Archive for September, 2012

Three Ways to Keep the Fire Burning

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Three Ways to Keep the Fire Burning

What happened to that burning fire that raged in my body when I first fell in love? Where did it go? It was here last week. What went wrong? 

Do these questions sound familiar? It still amazes me that even the most enlightened person can be blinded by the initial emotions associated with falling in love. There is that euphoria that surrounds you with constant thoughts about your new-found love object. Your senses are fired up with endorphin-propelled hormones, and all you want to do is be with this new person. You can’t get enough of talking to her on the phone, exchanging text messages, emailing her, seeing her, holding hands with her, thinking about her, and looking forward to the day when you first make love with her. You are convinced that these feelings and longings will last forever, and that nothing will ever diminish this fire that burns in you. 

Alas, nothing is farther from the truth. I know because I have been in love enough times to know that this elation – this passion, this fire – will run its course in due time.  But try to remind one of this when all he can do is experience this heady exhilaration brought about by “the woman I have been looking for all my life,” and he will tell you point-blank that there is something wrong with you for not understanding what he is feeling! “This one is the real deal, man”, he will offer, and to anyone who is within earshot. Bizarre, isn’t it? 

The truth is, over time, a relationship settles in to a routine, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as a couple gets to know each other one day at a time. During this phase, feelings become less driven by hormones as both persons begin to see things about their partners that remained hidden in the early days of getting to know each other. “Why didn’t I see that in her before?” you ask, truly believing that she hid this trait from you until now! Actually, she didn’t, and even if she had shown that part of her personality, you would have been too much in love to see it.

And, of course, there’s the issue of sexual compatibility.  “I could have sworn that she was so much more romantic and willing in the early days.  Why is she less so now?” After all, sex was hot, creative, adventurous, frequent, and you did it almost everywhere! What happened? Now there are times when she is totally indifferent, leaving you to wonder what happened to that passionate heat, that fire that kept you pawing away at each other as often as both of you felt the need, which was very often. Should you be concerned that you might be losing sexual prowess and the ability to keep her interested? Oh, no, that can’t be it. Surely you would know if that was happening, wouldn’t you?    

Welcome to the real world! Simply put, the level of passion that you experienced in the early stage of your relationship cannot last for more than a few months. If it did, it would signal something strange and abnormal about one or both partners. The honeymoon period must end; otherwise, you can’t get on with the growth phase, which is necessary for any healthy relationship. The real work of a relationship begins in this phase. When you remain blinded by the realities of sharing your life with another human being, you cannot grow in areas that are essential to building a mature, adult union that can stand the test of time. Here is where you settle down to constructing a meaningful bond that can have longevity. 

Now, that fire does not have to disappear. In fact, a spark of it is necessary to keep passion alive, especially during the challenging times. And, if a couple is together for any measurable length of time, there will be challenges. If mutual love, respect and commitment are present, then that original fire still remains as an important part of the relationship. It just takes a conscious effort for each partner to keep the fire burning.

I have found three sure-fire ways to keep the fire burning:

One: Open and honest communication. 

The better a couple can communicate in this fashion, without blame, guilt or recrimination, the more likely that their mutual love, respect, and desire for each other will grow. My lady and I do this a lot, and it strengthens our bond. True, we had to learn how to remove blame from our communication. But it has paid off in bringing us closer together. And that, after all, is part of the growth process.

Two: Share each other’s interests. 

Another strategy for keeping the fire burning is by sharing mutual interests. If, for example, I know that my lady enjoys visiting…let’s say, fashion shows, I make it my conscious effort to share this activity with her.  She in turn, might share my love of museums with me. We do this enough that we actually enjoy sharing each others’ interests. Conscious couples work hard on this aspect of their relationship, and this, too, adds a deeper bond between the partners.

Three: Spice things up.

I spice up my relationship by surprising my lady with flowers from time to time, especially when it is for no special occasion.  She loves this, as do most women. I also like to send her e-cards and cards through the mail, for no other reason than to remind her that she is on my mind, and that I love and value her. And she really loves it when I buy silky, sexy lingerie for her. These actions tell her that she is still sexy and desirable and that I value her and appreciate that quality in her. 

So, if you love her, you can keep the fire burning in your relationship. It may take work, but there are few greater rewards that the joys of a bond between two people who love each other and are continuously committed to strengthening the bond that ties them together.  Here’s to the fire.   

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Ten Grammatical…

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Ten Grammatical Errors Writers Often Miss

Nothing irritates me more than the frequency with which I encounter typographical errors, misspelled words, incorrect word usage, and grammatical mistakes.  As a writer, I come across ten such written mistakes constantly, and I am listing them here.  Perhaps by doing so, I will be able to help just one writer improve his or her ability to communicate properly.

Grammatical Errors (#1-#4)

Error #1: Commas

The most abused error is the incorrect use of commas.  Commas are used (1) to separate words in a list; (2) to join compound sentences; and (3) after introductory phrases.  Most grammar reference guides agree that it is not necessary to add a comma after the last item in a list, unless the list contains more than three items.  For example, “lions, tigers and bears” does not need a comma after the word “and”; as opposed to “bread, milk, jam, and honey,” which does.  Strangely, many writers cannot seem to get this right.

