Category: inspiration

…But Listen To The Color Of Your Dreams…

Okay, full disclosure, I only titled this post as I did as an excuse to make a reference to the Beatles. This post has nothing to do with them or music or anything. It does have to do with the creative process.

Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, so brimming with little nuggets of information that it is a self-contained story that demands to be told? I had one in about 2006 when I had a dream that I was in New York City outside the Dakota building waiting to get an autograph from John Lennon. No seriously this post isn’t about the Beatles. The dream turned into the first draft of a novel. I’m still not satisfied with it so it’s still a draft. I’ve had stuff to do. The point is that tiny little vignette turned into an entire novel.

I have another novel I started working on well over a year ago after a visit to New Orleans but set aside quite a while ago after hitting a brick wall creatively. Then, a few nights ago I had another one of those dreams that was so lucid that it demanded attention, and I knew as soon as I awoke that it was the next piece of the story I have to tell. Because the dream was a crystal-clear scene from a specific spot I’d been to in New Orleans, and a face in the dream was just as hauntingly clear. It was a New Orleans musician, a subject to which my story intimately relates. It was like the dream was grabbing me and shaking the next phase of my story out of me. I wasn’t about to ignore it.

Stories are like that. They come to you one chunk at a time. Each chunk, when it comes, gives you a giant leap forward. So listen to your dreams. Use them. Especially if a story you are trying to tell is really weighing on your mind but you can’t quite get it going. Your dreams are what is beneath the surface of your consciousness. Maybe these bits that come to you in a dream are so strikingly perfect sometimes because you’ve given them time to gel while you’re only sleeping.

Certainly I can’t wait around for that kind of inspiration to strike me while I am freelancing, but inspiration shows itself in various forms, thankfully. I listen for it.

When The World Falls Apart, Put It Back Together

About a week before all Hell broke loose and everything started shutting down, I got a new wheelchair which I promptly dubbed “the company vehicle.” I fully intended to be all over town in my chair spreading the word about my business. I fully intended to be too busy for my own good by Memorial Day. Before my state locked down due to COVID-19 I had three different companies that had expressed interest in my work.

Then everything went silent. And rightly so. No one could confidently put a freelance writer in their immediate budget. I don’t know if I adjusted with a great deal of grace, but I’ve kept writing at least.

The events of 2020 have reinforced for all of us the importance of preparation for the unexpected. Actually it has made clear that there is no preparing for the unexpected.

Because it’s unexpected.

That’s kind of its jam.

You don’t see it coming.

So “preparation” may be a misnomer in this case. The only thing even resembling “preparation” for it is to maintain a state in which you are able to respond even when events unfold that are unlike anything in your experience. It is safe to say 2020 fits that description.

Full disclosure: I have a job apart from my freelance work. I would not be broken were Dailey Freelance to disappear tomorrow. But though I have not had any leads or clients in months, I have not stopped posting on my company Facebook page. And with a few exceptions, I have kept this blog the “weekly” that its name says it is. Because, simply put, it means something to me.

I’ll never be in the shoes of a person who has built a business for 30 years only to see it crash because of the COVID-19 fallout. But I have listened to people who are in that position, and I feel that what they have to lose means infinitely more to them. Because they believed in it enough to make it their one and only source of income. That speaks volumes, I’d say. I am only working my way toward that, right now.

I know we are a nation of people who will hold fast to what we have worked for. Now that we are able to – or soon will be able to – begin rebuilding, we will do so with the same heart and soul we put into our businesses when we first started out.

With a renewed vigor.

With a renewed sense of why we ever opened up shop in the first place.

We don’t agree on how or when or how quickly we should return commerce in America back to “normal” and mistakes will inevitably be made. But one thing is clear:

People are responding to the on-going lock down the way they are because getting back at it matters. The foundations they’ve built their lives upon matter to them. And I have to respect that.

