Posts Tagged With: communication

 
 

Something the Cat Dragged In

Cute, yes?

Cute, yes?

One of the four cutest kids I know has a cat at her house, named Penelope Buttercup. Also, there’s a dog named Pabst, which you should imagine as a teddy bear that Penelope has targeted as arch-enemy number one. Oh, and this sweet girl also has a stuffed toy mouse who goes by the name of, well, Mouse.

When I’ve been lucky enough to spend time at her home she uses some big words for such a little girl. And by big, I mean loud. If the cat walks past she’ll yell “TAAAAAT!” If the dog walks by she hollers, “PAAAAAAAP!” And if you show her the stuffed mouse she proclaims, “MOWW!”

There’s no question which of those three she’s referring to. Not sure why the dog isn’t called “DAWG!” I suppose “PAAAAAP!” can be shouted easier. Who knows what goes on in those little computer brains of babies these days.

When I see a cat now I automatically yell in my head “TAAAAAAAT!” It’s my little equivalent of seeing a moon and thinking someone else I love who lives far away is seeing the same moon. I see a cat and know that my little palindrome grand-daughter sees a cat during her day, too.

Every I look I see cats. Especially online. Cats, cats, cats, cats, cats.

Why?

These aren’t particularly friendly critters. Hardly. They’re standoffish and snooty. And yet the human race seems to embrace the furballs with unbridled ridiculousness.

Of course, I used to be the same way. As a tweenager I adopted a stray cat every time the last stray disappeared. Which was often. Weird. They were various combinations of black and white, whose names I don’t remember except for Zorro, which, of course, sported a little black mask around his eyes. And there was Tom, the feral cat, who was horse cat of a different color.

The term “something the cat dragged in” could have and often did refer to my Tom. You can read about him here if you’re curious.

My oldest daughter’s cat, pre-Penelope, would bring lizards and live birds in through the cat door at her house. Things got a bit exciting then, especially with multiple cats and a dog or two living there.

In Washington state we had neighbor cats that used to leave dead birds on our doorstep as a gesture of friendship. How sweet. We felt so…loved, or some other emotion. Just recently I thought that some human relationships are just like that. One person presents what they perceive as astounding gifts of love and sacrifice and the receiver only sees mayhem and grossness. That’s one of the saddest kinds of stories I know.

MSH hasn’t ever been a cat person. In fact, he taught my son at a very young age about the “handle” on a cat. SMH (Shaking My Head.) I’m afraid he took too well to that teaching and hauled many a neighborhood cat around by its tail.

My middle daughter and I once watched a cat play with a mouse in a sloped driveway. It was all kinds of fascinating. That is until the cat bit off the mouse’s head and played with that for a while. When the crunching started we left the area.

In a similar tone my parents’ cat leaves dismembered field critters on the driveway, proving his usefulness in spite of all proof to the contrary.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

A notable exception to uppity cats is my son’s recently adopted dwarf cat, Oreo. He’s fully grown but still quite small, with a smooshy face and no meow. He doesn’t really jump or climb or do much of anything cat-like. That is, except for taunting the grand-dog Blondie by walking near the dog food dish. Subtle but effective snark there, if you ask me. (This little guy belonged to my brother who has five kids at home and has now rehomed of all the pets.)

Figuratively speaking, I often look like something the cat dragged in after a few hours of yard work, but then, don’t we all? Actually I think I look that way first thing in the morning too, but a bike helmet covers that up pretty well.

Some days I feel like something the cat dragged in, discombobulated, disoriented and “dis” in general. Days like that I kind of wish I were a cat, able to lounge about in odd places, soaking up some sun, or sprawled along the top of the couch. Maybe curled into a ball in a dark corner somewhere. Those days I just want someone to rub my neck and reassure me that I’m worthwhile and useful and loved and that yes, that “everything is gonna be okay.”

Ever so un-catlike, I have to actually be useful. I go about my days and nights fulfilling my obligations, contributing to society and the well-being of a few people I know and attempt to stay cheerful. I think I’m more like a dog than a cat. But that’s not all bad.

