When Someone Else Publishes ‘Your’ Thoughts (or, Mark Twain Has Great Fingernails)

When I woke up this morning before my alarm, I immediately grabbed my phone to check the time and see if I had significant time left to sleep a little more. I was smiling at the full hour and a half I had left when I saw the Facebook notification from my best friend Donna, but the smile left my face as soon as I saw her post – along with any thoughts of going back to bed. She forwarded me an article someone had written days earlier about painting fingernails!

(To see the article, click here.)

While the article itself may have little importance to some, it is extremely significant to me. Why?

I wrote the same ‘article’ in my blog four years ago – well, close enough to the same. (Actually, it was almost four years to the day; mine was published 4/29/2013, and this other writer’s article was published 4/17/2017.)

(To see my post, click here.)

Even the picture used for her article was very similar to a picture I used that same year.

fingers on coffee cup

These are just two of my favorite things!

It was like having a bucket of cold water thrown on me while I was sleeping (it certainly had the same effect – I jumped out of bed that fast).

FOR THE RECORD:

  • This is NOT about plagiarism. I do not think anyone ‘stole’ anything of mine.
  • I do not hate her article.

Writers, inventors, musicians, and other creative types are very familiar with the Mark Twain quote about ideas:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

I’m sure every single person has had an idea that they dismissed at one time or another and saw another person some time later cash in on the same thing and kick themselves for not acting on it. Words, musical notes, blueprints, small parts, big parts … thoughts … all get recirculated and recycled.

But I acted on my thought! I did write about it!

In my blog. And only 30 people read it. This other writer had hers published by Glamour Magazine and the article was picked up by the Huffington Post, no less. The Huffington Post! (Can you say ‘dream’?)

Ain’t that a kick in the head!

(I bet she’s younger than I am, too.)

Fortunately – and maybe because of my age? – I was able to get past my initial self-pity. In the short distance between my bed in one room of my apartment and my computer in another (with a pit stop at the bathroom), I pretty much had my thoughts in order – and in a positive light – before I even sat down here at my keyboard. It was not so much as a kick in the head, but a kick in the ass.

Here’s what I realized:

I was validated. Someone else felt the same way I did, and the many other people who read and shared her article felt the same way. Did it matter that it was only about painting my nails? No. I was right.

Timing matters. Yes, sometimes you have to get something out at the right time, when enough people are thinking along the same lines. That’s the reason why some thousands of wonderful books, movies, and songs don’t make it – or even flop initially then grab a chart-breaking popularity some time later.

And now we get to the more personal ‘lesson’:

Did I really act on my thoughts? Yes. But no. I followed through with my idea as far enough to publish it in my blog. And I left it there. Did I send it out to any bigger publishers? No.

I try to be so clever with my blog titles, yet there is a definite difference in an article title – one that informs. To some extent I even downplayed my writing by calling it a ‘fluff piece’ – in the title.

Blogs allow us to be a little more self-indulgent, as well. That is a privilege I enjoy heartily.

We wrote the same idea but for different audiences. If I really wanted my writing ‘out there’, I should have tailored it a little more (with less self-indulgence) and added a supporting authority footnote (“backed by science”).

And then, I should have pushed it out. Pushed. Not just tacked up somewhere where someone may or may not have seen it.

Four years ago, I wasn’t ready to do that. Four years ago I had just started that blog (only two weeks prior to writing that particular piece). It was my third attempt at writing a blog and the first one that ‘stuck’.

Now, I am ready to start pushing further. I can read and enjoy that other writer’s article without anger of any kind – not even self-loathing – because my own personal timing played into things, too. Where I was back then is not where I am now, and it is a place I needed to be at to get to where I am now.

Reading her article was an encouraging nudge to me to get moving more, writing more … pushing more. Her article showed me that what I write about has an audience. No, I am not where I want to be as far as my ‘writing career’ goes, but this place where I am right now (like four years ago this month) is a necessary step in that direction. I have pushed my writing more, I have published more. And I still have more to do.

