Ambi-valance

As I was out writing this week I found myself watching some of the people around me. I noticed an interesting behavior pattern amongst some of my fellow fast food patrons: they actively wanted attention, and yet once they got it they didn’t want it any more. We could go into a discussion about the satisfaction of needs and so on, but there is another explanation that seems to serve just as well (for the cases I was watching at least). This other explanation also explains some of our other behavioral tendencies. You know, the ones where we want to do something (we really do), but we never seem to get around to it.

Sure, we could be looking at need satisfaction, and there probably is some of that in there. But, we are also looking at ambivalence.

Literally ambivalence means having two valances or charges. Practically, it means that we are being pulled in two different directions. It means we want something, and don’t want it at the same time. It can also mean that we might want something, but obtaining it means we lose something else, or some of our ability to obtain something else.

Being stuck with two different ‘pulls’ on a thing or desire can cause considerable headaches. At best it can cause delays or buyer’s remorse. At worst you end up without two different things you want and you’ve wasted your resources on something you didn’t want as much as either one.

Unfortunately things get worse… When someone is in an ambivalent state, any move you make toward one objective can be met by an equal pull toward the other objective. This is why holding an ‘intervention’ with someone can actually make the problem worse. Every time you pull the person away from what you’re ‘intervening’ against the person being ‘intervened’ on pulls the other direction!

So, what do you do?

There is a solution to ambivalence. Sometimes you can do it yourself, and other times you might need help to get it done. The solution is to reduce the ambivalence and not just try to pull your way out of it. This means some genuine introspection. This means building up the pull toward one objective or course of action, and reducing the other pull. As one of my professors used to say, “the ambivalent person is stuck in a ditch, and you are digging one bank down and building the other up so that they can get out in a particular direction.”

The specific hows and whys of the situation depend on your actual situation (and your mileage may vary), but understanding the concept of increasing one draw while reducing the other is a key to getting yourself and others out of ambivalence dear readers. It is a way to help yourself make the decisions you need to in situations where you really don’t want to.

That’s it for this one dear reader. As always there is more to say, but not enough time to say it.

Figure out what you want dear reader. And then figure out what you really want. And I’ll see you next post.

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Editorial Choices

As always I’m working on a couple of my own writing projects. At the same time my wife and I have been working on some editing projects to help a couple of other writers. This has all gotten me thinking about the choices I can make and actions I can take as an editor…

You can’t dictate everything…

You can’t. Ultimately the individual piece is the author’s piece. You can help shape that piece. You can help refine that piece. You can help the author make it better. But, what you can’t do, is take it away from the author completely (obviously we’re not talking about the whole copy right/rights to the characters can of worms (we can talk about that another day but not right now…)).

In a lot of ways being an editor is to be an assistant. In a lot of ways being an editor is like being a teacher. You are guiding and supporting an author in the process of creating a work. You can put in a lot of work, and you should be rewarded for it. But the person who had the idea and did the writing needs her/his own reward as well (it was his or her baby!).

In this side of things you can advise, but you can’t dictate. You are helping the writer to create and improve a piece of writing that ultimately belongs to its author. If you try to take it away then you’re going to have issues (we’re back to that copy right thing again…).

There are choices you can make.

If your author comes seeking advice, or asks for your input, you can certainly give both.

If your author asks “should I do ‘A’ or ‘B’?” It’s kind of your job as an editor to give the best answer you can.

You can choose what advice to give. You can choose how to give it (actually it’s often a good idea to discuss and even negotiate what kind of advice your giving and how BEFORE you start working together).

You can choose to say “one or both of us need to think on this some more”, or even “Let’s bring someone else in on this”.  There are good reasons for making these choices actually. Some things need more thought and planning. Sometimes you really do need to hand things off to, or enlist the aid of, someone else.

What’s an example of that last one? Here are a few…

My author client wants support in telling a good story. I can do that!

