“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge… is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”
What will he do
The man dressed in blue
When everyone’s angry
So angry at blue
What will he do
The man dressed in blue
When his child needs him
Needs him in blue
What will we do
Without men in blue
When no one will answer
And no one wear blue
©2020 Chelsea Owens
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
School Days, Reminiscences of Chelsea Owens
I finally buckled down to answer The Amazing Norah Colvin’s questions on my personal education! Check it out; and see top-secret, photographic evidence of my childhood.
Read Norah, too. She shares awesome educational resources.
Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.
This week, I am pleased to introduce Chelsea Owens. I first met Chelsea when she pulled up at the Carrot Ranch and joined in the flash fiction challenges. I enjoy her wry wit and sense of humour, some of which you’ll experience in her responses to my interview questions. It was also evident in her four creative and original entries in the Carrot Ranch Rodeo fractured fairy tale contest last year. Since I love fractured fairy tales and it was the contest that I judged, the connection was inevitable.
Before we begin the interview, I’ll allow Chelsea to tell you a little of herself:
I was born in Salt…
View original post 1,343 more words
Are We Our Personality Types?
Have you ever taken a personality test? I sat the Myers-Briggs sort when I first registered for college. I’d have to dig to unearth the paperwork, but recall that my middle two scores were very close.
As such, my results of Sensing/Intuition and Thinking/Feeling were not the most accurate. When another blogger wrote about personality tests last February, I took a quick online version that said I was still close on those two. In fact, I was close on the last one (Judging/Perceiving) as well.
What does this mean?
Am I still the profile of the acronym result I got? Should I read all eight possibilities to be safe? Am I divergent?
Or, maybe we ought to say all these tests are a bogus waste of time. Right?
I can go with any side’s viewpoint on this. If, however, we do decide to throw the assessment out with the bathwater; may I ask why categorizing oneself is so popular? Why do people take the tests for fun, or why do their managers have teams do so? Is it helpful?
Three years ago, my mother showed me another personality test: The Color Code. In true non-fiction book-reading fashion, we skipped right to the test for which the book was named. In true me fashion, I tested high in two categories. According to Taylor Hartman’s measures, I was blue and red.
“The most difficult color combination within one individual is the mixture of Red and Blue. If you are strong in both categories, you will often find yourself stepping on someone’s toes to get a task completed (Red), but feeling guilty afterward for making that person unhappy (Blue).”
When I read that, I felt understood. I felt like a stranger walking through a forest who had just been told the name of all those beautiful purple flowers I’d seen growing on the tree trunks. Further, I’d also been handed a manual about that flower’s use and purposes.
This seems an odd reaction from someone like me, a self-proclaimed anti-categorizee.
But I think it explains the popularity of the practice. If I, skeptical and averse, like being analyzed and advised; maybe everyone does. Maybe we all feel a bit lost in the woods and see these self-help botanists as a glimmer of light.
Do you think so? Have you taken a personality test? If so, what did you think?
While you’re responding, look into what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, May 1: I learned about the many reasons you all create in “Why Do You Write?”
Thursday, May 2: “The Cure for Depression: Don’t Skip What Works,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, May 3: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Ruth!
Saturday, May 4: Announced the 24th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Superheroes. PLEASE ENTER!
Answered Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt with “The Choice of Three: Roll Your Initiative.”
Sunday, May 5: “The Animal Facts of Life,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, sisu.
Monday, May 6: Promoted Fractured Faith Blog‘s post. They want to reach 10K followers and are almost there!!
Also posted “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Three.”
Tuesday, May 7: An inspirational quote by Theodore Roosevelt.
Wednesday, May 8: Shared Charles Yallowitz’ excellent advice on spying in “7 Tips From a Reticent Spymaster.”
Plus, the post you are currently reading.
I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Go for Perfection …Sometimes,” “Parenting Is Hard, so Why Still Do It?,” and “Short Mom Rap.”
By Jake Beech – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30859659
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash
Do You Know Your Influences?
One of my favorite stories is a chapter in Louis Sachar’s Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. A dubious character named Dr. Pickell hypnotizes a woman to help with her smoking addiction. He tells her the cigarette will turn into a worm in her mouth; then, as is his wont, adds a twisted behavior at the end of their hypnosis session.
