Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Lucky Am I?

sunrise sunflower

It doesn’t feel like a Friday. I woke up this morning thinking, “Ugh! Monday!” which is a pretty crappy thing to think any day of the week that I find I’ve opened my eyes on yet another glorious day.  As my friend Mary is fond of saying, “Look at the alternative!” which is not waking up at all. I’m not so old that I’ve begun counting the days or the hours but I have lived long enough to know that every day is precious. And every day we can learn something new or be reminded of something we already know.

 Courageous Follower

While teaching leadership classes back in the 90s, I discovered a book that is still very relevant today: The Courageous Follower: Standing Up To and For Our Leaders.  I became enthralled with the idea of followership and contacted the author, Ira Chaleff. He is a kind and gracious man, dedicated to his study and his work, and he was happy to talk with me.

His book became a staple text in my classrooms and followed me into Leadership Academy as well as other classes I was teaching at the time, English (at several levels) and Introduction to Psychology.  Along with Echkart Tolle’s A New Earth and Osbon’s A Joseph Campbell Companion, The Courageous Follower has a permanent place on my desk. Through the years, it has inspired me to challenge myself and my leaders, transform my work and my life, and most importantly, have the courage to leave untenable situations. I’ve given away dozens of copies while keeping for myself one dog-eared, torn-covered, hard-back copy–signed by Ira.

A few weeks ago, I found Ira through LinkedIn. As I suspected, he’s been hard at work but not spectacularly active on social media. We exchanged pleasantries through email which gave me a chance to think about the different directions my life has taken since leaving my teaching position, and pondering how I ended up here still clinging to great books and memories.

I heard from Ira again yesterday. In my reply to his email, I had a chance to mention that I’ve been daydreaming about getting back into the real world of business and education, “but I spend my days writing novels and wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life.” Here is his response:  “I need to laugh – the rest of the world would like to get away from their jobs to write their novel and you’re writing novels and wondering what to do with the rest of your life!”

I laughed, too. And I’m still laughing. How lucky am I? I’ve always dreamed of spending my time writing, doing what comes naturally to me. For me, writing is like breathing–most days. Some days there’s a hitch, I feel like I have a writer’s version of hay fever–twitching thoughts and fumble fingers– and I can’t quite get it together. But most of the time, I breathe and write freely and easily and without the stress of having to leave my work and my joy to go to a desk job.

I am thankful for this opportunity to do what I love to do but sometimes it takes someone I respect and admire to gently hammer home, with a smile and a laugh, just how fortunate I am. I may never be #1 on the NYT Best Seller’s List, but I’m thrilled to sell books at all. I write books that I’d like to read and I tell stories that are different and hopefully inspiring. And I get to do it every day and every night from the comfort of my own comfy cave. Seriously, how lucky am I?

 Just for fun!

Follow the Leader

This photo from Pinterest feels appropriate today.

A Cave After My Own Heart

Being away from the cave is usually an interesting event for me. Putting on my social face and going out into the world is definitely not stepping into my happy place, but occasionally, I have to just suck it up and do it. This past weekend, it was for a good cause. Well, two good causes actually. I had fun but I’m happy to be home.

Ocean Pond 02

My daughter and her family are house-sitting at a beautiful old fishing camp not far from their home. The house, built in 1904, is as Walton-esque as it gets with a wide wrap-around, screened-in front porch lined with rocking chairs facing a huge three-pronged lake and a rabbit hutch cozied into a corner.

Ocean Pond: The End of the Road

Just driving down the single-lane dirt road with over-arching pin and water oaks laden with Spanish moss transported me to a state of quietude and peace–once I’d gotten over my wariness of entering this respite from home with its real threat of alligators, rattlesnakes, and snapping turtles. (And it is a real threat. People have gone missing in this lake, fishermen stepping onto the shore at the wrong time and at the wrong place.)

OP trees 02

Inside, the first floor of the house is set up for entertaining. There are two industrial strength kitchens with massive gas ranges and restaurant-ready refrigerators. Four dining rooms hold massive wooden tables and enough chairs to seat a small army. Typical lodge artifacts line the walls: fish, alligator skulls, lures, nets, paintings and posters and newspaper articles about adventures long forgotten. I could imagine this place in its heyday filled with fishermen lounging by the fireplaces (of which there are many), drinks in hand, telling fish stories while waiting for the evening meal to be served.

