Respect One Another

I’ve stepped away on purpose the last few weeks. There is so much heartbreaking news out there, and I didn’t feel I had anything to offer the conversation. But, ignoring it somehow seemed wrong. Today I intended to post something fun as a get our minds off all of sadness. But I can’t do it. hands-683950_960_720

Instead I’ll say the one thing that keeps running through my mind. Can’t we just respect one another.

I’m not saying we should put aside all of our differences, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I’m not even saying we should like one another. It would be nice, but let’s be honest…that’s never going to happen in my lifetime. Some of the differences are a really important to who we are and deserve to be focused on and discussed. It’s the differences that will help us as a society learn and, one day, move forward.

But today is not that day.

Asking people to love one another is impossible until people learn to respect one another. So that’s what my message is today. You don’t have to love thy neighbor. Hell, you don’t even have to like them. But try a little respect. They are a human being. They have hopes and dreams. They love someone, and someone loves them. They are someone’s child. They may be someone’s sibling or parent. They have friends. There are things that make them laugh and things that make them cry. They will bleed. They will die.

They are a living, breathing human being. The color of their skin, the person that they love, the higher power they believe in – or don’t believe in, their sex and sexual identity is all secondary to the fact that they are a living, breathing human being. Just like you. Just like me, and the person down the street. Just like every person of color. Just like every cop. Just like every gay man and woman. We are all living, breathing human beings.

Maybe I’m just stupid or naive, but shouldn’t that be the most important part? If you can’t find a way to respect someone for any other reason, can’t you at least respect the fact that they are a human being? They are here trying to live the best they can, and when they’re gone someone will cry for them.

I know that even asking us to be nice to one another at this point is probably a lost cause. So, can we start with respect? For one day, don’t just automatically go on the attack or on the defensive. Respect the people around you. You don’t have to get carried away, just…I don’t know…say excuse me when you walk in front of someone. Hold a door open. Say thank you and your welcome. Acknowledge that the people around you, even the people who say you hate, are PEOPLE. Human beings. Living, breathing, feeling beings just like you.

For one day try to respect them. And then tomorrow, try doing it for another day. And the day after that…and the day after that…and the day after that…And maybe one day we’ll find that we really do respect the people we’re different from. May that day we can move on and find a way get along.rainbow-436171_960_720

4 Ideas to Make Storytelling Easier

I’ve gotten some questions recently about storytelling, and I thought I wold share some of the discussion with everyone. First, let me clarify what I mean about storytelling.

Old Typewriter

Tips for telling your story

To me, storytelling can be anytime you’re telling people something. That could be in the traditional sense like a novel or autobiography, or in a marketing sense like a marketing or social media campaign. Instructional design, script writing and video production as well as content development can all fall under storytelling – you’re trying to share information or persuade someone by telling someone something. I look at all these things as storytelling because it puts you more in the mind of getting your information out in a creative and/or interesting way that is more likely to hold interest and make an impact.

With that out of the way,  let’s look at 4 ideas (and a bonus tip) that will hopefully make storytelling easier for you.

  1. Who cares? I know, everyone should care about what you have to say. Unfortunately, that’s not actually true. So ask yourself, who am I telling this story to? Who is going to care from the first word, and who do I want to make care? Spend a few minutes thinking about the audience the piece is for and what you want them to take away from the story your telling.
    Old photo from New Your Times Newsroom of reporters working, on phone and reading

    These guys might care….

    I know that’s the first step in any kind of writing, but too often I see people trying to tell a story, market something or teach something taking a shotgun approach – spreading the information as thin as you can to try to reach as many people as possible. The majority of the time that only makes the story boring and too diluted to have the impact you want.

  2. Watch your language. It’s no secret that when people write for business they write more formally, it’s what we’ve all been taught. But, that’s not always the best option. You need to look at the audience and the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about profit and loss margins something more formal is probably the best choice. If you’re talking about a client’s theme park or telling people about the time you were having such a run of bad luck that your left shoe fell down a sewer grate and you never saw it again, you probably want to be a little more informal.

    What do I mean by informal? Using contractions for one. A lot of people seem to have issues using contractions in their writing, and that quickly makes everything more formal. Word choice is important too! Using slang can also be a big help in making what you’re writing more approachable. If your writing a young adult (YA) romance novel and say, “Would you like to go spend time at the local shopping complex?” versus, “Do you want to go hang out at the mall?” your reader is going to feel like they’re reading a text book – and chances are if they’re reading a YA romance novel they probably get enough of text books in their daily lives and won’t give your novel the time of day.

  3. Let your Medium guide you. I’m not talking about Madam Elaine, Psychic to the
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    Let your medium Guide you!

    Masses, I’m talking about the medium you’re using to tell the story. Are you telling your story verbally or in writing? Are you doing a slide show presentation or blog post? Consider the length of time or space you have to tell the story. Shorten or expand as necessary.

  4.  Say it out loud! One of the easiest and fastest ways to check on how your story sounds is to read it out loud to yourself. Listen to how it sounds. Does it sound too formal? Not formal enough? Is there a sentence that’s hard to understand when you hear it? Is it something that is easy to understand and hit the notes you’re looking to hit? The answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about the writing style you used for the piece (or your writing style in general) and the how others will hear it – even when they read to themselves most of your audience will be hearing their voice saying the words so in a way they are hearing it out loud.