My alarm just went off. I have to get ready for work. To go do the job-that-pays-my-bills-until-I-can-make-money-writing.

Who knows? Maybe if I follow the nudge and my inner muse a little more closely and seriously, four years from now I will be on that next step.

The time is going to pass anyway; I might as well make it count.

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Get Over It

(this blog has been cross-posted)

I have $19.41 in my wallet, and that amount is to last me for the rest of the week thanks to a major snafu on the part of a large company that took multiple payments out of my bank account one day two weeks ago, and a second time again last week. There are two reasons I’m telling you this: one, to show my certainty in my willingness to gamble with it; and, two, to point out that one event creates a domino effect afterward – which is part of the point I am trying to make now.

I am willing to bet that whole $19.41 – all that I have right now – that with the three words at the top of this article you have a good idea about my subject here. I even knew that those three words would get attention because of their implication.

Three words. Like I love you, they now carry a weight much larger than the space they take up on paper implies. Now especially, they can also evoke as much emotion as those other three little words, although their meaning has grown into something more hurtful, more uncaring, and more dismissive than before.

Get over it.

Something happened recently that has caused many people to be afraid. Very afraid. Had that event had the opposite result (and it very nearly did, if not for a … technicality), then another group of people would know that same fear – if their vociferous and public opinions beforehand were any indication; yet, instead of there but for the Grace of God their motto is the derogatory get over it.

When exactly did you stop caring about other people? When did you stop being able to see that it could have been you in that position?

I will ‘get over’ my financial issues after the company resolves its error in ‘the system’ which, apparently is a law unto itself, that will try three times – with no apparent means of stopping it – to make that same error a third time (I can’t wait to see what happens on Friday). I will ‘get over it’ after the bank has refunded bank fees and charges for overdraft, and when the company provides full compensation for what I have spent. Obviously, I won’t ‘get over it’ until later.

My daughter was in a serious car accident in July. While we are fortunate enough that she will heal in time, we will ‘get over it’ after she has completed therapy, after she is no longer in pain, after she is able to go back to work, and after she gets on her feet again. AFTER the actual event.

My mother had breast cancer. There were many things that happened after the diagnosis. We shaved her head in a ‘family ceremony’, she went through chemotherapy and radiation and suffered the aftereffects – not to mention how something like that can put one’s life on hold, or worse. Tell me, if the diagnosis happened in one day, when should she have gotten over it?

A man I loved died of cancer a little over four years ago. It happened; it’s done, right? When should I get over that?

I’m asking you to get a little perspective. The people who are concerned and afraid have their reasons for feeling the way they do. Who is any of us to judge what they are feeling or how strong their feelings are? Who are you to dismiss and disparage something that’s very real to them just because you don’t feel the same way?

We – none of us – are not even able to determine what courage is in another person, because we can never know what something might cost them. We decide someone else’s measure of bravery based on our own experiences and value judgments. We never really know how much the personal price is for a soldier, an activist, a parent, or the seemingly ordinary person walking out his or her front door … anyone.

We rush to judge people, and dismiss them only based on how we feel, conveniently forgetting that they have feelings, too. Like you, other people have their own truths. If you truly believe we live in a free country, if you value your freedom of thought, then you should be able to show some respect for the freedom of others in thinking and feeling as they do. Divided we fall.

Isn’t it funny how selective we can be, even with compassion? We seem to have more compassion for the person afraid of spiders. Why is that? Why can we accept their fear in that situation?
Do we ‘believe’ that opposing beliefs of others are to be scorned? That’s a little contradictory, don’t you think?

There is one more thing that I ask that you consider – if the above wasn’t too much for you already: the event that you are telling people to ‘get over’ hasn’t happened yet. A decision was made, and a future was foretold. These people you are telling to get over it haven’t even experienced what they are worried about – they were basically told that a disastrous event was coming. If it hasn’t happened yet, how can they possibly ‘get over’ it? And, if their fears are realized, what then? Or can you predict the future – including the actions of another – and fully assure others that everything will be all right? I’m a mother, and I have trouble telling that to my children – and there’s only two of them.

