New and Updated Website at DWHirsch.com

May 17, 2016

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed a lack of posts–or you haven’t because I haven’t written anything here to notify you of. The reason? I have moved my WolfHowlings blog over to a self-hosted site:

DWHirsch.com

At this time, this blog will stay open as a static history of me and all of you. I am posting new content at my other blog, and I will get in touch with all of you, my dedicated subscribers, to let you personally know of this change. This was a decision a long time in the making–and a difficult task in the transition. More on that there. The new site is still under construction, and sporatic updates will be posted here.

Come join the fun: all this site had to offer and MORE!!

I look forward to seeing you there.

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Mighty changes are scary: a reflection from #AtoZChallenge

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”~Socrates, Greek philosopher
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I’ll admit, some of my Alphabet Haiku posts have been pre-planned, but not this.

I said at the beginning of this A to Z Blogging Challenge that I thought pre-writing posts was kinda cheesy, in the sense that it wasn’t holding true to the spirit of the challenge which is to blog every day. Then I realized doing so gives me the freedom to explore other websites and writers participating in this challenging. So I did that. Then I didn’t. I flip flopped between the two, and today is one of those spontaneous posts.

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I wrote it with the intention of posting on the Haiku Horizons site for the Week 112 prompt, Fear. I choose not to link up there because my self-hosting site adventure is progressing.

Now, to say “adventure” is putting the whole experience mildly. I’m going to focus on the process, my experiences and insights once I move over to the self-hosted site next week. That seems fitting. As of April 23, I’ll no longer be posting to this site, so it will remain a historical freeze-frame time capsule of my humble beginning. I want traffic to direct to that new site, because sending people here seems…well, unnecessary since it will become static soon.

It’s an adventure, and, yes, fear is a part of that. This haiku feels appropriate.

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.

Rediscovering Zentangle in a coffeeshop

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; Life is about creating yourself.”~George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer

Today, I am doing just that.

One month ago, Colleen contacted me about Zentangle classes. I’m not actively teaching, but the big-box craft store I had been teaching at never updated their website. Truth is, mine was cobwebby as well. I felt so gosh darn sad, guilty and responsible for no reason that I told her we could meet and tangle together. We found a midpoint between us in a local coffeeshop, and we met for the first time last week.

I forgot the newfound passion one has for discovering Zentangle. You see, for me it’s been so much a “job” or “profession” that I haven’t enjoyed it. I haven’t tangled in–what, months? years? I’m embarrassed to think about that.

My mind still goes back to that strong memory I have as a newly-minted CZT. I sat on the couch next to my husband, enthralled with it all. He watched TV and I tangled on a black tile. Content.

Somewhen after that, Zentangle contentment became commitment. I had to post weekly entries in the delightful Diva Zentangle Challenge to remain in people’s minds. I had to look for teaching gigs because I knew anyone could benefit from this art. I had to blog about Zentangle so that others knew my passion. In all that busyness, I lost the innocence and the joy. It was there, but buried under so much duty that I forgot to be excited.

Until today.

Colleen is that younger me: unsure but boundless, timid yet bold, amazed by the creations and creativity, exploding with possibilities. The first time we met, her enthusiasm oozed onto the table and into my coffee cup. Why wasn’t I excited like she was? It all overwhelmed me, partly because she wanted me to teach classes. She had to share this with her world, with the world, and she had all sorts of marketing and promotion and location ideas. She was my strongest advocate for me since me.

Where was she a year ago?

No, that’s an excuse because it would not have mattered. I was struggling to balance my job with two time-consuming passions: writing and Zentangle. I couldn’t commit to both, so they both suffered. No one I met recently was excited about Zentangle, which was discouraging. I wasn’t excited. My writing, however…I’m a da#n good writer–always have been, always will be–and here I was wasting precious writing time on unfulfilling Zentangle.

That’s why and when I chose to step back. It took me about 3 months to convince myself that I was okay to do this and that I had the courage to let go. Yet seven months later, I found myself in a coffee shop discussing teaching. I felt trapped.

