Put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record …

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[Image credit: dan]

I’ve been accused of resembling a broken record.  For those readers who don’t know what a record is, ask your parents or grandparents.  Simply speaking, a record looks like a giant CD with grooves, or tracks where a needle rests as it revolves around a turntable.  And a broken record skips tracks — meaning, it repeats itself.  In my post entitled You know what you’re doing wrong, I touched on how we tend to repeat the same unhealthy behaviors.  Yesterday, after nearly two weeks of resting my ankle, I finally made it back to the gym.  Right away I began complaining about how I looked and felt due to continued poor food choices.  My trainer’s response to me this time was a question rather than a statement: whose fault is it?  How easy it is to point the finger at someone else when faced with this question no matter the topic.  But the truth is, in this case I have no one to blame but myself.  I’d say it’s past time to trade the record in for a new model.

Do you find yourself regularly complaining about something only you can change?

What a ride!

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[Image credit: anat_tikker]

Oftentimes, I get caught up in my own day-to-day issues — the ups and downs and everything in between.  From my sore ankle, to my fairly nonexistent gym life, to the myriad irons in the fire, to writing commitments (those I’m managing well and others I keep putting off), social obligations, health concerns, parenting, work and home lives, and the list goes on.  I can’t help but wonder how many of us believe we’re alone and no one can possibly understand half of what we’re dealing with on a daily basis.  But then I discovered during the course of various conversations over the past several months, that essentially the same stories repeat themselves — only with different names, faces and places.  Tales marked by similar themes of loneliness, heartache, unfulfilled dreams and disappointments.  Perhaps if I focused more on others by taking the spotlight off of myself — by donating my time to a worthy cause, for example — my own issues would pale in comparison.  Or at least maybe I’d better appreciate the view from my vantage point.  And it just might help make the ride easier for someone else.

How do you cope with life’s roller coaster?

Grammar lesson #2: plural possessive the right way

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

While the topic of apostrophes is still fresh, it’s time to review plural possessive.  Remember, if a singular proper noun owns something, an apostrophe (with means possessive) is required before the “s” (i.e., our  lemon tree’s fruit is ripe).  Conversely, if the word is plural the apostrophe is placed after the “s.”  For example, our lemon tree is filled with more than one lemon; therefore, the lemons’ citrus scent permeates our backyard.  Similarly, if multiple communities share the same landscape plan, then the three communities’ flora and fauna are uniform.  And if I’m talking about something belonging to me, I can either write Chris’ lemon tree or Chris’s lemon tree — both ways are acceptable.  But here’s where it can get tricky: if a group or a family name does not end in “s,” you must insert an apostrophe and an “s” (i.e., the Schmidt’s lemon tree).  However, if the name already ends in “s,” add the apostrophe only (i.e., the Williams’ lemon tree).  Also, an “‘s” is added to plural forms not ending in “s” such as the children’s lemonade stand.  If you’re still stumped, check out http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/.

Can you add any other exceptions to the plural possessive rules?

Balancing the irons in the fire

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[Image credit: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul]

A reader made a comment on a past post that sometimes you just need to step away.  Lately, I find myself doing it more often than not.  Because in my quest to fill the empty spaces, I tend to overcompensate with too many irons in the fire.  There’s nothing wrong with keeping busy, but to avoid getting burned (out), downtime is important too — the veg-out-in-front-of-the-TV kind or relaxing with the family over pizza and a game of Trivial Pursuit or whatever allows you to fuel up for the next round.  Although I didn’t get my swim in yesterday (it turns out my community pool isn’t heated), I did step back by stocking up on a stack of library books to help me stir up a healthy dose of inspiration.  I’m also reassessing the activities I’m involved with.  Although I’m excited about each and every one of the groups I’ve joined, I need to ensure which ones will best help me accomplish my goals.  It may turn out all of them are a piece to the puzzle, and I simply need to better manage both my busy and down times.  In any case, I don’t want to get burned.

What’s the secret to managing your numerous irons in the fire?

Drawing a blank

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Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~ Joseph Heller

Last night I went to bed with a migraine headache.  Although I woke up pain-free this morning, I also possessed zero ideas to ramble about.  It could be my brain just hasn’t fully woken up, yet.  Or perhaps it is not so much a dried-up well of creative juices, as it is a blockage — so many thoughts that have become stopped up.  Maybe it has to do with my lack of time at the gym while my ankle continues healing.  All I know is, I am not alone.  Maybe you’re a runner and have simply lost your inspiration for the sport. Or once-upon-a-time you planned to sing or dance, travel or fill in the blank but you lost your vision.  If I could write out a prescription for my complaint, I would order some non-weight-bearing cardio to work up a good sweat in order to dislodge the damn of ideas.  And then I’d throw in a trip to the library to further exercise my mind until the words flowed unimpeded.  As a matter of fact, after my mandatory cup of sweetened green tea, I’m heading out to the pool.