My author wants advice on how to present statistics in a piece. I can do that (I’ve tutored doctoral students in stats and written scientific papers…)

My author wants advice on how best to portray a bisexual Latina living on the U.S. Mexico border. Umm… Let me call in a friend from back when I was at San Diego State. In this case it’s not that I’m unwilling, it’s just that I happen to know someone with a much better skill set for that particular need.

An author (I won’t call this one mine…) contacts me to work on a piece entitled “ALL WHITE MEN ARE RACISIT SEXIST HOMOPHOBIC BIGOTS AND SHOULD BE SHOT OFF INTO THE SUN!!!!!!!”. This time I’m actually going to decline to work on the piece. I can sense right off the bat that there will be some problems in working on this one and I’m not the right person to work with this author (if nothing else the fact that the presented title is in all caps is a bit of a red flag…).

There are choices you can and should make…

Even though I come from the school that says “don’t take the piece from the author”, there are choices you can and should make.

You can, and should, make choices about who you work with. If you can see that the author in question is going to be a headache (or from the author side if you can see the editor is going to be a headache); then why would you choose to work with that person. If there’s not a compelling reason, then you might want to seek another partnership. And money alone isn’t compelling enough (for me at least!)

You can make choices about how you work with the person. One of the concepts we learn about in the seven habits of highly effective people is the idea of the win-win scenario. It might be a good idea to find ways to make your author/editor interactions win-win (from either position why are you going into this if you’re expecting to lose?).

And then there are some bigger ‘special case’ decisions…

So far most of what I’ve said has had to do with helping an author with a piece; you’re part of a team working to create something and make it the best that it can be. But, there is another hat that editors occasionally wear; being an editor you occasionally also serve in the role of publisher.

As an editor (and chief editor at that!) I try not to take my authors projects away from them. I’m not going to demand that they change the main character from a male to a female and species reassign the sidekick to be a bottle nosed dolphin. But at the same time if I’m going to be the one to publish the work, that does give me more of a say. The author can choose to write what he or she wants, but just because somebody wrote it doesn’t mean I have to publish it!

The difference is that when one steps from the role of editor to the roll of publisher one is transitioning from helping someone else to tell her/his story to actually using one’s own resources to put that story out to the world. Now that we’re talking about publishing I’m in a place where it is my name and reputation on the line as well.

What you write says something about you. What I publish says something about me.

(That’s why “ALL WHITE MEN ARE RACISIT SEXIST HOMOPHOBIC BIGOTS AND SHOULD BE SHOT OFF INTO THE SUN!!!!!!!” ain’t getting published at my company. It’s a message I don’t agree with and I’m not going to be forced to put my name on it. But, if the author feels like going somewhere else to publish it and that person/group chooses to publish it, then the fall out is their problem…)

I’m not for taking away anyone’s free speech (that would negatively impact my business), but at the same time I don’t have to give up my free speech by allowing people to use my company to say things that I can’t ethically agree with.

Summing it all up…

So there it is dear reader… Editors shouldn’t try to take away a writer’s work, or mutilate it in ways the author doesn’t agree with. But, at the same time, it is kind of the editor’s job to do his or her level best to help the projects he/she chooses to pick up become truly excellent.

Editors and writers can and should choose partners/coworkers that they can actually work with in an amicable way. And both need to work together to make the piece really good.

No matter what else happens, no one in the relationship: writer, editor, or publisher really has the right to force someone else to say something she/he/whatever else doesn’t agree with.

So that’s it for this one dear reader. Choose people to work with who will actually help the work to go forward, and don’t try to bully folks just because you don’t agree. And of course…

See you next post!

Reactions and personal responsibility…

Those who read my blogs regularly might have noticed that I’ve been a way for a couple of weeks. Well, there has been a lot going on: challenging client stuff, challenging family stuff, helping Dr. Kidder (as usual my wife not my dad…) in navigating her first outside editing gig for Forever Mountain, and a couple of medical issues (you know, just a few life or death items mixed in for fun!). Naturally I survived all that (you are reading this post after all!). And naturally I learned a few things on the way.

