Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Good People = Good Business

Besides being a writer, I've also been a co-owner of a business for a few years. I've also been in the business of retail since I was sixteen. My very first job was selling shoes, and retail has just sort of stuck with me. I think it's safe to say that I am well versed in proper business etiquette. 

Today I decided to try out a new business in town. I own a small business, so I try to support the new, local businesses every chance I get. I was having trouble finding a phone number for the new place. I thought it was a second location for an existing business in town. So I picked up the phone and called the one across town, asking how I could get a hold of their "new" location. I was rudely told that, no, these two businesses were not associated and that they had no idea how to get a hold of them. Then they hung up on me. 

Baffled, I resumed my search on Google and soon found the business on my side of town had a different name, and a phone number of their own, of course. I called and told the owner of the second business that the previous business was claiming to not be associated and that they were being utterly rude and unprofessional. 

Having been in the retail business for many years, I've experienced lots of businesses of similar trade going in and out of business. There's always that phone call asking about the business across town who also sells shoes, or the place in the neighboring city who does what we do, too. Is the business across town still open? Are you associated with that one place? And each time, I'm happy to give out the information a customer is looking for. That's my job, as a sales associate, as a business owner, as a human being! I don't ever want to call somewhere and ask a question, only to be rudely handled and hung up on. Why would I do this to someone else? Does the phrase, 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' come to mind? 

After this experience, I wondered, as I often do, 'What does it mean to be in business? What does the word business even mean? Was it defined and intended to demand proper business etiquette?' 

Off to the dictionary I went! 

Business means the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce. Now, you would think if someone was making their living by being in business, they would be far more pleasant than the woman I spoke to. The person who answers the phone decides how a customer will feel about your image! Little does she know, even if I ever end up on that side of town, I won't be taking my business there! In fact, I will go out of my way to take my business to the much more pleasant lady on the other side of town! 

Now, the word commerce stood out to me and I wasn't quite satisfied, so I defined it as well. Commerce means the activity of buying and selling. It also means social dealings between people. Social means relating to or designed for activities in which people meet for pleasure! Aha! Now we are getting somewhere! Social dealings between people is very specific and intricate, and so is doing business. Thus, being in business means to make your living, your paycheck, your annual salary, by involving yourself in the act of buying, selling and activities in which people meet for pleasure! I don't think I need to go as far as to define the word pleasure. 

Several sayings come to mind that I want to shout at this woman; 'The customer is always right, sales is about relationships, don't find customers for your product, find products for your customers.' The comebacks are endless, but they all have something in common; proper business etiquette. This woman obviously isn't in the business of making customers feel happy or satisfied! 

Business isn't about you, the retailer. It doesn't matter if you're having a good day or a bad day. If you're going to make any sort of success, in any sort of business, you need to create relationships, be good to your fellow neighbor, or in this case consumer. Especially your fellow small business owners! My very first boss always told her staff, 'Leave your day outside of work at the door. Don't bring it into the store with you.' Honestly, as a retailer, I live by that. It's my motto! And it should be everyone else's. If my day is too stressful, I don't write because I don't want to bring my stressful mood into my writing. 

I always share my fellow, locally owned business pages. I also apply this to my writing and blogging. I share posts that are interesting and informative. I make sure to tag the authors. Why? Because that is proper etiquette, no matter what business you're in. If your city or your community or your followers are doing well and creating relationships, so will you. Be good to your fellow writers. Be good to your fellow small business owners. 

I once read that activity breeds activity. I'm saying that good people breed good business. Happy reading and writing my friends! Share your fellow writers posts. Share your fellow business owner's posts. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

'The Good Thing' vs 'The Right Thing'

Do you ever wonder why some phrases aren't worded differently? If you're like me and sit around pondering words and their definitions and their intended meaning and how a certain phrase came to be, you do. If not, then you have to be a little bit curious. Why else would you be here? 

