What I Really Want To Scream Out Loud is...

sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens (Final Set)

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Sometimes what I really want to scream out loud is…

Click through my slide show for my spin on this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday!

Enjoy the final set of sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens.

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“Oh, You’re a Joiner” – Why I Joined NanoWrimo.

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She sat across from me at the local coffee shop, checking her phone, looking around as we “got to know each other.” I was the new gal in town and since it wasn’t my first rodeo, I was out there doing what I do best or at the very least what I know I need to do to acquire that sense of belonging in a new place. I was reaching out to a fellow mom, a local, in the hopes of finding that one friend that can instantly take you from outsider status to outsider with a friend status.

We discussed the move, the re-locations before this one, the kids and all the other usually safe topics that come up in polite conversation. In some ways, it was like the job interview I didn’t see on my wall calendar that morning as I stood in the kitchen, coffee in hand, making sure I didn’t forget my kid’s project or overlook a dentist appointment. I recall finding it strange when she glanced up from her phone to ask me what I was into in high school. Both in our late thirties, I didn’t see the relevance of her question given that neither one of us was likely the same person we were during the most terrifying, unsettling, and awkward four years of a person’s life. Nonetheless, I happily chimed on about being athletic, a cheerleader, class secretary, etc.

In the midst of my recounting my nose always having been in a book and how many of my friends were with me from kindergarten through high school, she suddenly glanced up and said, “Oh, you’re a joiner.” I paused mid-sentence, “Excuse me?” She repeated, “You’re a joiner” and went back to her cellphone. I sat in silence for a moment, not exactly sure why I felt offended by her nonchalant comment.

Truth be told, all the activities I had mentioned were clubs of some sort. Maybe it was the way she said the word “joiner” that made it sound like a negative thing. Maybe it was because as I had gotten older, I had begun to take pride in being my own person, standing up for my beliefs and following my passions no matter what other’s opinions might be. Maybe it was because the last thing I now saw myself as was a “joiner.” Instead, priding myself on being more of an individual. Maybe it was just the way she said it with such conviction, as though she had me all figured out. Then again, maybe it was because I didn’t want to admit there might be some truth to it.

nano_13_shirt_bubble_main

This week is the first week of something called NanoWrimo, National Novel Writing Month, which is “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1st. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30th.”

This mother of two, wife of one, writer and weekly blogger, crazy lady who should be committed, instead committed to this challenge because keeping the house clean, the laundry done, and getting back into my regular workout routine with my new personal trainer isn’t enough. Apparently, I need more!

Cry for Help: I’ve lost my mind. If found, please return immediately as I’m going to need it to complete this novel and, you know, other stuff in my life.

The thing is ever since this summer when my husband and I decided to enroll the kids in school instead of continuing to homeschool them, I’ve been saying I would use the “free” time to write my second book, a novel. Somehow, I never find that “free”time to dedicate to it. So, when the NanoWrimo talk started last month my “joiner” wheels started spinning. An actual goal, a commitment to join the masses all working toward a similar goal, complete with pep talks by famous authors and a community of support every step of the way. By the way, I was giddy to find a letter from James Patterson in my inbox discussing the importance of outlining my novel before beginning. I took your advice Mr. Patterson, thank you.

So, yeah I guess I am a “joiner” but right now I don’t see it as a negative thing. If being a “joiner” means being a part of something bigger alongside some amazing writers and sharing in the highs and lows of pursuing a dream, completing a project, reaching a goal, then color me a “joiner” and let me be.

If it means on those days when - I’m struggling to get my kids off to school on time, not in their pajamas, with more than a pop tart and glass of recently expired (but not so expired as to be dangerous) milk, all while mentally kicking myself in the butt for believing for two seconds I would be able to pull off coherent sentences with only the creativity found in the bottom of a second cup of coffee, let alone write a complete novel in a one month period – I will log onto my NanoWrimo community and find that others can relate and share in my self doubt and misery, then I’m proud to be a “joiner” and will shout it from the rooftops!

Bring it on “joiner” haters!

