Archives for October 2015

It’s Not About Who We Used To Be

Adele is singing about California dreaming and memories of who she used to be and I am sitting at the computer wondering about her writing process and whether it is all based upon experience or imagination.

Thinking about how some people have suggested I live in the past and how I have laughed because they have based their thoughts upon the few posts they have read.

I’ll concede there are plenty of stories about what life was like and tales about who I was or what I used to be able to do.

If that is all the insight you have then I can see how you might wonder if maybe my eyes are always looking backwards but it is not who I am or what I am about.

A Man of Faith looks backwards for the purpose of trying to determine if a course correction is needed or warranted.

Otherwise the focus is forward because life is not about who we used to be, but who we are now and who we hope to become.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
― William Wordsworth

The music has moved to Chicago, something about a man selling ice cream singing Italian songs and I am smiling because this is my Saturday in the park.

The picture at the top of the page has me entranced, it reminds me that the person I want to be is one who has the resources to spend time writing at the beach and in the mountains.

The person I want to become is the guy who continues to take chances and works on pushing the envelope to make things happen.

That is the kind of role model I want to be for my kids.

And it is tied into the kind of writer I want to be too. The kind of isn’t afraid to fill parts of the pages with fragments of what rolls around inside the melon, the good and the bad.

That approach doesn’t fit with some of the expert opinion I have read recently that maintains you need to focus on your readers first because they are the most important people that visit your blog.

They can have it, it is not for me.
conversations

It Connects The Generations

I sold my car.

Technically I haven’t signed the paperwork that will relieve me of ownership but I am committed to doing so.

It is time and I don’t have any regrets about moving from into something new, fact is I have wanted to do this for years but it just didn’t happen.

But that doesn’t mean I am not aware that this is the last vehicle I owned before I became a father.

Don’t know if that is truly significant any more than saying it is the last car I drove my grandparents in or that it has been a constant in the lives of my childen.

It is just a bunch of steel, cloth and miscellaneous parts.

The car is a thing and the only reason it has any significance at all is because of the memories that are attached to it and the echoes of the past.

Some of those echoes reach into the present and a few might even reach into the future.

But we won’t know if they go all the way or part until we engage life and walk with it down the road.

Won’t know if they are things that help propel us forward or hold us back until we try taking those steps.

So I say goodbye to the car with a mix of emotions, a touch of bittersweet something or other but mostly gratitude.

It was the first car my kids rode in, the one that took them from the hospital to home. The vehicle that took them to preschool and the schools beyond.

The car that helped me go to and from work so that I could provide for the family and when the world went to Hell sometimes it served as a quiet refuge.

If it could tell a tale it would have many.

We had more than a few adventures in it, ask it to speak about the road to and from Texas and all that happened in between.

An ordinary car made extraordinary by the memories that are attached to it.

Kill Your Darlings

Somewhere in his book about how to become a better writer Stephen King encourages us to kill our darlings.

He tells us not to become so enamored with our words we fail to do things to make our work stronger.

Tighten your paragraphs by eliminating non-essential words and improve your writing by showing and not telling.

I hear his voice in my head and see a dozen places where I can improve this post. Chunks that can be eliminated and assorted means to do stuff that will help more people engage and remain so here.

But at the same time my gut says do your thing, take a risk, try, don’t fear to fall because you might fly.

The point is not to ignore the wisdom of someone who has had tremendous success but to be willing to mix and match to find a formula that works for me.

That is what a writer has to do.

That is what a parent has to do, figure out how to teach, advise and guide each child in a way that resonates with them.

In short it is really what we all share in common, the need to be willing to walk in light or darkness without fear of falling.

Make your mistakes and learn from them.

That is where we learn how to grow and be more.

It is not about who we used to be, but who we want to become.

The Secret Blogger’s Guide To Buying Cars

Don’t know about you but that headline makes me roll my eyes and shake my head. It makes me sound like I am selling snake oil and reminds me of some of the less savory aspects of social media.

But I used it because someone told me that secret is a word that has a higher conversion rate and that people will be more likely to click on the headline and see what this post is about.