With compound sentences, each sentence can stand on its own as a separate and complete sentence.  When this is found, a comma must be used to divide the sentences.  The same rule applies when using introductory phrases, such as “after, although, however, indeed, unless, before, but, and, yet, so, etc.”  Otherwise, the passage becomes a run-on sentence.  A good rule of thumb is, “If you pause when you said the sentence, a comma goes where you paused.”

Error #2: Subject/Verb Agreement

Simply, they must agree. It is incorrect to say: “The teacher are strict.” It should be, “the teacher is strict.”

Error #3: Pronoun Usage

This is similar to the previous error, when the pronoun does not agree in number to the noun to which it refers.  For example, it is incorrect to say, “Each of us are getting good grades.”  The correct way is, “Each of us is getting good grades.”

Error #4: Apostrophe Usage

Apostrophes denote possession, but they are never used after a possessive pronoun, such as his, hers, their, theirs, yours or ours.  Example: “Her store is across the street from his’” is incorrect.  It should be, “Her store is across the street from his.”

Possessive Pronouns vs. Contractions (#5-#8)

There are several versions of this category of errors, all of which drive me crazy. The three most common are:

Error #6: Your vs. You’re

This is perhaps the most abused version, and it occurs frequently.  “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your daughter” or “your cat.”  “You’re” is a contraction that means “you are,” as in “you’re annoying me by misusing your when you mean you are.

Error #7: Its vs. It’s

The same principle applies here, and the mistake is just as commonplace.

Error #8: Their vs. There

“There” can either be an adverb, adjective or pronoun depending on how it is used.  Clearly, “their” is a plural possessive pronoun, and the two should never be confused.

More Common Errors (#9-#10)

This space does not allow me to touch on the vast number of additional errors, so I will just list two more.

Error #9: Which vs. That

“Which” introduces non-restrictive clauses; i.e., an additional, but not necessarily essential or crucial, part of a sentence.  The word “that” introduces restrictive clauses; i.e., the necessary parts of a sentence that cannot be removed.  Confusing their usage is a common mistake made by experienced and novice writers.

Error #10: Who vs. Whom

Both of these words are pronouns, but “who” refers to the subject of a sentence, while “whom” refers to the object of a sentence.  In English, subjects do the action, while objects receive the action.  It is incorrect to say, “Who did you talk to?”  Also incorrect is “Whom wrote that book?”

In conclusion, I admit that English is not an easy language to master. But doing so is a writer’s job. Can you think of other mistakes writers make. Leave a comment and tell me about them. Happy writing.

Write My Memoir…

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Write My Memoirs? Are You Kidding?

When the notion to write my memoirs initially occurred to me, the first question I asked was this: “Who would want to read my memoirs?” After all, I’m not rich or famous (at least not yet).  And, except for a poem that I published in an anthology in 2005, I’m not a published author–yet.  Further, my acting resume is only mediocre at best, and I have yet to make it to Broadway.  So why would anybody want to read about me?

As I continued to ponder the issue, I found that when I re-framed the question, other answers presented themselves.  Instead of seeking reasons why others might not be interested in learning about my life story, I began to ask, “If I were not me, would I be interested in reading about me?”  And, if so, why?  What a revelation it was when my head began to buzz with possibilities!

I found myself looking back over the decades of my life and discovering personal qualities that I had paid little attention to. For example, I had been the only person in my immediate family to go to college.  And at age 16, I had left home to seek a better educational and personal life for myself.  Leaving home so early was an extremely gutsy and risky effort for a shy, introverted, Catholic teenager.  And I certainly was that.

How I found the courage to do that, I reasoned, might be something for me to explore and share with readers who might have experienced something similar; or, who might have wanted to leave home as a young person, but who may not have been able to muster up the courage to follow through.  Surely, there were lessons I experienced that others might be interested in learning about.  But would I be interested in telling that story?  Could there be more stories to tell?

I thought about marrying my high school sweetheart, and the much-later-in-life-awareness that we were too young to get married when we did.  Would anybody be interested in this story and the events that led to our eventual divorce; or of the secrets about that period in my life that I have previously been too afraid to face?  From a more contemporary perspective, would I–or even could I–have made different choices, and is there the possibility that my life might have turned out differently?

Suddenly, my life sounded pretty exciting.  I liked what was developing in my mind, and I surmised that others might like it too.  But did I have the courage to write about it?  On that point I was stuck for several years, probably too fearful of facing the truth after all this time.

But several months ago, as I cruised through a period of “writer’s block,” I began to revisit the possibility of finally starting my memoirs.  It took another month or so to actually start writing, but start I did.  I find that it continues to be a work in progress, but my memoirs, “Destination: Unknown: The Journey Home,” is finally in the works.

I haven’t decided whether or not to publish it yet.  Perhaps I will chicken out.  I do plan to share it with my children, my new wife, selected family members, and a few close, personal friends.  I see my memoirs as an attempt to come clean about my life, as honestly and as forthrightly as I can.  And if, in the process, I learn something new about myself, that will be a bonus.

Stay tuned.