Word Hoard Weekend: February 8, 2019

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Happy Weekend!

One of my favorite ways to spice up my writing is to learn new vocabulary. So I’ve created a Word Hoard. A Word Hoard is like your own little personal dictionary of your favorite words or phrases.

For the next several weekends, I’ll post my favorite cool, unusual or interesting words. Save them to your Pinterest Word Hoard or pen them on your Free Word Hoard Printable. (Subscribe to my email list to get your printable here. Print off several of these and keep them in a three-ring Writer’s Notebook!)

word hoard weekend

So, my fellow logophiles (lover of words), let’s get started collecting.

Pluviophile

word hoard pluviophile rain lover

You won’t find this word over at Merriam-Webster, but it’s one of my favorites, because I’m definitely a pluviophile. My favorite days are those made up of a nice drizzle or downpour, when I can snuggle up on my couch with my coffee in front of the fireplace.

According to Urban Dictionary, it comes from the Latin word Pluvial, meaning rain, and the suffix -phile, referring to a fondness or attraction.

Ruminate

word hoard weekend ruminate think

Let’s ruminate the word for awhile. While ruminate can mean to think deeply about something or to chew repeatedly for an extended amount of time, I prefer the definition. The word actually derives from the Latin word for rumen, the stomach compartment for ruminate animals, like cows.

Synonyms of ruminate include ponder, meditate, and consider.

Taciturn

word hoard weekend taciturn

Isn’t this a beautiful word? Use it in place of quiet, reserved or uncommunicative.

In my opinion, taciturn is a positive personality trait, as many folks have pointed out:

Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt

Defenestration

word hoard weekend defenestration

I was quite amused that there was a term for this, although recently, it has been used to forcibly remove someone from a high-ranking office (by tossing out of a window or otherwise).

It’s a pretty old word, first used in 1619, according to Merriam-Webster.

Ameliorate

word hoard weekend ameliorate

Ameliorate is a synonym of the verbs to improve or better. It is usually used when the situation being improved is bad or negative in the first place. It is not generally used when something that is already good is being improved upon.

But I do like the sound of this word, and looks good in writing when used correctly.

What are your favorite words? Let me know in the comments!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells” Is More Relevant Today than Ever

During the winter of 1863, America was embroiled in its most violent and bloodiest conflict, the Civil War. Divided over the ethics and economy of slavery and states’ rights, communities turned against each other, families were torn apart, brother fought against brother.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s life mirrored the turmoil of the country. During the summer of 1861, Longfellow’s wife, Frances, died tragically from injuries sustained when her dress accidentally caught fire. Then in March of 1863, without informing his father, Longfellow’s eldest son Charles left home for Washington D.C. to enlist in the Union army. That November, Charles was gravely injured from a bullet wound to his shoulder and back. He survived, but the near-fatal wound would end his career as a soldier.

Longfellow composed his “Christmas Bells” poem on Christmas day in 1863. As he listened to the peal of bells, he penned his first stanzas that speak of the true spirit of Christmas, of “peace on earth” and “good will to men.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Longfellow doubted the message of the bells though. How could they sing of good will to men when thousands were violently dying within his beloved country? How could they sing of peace on earth while his own son was a casualty of a tragic war?

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

However, Longfellow recognized the hope that exists even during times of desperation and hopelessness. He concluded with the truth that the right will always triumph over the wrong:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

“Christmas Bells” was first set to music as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” in 1872 by English organist and composer John Baptiste Calkin. Since then, there have been several renditions, most of them omitting the 4th and 5th stanzas of Longfellow’s original poem that reference the war.

In the century and a half since the Civil War, America has continued to justify division among her citizens. The country may not currently be mired in a war with itself, but politics and differences of opinion have succeeded in creating contempt and conflict among communities and within families. This Christmas, I urge all to listen to the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and embrace his message of “Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Why I Finally Started Sharing My Writing

As a kid, I read a lot and wrote a little – I knocked out a few acceptable essays and poems, some for my own pleasure, others for school assignments. But then adulthood, kids, jobs and life happened.  Then life threw me a damn curveball, and suddenly, my entire universe was turned upside down. While I’m grateful for my devoted family and circle of friends, and otherwise content and happy life, I felt a pull to do something more. I just wasn’t sure what that something was at first. Then I decided that – without possessing any real experience – I was going to write and share it.

