College Confessions

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Present Day confession: I take books to the beach and never get around to reading ’em.

Here’s true confession number one: I was that college student that other college students despised. The one who ruined the curve for everybody else.

Yeah, I’d look around with the rest of the Bio class, grumbling under my breath about that jerk of a student who didn’t miss a single question on the mid-term, knowing that I was that jerk. One has to keep that sort of thing on the down low but here’s confession number two: I had a natural aptitude for memorization. Which unfortunately didn’t help me much when it came to the business classes I had to take.

Sadly, I didn’t know that my super power wouldn’t be much use. I waltzed into a 300 level business course of about 30 guys, thinking no worries. I had mad memory skills, plus I knew a couple of these guys (translation: had dated ’em or were dating ’em) and honestly, I wondered if they’d ever figure out how to run a washing machine much less pass a business class.

So we had to write up these cases. Well, writing was my jam! And we had to apply some kind of business principles to each case. A sort of What Would You Do in the business world. I listened to the lectures, I read the book, I wrote a scathingly brilliant paper.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a C on that paper. And across the aisle, on Jake’s (recall that I “knew” this guy) paper, was an A. And worse, Jake had maybe four sentences on his paper. Thus began my mission to show that professor what was what (or more specifically that I was an “A” student, thank you very much). Except (true confession number three) that try as I might, I could not get any better than a B+ on any case. While Jake sat over there, raking in the As with his pithy paragraphs of a case he wrote on the way to class.

Jake, the business major, just understood business, he said.

Maybe he did. Maybe Jake’s running a conglomerate now. Probably just buys new shirts when he needs something clean.

All this to say that I have rather negative feelings about business or anything business-related. But when I saw Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I thought business be damned (because I could just tell this was some sort of business book without even opening it. It just had that smell about it) because the subtitle read: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

Okay, then. I started reading it. And if you want to know how it inspired my latest WOW! post at the Muffin, take a look at “On Writing: From Dependence to Interdependence.” I’d give it at least a B+.

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I Saw A School Bus in my Neighborhood Today

back-bus-education-159658It’s August 1st, y’all.

AUGUST FIRST.

I don’t even have kids in school anymore and still, I’m seriously annoyed at this rush back-to-school. And yes, I know, the kids got out on May 22nd in my neighborhood so it’s really the same amount of time for summer break as they’ve always had. But when I see a school bus on my street on AUGUST FIRST, it just doesn’t feel right. I mean, when did we all decide to give August the summer vacation shaft? It just sticks in my craw.

And speaking of things that stick in my craw, I have a post over at the Muffin today on Stick-in-My-Craw Character Flaws.

I’ve come up with three annoying character missteps, if you will, but I’m sure there are plenty more which I neglected to mention. These flaws are just the ones that cause various extreme reactions from me. Like screaming out loud at the publisher (Come on, Harper Collins, how did you ever spend money on this book?) or throwing the book (That’s the final straw *tosses book across the room* I refuse to read another word— *remembers that it’s a library book and goes to find tossed book*).

Or maybe I pound my head into the desk because I’ve found in my very own manuscript one of the character flaws I despise (and just listed in a post over at The Muffin). So I’m getting to work on revisions for August, just as soon as A. my head stops hurting and B. Libs quits barking at buses in my neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

Is It Hot Enough For You?

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So hot Libs won’t even mess with the squirrels.

I wish I could explain this opening line that one hears just about every day, twenty times a day, in the South once summer comes along. But for those of you who are NOT from the South or live here in the South, but are experiencing some pretty blistering hot weather these days, there’s a good chance you are hearing this question. So here are a couple of typical responses you can use:

He: Hot enough for you?

You: Hooeey! (Which is Southern for, “Heck, yeah!”)

OR

She: Hot enough for you?

You: Does a wild bear poop in the woods? (The old “answer a question with a question” gambit.)

