Words Words Words Part 1

Last week I promised you a new series.

It wasn’t easy to decide on a specific topic until a few days ago when I found the perfect inspiration in an article.

So, here goes for the first installment ….April 17, 2017

Using The Proper Word

We’ve all been through the basics about which form of a word to use as in their, there and they’re.

I’m talking about someone using the wrong word altogether.

Here is the sentence that inspired the series.

“You have likely heard people obsess about Pinterest so you’re curious about what it is and how to use it.”

Well, boys and girls unless you have the super power of actually hearing people’s thoughts you can not hear someone obsess. To obsess means to continually think about something.

You can certainly hear people rave about or prattle incessantly about Pinterest or any other subject but never obsess.

When you are writing and aren’t sure about the right word to use there are some handy questions to ask yourself whether or not to use it.

  1. Do you know what the meaning of the word is?
  2. Does it sound or feel right in the sentence?
  3. Is it within the vocabulary of your audience?

If your personal answer to any of these questions is “no”….it’s really simple. Don’t use it. When in doubt always check it out!

The Mask

It is said that most people wear a social mask. You know the one. The public face that seems to instantly impose itself over our own the very second that our heels are out the door of our home……….our safe zone.

Why do we consciously, deliberately wear this mask that we feel we must hide behind?

Do we wear one out of a sense of fear? If so fear of what?

I suspect that one of the main ‘fears’ is of letting the outside world and even those closest to us know how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about them.

If we admit to someone that we are sad, now what?

The person who asked the question “how are you?” now has a bit of a dilemma going around in their head.

They can be sympathetic and maybe even ask a ‘light’ question such as “How come?”

If they have proven to be so brave, trust me, by now they are holding their breath.

Your response will either allow them to exhale or their mask will grip even tighter.

If they were fortunate enough to exhale they may also allow their mask to slip just a little or to become less opaque.

Most people would rather hear about an earthquake in Turkey. It is definitely a tragic event but they don’t have to be emotionally or personally involved, unless of course, they have friends or family in Turkey.

Ok. Tell the person you are fine.

Have you told the truth or have you lied through your own social mask?

Maybe we wear our social mask so that others don’t really know how we feel about them.

We keep them at arm’s length and always guessing.

When we begin to suspect that they are coming too close to exposing our true feelings we tend to panic and add a few more layers of protective paint to our mask.

Why do we do this? Social masks are excruciatingly heavy and require constant maintenance.

Isn’t it time that we finally release ourselves from the burden?

Ok. Maybe going to work tomorrow and performing Johnny Paycheque’s old song “Take this Job and Shove it” wouldn’t be the smartest thing that you’ve ever done.

So, yes unfortunately there are times when we are required to wear a social mask.

Maybe I’m weird. I don’t know. I do know, however, that my entire being cringes at the very thought of having to play the game.

When someone asks me how I feel I tell them.

The closer that person is to my heart, the fuller and more honest answer they receive.

If some were to ask me if I’m happy I would tell them “I really don’t know.”

At least I would have until very recently.

A dear friend and I are growing closer everyday and I am extremely happy.

As I look back at the beginning of my story I discover that the word ‘said’ could be so easily replaced by the word ‘sad’.

Please, don’t hold back your true self or your true feelings from those you love. It is so unfair both to them and to you.

 

Val Falconer
October 21, 2009

Update
March 15, 2017
My ‘new friend’ and I recently celebrated our seventh anniversary on February 27th

Create Your Dream Home Office and Craft Room

Featured

Brand new pine desk top that Brian made.
First deck is 54 x 30
Upper deck is 41 x 15

Project Central for sorting pages of stories

Cubby holes are so handy. This one used to be a bedroom closet….Really!

Two of three standard cabinets from Staples (big box office store)

Nifty book case that Brian made for me. The basket holds all my Marigold notes. Marigold is a cool dragon. The bottom section was left open to stash anything that can’t go on a shelf.

My lovely HP wide format printer…perfect for scrapbooking and cross stitch projects.

Beautiful wood buffet and hutch. Most of the gorgeous boxes hold my embroidery floss stash and current cross stitch projects. Hey! a girl can’t live on writing alone. All the boxes are from Michaels.
If you think you know what the wood is please let me know. This massive beauty stands almost 7 feet tall x 50″ x 20″.

First Things First
Sort through everything in the room and eliminate what doesn’t belong. I’m sure you’ve heard about the Sort, Pitch, Allocate, Containerize and Equalize system made so popular by Julie Morgenstern.

