Grabatude Attitude

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Who do you hang with? No, I don’t mean hang such as hanging upside down, hanging from a bungee cord or hanging a right or a left when driving a car. Who do you spend your time with and how do they influence how you interact with others in your life?

Recently, I was put in a situation that I was unsure of. I was invited to the Women of Faith concert in St. Paul. I wasn’t unsure of going to the concert, but I was going to be going with a good friend and we would be staying with her relatives. I did not know these people.

I did have some anxiety about staying in a home of someone I did not know, and I am not a shy person, not usually anyway. This was a little of a stretch for me.

Meeting strangers isn’t a hard thing for me to do, but usually when I meet them it is for a short amount of time. That isn’t what this would be. It would be a weekend with my friend and people I did not know. Would they like me? Would I like them? Would we have the same likes and dislikes? Would it matter?

On a recent blogtalkradio interview with Amy Beth Arkawy on the Amy Bethv Arkawy show, Amy made the remark that I was a positive and inspirational person. I reminded her that I am not like that all the time, ask my husband and kids, and a few years ago I would say I was a toxic person. It was not a hard thing to be, depending on the group I was with, to find something wrong with everything.

I am very good at crabbing, and when you are with others who are very good at crabbing you have a great crabfest. Soon though, that attitude becomes part of you, and it is easier to see the glass half empty rather than half full. Pretty soon I was the head crab and would start the crab sessions. I didn’t like the way I was, and I don’t want to be that person again.

When Amy Beth and I talked about inspiration (she is also a creativity coach), I reflected later on what helps me to keep a positive attitude. It is work.

I was very lucky in my crabbiness. My inspirational and optimistic friends did not desert me. Finally after hanging with them I was able to adopt their attitude most of the time. It is hard work to get to the place where it is easier to be optimistic than to be pessimistic and yet some days the crab is back.

I found that if I surround myself with positive people, positive messages and read positive materials that I can be more optimistic in the face of the ups and downs of my life. We can choose who we spend our time with.

Back to the scary, I am having a slumber party with women I don’t know. The minute the first woman got in the car with us I knew I was going to feel at home with her. She wore sparkly cool earrings. She laughed a lot. When the next woman joined our car on the way I immediately felt at home too. She had a case of water. I knew I would not be thirsty. I do that, I drag my water along. We finally arrived at the cute house where we would rest our heads and I would meet another stranger. We were greeted with a huge meal, dessert and the best part was that she was living in my dream cottage home. It felt like home amidst these strangers.

We left for the Xcel Energy Center, and it was named right for the weekend. It was a center full of energized woman, with positive messages and smiling faces. In the midst of strangers we all seemed to be surrounded by friends.

One of the speakers asked if we were crabby Christians. Was there a time when I felt that the silverware in the kitchen needing to be lined up perfectly was more important than the way I treated the people that were lined up in the pews? Do I make the unimportant material trappings in my home and in my church more important than treating people with kindness and respect or am I that crabby Christian along with being a toxic person in a group?

I took a chance to hang with some positive strangers. Those strangers are no longer strangers but friends that I hope to spend time with in the future. If I had let my fear and kept my crabby attitude, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet new people that would have a positive influence on my life

Take a chance. Hang with someone new that makes you feel good about yourself. It might change your world and your attitude.

A quote by Elizabeth Edwards sums it up nicely:

“A positive attitude is not going to save you. What it’s going to do is, every day, between now and the day you die, whether that’s a short time from now or a long time from now, that every day, you’re going to actually live.”

Hidden Rooms, Spooky Tunnels

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune on October 21, 2013

Photo courtesy of Kate Eileen Shannon

Photo courtesy of Kate Eileen Shannon

Dreams are images, sensations and emotions that occur during sleep. When I was a child I had a recurring dream that there was a secret room upstairs in my grandmother’s house. The room was at the end of the hallway, and the wall would open and expose a toy room, sparkly and colorful, full of a child’s fantasy of toys. I had the dream many, many times.

There was actually a room in the basement at my grandmother’s that I never ever knew what was lurking behind the door. As far as I knew no one ever opened that door. I either wasn’t curious enough, and I was a curious child, or I was too afraid to try the door and see what might be behind it.

It wasn’t until I was in my 50s that the room was revealed to me. It came at a time when my grandmother’s home, now my mother’s home, had to be sold, and we were clearing it out. I must admit I was still scared to open that door not sure what we might find, so I made my husband do it.

