Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Always Be True. Period.

Day 25, Saturday: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget (good or bad)

It wasn’t so much something about me, as it was advice, that changed my life and stuck with me forever.

Always, always, be true to your husband. – Grandpa Bob

I had the very special opportunity to spend time with my Great Grandpa Bob in the last few years of his life. He was the most interesting man and let me tell you… I have yet to find someone with eyes that twinkle the way his did, a smile as contagious, and an outlook on life that was more positive.

To put it simply: I have yet to meet anyone as happy as Bob was.

I try to be more like him each and every day.

advice, grandpa, writing

might have been the most attractive human being to ever walk the earth, just sayin. is that weird? to have a crush on my great grandpa?

We sat together and chatted for hours and hours.

He sang, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” He was willing to answer any question. He ended most of his profound statements with a strong, “Period!” (“And that was how it was! Period!”) He may have had moonshine some whiskey in his fridge.

We discovered that he and I have the same hands. I used to dislike my thicker fingers (Meredith got the slender, skinny and delicate hands of my mother’s side) but when I noticed that each of my fingers were shaped exactly like Bob’s, suddenly I loved my hands.

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There’s that SMILE!!!! Please, God, let me be cool enough to still sit on santa’s lap when I’m 90 years old. LOVE THIS!!!

He told me he loved me. He told me that God would always be with me. He told me to always, always, be true to my husband.

Oh, and about his continuously positive outlook on life… one more little fact… he was blind.

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when Meredith and I went to visit!!

Grandpa Bob had no problem talking about his own death, which he referred to as “crossing the threshold into eternity” and nothing else. We talked about heaven. He wanted his body to be donated to science, to help others with the same eye condition. He lived to be over 90 years old and his mind was sharper than a blade. (I hope I also get that gene.) Certain points in our conversation brought us both to tears. I suppose I get that strong emotion from Bob, too. We laughed hysterically and he told me outrageous stories from his youth.

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giving him a smooch!

He had Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that worsens with time until eventually, you are legally blind. My grandmother (the beautiful one who I had mentioned here) and uncle also have this.

They, too, are the happiest people I’ve ever met.

How is this possible? How can these three individuals, who were robbed of something as precious as sight, still smile wider than all others? How can they laugh, cry, and show emotion that seems to radiate out from them without them trying? How can they see so much?

I’ll never know and I doubt I’ll ever be as wise or gracious or sparkle the way they do. But I’ll never stop trying.

I’ll never forget my Grandpa Bob, his hands, or his advice.

writing, new writer, short stories

my visit with Greg, the last time I saw Grandpa Bob

Love, Lou

(And I love you forever Grandpa Bob!)

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It’s as Simple as a Smile

Eight days in and feelin’ no pain! Blog everyday in May challenge, yes.

Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all

advice, smile, writing

Smile!

This is how I feel about giving advice. I don’t feel like I am good at it and I can be awkward as h.e.l.l. when I’m unsure of what to say (if you are, say, crying?) I guess I’ve been giving advice lately on health and eating and following your dreams, but that’s different than sitting down and laying down some advice for someone who has a specific problem. I’m just not very good at that.

Some people have great advice about motivating yourself (like when you are a beginner runner….)

Others have lots to say about other people or situations. How to deal with x situation by saying y.

I’m not going to offer that today. My only advice, which seems to be the number one thing, above all others….

Is to wake up every day with a smile.

That’s it. It will feel cheesy at first. You will wonder who you are trying to fool. Yourself? Your friends and family? If you wake up and think, “Okay, now I’m going to smile,” and you DO IT, your day will get off to a great start. Eventually, it won’t be fake at all. There is a lot to smile about.

Like these little chickens!!!

chickens, coops, writing

What I woke up to. I know. So cute.

So that’s it, ok? People have asked me how I seem so happy all the time, and this is one of the tactics I use. I smile a lot. I try to. Some days it’s hard and I don’t want to, but hey, habits form who you are. Get in the habit of smiling :)

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an oldie but a goodie… always smiling :)

Love Lou


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Lou, the Conspiracy Theorist

I have this, ahem, problem with “smart phones.” They make me nervous. Therefore, I still have a regular old flip phone. Or what someone referred to the other day as a “dumb phone.” I love it. I can text and make phone calls. I wish it didn’t have voicemail, because I hate listening to voicemails and it gives me anxiety. (I think this might stem back to high school, when the only person who ever left me a voicemail was my dad, and it was usually when I was in trouble, not answering my phone… but that’s a whole different issue.)

