Last night, I watched Captain America: Winter Soldier again. It’s filled with one liners — and every single one can apply to you and me.

Watch this short clip…

“Was he wearing a parachute?” “No. No, he wasn’t.”Jumping into a dream, a goal, a decision takes all-out commitment. No parachutes. We wear confidence — confidence in who we are, where we’re going, and who we’re committed to be.

“To build a better world sometimes means turning the old one down.”
Moving forward, we can’t take the former with us. It takes throwing off old ways, embracing new ways. Again, commitment.

“This isn’t freedom. This is fear.”
Robert Redford’s character – Samuel Jackson’s character – the Cap — all follow their hearts. (Perspective is everything). What we believe drives what we do. So we’d better embrace what’s true and healthy. Because perspective gives us direction…and, again, commitment.

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”
When we make a decision, then follow it, the no-going-back commitment is what gets us to where we need to be. Once started, we don’t turn back.

“Your work has been a gift to mankind.”
Each of us has a gift with which to grace mankind. When committed to do that work, we follow our passion, find satisfying purpose, and create a place where joy can thrive.

As with so much of life, the problem isn’t knowing what to do. It’s in doing it.
* Thup

*coffeeNov15-14

Entrepreneur, you are a rare and significant breed. Few intimately know you,  and even fewer know what to do with you.

Your mind is on fire. All the time.

Ideas don’t simply follow you. They stalk, grasp, and struggle for your seconds, minutes, and hours.

Perceptions, concepts, connections, and intentions all tirelessly pursue — at times like baying hounds with frothing lips — and at times like children bounding with questions at your feet. Ideas and linear paths to answers dance and run away, pulling you along on a rope where you can’t let go. And as you’re pulled along, more ideas flicker, like running through a field in a dark night sky filled with fireflies in fascinating patterns that only you can see.

It’s exhilarating and sometimes tiring. But mostly it’s simply a fiery, frothing, bounding, dancing, breathtaking reality.

And in that reality, you are uncommon, unique. You know roomfuls of people. But who really knows you? You are the idea man, the idea woman, who gives to others. But who gives to you?

In the late hours when it’s black outside and a single light blushes in your dark room… when you look across the space and exist somewhere else, in the far away and intimate thought corners of your mind… what is it like?

Entrepreneur, you have critical needs. For understanding. For connection on a deeper level. For pulling back, taking a moment, and letting the orangish-red entrepreneurial fervor turn into a cool bluish-green moment of breath, appreciation, and quiescent satisfaction.

If I may be so bold…

Take care of yourself.
Take that time, today.
Life moves much too fast.
(Though your ideas are often your life breath, you a worth more than your ideas.)

* Thup

coffeeNov1-14

Exposition kills story.
In your book. And in life.
(Read to the end. It’s not too long, and
this is important…)

There are three kinds of yada-yada words with high potential to turn people off to your story — and your life:

1. Backstory. Backstory fills in the cracks of the past — it’s the words that move backward in the story.

With backstory, we describe what already happened. It’s not about the future; it’s not about the present; it’s about the former.

Characters mull over what happened, rehashing events and recounting feelings. It doesn’t have to be in excess, but often backstory floods into excess — because the character is me-focused. The author is, too — writing from a personal agenda, trying to get more info out in the text than is needed. Most often, backstory serves the writer, not the reader.

Readers want to move forward.

2. Small talk. Small talk is dialogue (inner and outer) that doesn’t go anywhere — words lacking purpose.

Small talk dialogue runs on with weak, unimportant yada-yada. The character isn’t focused, direct, and active. The writer drinking the pablum of small talk isn’t necessarily me-focused; he or she simply isn’t aware, or is inattentive, unknowing, passive, and even careless with the words (ouch).

Writers who have too much small talk in the story need two things: either they need to learn more about how to write with power (learn! grow! get what you need!) — or the writer needs have the self discipline to cut text (practice… a focus on economy). Writing small talk serves the writer, not the reader.

Readers want crisp, forward-moving text.

3. Lack of plot. Lack of plot is the absence of dynamic movement…the deficit of conflict clarity and conflict resolution — in an action plan.

