A Little Hope and Inspiration: Ice Cream in Winter

A few days ago, I saw an ice cream truck pass by. In the middle of winter. In the rain.

Nah, there wasn’t any tinkly music tinkling from it, and it was pretty clear the driver was just getting from Point A to Point B. But still, it was an ice cream truck.

Sometimes, in the middle of winter, you need a little reminder that ice cream still exists.

And don’t be so quick to say, “Well, he doesn’t really have any ice cream in the truck to sell right now, so we can’t have any. That’s just the way it is in the winter.”

No. If sitting around waiting for spring or summer to hear that tinkly music coming down your street will take too long, get on down to Cold Stone or Baskin-Robbins or Dairy Queen or the freezers at Safeway and pick up a little something. And go on and smile and laugh and genuinely enjoy it, doggone it.

My point?
Don’t let the middle of your “winter” season fool you.


This isn’t Politics. This is Your Life.

While this blog of mine isn’t a particularly political one, in a “politics and government” sense, I can’t guarantee that politics won’t slip in now and then—especially since I, a book reviewer, read some political books. 🙂 Still, there are times when it can be easy to mistake or dismiss someone’s intentions as political when politics aren’t even the issue.

The area of politics is one of society’s ways of dealing with various matters of life. But for people experiencing those matters personally, the matters are, first and foremost, life.

Politics don’t come first. Life comes first. Without life, without experiences human beings are living through, there’d be no need for politics.

And many (not all, but many) people don’t step into political conversations or the political arena because, gee, they just feel so political. Or they love to fuss. Or they’re looking for a job or a hobby and “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” lands them into politics. They bring up or step into the conversation or the arena because they have a concern about life.

A matter is merely a “political issue” to you if the context of government policy or political or social debate is the only context in which that matter comes to your attention or affects you personally. It’s not a “political issue” for people who are living it.

Just taking time out on my blog to say—don’t be so quick to assume someone is “just getting political.” Don’t be so quick to write off someone else’s experiences, concerns, and convictions as “just politics” because the matter in question doesn’t mean much to you, or it annoys you, inconveniences you, confuses you, scares you, riles you up, or otherwise makes you uncomfortable. In your dismissive efforts to maintain your comfort, you may very well be writing off someone else’s life.


Beyond the Politics, Check Your Heart

I figure it’s time for me to pause from book and movie blogging to say something to my blog readers, and anyone else who’s listening.

I see what’s happening in the United States. Not just what’s happening in America but what’s happening with Americans.

A country isn’t merely a place. A country is the people in that place. And, no, things aren’t just a little heated or uncomfy in America at present. We’re in a crisis. Not only does human crisis bring out the best or the worst in people, but it sets the stage for what kind of people they’ll be, going forward.

Trust and believe, you don’t become something deeply and drastically different overnight. It happens little by little—a day by day process. It’s a good thing when you’re aware of how you’re changing, how you’re evolving, when you’re intentional about it, and you wake up at peace with what you’ve become and are becoming. But it’s a sad thing when you wake up one day, look in the “mirror,” and realize there isn’t much true honor in what you’ve turned into. When you realize, somewhere along the line, in the middle of all the noise, you became too accustomed to tuning out your conscience.

With every discussion or dispute you hop into, you’re becoming something. With every catchy meme you jump on and share around on social media, you’re becoming something. With every voice you choose to agree with, every voice you choose to disagree with, and every voice you choose to disregard, you’re becoming something.

So my encouragement to everyone reading this is to stop and check to honestly see what you’re becoming. Not merely the person you say you are or want to be, or who you are when your friends are around to concur with your opinions, or who you are when you’re busy arguing with folks to prove a point. I mean for you to check on you. Not just to check on the immediate or loudest stuff in your brain, but to check on your heart. Deep down.

Don’t blindly allow this time of crisis to turn you into something you’ll regret or be ashamed of, years down the road. Don’t get so caught up in noise that you miss the present opportunity to work on your character, to become a better human being.

Don’t just know your politics. Check on that heart of yours.


Authors and Bloggers: Don’t Discount Your Audience

True Audience

Hey. Being an author or a blogger is no joke, especially if you mean to be around for the long haul. It requires a lot of passion, time, patience, and quite a backbone. Even “overnight successes” are oftentimes only “overnight” to the public at large, since not everyone was there to see the years of blood, sweat, tears, and legwork that went into making that “overnight” possible.

I see the frustration of fellow authors and bloggers who put so much thought and effort into their work, striving to put out quality books and content, but the interest and results they manage to garner seem so minimal.

Writer Frustration“Hardly anybody reads my books, and even fewer people review them.”
“I do my best to get the word out there about what’s happening on my blog, but hardly anyone stops by, reads, or comments.”
“If nobody really cares about what I’m doing, why am I even doing it?”

Those moments of discouragement come to the best of us. But I find myself mentally (and sometimes vocally) countering the “nobody” question, asking, “Is ‘nobody’ truly no one at all? And if not, who is ‘nobody’?”

Besides the fact that, in most cases, it simply takes time to find and reach the right people and to stir up interest, I think the idea of “nobody” often comes from comparing one’s results to someone else’s. And too many times, we’re comparing our newbie or five-to-ten-year results to those of people who’ve been in the game much longer than we have or people who have resources that we don’t.

Still, there are billions of people on this planet. Billions. Even if you sell millions of copies of your book, or you have a million blog subscribers, it’s likely there will always be far more people on Earth who aren’t reading your book or visiting your blog. It’s likely that there’ll always be more people who’ve never heard of you, or who don’t care, than who have heard of you and who do happen to care about you once they’ve heard.

But are you going to spend your time worrying about all the people out there who don’t care, about all the folks who pass by your wonderful books or blog with nary a second thought or glance? No, I’m not saying not to bother with producing excellent work and growing your audience as much as you can—but I’m curious as to what magic number your audience has to reach before the people in it are no longer “nobodies” to you.

Of course, all authors and bloggers must decide for themselves the kind of results that are worth the energy, trouble, and finance they put into their work. There’s no hard and fast rule about what outcomes will or should make it all worthwhile for everyone in the writing world. Time, resources, goals, priorities, and any number of factors vary from person to person.

But if you’re in this for the long haul, I’d encourage you to remember that, out of the multitudes of people around, not everyone is, or is meant to be, your audience. Don’t undervalue or discount the people who are indeed listening to you, who are truly interested, even when the numbers are relatively few.

However large or small it is right now, your audience is your audience. And the human beings in it may very well need to hear what more you have to say.

Reading Audience