But I didn’t know how to start.

Pen on Paper

Fear, The Almighty Barrier to Creativity (and everything else)

What propels you to take action or begin a project? Why do you get to work on time? What motivated you to start your blog? How did you decide it was time to take that karate class? What is it that provides that kick in the backside?

I’m capable of inventing plenty of reasons why I avoid sharing my writing, but procrastination is my go-to excuse. But procrastination is only a pretext for other, deeper pitfalls. Those may include perfectionism or poor time management.

But I believe in most situations, the underlying force behind our procrastination is fear. It’s possibly the most fundamental cause of failure to grow or progress. Fear that we’ll be criticized or laughed at. Fear that we’ll get it wrong and appear the town joke. It’s scary out there, and it’s intimidating to put yourself out there where everyone can see you at your most vulnerable.

So how did I get over this fear? Well, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t completely. But I did get one of those proverbial kicks-in-the-butt one day while listening to the radio.

The song “The Motions” by Matthew West was playing and it spoke to my immobilizing fear of sharing.

This might hurt, it’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care if I break,
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

It will hurt and it’s definitely not safe. You will be judged; and not everyone will appreciate your content or creativity. Some folks will even let you know about it.

For introverts, this can be downright terrifying. I’m the most introverted introvert ever. Not that being an introvert is the problem; it’s not. The problem is when you let it impede you from moving forward, connecting with other humans and sharing your gifts.

I composed enough prose and ideas to fill journal after journal before sharing anything. Hell, I’m still petrified of the Publish button. Fear is a powerful obstacle. It takes a miraculous amount of strength to ditch it.

But what’s the alternative to remaining fearful? Stagnation. No forward motion. And no growth.

So yeah, you might break, you will be judged, and you will most certainly screw up sometimes. But that’s OK. We move on, and the world even keeps turning on its axis.

A Word on Perfectionism

You don’t have to be perfect.

Which is great news, because guess what? None of us will ever reach that level.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” –Margaret Atwood

Not that we shouldn’t strive for constant improvement. Striving for better is what keeps us growing. It’s what generates progress, innovation and development.

As you practice and spend time with your craft, progress will occur naturally. But don’t wait for perfection. Go ahead and hit that Publish button. Once you do, you’ll immediately realize that something could have been better. Oh well, you’ll know better next time. And that’s ok.

No regrets, not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something
‘Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

It’s time to command those voices in your head to beat it; you know, the ones that tell you no one will want to read what you have to say, or appreciate your art, or that it’s all been done before. It’s time to let your heart have a turn for once. The trick is to muster up all your strength, kick fear to the curb and forget the regrets. The voices in your heart are the ones that tell you that the world requires, even demands your unique point of view. And I guarantee there is someone out there who needs to hear your message or identify with your creativity, and his or her life will be changed for the better because of it. And that makes it all worth it.

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?

Don’t spend the rest of your life just “going through the motions.” Find the source of your passion; perhaps it’s God, your family, or somewhere deep inside your soul.

Or perhaps it’s a song you heard on the radio today.

Some Musings on Gratitude

It’s that time of year. My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is quickly approaching. It’s got it all: food, family, rainy weather, football. And we make a conscious effort to be grateful. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. It should be a habit, not something we think about only once a year.

Many of us take our gifts for granted, myself included. I have an exceptional family and small circle of friends, a comfortable and beautiful home, plenty of food, and I am fortunate to live in my favorite place on Earth. The list goes on and on.

Make gratitude a daily habit

But sometimes I forget to be thankful. Because gratitude is more than just a feeling of thanks. Gratitude is an action. A verb. It’s the activity of professing our thanks to God for our gifts. Refraining from complaining about what we don’t have. It’s teaching our children and others to be grateful. And it’s service to others in a pay-it-forward kind of way.

Teaching Gratitude

It’s been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

It can be challenging to teach gratitude to our children – a crucial lesson as ungrateful kids grow into ungrateful adults – when we live in such a culture of abundance. Every need and want seem to be so available, and society tells us that we deserve it all. We’re sheltered in our cushy little bubbles of plenitude and can be blind to the scarcity and lacking that exists.

