Story prompt – Compliment

I must compliment you both. It’s inspiring the way you complement one another.

Compliments are amazing things, often underestimated, I think.

It seems, if some of the stories I’ve read are to be believed, there are segments of society reluctant to give compliments because they are thought to encourage pride. Then there are other segments who are just plain mean and abusive. Not only do they not give compliments, they pile on the insults.

I love stories where a kind heart recognizes worth and goes to great lengths to promote healthy self-esteem in the down trodden.

There is a popular old story I’ve never forgotten. A young farmer was looking for a wife. He picked a young woman, shy and insecure, with literally no marriage prospects. The village people could not understand his choice, in their estimation she had nothing to offer as a farmer’s wife.

The going bride price was two cows. He chose to pay double that. Four cows was unheard of, never mind for a wife with so few talents to recommend her.

He took her home, treated her like a precious treasure and over time she blossomed to became all he knew she could be.

Compliments are powerful and for us to blossom we need them as much as we need food and water. At least that’s what I think.

Then there is complement. (to make complete)

How many stories have I read lately where the author pairs characters because they complement each other. The restaurant owner who is an awesome chef and a hopeless bookkeeper. The female ranch owner struggling with endless heavy chores requiring a man’s strength. Or even the one tasked with jobs requiring two or more people to meet deadlines. How many of us would kill ourselves trying before we would ever reach out.

It’s not easy admitting we need help. I know I struggle with that. Last summer I chose to fight to prune small trees myself rather than ask. My neighbor who is taller, heavier, stronger, (never mind younger) would have gladly helped.

In stories there is often a stubborn character who will not ask or even allow someone to help. Of course, one of the requirements of a good novel is tension and stubborn provides that in spades. By the end, though, they are working together and life is rosy.

It happens that way in real life too if we let it. We’re better together. Especially when our talents complement one another.

I like these two words.

The same only different.

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Story Prompt is hosted by Sunday Scribblings

What to say…

I’m at a loss for words. After missing several days in my daily blog I need to find something to say. I’m feeling emotionally wrung out, maybe that’s why my mind is empty. I’ll just have to start and see what happens. It will surprise me as much as it will you, guaranteed. It’s funny how one thing leads to another and rabbit holes appear out of nowhere…

Today was the day for our monthly writers group Zoom call. Since I’m part of the executive there is always a feeling of self inflicted pressure to be a good participant not just a passive observer. As an introvert, fly-on-the-wall is where I would rather be. I was trying to be rested and relaxed ready for the camera but it wasn’t working out all that well for me. I started out stressed, like it or not.

Going into the week, I didn’t have an active part in the meeting. That all changed when the agenda came out and I found I was down for a book review. In the end we had more than enough readers (to share stories that would be critiqued) and there was no time for the my contribution. It didn’t get used but it was good writing practice, working on the review was not a total waste.

It’s funny how things happen sometimes. I had been thinking several days ago about my style of writing and the type of critique I would like to have. The thing is, I’m often not sure if what I have to say makes sense. Feedback would be helpful. I think I assume people know certain things already and tend to write in note form with little detail. My first clue I do this is when, days later, I read what I’ve written. Sometimes I have no idea what exactly I was getting at. So, going back to the most recent review I’d posted I found myself with a chance to work on making sense.

The review definitely needed to be reworked and expanded. It was a good exercise in figuring out how much extra detail needed to be included. I’ll try to do better the next time I write something like a review or thoughts (like now maybe.)

So, getting back to today’s Zoom meeting. It did the heart good to see everyone again even though we couldn’t be in the same room together. Five members read their stories, each one personal and unique.

They were all good but the one I appreciated most tore us all apart. It was a very raw and real sharing of a lengthy journey with parkinsons. What she has been through, and will continue to go through, is heartbreaking. Yet she has such a positive outlook on life. We could see it cost her dearly to be honest with us. We felt honored to be trusted enough for the privilege of hearing her story.

Today was a day we will not soon forget.

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I’m going to pick up a fast food hamburger and then the mail (it’s been several weeks and I need to get out.) When I come back I’ll see if this still makes sense to me.

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Well, I’ve made changes. I’m not sure it’s enough but time’s getting away on me. At least I’ve finished supper, washed the pile of dishes waiting for me and played a few games on the computer while I was thinking.

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Tomorrow is story prompt day. The word is Resolution. Guess I’m not done thinking for the night quite yet.

A favorite episode from a favorite podcaster

I just have to share this podcast episode. I love it, it makes so much sense.