Today I wondered about the phrase, 'Doing the right thing.' I like to think of myself as a standup kind of person, and as such, I like to think that I do the right thing or am trying to do the right thing the majority of the time. Today was a particularly difficult day and I found myself saying, 'I'm just trying to do the right thing.' Of course, I was actually yelling it to the ceiling, hoping my day would improve. 

I started wondering, 'Well, am I doing the right thing? How do I know I'm doing the right thing?' I wondered how I had decided I was trying to do the right thing. 

I defined the word decide, which means to make a choice from a number of alternatives. To me this means that individuals decide, in our own way, which thing of many, is the right thing. What may seem like or be decided as the right thing to one may not be to another, which is true. I've often felt something is right when someone else thought it wrong, or vice versa. 

Definitions will never fail. They have never failed me, never will. Dictionaries are like the writer's bible. At least, they should be. At least, I think they should be. 

So I decided to define the word right, which means morally good, justified or acceptable, or correct in one's opinion or judgement. Then I wondered, 'Well why go as far as to say morally good?' Why not stop at good? Why don't we just say, 'Do the good thing.' You don't hear anyone tell you to do the good thing. There's a reason they didn't do that. Not because it doesn't sound right. It just doesn't sound right because we are programmed to know that it is wrong. And when I say they, I mean the little faeries who made the dictionary and decided how we should speak and what right or wrong grammatically speaking, of course.  

Besides the fact that it would be grammatically incorrect, good doesn't actually mean to be good! Good can actually, simply mean to be beneficial or advantageous to someone or something. If we all decided to just be good, rather than right, or morally good, we would all be considered a bunch of inconsiderate cavemen, which is sadly what our language has been reduced to! 

I wish I could go back to the days when my teacher or my mom made me pull out the dictionary every time I didn't know what a word meant. I wish everyone did that. There's a million ways I can go with this, and it's overwhelming. Wouldn't it be different if we somehow had certain data already programmed into our minds and we would never forget it? In my alternant universe, it would be the dictionary. Everyone would come with a fully decked out dictionary and they would never forget the words and definitions they had already learned. 

The world would be so different, and far more intelligent, I think. 

If you're enjoying my blog postings, do me a favor and take a moment to share them! Be good to your fellow writers and bloggers. Happy reading and writing!  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Authors vs Writers

Some of you may say that it's only the articles that preceded the words. Some of you may say they are totally and completely different words with different meanings. As I pondered this, I thought, 'Well, surely an author must be published. A writer only strives to publish.' I count myself as a writer and only dream of having the right to call myself an author. As I defined each word, I found there wasn't very much of a difference, yet it feels like a whole sea separates authors and writers. 

An author is a writer of a book, article or report as a profession, while a writer is a person who writes books, stories or articles as a job or regular occupation. 

I figured there must be a difference between profession and job, with a job being of lesser importance. A job is simply a paid position of regular employment and profession is a paid occupation, with occupation being a job or profession. A profession can also be an occupation that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification, but so few of us writers and published authors have formal training.

For those of you who enjoy definitions, an author is also an originator or creator of a plan or idea, which sounds much more interesting and empowering.  It makes authors seem like they're way out of our unpublished writers league. 

Besides an author having a much more interesting and intricate definition than a writer, there isn't much that separates us. Yet, so many of us have decided, or resigned to believe that being an author must mean that you have published your works. If I've ever used the word author to describe myself, the first thing I hear is, 'Oh, how many books have you published? What're they called?' Then I have to say, 'Well, no. I'm just a writer hoping to publish something amazing, someday.' Though, I sometimes get those questions too when I start with saying I'm a writer, but far less often than if I say I'm an author. I've just resigned to classifying myself as just a writer. 

This is yet another example of how we've lost the true meaning or intended meaning of certain words, if not all words. Definitions are very intricate, even though they've been shortened to single words or short phrases for convenience. I always wonder if it used to be like the movies in the 1800s where people spoke so formally, using the definition of a word to express themselves or their thoughts, rather than just a word. Sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong century, if it really was like that. 

