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Good advice for writers

September 30, 2014

I saw a column written by AK Turner on The Huffington Post: 10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers.  I encourage all writers…women or men, aspiring or experienced…to read this short piece. From her list, my favorites are:

“Never dwell on what you have not done.”

I feel this is good advice for everyone. After all, there will always be many more things we could do compared to things we’ve done. Focusing on our never-finished to-do list will only feed our guilt and make us feel less-than. I’ve also found that focusing on what I’ve already done inspires me to do more.

“Do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you.”

So true! That’s why I feel blessed to belong to a supportive and inspiring group, called Detroit Working Writers. I find it therapeutic hanging around with people who don’t consider me anal for editing out adjectives or rearranging paragraphs for better flow.

“Never feel ashamed of time spent reading.”

Ah, sometimes I do find that reading seems like a guilty pleasure. I enjoy it as much as eating dark chocolate…except for reading and eating dark chocolate at the same time! Yet reading is vital for writers.  Mrs. Millie Loftus, who taught sophomore composition at Dominican High School in Detroit, used to say: “If you want to be a good writer, be a good reader.” So true, Mrs. Loftus!

I’d like to add my own item to the list: “I don’t know what I think until I’ve written about it.” I’ve come to accept that the process of writing is magical and spiritual in its own way. Just engaging in the act of writing transforms and refines my thoughts…if I let it. If I don’t let the process take over, then my writing stinks.

And on that high note, I’ll stop writing and let you look at that list from AK Turner.

 

 

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Drive-Up Funeral Visitation…Yes or No?

September 15, 2014

I just saw an article in our local Patch news site about a funeral home in Michigan that’s offering drive-up viewing of deceased persons. I realize the funeral home owners offered some reasons for this service. Still, I’m not convinced that this is the wave of the future.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But I thought people decide to spend an hour or two at a funeral home for more than just viewing the remains of the deceased. After all, many people today are choosing to cremate their remains, and there’s not much to see there except an urn or box.

I thought the main reason to visit a funeral home is to offer condolences and comfort to the surviving family and friends. Many families share photos or stories of their loved ones, and visitors share their memories and prayers.

To me, this tradition of physically keeping company with the grieving survivors is most important.

What do you think?

 

 

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Mandate of Growth

May 13, 2014

“Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Wish I’d seen this earlier

February 23, 2014

…but at least I’ve seen it now.  I was skimming The Huffington Post this morning and saw a story about a rock band performing an unconventional version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. But I give the band kudos for originality.

Then I scrolled down to the bottom of the article where there was a YouTube link to a version of our national anthem performed by Marvin Gaye at a 1983 basketball game.    Wow.    It was the sexiest national anthem I’ve ever heard…and the crowd even found itself clapping along with the groove that Gaye had laid down in that basketball arena.

Truly amazing! I think it’s well worth three minutes of your time!

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Guess I know when I’m not welcome…

February 18, 2014

This blog only makes sense if I let you know that I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa. So it’s out. I bring this up because I just learned that I am not welcome in a certain group. That group is called Kappa Beta Phi. It is comprised of Wall Street elites who hold annual meetings to mock Phi Beta Kappa, its members, the symbols on the PBK gold key and the PBK motto: “Love of learning the guide of life.”

Instead, the motto of this group is: Dum vivamus edimus et biberimus.” Evidently, this is Latin for:  “While we live, we eat and drink.”

If you have the stomach for it, I suggest you read the article and listen to the audio provided by reporter Kevin Roose in New York Magazine, who donned a tux and dove undercover to learn more about this group of Wall Street elites. The KBP mocks other groups as well, but I’ll leave that for others to discuss.

The speaker on the audio explains that the KBP motto means that its members eat and drink regardless of a bull market or a bear market.

That’s great for them. But what about their fellow Americans who aren’t eating and drinking right now, thanks in part to economic policies and political cost-cutting decisions that affect unemployment insurance and food stamps?

When I think about that, all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not welcome at KBP.

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“….or has time rewritten every line?”

February 5, 2014

I thought of this lyric snippet after reading a story in the Detroit Free Press. The story was titled, “Your brain often edits that trip down memory lane.” Audience members who saw Twelve Angry Men either on stage or on the silver screen might remember how the seemingly airtight memory of a key eyewitness fell apart under jury room scrutiny.

But the Free Press article talks about our capacity to alter our own memories.

“A memory isn’t a static thing,” said Joel Voss, a researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Every time you retrieve it, you have the ability to modify it.”

This reminds me of videos I’ve seen where people use a tapping technique to help them reframe a troubling memory. Under the guidance of a therapist, people quickly learn a way to take the emotional edge off of a troubling memory. Some therapists also use video game simulation techniques to help soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  In the virtual world, under the watchful eye of a therapist, a soldier can relive a disturbing war experience…and then learn to reframe it.  These techniques seem to take advantage of the research findings mentioned in the Free Press. We’re not robots…memory in, memory out. We can learn to reinterpret or reframe our memories based on new knowledge.

To me, that’s a very reassuring thought.

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Seeing what’s important in life

December 13, 2013

How would you feel if you lost your entire retirement fund to convicted pyramid schemer Bernie Madoff?

Bitter? That’s understandable. Worried? Yeah, I’d understand that, too. But what if someone said the experience was a blessing in disguise?

Meet attorney Helen Davis Chaitman. In The Huffington Post, the headline describes Ms. Chaitman as a “victim” of Bernie Madoff, but hearing her talk about the experience, she acts not like a victim…but a victor.

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