Safe Upon the Solid Rock

 

 

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Another of Edna’s poems to ponder and share. Though, honestly, there’s not much to ponder here.

To quote a lesser-known poet, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. (I jest. I actually do know Shakespeare penned that. But we’re getting away from the subject at hand. Which is to say, this poem is brief and witty.)

And it is here today because, yet again, Edna’s words have moved me and I want to share them.

How easy to find stability on solid rock. And yet, what else will you find there? True beauty lies in dreams and desires. These are often found perched on less-than-solid ground. Is instability a part of being creative? Of following dreams? I don’t know.

But if it is, I’m letting my feet sink into the sand where my shining palace stands.

It could collapse.

That beautiful place I’ve worked to build.

I could lose everything.

Or it could remain.

I could gain everything.

Best not to dwell too much but, instead, look upon the ugly houses I don’t want.

Then, I daresay, I will be willing to live surrounded by the glimmer of my dreams or sink with my shining palace.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Can we indulge in our creativity and follow our dreams while still keeping our feet on solid ground? When it comes to your dreams, are you willing to live with uncertainty?

 

 

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The Timing of Bad Things

 

 

Pine trees’ branches are pretty resilient. They bounce back amazingly well after the winter. But you still wonder, looking at them, if this is the season they will snap.

When there is already snow and a blizzard blows in, you think about the additional weight on branches that are already drooping.

But…

When spring arrives and there’s a blizzard, you think about how the soft, new pine needles (who were enjoying the warm sun) will deal with being encased in ice crystals.

We have a lot of little sayings about how awful it is to have something bad happen when things are already bad.

 

Kick you when you’re down

Rub salt in the wound

Add insult to injury

 

I guess you could say: When bad things have bad timing

But can we say: When bad things have good timing

???

I mean, what about when we’re happy? Healthy?

Is that when we’d prefer bad things to happen to us? Maybe we think we can manage easier if we’re not already distressed.

I get that. I do.

If we’re beaten down, we don’t have our footing never mind a good stance to do battle.

But, honestly, when things are going well, it’s still incredibly difficult. Just in a different way.

When you’re flying high, the fall is a lot longer and you hit the ground with a hell of a lot more force.

Just pondering the pine trees…

 

My random thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

When bad things come your way, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve got your face planted in the dirt or you’re feelin’ groovy. The thing is to take care of yourself. Be well, my friends.

 

 

Shifting Focus

 

 

Self. 

It’s a tiny, loaded, powerful word.

For people whose natural inclination is to take care of others, using time and energy to care for themselves can be upsetting. Depending on the person, it varies from slightly uncomfortable to downright distressing.

When faced with the idea, there may be a freak-out: “What?! Myself? How will…? What can…? I can’t do that!”

You can. You really can.

Here’s a thing I’ve realized.

If you have a tendency to focus on others, it’s difficult to shift that focus. It may seem unlikely to happen. Impossible even. When you begin focusing on your Self, you’ll find a thought popping up often (the persistent little bugger):

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else!”

Wrong.

“If I’m spending all that time taking care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of everyone else!”

That’s it, my friends.

 

Take that in. Accept it. Embrace it.

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

You can’t do it all.

Don’t be that person. The harried, stressed, wreck who tries to help everyone and tries to do everything to the detriment of his or her Self, family, health, relationships…whatever.

Yes, this means you have to make decisions. When will you agree? When will you decline? Choose wisely. And ditch the guilt. (It can be done. I have faith in you.)

 

A lot has happened since I chose ‘Self” as my One Word for 2018. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. All of it eye-opening. Take care of yourselves, gentle readers.

 

My One Word for 2018 #OneWord2018

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Well, I did a bang up job last year with my One Word for 2017: Accept. I didn’t. I raged, raged against the…everything. It was brutal choosing a focus for the year and I faltered. Failed. Time to move on.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I don’t do ‘resolutions’. However, I do believe (previous failure aside) a focus for the year is an excellent idea.

This is how I figured 2017 would work out. It did not. But, still, props for trying:

Choosing ONE word for the entire year? Not easy. I finally narrowed it down to three:

Present

Engage

Accept

I want to be more present in my life and I realized that, if I fully engage, I can be. And to engage, I need to accept some things. (This is how I worked it out, anyway.)

Therefore, my one word this year is:

Accept

 

I’m going to try again.

I’ve really had a time of it, this year, choosing a word. I even thought of cheating and picking two (or three). But, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right. So I’ll work it out again.

I like the words I narrowed it down to:

Present

Mindful

 

I had passing thoughts of choosing something like Assertiveness, Determination, or Focus but they didn’t feel quite right. It’s just that I’ve been yammering on this past year about standing my ground, choosing me, sticking up for myself, keeping on target, saying “NO”, etc. so these seemed good, too.

It’s all about me, right? Sure. Why not? I went into this weird line of hyphenated “self” stuff:

Self-Esteem

Self-Motivation

Self-Care

Self-Awareness

Self-Kindness

Self… Er…

Self… Um…

Self-Centered

Self…ish

 

Crap. Never mind.

