Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blogging Daily and How I Didn't Do It

I mentioned in my last post that I was attempting to publish a post daily based on the September Writing Prompts from Blogher's Writing Lab. And of course once you mention something it loses it's magic and I haven't done one since then! Shame on me!

Monday's prompt was, "Do you read the opinion section of the newspaper?" I don't even read any of the newspaper. In fact I haven't read a newspaper since probably 2005, so it was tough to become inspired by that question. Even when I did read the paper, I never read the opinion section, mostly just the funnies, Ann Landers and the want ads. Does anyone even read newspapers anymore? Do you?

Tuesday's prompt sounds promising so I may actually write a post about that one after I finish this one. 

Wednesday's prompt is, "Do you prefer to read editorials (opinion pieces generated by the staff of a publication) or op-eds (opinion pieces written by an outside expert)? Do you see a difference between the two?" I am definitely going to pass on that one!

Instead I am going to tell you that on Monday I started that new Art Class I was telling you about in previous posts, Beginning Painting. I am loving it!

I have still continued to draw and sketch, but not as much as I should be doing. You can only get better by practicing, so I really need to buckle down and turn off that TV and get busy.

Here's a couple of drawings I've done since the class ended. I'm really into the ballerina thing, not sure why but it just calls to me.

I've even picked out some gorgeous ballerina art to take to next weeks painting class as he said we could bring something we think we would like to attempt. If you'd like you could check out my Art Board on Pinterest as I've save them there.

For the first class he helped us to draw a sunset. Here's mine.

This was done using acrylic paints. It was such fun creating this and I realized that you have to lose your fear of messing it up or of it not being perfect. Just enjoy it, let loose and paint for the sheer joy of it. It was so relaxing and I can't wait to go again next week!

That's it from my neck of the woods. I'm still going to attempt to write daily using the writing prompts or perhaps at times just writing about art or food, whatever strikes my mood at the time.

How do you come up with idea on what to post about? Do you post ahead of time, do thoughts and ideas just flood your mind all the time and you can't keep up? Does blogging daily help you to make it a habit or does it seem a bit contrived when you force yourself to write something? Please share.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Mawage, The Princess Bride, and Opinions

 Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv. 

That is a line from what is probably my favorite movie ever! The Princess Bride.  The Clergyman is joining together in mawage (marriage) Princess Buttercup and Prince Humperdinck. I just want to scream at her “Don’t do it!” Actually I’m glad I don’t attend many weddings because I will always want to scream, “Don’t do it!” If you are planning a wedding the near future and you intend to invite me you may want to think again!

Just kidding. I will be screaming it in my head but my mama raised me right and I know better than to “act-up” in public. So you’re safe, go ahead and invite me! Just don’t give me Vodka…I can’t be held accountable when I drink Vodka! You’re fore-warned!

In explanation to the fact that it looks like I typed that quote while under the influence of Vodka, I really am sober, but the clergyman has some type of speech impediment that causes him to speak that way.

But my real reason for bringing up The Princess Bride is mawage, that bwessed awangment.

Marriage…ahhh marriage, what can I say about marriage except that it’s probably the hardest thing ever. Some might say raising kids is harder, but kids will be raised regardless and you love your kids pretty much unconditionally so there is hardly anything they can do or say that you don’t forgive. But getting along with a spouse and making a marriage work is much more difficult.

Usually in life when you bring two people together one of them has more authority than the other. In a job you have a boss or a supervisor and an employee. On a sports team you have a team captain or coach and the player. On a project or committee you have a project manager or committee chairperson. Granted there are exceptions but pretty much there is always one with more authority. Even in the parent/child relationship the parent is in authority, or at least should be. 

In a marriage you’re supposed to be equal…but does it ever really turn out that way? Does it?

This month I am using the writing prompts from Blogher’s Writing Lab. The theme of these writing prompts for September is OPINIONS and the prompt for today is “What would you do if your opinion clashed with the opinion of someone you trusted implicitly? Would you yield your opinion or still stick to it?”

When I was married I can remember this coming up many times. A situation would come up where we each had an opinion and they didn’t always (hardly ever) match.  My spouses answer as to who the tiebreaker would be was always him. He said that if it came down to a situation where we could not agree then we would go by his decision. Cut and dry he’s the boss. Of course this was the same man who once told me my job was just a hobby and therefore I was not an equal breadwinner, so needless to say since I am in fact divorced, that I did not yield my opinion. 

If I had I would probably still be married and maybe he would have mellowed out as he got older or maybe I would have killed him in his sleep…we will never know as I opted to get out of the marriage instead.

So tell me your thoughts, either about mawage or how you make your marriage work, how you’ve dealt with coming to a decision in which you don’t agree, how do you compromise. Or even outside of marriage, do you yield your opinion or stick to your guns?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Whose Opinion Do You Value

Advice from someone with special knowledge; advice from an expert.