Usually I’m pretty good at ‘holding it all together’. So is my wife. We didn’t get through a doctorate, multiple career changes, and all the other fun things of the last decade or so without that ability. But even we do have times when things get hard to control…

Reactions: dealing with life and what others do…

Life is a thing. Life happens. Sometimes your spouse or significant other is depressed. Sometimes there is a scary medical problem that comes up through no fault of your own. Sometimes the car’s AC system stops working for no apparent reason. Occasionally clients are unreasonable (and occasionally so are bosses, contractors, vendors, etc.… This can happen with anyone). Occasionally the driver in front of you (or behind you, or beside you…) drops the vehicle to drive his or her ‘smart’ phone. All of this stuff happens.

All of those things can happen whether you did anything to provoke it or not. When they happen it is natural and even appropriate to react, but you have the opportunity and the responsibility to choose how you react!

If your spouse is getting depressed. You might want to spend a little time finding out what’s going on (even if you think you know…). You also have the choice to be mad at him or her (which doesn’t usually help) or to do something constructive that will help counter the depression.

If it’s the car… Well, you can take it in to the shop or try to diagnose the problem (getting mad at the car doesn’t help).

If it’s the client/boss/vender/contractor being unreasonable… You might once again want to find out what’s going on. But, this time you might want to consider whether continuing the relationship is worthwhile, whether the relationship can be improved in a reasonable way, or if it is time to walk away. But just like with your spouse/significant other/family member you might want to skip snap decisions.

If it’s a driver ‘dropping the vehicle’ or a medical issue you might have to make a snap decision. A truck pulling into your lane or a heart attack just isn’t going to wait for you to be in a ‘safe space’ or calm state of mind to make a decision!

In pretty much every situation when something happens in your world you have an opportunity to react and choices to make (this is all part of that free will thing). You do have a right to think and act for yourself (though your choices and your opportunity to make them may be limited by the situation). The thing that you don’t have is a free pass for bad behavior. Whatever choices you make are yours and you kind of have to own up to them. You have to own up to your responsibility in things.

Personal responsibility… The good and bad part of the whole thing…

Things happen.

Sometimes things happen that you don’t choose.

But, you get to choose how you respond to them.

And no matter what happens, in the greater scheme of things you are responsible for what you did.

In my case I kind of forgot to take my blood sugar monitor along on a trip, and then I decided to have that desert at the Thai restaurant (and then that cinnamon roll the next morning…). Yes, I was working on helping my wife get out of a funk, and dealing with a couple of other projects that were going on, but forgetting the monitor and loading in the carbs was sort of on me. When my own emotions started going off the rails because my blood sugar was high that was on me!

The same thing happens with other people. Some of the folks behind the current iteration of a certain movie franchise have been proclaiming that “having a white male lead is box office poison”. Maybe, but since historically, and in the current market, there are movies with white male leads that are doing well. There might be other explanations. Maybe you just made a crappy movie and it doesn’t matter who the lead was…

Then there’s the kid who is punching/kicking/tripping other children with the excuse that “so and so did it first”. Maybe “so and so” did do it, but that didn’t mean you had to!  You can choose how you react.

You may find a time where a little violence is actually warranted (trust me, somebody comes to my door and threatens my wife I will respond with whatever means necessary). But, you, I, all of us have to deal with the choices we make.

If you choose to be violent, or insulting, or let your blood ‘get up’, or any other such thing, you are responsible for what you do. It really doesn’t matter what the other person did. This is why you need to make sure your reactions are actually justified by the situation you are in, and are the best options available to you.

Summing up…

It may not be a physical threat. It may not be a verbal threat.

Actually it might be something pretty good!

But, one way or another things do happen in our lives. Things happen in our lives that we need to react to in one way or another. That is part of life and something we should be expecting (that we have to react to something that is; what it is may still surprise us!).

When we do find ourselves reacting to something, be it an actual threat, an unkind word, a rain shower or other completely non-made event, or even something good like winning that game or prize, we have the right and the responsibility to choose how we react.

The other ‘guy’ is responsible for what he/she/it does. And the other ‘guy’ has to take the consequences of his/her/it’s actions…

In the same way we are responsible for what we do, and we have to take the consequences of our actions. That’s why it’s important for us to think and choose wisely, so that our actions can be the best that they can be.

