Writing prompts at random

“Describe an important item from your childhood. Why was it important and where is it now?”

It was her eleventh Christmas that she go the pink teddy bear from her grandparents. Pink wasn’t really her color. Her initial reaction was confusion and a touch of disappointment. Actually that disappointment was strong. Her parents were there and expecting something more from her so she smiled and laughed in what she hoped was delight. Her mother asked if it had a name and she said something akin to not yet. She hadn’t decided if was going to have a name yet. Did it deserve that level of personalisation? Perhaps. It was so pink, that pepto-bismul pink… It wasn’t fair to the poor bear for her to judge it so. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment for dismissing it so quickly. Sure it was a strange color but that made it stand out amidst her blues and purples.

She hugged it to her chest. It was soft and smelled of the cardboard box and fudge. Her grandmother so enjoyed sending things to them. It probably made her feel closer to them despite the infrequent and bridg trips her family made to visit. It wasn’t her faluth that she didn’t know her grand daughter well enough to know that pink was nearly as abhorrent as red or orange. She probably thought it was a safe color for a pre-pubescent girl. She likely was right and her grand daughter was too inflexible to be grateful.

That night the teddy bear stayed on her bed. It actually made a decent pillow. The size of the belly and arms, just a few inches larger than her head, made it comfortable to lean on. That and how soft it was though the fur tickled her ears and nose.

A week later she gave it a name. Lacie, the same as her half-sister. She loved Lacie, both the bear and her sister, in a rather abstract way. After all, it wasn’t Lacie’s fault she lived so far away and that her younger sister didn’t even know she existed until 3 years earlier. Lacie visiting always meant adventures and her parents taking time off from work. Lacie’s presence helped to bring them together. Her parents didn’t fight or get so angry. That bear could be a tiny piece of her sister and all the things she meant. Those nights when there was yelling and screaming and crying were the worst. The bear was there though, a tangible thing of comfort.

She would write to the bear and talk to it late night, imaging what it would be like to have her sister there instead. In a sense she was with a wee bit of herself within the bear, though her sister would never admit it.

A few months passed before her mother noted how much she fell asleep with the bear in her arms. “What’s your bear’s name?” she asked again.

“Lacie,” was all that the girl said. Her mother nodded slowly, understanding instantly the importance of that name. Fast forward fifteen years and she still has Lacie with her. She no longer sleeps with it, that right is now reserved for her cats who get as much comfort from the soft bear. They are smaller than it, a perfect companion for them to snuggle up to. Sometimes she still talks to Lacie, sharing her thoughts with that wee, tiny piece of her sister. She may not speak with the bear’s namesake but much like that abstract love her bear shifted into something deeper and real, so has the love for the person that is her sister. Each monologue to the smaller Lacie ends the same, “I love you, Lacie.”

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What’s worth doing even if I fail?

Look! Another post inspired by Brene Brown, this time from Daring Greatly. “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” She whispered this phrase to herself as she was walking out on stage at her 2012 TED talk. I think I have to step back further from where she’s at though and just start with “what’s worth doing?” What is something that needs to be done, what is something that I feel I need to do? I want to do some sort of deep introspection and thinking here but honestly I am too internally blocked to go that far. That will eventually be my answer to “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” but I’m not quite there yet.

That leads to the question of what is worth doing in a more general sense. Superficially I want to create whether it is to create a difference, create an object, or create a thought.

Creating a difference is important to me because I have always desperately wanted to be needed. So much of my self-worth and identity is tied into being a helper, being available for people when they have little else. It’s probably the primary reason why I’ve been entrenched in mental health nursing since I became a nurse nearly a decade ago. (Side note-holy shit that was 10 years ago!) If there’s one group of people that don’t have much it’s the people described as severe and persistently mentally ill. All of the agencies I have worked at served a population of people that were homeless or only one flat tire away from it. I could be something for them: a smile, a greeting, a “how are you?” with the actual desire to know, a quiet presence to cry with, or a guide when the voices, self-contempt, or anxiety got to be too much. (This is where my tendency towards over functioning comes in but that’s a blog for another day)

You see, in working at places where my need to be needed was satisfied with little effort on my part I was able to continue to do without having to stretch out and be uncomfortable. Sure there are always the discomforts of learning new systems, new people, and figuring out my place in the system but I could always figure out a way to create a difference because there was always at least one person around that needed something.

