Topical Tag Talk

Learning by Doing
Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

Sometimes the strangest things strike me as possible blog post material.  I usually don’t have any trouble coming up with ideas to write about.  I have 23 drafts sitting in my post area waiting for my time, energy and interest to gel at the same perfect moment in order to complete them.

Maybe I’m too opinionated or maybe I am a deep thinker.  But I think my ability to think creatively stems from being a curious person.

Very early in my elementary school years, I realized I needed to work at keeping myself interested in learning.  Listening to other students read out loud sometimes felt like torture!  I learned how to read ahead while keeping one ear alert for my name (and for where the reader was).

Some things, like spelling for instance, came easily to me.  I understand that spelling is difficult for some, but my difficulty came in trying to remember to do the workbook because I already knew how to spell all the words!  But I digress.

spelling test

This desire to learn more, to expand knowledge, to ask “why?” — is why I’m enjoying writing blog posts so much.  I can find out more about things that interest me, making connections and discoveries along the way — and then put it out into the blogosphere for other curious souls to enjoy and discover.

English: USMC Dog tags, modern (Vietnam era).
English: USMC Dog tags, modern (Vietnam era). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is how the topic of “tags” inspired a blog post.
I often look at the Daily Prompt Challenges (both writing and photography).  I also read many of the “how to” posts from wordpress.com if I have time.  In one of these I found a list of the most popular wordpress.com tags:

I don’t know if this idea was part of the article or if it is mine but here it is:
Use new tags to break out of your writing rut and/or comfort zone.

Blackout the Rumors - NARA - 513973
Blackout the Rumors – NARA – 513973 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, here are several tags I do not believe I have yet used in The Tromp Queen posts (and are not very likely to use much):  Featured, Lifestyle, National, News & Gossip, Shows, Subject, Syndicated Local, Technology, Truth & Rumors,  TV, Watch & listen.

Some tags that I might consider using more are:

Books behind the bed
Books behind the bed (Photo credit: zimpenfish)

Books, Culture, Design, Events, Film, Home, Health, Local, OUR MOMENTS, Personal, People, Projects, Relationships, Research, Science, Society, Travel, Top Stories, World, Writing.

I noticed there are several “general” tags: Blog, Blogs, Thoughts, Musings, Random, Opinion.

Life
Life (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

I also noticed many tags that I DO use quite often:  Art, Beauty, Faith, Family, Friends, Love, Life, MUSIC, Photography, Quotes, Poems, Poetry, Recipes.

News Day - There are always two sides to a story
News Day – There are always two sides to a story (Photo credit: maxymedia)

If font size is a clue to popularity, then NEWS is the most popular wordpress.com tag followed closely by Music, Top Stories, Photography, Travel, Holidayguide and Life.

One tag sparked my curiosity:  Yolanda Adams.  (You can follow the link to find out who she is and what she has to say!)

Also, I never considered tagging my posts with “2013.”  Huh. I’m not sure why that would be helpful.

While I’m on the topic of breaking out of comfort zones and ruts — consider using the media gallery (Zemanta) and recommended related articles as you are writing (look off to the right and down a bit where it says “recommendations”).

I have found that these tools often lead me to interesting topics. I also seem to gather new followers and readers when I use the related articles feature. I always click-through to read the article before I “click to insert” to be sure that it really is something relevant that I want to share with my readers.  Some article suggestions are completely off the track and/or poorly written.

I would love to hear YOUR ideas for breaking out of ruts and for expanding writing horizons.  Please share your ideas in a comment.

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Give some LOVE: Daily Prompt Press It

Daily Prompt:  Press It

Give some love to three blog posts you’ve read and loved in the past week, and tell us why they’re worth reading.

Today’s Daily Prompt seems like an easy task today.  I’ve read so many inspiring blog posts this week that it will be hard to choose just three.

One:
The Wild Heart of England by Sue Vincent
http://scvincent.com/2013/03/24/the-wild-heart-of-england/

“There is something in those hills that has me by the heart and soul and calls me home. The photographs simply do not do the landscape justice. They lack the scale and grandeur, the sparkle in the air, the bite of the wind on your cheeks, whipping your hair as you lean into the wind, fighting to stay upright. They cannot show the subtle shift of colour, the play of light and shadow. They lack the absoluteness and extremity of its beauty.” — Sue Vincent, from The Wild Heart of England.

Yorkshire

Sue’s words are vivid and bring you right into the scene where she is so you can experience what she saw and felt and heard.  Her photographs are beautiful.  I have never really had a desire to go to the North of England, but now I do after reading her blog post.

Two:
Bees and Blooms Medley by greenlightlady
http://greenlightlady.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/bees-and-blooms-medley/

Daffodil
Daffodil (Photo credit: Sentrawoods.)

