Blog Challenge And Other Tidbits
|An opinion or two...or three or four...|
PROMPT July 30th
Congratulations on making it to the last day of the competition! What was your favorite prompt from the last month? What was the most rewarding aspect of participating in the competition?
Ah, once again we have come to the end of the journey. As usual, the experience was a good one. I must say thank you to everyone who participated and had the courage to share your thoughts, your opinions, and your adventures. You are truly an amazing group of writers.
My favorite prompts? I thoroughly enjoyed writing for the boycotting prompt. It forced me to do a little research and discover some interesting facts about things I don't normally think about.
Another favorite was judging a cook-off. I had some fun conjuring up the muck that Collin would eventually enter into the muck contest. It gave me room to be silly and enjoy a light topic. Not such heavy thinking in that topic.
I made some new friends. And I reconnected with some old friends. I laughed with you and I cried with you. All of you wrote things that sparked a thought or idea in me. So thank you for that.
And so...it's time to say goodbye once again, but it's not forever. I'm planning to see all of you in September. Happy summer. Happy writing.
PROMPT July 29th
Write about an invention or technology that you wish existed that would make your life better.
Today it seems as though time is running against me, so I will need to make this quick. No lingering or languishing for me today!
But just to start, I have to say it's a very poignant day for me. I received word that Ron Howard's movie, "Rebuilding Paradise" is coming out tomorrow. I signed up to watch it virtually. Well...of course I did. How else would I watch it? I've been waiting for this. Not sure why. I've cried so many tears now it must all add up to an ocean. But my heart still tugs for Paradise. After all, it's my childhood home. It's where my roots were planted.
And now? Well, now I have no roots. My childhood home burned down. The home my husband and I first purchased burned down. I knew a lot of the people who died in that horrific fire. So yes, I still cry.
I've been back to Paradise...just to see what was left. Of course, there was nothing. But I thought I was able to say goodbye. Mostly because I knew it was time to plant roots somewhere else. You know, I really thought I could say goodbye. And I was confident I did just that. In fact, I've been able to talk about and think about Paradise with fond memories and no tears.
But today I watched the trailer for Ron's movie and the tears flowed once more. Yes, I'm going to order the movie and yes, I'm going to watch it tomorrow night, and yes, I will have boxes of kleenex nearby. No popcorn. No cookies. No soda. Just kleenex.
So today, as I sit and think about Paradise I wish there were a time machine. A real, working time machine that could just put everything back. Something that could make Paradise a real paradise once more. If it were real, I could plant my roots again. But...you know how it goes. It's only a wish.
But I know that one day I will find my paradise again. It won't be in Northern California. It'll be somewhere else. But I'll always have my memories of the Paradise I once loved.
PROMPT July 28th
All month, you’ve been replying to prompts straight from the Challenge War Chest, filled with prompts from previous 30DBC competitors. Today, write three of your own prompts and then reply to one of them in your entry.
We've had some good prompts from the War Chest this month, but we've also had some that just didn't spark anything for me. My fault entirely, I suppose, because a prompt is a prompt is a prompt. It means you write even if you don't like it. So this month I did the best I could. Surprisingly I found that writing for the prompts I least liked spurred some deeper thought and roused up some long-seated emotions I needed to deal with. So whether I liked the prompts or not I made a commitment to myself and my fellow bloggers to give it all I've got. Of course Collin was no help this month, but you know...Collin is just Collin. Having said all that, I would have liked some prompts that went more in a fiction direction. That would have allowed me to spin some fun and crazy tales! But alas, I'm committed to handling all prompts as they come.
Based on that I have the following to offer:
1. How do you handle a blog prompt when you just aren't feeling it?
2. Have you ever walked away from a prompt only to come back later fully energized with something to say?
3. Take a blog prompt from the past and give it a fresh look and a fresh spin.
Who knows? Maybe we'll see one of these in a future challenge. Until then, keep writing.
PROMPT July 27th
Write about a time you were caught off guard, surprised, or had the rug pulled out from under you. How did you recover?
There have been plenty of times in my life where I've been caught off guard and had the rug pulled out from under me. And plenty of times when the pain was so great I curled into myself until I could make sense out of what happened. Because I'm a Gemini I can become obsessed with whatever hurts me. I have the tendency to hash it all over and then rehash it again. And again. And again. And...well, you get the point. It's hard for me to let go and move on.
But they say time heals all wounds, and in one particular case it did. Not that I'll ever forget; rather, I'll pull myself up and stand tall. But make no mistake, I'll never forget...
