Let’s Write Friendlier Blog Posts, Shall We?

Everything old is new again…

SORTING THROUGH ANOTHER BOX of stuff I inherited from my mother and her sisters, I found a small booklet, Let’s write Friendlier Letters by Earle A. Buckley, Director of the The Buckley Institute, Philadelphia, PA.

This booklet, published in 1945, is described as: “A practical course in MODERN LETTER WRITING.” It is 36 pages long and has 21 points intended to help you become a better letter writer.

If I may be so bold as to summarize, the gist of the advice in the booklet boils down to 3 smart writing tips: be concise, be conscientious, be personable.

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AS I UNDERSTAND THEM, the 21 points are as follows:

  1. Every letter is a sales letter.
  2. Make friends with people by understanding their perspective.
  3. Stereotyped, trite, hackneyed phrases serve no useful purpose in letter writing.
  4. Words cost money so eliminate unnecessary ones.
  5. Your opening sentence is your first impression.
  6. Stop writing when you’ve said what you need to say.
  7. Prepare yourself mentally so that you’re thinking clearly about the subject you are about to discuss in your letter.
  8. Your letter must have personality if it is to be perceived as truthful.
  9. Stay away from long sentences because “they’re dangerous.”
  10. Letters are either categorized as “inquiry” or “answer.”
  11. Write in a way that makes the letter look pretty while molding opinions in your favor.
  12. When answering a complaint you must show you understand why the complainant is upset, then move the discussion to friendly terms quickly.
  13. Use contractions to make the tone of your letters seem conversational and natural.
  14. Don’t write like a telegram because your letter won’t be perceived as written by a friendly human being.
  15. Look at the appearance of your letters as you would the appearance of a salesman.
  16. Tell enough to be interesting, but not everything.
  17. Write so that your ideas flow logically + smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.
  18. Your relationship with your stenographer needs to be one of effective teamwork.
  19. Avoid form letters that look “form-letter-ish.”
  20. Get in the habit of editing your letters, you’ll become a better letter writer.
  21. To be an effective letter writer you must sell yourself first so that your tone will be a friendly one, sure to increase your business.

~ ~ 🌟 ~ ~

WITH THE EXCEPTIONS OF Point 4 [words don’t cost money in the blogosphere] and Point 18 [who has a stenographer?], I’d suggest that these points are amazingly good advice for today’s modern blogger.

Good advice that is spot on IF you want to write friendlier, well-received blog posts. Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. Who am I to say what it is that you want to do with your blog?

However, if’n you’ve been wondering how to zhoosh up your blog making it more convivial in these stressful, antagonistic times, then may I suggest you heed this old-time letter-writing advice from 1945.

Just a friendly thought. Agreed?

Good Morning To Everyone Except WordPress, My Frenemy

Et tu, Brute? 🤓

Entirely against my wishes in one of the most difficult years of my life, WordPress, my now former friend, has stabbed me in the back by stealing my favorite classic editor. This is no way for a friend to act.

Here’s the dealio. One week after sending me the annual renewal bill for this personal blog, WordPress has dumped their new unwanted editing system on my account. They call it the block editor; I think of it as the blockhead system.

I don’t want this new editor, nor do I need this change. I’m already living in a daily state of confusion and angst without this added burden in my life. This begs the question: would a true friend make my life more difficult during a pandemic? Just so they could get their jollies at my expense?

I’d say ‘NO.’ However as of yesterday I’m being forced to learn a new way to write + edit my blog posts, showing me how little I mean to WordPress. Not that I’m surprised, mind you. I know I am, we all are, pawns in WordPress’s game.

BUT it does bring home the fact that social media companies, all of them, do not have our best interests at heart. They manipulate us into communicating in ways that primarily serve their purposes, not our own.

Will I continue to write a blog in a system that makes more work for me? Truthfully, I dunno. I don’t have to keep a blog, I do it for fun– and let me clue you in, learning a new editing system is the opposite of fun for me.

I’ve no doubt that I can learn how to use this blockhead editor, but I resent having to do so this year because, as we all have learned in 2020, life is too short and precious for stressful sh!t that detracts from living happy and healthy.

Not cool, WordPress. Not cool. 🤨

[At this point I’d like to add an image to this post but I don’t know how to do so. That sentence makes me sad… sadder, I suppose. Also, I have some posts written ahead but I don’t know how to publish them now that I’m in block editor hell.]

As September Ends, Learning About The Color Orange + A Colorful Poll Question

I went out the front door to walk down the driveway to the mailbox.  I saw this Monarch butterfly flitting among the zinnias.  When I came back from getting the mail he was still messing around in the flowers.

Realizing I had a photo op I hurried inside, got my camera, rushed out to where the zinnias are thriving, and snapped this photo.  It is a tribute to the color orange: orange flower + predominantly orange butterfly = coolness.

[To be clear, this is a tribute to the natural occurrence of the color orange, not the peculiar shade of make-up worn by our so-called President. That orange is icky and weird. Like him.]

• • •

For snorts and giggles I researched the color orange.  Here are five fun facts to know and tell.

