Tag Archives: Words

Hereby Resolve

Hello & Happy New Year! I trust everyone has been well and had a fine holiday season (including all holidays that fall during this time of year, and not a dis to Christmas, the holiday that I celebrate). I have been absent for what turned out to be a long mentally fallow period. I thought quite a bit about creativity during this period, but wasn’t able to rub enough coherent thoughts together to put into a single meaningful post.

 

New Year being a traditional time for reflection, I think that I have a cohesive theme for this post, you can let me know if you agree.

 

Looking back a bit, I have previously explained my stance on Resolutions so no need to reiterate. Last year, a columnist that I particularly appreciate wrote about a different concept that has more meaning to me. She, Mary Schmich, wrote about selecting a word to represent the year. (I took time from completing this post to see if I could find her column but have decided that turned into a side-track better left alone.)

 

Last year I chose the word experience. I wanted it to mean having new experiences. I wanted to use the word to prompt myself into getting out and trying new things. Well, it didn’t work out that way. However it wasn’t a total bust as a word choice. I experienced moments with family, including trips to visit more distant relatives. I experienced moments with friends. Moments of quiet reflection were mixed into my experiences in 2015.

 

Then there is acquired experience. I learned new things at work and brushed up exisiting knowledge on other things like implementation of a new program and field mapping to integrate systems. Creatively, I might not have been writing but I did practice photography and a little sewing. I appreciated the art and culture of Ireland when I took myself to the Art Institute of Chicago for a day.

 

Mostly normal experiences for a year, but I was more aware because of my chosen word. And that makes me feel good about the year just passed – particularly when I look at all the should’ve and could’ve and didn’t lists… Which will always exist.

 

Now the word for this year, which I have picked with less deliberation than last year’s. This was a more intuitive choice. Joy. Usually we don’t think about joy except when we are singing about it at Christmastime. But joy is never that far away, as I learned from my mom. It can even be found in small doses, lurking nearby the most awful things. Waiting to be discovered and relished.

 

I hope that your year is full of experiences worthy of note and joy.

12-4

 

© 2016 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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Loose Ends & Cross Purposes

Perhaps it is because the world is in transition from one season to another.  At least, oh please, I hope that it is finally starting into the transition from winter to spring.  The birds seem to think that it is because more and more of them are returning each day.  I feel like the dot, dot, dot that trails along the end of a sentence when the speaker isn’t sure where the ending happens to be.

 

I feel at loose ends.

 

According to dictionary.com  we humans have been at loose ends since the mid-1500s or so.  Oh dear.  At least we are in good company when we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves next.  If we are tying up our loose ends, it appears to have something to do with getting our ropes in order on a sailing ship.  This makes plenty of sense, one doesn’t want ropes just lying about on a ship. One trip and you could go overboard.

 

photo is from publicdomainpictures.net

photo is from publicdomainpictures.net

I am also at cross purposes.

 

We humans haven’t been at cross purposes nearly as long as at loose ends according to merriam-webster.com – since 1668 to put a fairly fine point on it.  (Looking up cross purposes is also in the bottom 30% on this site so maybe we can stir up some interest?)  It seems to me that we have probably been at cross purposes as long as people have interacted.  We just didn’t use this particular term for it.

 

But I am not at cross purposes with another person.  I am, as the seasons are, in a bit of a brain muddling transition.  Dangling this loosely and crossing that.  Maybe I should start, but first I should finish…  I want to do this, but it isn’t ready yet.  I can’t do winter anymore, and yet I must.

 

Transitions are confusing.  This seasonal transition from winter to spring makes me cross.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Cures for the Bromidic in Deep Winter White

Winter and increasing mounds of snow appear to have taken permanent hold on my part of the world as I dream of green and balmy breezes.  Snow and ice are here for one season, thankfully since I find the incessant white and cold, the blanket of snow to be a blanket on my creativity.  I know that I am not alone, plenty of arts facilities and events are reporting lower than expected attendance due to the weather.

 

I have been lucky enough to arrange little breaks from the winter bromide for the last three weekends and it has helped in a small way.  I have met with three different friends once each weekend for either a meal and a movie or a trip to the symphony to listen to a tone poem that described warmer weather.

 

My urge to hibernate through most of January just fueled my winter grumpiness each time I had to venture out for work or errands.  Hibernation meant that entertainment choices were limited to what is at hand at home.  Same stuff, same four walls.  Bleh.