“I believe that God must have smiled to himself as He designed spring blooms knowing that they would delight and warm our hearts after winter’s icy cold fingers had been pried off our gardens… much in the same way that Easter’s events pried the grip of sin and death from those who believe and trust in the risen Christ.”  — greenlightlady, from Bees and Blooms Medley

I really enjoyed seeing Sue’s photographs of woodland spring flowers.  They are very well focused and well composed.  She even caught a bee sampling a daffodil’s nectar.  Her poems are lovely — simple, clear, and evocative.  My eyes and spirit are starved for the color and freshness of spring.  (I live in Wisconsin and there is snow in the forecast…)

Three:
Dearest Pine, by leaf and twig
http://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/dearest-pine/

Evergreen Delicacy:  Asparagus Fern
Evergreen Delicacy: Asparagus Fern (Photo credit: cobalt123)

My eyes are hungry for the fresh green of springtime.  The poem and the lovely green photograph of an evergreen posted by leaf and twig feed that craving.  I also enjoyed several other poems in this blog that have been posted recently:  Songstress, Sweet Magnolia, Vacancy, Warrior, Estre, Return.  The posts are mostly two or three line poems with one simple photograph to illustrate the thought.  The tag line for leaf and twig’s blog is “where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.”
I am thankful to have found this very talented set of writers/photographers and look forward to reading/seeing their continued creative output here on WordPress.

Tears of Joy (Happy Happy Joy Joy Daily Prompt)

When was the last time you cried tears of joy?

The last time I remember crying tears of joy was not that long ago.  I recently took our 17-year-old son, a junior in HS, to his very first away from home campus visit.  The college we visited was my alma mater, Wheaton College in Wheaton , Illinois.  In fact, my husband, his father, and I all graduated from this college so our son would be a third generation student there.  It is a liberal arts Christian college that is highly selective and has an excellent reputation as not only an educational institution but also as a Conservatory of Music.

I dropped my son off with his campus host and then wandered off to stroll down memory lane.  I visited several buildings that held very dear memories — my first dorm room there (in Smith Hall), the main stairway of the oldest building on campus (Blanchard Hall) where I had my last class ever before graduation there as well as one of my very favorite classes ever, the Conservatory building where I spent many, many hours practicing/studying/going to classes, and finally Pierce Chapel  where the women’s choir rehearsed.

I was extremely surprised and excited to see my “old” choir director, Dr. Mary Hopper, there in the Pierce Chapel rehearsal space getting things set up to do a clinic with a visiting HS women’s choir.  She gave me a quick hug and a hello, and we shared a few speedy reminiscences.  I exclaimed over how much more beautiful the space is now than it was when I was a student there.  The stage had been refurbished with a new floor, new paint, new stage curtains, new risers, etc.  It looked fabulous.

In a few minutes a large group of young women arrived.  As they started to sing a round for their warmup (Jubilate Deo by Praetorius) tears started to fill my eyes.  Memories came flooding back of the hours I spent singing in that space with the wonderful women in Women’s Chorale with our very talented director.  My mind filled with memories of concerts, Christmas Festivals, of tours throughout many US states, one overseas tour in several European countries, memories of songs and emotions, and of the SOUND of women’s voices singing beautifully together.

I listened and enjoyed the lovely music and memories.

More tears of joy flowed just a little later that day.

As a Christian college, Wheaton has always had required chapel attendance on certain days of the week.  The whole student body gathers in Edman Chapel.  On this campus connection day, we heard from a very special guest — the author of a new book about C.S. LewisAlister McGrathhttp://alistermcgrath.weebly.com/

As the students stood for the invocation (and again for the benediction) tears sprang to my eyes.  Again, I was reminded of many exceptional speakers, singing hymns (with a pipe organ and 2000 people who can sing!), and of many concerts sung in that lovely chapel.  I remembered the very first time I walked into Edman Chapel.  I had a very strong feeling that this was where I belonged.  I very strong sense of “home.”

This day happened to be the day my family had to make a huge decision about whether or not to accept a new job offer that would cause us to move across the state to a new city after living in the same place for 17 years.  I believe that being in this place on this day helped me immensely with this decision.  I felt the presence of God here as a student and I felt it again there this day as an adult, a mother, an alumnae.  I was reminded of the very strong foundation of faith, learning and personal growth I acquired not only at Wheaton but in every stage and in every major decision in my live.  I walked by faith then, and I still do.

The tears helped me remember that.

Jubilate deo.  Sing Joy to God!  Amen.

Aside:  Wheaton College is home to the Wade Collection.  http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter/Welcome/Museum  Permanent pieces on display in the museum include: a wardrobe owned by C.S. Lewis, desks and pens belonging to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, bookshelves from Charles Williams, the eyeglasses of Dorothy L. Sayers, and Owen Barfield‘s chess set and pipe.

My son now thinks everyone at Wheaton is obsessed with C.S. Lewis because of the Wade Collection museum, the chapel speaker, and my fascination with Lewis’s writings.  Oh, well.

Writing this reminded me of a few other very memorable events with tears of joy.  I will write about those soon.

Daily Prompt Tears of Joy