Patrick Lencioni on How to Discover Your Working Genius

There are two reasons:

Carey Nieuwhof has a gift for asking insightful questions and then listening intently with great follow-up questions. It seems every interview ends with him saying this has been so good. And it has been, every time.

Today’s topic is about giftings in relation to work life. This is one of my favorite topics in the world and it has been for decades. Not just for work but life in general. The more I understand about myself and others the better life goes for me. Today focuses on work life and it makes so much sense.

If you want to know more, Patrick Lencioni has a website with testing material available and he is even offering a discounted price on orders resulting from this podcast. I’ll let him give you the details at the end of the podcast.

So here it is: I hope you find it as helpful and I did.

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Connection – what is it?

Two things are on my mind today.

It’s story prompt day and the word is Time. My last post talked about a New Years resolution which basically acknowledged it was Time for change. The definition for connection (in relation to my friendship resolution) has been on my mind recently so I’m going to combine the two thoughts. To quote a blogger friend ” it’s my blog and I can do what I like” so I guess he won’t complain about my unusual treatment of his prompt.

The whole concept of connection has been percolating in my mind and heart for decades. Through the years many marriage related books found their way into our home but the first solid memory of a discussion centered on connection was a radio program called Love, Sex, and Relationships, with pastors John and Helen Burns. They had many good, practical things to say but one phrase standing out above all the rest was into-me-see. Connection requires intimacy and intimacy in practical terms is defined as into-me-see. Eyes without shutters are crucial.

Our first thought of intimacy is physical in relation to a significant other. In reality it is not physical and applies to every type of relationship. If we’ve built walls of protection, generally speaking, they will apply to all of our relationships to one degree or another.

By John and Helen Burns (and many other’s) definition into-me-see only happens through the eyes, the windows of our souls, the keeper of our secrets. Without the eyes there is no connection. I do know this. I wish I didn’t. (with a good relationship I would also have known this and been glad I did.) Physical intimacy becomes intimate on a whole new level when the eyes meet and hold.

The good news is that varying degrees of connection can be found in varying types of relationships. This is encouraging since we are made for connection. We shrivel without having it on some level and since many of us remain single it’s nice to know friends and acquaintances can fill the void. That will be the challenge.

Friends is where we most often encounter walls still firmly in place. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in my quest to leave my hermitage behind. Connection is difficult to find. Friendships on a superficial level are easy. I have a number of friends who are willing and even eager to hear the details of my broken life but, it’s a one way street with little-to-no reciprocation. There is a lack of satisfaction in these friendships and I’ve been mediating on why that is. I recognize deep hurts they aren’t willing to share. Is it the not sharing that bothers me most?

No. It seems I’m good with people not telling me their story. It’s the walls that are the problem. Up or down, there is a different vibe. Walls-down there is a softness with approachability, walls-up there is a harshness with keep out signs. It’s harshness I find myself most often responding to.

I can remember how hard it was to let people in. I can also remember what a freeing experience it was and continues to be. I’ve learned that lowering my walls doesn’t mean I have to tell all to everyone. I can use discretion. The important thing is, it may only be one person I tell but I’ve stopped keeping secrets.

I don’t think I’m all that different from anyone else. We all need connection. Many of us have walls we struggle to bring down. It is not easy to find a good friend.

My New Years resolution: it’s time to be proactive with maintaining neglected friendships and make myself available for new ones. It’s time to stop hiding. Covid and it’s restrictions have caused a deeper need for connection. It takes more work under these conditions to find it.

Only time will tell how well I do with my resolution and whether or not I’m successful at finding connection.

FREE and bargain books December 24, 2020

It’s Christmas Eve Day! For the moment I am feeling festive in this less than normal time in our lives. Festive moments are good. I like them a lot. The last hour was spent listening to an inspiring podcast about story telling and the importance of regaining our sense of wonder. It was a lot to take in and I plan on listening to it again, probably more than once. My joy in this moment is a direct result of that experience, at a time when I really needed it.

I had no plans to share this podcast with you but here it is anyway. Harris III speaks to the cynical and shares why a sense of wonder can be restored and why it is so important in leadership and in story telling.

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So, back to books – FREE and bargains.

BookBub has a suggestion for us and it is a story that was part of a collection downloaded recently. I’ve read this book and it was excellent. It’s FREE today, this is a good time to take advantage of the opportunity.

A Christmas Homecoming (Sunriver Dreams Book 2)

Amazon quote:

Can the mystery of Christmas unite two hurting hearts?

