Welcome and an Invitation

Over the past several weeks I have had many people sign up to follow this blog.

I am truly honored by that. I am also intrigued, wondering which post brought you in and encouraged you to join.

However, I don’t blog over here much anymore. Many months ago I transitioned to my own self-hosted site: Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words at http://www.lisaakramer.com/.

I still write about the same things (although in a slightly more organized fashion) but this site also includes pages for my portfolio and projects, as well as links to my writing.

I’d like to invite all of my new readers over there.

Recent posts include:

Flying Puppet

“For the Love of Learning” in which I have an epiphany about myself which may affect some of my choices in the future.

Snapshot_20131023 (6)

“Time to Stop Talking and Start Doing” in which I give myself a much-needed kick in the pants.

 

“The Thing About Bullying” where I reflect on yet another tragedy caused by bullying, the government, and other issues about society. I’ve written about bullying throughout this blog, as it is one of the topics I am passionate about. I will continue to explore it over there.

I hope to see some of you over there. And please, don’t be shy. Make comments. Tell me why you are there. Let me know a little bit about yourself, as one of the best things about the world of blogging is the connections we make. As a matter of fact, you may want to start with a slightly older post of mine “Getting to Know You” where we get a chance to learn a little bit more about each other especially about why we are in this world of blogging.

I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you.

See you there!

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say or I’m Not That Stupid . . .

We live in a world where certain people thrive on the assumption that  everyone else is STUPID. Or at least many people act on the assumption that everyone else lacks in intelligence or the ability to think, recognize lies, or make wise decisions.

The current election season in America is evidence of that, since every campaign ad, debate, or whatever is filled with obfuscation, lies and wordplay to trick all the feeble-minded voters out there. I admit sometimes to feeling stupid when surrounded by the craziness because it is difficult to wade through the layers of lies and mis-directions to uncover the truth about issues, candidates or anything. That’s why all I can do is vote my conscience and vote based on my own understanding of the issues.

But this isn’t about the elections. The inspiration for this post came from my decision to clear out some spam comments on the blog this morning. We all get them, and it is pretty easy to recognize some of them: no real name, no picture, multiple links, repetitive address, on a post from way back etc. I admit, when I first began blogging, I fell for a couple of spam comments because I was simply so excited to be getting a comment on my posts.  However, after I started receiving real comments from real human beings, and interacting with those human beings in other ways, I began to think about spam comments and wonder–who are these people, what do they hope to achieve, and do they think I’m stupid?

This morning I discovered this comment in spam,

“I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

Now, this is one of those unusual comments which could trick you into believing that it is actually from a real person who  has something to say. It was on my most recent post. There are no links to unknown pages. And, although it doesn’t specifically address anything in my post, there’s nothing so random in it to suggest that it isn’t about that post. There is also a name attached to the comment (although only a first name). The sentence makes sense, and it even includes an emoticon.

However, I’m not STUPID. Let’s look at the above comment more closely, shall we? The language suggests an intimacy between me and the comment writer. “You deserve it my friend,” as if we have already had some kind of relationship building even if only through the blogosphere.

Now, it’s possible. I’ve made several friends through this blog. Some I’ve only interacted with through technology, some I have met in person. Some I talk to on Facebook on a regular basis. Some have faded away, but reappear at surprising times.

Meeting fellow bloggers Kathy McCullough and Tori Nelson. Picture borrowed from Kathy’s post about the experience. Click on the image to read that post.

Still, I will include them in my list of friends or at least acquaintances who I would like to get to know better.  I can say that the friendships I’ve formed through the blog have some similarities:

  • We may not agree on everything but we all respect each other’s opinions, ideas, and journey.
  • We show that respect by making thoughtful comments, giving constructive criticism, and occasionally sending virtual love and support to each other.
  • Most of them seem to say what they mean and mean what they say.
  • All of them recognize that sometimes people need space away from the blogosphere.
  • Each one of them is intelligent, creative, and challenges me to become a better writer, artist, and human being.

I could list them all here, but I think they know who they are.