The house was built as a bed and breakfast for camp members, and was, according to the articles on the walls, a good place for a Saturday night dinner out on the town with friends from New York, or LA, or Savannah. I admit I couldn’t quite picture that scenario given that this place is situated precisely at the end of the road less traveled but I suppose these members must have been hearty folk to begin with to spend their days on waters infested with every manner of dangerous critter. And it must have been a hoot to drag their guests, willing or unwilling, out into the swamps for a meal.

The second floor is the caretaker’s home, a four bedroom, three bath apartment with tall windows (with original glass) and thick carpet over creaking hardwood floors. There are cabinets and closets galore, a central dining room, and a living room on the north end overlooking the lake. It’s homey and comfortable and “creepy as all get out” in the words of my grandson.

Rocking chairs 02

It was a little creepy but it’s a cave dweller’s dream, nestled far away from the hustle of life. I drank my morning coffee while I lounged in a rocking chair older than me on a porch built before my grandfather was born. I felt at peace while I rocked and dreamed and realized that this was a cave after my own heart.

Cave Dweller Hits the Road

Can you believe it? I’m leaving my comfy cave! It’s been a few months since I left home, but I’m headed north for a trip to visit family for a couple of days.

Rather than stress about laptop issues and wifi connections, I’m taking a break from blogging to enjoy some face-to-face time.

I hope you have a great weekend and find time to do something fun and friendly.

Blue birds

Thanks for stopping by! Leave me a note or a comment–and I’ll see you in a few days!

The Joy (and Power) of Being Right Here

Over the past few weeks, Cave Dweller has become a fun and important part of my daily life. I appreciate those of you who stop by to visit my blog on a regular or a transitory basis, taking a moment out of your day to read and/or comment. Your comments are important to me and I’m equally happy to receive emails or messages on my Facebook page.

Yesterday, I was asked how the idea for Cave Dweller came about. I’d like to say that I was struck by a moment of divine inspiration, which feels kind of true, but actually, for quite some time, I’ve been looking for a place to share my thoughts on what has become a major theme in my writing: living alone in a social world. Cave Dweller has become that outlet for me and for what I want to say.

On June 1, 2013, my blog post at colleensayre.com put into perspective some of my thoughts about life and writing so I suppose this was a defining moment for me in moving away from writing about writing to writing about life. This feels like the kick-starter for Cave Dweller and I suppose I have my son to thank for that (among a myriad of other fine things).

What follows is an approximation of my June 1, post. (I guess I could have just inserted a link to the page–the better to get you to browse my website–but I like it here in my little cave and didn’t want to send you adventuring unnecessarily.) The layout is different from the original but the content remains the same:

Sandy Feet

My son wants to buy a boat. I got a text message from him this morning at 6:54, which means it’s 3:54 where he is. “Nevermind why I’m up . . . the bottom of Hello is cut off!” he said from 2,000 miles away. I read this as I sat drinking my nth cup of coffee and wondering what else I could do to promote my book (which was released last night) besides send a tweet every five seconds and plaster Facebook with ads and promos and the usual pleas of “please buy my book.”

Happy Dance

[BTW: I found an app called Buncee that makes posters and invitations and all kinds of cool stuff on the fly and I wanted to give it a try. I’d seen a cool .gif of a cat doing a happy dance on Bing and was intrigued by the “make your own” tagline. So, I whipped up a little picture with a book announcement (alas, I couldn’t figure out how to make the cat or to make this one dance) and posted it at about 6:52. Come “like” me on Facebook to see my Buncee.]

At 6:55, I repaired the truncated Hello (a very easy fix), thanked my son for the alert, and then read that he’d “spent the night reading about sailing certifications. Just need a boat big enough to carry the ‘Dragon’ onboard.”

My response? OMG!

