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Note Pad with Guilt Trip Attached

February 15, 2020

Wow! I’ve seen a lot of solicitation appeals through snail mail, but today’s letter from the American Lung Association is a first. Talk about a guilt trip!

The ALA typically sends me address labels I didn’t ask for, as well as note pads that I never requested. Of course, nobody is legally required to send solicitors anything to compensate for the “free stuff” they choose to throw into their outgoing mail. Over the years, I have given regularly to the American Lung Association, despite the freebies. However, I may rethink my donations after the solicitation I received today. It included the usual unrequested address labels and note pads–but it also included a huge guilt trip. Here is the guilt-trip message from the top sheet of one of the note pads:

” ***STOP! STOP! STOP!*** If you’re thinking of keeping this note pad and not making a donation, please think again! Thank you so much for your past support. Your commitment has been extremely important and deeply appreciated. But so many lives depend on what you choose to do right now! You might be surprised to know that approximately only 4 out of 100 people send a contribution in response to appeals like this one–and yet, evidently, they all keep the note pad. If you’re thinking of keeping this gift without sending a contribution in return, please consider that your note pad is meant to symbolize your commitment to defeating lung disease. You have a choice to make: help save the lives of the many men, women and children enduring the pain of lung disease–or keep this note pad while you turn away from their suffering. As you hold this note pad in your hand, please make the right choice. Thank you.”

Can you believe that? I know what choice I’ll be making as long as a solicitor sends me this kind of insulting mail–even if the solicitation is for a cause I would normally support. How disappointing.

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Look Around

June 15, 2019

Just a few weeks ago, I was waiting for two other members of my writing group to meet me at the bank. We had an appointment to update signature cards for the group’s checking account. As outgoing treasurer, I would be handing the “banking baton” to the newly elected treasurer. His name would go on the signature card and my name would go off. While I was sitting in the waiting area, I started to look at my cell phone to catch up with news updates.  As I kept scrolling through screens, I never noticed that the new treasurer entered the waiting area. He even said “hi” to me (I found out later) yet I didn’t notice while I was engrossed in that tiny screen in my hand. While I was focused on ideas online, I didn’t notice the details of my real surroundings. Only after the third member of our party arrived, the president of our group, did I realize that I had missed the arrival of the new treasurer.

As a writer, I am intrigued by concepts. However, I know I need to balance the big picture with details. Mystery stories hinge on “the telling detail.” Poets use details to convey larger truths. Journalists summarize the main idea of a story in the lede, then provide details in the paragraphs below.

Writers know they need “the forest” AND “the trees.” After all, without the trees, there would be no forest. 

After the incident at the bank, I decided to use my cell phone less often in public and look around more often. I decided to use a fun way to remember this change in behavior: I will sing myself a song that I first heard as a girl: “Look Around.” A song written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, it’s  performed here by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Clickbait Headlines Exposed!

May 25, 2019

The concept of a headline sure has changed from the time I went to journalism school in the (ahem) 20th Century. We students were taught that the purpose of a headline was to convey an accurate–although limited–idea of the main point in the story below. Readers might be interested enough in the story to read it. And those who only skimmed headlines would have a shallow–yet reasonably accurate–idea of the news of the day.

Today, with many stories in the digital world, headlines are intended to tantalize readers…giving them just enough info to pique their interest…but not enough to be informative. The goal is to get you to click the headline and read the story: hence, the term “clickbait.”

So, just for fun, here’s a clickbait headline I’d like to see, using some of the favorite words of clickbait headline writers. How about this?

You won’t believe the real reason there are 10 ways to use ‘this’ in a clickbait headline!

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The sound of a strong wind

August 4, 2017

I’m personally taking credit for the rain storm in Royal Oak yesterday evening. Why? Because the day before yesterday, I finally (!) took my dusty car to the car wash. 😉 Then it rained.

I had driven to a local car wash that our family knows well. During that time, we’ve seen the business upgrade its equipment every few years. I used to enjoy seeing my dirty car go through the mini-storm inside the building and come out the other end sparkling clean. I was happy to see the people at the end of the line with their  towels in hand, ready to add their human touch to my car before I’d return to driving in the real world.

However, yesterday was different. As I approached the end of the line, I was surprised to see no workers ready to towel-dry my car. Instead, I was feeling the car shake as it never had before in a car wash. A super powerful blast of air was enveloping the car. My surprise quickly turned to panic as I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw my back windshield shake visibly. I was scared that the oscillating glass would pop out of its gasket.

Luckily, it did not. In itself, that was a good thing–but it was even more important last evening when I needed to drive in the torrential rain that I caused by washing my car in the first place!

Well today, the rain subsided and the weather cleared to a gorgeous sunny blue sky and mild temperatures. I put the scary car wash behind me as I ventured out to meet someone in the afternoon. While I sat waiting in a parking lot with the windows down, breathing in the mild air, my ears were taking in a loud sound…as if a jet plane was passing overhead. Except that the sound never faded away, as you’d expect with a jet streaking across the sky. No.  There was no fading. It was as if a jet was hovering overhead. What could cause a sound like a jet without being a jet? Where was this sound coming from?

