared experience of the human story.  We still read the great authors of the past because they tell a story that still applies to us in our age.  The settings, the nuances of language, the customs may have changed but the emotions and needs are much the same now as they ever were.  If we can successfully write our own story into the story of humanity then we have accomplished one of the main goals of being a writer.

"Everything one invents is true..." -- Gustave Flaubert

        In one final attempt at argument you might say, "But I want to write fiction. I don't want to write a memoir or about anything that is true."

        It's still about you. Even if what you write is the most extreme fantasy, science fiction, or any other form, you are still part of the story. The story you tell is an extension of who you are and what you know and what you believe. If it's not these things, then what is it? Fiction? There is no real fiction, only fictionalized accounts of that which is true. If this is not the case then the story is not to be believed and the author is a liar.

"In a very real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself."
-- Alfred Kazin

         Often on Tossing It Out I have written blog posts based on my life and my experiences.  I don't worry too much whether the readers want to hear about what I think or what I've done in the past.  My main concern is whether it has been written engagingly enough for readers to want to read it and to be entertained in the process.  There are times when I might want to attempt to teach a lesson or even persuade a side of some opinion.  Like any writer, my goal is to please my audience, but since I am the first member of my audience who reads what I have written, my primary goal is to please myself with my work.  If you are not pleased with your writing then you need to write until you are pleased.  Always be honest with yourself.

          Lola has become my 1000th follower!  Does anyone know who Lola is and does Lola have a blog?  I'd like to link to her blog to recognize this milestone achievement for Tossing It Out.  I wish everyone who decided to follow my blog would drop in the comments after they've clicked the follow button to let me know so I can reciprocate the follow.  But on the other hand, I'm thankful for everyone who does follow. My thanks to each of you!


          The A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post is coming next Monday May 2nd.  Hope you will join us with your thoughts about the Challenge.  Click on the link to read the details.  The Linky list will be available this weekend.   Make sure that you add the precise link for your Reflections Post.


           Do you write about yourself?   Have you used past life experiences in your writing?  Do you agree or disagree with today's post?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

II x X = XX


          When I was X the world was magical. Nearly all life before that age was filled with magic, dreams, and imagination. The playful chimeras of my mindscape entertained my idle hours while monsters of doubt and ambiguous unfounded fears rarely haunted me.

          I would have been in grade IV at the time. It was MCMLXI. JFK was the president of the USA. The Cuban Missile Crisis was not yet an issue, but the tension of the Cold War cast a continual pall over the nation's psyche. The threat of nuclear war was taken seriously by the adults, but for me it was the subject matter of apocalyptic films that I found entertaining and a dark curiosity concerning the real possibility that something like that could really happen. In reverent wonder, I would often look at the pictures in the Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia of the aftermath of Hiroshima.

          Living in San Diego at that time, my summer days were spent playing in the canyons near our house. During the school year I played violin in the school orchestra and always made good grades. I had a strong interest in girls, but I didn't exactly know why--and I was too shy to do anything about it.

          These were idyllic times when the days wafted past like the clouds in the sky, when thoughts were as frivolous as school carnivals, and planning for the future didn't go much further than checking the line-up of horror movies on the Friday late show on TV. My parents let me stay up all night on Fridays if I wanted and sleep until noon on Saturday.


           When I was XX I looked for magic in the world and tried to cram as much of it in my life as I could. It was MCMLXXI and I was in my second year of college. I was working during the summer to pay the very inexpensive costs of going to a state university. Other than that I was "working for the weekend" as the group Loverboy would sing about X years later.

           If I hadn't been going to school, going to Viet Nam would have probably been my only other option. None of us wanted to go to Viet Nam. Fortunately I had a high draft number and wasn't too worried about it. Most of my other friends were either also students, ineligible for the draft, or just waiting to be called. A few went and came back. Some who weren't really friends, but guys I'd gone to high school with, didn't come back. We watched the reports of the war on the evening news and sometimes the students staged protests. There was often some good music at these protests, and there were always young women.

