Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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observations: people are creatures of habit

And the older the creature, the more firmly entrenched the habit.  At least, that's what it seems like to me.

I've had many opportunities recently to observe folks because I have been working in places with free wi-fi.  I am really striving to stay focused on my work, but being among people it is very easy to see similarities and differences and repeat behavior.  I've noticed that the older folks alone seem to strongly prefer certain places in, say, Whataburger or the library.  A couple fellas and one older lady specifically come to mind.

Among the younger set (teens and twenty-somethings), it seems that they don't necessarily prefer the same place and way of doing things unless they are among a few others.

As for me and my age group... middle agers, I guess (yikes!), if I'm the rule (and I definitely don't claim to be), I prefer to do things in a similar way each time, but I like to feel out a place for the optimal location for me.  In the library I have two definite favorite spots because I feel like I'm more completely hidden and stress less about breastfeeding GrA in both of them.  In Whataburger I'm pretty well exposed wherever I sit... so I just have to have a greater deal of focus on what he's doing while nursing than I would in the library spot I love.

It's easier to get more done if I can focus less on how he happens to nurse at any given moment.  I sure am hopeful that I might be able to make something come around for my family with this work I'm doing.  Just yesterday I was thinking about the hours I've spent at this in the last almost 6 weeks.  Each week I work more than 40 hours, but let's say it was just 40.  And I'm coming up to 6 weeks... so that's 240 hours.  And that doesn't include all the writing I did last year (around 3 novels worth of words)!

Yeah... author/creator work is definitely an act of hope!

So, back to the main subject... do you have any observations about habits among adults?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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my thoughts: on the difference between joy and happiness

I have come to believe that these two, joy and happiness, are most definitely not synonyms.  Neither are they both descriptions of feelings, necessarily.  Happiness definitely is.  And it is, perhaps wrongly, what most folks pursue.  Our Father never promised us happiness.  It is not the purpose of our being.  We are, that we might have joy.  Joy is the purpose of our existence and our life here and now.

Happiness is the feeling that fills our chest at times of pleasure and enjoyment.  The absence of it may result in our feeling that we are experiencing depression, sadness, and other emotions with negative connotations.  Ultimately, though I still mightily struggle with this at times, we choose our feelings.

Because happiness is a feeling, it comes and goes when we are not in good control.  It is a bit flighty, as feelings often are.  And not necessarily trustworthy, as feelings most certainly usually are not.

I am working hard to teach my children that feelings are not facts.   That they are changeable and we can choose to feel differently when we don't like the feeling we're feeling!  It's a difficult lesson to know, but extremely valuable.  Even more worthwhile when we can fully learn it and thereby utilize the knowledge in our daily lives!

Joy.  Now, joy is trustworthy.  And once you have it, you'll have to do a whole heck of a lot to get rid of it.  Because this joy to which I refer is born of faith and hope in Christ and a deep and abiding understanding of His matchless love for oneself and all of mankind.

This part of our existence, joy, is present even when we are sad, mad, glad... whatever.  I have truly felt joy underlying feelings I consider unpleasant.  This new-to-me understanding of joy is a constant source of Peace.  I recognize joy's ever present nature now and come to more fully understand that we truly were created to have joy.

We can experience joy in work (especially when we feel confident that we are doing what the Lord would have us do), joy in our progeny, joy in family relationships, joy in service, joy in simply being alive.  We are, that we might have joy

Some may attempt to argue that the difference is merely semantics.  Not so!  If God created all that is by the Word, then that tells us that words are creative.  And it makes perfect sense.  Doesn't it?!

Let's choose to be happy and feel the joy available if we will have faith and hope and accept His love!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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observations: habits

Have you thought about your habits?  I've been thinking about mine lately.  Mostly wondering if I should work harder to make mine more consistent or if the way my life has been working is really working best for this season.  As I observe others, many with really consistent habits, I can't help but wonder if they consider their habits.

For instance, there is a lady who comes into my favorite writer-work haunt with a book.  Not the same book every time, of course.  And she eats alone and reads.  She smiles at me and has said a few words.  I rarely initiate conversations here because I really am here to work.  I accept conversations when others start them, though, because I believe it is part of my purpose.

I wonder if she hopes for more connections and that's why she comes to eat at Whataburger.  I don't know.  Maybe she really likes to be alone.  Either way, reading puts a wall around her that prevents more connection possibilities.

