I Celebrated a Birthday, But Failed to Save a Life.

Have you ever taken a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation class? I took one for a babysitting badge when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember the plastic dummy and going through the routine while hoping to God I’d never have to use it. Flash forward a few decades.

On March 9th, I flew back to Wisconsin for my mom’s eighty-seventh birthday. My brother, Joe McCartan, ordered a cake and I picked up flowers. Mom was so surprised! Over dinner that night, she told us she planned to live a long time. For her one-hundredth birthday, she wants a stylist to dye a blue streak in her hair. I love her attitude.

My brother is the king of joking around. I couldn’t get a picture of him when he wasn’t mugging for the camera.  When I left Colorado it was seventy degrees. Check out the temperature on my brother’s iPad.

Two days later, Joe drove to the butcher to buy steaks to grill and went to a chiropractic appointment. In February, he slid on black ice and crashed his car into a telephone pole. It exacerbated an already sore back.

Later, the three of us watched the UW Badgers cream Northwestern by thirty points. Being a yawnfest, Joe texted on his phone. He’s a highly sought after, free-lance, on-location sound technician for major networks, television, movies and corporations. Very excited, he read the thread out loud. It regarded a commercial he had been hired to record. The company wanted to shoot tight shots of musicians playing the oboe, violin and cello. He had texted the high school music teacher, who had all kinds of ideas.

“The kids will love being in a commercial.” Joe was stoked.

“Sounds like you contacted the right person,” I said and yawned. “I think I’ll take a quick nap.” I walked upstairs to my room.

When I returned downstairs, Mom played Words with Friends in the kitchen while the steaks thawed in a pan. I had planned to walk the dog, but Joe had already left with Charlie. I opened my laptop and wrote my last post about daylight savings time. After dinner I thought it would be fun to play a game and take some group selfies.

Always pretty high energy, Joe burst through the door led by their Collie.

“I just missed you,” I said, looking up from my computer.

“Yep,” was all he said. Then he ran up the back stairs to his apartment behind my mom’s Victorian. I heard his footsteps overhead and then settled in to proof my stupid post.

He moved in a year before my dad passed away and has been taking care of Mom. He’s been a godsend, taking her to appointments, shopping and the little things, like setting the table for meals. He brings her tea and puts her eyedrops in before bed. My mom is super sharp, but has glaucoma and hasn’t been able to drive for years.

When Joe didn’t come downstairs, Mom said, “What’s taking him so long? We need to get the steaks on the grill.”

I shrugged and more time passed.

“Go check on Joe,” she said. “I don’t want to eat at 8:00.”

“Give him a few more minutes,” I said, knowing he liked his privacy.

A few more minutes passed and I ran upstairs.

I opened his door and peeked inside. “Hey, Joe!” I shouted. You have to walk through a kitchen to get to the large open, living and dining space.

“Joe! Time to make dinner,” I shouted through the doorway.

No response.

I stepped inside and saw him chilling in front of the computer. His arms relaxed on the armrests, his head was cocked backward and his mouth hung open.

“No wonder you didn’t hear me. You’re sound asleep.”

Still no response.

Something was wrong. “Joe! JOE!” I raced up to him and patted his pale cheeks.

No response.

“Oh, my God!” I felt for a pulse in his neck, but couldn’t find one. His lips were white. He wasn’t breathing. I screamed to my mom. She called 911, hysterical when the operator didn’t understand what was going on. I used my fingertips on his wrist and heard quick taps racing across the surface. Were they mine? 

Just like I’d been taught all those years ago, I started mouth-to-mouth and alternated with the CPR technique I’d learned on the Internet. One, two, three, four, staying alive, staying alive… I’m sure only minutes passed, but it seemed like an hour before the first responders arrived. They tried everything, but couldn’t get a pulse. Hope slipped away.

The paramedics came and hooked up a CPR machine and breathing tube. I went downstairs to check on my mom. Her friends, Kathy and Roger Roth, consoled her on the couch. Time passed. I ran back upstairs. “Did you get a pulse?”

“No, nothing,” one of the paramedics replied. I felt so guilty. I didn’t do it right. I could have saved him, but I failed! I couldn’t stop sobbing.

After answering tons of questions about his health, I went back downstairs. By that time, the funeral director, Bill Hurtley, and the priest from across the street, Fr. Dooley, had arrived. I got to know and love both of them when they took care of my dad’s funeral. Bill brought my mom back from her catatonic state with his dry humor.