          I had an even stronger interest in girls now and now I knew why--but I was often too shy to do much about it. Most of the time, when I wasn't at school or at work, I was hanging out with my buddies. We would spend hours cruising back roads with gas that cost XXXV cents per gallon. Or stay up late playing music or just talking. Sometimes we'd stay up until dawn and then I'd go to bed and sleep until noon.

My Conclusion



           May 2nd is next Monday and in case you haven't heard you that's the day of The A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post.  This is when you can let your thoughts about the Challenge be heard.   A Linky list will go up this Sunday Eastern United States time in order to accommodate those of you who are a day ahead of us.   We request that you not add your link to the list until you have actually posted your Challenge Reflections and then enter the actual link to your Reflections post to the list.  Please try to enter your link accurately so we don't have to go back to edit it.   It will be a blog hop and you will be able to easily add the list to your site if you wish.   We hope to see all of you on Monday.


              Were your dreams at age 20 much different than the dreams you had at age 10?   Were you affected by the Cold War or Viet Nam?   Do you know your Roman numerals?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WWWWW -- Count 'em--Five!

          In journalism we learn about the five W's that are essential to any story:  Who?  What?  When? Where? and Why?

           These are the questions that a journalist must uncover and reveal in the news story being related to the audience.   Readers will usually be asking these questions themselves and it is the job of the reporter to find the answers so the readers receive all of the main information that they will need to know in order to understand what they are reading.

          It's equally important to answer these questions in other types of writing.  If a story is presented in a book there may be more than one question for each 'W'.   There may be many characters who need to be identified or different places where actions occur.  We need to give the reader everything they need to know to understand the story at hand and answer the questions they will most want to know to leave them fulfilled.

         On the other hand, it's also a good idea to know which questions are best unanswered and left to a reader's imagination.

Five W Blogs

           And now for some fine blogs that relate to these five W's.  Check them out to see if they answer the right questions for you.

Who Wants Taters???-- Andrew Green writes an eclectic, eccentric mixed bag of topics.  He sometimes reviews junk food and trashy movies, speculates on politics or other current events, or postulates on philosophical ponderings.   His style is delightful.  When he passes the taters your way pile up your plate and enjoy.

What's the Matter?  With Mojo -- Mojo likes to ask questions as well as answer them.  These may be the questions you never thought to ask, but you will be fascinated with the answers.  Take a mind excursion and delve into Mojo's informative blog world.

 In Time...  ---   Michael Di Gesu  answers the "When" question sometimes, but also tells us a whole lot more with his story crafting skills.   Sometimes he even tells an old story in his own unique way.  This blog is a lovely place to spend some time.

The Jersey Shore Mom -- There are many blogs that give us a sense of "Where".  Suzie, "a Jill of all trades", has been giving us the grand tour of her home state of New Jersey during the A to Z Challenge.  Suzie is one of the bloggers who heard me on a New Jersey radio station when I was talking about the Challenge and immediately joined in with us.  Check out her blog and read about the Garden State.

Why Not? Because I Said So! -- Across the country to Utah we find Sheila.  This busy mom,  full-time second grade teacher, and voracious reader gets asked the "Why" question plenty.  In jest her blog responds with "Because I said so!", but I'll bet she gives a lot better answers than that.  On her blog she talks about books, authors, and whatever else is on her mind at the moment.

           Be sure to stop by and visit these fine bloggers.  Say hello while you're there and maybe even click that follow button so you can come back again.

             Who are some bloggers that you like to visit for answers?   What are your favorite questions to ponder on your blog?   When do you normally post your blog articles?   Where would you prefer to blog from if you could live somewhere other than where you live now?   Why did you start blogging in the first place?


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vaudeville Victim

           In the 1950s it was almost as though the United States was waking from a sleep sometimes filled with dreams and other times nightmares.  The second half of the 20th century saw the emergence of the victims of the first half.  There were the victims of wars, the Great Depression, and political and social change.  And then there were the victims of vaudeville.  My father was a victim of vaudeville.

