Posted in Coffee and Conversation, Life Writing

Coffee and Conversation: What Are We, Invisible?

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…

 A few years ago, there was a commercial a lot of people might identify with. It showed a series of routine activities being performed by – well, no one, apparently.

As our world becomes more technologically advanced, it seems that everything can be seen instantly, and that all of life has become transparent. But there’s something else that happens – we get so used to some things, that the process which creates them can be invisible.

A bag of corn chips, for instance, seems simple enough- but the corn and other ingredients were grown, and harvested, and brought to a factory for processing, and packaged, and shipped to the store, and stocked, and sold, and possibly inventoried – and it’s not likely that we’re thinking about all that while we’re pulling a chip out of that bag and putting it in our mouths.

Maybe we’re like that, too. I think every life has its invisible places; the deeper currents that run beneath the surface. And it’s in these places that the richest life, the most vital stories, lie.

In my own life, I can see it clearly, because, well, I’m living it! But to others, who live differently, and have their own deeper currents, sometimes the surface is all that can be seen.

We homeschool without curriculum. By its very nature, much of what our children learn is beneath the surface, their own concern more than mine. Still, I live in a state that requires me to report on their progress five times each year.

So, I find myself paying attention to what lies beneath; when we talk, how they play, what they read and watch, enjoy or dislike. I’ve become more aware of how learning works, not only for them, but for myself, as well.

Recently, my daughter brought me a children’s dictionary. Her reading has improved markedly over the last few months, and she’d been through stacks of books over the few days before that.

“Mom, let me read to you about wallabies!”

She did, and then went on to show me her name, first spelled in American Sign Language, then written in Braille, from reference charts I hadn’t known were in the back of the dictionary.

Then, in far less time than a single school lesson would take, we explored the cellular structure of a leaf, guide words and alphabetization, and other words and images that interested her.

It might have been invisible. There was no lesson plan; no homework, worksheet, test score to prove that she knows what to do with a dictionary. She explored the book because it interested her; then brought it to share with me, because she likes sharing cool things she’s discovered with people she loves.

Photo courtesy Amazon Click for link.

She knows she can use a dictionary because, well, she used one. I know she can, because I saw her. Time and experience will help her to use it better, should she want to.

If I didn’t put it on the report, or write about it here, no one outside our home might know that she had any idea at all what a dictionary is, or what to do with it.

Writing is like that, too. I am currently moving through a major revision of one of my novels. I know that the work will be all but invisible, to those who read the book when it’s done. All the effort I’ve put in – reading and learning, writing, rereading, making notes, planning backstory and character arcs and subplots – none of that is going to announce itself in the finished product. I will likely have invested hundreds of hours in these invisible steps, before I hit “Publish” and commit the book to the wild blue yonder where readers live – readers who may be invisible to me, too.

Considering the parts of my life that can be invisible from the outside helps me to see that we’re all invisible, in some way. Judging one another based only on the surfaces of their lives that we can see is as unrealistic as assuming that those corn chips just appeared on the store shelves, whole and effortlessly.

We’re all invisible, in our own ways. But we can shed light on some of those places – by sharing some of our deeper, hidden lives, and by understanding that everyone else has their own version of those places, and, whether we see them or not, they are there.

We can never know all of another’s soul – but we can be open and respectful of each other, and those invisible depths they carry within them, in everything they do.

How about you? Do you ever feel you are invisible? Are there parts of your life do you feel no one can see? Parts you don’t want to share, because they are deeply personal. Pull up a seat, and I’ll pour you a fully visible cuppa, and let’s converse. I want to see you more clearly!

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2014, Challenges and Contests, Round 1 2014

Play, Revised: ROW80 Update, 3/3/14

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Hi there! It’s been an interesting few days. I participated in August McLaughlin‘s wonderful Beauty of a Woman Blogfest III this week, and have been reading the other powerful entries.

Squeak the cat figured out how to move the drop ceiling in our bedroom, and get into the upper reaches of the house (not really high enough to be an attic). That was inspiration for Jim to add some much needed insulation and do a bit of repair work he didn’t get to last fall.

I got out by myself, to do a bit of personal shopping and have dinner. Jim’s taken the kids out a couple of times, so I’ve had some time to myself, at home and away.