Anxiety filled my empty stomach with broken glass. I turned to Bill for support. “I wrote a stupid blog post and didn’t come upstairs in time. I screwed up. I could’ve saved him.” Tears streamed down my cheeks.

He looked me in the eyes and said, “You found him relaxed in his chair, right?”

I nodded.

“There was nothing you could do. He threw a clot,” Bill said.

“What?”

“A blood clot. Believe me, I see a lot of dead people,” he said. “It’s what I do. Heart attacks are pretty uncomfortable. The victim has time to react, so we usually find them on the floor. Throwing a blood clot is painless. It happens to runners all the time. They go for a run and as soon as they sit in a chair, they die.”

“Why am I here if I couldn’t save him?” I asked.

“For your mother,” he said. “If she would have discovered him, it would’ve been a shock she would never have recovered from.” He took a moment and added, “Don’t blame yourself. Even if someone throws a clot in the hospital, no one can save them.”

An autopsy would have cost five to six thousand dollars. Bill insisted it would be a waste of money. Pulmonary embolism. It’s what people get from sitting too long on planes. Who knows where Joe got his clot. Surgery two years ago? The accident? Bumping into something and not telling anyone about it? We’ll never know. He wasn’t on blood thinners. I’m taking a baby aspirin now.

Alive and vibrant one minute and then gone the next. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

My little brother, who towered more than a foot over me, who did lotus position yoga with me when he was little for giggles, who I took to all kinds of concerts and events when I was in high school and college since I feared our almost ten year age difference would cause us to drift apart. My little brother who I loved dearly is dead at forty-nine years old. I was only a few steps away. How can that be?

He was a saxophone player in a band and was a local celebrity. He worked with people all across the United States. His Facebook and funeral home page are filled with heartfelt shock and condolences. We planned his funeral for March 25th at St. Paul’s Church across the street from their home in Evansville.

Being the writer in the family, I had to write his obituary. It was tough enough when I wrote my dad’s and felt tremendous pressure to do Joe’s life justice. His friend and co-worker, videographer Eric Janisch helped fill in the work details. You can read Joe’s obit here.

Two things I discovered on my own might help others.

  • I couldn’t get the image of him sitting in the chair out of my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw him. I must not have blinked the whole time I ran toward him. I stayed up all night. It was the same the next day as neighbors and relatives arrived. My husband, Danny, flew out that afternoon. As I drove toward the Dane County Airport I noticed some perfectly formed trees silhouetted in the snow. I picked one and stared at it as I drove toward it. I closed my eyes and saw the tree. It totally worked. That horrific last image of Joe disappeared, at least from my retinas.
  • Exhausted, I didn’t dare take a nap. Experiencing the shock all over again upon waking is the worst. In the past it has taken weeks for my brain to wrap itself around death. I wondered if saying it out loud to myself would speed up the process. I gave it a try. “Joe is dead. He died and you couldn’t save him. He’s not coming back.” I repeated it again before I picked up Danny and then twice before falling asleep. It worked.

Danny and I have lost half our families in two years; his bother and mom, my dad, then his mom’s boyfriend of fifteen years and now, my brother. It’s devastating to lose the people we love.

What about that quick tapping in Joe’s wrist? I hadn’t told anyone. Even though others shared the cause of death idea, I still wondered if it was instant as the funeral director and doctor claimed.

Days later, I remembered. “Make sure to lay your fingers across the wrist or you’ll feel your own pulse,” the instructor had told the Girl Scouts. I held my husband, Danny’s wrist in a different way. A strong slow pulse throbbed beneath his bones. No quick tapping on the surface. It had been mine I felt, not Joe’s.

There was nothing I could do. He had already passed.

How am I? Better. I’m grateful for the time we had together. Looking back, the timing of my visit seems serendipitous. I’ll embrace my grief and will remember him always.

Joe McCartan

Spring is emerging after a long winter dormancy. I see everything more intensely now and understand life’s fragility. Everyone will die. Life is impermanent. The trick is to live each day with appreciation and wonder.

In memory of my brother, I will start a nightly journal. I’ll list three positive things that happened during the day. He would’ve liked that.

What about my mom?