         My father was born as vaudeville was dying.  November 16th of 1932, ten years after my father's birth, the famed Palace Theater in New York switched to a movies only programming schedule.  The live vaudeville shows were becoming a thing of the past as the popularity of talking pictures swept the nation.

        Some of the vaudeville stars made the successful transition from stage to screen.  Bob Hope, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Mae West, and many others did well in the new medium.  The biggest group of artists to suffer was the variety acts--the magicians, acrobats, animal acts, and jugglers.  The touring vaudeville circuit was no longer the lucrative guarantee for work that it had been prior to talking pictures.

         After leaving his stint in the Navy during World War Two and a couple of seasons on the basketball team of West Virginia University, my dad began pursuing a part time career as a juggler.  He still had the dreams that many entertainers of that era had:  Vaudeville was going to come back bigger than ever.  

         The shows he worked in the fifties almost seemed like vaudeville.  Veteran acts from that past era were booked on shows with newcomers like my dad.  Some of the acts were legends in the business.  The show line-ups were often much like those one might have seen twenty years earlier, except now the venues were different.  Instead of the grand old theaters of the heyday of the vaudeville era, now the shows were in nightclubs and at corporate functions.  The working entertainers were still living the dream.

          But that dream was dying.  Rock and roll had arrived and was here to stay.  And then there was the biggest vaudeville threat of them all--television.  The vaudeville dreamers no longer dreamed of getting booked on a "circuit" or of playing the Palace Theater.  Now it was The Ed Sullivan Show or one of the other television variety shows.  The dreams of the vaudevillian dreamer didn't die easily.

           My dad never made it to The Ed Sullivan Show--almost but no cigar.  We auditioned our act for the show producers and they were very interested.  Then the show went off the air.  We worked regularly and performed in some big time shows.  We made some pretty decent money for a job on the side, but my dad was no idle dreamer.  He always kept a good daytime job.  His juggling act was something he did because he loved it and he had a vaudeville dream that started in his childhood.

          Many people today may have never heard of vaudeville or may not have an idea of what it was.  Now vaudeville is mainly only of interest to a few historians or a handful of hobbyists who have an interest in the era.  Movies about vaudeville are not especially popular anymore and are only occasionally run on classic movie channels.  Vaudeville is dead and so are most of its victims.


         Have you voted for Alex J Cavanaugh's book trailer yet?  Alex is one of the A to Z co-hosts. The trailer for his book CassaStar is part of the You Gotta Read Reviews Book Video Contest.  Make sure you click on over and vote for his trailer.   Voting will close 11:59 PM Central April 26--that's tonight if you are reading this today!  Show your support for our gracious A to Z co-host Alex J. Cavanaugh and if you've never visited his blog now is a good time to do so.


If you haven't heard yet, there will be an A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.  Read more about this post here.

Are you a fan of vaudeville?   Do you have any favorite vaudeville inspired movies?  What is your favorite genre of performance entertainment?



Monday, April 25, 2011

Unique Understanding


           Each of us has a unique understanding in the way that we perceive things in our universe.  We have skills and talents in which we excel, specific knowledge about things we have studied, and our own individual experiences as only we have sensed them.  

           No one else in this world knows every single thing that you know or can do the things that you do in exactly the same way that you do them.  You may have many things in common with other people, but your overall understanding is specific to you alone.

           Everything that you do, say, and think has your stamp of individuality upon it.   Take advantage of who you are and capitalize on it in every way that you can.   You are special because of your unique understanding and interpretation of your world.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

After the A to Z Challenge What's Next?

       We are now facing the last week of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011.   Some of you may be breathing a big sigh of relief that it's ending, while others who are having a great time with it may be wondering what to do next.
       Hopefully you have gained some insight from your experience this April and we'd like for you to share your thoughts with us.  That's why after the Challenge has ended next Saturday April 30th, we are inviting anyone who would be interested in sharing these thoughts to join us on Monday May 2nd for the 2011 edition of the A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post.

