Grammar lesson #14: are, our or hour

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Thanks go out to T.C.H. for bringing this grammar gaffe to my attention.  Here are three words (are, our and hour) that, believe it or not, get mixed up by many — most recently by me.  Funny story: the other day I was writing a quick text to a friend and noticed I inadvertently substituted are for our or vice versa.  Thankfully, I recognized my blunder prior to hitting send and avoided shame (this time).  Anyway, I digress.  Are is a plural verb or helping verb.  Our is a possessive adjective, as well as a pronoun.  And hour indicates a period of sixty minutes.  Sample sentences are noted below:

  • Reading and writing are two of my favorite pastimes.
  • Our plans for Someday appear to be an ever-evolving work in progress.
  • I could use one more hour to finish reading my book, writing a chapter, making up for lost time or fill in the blank.

Can you share a recent blooper featuring one of these common terms, or is it too embarrassing?

Masking the heartache

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[Image credit: scottchan]

Wear a mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.
The debt we pay to human guile, with torn and broken hearts,
we smile … ~ Paul Laurence Dunbar

You know who you are.  The one who dons a mask to hide the pain.  Your countenance contains no clue to the misery locked behind the walls of your heart.  To the outsider looking in, your life is good.  Productivity equates to happiness and when someone inquires of your well-being, your natural response is “fine,” of course.  But fine, in your book, means breathing.  Able to function.  Equipped with skills at compartmentalizing betrayal, disappointment and shattered dreams … without self-combusting.  You believe if you pretend long enough, the difference between reality and fantasy will blur, making it impossible to discern.  So you smile and attempt to fool those who know you best.  Because if you succeed, the lies have a greater chance at becoming truth and no one will be the wiser.  Especially you.

Do you hide a broken heart behind a mask of lies?

Life lessons I’ve learned (so far)

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[Image credit: imagerymagestic]

Some people come in your life as blessings.  
Some come in your life as lessons.
~ Anonymous

Not all things are as they appear on the surface.  It’s always the write time but with some matters, it may be too late.  Someday will take care of itself; appreciate what’s in front of your nose Today.  You win some and you lose some.  Mix it up.  Do everything you can to keep out of your self-imposed ruts.  Time flies when you’re having fun, and even when you’re not.  Never make pinky promises you can’t keep.  Purge the past; bury it deeply if you have to.  Laugh at yourself until you cry.  Forgive freely.  Love unabashedly.  Dish out second chances like a lifeline, because that’s what they are and we all need them.  Set boundaries.  Hold the hands tightly of those sharing in your journey and never let go.  Nothing lasts Forever.  And when we get to the end of this life, we’ll discover how short it really was.

What life lessons have you learned lately?

Forgiveness leads to freedom

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My daughter is one of the most forgiving people I know, and just as easily can forget.  I am freely able to request it for myself, but offering pardon to someone else is another story.  Although, since losing a friendship, as well as addressing some of my less than desirable character traits, I understand that in order to fully pick up the pieces and move past this moment in time, I must do some forgiving of my own (even of myself).  When we feel wronged or slighted, however, it’s challenging to 1) own up to our part in the tango (it takes two, remember?) and 2) offer absolution (especially when it hasn’t been sought).  But I’ve found it’s truly the only way to “let it go” and, in the process, find freedom.  Freedom to give our dreams that facelift I talk about in The changing face of our dreams, freedom to finally forget the heartache or freedom simply to start over.

Is it easier for you to forgive or to forget?

The changing face of our dreams

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As a little girl, I longed for more than anything to be a writer.  Over the years, my aspirations have jumped from nurse to secretary and from teacher to beach bum.  While I’ve written in past posts about spending my first 26 odd working years in various administrative roles, being a writer has always been a dream tucked in the recesses of my heart — a desire which has finally taken flight within the past few years.  Since I’m a romantic, my fantasies have also consisted of the happily-ever-after variety where I’m walking hand-in-hand along the ocean coast, toes swallowed up in the warm sand and salty surf.  Over time, however, my hopes for Someday have begun to take on a new face for Today.  So whether I’m surrounded by a view of endless beaches, or perhaps the rugged beauty of the desert, the staying power of my dreams remains.  Even when those dreams change moment by moment.

