Some Call it Grouting; Do I Call it Love?

You Busy? Me too. Always, lately. Too busy. Which is why last Monday stands out. (For two maybe related maybe not reasons.)

I woke to a anomaly: a full empty day before me. When I write "full" I mean: The maximum number of non-sleep hours before me; the sun was not even fully up before I was. Wallowing in that rare luxury of nothing-scheduled/nothing-planned, I showered & dressed. . .

Next thing I knew it was after 10:00pm, my it's-a-school-night-get-ready for bedtime.

 

As I groaned my way into a TV chair to watch a quick wind-down program, it dawned on me that I was literally sitting down for the first time all day.

But here's the weird part: 

I have absolutely no recollection of how I spent all those hours. . .

I sat there trying to recall what I'd done with the day, how I'd spent those long, empty, unscheduled 16 hours I'd begun with, but couldn't. The last clear thought I had was standing before the mirror after showering that morning, overjoyed at the possibility all that unscheduled time presented and pondering what I wanted to do.

Flashes of meals, phone calls, messages, a trip to the post office and drug store, flitted to mind, like flashbacks in an amnesia movie. But none memorable enough, or long enough to consume an hour, let alone 16 of them. Where the heck had the day gone? 

 A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post by author Fred Venturini, titled "The Accidental Novelist," in which he discussed how the key to his success could be summed up in one word: Luck. (Which, in Fred Baby's case,  is the same as saying Ben Franklin's discovery of energy was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Yeah right, everyone knows a key & kite are standard issue rain gear.) Blah-blah-blah, luck-schmuck.

Luck? Maybe. Just as Ben was lucky he was prepared when that mega electrical storm hit, Venturini was prepared. As he told the woman who scoffed at his "luck" answer, Fred had been writing, writing, writing and had several manuscripts to show for his efforts that fateful "lucky" day.

I'm not such  a fan of "good luck" stories. They leave me hopeless. I don't like the thinking getting what I want, what I work so hard for, may hinge on random chance, whimsy, kismet, simple twist of fate.

I am a total fan of "Persistence Paid" stories. My take away: with all Venturini had going on--mega buzzy bee buzy --he could have written so much and had sooo many stories to show for it when his lucky break came struck me. And it's one reason why my lost Monday is so worrisome. In response to that lady--and my--amazement as his prolificness, Fred said:

We find time for the things we must/need to do; we MAKE TIME for the things we love/want to do

 About Monday, one thing I know I did: I mopped my bedroom and all the upstairs bathroom floors, then sealed the grout in said bathrooms.

grout.jpg

This has me really worried. As I piece together the remains of my yesterday, I have to ask, what the heck is my problem?

Do I really love stain-free grout so much that I'd spend my only in the foreseeable future free day, sealing bathroom grout? Do I love stainfree grout more than I love say, writing? Or sleeping? Or Fill-in-the-Blank ????

Or, am I so programmed to do what I must do that I do not Make Time for what I love/want to do?

What about you?

Some Call it Grouting; Do I Call it "LOVE"? Playlist:

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Secret of Eternal Youth

That got your attention. Mine, too!  An eager seeker of the secret of eternal youth, of course I read it. Should have taken a better look at the source of the advice, or not. It definitely was not a rag mag as the secret to eternal “youth” revealed was mental, not physical. (Call me shallow but, I confess to a degree of disappointment.) Nonetheless, I read on:

The key to keeping mentally open and vibrant is having friends of all ages, the article expounded. It stressed that we should actively—purposefully—seek interaction with people of both genders from each decade. That doing so exposes us to new ideas, new music, new fads, new mores and conversely to old ones.

Cultivate friendships with people of all decades and genders.

In case you’re doing as I did, mentally slotting friends & family into decades, go back and put question marks by “Family.” Do our interactions with children, grandchildren and parents counts? YES…and NO. Yes, culturally, family members will and do expose us to so much we wouldn’t know about otherwise. But as for interacting with them as “friends. That depends. . . .