So if you were outside enjoying hot 4th of July activities, you might’ve missed my “4 for the 4th” post over at The Muffin. I decided to toss out a few short ideas I’ve been thinking about because it was too hot for ruminating on a long idea. I’d be interested if you have any thoughts to share on any or all topics.

Oh! And I also had a Cathy C. Hall interview over at writer friend, Kathryn Schleich’s website. So it’s a bit longer but if you’re stuck inside due to the heat and want something to read, it’s kinda entertaining and there may be a writing tip or two.

And finally, if you are tempted to say something smart-alecky to “Hot enough for you?” like, “Nope, I could stand a few more degrees of heat and humidity!” then please don’t blame me when you get whacked upside the head. Because when it’s hot enough, people do not care at all for smart alecks, no matter where you are.

 

On Birds and Thoughts

afterglow-avian-backlit-556663Sometimes, being alone with my thoughts is pure heaven. I string out complicated story lines in my head, recalling weird names or characters so that I can…well, invent weird and interesting characters. I laugh out loud at crazy shenanigans I imagine but I can also get myself all worked up (which is code in the Hall House for crying) over a sad scene that plays out in my mind. Hours go by with just my constructive thoughts and it’s a fine thing.

But other times, being alone with my thoughts is hellish. I obsess over an imagined or real slight, building up a resentment. Or I let worry build into a whole giant thing over what may or may not even happen! Those negative thoughts play in a loop and I literally make myself miserable, possibly to the point of getting myself “all worked up.” And here’s the frustrating thing: I probably indulge in the unhealthy thoughts more than the creative, joyful ones.

And here’s another thing: I think many of us–maybe most of us–struggle with those kinds of thoughts. It’s part of the human condition. But I heard a quote the other day –and you know how I love my quotes– that smacked me upside the head.

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”   

~ Martin Luther

Hearing those words, I began to imagine a bird building a nest in my hair. But I wouldn’t just sit there, would I? Nope, I’d shoo the birds away, waving my arms, maybe even shouting. And if that didn’t work, I’d move somewhere, far away from the birds.

But when I allow destructive thoughts to build a nest in my mind, what do I do? Why, I just hang out there, watching intently, maybe even handing over more thoughts with which to build a bigger and stronger nest. Instead of actively doing something to shoo the thoughts away!

It was an eye-opening moment for me, y’all, thinking about those birds. And I’ve had a few times, alone with my thoughts these past days, where I’ve had to shoo the birds away. So thank you, Martin Luther (who has lots more fine quotes). And may you, friends, find a way to shoo those negative thoughts out of your mind and build instead a joyful nest that keeps you safe and happy.

And P.S. Almost forgot! Juniorette Hall said I always write a post that’s a plug for my WOW! posts. And I do have a post up over at the Muffin–“The Beauty of a Blog”–but it has nothing to do with birds or thoughts or Martin Luther, so there. Um… it might be helpful to you if you’re an author, so I hope you’ll take a look. (And yes, I know that’s a plug but Juniorette Hall is not the boss of me.)

Photo by luizclas from Pexels

 

 

The Salt Water Cure

IMG_20171206_104403JUNE? What happened to May?

I have a suspicion what happened to May. The same thing that happens in June. These months are weighed down with a regular smorgasbord of sadness for me…My mom’s birthday is in May and she died just a week later. And Mother’s Day. And I try to stay busy, busy, busy. But then June comes along with reminders of Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday and Mister Man’s entirely inconvenient demise…

I came across this Isak Dinesen quote recently and it stopped me in my tracks:

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.”

And so I finished up my deadlines, including this for the Muffin: Making Time for Time Off.

I’m where I need to be right now; I can smell the salt water from my porch. And there will probably be a few tears on Father’s Day, and I’ll sweat while taking care of hurricane damage. I may even sweat a bit over a manuscript revision.

Salt water will do its work while I work on the cure for what ails me. (Okay, I probably won’t sweat much, fixing stuff from the hurricane. But I’ll think about painting the flood damaged walls and whatnot and I think that counts.)