Posted in Writer Musings

Short Story: The Year of Me

I am going to premise only this short story.  In order to keep my writing chops fresh, I will post various short stories here as they hit me.  This one is an idea that kept me awake one night until I finally gave in and wrote it down.  I hope you enjoy this little short story, if you do, please let me know, if you have suggestions on how to make it better, please let me know.  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites! 🙂

“This is it!  This is MY year!” he thought to himself, “New year, new life, new ME.”

No longer does he have to feel less than anymore.

He smiles, jumps out of bed, and walks through his apartment with a pep in his step and a song in his heart.  He proceeds to dance around his tiny, neat apartment to the bathroom down the hall.

After taking a brisk, vigorous shower, he wipes the steam from the mirror and stops short.  A fog steals over his mind like a thief in the night and his smile wavers.  A tingling in the back of his mind makes him feel that he is forgetting something, something very important.

He shakes off the fog and, quick as a rabbit, he is back to his newfound confidence in life.

“This time,” he thinks, “This time the world will fear me instead of me fearing it.  Yes, it is indeed my time.”

He leaves the steamy bathroom and saunters into his kitchen to make his breakfast and resumes his daily chores of preparing to meet the world head on like he has done countless times before.

While eating his cereal, the tingling sensation returns.  He feels a great sense of foreboding sitting at his small wooden table.  He cannot place what he is forgetting for the life of him and the more he tries to remember, the more his fear begins to creep back in.

“NO!” he yells to the empty room.

“NO!  I beat it, damn it, I beat it fair and square!  2016 is the year of ME because I won the battle life threw at me!”

No longer hungry, he gets up and puts the bowl into the sink with all the other dirty dishes.  Making a mental note to call his cleaning service, he walks to the front door.  Taking one last glance around, he grabs his coat, opens the door, and walks out into the first day of the New Year as the winner he knows he is.

Taking in the cold, gloomy day, he decides that a cab will help avoid the weather.  Watching one cab after another pass him by without so much as a ‘how-do you do’ he decides that walking was not such a bad idea after all.

During his casual stroll down the familiar street, he encounters many different people.  In high spirits over his new found freedom from past fears, he smiles and gives a happy greeting to all he sees walking by.

He spies an old lady walking her dog and decides to give her a fine greeting.  “Grand day for a dog walk, eh, Mi’lady?” (he was rather impressed with his Renaissance man vocabulary).  The old lady startles for a moment, looks down at her dog, shakes her head, and proceeds along her way never once acknowledging the greeting offered her.

“What a fine hello, or lack thereof,” he thinks to himself.

His good mood does not allow him to ponder on the old lady and her dog.  He has the whole world at his feet and one senile old bitty is not going to take that away from him.

A few more blocks down the road, he notices a mother and father out for a stroll with their young child.  As they get closer, he says a loud, “How do you do on this chilly, overcast day?  Are you managing to keep warm until the sun comes out?”

He felt rather uncomfortable with the loud tone of voice, he did not want to give off the impression that he is yelling at them.

The man and woman look at each other with loving smiles on their faces until they reach him.  The smiles fade as confusion begins to bloom.  Before he can stop to question the sudden change in the couples face, he notices the young child staring at him.  Happy to finally get some kind of attention, he smiles in the friendliest of ways at the child.

Suddenly, the child screams at the top of his lungs and starts to cry.  Startled, the parents jump into action.  The mother scoops up her son while the father puts a protective arm around them and hurries up the road.

“That child must be prone to fits!  The way he just stared at me; well he obviously comes by his rudeness naturally,” he says aloud to no one in particular while thinking of the way the parents blatantly ignored his greeting.

No matter, he is determined to keep his good cheer and carries on up the street.  After a while, he sees the first sign of sunrays peeking through the clouds.  The foreboding sensation hits him like a ton of bricks.

“What is it that I am forgetting?  I know it is something very important, but I don’t know what!”

Continuing down the street, he subconsciously slows down his stride each time he sees the sunrays peeking through the clouds.  After a few more blocks, he turns left and heads up the crossroad.

Looking up, he spies his destination.  A large city park with a playground and large redwood trees sitting in the center of the turnabout.  The city opted out of the standard cement circle and chose to create a park in the middle for character.  The city felt it was a better use of space as well as a sound community integration project.  Many people spend time at the park during all hours of the day and night.

Normally, he would sojourn to the park after the sun begins to set because he preferred solitude and his own company over that of others.  Today was different.  Today was the first day of HIS year and nothing can conquer him.