“[Dr. Pickell] rubbed his beard and smiled. ‘Whenever your husband says the word “potato,” you will slap him across the face.’
‘When – Fred – says – ‘potato’ – I – will – slap – his – face.'”
A few paragraphs later, we learn the effects of Dr. Pickell’s meddling.
“It was an interesting thing about the word ‘potato.’ Whenever Fred said it, she slapped him. And he’d ask her why she slapped him, but she never remembered slapping him, so they’d get in a big fight, each calling the other crazy. Then they’d kiss and make up, which was nice because her breath didn’t stink.
“They never figured out it had anything to do with saying ‘potato.’…
“But deep down they both must have realized it somehow, because while they used to eat lots of potatoes, they gradually ate fewer and fewer, until they finally stopped eating them altogether.”
You would be surprised how often I think about this story in real life. Sachar is a master children’s author, crafting a deep story in a few, easily understood sentences.
Although I could go on for a bit longer about children’s authors, Louis Sachar, and pickles vs. potatoes; I bring this story up to discuss influences in our lives and whether we notice them or not.
Just think: when you walk into a store, what do you see? Someone has planned what you will see. Someone has looked at studies that say how much space a shopper needs upon entering before he may encounter something on sale. That someone knows that angled aisles are better but not as space-efficient (so they hang tags off the shelves), that we shoppers look for sales, and that we need enough space in an aisle to avoid the ‘butt-brushing effect.’
Advertising is a sneaky business, and one we often think of when considering this subject. As prevalent as purchasing bits of our mind is, however, that is not the influence that I am interested in discussing.
Instead, I want to think about less-evil, subtle influences we are ignorant of; things like choosing to act like our hero, striving to never wear red because you think it’s evil, and picking a genre of music after a coworker won’t stop listening to it.
In my life, I’ve seen examples of all of these behaviors. My brother is in medical school because one of his scout leaders was/is a successful doctor. One of my relatives will not wear red. And our family all got hooked on dubstep because my husband’s coworker played it nonstop.
For me, personally; I do not sew because my mother did not, I read and write because she did, and I abhor shopping and matching and new trends because she always tried to get me to wear (what I thought were) ugly combinations at the store. On sunny days I feel more capable and happy. If a friend makes a nice comment, I feel more confident. A jarring chord or fighting at home raises everyone’s anxiety levels.
When I think about it, the influences seem obvious. When I don’t, they don’t. Either way, I behave impulsively.
When the day is grey and ordinary, do you huddle up and wonder why everything’s dark and depressing? After hearing a favorite song from your youth, do you find yourself fondly (and ignorantly) reminiscing? Or, are you self-aware enough to buck the trends and have a happy-ever-after without any
Check out what I wrote this week. These posts may affect your day:
Wednesday, March 6: Wrote “It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist,” a discussion of whether beauty is skin-deep and how much some people need to help that.
Also, “A Ghost of a Pinned Chance,” in response to Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt.
Thursday, March 7: “The Cure for Depression: Get Outside,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
And, typed up a free-verse poem, “Seasonal Perspectives.”
Friday, March 8: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!
I was prolific this week! Wrote “The Seedy Underbelly of Writing.” Be careful out there, people.
Saturday, March 9: Announced the 17th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Under-the-Table Deals. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday, March 10: “I’d Like to Mouse Wheel a Motion,” my entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week.
Monday, March 11: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Five.”
Pants Hands-down, one of the funniest in the series so far
Tuesday, March 12: An inspirational quote by @Girlbebrave.
Wednesday, March 13: Today.
I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Selfish Selflessness,” “The @#*&% Diet,” and quoted Erma Bombeck.
It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist
My neighbor is a hair stylist. Last year or the one before, I set an appointment with her and got ready for it. I put in contact lenses, dressed in actual clothes, and applied my usual round of makeup.
After she worked her magic and I admired the results in the mirror, she said, “This is the time you go home, put on your makeup, and take a selfie.”
I didn’t tell her that was about as made-up as I got.
I also didn’t tell her that I don’t take selfies.
Granted, I have negative thoughts and poor self-esteem and little support or encouragement from people I know in real life. Those things may contribute to the anti-selfie-thing. Mostly, I tell myself, I avoid preening and self-photography because it’s selfish, shallow, and silly.
