Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Poppycock

"Poppycock" can pack a punch. Once the shock of the hard sound passes, the perfectly acceptable word is amusing. The common noun simply means nonsense or, to put it another way, bosh. The Brits might say rubbish or, more daringly, balls. 
In the mid 1800s, Americans coined "poppycock" likely from the Dutch pappekak. As an amateur entomologist, I believe it translates from the Dutch pappe (soft food) and Dutch kak (derived from Latin for dung) to mean soft poop or, more bluntly, bullshit.  

Despite this comical, somewhat vulgar examination, "poppycock," passes as an innocent, playful word. It is as clean and refreshing as the tulip fields of the Netherlands.  



Senior Editor Nicki Porter used the word "poppycock" in the opening column of the August 2017 issue of The Writer. In the next sentence, she confessed how ridiculous the word looked on the page, but maintained no other word would have sufficed to make her point. 
 
I rarely come across the word "poppycock" in reading or in conversation. I was mildly delighted to see it in print. Porter's column defended memoir as a relevant genre despite rampant attacks of the art form.  She called "poppycock" on the critics.  

I agree with Porter, sometimes, "poppycock" is the best word to call out crap. "Poppycock" has just the right air of condescension. In other times, a quiet hogwash, a firm bunk, or, an equally ridiculous, balderdash might do. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Passioneer

The noun passion is a strong emotion or feeling most often associated with lust and desire.
The suffix -eer originally occurred in loanwords from the French (buccaneer and pioneer) and productive in the formation of English nouns denoting persons who produce, handle, or are otherwise significantly associated with the referent of the base word (auctioneer; engineer.)

Passioneer is a word I concocted to describe people with an overzealous passion for seemingly innocuous objects.

Consider these hyperbole: 

- I am PASSIONATE about strawberries.
- I am PASSIONATE about breastfeeding.
- I am PASSIONATE about tennis.
- I am PASSIONATE about decorating.

Variations in career planning: 

- Helping people is my PASSION!
- Training horses are my PASSION!
- Food trucks are my PASSION! 
-Fitness is my PASSION!


I try to override my cynical side, but its familiar biting wit is hard to suppress. The word passioneer is my response to the overuse/misuse of the word passion. It's a joke I make with myself. 

The 1995 movie "French Kiss" was one of five VHS tapes I owned. My favorite line was stated by bad boy character "Luc" played by Kevin Kline, "People who say they are happy make my ass twitch." 

I find passioneers not quite ass-twitch worthy, but rather deserving of a smug eye roll. It makes more sense, for me, to find purpose over passion and to be tenacious rather than passionate. 










Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Vacation

Vacation, noun, 
Primary definition: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel. Source

Sadly, not my actual vacation photo, but I wear a hat in the sun near the water.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Counting

This week, I reached one year smoke free! 

At the time of this writing, I have been a quitter for:
366 days,
06 hours,
36 minutes,
and 
25.8 seconds. 

But who's counting


Actually, the phone ap "Just Quit" counted for me, and the clock is still running. 

It also tallied

$2,930.21 not spent on cigarettes, 
7,325 cigarettes not smoked,
and
109,883.35 mg tar not inhaled.

Someday, the precision of all this counting will lose significant meaning. 
In time, I will stop thinking about how many days since I last pulled a drag. 

Someday, I will only remember that I quit around the time I turned 40, which was more than twenty eight years after I took my first puff as a preteen. 

As a hard-earned nonsmoker, I count myself lucky to have had the chance to quit. 










Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Grief

Grief

Grief, a noun
An unfortunate outcome,
A disaster.

Grief, a noun
Deep distress,
Caused by bereavement

Grief, a noun
Do I sit in its sadness?
Envelope thy self in sorrow?

Grief, a noun
Do I screech at the injustice?
Curse the taker of life?

Grief, a noun
Do I deny this final reality?
Seek an explanation?

Grief, a noun
Do I ignore its burden?
Turn away from acceptance?