Sort what stays, what goes elsewhere as in other rooms, given away or simply thrown out. This step is great fun especially when you have a helper who won’t let you slack off.

Yes, the room will look as though a hurricane went through it but that’s ok.

We all have must keep treasures but remove them from the room until the decorating phase.

Now What?
It’s time to decide what goes where. If you don’t have the storage or shelf for it don’t worry that comes later. Just put the items in the general area of the room where they belong even if it’s in plastic containers or the dreaded cardboard boxes. Make sure the container is open and see through or if it’s a box keep the flaps open. If you can’t see what’s in there you will be forever wondering just where things went.

Containers
Now that your treasures are in their own groupings the real fun begins.

What do you put them in? I love decorative boxes. I prefer wood but at the moment most are cardboard but at least they’re pretty.

I also appreciate cabinets with adjustable shelving and the mandatory doors.

Before you tie up your sneakers and hit the mall make groupings of items on a table or even on the floor so that you know approximately what sizes of containers you need. Actually measure the area and individual pieces or at least their groupings. Be sure to make lots of notes. You will need them when you go shopping.

Absolutely take someone with you for help and to make sure that you don’t bring home the entire store. If you aren’t sure of an item take a picture with your phone.

If you get containers that aren’t big enough you will end up with far too many. Too large is also a nuisance. If you already have storage shelves and cabinets include the width and depth of each shelf. It’s no fun choosing the perfect container and then discovering that it is too large for where you want to place it.

Both basically get you into trouble right from the start.

Make sure you get ones that speak to you. I love flowers, birds, butterflies, and wood so anything that makes it into my shopping cart must meet at least one of these conditions.

Now is the time to see what kind of storage spaces you have in the room.

Do you have shelves, any kind of doored cabinet, or are you really lucky and starting with a blank room just waiting for you to work your magic? If that’s the case lucky you!

Getting professional advice can help make your space a dream rather than a nightmare.

It doesn’t need to be expensive either. Consult with friends and see their spaces. Ask at craft stores and your big box DIY centre. You can end up with some pretty cool ideas when you see storage items supposedly for one use and bingo. The wheels start spinning and you see at least one other use for your own project.

Ideas to get you started
Try a Multi drawer plastic unit designed for nut and bolts for small items such as beads or buttons or other tiny embellishments. They are perfect since the individual sections are see through. Sometimes you can even remove them from the larger unit.

Bonus….these are generally much less expensive than ones at a craft store.

Old medicine bottles are also great for storing pins and needles for beading or cross stitch.

Bonus…….the bottle stays out of the landfill!

Naturally the good old Internet is a wonderful resource so happy surfing.

Advantages
Once you learn what is in each box or behind each door you save a ton of time since you aren’t searching the entire room for an item and sometimes other rooms as well. The whole time you are, of course, going slightly? mad and wasting a lot of precious writing or crafting time. That is no fun!

What you need is always handy but not in plain view.

After all the time you spend making your system workable and enjoyable it will make your eyes itch if you don’t keep it up and start getting sloppy again.

Items in boxes get to mingle without causing a scene.

Decorating Time
Now is the time to retrieve those must have pieces that you put away safely in an other room.

My computer desk used to be…to put it politely…a complete disaster area. Now the only items that are allowed to remain on the desk over night are what you see in the picture.

I know it isn’t too clear but the photo on the left end of the upper level is my favourite four-legged friend Sasha. She was my brother’s mini Schnauzer and I miss her dearly.

Desk faces south and is between two windows.

This is a real treat for me since I’ve always had basement offices and we know what the windows are like….total ick. Now I am finally on ground level and I’m loving it. The windows are 32 x 32 so they let in lots of daylight.

The light in my office is LED. They are much easier on the eyes than old incandescent and easier on the nervous system than any kind of fluorescent.

Lots of room 13’ x 10’
The office that my wonderful husband Brian built for me began life as two of the smallest bedrooms you’ve ever seen. They were both 6 1/2 feet wide and 10 feet long. Yep, you guessed it, mobile home “bedrooms”.

We took possession of our happy home on May 1st, 2016 and by the time we moved in on May 15th he had worked magic. New floors, new paint and new lighting.

Project Central
The black table is a generous 48” x 24”. It is so handy for sorting items on and trust me I would not be a happy great gramma if it ever went into service in another room.

Equalize
Simply means put the item back where it belongs. I check my office before I close up shop for the day so it’s fresh and ready for more fun when I come back. I even go out and come back later as it’s so much easier to see things with fresh eyes. The last thing I want to do is have to put stuff away from the day before.

