Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 2: An Animal

Day 2: What's your favorite animal? Use it as your inspiration today...

I've always hated the favorite animal question. As an avid animal lover, I don't want to pick just one. I've been through phases where I thought I was strictly a cat person, then strictly a dog person, and now I'm back to a cat person, but like some dogs (as long as I am not responsible for them). I think owls are possibly the cutest animals, and I'd love to have one some day, but my dream animal to own (one that I don't think would be as likely as my having a cat) would be a horse. So so far, I'm up to dog, cat, owl, and horse. Not to mention how great I think half the other creatures belonging to the animal kingdom are. But, for the purpose of this post, I am going to choose the cat, very specifically, my favorite is Ellie, though I may be biased.

I am also choosing our feline friend because I just read a wonderful book called Cleo, which can be found here if you like my review so much that you just have to read it (look at that I made another working link! And, once again all links open in a new tab so you don't have to interrupt the reading of my super exciting writing.)
I have to admit that I've always had a soft spot for animal biographies, and this book had pretty much everything I could ask for of a book. It had a strong story line with well developed characters (so you actually give a shit what happens to them), quotes at the beginning of each chapter (yes, this is a selling point for me), a love story with a strong female character (we're talking superhero strong), and very few editing mistakes.
Without giving too much away, this is a story of a woman and her family who face unimaginable tragedy and a cat who saves them all. Cleo (star of the book and the title's namesake) shows up in the wake of devastation and stays with her family (or her slaves depending on how she's feeling that day) until she feels they are healed enough for her to move on. She moves cities and later continents with her family, watches over a total of 3 children, though she has a special bond with just one, and helps Helen (the author) interview for all important roles in her life. She teaches the family how to take each day at a time and how to live again, even better than before. Helen writes about the ways that Cleo specifically helped her heal emotionally, but also touches on the scientific benefits of a cat as a healer. Maybe I could have read a science book about this so that I could see references and studies that prove this idea, but it was much more touching, and even more believable to read first hand experience of how one cat helped one family. She also discusses a cat's philosophy on how to deal with life, which teaches some valuable lessons about how to live life to the fullest.
The front of this book has a quote saying "The next Marley and Me," but honestly, I've read that one too and this one was far better. Don't get me wrong, I loved the dog book, too, but Cleo is one of those books that, if allowed, will literally touch your heart in a way that only a story of heartache and healing can, and teach you along the way.
So I said that it taught me important lessons. I was reminded that my cat is not the only one who seems to be out of her mind sometimes, running around and tearing up anything she is capable of in the process. I learned that a cat's purr reduces stress. Seriously, try holding a {loving, purring} cat for a few minutes the next time you're worried about the bills or homework or whatever you're worried about (trust me, Helen's problems were very likely at least as serious). I practiced this for the past week or so since I've been reading the book, and I have to admit that it honestly calms my nerves better than anything else I have tried. And, of course, since it's a memoir, that does mean that it has an ending similar to Marley and Me, I'm not giving anything away. But it made me hold Ellie a little closer and just hope upon hope that I'll have her around for the next 23  years. There's no animal, that I've found, that has such personality like a cat. As the book states, it's for any cat lover, and those who say they're not, but deep down know they love cats, too. Have a box of tissues ready, but be ready to learn, to laugh, and to either want to hold your own cat close or start hoping one finds its way to you.
Next up on my animal biographies are going to be Wesley, the Owl and Dewey.

Have a super, fantastic, great day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 1: Something Small

Day 1: The first step is the hardest, so start small today and make something that fits in the palm of your hand…

