For Whom Does The Bell Toll?

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(Photo credit: The hills are alive (back for a bit….)

Michelle asks: Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?

No, Michelle, it is not easy to ask for help when I need it. Yes, I do like to rely on myself. But how was that working for me? Not great.

I have learned to ask for help, and have been met almost exclusively with success. Life hands us some pretty tricky situations sometimes and I have found I needed (and still need) help getting through them.  My family and friends have reached out in my times of need—and without question have helped me in so many ways—emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Sometimes I have had to ask. And it was hard.

I have also found that sometimes I put something out to the blog world and receive such support – it is wonderful to have this new venue to call on. I try not to do it often, but whenever I do, I have been rewarded a hundred fold.

I once thought I was an “island” but have since come to the realization that no man or woman is an island (sorry Mr. Donne, for the bastardization of that phrase). We cannot survive happily and successfully without each other. I was interested to note that “No Man is an Island” also had wrapped within its clever words, another phrase we use often—take a look see:

        No Man is an Island ~ John Donne

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysica...

John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysical Poets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So do you find it hard to ask for help? And when you did—were you rewarded?

 

Deep Tuesday Thoughts

Group of five happy children jumping outdoors.

Happy kids. (Photo credit: Lighttruth)

“Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”  ~ George Saunders

Not easy words to live by. But wise words if we take them, consider, and digest them. Then use them.

And most assuredly staying “open” will hurt. Sometimes. Other times though it will open us up to a world we would not have seen or experienced.

Dinty W. Moore, author of “The Mindful Writer” (yes, I am getting my $14.95 out of this book) says:

“Look at a child…full of wonder, amazed by the smallest thing, a yellow butterfly, a smooth rock, a stranger’s smile—or, in an instant, ready to bawl at the world’s pain and injustice.” Then he says, “Look at your average adult: jaded, seen-it-all, skeptical, ready to dismiss his own feelings as “false” because his intellect is trying to damp down his emotions.”

Moore encourages us to see the rock, the butterfly, the smile, as if for the first time and be “willing to bawl at all the world’s injustice” and to “be so open that it actually does hurt.”

So many times we will dismiss something with the hackneyed words “been there, done that”, but every situation is just a little bit different, and if we open ourselves up to it in wonder, we have created a whole new experience.

I have, on occasion, closed myself to new experiences, or shut myself away not wanting to be hurt by a person or situation—but that is no solution. We have to be open to what life offers us, and stay open as Saunders suggests, until the day we die. By not being open, we have already experienced a kind of death.

My contention is that you cannot find bliss until you remain open to “the world without end”. What do you think?

Aggie Knew How to Party Hardy

English: Agatha Christie blue plague. No.58 Sh...

Agatha Christie blue plaque. No.58 Sheffield Terrace, Kensington & Chelsea, London, U.k. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Trust me it gets more interesting near the end.)

Yesterday was supposed to be Writing Wednesday, and I forgot, as I was so inspired by a post by Kathy of Lake Superior Spirit about owning our imperfect selves. I think it is quite fitting that my imperfect self forgot that it was Writing Wednesday.

So, today is going to be Writing Thursday. And for that, I will turn to Amy Peters’ book, The Writer’s Devotional. She provides a short biography of Agatha Christie who once stated: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”  She obviously knew what she was talking about; she started and finished over 100 pieces of literature, which takes in her 80 crime novels and the play, Mousetrap, which is the longest running play in theatrical history.

But the thing I found most interesting in Peters’ short biography of Ms. Christie is the fact that she disappeared for eleven days after finding out that her low down good for nothing cheating husband had left her for another woman.

There was a nationwide (wo)manhunt for her. She was found in a Yorkshire Hotel, “claiming that she’d lost her memory.” Now I would like to explore what may have happened in those eleven days. I do not believe that she really lost her memory—I think at first she was probably shocked, then angry, then revengeful. And then she decided to party hardy. She spent one day of despair over the lout who left her and then, swearing the manager of the hotel to secrecy, she took over a whole floor of the hotel, invited all her friends, and partied like it was 1999 (even though it was 1926).

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie: Is this not the face of someone who knows how to “party hardy”?  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little known fact is that when she was found, her room was littered with champagne bottles, a cabana boy had been imported from wherever cabana boys reside, and she was ready for a divorce.

