Behind the Blogger Tag Thingamajig

Thank you, P’Arc for the nomination! I know it’s not Thursday, but we’ll just ignore that and move on.

Here are the questions with my answers:

1. Why did you start blogging & why have you kept blogging?
I kind-of, sort-of wrote on Facebook. Like, wrote wrote. My goal was to post quality content with immediate results from my adoring fans in real life.
It turned out to be really hard on my self-esteem, watching ‘friends’ re-post crap and ignore my pearls. A truly wonderful (intelligent, beautiful, amazing, kick-a**) friend of mine suggested I move my act over to blogdom.

2. What is your favorite type of blog post to write?
Hands-down: humor. Even with a serious or non-fiction post, a bit of personality gets me giggling at myself.

3. What are your top 3 favorite blog posts?
From myself: I enjoyed my how-to on writing poetry, “Let’s Stay In Bed Today,” and “The Case of the Kitchen Cacophony.”
From other bloggers; I most enjoy reading short stories, humor, poetry -anything well-written, really.

4. What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?
I love curling up with a good bag of potato chips and French onion dip, with only my current book or video game to judge me.

5. What are 3 of your favorite things?
Running in the rain, cuddling during a movie, and satisfying creation.

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6. What are your proudest blogging moments?
Hmmm… that time I broke out to composing every day instead of pasting what I’d already done; and every. single. time someone leaves me a thoughtful comment.

7. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?
Ha ha ha ha ha…. Oh. Maybe you were serious.

8. Describe your personality in 3 words:
Repressed, tired creationist.

9. What are your top 3 pet peeves?
Intentionally unkind people, Intentionally ignorant people, and children singing pop songs.

10. What’s something your followers don’t know about you?
Welllll… if I answered that, it wouldn’t satisfy the question any more.

I’m not sure who I’ve mentioned before and honestly feel too exhausted to double-check. So, here are some blogs you all ought to check out:

Ruth at Ruth Scribbles.

J of Thru Violet’s Lentz.

Stephen, down by the Fractured Faith Blog.

Masercot, who shouldn’t be given a computer at Potatoes and The Promise of More Potatoes.

Geoff LePard, aspiring member of MP’s Flying Circus who writes from TanGental.

Just ’cause I didn’t list you, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I’m firing on about half a cylinder and can therefore only recall the last two blog posts I read. Anyone can play; I’m not picky.

——

THE RULES:

• Thank the person who nominated you

• Answer all the questions down below

• Pingback to the creator: Ellyn@Allonsythornraxx

• Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag.

THE CREATOR IS:

Ellyn@Allonsythornraxx

 

Photo Credit:
Geetanjal Khanna

Picture Books Are Always in Season

“So …have you read King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub?”

“No.”

“Hmm. What about The Stinky Cheese Man?”

A sound of polite, incredulous aversion comes from the backseat. “No….”

I’m driving my male horde home from elementary school, plus the three children of a family friend. Their children and mine share a few interests, the main one being a love of reading.

The older girl pipes up, “We don’t read picture books.”

Her sister: “Yeah; I’m reading chapter books now.”

Which is fine, of course, seeing as how she is in second grade. She is the baby of their four children and they are all precocious. The only boy has already moved up a grade and is 2-3 grades ahead in mathematics.

Still….

Our Books

“I love picture books,” I say. “There are a lot of really good ones out there, so I like to go back and read them again.”

“Yes, that’s true,” the older girl acquiesces. I often feel I’m sitting at a British tea party with her, although she’s midway through fourth grade.

My boys, meanwhile, are each immersed in reading something educational like Captain Underpants or Magic Pickle. I’m not a fan of the graphic novels, but am fine with their perusal if mixed with a range of literature. That, and graphic novels include everything from less-than-desirable illustrations and potty humor to really well-done works like The Cardboard Kingdom.

I drop the friends off. Their mother comes out for a quick chat. “Your girls say you don’t have any picture books around anymore,” I say, in a friendly way.

“Oh. Yeah.” She laughs. She’s extremely intelligent, an excellent quilter, and one who does not seem to mind being a stay-at-home mother. I’m always in awe of her. “I unintentionally donated ours to the classroom and haven’t replaced them.” She sighs a bit, which is usually her way of segue. “They don’t really seem interested, so I probably won’t.”

To each her own, of course, but a little bit of me cries inside to hear it. Like my music preferences, my reading tastes cover many genres. -Except romance. Ugh.

Besides that, my collection of books is …sizeable. When I read Fahrenheit 451 in school, I wanted to be the old lady with the enormous library. I would feel torn between saving myself or my books. I …have a bit of a problem with control whenever I shop the book department in thrift stores.

D.I. Books

After a recent thrift store trip.

Which leads me back to picture books. I love picture books. I cannot imagine not having any in my house. I read to my children from them, and then from novels as they age (time permitting).

I also enjoy reading to other children. Last year I offered to read to my son’s fourth grade class once a week, to give the teacher a few minutes of preparation time at the end of the day. What did I read? The Jolly PostmanThe Sweetest FigBark, George; and Oh, Were They Ever Happy!