Jim returns to work on Wednesday, so we’re gradually shifting back to a more typical rhythm…

And it’s March, which, for me, means that, as the round winds down, I will be selecting just a few goals to focus on. New or adapted goals will be appear like this.

My main focus will be on :

  • Revising Chameleon’s Dish;

  • Submitting the children’s homeschool reports;

  • Preparing for April and May’s intensive writing projects.

  • Continuing with home embetterment.

  • Continuing with life embiggening.

Play Jar Update:

It was a better Play Jar week. The house is somewhat shambelized, with Jim on vacation until Wednesday, which shifts our flow and focus – in good but chaotic ways.

I want my Play Jar to be fun. So I’m dropping the deadline. I might do less when I am focused on something specific, and more when I get that restless, looking for something new feeling…

  • 3/58 slips completed.

  • #49. Buy 3 large paper lanterns – I am calling this complete, although I didn’t buy the lanterns. I decided to buy a very pretty string of lights, and may choose to add the lanterns later.

  • #35. Read Miah’s fanfic with him. We read a few chapters, and he decided it was enough. He was happy, so it was a success! =)

  • #53. Private – no peeking! 😉

  • 25/80 completed.

2014 Blogging:

Build positive blogging habits – post regularly, build queues, answer comments, and share diversely.

Answer comments at least every other day. Target attained!

  • This has become habit, so I’m expanding for March.

  • Answer comments regularly, across all blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

Make at least two return visits every other day, on average.Target attained!

  • Yes. I’ve had more comments, this week; moving through the return visits.

Maintain regular posting schedule; queue one post for each regular feature.On target.

2014 Writing:

Explore my gestating Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction novel concept, as well as the Last House story collection concept, in the form of short pieces or flash fiction, during April and May.

Create basic plan for the Last House stories (2014 A to Z April Challenge).On target.

  • Create Scrivener file; list basic facts for each protagonist (age, gender, physical characteristics) by March 10. Pending.

Create basic timeline for Enterprise fan fiction (2014 Story-a-Day May). On target.

  • More pondering, this session.

  • Create timeline, premise, GMC, and character sketches for both protagonists by April 1.

2014 Editing:

Complete first revision passes for Chameleon’s Dish and Bounded by a Nutshell; make pre-revision notes for Blood and Breath.

Work through Chameleon’s DishPre-Revision Action Plan by March 1. Target attained!

  • March is designated an editing month; for me. New goals below.

Complete first revision pass for Chameleon’s Dish. On target.

  • This is a rough, non-linear pass; the focus is on adding scenes, character and subplot development; correction of talking heads, info-dumps, characters as mannequins or in limbo, structure, and consistency.

  • This is a completely pantsed NaNo WIP, and this step involves major rewriting and revising. I’m not setting an end date; I will use time goals, per month, until the revision is complete.

  • 1/60 scenes complete; scene 2/60 in revision.

Spend at least 60 hours (2hours/day average) on this pass during March. On target.

  • 3/1: 5 hours, 20 minutes.

  • 3/2: 3 hour, 15 minutes.

  • Month to-date:8 hours, 45 minutes.

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue the family room reset.On target.

  • Computer desk will hopefully be moved before Jim’s vacation ends on Wednesday; general decluttering.

Develop new habits that support organization and productivity.

Begin collecting info for second quarter homeschooling reports; due March 15. On target.

  • Since it’s now March, this goal needs adapting.

  • Complete and submit both children’s reports by March 15.

  • Completed Annalise’s English Language Arts and Mathematics; Sciences in progress.

2014 Lifetending:

Stretch and find new ways to blend the facets of my life with intention and awareness.

Select and complete projects from my Play Jar.On target.

  • Details above.

Seek out playful new ways to move and challenge my body.

Choose two playful motions for each day in February; do it several times throughout the day, with a spirit of adventure. On target.

  • Still not quite up to pre-flu levels, but getting closer.

  • Walking, moving firewood; stair stepping; lunging; toe touches.

  • Goal will be adapted for March:

  • Choose two playful activities per day; walk at least one mile each week: workout at the Y or with a video at least once a week.

Sponsor Visits:

See what the other ROWers are playing with this round!