Anyway, this particular incident happened when I was still practicing as a financial advisor. That year I was making fistfuls of money and I was making all the right connections and I was absolutely and totally at the top of my game. I had just been recognized as a top producer and leader in the industry. Pretty cool, right? Well...no, not really.
Something I didn't realize is that being at the top means that management looks more closely at you. They watch and they listen and they study what you'll do. Pretty soon they feel like you belong to them and they can direct you how they want. Okay, I should have realized this, but I was so happy at the time I didn't pay attention.
It was also the first year that I entered NaNoWriMo. I planned and planned and when midnight struck on Halloween that year I wrote my story and poured my heart and soul into it. I was so proud of it. I had written the first draft of a story I hoped to edit, polish, and publish one day...soon. I felt that I was a "real writer" and that I could accomplish one of my biggest dreams, a book with my name on it.
So that was November. And I languished in that warm fuzzy feeling for the next two months. And then...it was February. Time for my Business Plan Review with my Regional Manager. I had nothing to worry about. I'd been through this quarterly review lots of times. And besides, I was at the top of my game and feeling good. I went into that meeting knowing I was a strong businesswoman with a purpose and a mission, and no one could stop me. Except...my Regional Manager did.
In casual conversation he asked if I was still writing "little stories"...talk about hobbies is always fun. His is photography, by the way. Trusting his friendship and his leadership I casually mentioned that I'd written an entire novel. And I mentioned how proud I was. And I mentioned I'd like to do it again in the future. Well...his face turned ugly and his eyes became very dark. And in all of his wisdom and all of his leadership and all of his humanity and knowing full well how much writing meant to me he said, "If you pursue publishing or writing of any kind I will fire you on the spot."
Seriously? Yes, he was serious. And angry. And then he reminded me that I was a "Full-time financial professional doing business..." Basically, he was angry that I would spend time on my hobby and not bust my butt for the company. He was wrong of course, but the damage was done. It was that very day that I decided to find a way out.
And I did just that. I sold my practice and I left the company. Now I'm happily writing for the finance industry and for myself. But sometimes when I look back I can remember the feelings of betrayal and hurt, just like they were fresh that very day. And I work hard not to keep that anger inside. I work hard to convince myself that I'm much better off. I work hard...
I'm sure there will be plenty more times in the future where the rug will be pulled out from underneath me. And I'm sure I'll have to analyze every little bit of it. But I can also say that I will eventually pull myself up and stand tall. Because no one can stop me.
PROMPT July 26th
What food would you like to judge in a Cook-Off?
Collin's toes hung off the edge of a little step stool he parked against his stove. He was straining to stretch his hairy little arm up and over the bubbling pot so he could stir the yucky, mucky, absolutely terrible gunk that bubbled and boiled and sent steam up into the air. The pot was huge so Collin had to stretch not only his arm, but also his hairy little body and cock his head at an odd angle just so one beady eye could peer into the pot.
It was Collin's own version of the chili he loved as a wee small creature. Yucky was good. Mucky was great. And the gunk in the pot appealed to Collin's pointy little nose. He waved a hand in the air and brought the steam to his nose, and then inhaled a very long breath. The parsley was good. The sage was subtle. The slight burn from the pepper was even better. But it needed a little something. Hmmm...what could that be?
Collin tapped his chin and stared at the ceiling as the steam from the pot wafted up evaporated into tiny little puffs. Collin thought as he tapped. And he thought some more as the steam swirled around his nose. Hmmm...what could it be? Salt? Pepper? Oregano? No...those all seemed fine. What? What could it be?
Nutmeg? Thyme? Paprika? No...those were all good too. So...what was missing from Collin's big pot of muck?
Collin thought and he thought...and then...just like a light it popped on in his head! Of course! That was it!
Collin jumped from his perch and raced to his pantry. He dug through the goods, throwing little pots of seasonings and spice this way and that. Then his gnarly little fingers grasped a soft cardboard box with a hard plastic lid. It was cocoa of course. And it was cocoa the muck in the pot needed most.
So Collin raced back to the stove and jumped onto his stool. And then carefully, very carefully, as he stretched his arm up, he tapped a portion right into the pot. He stirred and he stirred and then he let the flavors meld.The he picked up a spoon and took just a tiny bit of muck. Hmmm...it was perfect! The cocoa did the trick!
And Collin was pleased with his muck in a pot. He giggled with glee, because this was the day he would finally win. He would enter his muck into an ancient muck contest. And finally, FINALLY, after 200 years he would take home the prize. At least he hoped he'd take home the prize.