Bailey Calderwood gives all she has to her job as an interior design assistant, but her best isn’t good enough for her demanding, bed-ridden boss. For some unexplained reason Mona has turned against her. At least not everyone is out to get her. A mysterious admirer is sending her cards and flowers. Could it be her boss’s son who’s recently returned home in time for the holidays?

Stephen Belafonte rushes home from France to be with his mother after her stroke, and is surprised by the rift between his mom and Bailey, her assistant. When his mom demands he fire Bailey, he’s torn between respecting his mother’s wishes and doing what’s best for the family business. Can Stephen find a way to heal the rift in his family as well his own heart, or will he be forced to let Bailey go?

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BookRunes also has a FREE suggestion, one I’ve read and enjoyed.

Gift of the Magpie

Amazon quote:

Award-winning author Amanda Larrowe has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her next book’s deadline. But as storms move into Richmond, Virginia, Amanda learns that Camden Lancaster, a high school sweetheart, has moved in across the street.

After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his charming smile doesn’t win her trust—and certainly not Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor.

Boy is she wrong.

Amanda is about to learn that first loves and broken hearts can sometimes lead to second chances … and a crushing pain that last forever.

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I’m currently reading and almost finished, a book that is still a bargain.

Season of Hope 

Amazon quote:

When a shocking revelation shatters her family and her faith,
will truth prevail and mend what was broken?

Life is good for Ronnie Coborn.

She’s newly married to a man who loves her and dotes on her daughter. A man handpicked by Ronnie’s father, a popular pastor at a megachurch who’s been married to her mother for forty years.

Yes, life is good.

Until a shocking revelation exposes the fact that everything in her idyllic life—her marriage, family, and faith—is based on a lie.

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Happy Reading …

… on the Christmas Eve Day.

Wishing you Peace.

Story Prompt – Dance

I love to dance but I have to admit, I don’t really know how. I don’t let that stop me any.

I never did learn because I had no reason to. My grandmother was not a fan of dancing, although my mother was, and as I respected my grandmother’s thoughts and opinions, I wasn’t either.

The only dances we ever attended were wedding receptions. I was shy about doing new things in public and at the time I felt great relief at not having to take part. On the other hand most of the time I would have been bold enough to say no, now that I think about it.

I’ve always loved music and in the last couple of decades it has become a bigger part of life than ever before. Listening to songs over and over does something to a person. I find they get right down into my bones and I can’t help but move.

Some songs are worse than others, it’s impossible to listen to them and sit still.

These days I can dance with abandon because there is no one around to see me. At least I hope the neighbors can’t. I do try to avoid the windows at all cost.

The thing about dancing to music that touches my heart; the impact is greater with movement. The other positive thing about dance is the cardio workout, especially after all the sitting I do. All the way around it makes me happy to get up and move to music.

I try to spread the joy of dancing but I don’t think I’ve had any converts. Maybe my luck will improve and I’ll have one or two here.

In lieu of pictures I’ll share some videos. I had one favorite song in mind but I can’t remember where it is in my extensive DVD library. (Not that I haven’t spent time to trying to find it.)

Here is a random selection of songs that make my toes tap and my feet want to move.

This first one is one of my favorite groups. Actually, they all are favorite groups.

This song is from the Gaither Vocal Band DVD Better Day

And this one is from The Martins (a family group) Still Standing album. It was new last year and I still play it a lot.

I love this next group and even this song but my favorite part of this toe tapping video – the mountains of Alaska. I miss my beloved Rocky Mountains over here in flat Manitoba and a glimpse to bring back memories is wonderful.

I hope you felt a little like tapping your toes along with me.

Story prompt was courtesy of Sunday Scribbling hosted by Peckapaloosa: The Confusing Middle

Speaking what’s on my mind.

This is another just start writing day. I’m short on books so I’ve got nothing. There is much going on in my head but it’s all a big jumble. Maybe I’ll just jump in and see where it takes us. I’m sure it will be a surprise, to me anyway. When is it not.

This whole conversation has been going on in my head for decades. The chatter has evolved with experience and I’ve changed with age and maturity. Maybe now, at least more often anyway, with new wisdom I’m able to act rather than react to circumstances and events.

Something I heard once (not sure where, probably a book I read) was a game changer for me. Look at what they do not what they say. If you want to know the truth look at what they do, I’ve found this to be totally true and freeing.

Another game changer for me was Never make decisions when you are emotional. Wait until you can think rationally.