I calendared time to meet with her again–remember, the guilt–and today is our second day together. I told her I didn’t want to teach formally, standing at the front of a room with a large pad of paper on an easel, but a casual meeting like this would be okay.

Once I released my expectations, or perhaps it was my commitments, I relaxed.

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Preparing to tangle with what I’ll call an “abstract celtic knot”

I suggested we do this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #259: Touch of Irish, interpreting St. Patrick’s Day however we chose. I wanted green.

The green marker I had with me was scraggly and dry. I thought a wash with paint or my Inktense pencils would rejuvenate my love of those art supplies, but they were at home. If I didn’t finish the tile here and now, it wouldn’t get done otherwise. Using what I had, I pulled two green ink pens out of my writing bag. Colleen had a great idea to do a Celtic Knot string. I found the traditional triangle image, but didn’t want to spend a lot of time getting it oh-so-perfection. I sketched it quickly in pencil–I was excited to actually tangle, not drawing–and came up with this weird Knot reflection. I like to think if you turned my image inside-out and around, you’d see a crude knot there, and that’s what I’m going with.

Ink pens don’t flow well on Zentangle tiles; at least these pens didn’t. I knew in my mind’s eye what I wanted to create, but I didn’t know how. I figured I’d just feel it along the way.

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Notice how it disappears off the edges into beautiful nothingness

I wanted the emphasis to be the circle and the center space that didn’t feel complete as just white space. I over-overdid the center area, and now it is the dusty focus, or that’s how my eyes see it.

Like Zentangle philosophy–I haven’t forgotten that–I accepted it. Slowly; I did forget how to be Zen with the process and be forgiving with myself. It was not what I imagined, but what it became.

Colleen, of course, loved it, sparkled by the touch of color everywhere. She asked for my casual guidance and input along her way, and we shared inspiration alongside un-oozy coffee. She felt hers was choppy in comparison, but I adored the fun and fresh lines of someone at the beginning of her journey.

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Together: the tools of inspiration and creation

Remember, it’s all in our eyes and our mind.

I’m relearning, too. Stay tuned.

The F-Word

“Think like a queen; a queen is not afraid to fail.”~Oprah Winfrey, American entertainer

Fun
Feisty
Fire

The other day, I caught the movie Frozen on TV. I must be one of the few people in this universe who had not seen the film. I never understood the blinding infatuation the world has with it, but it never looked good enough to spend my time watching. After watching it, I think it’s a cute movie but still nothing overwhelming. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast or The Little Mermaid are far more visually engaging with entertaining stories…but that’s not the point right now. The last song in Frozen was “Let it Go.” Apparently I was buried in a winter avalanche because I don’t recall the song or the movie being the amazing Academy and Grammy award winner that it was. Even after watching it, I don’t get the intense attraction, but since Epcot’s Norway Pavilion at Disney World switched over to a Frozen amusement attraction, it was good to get acquainted with it before my husband and I return in three years. Best not to tell him yet; he adored the Maelstrom ride, looked forward to it every time. Will he enjoy this area as much? I don’t know, but I digress again.

Familiar
Fanciful
Fanatic

An image on Instagram led me to a site that led me to a site that led me to a site that eventually took me to the GET TO WORK BOOK site. Other than the designer price tag of $55, the GTWB looks like any other paper planner. except that it offers a unique spin on breaking down all To-Do action items. At end of each month, there is a “Reflect and Goal Set” page with six boxes. Three boxes prompt you to review the past four weeks: Last Month’s Wins; Still in Progress; and To Let Go Of.   The second set of boxes are to look ahead with the thought-provoking questions: To Think On, To Work On; and To Complete.

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Friend
Fulfill

The one box struck a chord in me was To Let Go Of. I have a lot of To-Dos that I never seem to complete. I keep pushing them aside, for whatever reason, and these tasks hang over my head. I feel compelled to complete them. After all, I set the goal, so I should finish, right?