I’ll be the one with the completed  semi-completed novel (depending on how much “free time” I have) at the end of November.

“I’m a joiner! He’s a joiner! Wouldn’t you like to be a joiner too? Be a joiner! Oohh be a joiner! (sung to the Dr. Pepper jingle)

Are you a joiner?

Merry-Go-Round’s Final Round

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I was different.

I knew this from a very young age.

I also knew I wasn’t different in the way other kids thought I was.

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Alone in the Playground by Michelle Weber

If I’m being honest, I felt closer to animals than the people around me, and maybe that’s something they picked up on. I didn’t have many friends, although it wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s just I wasn’t interested in their games. Pretending to save the world from make-believe villains seemed silly to me when there were true villains all around us, and so many who needed saving. Why pretend when we could take action? In turn, they weren’t interested in helping me carry a bird with a broken wing to safety or studying the caterpillar and guessing what colors it would be dressed in when it became a butterfly.

My disinterest in their imaginary playground adventures, only caused to further distance the other kids, which is why anyone watching me that week didn’t give my sitting off to the side another thought. Even back then, I knew I couldn’t save the world, but there were smaller acts I knew in my heart could make a difference.

I tuned out Ms. Valerie’s reminders on studying our vocabulary words for tomorrow’s test, and furiously scribbled the spelling words in my notebook as I stole glances at the clock. I tapped my foot, rocked my chair, and twirled my pencil, nervously anticipating the sound of the bell that would signal lunch hour. I was halfway out of my seat with my brown paper lunch sack in hand when the bell finally rang. I practically ran out the doors to the playground and took my post at the merry-go-round much like I did every day. The rusty old merry-go-round had gone its last round. No longer adventurous enough for the others it was often neglected. Like me, it had been pushed out-of-the-way, off to a corner of the playground where it didn’t get noticed much. It wasn’t that I was afraid someone would want my spot, more that they would discover my secret.

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I waited until everyone was distracted with their lunches and slowly crouched down under the merry-go-round. As I looked at the animals circling me above, I silently thanked them for protecting our sweet friends below. I pulled out my milk carton, poured it into the old plastic container I had hidden near the fence, and presented it to the sweet kittens that had become my closest friends this past week. As much as I wished to remain with them in this little alcove of ours, I also knew that drawing attention to them wasn’t a good idea. Back then, the thought never crossed my mind that there were people out there who didn’t instinctively love animals, but I had seen how some of the kids would throw rocks at birds that were perched on the slide or take a stick to a bug just to watch it ooze. It was something I didn’t understand.

I still don’t. The years have come and gone since the days when I sat watch over those kittens, many years of witnessing abused and neglected animals arrive at my clinic. Some I’ve been able to save. Others I’ve lost. In many ways I’m still that little girl who doesn’t understand that there are people in this world who don’t instinctively love animals. Worse yet, there are some who wish to hurt them. They should know, my joints may be a bit rusty and I may move a bit slower, but unlike the old merry-go-round I still have a few rounds left in me and will help and protect these innocent animals until my final round.

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This was my creative response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words:  A fictional story based on the photo, Alone in the Playground, would be great. (Who is this little girl? Where is she? What is she waiting for? Where is her family?), but we also look forward to non-fiction posts inspired by the photo. How does the image make you feel? Does the girl remind you of anyone in your life, or of yourself? Are you as scared of the unidentifiable green creature as we are, and is that a nose or a beak?

The challenge is called “1,000 Words” after the famous phrase, but don’t feel that you need to write that much (or that little) — however many words your story requires is the right number of words. Feel free to include the image in your post, with a link back here.

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Related Articles:

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/

http://www.nycferalcat.org/info-kittensnew.htm

http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/wordpress/2013/05/what-to-do-and-not-do-if-you-find-a-newborn-kitten/

http://www.petadoptionnetwork.org/?page_id=182

Rock On!

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rockwallThat’s me. My first attempt at a five-story rock wall.