So as we try to bring back some semblance of linear motion in our lives, please, take care of yourselves and your family, but also please, please….you know what? Because it feels extremely appropriate right now I’m just going to leave one of my favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics for whatever it’s worth:

One, two, buckle my shoe / take care of me ’cause I might be you

Writing For the Sake Of Writing, and For Something Bigger

My mantra is “I’m a writer, and writers write. So I write.” I’m paraphrasing some old advice from a dear friend.

I am a freelance writer but I started this blog just to keep working on my writing chops in between client work. And for a long time it really did give me the motivation to just write for the sake of writing. Funny, but lately I’ve been fighting off a nasty case of writer’s block. It’s hard being a commercial freelance writer when everything is closed indefinitely. So you’d think right now would be the time to get plenty of writing for the sake of writing done.

Alas.

This blog is called the “Dailey Weekly” and I almost never fail to write something here weekly. But last week I did and I’m kind of past my self-imposed deadline for this week too. And it isn’t just writing. I am finding that with many aspects of every day life on hold, it often feels like there is less to talk about. Maybe it is a bi-product of almost the entire news cycle and the monologues of late night talk shows being dominated by COVID-19, and by extension a great deal of our every day conversation being infiltrated by the subject.

Let’s face it. There is a whole lot less “What did you do today?” and much fewer immediate plans being made. That tends to carry over. I would not want this blog to become COVID-19 Central. I wouldn’t subject my readers to it, and I don’t think I could do it to myself either.

But an increasing number of of business owners are now able to get back to work and are trying to maintain a connection to their customers. So I’ve recently decided that going forward, until our economy regains stability, for every piece I write for a client, a part of my fee will go to this “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative in the clients’ name.

For as long as it takes for that stability to come, or as long as the “Adopt a Healthcare Worker” initiative runs, whichever comes first.

Lightening the load for a local health care worker who is carrying a lot on their shoulders right now will make me feel like I am doing something useful to my community. It will re-motivate me to write because I will be doing it for a cause well beyond myself.

I hope you and those you love are doing very well.

The Evil Leprechaun Who Haunts My Apartment

Most people are unaware that there is a counterpart to the leprechaun in Irish mythology called the clurichaun. They are known to be surly, drunken little tricksters, mischievous fairies who usually haunt breweries and wine cellars and the like. Okay so he’s not really an “evil” leprechaun, per se. Just kind of a jerk.

Like leprechauns, they are known to guard hidden treasures. So I was pretty well convinced, being the mischievous bounders they are, that a clurichaun was responsible for the various items that had gone missing in my apartment of late with no plausible explanation.

The missing items included:

  • a flashlight I had used almost every night to read before I slept, which I would put in the same place every night when finished
  • one of my favorite caps which I bought because it reminded me of my grandfather
  • my favorite t-shirt, and the one tangible piece of memorabilia I brought home from my most enjoyable vacation
  • a whole damn card table

That last one is no joke. Months ago it occurred to me and my wife that neither of us had any idea where it was. We live in a two bedroom apartment, and the way we have our living space arranged, there really are very limited places to store such a thing, all of which would be quite visible.

Total mystery to both of us.

Then, about a week ago, as mysteriously as it disappeared, out of nowhere, my wife noticed the table, legs folded up, and leaning against the side of our living room sofa. Which we spend a good deal of time on, by the way. Then probably the next day, when doing some spring cleaning she discovered my flashlight in an area which was of course the most obvious place for it to be, but because of that, also the most scrutinized area in my previous search for it.

In any case, there it was.

Still no sign of my t-shirt or my cap. Maybe when the clurichaun gets bored with his mischief these treasures will be relinquished back to me.

Until then, because of how absolutely freakish the table’s reappearance was, I am reminded by this ordeal that human beings have an uncanny ability to not see what is right in front of their eyes.

Maybe if I approach my apartment from just the right angle, I will find my missing belongings.

Maybe if we all look at our lives from a different point of view, all of the missing pieces will come into view.

In any case, I don’t know what a clurichaun would be doing in our apartment. We don’t keep a lot of liquor around and none of what we have has gone missing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.

Strange Days Indeed.

This month is full of contradictions. So much so that the whole thing started last month, on February 29th. “Leap Day.” We gained a whole day.

