This time of year in our country we turn our eyes toward gratitude and thankfulness. Sometimes it may feel cliché to talk about being thankful, but it is an important and necessary part of being human. All cultures have ceremonies and seasons of thanksgiving in which they enumerate their blessings. Being able to reflect on the positive aspects of our lives and circumstances helps keep us balanced emotionally, relationally and cognitively. No matter what life throws at us, we can find specific, maybe small, things to appreciate in our unique situation.
Sometimes it takes some reframing or reflection, but if you have an attitude of awareness, you can think of many things that you enjoy and can be thankful for in your every day life.
Sarah Breathnach challenged people to keep a gratitude journal when she appeared on Oprah years ago. She advocated making a daily list of 10 things in the journal. Ann Voskamp in her book 1,000 Gifts, challenges the reader to keep thinking of items, both small and large, until the list numbers 1,000. You cannot make a list of that size without having your mindset altered.
My challenge is for you to make a list of things for which you are thankful. Perhaps you can turn the list into a poem, prayer or essay. The second challenge is to read your writing aloud today. You can share it with family or friends as you gather around a table or you can speak it out loud to the Creator who made all good things for His people to enjoy or you can go outside and share it with the Universe.
Saying the words aloud creates energy . A voice raised in thanks is a powerful force that can be contagious. May we spread an attitude of gratitude this day and every day.
Anagramming or How to be a Super Word Nerd
I recently read Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of Competitive SCRABBLE Players. It is a fascinating look inside the insular world of SCRABBLE tournaments and the subculture it has created. I have enjoyed playing SCRABBLE since I was 6 years old, but I am only what the professionals featured in the book dismissively call a “living room” player.
As a “Word Nerd” I enjoyed learning about how one goes about becoming a ranked championship player. It involves prodigious word knowledge which means initially memorizing lengthy lists of words sanctioned in the Official Scrabble Dictionary (OSD). You begin with all of the official 2 letter words (like “AA” and ” KA”) , then 3 unusual letter words (“KAB” and “DEP”) , all the words that have a ‘Q’ without a ‘U’ ( “QI” and “QAT”)and so on. The best players memorize thousands of words in various categories. Whew!
The other skill that the highest ranked players develop is the ability to quickly anagram or rearrange any combination of 7 letters on the SCRABBLE rack into as many playable words as possible and scan the board for places to play the words for the best score. The idea is that you want to play all 7 letters on your rack in one turn order to create a BINGO which adds a 50 point bonus to your score. Games at the championship level often feature games with multiple BINGOES.
For hard-core tournament players it is all about anagramming and making any word, no matter how obscure as long as it is in the OSD. The players do not bother learn what the words mean, that just slows down the process! In fact some of the top players in American tournaments can barely speak English, but their abilities to memorize lists and anagram allow them to play competitively. They play word like LINTERS and ACAROID, never learning or caring what they mean.
To practice, they choose 7 random letters and then proceed to create as many words as possible with those letters. Then they look them up in the OSD to see if they are “legal.” It was surprising to see some of the letter combinations that are actual words.
Another strategy top players use is to play anagram PHONIES which are letter combinations that look like real words but are not official. If their opponent does not challenge the word, they often can succeed with the ruse.
So here’s a fun word challenge. Grab some letter tiles or just choose 7 letters at random and then anagram them to make as many “words” as you can. You can make up your own definitions and create a story using them. You can also look them up to see if they are real words and then learn the meaning. Who knows you may create a new term or phrase or perhaps one day amaze friends/family in a game of SCRABBLE!
Have fun as a Super Word Nerd!