But it’s important that kids learn and practice gratitude. For younger ones, this can be as simple as saying grace at mealtimes. Older kids, mine included, are usually happy to donate their time at the local church to help out with programs that benefit the homeless. Frequent conversations about what we’re grateful for is another valuable exercise. Tonight, my teens were thankful for sharp steak knives and air. Hey, it’s a start.

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude can feel painful on occasion. During one of those times, a friend suggested that I keep a gratitude journal. I was dubious, but it forced me to realize – even in the midst of the greatest pain – that I have plenty to be grateful for.

We don’t need to look far to see that many folks in the world (including our own communities) lack enough food. Or shelter. They are cold or lonely.

On the other hand, most of us have plenty of food and shelter and heat. We have networks of friends and family that support and love us. An abundance of gifts that we shouldn’t take for granted.

How do you express gratitude? I thank God every morning for the new day. I thank Him each night for my family and providing for me that day. I tell those that I love that I am grateful for them.

More importantly, being grateful moves one towards an attitude of service. When we have the awareness of being abundantly blessed, we want to use those blessings to help others.

Are you blessed with an affluence of financial of wealth? An abundance of time? A valuable talent? Sharing your gifts with others who are not so fortunate is a way to manifest your gratitude.

For me, an important aspect of gratitude involves focusing on today. Of course, planning for the future can be a good idea, but when it turns into worry, it can sap the gratitude right out of your life. Did I have enough to eat today? Is my family happy today? Is it raining today (hey, I love rain)? Thank you.

Sometimes it’s not so easy…

Sometimes life just flat out sucks and you want to throw this whole gratitude thing down the deep abyss of The-Universe-Can-Kiss-My-Ass. All of us have choppy waters that we’re wading through at any given time. Perhaps a job loss or family estrangement. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one or dealing with a chronic autoimmune disease. Am there; doing that. Everyone is going through something.

Society doesn’t really provide many opportunities for gratitude either. Turn on the television, open a magazine or newspaper, or click on any news site, and we are exposed to a surfeit of reasons to be ungrateful. It seems the media is out to convince us to be as grateful as we would be for a thorn in our big toe.

That’s why practicing an “attitude of gratitude” is so important to exercise during the good times. Making a habit out of gratitude makes it easier to continue during the turbulent times. Because we are called to be grateful even during the tsunamis of life.

And being grateful even during the rough times has changed my outlook on life. Because I truly do have so many things to be thankful for. Focusing on the gratitude and the things I am grateful for have a healing effect during the crappy times.

Eventually, it turns into a cycle. Gratitude allows happiness, abundance and service for others to follow. In turn, gratitude then follows happiness, abundance, and service.

So for now, I leave you with this song of thankfulness from Jason Gray. Be grateful. It’s good to be alive.

 

 

Creating A Blog the Marathon Way Part 3: Installing WordPress

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Folks, it’s time for the exciting stuff. It’s time to install WordPress and begin building your blog and making it look all sorts of awesome.

Marathon blogging, installing wordpress

This is Part 3 of a series showing you how to set up your blog using my marathon method. If you haven’t yet set up a hosting account account, check out this post.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

Installing WordPress

WordPress is the software that is used to manage your website or blog. Once you have a hosting site set up, you can download the software and customize your blog.

First, sign into your Siteground account that you set up last time. On your homepage, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top of the page.

Under “Manage Account,” click on the red button “Go to cPanel.”

 

Scroll down to the Autoinstallers Section and click on the WordPress icon.

Click on one of the “Install” buttons on the WordPress page:

Wordpress install

 

Clicking the Install button will bring up the Software Setup and Site settings.

Make your selections in each of the sections and be sure to make note of your Admin username, password, and email. Click on the Install button when finished.

Your blog will be installed on your Siteground hosting account and you will receive a confirmation that installation was successful.

You can now sign into WordPress using your admin username and password. Your Administrative URL is your domain name plus “/wp-admin”. For example, mine is “https://allswritewiththeword.com/wp-admin”.

Try It Out…

WordPress can be overwhelming, so I suggest playing and looking around to get the lay of the land. The main menu is on the left side of the page and contains most of the features you will use.

To get you stared, you may want to select your theme. That is the layout of your blog and WordPress comes installed with a few free ones. Click on “Appearance –>Themes” in the menu. Browse the free ones and select the layout you prefer.

