Yesterday while at work, it was a stressful day. Mostly of my own making, but nevertheless, a day that when I arrived at home, I knew I needed to relieve the stress. So I wrote the story Come Sail Away. For me, it was an easy story to write. I had the framework all set up by the song. Simply a matter of filling in details to make it work.
Was it a good story? Quite frankly, I don’t know and don’t really care. It succeeded by completely relieving my stress levels. Writing is a form of therapy for me. Not only does it help with stress, but I can also explore my inner angst in the story. I’m not going to spoil it and spell out what small inner angst I was working on during the story. That is for me and me alone.
So why am I telling you this? Simply put, be prepared for more stories and writings that will allow me to conduct an internal therapy session. You see, I have a lot of unresolved issues in my life and quite a few resentments. I could as I have done, keep all of that bottled up, but I found yesterday that it was a huge weight off my shoulders. Thinking about it today, I realized that I liked that feeling and I’m ready for more of it. Of course, some of the stories that are bubbling in my mad little brain right now may be incomprehensible to most readers.
Shoot, they probably will be a mystery to me also when I write them. Only by reflecting on the story the next day is there going to be a possibility of me recognizing what inner turmoil I am working through. Needless to say, it’s going to be a wild ride and there may be some shocking stuff that I write. I’m giving myself permission to run amok with my thoughts.
Sure going to be interesting to see how this turns out. Don’t you think?
Some weeks it seems like Monday never ends. The stress and headaches from working and trying to do everything at once is draining. Even though my boss knows that I need help, she keeps on giving me even more work to do. Being the perfectionist that I am at work, it’s stressful when I can’t do everything.
Now, I’m making simple errors that I never should have made. Easily correctable, but a blow to my ego nevertheless. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not superman. I’m pushing 60 for gawd’s sake and running rings around guys that are half my age. My biggest failing is that I don’t want to ask for help. To me, that means weakness, failure and a sense of doom.
Yes, it is not rational at all. I never said I am a rational being. I can’t help it most of the time. What’s even more stupid is if I get irritated or pissed off, I work twice as hard as I normally do. Guys at work have learned to recognize this and steer clear of me. I don’t blame them.
Maybe I need to blast this song in the warehouse all day long on a continuous loop.
In West Texas, high school football is almost a religion. During the Autumn months, every Friday stadiums are filled with the local townspeople. They may have a son that is playing, or a daughter that is a cheerleader. If their child is in the band, they are there too. But it is not just parents that fill the stadium, it is people who have come to cheer on the local team, sometimes for years. They sit in the same place year after year and enjoy the company around them.
Growing up in New Mexico, only three miles from West Texas, the same spirit filled the stadium every Friday night year after year. Our team never was particularly good, but it was still an experience to go during football season. It seemed a genial atmosphere. A older couple would greet another like they haven’t seen them in a long time. That may have been the case as some would only see each other during the football game.
On the visitor side, one section was reserved for the high school students. It was nicknamed the ant hill. From the home team side, looking across, all the students were constantly moving around looking like very busy ants. As a child, I looked upon wondrously at the ant hill, dreaming of the nights I could be part of that experience. However, since I was in the marching band, not once did I ever get to be part of it.
Instead, we played our hearts out every game. We practiced daily in the parking lot outside the stadium for the half time show. Every year they would mark the parking lot with yard lines and hash marks to simulate the playing field. Our band director seemed to be a genius at designing the half time show. I think we won more awards state wide than the football team ever did.
After moving to Florida, I went to a local game once. It wasn’t the same. The stands were filled mostly with only parents. Usually the stands were pretty small and they still didn’t fill all the seats. High school football in Florida seemed dull in comparison.
Sometimes I still miss going to the football games where I grew up.
What is success? More importantly how does one succeed?
I’ve been a big believer in the maxim of success. Namely, 80% of success is to show up and suit up. Doesn’t really matter what you are doing as long as you show up every day and you are ready to work when you show up. In my day job, I’m always at least 10 minutes early to work and get started immediately. During my commute, I review what needs to be done for the day and what my priorities should be.
Then there are the ones who might show up on time or a few minutes late each day. They need to fix a cup of coffee first and try to figure out what they will be starting on. This may take some time. Invariably, they will spend time gossiping about others, especially the ones who show up and suit up daily. They may get by for a while, but for lasting success at the job, they wonder why they aren’t getting promoted, granted raises or looked upon favorably.
So what’s the other 20%, you ask? Well, 15% is pure determination. Your mind is set on improving daily no matter what the task is set before you. Some days you won’t physically or mentally or even emotionally want to be at work, but the determination that you show in your work will over time make it where you enjoy going to work.
