Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are Good Manners A Lost Cause?

Whenever writers blog, at least speaking for myself, we tend to have certain topics that we're passionate about (good or bad) and ironically we find ourselves talking about topics we've already written about before. Not sure exactly what that conveys about the topic or even myself as a writer. I've written about etiquette, my views on morals and values, and about choices having lasting effects.

I feel that one of the necessary qualities for anyone hoping to be a good writer is to be a good observer. If you are a good people-watcher and a good listener it could make for better real-life observations and add more truth to your writing.

Case and point; this weekend I went to a local eatery with my husband. We were there for approximately 45 minutes. During that time I watched and I listened. I observed some strangers being polite and personable. I also observed people discarding trash from their car doors into the parking lot. I saw people drive into the parking lot going way too fast and park diagonally across 2 parking spots. And upon my exit I had a young man walk directly in front of me, open the door and let it go in my face only for him to exit the 2nd outer door and thank the stranger who held it open for him. Both the stranger and I looked at each other and said, 'Seriously?'

I am not naive enough to think that our world is perfect, nor do I believe that everyone has the same ideas about morals. So what do we do when we see common manners falling by the wayside like a lost art form? Do we judge? Do we put blame on the parents who raised them? The people I observed were mostly early 20 somethings. They weren't 12 or 15 or even 18. These were young adults; our future.

I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone in their 20s is rude, because that would not be true at all. But I am wondering what future generations will look like, because if we lead by example and we teach what we know is there a point where it becomes too late for some to learn?

What do you think? The media is generally all too quick to point out the negative stories. What have you observed to be some positive situations where you think our young generation has hope?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting Back On The Bike

It's as easy as 'getting back on the bike' can be a metaphor for life; meaning if we get back in the practice of doing something we've been used to doing then everything will fall back into place. What do you think? Is it as easy as that?

A few weeks ago my daughter and I went to Mackinac Island. What goes with being on Mackinac Island? Walking, horses, fudge ... and yes, riding bikes. No cars are allowed so if you want to get anywhere on the island you either walk, take a horse & carriage ride, or ride a bike. I hadn't ridden my bike at home all of last summer and this summer I'd only been on it twice, but guess what? On the island I got back on the bike and I rode ... and rode ... and rode some more. Once on the seat with my backpack and water bottle in the front basket and the wind in my hair it was as if I'd been riding all my life. It was familiar and it felt right.

So what other areas in our lives would we like to get back to? For me it's blogging and working in my flower beds. The last few weeks have been busy; lots to do and just not even time or energy to do it all. Tomorrow I hope to tidy up the flowers, but tonight I will blog. Tonight I will get back to putting my emotions and my life moments into words and hopefully paint a picture on my computer screen, but with words rather than with brushes and colors.

I've had a blessed week with the arrival of my first grandchild; a beautiful baby girl named Jane. What better motivation to get back on the bike? Stay tuned ...

But first, what would you like to get back to?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Are Your Dreams Vivid?

I've heard some people say that they dream dreams SO clearly they are sure they have a special gift; that they are able to 'see' things other people can't. I'm not saying they're right and I'm not saying they're wrong. Sometimes I think I dream pretty vividly and with LOTS of detail. Sometimes I'll remember even the tiniest of details and other times not so much. Some nights I'll wake up swinging my arms around and not have a clue of what I was dreaming about.

Dreams can be fascinating and they can also be terrifying. We can dream happy dreams that motivate us and give us the courage we need to 'GO FOR IT' (whatever IT is). As well, we can have nightmares that scare us so badly they make us a bit more cautious and less willing to take needless risks. Maybe you were driving last week and had a close call with another driver. Maybe you considered texting when you knew you should pay more attention to your driving, then you had a dream that you crashed your car into another car. Perhaps your dream (or your subconscious) was giving you some insight into the possible consequences of your actions and maybe giving you a second chance.

Dreams can sometimes help us sort out things we're contemplating or stressing over. Sometimes we just need to hear ourselves talk or role play. Given the right scenario and some quiet time without distractions we can take a walk through our own subconscious and get things back on track. If it works, it works - no one has to know but us.

Then there are the insomnia nights when we find ourselves thinking too hard and too long and about too much, that we force ourselves to lay awake with our minds going a million miles a minute. I have nights like those occasionally and trust me, they are exhausting. They usually have me begging for sleep (with dreams or without).

What are your dreams like? Do you dream often? Do you dream in black & white or in color? One-dimensional or 3D? Do you solve things when you sleep? Have you ever had a premonition when you slept?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stop, Watch and Listen

We all know that schedules can get crazy, overwhelming, and a bit out of hand at times. The truth of the matter is that we tend to create most of our own stress. We take on more projects than we know we can handle, because we don't want to say 'No'. We try to play superhero and do it all. We work, we parent, we take care of aging parents, we take care of our homes, and we try to reach out and volunteer. If you're like me, you feel guilty at times about taking a couple of days off for yourself (o.k. - I hope I'm not the only one that struggles with that.)
Last week I took one day off of work and managed 3 days away with my daughter for some R&R, some mother-daughter conversation, some grueling exercise, a lot of fresh air, and a good deal of people-watching. It was good to get away, to have a change of scenery, to do something different, to not watch the clock, to not answer the phone, and to not hear honking horns (at least while we were on Mackinac Island).
So what did we do? We walked A LOT. We rode bikes A LOT. We talked A LOT. We ate good food (but not too much). We people watched; that can be a sport in itself. And we talked to people ... total strangers. While waiting for dinner at an outdoor pick up window we talked to a retired Army guy from Kentucky. We learned a bulk of his life story (at least the part since 2002) in under 3 minutes. He talked about his desire to tour around the U.S. with his wife and about many of the places he'd been. He talked about wanting to DO as much as they could now that he was retired.
We talked with a young woman working on the island in the Biddle House (built in the early 1800s). She wore a dress from the period and talked about the origins of the house, the family that lived there, and what a typical day would have been like for them. Then we talked with 'her'; about her summers, her job, and about the quilt she was working on (the pattern, the size, how long it would take them to complete one, etc.).
Asking people 'How are you?' and getting the automated reply, 'I'm fine' is easy. It takes more effort to have a REAL conversation; to ask real questions and give real answers. It's interesting, it's fun, and it's educational. We already know most everything about ourselves. It's more fun to actually stop, watch, and listen to other people. We can learn so much, and not just about them. We can learn things about ourselves; the level of our compassion, our interests, and our level of creativity.
Embrace the moment. Take the vacation. Hug your kids. Have a real conversation. Give it a chance. I guarantee you it'll be worth the effort.
What was the last thing you learned from a conversation with a stranger? Was it something about them OR you?