The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


Vote Hope

Shutter Sisters Dream Assignment: Picture Hope from LittlePurpleCow Productions on Vimeo.

I have something very cool and inspiring to tell you about today. And you can take part in making it happen.

Name Your Dream Assignment is a contest for photographers of all kinds: pros, amateurs, aficionados, dabblers, you name it. The goal of the contest is to find "the most creative, inspiring photo shoot idea out there." And here's the prize: The photographer with the winning idea will win $50,000 to bring her dream assignment to life. Sweet, right?

Two amazing bloggers/photorgaphers/soulsisters have entered the contest. Jen Lemen and Stephanie Roberts will represent the Shutter Sisters community as they travel to capture Hope around the world. (Do you know Shutter Sisters? It's a collaborative photo blog with some incredible women behind it. It's chock full of beautiful photography and several great ways to participate.)

Here's how Jen and Stephanie's dream assignment works, straight from the Shutter Sisters page: "This amazing community will generate the most powerful images of hope we can find. From those images we'll create tangible hope notes for Jen and Stephanie to take with them wherever they travel to tell the world we're listening. At each destination, Jen and Stephanie will introduce the world to a new story of hope while the Shutter Sisters at home show us all the ways hope flourishes in the hidden everyday spaces. From these images and stories, together we'll generate a visual catalog of hope--images that that can be transformed into practical print resources and literacy tools for the hopeful people we've met from around the world. People who know and embody the essence of hope in spite of war, poverty, loss or the threat of despair."

The winner of the Name Your Dream Assignment contest will be chosen by people like YOU who go and vote for their favorite enry. You got that, right? Go. VOTE. Now. Do eet!

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add to kirtsy | 6:12 PM | 0 comments


Remembering to Act

Dear me. I keep forgetting to blog. I spend plenty of time online, mind you. I read dozens of other blogs every week. I get sucked into Facebook on a regular basis. And email? Don't talk to me about email. I'm practically swimming in it. So online communication is not exactly on the backburner for me. But blogging -- actually writing my own blog posts -- keeps slipping my mind.

Here's the irony: My word for 2009 is Action. Over the past year or two, I've noticed waves of envy when I hear about other people's creative projects. This has happened even when the projects were being done by friends. Even when I loved the idea but had no desire to that specific thing myself. So it's not the "sour grapes" or "I wish I'd thought of that" jealousy. Like most unpleasant emotions, this one was merely trying to get my attention and tell me something.

I realized that I have tons of ideas for creative projects, but rarely ever get past the idea phase. As a result, I'd begun to feel like I had no ideas. Finally I realized that the ideas were there. The missing piece was Action.

Since college I've been a big advocate of learning To Be and not getting caught up in the shallow busyness of life. I wish I could say that I'm really good at this by now in some Zen-like way. (Insert the voice of this woman telling me that Zen-like is an oxymoron because Zen isn't like anything.) While I do value my downtime and make sure to get plenty of it, I fill way too much of it with fretting over what I'm not doing. So it's the Year of Action.

Maybe I'm forgetting to blog because I'm too busy doing other things? Okay, that's actually partially true. I've been focusing on making my house more of a nest, cooking nourishing meals for my family, taking care of ailing kitties, and strengthening connections with friends. I've even been working on one big project. So I am doing. I am acting.

But I continually have to remind myself to be a participant, not a spectator. I am in the process of understanding that I can be the one doing cool, creative projects. I can take all those ideas trotting around my head and figure out ways to put them out into the world. I just need to remember to act.

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add to kirtsy | 2:15 PM | 5 comments


In which I fall down and cry like a baby

I'm back from New York City. It was a good trip. An important trip. But I'm not ready to talk about that yet. So for now, here's a story about another trip I took.


I'm standing at the rocky edge of the land, staring out at the cold Atlantic Ocean, and I'm sobbing. I'm crying like a child: loudly, full-throttled, irrationally. I tell my husband that I'm fine, but that I just need to stand here and cry for awhile. He's known me long enough and well enough to understand, so he stands on a boulder somewhere behind me and lets me go.

There is salt everywhere here: in the tears streaming down my face, in the waves crashing on the rocks below me, in the misty air that dampens everything. Salt is a preservative, and right now my salty tears are preserving my sanity. Nothing horrible has happened in this moment. I simply fell down on a slick part of these New England rocks. But my side hurts, my pants and sweater are shellacked with strips of tar, and I broke the camera. The physical pain is bothersome and I know I'll have a big bruise, but that's not why I cry. I wail about the broken camera. Broken on our first day here! And I mourn for my ruined pants and go on and on about how I'd searched for pants like these for 10 years. It's nearly impossible to find the perfect pair of lightweight khaki pants that are perfect for traveling. Nearly impossible!

Mostly I wail about how stupid I was for stepping on that dark patch of sloping rock. I berate myself for being so stupid. So stupid! I say it over and over again, thinking that if I chastise myself enough I'll work through feeling so bad about it all and start to feel better. But that tired tactic never works; I should know that by now.

What works in moments like these is crying like a child. I'm old enough to know that I'm not really crying about the bruise or the busted camera or my soiled clothing or even my poor decision making. Those things are just surface annoyances that release the pressure valve so I can let the real emotions out.

In the end, I don't think too much about what the real emotions were. I cried and then I felt better. We went to the cry cleaner* and my clothes look brand new. My husband fiddled with the camera and it works. In the end, everything was okay.

*Edited to add this note: As Randi points out in the comments, I did write "cry cleaner" instead of "dry cleaner." I would like to say it was intentional, but it was really just an oh-so-appropriate slip, so I think I'll leave it.


add to kirtsy | 8:52 PM | 6 comments