These are people that I believe I would be friends with in person if we were near enough. I don’t always read their posts. They don’t always read mine. But, we read, respond, and react with thoughtfulness as true friends should.

A true friend of me and my blog would not include the not-so-subtle insult of the first part of this spam comment: “I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring. . . ” Nor would they try to grace me with the honor of ” I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist.”

Do me a favor, don’t bother.

I’m the first to admit that my posts aren’t always scintillating prose full of wit and wisdom. I welcome constructive criticism of my work. But, I would never tell a friend, a fellow blogger, or anyone else that I was bored by their writing (unless I was giving constructive criticism to a student, and I would never use the word “bored”). Nor would I become friends with someone who leaves comments like this.

Seriously, what do spammers hope to achieve and why do they think we are so stupid?

Yearning for a Front Porch

The sound of laughter and jokes from the front stoop below my bedroom window almost every summer night when I was around nine (my daughter’s age now) tortured me as I lay in bed, yearning for the days when I could stay up later, imagining that this tradition would carry over even after my more popular older (by five years) sister had moved on. I was wrong. By the time I was old enough to participate, there were only a few fleeting moments on my front stoop, as the neighborhood kids opted for other activities that I wasn’t always welcome at. (Let’s just say the neighborhood got a little rougher over those years).

I don’t have a lot of pictures of Deb and I when she was in high school, so this will have to do.

I feel like I missed out on something special.

Not that I didn’t have some time experiencing the porch life. There were the occasional games of Truth or Dare where I actually had to kiss a boy. The stoop became home base for games of tag that spread around the neighborhood.  There were hook-ups and break-ups (none which involved me, just the lone Truth or Dare kiss). But that only lasted one or two short summers, while my sister’s reign as queen of the neighborhood lasted pretty much throughout her teen years.

(Yes, I admit, I was jealous of her).

Of course, I had a few other front porch experiences as a child that live on in my memory. Perhaps the strongest of those memories was sitting on the front porch of my Great Aunt Irene’s house near the beach and listening to the stories of times gone by, of relatives long-gone, and of my father’s childhood that even as we speak fades deeper and deeper into lost memory.

As I was reading Kathy’s post called “Redefining Front-Porch Culture: Bloggers and a World-Wide Notion of Neighbor” flashes of these “front-porch” moments came into my head, and I realized that I really want a front-porch.  Our first house in Vermont had a lovely front porch, but it was on the corner of a busy street, and we weren’t there long enough to establish a front porch community. Actually, most of the meeting and chatting took place in the yard between two homes.

I miss that.

Our homes since then have been front-porch-less. Of course, in Durango, CO we would meet with friends in the neighborhood and chat in the driveway, but it still wasn’t the same. Again, we were on the curve of a somewhat busy street, so it wasn’t exactly the safest place for hanging out and chatting. I had to go to other people’s homes for that.

Now, in our current home, not only are we front-porch-less, but we are also up a steep driveway and hidden behind trees. It’s beautiful, but doesn’t lend to casual stopping by as someone takes a walk down the street.

No porch here.

Across the street from Sarah’s front window. A gap in the trees.

 

Kathy suggests that blogging is perhaps

“. . .  a front porch, of sorts—a place from which virtual neighbors come and go.  When we leave comments, we take the time to stay and ‘set a spell’.”

I like that image and that idea, but I still yearn for a real front porch. I want to live in a neighborhood where people know each other. I want to have friends that drop by for tea, and I want my house filled with the sound of children playing on the front porch or stoop.

I wonder if those kinds of neighborhoods even exist anymore? I’ll keep holding onto that dream and keep looking.

But for now, I guess I will enjoy my virtual front porch.

Would anyone like a cup of tea?

 

Random Thoughts from a Random Mind

This has been a gray week. My mind has been in a muddle, where words, ideas, thoughts, frustrations, hopes, and fear all wander through the fog that seeps into my brain from the outside–from the weather–and makes me feel unable to accomplish anything. Today, however, the golden fall sunshine seems to have decided to make an appearance, and with it comes the urge to clear out the fog that is in my brain and find some sense and meaning.

The golden sunshine begins.

