Archive for February, 2015

Books are Better than Movies

BookcaseSince electronic books entered the scene there has been much debate about which is better, traditional paper or e-books.  I am in the (small?) group of people who will never abandon paper books.  I love the feel of it in my hands, the smell of old paper, and especially the physical act of turning the pages.  The more intense the story, the more I am rubbing that page between my fingers, itching to turn it and find out what happens next.  But what about the comparison between reading and movies made from books?

I have this weird thing when I know I’m going to see a movie based on a book, I read the book first.  I don’t know why, it usually ends up being much better than the movie and I’m left disappointed and let down after I see it.  After all, how can you squeeze hundreds of pages into two hours?

But I still do it.

One thing I like better about books is developing my own mental pictures.  Provided the writing is good, you get a sense of what the surroundings look like and even conjure up your own image of the characters.  When discussing a book with other readers, it’s funny how different the images can be.  Your mental pictures are based as much on the author’s descriptions as your own personal experiences.  In movies you’re given someone else’s image of the people and places.

In books we’re given a lot of detail.  For instance, the author may write about the protagonist’s appearance in a stressful situation by describing the veins in her neck as “bulging rope-like cords ready to burst from her body”.  (Yeah, pretty descriptive, right?!)  But in a movie, what if that actress doesn’t have bulging neck veins, are you even looking at her neck?  Are you picking up how dire that situation is?

If you’re like me, you may be checking out her hair.  Yes, I have shiny object syndrome.

Maybe it’s the length of time we spend with the characters in a book.  It’s almost as if you’re inserting yourself into the story somehow, watching always from just around the corner and out of sight.  You can have your own interpretations of what the author means; there’s no director to tell you what to think.  Just be prepared for the let-down after it’s over.  After all, it’s sometimes hard to let it go when you’ve invested that amount of time in a story.

Although I have read a few books electronically, I’ll always be a lover of traditional print books.  And I will always be a reader.

44 Random Acts of Kindness

Homeless

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the kick-off to the Lenten season.  Many people give something up for Lent.  This year I think I’m going to add something instead.  I did a little poking around and came up with my favorite 44 ideas to show random acts of kindness.  In no particular order:

  1. Plug someone’s expired parking meter
  2. Deliver treats to a neighbor or coworker
  3. Leave a few quarters behind at the Laundromat
  4. Donate time/money/merchandise to a local charity
  5. Cook a meal for someone
  6. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you
  7. Give a meal to a homeless person
  8. Take someone who doesn’t get out much to the movies
  9. Offer a ride to someone who can’t drive
  10. Cook a healthy and delicious meal for your family, and eat it together
  11. Hand out hand warmers, gloves, hats, scarves, etc. to homeless people
  12. Write an anonymous compliment on a Post It for someone
  13. Treat someone to a gift of fresh fruit
  14. Send a thank you card to someone
  15. Share something you have of value or a personal talent
  16. Start a spare-change-savings-jar for a cause of your choice
  17. Leave change in a vending machine
  18. Organize a pot luck for your child’s teacher(s)
  19. Anonymously send dessert to another table when eating out
  20. Bring flowers to someone at a nursing home or hospital
  21. Leave a big tip at a restaurant
  22. Give a gas card to a young driver
  23. Give a bottle of water or Gatorade to a bus/taxi driver, mailman, garbage collector, etc.
  24. Give cocoa or coffee to crossing guards
  25. Deliver cookies (donuts?) to a local police department
  26. Pay someone’s toll
  27. Send someone a letter, a real letter delivered by the post office
  28. Connect with an old friend
  29. Tell your spouse and family that you love them
  30. Give someone a compliment
  31. Tuck a note in your spouse’s or child’s lunch
  32. Instead of floral centerpieces at meetings, fill baskets with nonperishable food to donate
  33. Do something nice for a fire department
  34. Show your gratitude to a soldier—See how here
  35. Give a small gift to a new mother anonymously
  36. Think back to a time when someone helped you, send them a thank you
  37. Send a note of gratitude to a teacher you remember fondly
  38. Spend time with someone in hospice
  39. Send an email to a business where you received good service and tell them about it
  40. Reach out to a friend or family member dealing with major illness or death
  41. Visit someone who is alone in a nursing home—the staff can tell you who needs visitors
  42. Give someone a night of free babysitting
  43. Brush the snow off someone’s sidewalk or car
  44. Treat a senior to a pedicure

