Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why the Hate?

A few days ago, several "news" (and I use that term very, very loosely) outlets began sharing the story about alleged sexual misconduct by then-teenager Josh Duggar, oldest son of the "19 Kids and Counting" Duggars. I've been absolutely amazed at the comments posted in response to these stories and on Facebook regarding this situation. But before I go on, I want to post a disclaimer or two:

1. I am not a Duggar-devotee by any stretch of the imagination. Several years ago, when I first heard about the show, I watched a few episodes. I'd never been a reality-TV fan, and this show didn't capture my interest, either. It simply wasn't for me, and I never watched again.

2. I have no idea what this young man did or didn't do as a juvenile, and I am neither condemning nor defending him. I repeat: I'm not writing either in support or to criticize this young man or anyone involved in this situation.

Okay, that's done.

I shared at the outset that I am amazed at the comments, and I am. I have to wonder at the "I always knew they were fake/hypocrites". Really? What knowledge were you in possession of that led you to that realization? Oh, it was just the fact that "nobody is that 'good' all the time". You're exactly right. Nobody is. We all mess up, we all make mistakes, and this family is no different.

I'm more surprised at the "I am so glad they are off the air/I always hated that show" remarks. I can understand disliking the show, maybe even hating it. Goodness knows, there are lots of television shows I don't care for and even a few I despise. But I don't give them a second thought (I can't even think of the names of any of them). I simply do not watch them. Oh, and I don't expend my precious energy trying to figure out why other folks do or bad-mouthing the program to them or to anyone who will listen. In short, I don't understand expending even the energy required to care about something you don't like.

I'm especially amused by the folks who profess to hate the program but who go on to talk about specific details from the many episodes they've watched. ?!?!?!?! I do not like mustard. As a result, I do not spread a layer of it on various foods, eat them, and then incessantly post about how horrible mustard makes each and every dish. Instead, I don't eat mustard! As a result, I find it perplexing that any person would devote precious time (and our time here on earth is precious) to watching something they claim to dislike and then expending more time and energy complaining about it.

I'm particularly perplexed by the individuals who demand tolerance of the lifestyles and choices they embrace but who condemn the Duggars for having 19 kids or for home-schooling or for . . . well, breathing! Last year, I politely asked one "hater" who said the Duggar parents were "trash" for having 19 children to explain her logic. She simply kept saying it was "wrong". Really? Show me the law. Show me the statue in any "guide" for living -- the Bible, the Koran, etc. -- that indicates that it is wrong to have over x-number of children. I then politely asked them how this really affects them, since the family accepts no government aid (hence, doesn't live off the "hater's" tax dollars), etc. The individual said, "I just don't like it." Well, that's certainly a person's prerogative, but what about that tolerance you demand from those who disagree with you on other issues? I'm thinking you might more likely be on the receiving end of tolerance if you extended it yourself. But that's just me.

Okay, I know you've got the point by now. I'm not a Duggar fan, but I'm not a hater, either.

 

I'm an individual who is amazed that there is criticism of a family who pays their own way and that stands behind how they choose to express their Christian lifestyles when at the same time our television lineups are filled with shows glorifying sexual immorality, drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, etc.

I'm an individual who is amazed at the people who are taking absolute delight in their misfortune. One online "news" writer expressed that he was "filled with glee" to see the family toppled. I would be glad to see the leaders of ISIS toppled. A reality-television family doesn't even register on my "want to see toppled" list.

I'm an individual who looks around in dismay at what our culture apparently has come to value and at what we express our derision.

I'm an individual who wonders where we go from here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Going on a Fast! (Dream Save Do, week 23)

I'm excited to share with you that I'm preparing to go on a spending fast for the month of June!

My overall plan is to purchase only food, gas, and any other absolute necessity. No books -- not even a 99-cent download from amazon.com. No yarn -- I have enough projects started and yarn in my stash that I could go months (years, at the rate I knit) without buying another skein. No cute little this or that which catches my eye as I browse a favorite shop here in town. Not a single thing that I don't absolutely have to purchase.