There are a few guys that come and eat alone.  About half of them work on a device.  The other half are very focused on eating and then depart.  I can see those who work on a device seem to be very focused.  And those who just eat and leave are, too.  All I can do is wonder about what I observe.  And I sure do!

One of the most interesting things, to me, is how I think I could probably set a clock by how consistent some of these folks are.  Especially the elders.  The time they arrive is right about the same on the days they do.  I haven't been nose enough to observe their food choices... I do wonder if they get the same thing every day.  I think it likely just based on what I know about how the synapses in the brain become more and more entrenched as we age... like ruts in a dirt road.

Really, those ruts are, in essence, a good description of all habits.  They are pathways in the brain that are so oft repeated that they become things the body does without thought on our parts.  And when we don't do them, we feel like we're  missing something.  Putting on my wrap is like that for me.  When my babies outgrow it or I'm home and it's too hot to wear it all day, I feel a lack in my morning, for sure.

No matter what, it's definitely been really interesting to observe others and wonder about their motivations and whether their visits are born of desire or simply actions of habit.

What have you observed about your habits?  Any differences between that and what you've observed about others' habits?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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Did you see the SEARCH? Well, here's the video!

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Search for Illustrations for WHEN I WAS A CHEF, I HAD A PIRATE CREW

Have you ever dreamed of seeing your artwork in a book? Have you wished you could illustrate a children's picture book? If you are twenty or younger and you'd like to try to do just that, this is your chance! Make sure you read the search rules carefully and get your submissions in on or before the deadline!

Illustration Search Rules
We have room for lots of illustrations and will prepare at least two editions of When I Was a Chef, I Had a Pirate Crew. One edition will feature each age-group winner. Another edition will feature both of the overall finalists. One of those two finalists will be chosen by the people. The other, by Cap'N Hugh "Strongback" Golly.

If you are twenty or younger, you may enter our search for illustrations for the children's picture book: When I Was a Chef, I Had a Pirate Crew. If your twenty-first birthday happens to fall before the end of the contest, and you want to participate, make sure to get your entry to us before your birthday.

Age Groups:
0-4 years old
5-9 years old
10-13 years old
14-16 years old
17-20 years old

In the event that we do not have enough submissions to support so many age groups divisions, we will consolidate them, seeking to be considerate of our entrants' developmentally appropriate abilities.

To participate, please choose three illustrations and submit them by October 5th and 12th (see below). Send high quality digital files to the email address below. We still want hard copies, too! So, make sure to make high quality copies with waterproof ink and send them to the P.O. Box address below… unless you don't mind giving us your originals. We will not return either high quality hard copies or originals, so make sure you send what you're most comfortable sending and not getting back.

Addresses for Submissions
Email to which you send digital files: toriforrealgollihugh@gmail.com
Address to which you send hard copies: 
Cap'N Hugh Strongback Golly
P.O. Box 293
Elkhart, TX 75839

Deadline for Submissions
For digital files, sent to our email address: have them to us by October 5, 2016, then make sure to send hard copies so they reach us on time.
For hard copy sent to our P.O. Box, have them to us by October 12, 2016.

Your Information
In the subject of the email, include your name and age. In the body of the email, include your first and last name, age with birth date following it, the number (found below) for each illustration you're submitting, and your postal address.

On the back of each illustration, in the bottom right corner, in this order, include the following:
First and last name
Age with birth date
Number of the illustration the illustration you are writing on is meant to fulfill
Email Address
Postal Address

Sizes for Illustrations We Seek
So, you think this is an awesome opportunity, right!? We sure hope so because that's why we're doing it!! Allow me to explain the size/type of illustration described below.

Double to Edge: Noted as DE, this kind of illustration is like two 8.5x11 pieces of printer paper put together at the short end. Imagine holding that as a book so that the longest part is horizontal (landscape printing on most printers).  If you were to open our book, you would see a continuous illustration through the crease where the book folds.  Make sure to leave space in your artwork on both pages of it so the pages can be bound and not cutoff any of your illustration.

Single Full: Noted as SF, this illustration covers one page (8.5x11) from edge to edge and top to bottom when our book is opened.  Make sure any background color goes all the way to the edge of the page on this kind of illustration.