This has caused me problems, I won’t lie. I’ve been lost without a way to look up directions. But hasn’t everyone, up until this recent phenomenon that is the smart phone, been a little lost? I know I’m not dealing with something new. Finding everything at the click of a button is new.

Back before Greg ran over his iPhone with the minivan, I would occasionally look at his phone and wonder why every ad that showed up on websites was showing me drums. Or recording equipment. Or harmonicas. I quickly realized that somehow, this little phone was tracking all of the searches Greg was making and then showing him what he wanted in the ad space.

The realization literally sent shivers down my spine.

My computer does this same thing, of that I am aware. I’ve had some smart tech-y type people tell me that there are ways to avoid this from happening, but it really doesn’t make me feel any better. The fact that someone, somewhere out there, knows what Greg or I look up on our phone or laptop just makes me nervous. It’s a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a little too creepy. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing (except for what I post on Hey Lou!)

The whole reason why I’m even writing this is because I seem to have lost my camera. We can’t find it anywhere. And now that we are left with my flip phone and Greg’s even worse replacement a co-worker gave him for free, we have almost no way to take decent pictures. I love adding pictures to my blog. If I had instagram or one of those fancy “newest version” smartphones I’d have some of the clearest, cutest pictures out there. I’ve seen them. It really is amazing.

I won’t deny that the technology of today is practically a miracle. People walk around with access to EVERYTHING. Every person they could ever want to communicate with… every store they could want to buy from… every song they could want to listen to. It’s a modern luxury that has become so common, that to be without a smartphone makes me kind of a rare breed.

But let me tell you something:

Once, about a year ago, I lost my phone. Or broke it. I hardly remember what happened to said phone. But what I do know is that I waited THREE MONTHS to replace it. Yes. Three months. Can you imagine? Three months without a phone? Here are some examples of what the outcome was:

– I felt FREE. No one could get a hold of me, except through Greg’s phone. 

– I was the safest driver in all of New Mexico .

– I didn’t make it to at least three events, because I am horrible at directions and had no way to call and figure it all out.

– I became organized. I had to plan ahead. Decide where and when to meet people. Greg and I had to communicate more than ever, about our work schedules and what we had planned. I had to write down all of my reminders on an actual calendar, not on my phone. 

– I read twice as much as I usually do (which is quite a lot).

– I wrote twice as much as I usually do (which is a quite a lot, too). 

– I began to love it and dreaded getting a new phone. 

– I started seeing the negative effects that phones have on others. I remember sitting at lunch with a friend, and she looked at her phone non stop. I realized that I, too, had been guilty of this and I hated it. I hated the fact that something held in her hand and shown on a screen could be more important than the conversation we were having. 

– I had way less anxiety. No “unknown” number could call me and leave an ominous voicemail. IT WAS AMAZING. 

WORTH missing a few things I had planned… and besides, I got better at looking up directions before I drove away from my house. 

Now that I have my little old flip phone, things have changed again. I use it to text Greg funny messages throughout the day and to check in when either of us gets home. I have used the hilarious excuse of a camera on this phone to take pictures that I have used for this blog. I’ve made it successfully to everything I had planned, given that my phone wasn’t dead.

But you know what? Sometimes I “forget” my phone. I … drumroll… venture out of the house without it. On purpose!!! 

You can’t imagine how liberating it feels. Sometimes I come home and zero has happened. Does that make me an unpopular person? Maybe. All I know is that each time I separate myself from the little black thing that I realize is sometimes glued to my hand, I never seem to miss anything Earth shattering.

I love to use the word “cahoots.”

As in, “I truly believe that the standardized testing people are in CAHOOTS with the scan tron companies, because they both make so much money off of each other and it isn’t really about the students at all.”

OR

“I think the flip phone people are in CAHOOTS with the smartphone people, because mine seems to malfunction every day. Are they doing that on purpose so that I switch over to the dark side?”

Call me a conspiracy theorist… I’ll agree with you. Call me crazy… and I’ll argue against that. All I am asking is that you at least TRY to free yourself of the bondage that is a cell phone. Maybe take baby steps. Ten minutes a day. Then twenty. Eventually, you’ll leave the house without it and you won’t turn around to go get it. You’ll be fine!