As I stood on the ground getting all harnessed up, the attendant shared some wisdom with me. The young girl nonchalantly said, “At some point while climbing the wall, most people are gripped by fear. The thing to remember is the fear doesn’t become greater if you continue to climb. It’s the same amount of fear whether you choose to continue or you choose to quit. You might as well keep going until you reach the top.”

Isn’t that what life is all about?

She was right. I reached a certain point to catch my breath, and it was then that I was gripped with fear. Did I mention I’m afraid of heights? Apparently, I paused just long enough for some spectators on the ground to believe this was the moment I would quit. I didn’t quit. I kept hearing the attendant’s words in my head, and while my muscles were screaming for me to quit and just repel back down to safety, I kept going. I kept going because I had a dream, a goal, a purpose and if she was right then I was going to see it through because my fear wouldn’t become any greater the further I climbed.

With each step I climbed, I felt a change within me. As I carefully placed my foot on each rung, and pulled myself up a little higher, I felt stronger mentally if not physically. And, when I finally reached the top, I was drained, exhausted, and a bit disappointed that I didn’t hear any bells or whistles or see any fireworks. However, I didn’t have any regrets. As I repelled down the wall to safety, I felt lighter than I ever have.

We’ve all been there. The rock wall just takes on another form depending on what we are individually going through at the moment. Keep climbing, face your fear, and climb some more. The feeling that awaits is well worth the climb. You may not get a fireworks display (unless you add your own like I did), but I bet you won’t have any regrets either.

Are you facing or have you faced your own rock wall?

Tell me about it!

Photo Friday – The Golden Hour

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 The Golden Hour

 In photography, the “golden hour” is the first and last hour of sunlight of the day. Photographers venture out on sunrise hikes or sunset treks to capture a magical shot, due to the quality of the light during that time of day. It is sometimes referred to as “the magic hour” especially in cinematography. Film director Terrence Malick has used this technique in films such as Days of Heaven,[4] The New World, and The Tree of Life (in the case of The New World, the entire film was shot in this hour or blue hour); and film director Stanley Kubrick made extensive use of the golden hour in Full Metal Jacket, among others.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Daily Post at WordPress.com

Other Photography Posts by Little Miss Wordy: Color, Lessons in Gardening, Lost in the Details

The Snoop Dog Rap: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

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This week’s writing challenge: The Best Medicine is an invitation to “Poke fun at yourself, write a limerick, find the absurdity in a real-life situation, come up with some groan-worthy puns, sketch a comic, put some fictional characters in a farcical situation — all’s fair in comedy.”

Obviously I don’t have a humor blog, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this photo I took on my recent trip to The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C.!

New to the neighborhood, walking down the street

Wondering ’bout the neighbors I’ve yet to meet

Got my dogs on the leash, poop bag in hand

My sneakers on my feet, to avoid the sand

Loving the weather, loving the breeze

People so friendly, bless you when you sneeze

Pet owners walking toward other owners

Business suits, runners and even stoners

All give the nod, the slight shake of the head

Says it’s damn early to be outta bed.

Size doesn’t matter, we’ve all heard it

‘Cept when your dog drops a tiger sized sh*t.

photo credit: littlemisswordy

photo credit: littlemisswordy

Pooping tiger released the dragon

Looks to me like you shoulda brought the wagon

No worries, no laughs, wait a minute ’til it’s cooled

All us dog owners have been schooled

By the big breeds, small breeds, the growlers and the barkers

The shy types, sweet ones, and even the stalkers.

We all bow down to our four legged poopers

Embrace our role as human scoopers

Scented bag in hand no match for this steamer

We just keep smiling like we won a Beemer

Well behaved, highly trained, Chihuahua that goes insane

The mangy brown one or the golden-haired mane

The executive, the artist, the homeless man

The bus driver, the banker, and the UPS man

The competitive show dog or the lab who farts

We immediately connect cuz they’ve stolen our hearts.

