Writing that moves readers to action



While shoveling my front walk this weekend, the two huggable-sized trees on my front lawn beckoned me to wander closer.  As I did, I noticed that they appeared to be disrobing – shedding bark from their trunks all the way up through and into their branches.  As someone who gets chilled easily, I wondered why anyone (or anything, for that matter) would disrobe while outside in the elements during winter weather extremes.  After all, even in nature, coats play a significant role when temperatures plummet and winds whip up.

For close to 15 years, these trees have adorned and held a prominent place on my front lawn.  I have cared for – nourished, protected, pruned…even hugged – them as I would a pet or child.  And, although they’ve always tended to respond in a bit of an unconventional or temperamental way – blooming and switching leaf color and shedding leaves long after others have done so – they’ve never attempted to abandon their protective coats in this way.  As I reflected on the great Horticultural Resources at the University extension office just north of us, I nestled into feeling a bit more comfortable knowing an arborist who knew local tree behavior was not far away…and might be able to offer an explanation to help put my heart (and tears) to rest.

This, of course, did not stop me from thinking about and reflecting on the important – and critical – role trees have always played in my life.  Besides offering a window into nature, they appear to unknowingly provide a perspective that often helps me sort out certain aspects of life.

For example:

  • On the surface, trees appear disengaged and unaffected. Birds seek their shelter as birthing centers; squirrels use them as playgrounds – scampering up, down and around their trunks and branches; rain saturates their tentacles, snow embraces them with a soft, but frigid blanket; winds jostle them around.  Yet, despite (and through) all of this, they continue (mostly) to stand erect and offer support.
  • Trees appear to form few attachments. Birds come and go, snow and ice dump and disappear (or become absorbed).  Yet, without holding on or seeking a state of permanency or reward, they constantly offer a sturdy, stable environment for nature’s elements and those in need…and they perform this role with grace and a demeanor of pride.
  • They continually reach for the sky and ask little of us. Regardless of the weather – blue sky, rain, wind…even snow – they silently seek out what they need to keep moving forward with their lives.  Despite looming perils, they reach out – for the sky, for the warmth, for the sprinkling – to achieve their goal – to keep growing so they can continue to offer their support in what can often seem like a perilous world.

TREE POEMWhile trees play such a critical role in our lives – shade, fruit, shelter, perspective – they often go unnoticed and unappreciated.  It’s only when one makes time to walk, wander, and awaken oneself to observe all that surrounds them that they truly live.

As we bathe ourselves in Holiday Season pleasures, may we each be blessed with perspective and the awareness of the many magical elements that surround us – be they in nature or within ourselves or each other.

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Credits:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/571605377675620176/

Get off that table…and SHAKE IT UP/OFF

As I attempted to gather and coordinate my limbs to extricate my jello-like body from the massage table, a phrase filled my head and would not release itself.  “Shake It Up” nestled in and coaxed me to invest time to wonder where that phrase had come from…and why it chose to settle in at that particular moment?  I was also curious what might have incited it to establish residence in my thoughts?  I wondered if it might be trying to pass something along – maybe some wisdom or knowledge that might enlighten me or others?

Perplexed by this quandary, a phase by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) shared in David Brook’s new book “The Road to Character” slithered into my thoughts:

“It is always a writer’s duty to make the world better.”

and, as also shared in that same book…

“Johnson, then, conceives of writing as something very like a Christian sacrament, defined in the Anglican catechism as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given to us.”  (from Literary Critic Paul Fussell – “Johnson and the Life of Writing” p. 185)

Wow…now I clearly feel obliged to sort this out – why has this phrase become a brain-filler for me?  In order to tackle these new-found obligatory feelings, I took time this past week to ruminate on the phrase “Shake It Up.” I continually replayed the phrase in my head as I journeyed through my day.  I encouraged and sensitized myself to focus – become aware of and listen to any messages that might reveal themselves and, therefore, be nudged to unfold.  I repeatedly asked why it might be surfacing NOW…and what it might be trying to tell me?  I wondered if these words or this phrase might have a purpose or if they were just part of a random thought (I rarely have those)?  If by chance it was a random thought, I wondered why those words might come through together – in that exact order or phrase?  My search to find meaning lead me down many random paths…

