That Time Again, and Are You On Ello?

A week from today we vote in midterm elections, unless you’ve participated in early voting.

Go-Vote-500x500

Not me.  I like going to the polling place, signing the register, spending time in the booth — just me and my ballot. Getting the “I Voted” sticker.

As mentioned on this blog countless times, I grew up in a communist country. I was too young to vote, then fed up, but I remember waiting in line with my mom so she can ‘vote’ as the Party men watched closely. When the results came in, what do you know? The same guy had been reelected with 100% of the vote.

So, I don’t take this right for granted, one that’s denied or diminished in many parts of the world. Remember what JFK said: “Things don’t happen, they are made to happen.”

Election and social media go hand in hand, agreed? And we have enough social-media sites to dedicate several lifetimes to, but in case you haven’t heard, I’m here to tell you there’s one more — ELLO.

ello

Ello is in beta, meaning they’re still working on adding features, etc., and it promises to remain ad-free, not follow everything we do then record into data for advertisers. If that’s the case, I’m already in love.

It is by invitation only, and the wonderful blogger Veronica Sicoe was kind enough to send me one such invite.

Why jump on board? I don’t know. Then again, why not at the very least reserve your name before the BIG onslaught. Happy to send out the few invites I have available, should you wish to join.  

Just spreading the love. :)

~~~

Photos courtesy: wongtunes.com; popfi.com

If You Can, Fall In Love All Over Again

heart shaped music note tattoo (20)

My mother-in-law, once divorced and once widowed, was talking about dating again. I only write this here because I know she’s an open, awesome woman.

Let me be clear: she’s not in any hurry, but the conversation did come up when someone wanted to introduce her to a man. She is in great shape (late sixties), has the sunniest smile, and I’m sure she’d make a great companion.  She’s also picky — as she should be — wants to know the family is comfortable with whomever waltzes into her life.  And in case you wonder, we weren’t comfortable with this particular suitor, and neither was she after some thought.

This brought to mind two quotes; one from Richard Dawkins: “I don’t want to be only a survival machine, programmed solely to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.” This assumes the conclusion: what’s life without love … of something or someone? Gosh, it sure makes the daily grind of life easier to endure, doesn’t it?

As well as this quote, one of my favorites:  “If you can, fall in love. With family, friends. Your dreams and their dreams. Sometimes it’s as simple as that: we need to remind ourselves to fall in love all over again.”

~~~ Can I get an Amen? Or virtual cold water in the face, followed by: Stop Dreaming, Get a Grip?

 

_________

Photo courtesy: music-tattoo-designs.com

Slow Down. Way Down.

Slow-Down-257x300

It’s fall. Or autumn, depending on where you are in the world.

Things are calming down on the school front — we’re settling into the 5-th grade routine, with common core and all it entails. During summer when school is out, life moves at breakneck speed with work, activities, vacations. Wild, considering summer’s for relaxation. But no, we’re crazy busy. I’m sure you know the feeling.

So, it’s nice to slow down. At least until the winter holidays hit with the force of a blizzard, but let’s not think about that quite yet.  

Last night I found myself slowing way down. In the silence of the night, I read for a good hour or two. While I have an intriguing Brad Thor thriller, I took a break from the international action and turned to the latest issue of the Red Fez Magazine — one of my favorite small presses.  

The Red Fez editor had sent an invitation to submit for their October issue. So, I did. A story titled IOANA, one dear to my heart as it’s the first such story set in my native country of Romania (at least the first written in English). 

Here it is with its beautiful cover art:

s_Explosion_backboard_2013-10-06_05-54-51

IOANA

But there’s more: this issue is full of good stories, poetry, art, photos, comics, music & videos.  Just what an insomniac needs.

Thoughts of the next day, of relieving the past, all kinds of pesky thoughts fought for my attention, but I let them pulverize in the night mist. I slowed way down — just read — and everything was a-OK.

~~~ How do you give yourself headspace to simply enjoy life, to savor and appreciate each moment?

—-

Photo courtesy: Red Fez Publications; spaceclear.com

Quiet Confidence

06

Introduced at a speaking circle

Quiet confidence is one of my favorite character traits.

Having worked in the legal field for many years, and living not far from Hollywood (in a neighborhood with many aspiring actors), I’ve seen my share of the opposite: loud arrogance. At least that’s what it looks like from the outside. But things aren’t always as black and white, are they?

To better understand quiet confidence, it’s probably important to look at other traits — insecurity, false humility — and the fact that many times we cover our insecurities with false humility. Something teenagers do, right? Boast themselves up in order to cover their chronic shyness.

I’ve never been extremely shy, but I grew up in a culture that placed emphasis on group over individual. Not necessarily in favor of the outspoken. If you had something to say (publicly, anyway) in Eastern Europe, you said it as a group. Everything was done for the betterment of the society. Cue the party lights and music, please.

Just another way to control people, really.

As a writer — or perhaps the member of a network-crazed society — it’s important, I think, to display quiet confidence, especially when showing our work.  Be excited enough without going overboard, and humble enough without sounding unsure. That’s where quiet confidence comes in. But how in the world does one display quiet confidence? Is it even teachable, or is it natural?

Let’s take a step back and see if we agree: networking, in person or online, has overtaken our lives. Online, that’s easier, but how about networking in person, running a meeting, doing readings? Selling something?

To see how this works, I attended a public presentation geared toward marketing some time ago.  Sat there and listened to various speakers — some very confident, some less so. When talking to them after, I learned confidence comes with practice. They get up there and do it time and again. Like anything else, I suppose. I joined the group (Toastmasters), as I mentioned before, and found I’m having a blast speaking in front of large groups. Of course, this involves a lot of preparation.

And here’s what I noticed about the best speakers. When all is said and done, when people come up to offer congratulations, say how easy it looked, the speakers display a good dose of quiet confidence. They accept the praise, discuss their work quickly, thank the person, then ask them about themselves or very tactfully change the subject.

How is that for the pleasant image of a person?

These are the people I want to learn from, talk to, watch give presentations, readings. If they have a book out, I’m likely to buy it.

While the quality of our work speaks for itself, we are its most important ambassadors. As one writer said to me: “Express confidence in yourself and your work without going overboard, and people will want to see it.”