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Be remembered – Make your Mark

Life is interesting. We each only have one at a time, and yet we all know people who waste theirs waiting for it to begin.  I certainly have!

When I was growing up, the formula seemed pretty simple. You grow up, learn about life in school, along with things you need to know like math and writing and social studies and history and all that. You go to college because going to college means you get a degree, and nobody gets a good job without a degree. You might get married. You might have kids. You get a succession of better jobs until you are doing more of the things you want to, then finally you start doing what you were really meant to, and when you retire you can relax all day doing the things you always wanted to do but never had time for.

Not only is that model untrue for quite a few people these days, but it’s also a great waste of time! None of us know how long we’ll have. None of us know how successful we’ll be. Isn’t the main point of life making some kind of mark so we’ll be remembered?

Some people make their mark by having kids. Others do it by starting a charity. Others do it by defending their country. Others do it by having a business. Others do it by writing books, or making art, or writing wildly successful blogs. Others teach. Some people do a bit of all of these. Some do none of it but come up with some other interesting thing. Some wait, because life hasn’t really started.

Life started when we took our first breath.

Every day is a chance to live our dream, make our mark, follow our purpose. The key is making small steps. One day, I realized I was writing a bit every day and could put that effort into a book. I wrote a novel and published it several months later. I learned a lot about writing and publishing. The point isn’t that I wrote a novel, the point is that I did it in bits, by consistent effort. I”d thought previously “someday I’ll be a writer.” Since someday never came, I decided to become one.

We don’t have to wait till we “have it all together” to make our mark.

Since I have no idea how long I’ll live, and neither does anyone else, doesn’t it make sense to start shaping our lives how we want them? There’s always some small thing to do, even if we don’t have time, even if we don’t have money. Mindset is the truest key – if you are determined, you will make opportunities for yourself. Focus will allow you to see the little places where you can make your life a bit more like your ideal image of your life.

In the mean time, I’ll keep working on my blog. If I can touch even one or two people, inspire someone, help someone, or make someone think, then I’ll have made a mark.

Wondering where “Gray” features in this?  Well, in writing about this subject, I thought also of another poem all about making one’s mark – this snippet of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses:

Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 

via Daily Prompt: Gray

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/gray/

A Harmonious Job Interview

Quite a few people are frightened of job interviews.  Here’s how I got over that fear.

I started thinking in a more harmonious way.  I realized, once and for all, that the employer wanted to hire me almost as much as I wanted a job.  All I had to do is show the interviewer how I fit their position.  This doesn’t work a hundred percent of the time, of course, but it removes a lot of stress from the interview process and increased my success rate.

When I go in to interview, the first thing I do is keep a small smile plastered on my face.  My head is up, I’m looking around, I’m friendly with everyone.  If anyone asks how my day is going, I say “great, how’s yours?” or something similar.  I move like I belong there.

When I actually speak with my interviewer, I’m warm and friendly, and I keep in mind that they are just doing their job.  I am thoughtful about my interview responses and I try to inject just a bit of a sense of humor into them.  When I have done the job before, I use that to ask good questions and build rapport.

Yesterday I used this technique to get a job offer.  Not only that, but it was a pleasant, even fun experience, both for the interviewer but also for me.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Harmony

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/harmony/

Frying in Tucson

The dry season is upon us.

In Arizona, it lasts from late fall through midsummer pretty much.  Summer contains the wonderful, fickle, thunder-filled Monsoon.  But the rest of the year is pretty dry.  Now, in mid to late April, we’re warming up nicely.  Soon it will be time for me to be careful when touching the steering wheel of my car.  I’ve gotten blisters before.  Right now my swamp cooler, an evaporative device, is working very well.  It’s a cheap form of air conditioning – a fan blows air through something like a damp sponge to cool the air down.  So it won’t work in high humidity.  Right now if we run the thing full blast we can get the house down to sixty degrees or so.

