When to Shut Up: Comment Responses

Many of my readers new and old may not know I respond to my comments via mobile device. I do this with the sensational WordPress app. For those chat iconof you that may’ve thought, “How in the world does she respond so quickly?” that’s how. I’m a person that carries their iPhone everywhere. Since I have the type of profession that requires me to check e-mails often, I really do need to have access to my phone most of the time.

Recently, I was reminded why I have a rule about sharing my personal views in both my writing, and my blogging. Controversy ends up repelling the type of readers I am trying to draw in. If a reader does not know on which side of the fence I stand on many issues, they cannot form an unfair and bias opinion of me. My rule is somewhat like the “no religion, no politics” unspoken mantra of many organizations. Most of the loving people that follow me have come to respect this rule and enjoy my work all the more because of it.

Reading and leaving comments are a large part of what makes this community breathe and function. Sadly, I’m starting to feel the need to adopt the above said rule in those cases too. My reason is simple, I find arguing over the internet absolutely pointless. Some people just love to do this, and they’ll leap at the first chance to disagree and screech all over you for it. Disagreements are fine, we’re all human, and that is part of life. Sometimes people can be downright rude, though, and I’m a hypersensitive individual. Often, if a remark is thrown at me in a condescending manner, I’ll become hurt by it. This may sound pathetic, but it’s just how I am.

em·path noun
An individual that possesses the psychic ability to sense or feel other’s emotions with great intensity.

To contradict myself, (as I find it to be a fun way to see if you’re paying attention), I find the way I am to be a gift. It is probably the chief reason I am a writer and an artist in the first place. My head is chock full of emotions. The trick is balancing them out; knowing how and when to turn them off.

Has someone ever hurt your feelings online? Be honest. We’re all friends here.

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Word Garden

Springtime SunsetWell into our first Friday of the spring season…

I come sharing seeds.

~*Behold*~

The Word Garden

Today I had an interesting thought. If you have a website or blog, or generally anything you share online with the world – it’s alive.

 

Your readers, people who share your links, and generally anything you continuously update moves and breathes just like we do. Now, before you go to get a broom to bash your computer with… I don’t mean it’s going to literally jump up and run away from you. Stay with me.

Take for example, here on WordPress. Widgets can help make a blog come alive. Especially those like “Most Popular Posts & Pages” that constantly update based on your site’s statistics.

If you update your website, blog, gallery, social media often this helps keep it living and breathing. When users come to your site, if they have a place to communicate with you, think of them as your fellow gardeners. “Plant the seeds and they will grow”, etcetera. To maintain healthy soil, one must be in an ideal climate, have desirable soil to begin with, take decent care of it, and fertilize. This thought could be applied to the content you share as well. If we update regularly, keep our content fresh, build an audience…and learn how to keep them present and engaged, it shows. Then, we’ll have “watered our plants” so to speak.

There is no perfect formula for this. Every facet of media is different. No breed of art is the same. Although, much like the beginning of spring we could learn to take care of our flowers and see just how stunning they grow to become.

Creative Workshop

You can create an image like the one pictured here. SpringySome of you may be thinking “Well, no I can’t…don’t lie to me!” but I assure you it’s possible.

Not everyone needs a background in graphic design like mine to create colorful images just like this. As long as you have a decent illustration program on your computer or tablet device, you may be able to create a piece worthy of showing off. In fact, you don’t even need to use your computer at all. You can sketch, paint, use your hands…the possibilities are endless.

Now, I don’t promise everyone will become a world renowned artist. Although, by reading some of the following tips and tools, you may just be able to improve your confidence.

Phase One

  • Don’t be afraid to get colorful! Assorted Crayons
  • Leave your logical mind behind and tap into your creative mind. What I mean by this is, don’t be so critical or judgmental of yourself. Just let go.
  • Use a barrage of different techniques at once. Mix and match; experiment. You’ll be able to see what fits.
  • Don’t expect instant gratification with any project. Beautiful artwork takes time, and more importantly, patience.
  • Use your emotions. True artists know what I mean. Pour yourself into it. If you just had a breakup, an argument, let those feelings drip out into your work.

Phase Two

  • Cut, Crop, Resize, etc. Don’t like one part of the image but adore another? Crop the undesired piece out! Again, “let go”.
  • Don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone.
  • Familiarize yourself with every single tool. Read tutorials. Click on “Help” buttons/links.
  • Save your work and come back to look at it later. You may see something you didn’t before.
  • Change things, but not too much. Sometimes you can go overboard with tweaking something; you then end up with a mess.

 

Art can be defined in many ways. Beauty is truly “in the eye of the beholder”. So, have fun, paint, sketch, render, smudge away. Get your children involved, they’ll love it! There is no age limit on artistic expression.

This post is dedicated to all of the art programs in schools across the world.

Support your local children’s school art program!

Grief Management

In Between

A large number of men and women have dealt with or known someone who has gone through some shape of grief in their lifetime. Grief and depression can affect a person’s life negatively and hinder many processes that lead to growth. In order for one to move forward in life, one needs to grow, right?

To those reading this that may be dealing with some portion of grief, take solace in knowing I’m going to offer you some help.