Meeting and defeating his fears the night before and waking up feeling like a totally different man, he decides a day trip to the park was his just reward.  New routine to start the new year of HIM.

Crossing the street, he walks across the park and playground area to his favorite spot.  A bench located under the largest redwood tree in the park.  He loved the spot because as the sun rises or sets, the sunrays illuminate the entire bench like a spotlight trained directly at it.

He loves to come to the park just as the sun is setting to feel the warmth from the light as it shines on him. The sunrays always give him comfort after a long, lonely day of the normal work routine.

The sunlight on his body feels like a warm hug and reminds him of his mother and the hugs she used to give him each day before she passed on from the world.

Thinking of his mother always makes him feel a sad, nostalgic emotion that could never be expressed in words.  Shaking off the melancholy thought, he focuses on his plan to accomplish a successful year of ME.

As he sits on his bench, he begins to feel warm.  He realizes that the sunrays are occasionally shining down at him between the spaces in the clouds.  With his jacket on, he feels slightly warmer than usual each time a sunray peeks through the clouds.

“Mother Nature is such a moody creature.  One moment she is cold and the next she is hot.” He ruminates out loud to no one in particular.

After a while, he could not bear the heat and sheds his coat off his body.  He begins to smell something in the air.  He looks up at the children playing in the park’s playground and notices the unease glances being shifted his way by the children.

The smell is becoming more pungent and based on the uneasy glances and shifting of little bodies toward their parents, he deduces the pungent odor must be the beautiful redwood tree behind him.

As he is pondering this deduction (and feeling rather smug about his great detective skills), he suddenly sees smoke surrounding him.  At the same moment he sees the smoke, he realizes the odor is something burning.

In a blink of an eye, the forgotten thing hits his memory like a sledgehammer to metal.

Night.  People.  Strange sounds.  Muffled taunts coming closer.  Running.  Teeth.  Screams.  Blood.

He looks up with horror at the children staring across the park in his direction.  Staring at HIM.

The last thought in his mind was of a memory when his mother scolded him for being out after dark.  “You know the night is not safe, Son.  There are creatures that roam in the dark.  Creatures that prey on innocent people.  One bite from those creatures can turn you into a vampire; and you know vampires cannot live in the sunlight.”

Burleson, Texas

January 11, 2016

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Optimistic A.C.T.I.O.N.

Optimistic A.C.T.I.O.N.: Affirmation, Charismatic, Thankful, Influential, Outgoing, Nurturing

#BloggiteBits-Optimistic Action
Optimistic A.C.T.I.O.N.

When you are faced with challenges each day, it is very easy to give in to the desperation and anxiety.  The anguish you feel when life seems to be going against you tends to make your outlook rather gloomy and negative.  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I challenge you to turn around that thinking with these Optimistic A.C.T.I.O.N. techniques.  Applying these techniques on a daily basis, no matter how rough life may seem, will help keep the negativity away: Affirmation, Charismatic, Thankful, Influential, Outgoing, & Nurturing.

 Affirmation: Mental affirmation is what I want to talk to you about.  What you say to yourself daily in your mind determines your outlook on life and how you react to situations.  Optimistic action involves affirming oneself daily so your optimism tank stays full thus activating your action tank to react in positive, reaffirming ways with others.

Charismatic: Having a charismatic mentality does not mean you have to be a loud outspoken person of faith.  It does mean that you have the ability to draw people to you and influence their behavior.  Daily optimistic actions are easier if you make it a point to be a charismatic person in all you do.  Do not be afraid to step up and become a leader in an activity.  Keeping the optimism in your mind, you will show a charismatic personality that others will be draw to.

Thankful: Being thankful for everything you have in life is hard for most people.  Intentional daily reminders to have a thankful mentality will go far on helping you keep the optimistic actions each day.  Your thankful mentality will help you appreciate all the little things others bring to the table and they will feel validated for your thankfulness.

Influential: We all desire to be influential, but did you know you probably already are?  People watch other’s actions all the time.  A young family member or friend is influenced by the actions of someone older than them.  Even your pets can be influenced by your actions!  Make sure to stay aware of who might be watching what you do wherever you go.  Be sure your optimistic actions are a positive influence for others.

Outgoing: An outgoing personality is always an attention getter.  The question is will your outgoing activity be one of encouragement or discouragement?  Optimistic actions go well with an outgoing personality.  Each day, try and break out of your comfort zone and do something of an outgoing nature that you would not normally do.  I promise after the nervousness wears off you will have a blast!

