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Understand? Comprenez? Capice? Entiendo?

Communication is vital for life.  An obvious statement, I know.  But when you think about it, communication, more importantly effective communication, is something we often take for granted. The majority of us learn to talk and communicate at an early age.  We know how to say what we want, identify things we like, show disdain for things we don’t like.  It seems so simple when you think about it but really, it’s so much more than that.  It allows us to be who we are.  It gives us an identity. It is how we want people to perceive us – by the thoughts and ideas we communicate with each other.

Quotation-Anne-Morrow-Lindbergh-communication-coffee-good-sleep-Meetville-Quotes-163525

In college, when I went back for round two, I majored in English (big surprise there) with a concentration in Writing, Communication, and Rhetoric.  I loved words, I loved writing.  It made sense that I would gravitate toward that concentration.  However, while there were some classes that really just were going through the motions (sorry – but Business Communications and Technical Writing were almost the same class – at least Tech Writing started off that way and it was probably because of the professor who taught it…), there were other classes that really examined language and how it’s used and how to effectively communicate with the masses.

In those classes, finding a voice was imperative. Without a voice, how could you communicate?  My Advanced Writing class, which was really my one true Rhetoric class, was where we learned to write effective persuasive essays, straw man essays, and Aristotelian arguments using Logos and Pathos.  It was by far one of my most favorite classes ever.  Combine that with a professor who was one to say “I never give anyone an A,” and I was set to take that class and make it my life’s mission to get that ‘A’ he never gave.

4-14-Aristotle-Knowledge-Quote

That class was so interesting in the sense that in order to have an effective argument, it was important that you were very clear in what you were saying so there could be no misunderstanding.  It taught me to get to the point and support the point clearly.  It taught me to use one word rather than ten to get there.  I could dig it up, but probably my most favorite argument was the one where I argued that Seinfeld was the greatest sitcom ever created.  I don’t remember the exact reasons I gave, but I remember getting an A on that paper and in the end I got an A for the semester (which also gave me a sense of pride because it was awarded by a self-proclaimed “I never give As” professor).

Had I not learned how to effectively communicate and make sure that I was understood, I doubt my arguments would have been as strong as they were.  I took a lot from that class because many of the lessons applied to every aspect of life. In order to have any relationship in life, you must effectively and clearly communicate and be understood.  If you can clearly communicate, then you can be understood.  Being able to be understood means that people are able to know me. They can understand my opinions and if they are able to communicate back, I can understand theirs.

being-understood-in-a-relationship

Today, I have heard a lot of people say things like “Our country is pregnant with change,” or “We are living in a very historical time” and at the same time, we hear the candidates gearing up for Presidential campaigns. Everything is so politically charged and at times, it’s overwhelming.  I can’t help but think that if people knew how to effectively communicate and have a discussion – not digging your heels in and shouting at each other trying to drown the other opinion out but a genuine conversation – we might better understand our friends and neighbors who hold a different opinion.  We would understand what was being said.  That’s the beauty of humanity.  We have the ability to communicate and through that communication we are able to be understood.  It really is an amazing thing to be understood.

This blog is part of my month long attempt (number fiftefoursixthteenth or something around that) at participating in NaBloPoMo.  Check out other great bloggers who are working on hitting this 31 days of blogging goal and join in yourself if you want!  The more the merrier!  This month’s theme: Connect.  Today’s Prompt: Do people generally understand what you’re trying to say?

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Origins: Why I Write My Blog

I love when people ask why did you start your blog?  I don’t always love when they ask me because I fear my answer will sound narcissistic but, I really do enjoy hearing other people’s answers. So Daily Prompt

I suppose I should answer the question though, in case any of you were wondering.  It’s truly a selfish reason.  I blog so I can write.

On my 13th birthday, my Nana gave me a journal.  It was called my Secret Garden Journal.  It had a lock and it was set up by month and each day had its own page.  Each month had beautiful illustrations of the flower of the month held within a beautiful yellow hardcover binding. The pages of the book were high gloss, though not my favorite for writing on, they were nice when used with a simple blue Papermate pen.  However, when the pen was on the verge of dying, it would blot very badly and end up making my hand look like I had crushed a Smurf with my fist.

I had never kept a journal before.  I didn’t quite know what to write in it.  I knew I wanted to write more than just who I was currently infatuated with (which now looking back, I see that I had developed an early pattern of falling for the gay guys) and what I wore that day.  But being only 13, there wasn’t anything really pressing to write about.  I knew that it was a place to let my words out; empty my brain.  The short little pages were not enough sometimes, but I wrote.  Every night I wrote, lying in my bed, after all homework was done.  I wrote about the day and I wrote about what I thought.  It was liberating.  Something about emptying those words on to those glossy pages and locking it up felt good.

