~ BIG BLISS ~

My bliss

My big bliss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Big dreams create the magic that stir (wo)men’s souls to greatness.” – Bill McCartney

It seems to me I have talked ad nauseam about capturing the moments of bliss—those little moments when we realize that life has something to offer, but on a rather limited basis. Are we too complacent in our misery, in our lack of hope for anything more than moments? Of course we should enjoy these moments, but I ask you ~ what is wrong with BIG BLISS? BIG DREAMS? HAVING IT ALL?

Are we so ensnared in the philosophy that we have to snatch those moments of bliss, that we are ignoring the bigger picture? Maybe we do not try hard enough to capture a life filled with bliss. Hours of bliss, not moments. Days, weeks, months, years of bliss. Should that not be our goal?

Rotten Apple

Rotten Apple (Photo credit: Edgars Jekabsons)

I understand that life hands us a lot of rotten apples, and you cannot make apple sauce out of rotten apples, you have to throw them out. Maybe we should just throw out the rotten apples in our life and bite into a nice crispy unblemished one.

In this my proclaimed year of finding my bliss, I want to find my big bliss and not be happy with a few dregs of joy, shots of happiness, or teaspoons of laughter. I want a whole barrel of joy, more than a 26-er of happiness, and a belly full of laughs.

I am missing something here not shooting for the moon. Why can’t my big dreams come true? (And to be honest some have.) Why can’t I have it all, or at least most of it?  Today I am going don my Nikes and “do it”. They are actually pink and silver Champions, but you know what I mean.

From the words to the song “Have It All” by Jeerem Kay, and the soundtrack to the television show, Scrubs, this is my new mantra:

“Maybe it’s too soon to be sure but I really do believe that someday we’re gonna have it all.”

Are you ready for some big bliss? Admit it, some of your big dreams have come true, but you have forgotten them in all the turmoil of everyday problems.

Yesterday I told you my sob story—but today I will tell you some of my big blisses: I went to university and loved every moment of it; I married the boy I had a crush on in high school and it seems to have lasted—this year we celebrate 31 years;  I have worked for radio, newspapers, and magazines and I am going to get a book published by hook or by crook; I owned a bookstore; I had two (very) premature sons who have grown into healthy big guys; I have discovered blogging and a wonder community of bloggers who have become my friends; I belong to a Writers’ Group which has been running for 15 years; I have great friends who I walk with; talk with; write with; lunch with; and just visit. I count my sister as my best friend, and my brothers as my closest allies–something not all people can claim. And .…I am not done yet.

What big dreams of yours have come true that led you to some big bliss?

House of Joy

House of Joy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm  Comments (49)  
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Going Out on a Limb for Bliss

This is my “going out on a limb” post–where I am being very revealing for me.

Bleeding Heart

(MY) Bleeding Heart (Photo credit: dog.happy.art)

I have a confession to make. My bliss resolution is having some good days and bad days. But that is not the confession. The confession is that I want to take my journey to find my bliss and turn it into a book, including your comments. You will not be identified unless you want to be—but the kernel of my idea is to use each post as a chapter of its own—with a summary of your comments to give it more life.

The writer, many times out of necessity creates in a vacuum. The writer who creates, then posts their creation on their blog gets feedback. Voices other than the author’s are given their due, and in fact make what the writer wrote originally more interesting. At least that is my theory. And I am sticking by it.

I have found a wonderful world of smart, wise, and kind bloggers and readers. Some of you are sweet; some of you are to the point; some of you are philosophical; and some of you are thoughtful; but all of you round out any post I make into a piece that I think is worth sharing.

Knowing this, today I am asking you to provide me with a short synopsis of what would make your bliss come to fruition if you could eliminate it from your lives.

I will show you mine if you will show me yours. That is only fair. I am not going to ask you for something I myself am not willing to do.

Generally I do not like to reveal too much, but today I will so you will feel more free to open up too.  The one thing that is preventing me from reaching full bliss is an ongoing lawsuit, that is going into its ninth year. It has stripped us of a business we owned and set us on a path that has made me both more compassionate and humble. I have had to ask for help on many different levels—and if there is one good outcome from this infernal lawsuit that is it.

In the past I refrained from asking for help as much as I could, thinking that it showed weakness. That it was a chink in my armour. But it is not. I have asked for help and received it with great patience and compassion. There have been some hard times, but through those times I know there are people I could call on to help me out. And sometimes that is all I need.

No one can simplify their lives down to one thing that would make a difference. But today, I am asking you to choose that one thing that seems to be barring you from a life of bliss.

Okay, I am going to press publish now….

