The Joy of a Good Verb

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Category: Language, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 5 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Pesi Dinnerstein’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. We’re giving away a copy of A Cluttered Life: Searching for God, Serenity, and My Missing Keys! [affiliate] Read on to see how you can win.

Pesi DinnersteinAbout Pesi Dinnerstein: Pesi Dinnerstein (a.k.a. Paulette Plonchak) has written selections for the best-selling series Small Miracles, by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal, and has contributed to several textbooks and an anthology of short stories. Dinnerstein recently retired as a full-time faculty member of the City University of New York, where she taught language skills for close to thirty years.

She has been an aspiring author and self-acknowledged clutterer for many years, and has spent the better part of her life trying to get organized and out from under. Despite heroic efforts, she has not yet succeeded; but she continues to push onward, and hopes that her journey will inspire others to keep trying as well.

The Joy of a Good Verb by Pesi Dinnerstein

I’ve never liked verbs very much.  Adjectives have always been more my speed.  How things look and feel and smell are generally more interesting to me than what they do.  Whether someone sips or swigs or guzzles their coffee concerns me less than the fact that it’s steaming hot, creamy beige and mocha-flavored with a hint of vanilla.

Most of the verbs that are part of my daily life are not particularly exciting.  I drive from here to there; I return a phone call; I lose my keys — I find my keys — I lose my keys again; I unload the dishwasher — I reload the dishwasher; I water my garden; I steam my vegetables; I try to remember to breathe.  It’s all necessary, but pretty boring.

I would certainly rather spend my time in the presence of a flaming orange sunset or an iridescent ocean wave.  Hanging out with an adjective is so much more satisfying.

However, a few years ago, something shifted.  As I was writing A Cluttered Life and thinking about all the things that make my life unmanageable, I couldn’t help but notice that my world was becoming more and more crowded with adjectives and the objects to which they were attached.

Then, one day, an old friend came to visit.  She had never seen my house in quite the state it was in at that moment, and her eyes opened wide as she stepped through the front door.

“This place feels very . . . stuck,” she said, expressing many layers of meaning in  that one well-chosen word — which, interestingly enough, just happened to be an adjective.

She was absolutely right.  My home was stuck; my things were stuck; and I was feeling increasingly stuck myself.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that what I needed were a few dynamic verbs to help me break through my own inertia.  The ones I was currently engaged with — observing, reflecting, writing — were not creating much movement in my life.  The situation clearly called for action.  Organize; fold; file; recycle; throw out — do something!  I immediately put the book aside.  It was obviously time to stop describing my mess and start dealing with it.

And, then, a strange thing happened.  When I returned to the manuscript, I found myself dissatisfied with many of the chapters that had seemed perfectly fine to me before.  Now, they felt stuck as well.

So, I began to delete adjectives and add verbs.  It was painful at first, but, before long, light and air seemed to flow into my sentences — and I could feel the manuscript beginning to breathe.

But change is not easy to hold on to.  Although I’ve come to appreciate the value of a good verb — in my life as well as in my writing — I continue to prefer the comfort of a friendly adjective.

And when I take my morning walk tomorrow, I probably still won’t notice the running and skating and bicycling going on because, once again, I’ll be too busy enjoying the beautiful, brightly colored, deliciously fragrant world around me.

A Cluttered LifeAbout Dinnerstein’s Book: Insightful, unsettling, and wildly funny, A Cluttered Life: Searching for God, Serenity, and My Missing Keys (Seal Press) is the story of Pesi Dinnerstein’s quest to create a simple and orderly life—only to discover that simplicity is not so simple and what constitutes clutter is not always perfectly clear. When a chance encounter with an old acquaintance reveals the extent to which disorder has crept into every corner of her existence, Pesi determines to free herself, once and for all, of the excess baggage she carries with her. Along the way—with the help of devoted friends, a twelve-step recovery program, and a bit of Kabbalistic wisdom—her battle with chaos is transformed into an unexpected journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.

Comment and win: The prize: winner gets a copy of A Cluttered Life: Searching for God, Serenity, and My Missing Keys!. For a chance to win, please leave a comment about clutter, getting organized, changing your vocabulary or whatever comes to mind after reading this post (other than you wanna win!). You have until 11:59pm on January 31, 2012 to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic has the honor of picking the winner.