What’s your prescription for staying on top of your game?

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More trouble than it’s worth?

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Recently, an acquaintance of mine was excited to receive a batch of fishing flies in the mail.  I joked about the fact that he hadn’t gone fishing in over a year and a half.  Well, how long have you wanted to write a book?  Okay, he had a point.  But at least I’ve been working on that goal long before he announced his sporting interest.  Later we talked a little more about how I am able to write at any time and in any place — whereas he doesn’t have that advantage as a fly fishing enthusiast.  Not only isn’t he close to a body of water, but it takes time to coordinate a trip, gather the requisite supplies and work around potential weather conditions.  And I realized how very fortunate I am.  Because even though I regularly schedule time to work on whatever writing project is on the schedule, I don’t have to travel anywhere special or make extraordinary plans to carry out this particular pleasure.  If paper and pencil or laptop isn’t handy, I can tuck my thoughts away to be retrieved at any other given moment.  It also doesn’t cost me anything except maybe a little sleep, blood, sweat and tears.  Not too shabby a price to pay to do what I love.

 I’m just going to write because I cannot help it. ~ The Bronte Sisters

 Do you have a passion that sometimes feels like it’s too much effort?

What if Someday never comes?


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Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. ~ Hans Christian Andersen

If you follow my blogs, you know I talk a lot about Someday — that elusive place where my dreams come true and fantasies become the new reality.  It’s easy to get caught up in my hopes for the future and forget about Today, however, which is something I often try to remind myself.  So I’m still planning ahead, while keeping in mind that all I have to work with is the here and now.  The other day I even went so far as to ask myself: what if Someday doesn’t happen?  And what if Today is as good as it gets?  Although it may not be exactly what I signed up for, I should do everything in my power to make it as amazing as I can.  After all, I’m the author of my own script.  So each chapter — each day — is mine to draft: to love the people in my life, work hard, play harder, laugh hardest and continue dreaming.  Because those are the only sure things I can bank on Today.

Do you get caught up in your tomorrows rather than focusing on today?

Picking up the pieces

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[Image credit: Simon Howden]

This past weekend I blogged about a decision I made to let a dream go … for now.  To put it mildly, the last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions.  Because without that particular hope for the future, my other goals seem rather meaningless.  Uninspired.  Not worth my time.  On top of that, my ankle is taking longer to heal than I expected, and so my plan to participate in my first race is looking less viable.  Consequently, as I look ahead into the unknown, these two set-backs are hindering my ability to see beyond this fork in the road.  In light of my recent disappointments, one of my friends encouraged me that something big is around the corner, and it’s by shedding one hope that I’ll be able to approach a new opportunity with peace and clarity of mind.  But in order to catch a glimpse of what’s awaiting me on the other side of the bend, I must pick up the pieces obscuring my path.  Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Reality is harsh. It can be cruel and ugly. Yet no matter how much we grieve over our
Environment and circumstances nothing will change.  What is important is not to be
defeated, to forge ahead bravely.  If we do this,
a path will open before us. ~ Daisaku Ikeda

When disappointments occur, how do you pick up the pieces and move on?

Wiping the slate clean

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In the game of life, we don’t get a second chance.  We’re born with X number of allotted years and when they run out, we’re done.  No extra spins.  But while we’re making our moves and setting the course for our future — attending college or jumping right into a career, getting married, having kids, buying our dream home, playing the stock market — we’re sometimes afforded one of those rare opportunities or two for a “do over”— to spin one more time.  For me, after more than two decades since my high school graduation and working in one career, I returned to college and completed my Bachelor’s degree, and  now I’m employed in a field I’m passionate about.  And after 18 years of mediocre motherhood, I was given the chance to parent an adult child and the dynamics that come with it.  Perhaps more importantly, if we’ve been hurt or wronged someone along the way, we may be fortunate enough to collectively wipe the board game clean, put the past behind and start over.  But it requires laying it all on the line — spinning the dial to see if you lose it all, or you’re the big winner in the end.  Only you can decide if it’s worth the risk.

Is there a “do over” you’re hoping for?

Grammar lesson #1.5: an education on the apostrophe

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[Image credit: Grant Cochrane]

I hate to beat the poor misunderstood apostrophe to death, but lately I’ve noticed an increase in the gross misuse of this nondescript punctuation mark.  In my grammar lesson #1 about its and it’s, I discussed how the contraction in the latter usage is the result of shortening two words: it and is.  However, in the case of most singular nouns, an apostrophe is used to indicate possession; the absence of an apostrophe means more than one of something.  For example, my daughter’s new car sports a bright pink, fuzzy steering-wheel cover.  My daughter owns the car; therefore, an apostrophe is required.  And if I discuss my family and mention I have three amazing sisters, an apostrophe is not used because I’m talking about  quantity, not who owns what.  Simply stated: with means possessive, without means plural.

Do you, my readers, learn something from Always the Write Time’s grammar lessons?

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