If you were told that something you feared was going to happen, how would you react? And how would you feel talking to someone else who didn’t understand your feelings?

Please, please, stop using those three little words. Understand the effect they would have on you. Remember the ‘other’ three little words. If you are unable to go that far then, please, just be quiet.

I love you.

Today I Will Enjoy My Rights

Today, I will enjoy the right to sit on my porch with my coffee.
Today, I will enjoy the right to waste more time with a second cup.

Today, I will also enjoy my right
to spend some time alone
to spend time with friends
to listen to music
to love.

Today, I might enjoy my right
to work
to be overwhelmed by how much I need to do
to worry about money
to miss someone.

Today, I could even enjoy my right
to be the jerk who cuts someone off in traffic
to whine about what I don’t have
to be envious of what someone else has
to be petty.

Today,

(maybe)

I might even realize
that just by waking up this morning
I was granted the Choice
to decide what I will, might, or could do
and be
— to be nice or mean
to accept or resist
to love or hate
to enjoy or resent —
understanding that it is Choice
that makes all of this a privilege

and then enjoy the ability to see
how privileged I really am.

I’M BAAAAAAAAAAACK!

Happy

Happy

Facebook has this wonderful little feature that notifies you that “You have memories … to look back on today.”

I use Facebook to amuse myself first, posting whatever absurdity I’m thinking and all of the pictures I love to take; so I really enjoy that feature. For the most part, nothing I put up is in any way negative; I don’t do politics, I don’t air my dirty laundry (at least, not my dirtiest). It’s my playground. I say and post whatever I want. Because I can.

I post my blog on Facebook, too. My blog posts are a little different from my normal Facebook posts, because some of them are actually serious (just some!) and I write about me.

Today, Facebook reminded me about a blog I wrote one year ago today that was not just serious, but seriously sad (Exposing Myself). I remember writing it, and I remember exactly what I was going through; I was at a very low point over a breakup. It wasn’t even just the breakup that had me down, it was my attitude about how I felt I was (or wasn’t) dealing with it.

I went to open the link to re-read it and hesitated; I was concerned that I would read my own words and condemn myself all over again for feeling that low, or feel embarrassed that I let it all out, letting everyone see that I was as big as the idiot I had thought myself to be.

When I finally did read it, I actually smiled.

I’m not there anymore.

It’s been a long year, and I won’t get into the further insanity I let myself sink to (I don’t have to; I continued to publish it).

And in many ways, it’s been a very good year.

Let me backtrack a moment: I took a short break from Facebook after I posted that blog to try to re-center myself. I posted the blog with this introduction:

“Hello, friends! I’m not going to be playing here for a while, until can get my head out of my ass and accept the fact that I’m human. I’ll be off in a corner, hiding til I can get over myself. I will be back (because this is my favorite playground), and hopefully smarter. In the meantime, here’s something for you to line the birdcage with, or read along, accompanied by your tiny violins:
(cue dramatic exit)
Be well.”

(Now that wasn’t so dramatic, was it?)

I kept the break short so that I wouldn’t be inclined to wallow further. I continued to play as best as I could; still continued to take pictures and post them. But I would look at the pictures of me and all I could see was my sadness, even when I was smiling. I don’t know if anyone else could see it – not that it mattered; I saw it.

This picture I posted at the top of the blog was taken three days ago. I happen to think it’s a GREAT picture, not just because to me it’s one of my more flattering ones, but because I don’t just look happy, I am happy – and I see it.

This picture was taken just before one of my 30th high school reunions. I went to two high schools, and this one happened to be for the one I actually graduated from, in California. I hadn’t made it back to any of the reunions there, because I couldn’t afford the trip from Massachusetts.

But I did it this year.

