Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Ducky

I was talking with my friend Connie awhile back and she was telling me how difficult work had been for her. The infighting in her office had become unbearable which left morale rather low. I told her there was nothing she could do about anyone else and she needed to focus on herself. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Only you can set the dial on your attitude. So, you start there.

I told Connie she needed to think like a duck, be the duck, because ducks have waterproof feathers. Using the preen gland near their tails, ducks pick up oil in the gland with their head and bill and spread it all over their bodies. Without this oil and constant preening they would be left with no protective barrier. Now picture a duck floating on the water…as it reaches the shore, it drops its little webbed feet, spreads and flaps its wings spraying water in every direction. As it folds its wings inward, you can see the duck vibrate from bill to tail spraying water, yet again, in every direction. And that’s just what Connie needed to do. You see nothing sticks to a duck, so it doesn’t matter if it’s raining cats and dogs because it makes no difference. It’s all just water running off their backs. It just doesn’t matter!

I keep a supply of rubber duck’s on hand at all times. I have given out quite a few ducks over the years. By the way, I made sure I mentioned this to my husband recently in case something ever happened to me and he ran across my duck stash. I thought I should make sure he knew what the story was. Although, now that I think about it, it might have been kind of fun to leave that for him to figure out! Anyway, after the conversation with Connie, I mailed her one of my ducks. I told her to display it proudly on her desk. Then when the yammering starts in, focus on the duck and preen to her hearts content. If necessary, walk out of the room and tell the yammerer, “Talk to the duck.”

I’m happy to report that Connie has made quite a flap. Her duck has empowered her to even leave her office while squawking, “Quack…quack…quack.” No, I’m not making this up. Connie has made sure to continue the preening on a regular basis. She doesn’t want to be caught off guard and find her feathers soaked. It’s important to note here, even if you haven’t preened lately, it’s never too late to start letting everything just roll off your back. It’s all about attitude, and you’ve got to start someplace, so think like a duck!

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010
Special thanks to for the ducky pic

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Status

I finished writing my book, It Is What It Is, last fall. Since that time, it has been reviewed and edited by a variety of people including a doctor, someone who doesn't know me, people who read self help and inspirational type books and people who don't. All comments have been very positive. I have read and edited more times than I can remember. Quite frequently I am asked about the editing process and just what it is I am doing. I'm looking for consistency, misspellings, grammar and punctuation to name a few. Plus, sometimes I just find a better way of saying something. The thing is, when you make a change, you may read the paragraph the change was made in but not the complete chapter or essay. So by the time you get around to reading the whole document again, you hopefully can see that the changes you have made are consistent with the rest of the document. It's actually interesting what you and others miss. I found I had gotten too close to the words and wasn't seeing what I needed to. I worked extensively with a dear friend of mine who has also probably lost count of the number of times she has reviewed this book, and has admitted that she is now too close and doesn't see what she needs to see.

I'm currently finishing an edit and will read my book yet again. Each time I read I try not to focus on everything. When I was focusing on punctuation, it just about drove me crazy. After awhile, I felt as if I didn't know anything anymore. While reading other books or articles, I found myself concentrating on the author's punctuation style. That is not something I've ever given a whole lot of thought to when reading. It quite definitely takes away from the reading enjoyment. This whole process has been frustrating at times but enlightening and I know it will help improve my writing in the future.

Getting out from under all the editing will give me more time to work on this blog and organize all my notes and scribblings for the next three books that are screaming to get out of my head. I have looked into traditional publishing as well as self-publishing, such as print on demand. I understand the traditional publishing world is in a bit of a turmoil with all the new self-publishing avenues. What I know for sure is...I just want to write and speak to groups and not have to concern myself with everything else that goes along with publishing my writing. I can see the future is bright and my books will be published. I just don't know what the in-between looks like at this point. I am confidant and I will find my way, one word at a time.

Photo courtesy of Zitona

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beware of Little Chinese Lady Carrying Big Soapbox

A couple of weeks ago I went to my seasonal acupuncture appointment. I had been having some new disturbances in my gut along with the regular ache here and pain there kind of thing. The acupuncturist happened to ask me something about breakfast and I mentioned that I had a protein drink, something I quite frequently have. As a matter of fact, I have been having a protein drink for breakfast off and on since I was in junior-high. She immediately gave me the “evil eye” and started to say something about protein drinks. I interrupted her and said this was not something in a can or that I picked up on the way, and that I make wonderful, healthy concoctions at home. She asked if I add any type of protein powder to the mix. These days I do use a protein powder because raw eggs are not advised. She asked me if I eat a lot of processed foods. I really think I eat fairly healthy. I generally don’t eat at fast-food type places and I don’t drink soft drinks. I read all ingredient labels. I’m a “from scratch” kind of cook and I do consider every ingredient used. So I don’t think I eat a lot of processed foods. WRONG!