Dragon

The “Dragon” is his motorcycle, his escape hatch, his get-out-of-jail-free card. It is his parachute, his springboard, and his path to sanity. But now he wants to buy a boat. I’m wondering where on earth he wants to ride that requires three vehicles to get there: the car to haul the boat, the boat to haul the bike, the bike to haul his butt all over creation so that he can feel free and untethered.

Don’t get me wrong! I love adventuring. I love my son. I love that my son loves to go adventuring. But I’m also wondering when my son will realize that he has already arrived. He’s there. He’s here! The adventure is happening all around him. Maybe he already has realized it and my worry is just a mother’s frenzy over her son’s desire for yet another dangerous toy. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading about and thinking about the art of staying put and contemplating how to find my own joy.

Martha Beck (www.MarthaBeck.com) has written an interesting piece for O Magazine this month: “The Grass Ain’t Greener.” (Sorry, I couldn’t find a direct link to the article but it can be found in the “May We Help You?” section.) Beck’s focus is FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. What it really boils down to is this: from this side of the fence (or the computer screen), it seems to me that everyone has a happier, more exciting, more extravagant life than I do. And I want what everybody else has!

The article got me thinking. Being a fear-based phenomenon, FOMO creates all kinds of problems not the least of which is the anxiety created from rushing around from here to there and back again looking for a place, your place, the place where you will feel at home—even temporarily. It seems that almost immediately after arriving at our destination, the wheels begin to turn yet again and we plot and plan how to get to an even better place with barely a glance at the spot in which we’re standing.

I had a mentor back in the ‘90s who used to insist that the only way to find true peace and happiness is to “bloom where you’re planted.” Mildred Ramsey found inspiration and courage to live an action-packed life, traveling around the country giving seminars and selling her book, The Super Supervisor, wherever she happened to be standing. Mildred could carve out her own little piece of sacred ground, till the soil, and plant her seeds in a dusty parking lot while selling books from the trunk of her car. She’s one of the few people I’ve met in my life who could be on the move, rushing in ten different directions, and still be totally centered and at home wherever she stood. (And without a hair out of place, I might add!)

Unlike Mildred, I think most of us are constantly searching for the next thing that will bring us joy or happiness or security, searching for that little piece of ourselves that’s blowing on a breeze in the far off reaches of somewhere else. There is joy and power in being right here and right now. There is something adventurous about experiencing this moment, breathing this air, in this place of all places.

Mildred Ramsey

I think the magic of life, the cure for FOMO, is finding ourselves in the now, in this blink-of-an-eye moment of life, cherishing it, and then taking that joy into the next moment—no matter where we find ourselves.

As a writer, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to find my joy in the writing process rather than in the number of books I sell. I am happy at my desk with the world revolving right outside my window. I’m creating my own worlds, my own friends, my own experiences and finding pleasure in the sensation of living with one foot on the floor and the other resting on the haunch of the black lab curled up at my feet. Mind you, it took me 42 moves to get here and there were moments when I believed that the gods were playing some weird game of chess with my life, but I’m here. In this moment. Breathing this air. And I am thankful for it.

Life is what it is. And it’s ours. Here and now. Bring on the joy!

And Topher. . . Sweetie . . . don’t buy the boat! 🙂

George Lucas Got Married and I Feel Dizzy

 

 

George lucas 01

Is George Lucas a Cave Dweller? I’ve always thought so. He seems like someone who values his privacy. Then again, if he has everything he needs at his ranch, why leave? But maybe that’s just the impression I’ve gotten from what I’ve read about him. Or maybe it’s just that I like the idea that he’s a quiet soul living a sequestered life away from the weirdness of the real world. Nevertheless, I read this morning that George Lucas got married. Good for him!

Now the dizzy part: I’ve taken to cruising through Goggle Trends lately, checking out the big top ten of what’s happening in the world. It sure beats wading through website after website. Then again . . . George Lucas was the top trending story, so I clicked to find out why.

Tread lightly through the mine field!

I use Chrome as my web browser with all popups turned off, yet I had to wade through a myriad of advertisements just to get to the story (and heaven forbid you accidentally click on an image while trying to X-out of a pop-up!). Upon arriving at the landing page, I was lambasted by more ads surrounding and clouding the seven sentences in six paragraphs that briefly identified Lucas, his bride, and a short list of attendees at his wedding. Had the story not been in large font, the better to take up space, I would never have been able to find it among the whirly-gigs vying for attention.