Many of her friends have offered to help. At this point, she won’t consider moving to Colorado with my brother and dad inurned in Madison. We’ll do whatever it takes to celebrate her one-hundredth birthday. I want to see her rock that blue streak.

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling.What if there was a way to slow down and enjoy what we eat? I would love that. Sometimes, when I’m hungry, I inhale my food. I look at my empty plate and think, “When did that happen?”

You might have heard about mindful eating. It means savoring each bite by setting down your fork to chew your food and really taste it. That would be swell, but when I think about what I eat, it hardly deserves the time.

  • A piece of toast with coffee.
  • Granola, fruit and yogurt between 9:00 and 10:00.
  • A half sandwich and soup for lunch.
  • Something cooked quickly for dinner or leftovers. I love using the crock pot and made enough beef stew last night for a family of eight. 

So this morning, I ate a bowl of cereal – I have no idea what kind – and had an AHA moment.

This is how my crazy mind works. See if you can follow along…

I had been dinking around on Pinterest and they recommended several boards filled with everything French. One woman in a goofy pose reminded me of Me!

While on our two trips to France, I always looked forward to mealtimes and eating at sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Chefs use fresh ingredients, lots of butter, dairy without preservatives, and nothing GMO’d. Yum.

On my last trip to Los Angeles my son, Kelly, and I went to Aroma Coffee and Tea in Studio City, one of my favorite restaurants. It reminds me of France. It’s a converted home filled with windows. They have a breakfast salmon stack that is so delicious, my mouth waters while recalling its tastiness. The flavor explodes in my mouth. Their secret? A twist on an eggs Benedict built on two potato pancakes instead of a boring old English muffin. It is so good!

I never finish it and take half of it home. Why?

Because I savor every bite.

This photo is from Aroma Coffee and Tea’s Instagram account.

Aroma Coffee and Tea

I thought about French food and how rich it can be. Flavorful cheeses. Chocolate that melts in your mouth. Strong coffee. Savory dishes. When I eat grilled cheese, my taste buds snooze because I’m used to cheddar. A couple gulps and it’s gone. But if I made my sandwich with an unfamiliar cheese, my they might wake up, right?

Wouldn’t that slow down my inhaling process? Maybe I would taste my food and experience a meal. I might actually remember what I ate. Wow.

I asked my husband, Danny, about it and he said, “We could eat different colored jello every day!” He always takes me so seriously.

With only two of us at home, I make too much and throw it out. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t plan our meals ahead of time. Dinner has become a yawnfest.

2017 is the Year of the Big Chill. I vowed to work hard, but play harder. So far I’ve seen huge results. Taking breaks has kept me from entering the Internet free-time death spiral. When I fill out my planner, I add playtime just like work. What if I added cooking to the schedule? It wouldn’t take that much longer to make a gourmet dinner.

Years ago, when I first read A Year in Provence, I loved the idea of going to the market and buying fresh ingredients to make a brilliant meal each night. I fantasized about a life in the future when Danny and I would bike to the market. We would select their freshest fish, vegetables, and herbs, then bike home to make a fabulous meal together.

*insert needle scratching record here* We live on a big hill. It’s winter. The larger supermarkets require driving on the highway.

Instead, Danny comes home at night and finds me with my head bent over my laptop. I look up and say, “Wow. You’re home already?” My mind races to the limp broccoli in the bin, the huge bag of carrots I bought weeks ago, and what might possibly be hidden under thick frost in the freezer.

With a little planning, we could eat like kings. Why not queens? Okay, now I’m thinking off topic.

I mentioned dusting off my cookbooks and Danny said, “I like the idea of buying fresh food from the market every day and then making dinner.” I think he’s excited about eating dinner.

Going gourmet and making an effort is worth a try. I wonder if one of those French Pinterest boards contains recipes. Hmm. Maybe that goofy girl, who looked like me, cooks.

So what’s on the menu?

I’ll go to the store as soon as we eat all the leftover beef stew.

What’s for dinner at your house? Are you in a food rut? Do you inhale or savor every bite?

Related posts:

My Resolution Failures and the Year of the Big Chill

How to Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

Telltale Signs You Need a Break

A response to the Daily Post – Ruminate

Twelve Reasons To Use Twitter

I was shocked to read an article by the Associated Press about Twitter. Few have signed up for an account since the US election. I assumed with political tweets making worldwide news, people would be curious to see them first hand. Nope.

