Home

How to Find Me

3 Comments

“Really? Really?” I’m sure my voice is squeaking. I feel like a wriggling four-year-old watching Mom hang my muddled finger-painting on the frig.

This is my response every time one of my neighbors or someone from church or school says, “Hey, I’m enjoying your blog.” It’s always such a surprise. Writing these posts is even more fun than finger-painting, and the idea that someone may actually be reading them is just icing on the cake.

I see the daily stats on the number of views, but somehow I’m still delighted every time I discover that my late night emoting/ranting is reaching somebody “out there.”

By the way, I’m sorry for all the recent ranting about climate change. It’s not premeditated, it’s just that with the election and the hurricane, it’s hard not to say, fairly frequently and in largish print:

“Isn’t anybody paying attention??”

But I digress. It’s not as if it’s the future of the planet or anything.

Back on point: I’ve been curious about how people find my blog. It’s clear that most of my referrals come from Facebook, and a few come from Linkedin (those people are far more “professional” than Facebookers and probably have little time for such frivolity). Some viewers find me through the brilliant and insightful comments I’ve made on other WordPress blogs. An author friend of mine linked to a sort-of book review I wrote about his new book, and that has brought several dozen onlookers.

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/hope-or-hostility-in-a-multi-faith-world/

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

FB and LinkedIn Images via CrunchBase

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

It’s intriguing to keep track of the many countries represented in my stats – close to fifty – and I can’t for the life of me figure out what drives that. When I did a piece on sexual harrasment at the CIA, I could understand why I got a lot of visitors from other countries, but otherwise, it seems fairly random. One post will get one or two from the UK or Canada, and the next will get visitors from thirteen different countries. Why?

Most interesting to me are the search engines. The Mysterious Google. I know people spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out how that Google search function works, and how to rank higher in the searches.

For what it’s worth, someone searched for “Romney Silhouette Pictures” and landed on my blog because I mentioned Romney in a climate change rant, and I had also done a WordPress photo challenge entitled “Silhouette.” Probably not exactly what they were looking for.

Another person searched for “Scarlet Letter” and ended up in a post about shame (in which I happened to mention the Scarlet Letter.)

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/what-color-is-shame/

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Weirdest of all, and something which took a while to figure out, was that someone searched for “hemorrhoid relief” and ended up here. And then I remembered an early post I had done after paying the price of sitting on a bee. I wrote of standing in the kitchen “smearing baking soda paste on my posterior.”

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/on-pollinators-pain-gay-guys-and-gratitude/

I just need to apologize to that unfortunate reader who was, through no fault of their own, subjected to that image.  I mean, really, you’ve got enough problems with the hemorrhoids and all.

None of this helps to figure out the Google search function, I’m sure, but I find it interesting to ponder.

Who knows, maybe with several uses of the word, “hemorrhoid” in this post, my blog will become the new hotspot (so to speak) for hemorrhoid sufferers? I’d better read up on that. For now, my only advice is

do not to sit on bees,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   and of course:

Advertisements

Every Day Disasters

Leave a comment

The wind is picking up. The red and gold leaves seem to have surrendered quickly to the hurricane, dropping overnight in the introductory rain. People don’t surrender that easily. Here in the mid-Atlantic region, we’re dug in.

Since there seems very little chance of us having power for the next few days, we’ve stocked our cupboards with PB & J, our freezers are filled with ice, and we have bags of batteries placed next to our flashlights and candles.

“People are Going to Die in this Storm”

Our governor has ordered people off the roads for the next 36 hours, saying, “People are going to die in this storm.” (Thanks for that, Gov.) Apparently, Sandy intensified overnight, so the winds and flooding from the Chesapeake’s tributaries will be worse than predicted, which was bad enough.

My cats evacuated their beds and took shelter in the hall closet hours ago. They must feel the pressure dropping.

Oh No, Oh No!

I feel afraid. Of what?  Floods, trees through the roof, friends or family being hurt, damage to my new screened porch.

And there are the inconveniences. I contemplate not having electricity to boil my tea water for a few days, and the lack of a hot shower. Maybe having to throw away a lot of food.

Since the sewage treatment plants will likely flood and contaminate the drinking supply, I’ve filled all my plant-watering jugs with fresh water. What happens if the sewage system backs up? Do I have enough toilet paper? Oh no, oh no.

And then I remember:

  • 2.6 billion people in the world don’t have a toilet
  • One-quarter of the world’s population does not have electricity
  • 780 million people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water – 2 ½ times the population of the U.S.
  • 870 million people in the world don’t have enough to eat, and 1 in 6 in America know hunger.

This is every day. Every. Day.

Gratitude and Prayer

Today I’m grateful for my roof, my refrigerator, my toilet, my cats. Did you know there are 50 million stray cats in the U.S.? I am glad that mine have a closet to hide in.