Single Character: Noted as SC, this sort of illustration shows one character doing something. 8.5x11 pages are still going in the book with the long edge horizontal, so make sure your illustration works with that.  The illustration does not go to the edge of the page of our book, so the requested illustration can be surrounded by color, but it doesn't go to the edge of the page.  Sort of like the background color makes a cloud around the illustration.

Vignettes: Notes as V. For our purposes, three small illustrations that show a progression of things described in our story.  The background color for each forms a sort of cloud around the main image, but doesn't connect to the other two.  Each illustration exists as its own entity, but work together on an 8.5x11 held horizontal.

The illustrations we seek:
Now, keep in mind that you really need to know the story you're illustrating. If you haven't heard it yet, please watch HERE. The following descriptions will help you know the base requirements for each illustration, but as you hear the story after you've read the descriptions, you'll surely have some ideas that these descriptions will not provide.

In many/most of the illustrations, we want to see a restaurant kitchen. This will require some research on your part. Do you want to show a huge facility or a Mom and Pop kinda restaurant kitchen? It's really up to you. What you decide will build and provide a basis for the character of your illustrations and you'll need to be consistent because if you win either of the top finalists' spots, you'll get to do more illustrations to finish out the book!

1. DE: show your restaurant kitchen with the dish machine in the foreground. This dish machine is blowing bubbles, as per the story. Make sure you show the spilled stuff described in the story.

2. DE: show 8-10 piratey looking guys as if posing for a picture in your restaurant kitchen.

3. DE: show some of the same guys as in number 2, working at their stations. (In many restaurant kitchens there are various stations. In Cap'N Hugh's restaurant kitchen, there are at least the following stations: saute, fry, grill, salads and soups, and expediter.)

4. SC: Frodo trying to hide his feet. Remember Frodo from the story? If not, listen to it again.

5. SF: Frodo hiding his flask while he works.

6. V: A.) Frank, who maybe looks less piratey than the others. B.) Vicks. C.) Cap'N Hugh cutting onions with no tears thanks to what Frank helped him learn in the story, perhaps remembering doing it tearfully.

7. SF: Frank out with customers in the dining room. This is why Frank should not look as rough as the other pirates. He and the waiter should look pretty similar. Both a bit of a pretty-boy-looking piratey guys… clean shaven and actually looking clean.

8. DE: Stacy looking at the Cap'N and others like they are weird. An imagination bubble from Stacy showing an “off-grid homestead” in it.

9. DE: David working the fry station.

10. SC: Cap'N Hugh with an expression of the kind of glee described in the story and David working in the background while keeping an eye on the Cap'N.

11. SC: Waiter drinking what he drank in the story.

12. SF: Chris and other pirates singing in the kitchen.

13. SC: Tink as described in the story, with other pirates around him looking perplexed.

14. DE: Tink working in the kitchen, imagining himself surrounded by many ladies

15. SC: delivery trucks pulling up at the back of the restaurant

16. SC: Cap'N paying delivery guy; food in the background made to looking like a gem/treasure trove

17. DE: Cap'N Hugh looking proud in his kitchen with some crew in the background working

18. DE: Cap'N and crew working in the kitchen; looking like they are going through a storm

19. DE: Cap'N comforting a group of small children sitting around as he holds the closed book that he's just finished reading to them: When I Was a Chef, I Had a Pirate Crew.

Contest Part
As we receive submissions and as soon as we arrive at the deadline, we will organize the illustrations and provide a way for all to see them so that folks can vote on which they think should appear in our books. 

We will have an age group finalist for each group, based on votes as well as an overall finalist based on votes. We will also have another overall finalist chosen by Cap'N Hugh. 

The two overall finalists will be asked to draw additional illustrations to fill out a complete edition between the two of them! Thus, the age group winners will appear in one edition and the overall finalists in another.

Payment to Illustrators
Payments for illustrations will be based on sales. Those whose illustrations make it into an edition will receive payment. Each illustrator whose art will be published will receive exclusive information about sales and how much they will be paid based on them. We hope for great sales of both editions so our illustrators will make good money for their work.

Make sure to subscribe to the Cap'N's YouTube channel so you can receive updates about the progress of the contest and learn of future opportunities, too.

We do have another piratey book for which we'll need illustrations!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

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my thoughts: on change

Is it even possible?

