The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Perseverance Pays Off

     A couple of years ago I took violin lessons right next to my third grade students. I did it because--year after year--I tried to encourage them to keep practicing, to not give up... I talked the talk, telling them they would learn so much in less than a year, that it would get easier.

     It was incredibly hard when I walked the walk. My fat, uncoordinated fingers strained to produce close approximations of the notes. The violin teacher cheated--I think--and passed me on some songs simply because she didn't want to hear any more of the caterwauling my bow created.

      Most of my students learned 8-12 songs that year. I learned 3 (and at least one of those "passes" was a gift from the violin instructor)...and I sweated bullets each time I had to perform as I was tested on each song.  

      Today one of my kids reluctantly went to violin class. Last week she had a tough time during the lesson. I'm hoping she sticks with it. She'll be really proud of herself in a few months if she doesn't give up.

       What did your family teach you about persistence and perseverance? What have been some of the toughest tasks--or the funniest--to slog through? Non-musical minds want to know... 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Could I Have Cheese With That Whine?

       I just finished Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. The woman really does her research, that's for sure. (She also wrote Seabiscuit, and although I adore the movie, I've never read the book.)  If you haven't read it, do so before you watch the movie. I know the film couldn't cover everything in the book, and it's worth the anguish you'll experience as you read Louie Zamperini's account of getting shot down, surviving for over forty days on a raft with no food and little water, getting captured by the Japanese troops and surviving unbelievably bad treatment in a Japanese POW camp.

         In my mind, most people are either whiners or sloggers. There are people who complain about what they don't have. They grouse about their job. They whine about their lot in life. At least they are alive, they have a job and there is always someone who was born into a worse situation.

        Sloggers keep plugging along. They might be moving at a slow pace. They might have trouble sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other. But they keep moving forward.

        What do you do when you're stuck with a whiner or you encounter one? Impatient minds want to know...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

All Things Sucky

        If you head over to the Muffin tomorrow (Friday) you can read my guest post.  (I'll put in the real link when it hits the blogosphere.) If you stop by, you'll get the scoop on "sucky."

     Chris Rock meets Letterman meets Sioux...(How can you resist?)

     And because I love the way Bruno Mars moves, here's Uptown Funk. (Watch his footwork. He's incredible.) Apparently this song was almost ditched, but Mars added the low, almost-not-there "doh... doh doh doh, doh doh doh...doh," they worked on it, stayed true to it and now it's all the rage...  

       So what's stopping you? Mark your calendar for tomorrow, and thanks for stopping by today. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fun for Everyone

      I missed posting on Thursday. I was busy exhaling after finishing report cards while I simultaneously tried to avoid a certain staff member who was waiting for me to finish the 2nd quarter writing assessment scores (54 kids, 9 skills to score per paper, with 7 possible scores for each skill) and lined up the gods of sleet, hoping to press them into service this morning.

       No such luck. The rain in Spain (and St. Louis) stayed mainly on the plain...and it stayed unfrozen.

        While I was procrastinating with the writing assessments (after all, I am the Princess of Procrastinators) I got to play some fun games with Monster Pup. I'm planning on getting a patent on them and pitching them to the investors on the show Shark Tank. Here are Radar's thrill-a-minute games:

  • Out of Your Socket--You take one end of his rope toy and he grabs onto the other end with his pearly-whites. Then he shakes and yanks on the rope with such violence, you arm is nearly yanked out of its socket.

  • Poop! Poop! Who Gets the Poop?--Radar has developed into a master recycler. He will eat no poop before its prime (which means, according to his discerning palate--that he'll eat fresh-from -the-sphincter poop, he'll eat frozen poop, he'll eat old, dried-up poop). You may think you've poop-scooped the yard, and then you see him chewing something. Approaching him is the signal for him to speed up his chewing.

  • Naked Blonde Mud Wrestling--Okay, he is a blonde and we do mud wrestle in the tub, but he's not completely naked. He does have a collar on.

        If you have a dog or cat (or a clever guinea pig), what games do they play? Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank will probably want more than 3 games as part of my package deal. Otherwise, he might be reluctant to invest $350,000 for 25% of the business... 

Monday, January 5, 2015

You Asked For It

      Avert your eyes if your eyeballs are sensitive to flashy brilliance. But come back at the end... where a smidgen of pride flourishes and where darkness returns.

         Yes, this one of my new Crocs. It was given to me by my enabler husband. Of course, in this picture the strap is not where it is supposed to be. I wear my Crocs in the tres chic way--with the strap pushed to the front, so that it protects the top of my delicate size 11 foot.

        If you head to The Muffin on January 16, you can read my guest post. It's David Letterman and Chris Rock and writing advice... all rolled into one--and I only used one set of ellipsis.

        That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Just one. I had to slave over the post, paring it down from 147 sets of ellipsis--revising and drafting over and over--until I got it down to a single, solitary set.

         And now for the dark side. (A little Eddie and the Cruisers for you, Val.) One of my stories, "The Handler," had made it to the next-to-last hurdle for Chicken Soup's Thanks to Mom. Well today, it ended up lame. It leaped up, intending to clear with air to spare... only to crash into a mangled heap. The CS people said my story should be sent to the Pulitzer Prize people was being cut.

         What disappointment have you recently stared down? Minds that are licking their wounds want to know...(Hey! I had myself so reined in with those enchanting ellipsis, I had to let loose at some point...)



Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year, New Books

       It's a new year, and that means a new year for reading.

     The first book I'll finish in 2015 is Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. If you've caught any of the numerous interviews of the author, you'd know that while she was working on this book, she dealt with a debilitating disease which prevented her from being able to leave the house for months at a time. Dragging herself to her computer took all of her energy. (It makes me reluctant to whine about my writing obstacles.) And yet she still pushed herself.

         She wrote Unbroken without ever meeting Louie Zamperini in person. Instead, they spoke for hundreds of hours over the phone. After the book was finished, the two finally met. Hillenbrand said not meeting him was an advantage. As she wrote his story, she didn't have an old man in her mind. She had a hellion-of-a-boy in her mind as she wrote about his childhood, she had a handsome young man when she was working on his college days, and so on...

     I'm only 1/4 through it (100 pages or so), but am thoroughly enjoying it. However, since I am trying to finish procrastinate when it comes to doing my report cards, I can't spend too much time reading.

      What is the first book you are going to finish/read in 2015? Procrastinating minds want to know...