People use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. It remains the social media of choice. But Twitter has an expansive reach. We have the opportunity to connect with just about everyone with a public account. How cool is that?

According to Alexa website ranking statistics, Facebook is #3 in the world and in the US. Twitter is #18 in the world and #8 in the US. It seems this social networking site has become even less popular after the election.

Twitter Traffic Statics from Alexa

Twelve reasons to try Twitter:

1. You can follow anyone.

I can follow anyone with a public account. Although non-follower’s tweets won’t show up in my feed, I can check out their tweets and can tweet to them by using their Twitter handle. @susielindau is mine.

2. You can communicate with celebrities, politicians, athletes, comedians, best-selling authors… from around the world.
  •  A few years ago, a blogging friend wrote a satirical piece about Roseanne Barr. I tweeted the article to her along with my friend’s Twitter handle. Roseanne responded and they had a conversation on Twitter. How cool is that?
  •  After posting about how seeing Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis set me back on track after cancer, it blew up on Twitter. The link is still being shared.
  • I finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, (terrific book!) and asked his fans what I should read next. I tagged him, (added his Twitter handle) in the tweet. He retweeted me. I received hundreds of comments in replies. Gaiman is a consistent tweeter and converses with fans daily.

Beware! If you don’t see the blue and white verified check symbol next to a celebrity’s name, it’s a fake account. There are lots of phonies out there.

twelve-reasons-to-use-twitter
3. 
To be heard.

It feels good to connect with others. We are all human. Expressing ourselves and our opinion gives us a voice. Our words can be meaningful.

Don’t expect a response from high profile accounts, but if you have good timing, your tweet may be read by the person you tweeted.

That said, don’t become a troll. Trolls are nasty people who tweet hate. There’s enough hate in the world. If you are going to disagree, do it in a respectful way.

4. Because most celebs post their own tweets.

Many use it as a platform. One hundred and forty characters can convey a lot especially in all caps.

Trump’s tweet unleashed the #EverythingInAllCaps hashtag game that night.

5. For up to the second news.

I check Twitter Moments for news like some who sit in front of their TV and channel surf. In a few seconds, I learn the latest one or two days before it makes it to print or television. People tweet what’s happening as it occurs.

6. Because hashtags. 

Adding a hashtag (#) in front of a word hooks you up with tons of people who may not follow you. The symbol works like a bulletin board to bring people together with common interests. #MondayMotivation, #Thursdaythoughts, #FridayFeeling, #SundayBlogShare, #AmWriting, are a few of my favorites.

Hashtag games can be addictive. They trend throughout the day like #ThingsDoneByMistake in reference to #EnvelopeGate after the Oscars. It’s fun to throw down a 140 character entry.

7. For safety.

#Longmont trended a few weeks ago. It’s a town north of me. I was like, “WHAT?” Three brush fires near Nelson Road made visibility tough. They had evacuated over one hundred and fifty homes less than five miles from my house. 60 MPH gusts pummeled my home. Don’t worry. Firefighters put it out.

8. For inspiration.

Pope Francis tweets and so does the Dalai Lama, Paulo Coelho, Steven Hawking and Deepak Chopra. Years ago, when totally depressed about breast cancer, I checked my Twitter feed. Someone called Angel tweeted. “Everything will be alright, you are loved and being prayed for.” Later, I couldn’t find the account!

9. For promotion.

I blog, therefore I promote. I tweet all of my blog posts. Readers have clicked on links from tweets to my blog over 350 times since January 1st. That’s a pretty good boost.

Warning! Use the 1/3 rule when promoting: 1/3 tweet your own links, 1/3 someone else’s, and 1/3 tweets without links. If you err, do it in the no links category.

To err is human, but don’t expect a lot of followers if all you do is retweet or tweet links. That is sooooo boring. *yawn* I don’t follow automated accounts or those who don’t communicate like a human.

10. You can make lists.

Since I follow a ton of people, I make lists to check on my favorites. They include News sources, Retweetables from Mashable, Science Porn, and Merriam Webster, Funny people, and Susie’s Posse among others.

11. It’s great editing practice.

With only 140 characters allowed per tweet, I’ve learned the skill of “tight writing.” Cutting excess verbiage has carried over into my manuscripts and screenplays. Since joining Twitter in April 2011, I’ve tweeted 18,100 times. That’s a lot of practice.