Do you/Would you tell your mother or father, or your auntie, the same things you tell your woman/male friends?
"Ok so we'd had a few drinks and we weren't wearing seatbelts when..."

"Ok so we'd had a few drinks and we weren't wearing seatbelts when..."

 

 

What about your children?

 Be honest, do you really want them confiding “those things” to you? Do they? Do you? (I don’t.) 

"OMG, Dylan! That mother of yours..."

"OMG, Dylan! That mother of yours..."

Knowing this truth—befriending people of all decades is good for you—and doing this are, like many things that are “good for us”: not necessarily easy.

 

 

 

Shortly after learning this secret of youth, I shared it with a friend who’d recently moved to L.A. Ironically, the friend who was a decade and more older, physically recoiled at the idea. “Young people don’t want anything to do with me,” he argued.

 

Knowing my friend took photography classes—at UCLA and the Art Institute, not the Senior Center—I pushed him on the point. 

My children’s writing community includes people of reading age up, literally.  10-20-30-40…70, 80, beyond united by virtue of being writers. Years fall away while we strive for similar goals. That common thread initially brings us together, from there other connections form. Surely the photography community was much the same? 

“Don’t you discuss photography things with the other students?” I pressed. He did; they did. “So why can’t you try to extend the friendship? Ask them for coffee or drinks, to an exhibit…” He scoffed.

Water and time have passed since that conversation. I’m older. I’m more isolated. I’ve moved often and far, and my writing community has shrunk. My community while global is puny, too. 

Frankly, the family and friends I have keep me so busy, I didn't even realize it was happening. That decades of people, are rising up with whom I have no contact. 

To be honest, I hadn't missed that interaction with new, younger, older, different-- people--Or realized I missed it.

And, I must confess, like my friend, as I've gotten older, I've perhaps become a little, if not fearful, definitely lazy about reaching out.

It's what a twenty-something son of a friend I spoke with at a wedding said about dating. He'd recently broken up with his high school sweetheart, but was thinking about getting back together with her.  I asked him if he'd been dating anyone else. He got a pained look on his face then answered:

“I’m too tired. You have start all over with the ‘what sign are you? Where did you go to school? Getting to know you stuff.” —Son’s friend on dating after a break-up.

Reaching out, making new connections, learning new--older, younger, different languages--takes energy. Perhaps way more than sticking with the familiar. And it's easy to let ourselves think we're doing just fine, why stir things up?

https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=AwrB8psuEwNVHXAAD4iJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTIzOWQybDFyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAMyZGU4ZmU0MTFjMzkwOWUwMzQ0MWUxZGZlNmFkMjQ1ZgRncG9zAzU4BGl0A2Jpbmc-?.origin=&back=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fyhs%2Fsearch%3F_adv_prop%3Dimage%26va%3Ddating%2Bcartoon%2Bimage%26fr%3Dyhs-mozilla-002%26hsimp%3Dyhs-002%26hspart%3Dmozilla%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D58&w=1501&h=2101&imgurl=www.staceyreid.com%2Fnews%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F01%2Fmsd324ry.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.staceyreid.com%2Fnews%2F%3Fp%3D22091&size=1099.4KB&name=Speed+%3Cb%3EDating%3C%2Fb%3E+%3Cb%3ECartoon%3C%2Fb%3E&p=dating+cartoon+image&oid=2de8fe411c3909e03441e1dfe6ad245f&fr2=&fr=yhs-mozilla-002&tt=Speed+%3Cb%3EDating%3C%2Fb%3E+%3Cb%3ECartoon%3C%2Fb%3E&b=0&ni=96&no=58&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=1175317r2&sigb=14kpj2hmg&sigi=11vmfe7ru&sigt=11295sg7i&sign=11295sg7i&.crumb=nFhKodndYDa&fr=yhs-mozilla-002&hsimp=yhs-002&hspart=mozilla

Decades apart, but so much the same, I totally got what he was saying. Reaching out, making new connections, learning new--older, younger, different languages--takes energy. Perhaps way more than sticking with the familiar. And it's easy to let ourselves think we're doing just fine, why stir things up?