I remember visiting with the teacher once after we finished up. “Thank you for coming in every week,” she said. “It gives me time to get ready and I really appreciate it.”

I smiled. “Oh, you’re welcome.” Then, I hesitated, knowing most of these kids were beyond the target age for the books I shared. “Are you okay with me reading picture books? I know they might be a little young for them.”

“Of course!” she said. “They love them! I don’t think they’re too young for them at all.”

Our Picture Books

Most of our picture book library.

You may think I will ask whether you agree or disagree, but I know you are all smarter than that. Instead, what are a few of your favorite children’s stories? They can be picture books, graphic novels, beginning chapter books, or Harry Potter-sized novels. Which do you love, and why?

—————-

After fondly reminiscing, read what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, April 3: Encouraged cathartic ranting over bad bosses in “Just Another Perk of Working.

Thursday, April 4: “The Cure for Depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 5: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Molly Stevens!

Saturday, April 6: Announced the 21st Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is parodies of famous poems. PLEASE ENTER!

And, answered Peregrine Arc’s writing prompt with “Smells Like Reanimated Spirits.

Sunday, April 7: “Olympic Achievement,” a poem response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, April 8: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Nine.”

Tuesday, April 9:  An inspirational quote by Jodi Foster.

Wednesday, April 10: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. Highlights were “Just Don’t Buy It?,” “Moderate Momming,” and “Bedtime, a poem.”

 

Photo Credit:
Me

The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy

I am not looking forward to today’s topic.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to suggest that we all might struggle with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression; right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s try to Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.

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First, allow me to give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like a whole day, since I have four children). We’ve been playing an avoidance game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it, because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and find those people and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.

For example: “I enjoy negative thoughts.” “I’ve read about other people feeling terrible.” “Thinking about depression overwhelms me.”

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My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner: First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!

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In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

My list read:

  1. Snowball fight with friends
  2. Running in the rain
  3. Creating something useful
  4. Eating a really delicious mushroom Swiss burger
  5. Receiving a sincere compliment

Now it’s your turn. Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count; sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.

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This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

 

Photo Credits:
Blaise Vonlanthen
Pixabay
Pexels
Sharon McCutcheon

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Take Me as I Am

Take me as I am

I am
feelings-
They run deep. and strong. and personal.

I am
woman-
I have hormones. and instincts. and issues.

I am
smart-
I love words. a clever joke. or a math puzzle.

I am
average-looking-
With small eyes. a big nose. a few imperfect teeth.

I am
human-
I make mistakes. have flaws. feel embarrassing moments.

I am
capable-
I am! I am! I am!

I am me, and am not another

Take me as I am

And stop apologizing.

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Which Side Will Ye Choose?

Introspection has left me a bit concerned.

It comes from Disney movies, really. Those seemingly innocent graphical displays for children planted a seed in my developing years, one that was never really meant to flower or even grow. This is because the packets I was attracted to, amid the vast array of smiling Princess Tulips and Prince Charming Roses, were always those meant to shrivel and die.

I speak of The Villains.

Just think: if they were to be represented by some sort of vegetation, would it be a healthy variety? A pleasant green thing? A flower?

Rafflesia
“The Rafflesia is considered one of the ugliest flowers in the world and on top of that, it smells like rotting meat… It feeds on other plants to survive.”

Maybe the sort of healthy, living thing that could EAT YOU.

No, villains are the scapegoat. They’re the blame for good, noble characters ever needing to do something questionable. Unfortunately, they must also suffer the worst typecasting, character motivations, and evil characteristics.

Does one really need a maniacal laugh to be considered for the job?

Strangely, I am not attracted to villains because of concern for any of these things. I’m not out to get them sympathy, a decent backstory, and equal rights. I’m pretty sure I like the dark side because it’s awesome.

I threw Disney under the bus initially because those are the earliest memories I have of being drawn to the films’ antagonists instead of the ones I’m supposed to like. I’m talking Maleficent, Snow White’s stepmother, or Mad Mad Mad Mad Madam Mim.

Maleficent of the 1959 animated film is so purely cliché, but this doesn’t phase me. I can only respect a villain who is clearly evil for evil’s sake; bestowing a curse, cackling, destroying her own minions, and transforming to a dragon to finally kill that pesky prince.

As one can imagine, my aberrant obsession has just gotten worse over the years.

I’ve been drawn to The Goblin King of Labyrinth, Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers, and Darth Maul of Star Wars, Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Really, though, one can’t blame me when it’s David Bowie, Tim Curry, and Ray Park we’re talking about.

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Darth Maul, himself

I like Qui-Gon. Really. And I knew Obi-Wan was supposed to live long enough to instruct a whiny Luke in the future. But couldn’t Darth Maul have lived longer than a few double light saber scenes as well?

I think I’ve gotten distracted.

Ah, yes: my distractions. In my defense, I am not drawn to lame villains. You can keep your Ursula, Jafar, Gaston, Yzma, Prince John, Governor Ratcliffe, Judge Frollo and the like. In adult films; I just can’t enjoy Raoul Silva, The Merovingian, or Richmond Valentine.

