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Lesson 5: …to be flexible

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Lesson 5

Lesson 5

Dear readers, let me start today’s post by saying I am a little OCD. {Pause for comedic effect.} Okay, if those of you that know me personally would stop laughing now, I will admit that I am perhaps a lot OCD. I have mellowed some with age, but I still prefer most things to be done a certain way. I am also a big fan of schedules and routines. Think Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Thursday night is laundry night and Chinese food.

When I was a young man it was much worse. I liked training people to do things because then I knew they were being done the right way. Most of the jobs I have had throughout my adult life have involved some form of teaching or training others.

The little things are very important. The toilet paper should come over the top. The toilet lid should always be closed when not in use. The shower curtain should always be closed. When cooking, most of the prep dishes should be cleaned before the meal is ready to be served. Shoes should not be worn in the house unless they are house-only shoes. The house should be quiet by 9:00 PM to give everyone some quiet time to unwind before going to sleep. And do not even get me started on the big things.
Toilet

It is no wonder that my first and only roommate was an utter and total failure. We lasted about seven months, and our friendship did not survive the experience. Though in that instance, I am confident that our friendship would not have lasted regardless. But I digress. My point was that I was a difficult person to live with, to date or even be friends with.

I cannot say when it was that things finally started to click in my mind of just how insane I was acting. We all know that there is more than one way to do most things. It was not a problem of not having the knowledge. I was just particular. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Particular. Except that it would probably be more accurate to say that I was exacting and inflexible and, sadly, at many times, unreasonable.

What was probably the craziest thing was that when someone did something differently than I might have, it not only frustrated me, but tended to make me very angry. It felt like something was wrong with the universe, or like a personal affront to me. Now you can see why my wife sometimes called me, “The Beast.”

angry-1297540

Credit for my change must largely go to her. My dear wife had a way of training me in such at way that at the end it felt like it was my idea from the beginning. That seems to be a skill that God only gave to women, and maybe that is why as men we are so often frustrated with each other.

The details of what had happened are long forgotten, but her words to me still echo loud in my head. Something had been done in a manner I did not like. My wife reasoned with me that the important thing was that the task was now complete. That should have been the important thing, but once again I found myself fixated on how it was completed. When she finally got me to admit that, yes, having the job complete was all that mattered, she moved on.

“Now as to how it was done,” she had a sparkle that would appear in her eyes when she was accomplishing a goal and a little hint of a smile that always melted my heart. “Does it really matter?”

“No,” I answered begrudgingly, “I guess not.”

“Because, as you can see, the task was completed, and the world did not end.”


She turned around and walked away from me then to give me a chance to mull over her words. She knew I was a wordsmith even with the spoken language, and that sometimes those words too quickly became vicious. She seldom allowed any conversation to get to a point where negative words would even start to be spoken. That might have been the secret to our marital success.

It took a lot of effort, but in time I was able to assign tasks to people and celebrate the fact that they were completed even if in a manner different than what I preferred.

Don’t get me wrong. There are still days when I would much rather take over a job than to watch someone do something the “wrong” way. For the most part, though, I hear my wife’s voice in my head, and it holds me back. When the task is complete, I can tell myself, “And the world did not end.”

Couple Bench

The View

The View is billed in part as, “the original forum in which real women discuss everyday issues, share their opinions and engage in colorful conversations.” It is a talk show on US television on ABC. I tend to watch it later in the day on Hulu because my current schedule does not allow me to watch it during the day. It has become one of my favorite hours of the day.

The ground-breaking show debuted more than twenty years ago with original cohosts Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Barbara Walters. Joy Behar was originally set to be a fill in cohost but quickly became a regular cohost and is the only one of the original five that is still cohosting.

I am a little late coming to The View party. Though I have known of the show from its beginning, I never imagined it would be the type of show I would be interested in watching. For me, TV time is a time to escape. Generally, the last thing I want is to think about reality and what is happening in the world.