I hadn't realized how much "stirring things up" and doing the "getting to know you" stuff mattered, and how much I've been missing it, until recently. . .  

Earlier this month, at my sis-in-law, Marilyn Bennett’s invitation, I joined her for a week’s retreat on Sanibel Island. (Marilyn's an author, writing coach, video-biographer, documentary filmmaker, check it out at Truth in Progress). 

Marilyn and me my Ist morning on Sanibel, the view from "Beach Baby's" lanai. 

Marilyn and me my Ist morning on Sanibel, the view from "Beach Baby's" lanai. 

Marilyn had been invited to stay in a beach-front condo by friends of a dear, departed mutual friend of hers and theirs, named Carolyn. (I’d met Carolyn and knew about her via Marilyn, but that was the extent of it.) 

Speaking of ride: here's Marilyn trying out the beach cruiser.

Speaking of ride: here's Marilyn trying out the beach cruiser.

 

Clueless as to who our hosts were—beyond knowing they were retired—or what, if any interaction, I’d have with them, I was truly, along for the ride.

My first day on Sanibel, Marilyn and I joined our hosts, Deborah and John, for dinner at Trader’s Restaurant.  

Marilyn and I arrived first, purposefully early. I don’t know about Marilyn, but I was What if they don’t like me? What If I don’t like them? What the heck are we going to talk about? Nervous! 

“Buck up,” I told myself, as I ordered a martini  “Up, dirty, large, extra olives.” Drinks and dinner—one evening—we can all make it through one evening.

Deborah & John taking a spin!

Deborah & John taking a spin!

 

That get-acquainted dinner, there was no “making it through,” we shut the restaurant down! (But only after John had taken Deborah for a spin on the dance floor.)

Conversation floated and flitted From one topic to another, as “friend” chats do, with nary an awkward silence.

Birth year-wise, we were 3 maybe 4 decades; conversationally speaking we were contemporaries—interested, interesting, and challenging.

After that first introduction, for me, it was not a question of “Are we dining together again” but rather “When can we?

United in a common goal! That 2nd sunset when the smoke alarms-all 4 of them-started chirping: "Silence Them!"

United in a common goal! That 2nd sunset when the smoke alarms-all 4 of them-started chirping: "Silence Them!"

 

Each evening’s topics were rich and varied. Deborah and John's personal histories broadened what Marilyn and I knew of the recent past. May be we taught them some, too.

Motown: Everyone's Music!

Motown: Everyone's Music!

 

Decade to decade commonalities were never so pronounced as the night Deborah and John treated us to “So Good for the Soul”, a tribute to Mo-Town music at Sanibel’s Cultural Center, Big Arts. 

 

 

It was standing-room only in the theater. And Decade-schecade, it was OUR music!  

 

 

Truth is, if fate—and Carolyn—had not intervened, none of us (even if we were sharing the same sundown) probably would have made an effort to get to know each other. But we did and I, for one, am richer for it. 

Decades await! 

Be the one to take that first step—or leap—across those great age divides.

The fountain might be on the other side.

 

Secret of Eternal Youth Playlist:

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Village Life

“It Takes a Village…” Bless Hillary for coming up with that title.

Fish Dance!

Fish Dance!

Like Harper Lee, I have files... While preparing for Not Norman's birthday celebration (break for Glugs and a happy fish dance!)

I happened upon this unpublished post. Portentous in that I'm making travel arrangements and filling in my 2015 calendar, to DO IT-the whole Why? How? Will I? When? Waaaaaaa!-AGAIN! 

July 24, 2014: I’m just back from a month long visit with my village. My children’s book writers & readers village. It’s a mobile village. A global village. Despite that, connecting isn’t always easy. Especially living as I do with my feet and heart in many places: TT, WHB, NYC, TUL, RNO, CA, JKT . . .  And while techno innovations have made staying in touch, connecting, even face-to-face almost-like-being-there conversations possible, virtual can’t compete with actual.