Links: Finals Everywhere 2011 Edition

Friday, May 27th, 2011 at 4:54 PM | Category: Books, Language, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 1 comment

My older two kids have a quirky schedule in the next week as they start taking final exams in 6th and 11th grades. The 2nd grader gets to have fun with an end of the year party and no finals. But 3rd grade is going to be serious business as it’ll be his first year of taking state tests. It won’t be long before he won’t get to do the fun stuff and not have finals.

Then summer begins. I’m not a fan of summer break because of the inconsistent schedule and work disruptions as camp and activities start later and end earlier than school. Of course, I’ll spend time with the kids — I just can’t spend it the entire summer and I like my quiet time and consistent schedule.

Brain food…

For fun because we’re allowed…

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Links: No Fools Here 2011 Edition

Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Category: Business, Language, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing No comments

One thing about working for myself — no worries about April Fool’s pranks. But I do have kids and one in particular likes to pull stuff. Full alert! Here are some great April Fool’s office pranks [Link: Marc Harty] — fun ‘n safe. #37 cracked me up. What’s your favorite April Fool’s prank?Boys at Lego Discovery Center

Legoland Discovery Center rocked. It blew away this adult who has seen many incredible creations. See a taste of MINILAND in the below Dallas skyline picture. That’s only part of it. It also had famous buildings from Fort Worth, my hometown.

A lot of GREAT stuff this week… so go explore.

Brain food…

And for fun because we’re allowed…

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Links: Bricks, Bricks and More Bricks 2011 Edition

Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Category: Language, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing 3 comments

You know March roars in like lion and goes out like a lamb? Not this time. It feels like the month whizzed by unless you’re in Japan. I’m sure it’s been a long couple of weeks. I’m thinking of the folks there every day.

Angry Birds

The second Legoland Discovery Center in the US comes to Dallas. My family heads there tomorrow as part of a special preview for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. I can’t believe Lego built the second one here. Here’s hoping it’s a memorable experience for the boys. I’m sure they’ll be asking for this ‘n that as Lego wouldn’t have this place and no Lego for sale.

The youngest got his braces on this week. He got tired of everyone asking, “Why do you need braces?” Severe overbite in his case. That will be three braces for all three kids.

I hope the younger two won’t need them again in the future. The older brother’s permanent teeth haven’t all come in yet and the latest round tried to mess with his teeth. Poor guy had to have three teeth pulled to prevent damage. Orthodontia has changed since I’ve sported railroad tracks. They put braces on kids sooner because they’re waiting until they’re older and baby teeth fall out can do more harm than good.

Brain food…

And for fun because we’re allowed…

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40+ Naming and Branding Resources

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Category: Business, Language, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 4 comments

In her Name Tales newsletter, Marcia Yudkin shares a disheartening Las Vegas Sun article about what happens to a company that chooses a name that resembles another company’s name. The story shows that anything can happen with a company’s name that even if the company does nothing wrong. The safest thing to do is not fall in love with one name or brand, but to have a few options and then research to see if anything comes close.Names Twooooooooooo.0

These resources help you with your naming and branding effort with a couple of what not to dos.


  1. 5 Obvious Rules for Naming Your Product (That We Wish We’d Followed)
  2. 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business
  3. 10 Tips for Naming Your Company, Product or Service
  4. 11 Ways to Play the Name Game
  5. 50 Worst Company Names (Requires registration)
  6. The Basics of Branding
  7. The Best (and Worst) Business Names
  8. Branding Dilemma: When to Use Your Own Name
  9. Business Name and Tagline Generator
  10. Create a Unique Company Name
  11. Day2Day Activities: How they named their companies
  12. How 10 Famous Technology Products Got Their Names
  13. How they named companies – fact or fiction?
  14. How to Create a Great Business Name
  15. How to Create Company Names
  16. How to Name Your Business
  17. How to Select a Company Name
  18. Hunt is on for world’s worst rebranding
  19. Microsoft’s Zune Raises Ruckus in Hebrew — the reason you should verify your brand name in another language before selling it in other countries. Chevy Nova (no go) wouldn’t go over well in Spanish-speaking countries.
  20. The Name Game
  21. Put Your Business Name to the Test and more from
  22. Tech’s Product Name Guru: Meet the man who coined BlackBerry, Azure and More
  23. Think Search Before You Name Your Next Product
  24. Wikipedia company name etymologies