We coasted off that momentum right into March 4th, “the only day that tells you what to do.” March forth! It is also known as “Do Something Day!” meant to be a day of positive initiative. Just in case we didn’t make good use of February 29th.

Yeah, but then a few days later we “lost an hour” when we Spring(ed) – (sprung? sprang?) – Forward. Nobody ever has anything positive to say about that day until they start to realize they’ve got more daylight after work. Then it’s all just lovely again.

Now, then. After we’d leapt, marched and sprung, the other night we had a full moon. I am not a superstitious person, but for those who are, the ominous implications of the full moon are likely to cancel out the extra hour before sunset, all of the marching forth they’d done, and (did I mention?) their entire extra day!

Just in case it doesn’t though, this Friday is “the 13th.”
Double….whammy….

Fear not, though. Because I assure you that if you manage to evade the perils of these two most inauspicious days, St. Patrick’s Day and the “luck of the Irish” will be right around the corner.

For your sake, I hope you are Irish.

I’m kidding. Just as whatever it is that is unleashed on a full moon and on Friday the 13th does not discriminate, on St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish. So everything’s going to be fine. Then all you’ll have to worry about is what your friends have in store for you on April Fools’ Day.

The Company Vehicle

I got my new wheelchair last week. It came with significant improvements, which I specifically ordered. I originally told them I basically wanted the Batmobile of wheelchairs, but it seems my insurance wasn’t real keen on that concept. So this will do.

  • I hardly ever use the brakes but when I do need them it is good to have a dependable and easy to use mechanism. This chair’s brakes are a spring activated situation, so a flip of the thumb is all that is needed to lock them.
  • The front wheels are wider than I’ve ever had before. So the many potholes in the sidewalks and roads will be much less of a hazard.
  • The footplate is tucked underneath significantly in comparison to my old chair, making me much more mobile in tight spaces.
  • The frame of the chair itself is minimal, making it much easier to keep clean. Though the existing bars are beefier than the ones on my old chair, the minimalism makes it much lighter.

I’ll be able to move very well in it once I master driving the thing. It is going to take some getting used to. I had my old chair for over 11 years. So though it was getting a bit creaky, I had driving it down to a science. I knew how flicking a finger against a spoke, or pressing a palm against the side of a wheel to slow one side down just so, could help navigate certain types of terrain.

With a new cushion and new tires, I’m pretty well set to take on the world this spring and summer. I plan to put on a lot of miles, as I do every year once the weather gets warmer. Especially this year as on evenings and weekends I’ll be pursuing my side project ever more seriously. You see, by day I am a mild-mannered insurance marketing agent. Outside the office, I am a freelance writer.

I ordered my chair painted dark purple to match the logo for my freelance writing business. I call it “the company vehicle” because I plan to put on some significant mileage rolling around my home town, getting to know my fellow business owners and offering my service, throwing some business cards around. You know.

In my work as a writer, I am driven by three things:

  • I am a writer. And writer’s write. So I write. Not only do I have a love for communicating in writing, for crafting a phrase that reaches people, but it is an inexorable part of me. It must be done.
  • A great and ancient lineage of poets and story tellers is represented by my family name, Dailey. That is why I called the company simply, Dailey Freelance.
  • Today is National Wheelchair Day. And though I don’t try to make it the headline, I never shy away from the fact that I am a disabled business owner. It is important to me to represent that because the kind of world I’d like to see, that I’d like to help create, is one in which disabled people are putting their talents and contributions on full display.

So I write. Because I’m a writer. And writer’s write.

Finding Your Life’s Work, Your Legacy, To Echo Through the Ages

My wife and I watched the Oscars last weekend. I’m not real big on the pageantry of it all, or the trophies as a reward for art, and frankly the speeches can get rather inane. Even when the winners try to use their platform to say something of substance. Even so, someone said something that caught my attention.

I wish I’d written it down, but what it boiled down to was that everyone in that room were artists, and as such, they were a part of a lineage that went back to the dawn of civilization.

Inspiring.

