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.

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How do you plan to exit Earth?

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“Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance,”~Epicurus, Greek philosopher
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Today’s Alphabet Haiku is brought to you by the letter E.

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Are bloggers real writers?

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“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being,”~Confucius, Chinese philosopher
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Hi, my name is Diana, and I am a writer.

I state that up front because despite my published articles, books and national writing awards, people still raise eyebrows at the thought of writing being a “profession.” You know, those people who speak in that quotation tone of voice. Now that anyone with internet connection can expose themselves on a free website, what does that say about bloggers?

Bloggers are writers, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

I’ve been writing since I was four years old, long before computers, so I guess that means I’m a writer who blogs. That gives more justification, I guess, but it’s a crappy deal that “bloggers” need to be distinguished from even “writers.” Like there’s a difference. Someone once compared writing to a coffeeshop. You’d never expect anyone to say, “Oh, you’re a local coffeeshop ‘owner.'”

That offends me. Worse, it annoys me.

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Blogging takes works–as people who participate in the April AtoZ Challenge can attest to–whether you write for personal escape or a professional venture. Deadwood Writers Group, the awesome people in Michigan who critique my work and make me a better writer, started a blog more than two years ago as an opportunity for members to have an online presence, regardless of any other writing they do or aspirations they have.

Some writers use blogging as an exercise towards publishing, be that traditionally or self-publishing. Sue Remisiewicz boldly states, “No matter what happens, I’m creative. I write. I’m a writer.”

So what if you “just” blog? Be proud of your effort. You are allowed to challenge you.

Kelly Bixby writes essay-style blog posts, and says, “I try to make relationship issues, travel stories, grammar rules, and topics of faith each entertaining and/or inspiring,” she says. “The heart of every writer is curiosity, creativity and passion.”

Creativity is the key. Quotation people are afraid of creativity, or were told once that they weren’t creative. I am fortunate that others encouraged me to play with words. It’s never “just” blogging.

Karen Kittrell sums it up perfectly. “For myself, I write to connect. If I succeed, I define that as writing.”

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.

Mega Meet registration and Zentangle open

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”~Confucius, Chinese philosopher

This has been my quote of the week at work. So simple, so succinct, so perfect.

Registration for The 16th Annual Great Lakes Mega Meet opened tonight at 7pm. I got all the classes I wanted, including a last-minute addition to the schedule. My friend registered for hers, too, so we’ll share some classes together that weekend. As for my Zentangle Found Poetry…

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This is the current registration for my Zentangle class. Not bad for fours hours.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Zentangle

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”~Martin Luther King, Jr., American activist

This week enters a new era, Diva Challenge #201. This week’s challenge is the annual awareness to Moebius Syndrome, which her youngest child has. It is a delayed developmental condition.

I look back on my tiles from last year and see the different approach I took then.

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Diva #151: Moebius 2014–1

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Diva #151: Moebius 2014–2

This year, not being near a computer to print the moebius strip template, I created my own using the color associated with the condition, purple. I introduced various shades on Inktense pencils, playing with them for the first time this year.

How appropriate that this challenge falls on the American holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. and his many activist works for advancement, understanding and unity.

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Diva Zentangle Challenge #201

Why you should not start over in the New Year

“My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.”~Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

I have failed my New Year’s Resolution every year. It’s not even a specific task that can be quantified, like “I will lose 10 pounds” or “I will read a book every week” or “I will not drink caffeine.”

My resolution has been: Keep Up.

That always works through January, and then somewhere…**poof**

I believe it is a noble resolution, one that I intend to…well…keep up on my list. This year, however, I am adding two more elements that should help me keep that first one.

Diana’s 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

1–Keep Up

Let’s review that one. The plan here is to keep current with emails, voice mails, sympathy cards, emails, social media, organizing workspaces, birthday cards, emails, phone calls, membership renewals, blog sites, blog posts, emails….

You see the real theme here.

This two-word goal can be hard to maintain, and once you fall behind, it’s almost impossible to catch up. So no catch up. No starting over. That’s where the next resolution comes in:

2–Start from where you are

When I finally owned enough variety of scrapbook material, I wanted to scrapbook everything: my college days; my childhood trips; my pet parakeets; my dating experiences; my film project career; my wedding; my friends and everything else. No way I could do that because it’s too overwhelming. So I chose to start documenting from the place that made sense to me. My first official archival-safe scrapbook page was of me and my husband opening our wedding presents when we returned from our honeymoon. I can always go back and memorialize the other stuff later, but as any scrapbooker will say, you are “always behind” in the pictures you want to scrapbook.

