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Announcing: The Famous Cheekyredhead

Posted By cheekyredhead on May 6, 2009 at 3:55PM

I am probably the most naive person on the internet. For years I have been quietly typing away, spewing out articles, stories and goofy commentaries on only three websites, happily going about my business, making tons of friends and hoping that I was perhaps the best kept secret. I have actively guarded that secret and kept it from my family. Why? Privacy of course…okay insecurity. How about privacy AND insecurity?

Have any of you ever “Googled” your name or alias? It never occurred to me because I apparently live under a rock, but tonight my husband asked me if anyone had ever asked permission to forward any of my articles or stories. Of course this has happened a few times and I will freely admit that it stroked my ego...it felt REAL GOOD.

I have made it a habit of asking permission from an author when I have reposted something wonderful that simply had to be shared. I always carefully made sure the original author was given credit and gave links to the original source. Everyone has been great about it. Authors love sharing stories because that is what it is about.

Well, my IT guru husband and I “Googled” my alias “Cheekyredhead” and found some really remarkable things. A nice lady that is “all about yarn and weaving” seems to share my alias as well as a few porn stars. Aside from that shock I sat back and viewed the vastness of the internet and saw that my little articles, stories and general goofiness has been forwarded, book-marked, and reposted to “infinity and beyond” now making me feel a bit silly about my perception that I was maybe a tiny treasure here on this site.

I suppose the bigger irony is that I have been so careful to keep my stories from my family, as if I were a child guarding a secret box of chocolates. It has made me consider why I kept them so close to me, failing to share them with the people I care deeply about. Writing can be a deeply personal thing.

My stories and articles are often based on fact and well embellished with a healthy dose of imagination. They are the essence of me while also both fiction and folly. Was I afraid of some haunting great big critical red pen to be wielded against my little stories?

Perhaps it is insecurity, but the opinions of those close to me are highly valued and I may have been a little hesitant to be given that brutal honesty I am sometimes so famous for. Does anyone want to be told that the little stories they feel so guilty about hiding are in fact possibly pure rubbish?

Wow, I guess I do not give those I love enough credit—where is the trust—where is the love? I know that is what you were thinking. It is hysterically funny actually. I never realized I was so insecure. The evidence of my insecurity is astounding and overwhelming...heck, it is all over the internet!

Well, today I made a great big girl step into the realm of honesty I value so much. Yes, this Cheekyredhead is coming out of the closet for all to see. I am walking out into the open for the sun to shine on my smiling face as I announce proudly that I am THE original Cheekyredhead!

What the heck does that mean anyway? I guess it means that I am ready to actually to take the credit for my writing, goofy banter and silliness. I will confess that I was bewildered, shocked and very pleased that people have thought enough of my writing to forward it and share with others. That means so much to me!

One of my favorite people in the whole world once said, “You love me, You really love me!” and that of course was Sally Fields. While I have never accomplished what she has, I know that feeling now and it is real and it is sweet and also scary. I will not be picky “You like me, You really like me!” is equally meaningful.

The bottom line here is that phrase has new meaning to me. Thank you...REALLY… THANK YOU! I am so excited I am screaming. I am sorry. Am I famous? I am so excited!

My first public appearance was a very nervous experience. I was terrified that nobody would be there—that all my friends online would evaporate and suddenly not exist. All the skills I had honed and worked on in our local Toastmasters club went out the window. With sweaty palms and a ball of nerves, I contemplated whether an empty room would be as mortifying as one full of BIG expectations…

I took a deep breath and I ran out yelling “You like me…YOU REALLY LIKE ME!” and then the laughter began. I felt so loved, liked and needed. What more could anyone ask for? I never thought anything would ever be as good as chocolate (except my husband of course) but nothing and I mean nothing can match someone asking for your autograph! I don’t care if it was a 7 year old! These are my fans!

Then my husband convinced me to finally come back in the house. He insists the internet is not the vastness of the evening sky in my front yard and apparently I was just hustled by a brownie scout for three dozen cookies…I do remember signing something.

I suppose announcing my success to the neighbors as they pulled out their trash cans does not equal a press conference. It was a great little piece of heaven for five minutes and perhaps a lifetime of embarrassment in the future. Darn. Was that my five minutes of fame?

My neighbors now know me as that crazy redhead lady at the end of the cul-de-sac. On line people know me as THE “Cheekyredhead” and a few publishers know me as Cheeky Powell, but now all of you know me here as the most naïve person on the internet.