Whether anyone agrees with me or no, we’ve probably all noticed that one cannot go through life without any pictures being taken. If the old superstitions regarding photography are correct; my local gym, Costco, and the DMV all stole a piece of my soul. But when I consider voluntarily sharing my face all over the place like a peacock, I instead turn into a turtle.
The same is true of beauty tips and tricks, makeup, spa treatments, Botox, tummy tucks, hair removals, and other alterations women make to
screw up enhance their natural beauty.
To me: it’s weird, verging on wrong.
Recently on TwoFacebook, one of my neighbors invited everyone to a Botox Party. We-e-e-ell -it was a cheaper version of the same thing. As I read people’s comments I came to realize the event was like Tupperware Parties of old, except women showed up to inject themselves and not to preserve leftovers. (In a way, they are still preserving leftovers.)
I realize I may have a less-desperate perspective because I am younger. I haven’t started coloring my hair yet, though my boys seem determined to hasten that greying process.
Yet as I do age, I notice signs of the process that are less attractive. My body weight has shifted. I have eye lines at the corners. My lips, never much darker than my pale skin to begin with, have disappeared and require coloring if I want someone to find them.
I’d postulate that I may embrace more of these treatments as I age, yet also know I will always feel a slight shudder at the prospect. I really and truly wish we could all stop with so much makeup and injections. I wish we could all age gracefully and all be okay with that.
Instead I find much older women with blonde hair, fake eyelashes, and skin that resembles a folded potato. How many times did that woman go tanning? Nip a fat layer? Inject her face? Kill her roots with that color?
Where do you stand? Do you like women who are wearing so much makeup they used a trowel to apply it? Are you in favor of all this ‘mainstream’ plastic surgery these days? Is beauty only skin deep and is this how we unearth it?
They may not be selfie-worth, but here’s what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, February 27: Wrote “The Power of the Word,” a short dive into wordcrafting and wordplay.
Thursday, February 28: “The Cure for Depression: Get Up and MOVE,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, March 1: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Furious Pockets!
Saturday, March 2: Announced the 16th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Something about stories with a moral. PLEASE ENTER!
Plus, I posted a picture of my totally-not-dated St. Patrick’s Day t-shirt. For those hecklers, that is my perhaps my fourth selfie ever taken.
Sunday, March 3: “Right Quite Not Something’s,” my poem entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week. Da Vinci shook hands with Yoda while readers eyes’ crossed.
Monday, March 4: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Four.”
Tuesday, March 5: An inspirational quote by Brian Tracy.
Wednesday, March 6: Today.
I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote about supporting mothers, how boys smell, and why quiet time is suspicious time.
That’s not all! I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “Screaming Kids? I’ve Got a Music Playlist for That.” It’s very helpful. Trust me.
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Photo by yunona uritsky on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
To Potter or Not to Potter?
It’s time to really let the fur fly around here, because I am going to ask the question no one ever should: Is Harry Potter a good book?
If you have been living in a bubble or under the age of twenty for the past 21.5 years, you might not know what I am referring to. In that case, I speak of a book series published by an unknown woman (at the time) that EXPLODED into ultimately selling more than 450 million copies worldwide.
I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the recommendation of my former sixth-grade teacher. I really liked the book. It had interesting characters, magic, an unseen parallel world, and enough British elements to tickle my anglophiliac bones.
I purchased and devoured each subsequent book as it came out, and cried on opening night of the first film.
A few years after that point, however, my English professor in (my return to) college ran us through an interesting exercise. “What makes a good book?” he asked, and wrote our responses on the white board. After looking over the items listed, he announced, “Harry Potter is not a good book.”
Since I do not live in a bubble and am not under the age of twenty, I was also not completely ignorant to the idea that others didn’t love Harry Potter as much as a large pocket of Potterheads. As a consequence, I was not floored at my teacher’s conclusions.
I instead experienced a wider perspective. His announcement released me from the godlike worship I had for authors everywhere and allowed me to acknowledge the series as one written by a human, with flaws. It was written by the first and only billionaire author human, granted, but still had flaws.
