MAY DAY!!!

Gossip Column

by: Zeitgeist Karen
(White. Female. Opinionated & highly concerned. Detail Sleuth. Never heard a story I couldn’t tell better.)

OMG. Social media has been on 🔥 today!

SO much to keep up with. We are still not outside the Bell curve specialists say we should stay within to not create a second wave of sickness AND MY CITY IS OPENING UP!!!

Can you believe the insanity of it all? Will everything we’ve done up until now be for naught???

Several businesses are opening up, but most of my friends are staying smart by staying home. #staysafestayhome

I hear gyms are opening up to appointments only, and I’ll confess I did drive around downtown to see how businesses are complying with mandate.

An ice cream 🍨 store was open, and there wasn’t a mask to be seen. 😡😷

All the book stores are closed📚😞 (which is bittersweet) and restaurants seemed to still be take-out only. #asformeandmyhousewewillordertakeout #stimulatetheeconomy

One restaurant was unabashedly open, with tables 8 feet apart 👏👏, but it was empty when I passed by, saved for the skeleton crew onhand who can no longer claim unemployment.

I also passed by a cell phone store with windows facing the street and there were two men inside: an employee and a customer. Neither had masks on and they were NOT maintaining a social distance. 😨😨🚑⚕🩺💉💊🏥

If a second wave of this flu is on its way, WE’RE SCREWED!

For now, we wait to see if we have truly eluded doom with the HURCULEAN 💪🥇 efforts we’ve been taking for the past 6 weeks, or if death still waits for us like a hungry cat patiently coiled around the corner.

#thinkinghappythots #livelaughlove #stay6feetaway

Poetical Dabbling

I hereby invite you to critique me on a poem I drummed up last night.

Please feel free to post a reply and tag me, since I don’t have comments activated here. I’m happy to have people see your insights.

DEPARTURE
by: Sheralyn Pratt

Goodbye—
not farewell.
This is a good bye.
I never heard the difference
until now.
Until you.
Until I fared you well
when I should have bid you goodbye.
I didn’t know…
I thought they were the same.
I didn’t hear the difference
‘til I paired them with your name
… a goodbye vs. a farewell…
two compound words
with very different flipsides.
And the truth is,
you have fared well enough
and to survive
I must bid you goodbye.

___

Revisions:


Goodbye—
not farewell.
This is a good bye.
I never heard the difference
until I fared you well
when I should have bid you goodbye.
I didn’t know…
I thought they were the same.
I didn’t hear the difference
‘til I paired them with your name
… a goodbye vs. a farewell…
two compound words
with very different flipsides.
And the truth is,
you have fared well enough
and to survive
I must bid you goodbye.

Edits suggested by: Cynthia Miller

Dream Beaches

By: Sheralyn Pratt

In nature,
hundreds of thousands of sea turtles
lay millions of eggs each year
in prime beach sand.
90% of their eggs will hatch.
but only 1% will survive
and thrive in maturity.

I’ve found that dreams
can be much the same
— mesmerizing
as they emerge in tiny perfection
before sand-crawling their way
to the great sea of possibilities
where predators lurk,
challenges never flinch,
and competition doesn’t blink or share.

It’s no wonder we often hold
our dream hatchlings close
when they first emerge from their nest.
It’s a rough world out there
and so few dreams survive.
It makes sense to want
to play Peter Pan
and hold on to every tiny possibility
like a child…
but the truth is
we must let dreams go
— let them crawl the beach
and swim —
and know that those that brave
the sea of life will evolve
and bring new life again.

One Sheep

One of my favorite poems by my grandma is “One Sheep.”

In truth, I have many “favorite” poems by my grandma. I was around 20 when I first read it online. The internet was just becoming a thing and my uncle posted all my grandma’s published work on his website.

I was manning a receptionist desk when I discovered “One Sheep” — reading it again and again while marveling how well she captured a sentiment I think nearly everyone can relate to.

Below is a scan of the poem, as originally published, followed by a recording of me reading it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

One Sheep

God, I don't know how to start
or what to say.
I do not know the language of a formal prayer
so long it's been since my heart felt the urge to pray,
so long I've made believe no need to pray was there.
But, God, somehow I don't believe You are the kind
to hold a grudge for what I have or haven't done,
and if I just start praying I know You won't mind
or worry much about the way my prayer's begun.
It's over. I've been wrong and I'm not going to make
a lot of fancy promises that may not last,
a lot of crazy vows I'm weak enough to break.
You see, I have discovered mem'ries can be short,
and even tho right now my feet are on the ground,
it's hard to keep them there, so much comes to distort
my sense of values and to twist my views around.
I don't know yet if I can find the way to You,
I am afraid I'm apt to falter now and then,
but I will do the most that anyone can do,
if You'll have patience, honest, God, I'll try! Amen.