Creating things has become a large focus for me in my knitting and crochet projects. I can make things that are useful and have an art to them. They aren’t perfect but often I’m the only one that knows how imperfect they are. Other people see the things I’ve made and appreciate them and all is good in the world. I’ve even slowly been pushing past my fears of different techniques and projects because this is a challenge I can do. If it doesn’t work out I can just rip back the yarn and watch my work shrink away until the mistakes disappear. (Note that more often than not this is an accidental thing and results in cursing at the tiny loops until I get everything back to where it’s supposed to be.) I can take chances and risks with little waste except my time and patience. This is a safe place to challenge myself and do something daring.

Lastly, creating a thought is actually the other two forms of creating mixed into one. A thought is an unformed object budding from someone who has been bit by the inspiration bug. I’m still working on how to do that with any consistency. There’s an unhealthy level of criticism and fear around creating a thought… oh. Right. I think that is probably what I need to focus more on. A something that is so important and worth doing despite the risk of failure would be an act of creation so long standing as to inspire thought, discussion, debate. Writing is one of those things for me.

Perhaps that is enough honesty and being vulnerable for the night. I know that my something worth doing despite the risk of failure is doing something that can inspire thoughtful discussion, ideas, and perhaps action. It’s still a rather broad concept at this point in my journey but I now have a direction to wander while I let this percolate a bit more. Hopefully the process of finding out what’s worth doing even if you fail isn’t so vague or hidden from yourself as what I’ve found my something to be.

Considering How I Phrase Things

There is a prescriber at work who has made an interesting impact on me and I’m not sure if she is even aware. I have become much, much more conscientious about now I say that I don’t actually know the answer to one of her questions. When I first started working at the ATU I received some feedback from a coworker basically saying that this prescriber was more or less pissed that I was okay with saying those three words “I don’t know.” It was unprofessional and unacceptable. Since then I have learned, especially when speaking with her, to make sure that I always answer with something else. this usually means things like, “you know, I’m uncertain about that but I think so and so may know. It has also forced me to pay a lot more attention to what people say about a clients behavior or what’s going on with them because I don’t want to be caught saying anything resembling I don’t know if it’s at all humanly possible.Her opinion of me and my capabilities have shifted over the last six months or so. I don’t believe she is hesitant to hear what I have to say about what’s going on with a client. She trusts that if she asks me to do something I’ll get it done or at least do my darnedest to make it happen. I’m surprised sometimes when I consider what her opinion of me was a year ago and what it has become and it makes me realize how much changing one small bit of speech can really do for you. methinks it’s a lesson that can be applied to multiple parts of my life. Now just to figure out what other key phrases I need to be way of.