My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, mostly because I love the style in which it was written. It's also a perfect example of what language used to be, back in 1813. 

"But no sooner had he made it clear to himself and his friends that she hardly had a good feature in her face, than he began to find it was rendered uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her dark eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying. Though he had detected with a critical eye more than one failure of perfect symmetry in her form, he was forced to acknowledge her figure to be light and pleasing; and in spite of his asserting that her manners were not those of the fashionable world, he was caught by their easy playfulness." - Jane Austen

We don't talk like that anymore. At least, not without excruciating thought, pre-planning and editing. I would like to think words were meant for so much more than what they have been reduced to. 

Happy reading and writing, friends! Take a moment to share your thoughts, and tweet at @TresaWriter.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Judgment; When Did It Develop Such A Bad Connotation?

Today my mom and I were having a little argument and she asked me, 'Why do you think I'm always judging you?' Of course I said, 'I don't think you're always judging me!' And I thought about it for a minute and realized what a terrible, nasty connotation that word had. Judging; makes my blood run cold just thinking about it. 

No one wants to be judged. Not you, not me, not even the little girl down the street who doesn't even know what the word really means! I think about that word and I hear someone yelling, 'Stop judging me!' It just sounds bad! You can feel the emotion in those words! It just has a bad feeling that goes along with it. We've associated bad feelings with the idea of being judged. 

Honestly, I feel bad for some words! What has that word done to you, to me, to society? Nothing! It's just a word, and by the definition, you wouldn't even think it was meant to be used the way it is! 

Let's start with judgement. If someone passes judgement on you or about you, that just sounds bad, too! It sounds like they're thinking badly of you, but really, all judgement refers to is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. 

Wow! When I read that, I couldn't believe my eyes! There is nothing in that definition that would make me think someone was thinking badly about me! 

Now I know what the word sensible means, but for arguments sake, it means that the conclusion is chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence, which is likely to be of benefit! You know what?! I really do feel bad for the word 'Judgment'! Even the simplest form of judgement, judge, means to form an opinion after careful thought. 

Also for arguments sake, we are going to personify the word judge, judging and judgement! We are going to call him Charlie! 

Poor Charlie! We have misjudged Charlie! 

As a society, we have taken Charlie and turned him into something he definitely is not! Since when was something that was meant for benefit after careful thought meant to be bad?! 

Now, who's at fault here? Is it us, for associating such a bad connotation with Charlie? It's certainly not Charlie's fault! Charlie's definition is pretty clear in my eyes. 

How did this happen? 

I'll tell you how, and this is important. This is the ball I'm trying to hit home, all the time. We have taken the word judge and we have contorted it, twisted it beyond recognition and it now resembles something completely different than what was intended. We have applied our own understanding to this word and now, it's unrecognizable. We don't even know what some words really mean, what they were meant to mean. 

Thanks for reading, friends! If you enjoyed this posting or it really spoke to you or moved you, please tell me about it! Leave a comment below, tweet me at @TresaWriter, email me, share with your friends! Happy reading and writing. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bring Back The Dictionary!

Last night, after writing my first blog posting in quite some time, I started brainstorming on what to write next. I'm trying to decide what my purpose is going to be with this blog, what I will write everyday. What can I write everyday? What do I know enough about? From there I moved on to, 'Well, what did I write about yesterday?' 

I wrote about why I couldn't write, and answered my own question and decided on my solution. My solution to not being able to write was to define words. I took how I was feeling, which was doubtful and guilty, and I defined those words and really analyzed how I was feeling. Through that process, I felt better, almost instantly, and I was able to write. 

Going back to my dilemma of what to write everyday, I started thinking, 'I solved my  problem. Well, what else can I solve by defining words? Why should we define words?' I decided that I encourage defining words because it's important to know the real definition, or the true meaning of a word. Besides important, it's exciting! You'll hear me say a lot that I feel we don't really know what a word was meant to mean. In our heads, we apply our own understanding and associate that definition with the word, instead of the intended meaning. I'm guilty of it, too! 