Shiny, whirly, shiny!

At the top of the screen, just below the banner that hosted every social icon known to man–as well as small ads for sponsors–was a camera limping along pushing letters out of the way; a video on the right showed running commercial segments for unidentifiable products; below video number one ran video number two advertising a credit card. Sandwiched between the paragraphs and the videos were other advertisements, sponsor notices, and links to other news and trending topics and related stories and more news about other people only marginally related to anything on the page.  I’m assuming there was a little profiling going on here along the lines of, “if you like this story about this guy, then you might like these stories about these people, too!” Yikes!

And people wonder why we suffer from attention deficit disorder. Even that discussion is enough to cause symptoms: AD/HD [A.D.D. OR ADHD]–the whole strings of letters–is now the acceptable term. How can anyone not be distracted from original intent if we are constantly bombarded by–Oh, look! Shiny!

A couple of years ago, I considered walking away from TV for good. I found myself turning more toward the internet for news and weather updates, where everything I needed was instantly accessible. I’m finding that’s not necessarily true anymore. If I have to click through ad after ad, wade through tons of video clips and news bytes just to get to the information I need, it defeats the purpose. My purpose anyway. I don’t want to be smacked in the face by advertisements. I realize that many people are making a lot of money on blog/news ads, but this is ridiculous. I don’t watch CNN because I hate that scroller that brings me all the news I don’t want all the time. The internet is now inundated with the same stuff presented in the same way.

Where’s a Cave Dweller to go for simple, straight-forward news? I’m still looking. And clicking, and . . . Oh, look! Shiny!

Just for Fun!

Dandelion

I love this image and it feels appropriate today.

A Gathering of Angels

Angle with black wings

Angels have been hovering lately. I know, I know, it sounds silly. But it’s true.

I have a friend, a Cave Dweller like me, whose sister has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She’s going through chemo with no insurance, no backup plan, a million questions, and a shaky resolve, surrounded by friends and family. People are coming out of the woodwork to help in any way they can which strengthens my faith in human kindness and my belief in angels.

A call went out a few weeks ago, a call for a gathering of angels:

There comes a time in our lives when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly. Cancer sneaks in on silent feet, takes up residence, and clips our wings. We fight, we flutter, we do our best to just keep flying–and then we have to ask for help, from our friends, from our family, from our loved ones near and far. We’re asking for a gathering of angels . . .

birds in cage and flying

And they came.

It seems everywhere I turn, lately, I find a pair of wings: dragonflies, finches, cardinals, hawks. I often see birds in the empty lot next door, keeping a safe distance from three barking dogs, but they’ve taken up residence in the jasmine vines that cover the pergola on my back patio. As I sat reading last night, I heard a soft tapping on the window behind me. A huge pale white moth, attracted by the light, fluttered its wings at me and then flew away.

Red with broom

If you want to fly, let go.

My Facebook page is overflowing with images of angels, wings, and various suggestions of flight. Even a figure in a long red cloak carrying a broom evokes angelic peace rather than wicked fear. People are gathering in support and love for a sister, a friend, a woman in need.

I believe we get what we asked for and we asked for a gathering of angels.

They’re here.

Links to photos: Source of the Earth, Everything Under the Moon, My Own Path

Time on My Hands

Whaterver Clock with hand 01

This is strange for a weekday, for a Thursday. Today, I have a little time on my hands. Not a lot, but enough to feel like I can actually take a breath without feeling guilty. 

Most days, I have a million things on my to-do list. Granted, my list is self-imposed, but I try very hard to stay on task, to accomplish enough that at the end of the day, I can say to myself, “Good job! You had a productive day!” Most days, I’m working on several projects at once, mostly books in various stages of production: writing, editing, proofing, formatting, marketing, crying, sobbing, pulling out my hair–not in any particular order.

Coffee!

