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Archive for January, 2010

I have been married for 5 years and with my guy for almost 7. As cliché as it sounds, we couldn’t be happier. There are days, of course. But overall, I wouldn’t change a thing. Except each other.

When we first got together, it was “good for the goose is good for the gander'” and we loved and did absolutely everything together. Same music, same movies, same activities, same interests — we met on a slo-pitch ball diamond, for heaven’s sake.  Now, our interests and favorite activities are becoming diversified, and I thought we were realizing my worst fear: growing apart.

Over the past 7 years, we have changed from who we used to be. My interests have changed and evolved, to where I have become a lover of writing and reading. My guy, on the other hand, has become involved in the world of sports memorabilia, and the many intricate details of the hobby. Not quite the same niche.

But after some thought, I realize that I have nothing to be concerned about.  In fact, I am grateful for the changes. We are growing – yes. When we met, we were younger and less mature – less ourselves. We have been busily turning into the people we are supposed to be. But we are doing it together. It doesn’t mean we have to love all the same things anymore, or even do them all together all the time. As we grow, we change; but by doing it together, we are enriched as a couple.

I have learned about hockey cards; what makes them valuable and what doesn’t. He has learned about cognitive theories related to technical writing, and how to proof-read blog posts. We both still love watching and playing sports together, playing crib and doing crosswords, watching movies and cuddling, and generally being together as much as real life allows. But when we aren’t doing the same things, we are still ‘together’. I read in the next room while he checks the latest box break; and we share a cup of tea while discussing our new discoveries. I tell him about my newest blog idea while he describes last night’s box scores, as we hold hands and have dinner.

Ever growing. Ever changing. Ever enriching; but not apart.  Together.

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I’ve been reading a lot of books about writing in the last few months. Many have a similar fundamental rule- keep things eloquently crisp but without verbal clutter.

I believe that Twitter helps a writer learn and apply this principle. The application forces users to say what they want to say in 140 characters or less, including punctuation, etc.  This means that while you cannot say:

“It might interest my devoted readers to be aware of the fact that I have recently published yet another attempted entry meant to fascinate you.”

you CAN say

“New today – the art of clarity without clutter. I hope you enjoy the post.” – This statement, while retaining the meaning as the one above, is clearer, more direct, and comes complete with grammatical accuracy (and 66 characters to spare)!

The bottom line is this: do not write for quantity. This will help you in many ways, most notably:

1. Your readers will be hooked more quickly and more permanently.

2. The less you write, the less you must edit!

Write for quality. Suppose you write a 30 page document. During the 1st revision, pare it down to 20. And before the final submission, make sure it is no more than 15.

So strive to be a clear, clean writer.  And let Twitter help you be a better writer, one Tweet at a time.

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A Renewed Education

I have recently decided to return (part-time) to the life of academia.  And while I am the most excited I have been for many things in recent memory, I am also slightly terrified. It has been 6 years since I was a student. It almost seems like a different lifetime…

I asked myself what it was that drove me to pursue additional education. And it occurred to me that it is my desire to continue to learn, evolve, and grow, not only as a writer, but as a person. I believe that while you can learn many things in life simply by ‘doing’, there are some things that are best taught in a classroom.

1.Theory. Deadly, I am well aware. But necessary, I believe, for a strong foundation. To paraphrase another, “You cannot build a strong house if you do not frame the walls”.

2. Practice. Nowhere else can you practice, endlessly, and learn from it. In a workplace environment, you may find yourself left to ‘practice’, but at the expense of salary, or even your position. In a school environment, you can practice what you are learning/have learnt, and continue to learn from that practice.

3. How to get ‘er done. Having certifications, diplomas and degrees attached to your name, while sometimes regarded as presumptuous, egotistical, and unnecessary, will take you far. You have proved that not only are you certified in your trade of choice, but that you had the gumption to take and complete academic classes.

And so I’m off,  to the land of the textbooks, highlighters, class assignments and late nights. I have no doubt the toll this will place on all aspects of my life; personally, professionally and otherwise.

But I am excited at the prospect of a renewed education; and along the way; a refreshed (and maybe somewhat new) me.

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I love music – you will rarely find me without it. At work,  in the car, on the train, or at the gym, my iPod is carefully in place. I have been known to over cook the occasional dinner while singing along to my favorite tunes, and I end my day with the sounds of a soothing musical rhythm.