Bits and Pieces of Thoughts While I Think on my Next Bit o’Fiction

First things first, or at least things that excite me – My English teach really liked my video game essay. There are a few teensy things I need to clean up, mainly a few awkward word choices and left over “on”s and things from my massive number of edits. Once I’ve done that, she wants me to enter it into an essay contest that happens at the school every year. The winner gets $50 and entrants get to put their name out there for teachers to get to know. When it comes to more subjective classes like English, psych, etc. I feel it’s important to have your name associated with the idea that you are a good writer before you enter a teacher’s classroom. Perception means so much and teachers are more willing to gloss over errors if they already “know” you can write, as humans are wont to do. Even my current teacher did something like that for my 2nd essay when I had two really bad cut/copy/paste-based errors. She didn’t take off points for those like what I would have expected her to because she knew that they were editing fails, not writing fails, if that makes any sense.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to use as my topic for my next argument essay, but haven’t really had anything stick out to me. Well, I’ve got two things, but I can’t decide if I really can argue either of them effectively because I am just a wee bit passionate about them.
The first is equal marriage rights. I’d end arguing for a case that would include marriage licenses being granted to two or more people above the legal age of consent who are willingly entering into the civil contract regardless of gender, sex, procreation status etc. Most people have an issue once the “more” part is added in, and to be fair, with the way current laws are written that affect civil marriage law contracts it would get really convoluted and tricksy. Especially things like inheritance and social security benefits and whatnot. Especially if the primary bread winner/head of house passes or decides to divorce one or more of the other parties. What happens to the rest of the contracts? Are they will that primary person or binding amongst all parties? Oy, such a headache and the primary argument against such marriages.
The second is abstinence only versus full disclosure sex ed. I (luckily) grew up in county that taught full disclosure sex ed by default and started in fifth grade. Yes, parents always had to sign permission slips to say “sure, teach my kid about sex” or “find them something else to do cause I want to be the one to educate them about sex” or not educate them as the case would likely be. I think I only saw maybe three kids not have permission to be educated in sex ed from fifth through twelfth grade. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion, especially considering that it was a requirement for every year of school up to high school and then was taught in bio and two or three other classes that were required for graduation.
Anywho, the point is that I feel pretty strongly about these topics, but think I could maybe argue either one of them. My teacher did give me the okay to write my essays on more divisive topics should I choose to because I could “handle” them maturely. On the other hand, this next essay is going to be sent out to the rest of the English dept. and I’m not sure that I want to write about anything so politically charged, no matter how well written, and be known as the student that is too opinionated/liberal/socialist/controversial at the end of my first semester of school.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m excited about the weather here. We’re supposed to get a pretty decent amount of snow between tonight and tomorrow night and I have nowhere to go and no one to meet until Wednesday morning, which means I get to just enjoy the snowfall. Huzzah! Pretty weather will be nice.

Human connection

The yoga class I enjoy going to on Sundays is a “gentle yoga” class. We do very little in the way of vinyasa – continuous movements – which means we pretty much spend the majority of the class stretching. Yesterday was even more relaxing than usual in that we spent most of the time on our mats on our backs or sides doing much more conscious breathing and meditation than usual. It is a great way to end the week or start the week depending upon how you view the calendar. There’s one other thing that makes it one of my favorite classes; Aliza, the instructor, is also a massage therapist and most classes will come through and do some brief, but pleasant shoulder or neck massage, at least for those who are okay with it.

I bring this up because for me, I experience very little skin to skin contact in a day. It’s one of the reasons why I cherish snuggling and cuddling with Nathan in bed. It satisfies a need that I am rarely conscious of. The only other times I get that skin on skin contact is through handshakes, which most days I avoid, or through massage the once a month or so that I pay for it.

The contact through massage, or truly a more conscious, gentle, and traveling touch, is special to me in a way that I have found difficult to describe. It is not just a pleasant feeling, but nearly spiritual. I feel an opening up within myself and a mutual exchange between myself, the person who is in contact with me and the world. I don’t feel drained after this exchange but neither do I feel “too full”. I feel balanced, buoyant, relaxed, and at peace.ven

I believe that the reason that this does not happen with all contact like handshakes is that I have learned to avoid opening up because there are too many draining people out and about. This is especially true at work. The people I see there are not just mentally or physically ill and injured, but there are deep gashes on their emotional and spiritual selves. They pull on everyone around them to try to fill and heal those gaps whether they are brand new or years and years old.

I probably don’t feel the same complete opening when snuggling because it is a different sort of intimacy, one of grounding and rooting and safety. I have noticed that when there is more massage or traveling fingers/very gentle tickles from Nathan that I experience the more spiritual opening rather than the grounding/rooting feeling I get from our normal contact. It’s incredibly lovely when I am experiencing both. The extent of my relaxation is something I rarely feel except at those moments when I have found a “zen” moment in meditation.

It does make me wonder if others are aware if they have the same experience. Do they realize that there is this different sort of connection with people? How does the lack of connection within most western cultures influence how closed off and isolated we feel?