Of course, that’s not easy, so today I will be writing one of those posts that follow the whim of my words and thoughts. Stream of conscious rambling to clear the murkiness and lay down a path toward clarity. I understand if you don’t decided to follow along. I’m not sure I would. 🙂 I’ll try my best to give meaning to my words.

The Randomness of Blogging: Some of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging regularly for a while. Some have mentioned it when I comment. Some have e-mailed or said something on Facebook. Most haven’t reacted at all, which is no surprise. What has been surprising to me is that suddenly I have been getting new followers. (Welcome to all of you who have joined me recently.) Why is this surprising? Well, I haven’t been writing a lot. I have been commenting and I try to always respond to comments on my posts, but it’s not like I’ve been making any new statements or ranting about society or contributing to poetry or prose. Yet somehow I’m getting followers. Blogging is so random sometimes.

The Randomness of Writing: The last time I posted, I reported on the status of my book.  I have worked on it some more, but this week, mired in the muddle of my mind, I feel like I’ve hit another road block. I don’t have writer’s block, exactly, but I can’t seem to find the focus that I had last week. Does weather do that to you ever? How do you make your way through the murk?

The Randomness of Fall: I love fall. It has always been my favorite season. I love the smells, the colors, the quality of light. I would rather be outside on a warm fall day than on a hot summer day.  I love the flavors of fall; the cinnamon and apples, caramel and pumpkin spice.

Apple picking a couple of weeks ago.

But this fall seems particularly random, or off in some way. It feels like the leaves have turned too early. Some trees have already lost their leaves, while others still cling to the green of summer. The weather changes in the blink of an eye (I know, I know, I live in New England). From blazing hot days to shivering cold. From moments of sunshine to moments of gloom.  At least, however, those variations bring with them rainbows.

Driving home on a gloomy fall day.

This fall I feel disoriented and confused, but I have a theory why. It may, of course, have a little to do with global warming, but I’d rather blame it on the nauseating election season. The fumes and negativity, vicious attacks, ridiculousness, and everything else is leaking into the atmosphere and disturbing the beauty of my favorite season. I have decided to avoid it all now. I won’t discuss it. I won’t debate. I won’t listen to debates.  I won’t engage. Instead, I’m going to focus on the color, the light, the smells and the tastes of my favorite season and recognize when it’s time let go and focus on the joy.

Joy can be found in the smallest achievements.

The Randomness of Life: Yesterday I was listening to Studio 360. The show included an interview with Andrew McCarthy (of Pretty in Pink fame) who went on, after Hollywood to create a career as a travel writer. Listening to his interview, as well as an interview with Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theatre in New York, made me think about the reality and randomness of our paths in life.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Very few people follow a straight path throughout their life, knowing from the beginning where they want to go and finding their way their without twists and turns. Life doesn’t function that way. A man who became well-known in 80’s movies, went on to discover his voice in the discomfort of travel. A boy who was a near runaway at 14 went on to become one of the most powerful voices in theatre in the country, after realizing that acting wasn’t his route. My own path, and even my destination, are still so very unclear, but it is the very randomness of that journey that makes each day one full of possibility, even in my confusion and my darker moments.

I now choose to define success in my own terms, even if that form is not recognizable in the eyes of others. I also choose to enjoy the randomness of the journey. It will be interesting to look back at the end and see where I have been.

So there you have it folks, random thoughts from a random mind.

What kind of randomness are you thinking about today?

A Summer-y and a New Beginning

I’ve been absent for a while now, on my many summer adventures. I could have written several blog posts about each adventure. but somehow blogging has taken a much lower priority in my life recently.

And I’m good with that.

I also haven’t really been pulling out my camera as much recently. I stopped trying to document every day with at least one photo, partially because each day was beginning to look the same, but also because I shifted my focus onto something else.

I’m good with that too.

Today I have a dual purpose in writing a post. The first is to share with you, in short form, some of the adventures of the summer (in other words a summary of my summer).

Part I: A Summer-y

  • June was consumed with single parenting as Nathan left to work at a summer theatre in Okoboji, IA.  The end of the school year adventures, as well as a dance recital took up a lot of time.