According to Smithsonian Magazine when it comes to crayons, “Crayola has at least 16 different names for what most of us would call ‘orange.'” [Link HERE]

According to Canva’s description of the meaning of the color orange, “it communicates activity and energy and encourages socialization.” [Link HERE]

According to Interactive’s description of people with an orange aura, they are: “Overall, thrill-seekers, daredevils, and people who tend to life in the fast lane.” [Link HERE]

According to Jewelry Shopping Guide’s description of orange gemstones, they symbolize: “joy, sunshine, warmth, creativity, happiness and a touch of the exotic.” [Link HERE]

According to Brides.com’s guide to wedding flowers, there are 19 orange or coral flowers you can use in your wedding palette. [Link HERE]

From this random research I’ve concluded that the butterfly in the photo is the color of the crayon named ‘Mango Tango’;  he is social, an active and energetic thrill seeker who likes sunshine, creatively making himself happy, while visiting a flower not suggested for an orange wedding bouquet.

• • •

While investigating the color orange I got thinking about favorite colors.  Everyone has one– or at least I assume they do.  I made this poll question hoping to find out which color is the most loved one among my gentle readers.

Answer the poll question, then chat about orange, or any color, in the comments below.  I’d love to know your favorite color– and why, of course.

Three Thoughts Thursday | Photographing. Traveling. Watching.

This is when I tell you stuff and don’t make a story of it.  

• • •

ONE

I think that this website, miss freddy, could be a useful resource for anyone interested in family photography.

Miss Freddy is a Professional Photo Organizer who explains how to take photos, how to save photos, then how to do just about anything you might want to do with your photos + slides + old videos.

I have boxes of old, old print photos around here and thousands of digital ones on a few computers, but I’ve never sat down and concentrated on getting ALL our photos organized.  This website may be the key to me getting it done.

TWO

I think that the idea of going on vacation with the intention of traveling to small American towns is a fun one.

According to this article, America’s Coolest Small Towns by State, big cities get all the attention, while unique small towns go unnoticed.  These small towns are worthy of a visit if for no other reason than “the added appeal of home-spun charm and hometown heroes.”  

I read the list and have visited 12 of the 50 featured small towns.  I’ve been to: AZ, FL, HA, IN, ME, NM, NY, NC, OH, SC, TN, AND VT.  This means I have 38 to go, should we get the opportunity to travel again.

THREE

I think that the Netflix produces some good and some not-so-good TV series.

In the good category I’d put Dead to Me, with Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini, and James Marsden.  I watched Season 2 and enjoyed it as much as Season 1, which was stellar.  This show is one to watch if you like mysteries, dysfunctional families, and contemplating what it means to be a friend.

On the flip side, I watched 3 episodes of Sweet Magnolias, a TV series based on novels by Sherryl Woods.  Set in SC, this show was probably meant to be an engaging look at family dynamics and female friendship, but it was predictable and maudlin.  Much too slow-paced, shallow, and sappy for me.

• • •

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Do you have your photographs under control? In other words, can you find them when you want ’em? 

What do you think about traveling to small towns to experience their unique charm instead of going to big cities for a vacation?

Have you watched the TV shows I mention above? If so, did you like what you saw? If not, what are you watching instead?

• • •

Which Three Personality Traits Are Helping You Deal With Today?

Photo by Johnson Wang [@jdubs] via Unsplash

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YEARS AGO I TOOK AN ADULT EDUCATION night class about managing your stress. The 4-part class was offered by a regional hospital and was taught by a woman with a background in massage therapy who was at that time working on a graduate degree in religious studies.

She was wise & funny. Delightful in her pragmatic approach to life.

To be clear this was not a class aimed at finding the causes of your stress or analyzing why you had this stress. It was a class based on the assumption that the sources of your stress were your own business, specific to your own life.

The class was about creating a “tool box” of positive coping behaviors;  that is, by learning to breath in the moment or detach from your ego or chant a soothing mantra or acknowledge your own worth, you could deal with your stress in a healthy way.

The premise being, quite simply, that if you know how to calm down in any situation, then you’ll do better at whatever it is you’re doing.

Is this not true?

~ 💚 ~

ONE OF THE TOOLS I REMEMBER FROM this class was the question I posed in the title of this post. We were encouraged to think about who we were based on our own particular personality traits. [List of 600 personality traits here.]

This was trickier to do than you might think it’d be.

To wit, we were NOT describing ourselves in the sense of our relationships so saying I’m a wife, a niece, a sister-in-law was wrong.  And we were NOT describing ourselves in the sense of our job titles/hobbies so saying I’m a manager, a writer, a walker was wrong.

While those descriptions of myself were accurate they weren’t the point of this mental health exercise.  They were considered a distraction from understanding yourself better, a way to gloss over who you really were.

NOPE, we had to state who we were based on our own self-awareness.  We had to acknowledge our individual personality traits whether they be considered a strength or a weakness, then accept the trait.

To thine own self be true, you know?

~ 💚 ~

I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT THIS CLASS IN a long time, but over the weekend I realized I was reminding myself each day to focus on three personality traits, allowing myself to feel empowered as a result of it.

I realized why I was asking myself this question and thought that maybe someone else might benefit from using this simple approach to stress management.

So in conclusion here is my answer to the question.  For me, most of the time my personality traits that are helping me deal with my days during the pandemic are: 1) I’m organized, 2) I’m creative, and 3) I’m perceptive.

• • •

What about you, kids? Care to share which three personality traits are helping you stay above the fray, cool in every way? Or if not cool, at least sane for most of the day?

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