 

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm  Comments (70)  
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Tell, Don’t Show

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Reading the newspaper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you a shower or a teller? For some reason I am a “teller” and I blame it on the fact that I write for a newspaper where there is not a lot of room for showing.

“Show, don’t tell” is the mantra of every successful writer. It is not mine (so what does that say about me?) but I do respect it. Becca  (Becca Puglisi)  from Bookshelf  Muse gives a brief rundown of “Show, don’t Tell” in a guest column she did for another blog (Wendy’s Writing Now) today. It is brilliantly simple–so simple, that I understood it. Here are a few of her wise words, but the whole post is worthy of a trip over:

“Telling usually explains everything right off the bat. There are certain venues where you want people to explain things as simply as possible: when they’re giving directions or explaining a calculus lesson; when you’re on the phone with your neighbor who never stops talking and The Walking Dead starts in 30 seconds. But in fiction, telling is a form of talking down to the reader; it doesn’t give him/her any credit. At worst, repeated telling says to the audience, “I’m not entirely sure that you’re capable of getting the point if I write it with any subtlety, so let me make it really simple.” At best, it’s a sign that you’re unsure of your own ability to make yourself understood without using the simplest of words. Neither message is one you want to send.”

In newspaper writing we tell a story, but we let the facts speak for themselves. I embellish every once in a while for fun, but in getting the information across, I do not talk about how a person is feeling when they make a statement. I let them live and die by their statement. In trying to make the transition to non-fiction writing and even creative non-fiction writing, I have to take a step back and really work on the showing part.

As I have written a weekly column for almost fifteen years (and earlier in my career for two years) I have somewhat perfected the art of essay writing (ha ha). Okay, not perfected it, but I have turned out a column every week for years, so I must have learned something. I think my column is a combo of showing and telling.  I am an advocate of simplicity, and showing rather than telling is something that I struggle with. I am willing to write with more subtlety, but I wonder if I will understand it. Perhaps I am too simple to garnish my writing with things that show instead of tell.

It is something to contemplate. But know dear readers, that if I do tell you stuff, instead of showing you stuff, it is because it is my style, it is not because you are lacking in skills to unpuzzle what I have said.

Is your bliss in show, don’t tell, or are you like me and tell too much?

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 1:46 pm  Comments (59)  
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A memorial of sorts

One Room School

One Room School (Photo credit: W9NED)

This is a shortened version of my column for the newspaper:

Sometimes writers need prompts. Something to get the juices flowing. This morning a prompt from WordPress read: “A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write a memorial.”

And do you know what immediately came to mind? The one room school house that I attended for the first four years of my school life. It was called  Zion — and yes, we walked about a mile and a half to school (it seemed like five miles) but not in bare feet, or in ten feet of snow.

I cannot remember when the school was torn down, but whenever I pass the spot where it stood, a wave of nostalgia passes over me. I wish it were still standing, though if it were, it would probably have been turned into someone’s residence as so many of the smaller schools have been. Students who attended these schools were eaten up by either regional or town schools, but their experiences at the one room schools would never be lost.

I loved and hated that school. We were exposed to such a variety of kids that it really did stand us in good stead for a life that is made up of all kinds of people, and not just kids our own age. You learned how to cope, how to get along, and you learned that life was not always easy.

What I loved about the school was the fact that we were exposed to a unique learning experience. We learned our lessons, but were able to “listen in” on the lessons of the other grades, and if you were an eager student you garnered an education above your years. We did a lot of things together as a whole school. We played baseball together; we had a school choir where we competed at a yearly concert; we practiced for the yearly Christmas concerts together; and we exchanged names for Christmas gifts.  You were just as likely to end up with some grade eight boy’s name, as the girl who sat next to you in your grade.

What I hated about the school were the things most students would hate about any school—if you were picked on, or you were not quite up to snuff in sports, or if you were the teacher’s pet. But those were all valuable learning experiences as well, if not the most pleasant. (I still remember being taught how to make an iceball—a snowball with ice in the middle that hurt like heck if you got hit with it.)

One of the best things about a one room school for me was that the teacher had to divide her time among all the grades, so when she was not teaching you, you had all the time in the world to do your lessons, then read as much as you wanted. Since I loved to read, this was a real bonus for me.

After grade four,  I was moved to a regional school and put in a classroom of kids who were my own age. It was quite a transition. We had a teacher who was available to us all throughout the day, which was a good thing, but left little time to be on your own.

I am glad that I got to experience both ways of being educated. I would never give up the things I learned at the one room school house. To this day, I miss being able to see a piece of my history. The school was the same one my parents and aunts and uncles attended, and even some of my grandparents.  It was the true essence of community.

I will never bid a fond farewell to Zion—it will always be fraught with sadness.