My phone app, Due, points out my failure. Constantly. By my choice. When you type in a task and go to set the timer, this message pops up: “Keeps alerting you to overdue reminders until they are marked done.” The settings are every 5-10-15-30-60 minutes. I have a number of regular events, things like “Call (person) weekly,” “Exercise finger,” and “Thursday Twitter chat, 8pm” but I also have some one-off tasks. Some of these have been hanging around since January–no joke. There’s no definite deadline, just an I-need-to-do-this-soonish timeframe.

Those that I keep putting off haunt me. Similar tasks–writing and others–that I feel responsible for hang over me. Some of these I’ll never get done because it’s no longer important or relevant. These tasks are holding me back.

Flirty
Free
Fly

Let it go. Three simple words, one difficult concept. We hoard our obligations as a contract to ourselves, and we judge success by them. How good would it feel to just hit a reset button and move forward with fresh breath? Is that irresponsible or careless? How do we move beyond that? That in itself is a measure of letting go. Can you do that? Of course you can. Will you give yourself permission to do that?

Finally

Forever

Sometimes my journals scare me

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”~Confuscius, Chinese philosopher

There are years that wretch my stomach; this journal reflects one of them.

I’m flipping through old journals for material to continue my Coffeeshop Chronicles over at Deadwood Writers Voices, my writers group’s blog. My recent, completed journals are on the top shelf of my bookcase. You can see them on my current blog header above. I grabbed one today off my bookcase. I’d hoped to find exhilarating coffee confrontations in it, as that was a time I was journaling heavily. It was instead a time of venting and ranting about my miserable job.  A lot of venting.  A lot of ranting. A lot of miserable.

I twitch in my skin thinking about it. Have you ever felt that? I don’t want to remember those feelings; they were bad enough the first time. The most poignant line I wrote was this one:

“I don’t want to goto bed. The sooner I sleep, the sooner I wake up and goto a job I don’t want to goto. If I just stay awake….”

In this case, I can’t completely blame the company, although I want to. The fault is theirs by creating the unfriendly and volatile environment. However, I stayed and allowed it to affect me. Regardless of any external situations, I had choices, and I didn’t make the ones I wanted to.

Oh, I can put any positive spin on it I want: The past made me what I am today; I’ve moved beyond and life is better; I’m a stronger person for the experience; I’ve grown to recognize I’ll never let that happen again.  Whatever. That’s all true, but old memories still hurt.

I’ve reread these pages…must be five times now, gawking at those car wreck feelings on the side of the road. Each reading gets a little softer but I still feel the hollow of what happened to me and what I let happen to me. One thing that never faltered was my belief in myself:

“Sigh
I can’t win.
Feel so defeated
beaten, slink out of sight
but I never doubt me
——my ability
——never!
just the directions I’m given.”

I had a surprising amount of courage then, courage I still have today. Now the direction is mine, and that’s worth focusing on.

Have a good Monday, dear readers.

Today is about the choices you make

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”~John C. Maxwell, American clergyman

It’s little things that change your day and alter your mood.

It was a crazy day at work in the morning. I mean, weird crazy busy. I was a bit cranky because of that and rescheduling doctor appointments and then having my “regular” table at Starbucks occupied.

I was settling into the less-than-perfect table when the guy next to me waves at me and points. He wears an orange knit cap and bright orange t-shirt, jamming to some music he was listening to. He pulled his headphones off to say that he liked my socks. “Those are cool socks,” he said, grinning and nodding his head in respect for someone who is funky enough to wear multi-colored plaid socks. At least that’s what I like to think. Day brightened!

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Goodbye January. Hello Month 2!

That’s a good thing because I am still torn from last night’s contest entries in the Specialty Craft Articles and Personal Blog categories. Dare I say, I write too well to choose just two entries each? That is a darn good problem to have.

I am a writer. I say that with no shame. Yes, I am a talented writer. Ditto, no shame. I embrace my creative work and know that even if I don’t place in the contest that I have still won.

How different my writing is today compared to a year ago. I didn’t realize the changes until I scrolled through every blog post of mine looking for something award-worthy. I promote my books less and my share my experiences more. I give advice, I discuss my struggles, I open up to my passions and I have fresh funness with everything. Part of that comes from refocusing my life and my blog accordingly. Not to get all transcendental on you, I realized that Zentangle was distracting me from writing. I needed to step back and focus on my forever passion: writing.

