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

AtoZ-LetterA-2016
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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.

Making Big Decisions: my #ROW80 Round 2 goals

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”~John Ruskin, English writer

I have a lot of To-Dos in my life, but listing 17 specific goals is leaving me scatterbrained.

I had this awesome blogposts written, expounding the virtues of A Round of Words in 80 Days, and then I overwhelmed myself.  Not that that’s a hard thing to do some days, but I needed to re-examine things.

Let me first say that ROW80 is a good kick in the butt to get organized and be productive.  By breaking down big-idea goals into measurable steps, you can get your Big Picture items done in small steps.

I tried Round 4 in 2015 and let it fade away. I accomplished Round 1 this year, and by accomplish I mean that I followed along with my goals even if I didn’t complete them. I received such encouragement on my Round 1 wrap-up post that I knew this was the direction for me to continue in the second quarter of 2016. “I hope I can scrounge up about 10-12 easy, accomplishable goals,” I said to myself.

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So many to-do ideas scribbled down

I struggled to narrow my originally outrageous 25 ideas into even 17 daunting goals.

I know myself well enough to know that I don’t do well with overwhelming lists.  Being too ambitious means I’ll fall harder for failing to achieve all the tasks.  What do I do?

I revisited the ROW80 site to read the “rules” of this challenge again.  The key idea here is measurable goals, and that’s the part I skimmed over, which is odd because this approach fits in with my exacting, to-do-lists-on-sticky-notes personality.  My Motown Writers Network challenges every member to set 30-day challenges and report the successes and struggles at next month’s meeting.  Regardless of how much I accomplish, I feel empowered.

Keeping items too broad, however, strangles people.  Kait Nolan’s post from 2011 resonated with me: “these aren’t goals they’re end results.”  Since I’m not always a big picture kinda gal– I like of seeing the little pictures–I was overthinking things.  I need a balance of wishful idea with specific action steps.

With all that in mind, here are my many-times-revised Round 2 Goals, beginning Monday, April 4:

During April:
1–Complete migrating this WordPress blog to the self-hosted one. I’m about 75% there, so I plan to aside one evening–hoping that’s all it takes–to make it functional enough to navigate because…

2–New business cards. Might as well make sure the new blog is up and hosted before sending people to that site. Spend 2-3 days between April 4-9th checking prices on MOO and Vistaprint and studying designs. I have writerly events coming up in April and May, so I need cards ordered or in my hand by April 18.

3–Complete AtoZ Challenge posts for 2016 AND 2015. Those 2015posts are hanging over my head and I can’t let them go. I have to finish them. Period.  That means draft write and/or finish 1-3 posts/week, starting today!  Set aside some of my Monday and Wednesday scheduled writing time to deal with 2015, filling with haikus where I can.

After that, my goals are in no particular order

4–Catch up and keep up with email. Deal with 10-25 emails/day, grouped either by date or by theme/sender.

5–Update one thing on my blog each week. I saw this goal from Shan Jeniah Burton in Round 1, and thought it sooooooo enlightening.

6–Complete all blog/social media planner sheets for Happy Planner. I don’t have many more to finish designing, so at least 1-2 per week so that I can…

7–Schedule social media. That’s a big, open-ended goal, and I’m not sure how to break it down right now. I know posting to Facebook (*shudder*) is high up on that list because I’m only on FB because everyone else is, not because I want to. Whatever it is, develop a schedule of posts/posting times of days during the week.

8–Schedule time to write/edit/promote my two current books: My Father, My Friend (memoir) and Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks (humorous crime fiction). That’s also a big goal, and I’m not sure how I want to fit that into my schedule.  This is part of my #7 schedule social media goal.  I’ll break it down as I go along.

9–Put away holiday decorations.  If it’s just me doing this, then 1-2 boxes/week.

10–Call family members. Do this at least once a week.

11–Contact 2-5 potential editors. I’ll start with my Alaska contact and Fiverr.  I may do this in May when other deadlines pass, unless I can fit it in.

12–Continue writing letters. Serendipity arrived in the mail today with the Write On campaign, something I’ll share in a future post.

BONUS: Write for fun. Y’know, just play with words.

I have other goals that I so, so, so want to include in this list, but I wanted to cut that list down to a baker’s dozen. I classified the others as to-dos at this point.

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.

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

Searches and spiders and Schoolhouse Rock

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

I would disagree with Al’s statement above: rather than “hope” we should “plan” to be more active in our futures.