Not only did the observation tie each of them to the history of Hollywood (and WELL beyond) and all of its luminaries of the past, but it linked them to each other. Technically what they were engaged in that evening was a competition, but they were one, when it came down to it.

As a writer, I know that I have a sort of “pantheon” of authors, poets, and journalists whose works I consider at least quasi-sacred. I’ll bet if you think about it, you do too. Maybe your luminaries aren’t writers. Maybe they make up the lineage of whatever your life’s work is. Whoever they are, it is nice to be able to see your own work as a part of that particular story.

Some people think it is a cliché and an exaggeration but I think we’re all artists. I don’t think that brushing your teeth or drinking a glass of water or shopping for groceries is art. But whatever your livelihood is…whatever enriches your life…whatever you do to tell the world who you are…whatever your legacy will be…that’s art.

Every one of us has a body of work that is weaved into that same tapestry, that lineage of artists which was mentioned on the Oscars. We’ve been building upon it, adding to it since time immemorial, and we’ll continue to do so.

I’d be deeply honored to use my art to tell the story of yours. If you’re ready to put the story of your business in the spotlight, see my blog’s contact page.

Then let’s do this!

Super Bowl Week Reflections of a Fair-Weather Kansas City Chiefs Fan

When I was a little kid I had this irrational delusion that the Kansas City Chiefs were some unnaturally powerful football team. I feared them. This was in the mid-late 1980s when, back in reality, Kansas City had a losing record almost every year. I honestly don’t know where the notion even came from.

Then, in the early 1990s when suddenly they were an actual perennial playoff team, I began to root for them. This was the era of hand-me-down legends for the Chiefs’ roster. Joe Montana. Marcus Allen. Others. They became my secondary “favorite team” and I thought for sure they’d make their way to the Super Bowl. My tertiary favorite team was the Philadelphia Eagles, for equally hazy reasons. I always hoped to see the two of them face off in the big game, but looking back this would have resulted in some messy and unnecessary internal conflicts, so I’m glad it never happened.

I was always lukewarm about Philadelphia anyway. The Kansas City Chiefs repeatedly let me down all throughout high school. By the time I went away to college, I had stopped caring what they did too. They aren’t even my secondary favorite now. The Saints are. I actually rooted against Philadelphia in the Super Bowl one year!

This Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs will play in the Super Bowl for the first time in my life. I was actually kind of hoping they would face the Green Bay Packers, which was a moral conflict on another level, being from Minnesota. I justified it by saying that I was rooting for a rematch of the first Super Bowl, not the Packers themselves.

You know…for history’s sake. Yeah.

The funny thing is, after years of growing disinterest in what the Chiefs were doing, it is hard to revel in their success without feeling like I am being a bandwagon jumper-onner, or a fair-weather fan at best.

I know I still can root for them. If they win, I can smile at the team I thought so highly of so long ago finally making good. But I know their victory would be all the more sweet had I never stopped following them. A good friend of mine has been a Chicago Cubs fan for over 30 years, and when they won their first World Series in 108 years in 2016, he basically told me he could die happy now.

I’ll smile if “my Chiefs” win, but it won’t give me that sweet, life-affirming culmination of years of faithful fandom that it could have been.

I guess what I am saying is never give up on your dream. When you see it through to the end, I am sure it will be all the sweeter for you. Even more so because it will be something you achieved yourself, a moment that football fandom can never really give you, no matter how good your team is.

Enjoy the game.
Go, K.C.!

Flag-Wavin’ Joe

If you live in Rochester, you’ve probably heard of “the flag-waving guy.” You’ve driven past him on your way to work, or you’ve seen him in the local news. The man’s gotten some press over the years.

Yeah. Years. He’s been at it as long as I can remember, and probably much longer. His name is Joe Johnson, and people call him the flag-waving guy because on almost any day of the year he can be found on the sidewalk outside his apartment on Second Street, usually waving a United States flag. He has others, like his Mexican flag for Cinco de Mayo, for example. But the red, white and blue is his trademark.