If all else fails I can always watch funny cat videos on YouTube, right?

~~~~~

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” 
 ~ George Carlin

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Categories: Being Human, Communication | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lost in the Translation or Perfectly Rendered?

photo 1-5 copy 9

Yesterday my favorite three-year old gifted me some drawings from pages of her “books.” These books of hers consist simply of a nine by twelve sheet of paper folded in half, then folded again, creating a four page book. Not bad work for a budding artist. I admit to some partiality.

I didn’t take the time to ask her about each drawing, which I should have done. I suspect one is a ghost and another a pumpkin since she’s been into Halloween stuff recently. I like that her people are smiling. That’s a good sign.

photo 3-4 copy 16Do people really look like that when she sees them through her young eyes? I doubt it. Round orbs with sticks for legs and arms. No. I’m sure she sees what you and I see, a fully fleshed out body with nuances and structure and complexity. But with her raw young skills with crayon and pencil the translation of what she sees into what ends up on paper captures only the barest essentials. Eyes, a smile, stick limbs, a scratched scruff of hair convert successfully, for her anyway, into a person.

It struck me this morning as I looked over her drawings, that we all lose something in the translation of what we see and think and feel as we try to communicate it. We also stumble in translating and converting desires and dreams into reality.

I often have ideas I want to convey but try as I might the words fall short in giving skin, bones and muscles to an idea sufficiently so that anyone else can understand. Or I might get the gist of it, but not the whole as I thought of it. That can frustrate an artist, a writer, a musician, a human.

If as an adult I struggle with this translating process, imagine how frustrating it is for young children to try to convey thoughts and feelings into understandable ideas and words.

The secret, I would guess, lies in not giving up too soon. Not giving up in conveying the ideas, as well as not giving up in trying to understand them.

Her momma, perhaps, since she has long flowing hair.

Her momma maybe, who has long flowing hair.

In fifteen years my favorite three-year old will look at these drawings of hers and scoff at their simplicity, and that’s a shame. She’ll compare it to her artistic abilities after years of practice and lessons and laugh at her young self. I would hope she’d also see the purity in her efforts.

We all struggle to translate what’s inside our heads and hearts into understandable terms that forge relationships and communicate ideas. We’re all at different ages and stages of skill at making sense of the world. We wrestle making tangible the visions of who we are or want to be.

A secret life-decoder ring would come in handy wouldn’t it? Dial a few codes in, and read an outcome, carry out the instructions and voilà. But, that’s not how it works. Ever.

We explain, puzzle out, infer, deduce, interpret all the time. And so often, so very often, the messages end up lost in translation.

My take on all this?

1. We’re all drawing the best we can, with what we have, where we are.

If that isn’t true, if we aren’t putting our best efforts into being and doing what’s before us then we sharpen our colored pencils, or peel back some paper on our crayons. Then we pull out a sheet of paper, and see what sort of drawing we can come up with when we try a little harder.

2. Everyone else’s drawing means something to them and probably something slightly different to us. Maybe I ought to ask what their drawing, words, music or actions mean so I can understand better.

It shouldn’t hurt to ask. It only takes a second. “So tell me about this,” you could say. Or maybe, “I like your color choice, any particular reason you picked that color?” A thousand other questions could clarify, untangle and help us understand better.

That’s all.

Maybe I’ve overthought this whole thing. That’s certainly a strong possibility.

Sometimes a stick person is just a stick person.

~~~~~

“Art is as natural as sunshine and as vital as nourishment.”

-MaryAnn F. Kohl

Categories: Books, Communication, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Car Talk

Friday Letter to My Kids (yup, on Saturday)

Dear J, J, L and L,

Ya’ll remember the Datsun, right? Or as someone used to call it, the Grasshopper, due to it’s non-functioning shocks. Well, at one point in its colorful existence, it was a brand new baby car, fresh off the showroom floor. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, maybe not totally fresh, it’d been on some test drives, so it had one thousand miles on the odometer.

Two doors, yes. Can you say "clueless future parents?"

Two doors, yes. Can you say “clueless future parents?”

I only bring this up because so many happy things occurred in that car. Conversations being the chief among them.

When Little J first found her voice she told stories that would start at Grandma’s house and not end until we arrived at our place thirty minutes later. Big J and I didn’t get a word in edgewise. Unless Whitney Houston came on the radio, then Little J would stop talking long enough to sing along with the lyrics to “The Greatest Love of All.” She loved, loved, loved that song. (She was three years old.)

But I digress.

Something about sitting in the confines of a vehicle brings out the conversationalist in each of you. Or at least, it did.

Maybe being side by side but without eye contact did the trick. Or perhaps the steady hum of the engine and scenery rolling past triggered some reflex in the larynx. It’s even possible that some chemical in the car interior prompted a letting down of emotional defenses.