That’s if for this one dear reader. See you next post.

Life and roses

At the time I write this several things have just happened or are in the midst of happening that got me thinking.

The church I belong to has just announced major changes to the church men’s organization and how we approach teaching and helping the members and others.

I am in the middle of editing a novel.

I spent the morning pruning my rosebushes and trying to mentally bring a couple of large projects into order.

And those are just on my side of the house my wife has her own list…

All of this has gotten me thinking about spring cleaning and pruning. The reality dear reader is that these terms and practices aren’t just for our homes and yards. Sometimes we need to clean up and prune our thoughts and behaviors as well…

Why…?

As the year goes on my roses will put out new leaves, flowers, and canes. It is natural. It is what the plants are supposed to do. It is also occasionally problematic.

First there are the bits that have died back during the winter. They really aren’t doing much for the plant other than being an avenue for possible infestation and a drain on the plant’s resources. Cutting away the dead and dying material unburdens the plant allowing and even encouraging new strength.

Next in pruning order comes the parts where the plant has grown in problematic ways. If a cane is crowding another plant I either have to try to train the cane to go elsewhere or cut it away.

Sometimes a plant actually gets in its own way. Quite literally its own canes are getting in the way of its growth. In this case the plant is ‘keeping to its self’, but it is hampering its own progress. Particularly problematic are the places where the canes are actually rubbing against eachother and causing wounds to the plant. Again it’s a retrain or cut situation. You don’t want to hurt your plant, but you don’t want it to hurt itself either.

The same things happen in our lives. Ever have a spouse, partner, or companion who snores? That can have a real impact on your sleeping patterns. And some behaviors are worse. Consider the problems caused by addiction (chose your favorite…), dishonest behavior, or just plain insensitivity to the needs of those around you.  They can all cause harm.

And just like my roses even when you’re ‘keeping it to yourself’ you can still be causing problems. Those hours spent watching porn (you know who you are…), playing video games (again you know who you are…(usually)), or just getting jammed up by illegal or unhealthy behaviors are all hours that you could be using much more beneficially.

No dear reader, I am not saying all entertainment is bad. Actually sometimes it is a good thing. But when you do anything to the point that you cause yourself harm it is a problem.

So what to do…?

Well, (you know I’m going to say it…) that sort of depends on the situation. Even with my roses there are good ways to go about things and bad ways to go about things. Some techniques will encourage new growth and more importantly the kind of growth I want in the place I want it. Other techniques will just cause new problems.

With my roses I need to honestly look at the plant and what is happening with it, and what may happen in the future. Once I’ve looked at all of that I make conscious decisions on what to cut and where to cut it.

The same thing applies in life. We have to: 1) be honest with ourselves and those around us; 2) make genuine evaluations about our behaviors, projects, etc; and then 3) make decisions and changes that will result in our lives heading toward the places we want them to go.

Sometimes this means cutting things off; even things we sort of want to keep, or are scared to quit. Sometimes it means changing the direction of a behavior (find a new job, find a better place to study, get married, …); and sometimes it actually means promoting a behavior you’re already doing (maybe if I spend a few more minutes cleaning the house now I don’t have to stress about it later when the in-laws are coming over…).

Summing up

Even though it isn’t easy there are times that we need to start, stop, or change our behaviors.

Just like my roses our habits and behaviors can have thorns, spiders and other problems that make change hard. But, if we really take the time to think and act in a positive way we can achieve our real goals.

That’s it for this one dear reader. See you next post.

Adversity to opportunity

About a month before I wrote this post I decided to take a break from doing the blogs. It was actually kind of a hard decision. I like doing my blogs, but other parts of the whole writing thing, and the rest of my life in general needed to be brought back under control. So, I did the hard thing and set down the blogs and got everything relatively back in order. And now I’m back…

Some of what went on in that time is documented here in my Forever Mountain Publishing blog. Other things might end up there eventually, but there are definitely changes that will be reflected here… I have decided after serious consideration that I owe it to myself, my faith, and you, my dear reader, to be braver in what I say; to really stand up for truth and not be lukewarm in what I say and do.