With lack of plot, the reader is served words upon words upon words — all without action. Characters sit with a drink, rather than get up and move.

Writers lacking plot haven’t spent the time developing a story plan — so because the plot doesn’t exist, the writer can’t carry it out. Then there’s the issue of actually doing the plan. Once the plot is crafted, there’s only so much time permissible in the War Room. We have to step onto the battlefield. Action is critical.

Readers want a pressed-forward plot, intensifying with swift, sure movement.

Okay. Here’s the deal.

If you don’t cut backstory, eradicate the small talk, and dig into a forward-moving plot, your story dies. Readers leave.

It’s that serious.

Now. In real life. This applies.
And it’s that serious, too.

There comes a time when words fail.
Talking only goes so far.
Action is critical.

The three Story Killers are also Relationship Killers.

* Focusing on the past kills forward movement in a relationship. Going backward only goes so far. There comes a point — sooner than later — where we have to get out of me-focused recounting and craft forward-moving life story.

* Excessive small talk saps the power of forward movement in a relationship. Small talk can be (no, often is) avoidance. Small talk lacks power, dynamism, and passion for life. There comes a point where we have to get out of yada-yada conversation and dig into life with passion.

* Lack of a planned plot with specific action points — a dynamic plan for life that’s lived out — ruins a relationship. I know I’m being strong here. But it’s the ignored, the neglected, and the head-in-the-sand day-by-day plodding that takes people to the proverbial end of life, death-bed moment that says, Why didn’t I do more? Lack of a plan — and of action — is the father of regret.

So if we want our story to be a good one (whether on the page or in life), it’s time to take action.

Get out of the past. (Focus on crafting a beautiful present.)
Kill the small talk. (Use powerful words.)
Make a plan. (Take action.)

* Thup

coffeeNov3-14

Stories are messy.
(on purpose. designed that way by the author.)

Life is messy.
(not on purpose. it happens TO us. ugh.)

We can make something good of the mess*
*in the story
*in life

(I “traveled” to the UK for this series. Come join me for a sec.)
Read part 3 of my guest blog with James Prescott right here.

* Thup

coffeeOct25-14

Hey, there.

Part 2 of my series of guest posts for James Prescott in the UK is up and running.  There’s been a lot of buzz about it, so I thought you might like to go here and check it out:

“Ten Life Messes with Potential to Improve your Life.”

(Let me know what you think.)

Raising my mug to you –
* Thup

coffeeOct26-14

Hey, friends. Check out my guest blog for James Prescott in the UK…

http://www.jamesprescott.co.uk/blog/10-life-messes-part-1/

See you there.
* Thup
coffeeSept17-14

Retreat. The word brings up mental images and feelings.

You know, all words bring up mental images and feelings. Because words carry history. Whatever happened to us in the past influences how we interpret words in the present. (Our personal experiences surround words, giving them meaning.)

(Words are not benign.)

Negative connotations can hang on the word, retreat:
To retreat is to give in, move back, and raise the white flag.
Attacked, we fall back in a clashing rush, the sound of steel on steel still ringing in the air, wounds raw.

Positive connotations can also bob and buoy around the word, retreat:
To retreat is to regroup, protect, build up, enhance, and nourish.
Proactively moving in a good direction, we pull back and purposefully enhance our life.

In your craft [[and life]], a retreat can be exactly what you need. 

A day away.
Time in quiet thought. Designed. Focused.

Two thoughts:
1. Regular retreats (verbs) happen as a normal response to the intricacies of life. They’re involuntary, in response to bad stuff….retreats to stop the attack and care for the bloody [emotional] [personal] [relational] [business] [organizational] [pick one] wound.
2. Purposeful retreats (nouns) happen as a choice. Voluntary. Planned. Retreats as places, to proactively get direction, stay focused, and move forward.

Both are a part of living. Simply because of who we are (and what we want to do), the second kind might be good to put in the calendar today.

* Thup
coffeeOct19-14

Montages are an important part of screenwriting. A montage a series of visual clips of story, put together back-to-back, with no words. The purpose of using a montage is to shorten time. With a montage, you see little blips of events and, as a viewer, your mind automatically fills in the story around the clips. (You don’t have to show everything on camera. That would be  completely boring. Yeah. Completely.)