I filled the book and then went out and bought another.  This one, a more generic book with blank pages.  It had a hard cover that had paperclips all over the front of it.  I thought I would be like Anne Frank and name my diary.  I loved that she had named hers.  It was like she had a friend and confidant.  It only made sense because my journal was like a dialogue and if I had a name, I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself as much as I was having a conversation that would help me work out all of the garbled thoughts a teenager can have.  When my parents got divorced, that journal was my savior.  I can’t even tell you how many pages were used during that time, but I can tell you that it was probably more effective than Dr. Mike making us play Don’t Wake Daddy, failing to see the irony in the selection of that specific game and the reason we were currently sitting in his office playing it.

Once that journal was filled, I continued on.  I started stock piling journals so that if I filled one before the year was over, I had a new one at the ready.  I kept a list of names, too.  Each journal was different.  Different cover, different paper weight, different lines, different color paper. Of course that meant each one deserved to have its own name.  I also felt that it made each one a friend who saw me through something different.  High school years, college freshman years, that weird period when I wasn’t in college…each journal was a lifeline.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped.  I had journals but I had stopped writing religiously in them.  I didn’t spend every night writing before turning out the light.  I forgot about my friend who would wait up to hear about the day, every day.

All these years later, I realized that I needed to write every day.  I needed that journal.  I needed a space where I could keep bringing my thoughts out into a solid space and make them last in some way.  I started blogging.

I don’t blog like I would write my journal.  If I did, I fear you all would think I was a lunatic.  Wait, you might already…

blogging-out-loud

I really just blog to keep writing.  If something specific gets stuck in my head, I try to write about that.  If something particularly eventful occurs, I hope that I am able to capture it in a way that is true to myself and someday, if the internet is still around, my daughter might be able to read and realize that Mom wasn’t really as crazy as she seemed all the time.

After writing this post though, I think I might try to keep a more personal journal too. One where I can really, truly empty the brain. Who knows, there might be a story or two in there that might be worth exploring a little more…a dream that might need to be taken down off the shelf…

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Me? Full of Sunshine?

I was recently nominated for a Sunshine Blog Award by Jerimi over at My Antidepresant Life.  At first my reaction was that she probably only read the first few more recent posts and must not have read my whining, needy, I’m fat and trying to lose weight posts.  Apparently though I was wrong.  “The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity & creativity inspires others in the blogworld.”  I guess I inspire at least one person and that is wicked awesome! So thank you Jerimi for the nomination and thank you even more for reading my little piece of the blogosphere!

I discovered that there are some rules that go with this award so here are the ones I was able to find on the internet as well as posted in the blog that nominated me:

Sunshine Blog award

In addition to these rules, according to the blogger who nominated me, I am to answer the questions that are posted in the nominating blog post.  So, here we go:

Who is your favorite philosopher?

Winnie the Pooh or Calvin and Hobbes.  Both have such wonderful insights on life and are actually based on real philosophers.  I also have a special spot in my heart for the Monty Python’s Bruce sketch.  That single song helped me keep my philosophers straight for the two years I had to take Providence College’s Development of Western Civilization course….

Calvin on life

What is your favorite number?

8.  It’s just nice.

What is your favorite animal?
Anyone who knows me knows that the answer is and will always be penguins.  Even before the super awesome March of the Penguins, I have loved these flightless black and white (and one species of blue) birds.

Penguins!

Penguins!

What are your Facebook and Twitter?

Facebook is pretty private (I think and pray).  I like to keep that just for people I really know.  Twitter is just one of those things I know how to use but just don’t enjoy.  I use it for things like FourSquare, GetGlue, and publicizing my blog.  Anyone can find me there…

What is your favorite time of day?

I love the night.  Late night.  Like between 9pm and midnight.  I am the most productive then.  It’s quiet and in the summer, those night time hours have the best starlight.

What is your favorite holiday?

If we’re talking big ones, Halloween.  If we’re talking lesser known ones, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

What is your favorite physical activity?

Swimming.  I feel so free when I’m swimming.  I love the water and I love being in the water.  I jump in, without testing the water temp, and just love to go!  I could spend my entire time at the beach or pool in the water…forget the sunbathing…

What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Dr Pepper.  It’s so good.  Who cares if you don’t really know what makes that particular combination of flavors, be it carbonated prune juice or fire retardant…it’s good.

Dr-Pepper-059

What is your favorite flower?

Hmm…this one is always tough for me.  I love a lot of flowers.  I guess at the top of my list are Lilacs.  They smell so good and really make me so incredibly happy.  I also love Lily-of-the-Valley.

Flowers Lilac.Lily

What is your passion?

My passion is writing.  I really want to eventually figure out how to make a living writing.  I’m getting there with small steps.  I love it and life’s little instructions say “Do something you love and you’ll find a way to make money doing it.”  I’m trying!

My Nominations:

It’s Mission Slimpossible!

