Writing

That Sunday Feeling

After wrestling with the blankets all night and waking up so tangled up that I could barely get out of bed, I realized it is Sunday.  Sunday and I can sleep without an alarm.  Sunday and I can make a tasty brunch.  Sunday and I can just be lazy and happy.  I can do what I want.

I read an article about being resurrected. I browsed through Facebook and even made a couple of posts.  I waited to put on clothes, preferring my pajamas and no bra.

I felt like a cat who finds a spot of sun to take a nap.  I felt like a stack of pancakes.  I felt like journaling in a hammock.

I felt like experiencing the silence you find in an empty church building.

Sunday feels like a warm blanket and a nap.IMG-2262

 

Writing

Working from Home

I didn’t post anything yesterday because I just started a new WORK FROM HOME JOB.  Yes, they are real and they are legit.  At this point, I am in training and I am not certain how much of my day will actually be required once I am up to speed.  For now, however, I am plugging along.

My Desk 1

I have worked from home before and I know it takes a lot of discipline to not get distracted by day to day events–hobbies, TV, friends and neighbors.  Before you decide it is a great way to live, you must understand that working from home requires a monumental amount of discipline.  Also, you will probably find that you work more and harder when working from home.  Deadlines are more clearly defined and must be adhered to and tolerance for continually missing deadlines can cost you money and perhaps even your job.

It is very nice to start work when I am ready and not when the boss says I must be there.  It is nice to take a long lunch break, if I want to, or to nap if I want to.  It is nice to walk out of my bedroom and directly into my office to get going.  I save money on gas, wear and tear on my car, work clothes.

This life fits me now.  I don’t have to go out when the weather is bad.  This week has been wonderful because I didn’t have to drive in the snow. I don’t have to deal with angry drivers.  I don’t have worry about dress codes or make-up.  I don’t have to worry about a lot of things people deal with every day in the work force.

There are some downsides, however.  I have already mentioned productivity.  If you want to keep your job, you have to work.  You cannot play video games or solitaire.  While, you don’t have a micromanager, there are people watching what you do.  Sometimes, you will be watched closer because now you are accountable for every moment of your time.  You get daily goals and you can get them done in 4 hours or drag it out for 8 or 10 hours.

But if I want to get to my hobbies, my reading, my writing, I will take the 4 hour a day route and not get distracted by life in my house.

The biggest downside I have found is that Starbucks does not deliver and Uber-eats is expensive.

500 Words, Road of Change, Writing

Chapter 1 continued

I complained about Chris to her that day.  We sat in her sunroom, drinking strong coffee and she said,  “Anne, my dear, Chris was a spoiled baby, a spoiled child, a spoiled teenager and a spoiled man.  He is the reason Matt and I kept going after Mr. Archer died.  We raised him together and gave him everything he wanted. He grew up feeling very entitled. He grew up thinking he didn’t have to work for anything.  You, my dear, have made remarkable strides with him.  A couple more years and he will be a human being.”  She reached across the coffee table and gave my hand a pat.  “I have watched the two of you grow up together.  You were so young when you married him.  In many ways, Chris was very young, too, even though he is ten years older than you.  Try to be patient with him.”

“Patient, you say?  He is seeing a woman he works with.”  I blurted out the issue between us.  I meant to keep it quiet, feeling somehow that I failed him.  If I was a better wife, he wouldn’t need the company of another woman, right?

The woman who spoiled him terribly gave me a sad smile. “He is not perfect, Anne.  Christian Matthew Archer Junior is as flawed as his father.”  She took a dainty swallow of her coffee that she served to us using her Royal Doulton’s Old Country Roses coffee set.  “I think the two of you need to spend some time together.  You have a daughter who became your sole focus when Trip died and now she is nearly ready for college. That’s just a couple of years away. You and Chris both forgot to love each other because you both hurt so badly over the death of your son.  Things will be alright.  You’ll see.”  The cup rattled on the saucer when she set it down, possibly the first sign of frailty.  A sign I missed at the time, so wrapped up in my own hurt and anger.

