Writing Toward Home

Writing , Ideas, and Encouragement

Month: March 2017

Wordplay Wednesday: I’ve Got the Music in Me, And So Do You!

Wordplay Wednesday: I’ve Got the Music in Me and So Do You!

 

 

“ All God’s critters got a place in the choir,

Some sing low and some sing higher,

Some sing out loud on the telephone wire

And some just clap their hands or paws or anything they’ve got.”

 

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I have always loved the words to that folk song. (For a great rendition go to Youtube

and find the version from Celtic Thunder.) This morning it popped into my head as I

walked on the greenway near my home. I was saying my prayers and just

sending up gratitude to God for His wonderful creation in all its glory: the sunshine,

the breeze, the flowering trees, the new green buds, and the magnificent music the

birds were making.

 

Listen to the top and the little birds singing

The melody with the high notes ringin’

The good owl sighs over everything

The blackbird disagrees.

 

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It was the loudest and most diverse bunch of melodies I have heard this season.

Perhaps our feathered friends were declaring that spring is finally here after

several false starts and a bit of back- tracking into winter. There were caws,

tweets, screeches, warbles, trills, twitters, chirps, chatters, shrieks, and coos filling

the air. It reminded me of the musicians in an orchestra tuning up before the

symphony. It is not a coordinated effort with one score, but the sounds are still

pleasing to the ear.

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Singing in the nighttime, singing in the day

Little duck quacks and he’s on his way

The otter hasn’t got that much to say;

The porcupine talks to himself.

 

The birds sing because that is what they were created to do. There are, of course,

different reasons they sing: to attract a mate, warn away competitors, announce

danger and so on. I like to think, too, that they sing just for the joy of creating

the song they were born to share with the world. They have music within that

needs to be unleashed to bring enjoyment to others.

 

So do I.

 

So do you.

 

“ All God’s critters got a place in the choir,

Some sing low and some sing higher,

Some sing out loud on the telephone wire

And some just clap their hands or paws or anything they’ve got.”

 

Admittedly, not all of us were born to sing, although scientists claim that each of us is wired to

enjoy music of one kind or another. I love many varieties of music: folk, classic rock, jazz,

classical, oldies, sacred. I enjoy singing even though it is not, by any stretch of the imagination,

a talent I was gifted with. I usually sing when I am alone: in my car, working in the yard, or

puttering around the house. While my only public singing happens in church as part of the

congregation, I still have music to share.

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The dogs and cats they take up the middle

As the honey bee hums, the cricket fiddles

The donkey brays and the pony neighs

The old grey badger just sighs.

 

I’ve got the music in me. My music is a unique song that only I can sing. It consists of my

thoughts, ideas, brainstorms, stories, triumphs , sorrows, light-bulb moments, and ponderings.

Instead of liner notes and melodies, I use words to share my inner symphony. My pens,

notebooks, piles of paper scraps, and computer are my instruments. Each writing session I

tune up with a free-write and then I begin. I write because I have a song to share that only I

can sing.

 

You do as well.

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Listen to the bass it’s the one on the bottom

Where the bullfrog croaks, the hippopotamus

Moans and groans with a big to-do

The old cow just goes moo.

 

Perhaps like me, you use words to write stories. Maybe you wield paint and a brush to create

artwork. Or fabric and a sewing machine to craft quilts or clothing. Or ingredients and a stove

to make delicious cakes, pies or meals. Or spoken words to offer knowledge, healing, or

comfort. Or your singing voice  and/or an instrument.

 

Whatever it is that you hear inside, bring it out in your own unique style.

 

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It’s a simple song, a living song everywhere

By the ox, the fox and the grizzly bear

The grumpy alligator and the hawk above,

The sly old weasel and the turtledove.

 

Perhaps you haven’t yet discovered your medium, but you still have a song to sing. It was not

meant to remain inside you. Find it. Share it. We all benefit when everyone takes their part in

the choir. The word needs your song.

 

“ All God’s critters got a place in the choir,

Some sing low and some sing higher,

Some sing out loud on the telephone wire

And some just clap their hands or paws or anything they’ve got.”

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The Power of Words

Wordplay Wednesday : The Power of Words

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We have all heard the childhood singsong adage “ Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Perhaps we have even said it aloud when we were confronted with hurtful words. BUT…we all know that this quote is not true at all.

Words have power. They matter. As a writer and word nerd I have always embraced  words as my medium of choice. It is thrilling to play around with words:  tinkering with, rearranging, and auditioning them until I find just the right one to express an idea or thought.  It is fun to see how they can be woven together to produce laughter, delight, surprise, or tears.

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Words can heal and words can hurt. They can change us in perceptible or subtle ways.  Sometimes, we are aware of the effect words have on us. Someone may say something that arouses an immediate visceral response. We know that those particular words have affected us for good or ill.