To take this to a finer level, I'm going to eliminate as many as possible of non-necessary purchases within the realm of necessary purchases. For example, I already don't buy soda or junk food at the grocery store, but when I go out to eat, I order a sweet tea. In June, I'll drink water with any restaurant meal. I also plan to significantly curtail my driving, cutting back on gas purchases.

I've contemplated participating in a spending fast before now, but until now I simply toyed with the idea. Now that I'm fired-up about building my mortgage-free home fund as quickly as possible, the time is right.

In looking over my spending for the past month, I recognize that I probably won't save that much money, and that's okay. Any amount I can add to my mortgage-free home fund is great. Additionally, this appeals to my desire to add less "stuff" to my life. Again, even if I buy 5 fewer things than I would have, that's . . . well, 5 things fewer.

Of course, this takes care of my nagging little desire to buy an Apple i-watch, a nifty device I have absolutely no need for (I don't even wear a watch!) but for some reason have an itch to own.

I'll share a weekly update, and I promise to be totally honest. Let me know (via a comment below) if you'd like to join me -- it would be fun to do this with someone else!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Rise

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "turn". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set, 

 

riseafterfalling



I took a tumble a little over 9 years ago. I thought it was a fall. I really did. And truthfully, it was a fall -- of more than one kind. And I picked myself up as best I could and carried on. But then, almost 6 years ago, I took a real fall. One that made me realize what I had mistaken for a fall just a few years before was just a tumble really. You might even say I'd just tripped.


But back to the actual "fall" almost 6 years ago. I got up. I dusted myself off and carried on, one step at a time, for 5 1/2 years. Now, though, I'm ready to stop just "carrying on" and to actually rise. Move beyond just getting by.


Because some day, my son and daughter may also take a fall. Of course, I hope they never do, but life being what it is makes me know they almost surely will. And when they do, I want them to have learned by my example that a fall isn't the end, that it may bruise and even bloody a person, but it doesn't have to defeat them.


Instead, that a person can get up . . . rise up . . . and soar.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This Past Year (Thankfulness Thursday, week 1)

I've decided to focus each Thursday on something specific that I am grateful for. 

Any time I am asked or stop to think about what/who I am thankful for, my very first thought is my son and daughter, so it would be natural for me to write my first "Thankfulness Thursday" post about them. Instead, I'm going to focus on something that is a bit (to put it mildly) more difficult to be thankful for -- the past 12 months.

It was, in a nutshell, a tumultuous year. On the home front, I returned from England just over a year ago and was dealing with a slight sense of "let-down" after such a wonderful experience. I launched right away into the sale of my home and moving to a much smaller place; even though I really wanted to downsize, donating almost an entire room full of stuff was difficult. I settled into the new place fairly easily and spent the summer working and spending time with my daughter. In August, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That same month, the community I work in -- Ferguson, Missouri -- was rocked by events that no doubt you're familiar with; without a doubt, the next several months were very tense, and my heart hurt for all who were negatively impacted during that time. During that exact same time, I was dealing with a work-related situation that caused more than a little pain and stress. My mother-in-law passed away, and we dealt with her loss and all the surrounding issues. In January and February, I prepared to move again, and on February 26, I moved into an adorable house my son bought (I'll be here until July 2016). March and April were more settled, but by then I was so very tired.

So . . . what am I thankful for?

1. That, despite a depressed real estate market at the time, my house sold, laying the foundation for my being able to take possession of this house so my son could purchase it. I just knew I was feeling led to sell it and be free of the obligation; only God knew what doing so would allow me to do.

2. That despite all the turmoil in the community, it never spilled over to my worksite or to myself or my loved ones personally.

