Who, What, Where, When — and Why Should I Care?

Know your audience. The first rule of communication, whether it’s newspapers, entertainment, preaching, or whatever. Makes it difficult for me to find an uninteresting news item, because as a journalism major, I know how reporters think. What’s more, I worked as both a reporter and a public relations media specialist, and I can find something interesting about dirt. You just need to know how to work it.

girl-with-newspaper-smThat’s not to say every news item is going to hold a high level of interest for every reader of a local newspaper. That would be impossible. It’s why most people have a section or three they typically skip, or perhaps have only one section they’ll read on a regular basis. Newspapers, as a rule, aren’t particularly expensive, so most readers can afford the luxury of throwing away something of which they read less than 10 percent.

Still, it’s impossible for me to call any story uninteresting, because I can almost immediately identify its audience and understand their concern about the issue. What I’m better at doing is calling out the reporter on how they covered the story, and I’m sympathetic even there — sometimes time constraints, poor direction from editors, unwilling witnesses & experts and always, always, those pesky deadlines get in the way. Add the final insult to injury, that is, sloppy late-night editing and headline writing and you may have a story you cringe at seeing the next day.

Of course there’s always the story that comes together beautifully, and you pray everyone you love and everyone you hate reads it with jaw-dropping admiration. The story that’s so compelling people who don’t generally care about the topic can’t put it down and post the online version to their Facebook pages. The one that makes them say, now I get it.

What’s more likely to happen if a story is truly uninteresting is that it’s poorly written, sadly researched and half-heartedly pulled together because the reporter doesn’t care or isn’t experienced enough to consider their audience.

Media Signpost Showing Internet Television Newspapers Magazines And RadioThere are major news organizations who’ve created a niche market — sometimes an exceptionally large and influential one — because they’re savvy about the audience they’re catering to and have talented, experienced editors & reporters who target that audiences’ wants & needs, hopes & fears. They exist for all forms of media.

Their stories are less likely to be uninteresting to anybody and more likely to be divisive because of the skill of those developing & writing the material. Local news has a far greater risk of being boring than national news, by its very nature.

Still, anything published likely has its readers, and anything on the air has its viewers, or it will soon disappear. So if you wonder why that terrible magazine or godawful news program is still around, it’s because they know their audience.


Image Credits: © GraphicStock.com

On the Balance, Fear is an Equal Weight

In July 1999, while in New York for my brother’s wedding, my aunt & I stopped to shop in the World Trade Center. She pushed for the $20 elevator ride to the top, but I balked.

“I’m scared of heights,” I admitted. “I mean, it’s not like I think I’m going to fall off the building if we go up there, but I’d be too terrified to enjoy it.”

“Once you’ve had brain surgery,” she replied, referring to a tumor she’d had removed a few years earlier, “nothing scares you.”

As I stared at the Twin Towers, I hoped she’d never endure nothing more frightening than that growth in her brain. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, as her health problems dwindled in comparison to events the following May. Her son, my cousin, went missing, and has never been found. He is presumed to have been murdered.

And of course, just two years later, those buildings we shopped under and gazed upon collapsed under the force and heat of two jet airplanes that had deliberately been flown at horrific speed straight into them.

I don’t live in fear of events like those on a daily basis, although clearly they can and do happen, but living without the awareness and respect for what life can bring you on any scale seems foolhardy.

Is fear holding you back is a legitimate question, but one that should be coupled with, is that fear a safety measure or a roadblock? If you aren’t pursuing your dreams because the risk greatly outweighs the reward, then consider the fear a gift. Not all dreams are golden opportunities waiting for you to have the courage to make them come true. Some are escapist fantasies with little basis in reality.

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Now what?

At different points in our life, when our responsibilities shift and change, we have a greater or lesser tolerance for risk. Some of us, quite frankly, aren’t good at “jumping off cliffs.” There needs to be some stability in our decisions or we fall apart before the outcome of our decision is determined.

Others thrive on risk, the fear is a motivator, a fuel that sends them from one adventure to another.

We all land somewhere on a tolerance spectrum of risk vs. reward, and as appealing as the phrase “let go of your fears” may be, not all of us should do just that. Our fears can be our friend, not because they rule us, but because they guide us.

Respect yourself, respect your fears, but respect the proper opportunities before they go by, as well. Life is a balancing act.


Photos courtesy Pixabay

The Letter (sigh)

Cargo Overload

When I was 36, I moved from Minneapolis to Nashville for a relationship. I distinguish “moving for a relationship” from “moving for a man.” It was a decision I made because it was what I wanted to do, and not because I was one of those women who would sacrifice anything for the man in her life. I’d made big moves before, so I knew what I was getting into. In fact, I was looking forward to the change and opportunities.

I had a good job lined up in Nashville, or so it seemed. Okay, that job lasted a mere six months, but ultimately I worked for a company where I truly was happy, maybe for the first time, ever.

Sad love heart symbol backgroundBut overall I wasn’t content in Nashville. I broke up with that boyfriend a year after my move, and made only one true friend in the three years I was there.