I'm terribly guilty of this. I just think I know what a word means. Of course I know what it means! But do I really? Do any of us, really? How many of us can say we know what a word as simple as doubt means? Without cheating, without going and looking it up. I usually just know the feeling that goes along with doubt. I know that I doubt myself; I don't believe in myself. 

How many of us know that doubt, in it's entirety, means a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction? 

This dilemma always leads me to my usage of the dictionary, which I use very often. Everyday, multiple times a day. I have an iPhone, and I take full advantage of the dictionary built right into my phone. All I have to do is highlight a word that I'm not sure if I've used correctly and within a fraction of a second, I have the full definition at my fingertips! 

During my thought process, I decided to move on to, 'Well, what am I hoping for? What am I hoping to achieve by bringing attention to this?' 

Am I hoping for a more intelligent world? Population? To make people more aware? 

I didn't really come up with an answer for that, but I lingered on the word intelligent. Was I hoping to promote intelligence? Can I impact someone's IQ? Is that simple enough, or is it too complex? Can I even accomplish something like that, hoping to raise the average populations IQ? 

We all hear the word IQ a lot. I mean, a lot! Again, when I hear that word, I know what it means. Or, at least I think I do. I know it's referring to how smart someone is. Whenever I come across a word that I think I know, I instantly tell myself I don't. I make myself take the extra ten seconds and look it up, and I am often amazed! Truly amazed. How many people know that IQ actually stands for Intelligence Quotient

I'm sure I knew this at one time, but it didn't stick with me. Intelligence quotient means an assessment of your ability to think and reason. Huh, simple enough, right? I think everyday, I reason everyday, but this definition is seriously lacking! It falls short of what IQ actually means, because it means so much more than that, and I love it!

I'm going to ramble off a few definitions here, which all pertain to the original definition of IQ.On paper this list of definitions acts as a tree, starting with IQ and taking each word that we don't know the true meaning of, and defining that word, finding another word within that definition and defining it, and so on and so on until we have the full meaning of this word laid out. It's so much more satisfying than just, 'an assessment of your ability to think and reason.'

Intelligence Quotient - an assessment of your ability to think and reason 

Think - use one's mind actively to form connected ideas. 

Reason - think, understand and form judgements by a process of logic. 

Intelligence - the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. 

Knowledge - facts, info and skills acquired through experience or education. The theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. 

Quotient - a degree or amount of specified quality or characteristic. 

Degree - the amount, level or extent to which something happens of is present. 

So, with all of these definitions, I'm still kind of swimming, but I can pick out what I need from each definition and figure out what intelligence quotient actually means. My curiosity and thirst for knowledge was finally satisfied, and I decided on this; 

Intelligence Quotient refers to how able you are to use your mind to think, understand and form connected ideas and judgements by a process of logic. 

This definition is far more satisfying, and it means so much more! I suppose my purpose or hope is to make people more aware of this, this right here. How much we are missing, how much is truly lacking from what our minds and vocabulary was intended to be. Someone intended so much more than what we think and say! Or, at least I hope they did! 

Use your dictionary! Take the extra ten seconds to look up what a word actually means! Sit there with your nose in the dictionary and just soak up all the knowledge that was intended for us to use! Tell me about it, because I truly love this and want to know that someone else does, too! Tweet me at @TresaWriter! Email me! Comment below! Tell me all about what words you know and don't know and come to know! Happy reading and writing, friends! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why Can't I Write?

I often wonder... Well, if I'm honest I wonder about a lot of things, day in and day out. I sit and ponder an overwhelming amount of ideas and thoughts. Though, today I wonder if other writers are like me, which I'm sure many writers wonder. Most importantly, I wonder if writing comes in waves. Writing comes and goes, in and out of my life, again and again. I have spurts where writing is all I do, and then I have days, weeks, months, sometimes even years where I don't do very much writing. 