I suppose if I really wanted to test things out I could throw in some of the other proven words and see what sort of impact they have.

Something like:

Quick & Easy Magic Miracle Offer

It is the kind of thing people would check out and that is in spite of the lack of clarity about what the product/service is.

How do I know this?

Simple, I know things. Hell, some of what I know is based upon fact and not opinion or theory.

What I really wish I knew was where to obtain the secret blogger’s guide to buying cars because not only would it provide everything you need to get a great deal it would take all of the pain and suffering out of the process.

I have been researching and looking at new cars for a good long while. Did I mention I like how specific good long while is?

Whenever the Shmata Queen tells me I haven’t provided enough details in response to a question I go back to good long while and prepare a response that is modeled upon that.
youcanflyRemember when I wrote about my day driving the Ferrari 458 Italia at the track?

I don’t think I mentioned how the instructor said he was going to push me out of my comfort zone so that I could experience something more.

Don’t think I mentioned that I never went faster than about 130 something MPH in a car that can do 200.

I have been thinking about it and wondered if I would have gone faster when I was 25 than I did now.

Not sure that it really matters because I had a hell of a lot of fun and one day I’ll go back and when I do I’ll go faster because I’ll be more comfortable.

Wondered if going slower than I expected I would means I lost faith in my ability to fly or if I was just being prudent.

At 25 I didn’t have responsibilities or obligations to anyone but me so I spent less time thinking about what might happen if things went sideways.

Didn’t hurt that I didn’t have mystery aches or bruises or that if I did have one it faded over night. That is not to say that I am soft, old and rickety now because I am not.

I am just cognizant that things that hurt take a bit longer to heal and or right themselves. Kind of sad to say that I am one of those people who says if I knew then what I know now…

But I am also one of those guys who spends most of this waking time facing forward because you can’t go back and if you look back you might see the monster that’s chasing you.

Of course if there was a monster chasing me I’d turn around long enough to get a decent look, better to know what I am dealing with.

It might even encourage me to head back to the track sooner, might need the speed and power of that Ferrari sooner than later.

A Tool Is Only As Good As Its User

A tool is only as good as the person using it.

You could hand me the best guitar on the market and it wouldn’t enable me to play it like a professional or anything close to that.

That is because I never learned how to play the guitar. For that matter I can’t play any instrument with any degree of proficiency.

But give me something to write on and a topic and I can do it with my eyes closed.  That is not supposed to be a humble brag or bragging of any sort.

It is me saying that after more than 10,000 hours of writing I have enough experience to be good at this.

Ask my kids and they’ll tell you I have stressed the value of practice and repetition with them.

That is where this all comes from.

Talent is useful but most of us don’t have enough to rely solely upon it so practice is key. It is the difference between mediocrity and whatever comes next.

It is the difference between mediocrity and whatever comes next.Click To Tweet

There was a time where I worked for a general contractor as a project manager.

Every day I would speak with homeowners about remodeling and or renovating their homes.

And without fail there would be a call where the husband/wife would tell me they thought we charged too much because they had watched HGTV and knew how to lay tile because of that.

I was always diplomatic in my response and would tell them they were welcome to do the work or part of it themselves but suggested they consider how long it would take an amateur to do a professional’s job.

Sometimes they would still do it and the quality of their work was acceptable but that was rare. Most of the time it was awful and we had to redo it so they lost time and money.

Practice is important and it is valuable, sometimes boring, but still valuable.

The Secret Blogger’s Guide

Call me a skeptic, but I rarely find secret guides I can use for anything.

Most of the time they are better qualified as something that might have some useful tips. Some of those tips fall into the category of practical advice I can use  more than once and some don’t.

They remind me of the DIY stuff I see on television and make me wonder if it is the kind of thing I can apply immediately or if to get some benefit from it I need to do and then practice the tip over and over again.

Doesn’t mean I don’t want or need advice, just that I try to be realistic about it.

Circle back to Building A Better Blog… Maybe and what I hope to accomplish by changing things up here.

