Challenge: ACCEPTED!

Oh dear, what treacherous unscripted suicidal plot have I unearthed?!

Sure, challenges help build character, and testing limits often brings to light unsubstantiated boundaries.

But this? Chainsaws! High octane, rip-roaring, mauling “metal teeth of fury” chainsaws!

I’m concurrently skipping around with hula-hoops encircling my ankles, running up and down forty miles of highway daily, to and from the office, performing like a circus monkey for the corporate hierarchy while simultaneously monitoring the parade of cavorting high-school-aged monkeys and  tossing baked peanuts and other protein-rich snacks their direction – to fend off “h-anger” attacks. I’ve already got the spinning plates of Master’s classes, piled high with research reports, group projects, and computerized tests, delicately balanced so that their coinciding due dates match perfectly with governmental filing deadlines.

This is just throwing chainsaws into the mix!

Maybe chainsaws and raw eggs…

… chainsaws and feather pillows …

(no, wait! I think I’m just overly tired – note to self: must get more than 13 hours sleep over the course of 4 nights)

Sorry about that!

So, where were we? Oh, yes! Chainsaws and raw eggs… I think that’s the best I can do right now. I could go down the lines of juggling chainsaws in yellow rain slickers, since after all, the concept is ‘preparing for a rainy day’, but that would be a bit absurd, don’t you think?

While perusing another blogger’s site, I came across this 30-day challenge, and who doesn’t love a challenge, right? (…me! I hate challenges… oh, wait, rhetorical question… sorry…) The task: “Blog Ahead”! Now, what does that mean exactly? The concept is to carve out time during this challenge period, preceded only by a budget-breaking jaunt to the nearest Costco to stockpile every tasty packaged carbohydrate, gallons of your preferred caffeinated “go-juice”, and perhaps the obligatory fruit, vegetable, and theatre-box of chocolatey confections, hermit yourself away from the outside world, draped in your trusty flannel camp shirt (you know the one – with the singed hole in the pocket where the hot ember from the popping log burrowed its way to a quick death) and tie-waist knit pants that mop the floor with each step, and simply because you’ve committed yourself to this challenge, release the floodgates of unsurpassed inspiration, harmonious word synergy, and captivating musings without nary a hiccup or belch, and emerge after 30 days, with a surplus of 30 “stockpiled” blog posts, for those times when inspiration is as fleeting as a bargain price on gasoline, or when, you know, life.

For someone such as myself – one who has chosen to post once a week as opposed to every day (please refer to ‘note to self’ earlier in this post…) – the end result would be to have 30 blog posts in addition to the (*ahem* conceivably already written *insert laugh here*) four blog posts for the month of October (there being four Tuesday/Wednesdays in the month of October in 2016), for a total of 34 blog posts, from which I could pick and choose as circumstances dictate.

That seems all well and good. But for anyone who has read my posts (this one included), it is obvious I’m not a “pre-written blog post” kind of poster. And why is that? Because it’s not in my character – usually. However what I do find intriguing about this challenge (aside of the host site’s name – seriously! “Herding Cats & Burning Soup”! I just had to join, on that name alone!!), is the incentive to spend some time at least cultivating post ideas, AND massaging those ideas that have already manifested themselves over the past several weeks, but that I’ve neglected due to other hula-hoops, toasted peanuts, cavorting monkeys, and spinning plates…

So, before any chainsaws get thrown into the mix, I’m heading to Costco for a silo of Pepsi and a box of four-cheese rice crackers (don’t judge!), I’m ramping up my research skills so that final reports are nothing shy of technical “blog posts”, and alerting my circle… triangle (??)… of friends that I’ll be off the radar until after the Great Pumpkin visits with Linus in the pumpkin patch.

Anyone else up for chainsaws and eggs?? Here’s a link to sign up for the fun challenge!

http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com/2016/08/Blog-Ahead-Sign-Up-2016.html#more

Next on the menu: …peanut butter severed monkey finger omelets… or, feather pillows…

A cog in THE MACHINE

I do see, acknowledge, ponder, and even (mentally) respond to some of those “one word” or “two word” writing prompts that pop up from time to time; however, recently, I haven’t had a lot of free time to pen out long, thought-provoking chronicles, or even insightfully toasty chestnuts of wisdom to share with the masses (school will do that to a person’s cache of unobligated minutes – note previous post, “6,810”…). That’s not to say that I ignore the prompts entirely either, avoiding any version of “eye contact”, as one would, trying to escape the shopping store without being accosted by the newspaper vendor offering a free Sunday issue, the cable/dish t.v. service vendor trying to make small talk, or those adorable Capitalists-in-training, with their boxes and tubs of chocolate, popcorn, and cookies. No, I admit, while most of them I give only a passing glance, gnaw on the concept for a fleeting moment or two to see if it’s flavorful, and usually expel before any ache takes form in my jaw or head, some of them get stuck in my teeth, forcing me to wrestle with them for longer than a hiccup, and darn if unsolicited ideas don’t start to form like dastardly rain clouds over a long-awaited beach party.

One such prompt was the single word, “Melody”. I’m sure there are a million different directions a ripe mind could take this term. I think, however, when I happened across it, my mind was beyond ripe, and the term steam-rolled right over me, spewing creative juices and seeds of introspection throughout the entirety of my conscious. The hardest part about the whole experience was finding the time to make something coherent out of it – whether there were enough logical pieces to dice up, throw together with peppery bits, emotional, tear-inducing slivers, zingy one-liners, and serve it all with a big bowl of corniness, or whether I’d just have to scoop up the remnants, continue to grind away and just make a saucy pulp out of it.

