Achieving “Fortytude”

It’s a little challenging trying to write Hubs to get some kind of writing “career” (for lack of a better term) started, but wanting to write here, for the wonderful community of connections that I have been building. Today, for example, I wanted to share with you the lucky serendipity of my discovery of the book by Sarah Brokaw called Fortytude: making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life–through the 40s, 50s, and Beyond but I also realized how much it fit into my series of Reinventing Self posts on the HubPages. So, I decided to do both, allowing this post to become the more personal exploration of the topic and the other to be a little more generic. If you are interested in both, here is the link to “How to Reinvent Yourself: Living Life with ‘Fortytude'”

But enough business. I do suggest you go out and read this book, because it is making me rethink a lot of things about life. I plan on exploring a lot of the questions it is forming over the next few days, and knowing me I’ll do it right here in the blog for all to share. As soon as I started reading, I found myself scribbling notes frantically as thoughts and questions blossomed into my brain. I haven’t finished reading yet, but have filled front and back of three large note cards with things I want to write about. I wanted to share a picture of them, but for some reason I am being defeated by technology today. So instead, I am going to share some of the notes and questions I’ve written down. If they inspire you, please feel free to explore them in your own writing, and let me know or share the link below in the comments:

  • Brokaw writes about “sparkling moments” which, to her are moments that often get the label of problems. She suggests that “sparkling moments” provide “opportunities to change, experiment, push yourself, grow, and learn new skills” (3) I want to explore the sparkling moments that exist in my life.
  • “Why do I . . . allow myself to be undermined by the very values I choose not to ascribe to?” (Brokaw 7)
  • How do I exhibit grace in my life? What does grace mean to me?
  • Write about a time when I was told that I was not “good enough” and how that changed my life completely.
  • What defines my femininity?
  • What are the “sprinkles” in my life? (According to one of the women Brokaw interviewed in the book “Adding a few sprinkles to your ice cream made all the difference in the world. Sprinkles change your mind-set.”

  • How do I feel connected and establish connections? (Part of that answer exists in the very nature of this blog)
  • How do I define a quality friendship?
  • What does mentoring mean to me?
  • What does it mean to be an accomplished woman? What am I accomplished at? What is accomplishment? (This one is a really important one for me to explore).
  • Am I good enough? Why don’t I feel good enough? Will I ever be good enough?
  • What does the word career even mean to me?
  • When I am 90, what will I regret?
  • Be creative with definitions of what I do well. I need to define myself in new ways.
  • What is adventure? What does adventure mean to me? How do I define it?
  • What is my body telling me?
  • What would I love to do if age has no meaning. This comes from a discussion in the book about Blame Sally, a rock band started by women in their 40s and 50s and succeeding against all odds.

There you have it my friends, a babbling list of questions that will hopefully inspire future posts–for myself and perhaps for a few of you as well.

More later. Thanks for reading.

Lisa

 

Immortalize Him in Bronze (100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups)

This is my submission for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups this week. The prompt is the picture.

He sat this way often, silently watching as we played our wild childhood games. He rarely joined us, bone weary from a day laboring in the factory for a paycheck to keep us fed, and clothed, and safe. He spoke little, so when he did the words emblazoned themselves on our minds.

“Life without thought is not worth living.”

Many thought he was dumb, and did not speak for lack of things to say. But I knew better. He did not speak because he was living his life in thought.

How do I show the depths of his weary soul?

The Magic is in the Details

Writing

Today I want to point out two magnificent posts from the past week that have made me realize something about my own writing, something that I am going to challenge myself to change. Both these writers captured me with the eloquence of their details–details which made the locations and people that they were writing about  come alive in my heart and  my brain.

Ed, over at Salt ‘n Peppah, wrote this stunning descriptive passage on a day when  New York took a positive step toward change by legalizing gay marriage:

“The Stonewall Inn was barely open this early afternoon. “The gays” typically don’t begin bar hopping until much later in the early evening, so the bar was deserted, except for a short little fire plug bartender named typically, Joe. He welcomed us in immediately as if desperate for company on this miserable Saturday afternoon. Folding our dripping umbrellas and leaving them by the front door, I looked around. You could smell the age and the mustiness of this dark and dingy place. A thick painted tin ceiling and dark poster filled walls hugged us as small tables were tossed about a small elevated “stage” hardly protected by a single red velvet rope. Black and white photos of the now famous “Stonewall Riots” were haphazardly placed around on the deep paneled walls of this establishment. Framed newspaper and magazine clippings of history were draped behind the bar. Somehow the light of day made this bar look like me when I wake up in the morning. Raw and exposed. Pale and puffy. Vulnerable yet somehow as cozy as the thick fleece robe I throw on to ward off the early morning chill.”

(Here’s the link to the rest of his post, called “Stonewall“.) Eds post was powerful because of its timeliness, but also because of  the details. He described a place in a way that showed an emotion and brought into focus the world around us. I wish I could do that. Yes, I know that I am good at ideas and issues, but I feel severely lacking in the details.

As usual  when I read Kathy’s post at Reinventing the Invent Horizon, my awe of people who can  write the details so they strengthen the message only grew.  Kathy is a master at  making details come to life to show the truth in the story she shares. Here’s an example from the post called “Close Encounters with Well-Wigged Old Women and other Adventures in Government-Subsidized Housing”:

“Bea, like Evelyn, had obviously, at one time, been a stunningly beautiful woman, a fact betrayed by facial features that shown through despite her age—high cheek bones and big, blue eyes that still twinkled when she smiled.

Bea was one of the few ladies in the group who didn’t wear a wig, and for a woman well into her 90s she had a head of gorgeous, light brown curls.  True her hair was largely gray, but she retained enough of the brown to surprise you, since otherwise she looked so old and borderline antique.

Bea was also one of the ladies who slept most afternoons, waking herself up every few minutes with her own overly-sized snores.

But then again, Bea never stayed more than 30 minutes at a time, as when nicotine called at least twice an hour, she struggled to her feet from the over-stuffed chair, shuffled her pink-slippered feet across the industrial blue carpet, and disappeared into her apartment several doors down, only to reemerge a few minutes later having snuck a cigarette or two, still insisting upon her return that she had had to use the rest room or make a phone call.  Never mind she smelled like smoke over the tic-tac she sucked and the Avon she had sprayed post-puff.”

The magic is in the details.

I am setting myself a writing challenge this week. I am going to focus on the details of whatever stories I write. I’m going to write stories that have details, not just the rants that I seem to be known for. But, I need your help, because as much as I want to do this, I’m also afraid. So here is how you can help, if you would like. Ask me specific questions. Some of you have read me enough to know that I have had a bizarre life, but for some reason I find it trouble to write about the details of that life. I avoid the specifics, and write more about the sweeping philosophies and lessons learned. Maybe, if you ask me specific questions, I’ll be able to focus more on the details.

I know that is my next step to grow as a writer. Can you help?

In order to help me do this, I decided to create an award that I am giving to Ed and Kathy. I’m not very good at creating graphics, so forgive my lame attempt (and if someone is better at it and wants to improve the details of my design please let me know). But here is the first official The Magic is in the Details Award. Congratulations to Ed and Kathy–ignore this as you will.

 

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