Verse by: Kathryn Kay

One Sheep. All rights Reserved. Copyright 1941, 1997, 2019.

Disempowerment 101

The 2016 election caused a bit of a social kerfuffle in the US.

Uncounted conversations with friends in the aftermath led me to this write this poem:

DISEMPOWERMENT 101

by: Sheralyn Pratt

It is old wisdom
that the way to weaken a people
is to get them to think
outside their sphere of influence.
If it’s beyond their horizon,
it is but a play on a stage.
Spectators can watch
but they hold no true sway.
They can only cheer
or speak outrage
to claims and hearsay
—hands tied,
thoughts bound
to a place far away—
until those far-away thoughts
disrupt their own day-to-day.
This is no accident.
It is all a design
to train the masses
to have impotent minds.
For unempowered souls are easily led
and when the 99 feel helpless…
well, you know what comes next.
The good news is
returning to power
is a flip of a switch.
Every animal does it—
it’s that easy to fix:
Tend to your sphere
and all you can touch.
See to its care
and make it top-notch.
Then, perhaps, if a call
leads you to go far-and-wide,
you can go,
you can give,
and improve what you find.

Here the poem is as a shareable image:

It is old wisdom 
that the way to weaken a people
is to get them to think
outside their sphere of influence.
If it’s beyond their horizon, 
it is but a play on a stage.
Spectators can watch
but they hold no true sway.
They can only cheer 
or speak outrage
to claims and hearsay
—hands tied,
thoughts bound
to a place far away—
until those far-away thoughts 
disrupt their own day-to-day.
This is no accident.
It is all a design
to train the masses
to have impotent minds.
For unempowered souls are easily led
and when the 99 feel helpless…
well, you know what comes next.
The good news is
returning to power 
is a flip of a switch. 
Every animal does it—
it’s that easy to fix:
Tend to your sphere 
and all you can touch. 
See to its care 
and make it top-notch. 
Then, perhaps, if a call 
leads you to go far-and-wide, 
you can go, 
you can give, 
and improve what you find.

Disempowerment 101: Copyright, Sheralyn Pratt 2019

Talking Poetry

Ask anyone who’s known me all my life and they’ll attest to the fact that I have never self-identified as a poet.

Yet as I get to know the fictional characters I write for, I find myself describing their POVs (points of view) in poetic fashion.

Or, as I like to call it: Poetisophical™ — philosophical bedrock that allows you to deduce the state of heart.

This is a little different than traditional poetry, in my opinion. Maybe it’s actually poetry upside-down.

Poetry is known for its invitation to sit for a moment in someone else’s experience. Good poetry inspires sympathy or empathy in the listener — transporting them into a vicarious experience that allows them to see something in a new way.

My “poetisophical” poetry is a bit different in that the genesis is often the motives of fictional characters in a story. They might be the good guy, they might be the bad guy, or they might be some form of chaotic neutral in the middle.

But they have their points of view and their motives, and the poems I write often speak to the bedrock of their character.

Then, to beat the character in the story, you must beat their bedrock.

Here’s one such poetisophical poem that has most people split 50/50 on loving it and hating it.

What do you think?

CHASING DOGMA

By: Sheralyn Pratt

A truth
becomes a lie
the moment it arrives.
For truth cannot be stopped
—sometimes it is,
sometimes it’s not—
it holds its space
and plays its part
but holding still
is not its art.
For truth is on the move, you see,
it has things to prove
and places to be.
So if you spot it once
and proudly mark its plot,
remember this:
 truth cannot be caught.

Like the poem? Here it is in a shareable image:

A truth
becomes a lie 
the moment it arrives. 
For truth cannot be stopped
—sometimes it is, 
sometimes it’s not—
it holds its space 
and plays its part 
but holding still 
is not its art.
For truth is on the move, you see, 
it has things to prove 
and places to be. 
So if you spot it once 
and proudly mark its plot, 
remember this:
 truth cannot be caught.

Copyright: Sheralyn Pratt

Like it? Hate it? Start a conversation.

Chasing Dogma, Copyright Sheralyn Pratt 2019

Honey & Poetry

“Would you like a sample?” a weathered man asked, holding out a sample stick with a twirl of honey at the end.

I looked up from the display of beeswax candles and Mason jars of honey — belatedly noticing the woman playing the harp behind his booth.

The harpist was far enough away so the man didn’t have to talk over her, but close enough that it was a good bet that the gentle tones of her playing were what had caused me to pause at their booth in the first place.

And now the question was: Did I want to sample local honey while listening to harp music?

Okay. Twist my arm. This tagteam had officially talked me into it.

Next to me, another customer stepped up to make an order. A regular. He wanted two large jars of honey.

They only had one large jar left.

A swipe of a card later, they had zero large jars left. Only medium and small remained.

When that customer went on his way, a couple stepped up in his place.