3. That my mother-in-law was a woman of strong faith, that we know where and with Whom/whom she is spending eternity, and that during her 7-week fight with cancer, her pain was under control. Even more so, I'm so thankful that even though all of us who loved her weren't ready for her to leave us, she felt a sense of peace. She assured me that she was never afraid, never angry.

4. That I learned some very important lessons from the situation at work; those lessons will make the remainder of my tenure there more productive and more positive.

5. That I was able to help my son out by moving into the house he purchased.

6. That this house is such a perfect fit for me at this point in my life. I've been saying for almost 2 years that I want to live in a place where I could, for the most part, park my car and walk; except for a few rare errands and the Sunday drive to church, I am able to walk everywhere I want to go -- the library, the city park to watch community concerts and ballgames, a neighborhood market and a larger grocery store, a fantastic fitness center, an adorable coffee shop and downtown shopping area with a variety of interesting shops, etc. The house is peaceful and cozy, and the backyard is filled with beautiful plants & landscaping, rabbits and squirrels, and beautiful songbirds that flock to my feeders. I'm nourished by the tranquility.

6. That this tumultuous year has brought me a greater realization of something I knew but didn't really practice -- that it's not just enough to say or list what my priorities are. Instead, I must deliberately and proactively live those priorities. Words, as much as I love them, aren't enough.

This reflection is timely for a reason other than that it marks the end of a whirlwind 12-month period. Tomorrow, I begin another year of life. I'm filled with a sense of purpose and of anticipation about what it will bring and what God will do in me and through me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where the Whirlwind has Landed Me

Whirlwind: 1) a column of air moving rapidly around and around in a cylindrical or funnel shape

2) used in similes and metaphors to describe a very energetic or tumultuous person or process

Yesterday morning I sat on the patio, journal on my lap and pen my hand, and I didn't write a single word. No words came to me. I tried to simply *list* my thoughts; surprisingly (considering that I am a world-class list-maker), I couldn't even jot down a simple list . . . of anything. Not my emotions, not of to-do's I want to tackle over the next few weeks, not even of the to-do's for the day. I felt depleted of words, of thought even.

As I sat there in the sunshine, watching the plentiful and beautiful Cardinals swooping around me to settle on one of the bird feeders or the deck railing or roof line of the house, I finally realized that the reason for my lethargy was that for the past 9 days, my life had been a whirlwind. Let me explain.

In 9 days -- from Mother's Day until this past Monday -- I had experienced the following:

  • a wonderful Mother's Day visit from my daughter and her boyfriend that included a trip to a local winery for lunch

  • a downed tree limb (from a tree in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and road which is, thankfully, the city's responsibility) that landed on the edge of the neighbor's car and wiped out my internet for 3 days; I needed the internet for work, so this resulted in numerous trips to Starbucks, McD's, and other free wifi establishments

  • a 5-day visit from my son and his girlfriend *and* their 2 dogs -- one, small and energetic; the other, an almost-2-year-old very energetic brindle Boxer

  • lots of time spent working in the yard, visiting the downtown area of our lovely hometown, etc.

  • a day in the city with my son and daughter and his/her  girl/boyfriend (respectively) with lunch and a brewery tour, followed by my daughter's pre-commencement ceremony (she graduated with her Masters)

  • a graduation party here at the house for my daughter

  • a 2nd downed tree limb during the party (same tree -- thank goodness, still the city's responsibility) -- this limb slightly damaged one attendee's car and smashed the brand-new minivan of another attendee :(

  • no internet for 4 more days

  • final grading of a couple of batches of researched argument essays

  • administering of final exams; grading of 5 classes' finals; figuring and posting grades for those 5 classes


No wonder I couldn't formulate a journal entry, or even much of a thought. I was mentally exhausted.

But it wasn't just the last 9 days that had been mentally taxing; the past 9 months have been the 2nd-most stressful of my 20+ year teaching career. Because I decided when I started this blog that I wouldn't share work-related details here, I will only say that the turmoil came from multiple sources and was almost-continuous.