Though, if you ask me what I do when I'm actively writing everyday, I will tell you that I am a writer. I will swear up and down that I write all the time. I'll say that I've been writing since I could type sixty words per minute on a computer!

The honest truth is that I really only think about writing all the time. 

Don't get me wrong; that's an important part of writing! If not the most important part of writing! 

I think about how much I want to write. I think about what I'd like to write, about how I'd love to have nothing better or more important to do than to sit in front of a computer and write all day! And then, when I have a day when I have absolutely nothing to do, I feel guilty for wanting to spend that time writing! I feel like any other time I have a million things to do, and how could I possibly sit down?! How could I possibly sit down and stare at the computer screen for a few hours? There has to be something I've forgotten to do, right?

So I spend my time I could spend writing obsessing over what must have slipped my mind. Then I finally realize that there was something I forgot to do, so I do that instead. When I'm not doing anything and I could spend my time writing, I figure that there must be something more important to do. Something more pressing. And there usually is, unfortunately. 

I experience this overwhelming guilt over a lot of things, but mostly writing.

The way I try to cope with a lot of my feelings is to understand why I feel this way. I often ask myself, 'Why can't I write?' Though, I'm usually yelling out in frustration because all I desperately want to do it write. Part of how I answer this question, is through the dictionary. 

Some of you are thinking, 'What? How does that help you?' 

Honestly, stay with me now. We use so many words every day. Sure, we know the basics of what they mean, but do we really understand what they mean? Or what they initially meant? We assign our own definitions to words, our own understanding, and sometimes the true meaning can go askew or become distorted. Sometimes maybe even just a little bit lacking, even though we are on the right track. 

When I think of the word guilty, I think about feeling bad. I feel bad for wanting to write. I feel bad for wanting to do something that I want to do rather than something I should be doing. But then I think about it and I wonder, 'Why do I feel bad? Why do I feel guilty?' 

So I turn to the dictionary, and the dictionary tells me that I feel bad because feeling guilty means that I feel like I've done something wrong. This definition is so much more satisfying than, 'I feel bad.' It's also much more powerful and helps me to understand what's really wrong. 

I read something the other day, a quote on Twitter by Sylvia Plath; 'The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.' I thought, 'Oh, well that makes sense. Self-doubt; of course I doubt myself.' Then I realized I didn't really realize why I doubted myself. So, I went to the dictionary and looked up self-doubt. And the dictionary told me that self-doubt is a lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities. I sat there in my chair and thought, 'Well now that really makes a lot of sense.' 

I am far from an established writer, even farther from being a well-known writer. So of course I am going to doubt myself. Of course I'm going to feel like I've done something wrong! 

And I think that's a problem that a lot of writers face; not just me. Or, at least I hope. I also think it's a combination of self-doubt and self-placed guilt and numerous other feelings. It's overwhelming.  

Though, as I sat in my chair and realized how much sense all of that made, the self-doubt and the guilt, I also realized that I felt better. After looking up the definition of the words that I wanted to use to describe my feelings, it helped me to do a little bit of self-analysis, and after thinking about it, I felt so much better, as I often do. 

I also happened to be looking at the name of my blog when I was going through all of this turmoil. So I looked up cognitive, which really means relating to cognition. Cognition means the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the sense. Well, and then I wondered, as I sat there feeling so much better about my situation, 'Could it really be that simple?' 

Can cognitive understanding help you, or me, or anyone else for that matter, hurdle the mental barrier that we place on ourselves through self-doubt and self-placed guilt? 

I'm curious as to what you think. I'm curious if it helps anyone else! Try it! Think of how you're feeling; mad, sad, even the more complex feelings of frustration or resentful. Let me know. Comment below, send me an email, tweet at @TresaWriter and tell me your thoughts!