2023_BlogPrompt #16 – Moody

Today, I’m working with the word moody sparked by my winter walk. Moody has definitely been the look of the landscape around here. What is moody in your life? As always, if you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

The moody sky

I went out for a walk this evening and the sky was mottled with thick winter clouds. Combined with the trees, still laden with yesterday’s heavy snow, the effect could best be described as moody. It’s as if the sky can’t quite decide whether yesterday’s storm is over and it should be clear, maybe even sunny again. So it’s keeping the shroud of clouds until it decides.

Moody. It’s the way I tend to feel at this time of year, as well. It’s cold and dark, and the storms are an excuse to stay in, focus on crafts or cleaning, writing or inside projects. Read a book. Snuggle with the cats. Sit by the fire. But being outside in the winter, experiencing the snow, breathing in the cold, feeling the crunch of frozen with each footstep—it’s exhilarating. So I’m torn. And sometimes moody because I have to make a choice. Do I go out or stay in?

So the heavy, thick clouds the sky is wearing today… I get it. I am right there feeling this crazy moody sky.

2023_ #15: Weird Word Wednesday – Cattywampus

I am sneaking in under the wire here with Weird Word Wednesday. I’m excited to share today’s word: Cattywampus. According to YourDictionary.com, cattywampus means “not lined up or not arranged correctly, or diagonally; in disarray, disorder, or askew.” Merriam-Webster also uses the term “kitty-corner” in the definition. Can you see yourself using this word? I think it would be a fun word to add to my vocabulary. What weird word makes you happy? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Danae Paparis on Unsplash 

My father always gave directions by drawing maps and using landmarks. He would sketch out directions while saying something like, “Drive north on Main Street and take a left right here after the white church….” I’m pretty sure my dad would have used the word cattywampus if it had been part of his vocabulary. “After you turn left, go about half a mile, and the store will be cattywampus to the Post Office.”

Personally, I think the other usage of cattywampus is also fantastic and one that I plan to use. Regularly. And often. In fact, as the new semester is beginning and I’m trying to get back into the daily routine of work and students and meetings and reports, my brain is all cattywampus. I am having trouble stringing my thoughts together in a logical manner. Thankfully, I know once we settle in, my thoughts will be back in order.

And there you go: cattywampus. I hope you find a way to use it soon!

2023_BlogPrompt #14 – Supposed to

So often, people do what they think they’re supposed to in life. Or they complain about the fact that life is not going as it’s supposed to. I’m wondering if things are going as they are supposed to in your life, and if not, how are you reacting to that? As always, if you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

These were supposed to be bagels. They might not look good, but they were delicious!

If you spend any time listening to what other people say, you will often hear, “This is not the way things are supposed to be.” Or you might hear, “This didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.”

Supposed to…. These are loaded words. They are loaded with the expectations of others, of society, and of ourselves. “This is not the way it’s supposed to be” implies some more desirable outcome that is not attached to the reality of the situation. Because what is, regardless of what’s supposed to be, is reality. And we need to focus on what is, work on accepting this unexpected or maybe just undesirable outcome, and work on building and improving from there.

If we are constantly focused on what we meant to happen or what we thought would come to pass (but didn’t), we are one step detached from reality. And we miss the good in what did happen.

Then again…

Sometimes the statement, “This didn’t turn out like it was supposed to,” can be a fantastic lesson and learning experience. For example, if you set out on a baking adventure to create something you have never attempted but saw in a magazine or on tv or on Pinterest, your first attempt may come out wildly different than you are expecting—maybe or maybe not in a positive way. You have the opportunity to learn from your “supposed to.” What went wrong? Did you miss by an inch or by a mile? What changes do you need to make next time (if there is a next time)? These are all important questions to ask if you want to get closer to the mark of supposed to on your next try.

[Meanwhile, keep in mind that baking disasters often taste just fine.]

But seriously, we need to stop focusing on the expectations for everything we do because expectations often lead to disappointments. And disappointment leads us away from the good in what we’ve done. And the lessons are harder to recognize.

Truly, life—and I mean all of life—is a learning experience. Make the most of it and focus on the positive. Maybe something didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, but there may be aspects that are at least redeemable.

Because when all is said and done, you’ve made a memory. Years from now, you will laugh about this. You and your friends/family will think back fondly on the day your experiment didn’t come out the way it was supposed to, but you ate it anyway. Or you ended up throwing it out and ordering take out.

So maybe, if you really think about it, the version you created might actually be better (in some weird way) than what it was supposed to be.

2023_BlogPrompt #13 – Puzzle

I am working on the puzzle that is life. Somedays, it’s smooth sailing but other days, it’s a struggle. What puzzles are you working on? Perhaps you have a story about a puzzle. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Random puzzle pieces discovered on the sidewalk.

Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece fits together to create a perfect whole. But the pieces of life don’t always fit together the way we expect them to. Or want them to. And one subtle change can launch the whole puzzle into disarray, ensuring the pieces will never quite fit the way we want them to. Because there is no perfect whole where life is concerned.

The process of life… it is a living, breathing puzzle, very different from the cardboard pieces we fit together to create a two-dimensional image. Life, and its piece, are constantly changing, evolving, and growing. People come into your life, and you fit them in with the overall picture. People leave—for whatever reason—and you readjust the life you are creating. Some people leave a hole that can never be filled, and because of that hole, your puzzle has to take on a new shape.

Jobs change, locations change, hobbies come and go, and you are left to make sense of it all. As a human involved in the game of life, you are expected to continue your work on the puzzle, creating beauty not in spite of the constant movement and change, but because of it.

It is the changes that bring us to life. Our reactions and the way we handle the situations we are given, these contribute to the beauty in the overall image we create. Our reactions bring color and vibrance to our life picture. They demonstrate our growth over time.

And so… as you continue to work on your own life puzzle—to determine how to fit the pieces together—know that the puzzle will continue to change, to shift, and to challenge at every turn. But it will also bring love and peace and joy, both in the present and in your reflection on the past, on the things you have done, on the people you have met.

Choose your pieces wisely. Those thoughtfully chosen will add the most beauty to—and be a better fit with—the many pieces you cannot choose.

2023_BlogPrompt #12 – Redefine

I am redefining various aspects of my life. I don’t really know what the end product will look like, but I know it’s a necessary process to undertake right now. Are there aspects of your life that need to be redefined? Are there other things you might redefine? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

It’s foggy today. The unseasonably warm weather doesn’t play well with the snow and ice that fell throughout the day yesterday. The fog hangs over the world, muting January into mist. This, I realize, is a metaphor for what is.

There are points in life when a re-evaluation is appropriate. Even necessary. Sometimes, several changes occur at once, and we are left to redefine where we are and what we want. I have been taking a critical look at the pieces of my life that don’t quite fit the way they once did. And as I work to redefine these pieces, alter them, and fit them back into my life, a fog has settled over what is and what has been. I have thrown out two or three—maybe more—pieces, and I’m reconsidering others. I am rebuilding—in some cases, from the ground up. And I’m not quite sure what will emerge.

The fog is obscuring the work that I am doing as I move toward what will be and wait for it to emerge. One day, the fog will begin to dissipate and the new will be revealed.  It’s always that way—that the work of the process is actually invisible to onlookers. When the work is completed and the newness emerges, people will look at me, and they will say, “Hey friend, you look good! Did you get your hair cut?” or “Have you been working out?”

If I look different, that’s just a bonus. The change will be much deeper—a life overhaul, perhaps. It will shift my thinking and adjust my attitude, a small shift that could change everything. Redefining isn’t easy, but if we’re going to keep growing through life’s changes, keep moving forward, redefining is inevitable.

2023_BlogPrompt #11 – Thin Ice

With a warmer winter thus far, I am focusing on thin ice. It might be on a pond or coating a puddle. It might be that annoying ice you have to scrape off your car every morning or an icicle hanging from your roof. Write about thin ice. If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Air bubbles under thin ice.

The pond near my house is not yet frozen. A mallard couple stops by in the mornings for a swim and perhaps a taste of the local winter vegetation. Last week, a child and his father were throwing sticks onto the thin layer of ice that comes and goes. They watched as the sticks slid across the slick surface and remained suspended on the thin ice.

On each side of the path, the saturated winter grass has frozen, and the surface of the ice is swirled with the texture of air bubbles underneath. The ice is thin and breaks with just a bit of pressure. This kind of ice is a magnet for people old and young who are drawn to the game of ice shattering and the sound of the ice giving way and shards scattering. From the looks of it, there are many of us in the neighborhood. Broken ice litters the grass, but if you really search, you can still find bits that remain intact, waiting for the next icebreaker.

Thin ice is everywhere this year. Whether we are throwing sticks and rocks onto a frozen pond or walking a few steps out of the way to shatter the ice on a puddle, it pulls us to it with an almost magical force. Beware of thin ice where it poses a danger. Then again, if it’s only a puddle, go ahead and break to your heart’s content!

2023_BlogPrompt #10 – Weird Word Wednesday – Bumfuzzled

I thought it might be fun to shake things up a bit. So here it is, a new weekly feature: weird word Wednesday. Today’s word: Bumfuzzled. According to Merriam Webster, bumfuzzled means “in a state of bewilderment: confused or perplexed.” Can you see yourself using this word? Do you have a weird word you’d like to write about? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash 

The holidays are over; we are settling into 2023 and marching through January. Winter, ugh! This season can be cold and bleak and never-ending even though it’s only just begun. And so I thought I would venture into new territory (which might last a week or two, knowing me) with a mid-week mix-up: weird word Wednesday.