Grief, a noun
Do I beg for reprieve?
Request peace in exchange?

Grief, a noun
A process,
omnipresent.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Worry

People warn not to worry, yet concerns continue and mount without seeming end. These concerns amass to draw attention. If one is careless, the attention becomes worry. 

To worry is to torment oneself with disturbing thoughts; to torment with cares, anxieties. To worry is to trouble or plague. 

It is likely true, then, that no good can come from worry. Worried sick and sick with worry result. 

Consider, then, worry's antonyms -- comfort, reassure, and trust. Also, if you get tired of worrying, you can always find some work to do. 



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Stronger

Stronger is not second place in a race of three -- strong, stronger, strongest. Rather, it is a record of growth. Stronger is a superlative from the root word strong and can refer to physical and mental vigor.
 
When a comparative adjective is used, it requires one to consider, than what? One must supply the other side of the comparison. Consider the Nietzsche's observation, "what  doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Does this, now common, aphorism mean stronger than dead or stronger than you were before you encountered the thing that almost killed you?

As a ranking adjective, stronger tempts one compete to become the strongest. However, the record of the strongest will be surpassed, just as best, fastest, and tallest. Stronger, then, is only for today. Stronger than yesterday, perhaps. Stronger than another, sometimes.

Stronger than thought possible is the attraction of trying to become so.


  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Recovery


I decided to wrap up my Mental Health series with the word recoveryThe word recovery dates to the mid Fourteenth Century, from the Anglo-French recoverie; it speaks to a "return to health."  

Contemporary usage considers recovery as the act of recovering. This first definition acknowledges recovery is not a destination, but an act, indeed a continual act, of recovering. While it may not always remain conscious; recovery from illness is ongoing. This is true for mental and physical illness. 


Recovery can also refer to a restoration or return to health. Health, we must accept does not mean disease free or all clear. Health looks like living well in the context of the conditions present. 

We think about mental illness, from its symptoms, to its diagnosis, to its treatment, and we want to think of an end. We want to think cure. Symptoms come and go, flare up and subside, present and go dormant. Yet, the illness remains; the diagnosis remains true. 

We want recovery to mean cure. But it doesn't. Most mental illnesses are not curable. The hope lies in treatment and prevention. There is no sight of eradication, or even decline of occurrence.  However, one can make a commitment to act on recovering. This repeated action becomes a habit, and this healthy habit then becomes health. 

Today marks the last day of May. While, it seems every month is national something or other month. I do feel compelled each year to consider "Mental Health" during "Mental Health Month" in May. I wish there was no need for months of awareness. So this May, I devoted my words to relate to mental health. You can catch up here: AwarenessPatientStigma, and Diagnosis

Thursday, May 25, 2017

And The Winners Are ...

Thank you to all who entered to win a copy of "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis." 

Congratulations to:

  • Brittany from Illinois
  • Melissa from Nevada
  • Sandra from North Carolina. 

Thank you to Goodreads for hosting the giveaway.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Diagnosis


Don't let them LABEL you! 
Don't let them LABEL your child!
Don't believe the LABELS!

The word diagnosis is not synonymous with "label." 




The medical term, diagnosis, is simple and straightforward. The noun's primary definition is twofold (a) the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition and (b) the decision reached from such an examination.

From a point of proper diagnosis, proper treatment can begin. Therefore, a diagnosis isn't something to fear or avoid. It isn't a mark or a stain. It is an opportunity. It is a classification. It is an identification. 

The medical sciences of psychology and psychiatry are far from sacred and just. Still, I choose to distinguish a diagnosis from a label. A diagnosis offers hope and inspires action. A label seems harsher and static.

I think people are hesitant to accept a mental health diagnosis for a variety of reasons.
(Some of which I talked about earlier this month here here and here)

I found this article about the value of a proper diagnosis in this Psychology Today 2014 article. You can read it here.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Stigma

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, 
"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." 


