Success and Failure and Courage to Continue. . .

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts”- Winston Churchill (keepinspiring.me/success-quotes/)

Sometimes, continuing in the face of failure is difficult, to say the least. But, as Winston Churchill has pointed out it is the courage to continue that is important. Courage can be in short supply especially when faced with multiple attempts at something that result in failure.

But, I have been thinking about solutions, new avenues to take when faced with failure after multiple attempts at a goal.

I’ve decided to review my approach to my goals. I’ve decided to consider alternative approaches. What can I do differently? Do I need to breathe a breath of fresh air into old thought patterns? Am I spinning my wheels in the same rut? Do I need to step out of my comfort zone?

What can I do differently as I near a new year? What can I do differently in my writing?

Do I need to take more inventive chances?

Most importantly, do I have the courage to stand up to disappointment?

Like Churchill said, failure isn’t fatal.

But, I do think that giving into despair and deciding not to try something new can be damaging to our mental health and soul-crashing to our spirits. “Fatal” might be a bit strong, but then again just think about how damaging despair can be to our spirit, and as we have learned, our social, spiritual, physical and mental health are all intricately intertwined. When one component is broken, the rest soon follow.

So, for me, I have decided to focus on new strategies, step out of my comfort zone, and have the courage to do so.

I encourage you to do the same, as well.

After all, if you never try, you will never know just how successful you can be.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Typewriters: Nostalgia

Yeah, I am old enough to remember learning to type on an actual manual typewriter complete with white out correction tape and a typewriter ribbon. I can still recall how irritating it was to make a mistake and then have to back space, get the white out and correction tape and very messily make a correction. Oh, yes, I forget about the carbon copy paper that I could utilize to well make carbon copies (mistakes abounded that no amount of correction tape could correct). It could take hours (even days) to type up a decent page.

Today, people younger than forty have absolutely no idea just what a pain it was to type on a manual typewriter. Did I mention the noise of the keys as they clacked and clacked as the typist’s fingers pounded out a letter?

Oh, yeah, those were the days! In fact, I think learning to type on a manual typewriter should be required in schools (maybe it would teach people to appreciate what they have with the computers, but I digress).

Looking back, I think about how typing on a manual typewriter forced my concentration on each and every word. I had to focus so as not to make an error. I couldn’t think of anything but what I was typing. I had to have laser focus to get it correct, or else I’d have to stop and make an immediate correction.

You could not have the attention span of a gnat and type on a manual typewriter; you have to be fully present in order to complete your writing project.

As I consider my upcoming week, I consider what my plans are for writing. What do I want to complete? What steps am I going to take to reach my goals? How am I going to inspire myself to write?

Well, how am I going to focus, as well? I am afraid that in this Post-Modern Age we have all developed the attention spans of gnats; we can not focus for longer than a few minutes before we shift our focus to something else. Thank you, internet (sarcasm!)

I have developed a strategy to jumpstart my creativity. And, I will share it with you.

I usually scan the dictionary and randomly select up to twenty words and try to write a short story or poem using those words.

Here is my list for this week:

Epitome. Jasper. Bundt cake. Indignation. Smite. Puddles. Badger. Obsidian. Appaloosa. Canyon. Alibi. Feathers. Pearls. Rhoda. Judah. Tennessee Walker. Moon. Burgundy. Owls.

Even if you don’t use all the words, it is fun to shake up the imagination and experiment with potential stories or poems. . .

So, consider writing this week and if you’d like to share what you came up with please let me know.

Happy writing and have a beautiful week!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Frame

Red holly berries cluster beneath green leaf canopies; thin branches point skyward, end.

Sunlight, golden, shifts like pantomime against the pale yellow wall.

Window is a picture frame, frames the forest outside the library.

Peaceful. Silence. Calm.

I sit and simply watch the world go by.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Out of Town

A short story sketch by Jenny W. Andrews

Edna crumpled the receipt, flung it into the garbage can after rolling it tightly into a ball.

Harris, in his starch white button down shirt, rifled through his desk’s top drawer, and muttered, “I know I put it right here.” He clutched the key. “Nobody else has a key. I just don’t understand.”