Could this phrase just be a reminder of those amazing times – a time when I styled my hair in cornrows and donned outfits – including those stylin’ lace-up boots – that announced the wild and crazy side of me?  Or maybe it was just one of my favorite songs re-surfacing to remind me of what a blessing massage was…as it allowed me to again “worked it on out” and rekindle those “Twist and Shout” movements I treasured?

Hmmmm…probably NOT!!

Undefeated, I continued to explore…trying to find meaning.  Over the past several weeks, I’d noticed that I’d become acutely aware of the many changes affecting almost every element and aspect of society – and life – which really seem to be “Shaking it Up.”  For example:

  • For the FIRST TIME EVER, a ticker tape parade (205 since 1886) was held in NYC to honor a women’s team – the USA Women’s Soccer Team. Tickets (2,000 seats) for a ceremony at NYC Hall were offered. Within just under two hours, 12,000 requests were received.
  • The Confederate flag, adopted during the 1860’s, has sat atop the SC State House since 1962. Despite its controversial history, one has to wonder why is it getting so much attention and why removal is being acted upon NOV – in July 2015 – after so many years of “same-old-same-old” have passed?
  • Is it the first time in history a Pope has ventured into Burger King? Could there be hidden superman-phone-booth1meaning in this visit (i.e. a promotional spin to promote Burger King….”If it’s good for the Pope, it must be good for you?”)…or is the Pope simply trying out for the long unfilled role of a true Superman??
  • It now appears that an age-old personal pleasure (and in some cases a necessity) has become a cost drain for certain businesses. With the new chewing gum ban on airplanes, one wonders whether additional screening will be conducted at security checks to ensure that contraband chewing gum does not make it on to the airplane.

NOW…I might be on to something!?@%^

Have all of these events….and so many more…become the new norm?  Does this new norm encourage us to challenge, question or undermine EVERYTHING – even institutions we’ve grown accustomed to or taken for granted?  Will we continue to see this type of onslaught of “firsts”?  Are all of these “first” a good thing…or might they result in some not-so-good outcomes?  As I ponder and reflect on these “firsts,” that star-studded Taylor Swift enters my horizon…and I begin to think she might be on to something…which might help me gain balance between my existing or old world (“Shake It Up”) and the new world view that appears to be encroaching in upon me…“Shake It Off” .  As one posting fan shares:

“Can Taylor be the first female artist to get 2 videos with 1 billion Views!! I think so let’s go Taylor!!”

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Credits:  www.offthemark.com, blogofthecourtier.com, http://www.wanelo.com

WHO ARE YOU and how’d you get here, ANYWAY…???

As I pondered and began to write the content for this particular blog, something seemed out-of-whack – maybe even a bit backwards.  Feeling a somewhat disoriented, I asked myself “Shouldn’t I have posed these questions first before pondering and processing the questions that lead to my last blog – “FITTING IN…”?  Hmmm…?!@^

Well, as my mysterious (read:  twisted) fortune would have it, a relevant article that ignited my juices happened to appear after I wrote that earlier blog (isn’t that always the way it happens – what you really need to help you create or make decisions comes after it’s needed).  So, if it’s okay with you, I’ll just shift gears – from forward into reverse – for a while and attempt to continue down this exploratory path.  Hope that works for you – is not too confusing – and that you chose to continue to tag along?!

yep…me at 7 years old

Over the years, I’ve never stopped long enough to ponder or consider whether I would classify myself as a “geek” or not…however, after reading “The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone,”I was nudged to suggest to myself to re-position my viewpoint and impose upon it a bit more reflection and thought.  I’ve shared my thought process below…as it might offer or shed some helpful insights…in case you’re in a similar state of mind.

