Circling around to important questions

At today’s Tuesdays with Deborah session, we engaged topics that are asked by reticent bloggers and often revisited by experienced bloggers.

What is a blog? What is a blog post?

A blog is a collection of web content, usually writing. A readable blog post is about 200 to 600 words long. A good blog post is something that will be found and read by someone who is interested in a topic. What topics do reticent bloggers have in mind?

Where are blogs?

The best place for a blog is high on the list of search results returned to a search engine user. Readers find bloggers who effectively refine their understanding of relevant search terms.

Who blogs?

Writers blog!  Businesses develop, grow, and maintain customer bases through relevant and timely blog posts.  People with common knowledge and information needs find each other through the authoring of, and reading of, blogs.

When is a blog post visible?

A blog post is visible as soon as the author decides to publish a piece.  Writers with experience in printed materials can be assured that a “published” blog post can be changed after it is published.  Each blogger develops an sense of when a piece is ready for publishing. Each blogger develops an individual sense of how often to publish new content.

How are blog posts created?

Blog posts are created using a software tool such as WordPress, the software used for the Tuesdays with Deborah blog.  Blogging tools have features that feel like word processing: writing, formatting, and saving. A key difference between word processing and blogging is a “publish” mechanism for making content visible to readers.

The content of blog posts is developed through each writer’s unique writing practice. When is a good time of day for writing? Where is a good location for the writing process? What gets in the way of writing – distractions? Multi-tasking? The internal editor who gets in the way of first drafts being created? Some writers identify clothing that makes writing easier or harder.

Bloggers discover that developing the content is more challenging than learning software features for creating posts.

Answers to the previous questions of who-what-when-where-and-how all come from the question:

Why create a blog? What causes a reticent blogger to enter the world of blogging?

There are many right answers to the questions of what to write, how often to post, etc. Good approaches for any one blog come from on-going refinement of a blog’s purpose.

Understanding a blog’s purpose is not a pre-requisite for beginning a writing/blogging practice.  Discovering a blog’s purpose begins with an idea, leading to some drafts, leading to some publishing, leading to some feedback, leading to a refined understanding of purpose and how to fulfill the purpose.

The current writing challenge is “Passionate Observations.” Here are examples about New YorkDenver, and our own area.

Reticent bloggers are invited to register for the site, read and comment on posts, try out what feels like a word processing tool for adding a new post, and then take a deep breath and press the “publish” button.

Right now, the editor in my head wants a few things different about this post. But the writer will press the “publish” button, in this safe space, and the editor can have a turn on another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facing Grief, Unflinchingly.

What is a good metaphor, or simile, for grief?

Grief is powerful and inevitable. It occurs to all of us. It can be disabling.  It can feel like a tsunami – an unimaginably powerful force overtaking and smothering every other aspect of… reality.  Grief can feel like a magnet – one occurrence of grief becoming a magnet for every other possible grief response we might have imagined, but never did, and so when a knife-like grief experience occurs, suddenly…. other grief responses are invited into spaces that existed before… but now those spaces also have the added burden of grief.

So what are good similes or metaphors for grief, I ask my writing community? Please! I want to know! Comment on this post, or create a post of your own that links to your personal website. Please.  Similes and metaphors are powerful tools in writers’ toolboxes for dealing with…  and shaping… grief.  (And also other powerful life experiences.)

Many of us know the power, value, and utility of simile and metaphor.

Simile is saying something “is like” something else.

Metaphor is saying something IS (identity-like) something else. A bit more powerful and abstract than simile.

Similes AND metaphors have their place and their usefulness as we understand our human experience.

So what are the metaphors (or similes) for grief?

Grief is like the rogue wave, unexpectedly roaring in and covering, maybe obliterating, everything in its path. (That is a simile.)

Grief is a cranky bitch. (That is a metaphor – the “is,” construction, not the “is like” construction.) But this statement invites questions about the meaning of “cranky” and the meaning of “bitch.” I will not expend my own life force on explaining this metaphor at this time. But let me know in a comment if the metaphor intrigues you.

So I return to my original question: what is a good metaphor, or a good simile, for grief?  Because metaphors and similes allow us room, and space, and vocabulary, with which to deconstruct and understand life experiences that otherwise would be…. obliterating of our own lives, or of the meaning of our own lives.