Yoga and other various exercise things

Over the last few months I have increased the amount of physical activity I take part in. Going to the gym, doing the whole martial arts thing, and most recently I added yoga.

I have found them all to be rewarding, all in their own ways. At the gym I get to just completely zone out and do my thing and not have any interaction with anyone else. Some would argue that’s not the greatest thing to do since I don’t push myself as hard as what I need to, which is true, but at this point I’m just happy I’m making it there again and getting satisfaction from what I do.

In martial arts I’m learning so many new things and discovering a whole different kind of satisfaction from slowly becoming more proficient in what I am learning. I enjoy learning things that make me feel a little safer in that if something were to happen to me physically, I most likely would be able to react in a way that will help me as compared to freezing. I am learning *how* to punch and kick and whatever other strikes or defenses you can think of. I am learning how to fit things together and all these other awesome things.

Lastly, with yoga I am learning more about focusing on my body and releasing my thoughts and just experiencing that moment, that breathe, that movement. I am able to feel the difference between how I am doing each day and also to not judge myself or my body. Some days I can easily hold a pose, warrior 1 or dancer, or I can easily move through sun salutations or other vinyasas without shaking limbs. Other days I require more patience with myself. And some days I need to recognize that I need to modify the pose or the vinyasa and make them easier on myself.

I feel that in working on all these different things I am slowly starting to round out how I experience life in my body and mind. I am becoming healthier, making better choices for myself and working on learning some sort of balance. It is hard in some ways in that I am often doing these alone when I would like to share what I’m learning with my husband, but I am also grateful in some ways that I’ve got my own things. I write a wee bit, in my blog and occasionally journaling, and exercise and do yoga, work on various craft things and am interested in different studies. Nathan does martial arts, (sadly on days that I work) plays video games, builds things whether legos or tech toys and programs things and studies those sort of things.

It’s good to have that balance and different interests. But… I look at all sedentary activities that both of us participate in and can’t help but think that we both need to be more active. It not only is good physically but also mentally to participate in different activities. Our minds and bodies like variety, need it even, in order to grow and change and become more capable. I also can’t help but look at it from the perspective of a nurse – a variety of physical activities helps the body maintain itself better, encourages better sleep, maintain hormone balance, cleans out toxins and requires “new” blood and oxygen be sent to parts of the body that don’t get much use in day to day activities and therefore are sort of forgotten or stagnant. I think that’s actually why I enjoy the variety of physical activity that I currently partake in. They each get me moving in different ways and activate different parts of my mind and body.

Best of all, there are restive and restorative forms of all of these. There’s finding “the zone” when running. Katas in martial arts where the body acts while the mind quiets. And in yoga there are options for what kind of rest/restoration I need – gentle yoga that’s still movement, hot yoga where I am only focusing on finding balance within the poses and nothing more, or the quiet meditation of restorative yoga where I slowly stretch and relax my body until I find a stillness in each position. Any of the practices are good and serve a purpose. I’m a bit more partial to the restorative yoga, but that’s probably because I just got home from participating in it.

Now on to homework I’ve been putting off. And maybe the gym later. I’ve got some new work outs to try that a friend gave me and I’m interested to see if I can do them and get the full number of reps she suggested.

Physical books vs ebooks

Physical books vs ebooks. The battle has started and there are strong advocates on both sides. Physical books have texture, weight, smell and don’t run out of battery! Ebook readers mean you can carry all the books you are reading everywhere without breaking your back or shoulder, they are easy to use even if you’re standing in line, many are back or front-lit so you can read anywhere, even in the dark and did I mention you can carry hundreds of books?

Both have their benefits and detriments. I personally resisted getting an ereader for years, scoffing at those who would choose to diminish their reading experience. Then I played with one of my friend’s while we were out and about and I couldn’t help but notice the convenience. When I got home and looked at the stacks of books on the floor in front of and next to my book shelves and bed I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to not have to take into consideration whether I had space for the new books I would inevitably bring home. Thus I started to ponder whether I should look into buying one. I did all sorts of research and wasn’t really satisfied with the options nor with the pricing, but I wasn’t in a hurry either. I had dozens of unread physical books that were calling out to me and it would be silly to purchase them all over again as an ebook.