Ah, the mind and its imaginings.

It is the epitome of bliss to let our imaginations roam sometimes. So what do you think Agatha was doing for those eleven days?

Bliss is Equal Parts Joy and Woe

A page from scan of book containing a series o...

Songs of Innocence and Experience by poet and painter, William Blake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read many blogs and believe that I am the wiser for it. The other day I ran across a blog called Joy and Woe, and found the explanation for the title intriguing. Jeni  of Joy and Woe is a fellow Canadian, and she said she chose the title for her blog from William Blake’s poem “Augeries of Innocence.” Here is an excerpt from the poem that includes her blog’s moniker:

All is right it should be so:
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

I love the simple yet sage wisdom in those words. Once we accept that we are destined for both joy and woe, and that in equal parts they are what make the world go round, then we can make our peace with the ways of life.

Is life fair? A tiresome question. Sometimes it is too fair, sometimes not fair enough—admit it, you have been on both ends of the spectrum of fairness. Life is not objective, impartial, non-discriminatory or fair. But sometimes it is.

Joy and Woe: they sum up life quite nicely. Coming to an understanding of these two elements gives me some bliss.

Do you find that life is made up of joy and woe—would we know bliss if we did not have a little woe in order to measure joy?

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 11:11 am  Comments (59)  
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My Favourite Dickens’ Quote

christmas stars

Christmas stars (Photo credit: mararie)

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

For some reason, I love this quote. I owned a book store two decades ago called Dickens Booksellers and Gift Emporium, and had this quote posted on my front door. While the bookstore is a thing of the past, the message in the quote is eternal. Keeping Christmas all the year, and learning the lessons of the past, present, and future is timeless.

A Blogcation

James Taylor at Christmas

Wikipedia

Just a little heads up:

I am taking a week off from blogging to concentrate on a number of things that need my attention–so while I will be responding to commenters today–I will not be seen or heard from much until December 1st. Enjoy this last week of November and see you back here next Saturday.

Note: Make a note in your calendar to come to my virtual Christmas Party on Saturday, December 15th.

Here is my Formal Invitation:

Virtual Christmas Party

Date: December 15th

Where: Virtually Here

Why: It Is Christmas!

Theme: Come as your favourite author or character in a book.

Co-host: Robin Coyle (she does not know this yet)

Bring: Your favourite appetizer from the 1970’s

Music Provided by: James Taylor and Rodents & Rebels

Special Entertainment: Margaret Atwood. She promises to be festive.

Requirement: Description of your author or character’s outfit, appetizer, and favourite song request from either James or R & R.

I will provide an update closer to the 15th. Idea stolen from Robin Coyle who threw a virtual Cocktail Party that was a raving success. You can wear your shoes in the house if they are clean. Reindeer socks will be provided at the door for those who need them.

See you in a little less than a week!

English: Author Margaret Atwood attends a read...

English: Author Margaret Atwood attends a reading  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~ Be Still ~

“Poetry is pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe, and bringing them down to earth.”  ~ Marisa De Franceschi

"The Listening Place", South Lochboi...

“The Listening Place”: Be Still (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chairs were fairly comfortable. The room was not crowded, but neither was it bare. It was filled with people who love the written word. I must admit that my appreciation for poetry has been acquired—like the taste of beer or olives or octopus. And now that I have acquired it, I like to feed it.

Recently an opportunity to feed the poetry beast was offered at my local library. Three local poets were featured. They provided the audience with three very different flavours of the genre. To say that one poet was better than another would be a misnomer, but of the three, one appealed to my sense of the familiar more than the other two. One poet drew on the raw realities of life beautifully—but her poetry was to my mind uncomfortable.  Another was a true poet, in that if poetry is not his first calling, it most definitely is his primary form of expression. His was an educated palate and his poetry brilliantly executed. I was jealous of his implementation of the English language.

I tend to understand and like the simple written word—if its imagery is too opaque or its metaphors too tangled, I lose patience.

The poet who “spoke to me” at the poetry reading was Marisa De Franceschi.  She believes in “pulling images out of the sky, the air, the universe and bringing them down to earth”. When a poet does not do that, does not bring their poetry down to earth, I am lost in their wordiness.