Recently there was another new thought to add to the list. It’s had a huge impact on my thinking. (I forget from where but I think it was a podcast) As the truth of this new idea dawned on me everything changed.

All my life I’d heard we weren’t to judge people (especially with first impressions.) My mind always equated judgment with negativism (you know, all the negative assumptions we can make about people based on their appearance and the car they drive or the house they live in, etc.) and I was under the impression that everyone else thought much the same way. Then I heard we aren’t supposed to judge (make assumptions about someone) for bad or for good.

The thought was expanded to say that it’s just as wrong to make a good assumption about someone as it is to make a bad one.

It’s true. How many times have we assumed good things about people only to discover they weren’t the truth.

It can be a very bad thing to assume good things. Abusers, scammers, and con-artists know how to sell themselves to make us believe they are wonderful and trustworthy. They know how to sell us lies to rob us of our life and our life savings. If we are not on guard and we make false assumptions about goodness we can find ourselves in deep trouble.

Right now we have a rich tycoon in jail for his involvement in sex trafficking for well over several decades. He had most of us fooled and he bullied into silence those who did know the truth. He was not a safe place for many and he had the freedom to keep on abusing.

It seems to be easy to believe the best about bad people and at the same time lay blame and guilt on good people. Have you ever noticed that? I have never really figured out why this is but I’ve seen it happen over and over again. The dishonest seem to know how to work the system. They shout real loud and make crazy demands. They know how to smoke screen and deflect and it seems we fall for it every time. They make us feel like they are the injured party and we should apologize; and we do. This isn’t a new observation – seeing the guilty go free while the innocent are condemned.

These days there are so many people with emotional opinions and responses to a wide array of people and situations and I’m tired of hearing it. The way it’s going the emotional responses bounce back and forth so fast the emotional high never morphs into rational thought on either side of the issue. (Don’t worry, I do tune them out and stop listening. The on/off switch is a wonderful thing)

I would love to offer a challenge but I doubt they would ever take me up on it, mainly because, right or wrong, their minds are already made up. The worst of it is they have beliefs born out of incomplete or inaccurate information. Either there is no more information to be had or they haven’t bothered to research for themselves to see what the truth could be.

In most cases I find that rational minds have quieter voices. Even if they know the truth, and the truth is not good, they may speak out but they aren’t yelling. Unless it’s a pep rally, then they’re yelling

Maybe loud voices are born out of uncertainty and fear. Maybe they think if they yell real loud people will agree with them and it (whatever it is) will all be true.

I wish people would look at what is done and not what is said. I wish they would lay down their emotions and allow themselves to think rationally, without preconceived ideas of what the truth could be. And I wish they would leave assumptions and opinions behind on who is good and who isn’t.

There is safety in truth. How many times have we dodged a bullet by knowing the truth.

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Well, I’m not sure if this whole thing is coherent enough to make much sense but I’m feeling talked out for the moment. I think about this whole subject often, mainly because I’ve needed to figure things out to have peace and safety in my own life. Avoiding unhealthy relationships was certainly one of the reasons to think all of this through.

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Tomorrow is story prompt day and the prompt is – Dance.

I’ve been working on being ready.

It will be a surprise, I’m pretty sure.

Story prompt – Misery

Story Prompt is hosted by Confusing Middle’s – Sunday Scribblings

Misery

I wanted to be sure I understood the definition of this word at the beginning of the process so I looked it up. I had some preconceived ideas happening and was headed in a certain direction with this story but with the proper definition in mind I’ve had to rethink some things. I will still end up in the same place though, because it’s a good place.

The general consensus seems to be that misery is an emotion stemming from overly wanting what you don’t have or overly NOT wanting what you DO have.

I don’t know that I would describe myself as miserable. My thinking was – it is what it is. Count your blessings, it could be worse.

I wasn’t happy for the above reasons. Wanting and not wanting. Life was complicated. At least my life was. There was nothing I could do to change any of it. The hopelessness of that reality made things harder to handle.

After a few decades of emotional decline (hopelessness will do that to you) it occurred to me that I needed to take a stand. Life could not go on as it was, changes were needed. I wasn’t sure how this conversation would go. Let’s just say things moved rather quickly and before I knew what was happening I was free of the situation.

One of the most difficult things, in those early years, was the passive aggressive nature behind the misery. I felt all alone, like no one noticed what was (or wasn’t) happening and I felt that if I talked no one would believe me anyway.

I still feel the same way, actually. I haven’t managed to clear the belief hurdle enough to talk about those years to any great extent. I’m working on it but it’s a slow process.

