Category: Writing

My Goals for 2014 – Let it go! Let it GO!!

Let it Go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone. Here I stand, in the light of day, let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. (Lyrics from the song Let it Go from the Movie FrozenIt is now the beginning of 2014 and I took my kids to see Frozen last week. “Let it go, Let it go!” is my mantra. It’s time to stop hanging on to the things, beliefs and behaviors that are not supporting me, not serving me. I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is holding me back but me.

I started by going from 5 drawers full of paper to 3 drawers. I signed up for e-statements from any merchant that offered them. I emptied my office of clutter and finished off a pile of tasks that have been hanging over my head for some time.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that have a tendency to bend over backwards to make things easier for other people (especially my kids). Then, I get frustrated when I’m at my wits end because I’m overwhelmed and doing things for other people but not finishing my own tasks. I’m terrible about asking for help until I’m at my breaking point. I’ve been making a effort to look at my weekly to do list and identify things that can be handed off to others. This also requires me to let go of my flawed perception that my way is the BEST way. I keep reminding myself that DONE is the best.

After the Christmas vacation that wouldn’t end (thank you Mother Nature for that little temper tantrum) I spent some time evaluating where I am and where I want to be. Now I’m working on how to get there. It’s a commonly held belief that sharing your goals publicly makes you more accountable. Gahhh that’s scary. I mean what if I fail? On the other hand, if I make my goals public, perhaps people will better understand why I have to regretfully say no when they ask me to do something. I tend to reflexively say “yes” or “I’ll do it.” I’m a firm believer that you don’t get to complain about the problem if you aren’t actively trying to be part of the solution. This year, I’m trying to narrow the focus of problems I’m trying to solve and as for the rest of them? “Let it go! Let it go!”

They are definitely still works in progress, but here are my goals for 2014:

  • I will devote 5 hours a week to non-contracted writing. Non-contracted writing is fiction, essays, blog posts for which I’m not paid. Yet.
  • I will find one more regular writing gig. No someone looking for a writer? Please visit my freelance writing web site.
  • I will place one essay in a new publication.
  • I will drop 10 pounds by 12/31/14 I have tried this in the past and had some success, but I suspect there are some physiological reasons why I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. I have an appointment to address this issue this week. I also have co-conspirator in exercise this time around and we share similar goals.
  • I will make a profit of $500 from Choffy sales (more on this in future blog posts).

What about you? What are your goals 2014? Don’t have any? Check out my post on Live to Write, Write to LiveI talk about several goal setting worksheets (Hint: Some of them are even free!).

It's time to see what I can do. To Test the limits and break through. No Right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free! Lyrics from Let it Go from the Movie Frozen

 

 

 

 

Online Piracy

I am against censorship.

I am also against copyright infringement and piracy.

I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive.

As a content creator, I want credit and renumeration for the works that I create. As a content consumer, I expect to pay for creative works (music, books, performances, images, movies etc.). After I pay for them, I expect a high quality experience and ready access to what I’ve purchased.

In an effort to curb the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, two bills have been introduced in congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are bills moving through the House and Senate aimed at curbing piracy by “rouge websites” (most of which are based on foreign soil).

The bills appear to be backed by large content providers such as Disney, RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), Nintendo and the Association of American Publishers. The bills are being opposed by technology companies and free speech advocates such as Google, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, American Library Association, Wikipedia and Word Press. (Hat Tip to the Emerging Technologies Librarian for the list).

I can find numerous posts about why SOPA is bad from a variety of organizations from the Stanford Law Review  to Tucows, domain name and email service provider and Tech Dirt . I have been unable to locate any substantive information (e.g. anything other any press releases) on why SOPA/PIPA would be good for content producers, providers and distributors.

I agree that something should be done to halt online piracy, but I will come down on the side of free speech every time. My understanding of the bills as they are currently written is that they give too much power to the government (i.e. sites can be shut down on suspicion of piracy) and hold sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter responsible for the content their users post.

My favorite post on the situation thus far is a statement on Google+ from Tim O’Reily head of O’Reily  Media a larger publisher of books, web sites, and conferences focused on technology. This man loses money to pirates everyday and still he opposes SOPA/PIPA. I agree they are addressing the wrong problem. It has been shown time and time again that if you give consumers a convenient, reasonably priced way to purchase content, they’ll do it. iTunes, or Netflix anyone?

A number of big web sites are going on strike  or “going dark” as a form of protest against SOPA/PIPA today. The the most well known of which is Wikipedia (The English Version of Wikipedia will be unavailable for 24 hours). I’ve never been a huge fan of strikes. Plus, my site is so small, if I “went dark”, you’d probably think I was just slacking :). Instead, I hope I’ve brought this important issue to your attention. Maybe even motivated you to contact your senator or congressmen and share your views on the subject (whichever side you are on).