When we think about Mental Health Awareness, we often hear pleas to stop the stigma. Stop the stain, the blot, the tarnish that is mental illness. 

By definition: The noun, stigma, refers to a mark of disgrace; a stain or reproach as on one's reputation. Medically, this is a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease. 

Mental health care advocates work tirelessly to rid societal-level conditions, cultural norms, and institutional practices that breed stigma

It is my experience the most damaging stigma is the internalized stigma. It is our own voice beating us down. We do this, because we believe the lie that having a mental illness is disgraceful. By living that lie, health is denied, and we damage ourselves farther. 

The internalized stigma is often far worse than the actual discrimination or consequences of accepting a mental illness as part of one's overall health condition. 

We don't have to feel this way. We don't have to feel less than. 






  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Giveaway! Good Reads Giveaway! Giveaway!

Today through Wednesday, May 24 
GoodReads Giveaway is underway. 

Because it is Mental Health Month. 
Because I love readers.
Because stories matter. 


THREE! will WIN a signed copy of 
"Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis." 

Enter here!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Patient

A Patient

Vulnerable.
Bounced by forces not within;
Left bobbing atop the surface,
Or, dragged mercilessly, gurgling for air.




Patient's first synonym is INVALID. 
This can be interpreted to mean not valid or a person who is not capable. 
Patient's primary synonym is derived from the Latin "invalidus" meaning weak. 

Indeed, the weakness of requiring medical intervention is tangible, frightening. 
Yet, at the same time, becoming a patient is a source of HOPE.  
This is true for mental illness, physical illness, and injury. 
Resting and requesting assistance is a path to recovery.

People with symptoms of mental illness are often reluctant to seek treatment, to accept a diagnosis, and to commit to ongoing therapy. 

However, a patient can just mean a person who is under medical care. In fact, the association of patient as a sufferer or victim is archaic. A patient is just a person undergoing some action. For change to occur, action is needed. Improving health is no exception. A patient can be active while being respectful. A patient can be cooperative to improve outcomes. 

When patient is used as an adjective it is the characterization of a desirable quality. A patient person bears hardship with fortitude and calm and without complaint. With patience one can quietly and steadily persevere.

As one becomes a patient with mental illness and faces the problems associated with unmanageable illness, a dose of patience will go a long way. Often, health improvements are achieved through a series of trial and error. Healing requires time.

As Mental Health Month continues, I bring attention to the concept of becoming a patient patient. Healing does not occur quickly. There are not short cuts. Making a step toward change is a start. Stay the course, patiently.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Awareness



Awareness is a noun; 
it is the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness. 

Its synonym, mindful. 
Its antonym, oblivious. 




For decades, organizations have claimed colors and months to bring awareness to a particular disease or cause. Awareness is so popular; yet, action remains rare. Change is slow. 

Since 1949, Mental Health America and its affiliates across the county have led the observance of May as Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events, and screenings. (Nearly SEVENTY YEARS!) 

For nearly three years, I traveled to university class rooms, church basements, community health fairs, hospital training rooms, libraries, book stores, and homes sharing a single story. My story of a bipolar diagnosis and the hope found only in treatment. I have met thousands of people and attempted to bring awareness.

Yet, each time it is really I who gains awareness. I meet another patient, parent, teacher, doctor, spouse. I see another face with pain-filled eyes looking for meaning and strength. I see resilience. I see collapse. I see despair. I see hope. 

We go to these "awareness" events and hold hands with those who wear the same color ribbon, it is not because we are unaware. It is because we know all to well mental health is gravely misunderstood, grossly underfunded, and largely understaffed. We mourn those who died and offer comfort to the survivors. We know. We are aware. 

As May continues, I will examine additional mental health words including stigma, recovery, patient, and diagnosis. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Jettison

Jettison can be used as a noun or a verb.

The action jettison is to cast items overboard to improve stability. A crew jettisons luggage after an emergency is declared as a life-saving measure. In America, this word's primary definition refers to ridding cargo and apparatus on a boat or aircraft.

