Category: Observations about Life


Hello, and welcome to Friday!

I had blogs written earlier this week.  Gnomes snuck in my house and stole them.  They kept saying something about “Step 1- steal underwear.”  I don’t know.

But seriously, I lost a blog this week, and I’m not sure where it went.  I thought I lost two, but apparently the other one auto-saved.  (Thank you, blog gods!).  I got frustrated though, and that’s why there were no blogs this week.  I’ll do better next week.

Here are this week’s feel good Friday articles.

In the Woods Photo Credit: Doree Weller

In the Woods
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

San Antonio woman fined for feeding the homeless has her case dismissed.  Joan Cheever has been operating The Chow Train for over 10 years, and recently was fined, because it’s apparently illegal to feed the homeless.  She cited religious freedom, stating that’s the way she prays.  Now that the case has been dismissed, it will be interesting to see what’s next for the law.

There is a device to ensure that K9 officers don’t get left in hot cars.  

The California made some changes that please animal activists.  And as we all know, change often begins in California before it comes to the rest of us.

“Growing Local” is both the name of a documentary about farmers and a trend toward determined farmers who believe in the food they grow, and increasing consumer want for sustainable, local foods.  There’s a short article and the trailer for the documentary attached.

The Malawi chief changed the law, raising the minimum age for marriage to 16.  She annulled marriages for more than 300 children (both boys and girls) in her district and sent them back to school.

There’s a lot more good news in the world, but these are the stories I picked this week.

Go forth and be amazing today!

Opinions

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

-Marcus Aurelius

I recently witnessed an argument in my writer’s group between two people I respect tremendously.  They got into an argument because the critiquer was absolutely sure that they were right about their opinion on what they were critiquing.  The critiquee got understandably upset and insulted.  Unkind words were exchanged.

It’s important to keep perspective on things and remember that your truth is not everyone’s truth.  And while you’re entitled to your opinion, it’s best not to jam it down someone else’s throat.  Strong opinions make the world a more interesting and diverse place.  Being sure that your version of the truth is the “right” version does not add to the world; it subtracts.

Go forth and be kind this week.

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.”
-Robert Brault

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A guy tries to give money to a homeless man, and the man takes it, but then asks if the guy will just talk to him for a little while. The video made me tear up.  It’s true that people just want to connect with one another, and that’s more important than anything.  Take 3 minutes and watch the video.  And remember, whatever else you think of homeless people, they’re still just people at the core of it.

 A woman overhears a hurtful conversation between a mother and daughter about a plus sized tank top.  The woman buys the item in question, and her selfie goes viral.

Grey Muzzle Rescue is a rescue run by one man, set up to take in senior dogs who otherwise might not find a home. There’s an article, and a 13 minute video. Well worth watching to brighten your day.

A man overcomes homelessness by knitting bears.

A child confesses that he worries that people won’t like him because he’s gay, and he gets many responses from strangers reassuring him.  It’s nice to see people come together in acceptance and kindness.

Being Insensitive

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house.  (Not a Black Widow) Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house. (Not a Black Widow)
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m insensitive.

No, really, I am.  Or at least, that’s what people tell me.

It’s just that I have really thick skin, most of the time.  It’s hard to insult me; you have to work at it.  As a result, I have to try to remember what others find hurtful, and I’m not always good at it.

Part of the reason I love Facebook is that it shows me what other people get upset about, and helps me to be more sensitive.

Part of the reason I hate Facebook is because it shows me what other people get upset about, and makes me wonder: WHY??

Case in point, a few months ago, people got upset because Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans made a joke during an interview for the Avengers that Black Widow (the fictional character, not to be confused with the real person, Scarlett Johansen), was a slut.  The interviewer asked them about “shipping” (potential relationships for those of you who don’t know the term) with Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Hulk.  Because we all know that if a woman is friendly with a man, she must want a relationship with him, right?  But I digress… They joked that she was a “slut” and a “whore.”

People got really upset about it, and of course, both actors apologized.

I have many thoughts about this, and no real conclusions.

First off, is “slut” and “whore” really the worst thing a woman can be called?  We turn it into this big feminist thing, and while I don’t ever condone putting women (or anyone) down for personal choices like sexuality, if we refuse to be stigmatized by those words, we remove their power.  There’s no real equivalent word for men (at least not that I can think of).  Once upon a time, “bitch” was a put down for women too, but many women have usurped it and made it a power word.  I think it’s time to just start shrugging off stupid people who judge sexuality.  She’s a slut because she makes choices about her sex life that you don’t agree with?  Whatever.

Second, it’s a fictional character.  I mean, I get that the way we talk about and portray fictional characters really does impact how we think about real people.  I’m a writer, so I get it.  But, let’s assume that these are pretty nice guys.  They were joking around about a character in a movie, and probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  Actors aren’t writers, and I have to wonder if they like getting asked about how their characters think and interact as if they’re real people.  I never get tired of talking about characters like real people, but I don’t act; I write.

