Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"I'd Like a Pound of Words..."

As a seasoned writer who blogs for a number of early stage companies and small businesses, I'm appalled by the growing trend of businesses seeking to pay by the word — not like print magazines, where the per-word rate is often generous and a 1000-word article can net between $500 and $1000 (or more). I'm talking about content brokerage sites where writers bid to create blog posts by the word: $1 per 100 words, or $5 for a 500-word post.

You've gotta be kidding.

The value of words doesn't diminish just because they're the web's currency. If you want Read More

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Generosity, Baby!

Babies are big blobs of give.  I once watched a mother snuggling and kissing her four-month-old son for many minutes, and was astonished when the baby attempted to kiss her back! Infants are born bundles of Love, and only release it gradually, as the world ruptures their sense of security.

The other day I was in my favorite local consignment store, more for respite from the searing late summer heat than for shopping, and a 16-month-old girl was toddling around the racks of clothes, shoes and knickknacks having the time of her life. One customer commented wryly, "If only she were happier!"

At one point I tried on a shoe that was too small, and as I put it back on a shelf exactly at the toddler's height, she grasped it and offered it to me. The generosity and joy of that baby uplifted everyone in the store.

I was musing, here on the far side of a half-century, that we tend to "age up": that is, many older people are open to association with those younger than them, though it doesn't necessarily work in reverse. I am invisible to most teens and early 20-somethings; I'm simply too far from their age and worldview to be acknowledgeable, and I understand this. However, given the nature of who I am, the fact that I never had children of my own, and that I will talk with almost anyone, any time, I do have a lot of contact with people in all decades of life. This is enriching. I also learn a great deal.

The other evening I told a new deli worker at a local food co-op that he looked like actor Ray Liotta — thirty years ago. I asked if people said he looked like anyone famous and he mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I still think of as 23 but who is actually closing in on 40. The deli worker told me he's 27. From there our conversation evolved to the years he spent in Hollywood (though not to become an actor!), to what it's like to spend time in New York City, to his recent relocation to my area. It developed he's also an avid reader and budding writer, and we ranged far afield about genres and what we learn from books. I shared how a pivotal message during my awakening journey came from a novel: the protagonist is a young man itching to quit his magazine job and write full-time, which, he tells his best friend, he'll do "once he's saved up more security" — meaning, of course, money. His buddy wisely responds, "Security isn't something you save up. It's what you find when you take risks." I still get goosebumps relating this.

Then my very cool new pal and I connected over the awareness that the days of the week are named for the five visible planets, plus the sun and moon. You can "hear" this much better in the Romance languages than in English, and since he's bilingual in English and Spanish, and I speak some French and rudimentary Spanish, we went back and forth, delightedly naming each day in three languages. Other customers occasionally joined our meandering conversation.

When I left the store my energy was elevated, probably akin to how the 16-month-old darling I'd met earlier feels most of the time. It's radically wonderful to live this way, and becoming easier all the time as we awaken en masse at Light speed.

Reach out in the most unlikely places, to the most unusual faces. Once you scratch the surface, you'll discover commonalities you never dreamed were there. At heart, we're all One, pure Love awaiting expression. Pass it on, baby.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Profound or Profane? What's Your Story?

I love The Velveteen Rabbit, a "children's story" that has reached across generations to touch hearts and minds for almost one hundred years. I referenced a particularly potent passage in a radio interview earlier this year, and more recently quoted the same material in a client blog post on creative aging. One of the regular readers, a rather dour sort, had a very different response to this glowing passage: he called it "garbage," "crass" and "repugnant".

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly.

The real question is, what story was he receiving? Clearly not the one I intended. Comedian Fred Allen said, "A human being is nothing but a story with a skin around it." My skin is rather thin since my awakening journey. Yet I'm still running a storyline.

Alan Shelton has crafted a way through. The creator of Story Theory and the Globalish Institute says, "Story is more than something you tell, read or watch. It's a moving target that comes to life as you live it. Without the proper rooting, you (or your organization) could easily live someone else's life." Story Theory and the Globalish Institute grew out of Alan's own roots, in downtown L.A. What better way to engage the future than to engage with the world in which you've been steeped to a potent brew?

Every day we hear words that our minds can weave into stories either profound or profane. The distinction lies in how deeply we listen, and whether we respond from our head or our heart — ideally, a blended wisdom of both, in service to a higher purpose.

The classic quote that angered the above-mentioned blog reader follows. I'd love to know how you feel about it:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?"

"It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."