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.

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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?

How Are You Measured?

Exceptional RatingDoctors measure all sorts of health related things – weight, blood pressure, etc. These measures are based on tests and scales, pretty well accepted across the board as a good way to measure our health.

Employers measure your effectiveness with performance reviews. Questions are raised to the validity these reviews due to the subjective nature of the measures.

Schools measure your ability to learn with various tests. Arguments abound that these tests are not a good way to measure a student, but none the less, tests are used to measure learning.

The government measures your ability to pay taxes, through your ability to pay taxes – sales, income, property, social security, etc. In theory, the more we can afford, the more we pay. With good tax planning, our tax liability can be reduced so it isn’t an effective way of measuring our financial capabilities.

But a measure that always makes me smile is the LinkedIn measure of my business profile. I’m an “All Star,” which is the highest ranking. Does this mean I’m someone that everyone should want to get to know and learn my secrets to becoming an “All Star”? Not really. The only reason I’m an “All Star” is that I have gone thru the hoops to provide information, posts, and befriending people. I’m not necessarily an outstanding person; however, based on this measure everyone should be clamoring for the opportunity to be one of my followers. (Hysterical laughing taking place as I write this.)

What if my profile is only “Advanced”; does that mean I’m a lesser person than the “All Star?” Or, heaven forbid, if my profile is found to be only “Intermediate.” Who wants to be a connection to someone who is only an “intermediate?”

We all forgive a “Novice” after all, they are still learning and will be looking for an “All Star” to follow – like me.

Resolved or Go with the Flow?

NeFireworksw Year’s Resolutions definitions:

  • Dictionary definition of a Resolution: 1) a firm decision to do or not to do something; 2) the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
  • Mark Twain’s definition, “New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Which definition applies to you? For me, most of the times I fall in line with Mark Twain. On occasions, I have made New Year’s Resolutions and more times than I care to admit I have failed to keep these resolutions. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about new goals for the year. This exercise in goal setting is beneficial even if I fail to reach the goal. Looking at where I want to be, helps me formulate steps to get there. Now taking the steps is where the truth comes out about my resolve to change.

I set the goals, map out the steps for success and begin. Sometimes I am successful, and at other times, I take only a couple of steps towards the goal before abandoning it. But by abandoning the goal, I have decided it’s not worth my time or energy. If that goal is health related and I choose not to follow the steps, then I have decided that my health isn’t a big priority or that I’m OK as I am, but I have decided not to improve.

New Year’s Resolutions help focus us but when we choose to ignore our own good advice and plans are we doing the best for ourselves?

Happy New Year to all.

How I Won NaNoWriMo 2015

nano-2015-winner-badge-large-squareNaNoWriMo is officially over for 2015. How did you do? Me? I wrote over 52,000 words during the month of November but didn’t finish the story until December 2.

The experience this year was very different than previous years. The common thread was the push to write every day. The reality was I wrote fewer days but wrote more each day. And I didn’t feel anxious about not writing every day. No nagging feelings that I shouldn’t be out with friends when I need to write a thousand words. Not sure why this change but I believe it has to do with my confidence that I could write enough words to be a “Winner.” This was the fourth year for me to participate in NaNoWriMo.

In previous years I had a lot of uncertainty about having enough words to meet the goal. My writing style is a “pantser.” I don’t outline, write a story brief, or anything that organized. I set down with the roughest of ideas for the start of a story and then I write. Characters grow as the story progresses and when I reach a point that I’m not sure what is going to happen next, I have one of the characters do something. It may be something as small as calling a friend to talk, or taking a walk, or looking through a photo album. From this action, I create a situation of what happens, what they learn, etc. and then work the story from this new information.

The ending of the story came as a surprise to me. I was writing but didn’t know how to end the story. As I wrote about what was learned through a phone call one of the characters made, the ending just appeared. And it’s a great ending! (No false modesty here.)

Thanks NaNoWriMo for helping me develop as a writer.

Words to Live By

17-17When asked for a quote that I try to live by, I’m quick to respond with this Bible verse. As a child, I learned the first part of the verse – “A friend loves at all times” – and thought that was a great thing. When we are young we are taught to be friends, treat each other nicely, to share, and such. All of these things are good ways to live your life.

This verse fit nicely into my childhood ideas of what a friend was/is – someone I can count on, someone who laughs with and not at me, a secret keeper, a companion when causing trouble. I had very few friends growing up that met this criterion.

As an adult – yep, it took me that long to look at the complete verse – I discovered the second part of the verse – “…and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Now that gives an entirely different meaning to the proverb. The first part is much easier than the second part.

What does it mean to be “a brother”? A brother (or sister) is family. Family loves you regardless and is there to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you when times get terrible. The family is where you turn to carry you through, sometimes to provide material needs (shelter, food, etc.), and always to provide moral support.

I know from first-hand experience that sometimes blood relatives fail you. This verse is talking about the person (and usually there is only one or two in your life) that is there regardless. Land in jail – they show up with bond money and a lawyer; so sick you can’t get out of bed – they bring the chicken soup; so sad or happy you have no words – they are the ones that instinctively know the right words (or no words) to get you through.