I know lots of successful people who are attached to their phones. I know that people get work information and doctors are on call. I’m not talking about the extreme cases. I’m talking about the average person who seems to have morphed lately, in the past decade, to someone who can’t function without a phone in their hand. Maybe step one for you is setting your phone down, rather than holding onto it. 

new york, hey lou writes, poetry, phone, smart phones, short stories

I’m trying to get him to pose… but he’s too distracted by his phone! :P

You might find yourself reading more, writing more, laughing more, sleeping more, or communicating with others in a way you forgot was possible.

Just try it? For me? And then let me know how it’s going :)

(one great thing I discovered, trying to stay off the computer as much as possible, as well as my phone, is that setting specific time aside to check emails and do all of the technology related stuff at once has really helped.)

Love, Lou

<3


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Be Notorious

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry, rumi

The book YOU need to get TODAY and let change your life.

According to the online Webster definition of Notorious, it means:
adj; generally known and talked of; especially: widely and unfavorably known.

This doesn’t sound all that great. I’ll probably never be widely talked of (I’m no celebrity) and the idea of being unfavorably known? That’s a little scary. It’s scary to think that people might not like me.
HOWEVER. This is the quote that’s been changing my life lately:
Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” -Rumi

I’ve been obsessed with Rumi lately. The old poet who speaks so often of love, God, life and relationships… well, his words truly are life changing. This quote in particular really gets to me.
Take the first line…

Run from what’s comfortable.

Why should I? My life is very comfortable. I’ve been enjoying things. I have a lot to look forward to each and every day. But have I truly felt alive? Have I felt that through all of this comfort, a reason why I might be here on this Earth? No. I know that in order to make a difference and live a life that matters, I need to be uncomfortable. What I’m not sure about is whether it will be a mild discomfort or a big one. I guess I’m kind of ready for both.

Now let’s face the second line…

Forget safety.

What’s safe? The first thing that popped into my head, which I’m sure most  people won’t really agree with, was not having a dog to take care of. Wearing all of my layers in order to not freeze to death… making sure I wake up in time to make coffee and prepare an awesomely healthy breakfast… which means going to bed early enough to do that… safety is everywhere. In every action I’ve been taking. What does this mean? Forget safety? I don’t think it means that I should stop wearing my seatbelt or anything like that. However, I think it means going out on a limb. It means living enough to let things happen, whether they are good or bad. I won’t actually put myself in danger, but I won’t take every little precaution necessary to be safe. If I’m safe my entire life, well… that doesn’t make for much of a life.

Live where you fear to live.

What does that mean to you? For so many it means alone. For some it means living in a new place. It means taking that new job or quitting that old one. It means going for your dream even if you go broke trying to do so. Live where you fear to live. That will make getting up every day much more interesting… wouldn’t you agree?

Destroy your reputation.

Now, I’m not talking Kristen Stewart style or anything. This is inspiring because it really brings home this: It does not matter what other people think. How in the world could it matter? No one else is with you 24/7. YOU are the only one living with your every day actions. You are the only one who should care about your reputation… which means the way you think about yourself!!! Wouldn’t it be funny to hear someone say, “Yeah, I think I have a pretty good reputation. I mean… I like myself.” That would be refreshing. Not only would that person A) be awesome because they truly didn’t care what other people thought, but they’d also B) be even more awesome because they truly liked themselves. I’m craving more people in my life who truly love who they’ve become. I love authenticity, but without the pretentiousness that sometimes comes along with that. Would you be acting differently if reputation had nothing to do with it? That’s what inspires me. I need to do what I want to do, regardless of what others think. Even if that destroys my reputation. My current one, anyway. I guess we’ll always have one. It just might change!!

And finally…

Be notorious.

Which to me, means live with bravery. Be known for doing something crazy or exciting. Be known for going out on a limb and not giving up when you land on your stomach and get the wind knocked out of you. Anyone can survive that… after you get past the part where you can’t breathe.

So I’ll be doing my best to live out Rumi’s words. I feel TRULY inspired. I hope you do, too!!


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Drop Everything & Follow Your Dreams

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry, follow your dreams

My second fav thing (after writing, of course)… reading

Here’s my advice:

Drop Everything and Follow Your Dreams

because…

YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO DO THIS!!!

One. Uno. And it could end at any moment.

Therefore…

Do what James Dean said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

It sounds very cliché. I know this. But I can say that I am living proof that sometimes it is the way to go. Take my story:

I was an English major with no real goal in mind as to what I would do someday. As a little kid I never had a concrete answer. The kids around me spouted out “veterinarian!” “doctor!” “lawyer!” “fireman!” and I sat there and thought… hmm…. I have no freaking idea.

