According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Wiktionary, Flumadiddle(s) is something completely nonsensical or ridiculous; utter nonsense; cheap, worthless frills. According to Dictionary.com, it is an Americanism that arose in the 1840s as a combination of flummery, meaning “complete nonsense,” and diddle, meaning “to fool with.” It’s also the name for a savoury dish from the region around Cape Cod; click here to see the recipe.
I think it’s a word well worth rescuing from obscurity! In fact, it’s probably more relevant than ever in our modern “culture” (I use that term cautiously, as what some people consider culture, others consider flumadiddle). IMHO, flumadiddle could be applied to most television series, political speeches, internet “information”, and even many news articles. So add it to your vocabulary, and have fun!
I’ve been thinking about faces recently; a friend of mine will be having reconstructive surgery on her face to restore the tissue and structure that was eaten away by a rare condition, and we were talking about the psychological effects of such a procedure, and the influence it could have on one’s own sense of identity.
After that talk, I did a bit of research online about the psychology of the face, and I found a series of photo montages called “Facial Expressions Reference Project” (just search that phrase on google images to see what I mean). What I found interesting about that series is that, though they used the basic range of emotions such as sad, or amused, confident or embarrassed, nearly every person’s interpretation was different. It highlights not only the differences of opinions when it comes to labelling particular facial expressions, but also potential misunderstandings that can arise from the varying interpretations of this key form of nonverbal communication – especially when in a cross-cultural situation. For example, when I lived in the Philippines, I had to get used to the fact that shaking their head side to side meant “yes”, and wiggling their head up and down meant “no” – the wiggle was to make “no” less direct, so as not to lose face or cause the other person to lose face.
This train of thought led me to wonder what kinds of English idioms refer to the face; there are dozens of them: You can have a long-, poker-, fresh-, or a straight face, or a face that would stop a clock, or conversely, traffic, or have a face that only a mother could love; you can be (not) just another pretty face, put on a brave face or be blue/red in the face, have egg on your face, or be two-faced. You can face the facts, consequences, the music, time, or, let’s face it, you can be in someone’s face, lose or save face, show your face (or not), stuff it, fall flat on it both physically and metaphorically, and – well, the list goes on and on.
Below is a series of celebrity photos, in various characters; as a writer, I find it helpful to have visual references when describing physicality in the written word, and this fun montage gives a wide range to choose from. Enjoy, and keep writing!
Everyone’s got them; no one necessarily wants them: Those moments in life when things go topsy-turvy and send us into tailspins. I call them “loops of life” – like a loop on a roller coaster… they come up fast; you may dread the thought of it more than the actual experience warrants; and it’s over before you know it.
Life has thrown me a loop lately, and as it has affected, and will likely affect, my rhythm of posting blogs here for the next couple weeks, I’d like to thank you in advance for a bit of patience.
In the summer, I found a growth in my neck; I knew it was the thyroid gland, as I’d had one in the same spot 30 years ago; by the time life got back into swing here after the summer holidays, it had grown further; long story short, they found three large, benign masses which have completely consumed my thyroid gland – miraculously, however, they seem to have taken over its function and are working perfectly fine. But it’s getting harder to speak, swallow, breathe, etc. So, in 10 days I’ll get to check into a luxury hotel, aka the hospital, and undergo a 4-hour surgery; the surgeon will take her time, especially as I’m a singer and the vocal cords / nerves are extremely important to me, as you can imagine!
Since beginning this process, I’ve heard from so many people who are having (or have had) the same problem; it’s comforting to know I’m by no means alone in this, and others have come through it well and whole. I may not post regularly for the next fortnight or so – but keep your eyes open!
Before the surgery, we’re going away for a much needed week’s holiday in Lugano, and are looking forward to it! Our cats are looking forward to being spoilt by a live-in flat sitter, too, so it’s a win-win!
There’s an old Native American proverb about two wolves: One is a black wolf, and the other, white. The black wolf is everything that is bad, and the white one is everything that is good. These wolves are constantly at battle inside each one of us: Which wolf wins? The one you feed.
This story has truth at its core, and we can apply this principle to any area of our lives: Thoughts; diet; exercise; writing; speech; relationships; habits, and anything else you can think of. Another adage comes to mind: “Garbage in, garbage out” – what we feed ourselves (any part of our trinity, whether mind, body or spirit) is what will come out of us. There are all kinds of sayings around this truth – roots and fruits, and all that.
Each one of us has a daily routine; it may vary greatly from person to person, but it’s there. We all probably have habits we’d like to break; they could be things that are time- or energy-wasters, or habits like smoking or overeating. I’d like to focus on the habits of writers.
Creativity, like caffeine, is a legal addictive substance; an addiction is formed from repeated applications (i.e. habit). If we feed the right wolves, we will reach our goals, whatever they are, but if we feed the wrong wolves, we won’t – it’s that simple. For some, it’s finishing the first chapter; for others, it’s publishing; for others, it might be collecting enough poems, artwork, or other creative forms until there’s enough for release (art show, cookbook, anthology, etc.).
Each creative expression has its own unique pair of wolves. One common black wolf is what I would name “NEDs” – Negative Energy Drains. It can be expressed through negative talk about yourself or your writing (whether its source is internal from a lack of self-confidence, or external from unsupportive environments or relationships), or a pressure placed on yourself (again, internal or external) to complete a goal based on unrealistic expectations. Another common black wolf is “Ambiguity”: As long as we don’t know what concrete steps to take to reach a goal, it’s difficult to move forward; as long as we allow ambiguity to feed, it will paralyze us.
In this scenario, the white wolves would be named PEFs (Positive Energy Feeds) and Preciseness. Those might simply manifest themselves as speaking positively to yourself every time NED tries to speak or putting up positive post-its of where you’re going with your goals. For the second wolf, define the steps needed – set yourself an appointment for the purpose of researching the steps, and finding concrete resources to help you reach your goals, then take one step at a time. Keep that appointment.
Which wolf do you feed?