I just blogged on this, but I’ll mention it again, as we await the impending chaos here in our Nation’s Capitol. How come our leaders aren’t talking about climate change? It’s here, my friends.

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/hey-you-guys-with-the-microphones-fire/

I didn’t mean for this post to be a downer. I hope that if you, like me, are sitting and waiting for Sandy, you’ll take a few moments to be grateful and to say a prayer for the people in the world who struggle to simply stay alive. Every day.

Stay safe, fellow East-coasters. Talk to you on the other side of the power outages.

 

Here’s what people in Times Square have to say about their impending disaster:

Birthing a Blog

2 Comments

Birthdays are a time to reflect and take stock of where we are. For a two-month old, that wouldn’t normally entail much. But after traveling to forty-four different countries and being ogled almost two thousand times, my baby blog is no neophyte.

Hence, a moment of reflection on Writing with Spirit’s two-month birthday.

birthday cake large

First of all, thank you so much for reading, or even just for scanning, or glancing at my photos. Special gratitude to my forty-five “followers” (such an ostentatious phrase). I can’t tell you how much that means to someone who still doesn’t feel comfortable being labeled “a writer.” I’m sure some of you bloggers can relate.

Yesterday, I had a writerly moment. Unusually enough, an actual editor was waiting for one of my essays. I was ransacking my house looking for some lost interview notes I needed to revise the piece, when I remembered that I still had a tape recording of the interview.

Phew!

I unearthed the recorder, pressed play, and … nothing. The whole thing had been erased. This is not supposed to be possible, as in order to erase a file, you must provide two forms of ID, and then press three buttons simultaneously while reciting your social security number backwards in Swahili. Then the little screen says, “Are you sure you want to do this?” You say yes, and it says, “Really?” and you scream YES, DAMN IT, YES, YES, YES!!  So after my technology had betrayed me without so much as a PIN number, I was tossing papers into the air and cursing and even crying a few tears of frustration, when I suddenly stopped and thought –

Wow, I am a writer.

I don’t know why being thoroughly disorganized and panic-stricken matched my image of a writer, but there you have it. To complete the picture, I probably should have knocked back a tumbler of bourbon, neat.

I winged it and got the essay into the magazine editor. Nothing left but to wait for the rejection. (Even at my tender writing age, I’ve learned to be a cynic.)

All this to say that I think I’ve written more regularly in the past two months than I have since I started my writing career at Johns Hopkins University three years ago. A blog is great discipline. There’s accountability, even if it’s mostly in my head.

I’ve learned to observe more and to listen better, and life seems more interesting when I anticipate that I’ll be creating something fun out of it. Colors are more vivid, jokes are funnier, politicians are even more absurd.

The WordPress Photo Challenges were a wonderful surprise. I have thousands of fabulous pictures that I never share with anyone, and I’ve so enjoyed the challenges and the diverse group of people who “like” my photomontages. Even real photographers! I’ve tried mixing a little poetry with the pictures, which is new for me.

Another fun discovery has been all the good writing floating around in the blogosphere. I simply had not surfed around much before I started my blog.Wonderful fiction, poetry, writing advice, and travel adventures! Kudos, bloggers!

I am a Cat Person

I have, until now, resisted putting in a picture of my cat. But now that we’ve known each other for two months, it’s time. Isn’t she just the cutest?

Eliza Bean

Sorry.

On a more serious note, authenticity being good for the soul, I have shared some traumatic truths about sexual harassment and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/rubber-ducky-exposes-cia-sexual-harassment/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/hey-girl-youre-bald/

I’ve talked about life and death and politics and a way more eclectic collection of topics than I had planned on, from God to climate change to Henry James.

As I dimly recall, this blog was supposed to be primarily about spiritual and emotional de-cluttering. https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/emotional-house-cleaning/

Who knew how many synapses and leaps across random neural pathways that would involve?

Thanks for being along on the journey. And thanks for coming to the birthday party.

Tell me, WordPress compatriots: what have you learned since your blog was birthed??

Hey! You Guys with the Microphones — Fire!

5 Comments

President Obama and Mitt Romney continue to fiddle while Rome – and the rest of the planet – burns. I worked in politics long enough to understand: we mustn’t upset THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. But seriously, I think the people know.

As usual, there’s a gap between what the politicians are talking about and what the people are talking about.

Most everyone I know is talking about the weather, and not in vague some-weather-we’re-having terms. “This is the weirdest weather…this is getting spooky…what is UP with no winter?” and so on. Granted, many of my friends are environmentally inclined, but I’m not talking about them.

I’m talking about regular old neighbors in Maryland. I’m talking about my conservative friends in New Hampshire, whose roads just washed out (again), and who first can’t hay because of rain, and later lose their crops to drought. They had only one real snow last year.