Collin turned off the stove covered the pot. Then Collin, along with his pot of muck, raced off to the village to enter his muck. He crossed his fingers and he crossed his toes. Surely, this was his year, to make the winning muck. Indeed, Collin was pleased.
PROMPT July 25th
Reflect on your week. What was challenging? What did you do that made you feel successful? What made you smile?
This week it finally hit me. We are actually going to sell this house! It didn't seem real until just this week. And today...things just feel weird.
In preparation for sale, our realtor, bless her heart, asked us to remove just about everything from every room in the house. "Think in 3's," she said. "One picture only. No personal stuff," she advised. "Remove the throw rugs. Move the cat tree out. Take down the drapes," she said again. "The buyers are out there and nothing is staying on the market more than a few days," she confided.
So we went to work clearing the house and packing up the stuff. We've been in this house for 20 years. And that means we have a LOT of stuff. I find it amazing how much stuff is in this house.
But this week I tackled the kitchen. I pulled down the pictures. I removed the knick knacks. I picked up the rugs. I removed everything from the counters except the tea pot and the keurig. I even put the toaster away. Then I took down the curtain and cleaned up the stove.
It was a lot of work and when I was done I was drenched in a sticky hot sweat. Whew! I sat to have a glass of tea, and then I turned to look back. My gosh, the difference was astounding! I had forgotten how BIG that kitchen really is. I had forgotten how tall the ceilings were. I had forgotten how much light actually poured into the heart of the home. I stared for quite a while and then my husband came by. He stared along with me.
Then out of my mouth came some pretty stupid words. "Wow, this house is tall." My husband snickered and rolled his eyes.
Yes, tall. That's all I could muster. Not big. Not bright. Not inviting. Not anything. Just tall. My kitchen is tall. Well...what can I say? I'll go ahead and plant a palm on my face right now. .
I'm not sure what my next kitchen will look like. Maybe it will be tall. Or maybe not. I'll wait and see.
PROMPT July 24th
If you could switch places with one other person, who would it be and why? What in particular would you do?
First of all, Happy Friday to everyone out there. If Friday is the start of your weekend then I wish you a happy and restful weekend filled with the kind of writing that feeds your soul. It's the weekend for me and I'm really looking forward to some down time. But as a writer, I also know I've got to put some words on the page, right?
I have to say today's prompt just isn't moving me one way or another. Unfortunately it's not creating that spark in me that says, "Yes! I've got this!" And to be brutally honest, it isn't moving my friend, Collin, either. In fact, he's had nothing to say for the past few days. He's quite sulky and refuses to engage in any question I ask. Who knows? Maybe it's just too hot. Or maybe he's down in the dumps. Or maybe he's just overworked. Or maybe he's even bored. Whatever the case, Collin is laying low.
But for me? Trading places with someone? No. The answer is definitely "no". Not anyone except me. If I were to trades places with someone it would be me at age thirty-one. Why? Life was good. I was healthy and fit. My career was on the rise. My entire family was happy and well. Paradise was truly paradise. I was, in fact, living my best life.
And if I traded with my 31-year-old self I would be confident in the wisdom I gained since then. I would know it was my best life, and I would do everything in my power to live it even better. I would savor it and not let it rush by. I would document everything I could. I would take as many pictures as my camera would hold. I would bake more and write more and love more.
But now I have to ask the next obvious question: Would my 31-year-old self be willing to trade with my 60-year-old self? I think the answer would be "yes". Because my 31-year-old self has the energy and the motivation and the positive outlook my 60-year-old self is craving. Thirty-one has lessons to teach Sixty. And Sixty has lessons to teach Thirty-one. And the lessons would be valuable.
So...no trading for me...unless it's me for me.
PROMPT July 23rd
You've been given a full budget and creative license to bring a book you read to film. What book would you pick and who would you cast as the characters? If you choose a book with an existing movie adaptation, what changes would you make?
I'm a book person and always have been a book person. So turning books into movies for me is tricky. It's near impossible to capture the true essence of the author's message and stay true to every chapter in the book. Yeah, I get it. Some chapters could probably go. And some chapters could be rewritten for clarity and flow. And some characters aren't all that believable. But a book is a book and provides a different experience for every person who reads it.
Now having said that, there are some producers who've done a fabulous job turning books into movies. Take David Heyman for example. He produced all the Harry Potter movies. He wasn't given much creative license because author J.K. Rowling worked alongside him, and she kept the movies true to her books. But David did a superb job bringing those books to the screen. At least that's my opinion.