Wordpress themes

Now, just take some time to familiarize with the rest of the software. Try customizing your theme. Look through the menu and familiarize yourself with the selections.

Next time, we’ll look at fun stuff like Widgets and Plugins. (What?!) Let me know if I can answer any questions. Till next time, have fun!

 

 

Become a Better Writer (For Beginners)

You can improve your writing skills even if you have little or no experience. Writing, just like any activity, can be improved by lots of practice.

Become a better writer - for beginners

 

Learning to write better is not easy, but it is simple. 99% of it is self-motivation. Not procrastinating. Setting up a routine that you follow every single day. So what are you waiting for? Do the following. Yes, right now.

Read

Read anything and everything. Trashy romance novels. The instruction manual that came with your slow cooker. Re-read the Harry Potter series for the tenth time. (Is that just me?)

Most folks read only for entertainment purposes or to learn. But while you’re improving your writing, focus more on reading like a writer. Notice what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll begin to notice the differences in writing styles of different authors. Look out for grammar, spelling, punctuation. There is fantastic writing out there and some horrid writing. The more you read, the greater your awareness will become on what good and great writing looks like.

Read as often as possible. In bed at night, or on your morning commute, or while sitting in a relaxing bubble bath. (Don’t forget the scented candles and calming music.) Strive for a few hours of reading each day.

Write

Write a lot. About anything and everything. Writing can only be improved by a tremendous amount of practice.

Practice. Every. Single. Day. The experts recommend an activity called “free-writing.” This involves setting aside a specific time every day, setting a timer, and writing without stopping as long as your timer is going. Your writing doesn’t have to be good or make sense, because no one is going to read it (unless you want them to). This is not for publication. Write whatever comes into mind, or repeat nonsense if nothing does come to mind. Just the simple act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will improve your writing over time.

Keep a Writer’s Notebook

Keeping a writer’s notebook will ensure that you don’t forget those ideas that pop into your head while you’re struggling to stay awake during that meeting or waiting for your kid at his parkour class. I keep mine next to my bed because I invariably wake in the middle of the night with the brain on overdrive.

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, fanfiction, or a blog post about air fryer recipes, a writer’s notebook can help keep your ideas organized in one spot where you won’t forget them. Of course, this can be accomplished with a computer as well, but I find it’s easier to carry around a notebook. Its contents can be transferred to a file on your computer later of course.

A writer’s notebook is also a great place to build your Word Hoard. I first discovered this term in Barbara Baig’s book, “Spellbinding Sentences.” She suggests building a collection of words that you come across in your reading or conversations that you like or find interesting or don’t know know the meaning of. This is a great way to build up your vocabulary.

You can improve your writing even if you are a beginner. It’s not easy, but it is simple. What other methods do you use for writing improvement?

 

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Before installing WordPress and starting your blog, I want to share a couple of important advantages of Siteground that should be taken care of first. This will be a short post, so we can get to the good stuff next time.

Marathon Blogging Siteground Features

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

SSL Certificate

One of the advantages of Siteground is that it provides a free SSL certificate with your account. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and  it ensures that data transmitted between the server and browser remain encrypted, making your site more secure. The certificate is provided by Let’s Encrypt.

To install your SSL certificate, first log into your Siteground account. Once you’re in, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top.

Siteground My Accounts

 

Next, select the red “Go to cPanel” button.

Siteground cPanel

 

Scroll down to the Security Section and select the “Let’s Encrypt” icon.

Siteground cPanel Let's Encrypt

 

At the bottom of screen, select your domain and click the Install button. (The Wildcard SSL is for sub-domains, which, if you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need.)

Once your SSL certificate is installed, you can navigate back to the same area any time and manage your certificate and see that it is active.

Email Accounts

Your Siteground  account allows you to create as many free email accounts as you need. Navigate to your cPanel again, scroll down to the Mail section and click on the Email Accounts icon.

You can now set up email accounts that are associated with your domain, for example, admin@yourdomain.com. Once your accounts are created, you can use the Webmail icon next to the Email Accounts icon to access and manage your accounts.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

I hope this was helpful. cPanel contains many ways to run your account, and I will continue to share as I learn. Please contact me if I can be of any help. Next time, we’ll install WordPress and learn about some of its features.