A little over a year ago, Hulu added The View to my recommended list. I decided to give it a shot with my usual skepticism. I typically give a new show ten-to-twenty minutes to hook me. If I am not sold during that window, I quit watching and seldom give the show another shot. Surprisingly, I was sold in the first five minutes. Though is seems to be an ever-changing panel, the current cohosts are Whoopi Goldberg, Sara Haines, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain and Paula Faris. They are a cross-section of intelligent, strong women that are not afraid to stand up and defend their beliefs and opinions.

The show is not engaging because I find myself agreeing with the panel. No, the opposite is generally true. Every day I find something that I feel strongly against. The congenial way that the ladies share and debate each topic, though, keeps me engaged and opens my mind to thoughts that I may not have been inclined to before.

There is an abundance of humor in each episode, and that is the biggest reason why The View has become one of the most enjoyable parts of my day. Getting to take a few minutes at the end of a workday to catch up on the insanity of the past twenty-four hours, and we have to agree there is an abundance of insanity in our world today, and yet find a few reasons to laugh during that review is the best reason to watch this show.

I should mention that I do not personally know any of the ladies currently or in the past serving as cohosts. I am not affiliated with ABC and am in no way being compensated for this post. No, I am just a crazy, getting older man that has stumbled upon this gem and was moved to put my musings down in writing.

Lastly, I must give props to the show for highlighting so many authors. Many of the authors are political fellows, but the show has a long-standing tradition of keeping literature and reading in the forefront. In this age where some think that reading and writing are dying arts, it is refreshing to see a show that still devotes so much import to writers and reading. As a writer, how can I not love that?

If you live in the US, do yourself a favor and check out the show. If you find nothing else you like about it, I am sure it will at least make you laugh. If you are outside the US, well, I am not sure what options you might have. If you know of a way to watch The View where you are, take a few minutes and check it out. I know you will enjoy it as much as I do.

 

Shadows of Doubt – First Draft

Author’s Note:

This past weekend I started a new novel, working title, Shadows of Doubt. I already have a good idea which direction it will take but would be interested in some input on the front end. Below is a very rough draft of the opening 1500 words. Please share your thoughts.

JUNE 10

“Don’t you know?”  The Ella Harvey played somewhere in the distance as I slowly opened my eyes and stared blurrily at the ceiling.

It’s morning, I remember thinking. What do I have planned for today?

Something felt off.

“I gave it all to you, body and soul,” the song played on.

I tried to roll to my side and a searing hot pain radiated from my lower back all the way down my right leg. Involuntarily I screamed out in agony.

“Oh, God! What is that?” Another pain manifested in my right shoulder and the room started to spin. I closed my eyes to fight the nausea.

“What’s going on?” I asked the empty room. My mind raced trying to make sense of what I was feeling. I couldn’t remember being in pain the night before.

It seemed safer to just move my head, so I slowly rolled it to the right side and tried to open my eyes again. The room was still spinning but not as fast.


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What I saw brought on more confusion. I did not recognize the table next to the bed or the lamp on the table. There was a wooden rocking chair in the corner I was sure I had never seen before. A Sherpa throw was folder over the top of the chair equally foreign.

I tried to turn my head back too quickly and the room sped up again. Clutching the sheet with both hands, I tightly closed my eyes again. Concentrating on my endeavor to slow the spin of the room, I never heard the door open and visitors come in.

“She seems to be waking up,” a strange man’s voice said.

“It’s too soon,” an older woman answered back. Both voices were foreign to her.

Opening my eyes, I put all my strength into lifting my head but a force stronger than me was keeping me still.

“Laura, it is okay,” the woman tried to comfort her.

Laura? Who is Laura?

“Another dose?” asked the man.

“Yes, I think so.”

Something pinched my left arm and within seconds the nausea and pain started to subside. The relief was euphoric and momentarily I felt like myself. Seconds later everything became fuzzy and drifted away.