But some producers take too much license and sadly their movies absolutely ruin the book. Take for example Denise Di Novi. She produced the movie Practical Magic and...the movie was nothing like the book. So frustrating. To be honest, I watched the movie first because I had no idea there was a book. And when I found the book I gobbled it up in just a couple of days. But...I was angry that movie was nothing like the book and the book wasn't all that great. I think the whole experience was ruined because I didn't read the book first.
So now I have a rule to READ THE BOOK FIRST!
One book I feel would make a block-buster movie if someone would take it on is The Eight by Katherine Neville. It takes place in the 1970's. When the book was written the 70's was still considered modern. And it also takes place during the French Revolution. Fascinating history for me! But the book revolves around a very special chess service that holds the key to immortality. I won't spoil anything here but I found the book to be a fantastic journey into the past while still looking from the present. It's a book I always recommend.
Who would play the parts? That I'm not sure. I would leave it up to the experts to cast the proper people. But I'm thinking Ed Norton and Jennifer Biel...along that line.
And because I've read the book about seven or eight times I would totally feel comfortable attending the movie premier! So yes, if I were in charge of turning a book into a movie it would be The Eight. Give it a read...you just might enjoy it...
PROMPT July 22nd
Make a list of the top five most important virtues and why.
Ah, the virtues. The things we believe and practice say a lot about us. They allow us to take a deep look into ourselves and others. And being aware allows us to determine whether we've done the right thing, or if someone else has done the right thing. The virtues keep the moral compass pointing north. And reminds us that each and every one of us is important and loved by someone. They remind us of the Golden Rule - to treat others as we want to be treated. And also very important, they remind us the we too, are important, and loved, and should treat ourselves as we would treat others. The virtues are important, that's for sure, and although there are many, here the five that govern my day:
1. PRUDENCE - Common sense. Saying or doing the proper thing, at the proper time, and in the proper manner. It's also the ability to discern whether or not to say or do anything at all.
2. JUSTICE - Fair play. The desire and resolve to give each person his due. The resolve to work for the common good and treatment of all.
3. TEMPERANCE - Balance. There must be balance in everything. We must know where the proverbial line is and not cross that line.
4. FORTITUDE - Perseverance. The ability to hang in there when things get tough, and the ability to do the right things no matter the cost.
5. FAITH, HOPE, LOVE - I lumped these all in one, since they always seem to go together. And I believe these are the most important of all. Because without, we really are nothing.
Sure, there are lots of other virtues, and all of them good. These are just the five that are top of mind for me. But at the end of the day, we all have the good sense and grace to do the right thing no matter the cost.
PROMPT July 21st
Write a letter to your fifteen-year-old self.
Gosh this day has gotten away from me! It's nearly time for dinner and I'm just now sitting down to write. What happened?
I spent some time thinking about my 15-year-old self and I've come to the conclusion that life was pretty boring. Except of course, for...well, you'll see.
Greetings from the future you. Forty-five years into the future to be exact. I have to tell you, that right now, life is good. Right now there's an exciting adventure planned, but I won't spoil the surprise for you. Suffice it to say you will be pleasantly surprised. It's exactly what you need at this time in life. But for now, don't worry about that. Just enjoy what you have and keep doing what you're doing.
I say that lightheartedly because there is one thing I want to tell you. And if you could do this one thing you will forever save yourself heartache and shame. You know those girls you want so badly to hang with? The ones you keep calling? And nobody answers the phone? Yes, those girls. Well my love, forget about those girls. They are not important. Let me repeat that. They are NOT important. Just move on and spend time with your other friends.
Those other friends? Well, they're the ones that will be with you long into the future. Yes, I know them even now, and you will too. They're the ones who care about you and truly want to be your friend. They have so much to offer and you have so much to offer them in return. So please my love, embrace those friendships. Give them everything you've got. And let it all happen organically and without interference. Honestly, you'll be much happier. Especially when you find yourself alone.
I know this is tough to hear because you want to be with those girls so badly. But trust me now. They'll take you down the wrong path. And you'll regret it. Not only that, it'll make life hard for you...and for me. I worked too hard to let go and forget. It took a lot of energy. And a lot of tears. So, please, I beg you, forget those girls. In five years they won't matter anyway.
So that's what I had to tell you. Please take the words to heart. And no matter what, keep doing what you're doing and know that your are smart and strong. You have the power within you to go a long way, and make fabulous things happen!
With Love and Respect,