So how do we find this “brother” for our time of adversity? That isn’t the point of the Proverb. The point is, are you the “brother” for someone else’s adversity? This is the way I try to live my life. More than a fun-loving, trouble making friend but that I’m the “brother” someone can rely on at all times.

 

Crazy Writing Time

Writing Work AreaJust about half way thru NaNoWriMo and things are going well.

I am spending a big portion of my evenings shut up in a room with a computer where I write like a crazy person. Pouring out ideas, creating characters, talking aloud to the walls, and crafting a plot or two while watching the word count increase.

The words flow from my brain to my fingers to the computer screen, but I fear I’m missing words during the transfer process. At the end of the month, I will stand with my arms raised high and shout “Winner!” and then it will be time to cry over the words.

Now, is the time to toss caution to the wind and be brave and daring – to attempt plot lines that loosely hold the story together, to write a scene that you’re not sure is believable even in your pretend world, and to leave all the adverbs and passive sentences.

But maybe I should cut back on the amount of caffeine I’m ingesting and try getting a little more sleep.

Armed for Battle

IMG_1559It’s November, end of the beautiful fall colors in my area of the country, cold weather is creeping down from the north, and it is the start of short daylight hours. Just thinking about going and coming home from work in the dark depresses me. Watching the sun set at 4:00 is difficult but knowing it won’t be above the horizon until after 7:00 adds to the sad feelings I get. But the bright side to all this darkness is hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate is what I crave when the daylight gives way to darkness. I am sure this is my body fighting off the depression caused by the lack of sunlight, officially called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I don’t have SAD, but I become moody and uninvolved with long periods of no sunshine. Which really bothers me since I’m usually an upbeat person.

That brings me back to chocolate, loaded with substances that cause the brain to release endorphins – the feel good chemicals. The problem with chocolate is it tastes so good. It takes only a small amount of chocolate to activate the happy endorphins, but your mouth wants more, which overloads the brain. So how to find the perfect balance. For me, it is a cup of hot chocolate. It is hot which means I have to drink it slowly giving me a longer time to enjoy the flavor, and it is a controlled portion of chocolate that keeps the brain happy.

So bring on those long dark winter days, I’m armed and ready to take it on.

Two Words that Make Me Smile

alligatorI was asked to write a post about a two-word phrase that makes me smile. It took only a second to realize those words are “Later ‘gator.” Just saying them is pleasing to the ear. It’s the rhyming thing. This phrase is from childhood that I still use when trying to be funny, or to make goodbyes not so sad.

I have an Uncle Ray that would tease me when I was a child and I thought he was so cool. His visits were like a spotlight that came on and you never knew what the next act would be.

Uncle Ray would sing “The Battle of New Orleans” when it came on the radio. As he sang, he would dance and act out the song. He looked so funny, but he didn’t care, he was having a great time.

Saying goodbye to him was never sad. He would give me a hug and as he was leaving he would wave and say “Later ‘gator” and then wait for me to respond. I would giggle and reply “After a while crocodile.” Now how could that silly exchange do anything but make you smile?

So what two-word phrase makes you smile?

For Love or Money?

For Love or MoneyI have a friend, Renae Brumbaugh, who has written several books. Her latest is For Love or Money. I was flattered when she asked me to read it and to let her know what I thought of it. I don’t read many romance books. I don’t have anything against romance stories, as you would see if you were to visit my home where I have an assortment of romance books on my bookshelves. Read them all – they are not for show. But this genre is not my first choice in books. Her story I will re-read and recommend.

Why do I recommend it? There are several reasons; first it is a well-written story with interesting characters. I’ve met people like the characters in her story. (We should all have an Aunt Doris in our lives.) A good story line and great characters make it easy to get into the story.

Second, it is a historical fiction, which is one of my favorite genre of books. The setting is Chicago after the great fire, before the World’s Fair, electricity is being introduced and questioned (do you really need it?), and the Moody College is a hub of activity with D. L. Moody participating in the education of ministers and missionaries.

The time is a time of manners and propriety in how we deal with each other. Not so much class but the correct and respectful way to address each other, expectations of how you are treated, and such.

The story revolves around a young lady, Grace, who comes to the aid of a sick (dying) friend who single-handedly runs an orphanage. There are seventeen children from babies in a crib to young teenagers old enough to work but with no place to stay. During this time in history, orphanages were common, and conditions were never very good. But Grace’s lifelong friend, Anne, was trying to make a difference in the children’s lives that came into her orphanage, even though the building is crumbling around them. The building is in the area of Chicago that was devasted by the fire and has been ignored by the city and neighboring community.

But an important thing about this book is that it is a Christian romance. You will find the gentle expressions of the Christian faith throughout the story, but not preachy. Don’t expect pages and pages of heated explicit sex scenes. Expect a great story and you will not be disappointed.

You have a book club looking for a book, put For Love or Money on the list to be reviewed.