It wasn’t until I decided that a degree in Secondary Education in English would be a little bit easier to justify to myself than plain old English that I made my way toward what my life is today.

I got into the College of Ed, took a ton of classes, and along the way took one very life changing class called Books for Young Adults, taught by the amazing Elaine Daniels. In said class we had many great assignments, but the very last one, due May 9 of 2011, was the one that would change my life as I knew it.

The assignment was this:

Write a first chapter of a YA book. It must be at least 8 pages long.

So I wrote my “first” chapter and titled it “The Zooks Ruined My College Plans.”

(I wrote it in the middle of the night… the night before it was due. Somehow, that always worked for me.)

No joke. The first fiction I EVER WRITE and the word “Zook” is in the title. Zooks, by the way, are aliens. Who I later called Troiqas. And the “first chapter” I wrote is now the beginning of Part 2 in a manuscript called Liberty (which I’ll post at the end of this blog… just a sample), which is 131,000+ words long. (too long for any agent to trust, sadly! Also… a first book usually isn’t the best book a writer comes up with ;) thank goodness )

VERY INSPIRING CLASS.

I showed this eight page assignment to my sister, Emily, and my husband, Greg. Emily encouraged me to keep writing. She said I had something good going. Those were amazing words to hear.

Greg, however, said, “Man, it just got too serious. You should make the Zooks turn people pink or something.” I was not about to make the Zooks turn people pink. But he did say that it was good and encouraged me.

If it weren’t for the college of Education I never would have started writing. And I hated student teaching. Hated, hated, hated it.

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My teaching outfit, which I ONLY ever use for Halloween nowadays…

As it turns out, LOVING to read does not directly correlate into the classroom. I may have dived right into Lord of the Flies (again!!!), but my sophomore English class did not. I am so glad that there are people who are meant to teach. I am not one of them. I was nervous as hell and I never quite got my point across, no matter what I tried. Again- so glad that there are awesome teachers out there!! My bad experience wasn’t all bad, though. I tried to look at the bright side in the end.

I take things like that as signs. I feel miserable student teaching, therefore I must not be destined for a long and happy career teaching. However, I have this book I’m writing and a ton of other ideas as well…. yes, that felt meant to be. It still does.

So I went with writing. I graduated with a degree in Education without certification (which might be even less useful than an English degree) and decided that I would be a writer. In the meantime I also became an assistant chocolatier at a local truffle company, Cocopotamus.

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at good ol’ Cocopotamus!

I am a chocolatier and writer. I’m making money from the first, hoping to someday make a career out of the second, and life has never been better.

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2+ years ago…writing “Liberty” (which took me an entire year to finish!)

Moral of the story? Even if something seems like a disaster, something good might come out of it. I don’t necessarily believe that everything is meant to be, but I think that we can turn a bad situation around. I definitely shifted gears and took a chance in doing it, but I’m so happy I did.

Share your dream with me! Tell an inspiring tale of your own… what did you opt out of in search of something greater? Or have you known since day one you would be ___ and you are ___ today. I want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT FROM LIBERTY:

 

 

Part II: Present Day (150 T.A.)

My life was perfect. I had no sob story to speak of here on Trajectory. Sure, I had experienced some rough times, but I had good friends, and one best friend, to get me through and a typical older brother who caused me neither grief nor great joy. Everything was normal, mediocre, but to me…perfect. That all changed the day the Troiqas came.

Chapter I
‘There are many mysteries.’ -Mrs. Stillwater
The panic all began while I was sitting in my first class, on the first day of school. I was seventeen and just starting my 15th term. Most kids my age were at that point in their schooling. It was a fairly new system and set up by terms that lasted sixty Lights. This was supposed to be the time of my life, considering I was going to move to Objectify in the fall in order to finish out my upper school requirements. Objectify wasn’t really where I wanted to go but I had no other choice. The moment we were informed of the attack, I knew that was all just a dream which would never come true.
Mr. Pine, the most boring teacher on the face of Trajectory, was teaching our small class the history of our town and making quite a snore of his lesson. His voice was high pitched in a nasally way and his head was always tilted slightly back as if he were peering out at us along the end of his nose.
“Nnn-now class,” he began as usual, “today we are going to learn about the Shuttle Life and the Landers that are our ancestors.”
The lesson might have had a chance at being interesting if we all hadn’t known the complete history our whole lives already. Each one of us had been told the stories since we were old enough to understand words. They’d been around since life began on Trajectory.
“Nnn-now, you may have noticed the shuttle in the middle of town.” Only every time we walk outside, Mr. Pine. It was a massive object, sleek and dark blue. I imagined it had been much shinier when it landed, but now it just looked old.
“It is the one and only shuttle that made it here as planned.” He looked around at us, as if sniffing out who he should target. We were all seated in rows. There weren‘t many students in the class but apparently there were enough of us in order for it to take a lifetime to look at us all.
“Who can tell me the name of the other two shuttles?” Nobody leaned back or averted their eyes in order not to be called on. It just didn’t matter. Only two girls raised their hands. Everyone else was far too offended at being asked such a stupid question and stared back at the teacher with a dull silence. Someone yawned. Continue reading


