Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Changing hats

One of the statements/recommendations that I am always issuing is, if you truly want to do something, don’t allow anyone or anything to get in the way of doing it. No matter what or when, I continue to believe that particular message.

When it comes to following my own philosophy, however, I am having a much more difficult time. One of my very dear friends has recently suggested (urged?) that I must remove my editor hat and don my marketing beanie. As easy as it is to write and edit my book, making it materialize is much more difficult. In other words, it is probably past time to begin publishing my book.

Four edits have been painstakingly completed. I have conducted the research, identified a number of relevant publishers, checked out thirty or forty literary agents and found at least one whom I can and should contact. Somehow, I just can’t pull the trigger. It may be because I am not entirely certain as to how I want to proceed. Or it may simply be the lack of determination that the work is as perfect as I can make it.

When I self-published my first book, it was not difficult. It makes no sense that I have come all this way, with 200 books of research under my belt and I am ready to proceed. As an example, today I persuaded myself that one more proofreading trip is necessary. So far I have reread 25 pages and added 100 words.

You might want to make the case that this is the most important writing venture of my life, explaining my apprehension. Whether that should result in urgency or reluctance, only I can determine. But I must be true to myself, especially because I was quite definite about succeeding in my efforts by my birthday, a date that is almost here.

And so, I shall postpone the balance of the proofreading, contact the literary agent and ask God for intervention. To be sure, I haven’t arrived here without that participation. And it’s impossible to arrive at my publication deadline alone. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Kids and schools

It’s not safe. Kids can’t be allowed to return to the classroom. We need to put the students back in school. The teachers aren’t safe. The kids aren’t safe.

We have heard most of the opinions from virtually every side of this complex issue. As an educator, I have strong feelings about exactly what needs to be done.

Our priorities are the children and they must remain more important than anything else. Every consideration beyond that is interesting but not germane. The children need to be in school. If we must assemble very small classes with kids and teachers wearing masks, so be it. If we need to staff the schools with numerous site workers to ensure clean schools, so be it.

But the kids need math, reading, writing, history and everything else we teach. More importantly, kids need other kids. They need to run around the playground to play tag. And they need to be taught the rules of social distancing, handwashing and everything else that adults are doing. Let’s teach them the meaning of words such as virus, antibody, plasma and pandemic.

Spend whatever it takes. Kids must come first and as well as educating, we need protecting, loving and enriching. As far as my safety, I will take all possible precautions while teaching that protocol. If I am missing my kids, you can be certain that they are missing their teachers. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Record the present

Those of you who have been reading my blog for the last several years know that I often encourage those who are inclined toward writing to write whatever is in their hearts and spirits. Today I have another message. Take the time each day or every few days to write your thoughts and observations for the day, whether you see yourself as a writer or not. Years from now, you will be extremely glad that you did.

During a recent reorganization of my office, I ran into a collection of notes that I kept during my early twenties. It doesn’t matter how long ago that was but it suffices to say that I have experienced quite a bit of life since then. In any event, it was quite illuminating to read those notes.

Some of my concerns at that time are exactly the same as those that I have in the present. They consist of depositing good into the world, care for family and doing the best that I can at whatever I attempt. While I am not surprised to see those thoughts and priorities expressed, I am glad that I haven’t changed in the most important of categories.

Admittedly, some of the subjects have disappeared. At that time, I was dealing with a relationship that was one of the most significant of my life, one that ended sadly. But I was also wrapped up in the questions of whether or not I would ever love and be loved again, a situation that would ultimately be resolved. And so, some of those things that concerned us then will not do so now.

If you have followed my writing career, you know that my first book was a memoir that was developed in the spirit of sharing the numerous life lessons that I learned along the way. While many of those who read this will not wind up writing memoirs, I offer two thoughts.

The first is that your life and the progress you have made in it are worth preserving and sometimes suitable for sharing. But if you are not interested in a memoir, the notes that you keep will simply be useful for you. Some time in the future, it will be illuminating or valuable to think about where you were then as compared to where you are now. Take the time and you will be grateful that you did. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Old and new

Those of us who spent much of our lives without benefit of current technology often observe the before and after realities of those lives. For one, I remember coming home from work to see if the answering machine light was flashing an indication that I had a message. And I remember waiting until Sunday to call home from college because the rates were lower.

By no means do I suggest all of this as a wish for days gone by. The majority of our life changes are positive ones, especially as they include reduced charges, additional convenience and a lack of waiting for the right dial tone to secure internet access.

But yesterday, I had a revelation concerning my new tablet and the lovely addition of a smart pencil (who ever dreamed that pencils could be smart?). The revelation was that I could use the pencil to write the notes that I have recorded for many years on a piece of paper that was more or less inconvenient or capable of being lost or damaged.

This may not sound like much but it’s huge. Life now requires me to have ongoing access to wifi of one flavor or another and the tablet (a sensational early birthday gift) is the latest addition to that access. The big event is that I can use this tasty device to do writing, email, current events, social media or anything else that one does with a tablet. And in addition to all of that, I can use it to hand-write notes, ideas for blogs, additions to my book or anything else! It is unquestionably the combination of latest technology with old-fashioned hard work that takes the form of handwriting.

