Sunday, August 28, 2011

Skipping a Post

Hi, everyone!

I just got back from a really great week away in Tobermory, which is why I didn't post something, as I usually do, on Friday. Instead of rushing and trying to come up with something in a hurry today, I'm going to wait until this Friday, September 2 to post something new.

Don't forget to check back on Friday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Honour to Bear

I have a whole host of amazing and wonderful people in my life: old friends, new friends, old family, new family, colleagues-become-friends, friends-become-family, and every possible combination in between. One of the aspects of close relationships that I love the most is sharing in my family's and friends' joys and excitements. When a friend is engaged to an awesome guy, doesn't that make you feel happy? When a cousin gets a new opportunity for career advancement or a brother-in-law starts his own business, doesn't their joy travel from their heart right to yours? The same is true on the other hand: if you have good news, doesn't the news seem even better and brighter when you get to share it with someone else? What good is personal joy if it stays locked up within because you have no one to share it with?

I have been learning throughout the years that sharing doesn't stop at joy. Just as much as I love to share in the joys of those people who are close to my heart, I need to be equally available to them to share in their sorrows. That is, after all, the mark of a true friend or a true family member: bearing one another's burdens.

How do you share in someone's sorrows?

Think about them and imagine what it would be like to be experiencing what he/she is experiencing. I've done this, and have often started feeling like sorrow is weighing down on my shoulders. You might be overcome with emotion. That's okay: you are bearing their burdens.

What do you do with this burden? Pray for him, or pray for her, or pray for them. Pray fervently and effectually. Pray whenever your thoughts turn to that person--pray on behalf of that person. God is ever listening.

Just as God listens to our prayers, we ought to listen to others' sorrows. I can't stress this enough. Listen, listen, listen. How can you share someone's burden if you are talking, talking, talking? Think twice before offering advice. Sometimes people just need to unload their burden without having someone tell them what they should do next or what someone else in a similar-but-not-the-same situation did, with positive results. Who are we to suggest that we know someone else's situation so well that we can tell them what to do? Listen to the frustration, the pain, the suffering, and extend a shoulder to lean on. Share the weight.

One of the greatest, most beautiful gifts we can give to our loved ones is to share in their sorrows as much as we share in their joys. What's more, when someone gets through a difficult time, or overcomes a challenging situation, the new energy and lightness that person will experience is an even sweeter joy to behold.

To all my special friends and wonderful family, whom I carry in my heart: please know that I am here for you to share in whatever circumstance that may approach you, whether it be joyful or sorrowful.

To all my readers, and anyone who just happened to stumble upon my blog: I sincerely hope that you are able to take something away from this post and be the shoulder someone close to you may need to lean on.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
            -Galatians 6:2

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weed Wars

This year seems to be a bad year for weeds in my backyard. Combine the drought with the prohibition of Weed and Feed, and you have a recipe for disaster.

My parents and in-laws all have lovely, lush lawns, and I am always admiring them as they are in severe contrast to my lawn this year.

If your lawn is like mine, you may have had a thick, green lawn in the spring, thanks to all the rain. You may have aerated and seeded and fertilized in the spring, and only had a few weeds to contend with.

Then the rain stopped for pretty much ever, and our grass died, and the weeds were thinking, "Hey, look! We could totally grow over there [pointing to the dying grass patches]"...

I've asked Joel to start chipping from the crabgrass patches.

...and "voila": weeds galore. Specifically, crabgrass. Tons of it. Everywhere. Its only saving grace is the fact that it is always green, so from far away, it looks okay.

I spent a few hours removing some of the crabgrass, but I just ended up getting frustrated at how much work still needed to be done, even after filling about half of a yard waste bag with crabgrass carcasses. Then, I called in the professionals and had two lawn analyses done. The results were unsatisfactory. My lawn needs help!

I'm amazed at how quickly a lawn can transform from a thick, healthy pile of grass to a rag-tag, messy pile of weeds with a few blades of grass in between.

I had one little thought about weeds, and as much as I hate them, I have to give them a little bit of credit:

When grass and plants die, weeds thrive. Weeds grow where nothing should grow (through cracks and cuts in concrete, out of gravel driveways, in the middle of a patch of dead grass). Weeds can live quite happily through the most averse conditions: extreme heat, drought, full sun. Weeds just grow.

I don't necessarily want to encourage you to "be like a weed"--I still have a pretty big vendetta against them, so I won't go that far. However, there's something to be said about their resiliency, strength and determination.