If not a flag, he might be spotted just waving Pepsi cans at passing traffic, with equal gusto, though the Stars and Stripes are clearly closer to his heart. He is a patriot in the most sincere, pure, and non-partisan kind of way. He is also almost always barefoot, and often shirtless even in the dead of winter. He appears to be totally immune to the cold. He claims he’s just warm-blooded.

People are either amused, puzzled, or inspired by Joe. Some people do not approach him. Some people are missing out. Because in stopping and talking with Joe on many occasions, my wife and I have found him to be a very talkative, fun-loving and sweet man. He’s retired, and he does what he does, seemingly for the absolute hell of it, but you get the sense that he takes it as his responsibility – his civic duty even, and that it means the world to him.

Apparently the feeling is mutual. His recent absence from his post on Second Street raised enough question that he’s made the news again. Turns out he had his gall bladder removed and has since been hospitalized with high blood pressure and non-stop headaches.

Maybe by the time this post is published he’ll be home recuperating. For all I know, by then he’ll already be back at it with the star-spangled banner waving. And I certainly hope so.

Every town should have a Joe. I mean only Rochester, Minnesota has our Flag-Wavin’ Joe, but my sincere wish is that every town has someone like him who you can scarcely imagine driving through the neighborhood without seeing, someone so dependable that if he’s not there, the alarm is raised and someone calls the radio station about it. I wish we could all look out for each other that way. But not every one stands out as much as Joe.

Every town should have a Joe, if only to provide a splash of color, whether it be the red, white, and blue, or any other colors Joe feels like throwing on, on any given morning. We need people like him for the same reason we need our music to have different notes. And really what’s the point of anything if you can’t, every now and then, see a guy waving a U.S. flag, wearing a giant sombrero, a tie-dyed sweatshirt, and Las Vegas-themed shorts, and only think “Oh good, Joe’s here”? Serious question.

Dear reader, if you are reading this and wondering who your town’s Joe is, maybe it is you. If so, please be that. Be the hell out of it. We need you.

If you see this, Joe, we hope you’re well. Thank you for making our city a little bit more fun. We look forward to stopping by for another chat the next time we get the chance.

Foresight 2020

Hey, Happy 2020, alright?

When the new year comes, I don’t make a point of big personal statements, soaring platitudes about what I’ve learned in the past 365 or 366 days or where I see life taking me in the year to come. I try to trust that the past has been instilled in me and installed in my consciousness well enough that its lessons will serve me well, and I usually just like to see for myself what the next year will bring as it happens.

It’s not that January 1st is just another day for me. But I am not the type of person who thinks that somewhere between December 31st and January 1st we discover a “New You” for the New Year.

If you are that kind of person, that is great. No sincere effort toward personal betterment is ever wasted.

But for me, like many people, at the end of most years, I am simply ready for it to be over. Take 2019 for example. In just these few days since Christmas I have

  • been sick
  • had a minor skin wound
  • had part of my wheelchair break off, and
  • someone sat on the laptop on which I do my freelance blogging work screwing it up irrevocably, I fear. I’m working on seeing what I can do about that. Meantime, I’m writing this on an older laptop. I’m soldiering on the best I know how.

Yet guess what. After all of the frustrations numerated above, tonight I discovered that I’ve got a new gig writing about one of the things that I’ve always told myself I am meant to be writing about. The Beatles. I can’t wait to jump into 2020 with this project immediately in front of me.

The traditional concept of hindsight will nag at me saying that I should have been doing these types of projects for years now. But I know there is no point in thinking that way. It is here now. Hindsight is 2020 because you have the benefit of…well, hindsight. You’ve been there and done that already, so you have an informed perspective on events.

I want to approach the year 2020 like that, except going forward instead of looking back. I want to approach the future of Dailey Freelance with the confidence of someone who sets goals with an informed certainty.

I want you, the client to set expectations on my work for you with a certainty as though when I discuss what I’m going to do for you, you can consider it already done.

I want to cover every freelance subject I write on with the certainty of an expert, to make myself so well-informed on the subject that it will be the most natural thing in the world for me to write your content.

So let’s put 2019 behind us and move into 2020 with certainty.