Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Enhance the Experience

We are always in a rush. Not us exactly as in my family, but the human race as a whole. We want to hurry up and get things done, find the quickest route, the easiest solution. We want microwaveable popcorn and coffee that brews in 8 seconds. We want instant grits–well, some people do for some reason (yuck)–and shorter books. We are in a hurry to finish the mundane so we can quickly get on with the monotonous. Yet, faster does not always equal better. It’s just faster.

Life should never be lived in a microwave. It needs a preheated oven to allow the aromas to waft through the air and tantalize the senses, making the nose constantly sniff the air, the mouth to water, and the stomach to growl with eager anticipation. Life is about the experiences and experiences that are rushed are soon forgotten and rarely enjoyed. Slow down. Enhance even the simplest of experiences.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Melbourne Art Festival

This weekend our Messing took us to the Melbourne Art Festival in Downtown Melbourne. The event lasted all weekend and had score upon score of artists sharing their work with potential buyers. There was everything from the traditional art work to fancy photography, jewelry, painted dishes, fishes with giant lips, and even some pretty cool digital artwork with no photos being used. Sculptures and statues, metal work, and floral arrangements, all lined the streets and perched under giant white canopies. Some I understood and enjoyed and others I stared at and wondered why? Especially after I saw the price tag. I mean I can understand some of the amounts, but others I had to look at and wonder if these people realized they were in Melbourne.

If you remember from a post I made a few months ago, Eye of the Beholder, you’ll already know that some art just confuses me. I am a simple man in my tastes of what I like in my art and the abstract and I do not get along inside of my head. I like the more traditional paintings and sculptures. I want something I can understand without having to sit and meditate on what it means. However, the art festival had it all and something for every taste.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Balance of Contentment

Last time we visited, I spoke about being content with your lot in life, with your possessions that surround you. Being satisfied is a way to find peace within oneself. Yet, that is also harder said–or typed–than done. Sometimes, we just aren’t satisfied with our lot. We want more. Well, not necessarily more, but better. We want better things and a better position in life. It’s hard to be content when you simply want something better with your life. So, how do you find that contentment?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself. Actually, I feel sorry for those who don’t want to better themselves. Life is a chance to improve who we are, to learn new things, to grow. The key is find that balance between being content where you are and striving to improve at the same time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Contentment Leads to Peace

“I love my life.” It became a mantra there for a while. Not that I was trying to convince myself, but because it just bubbled up and had to be spoken out loud. I know. It sounds corny. Joel thought so as well when we worked together and he had to suffer my random outbursts of joy. Yet, it is true. Very true. Even more so now than it was back then a few years ago.

I truly do love my life.

And what is not to love? I am surrounded by the people I love and who love me and doing the thing I love to do. I have all I need and I am able to go wherever I want when I want. Even if I couldn’t, I would still love my life. The trips are a mere bonus, a pat on the back.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Don’t Stand in the Doorway

Greeted by shouts as she opened the door
Doorways are exciting things. Sometimes, you have absolutely no idea what rests on the other side. Even if you’ve walked through it a thousand times and are 95% sure you know what to expect, there can still be a surprise on the other side. We did it to Char a few years ago. I had taken her out for her birthday and while I did, Teri and Sarah put together a surprise birthday party with about thirty-plus of our friends. We approached the door and Char expected it to be like every other time she had opened it.

It wasn’t.

As she passed through it, shouts of “Surprise!” and “Happy Birthday!” bombarded her and scared her out of a few future birthdays. It also caused a few sailor-like words to come out of her mouth. It was worth it, though.

Yet, if Char had never passed through that door, she never would have known what was waiting for her on the other side. To experience all that was there, she had to not only open the door; she had to walk through it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

When Receiving a Bad Review

Do you read reviews before you purchase a book? I’ll be honest and say I usually don’t. Quite often when judging a product or a movie I have often felt the opposite of the critics. If they hate it, I love it and vice versa.

I also don’t want to have my reading of something skewed and quite often reviewers tend to give small spoilers during their reviews. I would rather be surprised as to what is coming next. Anything more than a back-of-the-book blurb and I feel the reading experience is slightly ruined. I want to feel every shock and twist the author has in store for me. So, I wait until after I read the book and then read the reviews to see if I agree with them or not.

As an author I love reading the reviews others take the time to leave for my work. I appreciate the depth as well as the viewpoints of each one, whether it is a good or a bad review. Okay, to be honest, no one loves to receive a bad review. We want everyone to be thrilled with our writing and spew out great praise that we took the time to put the words to paper–or screen with today’s age of electronics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lights Out, Lips Shut

Last week, the 9-year-old participated in her school’s Earth Day Concert, a performance put on by third graders involving songs and recorders.  A recorder, for those of you who do not know, is a flute-like instrument given to young kids to attempt to interest them in band. That is what it is to me, at least. I’m not sure if I have ever seen one in an adult orchestra, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The songs were written to assist the children and the parents to be more aware of conserving our natural resources. The kids did an amazing job and it was a fun concert to watch.