These last 9 months, the culmination of a difficult last 5 years, brought me to a place where I was -- in almost every way -- unhappy.

Over the last few weeks, I've mulled over where I am and where I want to be -- sadly, the two places are pretty far apart right now. But sitting in the sunshine yesterday, despite being too wiped out to do much thinking at all, one very clear thought resounded in my head:

 I don't like where I've landed, but I am making it my mission these next three months to change that -- to                 determine where I want to be, make a plan to get there, and begin implementing that plan. 

No more just going through the motions. No more just putting one foot in front of the other. No more just getting through each day to do it all again the next. No more disjointed plans -- bandaids, really -- that don't come to fruition.

No more just surviving the whirlwind and whatever & wherever it takes me.

My goal is not "happiness"; as Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

purposelifenothappy


 

Instead, my goal is to be at peace, knowing that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am designed to do, and to be joy-filled. Lofty? Perhaps. That's okay. I'm done with "settling"; I want to soar.

Friday, May 8, 2015

May 8: For What it's Worth

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; today's prompt instructed participants to share a piece of advice for others.

I'm actually going to share 3 1/2 pieces of advice today.

1. This first one has two parts, but it's still just one piece of advice, and it's the one I think is most important. First, identify your priorities. Be honest! Don't list what you think is, for one reason or another, the "right" priorities; very carefully, with great deliberation, identify *your* priorities. Then . . . live accordingly. That's it.

Let me explain. Don't, for example,  put "God" first and then relegate your relationship with Him to an hour or two on Sunday morning and a check that you write out of a sense of obligation (or to lower your tax obligation). Another example.  Don't put your family before friends but spend dinner out with your family texting with your buddies. Live your priorities!!

 

2. Collect experiences, not stuff. Don't spend the majority of your life working so you can buy more stuff and a bigger house/garage to store it in and a bigger vehicle to cart it around in. Instead, get rid of everything you don't need and/or love and don't add anything to your stash unless you really will use it or it brings you great joy. Instead of spending time accumulating and then taking care of all you've accumulated, get out and *do* something. Take a hike with your family, play fetch with the dog, write some letters to your "older" relatives who would dearly love to hear from you or, if they live nearby,  take them out for a ride and lunch at their favorite restaurant. Stop talking about taking a route 66 trip or writing a book or downsizing or taking the family to Walt Disney World or learn to brew your own beer or . . . whatever it is you keep talking about doing "some day" . . . and do it. Now!

2 1/2. While you're experiencing life, turn off your cell phone and put it away. Be fully engaged in the experience and those you are sharing the experience with.

This 3rd piece of advice is for a select audience.

3. The very minute you learn you are pregnant, stop listening to other people's advice (unless they are your health care professional) and pregnancy/delivery stories. Pregnancy and delivery stories are like the-fish-I-caught/that-got-away stories. They get bigger and more fantastic with each telling, and the person who was pregnant/gave delivery has a vested interested in making their experience even more grandiose (usually in the sense of how bad it was) so that they come across as really awesome for having survived it. As for the advice? Ignore it. Just ignore it. You're going to do fine -- both in labor and in delivery, and you and your baby will survive -- and thrive -- as you simply take each day, each moment of parenthood as it comes.

Develop your own strategy for avoiding advice and pregnancy/delivery stories. Multiple t-shirts with a "Please do not share any advice or 'pregnancy/delivery' stories? across both the front and back are probably a bit extreme -- but as the months go on, the slogan really will fit (across the front at least) -- but keep it in mind if other strategies don't work. Here are a few:

a. Practice an "I'm listening and am really taking this in" expression and posture while at the same time zoning out. If you're old enough to get pregnant, you surely already know how to do this. Remember? You did this much of the way through high school, during more than a few discussions with one or both of your parents, and probably during more than a few date conversations. You're married or have a significant other, right? Then you know what I mean. :)

b. Have some get-away excuses ready so you can escape the well-meaning advice-giver/story-teller. If, for example, you're at home and one such person calls, immediately set the microwave timer a set number of minutes. Stand fairly near the microwave. When the timer goes off, simply say, "Oh, there's the timer. I really have to go." Or (and this doesn't work with a close neighbor because they could be looking out the window), once the caller launches into their story or advice, quietly open your door and ring the doorbell. Quickly break in with, "Someone just rang the doorbell (not a lie), and I need to get off the phone (also not a lie)."