Shadows of Doubt cover

June 21

Someone was playing the piano. The melody was not unpleasant, but it was too early to be playing the piano. I wished they would stop.

My body was sore like I had been lying in one position too long. I shifted under the sheets and my whole right side ached. My mouth was too dry, and my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I tried to swallow but my throat was sandpaper.

I fluttered my eyes, but the room was filled with harsh light.

“Are you in pain?” It was the older woman’s voice again. I wanted to answer but it was too hard to form words.

“You don’t have to be,” she told me. Another pinch and fuzzy bliss returned.

June 30

More music. Today it was a string quartet. Vivaldi maybe? My mind wasn’t entirely sure.

The room was darker but still bright enough I had to squint at first.

The room was painted a pale pink above the white chair rail and there was a floral print wallpaper below. It was a large room with three windows, one on each side of the bed and one to my right. I thought it was day, but it might have been dusk. It was hard to tell through the pink sheers covering the windows.

Across the room from the bed was a cherry dresser with a large mirror. To my left was a sitting area with two Victorian parlor chairs on either side of a scroll arm loveseat and a fireplace. There were two white panel doors on the other side of the room. I would learn later that the one of the left went into the rest of the of the house, and the one on the right opened to a walk-in closet and bathroom.

Nothing about the room was familiar.

I felt a little stronger this time and was able to sit up enough to see myself in the mirror across from me. The first shock was seeing glass cuts and yellow-purple bruising spread along the right side of my face. The bigger shock came a second later. I looked intently at the person in the mirror, but she was not someone I knew.

I brought up my left hand and touched my face. Yes, I was looking at myself in the mirror. My mind could not reconcile the reflection with my expectations.

Attempting to sit up further brought back intense pain in my lower back. I let out an audible cry as I eased myself back down to a horizontal position.

The door opened then and the older woman came in.

“Laura?”

I looked past her expecting another woman to answer.

“Laura, baby girl, are you in pain?”

She was speaking to me, but the name did not make sense. My name was not Laura.

“I’m not,” my voice was raspy, and speaking was difficult.

“Don’t strain yourself, dear.” She reached in her pocket and pulled out a syringe.

“No,” I tried to protest. I wasn’t ready to go back to the darkness, but in seconds I was gone.

July 9

This morning it was big band music. Glenn Miller, I think. The window to my right was partly open, and the sheers were moving gently with the warm air coming in. Birds sang happily to each other from the oak tree outside.


Clarity came quicker this time. I remembered the pain immediately. I remembered the room that I did not know. I was able to sit up easier to look at myself in the mirror. The face was still foreign, but most of the bruising was just a pale yellow and the cuts were mostly healed.

“Laura?” I said the name aloud. No, it was not my name. I was certain of that.

My back protested, but I was able to sit up completely. There was a glass-front, cherry bookcase next to the bathroom door full of books. The room was sparsely but richly decorated. Renoir’s On the Terrace was on one wall and Degas’ Dancer with a Bouquet of Flowers on another. I knew both paintings like old friends, but they were not mine. There was a tall carousel house statue on the dresser. On either side of the bed were matching cherry tables with matching alabaster lamps. The table to my right also had a crystal pitcher of water and an empty glass.

Trembling with some difficulty I was able to pour myself a glass and drink a sip of water. Swallowing was an unfamiliar sensation, and I found myself wondering how long it had been since I had anything to drink.

The door opened then and the older woman came in.

“My baby girl is sitting up,” she cooed like I was an infant.

“Where…?” Talking was painful, and my throat constricted after the first word forcing me to sip more water.

“I’m sorry, Laura, I am not sure what you are asking me.”

“Where…where am I?”

Genuine concern distorted the woman’s face and she came closer, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Laura, honey, what do you mean?”

She took my hand in hers. Her hand was cold and unfamiliar.

“Who are you?” I pulled my hand away as tears started to form in her eyes.

“Buck?” she called over her shoulder. “Buck, you better come here.”

An attractive dark-haired man walked into the room. “She’s sitting up,” he noted.