The new theme is just a shell for the content.

If I do my job with the kind of effort and efficiency I want you and the other readers will stick around because you’ll enjoy this, relate to it and not find it to be a waste of time.

And if I don’t, well a prettier look won’t hide the flaws and you’ll go.

Now if only I had the cash to hire a professional to make the physical changes here so that I could focus on what I do best.

But I don’t so I’ll ask you to bear with the noise and dust. Shouldn’t take too long to get it spruced up…I saw a show on TV and know the changes here should be easy to make.

See you in the comments.

Building A Better Blog… Maybe

It is about Building A Better Blog… Maybe.

There Is No Cure For Blogging

thinkingforyouSomeone ought to ask me why there is no cure for blogging so I can tell them it is hard to answer something that isn’t really a question.

What the hell does “There Is No Cure For Blogging mean?

I like to think of it as being similar to modern art or some sort of Jackson Pollock painting.

You know, one of those pieces that is a bunch of dots, lines, squiggles and marks that have no discernible order or pattern to them. Not that it matters because even if it did you wouldn’t know what the hell to make of it.

Some expert calls it the most sensual and authoritative piece on post-modern sex and you think, WTF are they talking about.

So you squint and think that maybe the squiggle is penetrating or being penetrated by the dots and lines but don’t say anything out loud.

Partly because you’re afraid you’re wrong and the expert will think you are a fool and partly because it is so fucking stupid you can’t imagine you’re dumb enough to say you think you see some sort of sex act going on in the middle of the page/poster.

There Is No Cure For Blogging

Someone once asked me to describe my relationship with The Shmata Queen and I said, She Bit Me And I Screamed.

If you want to know what that particular line means you’ll have to click on the link and read it. Hell, if you want to know more about a lot of things you’ll need to read some of these links:

Don’t know what you’ll learn or find out but I am sure you’ll gain some more insight or at least some nugget of wisdom that is worth something.

Remember when I said I am looking at new themes that I think might offer a nice look, something fresh and engaging?

Well, I am playing around with this one. Not sure yet if I am going to do it, but I might.

Is it the look I want? Is it the one that is going to provide a better reading experience and more opportunity for storytelling?

I am not sure, but I think it might be. Sometimes the only way to figure something out is to try.

Pull The Thread

I realized earlier today it is about two years to the day since I left Texas.

Hard to believe two years went by, partly because part of it was the most hellish time I have been through and part of it was just really freaking fast.

Don’t know if this was something my subconscious realized or if I know it because Facebook happened to ping me with one of their memory posts but I do know the timing of it is/was funny.

Funny in the peculiar sense of the word because it is tied into this past Saturday night.

I was in the middle of car shopping and something set me off.

Ok, a few things set me off not the least of it was the dumber than rocks sales people who couldn’t answer any questions without the help of a dictionary and someone to pull the string that makes them speak.

Somewhere in the midst of it all I realized that almost every car I have ever purchased has been something that I accepted because it was what I could afford and wasn’t what I wanted.

And I got angry because I felt like I was being pushed to look at the same type of car, the same vanilla, sterile, and affordable crap from the past.

The anger rose quickly because I am not in a position where I have to look at those cars as being the sole or preferable choice.

Doesn’t mean I have a billion dollar surplus either, but there is enough in the cupboard to do better than that and I decided better was what I wanted.

I didn’t have to focus solely on need, I could look at want too.

And I didn’t figure it out until I pulled on the thread.

Truth is I didn’t have to pull on the thread to know that leaving Texas two years ago caused a world of turmoil for me.

Some of it might have come even if I hadn’t, but my gut says otherwise. Doesn’t really matter, can’t know unless you can go back in time in which case we need to make more than one stop.

you can go back in time in which case we need to make more than one stop.Click To Tweet

******

broken heart

I heard someone bash Nicholas Sparks the other day.

They had a host of reasons one of which is they said he shouldn’t have said anything about the leads in The Notebook being ordinary because they weren’t.

I don’t know much about his writing, fact is I saw this movie and aside from the quotes I have seen floating around  it is all I really know about him.