Yep..That is the real me, but I have always been real. Really…I am serious. Yes- all real, no inter-changeable plastic parts, this is all me. My superhero costume is being made. My laptop eagerly awaits its next punishment and somewhere there are three dozen Girl Scout cookies with my name on them. They deliver right?

Of course all my adoring fans can have an autograph…but they will have to find me first. There is no scheduled repeat performance in my front yard but if you wait a couple months I will I have plenty of cookies to share.

Criminey! My Word--Feel Free To Use It!

Posted By cheekyredhead on Apr 23, 2009 at 4:05PM

"Criminey!" That has become my favorite expression. It seems to fit into any circumstance without being vulgar or off-putting. Ha! I finally used that weird hyphenated word "off-putting" so I can check that off my list of things to accomplish.

Words are tools which can be sharp and dangerously painful, or they can be used to express emotions that are difficult to place on a page. When my teenagers were little I encouraged them to always look for better words to use. When my daughter got into trouble for yelling at a kid on the playground, "Are you stupid or what?!" I made her come up with a better way to say that same thing in a more tactful way. I know---where did she hear that phrase in the first place? Our lovely neighbors who fought constantly were so nice to share that phrase and many other lovely explicatives.

My point is that the gift of being tactful with words is an art form which must be cultivated and developed. One of my favorite movies which demonstrate this is "Wild America" in which the smart college girls essentially tell off this one young man for putting his younger brother in danger. It wasn't as much what they said but how they said it. The young man stood there for a few moments for their words to sink in and then felt ashamed. The college girls smiled and walked away.

In a work environment this comes in handy. It works even better if the person you said something to has to go look up a word so that they'd fully understand what you said. This is great because by the time they have done that you have cooled off so that when they come up to you to defend themselves you have already tactfully prepared some new way of dealing with their attitude. Most will never come to defend themselves because you have already shown them you can out-talk them.

I may have mastered being verbally tactful but writing a tactful response is a bit more difficult. How many of you have typed out a scathing retort and emailed it back and then the next day wish you could retrieve it and delete it? Many of you I am sure. Sarcasm can come off as downright bitchy and snotty instead of witty. A guideline which helps me on this: If you find yourself emotional when you read something, write your response as a draft/save it, look at it the next day, and check it out to make sure you weren't over-reacting or come across as snotty. Nothing good usually comes from any writing which is based in anger.

We have all read something online which made us search for the correct response besides the original "OMG" reaction. I myself will admit I have posted things I may have regretted later---not WHAT I said but HOW I said it. Once I even told a woman that was angry about the comments she was receiving that if she didn't want anyone's honest opinion then she should open her own forum and simply state in its rules that people were only allowed to agree with her there as it was "her forum." While I was tactful I also was honest. There are some people that really aren't looking for honesty at all. They simply want some people to nod and agree with them.

Communicating on the internet is interesting. I am taking law classes online and some of my fellow students are in countries which strongly regulate opinions. They are free to say things on the internet that they would never be free to say in their own front yard. Because of this I think I look at what people write a bit differently. One never knows what circumstances have brought about someone’s opinion and attacking it without knowing that is simply a waste of time and effort. I guess that what I learned most in that law class was that life is interpreted by each individual based upon their own experiences and culture. Appreciating those differences of opinion can often bring us understanding that we otherwise would never have realized.

In writing the “pregnant pause” is of course a huge and valuable skill to assimilate. Giving yourself “pause” to consider before reacting in a huge component of tactful writing. I often ask myself before I post a comment, “What would be gained by what I have just said?” If I find myself merely nodding and agreeing all the time it feels like I have become that brown-nose that never wants to upset anyone. There are enough “yes men” in the world. I don’t want to be that nor do I want to be the person with something contrary to always say.

I had a conversation with my teenagers the other day which was explaining the difference between adults comparing ideas to adults arguing about a topic. The significant difference in the two is that comparing ideas does not make one person right and everyone else wrong. It is the brainstorming session which enriches our lives instead of the combative argument which nobody really wins. My teenagers were going to have to learn that now I am not so much a dictator to them but a voice of opinion and experience.

Cultivating a way to disagree with someone without being hostile is a valuable tool. Unfortunately it is a tool many adults have not learned and mastered.

