I loved blogging until I decided to do it everyday. Today is day 6 of my 37 day promise to myself to post a blog everyday. I thought it would be fun to make the commitment and since I love writing, I didn’t think it would feel like a chore. There is so much that needs to be said in the world – news, advice, puns and jokes! Sometimes it is just exhausting when you know you are writing for an audience. I could journal all day, no problem, but crafting a message can be a challenge.
You are currently browsing the archive for the Writing category.
I have a confession: I LOVE FLUFF. (Who doesn’t love puppies? Right?!)
Puppies are awesome, but I’m definitely not into so-called “fluff” without substance. Fluff with passion – I’ve found there’s a difference. It’s all about the integrity you put into writing a piece no matter how “unimportant” the topic may be. Connecting people who may have been broken or uninformed before. Journalists often see other journalists as phonies if they write “fluff” pieces – the kind of articles that focus on human emotion, joy, or seemingly “insignificant” and “non-newsworthy” content. I don’t feel like a phonie. I love writing about people and what they love. Their passions. I instantly get hooked and attached to almost everyone I interview because I can appreciate what they have to say. Maybe that makes me soft? I don’t know, but it works for me.
It’s especially heartwarming when I interview people who have never been interviewed before. They really soak up the attention and having someone genuinely listen to them is refreshing. I really could care less about reporting on a political scandal, a business transaction or a shark attack (OK, I lied, shark attacks are pretty exciting to write about.).
I recently wrote a piece about a reading service for the blind community that was published about a week ago in the local Tri-City Weekly. The paper used to be a throw-away for the most part with classified ads, but now it has some nice human interest and entertainment content. I had the opportunity to connect with activists in the blind community and it was very inspiring. I even hand-delivered copies of the paper to one of my sources and she was thrilled. It’s an amazing experience I get the opportunity to recapture every time I write a new story So don’t rag on us feature reporters, we’re keeping people’s hearts full when they need it most.
Finding a community connection
Reading Service of the Redwoods provides access to news for the blind
By Ashley Bailey (for the Tri-City Weekly)
Jan Farrar’s mother, brother, grandfather and great-grandmother faced a life of not being able to see. They were blind. When Farrar started to lose her night vision as a teenager, she wasn’t ready to face it. A hereditary disease called retinitis pigmentosa took her family’s vision and later, her own.
”Some people have gone blind gradually and I’ve been lucky,” she said. “You don’t die from blindness.”
Farrar and her family never talked about being blind. Now, she said she finds value in talking about it and does so often.
Not only does she serve as vice president of the Humboldt Council of the Blind and leader of an Arcata-based low-vision weekly support group, the 64-year-old Arcata woman also serves as a board member at Reading Service of the Redwoods, a non-profit that provides access to printed information for those who are blind or vision impaired.
The Reading Service launched locally in 1998, in response to a need for those with low vision to have access to printed content.
Sikkens got permission to read local articles and the cassette was passed around the blind community to enjoy. It became the inspiration for a weekday broadcast out of a studio in Arcata, that can now be heard from Trinidad to Redway.
Sikkens found it was a needed service, as many locals with low vision missed reading their local newspapers and didn’t have access to them.
”It’s hard to find a spouse or family member patient enough to read the paper the way you want to hear it. Sometimes we like to scan it and skip things,” Sikkens said. “It can be a trying thing to do.”
Later, Sikkens found out about reading service broadcasts around the country.
Partnering with KEET and later, a sub-carrier through KHSU, Sikkens was able to develop a small broadcast system that can be received by special radios.
They’re about $25 apiece, pre-tuned to the Reading Service frequency and are loaned out to those in the low-vision community.
Sikkens said they concentrate on local news, but it also carries national content since the station is on 24 hours a day.
On weekdays, volunteers read local publications such as the Times-Standard, The North Coast Journal, The Humboldt Beacon, the Redwood Times and the Ferndale Enterprise.
Sikkens said they have considered having weekend readers, but it’s logistically harder to get volunteers to come in. They read news stories, obituaries, horoscopes and hope to one day read the comics, too.
”People really need that access to printed detailed information to know what’s going on and make decisions,” Sikkens said. “It’s not always the most entertaining stuff, but at least they have access to the information as it was in print. It’s important for that community connection.”
Mary “Lindy” Timmerman of Eureka is an active listener to Reading Service.
”For me, it opened the door to the other world — having someone read the newspaper, read the horoscopes. I sit and have my cup of coffee. They read recipes, sports, the TV section,” she said. “It makes you feel more independent.”
Timmerman, 60, lost her sight 30 years ago after her optic nerve was damaged due to long-term health issues. A lifelong Eureka resident, Timmerman said was active in the community and a single mother, raising her 12-year-old son. When she lost her sight, there were few services available to the blind in Humboldt County.
”For me, it was literally all of a sudden — the world was dark. The simplest things you take for granted, like reading the paper,” she said. “I used to always be into gardening and that was lost.”
Now, Timmerman has access to a fuller life, she said, hearing information like gardening tips from Reading Service via a gardening magazine they read aloud. She gets down on her hands and knees occasionally to play in the garden.
”You learn how to feel the flowers,” she said.
Timmerman said when she’s not listening to the Reading Service, she makes time to play her guitar, type on the computer and even text her teenage granddaughters.