Often though, the effect is more subliminal. We read or hear words, phrases, or ideas over and over and soon they have taken up residence in our hearts and minds without us being aware. This is the pervasive danger that words can bring. If we hear or read something often enough, whether it is true or not; whether it is beneficial or not, it begins to become a part of us, without our permission. George Orwell , in his novel 1984 , said “ If thoughts corrupt language, language can also corrupt thought.”

I have recently had this experience of words and ideas that I do not usually entertain taking up residence in my mind and soul. It was disconcerting to find myself spending a great amount of mental energy trying to deal with these unwelcome, but obtrusive words.  As Jody Picoult says  “ Words are like eggs dropped from great height; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”  I  was not the one who had  dropped the words but the exposure had left debris that muddled my thinking.

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Then I recalled a powerful and encouraging quote I have highlighted in my Bible. In Philippians 4:8, it says “ …whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” (NASB)

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Ah, yes. That was the answer. Replace the muck-making words with those that bring to mind joy, beauty, and loveliness. I needed to harness the power of words for bringing order back to my thinking. Engaging in supportive, wise conversations and reading uplifting stories and well-chosen works on creativity and  art have restored the equilibrium to my brain.

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This is a great lesson to me as a writer. I need to be aware and vigilant that the words I wield can be a positive force for good or a destructive one. I want my words to create delight, thoughtfulness, and hope. Therefore I need to choose them with great care and deliberation.  Words have power.  Words matter.

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Sneaky Spring

Wordplay Wednesday     Sneaky Spring

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I have always loved watching the change of seasons, especially from winter to spring. When I still worked full-time I was often too busy to observe the alterations in my surroundings until they were completed. I’d look around and the trees were full of large green leaves seemingly overnight.

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Now that I am retired, I spend a lot more time outdoors and I am quite intentional about noticing the transformations taking place. Every morning I walk my dog along a greenway near my house. It accompanies a creek that flows through a park, a residential area, and behind a neighborhood shopping center. There are numerous varieties of shrubs, flowers, trees, and plants along the greenway, which make for an interesting and ever-changing landscape.

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This year I have been super focused on paying attention to the changes as winter wound down in an untimely manner in late January. The warm temperatures had the trees budding early and the daffodils popping up way ahead of schedule. Since we take the same route each morning, it was easier to see the gradual changes from tiny buds, to blossoms, to full blooms on the flowering cherries, forsythia and Bradford pears. Meanwhile,  the browned grass gave way to green sprouts and dandelions.

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Still, nature uses her sleight-of-hand to continue to surprise me. While I was marveling over the profusion of yellow flowers on the jasmine and the emergence of the wild violets, the trees that held white and pink blossom just last week trotted out their bright green leaves while my attention was diverted.

“How did that happen?” I said aloud to the trees. “I  thought I was really observant this year.”

 

I sensed a voice whispering in the wind. “ That is my secret, my dear. No matter how close you watch, the miracles still happen as if by magic. Presto! But thank you for your kind attentions. Enjoy the show.”

 

I do and I will. Happy (Almost) Spring!

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Happy Blog-A-Versary!

Happy Blog-A-Versary!

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One year ago I launched my blog, Writing Toward Home. (Actually it was on February 29 and I called my first post “Launch Day Leap Day!” ) Leap Day was the perfect time to take the leap into the blogosphere after thinking about it for over a year.

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Initially I wanted my blog to be about encouraging everyone to write because I believe it is a fabulous practice for reflection, inspiration, healing and enjoyment. As I continued posting I realized that I had other topics and ideas I wanted to explore so the posts have strayed from their original purpose. I decided to begin writing about whatever topics or ideas I found interesting and I hoped they would resonate with others.

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My posts have been a combination of writing encouragement, wordplay exercises and explorations, writing prompts, imaginative writing and personal essays. I have written about palindromes, pangrams, poetry, word lists, keeping a Lexicon, along with stories about chickens, dragons and princesses as well as some of my favorite memories and family stories.

Initially I posted two or three times a week and soon realized that was too often for me and my readers. I needed more time for my other writing projects: a novel featuring magical realism, a Middle Grade fantasy as well as some short stories and essays I have been submitting to various publications.

I have settled on Wordplay Wednesday as my day to publish on the blog. (I have always loved alliteration. It must be the teacher in me!) Recently life, family obligations and illness have interfered with regular Wednesday posts, but going forward I hope to be more consistent.

In the next year I will explore whatever is of interest to me as well as some excerpts from my Works-in-Progress. I am planning to return to my Princess Crowley and Freeman the Dragon tale as well as writing about books, art and of course, the writing life.

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Many thanks for reading my musings. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

Onward!

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