“Yes, but she’s confused.”

“Should I get another dose?” They talked to each other like I was not in the room.

“We probably should.”


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Buck left the room and my heart started to race. These strangers had been dosing me with something, keeping me in a place I did not know. Panic and fight or flight started to kick in and I tried to move to the other edge of the bed, but my legs would not move.

“What?” sweat was already beading up on my face and back.

“Laura, baby doll, breathe. Just breathe. You are okay,” she spoke slowly.

“No.” I felt tears on my face. “I have to get up.”

She grabbed my wrist with more strength than I expected. In a stern voice she told me, “You are not fit to go anywhere. Now, be still.”

Buck was back at this point and the needle was in my arm before I could process what was happening.

Fuzziness again and Buck lowered me back down on my back. Then darkness.

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Hey, beautiful people. I had the wonderful chance to meet the beautiful Maria (blog linked; check her out!) a while ago and we had a wonderfully fun day out in Brighton, eating cheesecake and chatting about blogging. (And slowly but surely murdering our long-suffering bank accounts.) As we both blog in different ways and drive […]

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The Price

Drums beating loud inside

This one comes from a darker place. I’m hoping dark poetry is your forte. Enjoy.

Eternal Pain – a Poem by

 

Pain from a toxic relationship can be overwhelming. Read more in this painful poem by Wolfe Butler. | #Poem #Poet #Poetry #Dark

Screaming on impact, agony wails

Lines stolen from time, ever prevails

Fierce violence lives, blood baths move on

Though scars are now hid, nothing is gone

The weapons have changed, little with time

With pain still as fresh, each new land mine

A true no man’s land, desert with sand

The smart from a fist, sting of a hand

Dark bruises still heal, death won’t come yet

Battles are lost, that you can’t forget

War wages onward, taking its toll

Love leaves in earnest, empties the soul

Each torture stake, heavier with time

Breaks down the spirit, searing the mind

With each occasion, nothing feels real

Scars heal in pattern, leaving their seal

Emptiness far worse, than death could weave

Taints every scene, you can perceive

So no one gets close, no warmth is felt

Insanity binds, tied like a belt

Is anything left, should we hold strong?

Or are we beaten, ending our song?

November 11, 2004

Author’s Note: Thank you for reading my poem. If you enjoyed it, please share it on social media and with friends. Thank you for your support!

Pain from a toxic relationship can be overwhelming. Read more in this dark poem by Wolfe Butler. | #Poem #Poet #Poetry #Dark

Why You Should Always Be True To Yourself

No matter how long you’ve lived, you’ve learned important life lessons. I’ve Learned is a collection of lesson learns by one writer. This post looks at why you should always be true to yourself.

Lesson 2: I’ve learned that no matter what I do, someone will find fault with it. Therefore, I need to always be true to myself and my beliefs.

Much of my adult life has been spent in the pursuit of gaining others approval. In fact, the reason I have waited until now to share my writing with the world is due to the foreknowledge that some will disapprove. This is a lesson I am perpetually working on.

Good Samaritan Law

To prove my point today, we will consider the Good Samaritan Law. That this law even exists is a testament to today’s society. If you are not familiar, in the United states all 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of Good Samaritan law. This law was enacted to protect those responding to life-threatening situations from being held liable in the event of unintended harm caused by their assistance. In other words, they cannot be sued.

Let me illustrate. Imagine I am driving home from work and involved in major traffic accident. I am pinned in my vehicle and unable to extricate myself. Paramedics arrive and smell gas leaking from my car and fear the possibility of fire. To save my life, they yank me from the vehicle, cutting my leg and breaking my shoulder. Under the law, I should not be able to sue the paramedics.

Why should you always be true to yourself? Read one blogger's personal experience that highlights the importance of this topic. | #LifeLessons #BeTrue #LifeHacks #SelfImprovement #PersonalDevelopment

 

This is an extreme example. If I found myself in this situation, it is unfathomable to me to imagine that I would then want to sue the paramedics. If they had not arrived and rescued me from my car, I would now be charcoal.