But I do know something else.

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things and that is far more likely to leave an imprint upon people because we relate best to the ordinary because they could be us and we could be them.

Hell, I relate to the quote above myself and maybe that is why I paid attention to the comment when most of the time I might have let it pass through one side of my head to the other.

The kind of love that Sparks is talking about is the kind of thing that leads to an ordinary moment becoming extraordinary.

That indescribable thing that makes just holding hands or listening to someone breathe special is what I am referring to.

If you haven’t ever had it you won’t get it, but if you have you’ll know that sometimes you share a moment where it feels like time has stopped and the two of you are in your own world.

And then it is gone, as fast and as unexpected as it came it leaves.

That is why you need to pay attention.

Fade To Black

Sometimes I wish I could end my post with the proverbial fade to black and some sort of meaningful music.

Something that would make you see or feel something that would stay with you after you finished reading these words and you’d think and wonder about things you don’t always think or wonder about.

There is no cure for blogging.

Just Hit It Harder

insanity
I slammed into the post five or six times, maybe more, maybe less, I wasn’t really keeping count.

“Jack, all you are going to do is break your shoulder, you can’t knock it down by yourself.”

I didn’t acknowledge the words or even look at the speaker. I just hit it harder, but this time I did it from a different angle.

I didn’t care whether they understood what I was doing or need them to recognize that there was a method to my madness. It is possible I am intimately acquainted with insanity but it is also possible that I am crazy like a fox or so I hope.

Everyone wants to believe the risk they take is based upon genius and not madness but the thin line that separates them is the one we call success.

Taurus, The Bull

The boy who was the six million dollar man paid a visit to our house the other day. Can’t tell you what made him decide to come by or why he chose to communicate by painting the walls with images from the past but I know it was important.

Not in the sense of the Star Wars fans who ruin the movies by trying to force new interpretations but in the “you need to pay attention to the small details that you’re missing.

Sometimes people misunderstand the benefit of repeating the same actions over and over because what you are really engaged in is practice.

You take a 100 shots on goal or a 1oo swings so that when it counts you don’t freeze up. It becomes natural and your movement is fluid and relaxed.

Did I mention that the tenth or 25th time I hit the wall it came down. Never doubted I could do it, just knew I had to figure out where the weak spots were and that once I did it was just a matter of time.

That is the sort of teachable moment I want to share with my kids. Success comes from a willingness to put in the work over an extended period and an understanding that you won’t always see an immediate return on your investment.

but the thin line that separates them is the one we call success.Click To Tweet

I find it amusing to think about how arbitrary we are in determining who is a success and who is a failure.

The lines that demarcate the two are crossed and blurred in ways that we don’t always acknowledge or recognize.

Too often we focus upon money and or status symbols as being the trophies that prove we have made it, not recognizing their held by people who are hollow inside.

Time For Change

I am growing tired of the current layout of the blog and am not certain if it is really serving your needs anymore.

In a world of information overload and content shock I am beginning to think it is time to mix it up again and move to a new template that provides a cleaner look with larger pictures,

That won’t be the sole solution because ultimately the content has to measure up to what you want/need or you won’t keep reading anymore.

Those of you love the way I weave these words will stick around regardless of what it looks like here but I am enough of a realist to recognize I need to expand the approach so that more people will want to join our journey and that is another reason to change.

Don’t mistake that last ‘graph to mean I think I can do anything and that the 17 long time readers will stick around because that is not what I am saying either.

I am saying if we expand the net and provide a better reading experience we’ll capture the hearts and interest of more people.

Those who join the journey will do so because the content resonates with them and because they relate to it. A better reading experience will make it easier for them to recognize their people.

Just Hit It Harder

I tell the kids all the time they need to work hard and they need to work smart.

Just hit it harder is a misappropriation of a motto and a misunderstanding about what is going on. But as I said above, I don’t need people to like or understand it.

I just need them to get with the program or get out of the way.

And that my friends is your 15-minute free writing post for a Sunday morning. More to come later.