It didn’t always work that way, but when we got a good one on one conversation going, it usually happened in a car with just two of us going somewhere.

I’d guess some of us logged more miles together than others. Daily drives to and from school, and fairly regular trips back and forth from lessons, sports, church stuff, doctor appointments, errands, performances and more. Some of you even endured/enjoyed a few just-one-of-you and me road trips. Maybe it all balances out to the same mileage for each of you.

I loved those talks.

Well, mostly.

To be honest a few arguments and screaming matches happened, too. We won’t pretend that never happened.

Some pretty loud silences filled the car on occasion as well.

There’s definitely conversations we should have had that never happened. And probably a few discussions that shouldn’t have occurred, although I can’t think of anything specific. And I ought to have been much more direct and less wishy-washy on more than a few occasions.

If you can learn anything from my mistakes that’d be great. I’m guessing you’ll make your own unique set of communication errors as a parent or as a spouse.

Not our actual car. Ours had a sunroof, remember?

Not our actual car. Ours had a sunroof, remember?

One thing I try to do when I look back at those good times and at those dang-it-I-shoulda-done-better times, I liken myself to our fresh-off-the-showroom-floor Datsun. The first ten to fifteen years of parenting I had hardly any miles worth noting. Not until I’d experienced  *frillions of bumps, detours, twists, construction zones, shortcuts, hills, side roads and breakdowns did I even begin to know what I was doing.  Even then, well, I’m an imperfect and many splendored flawed person grasshoppering down the freeway.

Having your good company has made all the difference as the numbers have skyrocketed on my odometer o’life.

I look forward to many more conversations with each of you in years to come. Here’s hoping you enjoy the many chats you get to have with your own little traveling companions.