Now, for the 5%. Doesn’t sound like much does it? 5% is talent. You either got it or you don’t. If you have talent and decide that it’s enough for the work ahead of you, you won’t get too far. Talent combined with showing up and suiting up and determination can make you great at your work. Case in point, Michael Jordon, a champion basketball star. There is no denying that Jordon has talent, but what makes him great is that during his career, he showed up and suited up for not only the games, but also the practices. He was determined to be the best. Combined with his innate talent of basketball, Michael Jordon is considered to be the absolute greatest basketball player of all time.
How does this translate to writing? Exactly the same. This hit me over the head like a sledgehammer this past few months. I’ve been told I have a talent for writing. Me being me, I’m not so sure about that, at least until now. I stopped writing at the end of July due to health problems. I had stopped showing up and suiting up. Three months later, I’m back to renew my writing and found out that writing is no longer pretty easy. The words don’t flow and my mind goes blank frequently. I may have talent, but it doesn’t get me far. It’s been a struggle to write.
Now I’m back to showing up and suiting up. I’m determined to improve my writing and be the best that I can be. Each day, the writing gets a bit easier. The words flow easier and my blank thoughts come up less frequently. I may not know what I’m going to write about when I sit down to work, but it’s getting easier to find a topic or story. It’s also getting easier to keep the words flowing. Practice makes perfect.
Two weeks ago, if I had written this, I would have had to take three to four breaks to reorganize my mind in order to continue writing. Today, it has flowed like magic from my brain to my fingertips to the screen in one shot. I feel better about writing today and I know I’ll feel even better next week if I keep on showing up and suiting up.
If you have been struggling with writing or whatever work that you do, I hope that this resonates with you and gives you the little push you need to start showing up and suiting up.
Going Green. Sustainability. Eco-Friendly. Climate Change. Global Warming
Short answer, they are all about control.
Doesn’t matter how you dress it up, or what words you use, all of the above have the same basic reasoning. Human beings are terrible for the environment, Mother Earth, nature and Gaia. Only we can help heal the earth and we must all do our part, even if we must force people to do so. We have to reduce, reuse and replant.
Funny thing though, the people that are either the most vocal or contribute the most money to vocal groups are all very rich people. You know, the ones that live in beachfront mansions all the while preaching that the seas are rising and we must all stop using fossil fuels. The same ones that jet in private aircraft all over the world giving themselves parties and patting themselves on the back that only they know what is best for the masses.
Here’s a fun little fact that is not well known and ties right in with the subject of this essay. In the late 1800’s John D. Rockefeller paid, influenced and otherwise coerced the journalists of the day that they needed to call petroleum a fossil fuel. That oil came from dinosaurs. This was repeated so often, that it is now “settled science” that oil does indeed come only from dinosaurs. However, there was and has never been a scientific study about oil that shows it comes from dinosaurs. In fact, it has been debunked conclusively, but never reported widely. Rockefeller had a whole bunch of oil and needed the price to go up. That’s why he concocted the tale of dinosaurs to make it seem like oil is finite and scarce.
While on the subject of oil and gas, let’s look at the newest rage, the electric car. Sounds like a great idea on the surface doesn’t it? I even toyed with getting a Tesla last year. The price was a tad too high for me and the downsides of an electric car were manyfold. The range of the electric car is about 300 miles give or take. Unless you have loaded down your car with a full complement of passengers and luggage, like if you were going on vacation. Then the milage decreases. Instead of pulling into a fueling station and filling up and being on your way in minutes, you can look forward to sitting around a convivence store for at least an hour and it will cost you about the same as filling up a conventional car.
But wait, electric cars are supposed to save you money aren’t they? If anybody has taken a good look at their electric bill, then you might have noticed it has increased, sometimes double in the last few years. Now add in plugging in your electric car and the bill will only rise higher.
As I said in the beginning, it is all about control of the masses. If you mandate that everyone drive an electric car, then the days of driving cross-country is pretty much over. All this in effect, controls your movement. Not to mention reports of Tesla’s being shut down when their lease is up and locking people out of their car.
As far as climate change, the single biggest factor in our climate is that big bright beautiful object that comes up in the morning in the east and goes down in the evening in the west. Yes, that huge ball of fire in the sky. Our sun ebbs and wans in a lifecycle that we are only just now beginning to understand. It affects our global temperature dramatically. The so-called green scientists and alarmists are worried about a 1 degree increase in temperature. Funny how just before dawn it is not only darkest but coldest too. Within a few hours the temperature can rise not just 1 degree, but 10 to 20 to 30 degrees or more.