I’m talking about people whose nearby forests have either been devastated by wildfires or devoured by pests that did not exist there a few decades ago.

http://blog.aarp.org/2012/08/21/the-trees-are-screaming-why-arent-we/

I’m talking about my friends who farm having to change their planting and harvest seasons.

http://thelettuceedge.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/weather-drama/

It’s happening folks, and we all know it.

A new Pew Research poll finds that 67 percent of Americans believe there’s solid evidence the Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades, up 4% since last year and 10% in the past three years. Another poll by Yale and George Mason University shows that 84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans think global warming should be a priority.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/09/17/168510/as-climate-change-crisis-looms.html

Leadership Vacuum

So why aren’t the political candidates talking about this?

I think it’s the job of our nation’s leaders to connect the dots for the public. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, severe storms & power outages, spreading insect-borne exotic diseases: all exactly what the scientists predicted.

After one debate, Esquire’s political blogger noted, “…we have not had one extended conversation about the most pressing environmental catastrophe since the meteor wiped out the dinosaurs. On Tuesday night, we had two guys arguing about who’s a bigger friend to coal, about who will allow the most oil drilling on federal land, and about who will best extract the most carbon-based fuels out from under the country over the next four years.” Climate Change in 2012 Election – 2012’s Incredible Disappearing Issue: Climate Change – Esquire.

Romney thinks that turning it into a joke will play to his base. Obama, at least, managed to respond at the Democratic convention that “Climate change is not a hoax.” This remark brought the crowd to its feet.

Let’s Admit it and Move On

I suppose part of the problem is the American psyche. As a nation, we don’t like to admit to imperfection. “Oops” is not in our vocabulary.

See more thoughts on this:https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/what-color-is-shame/

A recent New York Times analysis concludes that it’s impossible for candidates, or presidents, to tell the truth because, “Americans demand constant reassurance that their country, their achievements and their values are extraordinary.” According to presidential historian Robert Dallek, “People in this country want the president to be a cheerleader, an optimist, the herald of better times ahead. It’s almost built into our DNA.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/sunday-review/candidates-and-the-truth-about-america.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Given this genetic predisposition towards exceptionalism, I doubt America will ever express official regret over our overwhelming contribution to greenhouse gases. For a long while, we didn’t know. It would be OK, if we just said “oops,” changed our behavior, and stepped into global leadership with our dignity restored.

In this regard, Obama deserves huge credit for finally, finally, raising the miles-per-gallon standards for automobiles and for investing in renewable energy technologies. Perhaps too little and too late, but it’s something.  He had to use executive authority, of course, because God forbid the Congress should act.

Why isn’t Obama on his soapbox talking about this?

It’s Called Denial. Let’s Get Over It.

Please, please, you people with the microphones — mind the gap. We know our streets are flooded; we know people in Texas are dying from West Nile; we know we have tornadoes where they’ve never been before. We see the Katrinas and the tsunamis.

Talk to us, for God’s sake!

Why didn’t the debate moderators at least ask the candidates why they’re not talking about it?

Part of leadership is talking about hard truths. Bombs and terrorists, yes, those are terrible threats. Outside threats. This is an inside job.

It’s called denial. Let’s get over it.

President Obama, maybe you don’t want to talk about this during the election because some voters, duped by corporate ad campaigns and extremist anti-science campaigns, think there’s no such thing. I get that.

Newsflash: They aren’t going to vote for you anyway.

Mr. President, I urge you, I beg you: if you win on November sixth, start talking about climate change again on November seventh. It’s your job to mind the gap.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette Secrets

6 Comments

To fully appreciate this post, I hope you’ll read it out loud.

“Silhouette” started as an insult in the 1700’s, slurring the surname of an ostensibly miserly French Minister of Finance by referencing an inexpensive style of fashioning a likeness. The surname “Silhouette” stems from Zulueta, which loosely translates, “an abundance of hole.” Suitable, since silhouettes at first glance seem to be about what’s missing. Still:

Silhouettes are essentially shape,

Sans substance,

And yet,

So mysterious

in their shadowy silence.

Silhouettes may be serene,

Wading in Rose

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Or spooky,

Orb Shadows

 

Or Solitary,

Watching

Or ,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Or suggestive,

The Walk

Or sacred,

Light into Darkness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Or spectacular.

Heron Haze

Silhouettes Speak of Secrets.

Special appreciation to WordPress for suggesting silhouettes as a subject.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/weekly-photo-challenge-silhouette/

If you’re a word lover, check out this etymology site: http://www.etymonline.com/

What Color is Shame?

9 Comments

At first rosy blush, shame most certainly seems to be red. The Scarlet Letter, the embarrassment of being caught in a lie, or the menstrual red spread on a white skirt.

