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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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.

Party On! the first weekly #ThrowbackThursday bloghop

Who wants to PARTY…!?!?!

The newest blog party has hit the Internetosphere: #ThrowbackThursday Link Party. You can read all the fine print here on the Official Link Page, but I’ve summarized it below.

The three co-hosts of this adventure are:
Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy, a woman who writes “about my life. I enjoy reading, cooking, and drinking way too much caffeine; basically anything I need to do to survive motherhood.”
Part-Time Monster, a blogger who is “a reader, writer, and observer, a lover of strange and impossible things, a feminist, and a pop culture nerd.”
The Qwiet Muse, a newish blogger self-described as someone who writes “about about life and love, the good and the bad, the serious and the silly to retain what is left of my sanity.”

What makes this bloghop so different from the rest?
This party is about sharing blog posts from our past…30 days or older. “You can shine it up so it sparkles again or just leave it as it is. You might want to include an update at the end or not. It’s all up to you.”

There is only One Rule:
1–The post you add must be at least 30 days old. The older, the better.

The party starts on…you guessed it!…Thursdays every week. Revisit a favorite post from your past and post your link here, anytime between each Wednesday through Sunday night.

Don’t forget to read and share some love to the other posts in the link up. 
My inaugural post is yet another example of what The Universe tells me is my February theme: revisit the little things.

New #ROW80 Round 4–time lost, time found?

“I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it.”~Johnny Depp, American actor

My ROW80-Round3 2015 was a bust.

I forgot about it. I lost my goals. I didn’t accomplish my goals in the timeframe I set. I failed one or two weeks in and no longer wanted to feel the fail, so I stopped. Now that posts for ROW80-Round4 2015 are now showing up in my blog feed reader, and I realize, what the *bleep* happened?

I write by hand, as you know from previous blog posts. My ROW80 goals were a to-do checklist on the computer, and that just did not work I guess.  I found my original post and noticed that: hey–I actually had accomplished a lot on that list

Big Goals:
Finish DadMemoir and get to editor
Crowdfund for Alaska DONE, but not successful
Pre-write Deadwood blogposts
Pre-write/catchup my blog posts
Finish posting AtoZ Challenge posts
Get email client service – do this in August. DONE, but need to setup
Update my website’s About Me
Update my website’s Writing
Update Amazon Author Pg.
Catchup email. DONE, kinda. It’s an ongoing challenge.
Social media DONE, kinda. I still ignore Facebook as much as I can.
WiiFit. DONE
Read/review books on goodreads and Amazon
Make time to journal. DONE
Glasses by Alaska. DONE–all 3 pairs, too!
Play games. DONE
Time with family. DONE, kinda.
Call relatives. DONE, a little bit.
Call friends
Scrapbook
Haircut and/or perm and/or coloring DONE.

That’s 10 out of 21. On third review, it’s not as much as I’d like, but 48% is okay. I know some of things in the list are currently in motion.

Now, however, my themes have changed as my outlook and approach to this blog is changing. I guess that’s part of the growth, but now it feels frustrating to restructure everything.

Maybe I need a smaller list, something more attainable. In Zentangle, we break the art down one line at a time, repeated over and over again. When that one tangle is complete, you start another one. As a CZT, I always teach the first tile with four tangles. If that’s all the time I have to teach, then my students leave with a little accomplishment that is really a big accomplishment.

Today, now, what is important for me to do? What’s most immediate? I guess the question is: what will move my writing forward?

Now that I’ve typed that last line in, those last two words comfort me and bring me some focus. *breathe*

ROUND 4: October 5 – December 24

I’m typing this list in a coffeeshop in Ann Arbor. I’ll revise it at home tonight when I can compare it to my recent to do list. It may change from this very moment, but here is my list, in no particular order:

[Now Complete as of This Posting, but Still No Particular Order]

1–EMAIL CLIENT:
Figure out how to use my MailChimp account. Do I need a new, different email address? Set up a button for email list on my blog. Explore if I can do this in the free version or if I need to get a paid site. If so, should I finally change to my “official” reserved site name? If so, can I direct all traffic to this blog site–I think there’s a way, but how complicated is it?