12. To meet people from around the world.  

It’s not unusual for me to carry on a conversation with someone from India, Western Europe, Canada, France, Sweden, or New Zealand to name a few countries. The ease of communication on Twitter makes our world very small. I love that!

Through Twitter, I have gained an understanding of how people may view the world through a different lens, but we are more alike than different.

Twitter is my social media of choice. Set up an account. Try it for kicks and giggles. 40% of users don’t ever tweet. Tweet me @susielindau and I’ll add you to my posse!

Follow me on  Twitter, PinterestInstagram and my Facebook Page. It’s always a Wild Ride!

Do you have a Twitter account? How do you use it?

Related articles:

Twitter verification just got interesting

On lockdown with Shia LaBeouf #TakeMeAnywhere

On Glamour for Fashion Week, but What Does that Mean?

What do I know about fashion, glitz, and glamour? Not much these days, but I care about my appearance. I live in Colorado where casual defies formal attire. My friend, Sherilyn wears the latest trends and bought me a flashy metallic scarf for Christmas. I couldn’t imagine how I would wear it.

A scarf like one in the Michael Kors collection

This is Fashion Week in New York City where all the 2017 fall lines are being unveiled. I worked retail many years ago and imagined my boss sitting at a runway show while making notes on the latest styles. Attending one is on my bucket list.

Twitter hosted the Michael Kors live fashion show Wednesday morning. I clicked on it and went full screen HD. With ten minutes remaining before it started, attendees found their seats and chatted. I felt like I was there rubbing elbows with the likes of Blake Lively and Anna Wintour.

As the cameraperson moved through the large room, superimposed phrases appeared. I didn’t think to write them down. One said something about fashion and glamour. I understand fashion, but what the heck does glamour mean, exactly?

I conjured an image of my mother getting ready to go out for the evening. Tightening her lips, she applied lipstick in the bathroom mirror. Makeup from a bottle of Revlon evened her skin tone. Her bright violet eyes popped with eyeliner and mascara. A fabulous new dress would be worn for dinner out with my dad and their friends, most likely a Vogue dress sewn on her Singer sewing machine. She may have worn a matching coat. She was the most beautiful woman I knew and still is.

Was being glamorous more easily understood? Celebrities. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Being pampered, chauffeured, and treated like royalty. A bit cliche, perhaps.

I had to look it up.

According to Merriam-Webster, Glamour means: A magic spell. An exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness.

I was dead on.

Fashion Week is an unveiling of designer’s collections created so we can feel glamorous. I know the feeling of wearing something that makes me feel more attractive. It’s illusory alright. Not so sure about romantic.

Maybe the first experience girls have of glamour is in the story of Cinderella. With a magic spell, she is transformed from sooty, dirty housemaid into lovely enchanted princess. No one could take their eyes off her including the prince. Maybe that’s why some of us consume the latest and greatest fashions. To feel like a princess, even if it doesn’t last or is an illusion, is still a dang good feeling.

In fifth grade, I needed a dress for Confirmation and found the one of my dreams at Gimbels. My mom frowned on the price, but had me try it on anyway. She studied the French seams, the lace, and the unusual square cuffs that hung over my hands. Then she bought similar purple velvet fabric and duplicated it on her sewing machine. When I wore it that night, I received so many compliments and lots of attention. I felt glamorous. I’m not sure the nuns at Queen of Peace were as in love with my dress as I was. Too much leg!

my-purple-dress

I think it all goes back to that magic spell. While watching the Michael Kors show, I studied the fabrics, the colors, the metallics, the cut, and the flow. Inspired, I filed these mental notes away for next fall. Then all eyes fell on the last model. She sashayed around the room wearing a black mini dress layered in full-length fringe. We were simply spellbound.

Glamour isn’t only for the rich. It’s about finding a style that reflects who you are. It’s about how you feel when you wear your clothes. Some of mine date back decades, but I think I have an eye for fashion. I keep the timeless garments that boost my confidence.

That said, look at what Michael Kors tweeted after the show…

Look familiar? Hmm. Maybe it’s time to rethink my wardrobe and find something new to wear with my scarf. Thank you, Sherilyn! Then I’ll go through my closet and freshen it up (toss out tons of old clothes) after I study Vogue, Glamour, and Instyle magazines.