Where is the bliss? Not in the fact that the school was torn down, but in the fact that it was a piece of my history. What piece of your history is missing, but still remembered?

~ Reading Bliss ~

Cover of "Thinking About Memoir (AARP)"

Cover of Thinking About Memoir (AARP)

Some days this bliss journey gets a little long and twisted and I am baffled as to whether I can keep it up. As anyone who reads this blog on a somewhat regular basis knows, my 2013 resolution is to find my bliss. Some days I want to pack it in; some days finding my bliss is pretty….blissful.

Cover of "Old Friend from Far Away: How t...

Cover via Amazon

Before I run out of things to say about bliss, I really must address the thing that has given me bliss since I was about six years old. The thing that has stood me in good stead all of these years, through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through…..okay you get the clichéd gist.

Quite simply, I love to read. I can depend on reading to provide bliss. Even before I could read, I was read to—so the magic of the written word has been with me all my life.

Today I am going to share with you a few of my favourite books and authors—just off the top of my head, because I am feeling lazy (so lazy I put the Sunday roast in the crock pot with potatoes cause I am too lazy to pay attention to it).

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood, Alistair McLeod, Elizabeth Berg, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Annie Lamont, Ray Bradbury, Abigail Thomas, Stephen King, Ina Garten, Chef Michael Smith, and a whole lot of other people. I do not like everything these people have ever written, but I like a great deal of what they have written. I am  a voracious reader of non-fiction but the only name that comes to mind right now is Rabbi Harold Kushner.

My favourite book from childhood is Little Women—I loved Jo, and grew up to be a writer precisely because of her. My favourite character from my preteen years is Trixie Belden—she was smart and independent, and I read every one of her books several times.

My favourite books on memoir are by Natalie Goldberg and Abigail Thomas. I suggest that if you like this genre you should rush out and buy, or put on hold at your library, Goldberg’s “Old Friend from Far Away” and Thomas’ “Thinking About Memoir”.

If you could only read three books on writing—these are my picks: Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”; Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird”; and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. My fourth pick is one I am re-reading right now, Jack Hart’s “Storycraft” which is “The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction.” He has reinvigorated my newspaper writing.

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Cover of Writing down the Bones

So for the record, just in case this bliss thing comes to an end—I need it stated that reading is my bliss.

Off the top of your head—what are your favourite books or authors. Don’t think too hard (it is Sunday after all)—you will miss some as I most certainly have.

~ Comfort Food Bliss ~

Mmm... baked beans

Mmm… baked beans (Photo credit: jeffreyw)

It is cold. It is the last week of January. It is time for a comforting recipe that is easy and good and goes with all kinds of entrées. What is this magic bean of a recipe? Why Baked Beans of course.

I love baked beans though I have to be careful not to eat them when I have to cover a municipal council meeting for my newspaper at night. I am sure I do not have to explain any further.

In fact, I have a stomach that is a bit “delicate” so when I have to work at night I do not eat before I go so that it does not do something unexpected. It is funny how we have to adapt to things in life. Nine times out of ten my stomach survives a meal successfully, but it is that tenth time that makes one take precautions. But I digress (I often think that if I did not digress, I would not have much of a post).

This recipe was given to me by my sister, hence the name:

Great Baked Beans à la Peggy

4 – 15 oz. cans of baked beans (any kind you like; if I am feeling virtuous I choose the kind without pork—if I need comfort, I choose pork and beans)

1 onion, diced

3 tbsp. vinegar

¾ cup molasses

1 tsp. dry mustard

¼ cup ketchup

Bacon on top

Bake one hour at 350 degrees then 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

So simple, yet so good. You may think the magic ingredient in this is the bacon, but the real ingredient that makes all the difference in the world is molasses. Seriously—it gives it the right “body” and makes it kind of velvety—words I know not usually ascribed to baked beans, but it is true.

Sometimes I do not use this official recipe because I do not always have all the ingredients—if you have no dry mustard, use the yellow stuff. No molasses, throw in some brown sugar or maple syrup. No bacon? Cry a little—then make it anyway. Sometimes I crisp the bacon and put it right in with the beans. You can get as creative as you want.

I use this recipe when I have family dinners and it always disappears. For these dinners I serve it with spiral cut ham, cranberries, coleslaw, green stuff (I will give you the recipe for this some day), and roasted potatoes.

Cappuccino at Black Star Pastry Newtown

(Photo credit: sachman75)

I have two questions for you today. The first is existential: Would you consider someone a coffee lover if they have to use 3 teaspoons of sugar and a pint of milk in their morning coffee?