2–DAD’S MEMOIR:
Finish the long Scrivener tutorial. It’s very long–over one hour to carefully walk through the first section–and mentally exhausting, so I can only do this in chunks at the moment. Once I learn how to use it, enter my DadMemoir into it. Before doing that, remember to type in the current changes from Edit.7 document. Start fresh from that point.

3–CATCH UP OLD BLOG POSTS
Seriously, this is bad karma to have so much hanging over my head. It’s distracting and stressful, and it’s holding me back from moving forward. Get AtoZ Challenge blog posts done = that’s a first priority because it’s the evil dark cloud hanging over my head. (Note to self: re-think doing this again in the future) In addition, there are old Zentangle-Diva posts = what do I want to do with those? My old regular missed blog posts = I have no problem or guilt publishing them “late” because I want to keep my current schedule constant. I may revisit this when I see how many posts I have to do, but for now, I’m going with it. This will include posting things like ROW80 Roundups, Haiku Horizons and WeekendCoffeeShare moving forward, which gives me topics to write about.

4–SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA TIME
In a time when other people are pulling away from the wasteland that is social media, I need to plan time and learn what works best for me. Instagram is easy, and I love that site. I normally post daily or twice a day, I like and comment on posts, but I need to determine a strategic plan for what I want to use this site for. That’s a low priority at the moment because I am using it and interacting now, but something I do want to think about. Facebook: ewwwwwwww…. I make no secret that I dislike the site and am there simply because everyone else is there. Plan what to post on my Facebook Author Page so it looks current and useful. Schedule time each day or two to catch up on all those notifications and messages and whatever else Facebook throws in my face. I don’t want them to pile up like they did last month; I think I had 89 notifications and 4 DMs. Okay–Facebook rant over, for now. Keeping current with Twitter–another format I love–and maybe that means replying to Tweets as they happen. That means keeping my smartphone at my side all day, but that may be what works best for me. If so, don’t look at those Tweets as a distraction, and accept that interrupting my flow to respond is okay to do.

5–NEW BLOGSITES AND FOLLOWERS AND WHATNOT
This has to be vague right now because I’ve met so many people through the #RQWN Twitterchat, from the NFPW conference, from Instagram and Twitter, and from wherever else. How do I organize all this? How do I show my friendliness to these folks? I have no idea, but something to think about.

6–UPDATE MY AUTHOR SITES
That means telling myself that playing with my blog site to make it current is not a frivolous waste of time. It’s fun, and it can be, and I can’t feel guilty about that. This includes the About Me, Zentangle, Writing sections. It’s all part of my writing strategy. I need to look professional, not sloppy. Update my Amazon Author Page.

7–WRITE BOOKS
I learned a lot from NFPW conference in Alaska from the presenters that a lot can be done in a short amount of time. While working on my memoir, I can write short stories like the ones I’ve already published. I need to, actually, so I have material to enter in writing contests next year. Maybe an anthology. Maybe a haiku chapbook.

8–SEEK OUT NEW IN-PRINT WRITING VENUES
With the closing of the magazine I write for, my columns poof away. When the magazine stops printing, I no longer have articles in print. I want to be published; I like seeing my name in print. I’m a good writer, some days a great writer. There are contacts from ago that I never followed up on. Find those names and business cards and emails and write back to them, again or for the first time.

9–PRINT OUT THIS LIST
‘Nuff said.

There are other things I feel pulling at me, like staying current with email, family, Goodreads and more, but my list above is already longer than I want. These other things may happen naturally as the ROW80 lists items become crossed off. Think: I’ll have time and flexibility to call family when I am not constantly thinking “I should be writing blog posts. Maybe you think it’s a twisted way to approach loved ones, but I can’t be a good friend or family member until I take care of myself. Will I regret any of those choices? No, I don’t believe in regret, but every failure brings a new focus.

I’m starting off with these 8 items–which still may be too ambitious–and see where this goes from here.

Do you think I can do it?

This #WeekendCoffeeShare is worth writing about

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

If we were having coffee, I’d share a bunch of my writing news today.

I gave my first radio interview Wednesday. The Michigan Literary Network approached me to discuss my writing career on the air. Even with a brief review of potential questions…well, I described my initial thoughts a few days ago in this post. Listen to my interview here and tell me how it is; I’ve been too self-conscious to listen to it yet.