But I do need something “self”-like.

So, when continuing to narrow down my choice, I decided it must include me.

 

I’m sick of being stressed-out and overwhelmed, of not doing what I love, of doing things I’d really rather not be doing. I’m sick of ALL OF THE THINGS!

 

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

Forget it! I’m done. Or, at least, my OneWord is done. And here it is:

Self

This is my favorite definition from Webster’s New Explorer College Dictionary:

 

self

combining form: to, with, for, or toward oneself

 

See? I’ll be kind to, gentle with, caring for, considerate toward…myself. Brilliant.

By choosing Self, I’ll be incorporating all sorts of other wonderful words I’ve been thinking of here: Awareness, Mindful, Focus, Kindness… How can I have Self in front of me and actively abuse or dismiss it? I cannot. It would be awkward. And weird. And mean.

As I said last year, this is not going to be easy. I’ve got to change my whole mindset to get to the point where Self is what I focus on first. I’m up for the challenge though.

I’m taking my Self out of here, wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping you all can find a perfect OneWord for 2018. ❤

 

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2018.

 

Happy Holidays

 

sun-and-pine-tree_holidays-sig

 

Snow and Sun settle

Upon the slumbering pines

Yuletide gleaming bright

The longest night – hidden hope

Darkness surrenders to light

A Winter Solstice tanka for you, gentle readers.

May you find peace & joy this holiday season.

 

❄️ Happy Holidays ❄️

 

 

Guest Author – Sarah Brentyn

I’m super excited to be the featured author over at D. G. Kaye’s blog. Debby (an ENFJ, by the way), has interviewed me on a number of subjects including my personality status (INFJ), time management (an oxymoron), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (influence on my writing or fantastic cult classic)… Hmm…
Oh, yes, and my upcoming books. 🙂

You can read the post here: Guest Author Feature – Sarah Brentyn

The post is so pretty, with covers and book trailers. And here’s Debby’s fantabulous intro:

 

I was thrilled when Sarah accepted my invitation to visit here because she reminds me of those reclusive movie stars who’d rather stay hidden behind her words, only I’ve noticed she’s stepped out and done a few interviews this year, and I’m glad that I’ve managed to snag her over here too.

Sarah is known for her micro-fiction. She can tell a story using minimal words that have a tendency to linger long after you’ve read them.

 

Thank you, Debby! ❤

Please go check out my off-the-cuff responses and have yourself a chuckle. Or throw tomatoes. Either way.

 

The Breakfast Club #FoodInFilm

 

 

Five high school students, profoundly different, thrown together on a Saturday at school for detention. Hilarity and drama ensue. Obviously. It’s an 80s flick.

The characters are stereotypical and over-the-top representations of a brain (nerd/geek/academic/unpopular), an athlete (jock/varsity guy/popular), a basket case (outcast/odd/loner), a princess (rich/pretty/spoiled/popular), and a criminal (trouble-maker/rebel/misanthrope).

When I saw the Food in Film blogathon, I immediately thought of this. Yes, the title has a meal in it. That’s not why we’re here. I want to talk about the lunch scene. Aside from being comical, the food (and presentation of it) personifies each character. You can learn (almost) everything you need to know them from a 3-minute clip.

 

The criminal has no lunch and takes the opportunity to harass and belittle the other students about what they’re eating.

The princess brings out an elaborate sushi tray, complete with chopsticks, and delicately pours the soy sauce.

The athlete piles a full-size bag of potato chips and cookies next to his three sandwiches, an entire carton of milk, then, almost as an afterthought, looks in his bag and digs out a banana and an apple.

The basket case discards the deli meat in her sandwich, dumping sugar on the remaining (mismatched) pieces of bread and adding sugared cereal before eyeing the rest of the kids and taking a colossal, crunchy bite.

The brain, whose lunch has been grabbed by the criminal, has an embarrassingly juvenile meal of peanut butter and jelly (with the crusts cut off), apple juice (in a juice box with attached straw), and a thermos of soup.

 

It’s just such a brilliant scene. In a few minutes, you know who these kids are and what their home life is like. Even the bags (or lack of) give viewers a glimpse of each character.

You don’t need to have seen The Breakfast Club to understand this, it won’t ruin the movie, and I barely did it justice in the description. So, please, click here to watch the lunch scene. It’s awesome.

 

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club

 

I simply can not write a Food in Film post without mentioning Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven. Even with a cast of top-notch actors and fab performances, he still stands out. Why? Well, one reason is that he’s eating or drinking in pretty much every scene. I find this kind of hilarious and a fun little fact that many who have seen this movie notice. And talk about. And laugh about. And, apparently, put up on YouTube. Check this out: Rusty’s Food Supercut

When others are fretting, fighting, planning, spying, whatever…Rusty is eating. He is also doing many other things but this becomes a character trait. One that sticks in the minds of viewers.

As writers, this is one thing you can (and really should) do for your characters. Give them a quirk, a habit, something that makes them a bit more three-dimensional and memorable.

 

Hey, writer friends, here’s something to chew on: How does food feature in your story?  What does your main character like to eat? Are there any foods he or she hates? Why? Also, as in the case of Rusty here, what food-related habits does your character have (if any)? 

 

 

 

This post is part of the Food in Film Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. Thanks to Kristina and Ruth for this fun, foody blogathon. #FoodInFilm2017

 

photo source IMDb

photo source IMDb

Is It Really Self-Doubt?

 

 

What is doubt?

When we say we’re experiencing self-doubt, what are we talking about? Self-doubt is, well, doubting yourself. Pretty simple. But I think it’s become a catch-all phrase for beating ourselves up. (And writers tend to do that a lot. Just saying.)

Let’s dissect this, shall we?

 

verb: doubt

  • 1. feel uncertain about.

disbelieve…have misgivings about…question…feel uncertain or unsure…hesitate;

 

Basically, you’re unsure. You’re questioning something (yourself, in this case).

We’d say something like, “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” Or, “I’m not certain I’m up to this.” Or even a flat-out, “I don’t think I can do this.”

Does that sound familiar?

 

Or does this?

“I’m not submitting my story. I’d never win.”

“This chapter is crap. Forget editing…I’m deleting it.”

“I can’t believe I ever thought I could write.”

“What was I thinking, calling myself an ‘author’? What a joke.”

“Everyone else is so much better.”

“No one will like this.”

“I’m a fraud.”

“I can’t write.”

“I suck.”

Does that sound doubtful? Because it sounds pretty UN-doubtful to me. It sounds certain. Which is the opposite of doubt.

It sounds like…judgment.

 

verb: judge

  • 1. form an opinion or conclusion about.

form the opinion, conclude, decide…believe, think, deem…regard as, rate as;

 

When you form an opinion (whether you think it or voice it), you are judging. Judging yourself, your work, your worth.

When you say these things, with certainty and conviction, you, my friend, do not have self-doubt, you have self-judgment. We need to differentiate between the two, call it what it is, and do something about it.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.ThoughtBubble


Do you really have self-doubt? Or are you judging yourself? (I know what I’m doing… And I intend to stop. Easier said than done, but I’m damn sure going to try.)

 

People are like stained-glass windows…

 

 

People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

 

It’s easy to sparkle and shine when there’s light in your life. When you reflect what external sources provide.

There is beauty in a stained-glass window as sun gleams off it.

It’s more difficult when life is cold and dark. When you must rely on your internal flame.

Oh, the breathtaking beauty of a stained-glass window that glows in darkness.

Light yourself a candle, gentle readers.

 

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

Still taking a little blogging break but wanted to share this magnificent quote from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. It is speaking to me now. I’m trying to keep a candle burning. Hope you all are, too.

 

photo source

Update on #Flash4Storms Hurricane Relief

 

WE DID IT!

 

I gave this two weeks thinking, even with that, I might not reach my goal.

And here we are.

In one week, the amazing blogging community came together to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Your words helped. You helped.

I can not thank you enough for joining in this fundraiser and helping others in need.

I offered to donate $1 for each flash entry that was posted (up to $50). Because of you, a donation has been made and, just as important, the word has been spread that, though the hurricanes have passed, there is still need. That is priceless.

 

To everyone who participated, thank you. To everyone who reblogged and shared this post, thank you. ❤


Note to my lovely fellow bloggers:
Some people commented but didn’t link, others linked but didn’t comment, others landed in my spam folder. Some were entries, some were reblogs. I tried my best to keep up with comments and pingbacks but, alas, I am only human. I am one person trying to sort through everything that landed here at Lemon Shark. If I missed your entry or reblog, I sincerely apologize. (But I think I got everyone!) Either way, we did it! And help is on the way to our fellow humans in need.

A huge shout-out to D. Wallace Peach who offered to match my total donation. So know that each and every one of you who participated raised $2.

Another huge shout-out to Norah Colvin who offered to match my donation for each of her readers’ entries and has also made a generous donation. If you hopped over from Norah’s, you raised $3.

 

The enthusiasm and creativity in the blogging community is fantastic!

I also need to mention my amazing tweeps (my fellow micro writers, Twitter friends, hashtag warriors…). The wonderful Ree created a compilation of flash fiction, hosting writers who don’t have their own blogs but wanted to write for this cause.

I am so grateful to all of you. We got the word out. We raised money. We helped.

THANK YOU! ❤

 

I donated to Direct Relief which has received amazing ratings across the board.

 

#HurricaneMaria

#HurricaneIrma

#HurricaneHarvey

 

If you’d like to help out one of the numerous hurricane relief charities, there are links below. Remember… Every little bit helps.

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Charity Navigator

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Consumer Reports

 

original image source: NASA