2023_BlogPrompt #38 – Roles

There are stories we tell ourselves about who we are. This blog post will reflect on the roles we take upon ourselves… and those we are given. What are some of the roles you fill? What is a role you have rejected? If you take up the challenge and want to share, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Jacky Zhao on Unsplash 

From the moment we are born, we begin to accept the roles people hand to us. Son, daughter, sister, brother… these are some of the early roles that are part of who we become in life. And they work their way into the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Throughout our lives, we create these “roles” for the people we come in contact with: he is a nerd; she is a jock. When we are young—especially when we are in school and still living with our parents—these roles are reinforced daily, and we naturally accept them and come to believe they define us. We settle into these roles and all their limits as if we don’t have a choice.

Eventually, the roles we are given may become tight and constricting as we strain to grow to our full potential. Maybe we have discovered something new about ourselves that doesn’t quite fit with one of the roles we carry. Or maybe we want to strike out in a new direction, defying the limits of our role.

There are, of course, always choices. We can stay within the confines and comfort of the roles we’ve always lived; we can remain small and compact. Or we can expand our limits and our roles by trying new things and adding those to who we are. Adding allows us to become more than our original role but avoids the certain risk undertaken in fully breaking out of a role. And breaking out is the third option. We can reject our former roles entirely when they start to cramp our style. I imagine the Incredible Hulk growing beyond the capacity of his shirt, and it rips to shreds as his body morphs into a mass of green muscles. That is how you break out of your role, my friends! You make it memorable.

And so this is what I’m working towards. What and who I am matters to me and only to me. If I am not fitting into what others have come to believe I am, they will adjust and adapt. Over my lifetime, I have seen this happen time and time again. Those around me adapt to the changes and the growth that I undertake, just as I adapt to their growth. If they can’t (or won’t) adapt, they will find someone else who fills the role they once needed me to fill.

Those who keep you small are only filling their own needs, and they need to move on. Those who truly love you will welcome your changes. They will encourage your growth.

So if you are ready to change your roles, to move on, I encourage you to break out! Make it both memorable and worthwhile!


2023_BlogPrompt #37 – Breathe

Breath is something we often take for granted. If we don’t breathe, we don’t survive. But sometimes, our breath can become tight or labored or uncomfortable simply from our reaction to the stresses of life. So today, I am focusing on breath and breathing. Feel free to share your thoughts. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

In my current position, I have learned that I sigh a lot. Students who are studying quietly in the vicinity of my office will tell me that I am sighing. From my inside vantage point, I’m not sure if I am sighing or just remembering to breathe and center. It often happens when I am focused on a project, and I finish up one part or section and move on to the next. I exhale. Apparently loudly.

Life is crazy sometimes, and we need to breathe. Crazy can be a good thing, but sometimes crazy can be felt as way too heavy, busy, chaotic. Crazy can bring undue stress that pulls us up all tight in our core. When I’m feeling stressed, I take a deep, intentional breath. A cleansing breath.

But I don’t just breathe intentionally when I am working. I do so when I am walking or thinking or cleaning. When I am scrolling through social media, and I am stopped by comments that seem out of line, unnecessary, or jarring, I remind myself to breathe, and I keep scrolling. Or I put the phone away.

When I am working on a task that is frustrating and everything I do seems to go wrong, I pause and take a deep breath. I ask myself if I need a break to help me rethink my approach. Sometimes that brief pause is enough, but sometimes, I step away for a few minutes (or a few days) until I can come at the task with more patience and a better mindset.

Breathing is a way to remain centered. It’s a way to remind ourselves that we are human and sometimes need to step away. And it’s a reminder that without breath, there is no life.

Remember to breathe. Practice taking in deep, cleansing breaths. Make it intentional.

Breathe out the chaos and stress as you breathe in healing oxygen.

Breathe out the tension and frustration; breathe in the rest and the peace.

Breathe out impatience and breathe in grace.

Breathe a momentary pause in your day.

2023_#36: Weird Word Wednesday – Ailurophile

This week’s weird word is ailurophile. According to Merriam Webster, ailurophile means “a cat fancier; a lover of cats.” What can I say? I can’t help that I find cats cute and cuddly and wonderful. What about you? Are you more of a cat person, a dog person, or neither? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

I am an ailurophile. There is no question, and no one who knows me would argue that point.

Ailurophile comes from the Greek word “ailouros,” which means cat and the suffix “-phile,” meaning lover. There is also the word ailurophobe, which means having a fear of or aversion to cats. That second word is definitely not me!

I have a few cats who live with me. Four, to be exact. I think four cats is sort of teetering on crossing the line between sane and crazy cat lady, but it is solidly on the line. It is neither here nor there.

The fact is, even though I would love to add more to my clowder, I know four is enough. And I know what happens when I upset the delicate and every changing balance of the group. Even now, we have our moments of unrest. Adding more would not be wise.