 

  • Sarah and I eventually flew out to join Nathan, despite a lack of enthusiasm on my part. (That’s a long story that I’m not going into at the moment)
  • The rest of the summer at Okoboji was complicated, with a few wonderful highlights

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  • I left before the final week of the summer theatre to have a few (much needed) adventures of my own. I visited my dear friend Amanda and attended some of the Minneapolis Fringe Festival before heading off to Lexington, KY for the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference as well as an opportunity to spend time with fellow bloggers Kathy and Tori, as well as Kathy’s lovely partner Sara and Tori’s son Thomas. (For more about those adventures including pictures and crashing trees, click on the above link to Kathy’s blog).
  • The conference itself was full of complex emotions for me, as well as inspiration. I can’t seem to put all of this in words, but I left with new ideas about what I want to do with my life. Which leads to me to the second part of my post:

Part 2: A New Beginning

Have you ever noticed how sometimes things need to end in order for something new to begin? I’ve noticed for a while now that I have lost enthusiasm for blogging. Some of it was summer slacking, but some comes from the feeling that I am simply regurgitating material over and over again while achieving nothing. Although my readership has grown little by little, I no longer have a sense of purpose when it comes to this blog. In many ways, the blog has been a lifesaver for me, helping me get through some very difficult years. But it doesn’t seem to be working that way at the moment.

Although I am more settled now than for the past few years (I can’t tell you what a relief it was to come home from the summer theatre and not have to pack up and move again) life is still unknown for me. I am still reinventing myself; trying to create a career that I cannot define, trying to write something worth publishing, trying to live a fulfilling and creative life, trying to support my family while still being myself, and trying to find the balance between myself as individual and myself as wife and mother. This journey is the one I’ve been writing about but at the same time I have held back in some ways–out of insecurity, fear, respect, and other emotions.

I need a new beginning in many ways. And, my friends, for now that may mean I stop posting for a while. I am no longer sure what role blogging can and will play in my life. I need to make some plans, and stick to them, without the distraction of the blog. Because face it, blogs can be a distraction, as you pour your heart and words into reading, writing, and responding and time simply disappears.

So, for now, I believe I am on a short hiatus from regular posting. I will still read and comment, and I am always available for a chat or by e-mail. I may even post occasionally. But, I really believe that in order for me to begin again I need to pause for a moment in order to understand my path more clearly.

I leave you today with this image stolen borrowed from a friend’s posting on Facebook, as it sums up some of my current thinking:

Call Me Crazy, But . . .

I’m starting another Blog!

Yes, I know, I’m insane, but not really. The other day a college put out a call for on-line resumes and portfolios for theatre artists interested in doing some freelance work for the coming academic year. I sort of have something set up at LinkedIn and Behance, and I added some things and perfected them to the best of my ability before sending off an e-mail.

[Should I be worried that I never got a reply back? Hm, let it go, Lisa . . . let it go.]

I was not completely satisfied, however, with the results. The format doesn’t say much about me. It doesn’t integrate all the complexities of the work that I do. So, I knew that I wanted a better on-line portfolio somehow.

Yesterday, at a fun and fabulous Memorial Day barbeque, somehow we got into discussing job searches and the need for an on-line portfolio. The discussion was really about one of my former students who designed the fabulous costumes for the production of Peggy the Pint-Sized Pirate presented by my Theatre for Young Audience class a few weeks ago.

You’ve got to love the baby sea monster.

Bethany said, “I know, I know, I have to start some sort of website.”

One of her friends said, “Use WordPress, its easy and has a lot of great options for portfolios.”

Ding Ding Ding!

D’oh!

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Now the advantage to this is that I don’t intend for this new blog to become a daily habit, or to replace Woman Wielding Words. Once I get it up to date (which may take me a while) I will only update it to add new projects and so on. It will be a blog to keep my work/creative history in order, but not a blog filled with as much randomness as this blog.

I’m still debating on whether or not I should enable comments on that blog. What do you think?