We grieve all kinds of losses.

We grieve the loss of the heart-beating lives experienced by people we know and love, even when the ending of that life is a loss more to “us” than to the person who lived that life.

We grieve the loss of… jobs… marriages…. friendships… tomato plants that did not thrive in clay soil.

Like many people, I retreat from the nearly overwhelming, death-dealing, breath-squeezing, reality of authentic grief to the….. safer… less breath-squeezing level of… humor.

I feel, in this moment, when asking for a simile or metaphor for grief…. that I would like to know: “I do not know what I am talking about; do you know what I am talking about?”  (That statement/question is my idea of humor.)

My beloved and respected writing friends’ authentic wisdom about grief is invited. We all experience grief. May our collective and caring words about grief serve to increase compassion in the world. And thereby change the world and the future of humanity.

A story of our pets as teachers

A recent post by fellow-blogger Steve Kenagy brought back poignant, important, consoling, and peaceful memories.

One beloved cat (Ginger) simply stopped showing up. We never knew what her life was like after the day she did not show up for dinner. This cat (an independent-thinking, fun, challenging, and loving manx) had “shown up” in our lives, at the start uninvited, but Continue reading “A story of our pets as teachers” »

Authoring the Future Economy

An Seattle Times article described a community event that they described as being about resumes and job hunting. Instantly, I thought of the wise words of Phill Briscoe, Gerald Grinter, and John C Erdman.

What if there were an evening at Town Hall in Seattle with these three writers (who are also architects and designers of the economy of the future)?

What if such an evening also included Deborah Drake’s collaborative book “Burn Your Resume?”

What if it were not an evening, but a half-day conference at a place like the Albers School of Business at Seattle University?  That may seem like a fantasy right now, but all the writers linked here should hear from me that the content they share at TwD and in writing is, in my opinion, what university students and the public could be offered at a half-day conference at a place that is a laboratory and greenhouse for the new economy.

For some, Parkour Vision is a destiny, not a choice

A respected friend has a toddler who likes to climb. Of course she needs to keep him safe. This causes me to write the following reflection.

When our son (now almost 20 years old) was a toddler, he needed to climb. We tried to not say, “you need to come down.” We tried to simply find times, places, and ways for climbing to be safe. It was gut-wrenching for me, the mom, sometimes.

Our son’s need to climb is, and was, genetic. My husband grew up “rock hopping” in Billings Montana. My husband and son are coordinated, well-balanced, and sure-footed.

As a family, we always kept our eyes open, looking for places to do some rock hopping or a bit of recreational (not technical) climbing in the beautiful outdoors and even in developed settings.

When our son was in about ninth grade, he discovered the movement art of Parkour and it resonated with him in a way that was compelling. We are lucky to live in a time and place in which the people who lead the Parkour community approach it from the point of view of “Parkour Vision.” These young world-changing leaders practice and teach the Truth that Parkour causes you to move through any environment – physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual – by seeing the obstacles and devising a path through, over, under, and around them. It is a fully-embodied metaphor for what we want our young people to learn and develop into adult-world survival skills.

Because Parkour had such a strong natural call for our son, he wanted to “make the case” to mom and dad in a way that would invite us to say “yes.” And so he did. He wrote an essay with the right balance of informality, combined with some information and purpose. We said yes.

That was more than four years ago. The Parkour Visions folks have developed and grown a non-profit organization for the purpose of teaching the movement art and life skills of Parkour at an indoor gym. Along the way, they have developed curricula, methods and inventions to share with others. Our son has not had time in the past couple years to train at the gym regularly, as much as he would like to, and as much as we would like it for him. The rhythm of a rigorous academic life makes it challenging to work all the physical distances between home and school and gym, while working the school commitment with integrity.

But the movement art of Parkour is part of his life and his vision and his approach to life. Parkour, and the Parkour Visions people, have been formational to the independent-thinking young man who inherited his father’s balance, sure-footedness, and so on.

When our son was a toddler, we arranged our lives to look for safe places, ways, and times to honor his intrinsic need to climb. When he had reached “the age of reason,” we, as a family, decided that in Ireland, we would not visit the Cliffs of Moher, because, honestly, there could be no assurance that our son would stay far enough back from that dangerous edge. We visited an amazing set of caves, instead – rock hopping of a different kind.