And so I stay solidly planted on the line, enjoying being an ailurophile and snuggling with all my feline friends. ❤

2023_BlogPrompt #35 – Ideas

There are these ideas that torment me. Constantly. Lately, I have been distracted with a big work project and a small surgery, and I have not been paying attention to my ideas. But if I don’t give them some air time, they will disappear. What is your relationship to your ideas? As always, if you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Ideas have been dancing a crazy choreography in my head, swirling spinning, but never coming together in a way that shows their interrelatedness. Until last night when they danced the choreography that pulled them together like magnets that have been drawing to each other forever, but finally moved just close enough to attract. And snap together.

Connections are funny like that. We might be connected to someone or something for a very long time but not know it—or notice—until some switch is thrown or some shift in the energy of the universe makes it undeniable. Once we see the connection, we cannot un-see it, and it changes how we move forward.

For me, and I suspect for other creative individuals, ideas are living and breathing in my mind. They are constantly in motion, constantly evolving, becoming bigger and brighter and faster and stronger until they get my attention. But if they don’t get the attention they seek, they slowly dim and puff out, eventually disappearing in search of a more attentive host.  

And so I am writing to capture the moment, to solidify the connection, and to let my ideas know I am still here. Despite the big work project. Despite a hobble in my walk. Despite my lack of attention.

To them.

I’m still here, and despite their fickleness, so are they. Flitting like butterflies. And lighting on the flowers of my mind. Creating connections, if only for a moment.

2023_#34: Weird Word Wednesday – Cakeism

This week’s weird word is cakeism. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, cakeism means “the wish to have or do two good things at the same time when this is impossible. This word comes from the phrase ‘to have your cake and eat it too.’” I am all about having cake. (And eating it, too!). Write about your weird word… or your cake! If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

A slice of birthday cake

Today, I was introduced to the word cakeism. What a totally awesome word, at least the way I think of it—in terms of cake!

But the fact is, this word has taken on a decidedly negative connotation, in keeping with the phrase from which it emerged. It has been used a great deal in politics—to refer to the people pushing for Brexit, for example, who want the benefits of the European Union without actually being part of it. And in the U.S., there are many policy-makers who base their whole platforms on a policy of cakeism.

Let me be completely honest for a minute… I’ve never really understood the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” If I have cake, I’m definitely going to eat it. After all, if you have cake, you don’t want it to go to waste, right? In fact, I only have cake when I’m going to eat it, so I don’t see how these two things are in opposition. “You can’t have it both ways” seems a more fitting phrase to use in situations that require a phrase of this sort.

Meanwhile, all this talk of cake is making me hungry. I think I’m going to go buy some cake… and eat it, too!

2023_BlogPrompt #33 – Silence

These days, life is so busy, and silence can be such a powerful tool. Sometimes, I feel that there are forces in society that want us to stay busy and distracted so we don’t take the time to realize we have shifted. We are no longer creating meaning in our lives; we’ve shifted to creating content. Silence is so important to ground ourselves; it’s a space in which we can examine where we are going and where we want to be. How might you use silence? If you take up the challenge and want to share, please add a pingback to this prompt.

My head is full of mush. I am taking a line out of that well know children’s book: “and a head full of mush.” Sure, these are not the exact words, but they are close, right? A head full of mush is a bit more debilitating—and less nourishing, perhaps—than a bowl full of mush.

I have not had [made, maybe] the time to sit in silence recently, so I have not been able to absorb the important lessons that silence can teach. I have been moving non-stop and have not taken the time to slow down. I am under deadline on a project that is nearing completion… at least in its first iteration.

But silence shouldn’t be something we “fit in” when we’re not busy with other things. No… silence should be a daily ritual—one around which we build everything else. And I would say these days, in particular, silence is imperative. The world keeps us so busy we can’t move beyond the surface level. Unless we stop. And listen to Silence.

In silence, we can reflect on what we’ve done and how we might do better.

In silence, we can listen for the pieces that aren’t quite fitting together to determine what’s bothering us.

In silence, we can find, evaluate, and redirect our missteps.

Silence creates greater focus and intention.

Silence pushes us to grow beyond our comfort zone.

Silence teaches us who we are.

I hope you will take some time each day to sit in silence and absorb the messages you find there. It might be uncomfortable at first, especially if you haven’t spent much time in silence. But soon, you will see how sitting in silence can change your life.

2023_BlogPrompt #32 – Grief revisited

Life is full of a wide range of emotions, and grief is among them. Grief is universal—something we all have to deal with. What is your experience with grief? Sometimes writing about it can help us to deal with it. If you take up the challenge and want to share, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Grief stopped by for a visit last night. It’s been just over six years since my dad passed, and still, the grief comes by, new and fresh and raw at times. And even though I think I’m better, I’m over it, grief has a way of letting me know it’s still there.