This blog is named Words Mean Stuff. I named it that because I believe words and thoughts have meaning and I always need to be making mine better.

So what are you going to do?

Well, as I said, I’m going to be braver in standing up for truth. I am also going to endeavor to be more focused on meaning, understanding and the choices we make. I need to do this dear reader; because, the knowledge and understanding we acquire, and the choices we make, are the only things we really own. We have our understanding of things, our ability to learn, our divinely given right and ability to make choices; and we have the consequences of our choices. That is really about it for the things that really belong to us in this life. And these are the things I need to talk about.

And you know what…?

Sometimes the things that seem bad can really be good, if you use your intellect and choose to respond to them in the right way.

An example…

One of the areas I’ve been working on is videos for my YouTube channel. Several of those videos require the use of my good old hard working rock tumbler…

DSCN2233

Unfortunately I kind of put a hole in this cheap little nothing part that the machine just won’t work without….

At that moment the thought process went something like this:

Now I have to buy a new one, but the shipping is going to cost more than the part.

Can I find one on Amazon? If I can then maybe I can get free shipping… Yes, but there is still a time factor and I kind of want my machine back in action now…

Um, hey…! This thing is rubber kind of like the inner tubes on my bike. What if I used a patch kit to fix it?

I need to replace the patch kit for my bike too, so it’s still costing money.

Yes, but less than the new part and shipping. And it will probably get me running again until I can actually get the right part.

Hmm… The kit is available pretty close to me… I think I can do this!

And so… I chose to take the action that would get my shop running again and keep me moving. No, it isn’t a perfect solution, but it is definitely better than sitting around wailing and gnashing my teeth, or playing around with my tablet until a new part gets here (which probably wouldn’t happen at all if I was too busy messing around on the internet to order one…).

And then it hit me… I do shop experiments on the YouTube channel, it’s a lot of what I’m working on right now. What if I treat the patch plan as a shop experiment and make a video?

And there it was, the ‘show stopper’ problem with a ‘nothing’ part that was going to be more expensive to ship than to buy was actually a chance to learn and try something new, and an opportunity to add another video to my list (which was what the machine was helping me do in the first place!). Because I thought and sought to make the best decision I could I bought myself time to include the part in a larger order (which brings the individual shipping cost down); I got my shop running again faster (which means I get more done); and I found a new video to go up on the channel!

And… In the process of figuring out how to shoot that video I found a new setup that will help me do other videos better in the future!

So there you have it

Life happens dear reader. Good and bad things happen in our lives, but it is often the choices that we make and the knowledge we apply that determine whether an event is a show stopping problem or an exciting opportunity.

How we choose to interpret and react to the things in our lives; how we choose to use the things we know and learn in solving the problems we face; that is what this blog is about.

That’s it for this one dear reader. For now… Go, learn and do; and I’ll see you next week.

Average isn’t every…

“Average” it’s a word we hear a lot. “The ‘average’ person…” “On ‘average’…” “My ‘average’…” It’s a word we use a lot. But it is also a word with a danger attached, we should never assume that average is what we’re supposed to be. Average is only a description of what seems to be the most common or most typical based on a (usually limited) sample.

Average is an occasionally scientific wild guess at way to describe people. In the mathematical and statistical sense it is a measure of central tendency, an attempt to identify the central ‘most typical’ value of a group of numbers. In the mathematical and statistical sense the average is heavily influenced by a number of factors that can cause an average to be misleading.

In the personal description sense ‘average’ is in about the same spot as mediocre, or ordinary, in terms of meaning.

You can use an average to determine where you are relative to the group, but even then you have to understand a bit about what you are comparing and who you are comparing yourself to. Would you rather have you school grade point average above or below the ‘C student’ average point? What about the interest on that student/home/car/credit card loan, would you like your interest rate to be above or below average? What about your weight? (Actually that one can be a problem if you’re too far out in either direction so being in the ‘average’ range might not be all bad…)

Something they often don’t tell you is that average might not even matter! Just because the average person does or has something doesn’t mean that it is necessarily right for you and your goals. As someone who has a diabetes diagnosis if I were to eat the amount of carbohydrate in the ‘average’ American meal very often I would be running into health issues and probably have to go back on insulin.