    Bonus TIP! Reverse it! If you’re worried that your writing style or speaking style is too formal and you want to work on that, start verbally rather than in writing. This especially works well if you’re telling your life stories. Record yourself telling the story verbally before you start to write. Listen to it carefully. What do you notice about how you tell the story? Is your word choice different than when you write? Are your sentences shorter? Do you use a storytelling voice that is warm and approachable? Keep these things in mind when you start to write and see the difference it can make in the final product!

I would love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the post and what tips or ideas you have to make storytelling easier!

Go with Your Gut

View of Johnstown, PA from the Inclined Plane on the 127th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood.

The City of Johnstown on May 31st, 2016 – the 127th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood.

Last week I told you that I would be writing a post about the Great Johnstown Flood of 1889. This week, to be honest, I’m just not feeling it. While the flood happened more than 120 years ago, it’s something that is very personal for me. You see, my family has lived in Johnstown and the surrounding area for generations. I know that I had family who were in town for all of the floods and deeply impacted by them. I don’t have first hand accounts of the floods, just memories of my grandparents memories of family talking about the Great Flood. But still, talking about the flood, and the thousands that died, usually makes me pretty melancholy. Since my life the last few weeks have been enough to make the sunniest person blue, I decided it might be best to table the planned post for now. I will get there (and hopefully be able to share with you something I wrote for a local magazine about the people of my hometown), but today I’m going to focus on the future.

To be extremely honest, the future isn’t looking all that sunny either, but it’s got potential. I’m still looking for work and my husband is still very ill. But, and that is a huge but, there are good thing on the horizon. Our oldest daughter finishes her Junior year of high school today and has been making plans abut what she wants to do next. We’ve got at least two colleges to tour and all the excitement of Senior Year to look forward to. No matter how I see things for myself right now, her future looks bright and I know she’ll be amazing.

Our youngest is a ball of energy and extremely intelligent – a combination to behold. One minute she’s discussing the advantages of different Pokemon and the next she’s talking about science and math at levels beyond the average 5th (soon to be 6th) grader. I’m sure that this summer will be filled with experiments and finding ways to keep her mind and body busy on a daily basis.

Fortunately, our town is filled with all kinds of great low or no cost things to do. We can easily spend most, if not all day, at a local library. There are parks to explore and free activities almost every weekend. And of course the local mall is open for strolling and window shopping when the weather gets to hot.

I don’t know for sure what the future holds. What I do know is that sometimes you need to go with your gut. When your gut tells you it’s not the right time to write something deeply personal that brings you down, it’s a good idea to listen. When it tells you that it’s time to focus on the positive in your life and share that with the ones of followers who read your blog, listen to your gut.

Throwback Thursday

Next week is the 127th Anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood. On May 31st, 1889 an incredible storm lead to the failure of the South Fork Dam, and the flooding of the valley below. The flood killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed the town. I’ll write a little more about the flood, the town and the triumph of the human spirit next week. Today I’m posting a picture taken earlier this year at sunset just after it snowed. The picture was taken from the top of the World’s Steepest Vehicular Inclined Plane in the Westmont  section of Johnstown.

City of Johnstown, Pennsylvania under a dusting of snow.

The city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania under a dusting of snow as seen from the World’s Steepest Vehicular Inclined Plane.

Unexpected Adventures

Life likes to hand you crazy time. So far in the last 10 days I stopped working and a few days later I took my husband to the ER where he was admitted to the ICU. He is doing much better thankfully and we hope to take him home in the next couple of days (let this be a lesson to you friends; if you take good care of yourself, take your medicine and see your doctor you can probably prevent time in the ICU due to chronic health issues). But life has been turned further upside down.

I as I write this from his hospital room I am reminded how lucky I am, despite that chaos at the moment. When I was waiting for my husband to be settled in the ICU, I talked to a man who had barely left the hospital for 11 days. His wife was in a terrible car accident and…let’s just say that the last I heard she was still fighting. Nothing like getting hit with a big dose of It Could Be Worse when you’re feeling pretty miserable.

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Despite what this waiting room looks like, I know that I am not alone. I know that in a few days we’ll get to take my husband home and start working on making the changes in our lives to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The money, and the jobs, and all of those things will work themselves out somehow. We will survive this. Not everyone is that lucky.

So today, Friend, I ask you to talk to someone you love. Give them a hug if you can and remember that you are not alone.

And, if you can take a moment to spare a thought for Heather in ICU, her husband, and their 3 small children…well that would be great too.

I’m Back!

I haven’t posted in a while. I’m sorry about that. I was really kind of overwhelmed by the job I was doing. That’s part of the reason I’m no longer in that position. Hopefully I’ll be getting some life back in my life now.

This is another way of say, I’m looking for a job. I’m hoping to find something local or virtual. I’m going to be starting with some freelance work while I’m looking. So, if you need a story told through social media marketing, or marketing in general, let me know. I’ve got knack for content creation and building interest, so I’m sure I could be helpful.

While all this is going on, I plan to get back here and start rebuilding what I started. I’m also planning to start working (or reworking) a couple of the novels I’ve got in progress. Stay tuned for updates on that.

I wish I wasn’t in the position I’m in right now, no one ever does. But, I’m going to do my best to make the most of it. I’d love to hear from you, so shoot me a message and let me know if you have any suggestions on finding and adjusting to my new normal.

 

Lorie