Because I am, once again, writing, not making anything physically, I had to adapt this a little. I decided to focus on the word small. I thought about how small we are in the grand scheme of the universe (way too serious and a little depressing/unnerving), what it would be like if I was a really tiny person (like I could fit in the palm of a person’s hand), or what if I was just short. I realized that I’m not so good at writing fiction so threw all those ideas right back where they came from.
Instead of trying to run with any of these ideas, all night at work, I thought about “small things.” I tried to think of small things that irritate me: people who won’t buy a card when you know it’ll actually legitimately save them money, people who reach over and type things on your register (yes, this happened tonight), people who won’t leave at the end of the night, people who leave piles of books everywhere. These small things all add up to a big giant rage pile inside of me that at the end of most nights means I come home and bitch to J. about how I hate everyone in the world. He’s super patient, but I imagine this gets old. Then I realized that I was, again, focusing on the negative. Not only was I focusing on the negative, I was focusing on what other people were doing. And I can’t control what other people do. At some point during my shift, this quote just hit me out of nowhere:
“Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.” ~ Winston Churchill
“Well,” I thought toward this man, “Mr. Churchill you have a good point there, I guess.” But then I whined, “what if I don’t want a good attitude and don’t want to make a difference?”
Then I realized I was being completely silly and stubborn. So I did what my Mama raised me to do, and put my big girl face on and dealt with the jerks who came in super late and the stupid people looking for a blue book with no title or author or subject. I also remembered a conversation with my friend, let’s call him C., while working in the drive thru at my previous job.
“C.” I said. “I hate when people can’t figure out how to read a menu, especially when they come in every day.”
“Just remember, it’s gotta be hard going through life being that stupid. They aren’t just dumb when they come here, it’s everywhere. And that’s gotta be a tough life,” C. responded.
Even though it may seem mean, neither of us ever called the person stupid and it served its purpose: 1. It made me laugh and 2. it reminded me that it basically wasn’t my problem. It was their issue that they couldn’t think, and I was not, and still am not, responsible for anything but helping to the best of my capability based on the information provided. I cannot be expected to know every blue book in the store (though, if it’s a new one, sometimes I can get lucky and find it because, yeah, I am that good). I never put in my resume that I am psychic or that I have magical powers so this is not a requirement of any job I’ve had. Though, it would be useful most of the time.
By looking at people this way, I can make it through each shift more easily without killing someone and without blaming everyone else for how I feel.
Yeah, I still came home and bitched to J. but really, what else do people talk about? (I’m kidding, I just haven’t broken the habit yet.)
Look at that something small enough to be within one’s own control and it STILL has that much power.
Oh look at that, I just wrote something creative for day 1. I am a brilliant writer already!

Have a super, fantastic great day!

Every Year

At the start of every new year, I tell myself I'll become a great writer this year. This year, I'll have something worth writing about, and I'll do it, and people will love to read whatever it is that I write. Well, this year was no different. This year, 2012, started out with a million new changes in my life. I started school back up after a break that was much too long, I created a new blog (yes, I did this at the beginning of the year and it's already almost February before I posted, but I'll get to that), I created a new Facebook, I moved to a new apartment with a new roommate, I spent the first few days with my still fairly new boyfriend, oh, and did I mention, I got a divorce!!! There were so many changes that I probably could have blogged about. I probably could write my whole life story, but I just don't feel like it's that worth telling. Not yet. So I thought maybe I'd do some reviews this year. Maybe I'd create this great blog (that nobody reads) where I review books and movies and TV shows. Oh, who am I kidding, I'd only be reviewing books because I never watch anything. But of course Boyfriend (after this point, he will be referred to as J.) already has a project and is going to review books and stuff and I don't wanna be a big, fat copycat.
If you're reading this and made it this far, you just got a standing ovation because seriously, my life is boring. Not blog worthy. But after all this debate, I realized that a whole month has almost passed me by and I haven't written a damn thing in all this time. So maybe I'll just write about my adventures with J. Or maybe I'll write about Roommate and his girlfriend. (They will be known as D. and K. respectively.) Kitty (my cat) and S (the dog) may provide some material I guess? But somehow, someway I want to write about SOMETHING! I want to get back into the habit of writing, or blogging, or what have you.

So first blog (I know this should be enough in itself but I want something beyond just a "My Life is Super Boring" intro) will be about why I've decided I need to start writing.

It's a review. For a book. haha too bad J. hasn't started his blog yet so maybe he'll look like a copy cat. Except everyone knows about his project. But that's okay because no one is reading mine anyway.

So this book, I bought it pretty soon after I started working at the BAM. It's called: A Daily Creativity Journal 365: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! This was at a time when I really needed a change in my life so I thought hey, I'll become creative. Yeah, no it turns out, I'm still not very creative. I see the world in lines. I see it in pieces. Sometimes, I get really lucky and the whole thing comes together. I know my strengths and we'll just put this one in my weakness category, along with being able to tell a story succinctly. But hey, maybe that will help me on this road to becoming some amazing writer.
Now this book. It gives you ideas of what to make every day. It helps you stretch your mind, the creative side, and gets you out of a rut, if it works. In case I'm doing a terrible job explaining the book, you can click here for Amazon's much more efficient description and all the great reviews. (Side note: I just inserted a hyperlink and it works! And it will open in a new window so as not to disrupt your reading pleasure! Yeah, I'm that good.) Now there are some strange ideas for what to write about. For instance, Day One: Make something that fits in the palm of your hand using only materials in your immediate environment. But I think that will be part of the challenge. I will come up with a story that has to do with smallness. Or something. Yeah, this will be great. I think some days I will digress from the book (as I do any other time I talk or write) because I have other things to write about sometimes. Ok, not often, but sometimes. But I will try to follow it somewhat. And I will write. A lot. Unless I'm busy. Because sometimes people are busy. I will not promote this page except one time (right now) so if you forget to read and realize, wow, her life got really interesting and I missed it. Well, this was your warning, but it was long so I understand.

Have a super, fantastic great day!