It is better for our son if mom does not always see the movement life that he is comfortable with. That dynamic tension between any young man’s abilities, and any mother’s caution, is simply the way of the world. It is not a matter of right and wrong. It is right for our son to develop his own good judgment about how to develop use his movement skills, and it is right for a mother to find it a bit gut-wrenching.

 

The Dance

Welcome to the dance! Many of the networking groups available today have a technique called the dance. The dance is when two members of the networking group get together and spend about an hour getting to know each other. Each person takes about half of the time and talks about who they are and what they need as far as referrals. This generally gives the participants a good insight into the other person and they are able to refer them to much higher level.

I like to take the concept of the dance a little further than just a networking technique. Over the years I have met and danced with the number of people. A lot of those people became good friends and the rest good acquaintances. I believe this technique is something that most people should do on a regular basis. Invite somebody that you want to get to know better have a cup coffee, and interview them, get to know them, and share a little of yourself with them.

This last Saturday, I had a dance Liz Tidyman. We set about an hour, at Tully’s, to share a cup of coffee and a few stories. As they say time passes when having fun, so three hours later Liz and I were still chatting. It was a delightful time, we talked about the three forbidden topics – sex, politics and religion. We also talked about our time in scouting, schooling, business and life in general. During our discussion, I got to know Liz an entirely different level than our time in Tuesday’s with Deborah. She is a wonderful, intellectual and caring person. I’m glad we had the dance!

My recommendation to all of you is welcome to the dance. Pick a person who you’d like to get to know better, set a time for cup coffee, and enjoy the dance.

Writing session after TwD – Part 2

I told the following story about grocery rescue, my TwD friend captured it and emailed me a first draft. It is one way to write together. We will write together again June 5, from 2:45 to 3:45, and other TwD participants are welcome to participate. Tomorrow I may be giving editorial feedback on a collection of my friend’s writing. It is inspiring to be in the company of writers.  Join us by the fireplace at Friends, Philosophy, and Tea for a second cup of tea; draft your next blog post, be part of the conversation a bit as we all improve our writing practice. We will discover how to move our writing along.  Here is what my friend and I made possible in less than an hour last week:

I wish there were more “grocery rescue” volunteer drivers.  That way, it would be easier to find a substitute driver when I go on vacation. Being a grocery rescue volunteer is a very important part of my life.  In less than three years I have personally carried more than 15 tons of donated food to the local food bank, and the only cost to my family has been 2 hours per week of my time plus the gasoline to drive 2 miles per week.

How much money would I have to earn to feel as though I could donate 5 tons of food per year?  That’s 10,000 pounds!  For reporting purposes, a food bank might value donated food at a dollar a pound. So food bank arithmetic would tell me that a dollar value of the food that I carry each year is about $10,000. I do not feel as though I have $10,000 every year to give the food bank, but I do feel as though I have 2 hours every week to give the food bank. And my 2 hours a week makes it possible for the food bank to obtain the fresh food that my local supermarket is eager to donate – extra that they do not wish to throw away.

I wish more people would donate time to their local food banks, so that there could be more grocery rescue drivers and more substitutes for us.   The Food Lifeline Network is the umbrella organization through which my local grocery rescue operation takes place; Hopelink is the social service agency that operates my local food bank. The experience enhances my life, values, and community connections.  It has formed me and benefited my family and me, every bit as much as any food bank client has benefited from the food obtained by my participation.

Seeing the Human Dignity of Another Individual

As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, we see more people whose solo-preneur full-time occupation seems to be standing or sitting near a well-traveled spot, holding a cardboard sign asking for money.

Should we give something?
Should we give nothing?

How do we know the person whose sign claims homelessness actually IS homeless?

How do we know the person won’t use the money for alcohol or drugs?

I am not offering a “you should” in this Note. I am offering a “the Truth as I know it… today…. this far into life’s formative journey.” Paul Zohav wrote on the same topic, so I add this reflection, written recently, to continue the thoughtful conversation he started.

We all have the same human dignity.
No one “edits” my purchases. If I have money, I can purchase what is available for sale.
I do not “test” the veracity of my “employed” friends’ claims about their homes.
I do not “edit” what my “employed” friends purchase.
We all feel hunger.
We all feel cold.
We all feel isolation.

So here is how it is for me.