I turned around toward the sound–and found the cause. I was parked across the street from–you guessed it–the car wash I had patronized two days earlier!

Suddenly, I felt more justified about my fear of losing my back windshield in that blast of air at the car wash. With today’s nice weather, the car wash, of course, was open once again for business–and, unfortunately, so were the doors at the end of the line. That’s where the air blowers are located–the ones that can literally make your rear windshield shake in its gasket.

And make me shake with its memory. I think the next time I’m tempted to use the car wash, I may opt to keep my windshield a little dirty–but intact.

 

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The 2017 DWW Writing Competition

July 28, 2017

Detroit Working Writers is the oldest organization of writers in the State of Michigan.

The group was founded in 1900 by female journalists and known as the Detroit Press Club–the first press club in the City of Detroit. Four years later, male journalists organized a press club of their own–and took over the name. So the original group officially changed its name to Detroit Women Writers in 1914. In May 2003, the name was changed again, to Detroit Working Writers, to reflect the fact that the group is also open to male writers.

DWW’s mission is to encourage creative writing of the highest professional standard. Today’s DWW includes female and male writers from genres that include journalism, poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction.

The purpose of DWW’s annual writing competition is to encourage writers in their craft–members and nonmembers alike. Winners will be announced at DWW’s annual conference, which will be held on Saturday, September 16, at the MSU Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan.

To learn more about participating in the writing competition and attending the conference, please click on this Web site link: Detroit Working Writers.

 

 

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Lightening Up

June 19, 2017

It’s a beautiful summer morning in Royal Oak, Michigan. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, the temperature is 72 degrees. Weather like this reminds me that life isn’t always chilly winter blasts or heavy air or thunderstorms. Life can be beautiful. And when it is, let’s not muck it up! Let’s not turn it into some kind of effort on our part, as if we could add anything to this moment! All we need to do is just sit back and relax and soak it in! So as a recovering Type A, who’s relearning everyday that keeping it simple is an art and that less is often more, I recommend a thought today from Melody Beattie:

We are worthy, even when life isn’t that hard. Our value and worth are not determined by how hard we struggle.

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“When nothing else is certain….”

May 28, 2016

Ray and I are catching up with some programs backlogged on our DVR. Yesterday night, we watched Call the Midwife, the first episode from Season 5. The plot involved a baby girl born without arms or legs.

At the time, the doctor and midwives had no idea that the baby’s physical disabilities resulted from the thalidomide that the pregnant mother had received as a prescription. The show dramatized the first reactions of the midwives, the doctor, the new father and new mother as well as the siblings. All involved learned–sooner or later–not only to accept but to embrace the newborn girl as she is. But I was most impressed by the voiceover commentary at the end of the episode. I think it applies only all too well for any uncertain time in which we find ourselves. What do you think?

“Love grows when nothing else is certain, changing its shape to fill the space required.”

 

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Not-So-Thankful Pup?

March 29, 2016

Okay…somehow, through the magic of mailing lists shared without my permission, I now receive a “Touch of Class” catalog. I get a kick out of thumbing through the glossy pictures while I’m eating lunch. Well, I almost lost my lunch when I saw an item called: “Thankful Pup Sculpture.”

I presume the artist and the catalog meant well…but, frankly, this sculpture looks like a dog that has little to be thankful for!

Here’s the link. What do YOU think?

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“One step beyond”

March 20, 2016

I was browsing books on Amazon when I saw this comment by Brian Tracy, author of The Way to Wealth. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me today:

“Most people will achieve their greatest success one step beyond what looked like their greatest failure.”

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“Thank you for your business”

March 7, 2016

As a customer, I love hearing a clerk or store-owner tell me: “Thank you for your business.”

Unfortunately, I don’t hear that very often these days. Instead, I’m noticing an ironic twist between clerks and customers. Instead of clerks thanking customers for their business, the clerks often say nothing…then, more often than not, customers fill-in-the-blank and say “thank you” to the clerks!

I have to admit, I sometimes find myself doing the same thing. When that happens, I wonder why we customers so easily slip into this behavior. Why do we thank clerks for the privilege of shopping at that store?

Don’t get me wrong. I like politeness. It just seems that the situation is bass-ackwards. I think it’s easy to get sucked into that vacuum of silence at the cash register. It’s a moment when it seems that somebody should say something…and we feel that that “something” is a “thank you”…and if the clerk doesn’t say it, then WE will say it!

On days when I have more presence of mind, I sometimes respond to that silence by saying  “Okay” or “Have a nice day.” I feel it’s a polite way of responding to clerks who don’t thank me for my business.

I realize this whole topic may seem a bit trivial. I guess it is. But as I see it, most of our days are filled with trivial things. Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked: “Manners are the happy way of doing things.” So why wouldn’t a store want a customer to be happy? Why shouldn’t a clerk thank a customer for patronizing a store–and not the other way around?

This morning, I shopped at two national retailers. Neither clerk thanked me for my business.