What’s the best use of time to think?

Thoughts while, and about, falling down.

fallingSeveral years ago, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell, landing more embarrassed than scathed. As I lay on the ground assessing myself for damage, I realized that I’d had several remarkably clear thoughts between tripping and landing.

At the time, I thought, How interesting. There’s actually time to think even in such a short time.

I tucked the realization away – something to use someday in my writing. I wonder if I might have put that realization to better use than just writing.

When I fell on the ice last month, once again thoughts raced through my mind. Realization that my foot had landed in a slippery spot and I was going down. Noting the hill I would land on. Thinking I was careless to have let that happen. Again, several clear thoughts during an event that lasted not much more than a second.

The result was worse this time. I wound up in the emergency room with a broken wrist.

When I posted on Facebook about my fall, someone suggested next time I should remember to “tuck and roll.” What a joke, others laughed. It happens so fast, how could you ever do anything but act out of reflex? But I wonder.

My aunt who’d broken her ankle as a teenager, suffered from ever more frequent falls as she aged.  Once as she crossed a street, she fell. Later she told me that her thought as the ground raced up at her was, “Well, I’ve done it now!”  Indeed she had. She broke her wrist.

Another time, my aunt tripped in her living room and had the presence of mind to fling herself forward so that she landed on the couch. That gave us all a good laugh. Particularly since she managed not to hurt herself.

Because my mother lived alone in her home, I convinced her to get a Life Line button. One day she fell. It took considerable time and effort before she was able to drag herself to the basement stairs, get her feet under her and get up. I asked why she didn’t just press the button hanging on a cord around her neck so someone could come and help her. She looked momentarily puzzled and then responded, “I guess you’d have to remember you even had the button to do that.”

Doing things automatically is often a matter of practicing enough. Since my fall, I’ve worked to implant the idea of “tuck and roll” in my brain. To that end, I’ve been thinking about it, talking to others about it, writing about it. I hope never to fall again, but if I do, I hope “tuck and roll” is the first thought in my head.

What do you think, my friends? Have you had experiences with split second thoughts? Do you think I can be successful at retaining tuck and roll? Have you done something like this? Or should I just resign myself to using this learning in my writing?

Why we read

Inner discourse. Deeper lives. To stay connected.

ReaderA Writer of History shares the gist of an insightful article on why we (still) read. Thanks, Mary Tod.

Why we read

A few months ago, my mother clipped an article out of the paper for me with the compelling title Why we (still) read. The author was Robert Fulford, a long-time and well known Canadian journalist.

Fullford discusses the benefits of reading and the way “books work on us”. Several bits stood out for me. The first is a quote taken from Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy:

 

…in reading books we construct our unique selves: “There is no self without reading.” Without the inner discourse that reading makes possible, self hardly exists.”

Read on for more compelling thoughts …

Are you using some words too often?

Software helps find repetition.

Kayla Curry shared software to help writers find what I’ve called “crutch” words and what Sharla Rae calls “echo” words. Here’s the start and link to her post.

Kayla Curry

Kayla Curry

How to tell if you are using one word too much.

My upcoming novel, Where the Carnies Are is in the editing stage right now and I just ran it through a little test that helps me determine what words I used the most when I wrote it. I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that (for free!) in just a minute.

First, let’s talk about WHY it is important to do this to your manuscripts.  When writing, you will often use the words you are most comfortable with. That isn’t a huge problem, but it might make you sound repetitive and boring. Let me give you an example….

Read more …

The Art of War – The Art of Loving

Movies, reading & walking across Iowa uncover surprising connections.

Art and history, love and war intersect as I continue my virtual trek across Iowa.

There can’t be many who haven’t heard about the movie Monuments Men, George Clooney’s film about the men who set out to save art during WWII. Here in Iowa, we’re getting special insight because the real Monuments Man, the man on whom the movie is based – George Leslie Stout – was born and grew up in Winterset, Iowa, and later graduated from the University of Iowa.

I’ve looked ahead as I continue my walk across Iowa, looking for just the right point to cross Interstate 80. (As though that would be really hard in my virtual world.) Nonetheless, when I realized I could pass through Winterset before heading north to cross the Interstate barrier, I thought why not? 

Now that The Bridges of Madison County (a book and a movie) has been made into a Broadway musical, and received some critical acclaim, I better see the bridges again before the tourists take over!

140px-34th_'Red_Bull'_Infantry_Division_SSI.svgAs I head toward Winterset, I’m enjoying other military history as I walk along the Red Bull Highway. The 34th Infantry Division of the Army National Guard, made up of military primarily from Iowa and Minnesota, served in World War I, World War II, Iraq and Afghanistan. The insignia of the division is a Red Bull designed by Iowa artist Marvin Cone.

As I look back on the titles that have passed through my hands this month, the overriding question is, What does it mean to love? Appropriate, don’t you think, since this is February, the month of love?

Setting the stage is a non-fiction work, The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. A psychologist, Fromm explores love and loving in 120 pages packed with explorations of love in all its forms – parents for children, brotherly love, erotic love, self-love and love of God.

Fromm proposes that true love holds four elements in common: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. The other books I read – both fiction and non-fiction – show how difficult it is to find true love,

Fiction

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This seriously disturbing novel explores the idea that “Marriage can be a real killer.” In alternating chapters, we come to know the husband in real time and the wife through her diary entries. Did he kill her or was she kidnapped and murdered? The tension in this novel is palpable and all of us can only pray we do not encounter a love like theirs.
  • safe keeping sisselSafe Keeping by Barbara Taylor Sissel -  “My son is a murderer,” begins this family drama. Emily tries to say these words about the son who has given their family so much heartache. But she doesn’t believe it. Her mother love could never believe it. They just have to prove it. Sissel draws characters with depth and a plot with complexity. She is a master at dropping clues that inform and confound. Her cliff-hanger chapter endings compel you to keep reading. (I was fortunate to receive an advance review copy. The novel is due out in late March.)

Non Fiction

  • Twelves Years a Slave by Soloman Northrup – I have yet to see the movie and I grabbed  the e-book when it I saw it in a promotion. This first-person account of a free black man who is kidnapped and thrown into slavery causes one to despair of man’s inability to love his fellow man.

Late-breaking news (literally): I end this post abruptly because winter has taken its toll. I slipped on the ice and broke my wrist. As a result, I am reduced to typing with one finger, so my blog will be on hiatus for a few weeks. When I return, I trust spring will be here. In the meantime, happy reading and safe walking!