Growing up in a large, extended family (Mom and Dad’s combined sibling count was 22 which, of course, was compounded  by at least 2-5 more each to account for mates and kids), we were continually surrounded by people and events (drop-ins “on-the-way-to” somewhere, picnics, volleyball tournies, weddings, funerals, etc.).


yikes…me at 16 years old

Hedged into this type of “community,” therefore, created a natural feeling (or was it “assumed” to be natural?) about being pigeonholed into an extrovert classification  – you know someone with a gregarious, outgoing personality  – a marketing/sales-ish type who thrives on being surrounded and energized by people.

Given those non-grounded, unstable “assumptive” feelings and thoughts about myself and my interactions (hmmm, right…remember those slogans encouraging us to be wary of “assumptions”), the gravitational pull, force or natural inkling dragged me towards and propelled me into a career in Marketing and Sales.

WHERE MIGHT I HAVE FOCUSED (or what thoughts might have better served me and my needs)?
Within Susan Cain’s article, her book, and her repeated references to Stephen Wozniak memoir – iWoz, I found myself settling in and aligning with certain words, phrases and descriptions.  A few of those included:

  • Appeared “serious and bespectacled”
  • Possessed “an endearing mixture of stiffness and good cheer”
  • “Listens quietly”
  • Lived in one’s head “like artists”
  • Viewed solitude as “an important key to creativity”
  • Preferred to “work independently”
  • “Obsessed with reading, writing, researching, and sewing (you can fill in the blank) since the age of three”
  • Preferred control over “design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.”
  • Constantly attempting to “create privacy and autonomy”
  • In work settings “always by himself” – Considered “quiet midnights and solitary sunrises = ‘the biggest high ever’”
  • If with others, preferred to be “surrounded by kindred spirits or like-minded souls”

Now, after many twists and turns, I realize…had I paid a bit more attention to certain attributes or aspects of ME and my personality – and stuck with or accepted (maybe even emphasized) my “geekiness,” I might have been able to journey along a different life’s path – one that might have been a bit smoother…with a few less bumps…and enriched by a my unique “realness”).  As I position Ms. Cain’s words, phrases, and descriptions shared above alongside my photos (and recall memories from those times), I definitely see (and recall) a bit of “geekiness” in me.  In many early career work settings, I felt “stifled”, suppressed, and often deprived of my natural ability to truly exercise and deploy my skills.  Just as with all things in nature, balance offers the key…especially when it comes to being social and allocating solitude.  Balance provides the remedy or elixir to ensure the whole, functional individual surfaces – rather than being encouraged to relegate oneself to a “geek” or “non-geek” designation.

As I now pause to reflect on my current work, setting, and lifestyle, I innately know what “natural” feels like.

As Ms. Cain so aptly articulates…an ideal setting would be one in which “people are free to circulate in a shifting kaleidoscope of interactions…” one where flexibility exists to disappear into “private workspaces when they want to focus or simply be alone.”

So, I ask you…do you know who you are – deep down – or are you being prodded to “fit in”?  Do you know how you “do your best work”?  Are you willing and able to express who you are and what works best for you…in work…and in all other aspects of life?

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits:   Yep, that’s me at 7 YO and, me again at 16 YO

WHO OWNS THE RULES…bare feet, armpits and ties?

Several weeks ago, after my last class, I walked to the bus stop as I customarily do a couple of times a week.  With the bus waiting post and the surrounding space in sight, something unusual caught my attention.  My vision caught what appeared to be another human being patiently awaiting the next bus.  This seemed a bit unusual…as most days I’m the only one waiting at that particular stop.  As I approached, my eyes focused in on an extremely relaxed looking individual – ash blonde hair tightly pulled back beyond the face and wrapped into a neat frizzy bouncing ball – who stood beneath the bus post sign.  Although still technically winter at the time, it appeared temperatures had sufficiently risen to offer a warm enough climate for this individual to don khaki shorts and a non-adorned sweatshirt/hoodie.  As I glanced down, I noticed the feet were bare – shoeless.  The image in front of me appeared a bit angelic – familiar in a way.  Suddenly, I remembered those mystical portraits representing Jesus that had caught my eye in the past.  We waited side-by-side.  As the bus approached, a look that could melt butter came over this individual’s face as he deeply gestured for me to board ahead of him.  Once seated mid-bus, my ears picked-up on a conversation that had ensued between the driver and this cherubic passenger.

