The Writer’s Corner

As I write these words, I’m seated in one of my favorite spaces. This space is the basement area of my home. This is the computer space. Or it could be labeled the writer’s corner. Perhaps it could be titled the book nook. The collectible’s cave might be another fun way to describe this space. Anyway, yes, this is the area of my home where I come to write. Blogs and short stories have been born here. More are waiting for their chance at life. I hope I don’t disappoint them.

Have you ever noticed that it can be hard to create much of anything at any time? Laziness or not creating is often so attractive. Procrastination is also appealing to many of us. We think we have time to create later on and then later on happens and it’s time for bed. Many times the artist is their own worst critic. I’ve never missed the constructive criticism that was a part of my old creative writing classes in college. My final final at the university was back in the year of 2008. I’ve never looked back.

I have the ability to be critical of myself; no help is necessary. No, what artists need more of is sincere words of compliment or praise. The good writer might just be the last person to believe that they’re a good writer and not simply wasting everybody’s time. Let’s applaud others and do our absolute best we’re capable of doing.

Back to favorite spaces though. Do you have a favorite space in your home or town or city or whenever traveling abroad? Just like I believe in the practicing of enjoyable hobbies I also think we ought to enjoy our favorite places and spaces often. These places could be coffeehouses or bars or movie theaters or bookstores or wherever our joy is to be found.

Sit down and enjoy a favorite space today or tomorrow or the next day and perhaps even breathe some new art to life.

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Authentic Friends

It’s a wonderful life skill to appreciate the people that keep showing up as our friends. Authentic friends ought not be taken for granted. In a world better than this one perhaps the word “authentic” wouldn’t even need to be placed before the word “friends”, but we don’t live in that sort of world. Yes, there are many betrayals of false friends. Let’s show love and kindness to our friends that are kind and loving in return.

Recently I had a conversation over Zoom with a young lady that’s been a good friend to me for around ten years. We enjoyed each other’s company as the holidays were discussed and the books we are currently reading and voting day and other topics. After our Zoom meeting I thought of how awesome it is that we are still friends and still in contact after a decade. She moved away from Carbondale, where I live, around eight years ago. Our friendship could’ve been easily forgotten by her at that time. I truly am thankful that she still remembers me and calls me a friend.

Be a good friend and rejoice when others also have this skill! Don’t stress out or be overly saddened by false friends. Selfishness is common in the human story and many are wrapped in an uncomfortable blanket of despair. Perhaps it simply isn’t in them to go the extra mile or to show up as a dear friend.

Thanksgiving is coming up soon. How good it is to always have an attitude of thanks. Let’s give thanks to those and for those that enrich our lives. My friend I discussed has enriched the story of my life and continues to do so. I’m certain that you have people in your life that you can recall easily that have shown up for you and continue to travel that extra mile. Today could be a great time to tell them how much they mean to you. Send a text or write a note or make a phone call or invite them over for coffee. A thankful heart is a happy one.

Authentic friends are first place winners every time.

Golden Lives

Encouragement often seems in short supply. It can be so tempting and easy to be one of the world’s many critics. Judgmental attitudes abound in humanity. Where are the words of praise and the encouragers? Are there only a few with kind words and compliments on a regular basis?

Be an encourager! Yes, I 100% meant that exclamation point. Be an encourager at work and at play and with your artistic minded friends and when someone has made a mistake or when they’ve done something you feel is remarkable. Encouragement makes our world a greater and more joyful place to dwell.

I don’t do well with criticisms and I know I’m not alone in this boat of feeling. I’ve often been my own harshest critic. When someone else criticizes me it is already something I’d contemplated myself. In other words, I already knew I made a mistake or could’ve done something better. If we must criticize then let us do it with love as constructive criticism. Then, if we believe in the art of kindness, we will offer a compliment or an encouraging word.

The old gold standard concerning human behavior and interactions with our fellow life travelers is golden for a good reason. It’s wise and wonderful to treat others the way we desire to be treated! I meant that exclamation point also. I wouldn’t be the man I’ve become if it weren’t for the golden rule and my attempts to honor it.

Let’s live golden lives. Criticisms and constructive criticisms are assuredly going to come our way and also at times be dealt out by us. However, they need not be in great supply or the normal human being operating procedure. Keep on being you and doing what you love to do and do your life to the best of all that’s inside of you. The critics will voice their say; keep on being you anyway.

Happiness Experts

It’s so easy in our troubled world to settle for sorrow. What does it take to live a happy life amidst all of the woes? Personally I’ve been dealt some real heartaches in my lifetime. Yet I don’t live a sad life. I’ve had to overcome much and choose happiness against all odds.

But this writing isn’t about me. It’s about my dad. He turned 65 two days ago. The family and I and many others through birthday wishes helped him celebrate. He had a wonderful birthday and I am happy for him. I believe he just might be a happiness expert.

