Appreciation Day = Every Day (Why Not?)

Recently, my work had an Employee Appreciation Day.  They supplied breakfast and lunch, hosted games, gave away prizes and even decorated the office.  They exerted such effort to make everyone feel “special” that it became distracting.  It also got me thinking…  (Uh-oh, that can’t be good.)

Here’s the deal:  I don’t want my employer to value and appreciate me with this ridiculous attention on one day out of the year.  I want to go in every day and be respected, have my voice heard and earn praise for a job well done; and I want to reciprocate by doing the same for my coworkers.  All I ask is that I don’t fear consequences of having to leave early to pick up a sick child or worry about having a job if I make a little mistake.  My work environment satisfies all of the above, so we’re good.  I feel appreciated (and more comfortable) without the overt display.  

I wonder how it came to pass that we had to have manufactured days to express appreciation.  I mean, I don’t want a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day because the alarm on my husband’s cell phone told him to stop by the supermarket on the way home and buy them.  I don’t want my kids to give me a hug and draw me a picture on Mother’s Day because that’s what they have to do.  I don’t want my kids to lavish attention on my parents just on Grandparents’ Day because that’s what the calendar dictates should happen on that Sunday in September.  (But I do love the idea of Thanksgiving because I think many blessings go unrecognized the other 364 days of the year.)

To put it simply, attention doesn’t feel special on those days, it feels forced and expected.  If my husband leaves me a love note* for no reason or the kids draw me a picture because its Tuesday – that’s special. 

*a love note contains kind, loving words without requests of any kind. 

Example of a Love Note:  “If I wake up next to you for the next 40 years, I’ll be the luckiest man in the world.  Love, Hubby”  (for the record, I have not received such a note)

Not a Love Note:  “Can you drop off my dry cleaning on your way to work?  Love, Hubby”

Sorry.  I drifted off topic there, but I’ve learned to be VERY specific about my expectations 🙂

Each night, I do a decent job of remembering the big things that I’m thankful for (you know, the husband, kids, family, house, job, etc.)  I think I can do better; dig deeper.  So, today, I’m recognizing five writing-related blessings in my life.  (Since this blog is supposed to be about my writing life and journey.)

People who critique my writing.  The constructive criticisms that knock me down and the positive comments that build me back up make me a better writer.

Query rejections for my first novel.  Rejections forced me to reevaluate my definition of success and remember how much I enjoy the writing process.  (Failure to do this would surely have resulted in depression and anxiety.)

My life experiences.  My awkward childhood, social ineptness and lots of practice laughing at myself have given me the ability to feel my characters’ pain and write them out of their strange predicaments.

My overactive imagination and paranoia.  These two things work together to come up with some twisted views on the most normal situations, which is great for writing stories.

The wonderful people that read my blog.  No, seriously; I mean it.  I’ve hit some low points in the writing journey and it seems there is always someone there to cheer me up. 

On this note, I was tagged by Barb (Creative Barbwire) earlier this week to answer 8 questions about myself.  So, here goes:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I’d say Spider Man’s superpowers…I’m just thinking at work, if my ‘spider sense’ could warn me about approaching negativity, I could simply scale up the walls and escape.  (If you’ve ever been trapped in the bathroom with a complainer, you’d understand how awesome this would be.)

2. Who is your style icon?

I don’t have one.  My style is whatever is on sale, feels comfortable and looks good.

3. What is your favorite quote?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” (Herman Cain)

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

I know I’ve received compliments, but it’s funny, I can’t seem to remember them.  I can tell you the mean things kids said to me in elementary school, though 🙂

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

I have a mix of country/rock/pop/Christian rock.  Favorite singers/groups right now: Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Casting Crowns.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

I love anything furry that’s not a rat…but I am definitely a cat person.  Meow.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

Um, there is no meaning.  I didn’t even create it; my parents gave it to me.  It’s my name…and I write.  (If we were at a social gathering, here’s where you’d flash a fake smile and say, “Oh, how nice,” and then scurry away before I could bore you with another story).

I’m tagging these fellow bloggers, if they haven’t been tagged already and want to play:

BrownEyed Mystic

Lavender Blue

Fiction Scene Idea – Stolen from Real Life

Lizzie (not Borden, I hope)
Blood thirsty attack cat

Scenes in a novel, or even an idea for a novel, can stem from everyday life.  For the following example, I would like to thank my son’s cat, Elizabeth (Lizzie) for trying to kill me this morning.  (Okay, I exaggerated that accusation; she only aimed to break my neck.)

This assault came at a time when I’ve been thinking about scenes in my next book – mainly things that could happen to someone having an awful day.  

Lizzie weaved between my feet as I walked to the kitchen.  I sidestepped her each time, until she introduced a new maneuver:  she stopped and laid down!  To avoid crushing her (and subsequently having to explain her demise to my son), I stumbled over myself and fell into the wall, muttering something about a “stupid cat.”

Here’s where the light bulb came on.  My character (Lee) tells her friend about her bad day, where several things go wrong, including the admission that even her cat tried to kill her.  Of course,  when  Lee gets to the part about the cat’s murder plot, the friend thinks she’s crazy,  which is another part of the story.*  

I have to go now.  Lizzie is staring at me with a smirk on her face, and I’m sure she’s ready to finish what she started this morning…

* I can’t say why this is important to the story, or hint at what the story is about, because I’m paranoid that someone will use my idea and do it better!  And of course I’m sane and rational because I’ve figured out my son’s cat is out to get me.

Writers Are Like Superman…

Superman
Superman as Manuscript Man

  I try to spend some time each day surfing other blogs.  I’ve come across a lot of writers just like me: they have full-time non-writing paying jobs and/or families to take care of and writing gets done whenever life allows a chunk of time here and there.  It occurred to me that writers are like Superman.

Superman lived most of his time as Clark Kent, the unassuming journalist, but when the world needed him, he’d change into his super-cool unitard and cape to save the day.  (Tights and cape don’t exactly scream manly-man, but for some reason, it works for Superman.)  Even though he was a hero, he didn’t advertise his identity as Superman.  

Okay, so we don’t change into a costume to write*, and we don’t search for lives to save**, but we do put on our creative hats to write words that might make a difference, or at least provide entertainment for a time.

Hmmm…now that I look at it closer, I guess wrtiers really aren’t like Superman at all, except that our words leaave an impression on the world and we live in relative anonymity.

* My apologies to The Word Ranger, Ghost Writer, Grammar Woman, or anyone else that may write in costume.  Please post pics and comment on your experience 🙂

** If you are a writer superhero, please share your story.