c. Come up with an unobtrusive signal for your spouse/significant other for use when you need to be rescued from a story-teller/advice-giver. Don't forget, too, to establish a penalty for your spouse/significant other if they fail to spot agreed-upon signal and rescue you within 15 seconds. I speak from experience -- some spouses/significant others may shirk their duties (for their own entertainment, mind you) if they are confident there will be no repercussion.

d. If you don't feel comfortable with all that subterfuge, simply tell the story-teller/advice-giver that you appreciate their thoughtfulness, but you find all the stories and advice to be perplexing/uncomfortable/frightening/???, and then attempt to change the conversation to another topic. Good luck with that!

That's all I've got -- my 3 pieces of advice. Nothing profound, nothing new. Now . . . get off the computer and go have an experience!

 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 7: Lions and Tigers and Bears -- Oh My!

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; today's prompt instructed participants to share what it is they are most afraid of.

Hands down, I'm most afraid of something bad happening to one of my children. So much so that even listing the possibilities was distressing, so that's all I'm going to say.

Serious illness for myself and my own death come in a distant 2nd. I know where I'm going (and that's not due to arrogance, as I know that what I have done/do/will do has nothing to do with that), so it's not the hereafter that bothers me. It's leaving my children.

I'm also afraid to fly. I do it when I have to, but as I tell other people, "I'm not a good flyer". Even thinking of flying in an airplane -- imagining myself walking through the airport, boarding the plane, etc. -- makes me feel panicky.

Heights really bother me. Again, I can handle heights if I have to, but I avoid them if at all possible. I've ridden "Tower of Terror" one time, and had I been able to breathe enough to get words out right before they closed those elevator doors, I would have told the "butler" I wanted off, and I would have gotten off. I can say with absolute certainty that I will never ride it again. Heights and I do not get along.

That's it. I've survived things that I imagine most people might put on their list. I've lost my husband. I've lost both parents and a job. I speak in public on an almost-daily basis.

But those first two? They're biggies. I pray the first never happens, and I know at least the 2nd part of the 2nd one will some day occur. Until then, I try to live as fearlessly as I can.

What about you? What do you fear?

 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May 6: What I Do

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; today's prompt instructed participants to share what (other than their job) they do. Hmmmm . . . 

What do I do? Even after pondering this question so long that I'm late in posting my response, I'm still unsure how to answer this question. Perhaps because in the past 5 years, other than my job, my life lacks the structure built around the to-do's that come with being a wife and mom with kids at home.

So how should I approach this question?

Perhaps I could share the activities that take up my waking hours that aren't taken up with job and job-related stuff. Here we go. I read. Quite a bit. I play games on my ipad; not just any games -- I complete the New York Times crossword puzzle every day and play the free daily "7 Words" game. I'm also in a long-running Yahtzee tournament with my son and my daughter. They aren't actually playing -- I roll for both players in a round-robin type of tournament. For example, my son plays my daughter, and I play the winner; whoever wins that game plays the person who had been sitting out, and on and on. I watch sports on television; the NFL is my favorite, St. Louis Cardinals baseball games are a close 2nd, followed by March Madness, and if none of those are on, I'll watch college or pro basketball. Of course, I love to watch the Olympics. I walk, but not enough; ditto for the following: write, work out, knit, read the Bible, do things with friends or acquaintances.

I procrastinate. I have 3 to-do's on my summer project list. To be quite honest, they're the same 3 to-do's that were on last summer's project list, and they were probably on the 2013 list as well. I don't remember, or don't want to. But this year, I think I'll check them off.

I plan. I'm a planner by nature and love, love, love to plan. Lists are my favorite part of planning, so I also make lots of lists. Oh, not every day, but almost. I think best when I jot down lists. I'm not so far gone that I make lists of lists (but I used to be).

I dream. Not the close-your-eyes-and-go-to-sleep type of dreams but the this-is-how-I-want-to-live type of dreams.

I think of my children frequently throughout the day. I wonder how the day is going for them and say a quick prayer for each of them. I flash back to a memory from when we were a family of four, living our normal day-to-day lives in the same house, gathering for dinner together every evening.

I worry a bit. About our country, about what we as a culture have become.

I put one foot in front of the other -- physically and emotionally.

I long for my life to be filled with joy again.

That's what I do.

 

 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5: Love & Devotion

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; today's prompt instructed participants to identify a blogger . . . or a family or friend . . . for whom we feel love and devotion.

This is a difficult prompt for me. As much as I enjoy reading other people's blogs, I don't read any one blog enough to say that I'm devoted to that blogger. I do love Curtiss Ann Matlock's blogs, primarily because I love her books and enjoy the glimpses into a favorite author's life. But devoted? No.

The people I love the most and am most devoted to are, of course, my son and daughter. Over the 28+ years I've been a mom, my bone-deep, love for my two offspring has never changed; my sense of devotion to both my son and daughter has, however, changed over time.

We're at a place now where, of course, I no longer need to be concerned about and devoted to tending to their physical needs.

If you asked my son and my daughter how it is that I demonstrate my devotion to them today, I think they would first say that I love them unconditionally. Beyond that, I think they would both note that I am devoted to their spiritual needs; they know that I pray for them daily and that when they're facing a stressful situation -- big test or presentation, travel, etc -- I pray even more. I think they would both also say that I am devoted to their emotional needs in that while I don't agree with every life-decision they've made, I always, as my students say, "have their back", that I am their biggest cheerleader and supporter.

It would be interesting, I think, if each of my children would guest-post for me someday and write about our relationship from their perspective. I know what their reaction would be if I asked. Neither would jump at the chance; in fact, quite the opposite. Their science-bent natures have make them seriously dislike writing, and neither is the type to share about their feelings or relationships publicly. They are, in that respect, their father's children.

And so, until I can somehow cajole them to guest-post or win their participation in a bet of some kind, you have only my perspective on the topic of my love and devotion for my son and daughter. It makes me wonder just what it is they would say . . .

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4: Stop Searching

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; I was supposed to post this on May 4, but was having a tech issue, so I wrote this and saved it and am backdating it to the correct date.

Today I'm to share my favorite quote and explain why it is my favorite. Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

Some pursue happiness . . . others create it.

I'm with Emerson on this. I am firmly convinced that far too many in our culture today think that life is all about finding happiness. I simply don't believe that's why we're here. Instead, I think we're here for something far more important.

As for happiness . . . I believe if a person is in the business of creating happiness for those around them, they will find joy. And that -- joy -- is far more important than happiness.

 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May 3: Not in My Comfort Zone

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; I was supposed to post this on May 3, but was having a tech issue, so I wrote this, saved it and am now posting it with a backdate it to the correct date.

What makes me uncomfortable? Hmmm . . .

1. Thong underwear! Without a doubt, that is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word "uncomfortable". I bought one pair one time more than a few years ago when they first (to my knowledge) became popular among the masses. I tried; I really did. However, those things make me not just uncomfortable; they make me immensely uncomfortable. I may not be the sharpest pencil in the pack, but I threw that pair away and never looked back.

2. Getting called into my boss' office. Perhaps it's because I was raised Lutheran, just a step away from Catholicism and the proverbial "Catholic guilt", but when I get an email from the boss, I immediately begin to try to figure out what I have done wrong. Fortunately {knock on wood}, every summons I've received for well over 9 months has been to discuss general stuff; still yet, I'm immediately uncomfortable when I see or hear those words, "Patti, could you stop by my office when you get a chance?"