Frame Of Mind

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Picasso said, “You don’t make art, you find it” and while I realize his words had another meaning, that is just what we did. Today’s Daily Prompt could not have been better timed for me. In our recent hunt for a new home we looked at many, each offering something unique. However, when it came to narrowing it down only one truly felt like home. The views alone were art in and of itself, every window showcasing either a city landscape or Mother Nature’s oceanic masterpiece and that was just what our eyes feasted on outside. Inside, the walls surrounded us with artful displays that spoke to us. Truth be told I’m not well versed when it comes to art, but it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate beauty and talent when I see it through the artist’s eye. Walking through this home, I had a different frame of mind. It felt warm and inviting. Even my children have found an appreciation for art, making their own small contributions to the walls, further enhancing the feeling of home.

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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ― Pablo Picasso

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“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

One Ring To Rule Them All – edited (Weekly Writing Challenge)

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YO MR. WHITE! AND MR. STRUNK!

The infamous Strunk and White, purveyors of compositional advice, implore us to omit needless words in our writing. American author Ernest Hemingway, nicknamed “Papa,” embraced this writing philosophy. Known for an unadorned, sparse prose style, he favored short sentences with strong verbs and very few adjectives or adverbs. While Hemingway is well known for this style, he — like the rest of —worked hard at his writing:

Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.

– Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Review Interview, 1956

OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS

In writing, it’s important to omit needless words, the cruft that obscures what you’re trying to say to your reader. Never use more words than you really need to communicate — be brutal: remove all the words unnecessary to conveying meaning. Let’s look at one example.

Consider this sentence. There are 19 words. Most of the words are cruft:

In order to fully understand and absorb a piece of writing I must go about reading it many times.

After revising, we’re down to eight words — less than half of the original sentence and the meaning remains.

To understand a text, I must re-read it.

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Based on this week’s writing challenge, I chose to edit an older post to half the original word count.

It was no easy feat for Little Miss Wordy!

Thank you Krista!

The Original Piece (828 words)

Wedding-Ring2

The digital clock on the nightstand read 3:43 am, as I awoke from a deep sleep to the sound of what could only be bad news. Phones ringing in the middle of the night don’t often carry with them the promise of anything good on the other end, especially when your spouse works the night shift. Still, I hesitated to answer it as I looked around the room as though looking through an old window covered in a thick, grimy film. Three rings, then four rings. On the fifth ring, my arm stretched out in a wooden motion as though someone was holding the marionette strings that were forcing my body to perform the actions my mind was trying so hard to resist. I picked up the receiver, and before I could say a single word was inundated with an avalanche of words tumbling out in a voice I was more familiar with than the very palm that held the phone. I inhaled deeply, filling my lungs with air, slowly lifting the weight that seconds earlier was crushing my chest. My relief at hearing his voice didn’t allow me to focus on his words. In his endless string of hurried phrases strung together with pauses to catch his own breath, I could only make out a few words. Wedding. Flood. Ring. Elevator. Almost died. That last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet oblivious to the icy tiles they landed upon as they paced the tiny bedroom that was our first as bride and groom. The room that held pillow talks long into the night of memories, dreams, and all the whispers that forever join two people together now closed in on me as I pieced together the story of how my husband almost drowned for fear of losing the very symbol of the love this tiny room had seen in our first years of marriage.

He worked the night shift at the hospital, and had headed down to the basement for a snack to keep him awake, as the sounds of hours of thunderstorms and falling rain had begun to lull him to sleep. As the ding announcing the elevator’s arrival sounded, the doors opened only a couple of inches, but enough for a steady stream of water to gush through and begin to fill the elevator. No matter how often or how forcefully he pounded the elevator buttons, the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. He worked his hands into the slight opening and with what could only have been the force of an adrenaline rush, pried open the doors enough to slip through into the flooded basement and find the nearest staircase. A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was no longer on his finger. For most, panic would have set in as the elevator flooded. As he describes it, the moment he realized his ring was missing was when the real panic set in for him. He headed back down to the basement, and waded his way through the water for what seemed like an eternity, searching desperately for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. As emotions threatened to overcome him, in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and something else as he reached down and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is only a material item, a piece of metal with more sentimental value than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger in front of all their loved ones, it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops declaring their love for another. It is a vault of memories and special moments shared by just the two of them, that each carry close to their heart, reliving those moments with a quick glance at their hand. It is a constant reminder of the love shared by two human beings. It represents a lifetime commitment to share in the good with each other, to support each other in the toughest of times, and to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay? What right does our government have to deny this and so much more to a couple simply because they happen to be of the same sex? Why should they jump through rings to be allowed the same rights heterosexual couples are automatically given?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