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

First came the Why? Kids!!! 2 days of Library presentations at Conroe Central Library, organized by my friend and children’s librarian Alicia Johnson, let me get up close and personal with a couple of hundred children of all ages—all meaning 3 months to 20 years! Stand outs: 0-6 year olds: After reading NOT NORMAN we sang the “My Pet Says” song, which had us all wagging our tails, barking, clucking and almost left one little guy in tears because he wanted us to sing about his horse that said “neigh, neigh, neigh (no worries, we made him happy by singing one last verse just for him!) 6-9 year olds: Nothing better than that finger shaking No Bite! VAMPIRE BABY Chorus and loads of hugs after; creating a mystery with the teen group—which we got so caught up in that we ran over and they had to practically, physically pull us out the library so they could lock up but not before we managed to convict the chameleon and restore Mouse’s pilfered diary; and last—maybe best—Ideaphoria with 9-12 year olds who don’t let you get away with anything!

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

 

Then came the How? 4 days of intense picture book lock-down in Idywylld with 3 writer buds, Marty Graham, Sarah Tomp and Andrea Zimmerman, aka "The Wylld Bunch," which despite our names only had time to have wild imaginings.

 

 

After came the Will I?  Back to VCFA for the Alumni Mini-Rez and retreat. As we have ever since they kicked us off campus a few years back (that’s another story) my classmates, The Unreliable Narrators, have rented a house where we all bunk up, plug in and recharge each July.

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips) L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips) L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

This year our guest of honor was Katie’s son James. At 17 months, the toughest picture book judge ever…

James lounging with his UN posse

James lounging with his UN posse

 

 

When Jame's mom was napping, I used him a guinea pig (I started to type “lab rat” . . . Katie would have laughed, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would have.)

 

The bright blue cover caught his eye. Lost it fast when he saw the inside (so that’s why they call them picture books?)

Reading to a 17 month old shows why short is best—I was cutting words willy-nilly, and adding sounds—especially animal-ish noises…no wonder repetition is big.

Last came the When?

When will it end? That was definitely the question my family was asking when after the VCFA retreat, instead of returning home, I rode on to Cindy’s house for more. Talk about a dedicated writer. Cindy makes sure she gets those words down every day—and she made sure I did, too.

Best, each night of every phase: How-Will-When came “PUT UP OR SHIP OUT” Time when we read aloud the work we’d done. No way did I want to be voted out, so I worked.

Now comes the Whaaaaaaaaa. I’m back again, facing the blank page, the revision notes, the What! But I’m not alone. . .

Bob Dole thought he was slapping Hillary in the face with it when, during his Rebublican Nomination Acceptance Speech for the 96 elections, he spouted, “I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."

What is a village if not an extended family? A community of individuals clustered together for similar if disparate reasons. Village. Family. Village.  .  . Potato. Pot-A-toe. Mash um up, add butter, salt, and a dash of pepper and it’s all the same—a blend that makes for good eatin’ and comfort which fosters creative living! 

Village Life Playlist: 

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Musing On Norman at 10

My fish baby is 10 years old!  

So many fun Goldfish birthday cakes on the internet. Norman wants one!

So many fun Goldfish birthday cakes on the internet. Norman wants one!

In celebration of Norman's birthday, I thought it would be fun to flip back through my file of rejections letters & revision notes with editors & my agent—yes! I keep them all. 

Was it fun? Fun… maybe, sort of, in a painful, embarrassing, sort of like childbirth way in that I know I wrote it-revised-revised-agonized over it. I can remember pacing the sort of cat-walk upstairs hallway of our then home in Katy, weighing pros and cons of various pets, but I can’t feel how miserable I was.