Feel free to borrow any of my favorites. Or come up with your own. There’s one for each day of Lent, but why restrict yourself? Random acts of kindness, especially the anonymous ones, are welcome every day. And they just make you feel good.

Stress Less for Happy Valentine’s Day

Couple at Sunset

Friday the thirteenth, and the day before Valentine’s Day; yes, it sounds like trouble.  But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be scary or expensive.  In my opinion, for whatever that is worth, some of the best gifts I’ve ever received cost very little, or even nothing at all.

If you’re still looking for a way to show your love to your Valentine, here are a couple of thoughts:

  • Make a card. It doesn’t have to be super sappy and romantic. If funny is your wheelhouse, and that is where you’re comfortable, go with it. Just remember, some heart-felt sentiment will go a long way. It is Valentine’s Day, after all.
  • Did you get hammered with snow this winter? How about a snow removal gift certificate? You can make one up for a specified number of times or a month’s-worth of sidewalk clearing, window scraping, or shoveling out their car. Not able to do it yourself? You could hire someone and still be a hero.
  • Get in the kitchen! Cook your sweetheart’s favorite meal, bake them a treat, or make your own candy or truffles. There are some great (and easy!) recipes online; check out Pinterest and let your taste buds lead the way.
  • Is there a movie your loved one can’t get enough of or one that has special meaning to the two of you? Buy a copy and plan a romantic viewing party for two.
  • The best gift I’ve ever gotten? The hands-down winner is a card The Hub made me a few years ago. When you unfold it all the way, in the inside, he listed 101 things he loved about me. I still cry every time I read it. Total cost? Paper and toner. Points for The Hub? Incalculable.

Valentine’s Day only comes once a year.  It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on people to do something big.  It shouldn’t be like that.  I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being a Pollyanna.  Yep, I’ll own that.  But I don’t think love is about dozens of roses or huge boxes of chocolates, not that those are bad.  It is about the little stuff that you do for each other every day.  Things like warming up his car, making him a lunch, or just texting her during the day to say you’re thinking about her.  Those are ways to show true love—every single day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Write On

Winter SunriseI hate to jinx things, but I’ve been feeling pretty good lately.  Not just physically; mentally I feel like I’m really on my game right now.  Know what I mean?

I recently finished a seven-part series on bullying.  Some articles have already been published, and they’re being shared on social media.  It’s definitely nicer to have people applaud your work instead of ripping it to shreds.  I hope all of the pieces get such good feedback.

It’s very possible that my improved outlook has something to do with our mild winter and the fact that the days are getting noticeably longer.  It makes me smile inside and out when I see the sun coming up over the trees beyond the field.  The snow has been sparse and much more manageable than usual, for which I am very thankful.

Maybe it’s the fact that spring is right around the corner.  I’ve been exercising a little, cooking and baking more, and things are finally feeling settled in our new home.  It’s amazing what removing boxes will do for your outlook.

A Twitter notification informed me that I had been added to a “Writers to Watch” list.  Good for the ego, a little humbling, and then some small doubts creep in.  But that’s okay.  Doubt, and sometimes complete darkness, is what leads to good stories.

Back in my office I make notes. (One of them should remind me to buy stock in 3M; my Post-It habit is borderline obsessive.)  The story ideas seem to be coming fast and furious.  I find my real concern is a lack of time to get everything done that I’d like to complete.  This is a good problem to have.

So I’ll keep plugging away on my 2015 Goals list, smiling as I cross off each item.  I’ll enjoy the bountiful assortment of ideas I’m getting from my early spring fever.  And, most importantly, I’ll write on.