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July 2015: parties, awards, writing…and–of course–coffee

My DadMemoir is going slower than I hoped. However, I’ve scheduled actual writing time on my calendar to help me focus on that. My calendar now shows designated writing time, for whatever I choose at that moment. The memoir is still a struggle. Are you struggling with your work/draft-in-progress? Just when I think the memoir is in fine shape, I stumble on a chapter that needs rearranging much less revising.

I’m working to place a sample of my writing on my site. People say that’s a good idea, and I agree. That, however, takes some time to set up, possibly resigning my tabs and/or content first, so that’s something floating in the background as I focus on other writing projects.

Don’t ask me about my #ROW80 goals. Completing those is a pathetic mess, so let’s move on to something more positive.

I officially registered for NFPW Conference. You recall that I was blasted excited to receive a first-timer grant to pay for the conference fee. I’m going to Alaska! Still, additional expenses–airfare and hotel, for example–are daunting, which is why I started a crowdfunding campaign. Shameless self-promotion: please visit my GoFundMe site and help me defer costs as I go there to accept my two National awards.

You’ll see several photos on my daily calendar of my husband and his laptop. That’s time spent writing together, which is a relatively new super-cool development.

Looking at the summary from my Photo 365 app, you’ll see there’s Scrapbooking time with my Michigan Scrapbooked Magazine editor. Look at my Deadwood Writers’ Group, a fabulous critique group meeting every first and third Wednesdays. Our next meeting is this week, and I may submit a piece, but the queue is getting full. Flashback to The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers event, supporting a fellow writer and amazed by the overall experience. Think a combination mixing spoken word with a public reading. Leaves you breathless. Thanks to my Timehop app, there’s a sad Foursquare checkin: the defunct bookstore chain, Borders.

And selfies. So many selfies. What can I say? I’m just too darn stinking’ cute.

So tell me, what’s been going on in your life this week?

Do you challenge yourself enough?

“Things do not happen; things are made to happen.”~John F. Kennedy, American president

I’m enjoying these Haiku Horizons weekly challenges.

Challenges. That’s an interesting word, an interesting concept.

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Haiku Horizons #70: tear…or is it tear?

I participate in the Diva weekly Zentangle Challenge, this haiku challenge, the still-past-posting AtoZ Blog Challenge, NaNoWriMo in Novembers and probably some more. Why do we “challenge” ourselves? Why do we freely that we need a challenge to be productive? I think it’s the accountability.

We can use any excuse to not do something and be quite creative with that. “I can’t exercise because it’s a new moon.” “I can’t write my story because I chipped a nail.”

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we set ourselves up for failure? That’s what a challenge implies, doesn’t it?

The best definition I found with a quick online search is from Cambridge Dictionaries website: “something needing great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully, or the situation of facing this kind of effort.” I love that.

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Zen By the Sea student shells and stones

I taught my Zentangle By the Sea class last night. Students learned the basics of Zentangle first on a piece of paper, and then applied those techniques by tangling on seashells and rocks. I found it challenging to provide class examples; the surfaces are uneven, bumpily, smooth and then scratchy. Still, I had to do that to show my students that it can be done, that I did it, that anyone can do it and then go for it.
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The students’ work was quite impressive. Any work always is when we face a challenge head on. What challenge will you face today?

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How I met my challenge with my class examples

Tumble over Umble in a Zentangle challenge

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”~Stephen Hawking, English physicist

Today’s the 4th Tuesday of the month, which means it’s my bi-monthly Tuesday Tangled Lunch. It’s a quiet two hours, which is just fine for me. I had time to focus on preparations for tomorrow night’s Zentangle: By the Sea class and to complete this week’s Diva Zentangle Challenge #223.

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Tumbling as I’m Umble-ing in Diva #223

Umble. It’s an interesting tangle combining Crescent Moon’s shape and contrast with Hollibaugh’s criss-cross overlapping technique. Once again, I pulled out a half-completed tile, this one part of a 9-tile Zentangle pre-strung mosaic. It may be more obvious where the pre-Umble tangles are, but it’s the one I’m working on, regardless.

Umble is designed to work in a square space, starting from each of four corners. None of that here, so that’s a challenge right there. With a little tweaking, I turned it into something quite satisfying in a strange rectangular-triangular space. I’m purposely leaving the one space blank because I want to see how it looks when the mosaic is complete. Will it look as stark as now?

