“every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser”

Life is full of choices. People spend a lot of time worrying about whether they’re making the right ones. I’ve spent hours trying to make decisions by writing about the different possibilities, talking about them with friends and family, making pro and con lists, and so on. My characters do this too. In Wrong All Along, Lorylyn panics over breaking up with Brady because even though their relationship can’t go on as it is, she knows letting him go now could mean losing him long-term, and she still loves him. In Love Means Zero, Hilton has to choose whether to pursue her dream life and career of traveling and taking pictures at the expense of her dream relationship with Luke.

Choices almost always involve a risk…letting go of one thing for the hope of something else. So you wonder, what if it doesn’t turn out like I want? Then I will have made the wrong choice and gotten nothing. And maybe lost out on something pretty big.

But I believe that a lot of the time, there’s not really a right or a wrong choice. It’s not the situations you put yourself in that cause happiness or unhappiness; it’s your thoughts and actions regarding those situations. If you make a choice but are consumed by doubt about it, you probably won’t do your best to live it out to the fullest. You have lingering what ifs bogging you down. And that leads you to believe you made the wrong choice…and even to doubt your future choices. In this case, you did make the wrong choice…about not having confidence in your original choice!

I heard a quote last summer by Earl Reum, a motivational speaker and great advocate for student leadership. He said, “Make a decision, and then make it the right one.” What he meant was, when you make choices, you need to put your all into them and get everything you can out of them. No doubts, no regrets.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. The title of this post is a line from the song. “Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” It’s true…in poker. A hand without even a pair can be a winner. If you choose to bluff and do it well enough to scare off the player with a flush, you will take the pot. And if you’re the player with the great hand who just got scared and folded…well, that just proves every hand can be a loser too.

And isn’t it also true in life? Take Lorylyn. If she stays with Brady, she’ll be winning in that she won’t have to let go of him and can try to improve their relationship. Or, she’ll be losing in that she could continue to feel their relationship is a compromise because it doesn’t match her idea of love. If she breaks up with him, she’ll be winning because she won’t be compromising, and maybe she’ll meet someone else. But she’ll be losing him, possibly for good, and she’s really not ready to even think about meeting anyone else.

“The Gambler” offers a further bit of wisdom, telling us “every gambler knows / the secret to surviving / is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”

Since, of course, every hand can be both a winner and a loser.

So how the hell do you know which hands to throw away and which to keep? Which hand to pick as your winner?

Well, if you go back to making a decision and then making it the right one, I think you find the answer in realizing what you’ll have to do to make that hand a winner. How hard will you have to work, and is it worth your time and effort? For Lorylyn, how can she improve her relationship with Brady? Is it worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? Or, if she breaks up with him, how can she go about finding a better relationship? Is that worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? And which scenario feels like the real win?

Or, maybe you’ll find the answer in what could make that hand a loser. What can you absolutely not stand to lose? For Hilton, can she imagine her life traveling the world and taking pictures…but without Luke? Or can she imagine herself in an amazing relationship with the guy she considers the love of her life…but lacking professional and creative satisfaction?

I recently got to hear a Mount Everest climber named John Beede speak about the experiences that led to his successful summit. He had a college professor who assigned students to write down 100 goals for their lives, which is what started him on his quest. He encouraged those of us listening to do the same…write down our goals. So I did. I didn’t get all the way to 100, but I got down some good, specific ones.

So now I have a choice. And the ironic thing is, whichever hand I pick as my winner will probably move me toward one of my biggest goals and farther away from one of my others. So I have to think, which choice can I make that will still allow me to meet the other goal, just maybe in a different fashion? And ultimately…which one is worth the risk it involves? Which one am I willing to give 100% unyielding effort to, once I’ve chosen it, to make it a winning hand?

Whichever one I choose, it’ll become my next postcard, one piece of the story of my life, the moment I’m living in that I would die for. (Go here for my theory on postcards: https://authordaisyjordan.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-crazy-thing-about-postcards/.)  So I’m pretty excited to make my choice, and then to make the most of it. 🙂

 

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the crazy thing about postcards

It took me a long time to decide what to call my blog. Two and a half years, really, because two and a half years ago is when I realized I should be blogging. But a few weeks ago, when I started thinking seriously about it, one of the first titles that came to mind was Living in a Postcard. It’s the name of one of my books, and the “living in a postcard” theory, which my characters Hilton and Jill created and use to define their lives, is one I very much believe in too. It’s all about finding those moments you would die for and actually living them. But in the end, the name for my blog came from “The Tigger Song.”