Out came the soapbox and this little Chinese lady proudly gave me a talking to. I wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise to get clarification on something she was talking about or ask a simple question. She was on a rant about the use of protein powders not being a “good thing” and the importance of eating natural, fresh foods.

Now, I can appreciate what she was saying. I do respect anyone who can eat this way. Walking through the grocery store after the natural, fresh foods lecture, I realized just how much processed food I do eat. Anything in a can or bottle is “processed” – even if there is no sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, m.s.g., food coloring or preservatives. Even if no chemicals, hormones or antibiotics were used. Even if the product is labeled organic. As I’m walking down the aisles, the types of foods I buy were shouting at me, “Hey, over here, I’m the ketchup you buy,” “Look this way, I’m the mayonnaise you buy.” I’ve had homemade mayo and ketchup. Both are fairly easy to make and very good. BUT, who has time to make EVERYTHING from natural, fresh scratch? My acupuncturist makes her own bread after grinding her own wheat. She even grinds her own meats. Trying to grocery shop after this lecture was a bit discouraging, but I gained a better understanding to what “processed” foods encompass.

With my gut issues, due to Crohn’s disease, at times I am significantly limited to what I can take in through my digestive system. When the Crohn’s is acting up, I must stay away from fiber because it just doesn’t move through. I know, we’re all told we need to add more fiber. I wish I could. I would love to eat a raw apple, but that won’t work for me. When doing well, I am able to eat cooked apples without the peel. There are many fruits and vegetables I can only eat well cooked. You can appreciate how important it is for me to pay attention to what goes in as well as what’s moving through.

Walking through the grocery store, I was trying to determine how one would go about eating natural, eating fresh. I wondered if my acupuncturist made her own butter. She probably doesn’t use butter. I use olive oil in most of my cooking, but I am from the Julia Child’s school of thought. Butter is a good thing. You just don’t need to eat the whole stick. I think Julia mentioned something about moderation.

It hurt my head to think about all the changes I would need to make. From my viewpoint, it seemed to be a very limited way to eat. And I already know what that’s entails. I am sure, like most things, you figure it out a step at a time. I could use Crohn’s as my excuse but that’s exactly what it would be – an excuse. It comes down to this, right now, I just don’t want to head down that road. It’s not practical for me. Maybe someday it will be something I am ready to try, but not today. I’m going to continue eating healthfully, processed or not. Lifestyle changes are very difficult to make. So, no matter what it is you should change or want to change, in order to make changes, one must be in sync with the changes you are making in order for them to stick!

Thirty minutes after my well-meaning acupuncturist started her rant, she got down off her soapbox, I told her I would see what I could do and then she stuck me full of needles – not good timing on my end!

Photo courtesy of MonsieruLui

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Found Friend

There’s someone I’d like you to meet … guess who? … It’s YOU! Are you feeling slightly let down right now? Hmm, we’ll have to get back to that.

So exactly how would you introduce yourself? Hi, (insert your name), I’d like you to meet a good friend of mine, (insert your name). Okay, now that the formalities are over, what next? I suppose you could talk about your family or work, but let’s just skip the small talk here. What I want to know is whether or not you would even want to meet this person? What would your first impressions be? Perhaps you will decide you have a lot in common and elect to spend more time with you. As you learn more about you, would you really want to spend more time or were you just being nice?

Think of someone you honestly adore spending time with. What are the qualities that make up this person? Are any of these qualities lacking in you? Time spending is quite a luxury and a gift, so why spend the time with this particular individual? One may never really understand why we enjoy being with a person. Perhaps it is someone who helps us feel good, happy or on the other end of things, someone we can commiserate with. I, for one, don’t really like the whole commiserating scenario. How can anyone move beyond the commiserating? Sounds like a downer to me.

How much time do you spend with just YOU? Do you enjoy your own company? Many may say, “Sure, why not, I’m with me all the time!” Not necessarily true though. Most people I know take little if any time for themselves. Schedules are tight and we all seem to be engaged in something all the time. How many of us take the time to just be. Taking the time to just be has taught me so much more than all the doing in the world. I am learning to appreciate more fully the good about me and work on those “things” that perhaps aren’t so good. Being guides me to accentuate the positive. Giving time to simply be, with what should be your favorite person you honestly adore spending time with, guides you to be-ing a better individual. That better individual can then be more engaged with what is actually unfolding in their lives. That person can actually be a better person for all.

Now, let’s try this again. There’s someone I’d like you to meet … guess who? … It’s YOU! Feeling a bit better about the possibilities I hope!

© Copyright Michelle Clark 2010