It’s time to feel glamorous again.

Are you into fashion trends? Do you wear clothes from decades ago? When was the last time you felt glamorous?

Related post: In Defense of Rankings, Yoga Pants and just Going Naked!

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It’s always a Wild Ride!

An Open Letter to New WordPress Bloggers

Dear New WordPress Bloggers,

Thank you so much for following my blog! I’m so glad you’ve decided to become a part of my blogging community. Or have you…

an-open-letter-to-new-wordpress-bloggersA few of you left comments. You are so good at what you do! That’s exactly how you build a blogging community. You are on your way to being a successful blogger. I always respond and try to stop by your blogs to read and comment. Here’s the thing: Most new blog followers never stop by the Wild Ride. EVER. 

Some new bloggers have an itchy index finger. They click to “Recommended,” and hit “Follow, Follow, Follow,…” all the way down the list. How do they handle so many new email notifications? They probably turn them off. What about the Reader? It may resemble a Twitter feed when following thousands. Whoosh!

A properly built WordPress blog is structured with real connections with other bloggers and readers. It is strengthened by getting to know others. Reciprocating doesn’t mean, “Ha! You followed me back, sucker! You’ll never see me again!” It means taking the time to reach out to those who make the effort to read your words.

You may confuse blogging with Instagram or Twitter.

It takes a minute to pick out a photo, edit it, and add hashtags on Instagram. Okay, maybe two. Twitter takes even less time. We plow through our feeds and can engage with followers or not. There’s very little time investment on either side. With so much in our feeds, about one-hundredth of the people who follow us may see our posts before they slip to oblivion. On those sites, users follow for followbacks. I get that.

For most bloggers, posts take an hour and sometimes days to polish before blogging them publicly. (Or they should since no one wants to read poorly written garbage.) We may add carefully edited photos or video which takes even more time. Our site is a living room where we welcome strangers to sit down on our favorite couch with a cuppa joe or tea and stretch out while we share our wild lives and then open it up for discussion.

The WordPress Reader makes it easy for you to take a look at our latest posts. (It’s right up there on the left side of the black bar.) Bonus! Views from the Reader and Likes are being counted, as of last week. That’s such a huge relief since I want to know if my posts are hits or big time misses to the sound of crickets. I’m always learning too.

You should ask yourself this question:

Why do I want to be a blogger? To become famous and spew? To build an author’s platform? To sell books?  To make money? Those are all end-games. Blogging for results will get you nowhere.

Instead, focus on the path of writing what you are passionate about and you will see results. It’s all about practice and community building.

Follow blogs without the expectation of a followback. Writing books and screenplays takes most of my time, but I still make the effort to stop by, read, and say hello when I can. That’s how I’ve built my community.

I follow four hundred people. Some don’t follow me. I read them like the newspaper or a magazine. Newspapers and magazines don’t follow me either… yet.

Don’t build a flimsy blog. No one wants to post in a headwind so strong no one hears your voice. You may get frustrated. After a few months, you may quit. That would be a total bummer.

Build a strong blogging community and you will get to know other bloggers pretty well. You might even meet them in real life. They may help you when you are sick, even if they live halfway around the world. They aren’t just another avatar or a number. They are real. They could be your people in your community if you build it correctly. The best part of blogging is the instant gratification of interaction. I love my blog. Have fun with it, communicate with others, and you will too!

I hope that helps you in your first year of blogging. If you need any other help, tips, or guidance, I’m always here at the Wild Ride. Yee Haa!

Wishing you the best of luck in your blogging journey,

Susie Lindau – AKA – Wild Rider

P.S. Here are some other blog tips and tricks:

Wild Rider Magazine – Crush Procrastination and Boost Your Blog

Blogging Tips from a Wild Rider – How to Hook Readers

Why Blog And What the Heck is a Writer’s Platform?

Do you see a pattern of follows and unfollows? What are you doing to build community that could help others? Do you follow a lot of blogs?