Yeah, “The Tigger Song.” From Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. If you Google it, it’s everywhere. I remember it from a Tigger jacket I had when I was little. It was printed on the inside of the jacket, and I used to sing it to our cat Tigger, who had markings like a tiger. When I was throwing around titles for my blog and mentioned The Thing About Postcards, it suddenly reminded me of “The Tigger Song,” which I told my mom, and she said, “Yeah, it does!” And when I realized I could even rewrite the song to be about postcards, I knew that was my title. The song would go something like:

“The Postcard Song”

The crazy thing about postcards, is postcards aren’t just blurbs

Their fronts are made out of pictures, their backs are made out of words

They always tell a story, even if it’s just one line

But the craziest thing about postcards, is they capture a moment in time

I think postcards are fascinating, one of the best and most intriguing forms of art and communication in the world. In my book Living in a Postcard, my character Hilton views a postcard as a snapshot of her life at any given moment. And this is what postcards are. Every one of them tells a story of a life at a given moment in time. There’s the most obvious way – when the story is written in a paragraph or two describing what someone is doing on vacation in the place from where the postcard was sent. But even that is just one of many stories told by that particular postcard.

daisyjordan.com/livinginapostcard

daisyjordan.com/livinginapostcard

That postcard also tells a story about the relationship between the person who wrote it and the person at the address printed on it, even though often that story is only known between the two of them. It tells a story about the person or people who took the photograph(s) on the front, or put together the design. It tells a story of the place or thing(s) represented on the front at the time the postcard was created.

Postcards tell other stories too. What about the ones mailed with no writing, only an address, letting the picture on the front speak for itself, along with whatever the recipient reads into the blank space on the other side? What about postcards kept by the person who bought them, as part of a collection or a scrapbook? Those tell a story too, of that person’s travels, where he or she was and what struck him or her about that place that’s reflected in the postcard and immortalized in a personal collection or album. I buy postcards from lots of places I travel, and I have them hanging on a wall in my apartment. I see them every day and they take me back to those places I’ve been and the people who were there with me. They also give me this constant sense of the bigger world, what else is out there besides my small piece of it.

Postcards can tell funny stories, like the one I used to think was so hilarious to send to all my friends when I was in Florida for spring break – the one that was completely black on the front and said “Florida at Night.” Or the ecard postcards online with the hilarious sayings like, “Romeo and Juliet is not a love story. It’s a 3-day relationship between a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old that caused 6 deaths. Sincerely, everyone who actually read it.” Postcards can tell inspiring stories with a beautiful picture or a quote that somehow adds something to your life. They can even tell secrets, like on Post Secret. They tell stories of one moment in time – the people, the place, the feelings.

I heard this quote once I really liked, in a documentary about the Titanic, that talked about “a series of inconsequential events” leading to the sinking of the ship. The idea was that each of these events alone would not have caused the ship to hit the iceberg, but when aligned together, they did. I thought, isn’t everything really caused by a series of inconsequential events? We have seemingly small, random things happen in our lives every day, and we never know which ones will still be affecting us years later. I think of each of these individually inconsequential events as postcards, and when strung together and hung in a row next to each other, they tell part of the story of our lives.

For example, in my life a few of these postcards might be “finding a Tigger jacket in the Disney Store at the mall,” “my dog Abby chasing a cat up a tree,” and “living in Indy for a year.” These events happened over a span of 19 years and would seem to have no relation to each other, and really they don’t, but aligned together, they led to the name of my blog.

Another example for me is this one day I spent in New York City. The events that would’ve by themselves been inconsequential were that it rained in the morning, I tried to go to a movie in the early afternoon but found the showtime listed online didn’t really exist, and LaGuardia Airport was closed for an hour in the late afternoon. Aligned together in that one day, these events led to a discovery that has a major connection to a trilogy I’m writing and a timeless night in New York that I’ll use in some romanticized way in a future book.

It’s such a basic idea, about all these moments that make up our lives, that I never thought about it till I heard that quote in the Titanic documentary. But it’s exactly what my blog will be – a series of entries, each of which tells a small part of the story of my life or my characters’ lives, just like a postcard does.

The crazy thing about postcards is they connect people and places across time. They can be impersonal or intimate; they can tell a complete story or a fraction of one. Everyone can see what they say, yet they can be anonymous. They’re so little, yet they tell the story of the world.

The crazy thing about postcards is they help us piece together the moments of our lives. And those moments, some seemingly inconsequential, some standouts, are the stuff of my books, and now my blog.

So thanks, Abby, for chasing the cat who became Tigger up a tree that one afternoon. 🙂

Tigger and me!

Tigger and me!