In turn, I was able to grasp the hope that someone like me could write. Someone like me could even write something that another person might read, or purchase.
Which is all very interesting, but doesn’t answer the main question of this post.
Is Harry Potter a good book? Why or why not?
My own husband dislikes that J.K. Rowling neglects a basic rules structure for her magic system, that Dobby exists, and that most of the stories are just not interesting.
For myself; I notice some literary no-no’s in her writing like adverbs, POV changes, and …say, a rule she introduces about non-verbal magic spells that she seems to abandon in later novels. I also think (and thought) that it’s really not feasible for a young wizard who can shout two spells to consistently beat someone who literally murdered older, gifted wizards.
But maybe I’m being nit-picky with that last one.
Ever the devil’s devil’s advocate, though, I say that J.K. Rowling’s series could be considered perfection. She hit the sweet spot across age, race, gender, nationality, and class. She wrote characters REALLY well. I’m just a medium-level admirer and would gladly jump on a train, attend Hogwarts, marry one of the Weasley twins, and go out to lunch with Tonks.
As a final thought to any still in the haters camp: last year, my son’s doctor complimented my son because he was sitting in the waiting room reading a novel. I believe it was Magician: Apprentice. “When Harry Potter first came out,” the doctor noted, “I used to come out and find kids’ noses stuck in books. I haven’t seen that since.”
Say what you will, but I’d love to bring that sort of book love back. Wouldn’t you? Perhaps there’s a spell for that.
Until then, do you say it is a good book? Do you only say so because you love it?
Do you only disagree because you hate it?
I solemnly swear that you may read below to see what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, February 6: We discussed the deep subject of baths vs. showers in “A Serious Question Concerning Hygiene.”
Thursday, February 7: “The Cure for Depression: Get a Paid MEDICAL Friend,” the slightly-third suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 8: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest involving Nursery Rhymes. Congratulations to Violet Lentz!
Saturday, February 9: Announced the twelfth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, with a prompt of love poems.
Sunday, February 10- Thursday, February 14, plus Sunday, February 17: Various terrible poetry contributions of my own on the subjects of my backup camera, my absent appendix, black clothes, a first date, Costco, and Half-Price Chocolate Day.
Thursday, February 14: Wrote “Freddy and Teddy’s Valentines” for Susanna Leonard Hill‘s Valentiny contest.
Friday, February 15: Posted the WINNER of the love poem Terrible Poetry Contest: Geoff LePard.
Saturday, February 16: Announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest prompt. PLEASE ENTER IT!!
Also re-blogged Peregrine Arc‘s creativity contest.
Monday, February 18: Shared a quote from Joseph B. Wirthlin about finding a direction in life.
Tuesday, February 19: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Two.”
Wednesday, February 20: Today
Down-Home Marital Advice
I’ve been married to my husband for almost 16 years. Before you start adding on your fingers in order to determine my age, I’ll also tell y’all that we initially met in junior high school and began dating at 16.
Just as the term ‘high school sweethearts’ does not involve the clean romance touch of a Hallmark movie, sixteen years of marriage does not involve …well… the clean romance touch of a Hallmark movie, either.
We’ve been having a rough patch lately. I’m a bit too honest, honestly, and have brought up our roughness and subsequent marriage counseling to other women. I have yet to encounter one who does not respond with, “Oh, yes! Marriage is tough. I think everyone ought to do counseling!”
But I’m a people watcher. I’m a people reader. Other people tell me they all have problems and marriage is a challenge, but other people do not act the way my husband and I do.
I’m not asking to be placed in other couples’ bedrooms. I am often wondering if the issues we have are really the same as others’. -Because I have also had other women talk about conflicts or personality quirks with lighthearted humor.
“You know how (my husband) gets,” a neighbor told a group of us at lunch. “He’s always cranky when we travel somewhere and he has to spend money on food.” She laughed; we laughed. She and her husband have been married long enough that they are now empty-nesters. She also said, “I explained to my son that married people like us may complain and tease, but we love each other.”
My teasing comments about my husband started a recent fight because he got self-defensive and then withdrew. Then I, quite maturely, nagged at him and complained so he (naturally) got more defensive and eventually said mean things to get me to go away or (as I told him) hurt me as much as I hurt him….