Creating a good montage is a Goldilocks and the Three-Bears kind of thing. It can’t be too much, it can’t be too little. For the viewer to fully understand what’s happening in the truncated time, it has to be just right.

Getting just the right amount of writing can be hard to do in novels. And in picture books. And in poems. And, well, everything we write. Sometimes we don’t have enough words, so we need to add. Sometimes we put in too many words, so we need to take out. (We all have a tendency. What’s yours?)

So how do you write just-right? Some people say perfection in writing is about rhythm: You have to have the right number of beats in the writing. Some people say perfect writing comes from tonality: You have to have the right consonance and assonance — making melody along with the words’ meanings. Some people say it’s all about description: the just-right amount of rich, sensory words to “get the picture.” Some say that writing perfection is about sentence length: Know that a short sentence is powerful…that like-length sentences lull…and that increasing (or decreasing) the length of sentences in a paragraph does something to the reader. And still others say that perfect writing comes from syntax (the order of the words): You have to know which words to begin with — or to leave the reader with. (The last words become bridges to the next idea.)

Truth: In order to be a good writer, you have to be just right with all these things. A.L.L. Excuse me right now while I sigh. (Can you hear me?)

Writing is hard work. Learning craft. Reading. Listening. And gobs of practice. TONS. Ooodles. Way much.

Honing the craft takes perseverence. We have to keep on. Do more, learn more, write more. Get more. Become more. Share more.

It’s like a game. A good game.
Keep playing.

* Thup
acupofcoffee1-ebcwordpress

coffee 2 Oct 4-14
Whether we’re ready or not
(or like it or not),
life is full to the brim.
Full of good. Of Bad. And of in-between.
(You and I both know it.)

Today, it’s raining outside, reminding me that
it rains on the just and the unjust alike.

(Life. Happens.)

So. Yeah. I just have to ask (you and me both):
What’s our response to today?

Will we stand back with distrust, disgust, and grumbling
or throw our arms wide, embracing the drops,
making meaning from the situation
(in a choice that’s good)
?

In your art…
In your business…
In your relationships…
In your plans for the future…

Some days black coffee is best.
(Strong black coffee that gets us to plow through, firm, resolute.)

But on other days, I say go for the foam.
Give yourself something special.
Cut yourself slack.
Purposefully list, list, list the good
and mull, remember, remind, and embrace the vision.

Then recast.
Take it head-on.
Dig deep, dig in.
Make it count.

* Thup
coffee Oct4-14

Today is National Coffee Day. Woot!
(Yes, there is such a thing.)

So, yes, we must celebrate.

  • I celebrate the rich aroma, the dark chocolate aftertaste, and the deep woody echo on the tongue.
  • I celebrate with raised mugs and Thupped cups to the now — to friends across the table and friends across the world.
  • I celebrate in reminiscing, with warmth through wrapped fingers and lips pressed to the side of ceramic, sips long, swirled across the tongue and fully tasted.

Wait.
We’re talking about enjoying a little taste, a little tang, a little tip of the flavor…a single leaf of the tree with roots through all of life.

Celebrating is ultimately about being present to a joy that is around us all the time.

It’s about mindfulness of a sweet experience available now. And in the next now. And in the next one.

What if…?
What if the presence, the mindfulness, the appreciation, extended to every day?

Hmm.

We don’t need a day to celebrate life’s tastes, aromas, and feelings.
(And we don’t need a day to let life’s exquisiteness inform our art, our work, and our life.)

Writer.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to write. Deepen your description.
(Word flavors abound.)

Artist and photographer.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to paint, draw, sculpt. Deepen your detail.

Creator of Film.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to form the story world. Deepen your delight in using the skills of the medium.

Entrepreneur.
Be aware Be present. Be mindful.
Experience fully. Use it to inspire and expand your work. Deepen your development and denouement.

Leader.
Be aware. Be present. Be mindful.
Express fully. Use it to grow your passion and serve your people. Deepen your direction and devotion.

Every day, we have a reason to celebrate.
Every moment we have something intricately beautiful to discover
and share.

* Thup

photo

 

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