Here we go!

Well, hello there! How are you?

Sorry to have been away for so long. Christmas was great and we had a great New Year’s Eve with friends. My 2012 began with a  7 year old sobbing my arms “I’m going to MISS 2011!! There are too many good memories.”

Santa brought me a new iMac and I spend much of last week getting that set up and my office cleaned out. It was one of the few rooms passed over in the great purge of 2011.

I took about an hour last Tuesday and completed this worksheet from Susannah Conway (Hat Tip to Jennifer Louden for the link on Facebook)  I found it provided a valuable perspective on 2011 and allowed me to plan for 2012. My word is commitment.

I have make three commitments to myself for 2012.

  1. I will lose ten pounds.
  2. I will build a writing practice (that will ultimately lead to a book). I did a good job in 2011 posting here regularly and I have several snippets of books in play. It is time to commit the time to finish the first drafts so there is something to edit.
  3. I will find a financial planner and get our retirement funds in order.

One week in I’ve made some progress. I’ve signed up for Sparks People, downloaded the app to my phone and started tracking my intake and exercise. tracking what I ate worked before, it is time to commit and do it again. I’ve also sent inquiries to a few people looking for recommendations for a fee-for-service financial planner. I don’t have a lot of leads yet, but it’s a start.

Today, I’m starting to build my writing practice. I’m trying to carve out the mornings for writing and afternoon for life management activities. Everyone knows that a mom’s life is not her own from 3pm until 8pm weeknights. It’s going to take some work on my part to put my writing first, but it is important to me so it’s time to make it happen.

That’s what’s new from here.

What are you plans for 2012?

 

 

 

I’m NOT just talking to myself. No, REALLY!

'Eden Through the Looking Glass' photo (c) 2009, Eden, Janine and Jim - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ I’ve been blogging in various forms for a few years now. This blog is my longest running endeavor yet. I don’t do it for fame or fortune (although those would be nice). I blog because I have things to say and sometimes it feels as if my head will explode if I don’t say them in one form or another. Writing them down gives me a way to share my thoughts. For better or for worse, I am usually passionate in my thinking. Sharing via the written word allows me to refine things (some attempts more effectively than others) and say exactly what I mean in a socially acceptable manner.

 

I know people read this blog. Google Analytics (software that tracks general information about who visits the blog, where they come from, what they read and how long they stay), tells me that most of the people who read this blog, already know me. 43% of my visitors come from Facebook. The second largest group of visitors is from the search engines. I take that to mean that I’m writing about topics people are interested in. That’s a good sign indeed. When I see people IRL (in real life) They comment on one of my posts, another good sign.

More than anything blogging is about community. Writers share information, opinions and experiences and readers add their two cents via comments.

“What do writers want most of all? They want eyes on their work and a response to their work. Bloggers crave traffic because traffic equals human beings all enjoying the words they’ve strung together. And they like comments because no one wants to speak into a vacuum. We want to know that our words were heard and know how the reader received them.” – Melissa Ford, The Gift of Comments

I’m grateful that you take the time to read and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment in the past, but at the risk of appearing greedy, could you leave a comment if a post strikes you? You don’t have to comment on every post, and you need not write a novel. Just let me know if I’m on the right track (I’m NOT fishing for complements, but feedback). Tell me if I’m way off base or suggest a topic for me to consider.

I’ll keep writing, but it would be great to show the world that I’m really NOT talking to myself.

The Joys of Pencil

photo © 2008 Melissa Doroquez | more info (via: Wylio)I’m as geeky as they come. The digital age has been very good to me, opening worlds previously closed to someone with a visual impairment. I love my iPhone, my Kindle and my laptop. I typically communicate via keyboard but every once in a while my muse craves release via paper. Sometimes the thoughts just come out better on paper, they flow more freely. My weapon of choice is usually a pen. My current favorite being the Bic Pro+ ballpoint in blue. However, recently, I found a “My First Ticonderoga” #2 pencil in the pencil cup in the kitchen. I liked the weight in my hand as I dashed off a note to the teacher. I’ve was never a pencil person even as a kid. I think it was an issue of contrast as much as it was the desire for the maturity symbolized by using a pen. Pencil for me is usually hard to read but since this is a thicker lead (yes, I know it’s graphite), it is legible for me.

By using a pencil to draft I regain the ability to erase. When writing with pen, the only option was a line (or six) through the text. This has never worked well for me especially during the revision process. When I reread, my eye is often tripped up by the mistake. As When I wrote this draft, I encountered one downside to pencil, the mess. The crumbs from the eraser, the shavings from the sharpener and graphite transfer to the heel of my hand. Even before I started this venture I knew I would not be converting to pencil, still, it is not a bad way to write, and it is always good to provide the muse with options for expression. Heck, it got me this blog post right?