All my love,

Mom

photo-23 copy 5

* Frillion: a psychological/mathematical term combining an astronomically high number with near insanity level nonsense and stress

~~~~~

“Sometimes I wish that I was the weather, you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day.” ~ John Mayer

Categories: Communication, Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Vocabulary Lessons for Me

It’s Gratituesday! I’m thankful today for a chance to visit my parents. The need to get here  nagged at me for nearly two months. Now I’m finally standing in their home and seeing their faces, giving hugs, talking, basking. My heart can relax a little.

At last, I can put experience together with all the information I’ve gotten by phone, text and messaging about Mom’s latest medical adventures and get a full picture. Part of me feels relieved and part of me feels more worry.

Mostly, I find I’m becoming better acquainted with another medical phrase I thought I could put behind us.

  • Expressive aphasia – you know what you want to say, but you have trouble saying or writing what you mean

For a writer that would be called a massive writer’s block.

For someone who’s had a stroke it means not being able to communicate as well as you’d like, if at all. It can lead to frustration and depression and anxiety. But it can also be a source of laughter and bonding. I suppose it depends on the attitude of all involved as well as the medication cocktail the patient taking.

My mother manages to laugh about most of her verbal roadblocks. But frustration and perseverance work themselves into the picture as well. She’s human, after all. (Even though I’ve often thought she was wonder woman.)

A few days ago one of my sisters and I decided that carrying on a conversation with Mom, sometimes, is like playing the game of “Catchphrase” or “Charades.” Lots of gesturing, guessing, backtracking and logic leaps. When communication becomes clear and we all understand what’s been said I feel like cheering, or ringing a bell, or declaring a winner.

Some violas growing in a sidewalk crack. Amazing what nature can do when obstacles are in the way.

Violas growing in a sidewalk crack. Amazing what nature can do when obstacles are in the way.

But when words won’t materialize in spite of how much her brain knows what it wants to say you can cry or you can laugh or you can hope the words show up eventually. My sister and I still aren’t sure what the flowers in the front yard have to do with the piano in the living room, but in Mom’s mind they are somehow connected.

The thing is, those connections got rerouted, detoured, and dead-ended last summer with her first stroke. Then a couple of months ago, with her seizure that occurred in the same area as the stroke, all those connections experienced even more deconstruction and rerouting. All the repairs and healing that happened over the past nine months took a sideways step or two, if not a step backwards as well.

  • Post-stroke seizures – When stroke injures part of the brain, it leaves a scar, which can then trigger abnormal electrical activity that can start a seizure. Up to twenty-two percent of stroke patients experience these types of seizures.

Reminds me of a pothole repaired over and over again. Extra bumpy and almost as bad as the pothole itself.

Sometimes it’s not merely communication that takes a hit. In Mom’s case there’s also some memory loss.  All sorts of traffic jams happen just within her own brain. Fixing lunch can take a long time because each step of the process requires incredible focus and follow-through. Her mind gets sidetracked between the silverware drawer and the refrigerator two feet away from each other.

Breakfast this morning, cereal and some fruit, ended up involving six or seven spoons of various sizes. I think my presence in the room threw off her routine, or made her nervous.

I suppose it’s like watching a young child learn to walk. Part of you wants to take their hand, catch every fall, help every step, even though you know the process of figuring it out builds neural pathways and muscles that make real walking possible. Letting Mom thrash through some of the mental tangle helps connections reform, gives her a sense of accomplishment and courage to try again, and develops new pathways for logic and sequencing. Eventually the communication will improve more. At least, that’s the hope.

But oh, my heart hurts watching this woman who once took care of me, and all my siblings, struggle so much with basic tasks. Tasks she already relearned last year.

And yet today, between the two of us, she sewed two simple aprons. Mostly I watched, threaded the machine, made a few suggestions, pointed out where the scissors were hiding. It took much longer for her to do it herself. I could have whipped them out in fifteen minutes. But the sense of satisfaction she gained from the effort did us both good.

There’s a house for sale next door to them. I would buy it up and move in if resources made it possible. But, as usual, real life intervenes with wishes and dreams. They have good neighbors and friends who check in often. And I have a brother and his wife who live in town, thank goodness! But part of my heart will now always hang out here, worrying and wondering.

I’m afraid I’d be a “helicopter daughter,” hovering and not letting her do for herself.

Mostly, I’m simply grateful and I’m enjoying the few days I have to hang out here. It’s a peaceful, calming, mountain view spot. But best of all it’s where Mom and Dad continue learn and love.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Communication, Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

One of Those Phone Calls You Don’t Want

When your phone rings at bedtime or after and it’s one of your siblings, a jolt of lightning shoots through your chest. It’s best to sit down before you say hello. Important to remember to keep breathing.

Whatever niceties you normally say, you say them, even though you know that’s not what the phone call is about.

You hear pieces of words, not full sentences. You try to put it together like a puzzle dumped out the box before you’ve seen the picture on the box.

You want time to move backwards to ten minutes ago, ten days ago, ten weeks ago, ten months ago, ten years ago. You want this not to be happening.

Not my favorite place. But glad they exist.

Not my favorite place. But glad they exist.

Not again.

Another stroke.

A different kind this time. Ischemic.

Ischemic, not hemmoragic. What does that mean?

A million questions. Very few answers, mostly uncertainty.

Tests to run.

Prayers to offer up. That’s all I can do from this many miles away.

Calls to make.

