The Sound Of Silence

Shakespeare wrote: “It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.”

Paul Simon wrote: “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

Thomas Carlyle wrote: “Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.”

We, as a society, have forgotten silence. Humans need silence to recharge our minds, reconnect with our intuition, and hone our creativity. Stillness reduces stress.

Studies suggest that chronic noise increases the body’s production of cortisol, also known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone. Elevated levels of cortisol can cause high blood pressure and heart disease, possibly increase abdominal fat, and impairs mental performance.

When was the last time you sat without music, without your computer humming, without TV, without speaking?

  • Try your morning routines without the radio or TV. Save the weather and traffic reports for later. Morning is when cortisol levels are highest, so silence when you first wake up helps start the day right.
  • Play music only when giving it your full attention. Don’t use the radio as background noise while you cook, clean, or putter around your house.
  • Turn off the TV if you’re not watching.
  • Walk. Leave your mp3 player at home. Observe what is going on around you.
  • Eat in silence. Focus on the flavors, textures, and colors of your meal. You may find yourself eating less while increasing your enjoyment.
  • Silence breaks, especially if you work in a noisy environment. Even if you have to sit in your car for 10 minutes, try to find a place where you can be quiet and absorb the silence around you.
  • Silence your technology. Periodically turn off the ‘bells & whistles’ on your gadgets as a reprieve.

Listen to the silence.





Old Maids

Old Maids–spinsters–were one of the favorite tropes in the Gothic romances I read in my youth. Women too poor, too unattractive, or too socially unacceptable were labeled old maids and “put on the shelf.” If they were rich. If they were poor, they became paid companions or governesses, or burdens on their families. Or they were locked up. In Gothic romances, the heroines always found true love.

But fiction isn’t life.

A woman doesn’t need a man to define her. Nor does she need a label. What is a man who has never married called? A bachelor. No stigma there. But Old Maid? It still carries a pitying connotation.

So why is there such a thing as National Old Maid Day? Many internet sites try to put a positive spin on the origins of the day, but in truth, women were expected to give up their own hopes and aspirations to care for ailing parents or younger siblings. Sacrifice was demanded from them.

Here’s an interesting article from 1917.

I think this is  one holiday that can fade away without a sense of loss.


Nat’l Speak in Complete Sentences Day: Catch of the Day

One of my favorite fictional heroes rarely says a word. Complete sentences? Pul-ease.

Kristan Higgin’s Rita-Award winning Catch of the Day features “Maloner the Loner,” a lobster man who proves the cliche “actions speak louder than words.” Malone doesn’t need to talk to show us he’s a hero. The heroine, Maggie, is nearly talked to death by her high school sweetheart, the priest on whom she has an inappropriate crush, and the series of men she dates while trying to find Mr. Right.  Even her father, brother, and brother-in-law are a lot of talk and no action, proving again and again that talk is cheap.

The only two men in her life who don’t blather on are the short-order cook in Maggie’s diner, and Malone. Turns out these are the only two men on whom she can depend, too.

Kristan Higgins proves that complete sentences are sometimes overrated.

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N…In the Summer Time

As we approach summer vacation time in the USA, I hear people making travel plans, bemoaning their lack of funds to do up a trip “right”, etc. Many younger people act as if it is their God-given right to get away from it all, where they spend too much money and too much energy trying to have a good time.

This is not something I understand.

My parents never took us on vacations. We’d do day trips when my dad had his two weeks off. But he was tried from his work in the factory and just wanted to spend his days off puttering around outside. Plus my folks didn’t have the money for annual sojourns to Disney, a beach house, or anything else.

When our children were younger, my husband and I didn’t often have concurrent  chunks of time off. If one of us was able to take off  five consecutive days, the other usually couldn’t. It was the nature of our jobs at the time. We took our children on day trips–the Thousand Islands, Cooperstown, Niagara Falls (the Canadian side), and the zoo.

In my current Day Job, we had a mandatory week off every July when the place shut down. And I loved it. That week forced me to take off five consecutive days instead of creating a series of long weekends. I’m going to miss that this year.

When I was young and single, I tried travelling for vacation a couple of times, but mostly ended up in a hotel room reading. I’m not a very touristy person. And I could sprawl in my own apartment with a book just as well as spend money to go away and do the same thing.

Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax. I see too many people returning from their jaunts more exhausted than when they left.

The exceptions to my missing the point of vacation are the RWA National Conferences I’ve attended. But the side trips weren’t the point of being in different cities. Yes, I loved the monuments and museums in DC. I’ve been to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and the Margaret Mitchell Museum in Atlanta. I’ve trod the RIverwalk and basked by the pool in Reno. And went shopping with my mother-in-law in Manhattan.

But going away for the sake of going away? I don’t get it. My husband would love to take a cruise. I don’t get it. Lounging on a beach? I tried it. Didn’t enjoy it. I’d rather lounge in my back yard.

Our annual vacation usually consists of a long weekend in Cooperstown for the Glimmerglass Festival  and another at Capitolfest–a silent movie/early talkie film festival in a nearby city. Yes, we really do sit in a darkened theater for hours on end and watch movies. Oh, and there are the season tickets to the local Triple A baseball team. Trust me. We don’t lack for a life just because we don’t trek to the shore or go camping.

I tend to use my time off from my Day Job for writing. Or market research (a.k.a. reading).

As I’m getting older, I’m getting crankier and more reclusive. I’ve stopped trying to convince myself to do things I think I should do. Like go on vacation. And I’m happier for it.

(And, in case you don’t know where the title of this blog post came from, you can learn about it here.)





“I’m Sorry”

Women tend to say, “I’m sorry.” A lot. I know I say it when I haven’t heard something someone’s said to me. I also tend to preface many statements of opinion with the phrase. Or when I disagree with someone.

I periodically make an attempt to cut those two words from by vocabulary, but have not yet been successful.

There’s a bit of a movement to exchange the word “Thanks” for “Sorry.”

Check out this comic strip.

Or this blog.

Or this article.

Or this one.

Thanks for reading this blog post through to the end.