Third, why do we care so much about potential romantic involvements in movies?  I mean, if a man and a woman in a movie seem to really care about one another, people start speculating that there’s something romantic going on.  Men and women aren’t ever allowed to “just” be friends, as if friendship isn’t an important enough relationship to “just” be that.  I know we want our fictional characters to be happy, and that means that we want them in a fulfilling romantic relationship, but the fact is that people can be friendly without romantic interest.  And what is “flirting” anyway?  These days, manners and basic courtesy seem to be mistaken for flirting.

Fourth, the fact is that guys joke about women, saying things about them that they’d never say to them.  Women do it too.  When we sit around drinking our margaritas, we say things that we’d never want our significant others to hear.  And if they did, we’d want them to know we didn’t mean it.  Actors just happen to get much of what they say captured on film, so they’re not allowed to make jokes in questionable taste.  If they do, it’s a BIG DEAL.

Fifth, and this kind of ties on to my last point… people don’t mean everything they say.  If I had a camera on me every time something stupid popped out of my mouth, I’d probably have people protesting me.  It’s not that I mean what I say all the time; it’s just that sometimes the brain-mouth filter doesn’t engage in time and something comes out of my mouth that even mystifies me.  I’m like, “Where did that come from?  I wasn’t even thinking that!”  Or in the words of Adele, “Just ’cause I said it, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…”

We all say things, and we’re all insensitive sometimes.  I think it’s time for us to stop being so damn sensitive to what everyone says and does.  People do stupid things sometimes.  They say stupid things.  Let’s take the sting out of insults, and take back our power.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

If not allowing others to make me feel inferior makes me insensitive, so be it.  I can live with that.

That's nuts! Photo Credit: Doree Weller

That’s nuts!
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Dear Other Writers,

It seems like everyone who has anything to say these days says it in a public forum, whether that’s blogging or Facebook, or Twitter or self-publishing a book.

Through blog challenges, I’ve had an opportunity to read other people’s work, and it’s been a mixed experience.  Some of these blogs are hidden jewels that I wouldn’t have found if I weren’t doing blog challenges.  They’re well written, interesting, and I keep going back for more.

Other blogs have a ton of basic issues, jumping back and forth between present and past tense, poor grammar, and poor punctuation.  It’s to the writers of these blogs that I’m addressing myself.

Even if you don’t think I’m talking about you, I might be.  I’ve been there.  Early on, when I made the transition from writing for myself to trying to get things published, I thought it was going to be easy because I was “naturally” a writer.  Words just seemed to flow from my brain to paper, and I thought that every word I wrote was golden.

Um, no.

I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t getting published, so I decided to find an online critique website, and I started using Reviewfuse (which I think is now defunct as it won’t load).  I don’t remember what the first criticism I received was, but I do remember that it hurt.  It stung.  It was obviously wrong.

I almost decided not to bother with it anymore, and then my better judgement overcame my ego, and said, “You’re here, so why don’t you try taking their feedback?  You can keep an unchanged copy of your story in Word.”

Thank goodness my Better Judgement speaks to me sometimes.  After edits, that was the first story I ever got paid for.  It was only $50, but that’s a huge amount to someone who would have written that story anyway, for free.  And that also cemented it.  Listen to feedback = get paid.  Discard feedback = stuff sits unpublished on my computer.

I tell you this, because even if you think your writing is wonderful, it might not be.  I’m not going to make unsolicited comments on your writing style when visiting your blog because it seems rude.  It seems like visiting your house and mentioning the crumbs on the counter.  I’m just not going to do it.  But please, have someone other than your friends read your blog and give you feedback on your writing.  I’d be happy to do it if you ask.  Join a writers group through Meetup or online (I personally like Scribophile currently).  Ask a retired English teacher or another blogger.  Read articles about writing from Writer’s Digest or Query Shark.  Read Stephen King’s book, On Writing.

If you just want a place to put your thoughts, keep a journal or make your blog private.  I’m a huge advocate of just writing whatever you want in your journal, without worrying about grammar or punctuation or spelling.  But if you’re going to publish your work, even in a blog forum, please take it seriously.  Writing is a form of art, and it pains me to see you writing that way in a public setting.  If you, who calls yourself writer, don’t have a basic grasp of English language rules, then what hope do we have for everyone else?

Shall I just give up and understand that evry1 is guna rite lik dis?  (That hurt to type.  Forgive me.)

Fellow writers (and readers too), what do you think?  Am I being too dramatic, or do you agree that this is a problem?

Roatan, Honduras Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Roatan, Honduras
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Last week, as I’m sure everyone knows, the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.  I saw a lot of celebration on my news feed. There was also an article shared about a pastor who stated that he would set himself on fire if gay marriage was legalized, and many of the comments I saw were things like, “Has he done it yet?” “Fire! Fire!” and so on.