Flexibility
As you work with your new space your intuition will tell you where some items really belong. Your scissors just might end up with tapes and glues in your craft cupboard instead of your desk drawer. So? Buy another pair for your desk area.

Brag Time
Now that you’ve created your dream office or craft room feel free to brag. Send me some photos with captions and even a bit of a write up of your successes and hiccups along the way so that together we can inspire others.

Send pictures and ideas to:

val@raineydaywritingandresearch.com

The Joy of Books

The earliest known example of ‘books’ are the cave drawings at Lascaux in southwestern France. They were discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat on September 12, 1940. The drawings have been dated to be approximately 20,000 years old.

Cave drawings are essentially books drawn by our ancestors to teach their children about family and tribal traditions.

Lascaux II, a replica of parts of the caves opened in 1983. The originals had been suffering damage from over exposure to humidity from visitors’ breath and handling.

In the first century BC Buddhist monks carried special palm leaf books on their travels through Persia, Afghanistan, Iran and China.

In 1439 a young German blacksmith Jahannes Gutenberg became the first European to use moveable type.

His first book was the Holy Bible. It has since been printed over 6,000 million times and translated into over 2,000 languages.

From earliest childhood we are drawn to them. As babies we love to us them as teething toys. When we get a little bigger we actually start paying attention to the pictures.

As older kids we hide under the covers at night with a flashlight and read until we finally fall asleep from exhaustion. The beautifully woven stories and breathtaking illustrations magically transport us to faery lands or hidden pirate treasure. When we’re old enough we finally ditch the flashlight.

I had the enormous privilege of being raised by parents who were definitely book worms. It was a nightly tradition to be read to or read on our own as part of going to bed.

For me Christmas is all about traditions. My favourite of course is the original Christmas story….the birth of Jesus Christ. Without Him, we wouldn’t even have Christmas.

We love traditions especially when they are about the holidays. We put the tree up on the same day each year. We have a favourite star or angel for the top. The reading of a traditional family favourite, especially aloud, is always a wonderful memory for the season. If you do not yet have one give yourself a wonderful gift and start now! It doesn’t matter whether you are in a house full of children or just sitting at home with the dog and cat.

We poke around in our favourite bookstores for hours to find that special gift for loved ones in our lives and it doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is. We get lost in them all from new and classic faery tales to the latest version of events shaping our little rock called Earth.

Without books we would never know the great wit and wisdom of Erma Bombeck or the Victorian world of Charles Dickens.

Books can even smell good especially old leather bound editions glued together and bound with catgut. One of my favourite memories of books is my maternal grandparents’ enormous collection of books at our family cottage on the shores of Lake of Bays near Huntsville, Ontario.

Books are old and comforting friends in our modern and crazy Internet world. Besides, to be honest, just how much fun is it really to sit in front of a computer screen and read?

Books are a whole lot tougher than computers too, they never crash! We can even read them in a power outage. Hey, all you need is a flashlight!

Books educate, illuminate, encourage debate, and just plain fascinate. Aren’t books cool?

As you can plainly tell I love to read. I also love to write and have been doing so for many years. I write mainly children’s stories and poems but love to tackle new and interesting projects on practically any subject matter.

My first major foray into the world of publishing is a story and colouring book entitled Sunny’s Grand Adventure. Sunny is a daisy who wants to fly. My very dear friend and illustrator Pam (P.J.) Masi and I self published ‘her’ in the fall of 2004.

So many people tell us that they love how she reaches for her dream no matter what others might think and that we all need to do the same.

So give the gift of delight and wonderment this holiday season or any time of year!

Have a good holiday everybody!

Love,
Val

 

Connect to other places

Encouraging children and adults to read or learn to read

Books can’t crash or start slowing down

My love of reading and writing

Sunny’s Grand Adventure    1st article

Fun and Frolic                       2nd article

 

Finding the Write Words

It seems that every time I reply or comment on a Face Book posting there is a message for me in my response.
Well my dear readers…I told someone this morning who was having trouble finding the right words for their children’s story…”Don’t hunt them. Be still and they will find you.”

As I wrote that reply it finally got my attention. I’ve been having an awful time finding the beginning of one of my stories.

So I am celebrating telling the characters in my book that if they want their story written they will have to find me and tell me what happened.

I won’t be hard to find. I’ll be the one with a tea cup in my hand and a nice fat chocolate chip cookie on the saucer.
Have a totally fantastic day whatever day of the week you are reading this.

Thanks for dropping by.