I can’t wait to find out.

On Zentangle and (impatiently) waiting

“When a thing is done, it’s done. Don’t look back.”~George Marshall, American soldier

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

My NFPW 1st-place entries have moved onto Nationals. How did I do? I’m waiting to hear.

I’m fortunate to have a strong writing background, from the encouragement my high school English teacher gave me to the subjects I explored obtaining my English Minor degree in college to the sentence-by-sentence guidance my first newspaper editor gave me. That last one is the most valuable, and I’m still amazed that she took the time–made the time–to teach me how to write strong text. She saw something in me and believed in me. I always believed in myself, too; I just needed the opportunity to show my creativity. I got that, many times over.

I learned about NFPW when I moved to Delaware with my fiancé-now-husband. I was already an established “professional” writer, meaning I had bylines in print media, and that was enough for me to join NFPW and the local chapter that still bursts with amazing, strong writing and more. I entered contests. I won. I entered again and again. I won again and again. It was pretty cool.

Jump forward years and my move to Michigan. Writing opportunities were scarce, but I found a few outlets. I entered the NFPW contest as At-Large since there was no local chapter, and I won. However, I wasn’t just submitting column assignments. I was entering my personal writings: my books, this blog. Now I was being judged on my personal writing, and it’s hard not to take losses personally. Now I value these awards and recognitions on a much higher level.

Three out of this year’s four entries are being reviewed and critiqued by industry professionals as I type. The other day, I thought about that. When are the winners announced? Last year’s email came June 26. That’s two weeks, 11 long days from now if the calendar remains similar. This year I’m super-impatient.

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Di’s Diva #222: Color explosion

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.My 10-hour fiction book moved on, and I’m still dazzled by that. I’m confident that my Michigan Scrapbooker Magazine articles will place again. My blog, this one right (write) here…well, we’ll see about that. I want to know about Jimmy the Burglar. I don’t want to know about Jimmy the Burglar. All I can do is wait.

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Who doesn’t love a little bling?

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The Diva’s weekly Zentangle Challenge #222 is perfect for me this week: it’s all about color. Feel colorful, be color-full. I wanted my Zentangle to sparkle.

I didn’t have any black tiles on hand, so I pulled out my Gelly Roll Starburst Meteor pens. I haven’t used glitter in…well, far too long. This made me smile. Still feeling a smidge impatient, I used several of my go-to tangles to complete my Zentangle tile. I’m happy.

With nothing to do but wait for results, I can feel positive by focusing on other works in progress: my memoir, my Zentangle stories, the next installment of Jimmy the Burglar, my haiku chapbooks. Might as well have some productive thoughts while I wait.

Hands on writing and Zentangle

“My mission in life is not merely to survive but to thrive, and do so with some passion, compassion, humor and style.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

I got into an interesting discussion with someone on Instagram. We got talking about writing styles. She does all her drafts and revisions on the computer. When I write, my first draft is always done by hand. I print out a typed copy and then edit that by hand. I do this until my final-final edits.

She asked me how I could do that, because her hand hurts when she does that. Me, I need the control to brainstorm and cross out and move sections with my pen. She can’t do that, but is intrigued by other people’s ways of writing. It continues to be an interesting discussion between us, and it made me think about my writing process. Seeing the writing world through someone else’s pen/computer coulod be a learning experience for all of us. I will be doing a blog post series on that in the future. Right now, I’m chronicling my current work on a magazine article, and I’ll focus on my full-length memoir after that.

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Diana’s Diva #221: Beads of Courage

I’ve always been a pen-to-paper kinda gal. I guess that’s why Zentangle appeals to me and comes so naturally. Zentangle is done by hand, pen contacting paper, a physical act. There’s a human flow to that, an authenticity. An accountability. That’s part of the Zentangle charm… and challenge.

This week’s Diva Challenge was to complete a tile inspired by Beads of Courage. Once again, I found a half-started tile, this one part of a Zentangle mosaic set. The tangle there happened to mingle perfectly with this challenge, so I went with the flow. All the tangles reflect beads in some fashion, either by direct look or by the circular inference.

Can you tell where the original was and the new stuff was added on? That’s the beauty and style of handiwork.

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