“Would you like a sample?” the vendor asked. “This is our signature honey — harvested 800 colonies from across the valley to create a flavor reflecting the botanical spectrum of the valley.”

Okay, he didn’t say that.

But those were the tidbits my brain pieced together as he talked to customer after customer — making three separate sales while decided whether I needed more honey in my life. 

How long had it been since I’d had honey any more elaborate than what came in a squeezable bear bottle at the grocery store?

Finding myself mining childhood memories for such a time, I realized it might be time to lean into rediscovering honey as a delicacy.

And what better place to start than a local business that had turned selling honey and beeswax candles into a multi-sensory, harp-accompanied sampling experience?

Gotta support that level of local quality, amiright?

I was about to buy one of their few remaining medium-sized jars when the vendor looked at my bag and saw flyers I was carrying with me.

“What you got there?” he asked, pointing to them.

“I’m hosting a writing contest,” I said. “and giving flyers to anyone who’s interested.”

The harp player took a break as I said this and moved into the booth. The man looked her way, “She’s a great poet.”

“I’d love to see your work,” I said to her, handing over a flyer. “Please, enter.”

She took the flyer, then surprised me by reaching for a jar of honey.

“Poetry is important,” she said. “It’s a good thing to keep alive. Here. Can we give something to the winner? Some honey for a gift basket?”

I must confess this wasn’t an idea I remotely had on my radar, but the offer was so sincere and the honey was so good that there was only one answer:

“Yes. Someone in the poetry category can win your honey. I’m not sure exactly how that will play out, but we’ll make that happen.”

And that’s why one lucky poet will get a small jar of honey this year in The BATTLE of the BARDS. Because a local honey company believes in the craft and wants to thank you for keeping it alive.

It’s delicious. I hope you enjoy.

In the meantime, feel free to check out this great local company: https://www.whitelakefarms.com/

Of Parables & Fairy Tales

What is the difference between a fairy tale and a parable?

Are either type of story the same things as a fable?

All 3 of these story types are considered morality tales with the goal of helping people better understand the world around them and who they want to be in it.

But how do you tell which type of story you’re writing?

Ask Yourself 3 Questions

Question 1 – Are all my characters animals or insects?

Question 2 – Are some of my characters animals and some humans?

Question 3 – Are all my characters human?

Check Your Answers

If your answer to Question 1 = Yes, you are likely writing a FABLE.

If your answer to Question 1 = Yes, you are likely writing a FAIRY TALE.

If your answer to Question 3 = Yes, you are likely writing a PARABLE.

1847 illustration of the tortoise and the scorpion
The scorpion and the tortoise, a.k.a. the scorpion and the frog. A famous fable.

Checking your answer to Question 1 is a good thing to do before submitting to the BATTLE of the BARDS competition because there is no Fable category. Only Modern Fairy Tales and Modern Parables.

So, if all your characters are animals, you will need to change at least one of them to be a human for this contest.

While fables deal with straightforward actions and consequences in nature, fairy tales and parables invite us to examine the human motives that can put us in tough spots.

Gustav Dore's etching of Little Red

In traditional tales, these decisions can lead to terrible consequences — up to, and including, death.

Originally, Little Red dies. So does the little mermaid; she goes all-in for the man of her dreams, loses her voice and turns into seafoam (then an earthbound spirit) while the Prince marries someone more suitable.

In fairy tales, little kids get thrown into ovens, boys who cry wolf are left to fend for themselves, and boys seeking treasure end up murdering to acquire the wealth.

Actions and consequences. Fairy tales and parables both explore this theme.

So what’s the difference?

The quick take you can use that will guide you right in choosing the correct category of submission in The BATTLE of the BARDS is this:

Fairy tales share principles, based on an understanding of basic human/animal nature — incorporating both animal and human characters as metaphors.

Parables share principles couched in an understanding of human cultures and practices — where setting and roles can replace the laws of nature as being the first line of consequences the characters have to deal with.

For example, if you have a morality tale about a girl in the woods who runs into three animals, you probably have a fairy tale; if you have a morality tale about an inmate in a prison who has a run-in with three other inmates, you probably have a parable.

Parables require an understanding of cultural setting to explore the world the character lives in.

Fairy tales require an understanding of basic natures to explore the character’s journey.

So, to summarize:

What’s in a parable?

One of the first signs that you are writing a parable is:

All the characters driving the story are human.

Setting, culture, religion, politics, or cultural circumstances are embedded into the dominoes of the actions and consequences.

The more you know about the culture/dynamics a story is set in, the better you understand the arc and outcome of the parable.

Take the parable of the Ten Virgins, for example.

Illustration depicting the 10 virgins from Matthew 25 of the New Testament.
Anyone know who this artist is?