Because I am not an artist of any type for visual arts, I won’t access my magic pencils talents at creating drawings or sketches. It’s simply not that magical. However, I am going to use it diligently for notes, reminders, lists or anything else that includes the English language. This is very exciting stuff. I can also take pictures with it and I can check the stock market. More important than all of that, I can preserve my old-time habits with new-time devices. What a deal.

What is the moral or lesson in all this? Use discretion about accepting or discarding any particular change in your life and surroundings. Somehow, it is always possible to maintain the good and bad at the same time. Shalom.


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Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.  Rashi

 These are the words of Rashi, a medieval French scholar who lived from 1040 to 1105 CE. His real name was Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak and he is still studied for his profound and detailed analyses of the Bible and its commentaries. Because he was renowned and revered for his meticulous attention to detail in his studies, his work has had profound significance for me.

This quote has been often repeated and analyzed. My interpretation is that Rashi entreats us to uncomplicate our life events by understanding information within all formats exactly as it appears. Ironically, Rashi’s most brilliant process in writing commentaries was to explain religious texts phrase by phrase, rather than paraphrasing or omitting part of the text. It seems that his specificity is in adherence to simplicity.

In other words, accept words and actions exactly as they are transmitted and avoid secondary interpretations or hidden meanings. Here is an example of how that works:

You tell me that I should write a book. Receiving this with simplicity means completely and exclusively that you think I should write a book. The reasons why you have this belief may or may not be germane to one or both of us. But here is what it doesn’t mean:

Give up writing poetry.

Stop doing client work.

You’re wasting your time with blogs or other short works.

Many people will (or will not) read your book.

You may want to ask someone to help.

See how wonderful this is?

You suggest that I visit Portugal, try Korean cooking or look into yoga classes, entirely because you think that I would enjoy or benefit from those adventures. Secondary meanings are entirely gone.

The process can be extrapolated throughout our lives. Rather than passing judgment on events in your past or someone else’s, simply accept that they took place. And if, God forbid, you are to suffer from a horrible disease, accept that with the same simplicity. Wondering why you were the one to be stricken with this disease is unnecessary – simply take action to defeat it and survive. Shalom.

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One day

In approximately six weeks, I will be celebrating a landmark birthday. At this point, I can think of eight to ten people whom I have told that I am having a difficult time with this birthday although I didn’t have similar dread with other landmarks. Try as I may, I can’t understand what has changed.

More importantly, it occurred to me that I am forever cautioning my students not to do exactly what I am doing. My warning is that believing that you can’t succeed at something guarantees that you will be right. And so it goes with a birthday. Predicting that it will be hard makes certain that it will be.

Happily or unhappily, I am the only one who can fix this. For as many times as I anguish over a number of years on earth, I will make it a problem. It is significant that my brother and I have lived longer than either of our parents or our brother, by at least ten years in his case and seven in mine. Whether that has importance or not depends on the interpretation. It also depends on how we define longevity.

As soon as I realized that I have been making this into a crisis that shouldn’t be one, I began to change my perspective. Right now, at this moment, I am in very good health, walk a minimum of 4,000 steps per day and work out daily on my stationary bicycle. Of greater value than that, I am finishing my third book, write blogs two or three times per week and have the privilege of doing writing tasks for a number of clients.

No-one can minimize the difficulty of this landmark birthday but I. Having reached this point, I hereby determine that it will be simply another day. But I am grateful to the people who make my life happy, comfortable and full of joy. Let this be a lesson to those agonizing over any life event. Making it insurmountable ensures that it will be. And making it a cause for jubilation is easier and much more useful. Shalom.

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One step above

During this time of protest, unrest and a world responding to a toxic virus, businesses have experienced some of the worst damages. My response as a consumer is to visit small, local and family-owned businesses. The large chains will make profits, with or without my purchases. The small ones need all of the help and revenues they can get.

If ever I had doubts about the merit to that commitment, my recent journeys to a small, family-owned jeweler confirmed my wisdom. For the sake of their privacy, I will omit the town and name of the company. But his thoughtfulness, courtesy and professionalism demonstrate why we need to do everything possible to keep these types of organizations around.

Walking into the store, the owner and his wife recognized us from our visit of nearly a year ago. We were warmly received (as always) and made a ring purchase, after debating at length between two possibilities. Although I did not know it until later, my husband asked our gentleman to save the other ring so that we could come back for it later in the week.

But it was a small, supremely kind gesture that will ensure my return visits to this shop. The last time we had visited, I pointed out that his offerings were entirely without a specific religious symbol. Without writing down my name or seeking compensation, the jeweler commissioned one of these specifically for me and produced it while we were purchasing the ring. The financial details are unimportant but he was determined to split the price of the item and I am certain that doing so was a tribute to my appreciation.

Returning for the second ring, the jeweler was absent but his wife noticed that the stone was loose and needed to be reset. She wanted the owner to reset it but he insisted that the artist who created the ring reset it, in order for it to be perfect. I am certain that most jewelry professionals would not have gone to all of the trouble.

