Were You Born in a Barn?

barn with sunflowerWhat is the craziest thing your mother or dad ever said to you? As you read the sentence above a memory came into your mind. It may have been something your parent said all the time or a once-in-a-lifetime event. For me, it was when my mother looked at me and asked, “Were you born in a barn?”

I was about ten, going on twenty, and acting like a three-year-old. I had been sent to pick green beans in the garden, but I wanted to play with the neighborhood kids. Pleading my case that I would pick the beans when I got back was of no use. My mom wanted to can the beans now. She worked outside the home, and this was one of her few days off.

So I picked up my bucket, tromped out to the garden, furious that I had to do this right now. It was a large backyard garden with about a ten rows of green beans. On that day, the rows looked like there were a mile long each. The reality was they were about thirty feet long. Typically the job would take less than an hour, but today, I felt sure it would take all morning and my friends would be having fun while I slaved away.

Pouting I began picking, and with each bean, I got more upset. I glared at the back door and finally sat down in the middle of the row on the soft, moist soil. I sat there picking at the dirt and throwing dirt clots at the bees that were working the garden.

Slowly I finished the chore and carried my bucket into the house. My mother took one look at me covered in dirt and mud with the back door hanging open and asked, “Were you born in a barn? You’re a mess. The door is open. Where are your shoes?”

I stood there with my bucket and thought, “You don’t know where I was born? Weren’t you there?”

She took the bucket, sent me to the bathroom with a promise that I would be cleaning up the floor where I tracked in mud. Looking into the full bucket, she smiled and said, “You did a great job picking the beans.”

Through all of these garden chore episodes (or maybe because of them), I have a love of gardening and the ability to laugh at myself. And, no I wasn’t born in a barn.

Dot-to-Dot

dot-to-dot-ragged

Storytelling is ultimately a creative act of pattern recognition. Through characters, plot, and setting, a writer creates places where previously invisible truths become visible. Or the storyteller posits a series of dots that the reader can connect. Douglas Coupland

I was raised in a family of storytellers and never thought of a story as a dot-to-dot, but there seems to be some truth to this quote by Douglas Coupland, novelist, designer, and artist.

When I write a story I follow a formula of if this happens what is the logical thing to happen next – one thought leading to the next. Imagining a conversation between characters with their quirks and writing it can be a challenge. But by taking one sentence (sometimes one word) and then thinking about what is the logical response, I develop a conversation.

To write an action scene, it the same thing. If this happens what happens next. Even in the world of fantasy, there are rules by which the imaginary world works. Using these rules to formulate what happens next, keeps the story moving and holds the scene together.

So are authors really dot-to-dot creators?

Superpower for Everyone

SuperHeros-shutterstock_225400357-500x486I was recently asked, “What is your superpower?”

I scratched my head and said, “I don’t have a superpower.”

The person smiled and replied, “If you did have a superpower what would it be?”

Again, I looked dumbfounded and said, “Superpower? No idea!” And then I turned the question back to them and asked, “What superpower do you think I have?”

The person laughed and then said, “You are the Super Supporter.”

“Super Supporter! That’s not a superpower.”

Without a pause, the person said, “Superpowers provide us with abilities to help others in unexpected ways. And you are one of the greatest supporters I know.”

A couple of days have passed since that conversation, and I haven’t been able to shake it. I am a little overwhelmed that someone would consider me a super anything much less a super supporter. Not being modest just surprised.

The dictionary meaning of a supporter is a person who approves of and encourages someone or something (typically a public figure, a movement or party, or policy). Some of the synonyms are champion, advocate, backer, defender, crusader, apologist, ally, and helper.

How does this definition show itself? When thinking of the characteristics of a supporter, I think of a cheerleader.

Some years ago I read the book, “What Happens When Women Pray” in which the author, Evelyn Christenson, compares supporters to the crowd that would sit in the balcony of a theater many years ago. These balcony people would cheer loudly for the good guy and give boisterous boos when bad things happen. This same rowdy group would call out warnings when danger was near. It is hard to imagine a better picture of a supporter.

Over the years, I have worked hard to encourage those around me. I not only look for something good in everyone but try to express it to them. When criticism is necessary, I try to make it not a personal attack but an attack on an action or event that is wrong. I try to be a balcony person.

My supporters have helped make me who I am today. I have been blessed to have many supporters come (and go) in my life. They provide me encouragement to tackle new projects, challenge me to see life from different perspectives, and keep me going when I want to cry.

“Super Supporter” is a superpower we all have inside of us; the question is if we use it.

Holiday Here, Holiday There, Everyday a Holiday

chocolate-covered-cherry-dayWhat the world needs is more holidays, or at least, it appears there is such a need based on the number of holidays that have been thought up. There are several websites dedicated to unusual holidays. At Days of the Year we are reminded to celebrate Old Stuff Day (March 2), or Cheese Doodle Day (March 5), or False Teeth Day (March 9) or Day of Awesomeness (March 10). The list goes on and on. Looks like we have a reason to celebrate every day.

Think about that for a moment – a reason to celebrate every day. When I was growing up, I was taught to celebrate every day because it could be your last. The implication was our days are precious and limited, don’t waste them. So now we have holidays for every day to remind us to celebrate something today.

I am in favor of celebrations but some of the holidays are a little silly – Underwear Day (August 5) or Moldy Cheese Day (October 9). Then there are others that can be reminders of what is important and we need to celebrate. Such as Middle Child’s Day (August 12), Make Your Dream Come True Day (January 13), or Hug a Plumber Day (April 25).

For me, I’m looking forward to celebrating Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day (January 3), Tell a Story Day (April 27), and Sangria Day (December 20), there are so many reasons to celebrate. Which days are you going to celebrate?