2014 in review – Thank you!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Je Suis Charlie – Writing Quote Wednesday

“Today’s effort to silence criticism by murdering the artists and writers who voice it must be met with a far wider movement to defend the right to dissent, which forms the spine of free expression.”

PEN American Center

“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

Salman Rushdie

It was with a very heavy heart that I tried to explain to my middle son what happened in France at Charlie Hebdo. He doesn’t live with me and his other family keeps him very sheltered from what is going on in the world.

I told him some extremists wanted to silence the voices of writers who disagreed with what they believed in. He didn’t know what an extremist was, so I asked him to Google it. He couldn’t because his computer was off and it takes his old machine about 10 minutes to boot up.

I read the definition to him.

“Oh, it sounds like we are going to have another war again,” he said. “I haven’t known a time when we weren’t at war.”

He’s thirteen.

“I know. That’s why I want you to know about these things. Maybe you can help make a difference in the way people treat each other by knowing about this.”

As we started to have a conversation about it, his mother came into the room and shut down the conversation. She wanted him to rest. All of us are sick with flu but I think she was more concerned that I was teaching him what was happening. I stopped talking about it and let him get some rest.

But we can’t rest from defending the right to satire and dissent. All ideas must be open to be debated and expressed or only those ideas with the biggest weapons behind them will get heard.

If I draw an unflattering caricature of someone you respect, how does killing me honor that person? The caricature is a reflection of what I see and feel about that person, not what that person actually is. (I’ve always hated those caricature artists at fairs. They always draw everyone with giant heads and twisty bodies. It freaked me out. But it did make me realize that not everyone sees me as I see me. An important lesson to learn.)

No matter how hard you try, you can’t kill all of the feelings that people might feel that might be different from yours. That is inhuman.

I’m no psychologist, but I think killing like this comes from a fear that what the person who is targeted is saying is a truth buried deeply in the psyche of the person doing the killing.

They could be unconsciously thinking, “If I kill this outside source of these thoughts I shouldn’t be having, I won’t have to have them again.”

That’s why it’s so important to protect the rights of people to express themselves. When writers and artists and performers engage in satire it makes most of us poke at our own thoughts and say, “I never thought about it that way before.”

We can laugh at our own thinking or we can decide the artist is wrong, but only a person who lives in fear that their way of thinking might actually be questionable and cannot live with that uncertainty decides they have to kill the artist to silence those questions.

What I write and say is my opinion and as a human being I have the right to say it. The problem is that that right has never been “free” and many people often have to pay, in one way or another, to have their voices heard. The people in Paris paid with their lives.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo and agree with Mr. Rushdie that we must defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

Our stories must be told and should never be silenced with weapons or frightened out of existence. If you don’t like my story, tell yours better, don’t just shoot me to make me stop talking.

2015 Very Inspiring Blogger Award…Paying it Forward

very-inspiring-blogger-award

I’m delighted to start 2015 off with a big thank you to Joseph at A Cup of Joe for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! One of my resolutions (and you know how I feel about those) is to more actively engage with the online blogging community, so being nominated for the award was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

It was a pleasant surprise to hop on the blog the second day of the New Year and find out a full-fledged Pyro-wizard nominated me for an award! Thank you very much, Joseph.

I’m really enjoying your posts and I’ve followed a few of the other bloggers you’ve nominated as well. Here’s to all of us having a very creative and prosperous 2015! I hope we can ALL have a bottle of wine and share a few stories someday as well.

Here are the three things that inspired me this week:

  1. My Twitter Community. Always good for a laugh, great writing advice, or support in the form of a playful jab and a mocking tweet, these folks really inspired me in many ways this week. Some of them have blogs that I’ll be nominating as well. You should definitely FOLLOW them and say that Paul sent you!
    1. Ksenia Anske @kseniaanske – her acerbic and grumpy tweets are hilarious and always an inspiration. When I was feeling down about my WIP, she asked her Twitter community to show me some support and they did! Her books are like romantic fever dreams that have a dark beauty and poetic beating heart. I’m very grateful to have her in my community.
    2. Laurence Lau @Laurencelau10 – is brand new to Twitter and has quickly become an important part of the online community. He always has inspirational words of wisdom and shares generously of his time with his Twitter followers. We’ve met IRL (in real life) and I love hanging out with him to talk about art, poetry, theatre, film, television and life in general. He’s a great actor, too, and I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know him over the past few months.
    3. Adam Dreece @AdamDreece – is a force to be reckoned with on Twitter! He’s über engaging, plus he’s funny and smart and an overall mensch. His The Yellow Hoods books are adventurous whirlwinds filled with engaging characters that make you care about them. He’s also created a delightful steampunk world for them to inhabit. Book Three is about to be released soon, keep an eye out for it!
    4. Debi Smith @DebiVSmith – says she’s an island girl stuck in the Midwest who tries not to take herself too seriously. I’ve really been enjoying our conversations. She’s upbeat and funny and likes to engage on Twitter. I’ll be looking for more of her writing in the months to come.
  2. Visiting my wife’s mother in the nursing home. It sucks to be old. Spend any amount of time in a nursing home and you’ll learn that in the first five minutes. Your body doesn’t work the way it used to. Strangers are always telling you what to do. You forget things that you’ve said two minutes before. It’s sad, but it’s true. Being in the nursing home was inspiring because it reminded me that I have to live fully now. I can’t put off until tomorrow those things I say I want to do. If I keep putting them off, I may wake up some day in one of those hospital beds saying, “I wish I would have…” I don’t want that to happen. My wife and I are making plans for the coming year filled with adventure, love, creativity, health, prosperity and joy. We’ve also been spending as much time with mom as we can.
  3. Losing my holiday gift. I received a quad-copter as a gift this holiday season. It’s a small plastic drone with four whirring propellers and a prop guard. There’s a remote control that connects to the little flying machine and it takes some effort to learn how to fly the darn thing without crashing it into my face. I try to fly it every chance I get and I LOVE it. (Anything about flying makes me jump up and down with joy!) It zips around in the air like some kind of friendly insect and with the push of a button and the right timing you can make it flip forward, backward or side to side. When I was at my Dad’s for the holidays, I took the little copter out for a spin in the backyard. It was cold, and a bit windy, but where I was standing there wasn’t enough wind to blow the copter off course. Problem was, when I got the copter above the house, the wind was whipping around with such force that the little drone shot up into the air about 100 feet and headed off downtown! I bolted out into the alleyway, struggling to get the copter back under control with the remote, but it wasn’t responding. I watched in despair as it flew off above the treetops, then dropped from site somewhere in the middle of the neighborhood. I searched high and low for the little copter, climbing into bushes, looking through fences, tramping through people’s yards. No luck. I had my middle son come with me. He was no help. He just had wild theories about it being abducted by aliens and taken off to some other corner of the universe. I finally gave up in defeat and went to have some lunch with my family. Fortified, we stepped back into the cold. “I have a feeling we’re going to find it,” I announced. My wife was mad. She bought me the copter and I lost it after only two or three days. My son and I went searching again, this time down a different alleyway. My wife was in the car (it was 14 F, -10 C) and she had the five-year-old and the two older teenagers with her. While my son and I looked in garbage cans, trees, and on rooftops, she was driving around searching for it as well. Just as we were about to give up again, we heard “FOUND IT!” from down the alleyway. We ran as hard as we could and they took off in the car, laughing. When we finally caught up to them, sweating and out of breath, there it was, the little copter, unharmed. It had just been sitting in someone’s yard, untouched for about four or five hours. Needless to say, I was very happy to get my holiday present back. I immediately wrote my phone number and email address on the little copter just in case it took off on its own again. The reason this was such an inspirational moment for me is that it taught me that sometimes you have to stop searching for something and rest. You don’t have to give up for good, just for a little while. If it’s something that matters to you, you’ll get back to it and look in as many different places using as many different methods that you can to find the answer, I mean, the copter, until you succeed in finding it. I hope to remember this lesson throughout 2015.

And now, here are my nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award 2015 (in no particular order). I chose 12 Bloggers to nominate because the number 12 seems to be particularly important to us as humans. There are 12 months in a year, 12 inches to a foot, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 Disciples of Jesus, 12 Days of Christmas, 12 grades in school, 12 hours in a day, 12 hours in a night, the human body has 12 cranial nerves, it is the number of Function keys (F1-12) on most keyboards, and so on (to the power of 12).

  1. Adam Dreece – Author of The Yellow Hoods
  2. Reflections of a Book Addict – Kimberly Denny-Ryder tries to read 100 books a year
  3. Bucket List Publications – travel, adventure and new experiences
  4. Diary of a Milkaholic Clown – propofool or milk of magnesia, bizarre shit, writing, astrology
  5. Ramblings of the Chocolate Wasted – Debi Smith’s Blog
  6. The Bee Writes – writing, books, authors & FREE resources
  7. Adora Herveaux – Aspiring women’s fiction author writing about love, life and relationships
  8. Alexandria Ingham – Freelance Writing and Blogging Mentor
  9. Miss Snark’s First Victim – A blog for aspiring authors
  10. Lemon & Raspberry – writer, editor, photographer, encourager
  11. Ben Willoughby’s Blog – writer with an unnatural fear of toilets
  12. Ksenia Anske – Fantasy Writer

I want to thank each of you for your sense of humor, your inspiring writing and for making the internet a really cool place to hang out.

I’d also like to hear from as many of you as I can, so I’ll keep the rules for accepting your award short and simple. Please follow these three guidelines when accepting your award:

  1. Write a blog post thanking the person who nominated you by linking to his/her blog and please display the award logo in the post.
  2. Nominate at least 5-15 other blogs (more or less). Link to their blogs and let them know about the nomination.
  3. Mention three things that inspired you the most this week (you can talk about last week’s inspiration too).

If you don’t accept, no hard feelings, just keep doing what you’re doing to be so inspirational! Thank you for sharing your stories with me. They truly are the wildest things!