Now, most people know what a melody is, but in case there are any doubts, let me just state the basics: a melody is the succession of single tones in musical compositions, producing a distinct musical phrase or idea, and is considered the principal part in a harmonic composition (thank you Dictionary.com). That was easy enough. So why all the fuss? Why did this word hit like a drum line before kick-off at the Homecoming Game? Because after giving a moment’s thought to “melody”, I began to consider its partner, “harmony”. And, well, there’s been a serious lacking of “harmony” in my life lately.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with a good friend the day before my classes began this term, and she and I got on the topic of employment (ugh… that can be as painful as slicing open your finger with the edge of paper, and drowning that cut in a vat of salty lemon juice! But, I digress…). She is wise, this friend of mine; wise, loving, patient, and encouraging! Knowing that I’ve wrestled from time to time with my choice to forego personal pursuits for the tediousness of “obligation” and valiantly wearing the mask of “responsibility”, she assured me that hope was not lost, and that the opportunity may still exist to shake off the dust of corporate society and rekindle the fiery passion I once coddled like a iridescent soap bubble whimsically dancing on the breeze just above the death-spikes of the spring lawn. But, alas, I explained to her my years and years of “conditioning”, my submission to conformity, and my subsequent fashioning into the perfect corporate “cog”. She just smiled, gave me a hug, and told me I was not “a cog”! Bless her!

What that conversation made me realize was that much of my life – especially recently – lacked depth. I submitted early to the idea that creativity was unacceptable and that conformity was essential for survival (find a career path that was sustainable regardless of economic and geographical circumstances). I carried that ideology from my youth, through my young adulthood, and into my later years. My life-song was pure melody; there was no acceptance of random, complementary high and low notes, lofty imaginativeness, intoxicating fervor, vision, talent, and originality, despite my admiration of such occurrences in others’ lives. I hid “symptoms” of inspiration, knowing that one could not sing both melody and harmony simultaneously, and I knew it was wrong to abandon the “principal parts” in life. Therefore, I would stick to the melody, and allow my song to be flat, monotonous.

That’s all and well – for me. However, I have children. And I feel that I’ve done them a terrible disservice! By carrying this philosophy of “conformity” and “obligation”, I fear that I may have strangled the creativity out of their spirits – just as was done to me when I was younger. Not having much of an advocate to help foster ingenious and innovative thinking, colorful and charismatic dreaming, and fanciful and flagrant cavorting, I did not know how to be such an advocate for my children – at least not wholeheartedly. I hope I may have slipped from time to time, and said something encouraging back before the weight of the world came crashing in on them; I pray that they still harbor flames of inspiration within their souls, and coax it out to at least toast a marshmallow or two! If nothing else, I openly say at this time I am deeply sorry if my “cog”-iness was more desert than your pools of enchantment could endure. My wish for you, my dear children (and for anyone on the brink of suspended animation) is to pursue what makes your heart soar! Live for your dreams, and never allow yourself to become a cog of the system – conditioned and effectively lifeless. Stand tall. Stand proud. Stand out.

As the reader-board in front of the physical therapy clinic put it so succinctly:

‘Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.’

Wet Paint

It’s all so new! Like walking out of the nail salon with that fresh coat of high-gloss scarlet, screaming “stop and stare at me!” I’ve been talking about doing this for quite some time; I can’t believe I’ve actually seen this project to fruition! [hesitant happy-dance] Now let’s see if I can get home without smudging my new paint job…

This blog is two-fold: it was initially conceived as a venue for creative outlet and just a place to do what I love – to write! Whether sharing fun stories from a catastrophically chaotic day at the office, or musing about the four-legged furbabies around the house, I knew I needed something that pulled me out of the doldrums of tax preparation and restored a sense of youthfulness, inspiration, and wonder that I found lacking in my life as of late. As I fought to concentrate on topics, however, a few of my closet skeletons began to scratch and claw at that back door of my mind, whining and wailing to be set free. Several years ago, I started writing a book when struck by an incredibly forceful vein of inspiration. Everything from job stress, to several family relocations, to medical complications, to computer failures, to just plain ol’ writer’s block – not to mention a little bit of life – interrupted the forward momentum of the story, and it remained dormant. Like late tax returns needing to be filed, the incomplete pages began to weigh heavy on me, but the concept was still so scattered. In talking with several friends, they suggested I just start writing… Just write! So that’s what I’ve done. I started writing. And sure enough, the ideas began to flow again, which was exhilarating – and oddly, exhausting at the same time, as I am not as young as I used to be, and my days are quite occupied otherwise!

Nonetheless, I have decided to utilize this blog for both musings of the recreational sort, and for further advancement of my story. My posts may contain odd antidotes about some random visit to the grocery store, and the conversation I fell into with a product demonstrator, or it may share a tidbit about a piece of the story I was able to accomplish in the days leading up to the post. Either way, I do hope you find the posts entertaining. And, I do encourage your feedback! I love to hear what’s on your mind! Did something I share spark a memory? Are you experiencing a similar scenario in your life or workplace? Do you just need some encouragement, whether you’re writing a piece of fiction, a research paper for school, or just trying to make it from one day to the next? 

My goal is to publish new posts at least once a week (I’m aiming for the ‘unscripted’ hours between Friday evening and sunrise on Monday morning), but if things are going well – meaning, if I’m not putting in too much overtime at the office, all the homework is done, and the house is not asunder – I may sneak in an additional post from time to time.

With that said, here we go!