Unfortunately, many people have done exactly that. Some kind-hearted individual helped them in a time of extreme need, and they, in turn, filed suit against the person that provided said assistance. Does that make any sense to you? Me neither.

Even with this law on the books, thousands of lawsuits are filed every year against doctors, hospitals and first responders who are guilty only of trying to provide the appropriate care in a difficult situation.

My Grandmother Said

Meditating on this and the many other instances of acts of kindness being met with anger and hostility have reinforced this lesson.

My grandmother often said, “Some people would complain if they were hung with a new rope.”

“Yes, I would,” I used to tell her. “I would want an old, brittle one.”

Even as a child I could not keep my mouth shut, but that is not the point. Have you heard the expression, “No good deed goes unpunished”? The words are generally credited to Clare Boothe Luce. She understood that in every situation, someone would complain. Spend a few minutes on any social media site, and you will quickly see this to be true.

What next?

What course of action does this leave for us? Should you be true to yourself? Do we stop doing good deeds? Do we stop saying good things? No, we learn to accept that negativity permeates much of the world, and we stay true to ourselves and our beliefs. Ignore the naysayers and complainers. Do what you know is right. Make the world a better place. Hopefully, if enough of us make positive steps forward, we can produce real change on a global scale.

In closing, if I ever see you trapped in a car about to burst into flames, I promise I will pull you out, even if you do choose to sue me afterwards.

Until next time…
Why should you always be true to yourself? Read one blogger's personal experience that highlights the importance of this topic. | #LifeLessons #BeTrue #LifeHacks #SelfImprovement #PersonalDevelopment

Stop Hate

Abuse 3

Getting Home – A Retrospective

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November 2017 will forever be a pivotal date in the story of my life. This month I decided to stop making excuses and a bucket list and start checking old items off said list. I have promised myself since I was a small boy that some day I would be a writer. In the second grade, writing with colored markers and crayons on three-lined paper, I began to tell my stories. That love of storytelling has since grown inside me, but this is the first time I have ventured out and decided to share my stories with the world.

This month I put my first novel out for self-publication. Getting Home is the culmination of fifteen years of hard work. It was the way I worked through the loss of my best friend and then the death of my soulmate. It was the means I used to forgive myself for past mistakes. It provided me with validation that I was not the monster I was rumored to be. It was my way to heal and forgive. It was my voyage to peace, to catharsis.

Book cover

It was a rainy August afternoon when pen first met paper. The words of the prologue came first. Writing a novel was my dream, but I did not have a story waiting to get out. I only knew that I wanted to write. I immersed myself in the moment I was experiencing: the rain outside, the sound of birds, the sound from the aquarium next to me. The prologue is almost entirely my experience on that August afternoon. From that simple opening poured the tale that I hope all of you will read. Tom Jacobs was born. He was as real as the pen in my hand. The sky was not fully dark that evening when I knew what path Tom Jacobs would take and how the journey would ultimately end.

With the flood of details that washed in upon me, it should have been a simple task to sit down and write every word. It would be an exceptional blog post if that were true, and many of you would be contacting me wanted to know the secret of writing a novel in one sitting. As I approached each part of Tom’s life, I was forced to look deep inside myself and discern what in me was the catalyst that spawned what we be Tom’s journey. That process and the subsequent chapters took years to complete.

Part of me feels like I cannot take credit for being the scribe of this narrative. Yes, I did put each word down on paper and those words seeped directly from my mind. I wrote the prologue and gave Tom his name, but from that moment on it was no longer my words. Tom became a real person relating his experiences and honoring me with the opportunity to put his journey in written form.

After fifteen years, Tom and all the other characters in Getting Home are old friends and family. I know their pasts, their likes and dislikes, and for some, I know how their stories end. I am not sure if I will ever put more of their words on paper, but I am happy to have known them.