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In Tucson, keeping cool is an art form.  Sure, you could sit in a modern home and turn on the air conditioning.  Yet, it’s much more fun to find a shady spot, perhaps in a wonderful old adobe building, with open archways to let in the breezes, and sip some cold agua fresca or maybe some real Mexican Coke in the glass bottle.  Yes, it is better.  Maybe a bowl of ceviche when you get hungry.  Now, that’s staying cool in style.  My own place is flat roofed, with heat-shedding cinderblock walls and cool tile floors.  You can open the front and back doors, shut the screens, and let the breezes flow through.  Keep the blinds drawn in the daytime, open them at night, and you’ve got a house that stays at a livable temperature on all but the hottest days.

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Sometimes, though, I don’t hide from the heat.  I get a cool beverage and sit out and bake. Even for just a few minutes, on a work break.  Heat like this is a touchable thing, it’s like being hugged by the day.  It eases my A/C chilled bones and reminds me I’m alive.

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via Daily Prompt: Fry

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fry/

Measuring the wisdom in the Holmes stories

I’m nearly done reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I tried reading them when I was a kid, and couldn’t really get into them. Now I find them fascinating, engaging, and most importantly, educational! I’m not claiming the main characters are paragons of virtue, no one would, however they have much to offer.  Here are some of the things I’ve found in these classic tales.

How best to rest
When they are tired from their adventures, or tired from being bored, Watson and Holmes rarely sit idle. They rest by doing other things. Even when taking long walks, they usually have some other objective. For instance, in one story they go off to a little cottage by the seashore. Though they are there for a rest, they spend their days studying ruins left by the Neolithic Celts and researching their linguistic roots. They are both certainly active and thinking, but they are not doing the things they did in the city. At the beginning of Doyle’s tales, Holmes said that idleness tires him more than activity.

Study the world around you
Over and over, both Holmes and Watson are portrayed as being interested in a variety of subjects. Holmes, for example, has a great interest in classical music, in archaeology, in art, in various subjects of science, handwriting analysis, chemistry, and many other things. Neither Holmes nor Watson waste an opportunity to observe and learn, although there are some things that Holmes admits he doesn’t need to know. Holmes is famous for deducing facts from careful observation, a feat that is only possible with knowledge about many varying subjects.

When you are stuck on a problem, put it aside for a while
When he’s having trouble solving a case, Holmes is frequently seen distracting himself. Though Watson has difficulty with this, Holmes is famous for setting his troubles aside and throwing himself deeply into some recreation such as music or his latest manuscript.

Don’t give up
Holmes often stays with a case, even when circumstances might indicate otherwise. He usually knows when there’s something to be found. Though he might stop and think for a time, or try different things, he doesn’t give up. He keeps questioning, gathering information, and research both likely and unlikely possibilities till he solves the mystery. This tenacity is something to be admired and emulated.

Do your job for passion rather than for fame
Though this sometimes frustrates Watson, Holmes usually solves his cases for the pure satisfaction of doing so. He enjoys the mental puzzle, the chase itself is the reward. When he’s on a really difficult case, he’s always full of energy. That’s true for anyone who has a true vocation, be it a hobby or a job. If you find that work you are most suited to, you will see similar effects.

Be patient
Holmes and Watson are both very patient, though Watson is less so. So long as he knows he’s “on the scent,” Holmes is endlessly patient – he is prepared to wait all night in a dark room, or creep around in the bushes in search of clues. Once, he even went without food and drink for three days so he could catch a criminal. Sure, it’s a fictional account, but it’s a great demonstration of what patience truly means.

Focus on facts rather than feelings
In the Holmes stories, facts are king. Even when others claim that a particular mystery is supernatural in origin, and everyone believes it, Holmes exhausts all mundane options first. It’s not that he says supernatural things are possible, but he makes sure there aren’t any more mundane possibilities. He doesn’t assume anything, and doesn’t let emotion or belief suffice when logic will serve better.

Be kind to your friends
Even though Holmes is famous for his dispassionate demeanor, he is still polite, courtly towards women, and good to his friends. He doesn’t let his unemotionalism make him bitter or overly cold.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Measure

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/measure/

Living Blindly

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to  live blindly.   My father is completely without sight, so I know what it means literally.  I do it all the time in a more figurative sense.

