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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Last rights

 I went to a funeral a few weeks ago.  My step-mom's grandmother, Lillian, passed away.  Although the deceased and I were never close, I wanted to go to lend support to my family and I had also volunteered to sing at the funeral. 

Now it had been awhile since I had been to a funeral and then followed the car to the cemetery.  At first I was thinking it was nice that the cars would pull over and I didn't have to wait at stop signs and stop lights.  I found myself thinking "I could get used to this".  Then as we drove on I really started looking at all of the cars that were pulled over.  A lot of people were stopped and looking at their cell phones or checking themselves out in the mirror.  They had no idea who the person was that was leading the procession.  They didn't know about Lillian's life and the little things she did for her family.  Nonetheless, cars were stopped up and down the roads and even when we got out onto the highway, where there were four lanes for traffic, cars and motorcycles still pulled over to the side of the road.  I'm sure you're wondering where I'm going with this, but I'm getting there, I promise.

While all of these cars were pulled over I found that I was in awe.  I was very moved.  These people didn't know Lillian but they were pulled over out of respect.  They may not have all realized it at the time, but pulling over during a funeral procession is a last sign of respect for the dead.  I found myself thinking that it was amazing that all of these strangers pulled over.  They didn't question it, they just do it out of habit.   I may totally be over-thinking the whole process but at that one moment I had total clarity and understanding of the ritual. 

Next time you pull over for a funeral procession, instead of being annoyed because you're in a hurry and they're slowing your progress or checking your text messages, stop and think about the person in that hearse.  Ponder about their life and accomplishments and know that they were important to someone.  Pause out of respect because someday it will be your turn and don't you want respect?

Monday, April 16, 2012

An aspiring writer...

So I've always had this fantasy that I would write a book.  What kind of book, you ask?  Well there are so many genres but there are a few that really appeal to me. 

First, I love historical fiction.  Phillippa Gregory's books on the Tudors are fascinating.  I love learning about how people lived and what they did and imagining how difficult things must have been.  Something about it just speaks to me.  I know that the story lines are made up but the history is real.  I guess it has to do with my fantasy of being a princess. 

I also love romance novels.  I used to be embarrassed by this but you know what?  I'm not the only one.  There are some amazing writers of women's fiction with some wonderful stories of their own on how they came to love romance and write about it.  They are strong women with strong backgrounds and they add wonder and fascination and most of all, love, to their stories. 

Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorites.  She tells such interesting stories full of wit, laughter, heartbreak, and of course love.  Kleypas makes her stories interesting by using real situations and bringing in some of her characters from some of her other books to help flesh out the story and usually prod the main characters in the right direction.

Third, I love science fiction.  Not the Star Trek science fiction (although I'm sure it's good, too) but the vampires and faeries kind.  When I say vampires, I don't mean the Cullens (another story for another post perhaps) but real vampires.  The kind that can't come out in the daylight and really do sleep in coffins.  I love a fantasy world that is spun into reality and woven seamlessly into our modern world.  I have found two authors, so far, that have drawn me into their worlds. 

Laurell K. Hamilton has two series.  Anita Blake, vampire hunter, is in love with a vampire and her life gets a little more complicated with each book.  Reading about Anita makes me wish I was a little more bad-ass.  That's one of the wonderful things about books though-they draw you in and allow you to go along for the ride and fantasize about yourself doing the same things.  Hamilton's other series, the Merry Gentry novels, is about a real-life American faerie princess.  It sounds pretty far fetched but Hamilton paints a vivid picture that makes Merry's struggle for the Unseelie throne seem perfectly believeable. 

Karen Marie Moning has a series called the Fever series.  I picked up the last book first and once I got started I realized my mistake so I went back and started at the beginning.  She, too, paints a world of mythical Irish legends and faeries and brings it to life through the eyes of MacKayla Lane.  Mac travels to Ireland to find out who is behind her sister's gruesome murder and uncovers far more than she ever though was possible.

Someday I would like to write a story that make others as excited as I am when I pick up a new book.  I have a few ideas tumbling around in my head right now and I would like to put them to paper (or computer screen) and see what happens.  I would probably write a romance, at least at first.  Maybe after I had some experience I could attempt something else.  For now it's not my priority but it is a dream that I hope I can see through. 

What's your dream that you've always wanted to try but have been to scared or unsure how to start?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bigger is not always better....

So, here were are.  Blog # 2.  Today's topic is dieting and health.  Now I haven't really "dieted" much but I do know how hard it is to make healthy choices.  Case in point:  Today, there are six (that's 6!) boxes of Girl Scout cookies at the office.  Now I have been trying extremely hard to not give in to the craving.  Sugar is the devil!  At least that's what I keep telling myself. 

All of my life I have been trained to eat sugar.  Desert after every meal.  No one telling me, "No, don't eat that!  It will give you cellulite and cause you to gain twenty pounds".  Years and years of the habit giving in to the craving for sweets are proving difficult to break.  It's not always the big stuff either.   Sugar sneaks up on you.  It starts as one cookie then turns into five.  Just a few Skittles becomes several handfuls.  Just a little soda becomes a 32 ouncer every day.  It's added to tea and foods like spaghetti sauce.  Years of this becomes an addiction.  It will kill you just like cigarettes or alcohol.  You may not get lung cancer or liver failure but you can become obese or get diabetes.

These are excellent reasons for me to give up sugar.  Now it's not easy.  Every. Single. Day. Is a struggle against myself.  I am working harder to track what I eat, exercise and put healthier snacks in front of me so I won't reach for the Skittles or those delicious Thin Mints.  It has helped that I have found inspiration and real stories.  Not some Jillian Michaels Biggest Loser fantasy. 

Taralynn McNitt is a young girl (I can say that because she's younger than me) who was unhappy with her image and made conscious decisions to change her eating habits and her lifestyle.  Her blog is full of delicious sounding recipes, personal pictures and her story.  She helped motivate me to kick start the exercise portion of my plan. 

The process is going to be a slow one.  I'm not trying to win a race and get skinny fast.  I just want to lead a healthier lifestyle so I can be around for a long time! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What the heck is a blog?

Well, this is it.  My first blog post.  Ever.  Before I started I got to thinking: what is a blog?  I mean I know what a blog is but where did they come from?  Never one to let a question go unanswered, I hopped on Wikipedia.  I know it's not always the be all and end all of knowledge but they at least give me a good place to start.  According to Wikipedia: "A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web" (who calls it the any more?).  The actual term blog was apparently coined by a guy named Peter Merholz who jokingly broke the word weblog into we blog and published it on his site in 1999.  Interesting, huh?  Since their inception in the 90's blogs have become more and more popular with over 156 million in existence today.  Apparently there is also a "Blogger's Code of Conduct".  Since you're enthralled (I can tell, who wouldn't be) I'll continue.  There are seven rules in the Blogger's Code that all good little bloggers should consider:
  1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
  2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
  3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
  4. Ignore the trolls.
  5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
  6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
  7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.
So, where does my POV come into play?  Well I figure that blogging is kind of like twitter only it requires more effort and therefore, is slightly less narcissistic.  Why do people care what we think or have to say?  We write about politics, religion, food, family, travel, sex and who knows what else.  I don't know what I want to write about yet.  I like to cook so maybe there will be recipes.  I like to travel so maybe there'll be pictures.  Someday I want to write and maybe this is just a good way to hone those skills.  I can't say why other people do it.  Maybe they want fame or want everyone to know who they partied with last night.  The passionate ones do it because they feel so strongly about what they believe that they have to share it and hopefully others will feel the same way and that is who I hope to be.