On the day that I have something to eat,
if I receive the invitation, face to face, to see that someone else has something to eat,
that is an invitation I can say yes to.

It often sounds like this: “I am about to do my grocery shopping. Can I bring you some soup or a hot meal from their prepared foods section?”

It might sound like this: “I made this brown bag lunch for myself…. but would you like it?”

Or, with people with whom I have developed an acquaintance because of years in the same community: “Do you have time to go inside and we can have soup together…my treat?”

I often carry a $10 gift card for the local grocery store “chain” that has so many stores and so many departments that the amount could be used for food, or socks, or toiletries…. or something else… without me editing the purchases.

No, I can’t solve all the problems in our economy.

And right now, I do not feel as though donating money to my local food bank, part of a social service agency to whom my family donates almost uncountable hours of my time, is a good use of that money, because recent news reports revealed criminal charges against a couple former employees who stole almost $100,000 from the agency before they noticed enough to get it stopped! Gee. I am sure glad I did not entrust that org with money. The “time” that I have donated has resulted in 15 tons of food being transported from my local grocery store to my local food bank, because I volunteer once a week as a grocery rescue driver. So no one can tell me, today, that giving money to a well-respected social service agency is better than giving money to the person who is actually hungry.

Thanks for reading this reflection. It’s as far as I’ve gotten along this journey. Your thoughtful and respectful comments are welcome because we all form each other.

Thanks for being you in the world.

Writing session after TwD – Part 1

At every TwD session, I make notes for writing I would like to do Right Away. I know I am not alone. Another group member and I have decided to plan on staying at the gracious space of Friends Philosophy and Tea after the TwD session to do some writing….. sometimes in silence…. right after the session.

Here is the emerging idea, and you are invited:

TwD proceeds from 1 until 2:30. We “break” from 2:30 to 2:45 or so to finish conversations, stretch, refill our tea, etc.

At 2:45 we gather near the fire, perhaps, or at the tables set up for teahouse guests, for an hour. We encourage each other by simply being together in that gracious space.

When I depart TwD and I get involved in “other projects,” I experience a delay before writing a draft of the “great idea” inspired by the TwD session. I want to capture the inspirations. I can see that my writing practice could include reserving Tuesday afternoon from 1 until 4 for the double benefit of the Tuesdays with Deborah session, followed immediately by an hour of writing.

Last Tuesday, my friend Sharon who was at TwD for the first time began to say, “I need to write about the day that…..” I said: “Simply tell me the story. I will capture it, and you will have a first draft to work with.”

Sharon and I enjoyed a chuckle, later, about the results, and we will reverse the process the next time that we are both at TwD – perhaps Tuesday May 29.

If you feel inspired by the TwD process and want to stay with other writers for one more cup of tea, please join us.  It will be a challenge to not chat the hour away, but we are Writers developing Writing Practices.  Wonderful things that we cannot even imagine will emerge from writing for an hour after TwD.

On June 4, I added a post called “Writing session after TwD Part 2”

Honoring a person and a family at a special time

Once, I happened to be nearby when a beloved elder – a man whose family I have long known and loved – died.  The fact of this man’s death is simply that – a fact.  A number of people were gathered in his home when he died.

I noticed someone standing attentively – a woman whose professionalism and compassion I respect.  I said to her, “I would like, in this moment, to honor this family.  I need your advice.  Does it honor them if I disappear, respecting their privacy, or does it honor them if I stand right here with you, unflinching at this moment.”

The woman – who was not born in the United States – was delighted with my question.  She said firmly. This is what honors them.  To simply stand hereRespectfully.  And so I did.   I was one of about six people who simply stood, present, silent, in dignity and honor, as the professionals did what we ask professionals to do when someone has died.

The family was grateful for those who stayed there, unflinching, simply present, and silent, not making demands on the family’s time and energy for conversation or even condolences. Our silent presence made the reality of what they were experiencing more important for just a little while than everything else that we as individuals felt we needed to do that day. Instantly I could see that we were saying, “You matter, and your loved one who just died matters, in fact, more, than whatever else we thought we were going to be doing in this moment.”

I learned much that day, and I try to live what I learned.  A trusted person taught me that a way to honor a family who is experiencing death is to simply stay present and to not run away.

This story is copied from Wisdomandheart.com with permission from the author.