       Tell us about your experiences with the Challenge, both good and bad.  How did it help you?  How many followers did you gain from your participation in A to Z?   What was the most challenging aspect of this event?  What surprised you the most?  Would you do it again?   Why or why not?  Would you recommend it to others?

        We know that not all of you have liked this Challenge and we'd like to hear why.  Did the A to Z Team of event hosts do an adequate job of helping to answer your questions and to offer solutions to your problems?  Was the preparation leading up to the challenge handled well enough and in what ways did the Challenge fall short of your expectations?   What was wrong and what suggestions would you offer to improve it?

        The Reflections Post is also an opportune time to recognize the bloggers you found to be especially outstanding.   Did you discover any new blogs that you will continue to follow and you want to proclaim their achievements to the rest of us?  Did you make any special new blog friendships that have made A to Z more memorable?     Which bloggers deserve special recognition for their posts, their comments, or both?

         Monday May 2nd will be the official A to Z Challenge Mega Post day, but the days before or after will be fine as well if you can't make it on that day.  A special Linky list for this Mega Post will be opened on May 1st.

        Please use discretion and courtesy if you add your name to the list.  We invite all participants of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge to join us to express themselves.   Others who feel like they have something truly relevant to add to this discussion are also welcome to participate with their thoughts so long as they are constructive in their intent to help and enlighten others.  Those who merely want to offer negative rants that have no constructive value are asked to refrain from joining the list.    We don't mind hearing your negative thoughts just so you are not trying to tear down other people or hurt the reputations of those who mean well.    And please don't add your name to the Linky list if you have no intent to participate and merely want to be seen on the list.  The list is intended to benefit others and not waste anyone's time.

        We hope that all of you who are sincerely interested in sharing your thoughts about the A to Z Challenge will join us for the A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post will join us in this interactive event.  I will be linking to today's post throughout the week in my blog comments signature so as to let as many know about this as I can.  

          If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or any other thoughts about the Mega Post or anything else related to the A to Z Challenge, please leave a comment below.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Troubled Times

Enjoy this clip from SITA SINGS THE BLUES which features the music of  popular 20s jazz vocalist Annette Hanshaw.

      Troubled times are here.  Has it ever been otherwise?  Your household may be joyous today, while a neighbor down the street may be experiencing a sad time.   You may be suffering a job loss or bad health while a college kid across town looks forward to a new job waiting for him after his impending graduation or a young family celebrates the successful birth of a healthy new baby.   The world is full of ups and downs.

     As on one side of the world the sun rises on a new day full of hope, another side cringes in fear and dread at the coming of darkness.   Some nations struggle with war, poverty, and hunger while other nations abound with plenitude and security.  There is good and there is bad.

      But is there anyone anywhere who has never experienced a smile?   Don't we all have some moment of hope amidst our times of strife?  Even during the most treacherous storms we can look forward to the break in the clouds, the rainbow, and beautiful blue skies.  We thrive on hope or we would not be alive.

      A song that I wrote many years ago contained the following verse:

Loneliness, sweet well of inspiration,
I'll drink to quench a thirst and hope for sunshine.

      Difficult times of trouble, sadness, and uncertainty have often been the times when I have been at my creative peaks.   Songs and poetry fill my mind and spill onto the paper laid out before me.  My imagination churns out stories and my thoughts become rich with ideas.   I can become complacent with happy times as I settle back and enjoy the ride.   But in the sad times an inner energy swirls and stirs me into a productive mode as I attempt to recharge myself.  Troubled times are not something that I want, but they are times that I can use in a positive way.

       Do you allow troubled times to drag you down?   Have you used your difficulties for inspiration?   Are dark clouds headed your way or do you sense that a rainbow is about to break through to brighten your day?


Friday, April 22, 2011

Silly Science


The Silly Science

          In my home office I have a set of wooden salt and pepper shakers on top of the television next to my desk.  This is my earthquake indicator.  Whenever I sense that a tremor is occurring I look at my "earthquake indicator" to see if it is shaking.  