DRIVER:  “You CAN’T board the bus without shoes.”
PASSENGER:  “I don’t have shoes; and I’ve ridden other buses today and in the past.”
DRIVER:  “The RULE is ALL passengers MUST wear shoes; you might stumble, cut your foot, etc.”
PASSENGER:  “That won’t happen; I watch where I’m going; and I’m very careful.”
DRIVER:  Aggressively grabs his radio; contacts the dispatcher (his supervisor) and explains the situation.
SUPERVISOR:  “It is at the discretion of the driver.”
DRIVER:  Slams the radio down and sternly orders this peace-filled passenger “Sit right there; do not move; do not go anywhere else until ready to depart.”

Wow; what just happened?  My thoughts began to shimmy…  Who makes the rules?  Who enforces them?  Where are they written down?  Where does one learn them?  How is one to know them…particularly within a culture as diverse as a college campus?

For me, this incident activated (actually rekindled) a month long series of “curiosities” I’d been pondering and mulling over…about rules – not the written down and enforceable kind that legally bind us, but the kind most (or at least many) of us follow each and every day – unquestioned, unchallenged…rotely…somewhat like those famous lemmings from the old fable…

Urban usage:    a person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, especially a headlong rush to destruction.  Example:  “the flailings of the lemmings on Wall Street”

Insights posed during my Sociology class resurfaced…causing me to further journey down this intriguing path.  During class, the professor presented and spoke about sociological concepts.  One topic in particular was the arena of “social norms.”  As an example, she specifically pointed out the rote behavior of women (mostly US) when it came to shaving their arm pits (and their legs, for that matter).  Although I contained myself, inside I screamed YIKES, SHE’S RIGHT!!  Men don’t shave their underarms (or their legs…unless, of course, they’re professional cyclists).  So, why do women?  If it doesn’t make sense, then why do we do it, why do we continue, and why can’t we stop?  As one who faithfully (without questioning) adheres to this particular norm/protocol, I began to wonder.  Why do I do it?  Why don’t I stop?  How did this activity get started?  Plus, why do so many of us just keep doing it – even though it appears a bit senseless.  Here’s what I learned:

Who decided women should shave their legs and underarms?

What’s it like to be a woman who does not shave armpits who is living in a country where almost all
women do shave their armpits?

Naturally, I couldn’t just let the concept of “senseless” acts or behaviors rest or stop there.  I started to think about and reflect on many other “human” type activities – especially within the United States – engages in that seem silly or unnecessary and wondered how they got their start.  Take for example, have you ever wondered why men wear  ties – even in warm climates and in today’s more casual environments…

Of course, the many examples I unfolded within the United States intrigued me (especially since I adhere to many of the “norms” or “customs” I unfolded).  So, I decided to explore a few “norms” or “customs” within other countries… and wondered what it might feel like to if they entered into our world (US) from their’s.  Here are just a few:

  • 8 Cultural Differences between America And Other Countries
    • Norwegians eat burgers with (gasp!) a knife and fork. Norway’s famous open-faced sandwiches are tough to eat without silverware, so they probably just decided to apply the habit to American sandwiches as well.
    • In Japan, you might feel pressure to cover your abdomen during a rainstorm. Some people (mostly kids) say that in bad weather, the thunder god Raijin is on the hunt for belly buttons.
    • Indians might avoid giving you a gift or your change with their left hand. Some argue it’s fine, but others say the left hand is known as the one you use for… you know… the potty.
    • Colombian schoolchildren learn there are five continents, not seven. The specifics vary from nation to nation, but one popular interpretation lumps North and South America together as one continent called “America” and counts Europe and Asia together as “Eurasia.”
    • Chinese potty training takes place in the streets. In certain rural parts of the country, it’s apparently acceptable for kids to relieve themselves wherever they please. To make things easier, pants even come with cute little slits in the booty!
  • 30 Non-Americans On The American Norms They Find WeirdThere is no normal: Norm hated the new motivational poster and it hated him.