Old Country Roses

That day Lillian gave me a handkerchief so I could wipe away tears.  We spoke of only pleasant things after my grand confession.  We walked in her garden and she told me how she cares for her roses.  She showed me the new birdhouse she built from scrap lumber and her well-used power tools.  She pulled some offending weeds away from her roses then made me promise to see her the next week.

I kept my promise by sitting by her side in the hospital room.  Lillian, the glue that kept my little family together, slipped away from me while I held tightly onto her hand, never opening her eyes.

The monitor beeped loudly and a nurse entered the room.  She checked Lillian’s vital signs, turned off the monitor, then told me the doctor was on his way.

A man who didn’t look old enough to drive entered the room, checked Lillian’s vitals and then announced she had passed.  He squeezed my shoulder and said,  “You can spend some time with her.”  He walked out of the room just as Chris walked back in.  

Chris watched me for a moment, then drew his own conclusion. “I was outside smoking when she died.  Smoking.  A thing she hated because it killed my father.”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Chris.  There’s no way you could have know she would die right then.”

Chris looked down at his mother, said, “You’ll have to take care of this.  I just can’t,”  and he left the room.  He left me alone to deal with her remains.  He left me alone to face the hurt on my own.  Just like always.

500 Words, Writing

My 500 Words: Day 1

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Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

I have just joined a writing challenge to write 500 words a day for the next 31 days… January is my new writing month.  If I were writing a novel, that is 15,000 words already.  I have some novel ideas, I have story ideas.  I just don;t take the time to write them down.  What is wrong with that picture? I have a note on my phone that is called “My Idea Bucket,” where I put clever ideas for writing and guess what?  It is empty.

I am hoping this will get me into much better writing habits.  I mean, I am retired.  I don’t have a lot to do during the day, but I find myself reading, or watching TV.  What a wasted day when all I do is channel surf.  I am not a lazy person.  I am just uninspired.  Maybe setting a challenge for myself is a good way to develop a habit.  Actually, I have heard that it takes 60 days to fully develop a habit.  So, if 31 days is accomplished, then I will give myself another goal:  29 days.  Or maybe more.

So, what is this novel about that I am going to write over the next 31 days?  It is called, tentatively, Road of Change.  It is a Lifetime Movie type story of a husband and wife who are estranged, then his mother dies and leaves them a 3 million dollar house.  The stipulation to get it is, Anne and Chris have to drive a Porsche Cayenne to Chris’s brother. Sounds simple, right?  Well, they have to drive through every one of the contiguous 50 states to get it there.  

So right away they have problems, when Chris wrecks the Porsche on the first day of the trip.  Anne and Chris snipe at each other, get angry with each other, yell at each other and finally learn to get along.

On the trip, they have their dog with them, a German Spitz named Snow.  They leave their teenage daughter with Anne’s sister.

During the journey, Anne and Chris relive moments in their lives and finally discover the reason for their drifting apart.

This novel is somewhat autobiographical in that I am reliving many parts of my own life and some of it is made up.  The scenery isn’t important on the journey, just the interactions between the two people. The setting isn’t important.  The time of day isn’t important.  It is an opportunity to watch two people fall in love all over again and for them to remember why they are together to begin with.  This is definitely a love story, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter sweet.  

I hope that is reading this new creation, you will fall in love with my characters, too.  

This is a bit scary for me, writing a story while essentially naked.  I am allowing the world to watch the story unfold, step by step.  There will likely changes made along the way.  Some of what I write may be deleted and a new scene written to take its place.  At the end of this experiment, I hope to have a novel.