Are your dreams in need of a facelift?

Making it a habit

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[Image credit: Salvatore Vuono]

In Addressing the hard stuff, we focused on the reason(s) why we might possess a certain character flaw.  As we acknowledged, not all habits are detrimental (like my inability to consistently practice punctuality).  But if we take the “icky” labeled selfishness or low self-esteem and work at consciously recognizing when we exhibit these traits, hopefully it will lead to a positive substitute.  In other words: replacing the bad habit with a good one.  For example, if selfishness rears its ugly head when we don’t get our way, perhaps it’s possible to look for a compromise which benefits both parties.  Or, if our sense of worth or identity is threatened, we might voice our concerns at the time instead of stuffing in our feelings or making counterproductive choices.  According to experts, a habit takes at least 21 days to form, good or bad.  Three weeks is nothing to improve ourselves; are you with me?

Is there a positive habit you need to start working on today?

Time heals

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Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
~ Hippocrates

Personally, I believe that time provides a buffer, a safeguard or defense, to help prevent the heart from breaking into a thousand little pieces each time we experience some sort of loss in our lives.  And many of us also undergo the seven steps of grief which, of course, affect everyone differently.  Speaking for myself, I think it would be nice to remove the middle-man of time and speed up the entire healing process.  Maybe it’s possible to help it along by heeding Hippocrates’ words and providing the opportunity — filling our waking hours with our favorite pastime, a new passion and/or the company of friends or family — in order to make the step-by-step transition easier.  Eventually we may get to that place where the wounds become less visible, perhaps leaving only a few battle scars on the surface of our hearts.  I’ll let you know how that goes for me … in time.

Have you given yourself the opportunity for healing?

Treasuring the memories

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When someone you love becomes a memory,
the memory becomes a treasure. ~Author Unknown

Nearly two weeks ago, I lost a friendship during an impasse.  After speaking with a couple of close relations to get their take on the situation, I couldn’t help but question if the two of us had truly been friends from the start.  If the correct definition of friendship (according to ezinearticles.com) is “a personal relationship shared between each friend for the welfare of [the] other … [a] relationship of trust, faith and concern for each other’s feelings,” then we both miserably failed the other.  With that said, the act of saying goodbye just may have been the ultimate demonstration of friendship.  However, I still plan to treasure the times when our actions spoke louder than words, more closely resembling the above definition.  But at the same time, I’ll file anything else in the live-and-learn archives.  And the friendships that remain will be the ones I invest in.

Do you have at least one treasure you’ll always guard in your memory?

Addressing the hard stuff

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I’ve noticed that once I agonize over one decision and finally choose the path I’ll take, another choice inevitably needs to be made.  I think it’s because of the ripple effect — a series of consequences caused by a single action or event (Dictionary.com).  But the good news is that once we pinpoint the root(s) of our problems, we’re in a position to address and nip it or them in the bud (effectively cutting off  any ripples).  For me, it’s been helpful to ask the question: Why?  Using low self-worth as an example, I’ve sought to understand the reason(s) I continue to battle this character flaw despite the loving support of family and close friends.  Validation of my worth is not a harmful endeavor in itself, unless my trials with low self-esteem lead the way to poor decision-making.  Whatever the reason(s) we entertain a negative behavior, however, turning it around is key.

What’s your MO for addressing the hard stuff?

Grammar lesson #13: a lot, alot and allot

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

The topic of today’s grammar lesson came by way of  an old friend from the Midwest (thanks W.A.!).  These three words (a lot, alot and allot) are another set of (incorrectly) interchangeably used terms, although they possess different meanings.  A lot is a great deal of something.  For example, It takes a lot of courage to dig deep and confront our less than desirable character traitsAlot is not a word; i.e., Alot cannot be used correctly in any sort of contextAllot means to assign or allocate.  A sample sentence may read: My boss plans to allot me additional responsibilities as the business continues to grow.  I can’t really think of an easy way to remember the proper usage of these words, except for memorizing each of their definitions.  If all else fails, either Google it or choose a different expression to convey your thoughts to your readers.

Do you have a lot of issues you allot to grammar and its usage?

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