You might wonder how I live blindly even though I can see.  It happens when I don’t think about what I’m doing.  Too often, I react on instinct when I should be thinking first.  I speak without thinking and it causes problems for myself and other people around me.  I don’t see what’s really around me because I’m too busy reacting to what I think I’m seeing.  I live on expectation.

The cure for this is self awareness, which is encouraged by mindful living.  It can be tough at first, but it’s a habit that can be built.  Just think about what you are doing – gently, quietly.  Watch how you react to things.  Observe the world and how it works.  When you forget, fine.  When you remember, start again.  Eventually you’ll build a habit.

My dad will show anyone the meaning of perception versus reality.  Because he is blind, so many people perceive him as helpless.  He’s not!  He’s built sheds and half a cabin, raised and butchered chickens and rabbits, hauled dirt, sawn logs, cut down trees with a two man cross cut saw, split wood, programmed his own word processor, designed robots, put together a 3-d printer from a kit, earned an aerospace degree and a masters in adult education, written several books, fixed a washing machine, and a whole lot more.  His blog is here, if anyone wants to check it out.

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Even though he moves confidently and independently, people still see what their preconceived notions tell them to see, rather than their perceptions.  For instance, one time someone looked at him going up a set of stairs and gushed “that’s AMAZING!”  Not one to overlook an opportunity for fun, he had something to say when he went down the stairs again.  He paused, then said “Amazing Dave is poised on the pad, the gantry is retracted, and we are go for liftoff.”

My dad has helped teach me that living blindly can happen quite a bit in people with sight.  My wife has taught me more, about how not to live blindly.  The key is mindfulness.

 

via Daily Prompt: Blindly

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/blindly/

Artistic Tenacity

To be any kind of an artist, tenacity is a critical skill.  Whether you are writing, painting or dancing, you must continue to push your limits.  When others don’t believe in you, standing firm against the naysayers will allow you to keep creating.  When someone has hard advice, having tenacity will help you take it and improve.  Tenacity can mean being responsive to events, using a setback as an opportunity.  Tenacity makes success possible. Those who don’t have it rarely succeed!

There’s good news.  Even if you’re a person who gives up easily, tenacity can be built.  Though it can be a natural quality, it can also be a habit.  Just practice not giving up.  If you don’t succeed, just try again later.  As a skill, it can be learned.

Winston Churchill knew a lot about tenacity.  When he was young, he was thin and weak, but he made himself an athlete.  He was terrified of public speaking, but he forced himself to learn and became one of the best orators in history.  That spirit serves all artists and creative people well!

Churchill quotes about tenacity:

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.”

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“What is adequacy? Adequacy is no standard at all.”

“It is wonderful what great strides can be made when there is a resolute purpose behind them.”

“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

-Winston Churchill

 

via Daily Prompt: Tenacious

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tenacious/

Mellow Spice Cookies

Need a quick snack that you can share with friends?  Have a deepseated yearning but don’t want to pay high prices or eat a million preservatives?  This recipe will heal that void.  It’s is a variation on a basic recipe but I find it quite delicious.  These cookies are very quick and easy to make.  Depending on how you make them, they are slightly chewy, rather like a soft snickerdoodle.

You will need:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)

2 sticks (one cup) butter or margarine, softened but not melted

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

2 Tb spices (pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, or whatever you like)

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the brown sugar, spices, and baking powder.  Cut the butter into it.  Add the egg.  Mix well.  Add the flour till it turns into a crumbly dough.

Roll dough into balls about an inch and a half across, place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, top will be soft when it first comes out.  Let cool.  Makes about 2 dozen.

These cookies are also great if you substitute vanilla extract and Craisins.  I find that they are a little chewy but crispy on the bottom.  You could experiment with different spices.  I want to try some with Chinese Five Spice, or maybe just ginger and cinnamon!  Though they are far from a health food, it’s well known that having more culinary spices in your diet can help heal certain conditions.  So it’s worth a try if you were going to have cookies anyway!

Troubleshooting

If they spread too much, either the butter is too warm or you used too much sugar.

If you can’t mix the dough, either butter is too cold or you’re using too much flour.

If you are using margarine, use stick margarine like Blue Bonnet or it will be too soft.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/