Friday, September 28, 2012

active and passive (or passive and active)

When writing, I have always been instructed that active voice is better than passive voice. In sixth grade, I remember my teacher trying to explain the difference between passive voice and active voice by tossing a football around the room. "I tossed the football" (active). "The football was tossed" (passive). "The football has been caught" (passive). "Jimmy caught the football" (active).

Active voice packs a larger punch with less words. Active voice provides readers with more details. Active voice means less ambiguity. Authors must say what they mean and meant it. A lot of government documents (legislation, etc.) is written passively. (Did you see what I did there? I wrote in passive voice ambiguously about those government officials who write in passive voice ambiguously). Passive voice allows for the writer (or speaker) to leave out specifics.

When we choose to verbalize our identity, I believe we find it easier to use passive voice. "I am [blank]" rather than "I do [blank] " or "I [blank- verb-active]." I am a park ranger (my personal example this evening). We don't have to do as much explaining. We don't have to go into any detail. We get to place our own labels on ourselves. I will admit that "I am a park ranger" is easier to say and comprehend than "I engage the visiting public to a local park and interpret historical themes of places the federal government have deemed significant enough to preserve and be managed by an assigned agency all while wearing a shiny badge and funny hat." See? Practically the same, yet entirely different.

So as I branch out, as I move away from working for the park service, I know I will miss being able to respond to the question "what do you do" with the answer "I am a park ranger." In reality, my answer has never answered the "doing" part, just the "being" part. "What do you do?" "I engage people with themes based in history but that apply to all of the human experience." That part won't change, even after I stop being a park ranger.

And for the record, I write this in anticipation of my next several days and weeks. I have slowly begun to tell people of my decision, and thanks to the media that is of social sorts, more will soon find out. I have to prepare myself for the onslaught of shock that will happen when my friends and acquaintances announce "but you are a park ranger!" and then suggest that I can't "just leave!" (I have already had that idea presented to me). I worked in a park ranger position and love much of what I did. But I am more. I might do things differently, I will be the same.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where is this road going?

"Where do you think your road is going?"

I have a journal with daily questions or statements designed to prompt thoughts. Today's question: "Where do you think your road is going?"

My answer? I don't know. And I am okay with that.

I know you have noticed my recent writing absence. I mentioned it before and planned on writing but life just happened. So I won't look to the past, I'll focus on my present while being mindful of my future. My present currently looks like this:

I am a twenty-something year old female. I am an American. I come from a family with a strong military heritage (my dad and brother are both active duty). I can now honestly say my hair is auburn, not red (and I have not colored it in nearly ten months). I love to create. I love to read. I love to learn. I love to think. I prefer chocolate over vanilla. Between Mary Kay pink, Pepto Bismal pink, and Barbie pink, I love them all. Actually, I love color. I understand that life is short and that in my limited ways, I can impact the world (even if that world is a small one). Henri Frederic Amiel said it the best: "Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind!"I want to make more room in my life for hasty kindness. I think somewhere I've lost that.

My present (today) I work as a park ranger. But I will hang up my flat hat in three days to step down from working for parks to work for myself.

I know, I am a little shocked, too. But not really. I have many reasons for stepping down, many more for moving forward. Some opportunities are hazy, some have minor definition, and some are as solid as concrete. Where do I think my road is going? I have no idea. But I plan on sharing some of my trek here. Or heck, all of it. Life's an adventure, right? You never know where that road will take you, not completely. We have hopes and we make plans, but we can't guarantee anything.

I don't know where my road is going. This won't always be easy, but I am convinced it is for the best.

Next week, I move back to Tennessee (surprise, surprise). Part of my not writing was due to keeping my "news" on the down low. Part of it is related to all the craziness involved with moving/packing. And maybe part of it comes from the idea that if I put myself out there like this (to the whole wide world!), I am setting myself up to publicly fail. The whole wide world might get to see someone stepping in directions she wants to go, only to trip and get muddied up! I expect getting a little dirty and hope I don't get muddied up, but watch me: here goes [nothing] [everything] [that of which falls between] [all of the above].

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

enjoy yourself (it's later than you think)

I apologize for my recent disappearance. A friend of mine teased recently that I have been "vewwy vewwy quiet." I know I have been. I did not intend for so much time to pass before I wrote again, but I felt anything I had to say would have been taken negatively. If you ain't got nothin' nice to say, don't say nothin' at all.

I also felt the need to work through some of life without writing about it. It's that whole not-wanting-to-document-my-crazy thing. I am feeling much better, not so crazy (and I sense that you'll see me on top of my posting game soon enough). Fall is around the corner and no other season makes me feel like I am about to burst with joy at the color of orange or the thought of sweaters. Autumn signifies change.

I suppose for some, change is scary. It is filled with unknown and unknown is scary. I have never seen change as anything more than an opportunity. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't, but it is worth a shot. As an adult, I am more cognizant of why change should be scary, but I also don't let the fear bog me down. I think that resiliency comes from my upbringing as an Army Brat. I understood that every time we moved somewhere new, we did not know when we would leave again. That taught me to make the most of my opportunities. I am mindful that every day is a gift and may be my last. This has freed me to live my life while simultaneously weighing me down with the thought that I am not doing enough. I am working on letting go of that weight.

Life's too short 1) to live without grace, 2) to drink cheap beer,  3) not to enjoy the little things.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

untangling thoughts

Sometimes, I have so many thoughts tangled up inside of me that I just want to sit down and do nothing. But, if you know me, you know that I have a hard time with doing absolutely nothing. Instead, I do busy things to keep me out of trouble (and distract myself from my many thoughts). Today, those busy things included volunteering, working out, baking (cookies and chicken, not at the same time), repainting my nails (so that the polish is uniform code for tomorrow), crocheting, and cleaning my kitchen for the third time in two days. And I don't like cleaning my kitchen. I meant to call my grandparents (sorry, guys! I will call you tomorrow after work! I have even set an alarm!). I meant to wash my car. I meant to drop stuff off at the Goodwill. I meant to write.

What I want to write, however, is part of my tangles. They are tripping me up. So in the same manner that I prepare my yarn before a crochet project, I am laying out my thoughts before I write. Or trying to lay out my thoughts. Today, I escaped my thoughts. Tomorrow I will be super busy at work, for I already know everything I have to accomplish and hope I will be able to take a moment to breathe at some point during the day (I then have an alarm set to call the grandparental units! I will not fail this time!). I don't imagine much thought-sorting will happen. Maybe by Friday I will have had the time to untangle enough of my thoughts to write some substance.

Or maybe I'll just float away. I would like it if I could do that.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

wavin' flags

I started installing a temporary exhibit at the cultural center today. One of the first things I put up was a banner of flags that represented the Latin American countries (the exhibit is about the multi-cultural influences of Latin American countries in this region).

I had to do it over, as I realized I had hung it backwards halfway through my first attempt. Two thoughts dominated my mind while I walked up and down the ladder repeatedly to pin up each flag:

1. Why did I think lunges and squats were smart exercises last night? (Feel that burn!)


2. This:

Try not to get that stuck in your head. And yes, the song's list of countries is outdated...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

quick question

How did September get here so fast?

good news!

Autumn is just around the corner! Besides the fact that I absolutely love this time of year and its crisper weather, the color, the abundance of pumpkin spiceness, and the fact I get to break cute cool-weather clothes (well, not in Louisiana...), I have been given a new reason to appreciate the season: college football.

No, no. Don't get me wrong. I still dislike watching football. A lot. BUT. I have found that I can do things like go to the gym and grocery shop in peace on Saturday nights thanks to the sport.

That's what I call glass-half-full.