All of the above are just a few examples of why going green is a nothing more than the so-called elites having control over you, me and the rest of us that aren’t rich. There are many more ways they are exerting control over us. Ask yourself when someone like Bill Gates, George Soros, and Barak Obama say we must do this or that, who benefits? And more importantly are they following their own dictates?
Going green…. pfft
Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc
Got up early this morning as I was asked to make a drive today down I-95. I set off in the wee hours of the morning about 5:30 am from work. The distance a mere 165 miles to where I needed to go to pick up six bathtubs.
At first, it was a peaceful drive. Nobody driving crazy as usually happens. For most of the drive, my only companion were the headlights of other cars. With no moon, it was dark. Slowly the sky brightened off to my left. The temperature rose steadily as I was driving south.
An hour before my GPS stated that I would arrive, the sun came up fully. I had to move the visor to the driver’s side window as it was blindingly bright. The miles went by and it looked like I was going to be right on time.
Lo and behold, some one had crashed up ahead. Two of the three lanes were blocked. I-95 became a parking lot in an instant. Slowly I would be able to creep forward, but there were long moments that traffic came to a complete stop. I bemoaned my luck as I was only 10 miles from my objective.
Forty-five minutes later, I was able to take an exit and make a detour to where I needed to go. What should have been a leisurely two and a half hour drive turned into a four hour drive.
When I got to my destination and related about the crash, the guys weren’t surprised. They said it was a daily occurrence. I loaded up the truck and headed back to work. What should have been a five hour round trip, turned into a seven hour round trip.
I thought that the drive would give me plenty of time to dream up new stories as I am wont to do while driving. However, nothing seemed to stick. Is the well dry? I doubt it. More than likely I need to write. Doesn’t matter what I write, but I’ve found the more I write, the more stories come forth.
My mind has been blank as far as writing this week. The one thing I realized on my road trip is that I need to write even if it might be boring, or terrible. With time, I feel my writing juices will once again overflow my cup.
Distraction is such a bad word, isn’t it? It keeps us from being productive and achieving our goals. In this day and age, there are so many types of distractions. A tablet, loaded with a game app or two. (spoiler alert: I have two idle games I love on my iPad). Reading blogs or reading books can be a distraction. The TV is a major distraction. If you are still on cable, there are a gazillion different channels to watch. Those that have cut the cord, have streaming services with a gazillion movies and shows. (spoiler alert: I’m a huge fan of Reality shows)
Suppose you could rid yourself of those distractions. Come home from work, kiss your loved one and head into your writing area. Leaving the tablet in the other room and making sure the TV is off. Unfortunately, you do all your writing on a personal computer or laptop. A huge distraction is video games. (spoiler alert: yes, I love my video games).
Putting a lock on your computer games and browser during your writing times can eliminate those distractions. What else is there? Yes, your dog needs to go for a walk. Or your loved one wants to talk with you. Those are harder to get rid of. (spoiler alert: I don’t ever want to get rid of them)
Suppose you have succeeded in ridding yourself of every single distraction and you sit down to write. You bring up a blank page and now you are ready to be a productive writer. However, the dreaded writer’s block occurs and your mind is blank. (spoiler alert: It’s happened to me more times than I can count.)
Okay, what the hell do we do now?
Thinking outside of the box, we should instead of trying to rid ourselves of distractions, we should embrace the distractions. What a novel idea. But how does that help us become more productive, you ask.
For us part time writers that have a day job, we focus while at work for eight hours a day. When we come home, instead of running from distractions, we should just let them happen naturally. This let’s our brain wind down from the workday and all of it’s stresses. Especially if you work in a high energy, busy workplace (spoiler alert: I do).
By giving into the distractions, I find that my subconscious is free to be creative. When I do sit down to write, there is no pause. No wondering if an idea will come out or if I’ll sit there staring at a blank screen. Instead, my fingers get to typing on the keyboard at a manic pace. My brain screams at my fingers, “Type faster, you idiots!” By not forcing myself, my best writing comes out like a magic majestic waterfall. Splashing onto the page seemingly in a chaotic manner, but somehow coalescing into a masterpiece.
Relax, give into distractions. Let your brain work it’s magic and … oh look, a squirrel!
It’s been 22 years since I went to sea. I miss it terribly. The seas are a wonderous thing. To wake up in the morning to glassy water so smooth, it is like gliding on a mirror that reflects the clouds. Later, the wind kicks up and whitecaps appear. The ship starts a gentle roll and pitch. One soon learns to move with the sea, not to fight against it.