From her perch at the top of the staircase, Edna smirked and swallowed a giggle. “Darling, is something the matter?” She called to him. The sound of his little key locking the top drawer sounded so stupidly tiny, ineffective.

“Nothing’s the matter, Edna. Nothing at all.”

By the time she reached the bottom of the stairs Harris was seated in his brown leather recliner sipping a glass of white wine.

“Oh, I thought I could have sworn I heard you muttering. You sounded a bit upset. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Harris rested his wine goblet on the glass table top next to his recliner. “You must be imagining things, Edna. I wasn’t saying anything. I’ve been sitting here reading my book.” He patted the book that he had balanced precariously on his knee.

“Probably. Yes, I was probably just imagining things.” She leaned her back against the desk.

His face as of late ceased to remind her of the man she had once loved. No, he didn’t look anything at all like the man she had once loved. Now, he just looked shifty. Yes, that was the word. Shifty. The lies he told were beginning to etch themselves throughout the contours and creases of his face. . .

Hey, everyone, thanks for reading. This is just a sketch. I wanted to write about how people (especially married couples) try to manipulate and play mind games with each other as if it is an Olympic sport.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Positivity: A Quote

“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to touch those things and make them bloom?” – Thich Nhat Hanh (brainyquotes.com/topics/positive/quotes)

I read this quote a few minutes ago and decided to share it with you. It got me thinking about how we are so inundated with negative messages as we go about our day. There is always some unfortunate event; there is always some horrific tragedy afoot. At every turn, underneath every rock, in every drop of water, and in every molecule of air, potential ruin lurks for us as individuals and as a species! If we aren’t careful. . . well, well, the sky is going to fall on us and, and. . .

It’s enough to drive you completely crazy if you dwell on the potentiality of tragedy. Face it, living is a tricky endeavor; it is not for the faint of heart.

To live successfully in this life, we must be strong-willed and we must learn to filter out all the negativity that assails each of us as we go about our daily lives.

Of course, I am not implying that we should stick our heads in the sand and put blinders on so that we don’t address real problems that must be solved. What I am recommending is that we focus less on the negative and more on positive solutions that can make our lives and the lives of others better.

I think that is what Thich Nhat Hanh had in mind when he made his statement.

We do deal too much on the negative; in fact, I’d go a step further and say that we dwell on the negative to a morbid degree. We are hit from all sides with the worst possible reports about the worst possible acts that humanity can commit.

I have a challenge for you as well as myself for the upcoming week.

When and if you go on the internet look for positive, uplifting stories. People are doing good things out here in this world. Search it out! Before you speak, consider if it is going to be unnecessarily negative. Or, can you rephrase and say something positive and uplifting?

Can you spend a few minutes lending a hand to someone who needs positive encouragement?

How can you make the world a better place this week? What are the words you can choose to lift up rather than discourage others?

“Why not try and see positive things, to touch those things and make them bloom?” (Thich)

Bloom. When I think of this word I think of lovely flowers.

I think of beauty.

This world is beautiful.

Take time this week to see that beauty. Be that beauty.

Have a lovely week and drop me a message to let me know how your week went.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Inheritance

Seared into my great-great- grandfather Captain Abraham’s memory,

a battle he fought with long dead enemies.

Curious world dissolving into red Georgia clay,

dust rising up with his history’s burden, a bitter cup.

There is no alibi strewn on the forest floor beneath twigs, weeds, rotten logs.

Footsteps of ghosts dash and dart among leaves and retreating shadows.

His hand lifts up on that far away day on that battlefield, his blue eyes scour the broken world.

Nothing, nothing left, now, except bones beneath that patch of holy ground.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

A Quote to Consider

“A man must make his own arrow-“Native American Winnebago Proverb (www.idlehearts.com)

A few months ago, I stopped by my favorite coffee shop to have my favorite caramel macchiato latte. The young man behind the counter had a quote on his shirt that read “A man must make his own arrow.” In the area where I live there are many people who are descendants of the various original peoples of the Americas, primarily the Lumbee and the Waccamaw-Siouan.