Are you thinking of pointing out a redeeming characteristic of mine? One that involves me clearly thinking a bad guy is cool only when he is? Maybe I like the ones that have something likeable so that is my motivation?

If so, thank you. BUT, the problem is that I do not like the hero in most films. If it’s likeability that draws me in, shouldn’t I extend that attribute across to the brighter side of things? I’m sorry; good guys just aren’t that interesting to me. Woohoo, they did the boring thing and saved the day -right? Yay.

As such, one might bring up Ocean’s ElevenThe Italian Job, or Batman in general. No luck. Even “heroes” who break the law, and are therefore villainous, don’t quite do it for me.

I can’t help but feel a fangirl crush at the sight of a depressed, conflicted, powerful soul. He or she destroys the weak, one-sided protagonist with a cleverly-contrived trap. Then, he turns to the camera and intelligently delivers his Monologue of Evil with a British accent.

Maybe I just need to watch more foreign films?

Or, maybe I am -as I suspect- slightly evil?

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unsplash-logoPeter Forster

Children’s Books, a Decision

This month, our neighborhood book group is having a casual get-together; a potluck. “Bring your favorite children’s book to share,” the e-mail instructed.

Ah, favorites. I’ve mentioned them before.

Although, I don’t feel pressure to show off in my selection of a favorite children’s book. Instead, I feel an anxious inability to limit myself to just one.

I’ve even told myself I’ll only choose from picture books. Still, I’d have an easier time if, say, I’d been told to choose my favorite child (yes, I have a favorite).

After looking over our two bookshelves of children’s picture books, I’ve narrowed things down to a paltry 17 titles.

Favorite Books

Dinotopia, by James Gurney
The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Suess
The Adventures of TinTin, by Hergé
The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
There’s a Nightmare in my Closet, by Mercer Mayer
Magical Hands, by Marjorie Barker and Yoshi
Oh, Were They Ever Happy, by Peter Spier
Le Livre de Bruits, by Soledad Bravi
Just Go to Bed, by Mercer Mayer
The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
The Napping House, by Audrey and Don Wood
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Don and Audrey Wood (sadly, not pictured); and
Tuesday, by David Wiesner (also, sadly, not pictured).

This would be a long post, indeed, if I were to tell why each of these is significant to me.

The short answer is that I have an emotional connection with each: humorous, happy, relatable, impressed by quality, familiar -and all, save two, nostalgic.

I now realize I’ll need to devote an article to these, one at a time, in the future. They deserve nothing less.

In the meantime, how do I choose?

Once the hour arrives, shall I close my eyes and Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe it? Point? Pick a number?

Well… what would YOU do if your (bookgroup) asked YOU?

Raindrops, Roses, Packages, String

Rose Rain

People ask about favorite things as a way to categorize others.

I can’t help but feel the ensuing pressure of this demand: I must say something recognizable, not too questionable, that I actually do like, and that is impressive.

Take books, for example. I take books quite often -or, I did when I had more free time. As a child I had very definite favorite authors; but, more so, I had favorite pieces of specific works I enjoyed.

In truth, that follows for nearly all creative works I encounter. At moments of life or in viewing or listening or feeling art in its various forms, I fondly recall a certain passage I encountered before.

No, those passages are not always from impressive works.

I find I think of them because, at that moment, the creator was able to express what I am feeling or thinking.

Given the limitations of language and art, that is a difficult feat.

I’m sure the questioner of a conversation does not intend to incite such anxiety in the responder. I can’t help but feel on the spot, however -that here is my one job-interview-type chance to connect with another.

Since this is a fairly impersonal medium, I began this post intending to list a few favorites. Given the hesitations I admitted to; you, the reader, have been treated to my explanations and apologies initially.

Now that we are more properly acquainted and thoroughly derailed off topic, I will return to the original idea.

Once, in high school, we were assigned to list all the things in life we loved. I cannot remember the exact parameters of the instructions, but I thought deeply about what things evoked a very specific, excited response.

There were, of course, feelings associated with intimate relationships or enjoying a thrilling amusement park.

More so, however, I focused on a sort of happy bubbling deep inside that occurred when I spoke or thought of a thing.

These are what I am most interested in listing. I’ll address books or movies at a later date.

Today, my favorite things would include the following:

  1. Blanketing snow on a cold, winter morning.
  2. Happiness lighting a child’s face.
  3. Finishing a challenging exercise.
  4. Coming home to a tidy house.
  5. Appreciation for my writing or art.
  6. The morning after rain.
  7. Running in the rain.
  8. An impending storm.
  9. Rich, delicious chocolate.
  10. Giving someone a gift s/he really wanted.
  11. Contrasts of color painted by Nature.
  12. History, particularly in old buildings or artifacts.
  13. Driving to a new place.
  14. A deep conversation with a good friend.
  15. Sprinting.

Whether you list it or not, what makes you happy? What events, thoughts, or experiences elicit a happy bubbling inside you?