If you read my last post about my thoughts, you'll know that I definitely do believe change is possible.

Change that is last is also possible.  Improbable if we are striving for change by relying on the strength of our self.  We are fallible and weak.  So, we might backtrack and resume the action we are trying to change.  I know I have not yet successfully changed my eating habits and as a result I'm a fluffy lady.

Here's what I do know as a result of successfully changing in some specific, but less visible, ways.

Towards motivation is an absolute requirement of lasting change.  Motivation moving towards something better, rather than focusing on the movement away from what we want to change.  If we only focus on the away... we'll return, sure as shootin!  (Thus, I am still fluffy.  I haven't focused on something other than getting out of the excess fluff.)

Another really necessary tool in the effort to change is Christ.  His Atonement (being forgiven of sin) is the only thing that makes true and lasting change possible.  If we want Him and love Him more than we love our sin, we can focus on Him and His plan for us and truly leave behind the actions we desire to change.

That's tough, right?  That means that I don't love my Savior as much as I thought I did because I seem unable to leave off the addiction of overeating... which is the sin of gluttony, right?  *sigh*  Harsh.  But it's the truth, yall.  I'm extra fluffy (morbidly obese) because I eat too much... especially probably too much of the wrong things and in the wrong combinations.

I have to tell you... I have been working on some other sins that you can't see written on my body like you can see my fatness.  So, for me, working on the food addiction is just not as important as changing the other more spiritually detrimental addictions/sins.  And I believe I have made some really great strides.
One, the addiction I had to chocolate, has been under a Fast for more than five years.  The other, two... things I'm not yet ready to talk about, have been covered in the Atonement.  One for three years and the other for more than seven.  Yeay!

Change in and through our Savior really is possible!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

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observations: on a Whataburger's visitors

Now, this is what I've observed in my small city in East Texas at the one Whataburger we have.  So maybe this observation is not so much about human nature, but more a regional or even local one.  I guess you'll have to tell me what you think if you've taken some time to observe a day in the life of your local 24 hour fast food joint (preferably a Whataburger... cause it could be specific to the type of restaurant, too).

Also, these observations pertain to the inside dining room of the Whataburger.  I have no idea what habits those frequenting the drive-through may have or what ages may be represented.

In the morning, starting really early at around 5am, the elder folk come in to break their fast. These are the elders we should respect simply by virtue of their age and the life experience that goes with it.  We can readily see their life written in the wrinkles on their face.  And they come as often alone as with someone else.

Surprising as it may seem, there are many in this group that come alone or with someone and meet others while here.  Almost like breakfast clubs for the Grannies and Grampies.  Many of those meetings, it seems, are prearranged.  Just as many, though, are simply by virtue of the same folks coming to eat at the same time on a regular basis.  It is enjoyable to watch these meetings, especially those that were not prearranged.

The morning and early lunch time is dominated by these sweet old folks.  They love to talk to GrA, by the way.  Many give such expressive communications as I'm walking by that I feel compelled to stop so they can try to get a smile from him.  Thankfully, this little guy is really smiley and almost always rewards them for their efforts.

Midday meal-time starts to see more younger visitors.  But still the majority is older folks who have earned their silver hairs.  Even at lunch, those who are younger are still in the thirties and above.

Later day and dinner see more families here at my favorite writer-work haunt!  Some nights (maybe Wednesdays and Saturdays) tend to have larger families visiting for a meal.  I'm thinking these might be folks departing church and stopping on their way home.  But I haven't asked any of them, so this really is just a guess.  I think it's a good guess, though, because oft-times these family groups greet one another.  Additionally, they often look well-dressed, as if for church.

Evening and night are when the youth and young adults visit.  Most often they come as groups of guys or girls.  Very few come alone.  Sometimes there are couples that seem to be out on dates.  The fewer guys, the better, as I've not directly said, but basically shared before.

A few times I've been here after the bars let out... those are some interesting times to observe.  I really do not prefer them, though, and, in fact, work hard to avoid that time (especially on Fridays and Saturdays and I just don't work at all for 24 hours on Sundays).  It's sometimes funny, but often disturbing to watch (and hear!) the interactions of the often inebriated folks that visit my Whataburger during those after hours.

My favorite working hours are from about 1am until 5am Monday through Wednesday and sometimes Thursday.  It's difficult for me to make it to my Whataburger during those hours, though, because I do need to sleep sometime!