  1. Brainstorming domain names.
  2. Brand Name Generator
  3. Brand Naming
  4. Building the Perfect Beast: The Igor Naming Guide to Creating Product and Company Name
  5. CatchWord Naming Blog
  6. Community Mottos and Nicknames. City names can provide inspiration.
  7. The Funny Name Server
  8. Latin dictionary
  9. Name Tales
  10. POP! Stand out in Any Crowd book.
  11. Free Tools and Sites for Writers: Check the resources section for references.
  12. Snark Hunting: The Naming and Branding Blog
  13. US Patent and Trademark Office
  14. Web 2.0 Name Generator
  15. Writer’s Digest Flip Dictionary book
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Links: Thanksgiving 2010 Edition

Friday, November 26th, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Category: Blogging, Business, Customer Service, Language, Life Tips, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog 1 comment

I thought about naming this the Aquarium edition in honor of the field trip I went on with my son’s second grade class this week where I loved seeing my son’s face as he was in awe of some of the discoveries. (Like in this photo.) However, Thanksgiving is a delightful holiday, perhaps my favorite because it contains no pressure and no stress. The only stress for some folks may be the cooking. There’s no shopping for gifts, sending holiday wishes and preparation outside of cooking like decorating the home.Dallas World Aquarium

My mom does all the cooking. And guess what? She says Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday. Her and Dad’s anniversary always falls around Thanksgiving. They married on Thanksgiving in 1955. Though Dad passed away in 2007, I sent her a note on her anniversary date. Mom appreciated the senitment. So if you know someone whose spouse has passed away, go ahead and drop ’em a line on their anniversary date. Just because a mate is gone doesn’t mean you have to forget the date.

Just be with your fave people (OK, maybe Uncle youknow gets on your nerves — remember people don’t live forever and you don’t have to see them daily)  loved ones and relish the time together. For my family, add “watch the Dallas Cowboys.” Yeah, yeah… they lost in an exciting come from behind game. You gotta give ’em credit for trying when their playoff hopes are long gone.

Brain food…

And for fun because we’re allowed…

Tell us about your Thanksgiving.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans

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Links: Meet Me at the Fair 2010 Edition

Sunday, October 17th, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Category: Business, Language, Life Tips, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog 3 comments

No, not in St. Louis! Texas State Fair in Big D! Late with the links because of Blog Action Day and being exhausted from the fair. More deets in the next edition of links. On with the show!

Texas State Fair with Big Tex

OK, so you can barely see us... but gotta have the traditional photo with Big Tex

Brain food…

For fun because we’re allowed…

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans

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Links: Big Tex 2010 Edition

Friday, September 24th, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Category: Books, Business, Language, Links, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 1 comment
At the 2007 State Fair of Texas.
Image via Wikipedia

Today Big Tex starts welcoming everyone to the Texas State Fair in Dallas where fried food reigns. Every year since 2005, the State Fair holds a fried food contest where cooks submit their unique fried creations. Last year’s winner… fried butter. My cholesterol shot up a few points just from typing that. The Fair has presented fried Coke, fried cookie dough, fried PBJ and banana sandwich.

This year’s best taste winner: Texas Fried Fritos Pie (Texas chili with sharp cheddar inside Fritos, then lightly battered and fried.) The most creative winner is fried beer (beer-filled pretzel pocket). I’m not kidding. See the list of Big Texas Choice Awards winners since 2005. How about a healthy food contest to go with it?

I’d like to take my kids to the State Fair just once, but every year it’s just  too expensive even with free tickets for Sundays for the kids. Yes, I know — I’d be making memories. But it’s not easy to just pick up and go there.

Avil Beckford of The Invisible Mentor interviewed me. Here’s the part one of the interview and part two of the interview. I shared life lessons in hopes it will help others learn something from them.

Brain food…

And for fun because we’re allowed…

Here’s a question from The Invisible Mentor interview that I’d love to hear you answer: How do you nurture your soul?