What do I like about my writing? My blog, I appreciate the variety of topics I choose, the events I participate in, the knowledge I share. Of my articles, I enjoy the tight writing I do, weaving creative words and phrases into the text as if they were always meant to be there. I’m fortunate to have a community of supportive blog readers–that’s you!–and a thoughtful, trusting editor.

Even here, now, it’s hard to still grasp how important these changes are for me. But last night, as I weaved through the blogposts and flipped through magazines, I was impressed with my work, more than I expected. I’m exploring these thoughts over the next couple of days, and I hope you will grasp some strength and perspective from me to apply to your own self.

Today, just compliment someone’s socks or shoes or purse or watch or coat or hairstyle. You have the power to make them smile.

Give in to your imperfections

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”~William Shakespeare, English dramatist

Today, and all of this week, I embrace my addictions.

No, not those addictions. Whatever you were thinking of, you’re probably wrong.

I’m talking social media here.

As part of my long-term plan to maintain a blogging/social media/life schedule, I find myself falling behind in social interaction. In the struggle to make time to write, I ignore email. As I catch up on Twitter feeds, I don’t write. Editing a photo for Instagram is not editing my stories. Posting to Pinterest produces nothing written.  Don’t even get me started on Facebook.   It’s a cycle hard to break. I mean, once you’re drowning in a sea of ignored Likes, Friends and Comments, how do you surface a sane human being?

That’s where my Grand Experiment begins.

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Begone, red bubbles of death!

People suggest that the only way to be productive is to set aside time each day to answer emails, post on Facebook, reply to comments and all that stuff so that you have solid chunks of uninterrupted writing time. I find myself stressing more about the un-social media atmosphere I create rather than capturing my awesome cool words on paper/keyboard.

By tonight, I will have “caught up” on everything I’ve lagged behind of. I’ll be up-to-date, a clean slate, ready for the barrage of people adoring me. And I am going to answer those texts and Tweets and Likes–immediately. I will interrupt my writing to reply. I’ll stop what I’m doing–as much as is legal and comfortable, depending on my location–and get rid of that bold red notification bubble above my phone’s app.

Conventional wisdom and advice says that getting off track will be distracting. But I am not a conventional woman.

Will this “distraction” make me more productive? I’ll know in a week, maybe sooner. Is this something you have tried? Share your thoughts below, and any tips you have. I’m open to it all…and I’ll reply lickety-split to your comments.

Social media haiku

“The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.”~Richard Bach, American writer

Today was a delicious day, and it was totally media free.

It was a long drive back to Michigan yesterday, and my husband and I both took today off. I slept guiltlessly until 10:30am, getting out of bed only because I was hungry. It took a lot of effort to microwave my meal, so I stretched out on my LoveSac for a two hour nap.

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Haiku Horizons #98: Find”

At 4pm, I finally showered, ran a few errands and came home to relax with another easy-to-prepare meal. We ventured out for our annual sneak peek of the Plymouth Ice Festival at about 9pm, but tarps covered the carved sculptures to keep them as cold as possible before the 40-degree temps hit our area on Saturday. We did see some carving being done on a side street: a half-completed Norse-style dragon and a flying bald eagle. Then home for the night.

What makes this day delicious–aside from the sleep and nap–is that I didn’t touch my smartphone all day. I turned the ringer off, turned the alert volume to mute, and I left it face down on the bed until after I showered.

For almost 18 hours, I did not check email, status updates, alerts or voicemails, nor did I play any games.

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Finding myself in a haiku

It felt wonderful!

No guilt. No stress. What surprised me was that I did not feel itchy to check my phone even though I live with it connected to my hip. I was able to focus on other things around me: my husband, the TV, the blinking Christmas tree lights, the softness of the blanket, and my daydreams. I was active in our conversations and I looked out the window when we drove around. I found things to do to keep me from being bored. You know, like before there was Internet.

Have you ever unplugged from the world? How did it feel? Or why do you feel you can’t do it?

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