           Most of us in an earthquake prone area such as where I live develop a hypersensitivity to earthquake awareness.   A truck passing on the street can sometimes make the house shake, but will not move my "earthquake indicator".  When I do see it moving, I will immediately turn on the television and so far without fail my device has correctly identified the tremulous event as a legitimate earthquake.  Sure it's silly, but so far it works for me. 

          Many of us probably use what might be appropriately termed old wives tales, folklore, or superstition in order to make predictions or identify events around us.  Some will swear by astrology, feng shui, or other ancient practices, while others will label them as pseudoscience.

           We see claims used in advertising and media campaigns that we may blindly accept as fact and yet never see data to back up what we've been told.  When nine out of ten doctors recommend something, how many doctors were asked in the first place and how did they pick those doctors and were any of them our doctor?

            Do you believe every poll you see cited in the media?  Data can be skewed and results can faultily favor the side that may have instigated the polling in the first place.  We are often besieged by silly science, pummeled with perfidious propaganda.  What should we believe when the truth is often tenuous?

                                 The Real Science

There are a few bloggers that I've run across in the Challenge who are writing about real science.

Holly Ruggiero is offering a comprehensive study of minerals and precious stones.

Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs has been presenting information about his specialty fields of knowledge related to quantum and astrophysics.

M. Pax at Wistful Nebulae has also taken to space for the Challenge, which fits the frequent sci-fi theme of this blog.

Golden Eagle at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective is obviously doing her research on various scientific subjects and passing it on to her readers.  This immensely talented young lady has a great career ahead of her in science as well as writing science fiction.

S is also for So-Cal Library Connection:

          For anyone who has visited the wonderful library blog, So-Cal Library Connection, and was unable to leave a comment, this situation has been remedied.  The So-Cal blog comment section is now open for business!  I encourage you to visit this blog and weigh in on some of the very relevant topics that the dedicated librarians who contribute to this blog have been discussing.  If you haven't visited So-Cal Library Connection, then I highly recommend that you do so.  The topics on this blog are of interest to many, if not most of us.  Stop in and at least say hello!

So what do you say?

          Do you resort to any silly science?   What scientific advances or topics do you keep up with the most?
Science fiction:  nonsense, predictor of the future, or just a fun reading genre?   How much of what you hear in the news do you trust?    When's the last time you told a librarian "Thank You"?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Readers Respond

           When I want to know something about blogging, computers, or just about anything else I will often ask you the readers.   If I need an answer, I can usually find someone in the blog audience who has one for me.

             Most of the time I will close my post with some questions and many of you reply with some outstanding answers.  When the readers respond, that is some of the real magic of blogging.

What the Readers Said:

              In recent posts I asked for some of your recommendations of good blogs and books to read.  As usually happens I got some great reader responses.  Here are a few of them:

Brianna  from Pocketful of Playdough offered up these blogs for helpful ideas about writing and life.  In Brianna's words:

Lucy Adams --   "She's been blogging about literary terms, giving an example in literature and then using the technique in her own ongoing story. It's interesting, fun and educational."

Pawny's Pen is also doing an ongoing story which is very interesting and well written.

Thanks to the challenge I found Gregg from Gospel Driven Disciples And want to say a big thank you, Gregg for your encouraging words and comments on my blogs for this challenge! 

Yvonne from Welcome to My World of Poetry offered these books by Paul McKenna that have helped her:




"The Happiness Trap" by Russ Harris was recommended by Sue , who has a couple of blogs in the A to Z Challenge.

Pat Tillet suggested two popular books for positive thinking:

Norman Vincent Peale's  The Power of Positive Thinking

Rhonda Byrnes's      The Secret

           When the readers respond, I like to listen because you all have some great things to say.

             How about you?   What have your readers helped you with?   How have you helped other bloggers with their questions?    Do you open up your comments by offering questions?   