Decisions. Patience while hoping and praying, always praying, for the patient to improve.

The patient.

Mom.

That one word sends the tears cascading and threatens to spill what little logic yet remains all over the floor making a huge mess of things.

Grateful for group messaging to communicate with siblings quickly, easily and clearly.

Hours later you read words that calm the pounding in your head and heart.

Resting. Stabilizing. Talking. Leveling. Normal Function. No clots so far.

You write not in first person because you need the distance created by the preposition “you.”

You write because sleep seems incomprehensible.

You write to have something to do about frayed nerves and the ache burning through you.

You write because surely you want to, should be able to, create a happy ending.

You write as a sort of prayer through the fingers. A keyboard rosary. Each keystroke a pleading for intercession.

Hoping for the best.

Hoping for the best.

Still praying.

Still praying.

Still praying.

 

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ~Mother Teresa

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Hope, physical health | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

You Say Tomato, I Say Tamato

More ways than ever to pass on information hasn’t made communicating all that much clearer has it? Or has it? Here’s a few thoughts by other people about how humans attempt to interact.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” ~ Peter Drucker

in utero email

 *****

“It’s hard to communicate anything exactly and that’s why perfect relationships

between people are difficult to find.” ~ Gustave Flaubert 

computer joke

If only…

“So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comprised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication.”~ Garth Stein

honk-text

There are definitely some dangerous side-effects to certain ways of communicating.

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Reminds me of Abelia Bedelia. Remember her?

Reminds me of Abelia Bedelia. Remember her?

Categories: Communication | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“How Big Is Your Brave?”

Did you hear what I said?

More importantly, did you hear what I meant?

Watch and listen to this and then we’ll talk:

You know how you can never think of a clever thing to say when you really need it? It’s like the next morning midway between breakfast and lunch when you think of the perfect comeback.

Too late.

And then there’s the text, email, instant message, private message or phone message you put out there that gets NO response whatsoever. What does that mean? Did it go through? Did you say something wrong? Are they avoiding you? It’s like the written equivalent of “do I have something green and gross in my teeth?” but much much worse.

I know, I know, the logical thing to think falls in the category of they’re busy, gone, their device isn’t working, or they missed seeing it among the three thousand others they received yesterday.

But still, I worry and wonder. Okay, fine, I obsess a little, too.

Or you post some witty or smart remark on Facebook and then read it a while later. You wonder who hacked your account and wrote such an abominable sentence that doesn’t even come close to what you meant to say.

Crash!

Laptop Keyboard

Return. Oops! (Photo credit: nist6ss)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve, fortunately, read what I just typed, BEFORE I pressed the return button. Snarky, mean, thoughtless, manipulative, stupid, airheaded, too much information, ridiculous. Whatever. Dodged that one!

But, I’ve also pressed return without really paying attention and then shortly after wanted to crawl under a rock and ban myself from all forms of social media forever.

Sometimes just a regular conversation can leave me wondering what in the scrap-heap went wrong. I thought the conversation was about abc and the person I’ve chatted with  thought we were talking about xyz. Totally different wavelengths. Complete and utter misunderstanding. My brain throws its hands into the air and walks away disgusted with my lack of socializing skills.

Then there’s this other aspect of it all.

Pendulum

Pendulum (Photo credit: MrPlow5)

My communication pendulum swings rather wide. I fluctuate between two extremes.

I’m sometimes fairly quiet, uncertain about talking and keep to myself. Almost like a hermit, I mumble things under my breath, but rarely share out loud. I think way too much and have incredible inner conversations. Talking with others? Not so much.

Or the pendulum swings and I’m a little too talkative. I find myself answering a simple, basic question with Way Too Much Information. Those WTMI’s give me more anxiety than four teenagers combined ever did. (No, that’s not true, nothing could top that.) But anxiety levels rocket to stupid heights because of my over sharing, and again, I want to crawl under a rock and disappear for a month or three.

grizzly bear mind meld with boy

Grizzly bear mind meld with boy (Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

Why weren’t we made with, I don’t know, brain to brain communication? Spock’s mind meld technique could come in handy more often than you’d think. I really need a verbal delete button. More than a shoulder angel or a shoulder devil, I need a shoulder editor.

“Hey, Kami, don’t say that. ”  Or better yet, “Shh… Just keep quiet for a minute. Listen…listen…wait… okay, now you can talk, but don’t empty your entire thought process here.”

Maybe that’s more like a quarterback coach with a headset on running the game mouth to helmet.  Fine, then, that’s what I need.

Or do I just need to stay BRAVE and say what I think and what I mean as best I can and roll with it.

Gaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Whole wars are fought over words that are misunderstood, misinterpreted, misused, missing or mistakes. No pressure!!!!

Do you sense the pendulum swinging here? It’s swinging so wide it may crash through a wall this time.

Why such angst? This is silly! These brave souls in this music video that accompanies these wonderful lyrics make me feel braver, make me smile, make me think I can just say what I think and the worlds walls won’t come crashing down around me.

It’s possible to just be there, move with the music, throw myself into living with abandon and silliness and guts and let things happen. It’s more likely that JOY will happen if I’m dancing. It’s more likely that JOY will happen if I’m at least TRYING to let my voice be heard.

Sure I’m gonna trip over myself. Probably way more than I think I will. (I already do, actually.) But maybe, just maybe I’ll make someone smile as I dance my words across the page or across the room. Maybe because I say what I think, I dance to the music that I’m hearing, someone else will get on their brave and dance with their words, too. It could happen.