Her book of poetry, Random Thoughts, is rift with images brought down to earth. One of her poems, called “Be Still” spoke to my depths. She said that it was derived from her personal observations of the ships on Lake Erie that she could see from the windows of  her summer cottage in Wheatley, Ontario. Here are a few of my favourite lines:

“Out on the Lake,

When the gale turns ferocious

There is only one thing for the mammoth ships to do.

Stop and stay put.

Be still….

They sit still and wait…

They wait for the winds to calm,

Wait for them to have their say.

The ships will continue their journey

When the tempest dies down….”

I think this poem provides us with great wisdom. As we venture out into the fray of everyday life–sometimes we just have to sit still and wait and let the tempest die down in order to head out again. This is good advice for the holiday season as we rush around–we need to be still sometimes to appreciate all that it has to offer.

What steps are you going to take this holiday season to “be still”?

Tranquility

Tranquility (Photo credit: EclecticBlogs)

~ Inspiration ~

Mark Twain

Mark Twain (Photo credit: iansand)

Inspiration from the blog world is easy to come by. Here are two I happened upon in the last few days:

Robert of 101 Books:

“Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” –Mark Twain

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of overusing very. I find it a very good word, which I like to use verily. I believe I will take Mr. Twain’s advice, if not literally, at least in my editing process.

Nancy at Life Takes Over said this in response to a comment I made on her blog.:

I read a poster this morning that said: “No one can go back and change a bad beginning; but anyone can start now and create a successful ending.”

I love that we all have the chance to make our endings our own~and we are not held captive by bad beginnings.

Do you have a word that you overuse; or do you believe that “All’s well that ends well”?

Name That Shakespeare Play!

Name That Shakespeare Play! (Photo credit: Tracy Lee)

Published in: on November 12, 2012 at 12:51 am  Comments (50)  
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The Letter ~F~ Or If Hamlet Were Writing This: “To comment or not to comment~that is the question”

The third quarto of Hamlet (1605). A straight ...

The third quarto of Hamlet (1605). A straight reprint of the 2nd quarto (1604) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Failure to communicate appropriately is the topic of this little post today. I have found myself guilty of perpetrating this crime, and am looking for an antidote.

My question: Are you careful when you comment on other blogs?

I try to be careful, but every once in a while when I am in a bad mood—I get carried away and reveal more than I generally would, or heaven forbid—criticize someone. Then I feel bad. Really bad—because you cannot take your words back—they are out there.

I try to judge any comments I leave behind on someone’s blog or response to a comment on my blog using one criterion: if I received that comment how would I feel? But sometimes I fail to meet my own criteria, and leave a comment that could perhaps be misunderstood or that I would not want to receive.

I am really not the proverbial good sport—I try to be, but I am not. I am generally a pretty gentle soul, or at least that is how I present myself. But we all have our breaking points. Today I left a comment on someone’s blog whom I trust, and the criticism that I voiced was not toward her at all—my comment to her was complimentary, but then I complained about a comment I received recently that irked me.

I wrote an Addendum comment to her telling her that I think I do not take criticism well in the blog world because, on the whole, I receive such overwhelmingly warm and lovely responses, that something that even hints of criticism (and it really was only a gentle hint) gets my nose out of joint. I have since decided to “mature up” and not take myself so seriously. But I find that I am at my most vulnerable (and height of grumpiness) when other things are bothering me.

It is a bit of a conundrum—the antidote being: do not leave comments or responses when you are in  less than a jolly place. So when my universe is spinning a bit out of control, I am going to  put my tap happy fingers to another task for the moment, hold my tongue, and find my happy place before unleashing my reaction to the world.

Published in: on September 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm  Comments (64)  
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Quote{s} of the Day # 5

English: Studies in Classic American Literature

English: Studies in Classic American Literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Three for Sunday, July 29, 2012:

“The memoir is literally the shape you give to the past, but how might an understanding of the past shape the future?”  ~  Laura Kalkakian, The Memoir Club: a novel

“Life is like an impromptu recipe~you make the best out of what ingredients you have on hand.” ~ Laura Kalkakian, American Cookery: a novel

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life… It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie, an American author

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm  Comments (12)  
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