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quitting Quitting

           Do you think of yourself as a quitter?  Do you sometimes throw up your hands with a flourish and announce to the world that you're going to give up?  Or is your method a silent slinking off to leave one thing behind  to start another?   Then again you might be one of those people who are determined to finish something "even if it kills you".

            Sometimes quitting is good.   I quit smoking--twice!  If I quit once and then started a second time does it really mean that I ever quit?   The first time I "quit" smoking I went for about eight years without a cigarette.  Then I went back to a heavy smoking habit for another seven years before I quit for the second time.  That was thirteen years ago.  I don't think I'll ever start smoking again but perhaps I should say "never say never".  Perhaps I am merely on another smoking hiatus, but I'd like to think that I've quit forever.

            That's a good kind of quitting, but what about the kind of quitting we regret later?   People quit for different reasons--time, money, health, frustration,  and other factors can enter into the picture.  There are solutions for everything, but sometimes they just don't seem worth the hassle when we are faced with making a decision.  Before we quit anything we should decide whether or not we will regret it later,  and if so what are the alternatives to quitting entirely.

             I don't want to be a quitter when it comes to things for which I am passionate.  I don't want to quit doing what I know deep down I should finish.  Giving up on something to which I have devoted much and just walking away with regret is a decision to have squandered what I have put into my previous efforts.  Seeing one's efforts to a satisfactory ending is good investing.   I want the payoff, even if it is not the one I originally expected.  Give me a return on my investment of time, effort, money, and passion and give it to me with interest earned and a satisfaction of a job seen through to completion.

            A quitter is not the label I want to be known by.  I am going to try my best to quit quitting when quitting is not in my or anyone else's best interest.  Quitting quitting is not always going to be easy and may not always be possible, but at least I can say I tried.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paired P-words

Persistent Patience
          I learned to juggle when I was ten years old.   For years I had watched my parents practice for hours as they polished up the juggling act that they regularly performed before audiences.  On summer nights after my father came home from his day job, they would practice their routine repeatedly until it was too dark too see and the lightning bugs emerged.  He was striving for perfection and he persisted, not always patiently, but with diligence.

           Eventually my younger sister learned to juggle and begin winning numerous talent contests with an acrobatic dance act that incorporated her juggling skills.   I was content to learn to play the violin and had no interest in becoming part of the juggling act.

            Then, when my cousins came to visit one summer, they learned to juggle.  That was the incentive I needed.   I did not want to feel left out.  I shut myself away in my parents' bedroom for hours and practiced until I too could juggle three lacrosse balls.  Patience was a necessity and persistence was the key to learning the juggling skill.  Soon I too was a juggler.

Praising People

          When I debuted my newly acquired juggling skill to my family they were all surprised that I had secretly learned to juggle on my own.  My father was thrilled and praised my accomplishment.  I felt proud about what I was now able to do.  He and I both knew that I was going to be integrated into the Juggling Jackson act.

           My dad could be a hard taskmaster because he was serious about the Juggling Jacksons becoming the best.   It made perfect sense.  We were paid to go before crowds that expected professional entertainment. We did not want to look foolish or give the act a bad name.   Like my parents had done when I was a young onlooker, now they and my sister and I practiced the new act repeatedly in our small living room in San Diego, California.   Praise of our achievements, promise of the opportunities to come, and a bit of strategic bribery pushed us onward to perfecting the act.

          A performer basks in the adulation of audience applause.  This became a main driving force for me from my first stage appearance.  This is the praise that a performer thrives on the most.  Of course, making money was another big encouragement.   Here I was just a kid and getting paid $25 per show--not too shabby in the early sixties.  And we'd always get rewarded after each show with a dinner at a fancy restaurant.  My father knew the value of providing incentives.

         The money, the incentives, the audience, and the positive words are all forms of praise.  Right now I'm practicing in my living room to hone my writing act.  Hopes of money and incentives are aspired, but for now it is you as my audience and your sweet words of praise that encourage me and keep me going.