Just because the ‘average’ American adult drives a car that doesn’t mean that you need. If you live somewhere like New York City with lots of traffic and little parking you may find other solutions much easier regardless of what the ‘average’ person does.

Like many things in our world the concept of ‘average’ is a tool that we use for describing, measuring and making decisions. It should never be considered what someone ‘has’ to be. Usually we aren’t average in some way or other, and that’s ok. We as human beings are unique beings unto ourselves.

We aren’t always ordinary. We have our challenges to overcome, and we have things that we are really really good at. It is those differences that make it possible for us to grow, improve and help one another.

That’s it for this one dear reader. Until next time…

Be better than average,

Be what you can become.

Moral Fidget Spinners…

There was once a word, morality, that meant a doctrine or system of moral conduct, or conformity to ideals of right human conduct. It was a good word, a strong word. It meant “This is what I believe is right; therefore, this is what I will do”. It really was a good word.

Unfortunately there came a time when someone (male, female, black, white, brown, plaid, purple, gay, straight, or all of the above (it really doesn’t matter!)) decided that morality should be defined as: a commodity. For those not familiar a commodity is an economic good, or something subject to ready exchange or exploitation within a market. Someone decided they could sell ‘morality’, or at least the idea that some editions of morality are valid (while others are not…) for money. That someone managed to make fairly good money at it…

Unfortunately someone else (still doesn’t matter who…) noticed the individual making money and decided to get in on the act.  Now, the first ‘flavor’ of ‘morality’ was already for sale and that meant a new ‘flavor’ of ‘morality’ was needed for the new peddler to get into the market. And this second person sold the newly invented ‘morality’ for a tremendous profit!

But, with that new flavor, and the attached profits, came an open door for other vendors of ‘morality’, each wanting their share. And so, morality fell victim to niche marketing.

And so it is dear reader that we (or I at least) find ourselves (myself) in a world where ‘morality’ changes based almost entirely on what online polls say the consumer is buying…

Within the past weeks I’ve watched people waffle back and forth on guns, ‘liberties, ‘taking a knee’, and a host of other issues. It honestly feels like ‘morality’ can be found in online auctions or as a prize won in arcade ‘skill’ games right along with stuffed animals, team jerseys, and fidget spinners (remember those?).

Unfortunately ‘moralities’ and moral positions seem to be abandoned as fast as those fidget spinners. This is part of a cycle dear reader, a long painful cycle that can and has caused the deaths of nations (along with a few hundred million people at least…). It is a cycle that needs to be broken.

Morality is not a fidget spinner dear reader. It is not something that can be bought, sold, packed, given away, or won in an arcade game. Morality is a personal code. Morality is the way we choose to act toward one another. It is something to be carefully considered and then lived. Yes dear reader, there are many flavors of ‘morality’ out there, and it can be hard to sort through them all. But it is necessary. It is a part of life, a part of growing up, a part of the reason we are here on this earth.

So that is my challenge to you dear reader. Find your morality (or if you have it, evaluate how well you live it…). Draw closer to a way of life that makes life better for you and those around you. Draw closer to things that are good and true dear reader. Don’t be bought, played with and forgotten like last spring’s fidget spinner…

That’s it for this one dear reader. Next week I will present a few thoughts about NANOWRIMO, and admit that I goofed…

P.S. thank you to www.merriam-webster.com for help with the definitions portion of the post!

Families, Choices and Bravery

One of the biggest ‘secrets’ that nobody was supposed to talk about at my wife’s family’s reunion was the fact that one of our nephews was making some big life choices, and not doing what the family expected. It was supposed to be a secret, so naturally it was one of the most discussed things at the reunion.