Today, I’m taking a break from the usual whip-cracking pace I set for myself. Today, I’m walking casually from my office to the coffee pot in the kitchen, savoring the aroma of the coffee as I fill my cup. I may even take a moment to gaze out into the backyard at the freshly mown lawn before heading back to my desk. I may even eat breakfast sitting down rather than hunched over a bowl of Rice Chex at the kitchen counter. Make that lunch. I’ve already skipped right through breakfast as I’ve contemplated what to do with my day.

Stay away from Pinterest!

Of course I could always spend my time backlogging blogs or cruising for media. Or visit Twitterland and see what my writer buddies are up to.  I would say I could visit Pinterest to see if there are any cool pins but there’s a yellow post-it on my monitor reminding me to stay away. (I got caught in a time warp in the Geek section of Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and lost two whole hours! That place is addictive!)

living_alone_comic_dallion_0061

In my ramblings around the internet at 6 this morning, I found this cartoon. I swear, this looks like my living room, dumbbells, books and all. This is pretty much how I feel at the moment, too, wondering what to do with myself now that I feel caught up and I’m between crises.

Well, I think my free time is about up. It’s been a quiet day so far. No major breaking news stories, no urgent messages from family or friends. I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and enjoy these last few minutes before I head back into my day. I hope you’re having a quiet, pleasant Thursday.  Thanks for stopping by. And don’t forget to take today’s poll!

Are Cave Dwellers Introverts?

goldfish jumping out of the water

As you know by now, I’ve been spending my time lately exploring what it means to be a Cave Dweller. I keep bumping up against the word introvert which is not surprising given the perceived concept of  cave dwelling as living a hermitic lifestyle. For me, the word extrovert means someone who throws themselves out there–in public and on the internet–with joyful abandon, and (perhaps) loudly. So what does it mean to be the opposite? Does that make me an introvert? In general, are Cave Dwellers introverts?

Does Quiet = Shy = Introvert?

For this post, I’m going to answer my own question right off the bat: NO! I do not believe Cave Dwellers are introverts (and I hope my use of caps and bold displays the vehemence with which I respond–loudly). Anyone who doesn’t take part in the shenanigans of others pretty much in any given circumstance is in danger of being labeled an introvert. I’ve been called an introvert my entire life although the truth is that I am anything but except in certain social situations. I don’t like parties with people I don’t know; I am not a free-floating gabber at business functions. Does that make me shy? Not necessarily. I consider myself judicious, choosing with whom I connect for idle chatter and playful banter. I’m not a snob either, but there is something about standing in a crowd, drink in hand, listening to chit-chat that sets my nerves on edge. 

Merriam-Webster is a B****!

Looking a word up in the dictionary feels very fourth grade to me, not to impugn fourth graders, but it seems to me that as a society, we often allow the definition of a word to inform our beliefs about others. The word introvert seems to have very negative connotations which leads to very negative connotations out in the real world. Take the Merriam Webster definition of introvert for example: one whose personality is characterized by introversion; broadly : a reserved or shy person. Now let’s look at synonyms:  shrinking violet, wallflower;  related words: mouse, cold fish, iceberg, icicle; and finally, words that rhyme: ambivert, bladderwort, bloody shirt, butterwort, controvert, disconcert, extrovert, feverwort, inexpert, and hobble skirt. (What?) Get my point?

I took a personality test a few years ago and the results were exactly as I expected: competent introvert. I was informed that I had great leadership potential but on the down side, I was thoughtful, reticent, and way too shy. The expert’s recommendation? Become a social drinker. Get out there, hang around in bars, learn to open up to people. (This was the 90s. People said things like this back then.) I think that’s when the interior of my cave became even more appealing than ever before. What is it about being thoughtful and reticent that unnerves people? What does our old pal Merriam say about reticent? Restrained, uncommunicative, silent. Yep, a little negative: “The panel decided to investigate the fraud charges against the company, which has always been reticent about its internal operations.” Bitch! (And I say that in a loving, quiet, shy way.)

A Rose by any other Name . . .