I believe that music is a window to the soul. I think it’s a way of communicating on a deeper level with yourself and letting others do the same. Have you ever noticed, as you walk down the street listening to your favorite song and smiling (sometimes unconsciously), you feel an invisible weight lift, and the stress of the day loosens its grip? Do you find yourself searching for a song; craving a particular melody similarly to how you might crave chocolate after a bad day? I think that it’s your soul’s way of telling you it needs refuelling. We feed our body- why shouldn’t we feed our soul?

Here are my (current) favorites and what they mean to my soul:

Colbie Callait – quiet times. Soothing, soft melodies, meant to restore your faith that things are good.

John Mayer – pensive thoughts. Inspiration to know what the world is trying to say in a gentler way.

The Wailin Jennys – music to just BE.

Josh Groban – positivity. The lyrics and melody take me to a higher place and remind me that I am not alone.

Sugarland – makes my soul dance and my spirit smile.

Rob Thomas – a bit rougher around the edges, for more of a kick.

Frank Sinatra – an oldie but a goodie. Makes me smile right down to my toes. Good for days when no one else will do.

So turn on some good music and feed your soul. Let it rest, let it smile, and let the music remind you that things are not as bad as they seem. Let people around you see into the window of your soul.

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I love writing. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. And I am fortunate enough to do what I love, every day. But some days I feel like I’m missing something.

In my work, I am fortunate enough to wear several hats,  including video post-production, audio and voiceovers, research, editing, and of course, writing. This past week, there was less writing (actual writing; lots of everything else) and I was feeling blue.  I was wondering why, as I sat and worked on my blog posts in the evening. Soon enough, I began to feel more myself. The light comes on!

I am a writer. I love to write. I live to write. But some days, composition doesn’t get the time it desires as other projects and to-do’s get in the way. Luckily, there is an easy solution. Sit down, and put something on paper. Take a few minutes and unleash a pen on paper, or your fingers on a keyboard. Put some words down, no matter what they are or how they flow. Just write. Just DO what you DO.

That is when writing, for a writer, is rewarding – when we actually write. Granted, we should all be so lucky to do what we love every minute of every day… but alas. Like the hockey player who watches video footage all day but didn’t get to take any shots, or the musician who worked on theory all day but never got to play a single note, sometimes other things must come first. But that doesn’t mean that writing doesn’t come at all.

Take a few minutes, and just write. You will feel rewarded.

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Why do people prefer to send text messages or emails, devoid of true emotion and connection? Have we become such a text-based culture that the words and symbols on-screen now mean more to us than words through a phone line?

Our past is littered with great orators, who moved people to tears or called them to action with only their voices.  I have my doubts of the effectiveness of Rev. Martin Luther King starting an email campaign, pleading for justice, or of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, sending the troops a text message urging them to fight for “victory — at all costs”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan and user of text messages.  But nothing beats vocalization. There are no printed words or symbols that mean the same as someone’s voice saying “I love you”. I cannot imagine never exchanging another word with my friends or loved ones. The thought of it leaves me feeling empty and alone.

So next time you promise to TTYL – do it. Pick up the phone and make a real connection.  Just say.

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Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship knows that there is only one secret to a lasting, happy and healthy relationship – hard work. It’s not about how skinny you are, how good of a cook, how domestic, how much money you have, make or spend… it’s about how hard the two people in the relationship decide to work together to make things keep on ticking.

There are various stages in relationships. First – the WOO. Everything is chocolates, roses, long talks and long walks, holding hands, intimacy, and all smiles. Then there is the WHOO HOO phase, also known as the Honeymoon. More newness, more fun-ness, life is grand. But then… and this is the hardest phase (and if you ask me the most rewarding phase)… the WHO sets in. As in… Who did I marry? Who am I? Who were we kidding? The wine and roses are fewer and farther between. There are long hard days in thankless jobs, laundry, dishes, in-laws, mortgages, and general everyday stressors.

After the ecstasy comes the dishes. That’s when it gets real. And when it’s real… that’s when it’s WONDERFUL. I have been married for five amazing years, none of which I would trade for a second. Not even the ugly seconds. And yes, there have been a few. But those are the ones where you realize WHO you married… and you realize that you are still saying WOO HOO.You learn to work through the hard times… through times when you hit the wall and you’re falling and you wonder who is going to be there to catch you… and you realize that your partner has caught you and was actually holding you the whole time.

Those are the times when you realize that you married your best friend and your soul mate… the one who loves you just for you and for nothing else. The one who, when you are wearing a bleach stained t-shirt and cleaning the toilet, says to you “you are beautiful, honey. I love you”. And you say “don’t just stand there can you pass me the toilet duck” and you both collapse laughing… and everything else just melts away. If you ask me… that is the real WOO.

Because after ecstasy… always comes the dishes.

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