The Edited Version (410 words)

Wedding-Ring2

It was 3:43am. The sound of the phone ringing awoke me from a deep sleep. I feared it was bad news and hesitated to answer it. On the fifth ring, I willed myself to reach for it, fighting the fear of what awaited me. I picked up the receiver and heard my husband’s voice. His words tumbled together…wedding-flood-ring- elevator-almost died. The last one caused me to bolt out of bed, my feet hitting the icy cold tiles in the tiny bedroom that held our love story. He frantically told me how that night he had almost lost his life and the symbol of that love story, his wedding band.

The stormy weather during that night’s shift, was making him sleepy and he had headed to the hospital basement for a snack. When he arrived, the elevator doors partially opened and water began to quickly fill the elevator. He pounded the elevator buttons, but the doors wouldn’t budge and the water kept rising. An adrenaline rush allowed him to push apart the doors just enough to slip out and find the nearest staircase.

A few hours later, he realized his wedding ring was missing and that’s when the real panic set in. He headed back to the basement and waded his way through the water for some time, desperately searching for a small piece of gold that meant the world to him. Then in the small corner of the elevator he saw a glimmer of hope and pulled his wedding ring to the surface.

A wedding ring is a piece of metal with more sentimental than monetary value. However, for the two people who place that ring on each other’s finger it is so much more. It is a shout from the rooftops. It is a vault of memories. It is a constant reminder of their love, and represents a lifetime commitment to add more love to this sometimes dismal world of ours. How could that ever be a bad thing? Why should that ever be denied to anyone just because they are gay?

The ring isn’t necessary for two people to show their love for one another. It isn’t necessary to join two people in marriage. The ring itself doesn’t guarantee anything really except the promise of love. How can anyone believe they have the right to forbid a union based on love, when the very essence of love is something that can’t be controlled?

Daily Prompt: Take Care

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photo credit: littlemisswordy

photo credit: littlemisswordy
Photo taken at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC

Today’s Daily Prompt: Take Care

When you’re unwell, do you allow others to take care of you, or do you prefer to soldier on alone?

What does it take for you to ask for help?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us HELP.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

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ESCAPE: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE DISTURBING

Social Media - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Escape. A word that stirs up an endless array of meanings, both at a standard level and a deeply personal one. The mere sound of it whispered softly in one’s ear can ignite the senses of sight and sound propelling us down a road of movie credits, song lyrics, and novels – each a story all its own.

                                                      EACH A STORY ALL OUR OWN.

As I sit here eyes on my computer screen ready to share my thoughts on this week’s photo challenge: Escape, I realize for many the computer screen is a form of escape…a portal by which we connect with others through a social media peephole of photos, status updates, pins, blogs, and tweets.

The Good

For myself as a writer it is a common means of escape. The irony isn’t lost on me as my fingers fly across the keys, rushing to free the words in my head.

My own surroundings – ocean waves crashing the shore and a vision of blue waters as far as the eye can see – there are those who would consider this very setting an escape.

The runner whose escape begins the moment she ties her running shoes and heads out the door, each mile taking her across more than just a physical distance.

The Bad

Images flood my mind of prisons – the physical, the mental, and the emotional cells that hold us prisoner against our will.

A former athlete confined to a wheelchair.

An addict held hostage by the blinding need for another hit.

A young mother trapped in the vicious cycle of an abusive marriage.

A mental health patient stuck in a system of doctors, diagnoses, treatments.

A celebrity smothered in the adoration and attention of overzealous fans.

The Disturbing

And, then there are those images that need no words…themselves a disturbing depiction of the word ESCAPE.

Escape

 If I haven’t scared you off, tell me what good, bad, or disturbing comes to mind when you hear the word escape?