On Houses for Dragons

5c853089215ed2df0a274cbd11298e25Almost every personality trait has both a usefulness and a challenge to it – to speak plainly, a good and a bad (though I don’t like to assign morality to it.) For instance, I am very analytical, which means I am an excellent problem solver, but it also means I can, at times, spend so much time analyzing something I never actually do the task.

There are traits generally considered positive, such as being highly social, and it’s true, being a social person means you have the ability to make connections for both personal friendship and business relations – definitely a useful trait. But, the highly social person may have trouble being alone, reflecting on their own inner nature or connecting on a deeper level. That’s not to say they can’t do these things – just that it’s a challenge for them. Also, highly social children have a habit of talking to us when we are trying to concentrate on something else (not that I know from experience or anything.)

Stubbornness is generally considered a negative trait, especially when we’re talking children. A stubborn child can turn even the most patient person into a yelling, cajoling, bribing mess. ┬áBut, when that same immovable chid faces peer pressure – bingo, suddenly it’s an advantage. The stubborn person may not be open to the ideas of others, which can hamper them in life, but they also won’t be swayed by mob mentality.

The best example I can think of is this: no one in my family likes to go to the doctor, myself included. I see my ob/gyn once a year, and barring broken bones or passing out from excessive blood loss, that’s it. My kids don’t see their pediatrician very often either. We’re six months overdue for their yearly well check.

The useful: we don’t go running to urgent care every time one of us has the sniffles. I am adverse to using the time, money and energy to go to the doctor for a virus when she will just tell me what I already know: go home, rest, drink fluids, take Advil. But…

One time when I was 25, my sister was visiting me, and she suddenly gave me a sharp look. “How long have you had that cough?”

“Umm….six weeks maybe?” (I hadn’t really thought about it until she asked.)

My sister who has mild asthma is familiar with respiratory problems. She listened to my lungs through my back and said, “You need to go to the doctor.”

I went. The nurse practitioner glared at me as I exhaled weakly into the breath-measurer thingy. “You practically have pneumonia,” she said.

Four weeks, two different antibiotics and painkillers for ribs I cracked coughing later, I was better. I should’ve gone to the doctor WAAAY before I did. So this is the best example of a trait that can go either way.

We so often judge ourselves or others for the traits we perceive as negative or positive, but it’s all situational. A trait in and of itself if rarely “good” or “bad;” it’s all in how you apply it. So, next time you’re annoyed because your space cadet child is taking for-EVER to put on his socks and shoes, mainly because he doesn’t remember where they are and, when he finds them, he’s too busy constructing houses for dragons in his head to move efficiently, go ahead and feel annoyed – that’s totally valid. But, to help you cope, imagine him writing his first novel.

I Haven’t Written Lately Because Listicles

Celebrity Affair CollageIt’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. My paying work picked up its pace over the past several months and the kids are out of school. Something had to give, so I intentionally put blogging on the back burner, as much as it pained me to do it.

I love writing here, because I can write whatever I want, in whatever format I want and with whatever whimsical made-up words I favor. The only problem is, no one pays me to write my weird personal stuff.

I recently started writing for a parenting website that is committed to listicles (an article in list format – Jason says “listicle” sounds like male genitalia). The website has very specific requirements for word count, amongst other rules for achieving ideal SEO (search engine optimization.)

When I started, I found the restrictions…well, restricting, but now, I’ve come to enjoy the challenge of creating an engaging list within the site’s parameters. And I like that I can create these articles with internet research alone and don’t have to talk to any real people or rely on them to send me information. (Introverts unite!…separately, in our own homes)

The real challenge, though, is choosing a topic. I get paid based on the number of times my listicles get clicked on, so it’s in my best interest to pick popular topics. Some of the most-read ones involve shaming celebrities and ideas that have no other value than to shock the reader and allow them to judge people. They’re the train wrecks of the internet. You know the type: Ten Shocking Celebrity Parents Who Don’t Raise Their Kids Right. Yeah, Homey don’t play that. And by “Homey,” I mean me. But…

I found I can dress up the meatloaf – meatloaf being my own preferred topics: women’s reproductive rights, body and fat positivity, and judge not, lest ye be judged. (Yes, the atheist just quoted the Bible.) I can take a topic like Eight Times Celebrities Messed Up Their Marriages – a potential train-wreck article – and give it value. I can turn it into a lesson on not judging others, even celebrities who are always, always in the public eye. I can use the shocking title to grab you and, now that I’ve got your attention, give you something that does more than entertain. I can feed you something that really makes you think and reflect. Example: I wrote this article, 12 Shocking Stories of Women Who Performed Their Own Abortions, and made it into an analysis of why they did it and how restrictive abortion laws can force a woman’s hand. (One of the things I love about the site is they don’t mind if I get political.)

So, in the vein of not judging, I have stopped judging listicle-type articles for their titles. I’m not the only writer out there trying to make people think instead of just gawking at disasters. Some listicles actually have substance. But, once I’ve read the content, make no mistake; I will be judging.