Essay, Writing

An Essay About Love

Love is actually everywhere you look.  Most of the time it is not earth shattering or even remarkable.  Most of the time it is those tiny moments when we are struck with the simplicity of the emotion.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

If you look, and not even very hard, you will find examples of love flowing in lives.  Touching each of the senses. Some examples:  

Hearing:

I stand in line in the check out at a department store and a woman in front of me is on her cell phone. Not an unusual sight these days.  She gets a particular smile and her face and then tells the phone, “I love you, too, sweetheart.”  My imagination takes over.  Was she talking to a husband? Boy friend?  Maybe a child.  Hearing love is true music.

Sight:

I sit at a stoplight, eager as everyone else for it to change so we can progress to the next stoplight.  In front of me a man is driving and a woman rides shotgun.  He leans over and kisses her, tenderly and slowly on her lips, passing the time until they can proceed.

Smell:  

I approach the barista and ask her if they have Kenya Coffee.  She smiles and says yes, hands be a bag of coffee beans and rings up my purchase.  All the way home, the scent of the best coffee in the world fills my car.  I get home, open the bag and inhale deeply, allowing the scent to overwhelm me.  Coffee Love.  Perfect.

Taste:

Everyone has a favorite flavor. For many it is chocolate, or bacon or oranges.  The happiness that happens when something touches our tongue and awakens the sense of taste is delightful.  It is love.  How often do we say, I love dark chocolate or I love lasagna.  Food is love.  Taste is love.  Sharing food is love.  Just ask any chef.

Touch:

The tactile sense is overpowering at times.  I find myself walking through a store and gently caressing the clothes on the rack, or the yarn in the bin.  Judging the textures.  Enjoying the feel.  Did you know you have nearly as many nerves in your feet as in your fingers?  The best feeling is when I take off my shoes and caress my feet with the carpet under me. The motion is deliberate, moving my feet to and fro.  I allow my toes to clutch the carpet fibers and relaxation washes over me.  Love.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.  Love makes the world go ‘round.  All you need is love.  Love is a many splendored thing.  When I seek love, I find myself smiling more often.  I am calmer.  I am happier.  Love, love, love.  

I challenge you to find love.  Every day.  Everywhere.

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Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash
Flash Fiction, Love in an Instant, Writing

Flash Fiction-Love in an Instant: Hotel Hunk

The journey seemed endless as the miles on the highway ticked by slowly.  Too slowly.  My iPod blurted all too familiar tunes, Pandora acted squirrley, singing aloud and off key bored me.  Another mile.  And another.

Google Maps finally announced my exit from the Interstate and I knew the hotel was only a few feet away.  “Your destination is on the right.”  Sweeter words were never uttered.  

I parked my car and slowly walked to the lobby, hoping the kinks would work their way out of my knees in a moment. Too long in one position in the seat took its toll on my body in more ways than I cared to recount.

Check in seemed endless and no I don’t need two keys. The room is just up the stairs and no, we don’t have an elevator, sounded in my ear.  Eight hours on the road and now, I have to lug a suitcase up a flight of stairs.  I sighed and steeled myself for the task.

Trunk open and suitcase on the ground beside me.  I grabbed the laptop bag, my small toiletries case, my purse and my wits.  Ready.  I silently blessed the woman who invented a suitcase with the handle and wheels.  It had to be a woman because the solution is incredibly practical. Like pantyhose.  Like hair dryers.

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Photo by Karen Pope

“Let me get the door for you.”  Southern twang from the right.  I turned and looked into the bluest eyes I had ever seen.  He wore inevitable cowboy boots, jeans that molded themselves to his skin, a t-shirt that announced his love of ZZ Top and a perfect smile.  Teeth straight and white as a movie star’s.  Brown hair long enough to show the curls at the end.  And six foot four.  Perfect in every way.

“Why didn’t I meet you twenty years ago?  Or thirty?”  I wonder.

He pulled the door to the lobby open and allowed me to enter.  The door closed and he grabbed my suitcase handle.  “Let me get that for you.  Where to, Ma’am?”  Don’t you just love Southern hospitality?

“Room 204.”