Last night, I learned of the sudden and unexpected passing of someone I’ve known for years. His children grew up with my children. And as I thought of these children, who are now adults, I was right back to that moment six years ago, on the phone with my sister as she told me of our father’s passing. There was a shock and momentary paralysis as my mind floundered through the conversation. I searched for the quickest escape route from what was a normal environment in a very abnormal moment. I remembered the drive home, and the tears that stayed with me for months, ready to fall at the slightest atmospheric shift.

I thought about how difficult it is to lose a parent unexpectedly and how that pain never truly leaves your body. I thought of the days and weeks of numbness that I pushed through, acting like I was fine and life was normal until my reality slowly morphed into a new normal. A normal that is no longer shrouded in constant grief, but grief still visits now and again.  

Since that time, I’ve come to realize that grief only comes from love. Without love, there would be no grief. And given the choice between a life without love or a life in which I have to face grief because I have loved, I would choose the latter any day.

2023_#31: Weird Word Wednesday – Hootenanny

This week’s weird word is hootenanny. The definition of this word, according to Merriam-Webster, is a gadget or “a gathering at which folk singers entertain often with the audience joining in.” Share your weird words here. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Fey Marin on Unsplash 

My coworker was texting her sister yesterday, and she tried to text, “Ha, ha.” Somehow, her phone auto-corrected to “Hootenanny.” How in the world it went from “ha, ha” to “hootenanny” is anyone’s guess. Now, I imagine a hootenanny could be a “ha, ha” sort of event, though I’ve never actually attended one. Therefore, I’m not actually able to say with any certainty.

Personally, I thought a hootenanny was a rowdy ruckus, as in, “What’s all that hootenanny going on in there?” I’m actually glad I chose this word for today’s weird word. Otherwise, I might spend the rest of my life not knowing the true definition of the word. And consequently, mis-using it.

I like Wikipedia’s take on this word the best: “…an Appalachian colloquialism that was used in the early twentieth century U.S. as a placeholder name to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamajig or whatchamacallit.” I can see myself using this word as a place holder. “Hey, see that hootenanny over there? Can you fetch that for me?”

So if you hear me using the word hootenanny, at least you know I’m using it correctly!

2023_BlogPrompt #30 – Hyperbole

Somedays, I tend to use a bit of hyperbole. Today was one of those days. Do you ever use hyperbole in your speech or interactions with others? As always, if you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

It’s been a long week. What I mean is, it’s been a crazy long week here on the ground in New England. In a meeting this morning, I told someone I thought I might go home and sleep for three weeks. He said he felt that was a very long time to sleep, but I’m not sure that’s hyperbole. I am exhausted and if today weren’t Friday, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it to Friday.

This week, we became fully entrenched in the double-digits of February, a phenomenon I learned about years ago when I worked in a boarding school. These are dreaded days, especially for those of us in education. Winter is getting old, and spring is still far away. While there’s a bit more daylight, it’s still dark when I get up and dark when I leave work. Cabin fever isn’t as bad as usual this year, especially since we’ve had a couple of spring-ish days.

But students are antsy. They can almost see Spring Break, but not quite. They are still bogged down in the work that comes with midterm time, and they are anxious and emotional. In between meeting with my regular students, I run from one commitment to the next, from this meeting to that like my hair’s on fire. And it was cloudy and rainy all day, at least until this evening when it decided to snow instead. All these things combined have led to exhaustion. Seasonal exhaustion, if there is such a thing, sort of like seasonal allergies.

When I finally get to bed tonight, perhaps I’ll sleep for three weeks, or perhaps I’ll only sleep until tomorrow. Either way, the double-digits of February have me tightly in their grasp. And I can’t wait until they let go.

2023_#29: Weird Word Wednesday – Doozy

This week’s weird word is doozy. The definition of this word, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an extraordinary one of its kind.” Not what I had intended to write today, but there you go. Got a good weird word? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

My cat

It’s been quite a week, friends. Today was my second—oops! third—day of nearly back-to-back meetings. Imagine my surprise when I was able to leave my office just a tad before 6:00. The sky still held a bit of pink on the horizon as I drove up the highway. I was looking forward to an evening of writing, completing a couple of tasks that needed to be done, and getting to bed early.

But the universe had other plans.

When I arrived home, I fed the cats, but I was missing one—the most food-motivated of my clowder. I set out on a search of the house, afraid of what I might find. I found her in the litter box, apparently stricken with some bladder issue or another. A call to our go-to emergency vet revealed they were at capacity and wouldn’t be able to see her until maybe 11:00. Yes, that’s PM. However, they suggested that the new veterinary urgent care (much closer than all the other emergency vets around) might be able to see her, I called.

They make appointments!!

So now, I’m home writing my Weird Word Wednesday post on a day that was definitely a doozy of a day! And I’ve still got to go back to the vet to pick up the cat….