Currently, there are about 25 active volunteer readers at Reading Service and 10 readers are scheduled to come in each week. Sikkens said the Reading Service frequently accepts new readers on board since schedules change.
”Most people know if they read well aloud. It’s for people that can read in a pleasant way and their pronunciation skills are excellent,” Sikkens said. “They have to be able to think on their feet, read well and be flexible.”
The Reading Service may have come from humble beginnings, but has grown to a small 15-foot by 19-foot office studio at the Cooper Building on Samoa Boulevard in Arcata.
There is a bright skylight in the studio, where most broadcast studios don’t even have windows. There are common word pronunciations on the wall to aid the volunteer readers.
Jean Guthrie has been a volunteer reader with the Reading Service for two years.
Pen in hand and glasses perched, she cuts pages out of the newspaper, preparing for her Friday morning reading shift.
She used highlighters of different colors to box articles that were to be read on-air.
There are always two readers scheduled to read for an hour every weekday morning.
”It’s a long stint for one person to read through,” Guthrie said. “It can get really monotonous if you’re listening to the same voice all the time.”
There are no call-ins, music or commercials interspersed into the program — just the news, she said.
”We try not to make a lot of crinkling with the newspaper on the mics, but we will have to on this one,” she said, highlighting an article that jumped to a back page.
She checks out the datelines to see locality. A rule is to not editorialize. “You try not to add words, or take them out,” she said.
In the studio office where Guthrie was reading on-air, a plaque hung on the wall in Sikkens’ honor — a reminder of the steps she took to make the service happen.
The California Council of the Blind, based in Sacramento, honored Sikkens with a merit award, in May 2000. The award came from starting and single-handedly developing a reading service for the blind. She was recognized for advocating and fundraising, as well as donating substantial amounts of her own resources to the organization.
Jeff Thom, president of the California Council of the Blind, said that the support groups in Humboldt County are smaller than in other cities, but very active in comparison.
The Sacramento chapter is bigger, he said, but focuses more on legislation.
He said it can be difficult to attract people in large numbers to seek out low-vision support and finds a lot of advocacy has to be done one on one.
”There’s a long way to go, there’s inconsistency with services all over the state and it has a tremendous impact, Thom said.
Sikkens is doing her part to help advocate one day at a time.
She taught at Pine Hill Elementary School for 13 years before shifting her focus to the Reading Service in 1999. She also serves as choir director at First Covenant Church in Eureka.
Running the daily operations of the Reading Service doesn’t leave her much time to read on-air anymore, she said.
”I started it because I enjoyed the reading,” Sikkens said. “Now, I do the books and I take out the trash, I recycle the papers, make phone calls and try to do some fundraising.”
Sikkens didn’t seem to mind too much, as the service is helping people like Farrar and Timmerman connect with their community and help find those that need support.
”When you’re blind and you meet another blind person, there’s a certain camaraderie that no one else shares,” Timmerman said. “It’s important to keep ahold of that support group.”
“As life goes on, it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day. This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you, but a great relief to the person concerned.” -Agatha Christie
I’m making a conscious decision to let the little things make my day – kind of like the gleeful feeling you get after poaching a yellow flower off the side of the road.
It can be really easy to feel like it’s hard to breathe. Disappointment, unrealistic expectations, insecurity, fear. We all feel it at one point, but sometimes it seems to compact all at once and suddenly you wake up and your routine doesn’t cut it anymore. What to do?
Well, I started reading this powerful and amazing book, “Life is a Verb,” By Patti Digh. It was gifted to me when I graduated from Humboldt State University in May. I glanced at it here and there, but I knew when I needed some inspiration, enlightenment and cheer, it would be there for me. Recently, I felt like I needed a little life boost. This book has been all that – and more. It’s about starting each day as if it is Day 1 of the rest of your life, and Digh instructs you to live as if you only had 37 days left to live and live INTENTIONALLY.
2. Be generous
3. Speak up
4. Love more
5. Trust yourself
6. Slow down
These rules seem so simple and yet we consistently don’t follow them. We can get so caught up in little miniscule ideas of our lives. In her book, Digh writes that you should give yourself a challenge to be consistent in your life. Pick one thing to do every day for 37 days. Maybe it’s walking for ten minutes or creating a piece of art every day. My plan? I’m going to write a blog post every day for 37 days. I really like blogging, sharing my thoughts with my friends, family and whoever decides to check me out. During the summer, I found more time for it. Now, I want to intentionally make it part of my day – even if it is just a sentence or two. Maybe a funny picture. Or maybe the chapter to my future novel.
Musty smell. Keys that stick. Heavy as hell. I love it. I bought my new (old?) typewriter at a thrift store a couple weeks ago for 20 bucks. Briana looked it up on the internets. Turns out it’s the same traveling model used in the ’40s by folks in the Army. It’s in great condition – just needed a little elbow grease.
It’s awesome in all it’s glory, but you probably won’t see me lugging it around town anytime soon. I can only imagine the dirty looks I would get in a coffee shop pounding away on the keyboard. It’s so loud, but it makes writing more passionate and aggressive. I’ve already been getting back into writing some poetry.
I’m hoping to find someone locally that has a love for the old things. I want to take care of it. I wonder who owned it before me? Did they write an epic novel? The loveliest of love letters? Or did it just sit in it’s box, a status symbol? I have it displayed prominently in my home for visitors to play with or for my own moments of inspiration.