Don’t worry, I don’t expect you all to follow me over there or anything, but I would love feedback if you are interested. Of course, right now it is in the beginning stages so there is not much to see, but if you feel like wandering over I’d love to see you at The Creative Portfolio of Lisa Kramer

Just don’t call me crazy! 😉

Taking Time Off

Yesterday I stayed in bed all day.

Seriously, I closed the door to the dogs, the daughter, the husband, the bills, the writing, the beautiful sunny day and everything else. I’ve been battling some serious pain all week, radiating out from the top of my spine and making it difficult to turn my head or move, and yesterday I decided that all I could do was rest.

Today the pain is less. My blood pressure has dropped (not that it has been high, but my doctor wanted me to keep tabs for a while and the reading was the lowest ever) and I managed to get Sarah off to school without any major blow ups.

Time off is good.

Nathan came to say goodbye to me this morning and give me my challenge for the day (1000 words, plus getting out of the house to enjoy the sunshine).

” A thousand words, huh?”

“That’s easy,” he said. “You do it almost every day.”

“I know, but I just don’t feel very write-y today. I especially don’t feel bloggy. I think I’m done with blogging for a while.”

“Well, you wrote that emotional post on Saturday. Maybe you just need time off.”

“I just don’t think I have anything to say right now. I might write a post telling people that I am cutting back. I’ll try posting once a week or when I’m truly motivated, but otherwise . . . ”

“Do whatever you need to do.”

So dear readers . . . I’m taking time off. I will not disappear. I will still read and comment. I may still be inspired by the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups (even though I skipped last week). I am still going to contribute to the Seven Deadly Sins contest. But, I am not going to push it when it comes to posting.

I’m going to take time off. To quote from one of my favorite bloggers, Nancy over at Spirit Lights the Way: “Ahh . . . That’s better!”

Two Years

Two years ago today I started this blog.

Since that first pathetic post I have:

  • written 585 posts
  • approved 7629 comments
  • been protected from 5738 spam comments
  • had (supposedly) 39,054 views
  • written hundreds and hundreds of comments on other people’s blogs
  • gained and lost subscribers (right now I have 155 blog followers).

But these numbers really don’t mean anything to me. Since I started this blog, I have also:

  • lived in four states (Colorado, Iowa for summer theatre work, Kansas, and Massachusetts).
  • taught several hundred students of all ages in theatre, writing, English lit, puppetry and other areas.
  • driven thousands of miles (including across country three times)
  • read approximately 118 books
  • walked miles and miles in beautiful locations
  • taken hundreds of pictures
  • created a couple of pieces of “art”
  • directed shows
  • taught camps
  • written hundreds of morning pages
  • met amazing people
  • traveled out of the country
  • played too many computer games
  • been angry, scared, sad, happy, excited, lonely, content, frustrated, confident, doubtful and any other emotion you can think of
  • gained and lost weight
  • shared ideas with wonderful women
  • eaten chocolate, laughed and celebrated life
  • cried millions of tears

In other words I’ve lived my life. I’ve tried to share honestly on these pages. I’ve written words from the heart. I have been honored to interact with many incredible people. I admit that I still envy bloggers who seem to ease into successful blogs: the ones who get Freshly Pressed repeatedly while I limp forward slowly, the ones with hundreds and hundreds of followers and hundreds of thousand of hits. I admit that there are days that I feel frustrated and wonder why I bother. What do I hope to achieve with this blog?

That question looms large as I celebrate this, my second blogiversary. What do I hope to achieve with this blog? Where do I go from here? Do I continue as I’ve been doing, posting about whatever inspires me at any given moment, including rants and rambles along the way? Do I start something new, coming up with a more focused vision? Or do I simply give up, saying, “it was a good try but now move on to something realistic” ?

I am in the middle of reinventing myself, of discovering who I want to be and what marks I want to leave in this world. Saturday I spent the day with theatre educators and others who are passionate about the importance and value of arts education in the schools, and arts as part of life. I discovered people who are doing incredible work, on both a large and a small-scale. I was reminded that I do belong in that world in many ways, I just have yet to figure out how I contribute.