The second is: What is your favourite comfort food bliss? Feel free to answer one or both questions—and if you want to leave a recipe, feel free.

Where Is The Bliss In That?

[denial]

[Denial] (Photo credit: Shovelling Son)

Write you own eulogy is the WordPress daily prompt today. And to that I say, bah humbug! Where is the bliss in that? Of course I want to be remembered but I am not ready to take my leave just yet.

I stick firmly to the premise that I am middle-aged even though if I am really middle-aged the researchers had better come up with something that keeps us living well past 100 with our minds intact and not too many aches and pains.

A friend of mine asked me yesterday how I am going to celebrate my birthday this year as it is one of the milestone birthdays that end in a 0. It is also a milestone for other reasons, but I am so in denial about that.

I do not read magazines that are aimed at Boomers or Zoomers or whatever they are called these days. They look like perfectly good and innocent magazines, but I am not ready yet. I have not achieved all I want to achieve.  I have not been there, nor done enough of that to warrant reading a magazine for people who have reached a modicum of success. (Debbie, if you are reading this–I read all the other mags you give me and John reads Zoomer).

Crazy Woman Creek

Crazy Woman Creek (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Am I in denial?

Completely.

Am I going to write my eulogy?

Absolutely not (though I read those of others who took up the challenge and they were wonderful—they are obviously more mature than I, or took the exercise as a challenge and not an affront.)

I read the following quote on Redmontfamily.com, and though it does not totally mirror my attitude, I do like the fact that I have supposedly reached the age of discretion and discernment–the discarding part is still to come, as are the expensive toys:

“Welcome to an age of discretion, discernment and discarding of outmoded ideas.
Being over 40 doesn’t mean being over the hill.
Rather it means that you’ve climbed further up the mountain.
So your view of life is more expansive,
the knowledge gained is more extensive,
and your toys are more expensive.”

Are you in denial or more mature than I and made peace with your age? (Actually it is not my age I mind, it is the labels and expectations that go with it.)

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm  Comments (64)  
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Some Favourite Words

Eleventh Set of Favorites

(Photo credit: elkit)

Some of my favourite words:

Magical mystical soul friend bliss joy happiness avocado prayer lavender mouse tiger sweetums idiotboy sister heart husband  brother blessings grace hope mom dad chocolate

What are some of your favourite words?

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 9:38 am  Comments (116)  
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Just wondering….

Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wond...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever looked at something

then someone else looked at the same something,

and you both saw something different—

So different that it did not even seem like you were looking

At the same thing?

Just wondering…..

Perception

Is a mysterious thing.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 11:42 pm  Comments (46)  
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Or Just Eat Quiche

fried perch

fried perch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have trouble eating. In front of people. I had TMJ years ago, and though I no longer suffer from the annoying clicking, jaw ache, or barely being able to open my mouth (for a while I was eating through a straw, which cannot really be called eating)—I still cannot open my mouth very wide.

Restaurant food is not made for someone who cannot relish their food with big bites. Salads are not cut in bite-size pieces, so I have to take a knife and fork to any salad I order, and I still tend to not be able to get it in my mouth without it: 1. Falling back on my plate;  2. Leaving a smear of dressing on my face; and/or 3. Being stuck with it half in and half out of my mouth, and having to stuff it in with my fingers. None of these would be easy to watch if you are eating with me. And I tell you, it is no fun being a messy eater.

People are kind. They ignore my difficulties and just continue conversing with me even though it is apparent that I cannot seem to feed myself with the proper etiquette.  I really do try to cut things into small pieces, but sometimes I misjudge, and do not realize it until it is too late.

English: Homemade cheeseburger with french fries.

Burger with french fries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever tried eating a hamburger if you cannot open your mouth very wide? Close to impossible, as they make hamburgers super thick then pile everything but the kitchen sink on it. I usually sort of nibble away at it—but it is frustrating, and darn it, sometimes I am hungry, and want a mouthful. That is when I get into trouble.

I was out for dinner the other night and ordered perch and coleslaw and French fries. A meal made in heaven for someone with my problem. The perch could be cut into my mouth-size pieces, the French fries successfully dunked in ketchup and easily devoured, and the coleslaw was chopped small enough that I did not have trouble eating it. A blissful meal indeed. (See how I worked bliss into this? Clever, eh?)

I guess I should just explain to anyone I lunch or dine with that I have a problem opening my mouth very wide so they will not think that I am a bit of a pig. I think though I should just acclimate myself to the situation, be careful about what I order, and cut my meal into smaller pieces. Or just eat Quiche. (This can get a little old.)

Do you have to make any adjustments to your eating habits so you will not appear to be a messy eater?

 

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm  Comments (54)  
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