 

I know that other people like to plan trips to warm places for a week or two while home is locked in cold and ice.  I don’t know whether that would work for me, part of my thoughts would be focused on the required return to Nordic weather.  Now, if I could figure out how to live somewhere else for this one season every year that would be ideal.

 

Ah, at least I have thawed my creativity enough to dredge up and dust off this old word, bromide, and use it in a non-pharmaceutical manner.  I only recently realized that the word had alternate meanings.

public domain image, FDA

public domain image, FDA

 

Another mental exercise that several of us have taken up is how we would be happy to box up all of this snow and send it off to the areas on the West coast that are in the midst of an exceptional drought.  We have plenty to share.  Each of our regions needing a bit of what the other has, each sighing ‘enough’ to the weather pattern we are in.  Sadly, it doesn’t appear feasible.

 

I hope that everyone is able to find a cure or two for bromidic winter.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Poetic to Prosaic

Prosaic is one of those words that I come upon infrequently and in such context that I never bothered to look it up in the dictionary.  So I never had a clear understanding of its meaning, only gleaned it from the situations where I found it used.  I’ve recently discovered that I had the wrong idea of this word all along.

 

In gleaning a meaning, I give weight to the way that the word sounds to me and prosaic has a pleasant little lilt to it.  But it means the same as mundane – which sounds as it is intended, stodgy and dull.  In enjoying the way that prosaic sounded, I was uplifting it to be similar in meaning to poetic instead of its opposite.  Being a word in the periphery of my awareness, I never thought about the origin; its direct relationship to the word prose.  A word which encompasses all of my efforts on this blog, a cousin of my chosen word essay.  Around 1746 the dictionary says prosaic’s meaning was “having the character of prose (in contrast to the feeling of poetry)”.  This was almost 100 years after the word came into being.

DSC03745

I love the huge variety of words that we have at our disposal (and yet we still have so much difficulty expressing ourselves at times), some of which have been with us for centuries.  With such a vast selection, is it odd or understandable that most of us use so very few words repeatedly and some words become so overused as to be akin to nails on a chalkboard?   (Think of just about any buzz word, which I wrote about on my old blog last year, Buzzspeak, Hmmm.)

 

It seems understandable to me that we become familiar with a narrow selection of words and then use what is most familiar.  In our constant search for meaning and value, we cling to the things that are comfortable and familiar.  Regardless of how prosaic they may be.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Power of the Right Word

We learn to speak without understanding the power of language.  We just know that we start to associate specific combinations of sounds to the result that we want – combining sounds to produce ‘juice’ gets us a sweet, cold beverage that slakes our thirst.  So we say it again when our mouth is dry and we need liquid.  Other sound combinations get results too – uttering ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’ gets lots of wonderful attention, hugs and kisses.  Score!

 

Somewhere along the line we experience the pain of words too.  A casually repeated word like ‘dummy’ gains a lecture about not hurting others perhaps.  But do we really understand the power of words yet?

 

Learning that certain words have specific associations to a place – the playground has looser rules than the classroom – teaches us a level of appropriateness, but not necessarily understanding.  We have just enough to know how to be hurtful without knowing why we might be hurtful.

 

I love words – their sound, combining them for just the right effect – I love to read them and to write them.  I want to understand them, not just use them.  When I am trying to make a point with people who don’t have the same intense relationship to words I like to use an example.  If you need a group to listen you can say different things – examples run from ‘Be quiet’ to ‘Shut up’.  These are essentially the same command but they have very different connotations for the listeners.  If you would like to show authority, but not disrespect toward the group, then your option is clearly ‘be quiet’, ‘quiet, please’ or something along that line.

DSC03588

I know that I cannot expect others to love words as I do.  But this example usually helps to gain understanding.  In English, we have many options to say something, to get our point across – all valid – which makes choosing the right option for the circumstance an important step.  What do we intend to convey?  Who is our audience?  What is important within the message that is also important to the audience?

 

There is so much that should go into word choice, too much for one blog post.  I need a reminder now and then that words have alternate meanings, even regional meanings sometimes, and that the point of combining sounds into words and words into sentences and paragraphs is to communicate.  Communicating isn’t just about what I want to say, but about how the person or group who will receive the message will perceive it.  The right word has great power, and the wrong word – well, there is usually a long list of trending social media topics about the famous folks who chose the wrong word at the wrong time.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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