Still, something special did happen, a seemingly small event, but one that lifted my spirits for years. I wish I could go back in time for this simple reason: to save that letter.

It was January,

a few months before Mark and I split up, and I knew our relationship was coming to an end. Still, I wasn’t going to go out with anybody else until it was officially over, no matter how appealing he might be.

No matter how appealing he might be.

The apartments I lived in at the time were nice, but they didn’t have a washer & dryer hookup in the units. Instead, there were a handful of washers and dryers in the mail room. To avoid the crowd, I did my laundry early Saturday mornings. I didn’t dress up by any means — sweats, no makeup, my hair looking like a bird’s nest. I think I even wore slippers. I did take a shower and brush my teeth (my concession to public sensibilities), and likely wore my contacts out of habit. But it was not a moment to capture in either mind or photo.

A man started showing up at the same time, somewhat older than me, and very kind. We’d talk, but I’m not a morning person, and generally I was there to throw my laundry in and haul back to my apartment. I barely noticed him.

Then one day I got a letter,

in an ordinary office envelope, written on plain yellow ruled paper. The return address was the apartment in the building next to mine. I was curious, and a little nervous. Who on earth?

adobestock_125247617-convertedIt was the gentleman who’d been doing his laundry at the same time I was. Turns out it was no coincidence he showed up every Saturday morning for weeks on end. Despite my scarecrow appearance and nominal conversation, he wanted to get to know me.

It was the warmest, most heartfelt letter I’ve ever gotten, ending with an invitation to dinner.  It made me feel treasured. I kept that letter for years, and today I have no idea what happened to it.

I spoke to him the following Saturday and told him while I truly valued his letter, I wouldn’t be comfortable going out with him since I was still dating Mark. He suggested coffee, but I knew how Mark would feel about even that casual of a meeting (despite the growing distance between us), and I knew how I would feel about it, too. I told this gracious man if I ever broke up with my boyfriend, I’d look him up.

By the time Mark and I did split, the man had moved away.

I don’t regret not going out with him. I believe in honoring the relationship you’re in, even if it’s rocky. Tempting yourself isn’t wise.

If I could go back in time, I’d travel to the moment I decided to throw away that letter (if indeed I did, perhaps it was tossed accidentally) and save it instead as the rare gift it was.


Image Credits: (car) © James Group Studios Inc — Adobe Stock; (window) © robsonphoto — Adobe Stock; (letter)  © vladwel — Adobe Stock

Quote Challenge Day Three! “This Is My Father’s World”

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This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.

I came across this draft from last fall… Oops, look like I never posted Quote Three! However, it remains relevant.

About the Quote Challenge (you’re invited!):

Thank you, Dede, for including me in this challenge. I encourage anyone who’s looking for hope in challenging times to visit her blog and read her heartfelt posts.

Thank you also to those of you who have taken on the quote challenge and made it work for your specialized blogs. Blogging is about creativity and communication, among other things, and seeing how all of you manage your blogs is inspiring to me.

Anybody who wants to accept this challenge is welcome to do so!

Three quotes over three days. Thank the person who nominated you, and nominate three new people each day. The rules aren’t hard and fast. Make this challenge work for you!


Lyrics from “This is My Father’s World”
The United Methodist Hymnal Number 144
Text: Maltbie D. Babcock
Music: Trad. English melody; adapt. by Franklin L. Sheppard
Tune: TERRA BEATA, Meter: SMD

Image Credit: © cirodelia — Fotolia

Carry a What?

I fully appreciate my God-given talents. I was born, it would seem, with an ability to write well, something I’ve tried over the years to cultivate and focus. I’m an excellent knitter, decent seamstress, and have a creative eye for decorating. Nothing I’ve turned into a career, nor would I want to do so, but it makes my home a happy place to be.

One thing I cannot do, no way, no how,  is carry a tune. I am one of the tiny percent of people who simply have not an ounce of musical talent. It makes church services a little long sometimes, because I rarely even try to hum along or mouth the words. Yes, I have my favorite hymns, and I do chime in with those, under my breathe. If you start playing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” I will be compelled to pretend I’m singing along with you.

And my cats put up with me around the house. What choice do they have? Each has his or her own song. For Walter, it’s “Walter Kitty, You’re the One” sung to the tune of “Rubber Ducky, You’re the One,” and for Mimi, it is “You are My Sunshine.” I can almost get by with that one, and she knows it’s her song. She’ll sit closer to me and snuggle in.

For the late great Paco, I had a handful of old country classics I’d sing as I held him, and he burrowed into my shoulder and purred as I would murmur, “You Don’t Know Me” so softly, only he could hear it. I think the tune comforted him, as did being held.

Holding baby blueYears ago I got trapped into working in the nursery at my church during the Kid’s Christmas Pageant. As you might imagine, a lot of the parents who normally would have taken on that job had older children, or even nieces, nephews and neighborhood friends, performing as sheep and angels and what have you, so they wanted to be in the service, The church was recruiting those of us old enough to have done our share of babysitting, yet young (or unattached) enough not to be too concerned if we missed the children’s performances, to assist with the wee ones.

