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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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.

Focus
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

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.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare where I discuss my #ROW80 goals

If we were having coffee…

I know, right, three coffee shops to get this right? That first place we tried was just blah. The owner is usually friendlier, but not today. We were almost chased out of the Bookstore Café. If we hadn’t been leaving, we might have been, except I did have a blueberry green tea.

This Starbucks is rather nice.  The chatty baristas just now brightened my day.  Now I feel better.

[My husband is with us and he nods]

Northville is a bit out of our way, but I love the second floor balcony here. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the fireplace on. It’s usually an iceberg in here–one of the reasons my husband and I don’t make it here often–so this is a cool change of pace. It’s a Clover location, so this is always a treat for us coming here. The Nicaragua, that’s my current fave. Smooth and earthy, not flowery or acidic like all those bright summery coffees. If this is the best thing to come with last week’s snow storms, then Yay.

Are you on Twitter much? [Husband sitting next to us sighs, sips his coffee and pulls out his phone] Oh, shoo. I discovered new communities of writers through Twitter chats. There’s so many out there, you gotta check them out. [Turns to husband] Hey, you were out of town this week.

“Yeah, but I brought you home socks,” he says.

Yep, that’s true. Thank you. [Leans over with a kiss on his cheek]

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I’ve been using my Happy Planner to plan out some things for my blog, for my writing. Just last night while I was surfing Instagram, I discovered yet another subculture called Bullet Journaling. I spent waaaaay too much time last night watching YouTube videos, but I found one or two tips I can try out in my evolving system. In fact, thanks to that planner, I have a reminder to update my #ROW80 project goals.

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I typed in my latest edits, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m enjoying my blogging way too much to focus on that, at least last week.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. I now have four leads to check out, all recommended for different reasons. Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday during my reserved writing times I’ll take a pop on over to those sites, maybe just two to start with.

3–Blog and social media planning.
Yep! Success! I’m using my Happy Planner–gosh how I love that, playing with paper and feeling productive!–and developing a schedule. I did create a page for stats across all platforms, and the Followers and Likes is both impressive and not so. It’s hard not to compare others’ perceived successes with mine

4–Update my blog pages/site. Uhhhh…not so much. I’ll have to find time and schedule that in.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Look! Look at this! I bend this much now [holds right forefinger up]. It bends so much, I can almost touch my finger together, which is where the doc wants me to be. But it frustrates me; it’s still swollen, and I think that’s why I can’t bend it all the way. I have an appointment at the end of the month, so we’ll see then.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. Nope. I’ve been working on all this other stuff. Prioritizing? Procrastinating? It’s hard to tell which sometimes.

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7–Make time to play. Yeah, I kinda am. I have reached a point where I am exploding to read a book–and I know which one–but I never sit down and make it happen.

8–Do some fun writing. Whatever that is. Hmmmmm…does Twitter count? What about Instagram captions?

I started a new journal yesterday. It’s a Hello Kitty Moleskine, an exclusive collector edition or something. I bought it at a Chapters bookstore in Windsor, Canada last summer. It’s one of those too-nice-to-use things, but I ripped off the plastic, took the cute bookmarks out of the back pocket, and wrote my first entry in a green pen. You should always have colored ink pens in every bag or purse you carry. Never be without a rainbow.

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.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare wherein I discuss perils and pitfalls of writing

If we were having coffee, I’m making it a double for me.  I was awake late into yesterday morning putting the finishing touches on my annual Halloween Party for A Fanciful Twist’s annual Halloween blog hop.  Oh, it’s well worth it, but I like to plan more ahead of time.  The creativity of writing can get stifled by deadline.  And naps, although naps are good for the soul.

It’s also another #ROW80 check-in Sunday.  I don’t have much to say about that because, once again, I’ve put other things in front of my writing.  Priorities?  Where are they?  Or when?

I can use the excuse that our washer decided to leave this world, and waiting for our new little-big one took time and shopping.  I could have been writing.  I think I did, a little, but with one eye on the scheduled delivery time, it’s hard to write with one eye.  Unless you’re a pirate.  And I’m not a pirate, despite my best efforts.

I could use the excuse of my car being in the shop again for a runny nose, but not having my comfortable transportation is more reason to be writing when I’m stuck at home.  Or driving our other car to coffee shops or bookstores to write at.

I can use the excuse of writing that Halloween blog post.  Fun writing, for sure, but an extra curricular activity from my ROW80 goals.

It’s tough to write, to find–no, make–the time.  I made the time to start some things:

1–EMAIL CLIENT:
It turns out that I have an unused gmail.com account from signing up on Google years ago.  Can I use that in this MailChimp thing?  Finding an email was the first obstacle to overcome.

3–CATCH UP OLD BLOG POSTS:
Ummmm…I did draft some while out with my husband recently.  I typed up one or two, but haven’t made time to review and polish before publish.

4–SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA TIME:
The only thing I stay on top of for sure is Instagram.  That is fun!  I’m rather good about Twitter.  I’ve had some cool writing events to add onto my Facebook Author Page, but I never did.

5–NEW BLOGSITES AND FOLLOWERS AND WHATNOT:/strong>
I have found some new blogs to follow through Instagram links, Twitter chats, so I consider this a success.  More blog reading, however, takes away from more blog writing.

9–PRINT OUT THIS LIST:
Not doing this has kept me from being accountable to myself.  I thought about doing this.  Perhaps that counts.

I did spend friend-scrapbook time, both out of the house and at Friday’s annual Halloween Crop at Casa de la Hirsch.  That refreshes my soul.  So does writing, and now that it’s been more than a few days, I’m antsy to write something, but where do I begin?

So I ask you, as we sip our coffees, how do you write? This is my goal, my focus, my life, and yet somehow I find excuses to make. Writing is about exploring, and then translating that into the wonders of words. Thank you for making the time to stop and explore my site today. It means a lot to me, and I hope this exploration makes your day wonder-full and inspiration-all.

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?

My coolest posts, voted by you!

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