My nephew was looking for something, something he really wanted. The majority of the adults in the family were sure he would ‘find it’ the same way they did (whether they actually found what they were looking for is a subject for another day…). The majority of the family assumed he would spend a couple of years doing church service and then get a bachelor’s degree and enter the work force in some engineering or construction related field. Instead my nephew is joining the United States Marine Corps…

Choosing between honorable paths

Regular readers of this blog already know that I am a person of faith and I have absolutely nothing against worthy service to God. What less of you may know it that I am also a military brat (as well as being a professor’s kid…). I see honor in joining the military as well. So, this leaves us with a question… How do you choose between two good paths?

Well, you have to choose the path that is right for you. And, that might not mean the path that ‘they’ say is the right one!

There are lots of tools to use: talking to family, internet research, introspection… you might even want to throw a little prayer and fasting on that list if it helps you. But the bottom line is that if you are going to commit your life to something it needs to be worth it and it needs to be the right thing for you. It’s a decision that only you can make. Others can help, but they can’t make it for you.

And that’s it for this one dear reader. Today I think I’ll end with a joke…

One day not so very long ago a meeting was held for top leaders in the United States military. The meeting was held at Fort Benning Georgia where the army trains paratroopers, some of their bravest soldiers. Naturally the discussion quickly turned to bravery.

“I’ll show you what bravery is,” an Army general said. He called over one of his soldiers and issued an order. “Soldier, go off that jump tower with no repelling line and no parachute.”

The soldier climbed the tower. He looked down. You could tell he was scared but he stepped off the edge. Seconds later he splattered on the ground at the base of the tower.

An Airforce general shook his head. “No, that’s not bravery. Watch this. Airmen! Go off that tower with no repelling line and no parachute. Do it with style!”

Like the soldier the airman climbed the tower. Unwilling to look scared in front of the general the airman started at the back of the tower. He raised his arms like the majestic wings of one of the big bombers and ran off the platform. A few seconds later he splattered on the ground at the base of the tower.

“No,” a Marine Corps general said, “As usual we’ll be the ones to get it done.” He spotted one of his marines nearby and shouted “Marine! Off that tower! No repelling rig! No parachute!”

The generals laughed briefly when the marine ran the opposite direction, but soon he was back and scurried up the tower loaded down with several grenades and machine gun.

At the top of the tower the marine hurled grenades down before him. When he ran out of grenades he grabbed his machine gun and went off the tower firing the whole way down. In a few seconds he splattered at the base of the tower amid the smoke of his grenades and the casings of his bullets.

The proud generals looked at the one Navy admiral in the group, daring him to do better.

The admiral called over one of his sailors and said. “The order is to go off that tower with no repelling rig and no parachute.”

The sailor looked at the admiral and the generals.

He looked at the tower and the brave men splattered at its base.

He looked back at the admiral and said “No Sir.”

The generals were taken aback, but the admiral smiled. He raised one finger and said, “Now that was brave.”

Have a good one dear reader. See you next week.

Whine or Do?

Occasionally when you are working on a project you get to learn something. If you’re lucky you might even learn something about yourself…

I initially wrote this on Tuesday after finishing a little work on Going Home the Hard Way, my next novel (and my most recent NANOWRIMO project). I’d just finished going through chapter 1 for the fourth (fifth?) time. While I was feeling pretty good about the chapter I was a bit worried about my hero being a bit of a whiny brat (he is fourteen…)

I realized that, for the character, occasional bouts of whininess are to be expected (again, he is fourteen and from a broken home…). John growing out of that whininess is part of the story I’m trying to tell. The important part of things is to not let myself (as a theoretical adult) be a whiny brat.

It is easy to complain about the ‘breaks’ and chance you didn’t get. It is easy to say “if only I had what he/she has, then I could succeed!”

One of the miracles of our world dear reader is that we have the ability to change. We can become more than we have been.

Another miracle of our world is that we can achieve our worthy desires. Maybe not in quite the way we initially see them, but we can achieve them. We will be given what we need to do so, if we will do the work and be ready to receive what we need when it is given.

It takes thought and effort, but we can really achieve our worthy desires.

Stay tuned dear reader, and see you next post.