Monday, January 30, 2017

It’s Been A Long Road ...

Rod Stewart got it right when he used that as his opening line for his song “Faith of the Heart.” It has definitely been a long road getting from there to here. And I don’t just mean the unintentional three week break I took after my last post.

Normally I use the beginning of a new year to shake up things on my blogs, take a look at what’s working and what’s not, and reorganize things to my satisfaction. And I kept meaning to do that here, but ... this year I’m finding myself with less free time during the week and the weekends just aren’t big enough for all the things I want/need to accomplish. I have ideas, but I haven’t had a chance to implement them yet.

This blog did really well last year (by my standards) and I’d like to keep up the good work but that doesn't mean it couldn't use some shaking up.

One of the things I’d like to change is the whole quotes post. On the one hand, Jamie and I go to a lot of trouble looking up quotes for each other and it’d be a shame to waste them. But on the other hand, when you’re quoting about something so specific there’s really not a lot of room for interpretation, so the whole little lesson/lecture thing gets repetitive.

Something I’d like to see added is a little more poetry and maybe some flash fiction. The problem with these, however, is that I don’t want to fall into the trap of being forced to do them on a weekly basis. Been there, done that, it wasn’t pretty.

I had a poetry blog at one time where I was introducing a new form each week and writing an original example. It got really old, really fast, sucking the love of poetry out of me as it became more of a chore than an expression of thoughts and feelings. Same thing happened with the flash fiction - forcing myself to come up with a story each week sucked all the fun out of it. So this is something I'm still thinking about.

And the writing reports? Yeah, they need to be revamped as well. I use an awful lot of words to basically say either the writing went well or I suck each week. :-)

Unfortunately, these things take time to figure out, as does figuring out the direction I want my writing to take.

Then last week I was down for the count with a severe bout of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu). One of the few benefits of this (other than allowing me to curl up in the recliner, guilt-free, basically doing nothing all day) is it gave me plenty of time to think, to sort out where I’m going and maybe how to get there. I wouldn’t say I had any great epiphany or anything, but I think I have a clearer sense of the direction I’d like to be headed.

Sometimes we just get so much in front of us we can’t see the forest for the trees and we get overwhelmed. I know I sure do. When this happens it helps to pick one direction - maybe an unexpected one - and see where it goes. Trust in yourself.

Maybe that’s all it takes - a little faith of the heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Post if I Want To

Yes, it’s my birthday. And what better way to celebrate than with a blog post?

Okay, I can think of plenty of better ways to celebrate a birthday, but the blog post is all I’ve got. Although I did treat the grandbaby and myself to McDonald’s for lunch. What can I say? You gotta have something bad for you to celebrate the day with, and it’s not like anyone remembers to make/get me a cake (I refuse to make my own anymore). So fatty food it is! ;-)

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing so great on my goals for the year so far. Um, in fact, the only one I’ve followed so far is the reading - I read a book of fairy tales over the week end. Sandman’s Fairy Stories to be precise, it was a thrift store find in really good shape.

Last week I still had Monday and Wednesday off from babysitting, so you’d think I’d have all kinds of time to write and craft and settle into a routine. But, well, did you forget this is me we’re talking about?

Since it’s a new year, I think it only far that I start with a new numbering system for my excuses. Therefore, I present excuse #001 (notice the optimism that I won’t be exceeding three digits worth of excuses for the year): cleaning.

If you read my Other Blog you know all about the bathroom renovation. For those of you who don’t... In a nutshell, the in-laws got one of those walk-in tubs and since their old tub with the jets in it was only a couple of years old, they didn’t want to just trash it so they gave it to us. This necessitated a remodel of the main floor bathroom, which has been an ongoing project since September.

Anyway, in the course of things the hubby used an electric sander on the walls and even though he had the door shut a toxic cloud of dry wall dust settled over the entire house. Especially in my office, which is almost right across the hall from the bathroom. So, from Christmas through New Year’s I spent a considerable amount of time in my office, cleaning away the dry wall dust. By Monday it was mostly clean again, but I still had to put all the stuff back where it belonged. By the end of Monday (last Monday, not yesterday), all that was left was de-hairing the reading nook (which still isn’t done).

Excuse #002: the tile guy. The friend the hubby was going to have show him how to tile the bathroom became unavailable, so he hired someone to just do it. Tile guy (who did an amazing job) showed up shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and I was too intimidated by his presence to work in my office, even though the desk was now cleaned off and everything was organized.

Tile guy finished up on Friday, which brings us to the weekend and excuse #003: I got sick. *sigh* Stomach issues with slight back pain on Saturday, turning into more increasing back pain on Sunday. And Monday. Today the Advil finally kicked in so I’m not feeling too bad *knock on wood* but ... you know, it’s my birthday. So I figure this blog post should count for something.


At any rate, this is the time of year I usually use to shake things up a bit on the blogs, so don’t look for any kind of consistency or actually sticking to the goals list until the dust settles after I’ve finished thinking about what I’m doing.

Me. Thinking. Might be dangerous. At the very least I’m sure it’ll be interesting. ;-)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goals Versus Resolutions

Do you set goals for yourself, or make resolutions? As far as I’m concerned, they’re pretty much the same thing. The difference is that you break a resolution, but you fail to achieve a goal. Neither one is a particularly nice word, but at least with goals even if you fail it gives the illusion you at least tried.

As is traditional, we start with a recap of last year’s goals first. I was light on the goals last year, there were only five of them:

Blog more often.
Write every day.
Read every day.
Spend more time on crafts.
Lose more weight.

So how did I do?

The blogging was directed more to this blog, where I noted that over the course of 2015 I’d only posted 14 times. Well, in that respect I really outdid myself. I posted 86 times to this blog over the course of the year. For my other blog I was actually down by 3 posts.

Write every day. Nope, not every day, but enough days to keep me going at least.

Read every day. I may not have read every day, but I read enough to surpass my Goodreads pledge of 52 books by 7. Okay, actually, it was more than seven - I kind of lost track of the books I read in November.

Spend more time on crafts. Well that was a great, big, no. Other than a few crafts for Christmas I really don’t have anything to show here.

Lose some more weight. Oooo *hangs head in shame* Not only did I not lose weight, I actually gained some. During the hot, humid summer I fell right off the healthy eating and exercise habit, and while I’ve been better at watching what I eat, I still haven’t regained the exercise habit.

So...other than blogging and reading, I’d say 2016 was a bit of a failure, goal wise. Which brings us to this year:

1. Keep up with the good reading habits, but include a non-fiction book every once in awhile. I’d like to say once a month, but knowing me it’ll be more like once every other month. ;-)
2. Get back on the healthy life style band wagon. I’m a diabetic, and I also have IBS, and my last check-up showed my cholesterol was higher than it should be. So no matter how much fun it is to lie in the ditch watching the band wagon continue on without me, it’s time to chase that sucker down and climb back on.
3. Get out of the house once a week. And by out of the house I mean something other than babysitting or grocery shopping. It could be a walk, or a movie, or taking in the monthly poetry reading, just so long as it’s something.
4. Less gaming, more crafting. If I want to do something mindless in front of the TV at night, crocheting or knitting is more practical than hidden objects games. Who knows, I could even get a jump start on Christmas gifts - toques for everyone!
5. Find a routine that balances what I need to do with what I have to do. I think that one’s pretty self-explanatory. I like my routines, and I get a lot more accomplished when I have one. But it’s also got to be flexible enough that it can be adjusted when life throws me a curve ball, as it so often does.
6. Write every day. I’m not going to set myself a daily word goal because I’m still trying to find a routine that works. As long as I write something - a sentence, a paragraph, a page... - I’ll be happy.
7. Write a flash fiction or short story once a month; maybe even submit one or two. I used to really love writing short stories - it seems kind of silly not to write them just because I’m writing longer stuff. Why not do both?

So there you have it. Seven achievable goals for the coming year. You’ll notice I don’t have anything there about self-promotion. I’m going to keep writing and keep publishing, but I’ve been fighting with the IRS for an ITIN number (which means I’ll get 2/3 of my royalties instead of 1/3) and until I win this battle I don’t see the point making myself crazy with the promotion stuff.

And also, as seems to be traditional, I’ll be shaking things up a bit posting wise. I’ll probably still do the wordage report, but I’m re-thinking the quotations thing. While the quotes are continually changing, the advice they offer is much the same. And I may, or may not, talk a bit about what I’m reading currently. But NO book reviews! I made that mistake on a different blog and I’m still getting emails from publicists offering me books to read. Thanks anyway, but I’ve got plenty of books to read!

Truth is, I’ve got way too many books to read. Weeding them out is a traumatic experience. And a post best written another day. ;-)

So ... what are your goals/resolutions for the coming year?