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Links: Back from Boston Edition

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 11:59 AM | Category: Language, Life Tips, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Tech, Writing 1 comment

At the Boston HarborI had planned a post using my trip, but I struggled to recover from my vacation all week. Although I didn’t think I needed a vacation from my vacation, my body thought otherwise. It wiped me out that I kept going to bed early and allergies took over. I had to modify my schedule to get things done. My body was probably in shock that I took the first real vacation in almost a decade that it didn’t know what to do when I returned.

The short version of the trip: Loved seeing and experiencing Boston while catching up with family in Nashua, NH.

Hope I get back in the swing next week… it may be tricky with holidays on Monday and Thursday. Happy Labor Day to all. And do take the day off. Everyone deserves a break.

Brain food…

  • Make the Most of Your Memory: 10 Tips for Writing About Your Life: I ask family to fill in gaps when trying to recall a memory. People writing memoirs won’t get it perfect, but they can take steps to complete the picture.
  • a brief guide to life: Trying to declutter and enjoy life more…
  • Why & How Freelancers Should Exercise (from Fitness Expert Scott Tousignant): When I returned from Boston and Nashua, I felt out of sorts and had a hard time returning to my routine. While my exercise routine was off — I exercised for at least 40 minutes daily — maybe not what I usually do that day or as hard. The point was to do something and feel like I accomplished something.
  • See How They Did It: 104 Social Media Case Studies: Not all 104 are on this page — it links to others elsewhere. Good resource for both B2C and B2B.
  • Author Headshots: Also applies to any professional photos. I’m trying to schedule my family’s annual photos and get my professional headshots while at it because mine is from 2005. The hard part — finding the right tops for the family (we wear jeans) and for my professional photos. This part isn’t going well, but I might get some shots in my tee (which I happen to be wearing in the photo).

And for fun because we’re allowed…

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Howdy from Boston

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Category: Business, Language, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Tech No comments

Boston in Red

Travel. Love it. Hate it. I dream of going to London, Paris, Greece, Italy and other places. But then I think about all the work it takes to do overseas travel and the desire goes away… for a little while. Maybe it will be easier to do overseas travel when my life calms down — after the kids are grown. So I’m in no hurry.

Going nine years without going someplace new is a bit much. (The last few trips have been to … Austin… Austin… San Antonio slash Austin… Not a big deal when you live in Texas and they were all for events, conferences and even a volleyball tournament.) It’s not that I put off travel for when a better time comes. Life worked out that way.

I do the best I can to enjoy the moment and appreciate my life every day of every year. Working in a home office makes that possible. Some days — rainy or freezing days for one — I don’t care to walk my dog. Other days I appreciate that I can do this activity and it forces me to take a break from the computer that I might not take except to exercise.

Early this year, I got an invitation to a family event in Savannah, Georgia. Well, hey, I haven’t been to Savannah (I’ve been to Atlanta) and I love these cousins. We tried to go, but the unreasonable airfare didn’t work for us. It turned out to be a good thing because I received a surprise award that same weekend.

Another invitation arrived for a family event in Nashua, NH. The cousins are not just family, but dear friends. At one point, we lived within 30 minutes of each other and got together a few times. I’ve been to Nashua, so the location didn’t excite me. After researching, I find out the best airfare meant flying into Boston and making a road trip to Nashua instead of flying straight to NH.

Boston. I’ve never been there. When I lived in Washington, DC, I managed to visit Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York. Never made it to Massachusetts.


Since I have to fly to Boston, why not go a couple of days earlier and take a mini-vacation in Boston? That’s exactly what I’m doing. I did my research and managed to get a place in the North End near a lot of the action including the Freedom Trail. So I hope to squeeze it all in two days. It may be short, but it’ll be powerful to discover a spot in the U.S. that I’ve never visited and one with a rich history.

By the time this post goes live that I’ve had a grand time in Boston and I’ll be on my way to Nashua, NH. I hope I have lots to great stuff to report in the next link post. In the meantime, I hope you had a great week and you enjoy the little moments. Despite the hectic week before my trip, I took a breath and did my marching band routine to celebrate back to school week!

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