Some people think that birthdays are no big deal and no great cause for rejoicing. Dad doesn’t believe that and neither do I. No, he seems to think that his anniversary of birth is the big hoorah of the year. I agree! All of the other days of the entire year are not dedicated to us. We all really just get the one day. Why should we not make it count as something special?

So whether it’s our birthday today or not let’s live like it is. Let’s live boldly and with joy!

Let’s be happiness experts! Happy birthday again to my dad!

Placing the Pen to the Page

It’s time I start writing more fiction. Throughout the years eight of my short stories have been published. A poem of my creation was even once published. Yet I struggle to sit down and craft short stories on a regular basis. Am I afraid of criticism and constructive criticism? I’m always quick to share my writings with anyone interested in reading them. So I don’t believe this is the verdict regarding why I’m not writing fiction more frequently. My problem perhaps is that I simply forget to slow down in my busy life and place the pen to the page or tap the keys on the keyboard.

Today, right now, I am slowing down to invent this blog. This is progress. Any day I slow down to write I feel good about accomplishing the task. Some writers seem to believe that writing is easy stuff. Sometimes I understand those authors and other times I don’t get them in the slightest. A lot of times it’s hard stuff for me to sit back and word myself as eloquently as possible via the written word. Is writing hard or easy? Maybe it is both.

On this day I aim to write three pages of fiction on my latest short story. The cellphone can stay in the other room and the TV can stay turned off and I can concentrate and create. This day is a Sunday and I don’t have work to attend to or even Sunday night plans. Wish me good wishes on my three page Sunday writing goal!

Although when it comes to pursuing one’s dreams it seems that wishing has little to do with the pursuit. Work has a lot to do with it. Daydreaming and envisioning art is all swell, but eventually the artist actually has to create the art.

I’ve been thinking and daydreaming about my fiction more lately than in years past. It’s time to awake and put the pen to the page.

Old Fashioned Birthday

Every new day is a reason to celebrate. There is joy to be discovered all new mornings and evenings if we have eyes trained to see it. I’ve been living joyfully for the majority of my life’s story. I find the good through the bad and I find the great via the good. Optimism and hope are two of my most loyal friends. I celebrate life!

Yesterday a specific sort of celebration began. My father will turn 65 on this upcoming Monday. We started the festivities a little over a week early by going to St. Louis for the day yesterday. It turned out that the restaurant my dad so loves was closed unexpectedly. We had to change the plans at the final moment. The change of plans worked out well because the new restaurant we picked was most excellent in atmosphere and drink and food. The waiter was memorable and kind. Dad had three of his favorite drink and I enjoyed an Old Fashioned and a Tom Collins adult beverage. It was a wonderful experience in honor of Dad’s approaching birthday.

One thought on birthdays is that they are merely another day. Some folks say that it isn’t a big deal or a great cause of celebration. They don’t anyone to make a fuss over them or throw a party. They don’t get excited about the anniversary of their birth.

Another thought on birthdays is that it is the event of the year. Bring out the cake, let the balloons soar high, presents in abundance, invite all of the friends and even a few enemies, start taking photos and let everyone know I love them and love that they showed up to my party! I find the idea of a birthday being the event of the year to be much more fun than the notion of it being merely another day. Truly, we all just get the one anniversary of our birth per year. Why should we squander the day away?

Happy birthday to my dad one week from today!

The Rollercoaster of Life

Life rushes on! Lately I’ve been thinking about the value of slowing down. Often I’m off to somewhere to stay out late and then when the morning arrives I am on my way again somewhere early. I love to go out. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking about the joys home has to offer.

Home is where we can go when we want or need to be alone. It’s the place where our toys are waiting on us. The books, movies, computers, music players, pool tables, microwaves and all of the other luxuries of our dwelling places can be enjoyed at home. If we want a place where we truly belong and fit in then hopefully home is this place.

It’s possible to be in a highly crowded room and feel out of place. Perhaps no one is friendly to us in the crowd. Maybe we’ve drunk too much alcohol over the course of the evening. We could’ve ventured out on the town only to realize around midnight that a night at home would’ve provided as much entertainment.

It’s a great feeling to be in a place of welcome or fitting in; but this isn’t always the way it is everywhere we journey. I get along well on my own. Of course I don’t expect strangers to be kind toward me. Although it is a wonderful feeling whenever this occurs.

There’s beauty in getting along well with ourselves. There’s been times throughout my life’s story when I did not get along well with myself. Sorrow and misery exited my soul long ago. I’ve never forgotten the difficult lessons they helped teach. One lesson sadness taught me was to not be too hard on myself when mistakes are made. Everything I do I do to the best of my ability. We all ought to be kind to ourselves and to others also.

Going out and being with friends is good and good for us. Sometimes, however, do we need to practice being alone and the art of solitude more frequently? Solitude isn’t the same as loneliness. I love my friends; I also love being comfortable being my own unique person.

Life rushes on. Let’s slow down and not always ride the rollercoaster.