The verb also can be used to mean throwing off any obstacle or burden. To discard that which holds us back.

Jettison is pronounced as it is spelled. If only the process of ridding one's baggage was as simple as lightening a packed ship about to sink.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Should

Should is a word I am attempting to BANISH! from my vocabulary. Should sows procrastination. Should breeds dread. Should reeks of judgement.

Should is classified as an auxiliary verb, with meanings including must and ought. Auxiliary verbs are used in forming tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs.

I am unable to bring to mind an instance when should conjures up a positive emotion.

- should go to the car wash
- should write a letter
- should call my dad
- should go to the gym
- should send a query letter
- should make a sales call
- should consolidate my credit cards
- should calm down
- should be happy
- should take a class
- should try a new recipe








However, washing cars and trying new recipes and calling my dad are activities that do bring  happiness. Adding the verb should elicits the feeling of something unpleasant. It implies that whatever is being done in the present moment is "less than" or "not enough."

Should also implies indecision. It fosters crippling self doubt. As I work to eliminate should from self talk and how I talk to others, I am reminded of my mother's familiar summertime refrain: 

IN or OUT!

My mom did not say, you should be either in or out. No she commanded I decide; I wasn't born in a barn after all.

As I work to rid should from my vernacular, I work to trust myself and stand by. I will decide to accept or decline, to do or don't, and to follow through or move on. 


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Bliss

American mythologist Joseph Cambell (1904-1987) has this to say about bliss

"When you follow your bliss  ... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else." 

The cynic will dismiss bliss, mocking the pursuit of such lavish joy. Yet, one should be careful to not confuse the word bliss with over-the-top false happiness. Bliss is not found in drunkenness or loudness or mockery. 


Rather bliss is found in sincerity and authenticity. Bliss is the freedom from hypocrisy and deceit. Bliss is found in the commitment to genuineness. 


Its definition of supreme happiness or utter joy or contentment has ties to theology's joy of heaven and a bliss eternal. 



In the secular use of the word, I dare to remain courageously, selfishly in pursuit of bliss


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Heliotropic


Heliotropic: 

Turning or growing toward the light. Heliotropism can be easily seen in sunflowers, which slowly turn their large flowers so that they continually face the sun. However, the adjective heliotropic can describe any noun and any light source.

A heliotropic student turns toward 
the light of knowledge.

A heliotropic flower turns toward 
the light of the sun.

Plants classified as heliotropes have flowers and leaves, which turn toward the sun. Marigolds, poppies, sunflowers, and daisies are examples of heliotropes.

Daisies are commonplace both as a wildflower and in the beds of intentional gardeners. The daisy’s hardy character survives perennially. Many a season of indecision has been soothed by pulling petal by petal — loves me, loves me not. I consider the daisy to be my favorite flower. Despite it’s simple, common presence, it stands out to me.  Perhaps, it was the daisy that really picked me to guide me in moving to the light.

There is grace when one can turn to face the light and absorb its radiance. Like the daisy, I long to move toward the lights of inspiration, the lights of my life, and the light offered each dawn.

Turning to the light, and thereby from darkness or shadows is not a new bright idea. The phenomenon of heliotropism was known by the Ancient Greeks, demonstrated with the word heliotropium, meaning sun turn.  

As spring builds momentum, I am again reminded to turn to light, to chart with optimism, to navigate with intention to the moving source of good. 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Verse on Groundhog Day



Lake Michigan Feb. 2, 2017
By: Tara Meissner 


Six More Weeks

Hope peeks for cloudy skies;
Fearful of sun's reach
To cast one's own darkness.

Ugly. Timid. Rodent.

Watchful for the brightness,
Frightened by his shadow,
Turns inward for a stay.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Sum

The Latin sum (rhymes with room) translates to "I am." 
Sum is "a state of being." 