I just think this is a fabulous premise for a story, and not just because I’m more than a little partial to goldfish myself. . . . My concerns about the story are still with the plot line and structure. . .
— Sarah Ketchersid, via email Jan. 28, 2003

Miserable? Yes, writing is miserable work. I feel miserable, frustrated, inadequate when I CAN’T. GET.  IT. RIGHT.  What’s most incredible is that somehow, this once, with this story, I did. (Even if that critique who shall remain nameless called my text “bald”.)

Hey Sarah! DO NOT TELL ME THIS IS AN APRIL FOOL’S JOKE!
— after Erin called to say Sarah at Candlewick Press wanted to published Not Norman

What’s weird and sad is that we writers (me, anyway) never know when we’ve gotten it RIGHT. It takes readers to tell us that. And even then, upon rereading, we won’t have a clue how it happened. Many readers tell me the best part of Not Norman is the scary night climax scene. The scene that had Mimi and Brian’s granddaughter Rebecca so worried she practically sucked the rubber off her binky?—again and again and “read it again.” That scene where our boy wakes in the middle of the night to Scritch Screech? I have absolutely no idea where it came from. I can’t recall writing it.  And I definitely never knew it was “the best,” all I knew is it worked—and it was done.

We are looking for someone who can capture the relationship between the narrator and Norman and also be able to express and perhaps even expand on the story’s humor, subtle sarcasm, and poignancy, too. . . We think we’ve found someone who can do all of that. We’d like to suggest an exciting new illustrator named Noah Jones.
— Sarah, on selecting the illustrator, May 9, 2003
This is one of Noah's art samples Sarah sent when suggesting he illustrate Not Norman.

This is one of Noah's art samples Sarah sent when suggesting he illustrate Not Norman.

After many versions and revisions and years, Not Norman, a Goldfish Storymy Goldfish Story lives! And lots of kids and teachers love it! (Thank you everyone who has ever sent me a note to that effect, and/or a photo of you and yours reading Not Norman.)

And some parents hate me for writing Not Norman because they have to read it over and over and over again every day, every night. (I know because they write and tell me so.)

Another sample: This has the feel of that scary SCRITCH SCREETCH night scene, doesn't it?

Another sample: This has the feel of that scary SCRITCH SCREETCH night scene, doesn't it?

So, during this auspicious month, I’m pulling out some snippets of Norman’s journey. For you writers, maybe they will help you as you work through your own stuff. For the rest of you, maybe it will explain the way it works. Interesting? Informative? (You decide.)

For now, before the notes, here are the kudos. Thanks to all of you who’ve bought and read and shared Not Norman, big hugs and glugs!

Enter to win a free copy of Not Norman from @CandlewickClass on Twitter here!

Nuthin’ Doin’

“What are you doing today?” Curtis asked as I drove him to work.

 “What are you doing tomorrow?” He asked again last night.

“What do you have going on this week?” He asked as I dropped him off at the airport.

 

“Nothing.” I replied. “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I have absolutely not one single thing planned.”

 

 

He gave me a surprised look. Curtis never has nothing to do, nothing planned.

Most people don’t. Or rather, DO…all the time.

Even when we aren’t “doing” anything, we are doing something: Listening to music, Texting, Checking email, Facebook, Instagram, Playing Candy/Trivia Crush, Scrabble with Friends, etc. etc. Usually something electronic.

ACG School in Jakarta 

ACG School in Jakarta 

When I visit schools, I’ll chat with the kids about my writering life. Inevitably someone will ask:

“Where do your ideas come from?”

 I often respond by opening it up to the class and asking them:

“Where can we get ideas?”

Eventually the flood of suggestions peters out . . . Because ideas do that.

Life, the everyday business of living, can be tiring. Trying to live creatively can be even more so. The myriad of How-to, Discovery, Recovery books and articles focused on ways to revive our creative spirits, suggest this tiredness, miasma, block, burnout, lack of creativity . . . . is because we are creatively exhausted. (And perhaps otherwise, too.)