Doing your best, providing the highest quality of service and making your client feel essential are all keys to remaining exceptional and all obvious to this gentleman’s actions. He will always have our business for important jewelry purchases. As that evolves, I am persuaded that everyone is enhanced in the process. Shalom.

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Is there a difference between emulating, copying and imitating? We all do one form or another of this. Every time I hear “a ton” of something in a written or television piece, I cringe. This is an example of someone or many imitating a word usage that is far beyond cliché, all the way into trite.

But what happens if you wear something I like and I want some item of clothing that is similar? It seems to me that if I buy an article that is exactly the same, I am copying you. If I buy an item that is similar, I am emulating. And with the possibility that I am poking fun or criticizing (not necessarily your taste in clothing), I am imitating.

This is fun because I am so specific about the words I use. To many others, the words may be interchangeable. And sometimes, the differences between them get blurry, depending on the age and sophistication of people involved.

Very often, I hear “don’t copy me” in the classroom. It rarely means, don’t write what I just wrote as compared to don’t do what I just did. Kids often decide that they are saying or doing something special and unique. Anyone who attempts a similar action or speech pattern is committing the infraction of copying.

If we make the comparison larger in scope, civil disobedience is copied or imitated behavior, but not emulated. But let’s not forget that imitation is reputedly the highest form of flattery. Does that mean that if you riot in your city, I am flattering you by rioting in mine? I think not.

The proverbial bottom line is that the behavior is copied if I don’t like it (or it’s illegal in the form of plagiarism). If it’s flattering, you are emulating me. You may be complimenting my style or methods or something I cannot identify. If you are imitating me, my best guess is that it’s a form of compliment, as long as it’s not verbatim imitation, another word for theft.

Most likely, I’ll probably engage in more word dissections as time continues. In the interim, feel free to ask for assistance rather than copying (appropriating) what I do. Shalom.

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No matter how hard I try to understand, it simply eludes me how many people have so much trouble with following instructions. Just now I was at a local large department store with signs prominently notifying shoppers that all who want to shop there need to wear masks.

Although I didn’t count them, I’m certain that I saw at least five or six adults who either didn’t comply when entering the store or they had removed them once they were inside. If you have the virus and sneeze in my vicinity, you may have infected me, in spite of the fact that I was wearing my mask. Likewise, if someone else had it and sneezed in your space, you could now have the virus.

Maybe you think that the virus is a hoax and the 100,000+ people in this country who have died from it were coincidences. Or maybe you are Superman who has a powerful, invisible resistance to disease.

Being a rioter during our recent civil unrests doesn’t make you less the idiots. Most of the peaceful protesters wore masks although there was no such thing as social distancing. But the looters who had nothing to do with protests were jammed together and literally exposing themselves to each other’s germs/viruses. Try as I may, I can’t feel very sorry for those who become ill. But as Forrest Gump so aptly stated, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid takes on a brand new meaning when you stupidly endanger others.

Seeing signs that quarantine is un-American or unconstitutional verifies that those who believe it have no understanding either about America or its constitution. Yes, you have Constitutional rights to many liberties, none of which is hurting others. People much smarter than you or I have determined that public health is protected through quarantine and social distancing. If you are more worried about your Constitutional freedoms than you are about potentially infecting me, we are going to fight.

This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Be free and brave enough to trust those who are smarter than you. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

If I didn’t write

What would I do if I didn’t write? The art or practice of writing assumes two things – one is that the writer has the skills and vocabulary to write. The second assumption is that someone or multiples of people want to read what is written.

And what if, for some or any reason, the writer can or will no longer write. One might reasonably ask about what happens to the thoughts, feelings, ideas and observations that were previously expressed by keyboard. In my case, I’ve been writing this or that for so long, I can’t imagine not doing it.

Maybe painters, potters, sculptors, composers, musicians, landscape artists and architects express all of those commodities within their proprietary art forms. As a non-participant in any of them, I can’t have a reliable opinion. And so, I continue to wonder.

Because I can’t draw, sculpt, landscape or create architecture, none of those are viable for me. There are many more people out there who don’t write than those who do, many of whom appear to lead normal or acceptable lives but that doesn’t provide me with an attractive alternative. At this point, I’m thinking that it’s a bit late in my life to pursue formal training in any of the arts (other than music, in which I am going to perform as long as my vocal cords will allow). That leaves me to find other forms of self-expression if I elect to discontinue writing.

What if I created a combination Lego/Scrabble game where I could attach words to puzzle pieces and create three-dimensional poetry? It sounds good but I would need to create hundreds of pieces or restrict myself to very few words. And I am still writing.

Then there is the option of a pseudonym. In this case, I write the work, create an author name and see how people respond to that person’s name and work. But there is a problem here as well. Whether the literature is loved, hated or ignored, I still retain ownership. And I am still writing.

And so, it seems likely that I’ll stick with what I know. That should include fans, non-fans and those who are absolutely indifferent. But I will have satisfied my muse and use the best outlet available to express what is in my mind and my soul. Shalom.