This is not to be confused as a verb such as

Today --
I am writing.
I am eating healthy foods.
I am loving my family.
I am packing for a family trip.
I am having a romantic dinner.
I am taking a walk.
I am enjoying the view from here.
I am grateful for this day

Sum
I am. 

Regardless of if you are a mother, father, sister, brother, writer, accountant, teacher, child, black, white, rebulican, democrate, christian, muslim, greek, swimmer, runner, or any other affiliation or designation. Sum is simple entire.

I am. 
That is all. 

A complete sentence.
A complete thought. 

Sum. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Present








When the words present and presentation are brought to mind, images of light shows, power points, lectures, and other performances surface. 








However, the verb present (pronounced pri-zent) means to furnish or endow, to bring, to give, to hand over, to introduce, to come to show. In the purest sense of the word, presenting is simply a notion of bringing ideas into someone's presence. 

Present, used as a verb, is a combination of Old French and Medieval Latin influence. The word marries the ideas of offering and presently.

Writing is merely a presentation. Words are committed to page as an offering to a reader.

The work one does is what is presented to the commonwealth. Indeed, the involuntary act of living is a presentation. One's life can be noted, bookmarked, remarked upon, remembered, ignored, or bypassed.









Thursday, January 12, 2017

Workshops for Writers

I love meeting writers! Please contact me to book a workshop for your group. 

My top workshops are:
  • ·         Mining Memories: Jump Start your Memoir
  • ·         Intro to Creative Writing
  • ·         Common editing tips to improve your writing

Designed as interactive, hands on learning, these offer plenty of time for putting presented techniques into practice.

Workshops can be tailored for 2-hour, half-day or full-day, depending on the depth of content requested.

 
If you are looking for a topic not listed here, please contact me. It might something I'm interested in, but just haven't designed a workshop for yet. Let's explore the opportunity together. 

Contact me at tara@tarameissner.com 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Word on Wednesday: Will

Today's post is about the word will when used as an auxiliary verb. An auxiliary verb is used in forming tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. Will moves an action to the future.

After we collectively counted down the last minutes of 2016, we embarked on 2017 with its promise of 365 unwritten days.

With articulated resolutions told with varying conviction, we believed in the power of positive change. Resolutions are by definition set in the future: will lose weight, will quit smoking, will go back to school, will ask for a promotion, will pay down my debt, will attend more concerts, will make a new friend, will read twelve books, or will finish writing that novel.


A friend, who died last month at the age of 39, often repeated this common sentiment:
"There are only two days that nothing can be done. One is yesterday. The other is tomorrow."

I have come to loath the word will  in both my writing and my thoughts. No longer do I have the luxury of ignorance of immortality. There is no time to will. There is no value in saying "I will write tomorrow." or "I will hug my loved ones tomorrow."


The helping verb will is dependent on assumptions. The assumption of a future. The assumption of a second chance. The assumption of endless mortal days.

I challenge myself to learn from literature. I challenge myself to avoid wishful thinking. I challenge myself to avoid will my action verbs to an uncertain future.

I act today with purpose. I postpone only the least important items. Laundry may never be complete. My floors may never be those to eat upon.

Yet, I promise to eradicate the helping verb will from my vernacular. I promise to live today.

I also vow to avoid the helping verb will in my poetry and prose. Few novels are written in future tense. (If you can think of one, please let me know.)

*Note: I know not why this friend was called early and I was given more days on earth. I miss her. Her mantra was "Loving Living Life 2Day."

Live well my friends. Live well.








Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The 2017 Word: Crescendo

It is time for a crescendo! 

So ...
This is the year, get loud

In music, a crescendo is a gradual steady increase in loudness or force. This is a controlled set of bars, increasing the volume of an arrangement. A crescendo can wake both an artist and audience. 

The internet is a buzz with picking a single word as a mantra for 2017 to replace the practice of setting goals and resolutions. 


I choose crescendo as a verb without an object, thereby, "to grow in force." 

Rather than shout or burst, I slowly and gently summit to full capacity. With clarity, I deliberately turn up the volume in 2017.