Nearly a year after I began contemplating switching over I received a Kindle as a birthday gift. Initially it didn’t see a whole lot of use. Even having my Kindle linked with my husband’s account I was more interested in many of my physical books. So I would switch between them and noticed the benefits of both.

The pricing for physical books was and is still better in most ways. I was paying for a physical commodity and that has more value in my opinion. I still buy the physical copy of a book if the ebook price is not at least 25% less. I get annoyed when the price is the same for both, or near enough to be a negligible difference. Unless the book I’m looking at is one that I already have in ebook form. Then I have a stronger tendency to purchase new books in the series in ebook form, though I will wait months for the price to drop. The same goes for series I already own in physical copies, I will purchase physical copies rather than ebook even if there is a price difference. Consistency apparently means much to me.

As time has moved on, I’m purchasing more and more ebooks. The convenience of being able to carry a much smaller or at least less clunky device is advantageous, especially if I’m planning on going multiple places. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to use when I’m doing cardio at the gym since I don’t have to worry about losing my page and it fits on those little “book” ledges so much easier. A simple touch of a button (or screen for those with a touch screen device) is more convenient than turning pages when I’m trying to keep from falling over or, at least want to maintain my pace, on a treadmill or elliptical machine.

On the other hand, when I’m curled up on my couch and reading, I much prefer a physical copy. There’s more satisfaction in turning the pages, in the weight and even the smell of the book. I like the color contrast, it doesn’t strain my eyes as much as the back-lit screens do and I can easily read in sunlight or bright lighting. Some ereaders have addressed the contrast and screen lighting issues, but not the texture and weight and smell of real books.

The ideal solution in an ideal world, at least for me and my husband, would be to give readers the option of purchasing a physical copy and giving them a code to use to purchase the ebook either for free (yay!) or for a small fee, $1-5 depending upon the page count and original price of the book. This could be accomplished by one of three ways:
1-The honor system where a reader could go to the publisher’s website and enter the ISBN number of their book and then pay and download the ebook in the format of their choice.
2-Giving book sellers little cards like what Starbucks and Apple have going on for music/shows/apps that can be given to customers with their purchase from a brick and mortar store. The reader would then go to Amazon/Barnes&Noble/iTunes/publisher’s websites or an independent website set up by a joint effort of the publishers, enter the ISBN number and one time use code and pay the fee and download their ebook.
3-For people that purchase online they would be given the option to add the ebook to their purchase and make it all one simple process to download/send to their ereader after checking out.

I see this as the ideal solution as booksellers would still sell physical books, readers would be able to switch between or lend the physical book (as they already do!) and publishers would make even more money since they’d be selling the book in two formats, albeit one at a discounted price. My main argument for why that is not as much of a concern is that unlike physical books, an ebook only has to be produced one time and that file is then disseminated to the various online sellers. The publishers have less at stake if a book flops, they’ll still make more money than they otherwise would have. There will still be people who will only purchase in one format, but I think there would be enough purchasing both ways to make it worth the changes required.

Since it’s not an ideal world and I must make a choice between the physical book and ebook, I must side with the ebook. It is with a heavy heart and much reluctance, but ebooks have too many more advantages over physical books. As long as I remember to charge my ereader that is!

Perceptions

I wear glasses and contacts, which for most people isn’t that big of a deal because they put the contacts on in the morning, take them out at night and spend very little time with glasses on. I have the week long overnight contacts (huzzah for getting ones actually made for such things rather than just doing that because I’m forgetful and lazy) which means I often have to take them out long before it’s bedtime. What I have found is that my entire perception of the world shifts, enough so that despite the fact that I can see just as well, the world has moved. The floor is farther away or closer, objects I am reaching for are just slightly off from where my brain tells me they ought to be and my balance is off, at least for a few minutes.