Nurturing: A nurturing mentality goes a long way on helping you have optimistic actions.  When you are nurturing, you are stepping outside yourself and putting other’s needs ahead of you.  Nurturing does not mean to coddle or baby someone, it just means to care for someone else’s needs and provide them with what they need.  Optimistic actions are better received with a nurturing mentality.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-New V.I.S.I.O.N.

New V.I.S.I.O.N.: Verbal encouragement, Increase karma, Spark creativity, Inspire minds, Open worlds, Noteworthy attributes

#BloggiteBits-New Vision
New V.I.S.I.O.N.

We are all dreamers in our own rights.  Some have simple dreams of having enough money to pay their bills and put food on the table each month while others dream they will someday travel the world and change it for the better.  It is the dreamers that build better worlds and it is the dreamers who keep us young at heart.  One of the great things about being a dreamer is that you can help impact so many lives by tapping into other people’s dreams and building them up.  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to give you some tricks that will increase your ability to dream of a better life.  I will encourage people to have a New V.I.S.I.O.N. of their life they are currently living and impact the lives of other dreamers they come into contact with: Verbal encouragement, Increase karma, Spark creativity, Inspire minds, Open worlds, & Noteworthy attributes.

Verbal encouragement: Everyone loves to hear encouraging words.  A simple, “Way to go!” given to someone has a massive impact on that person’s day.  As dreamers (which we all are), we love to feel the positive energy surge when someone gives a verbal encouragement to us.  As you encounter others on your daily trek through life, be sure to provide at least five people with some kind of verbal encouragement.  I say five, but even if you only verbalize one encouragement a day, it is still impacting others as well as yourself.  When you make a point to share verbal encouragement, that sharing lifts your own spirits which will help you have a new vision in your life daily.

Increase karma:  We have all heard the adage, “Karma is a bitch” but did you know karma is both good and bad?  When I suggest you increase karma, I am meaning the good karma that is out there to share.  Increasing someone’s good karma is as simple as only focusing positive vibes at that person you are engaging with.  Positivity in mind, body, and soul helps a person feel like they are living under the good karma cloud.  As you go about your daily life, be sure to increase other’s karma by showing encouraging signs of love and support when you share a positive word with them.

Spark creativity: We all know that little spark.  The spark in the dark that illuminates everything around it.  Creativity is usually ignited with a spark.  Sparking creativity in yourself and others is so much fun to do and witness once it takes place.  Allow yourself time to day dream like you used to do as a child.  Day dreams allow our minds to wander into the world of creativity.  When you engage others, think of ways to spark their creativity.  Find out what they dream about and help them brainstorm ways to be able to realize their passions in life with a new vision.

Inspire minds: The mind is a terrible thing to waste.  A mind should be exercised and one of the best exercises for a mind is to find inspiration.  When you inspire minds, you will see a mental shift in the person whose mind is being inspired.  People get so busy in their day to day lives, they tend to forget to exercise their mind with fun, day dreamy stuff.  As adults, many people think they have to all of a sudden become serious and not allow fun into their lives anymore.  This is not the case.  As an adult, a person should work to inspire their mind on a daily basis if for no other reason than to see the hope in the world.  Make sure when you are interacting with others that you try and inspire their minds.  They will appreciate you more for it.

Open worlds: Having an active mind with an ability to inspire and create things, you are able to find new vision in your life.  Finding new vision helps open new worlds in your life as well as others.  When you come across a fellow dreamer, engage their mind in such animated conversation that their mind will begin to open to new worlds of opportunity.  Having the ability to open yourself to new worlds of opportunity will help you achieve goals and dreams, who doesn’t love that idea?

Noteworthy attributes: What is one trait that draws you to a person?  Someone who has noteworthy attributes will always stand out in a crowd.  Noteworthy attributes are things that stick out on a person in a very good way.  An example is someone who donates their time to help feed the homeless.  They do it because they honestly care and not because it is expected of them.  When engaging others in conversations, make sure to always show the attributes you have that are positive and effective.  Being a person with noteworthy attributes means you truly do embrace all people equally and strive to help as many as you can.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Magnificent V.A.L.U.E.

Magnificent V.A.L.U.E.: Virtuous intent, Above reproach, Lead by example, Uphold your word, Ethical principles

#BloggiteBits-Magnificent Value
Magnificent V.A.L.U.E.

Value is important to everyone.  Not the value that money can provide, but the value that comes from validation by others.  Everyone feels they have value and most do.  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to help turn your value into the Magnificent V.A.L.U.E. it can truly be: Virtuous intent, Above reproach, Lead by example, Uphold your word, & Ethical principles.