Lobster Eggs Benedict and Dear Friends

Genuine friends that make the journey with us help add so much sweetness to the joy of life. I was in Maine recently with family for one week. A highlight of the vacation was when my dear friend, Emily, made a trip from Vermont to visit me for a weekend. Sometimes it’s hard to get a friend to travel across town to hang out; yet my friend traveled hours to rendezvous with me. This meant so much!

The two of us dined on lobster eggs benedict at a local restaurant in Boothbay. A year ago we frequented this same establishment. Last year the experience was incredible and this year I can report the same story. It was so pleasant to catch up with my friend in conversation and to laugh with her. We used to meet regularly for coffees in Carbondale before she moved away. The coffee in Maine is excellent like the coffee in Illinois.

After the breakfast experience we checked out the sights and shops in Boothbay. There’s a bookstore there called Sherman’s that we enjoy. It’s always fun to talk and peruse books with the fellow book-loving friends.

After wandering around the town we got on a boat for a whale watching tour. The boat ride was tremendously fun! I didn’t even mind that there wasn’t a whale in sight during the three and a half hour tour. We saw some porpoises and enjoyed each other’s company. Sadly I neglected to wear my blue hat and received a sunburn for my folly. I was lobster red soon after the tour! So what though! The sunburn was worth the price of getting to go on the tour at sea.

Emily is an example of an extraordinary friend. We ought to hold fast to the friends that really care for us and want us in their lives. Let’s not forget these precious souls or allow them to be lost in the sea of the busyness of life. Make time for lobster eggs benedict and whale watching tours and special people and friends that love book shops as much as you do. Let’s hold dear friends close even if they’re far away.

From Illinois to Maine

It’s great to get away from home and travel! Recently I went with family to Boothbay, Maine for a week. I’ve always loved the excitement of traveling. My parents are great at planning awesome vacations. The story was the same over 30 years ago when my brother and I were kids. I feel fortunate to have experienced so many wonderful places throughout the story of my life thus far.

Some places I’ve been to with family are Rome, Italy and Ketchikan, Alaska and Edinburgh, Scotland and London, England and New York, New York and Barcelona, Spain and Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Waterford, Ireland and San Diego, California and others.

A travel journal has been a traveling companion in my backpack since May 2008. A dear friend gifted it my way as a college graduation present. Blue and black ink have now filled a lot of its pages. The travel journal has stories to tell!

The recent Maine adventure was the fifth one for the family and I. Around Bar Harbor and Boothbay is where we’ve pointed our compasses and flown our flights. Boothbay is around 1,300 miles from Carbondale, Illinois. Yeah, I wouldn’t desire to make that drive. Airports can feel like a huge hassle, but I prefer flights to super long drives.

In Boothbay and the surrounding charming towns we checked out the shops and ate the delicious lobster dishes and saw some lighthouses and snapped photos and gazed at the sea with admiration. This was our third trip to Boothbay. The town and surrounding locations have provided great fun on each journey. Maine has a rather different vibe than Illinois. The temperature was around 30 to 40 degrees cooler than here at home. In September I won’t argue with a drop in temperature. A change of weather was perfectly fine.

Yes, it is great to travel; it’s also great to return home. I doubt I’ll ever move away from Carbondale. I love my university and my job and my friends. Although I’ll also always take tremendous joy in traveling. That old travel journal is only a little over half way filled. It looks like I’ll have to keep journeying to new and outstanding destinations. I’m ready!

A Smile for the New Faces

Recently I’ve been excited to see so many new students on my beloved campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. New faces are checking out old books at the library where I work. At lunch new faces are all over the Student Center having fun and getting lunch or coffees. There seems to be more life on campus than there has been in years. For this I am thankful.

It can be difficult to be the new kid on the block or the new freshman on campus. It’s not easy to move away from home for the first time or to be tossed in a dorm room with a stranger. Will the two strangers become great friends or will there be tough times ahead for the roommates?

Something I aim to do in my position at the campus’ library is make new and not-so-new faces feel welcome. I offer a smile or a friendly Hello. I help as much as possible and if I don’t know the answer to the question I will discover someone that does have the knowledge needed. Our fellow life travelers need to feel welcomed and noticed. The little stuff adds up to become the big stuff. The extra mile traveled is worth the journey and effort.

I still recall the best of my teachers with fondness from 2003 to 2008 whenever I was in college. I can recollect profound things they taught me or how they made me laugh or helped me to see some complex idea in a simpler fashion. The best teachers live on in their students affections long after the graduation cap is tossed high to the sky.

We ought to attempt to make our world a better place in the every new day interactions. Let’s be welcoming and kind. Let’s remember when we were just starting college or high school or a new job or a new whatever. Wasn’t it somewhat terrifying? And was there some special person around that helped ease the terror through their kindness? Yeah, now be that special person for somebody else.

Cheers to new and old students on college campuses and in the great campus of life!