Before reading on, read this first:

The following are some tools I’ve learned over the years. Please do not replace these for medical advice; especially, if you are indeed in crisis. My only intention is to pass on some knowledge that may be of help when you are having a particularly difficult time dealing with grief.

  • Instead of putting such emphasis in your mind about the day a person died, remember their birthday instead. Celebrate their life instead of mourning their death. For women/couples that may have suffered a miscarriage, remember the day you found out you were pregnant rather than a time that brings you pain.
  • Go though the boxes. This one is tough, I have to admit, but you’ll feel better afterwards, trust me. To anyone that’s lost someone, you know what this means. I don’t have to explain it. Sometimes, it’ll do you some good to get rid of some of the things that aren’t important too. I know that is also difficult, however, one needs to realize that deep down, you know this person will not be upset with anyone for getting rid of the unimportant items. Part of moving through grief is letting go. Holding onto too many objects can become unhealthy (ask a therapist) and can develop into a condition known as hoarding, which is a serious mental illness.
  • Do something you enjoy, preferably outside. The outdoors are the best place you can be as you’re moving through the grieving process. Take a vacation, go out with a friend; take a walk. Anything to keep yourself from constantly dwelling on sadness.
  • Remember the things that bring you joy and participate in them. Go through the motions. Stay active. Listen to music, paint, dance, sing, go see a movie. Whatever brings you happiness, take part in it.
  • It’s okay to cry. Male or female, no matter how young or how old…it’s ok, just let it out. We were given tear ducts for a reason. You may just feel a little better afterwards.
  • Build a support system. This can be so important. Even if your support system is only one or a few people. It’s essential to have someone to vent your feelings to. This could be a close friend, family member, therapist, or all three. You shouldn’t be alone in times of grief. Isolation is a dangerous thing when you are going through a grieving period. Isolating one’s self could turn grief into depression.
  • Write your thoughts down. (Optional) This can be a form of therapy. Getting your thoughts out of you and onto paper is an excellent tool for releasing pent-up anxiety.
  • Make peace with yourself and with the departed. If there were any grudges held, arguments had, resentment, or just plain issues before this person’s death…make peace with it and let it go. Forgive them, forgive yourself. You can even write a letter of forgiveness.

The above mentioned tools are just some of many. These are just the highlights of what has helped me the most. As a person that has lost many, mourned severely, dwelled, and later sought healing, you could consider me somewhat of an expert on the subject. However, I remind you not to mistake my helpful tools for medical advice. Although, some have said I’d make a pretty excellent grief counselor…

This post is intended to be thought of in conjunction with my Stress Management post (hence, the similar wording and format.) Think of it as a part two of sorts.

Safety and Our Children

Happy Clouds

Lately, some events have been taking place that may make parents feel their children are not as safe as they once were.  In some cases, this is quite true. So, we ask ourselves as parents “What can we do?” “How can we prevent this?”

There is no simple answer. Although many of us are taking peaceful steps to help put a stop to this, we cannot put a halt to all of the violence in the world. As one of my favorite characters in a story once said “There’s just too much of it…”

We can however start taking measures to educate our children on safety both in & out of the home.

Below is a list I’ve created over the past few months for my own son and his friends.

In the Home

  1. Limit internet access unless completely necessary. (School projects, printing, keeping in touch with family, etc) Smaller children should not have internet access at all unless an educational program or app you approve of requires it. In both cases, internet usage should always be supervised.
  2. Dialogue with your children in terms understandable to them about the dangers of internet predators and cyber-bullying.
  3. Speak to smaller children about “strangers” that may try to lure them somewhere when they are outside of the home. (I know this is a scary subject for both parent and child but try to explain it to your child or children in a way that won’t terrify them…but still make them understand the danger.)
  4. Put restrictions on all gadgets like smart phones, tablets, and iPods.
  5. If your child plays video games, supervise them and please…for the love of puppies DON’T buy them anything too graphic or violent! That stuff is rated M for MATURE for a reason. Those kinds of games are meant for adults. In my not so humble opinion, children 12 and under should not be allowed to play games online. They are playing amongst adults and for reasons mirrored above, it’s just not a great idea.

 Outside of the Home

  1. If your child walks to school or anywhere, if you’re available, go with them. If you’re not, have them go with a friend and the friend’s parent that you trust. If this option doesn’t work, try a family member. Children should just never be alone nowadays. It’s sad to say but it’s true.
  2. Ask your child about safety measures they may be taking in school. Go over any steps or drills with them at home and make sure they understand.
  3. Keep an open line of communication with the school and your child or children’s teacher(s). *This one is super important. Give your most recent contact information whenever it changes and be sure you have theirs.
  4. Teach your child that if they see something that’s “not quite right”, say something. Tell a teacher, an aide, their bus driver, a police officer, or any trustworthy adult.
  5. Have them aware of their surroundings. Take them for a drive (or walk) and show them where the nearest police station is, hospital, fire department, stores, etc. These are good things to know in case of an emergency.

These are just some highlights. Schools are excellent these days on educating your children about the importance of safety such as this. However, I strongly recommend going over this list and passing it on. If you find this to be extremely helpful, let me know & I’ll post it up on a page & have a printable format available for you to pass around among fellow parents or school faculty members.

Most importantly, hug your children and tell them you love them often. We can never do too much of that. 🙂