“That’s just at the top of the stairs.”  He pushed the handle into the suitcase and picked it up, not bothering with the wheels.  Up the steps, two at a time and I doggedly followed, trying to keep the agony of sore knees from showing on my face.

He put the suitcase in front of the door, and raised the handle up so I could pull the case into the room.  “Room 204, as ordered.”  His smile brightened the entire floor.  He turned and stepped toward the stairs, again.

“Thank you, very much,”  I managed to say before he descended.

“No problem.  Anytime, Ma’am.”  

And he vanished down the stairs returning to the errand my arrival interrupted. Random act of kindness?  Likely I reminded him of his mother.  Or his grandmother.  Whatever the case, I will remember that bright smile and those blue eyes for a very long time.

Flash Fiction, Love in an Instant, Writing

Flash Fiction: Love in an instant: At the Copa

Everyday, the same nothingness happened on the long commute home.  Two hours in my car, stuck in traffic, boredom abounds.  Inch by inch, I forge ahead, trying to make the twenty-three mile journey to my haven of solitude.  Twenty- three miles in two hours. Progress stops.

Horns, motors, exhaust fumes.  My car starts to overheat in the summer sun, so I turn off the AC and open the windows.  Nothing moves.  Angry faces stare at me out of their car windows as if the gridlock is my fault.  Sweat tickles my face.

I have a CD of my favorite songs playing quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors in their equally dismal commute. But, that song starts playing and I reach over to turn up the volume just a little.  And a little more.  At the chorus, I sing along with Barry Manilow.  “At the Copa.  Copacabana.  The hottest spot north of Havana…”  

Next to my car, the man in the red Ford F150 smiles and his head bobs in rhythm. His window is open to the elements, too. Blond hair matted with sweat and gray tank stuck to his chest, he starts singing. Hot wind brings in the smell of cigarette smoke and rum.

“At the Copa.  Copacabana.  Music and passion were always the fashion at the Copa.  She fell in love.”  Barry, Red Truck Man and me sing in complete harmony.

We three sing Lola’s story into life:  “His name is Rico.  He wore a diamond.  He was escorted to his chair, he saw Lola dancing there. And when she finished.  He called her over.  But, Rico went a bit too far. Tony sailed across the bar. And then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two. There was blood and a single gunshot, but just who shot who? At the Copa…”

The musical bridge played and Red Truck Man and I cha-chaed in our cars.  Red gave me a spin and pulled me in close.  Our bodies move in perfect synchronicity. No longer stuck in gridlock, Red and me flew to the Copa to dance the hot Florida night away. One, two, cha cha cha.

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Barry, Red and me start singing right on cue.  “Her name is Lola…” all the way to the end of the song when we sing, “Don’t fall in love.”  It’s too late Barry and Red.  I already fell in love with both of you.

The traffic starts to move forward and Red releases me from our dance.  

For the duration of a song, my wish for the world worked.  Everyone knows the words to the song.  Everyone knows the steps to the dance.  The guy always gets the girl and everyone lives happily ever after. Just like a Fifties’ musical.  Just the way I really want to the world to be.

Blog Entries, Writing

Why Your Content Should Pack an Emotional Punch

When you’re writing content online, you can write it in such a way that it sounds very factual and impersonal. Or, you can write in a way that really packs an emotional punch.

By and large, most small publishers will do better with the latter approach. Of course, if you’re starting a website like Wikipedia or WebMD you’ll probably want to take on a professional tone. However, if you’re a smaller website looking to gain traction, you’ll want to aim to engage your reader’s emotions.

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Photo by Aman Shrivastava on Unsplash

Why?

It Makes People Remember You

People browse dozens if not hundreds of websites every day. Most websites fail to draw their readers in emotionally.

How many websites do you visit each day that gets you to laugh, gets you to feel touched or gets you to get angry about something? How often do you feel like a website is talking directly to you and your problems and that they understand where you’re coming from?