As soon as a I entered the nursery, I was handed a screaming eight-month-old. Normally the policy was to retrieve the parents if the crying persisted, but the ladies in charge knew this little guy had an older sister making her stage debut, and felt it was best to wait it out. Powerful lungs, he had, and nothing I did helped.

So I started to sing, barely a whisper, and to my shock, it made a difference. “Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll,” I crooned. “Doo, doo, doo. Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock-and-roll. But when evening comes around and it’s time to hit the town….” The older ladies gave me odd glances, but I didn’t care.

He still cried, but wouldn’t let anyone else take over. This was a conservative church, the kind where you didn’t advertise you’d ever listened to Loggins & Messina, let alone attended movies like Footloose or Dirty Dancing. I didn’t tell his parents what I’d been singing (my guess now is they wouldn’t have cared), but thiry-plus years later, I wonder, what does that little boy, now a grown man, think of if and when he hears that song?

Does it bring him an odd, unidentifiable kind of comfort? Does he sing it to his own kids for reasons he can’t explain? Or has he completely forgotten everything about that evening and being carried for nearly two hours by a college student who felt helpless against his tears?

Songs are powerful, so is a hug. I pray that eternal life brings with it a greater ability to express myself through music, but in the meantime, I’ll keep writing. And humming just a little…



Image Credit: “Holding Baby Blue” © soapysoft — Fotolia

Sweet Slumber…please….

Oh, let me curl up in a little ball and sleep until I feel better.

bigstock-146697488-convertedI don’t mean to be a baby. I’m just miserable. I’m certainly not as sick as some people I know, I mean, so far this appears to be a simple cold. I’ve been sicker, a lot sicker. I almost would prefer to be a little (let me stress, little) bit sicker so I’d be more likely to do what I most want to do, sleep, blissful sleep.

But I’m feeling well enough that I want to do things. I know if I do, I’ll make it worse for myself and then there’s a good possibility I really will be sick. Years ago a doctor told me the worst thing you could do when you started feeling better was go back to work, or your regular routine, that same day. You needed to give it one more day, or you’d relapse.

Been there, and it isn’t pretty.

So forgive me, fellow bloggers, for my lack of attention to your posts. I hope to catch up soon.

For now I’m going to bed….

 

Crafting a Legacy

In my home, as well as my mom’s, there is evidence of my handiwork everywhere — evidence of me. It is my legacy, I suppose, along with other things I’ll let my family and friends determine on my behalf. But I love to create, and those I love are the recipients of my creative efforts, generally, I hope, because they want to be.

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One of my young friends just moved from Arkansas to Wisconsin, and she has this cap to keep her warm!

Long ago I learned only to give to those whom I know, or have reason to believe, will appreciate the gift. Over the years I’ve received many gracious notes, letters, text messages and phone calls saying, “thank you!” The most memorable, I suppose, was the hug from a co-worker when I made him a mohawk cap (it was knitted, then felted, and when he wore it, it resembled a mohawk). He was in a band, and wore it when he played. Later he wanted me to make the same cap for the others in his band, but I didn’t have the time.

I asked him for a picture with him wearing the cap, and he promised me he’d take one and forward it to me, but I never received it. Never mind, he was so excited about the cap, and I hold that memory close.

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Some fingerless mitts I designed.

At that same workplace I made fingerless mitts for my friends who worked in receiving. Later, I knitted a second pair for one of them when she lost the first pair. Last year I designed and made another pair of fingerless mitts for a friend when she cat-sat for me while I took cared for my mom after surgery.

But take a look at my mom’s home. Never mind the plethora of sweaters I’ve made her, there’s the shawl, the pillow, the quilts, the dish cloths I embroidered, bookmarks I stenciled, jewelry boxes I decorated, a picture of a wild parakeet I drew and soon, she’ll have curtains in her kitchen (just waiting for the fabric to get that one done).

I come by this passion for creating honestly. My mom sewed while I was growing, everything from my underwear to my dad’s suits. She was incredible. My dad, a computer programmer by profession (which I think of as creative), made and sold pottery when I was in high school. If he’d wanted to, it’s likely he could have quit his job and been a full-time potter, but the timing wasn’t right.

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When my niece was younger, I designed and knit some clothes for her Barbie dolls — and I’m still designing !

Knitting is my primary outlet. I’ve been knitting for more than 38 years, and in recent years have been designing a little here and there. Actually, I’ve always done some design, I just never recorded it.

My friends and family keep warm in the winter because of the hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, cowls and the like I’ve made. For that matter, some strangers do, too, as I always make a few things for my church’s Giving Tree each year, where we collect cold-weather clothing of all kinds to give to those who come to the food bank each week.

Yes, it’s my legacy, and it’s a legacy of love.

quilts

A few years ago, I did a lot of quilting, and I may do some more someday. For now, these keep my home cheery and the bannister warm. Plus, the cats like to “hide” under the one on the left!

 

Craft