In my ramblings around the internet looking for positive thoughts on cave dwelling, I came across this blog from Exploring Pixie. She has a couple very cool links, too, if you’re interested in the coolness of us. I’m not sure what to call us. Cave Dweller works for me personally. It sums up in a very precise way what it means to be me, a quiet, thoughtful person who chooses to live on the periphery of society, watching, thinking, ready to offer support, assistance, and guidance when necessary. I prefer to glide in on silent wings to take part in life rather than bulldoze my way through the crowd. I’m comfortable in my cave, doing my thing, living my quiet life.

Introvert-images-introverts-14863871-440-293

How about you? Are you an introvert? A Cave Dweller? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to take today’s poll!

What a Difference A Day Makes

Is it just me?

Is it just me or did the internet change overnight?

I took yesterday off, a rare thing for me, but I decided I needed a full day of no work, no hanging out on the internet, no scrambling for ideas for blogs or stories. For once in a blue moon, I did not spend several hours formatting a document for upload or working on a book cover. Instead, I sat outside and read free short stories from Amazon. And I watched ‘Hemlock Grove’ on Netflix. (All I can say about that is YIKES! My daughter, on the other hand, had this to say: “That is the most gruesome transformation I have ever seen. I hope they do a second season!” Hint: it’s about werewolves and other creepy things).  So, it was a day of change for me and I woke up rested but feeling completely out-of-sync.

Good morning, Max!

I logged on later than usual and after checking my email, I went straight to Google. There, instead of a colorful logo or a holiday-themed search box (although today isn’t a holiday), I found an animated Max from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and an arrow to click. So, I clicked the arrow. You’ll have to check it out to see what popped up.  (You can click on the link above.) I was pleasantly surprised and if you are –or ever were–a Sendak fan, I think you will be, too. I also noticed that there’s a microphone in the search box. Was that there two days ago? If it was, I missed it. Now that I’ve noticed this small change, I’m wondering what else is new. I’m on the lookout for other things that are different before they smack me in the face. Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit, doing the same things over and over again until I’m forced to make a change, even for the better. But I’ve noticed that Google has a different feel this morning and a different way of searching.

Visualize . . .

I am a believer in visualization. I believe that it is possible to manifest a better world. See it, feel it, be it.  Google seems to believe in visualization, too. On the Google Trends page, it’s now possible to bring your search to full-page with a scroll of clickable hot topics. I’m not exactly sure why that’s a great idea given that a full list with photos is available just to the right, but apparently this is helpful for some people. Or maybe they’re moving incrementally toward another change. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

So What?

Granted, these small changes may not seem BIG to you and in the stream of all things on the internet are actually quite small, but it seems to me that as one platform changes, so go the others. One small change urges another and another until everyone is, once again, doing the same thing. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Maybe Google is reacting to a change somewhere else along the line and, having been in my cave, I just missed it.

Are you noticing changes in the way you’re doing business on the internet? Is added visualization a good thing? Do you want a screen that appears in mid-air and comes complete with holograms? (I do! I’ll be on the look-out for that one!)

 Just for Fun

Game of Thrones Season Three ended last night. After the Red Wedding, this felt like somewhat of a let-down. If you’re a fan, you might get a kick out of a compilation of the Top 20 Most Shocking Moments of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I’m not sure I agree with the order, but it’s a pretty good list thanks to Nora Grenfell.

If you have other shocking moments, leave me a comment.

And don’t forget to take today’s poll.

Thank you!

Thank you

We’ve had a GREAT first week! I’m very excited about the number of views and followers Cave Dweller has gained–thanks to YOU!– and I hope that the numbers will continue to climb as word spreads that we’re here. I’ve had a lot of fun writing and developing the pages  and finding topics to include and share with you. As I’ve said, writing is what I love to do. Being social? Not so much.

Moving forward, I want to continue to explore what it means to be a Cave Dweller in a social world, and your suggestions and ideas are always welcome.

If you’d like to be a guest blogger, let me know. I’m always happy to listen to and share new perspectives. We’re wide open here and ready to talk about anything that you might find of interest.

I hope you’ll take a break from life and work or whatever keeps you busy each day to take a poll and leave me a comment. I know, I know–this isn’t a social site. But your insights will help me keep Cave Dweller a cave you will want to visit again and again.

Have a great weekend! (And don’t forget to take today’s poll!)