Well the ghost of many trees must have lived in that room because it was full of wood that had been there a long time but the logs were very well-preserved with no bugs or rot. Perhaps that is what started my fascination with secret rooms and underground tunnels that I write about in my books.

Recently I have had the pleasure of connecting through my writing with Kate Eileen Shannon, the author of “The Brigid Kildare Mystery Series” and writer of the blog Rantin’ Ravin’ and Reading. She likes tunnels, too, and recently a real life mystery fell into her life.

Kate’s husband is a real estate agent. Recently he listed a house for sale that was supposedly to have belonged to a bootlegger. It was rumored to have a tunnel from the basement to the garage. The basement had a room off of it that had a huge safe door on it, but the alleged tunnel (these are Kate’s words sent to me in a message) was blocked off.

Kate wanted to knock down the wall allegedly blocking the tunnel because none of the owners since 1933 had done it, but her husband wasn’t going to be the curious person who opened the wall, so the house sold without the tunnel being investigated.

Of course homes have to be inspected but even the home inspector didn’t want to knock out the wall. Now I can understand this because I had the door in my grandma’s house that I was scared to open.

Finally a brave person entered Kate Eileen Shannon’s life in the form of a termite inspector. Since my room that I finally opened was full of wood, maybe I should have called a termite inspector to get my door opened sooner.

The termite inspector, having heard the rumors, supported Kate’s curiosity and pulled down the wall and discovered a second safe door on a tunnel.

Kate Eileen Shannon is a mystery writer and came upon her own real life mystery. I thought that was pretty exciting. Behind the wall and down the tunnel was a steel-beamed room as big again as the basement. It was full of empty bottles ready to be filled. She also found an old fedora. How did they get to the garage? I will leave that mystery for you to find the answers to if you are interested by visiting Kate’s blog.

Kate is busy building a page on the web for the hidden basement find. She is busy doing research on what they think was a bootlegging operation run out of this house during the days of prohibition, right under the police chief’s nose. He lived across the street. If you want to know more about this interesting find, visit Kate Eileen Shannon’s blog at and click on “80-year-old time capsule” for the story and pictures.

Yes, I love mysteries. I dream up tunnels and secret rooms and secret doors and stashes. I would build a house with nooks and crannies and secret rooms. Why not? Of course there is also something very mysterious about living in a house and not knowing what is on the other side of the door. It is amazing how many pictures and images your imagination can conjure up from the unknown secret door or forbidden door.

What did I think would be behind my grandmother’s unopened basement door? Did I imagine a dead body? Did I imagine a bogey man popping out? I might have imagined that as a kid. I know I loved my dreams of the secret toy room. It was always a comforting and exciting dream. As an adult not wanting to open the unknown door, I think I was more afraid of snakes, mice and creatures that might attack me.

Kate Eileen Shannon had a much more exciting find than I did, and I am jealous. I found wood, she found history that had been sealed up ready to be discovered. What is behind your door or your bookcase or the closet? You might be surprised what is hidden in your walls.

Comma Challenged

Icelandic comma left

Icelandic comma left (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I, like, to, write, but, I, am, comma, challenged! That’s right. I have a hard time with comma’s. I put them in, take them out, put them in, take them out.

Comma’s can change the entire context of a sentence and as a writer I am always unsure of where I should put my comma’s. I need to go back to school and brush up on the proper way to use comma’s and other detailed things that have to do with the proper use of words. However,  I don’t want to. Thank God for editors.

My editor at  the Albert Lea Tribune brushes up my writing. My editor at the Cozy Cat Press hopefully brushes up my comma’s. Of course if I put a comma after every word as I did in the first sentence I might get chastised a little.

The problem I have with more learning is time. I work full time, I write, I have a household to manage and I have volunteer activities that are important to me. I can make myself crazy worrying about my comma’s or I can put my heart out there with my writing and let the chips fall where they may.

I know there are mistakes in my books. There are people, that when they read a book they check grammar and spelling and yikes, comma’s. When I read a book I don’t notice those things unless they greatly impact the story, because I am interested in the story, the emotion or the suspense.

If I worry about the grammar and comma’s of the writer I can’t lose myself in the story and that to me is what it is all about. Unless something is very poorly written, I don’t notice because I am lost in the imagination of the writer of the book. I am lost in the reality or fantasy of the story.

If I take the time to worry that I might make a comma mistake or a grammar mistake that will be critsized by the reader I would never write.

So, criticize, my, use, of, comma’s. I, admit, I, am, comma, challenged. Look, beyond, a missing, or, misplaced, comma and, find, the, story. It, might, be, so, much, more, important, than, comma’s.