Being brave with my words.

It’s surely worth the risk.

At least, I hope so.

I think I’ve found my new personal anthem.

_________________________

“Brave”

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

*****

The title of today’s post is thanks to Sara Berreilles. You can also thank my young with-it daughter. When she heard what I was thinking about writing for today’s post she aimed me Sara’s direction.

Categories: People, Relationships, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Needing the Power of Words

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for the power of words. That may sound silly until you think about words in varying contexts.

Prayer

(Photo credit: mojoey)

For instance, the power of words spoken in a prayer. I’m not thinking about rote prayers, repeated utterances we make with little thought. The words I’m thinking about pour out of a place deeper than a person’s mouth. Words birthed in loss and heartache and heaviness. Words searching for a foothold. Words struggling for sense in a senseless situation. Those words carry power and heft and potential healing.

Sometimes the mere act of placing words into the heavens is all it takes to see things clearer, to feel enabled to keep going forward. Sometimes a need requires action words added to the spoken ones. Sometimes answers arrive in unexpected packages. Sometimes answers seem elusive. But the power of the words remains unchanged.

what are word for?

what are word for? (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

Power rides on the words we speak or withhold. Expressions of love carry a potent, almost magical strength that binds and seals. Failure to let words work such charms can leave a vast emptiness that a lifetime may never fill.

Words accompanied by music make up life’s most power-filled elixirs. Nothing else prompts action, conveys emotion, shares thoughts as well as music with words. Better than a prescription, well-chosen words combined with a perfect tune can make a gray day brighten.  Carefully placed words in a melody that touches the heartstrings can open doors long shut with hinges rusted over.

I haven’t even touched on the incomparable time-traveling properties of words, or the artistic nuances available in poetry and prose. And laughter? What elicits a laugh easier than a few just-so words? Words offer condolence. Words may lift an aching heart. Words connect, intertwine, link and hold fast.

Such powers that words possess will lift and heal and hold me today. And everyday.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Proof That Humans Can Work Magic

I used to try to wiggle my nose to make something magical happen. I couldn’t wiggle my nose, so naturally, no magic. Then I tried holding my arms folded in front of me and blinking my eyes to make magic. Didn’t have much luck with that one either.

Magic words like “Alakazam!” and “Open Sesame!” and “Bibbity Bobbity Boo” didn’t have any effect, much to my chagrin.

I resorted to mind control. Thinking until it hurt my brain, I’d try to move a spoon, or make the salt shaker float. I’d stare at a pitcher of water and will it with my eyes to pour. No luck.

No magic.

Nada.

Then I discovered books.

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

Carl Sagan

January 10, 2013 - Antique Books

(Photo credit: eric.langhorst)

Carl Sagan always intrigued me with his “billions and billions” talk. And now I find, with this quote that he was magical too, talking to me across time, from his past to my present. Letting me know that I, too, am a magician after all.

After discovering books I decided I could make that kind of magic if I practiced enough.

So now, I write. That’s my magic.

It might not always be magical, but it’s working right now.

Categories: Books, Communication | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Popping the Thought Bubbles and Inflating the Speech Balloons

Reading the comics, I’ve wondered what it would be like if we had actual thought bubbles and speech balloons hovering over us in real life. Imagine, all those unspoken thoughts we harbor, hide and simmer inside of us, out in the open for all to see! Wowser. Pink slips galore! Friendships ended! Marriages broken!  Or would it really be that way?

Talk

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder if we allowed at least some of our thoughts to become speech balloons instead, thoughts made into words spoken, if it wouldn’t cure more ills than it creates. Instead of resentment, maybe there would be resolution. In place of anger, perhaps understanding. Hurt could be changed into healing, and maybe even loneliness could morph into community.

It could happen…

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed.  But when we are silent, we are still afraid.  So it is better to speak “– Audre Lorde

Fear seems to dictate so many of our decisions, so much of what we do, where we go, how we are, who we choose to be.

Why?

Why do we let fear be the ruling emotion in our lives?

Can’t we choose to let joy, or love, or compassion or excitement be the main feeling we experience, the main emotion we focus on, the decisive straw that wins the vote?

I for one, feel life more fully when I allow my voice to be heard.  Even if I am the only one who hears what I have to say, at least I have said it, out loud, into the universe.

That, I think, is part of where the power of prayer comes from. As we give voice to the darkness and fear that’s within us, we diminish the potency of those things. Speaking the difficult things aloud opens up space inside and makes room for fresh air, hope, revelation, inspiration and joy. Vocalizing our concerns awakens possibilities within us.

A flower among cactus thorns.

A flower among cactus thorns.

The same is true when we address the positives in our life. Expressing gratitude, telling someone that we love or appreciate them, sharing a joke, even simply saying ‘hello’ broadens our possibilities and makes way for more good stuff.

I don’t have any research to back up what I’m saying. Only one life’s experience and observation tell me these things. I made the choice years ago to open my mouth, which then opened my heart and opened my world.

I decided to bloom, right where I was, cactus and thorns be damned. The hurt will happen anyway, silent or speaking, quiet or singing, forlorn or joyful. Bloom! That is the best choice. It has been the best choice for me.

Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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