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Encouraging idea at the theater where we saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay–Part 1 today

This one may sound like starting over, but I’m not reinventing anything. I’m fine-tuning what I already have in place. I don’t need to start over with a new website; I need to flash it up moving forward. I don’t need to start writing something new; I have ideas and drafts to work on. This resolution element is an exercise in letting go. Do not focus on the past or on the past failures.

I have an aggressive posting schedule on my blog, one I can maintain, but some 2014 blog post drafts have not been published due to computer problems, WordPress app issues and human neglect. Bloggers suggest planning posts ahead of time when you are traveling. Sometimes I want that structure. Sometimes I want spontaneity. However, not keeping up has sabotaged best plans. I have perhaps 10 mostly-completed posts that were never finished for one reason or another. Those I will wrap up and publish. I will not create new past posts from scratch just to fill up the missed dates. Nope. I’m starting the new year where I am: today.

For me, emails are not something I can just wipe out. While I am quite certain that an unread email from 7 months ago may no longer be relevant, I need to confirm that. That’s where the third part of my resolution comes in:

3–Deal with it

This does not refer to the current TV show, although it is the only “reality” show I will watch. This aspect is about taking all those elements that I have started from and making sure I keep current.

See how they all relate to each other?

So…if I have three emails that I can’t instantly delete and require some attention, make the time to deal with them at that moment with a reply, research, whatever.

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High five: it’s a Yahtzee!

Conventional wisdom states that you will be more productive when you focus on only one thing at a time. I recall a few months ago that I opened my Facebook app every time a notification popped up on my phone. I found that this instant action was relaxing because the post was usually nothing important and I didn’t play catchup later. That was a good feeling. I want to feel that way again.

I realize that I will not always have time to immediately take care of everything. Some things can slip by, get missed, are purposefully ignored and just plain become annoying. As such, this also means that it’s okay to let go. If I don’t do everything–or sometimes even anything–perfect, just accept that, deal with it and move on. Whatever it takes to keep up and not catch up.

Perhaps if I keep repeating these mantras, I’ll be successful beyond the month of January. What are you doing for 2015?

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Today ends with a glorious southeastern Pennsylvania sunset

Playing with sidewalk chalk and coffee

“The sun is new each day.”~Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

Who doesn’t love sidewalk chalk?

There’s something delightful about chalk. Not the small, tighty-whitey type you find in school chalkboards–that is, if chalk is still used in classrooms–but the fat, chunky pastel kind. It coats your fingers in colorful dust while drawing whatever you choose. The colors are not so complex as crayons; there’s no deep thought process needed. Simple.

Simple and fun. Children draw hopscotch squares, at least they still do in my neighborhood. I can’t pass one by without hopping the scotch squares. College students draw arrows directing you to some event. I’ve written “welcome home” messages on our driveway when my husband returns from a long business trip.

Chalk is permanent in a temporary way. Water will wash the drawing away, but the memory is always there.

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“Miracle Mocha” drinks are our standard, hot or cold. The scones are baked local.

I love stores that embrace customer participation. A lot of those tend to be coffee shops. There was a Starbucks in northwest Pennsylvania, just across the Ohio border, with a pushpin corkboard that proudly asked customers “How far did you travel to this Starbucks?” My husband and I always passed it on the way from Michigan to Penn State, and we loved stopping in there to see it. The store’s remodel removed the corkboard, which is among my Top Ten Saddest Decisions Businesses Have Made list.

One coffeeshop that still encourages customer interaction is Miracle Coffee here in Michigan. The store we go to is located on 14 Mile Rd., and while we’ve only been there about a dozen times in two years, the owners know us by name and by drink. Their memory would have made my dad proud; he had a steel-trap-sharp mind like that. Dad would have been fussy over gourmet coffee–he was a straight up black coffee guy–but he would have liked the store atmosphere. I do, too, and one charm is that store has a chalkboard. Every time my husband and I go in, there’s a new question on the board. Today’s question: what super power and super name would you choose to have? 

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Of course, his love message is written in blue

My husband chose to write a message of love for me. I guess that’s his superpower: loving me. And that name is Champ.

Remember the good times

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

Playing games. Stylin’ a new haircut. Stuffed animals and Slurpees.

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Always send spontaneous happy texts or make surprise phone calls.

A bird on the back deck. Coffee and coffee, then throw in a little more coffee. Toss in a little writing and a smidge of art, and you have a recipe for fun days.

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