3. Dairy products. You really don't want me to go into any detail on this one, do you? Wasn't the discussion of thong underwear enough for you?

4. Mid-sized (15-30) gatherings of people I know in a fairly-confined space (ex: an average ranch-style home). Huge crowds at Disney World or on a cruise ship don't bother me. Small groups don't make me squirm. But put me in a contained space with a group of 15-30 people, and I begin looking for an escape route. My family will tell you this makes me so uncomfortable that I actually get cranky ahead of time, just in anticipation.

There you go. I guess my absolute most uncomfortable situation would be to be wearing thong underwear when called into a meeting with 15 other people in my boss' smallish office immediately after I consumed a milk shake.  Yep, that would do it!

 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 2: Avoiding Run-ons

I'm participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; I was supposed to post this on May 2, but was having a tech issue, so I wrote this and saved it and am backdating it to the correct date.

Technically, there are 2 types of run-on sentences -- run-ons and comma splices. I tell my students not to get hung up on the name but to instead focus on identifying what they are and know how to fix them. I spend more time than I care to think about teaching and reteaching this, so I think I'm fairly good at it. Here goes.

When you have a group of words that contains both a subject and a verb and that expresses a complete thought, you have an independent clause. You can begin a dependent clause with a capital letter and put a . or ! or ? at the end, and you will then have a sentence.

If you decide to join 2 independent clauses into one sentence (for sentence variety and to achieve a nice smooth flow), you have only 3 options. You may join them through the use of one of the following:

a semicolon -- that's all it takes -- really!

a semicolon, followed by a conjunction and, depending on the conjunction used, possibly a comma

*Most people don't have a problem with either of these first 2 methods; it's the next one that people mess up. By the way, the previous sentence utilizes the first method; furthermore, this sentence models the second one. :)

a comma and a conjunction -- both must be used

*If you use just a conjunction, you have written a run-on, but if you have used just a comma, you have written a                                        comma splice. Did you notice that the previous sentence demonstrates the last method? :)

 

Here again, in shorter sentences, are examples of each of the three methods.

Two independent clauses (aka sentences):     I like dogs. My sister likes cats.

Method 1: I like dogs; my sister likes cats.

Method 2: I like dogs; however, my sister likes cats.

Method 3: I like dogs, but my sister likes cats.

There you have it -- easy peasy!

 

 

 

 

Friday, May 1, 2015

May 1: In How Many Words?!?

I'm writing this post in response to a write-every-day-in-May challenge to write my life story in 250 words or less. I love to talk/write, so "challenge" is definitely the right word for this. Here we go . . . 

I was born 50+ years ago and had a complex childhood and teen years. Looking back, I can see that, growing up, I was often on the outside looking in, and I had no idea how to be a part of what I was observing with such longing. 


I became a teacher, married at 26, and gave birth to the two most wonderful people I know -- my son and my daughter. For many years, my husband and my lives were centered around our children and their activities. Life was a whirlwind of sports and school activities and kids in & out, and I couldn’t have been happier.


Eventually, our home became the proverbial empty nest, and a year later and totally out of nowhere, came a cancer diagnosis. Six weeks and one day later, my husband was gone, my life changed forever.


The past five years have been ones of survival, of coping, of being on the outside again. Alone. I’ve moved a couple of times and have come full circle back to my home town, and I’m contemplating what I want to be and do as I move forward.


I long for a small (maybe even tiny) house, a network of close friends, my children within “visiting distance”. Even more, I long to be comfortable in my own skin, to live a life of joy.


I’m a Christian, a mother, a widow, an educator, a writer, a dabbling artist, a lover of water, and a seeker.


Wow . . . I did it! My life in 247 words. Wait -- that means I have 3 left. Hmmmmm . . . .