As I drank my latte I thought of the meaning behind the quote that he wore on his shirt. “A man must make his own arrow.” Autonomy. Personal responsibility. Independence. Pride in self. Standing on one’s own two feet. So many words and ideas came to mind.

I watched him as he happily attended to customers and I thought of his people’s history, how they are still thriving despite the odds that had been stacked against them. He stood proudly there behind that counter in that small family owned coffee shop and looked out at a world that just a few decades earlier would have scoffed at and discriminated against him and his people.

I smiled and sipped my latte and thought of that quote and how it had probably inspired him to be in charge of his life, to be in charge of his destiny, and “to make his own arrow.”

I considered how I can forge ahead in my life and be in charge of my destiny. I thought of the choices I can make that will move me forward towards my goals.

We all have obstacles to more or lesser degrees in our lives. Some of the obstacles are of our own design; other obstacles are put in our path by others, by situations beyond our control.

But, I believe with perseverance we can overcome the obstacles that are in our path. We can stand proudly and not give into fear and discouragement. We can take charge of our destinies if we dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to our goals.

I think of the history of the Lumbee and Waccamaw-Siouan and how they are still proudly standing and thriving and I can only hope that I have their courage and perseverance to “make my own arrow” and to focus on my goals and not surrender to discouragement.

Tomorrow is another day; tomorrow is another day that the sun will rise.

Rise with it and turn your face towards the rising sun and its warmth and move forward.

Always move forward, after all this life is, like the arrow’s path, on a forward trajectory.

We cannot go back; we can only go forward (whether we want to or not).

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Noni, Counting

Noni Francisca back in her day, scattered rose petals, called out each and every one by its scientific name.

Her memory faded like the shadows that fell across those distant blue hills.

On a bench, at the edge of her garden, wearing her pretty burnt orange cloche, the one she’d worn back in her heyday, she lifted her wrinkled hand and snatched at the memories that fled away.

One, two, three, and so it went, counting the rose petals, with the only words that she had left. . .one, two, three, the numbers that she had loved, the flowers that had been her passion.

Noni Francisca in her garden; her pretty burnt orange cloche a testament to her elegance.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Last Sunday in March, a poem

Overcast, grayness sticks to the sky; white dirtied by the rain, lurking, threatening to burst.

Sun struggles to reappear.

I Know Why:

Heaped together strung like imperfectly corded beads, my days slip and scatter to the ground; tapping far off is the thought hidden that dispatches those rude awakenings that all is not well on the outside of the cocoon in which I have sequestered myself.

Ordered pair:

Never existed, except in geometry.

Disorder is the caveat that has to be simply accepted.

Slope downhill from here accelerated by lack of energy.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Procrastination: Overcoming it!

I will be very, very honest here. . .

At the beginning of each year I purchase pretty planners in which I write my goals for writing. . .I even buy pretty, different color pens to go with my pretty planners.

Then. . .

I place the pretty planners on my desk next to my computer, next to my journals that are equally pretty and that are brimming with my handwritten poetry and short stories. I bask in the beauty of the floral covers and the magnificence of my literary aspirations . . .

But, then I get distracted by pretty much anything. . .

The leaves outside my window swaying in the early morning breeze, the chirping of birds, an old novel on my bookshelf.

I think you get my point.

I accomplish very little.

Time is short; I shouldn’t waste time. . .

So, here are some strategies I have decided to implement to motivate myself and hopefully you. . .

Actually write instead of just penciling in the time to write. Make no excuses. If you are serious about writing then just do it. Find a quiet space and write.

If you feel like your creative well has run dry consider this technique:

Get a word search book or a dictionary and pull out ten random words and write a short story or a poem from those words.

This can really get your creative juices flowing.

For example, what short story or poem can you write from this list of random words I pulled from a word search book?

Okra, Music Box, Delta, Disown, Meltdown, Half a Heart. . .Magnolia, Aurora.

This can be fun. Try it and let me know what poem or short story you might come up with.

Thanks for reading!

Happy Writing! (Not procrastinating!)

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2022