We all have those people whose expertise we just accept, like doctors, accountants, attorney's, insurance agents. Those people would obviously be the experts so we know that they have the education and knowledge to backup whatever advice they may give us.

But what about opinions from the people in our lives? Friends, family members, those in our social circles? Do you have anyone whose opinion you can truck implicitly out of those named?

We all talk to certain people about certain things, but do we really talk to them in order to gain their advice and wisdom or do we simply do so because we want to voice, out loud, our dilemmas? 

Have we already made up our mind about something when we approach someone to ask for their opinion? I know several people that will talk to everyone and their mother and they already made their mind up days ago and are going to go ahead with their decision, yet they still insist on getting the opinion of others. Why do they do that?

It is difficult for me to seek advice from others, mostly because I am not a worrier. I don't ponder problems for days and stay up sleepless at night. I pretty much know how I am going to handle something and then I just let it go and face it when the time comes.

I also know when I am faced with an impossible problem, one to which there is no answer or I don't continue to deliberate and drive others crazy trying to find an answer. I've very realistic in things like that.

I do however like to share thoughts with my sister Lisa. She's probably my closest ally in this world. She's what I call a fixer. If I share a problem with her, she doesn't just listen, she starts telling me how to fix it, or says "Here's what we're going to do!" While it's great to know that if she can she will fix things for me...sometimes you just need someone to listen.

Do you have someone whose opinion you trust implicitly or is it difficult for you to seek opinions?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In My Opinion and Other Trigger Sentences

"Here's what we're going to do..."

I hear this sentence a lot in my line of work and it always makes me cringe because it means trouble. Well not actually trouble, but work. I know when I hear this sentence that what it really means is, "Here's what YOU'RE going to do..." and that means work to me; often times unnecessary work that is not going to be profitable or successful. Bosses seem to really like that sentence!

Another sentence that may cause you to run for the hills is, "In my opinion". That's an Uh-Oh moment right there. That usually means that someone is going to give you a dressing down and tell you how you failed at something you did, or how you will fail...unless you take their opinion and run with it. 

Then there's the ever popular, "Can you do me a favor?" Has that ever ended well? How can you say no? It's a favor, they aren't demanding that you do something for them, simply asking for a favor. If you say, "No, I can't do you a favor" then you come off as a selfish jerk, yet I would say that the person that asked the question is the selfish jerk for putting you in that position. 

How about the ever famous, "Can I give you some advice?", not unless I'm asking for advice. This question can ruin a friendship, let alone a working relationship.

I have to admit that I say "Here's what I think" quite a bit. I would say that's one of those trigger sentences like the ones above. I'm going to try to make sure that I don't use it as often anymore. It won't be easy because I really value my opinion and I'm usually right, but I'm going to wait to be asked (she said tongue in cheek)!

What sentences, when you hear them, cause you to cringe and wish you were a hundred miles away? Do you find yourself using any of the sentences above often? How do you respond when you hear them?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

This One Thing I Know is True - Change is Inevitable

“Understand that not everything is meant to be understood. Live, let go, and don’t worry about what you can’t change.”

If there is one thing that I know to be true, it is that change is inevitable. That’s it. That’s the one thing that I know to be true. The only thing we can do is to learn to let go of things we can’t change.

That is one of the hardest lessons that I have had to learn. You see…I’ve always been a black and white person. Things are either right or wrong. I’ve also always been a very opinionated person and when I thought something was wrong it was wrong and there was no acceptable argument. One might say I was very close minded.

But with age comes wisdom and I have learned that there are many shades of grey and that the more you stop and just shut up and listen to someone, the more you learn and the more you realize that you aren’t always right and even if you still believe you are right, someone else has a different idea of what right is. 

Not everyone can be right of course and that is why there should be open dialogue about different ideas and opinions. That is why there are laws and rules and majority rule; for those times when everyone thinks THEY are right and they won’t be swayed.

It is difficult watching changes in our lives, seeing our children grow up and follow paths that we wouldn't have chosen for them. It's difficult watching our society change and having to be tolerant of others thoughts and lifestyles. It's difficult to get older and be unable to do some of the things that used to be so easy to do.

The main thing is to understand that we can't understand everything and sometimes it's best to let go, let live and don't worry so much about things that you can't change.

The Stone Soup Story and the Stone Soup Music Festival at Grover Beach, California

Last weekend my sister Lisa and our friend Lupe and I had a girls camping weekend at Pismo Beach. We had a blast and I'll post separately about that and what we did and share pictures.

While we were there, we attended the Stone Soup Music Festival in Grover Beach and we had such fun! I think it's going to become an annual thing for us!

We didn't give a thought to what a Stone Soup Music Festival even was, it just sounded like something really fun to do and there would be music, what else did we need to know? We forgot about the Story of Stone Soup. It wasn't until we were unable to find any Stone Soup that we remembered the story! Were our faces red!

In case you have never heard of the story, here you go!

Stone Soup
An Old Tale Retold
Text by Marcia Brown

Three soldiers trudged down a road in a strange country. They were on their way home from the wars. Besides being tired, they were hungry. In fact, they had eaten nothing for two days.

"How I would like a good dinner tonight," said the first.  "And a bed to sleep in," said the second. "But all that is impossible," said the third. "We must march on."

On they marched. Suddenly ahead of them they saw the lights of a village. "Maybe we'll find a bite to eat there," said the first. "And a loft to sleep in," said the second. "No harm in asking," said the third.

Now the peasants of that village feared strangers. When they heard that three soldiers were coming down the road, they talked amongst themselves.

"Here come three soldiers. Soldiers are always hungry. But we have little enough for ourselves." 

And they hurried to hide their food. They pushed the sacks of barley under the hay in the lofts. They lowered buckets of milk down the wells. They spread old quilts over the carrot bins. They hid their cabbages and potatoes under the beds. They hung their meat in the cellars. They hid all they had to eat. Then - they waited.

The soldiers stopped first at the house of Paul and Francoise. "Good evening to you," they said. "Could you spare a bit of food for three hungry soldiers?"

"We have had no food for ourselves for three days," said Paul. Francoise made a sad face. "It has been a poor harvest."

The three soldiers went on to the house of Albert and Louise.

"Could you spare a bit of food? And have you some corner where we could sleep for the night?"

"Oh no," said Albert. "We gave all we could spare to soldiers who came before you." "Our beds are full," said Louise.

At Vincent and Marie's the answer was the same. It had been a poor harvest and all the grain must be kept for seed. So it went all throughout the village. Not a peasant had any food to give away. They all had good reasons. One family had to use the grain for feed. Another had an old sick father to care for. All had too many mouths to fill.

The villagers stood in the street and sighed. They looked as hungry as they could. The three soldiers talked together. Then the first soldier called out, "Good People!" The peasants drew near.

"We are three hungry soldiers in a strange land. We have asked you for food and you have no food. Well then, we'll have to make stone soup." The peasants stared. Stone soup? That would be something to know about.

"First, we'll need a large iron pot," the soldiers said. The peasants brought them the largest pot they could find. How else to cook enough?

"That's none too large," said the soldiers. "But it will have to do. And now, water to fill it and a fire to heat it." It took many buckets of water to fill the pot. A fire was built on the village square and the pot was set to boil.

"And now, if you please, three round, smooth stones." Those were easy enough to find. The peasants' eyes grew round as they watched the soldiers drop the stones into the pot.

"Any soup needs salt and pepper," said the soldiers, as they began to stir. Children ran to fetch salt and pepper. 

"Stones like these generally make good soup, but oh, if there were carrots, it would be much better." "Why, I think I have a carrot or two," said Francoise, and off she ran. She came back with her apron full of carrots from the bin beneath the red quilt.

"A good stone soup should have cabbage, " said the soldiers as they sliced the carrots into the pot. "But no use asking for what you don't have." "I think I could find a cabbage somewhere," said Marie and she hurried home. She came back with three cabbages from the cupboard under the bed.

"If we only had a bit of beef and a few potatoes, this soup would be good enough for a rich man's table."

The peasants thought that over. They remembered their potatoes and the side of beef hanging in the cellars. They ran to fetch them. A rich man's soup - and all from a few stones! It seemed like magic!

"Ah," sighed the soldiers as they stirred in the beef and potatoes. "if we only had a little barley and a cup of milk! This would be fit for the King himself. Indeed he asked for just such a soup when last he dined with us."

The peasants looked at each other. These soldiers had entertained the king! Well!

"But - no use asking for what you don't have." the soldiers sighed. The peasants brought their barley from the lofts, they brought their milk from the wells. The soldiers stirred the barley and milk into the steaming broth while the peasants stared.

At last the soup was ready. "All of you shall taste," the soldiers said. "But first a table must be set." Great tables were placed in the square. And all around were lighted torches. Such a soup! How good it smelled! Truly fit for a king!

But then the peasants asked themselves, "Would not such a soup require bread and a roast - and cider?" Soon a banquet was spread and everyone sat down to eat. Never had there been such a feast. Never had the peasants tasted such soup. And fancy, made from stones!

They ate and drank and ate and drank. And after that they dance. They danced and sang far into the night. At last they were tired. Then the three soldiers asked, "Is there not a loft where we could sleep?" "Let three such wise and splendid gentlemen sleep in a loft? Indeed! they must have the best beds in the village!"

So the first soldier slept in the priest's house. The second soldier slept in the baker's house and the third soldier slept in the mayor's house.

In the morning, the whole village gathered in the square to give them a send-off. 

"Many thanks for what you have taught us," the peasants said to the soldiers. "We shall never go hungry, now that we know how to make soup from stones."

"Oh, it's all in knowing how," said the soldiers, and off they went down the road.

Great story right? And a good lesson. So although we didn't find any soup at this festival, we remembered a great story!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Strong Opinions or Wishy Washy? How do you Rate?

My son was raving about a movie a few years back, telling me “Mom, you have to watch it, you would really like it!” So one day I had the opportunity to watch it on NetFlix, perhaps you have heard of this movie? It’s Slum Dog Millionaire. 

I couldn’t watch it. In the very beginning of the movie there is a torture scene and it was just too real, too painful. To this day I have refused to watch that movie.

Torture Scene from Slum Dog Millionaire 
I’ve watched many movies with torture scenes, not that I make a habit of it, they just take place in certain movies…but I just could not make myself watch this one, for some reason it just touched my very soul and I felt every pain myself.  I’ve never had such a strong reaction to a movie.

A few other movies that I can’t bring myself to watch are certain movies with Jim Carey in them. Movies like Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura and Mask. Just to see Jim Carey, whom I like as an actor being such a buffoon is mind numbing! He’s another actor that my son just can’t understand my not loving, but like I said, I do like him, just not when he portrays certain types of characters.

I don’t often have such strong opinions of movies, but I guess when I don’t like one I just don’t like it!

Books on the other hand I have a harder time with. There have been times that I start a book and I know right away I’m not going to like it, but I feel bad stopping and not finishing it because I feel like the writer went to a lot of trouble to write it and it would be disrespectful to not finish it. Crazy I know, but that’s just me.

There have been times that I refused to give up on a book and maybe three quarters of the way it finally comes to life for me and I end up thoroughly enjoying it…maybe that’s why I don’t give up on them?

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan was one of those books that I did just not enjoy. I enjoy Gaffigan as a comedian on stage, but somehow could not buy into his book. I have to admit I didn’t read more than a few pages, sorry Jim.

I try to not be too judgmental or opinionated, although people that know me probably wouldn't agree with that statement. But I do like to give things the benefit of the doubt, like music and even people. Even now, knowing that I have been very opinionated about the movies and books above I would never discourage YOU from watching or reading them. 

That’s why it would be difficult for me to be a book editor or movie reviewer…I know that people have different likes and interests so live and let live right?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Right to an Opinion - Are you Opinionated?

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“A Right to an Opinion doesn’t make the Opinion right!” 

I don’t remember where I heard this, but I think that more people in this world need to hear it and take it to heart. During this point in the History of our country, nay…our world, it would benefit us greatly to remember this quote.

I love my Facebook Feed, love my Facebook friends and family, but I am so sick of the bickering and fighting and downright rude comments of some people that I used to respect, people whose opinions I used to value. Let alone the comments I read from complete strangers!

The controversy and rudeness over every single little thing going on in the world is tiring! Michael Phelps and his expression of pride in himself when he won the gold, was he entitled to hold up his arms in glory stating definitively that he is #1 or was he glorifying himself and being boastful and arrogant? The opinions and the name calling and spiteful words on Facebook and Twitter comments were chilling!

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Then Ryan Lochte had his moment of shame and everyone forgot about Phelps and jumped on the bandwagon asking for the head of Lochte on a silver platter. And those that felt that Lochte just displayed bad judgment and should not be ostracized and his sponsors should not have dropped him were themselves “ripped a new one”!

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Now there’s Colin Kaepernick and the controversy he’s currently causing by refusing to stand during the National Anthem in protest of something that he believes in.

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My goodness! The viciousness of the comments as relates to Colin are just frightening. Truly, I am not being a drama queen, but people are saying such ugly things towards Colin and towards each other that it makes me fearful for survival of the human race!

I know that these things are short lived, that now everyone is talking about Trumps visit to Mexico and the “wall” and his immigration plan and that down the road in a few days, weeks or month there will be something new for the beasts to feed on. Someone new they can tear down while they tear down each other as well. 

People will be unfriended on Facebook and life will go on, but it makes me unbearably sad to know that if these people can turn against each other; friends and family members, because of the small controversies like those listed above, how will they react when it truly is something of substance and importance?

I have an opinion about all those things above, and if asked I will voice it but I will ask for yours as well and listen with an open mind. The key point is I will listen to YOU. And I won't simply let you talk while I prepare an attack to your opinion in my mind. I also won’t just attack you and then refuse to listen to you. Maybe we all need to take a debate class like I did in high school to realize that we can debate things openly and intelligently and without anger, hatred, and disgusting words.

Do we all have a right to an opinion? Maybe, but remember “A Right to an Opinion doesn’t make the Opinion Right!”