Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Remarkable

"Remarkable" is  somber and reflective; it can really deliver precision if used correctly. Remarkable requires one to pay attention, because often the most remarkable circumstances are the easiest to overlook.

The definitions: "notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary" and "worthy of notice or attention." The definition has not changed much since its French 17th Century roots.

I find happenstances remarkable, because they can be explained away as mere coincidence without divine or universal forces creating the connection.

Take for example, a writer picked up the pen for the first time as a serious pursuit in several months. It felt good and affirming. That same day, very same day. Someone sends a note with a blog post and poem she wrote for consideration of publishing.

The kicker ... the piece was written in 2016! TWO years earlier, and it was decided to dust it off on the very same day that the first writer decided to blog with a clearer intention.

The word Stylus (find my original blog post on it here) inspired her post then. I consider this guest post, published two weeks ago, brilliant, thoughtful, inspired, and generous. You should read it here

Few things are really "remarkable," but that doesn't stop people from remarking. Maybe this coincidence is not that remarkable to you, but I share it regardless.

My hope is you too will take note on those remarkable coincidences in your life. Is there a nudge from the universe? Is there a cheerleader in your path? Is there a connection to an old friendship? Is there an affirmation of the direction you need to be stepping toward?


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Bread

Walking into a kitchen with freshly baked bread offers one of the most soothing and comforting smells. It subtly invites gentleness and goodness. The aroma calls, "you are welcome here."  

Concretely, "bread" is a noun naming the food made of flour or meal mixed with milk or water, made into a dough or batter, with or without yeast or other leavening agents, and baked. 

World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. It focuses on an observance of the Eucharist. Across the world, Christians will gather on Oct. 7, uniting in Christ in fellowship with one another while being connected to an approximate billion partaking in the same ritual. 

However, the idiom "break bread" is indeed very secular as an expression to eat a meal in companionship with others. The fellowship of sharing a meal is common in business, in family, and in community. Working lunches. Team dinners. Birthday parties. Fundraising meals. Soup kitchens. 

A meal anchors us. The bread basket is passed, which we accept as a warming ritual of connecting. 

Abstractly, "bread" can be shorthand for food or sustenance or even livelihood and, in slang, money. Author Sue Monk Kidd offers this abstraction: "Our stories are the best 'bread' we can offer each other." 

Stories can comfort, welcome, and connect us. What can be said to one another to emote that same warm invitation as a lightly-browned loaf? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Guest Word: Stylus

Thank you to my friend Nissa Enos for writing a fantastic essay and poem about the word "stylus." Ms. Enos lives with her family in Manitowoc, Wis. She likes science, nature, and art.

These pieces are about aword and about a boat. I hope you enjoy her reflection as much as I do. I tried to write about "Stylus" before. You may read my take here.

About the Word Stylus
By Nissa Enos

A discussion opened up the other day; it centered on the meaning of the word stylus.

You might think that the word stylus only applies to a writing utensil that is used with a computer, however, stylus actually means any tool used for inscribing the written word. Is a quill pen a stylus? Yes. Is a Bic pen a stylus? Yes.

Although typically applied to a tool for writing, stylus can also mean any utensil used for inscribing non-language imprints on a surface. One example would be in sculpture. While the clay is still wet, the sculptor may use a stylus to imprint patterns or other detail on the surface.

In addition to writing and sculpture, there are many other uses of “stylus.” When we listen to vinyl, a diamond-carrying stylus receives signal from the bumps inside the grooves of the record. In geology, the seismograph detects vibrations within Earth and uses a stylus arm and ink to plot those vibrations on a scrolling paper tape. I wonder if you could set up a seismograph in your basement or yard and use it to track nearby road traffic. The occasional passing of a train would be cause for much excitement. A nearby, loud thunder clap shakes above-ground structures quite a bit. How much of that pressure wave translates into Earth vibration? A stylus (attached to, of course, a properly set-up seismograph) could reveal the answer.

The creator is at the handle end, and the viewer takes in what the creator has imprinted.

Oh, and there is one other definition of Stylus. She is a cool sailboat from Manitowoc, Wis. She is dark blue and has a natural wood sail holder. She is often on the Lake but sometimes she comes up the Manitowoc River.

What is the Stylus? The sail is the handle, guided by two creators, the wind and the captain. The hull on the water is the imprinting tip. The Stylus’s line, her word, her story, is the journey she traces over the waves. Who creates the record? Who will read it?

We are too small to read the record, and know what it means completely. Instead, we find ourselves poised at that active vantage point, riding the nib of the pen, watching the line being writ, seeing from water level, but only imagining the view from above, the course being charted, wondering what message we are part of tracing out.

By Nissa Enos
Fast motion, sun on water.
We, not holders of the pen
but viewers,
riders on the nib.
Normally creators
but now
part of the tool.
As we fly on the waves
what is written
the sun can see.
What message we trace
the wind can write.
For once
we don't hold the pen.
Instead we ride at the nib
on the hull
over the waves.
Seeing but not issuing
the speed of the light,
the choppy water.
Wondering what
from the sun's vantage point
is the message we write.

Again, thank you Nissa Enos for this prose and verse. These words are a treasure. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Unburdening

There is work to be done, new ideas to be learned, and for that the problems of yesterday and the fears for tomorrow must be put out of the way.

By unburdening, we do now allow burdens to continue. Unburdening sighs out the heavy. 

It is freeing to relieve one's mind or body of a burden. Unburdening can take the form of revealing, confessing, casting off, getting rid of, or disclosing something.

In all instances, unburdening makes room, makes lighter. Unburdening, at its heart, is an active verb.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Picture with Words: Bird Prom

grace, symmetry, harmony, pairing, flight, 
individuals, together, formation, dance,

This picture was take with permission from Pixa Bay, which offers "stunning free pictures." 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Humility

Humility is not the same as depravation.