Every time it always makes me wonder (once I’ve gotten over the initial vertigo-esque feeling) how much my visual perception of the world really rules how I think and act. It shouldn’t matter too much, right? Tell that to me when I knock a glass over or get another bruise from bumping into the door frame. To most though we all really only see the world one way for our entire lives. Except there are some intriguing theories and thought-games that I’ve spoken with others about. I dated a guy in high school who would always enter a new room with one eye closed. He would get three different impressions of that room, one with his left eye, one with his right and another with both eyes open. He never really said anything profound about what he saw or why it mattered, but just his attitude about it and why he did it were enough to make me think. Sometimes I remember to try it and I haven’t really had any major eye-opening, world shifting experiences, but it is still interesting to realize what one eye versus the other versus two will notice more or something different. Either that or just my attitude and ability to focus on different things each time I entered was different. *shrugs*

I know that how someone sees the world can make a huge impact. I’ve worn glasses since I was in 4th grade, but I should have been wearing them far earlier. The contrast between having to squint at anything distant and seeing clearly was immense. I went from struggling and getting frustrated with myself for failing at easy tasks at school, at home, in sports, even just watching TV, to being able to fully participate in all my life again. Every time I would go to the optometrist and get a new set of glasses I would experience that all over again and the wonder never really left me.

The thing that really stood out to me though was how much colors would change. I am not colorblind in the least, but without my glasses everything is so indistinct as to appear dull and even transparent sometimes. It has led me to wonder about how people perceive and process things like color. Do we all see the same colors the same way? We all learn that certain shades are called red, others are called blue, others green, etc. but that is because we have all been taught by others, by society that these names correspond with these light frequencies and that we all see everything exactly the same. What if we don’t? What if my “turquoise” is actually someone else’s “marine blue” but because we have been taught that this particular color is marine blue and this particular color is turquoise we still call them the same thing, even if they actually processed by the brain to be different colors.

The only reason why this is something that I want to know if there is something to it would be because I’m curious and I wonder if our different ways of actually seeing the world influence how we interact with it. Someone who has the ability to easily process the fine details of their visual world, colors are sharp, edges well defined, movement more obvious, maybe they are the ones who are more greatly affected by the beauty of the world all around them. People who don’t have those same perceptions, maybe they are more influenced by sound, or touch, or their own internal monologue and thus they will have different impressions, different talents, different ways of thinking, all because of how they process the same information.

For myself, I know that the differences between my glasses and contacts are both minute and extreme at the same time. I have pretty darn good peripheral vision even with glasses on because of band, but that is only for movement. Colors and actual shapes mean nothing to me if they are not in the part of my field of vision that is clear because of my glasses, so I process everything around me differently than what I do when I have my contacts and suddenly everything is clear to the same extent. And don’t even bother trying to talk or interact with me when I don’t have my glasses or contacts on and the lights are on. I am working so hard to “see” the world that I have a hard time focusing on conversations, on noise, on physical touch, on anything really. The way I interact with the world (or the lack of it) is something I am constantly aware of because of my visual deficiency, even though I have lived with it for fourteen of my twenty-five years of life. That has to have impacted how I think about the world, even if I don’t know any other way.

I challenge you to think about how your world changes, even with something as insignificant as walking into a room with one eye closed. How different is your world from so small a change? How many different worlds must there be if we all see the world with a slightly different interpretation, even if the differences are minuscule? How much would our interactions with others change if we were all aware of those differences? Would we even notice?

A random thought…

I’m watching The Big Bang Theory with my fiance and I can’t help but be highly amused by the fact that I sometimes feel like Penny. My fiance and most of his friends are all engineers who deal with computers and electronics and other such things. I am a nurse who deals with crazy people. In just about all ways we perceive the world and what makes sense differently.

But it’s okay. It works for us in most ways. It also helps that he gets me. He understands me. And because he can and he tolerates all my quirks and whatnot, his friends are able to do so as well. So, I will enjoy my times channeling Penny and laugh at myself when I’m being a bit more dense than usual. And they can enjoy being the geekish nerds that they are.

Peace.