Virtuous intent: We make decisions with an intent each day.  Have you ever thought about how your emotions dictate the result of the intent?  To bring your value into the magnificent level, you should always have a virtuous intent behind all that you do.  Be sure to treat people kindly and when you are going to do something, have a virtuous intent in your actions.  People will look at you with honor and respect.

Above reproach: When you have dealings with others, be sure to always have actions that will be above reproach.  Have magnificent value, you have to conduct yourself in such a way that you will always be above reproach when you are being scrutinized by others.  Living a life above reproach and with respect to all, you will be thought of by others as a person with magnificent values.

Lead by example: People are very good at giving lip service to those they interact with, however, when it is time to follow up the lip service with action, most people are nowhere to be found.  One way to be viewed as a person with magnificent values, lead by example.  Say what you mean and mean what you say and make sure your actions support your words.  Leading by example helps people know you are a person of worth.

Uphold your word: This one goes hand in hand with leading by example.  If you say something and give your word to another, be sure to follow through with your promises.  People in this day tend to be flippant about what they say or promise to others because they have the ‘me’ mentality that does not consider the feelings of others.  Upholding your word will make people realize you are a person with magnificent values.

Ethical principles: A person’s value is usually dictated by their ethical principles.  When you guide your decisions with sound ethical principles, others will take note.  Using your ethical principles to guide you in life will help you achieve magnificent value in other’s eyes.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Live F.U.L.L.Y.

Live F.U.L.L.Y.: Flourish in challenges, Unique outlook, Love unconditionally, Look for the humor, Youthful exuberance

#BloggiteBits-Live Fully
Live F.U.L.L.Y.

When you wake up in the morning, do you ever say, “Today I am going to live life fully to the best of my abilities!”?  Nah, I am sure you don’t, but what if you tried that one day?  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to challenge you to Live F.U.L.L.Y. each day of your life: Flourish in challenges, Unique outlook, Love unconditionally, Look for the humor, & Youthful exuberance.

Flourish in challenges: As crazy as this statement sounds, it is possible to flourish in challenges faced in your life.  Everyone has a choice when they are faced with something that is unfamiliar and challenging to them.  Those choices are to wither away and hide or face the fear and flourish.  Anytime you find yourself faced with a challenge, think of how you can turn the negative aspect of the challenge into something that is positive.  By finding the positive in a challenge, you allow yourself to look outside the proverbial box and flourish within that challenge.  Flourishing in a challenge could be something as simple as getting through it to the other side with minimal damage.  It can also mean getting through the challenge a stronger, more confident person than you were.  Either way, you still beat that challenge because it did not defeat you; you flourished because you defeated it.

Unique outlook: Most people who are living life fully have a unique outlook on it.  They are the ones that always seem to fight the status quo and find their own way.  To live life fully, you need to change your perception of what life should be and begin to make it what you want it to be.  Having a unique outlook in life just means to question everything.  Question why you are here, in this situation, at this precise moment in time.  By questioning the ‘norm’ you will begin to create your own unique outlook.  Once you have that unique outlook created, you will begin to truly live life fully.

Love unconditionally: We have all heard this phrase.  Loving unconditionally is hard for many people.  It is very rare to find someone willing to do something without any strings attached in this day and age.  The “me” mentality of people cause them to always look for some kind of leverage in all situations to make it beneficial to them.  In order to live fully in life, you need to stop thinking with the “me” mentality and trying to find what is in it for you.  Being able to love unconditionally frees a person because they are not waiting for the pay off, they are just living life fully.  Learning to love unconditionally takes practice and will challenge the most emotionally aware person out there.  If you do learn to love unconditionally, you will find yourself feeling freer than you have ever felt before and this freedom will begin to help you live life fully.

Look for the humor: People are waaaayyyy too serious.  Did you know that every situation has a humorous side to it?  No matter how bleak life may seem, look for the humor in it.  Laughter truly is the best medicine for the seriousness of life and when you look for the humor in life you begin to live fully in the moment.  Humor in serious situations does not take away from what is going on nor does it mean you do not realize the importance of the situation.  Looking for the humor is a good release for most people.  By breaking up the mood with something positive and humorous, no matter how fleeting, you will find that you are a bit more relaxed and able to cope better.

Youthful exuberance: This suggestion may seem off for the subject of living fully, but I feel having a youthful exuberance about life helps you live fully.  Think back on your childhood.  Were you carefree and excited about finding out what the day held for you when you first woke up?  Now, think about how you feel when you wake up as an adult.  Do you still feel that excitement about what lies ahead?  Probably not.  Having a youthful exuberance about life helps you look forward to whatever is in store for you each day.  Making yourself view life with a youthful exuberance each day will help you begin to live fully.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” ~Dr. Finch (in Harper Lee’s novel, Go Set A Watchman)

Go Set A Watchman by Harper LeeIt has been quite a while since I blogged about a book review.  Busy holiday schedules and family affairs have kept me from one of my favorite loves: reading.  In this book review, I will be reviewing our Books & Broads Book Club choice for January: Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman.