I am a very honest person and if someone asks for raw honesty I will give it in the most tactful way possible, however when that slim opportunity demands brutal honesty I will share it without any other motives but to be helpful. It is my hope that those who may misunderstand my motives will have saved a grain of salt to apply in copious amounts. The times when you find yourself reading a post and have that knee-jerk reaction of “OMG” I hope that you use that pregnant pause to your benefit.

Those that wish to be groomed into cyber stalkers should look for another target, because from me all you will get is the word, “Criminey.” That word comes in handy a lot!

If only I could get paid every time someone uses my new word...Criminey! I'd be rich!

Those Stinkey Cyber-Stalkers

Posted By cheekyredhead on Apr 23, 2009 at 3:56PM

OMG! I am being cyber-stalked! I am wondering what kind of evidence I need to make sure this person will be tossed off the net. Okay, perhaps that is a bit harsh. Merely banish them from posting in any forum in my time zone. Nope...that won't work either. How about just prevent them from following me around forums? Nope, I don’t think can do that either. Criminey! What is it with people like that?

The internet has given freedom to people that otherwise would never be given a voice. I am taking online law classes and many of my fellow students are all over the world. That fabulous diversity can only be accomplished by use of the internet. Many of my fellow students find that they are free to say things online that they never could openly say to a neighbor or even to someone at a market. Third world countries cannot put limitations on what is said over the internet. That is a marvelous thing.

I remember when I finally took the big step and went online. Being from the old school, the internet was intimidating and a bit scary. I literally thought I might get sucked up into some great big black hole. It is probably hard for most of you to relate to this "black hole" phenomenon that I am talking about.

The first time I took part in a chat room was a bizarre and disorienting thing. You will probably not find me in a chat room again because after that one experience I received hate mail for three months. I quickly began to understand that there are guidelines to use which help protect you. I was stupid enough to enter that chat room with my email address as my identifier. Spam also haunted me until I changed my email address. Privacy is simply only as good as your settings are. .

Whew…you are wondering now what I could possibly have done in only three minutes in a chat room that would warrant someone sending me hate mail for three months. You are thinking….”Hmmmn…what is this chick’s problem….what could she have said or done which would cause that? Perhaps I should go see if I put her in my favorites or bookmarked her as a friend and re-think that?” The irony here is that I didn’t do anything. Seriously NOTHING. The only thing I was guilty of was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently cyber-stalkers need very little motivation to drive you nuts.

I have come to think of cyber-stalkers as the gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. It gets messy and very difficult to get them off of you. The odd thing is that the more you protest the more they cling onto whatever or whoever does not want them. Why is this? I have spent some time thinking about it and have come up with an indicator.

My Grandpa called it “The Principal of Stink.” He always said “Those that stink and offend the most try to leave their scent on those they resent, do not understand, feel threatened by and/or are jealous of.” Animals mark their territory with their own brand of “stink” so perhaps this is what the cyber-stalker does.

Just when you think you have cleaned that stink off they have created a new identity to sneak up on you another way. The attraction or connection a cyber-stalker is looking for will never be found which just frustrates them further. They are looking to be validated and needed in some way but often lack the social skills to accomplish that goal. The personality of a cyber-stalker often demands attention, sees things as either right or wrong and never views things as varied shades of grey.

What can you do about a cyber-stalker? Usually the best thing to do is complain to the “management” and if possible forward messages that your new cyber pal has sent you to the “management.” The people in site management are really the only people that can help you with the gum stuck to your shoe. I would advise you to save messages from this annoying person rather than delete them as they come in handy if you need to send them to the management.

Ultimately, ignoring them seems to work most of the time. I know that is hard to do when you are being followed by the big green monster but for some reason it usually works. The last thing you need to do is give them more reason to bother you. If it gets out of hand and management cannot help there are laws about cyber-stalking so make sure you have kept all those messages and copies of posts as they will come in handy.

Lawmakers are coming up with guidelines to prosecute those which seem to go beyond simple harassment to threats. How do I know that? I am one of those drafting guidelines for those laws. I am fighting for all of us to be free from the “Stinking Cyber-Stalkers” which ruin the banter and fruitful conversation we desire in forums and commentary. Freedom of expression is a valuable component to our life. It is silly but necessary unfortunately to write guidelines in the first place.

Meanwhile… Why won’t those “Stinking Cyber-Stalkers” just play nice?