Friday, April 22, 2016

There’s More to This

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but I’ve written several picture book manuscripts. One that I recently modified has rhymes and rhythms and specific numbers of beats. After my critique group offered a few areas to edit, I labored over the changes. Which new words could ever replace to the ones I had chosen? They fit perfectly. Of course, given the enormous number of words and ways to rephrase them, there is more than one perfect way to write a story. Here’s a guy who might agree:

Another video on the same story stated that the young man is an orphan who lived with friends. But, his detour worked out since he has a new job, strangers have stepped forward to offer a year’s worth of bus tickets, other people have offered him an apartment, and a cell phone. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If you’re facing a rough patch in life, don’t give up. Just because life’s not going the way we expect, doesn’t mean it won’t turn out well. A wonderful detour may be waiting around the corner. What helps you to navigate life’s surprising detours?   

Friday, April 15, 2016

Stressed Out?

Since experts recommend we minimize our stress levels and treat ourselves to something special once in a while, I obeyed their advice and ordered a piece of jewelry through an Avon-like home-based business. When I held up my arm to display the bracelet, one of the kids asked if I burned myself again. Well, that spoke volumes. First of all, that only happened once. Okay, maybe twice as I rushed to slide food into the oven. Take my advice, that’s not the time to rush. Mistakes happen when we rush. Sometimes they’re painful results that last a brief time, and other times the consequences stick with us like a scar. In either situation, we experience this: 

He said a mouthful. Have you ever been on the road and spotted the driver who tailgates and weaves through traffic like a bully? Invariably, that car ends up at the light alongside everyone else. There’s a lesson there. Most of our rushing causes unnecessary stress, making an awful impact on our mental and physical health. If you’re tired of rushing from point A to point B, what will you do to live stress-free?     

Friday, April 8, 2016

Out of Control

Is there a month-long April Fool’s joke going on? It is officially spring; the daffodils are blooming, the rabbits are hopping, but the weather’s not reflecting the season. When snow flurries landed on our car this week, I told one of our kids that it was unusual to have the bright sunshine along with the snow. A winter-weary voice from the backseat of the car moaned, “Ugh, I feel like the weather is mocking me.” To make matters worse, weather forecasters predict more flurries for the weekend.

Given all the meteorological technology weather people use, we’ve been fooled into thinking that they know what to expect. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, this is the year to expect the unexpected. Let’s be glad we’re not dealing with this:

Imagine if we had to spend a year without summer. People would threaten sit-ins and protests—but against whom, against what? Scientist would appease us by accelerating their weather-controlling experiments. I’m sure some expert is already working on it. Think about the lives saved and the damage avoided if we could prevent storms. We’re such plucky folks, trying to control everything. What have you finally decided not to try to control?   

Saturday, April 2, 2016

No Damages?

There’s something wrong with the birds. In the last year, I’ve witnessed more bird collisions and casualties than ever. This week a robin swooped in front of a car and clipped the fender. A mass of white feathers flew into the air as the little bird rolled to the edge of the road. I hope it survived.

Is it poor timing, poor training, recklessness, or fearlessness that’s causing birds to engage in risky behavior? You may develop a whole new appreciation for risk after watching this scene:

It’s amazing how everybody kept moving. If we tossed in a few more tourists, the entire “system” would crumble because we’re used to lights and lanes—and much less road risk. Can you imagine living with that kind of free-for-all? We all have different risk comfort levels. What was the eventual outcome of your riskiest decision?    

Friday, March 25, 2016

Binge Watching

Has the term “binge watching” made it into the dictionary yet? It started when we recorded and watched multiple TV shows in one sitting, then it grew in popularity when companies made entire seasons available for non-stop viewing. Like other addictions, binge watching creeps up on you. At first, you’re looking for a little entertainment or a way to relax after a hectic week. Four hours later, you’re dazed and hooked on a show, forsaking restroom breaks and phone calls.

At our house, we’re tracking several different shows. When Netflix gives us ten seconds to answer that judgmental question, “Are you still watching?” We say, “is that a joke? Yes, of course!” If you’re wondering why binge watching became a thing, here’s one excuse:

Despite having hundreds of cable stations, our family had difficulty finding anything to watch on TV, at least nothing we all enjoyed. Now, we can’t wait to see whether Emma or Cora reach the other side, or read what happens next in our subtitled Korean suspense show—and thanks to Netflix—we don’t have to. Patience and waiting—are these things of the past? Is there anything you still don’t mind waiting for?    

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Holy Smokes, Batman

Holes must have magnetic force fields. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I spot one I want to run over and peer into it. They show up everywhere—in space, underwater, and lately, they’ve been opening up in the middle of roads and towns. There’s a quarry in our community and whenever I drive by I’m convinced the company could make a fortune charging folks to look into their massive hole. Wander up to a hole and you never know what you’ll find in it. No one expected to see this:

Whether deep or wide, made-made or natural, regardless of how incredible a hole is, we secretly believe that something more incredible waits inside, something that made the hole. We almost expect to lean over the edge and glimpse a mythical creature or ominous monster from the deep. Holes transport us back to our childhoods to a time when anything was possible. Even today, incredible experiences are still possible. What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or heard?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Piece by Piece

Once the unusually warm weather showed up, I started checking for signs of spring—and that’s when I spotted what looked like an extreme haircut. Standing alongside the road was a towering evergreen pruned and scooped out so much that it resembled the letter “c.” Poor tree.

The sacrifice was necessary. The pruning prevented the tree’s branches from damaging power lines and plunging the neighborhood into darkness if a major storm blew through town. The township chose uninterrupted electricity over aesthetics, and residents probably supported the trade-off. After all, who wants to be without lights? While certain trade-offs cost more than others, this courageous girl didn’t let the costs stop her:  

I wonder how many of us are brave enough to jump in and make a huge difference in someone else’s life? Many times, change must first start in the most difficult places—in ourselves. What are you thinking about pruning, piece by piece, from your life to create a better you?