Skagway, Alaska Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Skagway, Alaska
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Since I was a little girl, I’ve believed in magic. My understanding of it has changed over time, but my belief in it has persisited. When I was a child, I called that magic “Santa Claus,” “Easter Bunny,” “mom,” and “dad.” As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned other names for it, like “love” and “friendship.” Some magic I’ve learned about can’t be named, only felt. I feel magic in certain secret places in the woods, near water. I feel it brush along my skin when I hear poems that speak to my soul.  I feel it in the warmth of bonfires and in the coolness of an autumn evening.  I see it in the white fur on my dog’s face, white fur that wasn’t there before.  I taste it when a new flavor melts on my tongue.  I hear it in my grandfather’s voice, long gone, but not forgotten.

One type of magic that has never changed for me is that magic of books.  Before I continue, I want to be clear that I’m not talking in metaphors here.  I literally mean magic, which is defined as “1.  Of, relating to, or invoking the supernatural. 2.  Possessing distinctive qualities that produce unaccountable or baffling effects.”

Science fiction talks about transporters and tardises, of teleportation and apparation, but only books transport you somewhere else, somewhere you can really feel the wind on your face, the sun on your skin.  I’ve smelled smoke and caramel.  I’ve heard birds sing and voices speak to me.  When I finish a book that really means something to me, I can tell that I’ve changed.  The magic that is contained within the pages is hard to describe to someone who’s never felt it.  To some people, books are just books, and words are just words.

I’ll admit that not every book contains magic.  I’ve read some where the spell flickers and fizzles, and some where I never even get a whiff of any magic at all.  It can be hard to tell which ones will have magic by the cover.  Sometimes a book I thought would be utterly ordinary weaves a spell so intricate that it never quite lets go.  And other times, a book I was convinced would show me new things was merely a bunch of pages and words after all.

That’s why I write.  I feel the magic in my fingertips at times, and can almost capture the feelings of prisms in my brain.  There are times when I write that I’m transported and transformed at the same time.  There are times when I hear music in my head, and my senses are on hyper alert.  And there are other times when everything fades so completely into the background that I’m not really sure where my body is anymore.

Because I pay attention and believe, I sometimes find magic in surprising places.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t there for everyone, just that we all have choices on what to see and what not to.  Magic is easy to ignore, and if you ignore it, sometimes you start to believe it’s no longer there.

My understanding of magic has changed, but luckily, just as much continues to be a mystery.  Magic should never be separated from mystery.

Where do you find magic?

A Word for Word’s Sake

Mystery Castle, Phoenix Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Mystery Castle, Phoenix
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

When I was in college, I ran a recreation program at an inpatient state psychiatric facility.  We did the normal things like art projects and games, but one of the men I worked with liked to play what he deemed, “The Word Game.”  I was puzzled by The Word Game at first.  The game was played by him saying a word, and then me saying a word.  They didn’t have to connect in any way.  There were no winners and losers.  We would just say words back and forth to one another, with his occasionally interjecting, “Oh, that’s a good word!”

Flash forward, years later, and I met a friend who started texting me random words.  It had been years since I played The Word Game, but I was reminded of it almost instantly.  We once spent a Saturday afternoon texting words back and forth.

I was reminded of how much I liked words just for their own sake.  Yes, I like putting them in order and forming sentences, but sometimes exchanging a word like “cimmerian” can be fun for no other reason than I’ve not run into that word before.  Through the new and updated Word Game, I’ve learned the meanings of new words.  This is different than a boring word of the day program, and it leads to interesting discussions about how the correct pronunciation of cimmerian makes it sound less interesting than it did in my head.  I “know” a lot of words, but I’m sometimes a little embarrassed when I try to use them out loud in a sentence, and realize I have no idea how it’s pronounced.  Or even worse, I sort of know, but just can’t make my tongue cooperate.

In any case, I missed The Word Game.  When else do I get to use words like “psychopomp,” “chimera,” “soporific,” “phantasm,” or “troglodyte?”

(Incidentally, troglodyte has always been one of my favorite words, though I do love psychopomp.)

Do you have a favorite word?

Words Matter

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

When I was a kid, I heard, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.”  I’ve even said that to kids a few times.

The fact of the matter is though, that it’s a complete lie.  Words do hurt, because words matter.  We try to pretend they don’t, and it’s easy to do until someone flings hurtful words at us.  Then we feel the sting, and if they’re hurtful enough, even bleed a little.

I’m reading a very interesting book right now, The Broom of the System, by David Foster Wallace.  In it, he talks about how words shape our reality, how words are reality.  It’s true.  Words carry weight and matter.  And as someone who loves words intensely, I think they should.

I encourage my group to build an intention and then say it out loud or write it down.  People are more likely to follow through if they do one of those two things instead of just thinking it.   Words said out loud or written down carry more weight than ones that rattle around in our brains.

People can be very careless about words they speak or write, as if words are just puffs of air that dissolve into nothingness.  They don’t though; they stick around, bouncing around inside another person’s head or heart.  If you write something down, you etched it somewhere permanently.  It can be shredded or burned, but those words are never really destroyed, because you can’t destroy something that was.  The essence remains, even if the object does not.

Because I can carefully craft my words, and it’s something I enjoy doing, I’m aware that my words have great power.  I can do great harm with words if I choose to.  I instead (mostly) choose to spread positivity, because in the same way that negative words have power, so do positive ones.

Listening, really listening, is the best gift you can give most anyone.  Most of us aren’t truly listened to.  And I believe that’s one of the greatest word powers; the gift of knowing when to say nothing and just be there.

Choose your words carefully today.

“A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles”
-Chinese Proverbs quotes

America’s Secret Slang

by The TV Guy

UnknownSo I was flipping through the channels as I often do, aimlessly looking for something different to watch. One morning I came across a show that intrigued me right away. The many colloquial sayings and bits of language we use without a second thought of where they come from were being explained. The word “cop” for police officer was originally thought to come from the copper buttons on their coats. Well, they now think that the word cop comes from the Irish word “coep,” which stands for hero. They theorize that because much of the Irish language was passed on in an oral tradition, none of these words were well documented.

The California gold rush gave us so many slang words and phrases that we still use today. “Acid test” comes from testing the gold to verify it was real, if it passed the acid test than it was genuine. “Heard it through the grapevine” is a saying we all have heard and likely used in our lives. This comes from stringing telegraph line from posts to trees to whatever would hold the line. The miners thought they looked like grape vines and when they got information on the telegraph, they would say they heard it through the grapevine.

So if you are a lover of words and language this show is something you will want to catch. Check your local listings on H2.