How La La Land Inspires Writers and Artists

Have you seen La La Land? You should. It will inspire you. Here’s why:

Writers and artists can be sensitive people, right? We tack our work up on the wall for everyone to judge and hope someone, anyone, even if they’re in the back of the room, gets what we were trying to do. It’s hard when we hear whispers and a few giggles. It’s all the H words; humbling, humiliating, horrifying and hell. So why do we keep doing it? Because of all the P words. It’s our passion. The potential to reach the precipitous peak of all our pleasurable dreams by perseverance would be pure paradise. Okay, so I’m pushing it.

la-la-land

La La Land is a vibrant musical film. It shows how Hollywood can suck hope from a person unless they’re willing to take a risk and persevere through all those H words.

The following paragraph includes SPOILERS: I watched Mia, played by Emma Stone, appear in front of stoney-faced production heads while she auditioned her heart out. Time after time, she faced rejections. Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, sells out to play his piano just about anywhere, even though his heart belongs to jazz. The odds are against them.

Three things really hit me:

A teacher at Icon Collective Music Production School recently told my son, Kelly, all artists face horrible rejection at some point. Most give up. Successful artists persevere, take risks, and follow their passion no matter what happens.

The second takeaway? Support. Surrounding yourself with people who “get what you’re trying to do,” is imperative. We have to make the effort to find them. All it takes is one.

The last message I got from the movie was about sacrifice and choices.  Sometimes we have to choose what’s uncomfortable in order to grow as an artist. Following a passion may not be convenient and can be isolating. Most of us won’t be faced with the choices Mia and Sebastian had to make, but I think the message in the ending was clear.

SPOILER ALERT! They chose their passion over passion. Watch the movie and you’ll see what I mean.

End of spoilers.

la_la_land_film

The irony of La La Land? It took all those P words and six years in order to make this film, according to writer and director, Damian Chazelle. No one believed a musical would make any money. He said this while accepting awards on stage at the Golden Globes. His film took seven of them, including Best Picture. He embodied his film’s message. He dedicated his first award “to all the musical theater geeks out there.”

Watching this movie after posting about my failed resolutions really hit me.

As a writer, rejections pile up. Writing books, screenplays, and blog posts take most of my free time. I’ve already faced cancer and freaked out over how short life can be. I asked myself point blank. “Is this really how I want to spend the rest of it?”

In that moment, I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t started writing almost six years ago. No books. No screenplays. No blogging communities or conferences or writer friends. There are other ways I could create, after all, I graduated in art, but it comes down to passion. I couldn’t imagine that alternate universe. I love writing. I can’t give it up.

So bring it on, H words! I will continue to ignore the whispers and giggles. It’s part of the process of following my passion. I’ll reach that precipitous peak, someday.

Have you seen La La Land? What’s your passion? Do you eat popcorn with or without butter?

The #Blessed Projects are in! You will laugh and cry…

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As I read The #Blessed Projects over the last few weeks, my heart was filled with joy. Each project was so different and a reflection of the writer’s heart. I had thought writing them would be a great exercise in positivity and banishing the blues, but I didn’t realize reading others would give me the same uplifting feeling. I smiled while reading all of them. Some made me laugh. One made me cry.

Those who linked up to my original Blessed Project post are listed below. Click to read them. Enjoy! Believe me. They will lift you up.

Thank you for sharing your blessings!

A Family Album of Thanksgiving, by Al from The Cvillean.

Everyday Awesome: A Blessed Project, by Angela Noel Author.

Blessed One, by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza.

Being Thankful, by Words from Anneli.

Blessed Two, by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza.

My Blessed Project, by Suze from Obsolete Childhood.

#Blessed Project, by Danny Ray from Dream Big Dream Often.

#Blessed Project, by Deb was Here.

#Blessed Project, by Shannon from MSnuButterflies.

Blessed Project, by Miriam from Out an’ About.

Susie’s Christmas Wish, by BW Carey from Paddy Picasso.

Blessed Project, by The Guat.

The Blessed Project, by Lisa from Life with the Top Down.

Blessed Three – by Maggie C. from What Rhymes with Stanza?

52 Weeks of Thankfulness – Week 25, by Watching the Daisies.

Join the #Blessed Project! – My #Blessed Project is included in the original post.

It’s not too late to count your blessings. Would you like to write a post about why you feel blessed? Write a list, blog it, and link it up here in the comments! We would love to read your #Blessed Project.

Don’t have a blog? Post your list on Facebook or Tumblr. Post a photo on Instagram. Write it out and post it on your bulletin board. It’s a super positive experience. Everyone who sees them will feel it too!

Please share this post and spread the joy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Are you feeling blessed or stressed?