I wish I had known.

Self depravation is the narrative looping to me, from me, in me, all me is that I am no good.
Too ugly, too dumb, too mean, too crazy, too lazy, too loud, too on and on unworthy.

Humility is the quality or state of being humble.
Humble not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive.

Depreciating, a verb, diminishing in value over a period of time; synonym, cheapen.

Now I know.

With humbleness, I whisper,
“Self, you are mighty.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Enjambment

Poetic liberties allow a scribe license to make the form fit the mood and meaning of a poem. Unlike prose, poetry has room for variation in line length, sentence structure, and punctuation

The term enjambment is the running on of a thought from one line, couplet or stanza to the next without a syntactical break. 

It originates from Nineteenth Century French poetry literally meaning a straddling, from enjamber to straddle. 

The opposite of enjambment is end-stopped.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Cacophony

When one thinks of poetry it draws up an image of softness, of soothing, of calming, of elite contemplative rest. However, poetry encompasses all emotions and observances of life. 

The technique of cacophony, used by poet and author Lewis Carroll in his poem "Jabberwocky" is a perfect illustration of this counter intuitive imagery style. In this verse, Carroll creates unpleasant spoken sound by using clashing consonants. 

The word cacophony originates from the Greek word meaning "bad sound." The term in poetry refers to the use of words that combine sharp, harsh, hissing, or melodiousness sounds. Cacophony is used to achieve the effect of harsh and discordant. It is produced by combinations of words that require a staccato, explosive delivery. When used skillfully for a special effect, it vitalizes the content of the imagery.  

In general, it can be compared to a traffic jam, a meaningless mixture of sounds. It also appears as a cacophony of hoots, cackles, and wails. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Caesura

Caesura is the main pause of a poem. The word originates from 16th Century Latin, literally translating to a cutting, from caedere to cut.  

The stop or pause in a metrical line, is often marked by punctuation or by a grammatical boundary, such as a phrase or clause. A medial caesura splits the line in equal parts. When the pause occurs toward the beginning or end of the line, it is termed, respectively, initial or terminal.  

Outside of poetry, caesura can be any interruption or a break, especially in a sense of pause.  

If life, one can caesura in most instances to one's benefit. The meter is to go on, to continue. It is a pause, not an end. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Word on Wednesday: Poet Laureate

April is National Poetry Month, so declared in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. That organization claims the month of April has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry's vital place in our culture. 

Here at Words, Crazy Words, I'll shed light on four poetry related terms. First, this week, a spotlight on Poet Laureate, as ambassador for bringing poetry to the people. Later, terms used to write and understand poetry will be explored including caesura, enjambment, and cacophonies. 

The United States created a largely ceremonial position of poet laureate in 1985. However, the British had its first in 1616. The term, itself, dates from Middle English, 1350-1400. 

Three current definitions of the noun poet laureate are 1. (in Great Britain) a poet appointed for life as an officer of the royal household, formerly expected to write poems in celebration of court and national events; 2. a poet recognized or acclaimed as the most eminent of representative of a country or locality; 3. (formerly) a poet whose efforts were officially recognized, as by a sovereign, university, etc. 

In Wisconsin, where I live, there has been a state Poet Laureate since 2000. The position is filled by a competitive process for a two-year term. The State's distinguished poet canvases the state sharing the value of poetry, creativity, and artistic expression through publication, performance, education, and digital and mass media. 

Individuals from the following organizations make up the Poet Laureate Commission: 

The Poet Laureate Commission is comprised of volunteers who represent the Wisconsin Academy, Wisconsin Center for the Book, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets,  Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the Wisconsin Arts Board, as well as serve as several at-large members.

As April continues, I will examine additional words used to describe poetry.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Guilt

Shame: Who I am is not okay.
Guilt: What I do is not okay.

Growing up Catholic, I developed a misunderstanding of shame. The Catholic Church often gets blamed for this, and it is certainly not the only place one learns shame and shame is NOT central to Catholic teachings.

Guilt is. This is true of ALL Christian religions. (This is why the savior Jesus Christ is paramount to our salvation, but I'll save this exploration for the theologians and my private study on living the faith.)

Today, Ash Wednesday, we enter a dark period of reflecting on our guilt over our shortcomings, our human, inane falling short. Our "sin." My understanding of sin derives from its Hebrew root "to miss the mark." So as we all miss the mark, one must acknowledge guilt, ask for forgiveness --  from ourselves, from those we have wronged, and perhaps from a deity, a savior.

While it is easy to get suck in guilt, it is more important to seek forgiveness. For acknowledging wronging doing and making reconciliation is an active path. It moves toward peace.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Vacillating

Low confidence can result in the inability to make a decision causing the consequences.

The verb vacillate sums up this inability to decide. A person who vacillates alternates or wavers between different options or actions and is described as indecisive, hesitating, and not resolute. 

A vacillating person may say, "I'm undecided" or "I'm ambivalent."

I am, hopefully was, that person. Hemming and hawing over most things right down to what shoes to wear. Also, I was accused of changing my mind a lot. Women are often accused of that, and, admittedly, are often guilty of being uncertain or wishy washy. This can be explained by a history of being denied the opportunity to make decisions. 

Fast forward to 2018, and women are only holding themselves back, and most are not! I overheard a women describing her job to her son, "I make a lot of decisions all day."

The child said, "Oh, I would hate that, I can't decide what to eat for lunch."

She's the president of a large company, but one doesn't need to be president or even adult to make decisions with confidence. One just needs to have the confidence to realize whatever the consequences -- good or bad -- it will all be okay.

John Lennon sums it up with "Everything will work out okay in the end, if its not okay, it's not the end." (See also Optimism)