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock

Graphic credits: http://www.cartoonstock.com, http://www.shsu.edu




DECEPTION…a way of life…??

As I sat in those expansive auditoriums soaking up details about brain processes – particularly learning and memory – along with social implication of our actions, I became mesmerized by certain key words and concepts.  In light of recent events (Robert McDonald, Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff, and so many others), these processes put a strong-hold on me and held my attention and curiosity.  In simplistic form…these processes include:


As I stared at these basics and even dug deeper into the process details, I could not help but wonder how – given the true biological way in which our brains operate – is it possible for an individual to encounter, experience, and recall, replay, or retell events in a much different way from how that specific event actually occurred.

MY BOSS TOLD MELittle white lies aside, I paused to ponder if there had ever been a time in my life when the relaying of a personal experience or observation had not been fact-based – not told exactly as it had occurred (and was verifiable by others).  Had I ever been “motivated” to distort or fabricate facts (or the truth) of an event or situation?  If so, what might have inspired me to do so – an ideal job, fame, friends, cash?  Was that inspirational element worth the compromise of my principles, integrity or sense of self?  Despite my desire to understand through personal experience, I was unable to uproot any examples.

Although distortions, miscommunications, misrepresentations, dishonesty – call it what you may – lurk and lie in wait…attempting to influence and impact many aspects of our lives – from sports to investing to journalism and even to government – much weighs heavily on how we present and represent ourselves – especially in the details we each choose to include on items such as our resume or CV (curriculum vitae).

As someone who has assisted others in job search preparation including market strategizing, search techniques, and particularly the gathering, compiling and presenting of work experience and details, I’ve never encounter distortions, fabrication or even deception (verifiable through job specific contact checks) on the part of those I’ve chosen as clients.  Actually, my encounters have been just the opposite – my clients have consistently been reluctant or hesitant to even “boast” about or elaborate on their experiences and credentials.  Oftentimes, when I’ve proposed a change in verbiage or a sentence realignment in order to convey a more engaging, powerful execution statement of their acquired or innate skill…they tended to cringe or express hesitancy in making and embracing the suggested change.  When I’ve probed why, they’ve shared that it’s due to their commitment to be true to themselves and their understanding/perception of the positions they held rather than out of a fear of “being caught.”

Apparently, this type of response or behavior is not the “norm.”  In a piece published on LinkedIn by Rob Wyse, he states that ”…lying on resumes is common.”  In a study (2002) of 7,000 executive resumes conducted by a recruiter he worked with, “23% of executives misrepresented accomplishments” and “Of those that misrepresent them, 64% exaggerated accomplishments.”

'Push'n 50, but ya still got it!!'Given this – along with the many recent (and ongoing) missteps by influential individuals that continue to permeate our culture – I wonder if deception has become a way of life…the “new norm”?  If so, are we – as a society – willing to accept that type of behavior?  How would we feel if a heart surgeon lied about his credentials; or a pilot (see Catch Me If You Can) about his flight skills and cockpit hours?    Is that what we as a society are desirous of supporting, encouraging, and continuing?  If not, how do each of us find our way to not only sharing our viewpoint but inspiring others to articulate fact-based narratives of the lives we experience and witness?

Maybe, as shared by Dr. Deborah Khoshaba in her article “Self-Deception:  A Defense Against Vulnerability”…it’s okay for each of us to “relax”…and

“Enjoy being an everyday person.  “…give yourself permission to be normal.”

Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock