One #ROW80 Round2 goal done, but doesn’t change a thing

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If we were having coffee…
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I’m excited to say that it’s officially done: this website is now self-hosted. However, I am not promoting that site. Not yet.

I set up a self-hosted site with a brand new shiny name, but doing that wiped out all of the current formatting that you’re looking at. That’s not the end of the story. Heck, it’s not even the prequel. It’s a story to tell as I share my self-hosting blog experience, a simultaneous point of pride and wide-eyed disbelief. Simply put, I have to do this whole thing over again.

This website thing throws my ROW80 goals into a spin dryer. In no particular order, Goal 5 stated: “Update one thing on my blog each week.” Following this plan would keep my site freshened and current with the updated links-badges-formatting, those makeup touches long overdue. I did not expect a facelift.

1–Complete migrating this WordPress blog to the self-hosted one.
1–Redesign new/old website for launch Thurs, April 21; soft launch to my writers group and others Tues, April 19.
With this timeframe, I get my site launched and looking snazzy before the Rochester Writers Spring Conference on April 23. With two pre-launches, I can tweak anything that is glaringly unprofessional. I hope.

2–New business cards.
Now that my new web address is functioning in a skeletal stage, it’s time to order cards. I need something in my hands by April 18-ish, so design and order this week. My gosh, it’s April 10th already! Yipes! The thing is, I’m okay ordering anything professional-looking right now so I have cards to network with. I can always order new ones before my writerly events in May. A waste of money, you think? First, it’s a business expense, so no. Second–and maybe most important–I could spend $100/month on coffee if I set my mind to it, so re-doing cards is no big deal.

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3–Complete AtoZ Challenge posts for 2016 AND 2015.
Ugh. I lost track of my 2015 posts and had to list out what I needed to write. There’s an unlucky 13 of them. What a pile of poo I was about this last year. I’m staying current with this year’s haikus, and my posts are as long or short as I want to make these days. I have lots of open writing time this week.

4–Catch up and keep up with email.
It’s a nice goal–“Deal with 10-25 emails/day”–but I get at least 50 emails/day before deleting the obvious trash ones and those I have no interest in reading or dealing with, leaving still a net-negative emails in my Inbox.

6–Complete all blog/social media planner sheets for Happy Planner.
I keep creating new ones! I’m spending so much time planning my planning that I’m not utilizing these planning tools. Just stop already *smacks hand with wet noodle* Stop, stop stop!

7–Schedule social media.
See above re: planning planner sheets. I’m thinking on that, meditative reflection with coffee and tea nearby.

9–Put away holiday decorations: 1-2 boxes/week.
Haven’t yet.

10–Call family members at least once a week.
I’m going to call my Uncle Harold today. After I nap.

12–Continue writing letters.
I’m doing this, and finding inspiration through Write_On, which I’m writing about (ha!) this week. It’s more than a project, too fun to be called a challenge, and more awesome than just a campaign.

BONUS: Write for fun. Y’know, just play with words.
Haven’t done that yet, but this week, I’m okay with that.

—POSTPONED GOALS for April—

5–Update one thing on my blog each week.
Yeah. Addressed above. I’ll revisit this in May.

8–Schedule time to write/edit/promote my two current WIP: My Father, My Friend and Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
Postponing until May, after the April blog nonsense is over, or at least contained. I’m hoping I’ll pick up some tips at the conference in two weeks. (Two weeks?!? Yipes!)

11–Contact 2-5 potential editors.
Yep, pushing this off until May when I’ll start with my Alaska contact and Fiverr.

I printed out these ROW80 Round 2 goals and attached them to a dashboard in my Happy Planner. No excuses for forgetting them now.

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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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?

My writing time has been sabotaged!

I have become protective of my writing time. Intensely fierce. I’ve never felt that way before.

I was surprised by my reaction on Monday, truly surprised that I felt like wrapping my mountain lioness self around my laptop and saying “Mine.” Not the laptop, but the writing time the laptop represented.

Of all of my workdays, Mondays are the most structured and enjoyable. I am that rarest of rare creatures who actually looks forward to Mondays. Why? There is a 4-hour block between two work shifts that always is my writing time. Always. I never schedule anything else during that timeframe. Never. That’s why I was so fixated on losing that time this week.

I have additional writing times blocked off in my calendar, but I am guilty of treating them as “flexible.” This is my weakness and I have no *bleep*ing excuse for that. I don’t know how it began, but I’m sure you can relate to this scenario:

“This is my time,” you commit to yourself, and then you hit writer’s block and suddenly realize you need to go out right now and get [insert item] from the store. During your next set-aside writing time, you think, “I ran one errand at this time before, and that was so productive that today I can make two stops.” Suddenly you’re scheduling doctor appointments–“I’m not doing anything but writing.” Television shows need to be cleared from the DVR–“I can take a break from writing.” Meetings that happen anytime occur now–“I’ll write when I get back.” Before you realize it, your writing time competes with coffee dates with friends, laundry, automobile services, house cleaning and everything else, and it has lost. Your precious, planned writing schedule has been sabotaged–by you!

I’m guilty of that, except Mondays. Yes, doctor appointments and car repairs are vital, but I will schedule them on Mondays only as a last resort or if there is an immediate issue. When I was delayed on Monday by circumstances, I felt like a lioness protecting her cubs–in this case, my laptop, coffee and planner. I realized what it was: routine and trust.

I’ve become so used to this commitment to myself, it’s so easy to do because there’s no excuse not to. I’m out and away from the evil distractions of the house. I settle down at a convenient place between the two shift locations so that it’s easy to achieve and maintain this routine. It feels good. It feels right.

Why am I not possessive of the other times? I haven’t figured that out yet. Or maybe I haven’t figured out how.

Retro love

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”~Martin Luther King, Jr., American leader

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately.

Do you remember any class in school where you had a creative writing assignment? If so, you may have stressed out about writing that first line. That’s when your teacher would say “Just freewrite,” which meant for the next however many minutes, you wrote whatever thoughts came to mind, without stopping.

Your pen. Remember those? Or maybe you wrote with a pencil. Regardless, it was–and still is–a stick that you hold in your hand that produces a visual image when pressed down on a surface. I mention this because I don’t think we do remember these anymore.

I watched a YouTube video the other day, and the host was a teenager or a girl in her early 20s. She created some art with her hands and then had to write some information down. “My cursive is terrible,” she wined. “I haven’t written in cursive since middle school. Looks like I have to practice my handwriting. It looks terrible.”

First, as a writer or blogger or artist, never apologize for anything you do save technical difficulties or natural disasters beyond your control. Even then, explain don’t excuse.

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My husband shares my nostalgia in this gift to me (us)

What made her comment doubly bad was that she made an excuse for not using her talented hands to write. Much of society has lost touch with the tactile, with the real. I haven’t tangled in awhile–something I miss, and a whole separate topic–but I do journal by hand. No online diary for me, except for this blog. I write and edit my stories. I use colorful pens to make it more fun. Heck, what happened to crayons?

Twitter chats this week were retro: what books do you recall fondly from your childhood? Favorite high school trip? When did you see your first concert? What video game(s) rocked your world? For the record, my answers include:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
–Cancun, Mexico (seriously!)
–Hall & Oates Big Bam Boom tour…you do the math
–Joust, Sinistar, Dig Dug, Mappy and Gauntlet

So I have been missing that lately, the delightful memories of youth. The times when I felt young and free and safe. What about you? Is there something you miss from long ago, or just from last year? Times change, but our memories do not.

I want to go home and color.

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.

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?

Great Lakes Mega Meet (and Zentangle) class registration opens tomorrow

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”~Maya Angelou, American poet

The 2015 Great Lakes Mega Meet class schedule is online. Time is short to review: class registration opens at 7:00pm this Tuesday night. That’s only four days from today! I have to get together with my friend so we can coordinate our classes like we do every year.

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Check out the awesome Found Poetry Zentangle class offered!

She wants to take my Zentangle class. I am so honored. And she’s excited about it, really excited, not in that support-your-friend kind of way but in that I-can’t-wait-to-learn-this-technique way.

To read the complete class description, you’ll find Zentangle Found Poetry on the last page of the Class Descriptions.

Thanksgiving #tbt memories of Mom

“One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”~Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman statesman

I’ve been a Weight Watchers Lifetime member for more than 11 years, and the meeting topic for the fourth week in November is always the same: holiday food.

Why do we, as a society, associate food with holidays, especially Thanksgiving?

The real meaning of Thanksgiving is–or should be–to celebrate friends and family, but often food is the focus. I never felt that pull until today.

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Mom made turkey stuffing by hand, starting with real bread the night before. Bread cubes were browned in a pan on the stove, but this not yo” mama’s Stove Top. After sitting overnight, she added the seasonings and that’s it. Done. She made 3-4 loaves of bread so there was enough to eat raw and stuff the turkey. That turkey-stuffed stuffing…wowwwww…was that juicy and flavor-full smooshed pile of tastiness!

Since it’s just me and my husband in Michigan, our meal is smaller. Regardless, I can’t not make the stuffing because the food is sharing the holiday with Mom. She’s no longer alive, so this is how I share the meal with her. This is me inviting her to dinner.

Have I gone against the Weight Watchers creed and equated food with a holiday? Maybe. I have equated this one food with that one person, someone I miss dearly at this time because making stuffing was an activity we did together. I get it; food is part of the celebration of family.

And I make a mean, kick-butt stuffing that I like to think would make Mom proud.

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