I’ve seen a thousand sunrises and a thousand sunsets at sea. No two are alike, much as no two snowflakes are alike. The seas can change in an instant, leaving the unwary at risk. To go down to the sea in ships is no easy task. There is no room for error. Many a man have been lost at sea.
It is said that the sea is a cruel mistress. I say nay, not cruel, but harsh and beautiful. She raises great waves and thunderous swells. She does this not to crush the sailors but to test them in the crucible of the seas. To stand on the bridge wing and howl at the waves and wind with salt water spraying all around is an exultation. You feel more alive then any time since.
The nights where the ship rocks gently, puts sailors to sleep much as a mother rocks her child. I miss the embrace of the sea mistress. To hear the words, “Underway, Shift colors” makes my heart leap in joy. The mooring line crews race to retrieve the heavy four inch mooring line from the dock. It’s a matter of pride if your crew comes in first.
The thrum of the screws and the hum of the steam turbine is music to my ears. The Bosun’s pipe to call us to muster, dinner and the inevitable watch sets the routine at sea that is like no routine you ever will see on dry land. Soon, as the land disappears behind us, the air freshens. It’s the clearest air you will ever breathe.
Perhaps one will spy the green flash while at sea. This happens in the last second as the sun dips below the horizon. The atmosphere has to be in just the right conditions. Some say it is a myth to see the green flash. I’ve seen it not once, but twice! This is where the sea unleashes it’s mighty beauty for an instant.
Rainbows abound while at sea. Marvelous double and triple rainbows. Occasionally, if one is lucky, you get to see a circular rainbow. The beauty of the sea knows no bounds.
It’s been 22 years since I’ve been at sea. One day, I hope to return. More than likely it will be when I have loosed my mortal coil. As a retired Navy man, it is my wont and privilege to be buried at sea. To return to the embrace forever of the sea.
Psalm 107: 23-24 (KJV)
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. .
I’d like to think Multiverse is real. Where there are oodles and oodles of universes which we can’t access. For now. Every time I made a bad decision, my alter-person made a good decision. What if there is a way to move through to another universe? Perhaps, I would meet myself to find I’ve become the ruler of the world. Maybe I would be a benign ruler, but in my heart, I know I would be a despotic tyrant. Despicable and paranoid.
Could be in another universe, I solved great riddles of time and space. My name would be up there with the giants of intellect, Eisenstein, Newton, and Galileo.
Unfortunately, there would be a great number of universes where I no longer existed. For every bad decision in my life, I wasn’t as lucky as I am in my own universe. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure I want to visit other universes.
Imagining I could visit them, how long would it be before I lost track of my own original universe? Where the blurring of the lines between the universes melt away? Trying to keep track of every little decision made not only by me, but by everyone I ever came into contact with would be a nightmare.
Hopefully, the multiverse will never become real. I like my life here in this universe. It may not be perfect, but it sure has been interesting.
Prompt – Write about someone getting their driver’s license for the first time.
In the mid 90’s, while stationed on the USS Kauffman FFG-59 in Norfolk, Virginia, I held the role of Leading Petty Officer. In civilian parlance, this meant I am the team leader for 10-15 men. It’s a bit different in the Navy, as we not only work together, but while at sea, we eat, sleep and do everything together.
One Friday, in port, one of my younger guys came up and asked me if I could drive him to the car dealership so he could buy a car. I didn’t have anything planned, so I agreed and off we went.
I walked around with him and the salesman until he picked out the car he wanted. The salesman asked for his driver’s license to make a copy of it and then we could do a test drive. The young guy hemmed and hawed and looked at the ground.
“You didn’t leave your license on the ship?” I asked.
“Um, I’ve never had a license.”
Oy vey! I forgot this kid was from New York City. He was used to getting around on public transportation. I apologized to the salesman and took him to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a learner’s permit.
Over the next month, I let him drive my car all over Norfolk, teaching him how to drive. I grilled him every night for the driver’s test. Finally the day came. He took the test and got his driver’s license. We went back to the car dealership and found the same salesman as before.
I stood there proudly as he handed his license to the salesman. Luckily, they still had his preferred car on the lot and we did a test drive. A couple hours later after helping him navigate the purchase of his new car, he proudly drove off by himself.
Going above and beyond for not only this guy, but all the guys in my team is what made me the success I was in the Navy. As a side benefit, when my own children got to the age of being able to drive, teaching them was a breeze as I had already been through the stress once.