Ghostnapped

Sew Delicious

Bucket List Publications

Rosa Rants

All of the above inspire me for different reasons.  Two are very motivational in my own weight loss journey and help me realize I’m not alone in fighting the good fight.

One inspires me to keep writing.

One inspires me to travel more and worry less.

One inspires me to keep giving my sewing machine regular workouts.

Keep blogging please!  I love reading them!

 

 

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Exercise. It’s Not Just for Muscles!

A long time ago, I decided I liked writing stories.  It was a fun thing to create characters, pick what they looked like, what they did, what kind of lives they lived.  It was even more fun to figure out how they talked and what kind of conversations they would have with the other people I invented in my head.  It just was so much fun for me.  I was happy when I wrote.

I wish I could say that I got tired of writing.  I never have.  Every school paper assigned to me was writing.  I didn’t care what kind of writing I was doing, I just wanted to get words on a page.  I loved turning my thoughts into sentences that had proper grammar, wonderful words, and hopefully some kind of point or meaning.  While I wanted to do nothing other than write stories, the years that I had to spend the majority of my time writing papers, I took that for what it was – writing.

Now, I have time to write and so I choose to blog as one form of writing.  Is it my passion?  Yes and no. My passion is for the stories that pop into my head.  The characters I see everywhere and the people who live in my mind’s eye are so intriguing.  Do I wish I could spend all my time just writing about them?  Of course I do, but I know that there is more to life than just locking myself in a room with an endless supply of Dr. Pepper, my computer, and a notebook with some blue Papermate pens.

dr pepper addict

I sometimes even find it tough to log on here and empty my brain but, I do it anyway.  It’s important, you see, that I write every day.  Whether it’s here using the daily prompt, in my journal planning out a character’s back story, or writing out a section of a story that’s been stewing in my brain, I need to write every day.

I once had a college professor say that writing is something you need to do even when you don’t want to do it, much like exercise.   If you don’t do it, you won’t get the results you want.  Lots of writers have said that (or something along those lines), to be honest.  And please, don’t think that to be a writer you need to be someone who has published something.  You don’t.  You just need to write.  If you write, you are a writer.  If you get published, you are a published writer.  Either way, you are a writer.

writing 2

At the end of the day, I may not feel like blogging, but to be honest, I don’t always feel like exercising either.  I do it though because I know that it’s important to keep my skills in shape, so to speak.  I need to be able to play with words.  I need to write long sentences.  I need to write short, descriptive, action packed sentences.  For me, there’s no question about energy to write, it’s just do.  If I don’t, I might not get anything done because the words will stay rattling around in my head!

This blog was written as part of NaBloPoMo January 2013.  The theme this month is “Energy.”  Today’s prompt was “How do you find the energy to write when you’re not in the mood?”  Check out the other great blogs participating this month by clicking here.

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My Glorified Journal?

I am still somewhat new to blogging on a regular basis.  That means that you, dear reader, must please be patient with me while I figure out the best formula for my little spot on the internet.  It’s a little harder than I initially thought it would be, to be honest.  There’s so much on the internet today.  What will make someone read my little blog and enjoy it, rather than think it’s some narcissistic attempt to have a more modern version of a journal…even though it kind of is, isn’t it?

I find it so hard though to come up with a plan, a schedule of what kind of posts are going to be on what days.  NaBloPoMo has been a godsend because I don’t have to do the thinking, though they do present me with one more conundrum.

There are so many different ways to plan a blog.  You can pick a theme for the blog and only blog about that one thing.  You can have different days devoted to different topics.  You can have one whole month devoted to a single topic.  You can photo blog. You can vlog or video blog.  There’s just too many options on how to organize a blog.

Then we get back to my original source of anxiety.  What to write about.  I knew going into this blog, I wanted to talk about things I liked.  Then I realized, I like a lot of things.  Books, food, movies, writing, family…all of these are great topics to write about.  So, the question then is, what is the right combination to keep people reading my little bitty blog.

It’s exhausting at times to think about this task of keeping this blog relevant and fresh.  What possessed me to take this on other than my need to get these thoughts and ideas out of my head?  Oh that’s right, I wanted to be a writer!

What do you find to be the thing about blogging (or any craft/hobby)you do that takes up the most of your energy?

This post was written as day 11 of NaBloPoMo January 2013.  The theme this month is Energy and today’s prompt was “What blogging task takes up a lot of your energy?”  Check out all the great blogs that are participating!

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Year-End Stats for My Freshman Blog!

I just wanted to share some of these cool stats with you, dear readers!

Thank you for making my first year of serious personal blogging such a great success!  I can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring!

On the Total Number of Hits This Year:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

On Total Number of Countries That Visited My Site:

42 countries in all!
Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & The United Kingdom were not far behind.  Other countries included Australia, Russia,  Most of Europe, New Zealand, and Mexico!  Thanks for Reading!!  I hope you keep reading into the next year!

Here’s to 2013 and another great year of writing!

Cheers!

Cathy

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