It all sounds rather childish typed out, but is quite devastating in the moment. Don’t worry; we’re working on it.
Our therapist says we’re not unique but I’m a doubter. Does everyone really have problems in marriage? Do you laugh it off and know you love each other anyway? Or, is couple-hood what Erma Bombeck used as the title for one of her books: A Marriage Made in Heaven, or, Too Tired for an Affair?
What a week! This was the schedule, at least according to my sneaky back-posting:
Wednesday, December 12: What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?, a short, sweet post about music and its role in creation.
Thursday, December 13: Skinwalkers, XLV
Friday, December 14: Winner of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Ruth Scribbles.
Saturday, December 15: Beginning of The (Sixth) Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Check it out!).
Sunday, December 16: Fractured Fairy Tales That Lost, my entries in Carrot Ranch Literary Community‘s contest awhile ago.
Monday, December 17: Inspirational Quote by Matt Kahn.
Tuesday, December 18: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Six,
Wednesday, December 19: This post.
I’ve been swamped with Christmas projects. I have only to make cookie plates for all the neighbors after uncovering my kitchen, then wrapping all the presents whilst the children are snuggled all very tightly in their beds.
What is the Beat of YOUR Creation?
After delving into lighthearted topics like Life After Death, I thought it might be time to hit a heavier subject today. Let’s discuss music.
Do you like music? Do you listen to music when you write? How about if you do other creative things; like painting, sewing, singing, dancing, acting, etc? I feel like creation comes in so many forms and even tried to capture that idea with poetry. I, myself, delve into other arts besides writing. I sing, play, paper-craft, paint, draw, and do not dance.
And I need music.
A friend of mine told me she doesn’t listen to music much because it affects her. That is precisely why I listen. Yes, with the mental and emotional issues I deal with, I am affected as well. I am moved to tears, anger, fear, resolve, sadness, or elation. Not only that, but I am moved beyond the slip of a shadow those two-dimensional words convey in print.
Take this angry piece I’ve listened to today:
I have played it fifty times because, when music influences me, I have to hear it over and over and over …till whatever feeling it ignited within is appeased and I can move on.
That’s not to say I’m a grunge rock groupie. Before Blackbriar, I swam the soporific currents of Chopin. This piece, in particular, was on repeat for a few days:
I haven’t talked to my husband much about my Chopin infatuation because he’s already a little sensitive about how much into The Awakening I was in high school. Chopin has brought me to new heights, however, even 169 years after his death.
In my defense, I am not the only author who has attributed inspiration to music, nor even to specific tracks. Stephenie Meyer, who wrote some sort of romance book you may have heard of, even lists the songs she “hear(s) in (her) head while reading the book.”
I’ve written two or three blog posts with a certain song playing. One of my favorites, Let’s Stay in Bed Today I wrote while listening to “Defcon 5,” by Book on Tape Worm:
And, another of Blackbriar’s songs, “Preserved Roses,” plus Faith Marie’s “Antidote” were responsible for depressive works like It’s All in Your Head, Are You In There?, and It’s All a Lie.
I hate to end on a downer, so you’ll be happy to know that Wilhelmina Winters is often fueled by The Piano Guys:
So, is music your muse? What are some of your favorite jams?
Here’s what transpired this past week:
Wednesday, December 5: Should I Stay or Should I Go?, just my pondering on what comes after death.
Thursday, December 6: Skinwalkers, XLIV
Friday, December 7: Winner of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations, Michael B. Fishman.
I also re-blogged Susanna Leonard Hill’s children’s story contest. She does another around Valentine’s Day, so try again then.
Saturday, December 8: Beginning of The Fifth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Enter it!).
Also, The Little Shepherd’s Lullaby. I wrote part of this as new lyrics to a song the children our local church ward (parish) are singing. I added, tweaked, re-worked, and submitted it to the contest with a minute to spare.
Sunday, December 9: Livelihood, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I put on my angry music, thought of the theme, and pictured paint gushing like blood onto a brick wall.
Monday, December 10: Inspirational Quote by e. e. cummings.
Tuesday, December 11: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Five,
and The Bedtime Routine over at my motherhood site. My second son’s picture is in that article, though I generally prefer to use stock photos.
Wednesday, December 12: This post.