The Two Most Powerful Words in the World

As a writer I contemplate, not only sentences and paragraphs, but individual words. I love words, all kinds of words. Not just your run-of-the-mill words, but words that have some oomph behind them, words that resonate in the thoughts and hearts of many, words that possess the power to shape our lives.

Shape our lives.” How can an itty-bitty word do all that, you might ask? I do think it’s possible, but only if you’re willing to open your mind to the possibility.

I’m not sure what the most important word in the English language is, or even if one words stands above the rest, but here are my thoughts. We could probably debate this if we wanted, but without any concrete way to prove it, it would simply be a waste of time. Undeniably is the fact that certain words have the power to evoke emotions within us. They can inspire us to do good things for ourselves and for others. They can get us up out of that chair and send us off into the world ready to participate and make a difference instead of letting life happen without us lifting a baby finger in the process. Here are some words that are all inspiring for me. You might have  your own words that hold some special meaning, but for me here are some of the biggies. In no particular order.

As you read each one take a moment to contemplate what that word means to you. Is it just a word or is there a feeling that accompanies it?

Dream

Wish

Hope

Peace

Faith

Magic

Love

While I find the above words to be SO inspiring, I started wondering the other day if I had to choose two words that totally draw me in and keeping me reaching forward in life, what would they be? What words stop me short, when I see them written out, and totally inspire me to try harder. I knew what they were without putting too much thought into it because these two words have been following me around most of my life, even when I wasn’t aware of their existence. And hey, it’s not just because I’m a writer that I can say this. They are both just truly wonderful words.

So what do I think are the two most important words in the English language?

…. Imagine

…..Believe

 

 I’d love to know, what words inspire you?

Home Renovations

I’m posting a few photos of Miss Charlotte’s cardboard house that Guppy made for her when she was here for her last visit. You might remember it from a post I did awhile back. In the Box, out of the Box.

The box has undergone a few renovations since Guppy made it. I wouldn’t mind being this creative myself, but alas I seem doomed to create only with words.

Needless to say Miss Charlotte just loved it. Oh the things we can create with a little imagination. I’m with Miss Charlotte. I just love it, too!

Communication—Do You Get My Meaning?

Ever find yourself wondering what we’d do without the Internet in our lives? We only have to wait for a power outage to find out. The moment we cannot boot up the computer we become bored and restless. Okay, even panicky. Granted, that doesn’t mean we spend all of our waking moments online. Some of us, myself included, just hop online for a few moments to see that’s going on in cyberspace. I often joke that if I didn’t see it on Facebook it didn’t happen. But seriously, for most of us, there is life beyond cyberspace.

We’ve entered into a whole new realm of communicating and there is no going back. We correspond through email, twitter, and our blogs. We get to *know* many people whom we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet– –people from other countries, other provinces, other states—-without leaving the comforts of our own homes. How truly amazing!

However, it makes me wonder if we are not becoming a society that it totally dependent upon electronic communications.

This post reminds of that little joke that went something like this.

Q: Whatever happened to the art of conversation?

A: I don’t know. No one ever talks about it anymore.

But we are *talking* you might argue, we’re just not doing it face to face.

You have to admit in some ways the Internet has made it much simpler for us to express ourselves, and self-expression is very important. But, have you ever found yourself sharing some bit of information online only to realize that it’s not necessarily something you would have dared to share with your friends and family in the *real* world? Perhaps you’ve read a friend’s FB status and cringed because it just felt like  “too much information.”

How brave it can makes us feel when we simply have to hit a button and send our words on their way. There’s no one standing there to make us accountable. We don’t have to see the hurt feeling we’ve caused. Nor do we get to experience the joy and delight our words might have brought.

But communication is more than just words.

Communication is not just a group of words all strung together. It is as much a part of speaking the words as it is listening. We pick up on the tones and rhythms in each other’s voices as we speak. We watch for that gleam in eye or look of amusement, anger or even confusion. By watching and listening we pick up on each other’s emotions on a non-verbal level, and it puts us in a better place of understanding what is really being said.

I sometimes find it more challenging to communicate online. I sometimes wonder if the meaning behind my words is fully grasped. Who out there has sent a message, written a blog post, or tweeted something, then wondered if their words might have been misunderstood because you couldn’t communicate the tone in which the remark was intended? I know I certainly have. And how many of us have been on the other end of that, wondering just what was meant by a certain comment. Was it truly said in jest? Were their snotty undertones? Was the entire meaning lost along the way?

A friend once admitted to me that she’s made snotty comments, and then hid behind that little smiley face at then end. Be honest, sometimes it is tempting. Isn’t it?  🙂

Although I am grateful for this wonderful means of communicating online, and certainly wouldn’t want to abandon it, I still feel a need to communicate face to face, or by telephone, from time to time. I need to hear the laughter in someone’s voice and be able to tell at a glance just what their day’s been like.I need to see their face light up.. But that’s just me.

So how about you, do you prefer communicating online rather than in person? And does being online give you the courage to fully express yourself in ways you never dreamed you would?

The Road to Publication

It’s been over fifteen years since my first short story was published in The Amethyst Review, a small literary magazine that has since ceased publication. Although I was thrilled to be finally seeing my work in print I didn’t share my accomplishment with very many people—mainly my family and a few close friends but that was about it. Yes, I was published but I sure didn’t feel like a writer. What if this was my one and only story? We are all supposed to have one story in us—right? Not only that, I still had a great deal to learn about writing and I knew it.

All I had in the beginning was an eagerness to communicate, to put words down on paper, hopefully words that would flow smoothly and eloquently and leave me with a sense of accomplishment. In the early years I was floundering about like so many would-be writers do, trying to find out who I really was on the page and searching for that voice that was uniquely mine. It was a slow process and it was a year or two later until I had another story accepted. But I hung in there either out of pure determination or sheer stubbornness. I was going to figure this out one way or another and, slowly but surely, more and more literary magazines began publishing my work. Some places were able to pay while others were not but I knew that with each publication I was growing as a writer. Did I receive many rejection slips along the way? You bet! And I came to see those rejections slips as most valuable because the closer I got to having my work accepted I went from receiving form rejection slips to ones with wonderful bits of advice and encouragement.

So when I received a phone call from the editor of Nimbus Publishing in April 2008 telling me how much she liked “Bitter, Sweet” I politely thanked her for all the wonderful things she was saying. Play it cool, I silently told myself, what if she’s calling to say, “I really like your story but unfortunately…….” So, I played it cool up until the point where she told me they wanted to publish it, after that I’m not quite sure. I laughed a lot, my legs felt like rubber and my mind was going off in a hundred different directions. She asked me a few questions about the setting and I’m sure I blurted out some sort of answer. Hopefully I made sense. I’m pretty sure I made sense. Oh well, if I didn’t make sense it hardly matters now.

The next few days I literally had my head in the clouds and believe me it took a while to come back down to earth. I can’t compare the difference between having a first short story accepted for publication to having a first novel because there really is no comparison. The short story came at the beginning of my career and served as encouragement but as valuable as that encouragement was it still wasn’t where I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong it was pretty exciting to think that someone wanted to publish something I had written but the novel was my goal from the very beginning. It was where I someday wanted to be. Now that someday is here and it feels great!!!!!!

Where Careers Really Start

People often ask when I started writing and the answer is all too clear. I was about ten years old. I had no inkling back then that this was a path I would continue on my entire life. All I knew was I felt this strong urge to write, to explore new ideas with words, to communicate in a way that I otherwise would not have been able to.

My very first attempt at writing prose came in the form of a play that I titled “The Talking Vegetable Garden.” I know what you’re thinking, catchy title, right? I have no earthly idea why I chose to bring a garden to life, to create dialogue for carrots, beans and other such eatable greenery. Perhaps I thought the world was in need of a disagreeable cabbage head, a smooth talking squash or a silly acting parsnip. Who is to say what thoughts were pulsing though this ten year old mind when I decided the world was in need of an imaginary garden where a potato ends up being the bad guy. Then again, why not!

So gathering up my script I recruited some of my classmates to take part. Giving up several of our noon hours seemed a reasonable price to pay for the accolades awaiting us somewhere down the road. Our debut performance was for our homeroom class and, might I add, Mrs. Pettigrew was so impressed with our performance that she allowed us to go to other classrooms that day and wow them with our innate acting abilities. We even got out of doing our school work. We were stars! What more proof did we need?

I can only remember one little boy who played the villain, a small potato with a big attitude. His mom had created him a costume that rivaled all the others. It was a simple costume made from a burlap potato sack and our elementary teachers thought he was adorable, even though he ended up chasing all the other vegetables away with a hatchet. (What a great storyline!!) For myself, I chose the part of narrator, a small part at the very beginning of the play which basically let the audience know just what the play was all about. I wasn’t interested in having a starring role I was more than content to sit in the sidelines for the remainder of the play as my words were spoken with such fervor by my classmates who understood better than anyone the perils that were awaiting some unsuspecting legume.

I’m sure when we marched into the grade six classroom where my sister sat in the front row she no doubt wanted to make a quick exit. (She was kind of like that growing up, “the shy one” as everyone called her.) For the life of me I can’t recall what her comments were, if any, about my cleverly written masterpiece although I’m sure she was well past the age where she dared to dream about veggies communicating in such an articulate fashion and no doubt thought it childish and silly. I can guarantee that she hasn’t given this nearly as much thought over the years as I and I’m even willing to bet she doesn’t even recall our debut performance whatsoever. Go figure!

So there you have—a little known story of where it all started. I only wish I could tell you I saved the script because other than what small bits of memories I have shared with you here there isn’t any other proof out there that this story even happened.

The Power of the Written Word

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

I remember the day my son found these words (or words quite similar to these) on a piece of paper on my computer desk. I saw his reaction to it as he read the quote and quite immediately wanted to know if I was the author of such wisdom. Wow! I wish!!!

Unfortunately I had to burst his bubble. His Mum wasn’t as wise as he had initially thought. (Actually it took him only a nanosecond to realize that I could never come up with something that clever.) I had found the quote in a book written by Wayne Dyer and he was quoting Michelangelo. For someone’s words to live on more than 500 years after their death is nothing less than phenomenal and, if this is not a testament to the power of the written word then I don’t know what is.

Likely the dream of any writer, aside from publication, would be to have their words still being quoted more than 500 years later. No doubt even Michelangelo would be surprised at how powerful his words were. But I think more importantly than the fact that these words are still being used today is the whole meaning behind the words.

Perhaps Michelangelo was right, perhaps most of us set our aim too low. Perhaps we all need to think about what our aim is, maybe even decide to aim a bit higher. The spoken word can easily be forgotten or misquoted but the written word lives on forever. This quote of Michelangelo’s is one of my favourites. It gives me permission to dream, to reach further, and to smile over the meaning of it all.

What are your thoughts on this?

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