But then I started to look up weird words. Have you ever done that? Oh my! Seriously… Google “weird words in English” and see what you come up with. There are words I had never seen and would never come across if not for this venture. So many choices!

Today, we are examining the word, bumfuzzled. I chose this word because it’s one I believe I might actually start using. I am completely bumfuzzled by this word. First of all, how many words do we need that mean confused and bewildered? How many words for confusion exist in other languages? But secondly, it’s quite satisfying to say.

I think bumfuzzled will be my new favorite word for confusion. From now on, any time I can’t explain something, or I am perplexed, I am going to say, “Well, I am simply bumfuzzled.” I can’t wait to see the reactions to that word!

2023_BlogPrompt #9 – Cold

Cold is the word of the day. Since winter is upon us here in the Northeast, cold may (or may not) be an accurate description of your environment. But cold can also be a mood, a temperament, or an atmosphere. Are you experiencing cold in your life? How and where? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Monday afternoon, I had to attend a meeting, and I stepped outside into bright sunshine. The birds were singing, and I had a sudden wave of spring fever. In January. Now, if you are at all familiar with winters in the Northeast (and the northern Northeast, at that), you know that spring fever in January is a tough mentality. Winter has only just begun, and this year, the cold is still deciding when it might actually settle in. Not if, but definitely when.

Spring fever was a fleeting moment. By the time I left work to return home, the temperature had dropped, and I pulled my scarf around my neck. At home, I cuddled under a blanket as much for the warmth as for the coziness. This kind of cold you can counter with proper clothing, extra layers, and cozy blankets.

The other cold, the one that settles over an atmosphere, an environment, a relationship… that cold is much more unwelcoming. It can only be tempered with great skill or avoidance. Seldom does joking affect the underlying cause of such cold, and (interestingly) a blanket might feel smothering in such a situation.

If I had to choose between cold temperatures or the cold shoulder, I would take the cold temperatures any day. I will gladly take a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa to solve my cold issues!

2023_BlogPrompt #8 – Mining

Today I am mining for words that might bring inspiration and a flow of ideas. I am mining anything that is written—signs, books, newspapers, the Internet. I am mining what I hear. What do you mine for—ideas, inspiration, antiques, clothes? Where do you do your most effective mining? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash 

Today, I am capturing words. I am reading and listening and searching, and I am writing a list of words that appeal to me, that tug at my emotions, that spark a flicker of an idea deep in my soul. In essence, I am mining my surroundings for inspiration, for words that can carry me through the busy week.

Words are always woven into my life. I am particularly drawn to words that might be a bit ambiguous or carry different meanings and inspire ideas in others. I am mining words that inspire me, but these are not just my words. These are shared words, after all. Words for blog prompts. Words to help others restart their own writing journey. I will stay open and pay attention.

Lucky for me, words are everywhere. And I have a tiny notebook that comes with me wherever I go. The combination should lead to some successful Monday mining!

2023_BlogPrompt #7 – Coming Home

Today, day 7, is my reflection on week 1. Truly, it’s been a long time since I have written regularly. Sometimes, reconnecting with an activity feels like coming home. That’s the way I felt this week. I felt a bit lighter—like an ongoing conflict was being resolved. I felt more like myself, which brought a deep contentment. What does coming home feel like to you? How might you recapture that feeling? If you choose to take up the challenge, please add a pingback to this prompt.

Photo by Kevin Fitzgerald on Unsplash 

I have written and posted every day this past week, which is unusual for me, and I can honestly say, it feels like coming home. My ideas have been flowing and staying around a bit to play and tease my attention. Instead of stuffing them back into my head, I have opened my heart, my mind, my creativity and captured them, worked with them. Even the day I was “stuck,” I played with other words until I found one that took off, and I chased it through the winter evening.

Writing and blogging again feels like coming home. It feels like walking into a warm house on a cold day and running into the embrace of someone I’ve known all my life but haven’t seen in months. Or years. And then we sit down with a hot cup of coffee or tea or cocoa and dive into conversation right where we left off so long ago. We talk about life, about triumphs, about struggles, and as we talk, the years melt away. It’s as if I never left and we have been talking to each other every day. Like this. Face to face. Over coffee.

As I started to sit and ponder and write and post, the ideas began to come back, one by one. It was like the months since my last post evaporated and here I am, writing again, generating ideas again, connecting with my Muse again.

So for now at least, I will fuel my writing with the feelings of home, of the familiar. I will sit at the kitchen table drinking hot coffee and conversing with the words on the page. I will munch on ideas like they are delicious homemade cookies. I will shine a light on my journal as I write. And I will bask in the warmth I’ve found in reconnecting with this part of me—a part I thought might just be lost.