The good news is that there are small victories along the way and they are always a surprise.

The positive thing coming out of today’s exercise is encouraging and validating.

Back in the early days I thought no one noticed.

Today I realize I was wrong.

As I was putting this piece together in my head I was thinking about three nice gifts offered over the course of several years. Back then I looked at surface reasons for the gifts and while I was grateful, I can now see that I was missing the point.

Looking at the memory of those gifts (experiences) from today’s perspective I can see that they were designed to be helpful. Someone was paying attention and wanted to make a difference.

Here I thought no one noticed.

One emotion I am not feeling with this realization … misery.

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Further reflection (by the light of day) has me realizing many people could have known and yet no one said a word.

Embarrassment comes crashing in to replace relief that at least one someone knew.

Misery follows hard on the heels of embarrassment.

Denial won’t work, saying you are assuming too much, people didn’t know. A dozen or more years ago in a drug store, I ran into a man visiting in my new town. In the midst of catching up he admitted he knew, way back then.

I’ve come too far now in the healing process to let misery win. I can’t and I won’t.

Every hard thing faced has led me to a better place. Facing this new revelation will only help things along.

Besides, I don’t like misery well enough to wallow in it! So, there.

Story Prompt – Red

Story Prompt is hosted by Confusing Middle’sSunday Scribblings

RED

I know this will come as a shock to you but the first place my mind went with this prompt was Books and Movies.

Who could forget The Hunt for Red October (Jack Ryan Universe Book 1) 

I will admit I haven’t read the book but I am in possession of (and have watched) the movie (I do own movies I haven’t watched, just sayin’.)

Somewhere under the freezing Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. The chase for the highly advanced nuclear submarine is on—and there’s only one man who can find her…
 
Brilliant CIA analyst Jack Ryan has little interest in fieldwork, but when covert photographs of Red October land on his desk, Ryan soon finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes game of hide-and-seek played by two world powers—a game that could end in all-out war.

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The next movie assaulting my memory is The Scarlet Pimpernel

I will admit, I have not read this book either but I have seen the movie. Or at least one version of it. One of my daughter’s college friends was a lover of the classics and was a collector of the movies. This particular movie has been made and remade, a few times. One detail we all remember with a smile is the favorite exclamation of the foppish main character in one of the versions. Well, SINK me! I’ve no idea where that expression comes from but we thought it was pretty funny.

Amazon quote:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy, published in 1905. It was written after her stage play of the same title enjoyed a long run in London, having opened in Nottingham in 1903.

The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The title is the nom de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney leads a double life: apparently nothing more than a wealthy fop, but in reality a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking master of disguise and escape artist. The band of gentlemen who assist him are the only ones who know of his secret identity. He is known by his symbol, a simple flower, the scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).

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The next remembrance is a story by Francine Rivers. I did read this book but several decades ago. It must have made a big impact if it still springs to mind after so many years. Francine Rivers was a huge favorite so it’s not surprising that I still remember.

The Scarlet Thread: A Novel (The Historical Christian Fiction Story of Two Women, Centuries Apart, Joined through a Journal from the Oregon Trail)

Sierra Madrid’s life has just been turned upside down when she discovers the handcrafted quilt and journal of her ancestor Mary Kathryn McMurray, a young woman who was uprooted from her home only to endure harsh conditions on the Oregon Trail.

Though the women are separated by time and circumstance, Sierra discovers that many of the issues they face are remarkably similar . . . and uncovering Mary Kathryn’s story may help her write the next chapter of hers.

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More recently I’ve been reading A Scarlet Cord by Deborah Raney

In the four years since her husband’s death, Melanie LaSalle’s life has been consumed with managing the family design firm and caring for her five-year-old daughter, Jerica. The possibility of a new relationship is the last thing on her mind. But when Melanie meets Joel Ellington, a new staff member at her church, she is instantly attracted to his warm spirit.
As their friendship deepens, however, Melanie is troubled by something she can’t quite understand or explain. Joel past seems to be off-limits, even to Melanie. Because of her growing feelings for him, Melanie pushes her doubts away. But when Joel disappears, along with the contents of a church bank account, she can no longer ignore her suspicions.
Now, torn between her feelings for Joel and the evidence mounting against him, Melanie faces a heart-wrenching decision: to forget the man who gave her reason to love again or to trust Joel enough to give him her heart.

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One thing for sure… it was easy to find many book and movie titles using some version of Red. Maybe next I should look at pink. Pink Panther, for sure