Sunday, February 28, 2010

And the Last Place Medal goes to...

The Olympics is over and another writing challenge is done. And though I'm happy with my total word count, this challenge wasn't as much about making the magic amount of 50,000 words but about creating habits that will get me through work days, unscheduled mishaps, and anything else that might interfere with my daily writing goals.

As we watched the winter Olympics we viewed two weeks of competitions. The grand prize is the Gold but think about it. The gold medal sometimes represents a second, a style point, or in the case of the Canada-US hockey game - a goal. And what happens to the non-Gold winners? We forget them. What a shame!

We don't remember the other team in the Super Bowl, the fourth runner up in the ladies figure skating, or the ones in our writing challenges like Nano who struggled through the challenge achieving their personal best. Bully for them for achieving more than they ever have. What could we accomplish if we all strive to achieve our personal best? That's what it's about - each individual's attempt do their best. We are all winners when we persevere on a daily basis to achieve our dreams.

Okay, I'm a total Olympic freak. I watched a couple hours worth every day. Congratulations to all my Canadian friends on their athletes' success and on a most enjoyable Olympics.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dreams and Schemes

I used to sing a song by Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now. I don't know why that song came to mind except for the lines about 'Dreams and Schemes' or 'Tears and fears and feeling proud'. I have all kinds of quotes on my website about dreaming and believing in the possibilities. I dream of getting published. And I've been scheming about having my own computer training business ever since I quit teaching at the local trade school.

I kept waiting to see how many students would sign up so I'd know how many computers to purchase. But the stores were running Presidents Day sales last week so I decided I should just haul off and go for it. The class room is nearly ready. You've heard of when the student is needed the teacher will come, well, this was kind of the reverse - the teacher got ready and now people are starting to show interest. So was this a lesson in commitment, taking risks or just putting your money where your mouth is? Definitely all three.

Anyway, it's done. And I am excited. I've been setting up laptops and loading software. I still have to finish the courses and create handouts, but two weeks from today The Computer Tutor arrives. Wish you were here.

(I know I still owe someone a blog on Scrivener key words. I'll get to that soon, I promise.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making a Difference

Last week a news report on CNN covered some elementary students who have stepped up to offer a valuable to their community after a child was nearly run over in front of the school.

I can't help but wonder how long it will take before some bureaucrat decides the children are being taken advantage of and shut this project down. But until then, hats off to everyone involved.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Days


One of my favorites of the White House. Click on the picture to see it full size.

We got five inches of snow this morning. No, it's not the 56" D.C. has had this year. Perspective people! Five inches is more than anyone in our are can remember in a long, long, long, long time. We usually get 3 inches of ice, lose lights for week, that kind of winter storm. So I'll share the pictures I took this morning. It was so pretty for a while.

Not too spectacular, eh? It was beautiful while it was coming down in big fat flakes. I waited too long to build a snowman. By ten in the morning it was raining snow, or snowing rain, dripping and melting everywhere. And too shallow for snow angels.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Muse Reigns

I had a great birthday on Monday. One of the best because I had a great week leading up to it.

It wasn't one of my biggest writing weeks but muse-ically it was fine.My writing reached a level I've been waiting for, in organization, production and inspiration. It was like the Avatar soundtrack on the Visualizer of Itunes -vibrant, fluid, exciting. My imagination showed up. Three or four mornings I awoke with full scenes in my head. I was able to work on three stories at the same time. I persisted even through reformatting my hard drive and losing time reloading software. Obstacles appeared and I still accomplished my writing goals. It was like muse fireworks.

I tried out a new software program that is a great brainstorming/story organizing tool - you may have heard of the Snowflake method. This is the new software that was designed around that concept. You can use it at the beginning or any point during your writing. (More on that later.)

The difference, although I guess it could be the moon phase, hormones (or lack thereof), a good horoscope or a cosmic birthday present, was the return to using a planner.