Understanding the culture the story is set in can change your understanding of the 5 prepared virgins not sharing their lamp oil from:

Why didn’t they just give their friends half? What difference does that make?

to:

Why didn’t the five girls who had the $10 bills to get into the party just tear their bills in half and give the other half to their friends so they could all get in?

Because, in parables, cultural practices and situations are context to the dilemma presented.

What’s in a Fairy Tale?

Fairy tales explore the dynamics we can all relate to, using both humans and animals as metaphors.

Anyone from anywhere — human or not — can relate to a wolf being at their door.

Everyone can relate to the temptation to play rather than work, stray off a safe path for a bit, or wanting to escape an isolated tower.

The use of universal metaphors in fairy tales makes them easy to understand across time and cultures.

Because whether they’re talking about losing a mom and gaining a step-mother who only cares about her own children or underestimating wolves, there is a level of understanding that can be universally applied by the audience.

Summary: Parables and Fairy Tales — Similarities and Differences

The thing that parables and fairy tales have in common is that they invite discussion and reflection on things we deal with every day.

The main difference is that fairy tales invite all to examine our basic, universal natures while parables invite us to explore situational ethics.

Said another way: Fairy tales explore different actions and outcomes tied to our basic natures; parables dive into the morality of our cultures, practices, and more complex behaviors.

Thus, the challenge for the fairy tale/parable author is to see the dynamics and drives of each character with clarity that leaves personal bias on the cutting room floor.

Keep these tips in mind as you submit and your entry should be solid!

Want to start a conversation?

Think more/better information should be shared on this page?

Share this link on social media and tag me. Let me know if there are any other tips that MUST be included, and I’ll add them below.

Using Cash Flow to Grow

Guest Post: Mike Pratt, Global Cash Flow Manager

Out of everything that’s been written about managing cash, what one idea—if implemented— would make the greatest difference in your business?

These 2 questions provide a clue:

  • How much cash does your company have right now?
  • How much do you expect to have in 6 months?

Having a solid grasp on these numbers tells you how you’re doing. If you don’t know the answers, this article is for you.

Managing Cash Flow

Essential to having a successful business is knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out. This is where the idea of “cash flow” comes from. Your money is moving from one place to another.

If you don’t know where it’s flowing to, you are blind and can’t make any strategic business decisions. And if more is going out than coming in, you’re in trouble.

Awareness of spending is the first and most important step in managing your cash. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Why focus on cash and not profit?

Because cash is what you put in the bank. Profit tells you if you’re bringing in more than you are spending. There is a time and place for everything, but for now we are focusing on cash.

Having cash and profit is the best scenario. You can have cash without profit, but not for long. Profit without cash doesn’t do you much good either but it’s better than no cash and no profit.

Put simply: you spend cash, but you can only report profit.

If you can’t see where your money is going you can’t decide if there’s a better use for it somewhere else.

It’s better to manage things now than when you hit a cash crunch and have to manage costs. You may not have enough time to get a loan and being strapped can make it hard to find people willing to lend you money.

Building a Cash Model

Building a simple cash model for your business can go a long way towards keeping you in the black. It is a powerful tool for helping you stay on track.

A cash model is different than a cash flow statement.

A cash model lets you change different inputs to see what the effect is on your cash position. Expect some big expenses in a couple months? This lets you see the potential impact to your business. Will you have enough cash? If not, what can you do now to help get you through?

You don’t need special software; a simple spreadsheet will work. You will need a way to update it with your cash ins and outs. If you have all your transactions handy you can probably build one in an hour or two.

Cash model entries are on a cash basis. This is not accrual accounting. Each transaction is entered in the period it occurred. You cut a check for inventory on March 3? You enter the expense on March 3. You make a loan payment on the 15th of each month, that’s when it’s recorded.

You can track your cash on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This will depend on how far ahead you want to look and how closely you need to manage your cash. Looking at short-term needs (a week or two out to 2-3 months) requires greater detail (i.e., daily or weekly), but looking farther out to a year it might make sense to do it by month.

Cut Waste to Grow

Modeling the cash flows of your business helps you identify waste. Knowing where to cut costs is sometimes more effective than generating sales. If you keep 1/10 of what you sell, then you have to sell $100 to get $10. But eliminating $10 of waste is the same as generating $100 in sales.

Tracking and forecasting your cash needs also:

  1. help you plan ahead and avoid surprises
  2. help you avoid having to say “the check is in the mail”
  3. lower your borrowing costs by letting you know exactly how much you need
  4. help you negotiate better terms for loans because you can set them up before you have to go hat-in-hand

SCORE has a cash flow template you can modify to suit your needs here. The “Estimate” columns are optional, you can hide or delete those columns if you’re just starting out. I prefer to have my categories across the top with dates going down, but arrange it however makes sense to you.

Imagine the difference it will make in your business knowing how much cash you have today and how much you will have 6 months from now.

Develop your cash flow template today to discover how big a difference this simple tool will make in managing your business.