I feel bad for that pastor.  How much hatred does he have to have inside him for him to threaten to light himself on fire because of something that has nothing to do with him?  How much must he hate himself to make those statements? We’re a culture that’s easily angered.  We’re intolerant of his hatred and intolerance, and our knee-jerk reaction to such stupid statements (because yes, I think it’s stupid to light yourself on fire because other people now have more rights than they did a month ago) is to bring gasoline to his fire, to jump on the hatred bandwagon.

I’m not hitching a ride.

I get why it feels good to respond to his hatred and anger in kind, but it doesn’t do any of us any good.  From the time I was little, my parents told me “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” and no matter how much we pretty it up, that’s what the sentiment boils down to.  Righteous anger might feel good, but that doesn’t make it right.

If I tried to talk to that pastor and met his hatred with more hatred, I pretty much guarantee he wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. If, however, I met his hatred with compassion, perhaps he would hear me.  Maybe not.  Maybe he would hear some part of what I had to say.  I can’t make others listen, but I’ve found that if I treat people with respect, it almost always has better results than treating them with disrespect.

There are a lot of people I don’t agree with.  There are opinions that offend me.  But if people respond to intolerance and offense with hatred, it just perpetuates more hatred.

It might be difficult, but I encourage you to remember that when someone is awful, your hatred won’t make them better, nicer, or more tolerant.  After all, nothing you can say will be worse than what they live with.  People who spread hatred have to live with themselves.  Treat them with kindness, because they’ve already sentenced themselves to life in a prison of hate.

Hello, and welcome to Feel Good Friday, where I focus on the positive things around us.

On the Apache Trail, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On the Apache Trail, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Blind cat and her human go on adventures.  This is a sweet story.

Preschool in Seattle visits a nursing home.  The kids perk up the elderly residents, and it’s good for the kids too.  I think this is wonderful, and I hope more places start doing this.

Police officer sings to a toddler to calm her after she’s involved in a car accident that killed the rest of her family.

Child opens a lemonade stand to pay for an iPad.  When a cop sees what she’s doing, he helps her reach her goal.

Dad and daughter do 39 Acts of Kindness for their birthdays.  What a nice way to celebrate.

Have a fabulous weekend!  And remember, be kinder than you need to, and focus on the good whenever you can.

Hello!  It’s Motivational Monday.  Here’s today’s quote.

Roosevelt Lake, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Roosevelt Lake, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep.”
-Earl Nightingale

I’m definitely happiest when I’m busy, but not busywork-busy, actual goal-directed, productive busy.  So as you start your week, when things seem tough, remind yourself of what goals you’re working toward.

Life Lessons

“Never blame anyone in your Life. Good people give you Happiness. Bad people give you Experience. Worst people give you a Lesson & Best people give you memories.”  -Author Unknown

Another original Zentangle by Doree Weller.  I'm so artsy!

Another original Zentangle by Doree Weller. I’m so artsy!

Everything and everyone in life is there to teach you something.  Next time something bad happens, instead of being angry, upset, or resentful, step back, look at the situation, and ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

Often, our knee jerk reaction is to say something like, “I’m supposed to learn that people are backstabbers” or “I’ve learned that men (or women) aren’t trustworthy,” but the problem with these lessons, is that’s like saying that all fruit is gross because you ate that sour orange once, or because that one apple you ate had a worm.

When you’re trying to learn a life lesson, remember to take away only what will help you, and leave the rest.  Sure, some people aren’t trustworthy.  So if that’s the case, maybe the lesson is to listen to your gut next time.  Or to listen to that friend who warned you she didn’t like Mr. Liar-Liar.

Everything’s a lesson, so as you go forth on this Monday, look at every negative experience as a lesson.  Sometimes it makes those tough experiences more palatable.

Go forth and get ready for a wonderful week!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Austin, TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Austin, TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Colorado artist ordered by police to stop stacking rocks under an obscure city ordinance.  When he protested online, the city attorney called him personally to let him know that he had told police to not give out tickets for rock stacking.  This is why power doesn’t reside with any one person.  :)  A happy ending.

Plus sized lady shares her yoga practice on the Internet, showing that yoga is for everyone, not just a particular body type.

When fifth-graders saw a special needs boy being bullied, they helped him, and from then on, befriended him and have protected him from bullies.  There’s an article and a video; it’s a really sweet story showing the absolute best in people.

Baltimore schools have removed paperwork requirements in schools with high poverty rates, so now every child can get free breakfast and lunch.  Children should not have to go hungry; I just hope more schools jump on board with this.

IKEA pledges a billion dollars to help with climate change.  IKEA has always been about using sustainable materials and less waste, so this is just another thing they’re doing to help.  Corporations can sound good, but IKEA puts their money toward positive change.

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