What does my Internet searches say about me? That was a question posed in a recent Twitter Chat, I believe. That’s a [insert adjective] thought. In just 3 hours of writing in a Starbucks, web-based analytics would show me searching:

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Haiku Horizons #105: Spider

–“Haiku Horizons” (so I could get the apropos link for this week’s haiku challenge, my contribution seen here)
–“Geico squirrel commercial TV”
–“The More You Know NBC” (and clicking on the Will Smith link!)
–Scary as adverb (“senyence grammer scary”)
By the way, “scarily” is the adverb. I’m jolted back to the Schoolhouse Rock I should know.
–“Schoolhouse rock adverb” (to get the title: Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here)
In a surprising coinkidink, there’s a squirrel in the video.
I bet the song is stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.
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–“Sound of Music title” (it does have “The” at beginning of title)
–“Rochester writers contest” (to revisit the categories and submission requirements)

I also did a few interesting hashtag/user searches on Twitter. I searched this blog for some keywords. I commented on blog posts, posted to Instagram and checked in on Swarm.

And you? What do your searches say about you?

Things that make you go hmmmmmm….

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 Super-Bawl #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

Isn’t this place cool? It was great to rediscover No.VI Coffee last month when a friend checked in on Swarm. I’m usually only up this way when I have a particular doctor appointment, which I did a few days ago. Remembering that checkin, I came here to write all afternoon–I was quite productive–and raved about the place to my husband. We’re always on the search for new coffee shops to visit, so that’s why we’re here today. Thanks for meeting us here.

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Such a polite sign….

As I said, writing was productive after the crazy start to my week. I did some blog posts, critiqued the pieces for my writer’s group, and did some blogging and planning. Yeah, I haven’t touched my memoir or Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks in a few weeks, and I’m feeling really guilty about that. There’s so much I want to do, need to do, and stuff keeps falling through the cracks between my laptop keys.

My husband’s enjoying time on his tablet, so we have time to chat. Want another cup of the Mocha Java French press? It’s good, right? Until you get to the very bottom, that is, so enjoy it now.

Get this: for some reason, I felt compelled to open my Timehop app. By connecting your social media, it shows the history of you. Well, on this date three years ago–it was a Thursday–I was sitting in this very shop also eating breakfast. It was a Caribou Coffee then, but now it’s a local shop.

This is the first time Timehop has gone back 6 years. I really didn’t get into social media until 2010, which blows my mind in so many ways. On this day, I was prepping for THON and just connected with my Moraler. Gosh, the thought of that still makes me cry and….

Sorry, give me a moment. Hand me that napkin, please. Thank you.

*wipes eyes in a self-conscious but thoroughly happy way*

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February 7: A Day in my History

Sorry, just the mention of THON always brings tears. Not in a sad way but in a super duper happy proud way. I danced as an undergrad, and six years ago I had the honor of raising enough money to dance for the THON Alumni organization, DMAIG. Yes, 46 hours awake and your feet to raise money for children’s cancer. I’ll tell you more about it later; I just can’t talk anymore.

*sniffs into a third napkin*

Have you ever done something so worthy, something so proud, that you can’t forget it? That’s THON for me, the greatest thing Penn State has done and will ever do.

It’s a sunny day out, and he’s getting a bit antsy in here. It’s a sunny, snow-free day, super-nice for February in Michigan. Let’s head out for a drive, or maybe a wander around a bookstore. It’s great sharing today with you. What’s new in your world of magic?

What makes someone successful?

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”~Joyce Brothers, American psychologist

Success is a scary word. If we say we are successful, others may perceive us of bragging. I am superior and you, failing human, are worthless. If we say we are unsuccessful, then we start to shovel ourselves into that six-foot-deep pit.

Some days I’m one; some days I’m the other. Some days I’m both.

One thing that has gone well so far is my instant social media response time. I need to come up with a catchy acronym for that so it makes the process more fun. Aside from email and Facebook, all is going well. My Grand Experiment from this post seems to fit into my style of interaction and planning.

How’s my ROW80 going? Let’s take a look at that:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. Not as much progress as I’d hoped for–really, this was supposed to be a quick little piece–but I did share part of Chapter 1 with my Writer’s Group. The feedback was just the critique I needed to move forward. I did a smidge of editing on Friday, but there were a lot of distractions that day.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. Nope, not yet. This To-Do action item keeps getting moved from week to week. I think breaking it down into smaller actions will help. This week’s goal is to explore at least two hosting sites for info about their price and services.

3–Blog and social media planning. I’m doing a little with action sheets and making notes, but this is ongoing. I’m not sure where I want to go on with this.

4–Update my blog pages/site. I’ll save this until I finish the blog self-hosting goal.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Doctor visit this week. I think I’m remarkably flexible, but we’ll see how he says I’m doing.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. First step needs to be resolving my supposed Scrivener problem, and I have yet to deal with that email. It’s probably a 5-minute fix, but it shifts on my To-Do as well.

7–Make time to play. This is the reason I was so lazy and unproductive with my writing and blogging and planning this week. I scrapbooked a few pages in my Happy Planner and obsessed over colors and styles while I watched insanely detailed YouTube videos on it. Just for fun.

8–Do some fun writing. See above.

What makes a success a success? What makes a failure a failure? It is all a state of mind.

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