Harper Lee is best known from her novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and some of the beloved characters in the novel are also in this novel as well.  Go Set A Watchman is about Scout, AKA Jean Louise, when she is coming of age and really seeing the world through her own eyes instead of the eye’s of her father, Atticus Finch.

I have always found Harper Lee an easy read and this book is no different.  When reading this book, I must warn you, Dear Bloggites, that there are some parts in the book where you have to have a thick skin in order to read through the bigotry sections.  Fortunately, there are not many parts that emphasize the segregation during the era of the book.  Most of the book is about how Jean Louise, AKA Scout, learns some harsh truths about life in her hometown after being gone for many years.

Harper Lee’s writing style provides a lot of historical information in this book and allows us to feel the turmoil that Jean Louise goes through as all that she ever believed in is now challenged and destroyed.  She begins to truly see her father as a man with flaws and not this god-like entity she had grown up believing.

The feelings throughout the book toggles between a strong, heady atmosphere to a light, playful atmosphere.  When Jean Louise is struggling with something, the author does a good job of creating that sense of heady feelings, however, when Jean Louise is interacting with some people, the author created the fun, playful feelings as you read along.

Go Set A Watchman lacks the depth of character strength as you read in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, but I think it is because this novel was technically the first novel Harper Lee ever wrote, even though the main character is older.

I give Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee 3 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Keep F.O.C.U.S.

Keep F.O.C.U.S.: Forgive quickly, Occupy quality time, Circle yourself in positive energy, Use time wisely, Showcase abilities

#BloggiteBits-Keep Focus
Keep F.O.C.U.S.

How many of you have found yourself unable to concentrate on things?  Have you been distracted from tasks you were working on?  I know I have been guilty of the easy distractions of squirrels and shiny objects. 🙂 In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to give you some pointers on how you can take those distractions and turn them into a way to Keep F.O.C.U.S. on the important things in life: Forgive quickly, Occupy quality time, Circle yourself in positive energy, Use time wisely, & Showcase abilities.

Forgive quickly: Forgiveness is one of those hard things to allow yourself when someone has wronged you in life.  However, if you do not allow yourself to forgive someone, it becomes a heavy weight in your life and mind.  If you do not forgive someone for wronging you, you are allowing them to live rent free in your mind.  When someone is living rent free in your mind, they tend to take up a lot of energy which causes you to lose focus in life.  One of the ways you can learn to keep focus on the important things in life is learn to forgive.  Forgiving does not mean you forget the wrong that was done to you, it just means you are not going to waste your time allowing them to live rent free in your mind.

Occupy quality time: Quality time; we all need and lack it in our lives.  To keep focus on the important things in life, you need to find a way to occupy quality time with yourself and others.  Quality time with yourself sounds funny, but it is how you regroup and refresh your mind for all that life has thrown at you as well as what life will throw at you.  Occupying quality time with others is just that, make sure each moment you spend with someone is of a quality value: complete focus, no distractions, listen to what they are saying, engage in their life, etc.  The best way to keep focused on the important things in life is to occupy quality time every chance you get.

Circle yourself in positive energy: YAY, Positive Energy! 😉 A great way to keep focus is to circle yourself in positive energy by surrounding yourself with people who will lift you up and challenge you to become the next level of you.  It is very important for people to feel validated on who they are and what they are doing.  Finding people who have the perfect balance of encouragement and constructive criticism is hard.  When you are out and about, be sure to gravitate to those friends who will be the ones who will circle you with positive energy.

Use time wisely: We have all heard the phrase “Time Management” at some point in our lives and it has its merits.  To help keep focus on the important things in life, you should manage your time wisely.  Be sure those you feel take priority in your life receive plenty of time from you.  Projects, work, kids, family, and spouses-they all will demand your time.  You need to use time wisely to be able to provide the needs of others as well as providing your own needs to keep you focused on the important things.

Showcase abilities: This tip sounds odd, however, how many of you remember that moment when you know you perfected something and it was witnessed by others?  It is okay to showcase your abilities you have.  Be proud of your achievements, you worked hard for them!  Keeping the focus on the important things is also about feeling proud of your abilities and validating yourself as someone worthy of validation.

~4-Ever, P