Stock Photo: Stressed man with smoking head More www.dreamstime.com

Stock Photo: Stressed man with smoking head More

www.dreamstime.com

Whether from lack of use, or because we’ve used up all we had, our creative tanks have run dry and need refilling.

. . . and not a drop to think.

. . . and not a drop to think.

Many, including Julia Cameron’s oft sited 12-Step Recovery guide, The Artist’s Way, recommend taking oneself on weekly Artist’s Dates as a way of “refilling our creative wells.”

Filling our wells—if we follow this sage advice—is easy. The question then is: How do we empty it? 

How do we tap into those creative wells so those wonderful ideas can flow? 

When working with school kids, at that point where the ideaphoria slows, I’ll ask:

“Does your teacher ever give an assignment and not one single idea pops into your head? Does that ever happen to you?”

A sea of nodding heads is always the answer I get.

At that point I’ll give them my sure fire Well-Draining Idea-Generator:  

Empty your head and do nothing.

Try it.

I dare you.

I double dog dare you.

Make a “Do Nothing” Date . . .  and Don’t!  

Don’t take your phone. Don’t plug in. Don’t bring a friend. Don’t set an agenda.

Before long, the spigot will open Whoosh! and ideas will begin to flow. Could be they already were flowing, but we just couldn't hear to catch them.* Either way, that  plenty o’ nuttin’ starts to sound like something. 

To borrow from Dr. Suess: Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!

Nuthin’ Doin’ Playlist:

*What's the worst that can happen? You'll have spent an idyll hour or two. (Ever ponder the connection between idyll, idle and ideal?) 

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Find a Penny: Pick It Up? Or???

Who knew it was a cultural thing? I'm just back in Port of Spain from some time in Manhattan which might be why I'm noticing things I hadn't before...or had and forgotten. Such as pennies on the ground. I'd never noticed so many pennies on the ground before.

Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck

You don't see many coins on the ground in Manhattan. If you do, they are usually in front of a street person who's stacking them, counting them, or otherwise keeping close watch on them while hoping they'll multiply.

One of "Harts Band" Carnival Costumes

One of "Harts Band" Carnival Costumes

It's pre-Carnival in Trinidad, which means:

Steel Pan Bands are practicing in every pan yard, roadsides and on the Savannah,  boisterously & loudly.

Everywhere, every night--parks, stadiums, parishes, neighborhoods--are fetes.

Folks who don't like parties, Soka music blaring from thumping speakers, being "on de road" playing Carnival, are packing up.

And gyms are crowded cause everyone's on a post holiday tone-up in preparation for squeezing into their carnival costumes.

If this were your Carnival Costume, wouldn't you be hitting the gym?

If this were your Carnival Costume, wouldn't you be hitting the gym?

Saturday night, Curtis and I attended the Victoria Garden Fete. Upon hearing "Fete" and "Victoria Garden" together, you might imagine this:

Trinidad's "Victoria Garden" Fete is like this by daylight.

That's our friend Jann in the center. (This is actually a Moka Fete. I couldn't access our Victoria Garden pics. But the scene is much the same.)

That's our friend Jann in the center. (This is actually a Moka Fete. I couldn't access our Victoria Garden pics. But the scene is much the same.)

After nightfall, once the band's warmed up, it's like this:

Back to the pennies: It was closing in on nightfall when I spotted a crumbled wad of money on the ground near one of the drinks tents. Not pennies, bills. TT dollars are colorful: pink, purple, blue. Unlike US greenbacks, they couldn't be camouflaged by the lawn. The fete, while crowded, was not that crowded... No way could I have been the only person to spot the wad. Yet no one else stooped to pick them up. Why?

Expecting I might be on Candid Camera, that the wad of bills must be attached to an invisible string everyone else knew about, that as soon as I reached for it the wad would be jerked away, but too frugal to ignore found money, I scooped it up. Then looked around, expecting someone to have seen me. Or to be looking around for their lost bankroll. To say something...

 I unfolded the bills. They looked real enough. Not play money or coupons. Then quickly, without counting it, I handed it to a gal working in the drinks tent. "Someone dropped this," I explained. 