I’m fortunate to be part of a group blog on writing Live to Write, Write to Live, by The New Hampshire Writer’s Network. This post was created in conjunction with a post for that blog.

 

Nashville Under Water

When Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast and Flooded New Orleans, my mother-in-law watched the news with rapt attention. She was strolling Bourbon Street with her husband and my nephew just days before the storm. Like everyone who watched, I ached for all those who were lost and chaos that ensued, but I didn’t have the personal connection.

The flooding in Nashville while on a slightly different scale, impacts me on a more personal level. I’ve been to Nashville three times. I was JUST there in the beginning of February for a conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Opryland is now under ten feet of water. The pictures and the news stories are jarring.

In 2003, I organized a trip for a group of Adults with Albinism. We stayed near Opryland and took a fabulous walking tour of Nashville, that included Centennial Park, Fort Nashboro and First Avenue. We ate dinner at the food court of Opry Mills and enjoyed a cruise down the Cumberland on the General Jackson Riverboat. All of these areas have been affected by the floods.

Photo Credit Just Malia from Justmalia.com

I’ve returned twice since for Blissdom, a wonderful blogging conference. This last time Blissdom was held at Opryland. When I said I was going to Opryland, people rolled their eyes. “Have a guhd time y’all” they said. Opryland has a reputation for being a touch over the top, but honestly, I think it was a great place to hold a conference. It is the epitome of Southern hospitality and the lush gardens were a welcome respite from the raw New England Winter. Opryland was a back drop for such a wonderful event in my recent memory, it is hard to see the stories of the destruction.

I also think of the people of Nashville and their loss. So far, nineteen deaths have been directly attributed to the flood, but not everyone has been accounted for. Then there are the material losses. Most people don’t have flood insurance and flood damage is NOT covered under regular homeowners policies. That means a huge burden during already tough economic times. What about all the businesses? All the products lost? Facilities damaged? There will be some businesses that will not recover from this catastrophe.

Nashville is coming in to their busiest season for tourism. The long term economic impact of the floods, remains to be seen. According to the Tennessean, Opryland is home to twelve percent of Nashville’s hotel rooms that generate approximately one fifth of Nashville’s hotel tax revenue. Ouch! The Gaylord team is doing its best to reschedule smaller events with other Nashville hotels, but Opryland is one of, if not the, largest facility in Nashville. There are some events that will have to be cancelled or moved to other cities. As a former event planner, that gives me a headache just thinking about it. Other groups with events that are relatively close, but still months away are in a holding pattern until the water recedes and officials have a chance to assess the damage.

All of this said, not ALL of Nashville is under water. The airport opened yesterday and only Opryland and one other smaller hotel (a Hampton Inn) are closed due to the flooding. The honky tonks and the clubs on Second Avenue are open for business. I guess they really have a lot to sing about now.

If you want to help, you can make a donation of the Red Cross Chapters of Middle Tennessee.

If you want to help long term, put a note on your calendar to check out Nashville mid-summer, and into the fall. I bet you’ll find some awesome deals to be had as tourism officials work to remind the world that Nashville survived the rising water.

A huge shout out to the Tennessean.com for truly excellent coverage of the floods. Information was readily available and well organized. It has to be hard to report on the destruction, but their team has done a great job.

Found My Bliss At Blissdom ’10

Images from the Blissdom'10 ConferenceI’m home, I’m jazzed and I’m really glad I went to Blissdom10 in Nashville.

I was fortunate to have an awesome travel experience. Unfortunately, some got stuck in Nashville unable to leave due to the massive storm that socked the mid-Atlantic region. Although I guess there are worse things than being stuck at the lovely Gaylord Opryland Resort, I know I was glad to get home.

Thanks to my roommate Jennifer Wilson. It was pure serendipity (and great luck on my part) that we ended up rooming together, but I couldn’t have asked for a more fun and considerate roommate. Jennifer blogs about digital scrapbooking here at Simple Scrapper and also about life and food at Midwest Neruotica. Pop over and see her and tell her I sent you.

At the beginning of the conference, Alli Worthington one of the conference organizers told the assembly of 500+ women “We decided to go big or go home” and I’m really glad they didn’t go home. Blissdom ’10 was a great event and their hard work showed at every turn. Hats off to Alli Worthington, Barbara Jones and Paula Bruno. Take a bow ladies, ya done good.

My roommate Jennifer came to the conference armed with a specific list of goals and questions. In hindsight, I did too, but I didn’t wasn’t conscious of them them in advance and they were more internal than external.

Of late, I have been feeling overwhelmed. I know I want to write, I know I want to blog, but making time to write, making it a priority has been a real challenge. As much as I was really looking forward to the conference, I felt guilty about going since I wasn’t blogging as much as I would have liked. I was also feeling put upon and weighed down by family responsibilities.