I’m not sure how many students were in attendance. There were five classes, so I am guessing between 80 to 100 children. That produces quite a bit of noise, even when not singing. Add to that the audience of parents, grandparents and siblings, some older and many younger, and you have a cacophony that drowns one lone music teacher, even if she came equipped with a whistle, which this one didn’t.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Writing Process

Last week I was tagged by friend, blogger, and soon-to-be author, Stephanie Neighbour, to participate in a blog hop where writers share their process for creating the projects they write. Stephanie and I have known each other, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, for a couple of years now, at least, and together have pulled our hair out over the injustices of Twitter Jail and the crazy writing programs we attempt to learn in order to make our lives easier. Eventually, they do, but not until after watching hours of YouTube videos and lengthy messages sent back and forth. If you haven’t visited Stephanie’s blog, you are truly missing out and need to rectify that today, after you finish reading this one, of course.

So settle back as I attempt to answer some of the questions posed in the blog hop and maybe together we’ll figure out how I do this thing called writing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Routines Free Up Time and Energy

I love lists!
I’ve been called a creature of habit. I don’t argue this because for the most part it is true. I like things done a certain way and I tend to do them the same way all the time. Routines. Rituals. Habits. Whatever you call these daily checklist items, they are not a bad thing. Actually, they are quite helpful.

Have you ever felt overloaded? Everyone is coming to you at one time wanting your input on this decision or that project from what you’re having for lunch to an outline for the next big project. Then you have those details at home that need your attention to add to the mix and even though the 9-year-old would love to make the decision all the time about what to prepare for dinner, you know better than to relinquish that decision. It would help, but you would be sick of McDonald’s and Mac & Cheese constantly. Although I do hear that some parents think this is a steady, healthy diet for children. It’s not. It’s the lazy way out of making smart choices.

Monday, April 7, 2014

By Rushing You Waste Time

Time. We are all given the same twenty-four hours each day. We are also given seven days in a week and fifty-two weeks in a year. However, we don’t all accomplish the same thing in the allotted time. Some people make every minute count. Others are fine squandering it away frivolously, not caring what happens with it. Of course, many times these are the same people whining later in life about wishing they could get the time back.

There are two time-wasters. One is not making proper use of your time, allowing yourself to get sidetracked into a million other non-essential things, such as Facebook updates or reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Instead of doing what you know you should be doing, you procrastinate, making every excuse you can not to do it. One of these rationalizations is that there will be time later, but then that time could best be spent doing something else.

The second time-waster is rushing to get something done, such as a book published. I have finished reading two books by indie authors who obviously did just that. They were in a hurry to get their work out, to “earn some money,” and slapped it together and hit publish. However, rushing hurt them by all indications of the reviews their books received. I withheld my review, because I will not give a bad review and that is what I would have had to give these two authors. Instead, I just skipped it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories belong on bookshelves
You don’t have to be a writer to be a storyteller. As a matter of fact, all of us are storytellers, even if we do not realize it. Don’t believe me? See if any if any of these sound familiar.

“I have asked him to put his socks in the dirty clothes hamper a dozen times. He is purposefully trying to piss me off.”

“Why are they looking at me like that? They think they are better than me and can do whatever they want.”

“I’m the only one whoever takes out the trash. They just think I’m the servant in this house.”

“I told them to be here at ten, but oh no, they don’t care if I’m sitting here waiting for fifteen minutes. They only want to do what they want to do.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Disney Fast Pass Chaos

Scheduling our Fast Passes
By now you realize our family loves Disney. We grew up surrounded by it and it has always been a place for escape since I was in elementary school and all of our children feel the same way. We may not decorate our bathroom or kitchen in Disney, but it has been brought to the table for a vote.

There are many things that Disney does great. For example at the resort we stayed at, there were several food lines, each with only five or six entrees, so the choice was limited. This enabled the cooks to prepare the food quicker, which in turn meant you were seated and eating faster. The four days we were there, not once did we have to stand for an outrageous amount of time in line. The fast food industry could really learn something from what Disney accomplishes. It was the same way in the parks.

The girls and I fell in love with Disney’s Magic Bands as well. Our park passes, credit cards, room key, and Fast Passes were all attached to this wrist band, making it easy to access whatever we needed without having to lug fifty things around. I also hear they are on the verge of doing even more with the Magic Bands, which has us excited.