I also took my kids on vacation to Maine last month. It wasn’t an actual vacation for me because I still had to work (although it was nice to be near the ocean), but I did it.

I did it.

I have a wonderful support system around me, in every way possible. Maybe I got help in certain areas, a boost in others, but ultimately it was what I did that made it all possible and good.

I don’t know when exactly it began to happen, but I began to enjoy myself again, fully. This was not a result of being able to get away, because you can never get away from yourself. This was a result of what I was doing on my own to make things happen, and to be happy again. Really happy, without wearing those other feelings.

My girlfriends were able to come with us to Maine –

Girls – friends – should always make it a point to do things like that, married or not; no one is or should allow themselves be defined by specific details of their lives, not marital status, not kids, not jobs. To be whole, we need to nurture every aspect of our lives, with equal focus on each individual facet. Be inclusive of all that we are. This and that.

Ok, off of that soapbox (for now).

While we were in Maine, I took a walk along the beach with one of them, and tried to explain as best as I could what I was feeling right then and there.

Basically, I was happy – and it took me a lot of words and a lot of different descriptions to be able to explain it to her, because while I was talking, I still wasn’t aware of what I was feeling. I did know that I felt good. And I realized that not only was I feeling happy then in that moment, but I was happy in general. That was a huge realization.

I did it.

I did it.

I did it.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s okay – actually, it’s more than ok. It’s good.

And *I* did it.

Any help I may have received for anything would not have mattered if I let my thoughts limit how much I enjoyed or appreciated anything.

Not only did I realize that I was happy, but I realized I had been happy for some time. I got excited about my work, began new writing projects, planning more, and just began enjoying life more – the little things as much as the bigger things. And I did it on my own. I’m still single, too. I did it on my own, proving what I already knew but couldn’t fully grasp: I am in control of my thoughts, my validation, my life, my happiness.

That most recent picture summed it up for me with my first thought the moment I saw it:

SHE’S BAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

Now watch how far I’m going to go.

Content

Content

I’m looking forward to next year’s reminder on Facebook!

(How low did she go? You can view the train wreck from a safe distance here!)

Why the World Needs Caitlyn Jenner (Once more, with feeling)

“…Aren’t we teaching our children to be themselves? Be the best YOU you can be. Be yourself.

Or is that conditional?

Be you – unless you are different. If you are letting your children see your mockery of anyone who is not like you, what are you teaching them? How likely is it that they will find the courage to be who they are, if they are worried about the ridicule of others – even yours? Isn’t the ultimate goal of a parent to see their child happy? Or does that depend on them being and doing what you or anyone else thinks they should be and do?”

Read More FULL BLOG “Why the World Needs Caitlyn Jenner”

“It had to be Bruce Jenner. There is not one other single person in the world who has gained the respect and attention of the world enough that this would reach everyone. He was a man’s man, a superstar world athlete, handsome, father figure, and even reality show television star. He was also old enough that no one can accuse him of being a foolish child. No one hasn’t heard of him – and that means no one can continue to keep their head in the sand and pretend to be ignorant of the word transgender. The line has been crossed, the tipping point reached, the pressure relief valve activated. We are now officially part of a new reality.

Bruce, I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. Caitlyn, I’m sorry for what you will go through.”

HOW TO HAVE BETTER SEX (and be happy)

A challenge, of sorts, to men and women.

“You—and nobody else—are responsible for your own happiness, because happiness is a choice. No one can make that choice for you—and it is a responsibility you should never put on anyone else. Sacrifice and martyrdom are not as honorable—or as beneficial to others—as one may believe. If there is no YOU, you are no good to or for anyone around you. What’s one of the first directives on an airplane during the flight attendants’ safety speeches? The parents are to put on the oxygen mask first, before the child’s. Why is that? YOU need to be present to be able to do for others. The way to do that is to BE YOU. First. When you take care of, love and respect yourself authentically, you will be unable to treat anyone else any other way.”

Read more