This weekend away surrounded by all things blogging, brought me to some important realizations. No one is going to make this happen but me and I really DO want to make this happen. No one is stealing my time to write but me. No one is asking me to put myself at the bottom of the list, but me. It was a disturbing, but freeing realization. Freeing because if there is one thing I am certain about in life, it is that I cannot change others, but I can change me. And, since I’m the one causing the problems, I can fix them too.

While I Blissdom, I generated a number of important questions about my blogs, and I also identified some next steps that must be taken. Lastly, I practiced some self care. I made sure I ate relatively well, I socialized, but I also snagged some alone time. Most importantly, to me, I exercised all three days. The first day, I walked in the gray 40 degree temperatures. I was nice to be outside with only a fleece. The second and third day, I swam in Opryland’s amazing indoor pool. It was an excellent kick start to the day.

Blissdom has given me tons of content for this blog. A few sessions provided some interesting writing prompts, which generated some writing that with just a little tweeting will be posted here. I met lots of awesome people some of whom I want to introduce you to. While I have a renewed focus my writing, there are still only so many hours in a day, and a large number of my hours are committed to nurturing my marriage, raising two beautiful kids maintaining our home, so I’m going to string you along 🙂 and share bits and pieces of information as I can.

Lest you think I am all talk and no action, I have made some changes. I committed to leaving the house twice a week to write. To that end, I woke up early Monday morning, early enough to dress, shower and even put on a little make-up before I woke the kids. I made conscious choices about the clothes I put on, maintaining comfort, but also insisting on style. I did the same things at Blssdom and felt like they were good habits to continue. After I put the kids on the bus I made a beeline to Starbucks. My husband did an awesome job holding down the fort while I was gone, but, there were piles on the island and laundry awaited. I was (still am) behind on my Facebook news feed and Twitter, not to mention my RSS feed reader, but I was there, at the keyboard writing and I can’t tell you how good that felt.

So, thank you to the producers of Blissdom, thank you to my tribe (more on that later) and thank you to my husband for his support. I am home, I am jazzed and I’m on it!

Blissdom highlights
Kevin Carroll’s inspiring presentation including:

  • “Your work can be your play if you always have joy.”
  • “How’s your want to? Can’t do anything with a broken want to.”
  • “Sometimes you need to resign from adulthood.”
  • I also learned the rules to the game toilet tag.

Learning the phrase “Brain Porn” from Megan Jordan.

The awesome media training session from Dan Barber at Fleishman-Hillard. I’ve been a part of media out reach campaigns before, so not all of his information was knew to me, but it was awesome to have all the important information included in one place and Dan related to the audience exceptionally well.

Bearing witness to a reader recognizing a blogger she reads regularly (BookieBoo) and smile of pride that crossed the blogger’s face when BookieBoo lavishly complimented her dress.

My awesome tote bag from Land’s End

My husband tweeting he wished I’d win a Roomba from iRobot.

The yummy Hebrew National Hot dogs in puff pastry (thank you ConAgra foods for your sponsorship).

I met LOTS of people.  I have a 1 inch stack of business cards to sort through, but it was cool meeting two bloggers I regularly read, Amy from Chicken and Cheese and Casey from Moosh In Indy IRL.

The pool at the Opryland hotel.

I had a “ME TOO” moment during the Striking Balance session when Megan Jordan admitted she was completely overwhelmed by the check list from the Building Community session.  I seriously gained some perspective when she explained what she was going to do to battle the overwhelm.

Watching Casey sit straddling a wall four feet high to get great shots of Harry Connick Junior.

All the cute babies that thankfully were not mine.

The flower arrangements for the arrangements Redenbacker pop corn break. The arrangements coordinated with the types of popcorn being served. (like Limes with Salt, or cheddar cheese).

The creative center pieces at lunch on Friday and discovering that I do like grilled eggplant. I might just have to go buy George Duran’s book. He swears I’ll like Brussels sprouts if I do. I’m skeptical, but after the eggplant, I might give it a try.

Southwest airlines calling ME to rebook my cancelled flights.

Watching Casey and Tanis sing redneck woman

Admiring all the little chubby cheeks and nummy toes but not having to deal with the smelly diapers or the cranky babies 😦

Watching Casey dedicate “I Want You To Want Me” to Heather Spohr (a.k.a Mamaspohr ) at Karaoke.  I don’t know the back story, but both of these ladies have been through there own personal versions of hell this past year and their friendship is inspiring.

I have a list of action items that I will be tackling slowly.  The truth is on a good day I have about 2.5 uninterrupted hours a day to work and very few days fall into the category of “good days” in that respect, but, I’m going to keep plugging away because I have recommitted to my passion thanks to the Ladies of Blissdom.