I saw online once (I think it might have been a blog title) the phrase: "Grow Where You're Planted." Isn't that an interesting way of looking at life? Weeds grow wherever they end up germinating, and in that simple phrase above, someone has encouraged people to kind of do the same: to be strong in the face of adversity, to stand, unwavering, on a solid foundation, and to let yourself grow and develop and learn and live life in the place where you were planted. Thankfully, the reason why you were "planted" somewhere (a city/town, within a community of certain people, a certain profession, a certain church), wasn't to be an annoyance or to be destroyed with boiling water or to be plucked out with disgust (like weeds), but to improve, change, inspire and create.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grammar Matters

Last weekend, I was chatting with a couple of my friends, and we got on the topic of grammar in today’s society. I started feeling this passionate emotion rising up within me, and I began to sincerely fear the demise of grammar as history keeps progressing. As an editor and a writer, I not only feel obligated but also feel driven to bring this significant issue to your attention.

Ah, grammar: the rules of building a sentence, the purpose of punctuation, the framework within which ideas and opinions and passions are so effectively presented. I love grammar. I am passionate about grammar.

Here are the two main reasons why grammar is so important:

  •          Grammar enables our writing to be most easily understood; grammar provides a means for the writer to explain him/herself clearly, minimizing reader confusion.

  •          When you utilize proper grammar, you will be both taken seriously and respected in the professional world.

Do you want to be understood? 

Do you want to be respected and taken seriously?

The two main issues that grammar is contending with today are:

·         The proliferation of communication short-forms (such as e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and any kind of online chatting)

·         The ease and ability of publishing on the Internet. Anyone can blog, put up a web site, write about whatever they want, and none of them require an editor to do so.

Grammar has a hard time being respected while facing these two issues. I mean, sure, when you text your friends, not capitalizing “I” is not a major problem. When you e-mail your dad to tell him about your Mexico vacation, you probably aren’t checking to see if the cities you visited were properly spelled. When you comment on someone’s Facebook status or tweet about what you are doing, there are no grammar police who will arrest you if you don’t punctuate your sentences (although if there was such a job available, I would probably consider applying).

There’s obviously a balance here. What I am concerned about is the younger generation, so proficient in chatting and tweeting and texting and all the related short forms like LMAO and LOL and whatever the newest one is—I don’t know—that they start to believe that proper grammar really isn’t that important and really doesn’t have a place in modern-day (or postmodern-day) society. They aren’t required to be grammatically correct in 90% of what they communicate, so they don’t practice grammar. They think to themselves, “It don’t matter.”

Grammar does, though! It does have a place! It does matter!

If you have a passion, or a dream, or a strong opinion, or generally something important to say to the world, do you want to be heard?

Do you want to be understood?

Do you want to be respected and taken seriously?

My dear readers, you will lose credibility if the writing on your web site is full of spelling mistakes and typos. You will not be given the respect you deserve if you talk about your passions using misspoken phrases (“I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less”) or the wrong tense in the wrong place (“I lied down” instead of “I lay down”). You may not get your point across with the clarity your dreams deserve if you don’t know how to properly construct a sentence and use grammar to your advantage.

Your dreams and passions are worth the grammar needed to help people understand them and respect you!

Don’t fall asleep during your English or Grammar classes, wondering what the deal is about dangling modifiers, thinking that they don’t really matter. Don’t forget to edit the e-mail you send your boss about summer vacation because a professional e-mail does warrant review and proper grammar, and your boss should respect you more for it. Don’t sell yourself short or allow the causes that you want to pursue to lose the impact they deserve because you think that grammar doesn’t matter.

What you believe in is important; the way you express what you believe in is just as important.

Now let's say you are a self-proclaimed “horrible speller,” or you really don't care to know when to use "there" and "their," or you cannot be convinced that anything other than a regular old hyphen should be used to separate phrases (ahem...em and en dashes). That's OKI've long since realized that grammar dorks such as myself are few and far between everyone else. 

If you would rather focus your attention on your own personal dreams than trudge through a grammar text, that's fine! All I am suggesting is that you understand grammar's importancethe significant role it plays in your credibilityand utilize the services of editors (like me) to make your ideas, arguments and stories shine. If I could assist even one person in making his or her ideas clearer, arguments more efficiently presented, passions more vigorous and dreams more graceful, then I would feel fulfilled. 

Why? Grammar matters.