These kinds of websites stand out. There’s a reason why YouTube videos of shocking clips, funny clips or touching clips tend to get passed around a lot. They make people feel something, and that’s memorable.

It Gets You More Links

Content that evokes a lot of emotion tends to get linked to a lot more. Naturally, people are a lot more likely to want to share or endorse something that really got them riled up.

It gets more shares on Facebook and gets more retweets. In other words, it has a higher chance of getting passed around immediately, but also has much stronger long-term potential.

Develop a Stronger Reader Relationship

Finally, emotional content will help you build a much stronger bond with your readers.

People reading your content will feel like they can relate with you, as opposed to feeling that you’re just an objective website on the internet.

This translates to people coming back more often, to a more lively community around your blog or business and finally to more loyal buyers and customers.

As an added benefit, people will also want to partner with you more. If they can tell you’re really passionate about something or that you have a way of being able to move an audience, they’re likely to want to invite you to speak at their events, do teleseminars for their audience and in general open up their customer base to you.

There are many benefits to creating content with an emotional punch rather than just factual information. Adding a dose of personality is great for just about any small to medium sized business. Unless you’re trying to build an encyclopedia-type site, try to make your website as emotionally engaging as possible.

Flash Fiction, Writing

Flash Fiction: Hazel and the Dog Man: Love in an Instant

I felt lonely.  I felt depressed.  I felt dejected.  The sun shone brightly, but I wished for rain to hit my face so I could hide the tears that never fell, anyway.  The tangible man left me alone, again, like he always did. He didn’t understand my grind.

Then, a sliver of hope announced itself, quietly.  In the afternoon.

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Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

 

He walked along the concrete sidewalk beside the Bay and a small leashed dog trotted obediently alongside.  He walked with a dancer’s grace and an athlete’s control.  His flip-flops slapped against his heels and a breeze rustled the palm tree that separated us.  He strolled with the vitality of youth because he couldn’t be old enough to shave, yet, could he?

Beige board shorts, and a black tank top.  Sun-bleached hair.  Ray-Bans.  Tanned skin. The dog wore a fluffy white coat in the summer breeze.  

The man caught me watching him.

I felt bold.  “He’s so cute.  What’s his name?”  I asked, pointing down at the dog.  

Her name is Hazel.  My girlfriend’s dog.  She has a thing for Watership Down. I don’t know.”  His voice drifted off.  He had no idea the significance of Hazel’s name.

Hazel’s paws touched my knee and I squatted down to her level.  I rubbed her cottony head and the tiny pink tongue touched my fingers. So expectant and so deserving in the same instant.  Her dark eyes scrutinized me and she smiled.

“What breed is she?” I asked.  Not quite a poodle.

“Bichon Frise.  I don’t know.”  

I talked to the dog.  “Hello, Hazel.  You are a sweet puppy!”  Her tailed waved.

She glanced quickly at the man on the other end of the tether that held them together.  Expectation crossed her face. I scratched under her chin and the tail waved far more vigorously.  The man reached down and unclipped the leash.  He pulled a blue ball from his pocket and he sailed it into the air.  “Get it, Hazel,”  and white fur was off a second later, tires screeching on the start line.

The ball bounced once and Hazel jumped up to catch it.  She ran back to the man, ball in her teeth, laughing as only a dog can.  Her tail wagged furiously, eager for another run.  The man threw the ball, again.  Hazel caught it before it hit the ground.

“She’ll do that all day.  I don’t know.,”  he said.  

Hazel dropped the ball at my feet and I picked up the slimy toy and tossed it as far as I could.  Twice, three times, I threw the ball.  The man grew restless.  I gave him the ball and he scooped the little dog up in his arms, spun around to return the way he came.

I hope I see Hazel, again.  I smiled watching her fluffy tail wag as the man carried her away, no more thoughts of rain clouding my day.

Ready for more Flash Fiction:

The Road Construction Worker:  Love in an Instant