I live in a world of creative energy, and am slowly finding a foothold in that world. Blogging has helped me in many ways. I have learned so much from fellow bloggers, that I’m not sure where to even begin. But, I will try.

  • I’ve learned how to see the world a little differently from people like Piglet in Portugal and Terry at The Incredible Lightness of Seeing. Because of them I carry my camera with me wherever I go, and began incorporating my own images into my posts more often.
  • I’ve learned about courage from many sources, but particularly: Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon who is delving into her past with beauty, compassion and courage; Mark at The Idiot Speaketh who faces the challenges of his disability with humor and honesty, while still offering compassion and support wherever needed,  Ré at Sparks in the Shadows who is heart-breakingly honest with her struggles in life, but works daily to improve herself as a writer and challenge her world; and Dory at If I Were Brave who challenges herself daily to bring joy and face her fears. She’s now embarking on a fiction writing course and I know she will shine in that.
  • I’ve learned about love from Christine (who has also helped me see the power of photography). Ahab and Tori. I’ve learned about the craft of writing from Broadside and Wordsxo. I’ve learned about pursuing passion from Julia’s hundred word challenge and Stuart’s commitment to the arts.

My list could go on and on, but I honestly don’t have time to link to all the fabulous blogs I’ve read. Because, one of the downsides of blogging is that I have blogged away all the time I need to do other things. I am just starting on a book project with actual deadlines. I need to focus my energy on that to some extent today, or I will not make my deadline. But, this blogging world is now a home, that I am afraid to leave. I am more comfortable writing here then I ever thought I would be in the early days of my blog. I have found a community. I have met a few bloggers, and hope to meet more. I have discovered amazing people who I connect to on many different levels.

In many ways my blog has become my home. But, I wonder, is it time for this little bird to leave her nest?

Fighting Frustration and Fatigue

Yesterday I wrote a post from passion. I was proud of that post.  Now, I knew not expect to be Freshly Pressed, as I didn’t have any images that came from me, and I simply don’t make the criteria or the cut for whatever reason. But, I admit, to feeling a little deflated today. I was hoping for something more.  More reaction. More comment. Disagreements or anger even. While it instigated a couple of responses, in particular this wonderful post at Life of Jamie, I feel like my post was a whisper when I was hoping for a scream

We need more screams!

Today I was sent this petition http://dccc.org/pages/stopcensoringwomen which supports my theory that they are afraid of our voices. If “they” do not let us be heard, then their power is not threatened.

I fear “they” will win, because nothing seems to break the silence.

I admit to feeling frustrated. My second anniversary of this blog approaches, and, while I recognize that I have come far, I still feel sometimes that my voice is faint. I especially feel that when I write from passion and feel like in the end I accomplish nothing.

I took Sarah to the museum today, hoping to find inspiration to combat this overwhelming fatigue. I found myself looking for Goddess images–looking for the feminine divine, where women’s voices meant something and represented strength.

However, my search does not defeat the fatigue, despite finding some images that spoke to me. I forced myself to sit down and write something, anything to break through. Yet, as I search for the images to share, two things happen. First I find an image to remind me of why I should write and why I should fight (I include it amid the goddesses . . . guess which one it is). The second is this short but sweet little post announcing the birth of a girl. Welcome BabyHab, you are worth fighting for.

Shameless Plug in a Bid for Fame!

He’s known by most as the Idiot, by some as the Chipmunk Whisperer, by at least one as a total Liar, and by other’s as names that I will not mention.

His real name is Mark, and I am happy to call him friend.

He is also an incredibly talented and funny writer.

While I am sure most of my followers already read him, I am plugging him today for one reason only.

I WANT TO BE FAMOUS!!!

How does plugging a fellow blogger who far surpasses me in talent and followers make me famous? Because if he reaches 2 million views by January 24th, he has to worship me and give me accolades on his blog. 

Totally worth the shameless plug I’m giving him now.

So come on those few of you who have yet to discover his fabulous humor, go check out his page. Go several times. You won’t regret it, as he never fails to provide smiles, laughs, and thought-provoking prose.

And, I promise, when I become famous, I’ll never forget “the little people” who helped me get there. I swear.

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