File:ScarletLetterBlack.svg

Shame can also be green. The irrational, over-reacting, sickish shade of green that makes you say, “I didn’t know she was going to be at the party,” and then later pretend you weren’t jealous.

A Sickish Shade of Green

Red and green shames are personal, coming from inner taunts like,

You’re just not good enough

What’s wrong with you?

If people really knew you, they wouldn’t like you

With personal shame, it’s important to examine the source. We need to make sure it’s our own conscience wriggling, and not someone else wagging their finger in our business.

Community Shame

Then there’s community shame. That might be a combination of colors. Say the red, white, and blue shame that’s born of a million dead “redskin” Native Americans, or more than four million black and brown humans “owned” by white humans, or more than 120,000 “yellow” Japanese-Americans imprisoned during World War II. Communities may try to cover shame with semantics and rationalization, but everyone can see the red blood of children through the phrase, “collateral damage.”

When we get into “group think,” our multi-colored shame explodes.

Many of us experience this multi-colored community shame when the words of our sacred texts are used to judge and exclude, oppress or cause violence. My Muslim friends expressed this after September 11th, and as a Christian occasionally subjected to TV evangelists, I am quite familiar with the feeling.

Still, even as we decry warped interpretations of our beloved Torah, Koran, Bible, and Vedas, if we’re honest, we know that our own wounded and prideful hearts are quite capable of dropping some not-so-smart bombs.

Yes, there’s enough shame for every color of the rainbow.

                                  Dark Shadows

Shame is not made up of pretty rainbow colors.

I asked my Facebook friends about shame colors:  Lots of support for red, some football jokes, and a few votes for black “because you can hide in it,” and, “it’s the middle of the night and I can’t stop replaying the conversation in my head.” Another wrote, “a grey fog that swirls around you.”

My friend Bill said, “Shame is the color of oak leaves in January – crumpled and dead.”

I think that’s it. Shame is brown. Muddy brown.

It gets all muddled up with fear – fear of being disliked or abandoned for your behavior. Sometimes there is anger mixed in – anger at another person for seeing your less-than-perfect self, or anger at yourself for not being perfect, or for even caring what someone else thinks.

If you don’t deal with shame, it turns to toxic guilt, which is more diffuse, like a smoggy day. Guilt can pollute your whole life, “making it hard to move around and enjoy life,” said another friend.

There is a way out of the mud and smog and fog.

Apologies are Hard

It’s hard to apologize, even for our most egregious behavior. Shame is all tangled up with needing to be right, needing to seem perfect, needing to be esteemed. It’s simple pride. Some suffer – literally – under the illusion that apologizing makes one look weak, when the opposite is true – apologizing shows strength of character.

During this American political season, one of the red herrings being tossed around is whether or not America should ever apologize. In fact, Mitt Romney even wrote a book called No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.

Excuse me, but how silly.

Every school kid knows that a sincere apology is the best way to dig out of your muddy brown shame. Red, white, and blue shame is no different. An apology, coupled with a change in the behavior, is the most effective way to move forward in a relationship.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248207.php

I have to hand it to VP candidate Paul Ryan. Even though Mr. Romney may not agree, at least when Ryan was asked if the U.S. should apologize for its soldiers burning Korans and urinating on corpses, his big blue eyes got even bigger, and he said, “Oh gosh, yes.” School-kid wisdom.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/the-vp-debate-cinches-it-paul-ryan-is-unqualified-to-step-in-as-potus/263531/#

Personal Freedom

The worldwide Twelve Step recovery programs are well-recognized for putting millions of lives back together. If you do a little research, you’ll find that one of the primary ways these communities help people to emotional freedom is through humility and the release of shame:

Step eight says: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

In step nine, you do just that.

Step ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

Those in the programs will tell you: these steps are not so much for the aggrieved as for the transgressor.

Shame only lives in the gooey, brown anaerobic slime of silence. Let in a little fresh air and bright yellow sunshine, and maybe you’ll see a rainbow.

http://www.livescience.com/18665-art-apology-psychology.html

This post was written in response to another weekly writing challenge from WordPress: A Splash of Color:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/weekly-writing-challenge-a-splash-of-color/#more-10602

I had fun with this one!

Weekly Photo Challenge: BIG (Beasts)

Leave a comment

WordPress does a weekly photo challenge, as well as a writing challenge. Since I had so much fun with my Lost in Yellow collage, http://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/lost-in-yellow/, I’m sharing these BIG photos, too.

If you blog, check out the challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/weekly-photo-challenge-big/

On a recent trip to Florida,

we came across the big eyes

of a juvenile pelican . . .

the big grin of a gopher tortoise . . .

and the even bigger grin on this guy .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       So it’s a good thing we had on our very big

safari hats . . .

When we discovered

these *really* big critters

at my cousin’s bonsai farm!

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: