Plants and kittycats for #AtoZChallenge

AtoZ-LetterB-2016AtoZ-LetterC-2016“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.”~Charles Spurgeon, British
Clergyman
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I’m combining Days 2 and 3 of the AtoZ Challenge today because, by pure coinidink, my “C” haiku relates to this week’s Haiku Horizons prompt, Cat.

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AtoZ meets Haiku Horizons #110 “Cat”

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I wrote my alphabet poem before I saw the topic, a match made by obvious telekinetic mental abilities…or else I’m just being mental. Believe what you will.
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I am not a gardener by any means. I am humbled by the lawn art my friends accomplish, but endless cycle of pulling weeds is not worth it for me. Houseplants are as green as my thumb gets, and I’m quite adept at keeping my plants thriving. Tree was once on life support–two or three times, actually, but we’re not counting–but she has been groomed and trimmed, and last year birthed the cutling, Sprout, who is pictured in Haiku B. Curious about their growth and transformations, then check out the Instagram hashtag #TheWritersTree to follow the amazing journey of life and death and life of my 18 year old tree.

Be sure to visit other blogs on the AtoZ Challenge to see even more delightful topics.

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April 1: Art and #AtoZChallenge

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“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.”~Mignon McLaughlin, American writer
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Welcome to Day 1 of the AtoZ Blog Challenge. Today I feel more Zzzzzz than Awake. April is just one of those busy months. And, really, how did it become the 4th month of 2016 already?

I chose an easy enough theme this year so I could actually complete AtoZ this year, and I totally forgot what April is. April is National Poetry Month. That I knew, but I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I decided to do Alphabet Haiku as my AtoZ Challenge.

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What I didn’t know is that this year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month. The social media hashtag #NationalPoetryMonth is exploding throughout the creative writing world.

Creating writing and catching up is just another theme with me this month, as I will complete the remaining letters of last year’s AtoZ Challenge: 26 Ways to Distract a Writer. Did you ever have one of those nagging things that you just can’t let go of, no matter how practical or useful it is to do that? For me, last year’s AtoZ is that. I’ll post those new links here as they get posted, which means you’ll have to come back every day if you want to find out how Jayne and her Writerself tale ends…for now.

If you want an idea of what Jayne is up to, read about her first day on the procrastination journey here.

Art is something I’ve struggled with lately, from Artist Trading Cards to Zentangle. I was an active member on ATCs For All, a delightfully creative online site for people to trade art with other artists. One of the most delightful events there was the monthly Bizarre Holiday Swap. Even my husband enjoyed seeing those cards! This is a mixed-media card I made from one of the those swaps:


Today’s Bizarre Holiday: One Cent Day. One cent and the 1st day of April. No April Fools here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve created art like that. I stepped back from that because I lost the interest and the thrill. I know when I feel the pull of it again, I’ll enjoy it even more.

For now, I’m enjoying my poetry journey. I hope you do, too.

My final #ROW80 Round 1 reflections and suggestions

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill, English statesman

A Round of Words in 80 Days. The challenge is detailed here on the #ROW80 blog for all writers, bloggers, artists and whomever has large goals to achieve. This is done four times a year, with Round 1 ending today. This is a summary of my accomplishments–or nots–so you can read my original post HERE.

Which brings me back to A Round of Words in 80 Days. By the end of the first quarter–or ROW80 Round 1 dates of January 4-March 24, 2016–these are my ROW80 Round 1 goals:

HERE ARE MY RESULTS for the first Quarter of 2016:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
NO
There’s no excuse: I got distracted, I put other things first; I was intimidated with a fuller-length fiction story…you name it. I could’ve made the time–I had the time–but I didn’t. This is something to roll over to Round 2, for sure.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. 
YES–or at least almost; it’s in progress. I’m just waiting on the final domain name transfer. Have you ever done this? It’s simple yet surprisingly complex. I’ll share my thoughts in future posts, an education I wish someone had walked me thru.

3–Blog planning.
MAYBE
It’s something I’m working on.  I blocked off days to post my Haiku Horizon posts, for example, and some days I met them; some days, the post moved; some weeks I never wrote or published the post.  “Publishing” a post is the key.  Here’s the scary thing: I looked back at my “drafts” folder here on WordPress to see what I could reuse or update.

I had drafts there of 2011 posts.
What the *bleep* happened?!?

The list of 207 drafts includes ideas I was tweaking and blog posts I didn’t finish. This was most likely due to interrupted writing time. Now that I have set aside dedicated writing times, I can take these good, mostly-finished posts and complete them. Or not. Several things I’ve learned from this part of the #ROW80 challenge:

–I’m a good writer.
–I need to Keep Up.

Seeing this shocking revelation can help me blog-plan–I feel it!–but I’m not sure how to translate the feeling, this newfound confidence or whatever it is, into something practical.

3A-The Blog Planning goal included scheduling social media.
NO
This goes back to blog planning: what do I want my Twitter; Instagram accounts to achieve? What do I expect from my Facebook and Amazon Author Pages? A great idea came from a blog and Instagram accountabout defining yourself and your audience. Hers captured what I think I want: “people like me who read any books and all subjects, like to read YA and other subjects.” She has a bookstagram acct–I’ll detail that later–but it made me think about my mission statement, and maybe that will be a #ROW80 goal next round.

Back to social media, I need to see how that fits into my life. I’ve got the writing planning down with carved out spaces in my days week to do it, so work in these other tasks.

4–Update my blog: About Me, Resources and other tabs.
NO
Sounds like a copout excuse, but without defining “me” I can’t update my site to reflect that. Self-host and getting rid of the “wordpress” in website address was Step 1, so this is manageable. It still feels like playing, not actual working, and not sure how to let that go in myself

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself.
YES
Or so I think. Weds, April 20 is perhaps final-final appt. It’s haealed or healing it feels like it has movement most days, but doc sayas it may take a year or more to fully heal. Will it ever fully heal?

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend.
NO
And I feel like a total failure for that (also see #1 above)
I have writing time carved out. But I’ve let other things take over my time, ironically blog planning (see #3 above) has been a factor in this. Balance–need to achieve that.

7–Make time to play.
YES
I scrapbook old photos, doing that dreaded word scrapbookers quiver at: “catch up” That’s okay; I’m overwhelmed with past projects and layouts, but any progress is a step forward. I’ve scrapbooked with a friend of mine, and I rediscovered joy in playing with paper. I’ve stepped back a bit from ATCs and altered art; I’m not feeling that vibe now, but that may be a break I need. Writing and all that goes along with it (see #1, 3, 4, 6 above)

8–Do some fun writing.
YES
A bit. I wrote a fiction short story I began for Storytime Friday over on A Life Among the Pages and never finished. I’m still not done, but I had fun traversing along the world my mad, mad, mad, mad mind created.

In closing, my thoughts in review:
–I need to manage my time, but I know I can.
–I need to re-read my notes from Rochester Writers Fall Conference and review how the romance author publishes four books a year. She has a schedule, and that’s what I based Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks goal on.
–This has been a gentle, and not so gentle, slap in the face of how I’m using my time.

Let’s see how I revise all this for Round 2. If you’ve participated, let me know how your goals went and your thoughts on the challenge.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: driving to PA wedding

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”~Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch artist

If we were having coffee, it’s a quick stop for a cup of to-go Joe. I’ve got a long drive ahead of me after an early morning work shift. I signed up for that months ago, so I’m committed, but I could use the sleep. My friend is getting married on Sunday, and I am driving 7 hours from Michigan to Pennsylvania to be there.

This woman was my personal Moraler when I danced in Penn State’s THON 2010. Because I danced as a undergrad, I was eligible to dance in THON as an alumni. My dance partner and I met online, and together we raised over $7000, qualifying us as dancers who raised the most money. This bride-to-be was the student who was there to support her dancer with whatever I needed. When you stay awake and stand on your feet for 46 hours–yes, two days–you need a lot of support. She decorated my hotel room thanks to my husband’s sneaky assistance, she brought me tennis balls to rub my feet with and her boyfriend-now-husband-to-be brought me mac-n-cheese from the Diner when I desperately wanted some at whatever weird hour it was.

She supported me; I’m supporting her. We are both tickled-excited I can make it.

I spent the latter part of this week doing those last-minute errands: pickup new glasses; schedule last-minute manicure; hair style; and write. Yes, writing is important enough to me, but this week is was squeezed in. My husband helped choose gifts from the registry. He helped me choose a new dress at the mall last week. I went to my monthly art group and created the first step of an altered book. My life has been all over the place this week, and no matter how much I plan to “pack ahead of time,” I’m up the night before stuffing my suitcase.

But I wrote. I wrote in coffeeshops. I tried new coffee, and a delightful new loose-leaf tea while out. I hugged my husband everyday. I did the important things.

Have fun this weekend. I’ll have lots of pic to share next week.

Mixed up in media…or medium

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

When’s the last time you last freed your inner creativity to run rampant with art supplies? I did that last Sunday and wow, did that feel good.

I’ve added mixed media classes to my repertoire of teaching. I still offer my monthly Zentangle classes on the 4th Wednesday of the month–and others by availability–but venturing into art supplies is exhilarating and intimidating. I’ve used them often enough in my personal art and scrapbooking that I felt comfortable sharing my knowledge. Still, that first time can be awkward.

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My students’ class kit

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My student, Linda, works with matte medium

I didn’t have to worry. Both students were experienced enough with paper crafting that introducing new medium–soft gel medium, to be exact–added a fresh technique to their supply of knowledge.

We completed a printer’s tray wall hanging, the kind that has space for 12 vertical artist trading cards or photos. The kits were pulled from my vast collection of mixed media elements: music sheets, book pages, necklace jewelry, tea bag tags and more. These are all items I’m familiar with and comfortable using. I showed them the techniques of faux encaustic using that gel medium, dry embossing and collage.

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Sue works on collage composition

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My student, Linda, adds ephemera to her cards

The tray wasn’t completed because of a number of external issues, but also because the students had too much fun playing with the techniques, especially the dry embossing paste. I’ve found that “playing” is a lot more fun than the actual “finishing,” and when do we ever have–no, make–the time to play with abandon? Not enough, I’d guess.

Some of the completed cards

It’s hard to fit in our daily life. That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway. But why do we choose not to schedule playtime into our days? It’s not like we don’t have enough supplies–or cards, Legos, whatever. I bet some of the excuses include: lack of space; pulling out then putting away; messy; social media; sleep; and errands, just to name a few. Why do we put everyone else’s needs before ours? We can’t be healthy without some “me” time.

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My personal tray used as class example

This class reminded me that I treat myself as an important somebody, even if creativity needs to broken down into small steps: one day clean off table, second day choose supplies and create on the days after that. It can be done.

How about you? Do you choose to do that? Will you choose yourself?

 

Here there be Haiku

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.”~Walter Anderson, German writer

I’m in a whimsical poetic mood. Enjoy.

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Remember December

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”~Leah LaBelle, Canadian musician

It’s the middle of the month. Right about now, resolutions are falling faster than snowflakes.  Mine have been sidetracked by one nasty, lingering cold. Now is a good time to reflect on the past.

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I’ve been doing a December-Photo-a-Day project since 2007. Great memories. Every year it’s amazing what I do that’s new. It’s fun to see the events that have become traditions and how those same events have changed. My Deadwood Writers Group is one of those. We have a holiday party the first week in December, and I insist–dare I say “force”?–that we do a group photo. The size of the group has grown, yet some faces are the same since that first year. My husband and I always see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen at Penn Theater in Plymouth. My compositions of the photos are interesting to compare.

It reminds us, especially during the busiest of seasons, to stop and appreciate what’s around you. To remember.

That is different than my Photo 365, which has turned into a year-long adventure.  Here, as in other months, I was with friends, I played Yahtzee and wrote in coffee shops, I created art and I played with Zentangle.  Unique to this month was that I published my third book, visited family out of town and hugged a long-time college friend, discovered new used book stores, and had a tooth filled in the Fun Room at my dentist’s new office.  My husband cooked me breakfast, a Tweet of mine was favorited by a famous TV show actor.  I cheered the Nittany Lions and celebrated victory from Yankee Stadium section 409 when Penn State won the Pinstripe Bowl.

What do you remember from December?

Do you remember when…?

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”~Bo Bennett, American businessman

I didn’t intend that quote to be reflective of this blogpost; it’s just serendipity.

Today is December 1. I’m reading social media posts about personal success (or failure) of NaNoWriMo. I did not participate because I had other writing obligations that were more important to me this year than cranking out 50,000 words, but I know I would have won. I’m stubborn like that. My perspective on NaNo is that if you have more written words on November 30 than you did on November 1, then you succeeded. In that sense, I succeeded because I wrote more words in my memoir and in my Day-Night story.

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Since it is December, a lot of people are looking to the end of the month for the end of the year. I’m jumping in here to be a persnickety trendsetter and reflect on the past now. I hate getting lost in the flux of it all.

The Photo365 app reminds me of the month that has passed. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” November was exciting: hearing Alice Walker read her poetry in person; reading my current Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine article published as the centerfold; traveling to Illinois for the Penn State football game; wearing funky socks for funny feet; watching the new season of Major Crimes; and recalling family traditions.

I have become so dependent on my smartphone. The Timehop app accessed my past December 1s, and last year’s Photo365 calendar popped up.

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Even the Photo365 app has changed look

Last year, I participated in NanoWriMo and won. There’s a lot of NaNo in that month. Artwork and Zentangle. Games. Starbucks. Coffee. Thanksgiving stuffing once again. New restaurants. Random roses and holiday Peeps from my husband.

How awesome is that?!?

So many things that get lost in the shuffle, especially as we enter the Mega Holiday Month of December. Do you want to capture your memories? Just do this. Write a short journal entry. Scrapbook one 4″x6″ photo on an 8″x8″ page. Post a random conversation on Facebook. It’s as easy as that. Really.

Need some inspiration for a starting point? Check out the Fat Mum Slim blogsite for the Photo a Day challenge. There’s an app for that, and an active community on Instagram posting images.

I’m participating in the #fmsphotoaday challenge most days, having become more active on Instagram. “A natural social media site for you, a scrapbooker,” a friend commented. Come check out my Instagram images. I’ve almost reached 500 posts. Be there to witness the momentous event!

Consider the prompts as beginnings for a journal entry, a piece of art, or a Tweet. The idea is to be creative; how can you choose that creativity? Remember, if you save one more memory or create one more piece of art by December 31 than you did on December 1, you are a success.

A month in review: thank you, Photo 365

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

I made art.  I was creative.

I played games.  I won and lost, but friendly competition. 

I earned 5000 coins in Word Science and 100,000 coins in Bejeweled Blitz. Doesn’t beat my one million mark, but none too shabby

I started a new job.  I was productive.

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August 2014: coffee, games and being stylish

I visited new places: an apple orchard, a coffee shop.  I was adventurous.

I set new records in Foursquare.  I am happy because it is still working.  I was determined.

I received football tickets and a homemade breakfast tailgate.  I was Penn State proud!

I looked good with stylin’ clothes and a new ‘do.  I was pretty.

I taught Zentangle classes.  I was successful.

I traded text messages with my husband. He agreed that I was pretty. I was loved.

And that’s just what I saved in my Photo 365 app. There’s so much more.

What was your month like? Do share.

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