She was clearly taken aback. Thinking she was thinking I was looney for giving away money, I shrugged it off and hurried off to catch up with Curtis and our friends.

Of course, hawk-eye Curtis, had seen the entire exchanged. So, I explained to him and our friends, how I'd found it. The woman we were with looked horrified.

"Oh, NO!" She said. "NEVER pick up money."

Trini superstition, it turns out, has it that lost money carries the bad luck "mojo" of whomever lost it. Thus, by picking money up off the ground, one could also pick up the bad mojo it carried.

Find a penny pick it up; forever after your day will suck.

Was it true? Do superstitions cross borders? Or do we carry them with us? Is it you believe your way and I believe mine? Or is it more "When in Rome-ish"?

Getting to the point: Does picking up a found penny--or dollars--bring good luck? Or were the rest of my days going to suck?

In hindsight, if I had it to do over again, I'm still not sure what I would have done. What about you?

What of the fate of the woman working in the drinks tent? By giving her the crumpled wad of cash had I, albeit unwittingly, cursed her with bad luck mojo, too?

My friend laughed. "She didn't pick it up. You did!"

Ahhh so that's how it works. Culture counts.

Find a Penny Playlist:

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Fill 'er Up! What Poppy Taught Me...

Back in the 70’s during gas rationing, my grandfather and I would idle in the gas station line together on “Even Days" so we could fuel up our cars.

For those of you post-rationing folks, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers could fill up on “Odd Days,” Mon-Wed-Fri, those of us with even-numbered plates could fill up on Tues-Thurs-Sat.

If either of our tanks fuel levels had dropped below half-a-tank, Poppy insisted on it. Spending this time with my grandfather would have been enough, but, as an added bonus, he’d pay to fill up my tank, too. (A much needed and appreciated college student “gift”.) Poppy got a kick out of it, too. As he neared the front of the line, Poppy would get into his car without a backward glance at me. After filling up with the allowed amount of gas: 10 or 12 gals, sometimes only 5, Poppy'd pay, telling the attendant “Put that cute blonde’s gas on my tab, too,” and drive off.

Poppy’s rule about refueling often and never letting your tank get below the half-full mark has stuck with me. Whether true, or an old car talk myth, Pops said all the yuck settled to the bottom of the tank. So, if I allowed my tank to get low, along with fuel, all the sediment and unwanted gunk will be sucked into the engine. 

In that way, writers, artists, anyone who creates, are like cars. Our creative "wells" can run dry, too.  Tales of creatives "refueling" are many and varied, some legendary: Hemingway & Steinbeck went adventuring; Parker and Fitzgerald shook and stirred. Others, try perhaps less entertaining, but more healthful routes such as Julia Cameron's The Artist’s Way. This 12-Step Guide to Creative Recovery, suggests weekly artist dates as a way of topping up our creativity. 

To outsiders, and worse, to ourselves, “Filling the Well” and “Resisting,” as Steven Pressfield in War of Art calls procrastination, avoidance, and other obstacles that keep us from creating, can seem to be one and the same.  Therefore, guilt or that darned clock—tick tick tick-Time’s-a-wasting-Slacker—can stop us from taking time to recharge our creative spirits.

Eventually, just as my 79 MG Midget sputtered and died on the way back from Lake Tahoe the one Sunday night I didn’t heed Poppy’s warning to never let my gas tank fall below half, our joie de create can sputter out.

Heed the difference between “Filling the Well” and “Resisting”.

While I absolutely do not believe our creativity can ever truly dry up. I know energy for, and interest in, doing the hard work it takes to rejuvenate, re hydrate, revitalize a shriveled creativity spirit can dwindle. Why risk it? Much smarter, and definitely more fun, to follow Poppy’s lead and refuel regularly.

Since February is the Heart month, with International Book Giving Day smack dab in the middle on Valentine’s Day, I’m devoting my February posts to “Loving Up” and "Filling Up" our creative wells. 