Have you observed various hours at a local 24 hour restaurant?  I'd love to hear what you've seen... even if it's not a full 24.  Maybe you've observed a certain spread.  Tell me about it by commenting below!

Monday, August 1, 2016

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taking flight FINISHES

This is the third part.  If you have not read the first two, please click HERE.  This post simply finishes the story.  No summary of previous parts.  I figure you're smart enough to realize that the whole story must be read to understand this part!    ;)

Moja takes a deep breath, savoring the feel of air in her lungs.  She feels and sees everything in high relief… more poignantly than ever before in her life.  She wants to experience this moment because she is absolutely certain that it will be her last.  She looks over her shoulder at Bwana Mwalimu.  He is as serene as ever.  ‘Doesn’t he know I’m going to fall to my death,’ Moja thinks to herself.  She faces the great expanse again.  Another breath.  She takes a step forward so that only the heels of her feet are still attached to the earth.  A tear escapes a pool in one of her eyes.  Another breath, she closes her eyes and a tears escapes each eye.  Moja quickly steps off the earth into the air… and doesn’t fall.  Both feet are in the air.  The earth of Kiwango Chajuu is completely behind her, yet she hasn’t fallen.
Moja looks over her shoulder at Bwana Mwalimu.  He is smiling broadly, tears streaming down his face.  Moja smiles a lopsided smile, raises a hand and shoulder and begins to fall.
But it’s not falling.  It’s moving.  She’s turning.  Moja realizes that she’s not really standing in the air now, but lying there with her belly toward the earth.
Bwana Mwalimu is next to her now.  She can see his radiant bright blue wings moving in the air.  And then, only then is she able to see her own. The scales fall from her eyes and she sees her own wings.  They are, to her eyes and heart, more beautiful than she could’ve ever wished for.
I did it!  I’m flying!”
Yes.  Yes you are!”
But… I didn’t even know I had wings when I stepped off of Kiwango Chajuu.”
I thought as much.”
You could see them couldn’t you?”
I could see the light gathering for them.  And I could see them beginning to form.”
And you didn’t tell me?”
You didn’t ask.”
I thought I was going to die!”
And here you are.  Moja Kidogo, would you like to fly back to Kijiji Chaupendo?”
Why so formal, my teacher?  Yes, I would like to fly back to the village.  Do you think I can make it that far?
Because I address a flyer.  As for whether I think you can make it, what I think is not of any concern, Maja Kidogo.  Do YOU think you can make it that far?
Yes.  Yes, I know I can.  Let’s go.”
Upon returning to the village a group of people has gathered and are cheering as Kidogo and Bwana Mwalimu fly back.
Bwana lands and then Moja joins him, flawlessly landing for the first time as if she has done it for a lifetime.  Her parents and brother run to hug her.
How did you know we were coming?” Moja asks her Mother, looking around at the group, as they embrace.
We thought we saw a burning ship approach.  Others called, too, so we all gathered to watch.  Only as you drew near did we realize you were flying, Moja. My sweet Moja!  I always knew your faith burned so bright! Your wings are magnificent!  I haven’t seen wings like that in… well, it’s been a really long time.
Thank you, Mother.  I love them.  I never would’ve thought I would have such lovely wings.  And flying is so much easier than I thought it would be.”
How many times have you flown, my little one?” her Father asked.
This is the first time.”
Really?  No way, Moja!” Akili, her older brother, smiled and teased.
Yes.  You know I only tell the truth.”  She is shocked and saddened by his question and incredulity because she is not thinking about his words from him, simply reacting to the words themselves.
Moja,” Bwana Mwalmu intervenes, “I am relatively certain that he only asks incredulously because you landed so perfectly.  Most people require numerous practice landings to do it as well as you just did.”  Akili nods in agreement.
Oh.” Moja says.  “Wow.  That’s really wonderful!  I mean… I know you always tell the truth, but could you be exaggerating a little bit, Bwana?”
No, Moja.  I state only what I observe.  Exaggeration is a form of lie as I understand and choose to live..  I believe Mugu Upendo has big plans for you.  You must carefully seek His Will and perform it with exactness.  Where much is given, much is required.”

to review Swahili names and words, click HERE.  You'll find the translations at the bottom of the post.