Archive for September, 2012

Journal On!

I considered removing the previous 3 ½ pages from my journal last evening.  My voice sounds rambling and agitated and my thoughts wander around like whiny children needing a nap.

Through years of journaling I have discovered that agitation and irritation are sure-fire catalysts for filling up journal pages.

I purse my lips and set my jaw and chronicle the general aggravations of life.

Write away.

This is not the case every night, of course.  A survey of my journals would find those descriptions of marvelous moments, like the birth of a child or grandchild, familiar to journal-keepers everywhere.  I think with my pen through a passage of scripture. I pray on paper.

And journals are big business, with over 10 million sold annually.

There has, however, been a question at the back of my mind as to whether I will leave this lifetime of soul-searching for posterity. Business philosopher Jim Rohn said, “There are three things to leave behind: your photographs, your library and your personal journals. These things are certainly going to be more valuable to future generations than your furniture.”

Well, sure, Jim. And it would be a great if a son or daughter or grandchild found these pages profound in observation, wise, a treasure trove of lessons learned.

However, I rather worry that they might simply be seen as the messy ramblings of a generally dissatisfied woman.

But life is messy. Sometimes terribly.

The question remains: Should I leave my journals for others (note to self: define “others”) to read?

If the answer is “yes”, I have a few guidelines:

  • Do not self-edit. A journal is, by its very nature, an honest account of the goings-on in one’s life. It probably won’t make it to the big screen (unless there’s something YOU’RE NOT TELLING US), so let it ride.
  • Do not just list what happened that day. Not to get too touchy-feely here, but include how you felt about what happened. It’s cathartic. Trust me. And you might, just might, avoid having to pay someone later to listen to you process how you feel.
  • Remember that, by the time someone gets around to reading your account of your life, you will be gone. Hopefully to heaven. Leaving them a few things to wonder about might lend a mysterious air to your memory. In case that’s important to you. If they are wide-eyed in shock or gasping in horror, well, there it was and there it is.

Hopefully, my words spilling over page after page, journal after journal, will simply testify of a woman who walked through life with a God who loved her, a God who read every page, and, in the end, smiled and said, “Well done.”

I’m happy to think He won’t be standing there with a bottle of whiteout and a big red pen.

Do you keep a journal? If so, how is your experience similar to – or different from – mine?


Why You Should Read to Your Little People

What if I told you that 35% of American children start kindergarten without sufficient language skills.

Would you believe it?

It’s true.

And, two-thirds of all 4th grade students are not reading at grade level. These children will be 4 times less likely to graduate from high school than proficient readers.

Which means that a growing semi-literate population is likely going to struggle with poverty.

Which means . . . oh, never mind.

Lest you be tempted to despair, stop reading, and go binge on cookies, I have some suggestions – and encouragement – for you and the youngsters in your life.

Reading out loud:

  •  reinforces the basic sounds that form language. By reading books like, say, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, children learn critical enunciation skills. This Seuss classic is a probably has the largest number of short words of any kids book out there. Everything from Yops to Gacks. Great practice for little emerging talkers.
  •  teaches the basics of how to read a book. Have you ever considered that children are not born with the innate knowledge that text is read from left to right? Or that words on a page are separate from images? These are essential pre-reading skills.
  •  expands vocabulary. Studies have shown that 2-year-olds who are read to regularly have a larger vocabulary than toddlers who aren’t. No surprise there. Reading constantly introduces new words. Giraffes Can’t Dance is one of my 2-year-old granddaughter’s recent favorites. Since the story is set in Africa, Natalia learned some new-to-her creatures: “warthog,” “meerkat,” and “wildebeest.”  She knows them all. And to hear her say them is, well, total cuteness.                                                                                                              
  • introduces the concept of story. Toddlers also love repetition. Which is why your little person will request  the same story over and over and over again. Then, he’ll start memorizing phrases and rhymes and even reading aloud with you. This is called emergent literacy and is, if I may say so, thrilling. This also means that Goodnight Moon will be burned into your brain.
  •  helps develop a stronger relationship with you. Sitting close together, reading, slows you both down. It nurtures. Your child will sense your delight both in being with him and in books. Sitting with my granddaughter in our reading chair with a stack of books she has chosen is one of my life’s particular pleasures.
  •  helps predict academic excellence. Aha! Reading to a child promotes a higher aptitude for learning in general. Numerous studies indicate that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all areas of formal education. Period.

So turn off the electronic chatter. Grab a book and that little person in your life. Sit down. And read.

Easy investment – big, big return.

Do you have memories of being read to as a child? If so, what books?

Wordmistress Again, You Guys


In the grand and glorious universe of words there are guerillas.

These villainous little tics and phrases hang around the edges of perfectly good conversation. Suddenly, without warning, they launch themselves smack into the middle of a fine, sturdy sentence. And it collapses without a fight.

Wordmistress, always at her post, has already brought several irritating examples to your attention. She must now deal with a particularly viral, 2-word, (what shall she call it?) delinquent that is beginning to make her twitch noticeably in public.

Wordmistress has had it with you guys.

What is the root of this verbal weed?

  • Did someone look around at some point and decide that the world consisted of males?
  • Did they miss 4th grade and not realize that, in the English language, you also serves as a plural pronoun?
  • Did they think the entire American population resided in the Bronx?

It’s everywhere. In restaurants: “What’ll you guys have?” Friends: “You guys wanna come over?” On TV: Unavoidable.  News programs (anchors, reporters, guests – from politicians to celebrities to attorneys to Joe Schmoe and his grievance), sitcoms (even though I never watch them because they kill brain cells en masse just like reality shows), finance shows, recent presidents (oh, dear).

It is a symptom of the slangy, sloppy, and sometimes faintly disrespectful way we are increasingly communicating with each other.

That sounds harsh, you say.

The future.

Wordmistress responds that she is standing on the wall of civilized conversation dodging missiles of fragmented thought being hurled by the masses saturated in social media mush.

She is armed only with her website and her wits.

Sometimes she grows weary and irritable.

Nevertheless, she encourages all of us to uproot you guys and plant the following:

  • you 
  • all of you
  • everyone

Stand strong. That means you. (Don’t even think it.)

Thank you to those who have shared verbal tics and phrases they find annoying. Wordmistress will address them in due time. Comments are appreciated.

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