           We all need this encouragement and it is likewise good for us to praise each other.  The compliments elicit smiles from our hearts and a sense of well-being with our inner selves.  If we must criticize, then it should be to instruct and help others to improve upon what they do.  Tearing others down doesn't help them or you.  Praising other people makes them look good, but it makes you look even better.

             Are you receiving encouragement through your blogging efforts?    How do you encourage other bloggers?    What have you accomplished in your life through persistent patience that has gained you praise?


Monday, April 18, 2011

Optimal Optimism

            Are you an optimist?  Do you try to look at the positive side to everything?  If so, do you then kick it up a notch a strive for optimism at the highest level?   That's optimal optimism.  

           If you think about it logically it makes sense to be optimistic.  I like to think about the outcomes of our thoughts and actions.  Realism is right thinking, but we can be optimistic even in the most dire circumstances, and for our good and the good of those around us this optimistic thinking is what keeps us going.

          We have control over our own thoughts.  Even if we have had a lifetime of negative programming which inclines us toward negative (unproductive) thinking, we can eventually train ourselves to become productive positive thinkers.  I invite you to try to persuade me otherwise, but my real challenge to you is to become an optimal optimist.  You will be happier and more productive because of it, and you will influence those around you and help make the world a better place for us all.

           There are many books on positive and optimistic thinking.   I encourage you to investigate some of these and read them if you haven't done so already.   If you have any to recommend please tell us about them in the comment section.  One such book that you should read often is the Bible.  This may be controversial to some of you, but it's difficult to deny that there is a lot of advice in this book on how to think more positively.

            Much of the blogging community offers positivity and optimism.   Let me get to the business of recognizing some bloggers that I often find to be a positive inspiration to me.  I highly recommend that you check out these great ladies and try to absorb some of the sun rays of positive thinking that they usually radiate in their posts.

            Vanessa at Optimal Optimist is a young lady with a brilliant outlook on life.  The title of her blog is the inspiration for my blog post today.   She imparts some wonderfully uplifting messages that can help you see things in a better way.

             Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry is someone with whom many of you are already familiar.  Yvonne knows a thing or two about sorrow and troubling times, but she has also made a decision to overcome these negative energies.   She even wrote a book of poetry about it called  Negative V. Positive: Poems of Life's Experiences .   Her poetry reflects her philosophy of life and offers a pleasant boost for your day.
            Ruby at  Blabbin' Grammy  is  perhaps older in years than many of us but younger at heart.  In the year that I've been following her she's gone through what some may have seen as a world of hurt and sorrow, but she has chosen to turn it into a new life of opportunity.   She's got stories and advice that will warm your heart and make you smile.   Here's a lady who seems like she'll never let anything get her down and many of us love her for just that.

            If you don't know these bloggers yet, then please go and say hello to them and start checking out their  blogs on a regular basis.   And I know there are many more positive and optimistic blogs that I have missed.  Please feel free to recommend any that you can think of in the comments below.


       Now a final update on my neighborhood Borders closing.  As I reported in previous posts, the closing sale offered some pretty decent book deals for me.   This past Saturday (4/16/11) I noted that the signs were announcing the last day of the store being open with all books four for five dollars.  I could not pass up checking out to see what was left.  Here was what I took home Saturday:

Ellen Bryson's  The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno
Ace Collins'   Swope's Ridge
Pat Conroy's   My Reading Life
Jonathan Franzen's  Freedom
Susan Froderberg's  Old Border Road
William Gibson's  Zero History
Michael Koryta   So Cold the River
Philip Roth's  Nemesis

All of the books, except for the Collins and Koryta books, were brand new hardback editions--all eight of them for a grand total of ten dollars plus our 10.75% sales tax, part of which is intended to help fund a new state of the art library just a few blocks from my house.  I also picked up a pleasant Sting CD called If On a Winter's Night... for the paltry price of $1.70.  According to my receipt I saved $192.02 which is none too shabby in my opinion.

        Borders is now gone but now I look forward to what will come next.  Will it be a big discount bookstore?  A computer or electronics store?  Perhaps it will stay empty for a while, but in the end it's all good.   We still have Staples, Lowes, Walmart, and a bunch of other stores.

        Life is an adventure and we should do our best to enjoy it.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Negativity Nuisance

        He was the kind of guy who could find something wrong with everything.  By just walking into a room, he would drain out the energy and siphon it through his aura of negativity leaving a sad empty suck that made everyone present want to skulk away into whatever other place was happier.  Norm was the ultimate party killer.

        "Where'd everyone go?"  Norm looked at me with sullen questioning.  "Do I smell bad or something?"

         What could I tell him that he had never figured out in the past?   It was always the same.  Whether I tried sympathetic apologetics or flat-out telling it like it is, he would always put it off on someone else.  It was always the other guy--nothing that he ever did.

          I would have gone too, but Norm and I had been friends since I could remember.  He could drag me down even in my happiest times, but someone had to stand by him I reasoned.  I tried to think of someone else to keep him company while I recharged myself with a happier crowd.  I could think of no one who would be willing to accept this task.

          "Everyone's looking out for themselves," Norm continued.  "It upsets them when I put the truth out on the table for them."

            Yeah and serve it with a side dish of scorn, I thought to myself.  You lay out a feast and then puke on it.  Then you expect them to eat it.

             I was annoyed, but decided to give it another go at trying to salvage the evening.

             "Let's go over to the Bull Pen and have a beer and shoot some pool."

              Norm pondered the suggestion and then scowled, "I hate that place."


             So, on the topic of lemons and lemonade, I'm saddened to see the Borders bookstore across the street from where I live going out of business.  It was walking distance and the only bookstore in the town where I live.  There are bookstores in the adjacent towns that are not all that far from me, but it was just kind of cool to have a big bookstore that I could walk to.

            On the plus side, since the store closes it's doors for good this weekend, everything is marked down to 80 to 90%.   Here is my haul on Friday:

Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood
E.L. Doctorow's World's Fair
Jody Hedlund's The Preacher's Bride
John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River
Lee Sandlin's Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild

 All for a grand total of  $17.79 plus our outrageous 10.75% city sales tax of $1.91.    Not too bad considering the nature of the books purchased.

          Good-bye to another pretty good bookstore.  Hello another empty storefront in a bad economy.  At least I'll have some more books to read when I can't afford to leave the house anymore.  Negativity is a nuisance,  but you can always find some good in anything if you look at it the right way.

          On Monday my topic will be Optimism.          



Friday, April 15, 2011

MIssing Money

         There's a few thousand dollars missing and even after having looked for several years I haven't been able to find it.  I'm pretty sure I stashed it away somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember where I hid it.  Money had flowed more profusely back then and it really wasn't missed that much at the time.  Now I could really use it.

          Now and then I awaken from dreams in which I have found the money or I have lost the money. Depending on which dream I have dreamed, I rise with optimism looking in places where my secrets dwell unseen or I crawl out of bed with uncertain dread and dark forebodings.   At times that money taunts me in its game of hide and seek, but it mostly lies silently in wait until the day it jumps out to surprise me.

          Years ago my pockets bulged and cash was stashed in common corners and imaginative nooks.  Money came and went.  Now I sometimes scrounge for pennies on the floorboard of my car or prospect for coins under couch cushions.   Yet I know that somewhere in this house is a cache of cash that was tucked away in more plentiful times.

          Perhaps in a cupboard, or in a drawer, or in the pocket of an old coat in the back of a dark closet, that lost money will one day smile upon me and say, "I was lost, but now at last you've found me."  Then it will rest securely in my wallet until I lose it again.  But first I need to find my missing money.

          Have you lost track of something valuable but are convinced that it is somewhere nearby?   Do you keep careful track of your finances or do you spend your money frivolously?   Have you ever come upon money that you had hidden away but forgotten about?