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Bonus: If you buy a Children's Book to Give, let me know and I'll join you by donating a book in your honor.

Post in Comments or Here!

Meet my new grandson, Dylan!

Meet my new grandson, Dylan!

 

 

Until then, I’ll be playing Mimi. My favorite newish way to refuel.

 

Time For A Top Up!

Big Cuz Ben showing me how!

Big Cuz Ben showing me how!

 

 

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TO DO; MUST DO; HAVE TO; WANT TO....WHAT'S IT TO YOU?

New Year=New Resolutions=New To-Do List.

Resolutions: We all have them, we all make them. Some of us resolve not to make new New Year's Resolutions. (I did this once. . . ) And then, because setting an action plan is imperative if we seriously expect to accomplish whatever it is we resolve, we make a "To-Do List." And for a few days or weeks, we may even manage to tick off some of those items on that list of To-Dos. Then our resolve fades, or our list is buried under more pressing issues, and we fail....again.

2015 was no exception. We rang out the old year. Toasted the new. And I made one resolution.

Now, three weeks into 2015, I'm happy to say it's a resolution I have, easily, happily, guilt-free-ly kept so far. That alone is worth cheering: WHOOOOOOOO! 

So, it's with joy, pride and the expectation that I will remain resolute, I am sharing my 2015 New Year's Resolution. I Kelly Bennett resolved to:

Say “Phooey!” to Must-Do
”Why?” to Have-To
”How will I?” to Want-To!

Yes, this means I am still creating To-Do lists. However, after I do, I prioritize each item on the list:

Must-Do: Often these are imposed by others and/or come with a heavy dose of guilt which often elevates them to the top of the pile resulting in them being dealt with, done, crossed off first, when our energy is highest. 

Instead, say "Phooey!" Who says I Must-Do this? Then ask yourself, "Why?" Why is now? Why should first, be the time to do IT? If you can't come up with a good reason, then either don't do IT, or, as in the case of "Write thank you notes" "Order new sheets" "Call your mother," move IT down on the To-Do List to a low energy, low creativity time, nothing better I can be doing then, anyway, time. Ie, Write Thank you notes while watching TV and Call mom when you are waiting in line at the movie, or walking the treadmill.

Have-To: The difference between Have-To and Must-Do, is that not doing Have-To items will result in consequences you want to avoid. For example: "File insurance," "Fill out expense report,"do laundry". 

Instead, ask "Why?" What will happen if I don't do IT? If the consequences of doing IT will not hit your where it counts: in the wallet or the heart, then IT is not a Have-To. IT either belongs in one of the other categories, or, IT doesn't belong on your list! 

If IT is a Have-To List, then decide exactly when you will do IT. Allot IT a specific amount of time. Have-To items have to be done. We want what doing IT brings us so we should give IT due respect. Slot IT into your schedule. Follow your schedule. But do not think about IT until the allotted time.

Want-to: Ask, do I really want IT?  If the answer is yes, then it needs to be high on your To-Do list. Put it at the top of your list--in BOLD AND ALL CAPS! 

For every Want-To, ask: How Can I? Once you know what you want. What you really, really want. What will make your IT happen. The next step is to create an action plan for how to do what you want. Position these items--the steps it will take for you to be able to do-get-achieve WHAT YOU WANT!--in high energy times on your calendar. Above the HAVE-TOs, squeezing out the MUST-DOs. Then get to IT! 

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Now it's your turn--But only if you WANT-TO, too!??

Pull out your To-Do list. Examine each item and put it in the proper category. Is it a:

  • Have-To?
  • Must-Do?
  • Want-To?

Three weeks into this new year, and I'm happy to say I've been doing what I really WANT-TO.

What I WANT-TO do is have time with my family. Babying my daughter and brand-new grandboy, Dylan, And loving up my bigger grandboy, Bennett. Dang, is this fun!

TO-DO: WHAT'S IT TO YOU? Playlist:

 

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