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At A Loss for Words- On Giving Advice

On Giving Advice…and Consoling the Afflicted.

Lou- trying to give advice.

Lou- trying to give advice.

When we are well, we all have good advice for those who are ill.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I never want to be associated with this quote. Here’s why.

Advice.

I am horrible at this. I’ll spout out generic advice like:

rip that band aid off!“

follow your gut!” &

oh my gosh get out of that situation now!”

but that’s about it.

I am even worse at consoling someone who is crying or has just told me something awful. My good friend Tiffany (known her since we were 13!!) laughs with me and she admits it- I’ve pretty much been really awkward whenever it came to a sad moment of hers.

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Tiff and me at least 4 years ago… luckily she has remained my friend!! :)

The one thing people are most liberal with, is their advice.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I just don’t know what to do. Some girls are so great with words. They start the confident and ever-so-sure ramblings of, “Oh, girl, you can do soooo much better! Just wait- he’ll get what’s coming to him. You are amazing. You will move on from this and not even remember it! HE’S STUPID!” or “I’m so sorry for your loss. Just know that God needed another angel. You’ll see them again someday. They’re watching over you….”

Yikes. I just can’t do that.

So if you’re coming to me with an issue, this will most likely be my reaction…

Wow- I’m sorry. I really don’t know what to say.”

Then I will pat your back. I might give you a side hug. If we’re at coffee and we have to stand up to hug, I might make that a very awkward moment, too. Basically, I feel so, so sorry for anyone who comes to me with their issues. I feel so much empathy, I will most likely cry later- after the moment has passed. I recently saw a friend who told me something so heartbreaking that I cried on my way home. I was bawling in the car like a fool and making the road a more dangerous place.

The reason why I think this is okay:

I don’t think people really want that advice.

Yes, I guess it’s nice to hear all of those things about whatever guy just broke up with you. But honestly? Maybe he is a good guy. Maybe he got good grades and isn’t really stupid at all. And I can’t promise that you will move on or not remember this moment of hurting. That’s a silly thing to promise someone, isn’t it? (please tell me I’m not the only one thinking of Dori in Finding Nemo… “Hmm…that’s a funny thing to promise….Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”) I don’t control your emotions.

But yes… someone can always do better than someone who hurt them. Of course. I really hope that girls (and guys) realize this, but for some reason I rarely feel as if it’s my place to tell them.

And I will always be sorry for someone’s loss. Always. Again, I’ll most likely cry and be in this weird, somber-like mood that drives Greg crazy for a few days. God didn’t need another angel, angels are already there and we don’t get wings when we go to heaven. There goes that. I have no idea if dead people are watching over us, but I, too, would like to believe that that’s the case. I don’t want to lie to anyone who is going through something so serious and life changing. What are my words, anyway?

I like advice from Little Women.

When Jo asks Friedrich, “What’s going to happen?”

He says, “The inevitable.”

Simple, concise advice.

And later, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he’s the right one.”

Simple wins again.

Here’s a great example of why sometimes [unsolicited] advice is just silly. Every high school and college graduate has been told to “take the road less traveled by,” which has been misunderstood altogether. If anyone were to look at the rest of the Robert Frost poem, they’d see that:

…Though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same.”

Hidden meaning? It doesn’t really matter which way you go. Both paths could lead to good or bad things. It’s cynical, which isn’t usually my style, but I think it’s honest.

At the end of the day, I’ll leave you with this quote:

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’” -Aldus Huxley 

Or perhaps understood silence is better.

I sure hope so, or I’ve been a pretty awful friend.