The night of the Super Bowl - DID I MENTION WE WON IT? -OH RIGHT! I lay awake going over and over the game. Then came these little worries about tasks I might forget to do. That's when I realized, I've been devoting way too much time in the last several years to worrying about forgetting something. For the last two weeks, that hasn't been a part of my day because I took those concerns and gave them to the Day-Timer to hold for me.

This has loosed my muse. Let's see if it lasts. The real key is in letting it go once you've written it down. And in being disciplined enough to then look at the list when you finish writing and get those tasks completed. I'm still working on that part, lol. And the 400 word a day minimum in the journal was responsible for over 5k of the 13k I wrote.

Of course, the biggest birthday present was the Saints win. Everyone around here just felt happy for the last two weeks which cranked up to euphoric with the surprising win on Sunday.

Monday, the big day, I went to see Avatar, again. I realize Avatar wasn't for everyone, but for the musician, artist and writer in me, I loved the soundtrack, the vibrant beauty, and the hero's journey. Inspiring entertainment and food for my muse. Top that off with a real food - Chicken Florentine crepes from IHOP, and my favorite cake, Devils food chocolate with 7 minute frosting, baked by a friend, and the week was perfect!

By popular demand...

Hope you had a good one too! Tell me about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010



If you don't know about the greatest game of the year, WHERE have you been? I know there are futbol fans, and basketball, track, Xtreme sports, and okay, Nascar, but this is one of my favorite games of the year. I always hate it when the season is over. So please bear with me one last time while I revel in the images of this season one last time.

How we got here. Four years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The city was in ruins, people were living in the SuperDome and nearly finished the job the hurricane couldn't. Could the city rebound? Could the team? There were thoughts of selling the team but someone had the thought that maybe the team could be rebuilt and be a symbol of what could happen for the city.

Coach Sean Peyton took the job and hired Drew Brees, a castaway from the Chargers, a quarterback with a recent shoulder surgery and doubts about his ability to perform. Well, Duh! I guess we put that to rest.

Every member of the Saints team has embraced the city and been embraced in return. They've given their hearts to their efforts and to special projects and the fans have responded like never before. One woman said, "It may sound crazy that a football could bring a city hope, but that's what this team has done."

Speaking of which, I didn't want to let the season pass before I mentioned my opinion of the NFL and their Who Dat policy. Poo-poo to the NFL. THey want to sue anyone who uses the 'Who Dat' slogan. "It is a logo, property of the NFL." Bull! That's like saying the Redskins Hoggetts or the Cheeseheads of Green Bay are property of the NFL. Years ago when the Saints were always losing, everyone made fun of the motto, 'Who Dat, Who Dat. Who that say gwoin' to beat them Saints!' And now that the team is a winner they want to capitalize. Okay, I'll make a suggestion. This motto belongs only to the New Orleans Saints and their fans. Limit use of the slogan to Louisiana companies with all proceeds going to Louisiana residents and the rebuilding of New Orleans. How's Dat?

If it comes down to ten or fifteen yards to make a touchdown we can always give it to Reggie Bush who can smell a pylon from 30 yards (that's the marker at the corner of the end zone). He's made some thrilling goal line razzle dazzles with only the ball passing over the pylon while his body sailed along the sideline.

All kinds of special moments surround this Super Bowl. Peyton Manning, the quarterback of the Colts grew up in New Orleans, his father our quarterback for years lives in New Orleans.

And two players on the teams have families in Haiti. Thankfully they were found safe. (which brings up another poo-poo for a RR evangelist who said the the reason the quake happened there was because they worship the devil. And yet all the images and tales from those pulled out of the wreckage have told of the uplifting prayers of the people outside their prison of rock and debris. They said the songs and prayers gave them the strength to survive.) That's some compassionate, non judgmental view you have there, preacher.

The Saints team has a lot on their shoulders and for a young team with a first time Superbowl visit it will be a monumental feat to come away with the win. And they CAN do it. But it comes down to who plays the best 60 minutes.

Whether they win the game today or not, they are truly winners, and I'm not ashamed to say I'm proud to be a part of the new Who Dat Nation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentine present

Okay, this is a unique idea for Valentine's Day.

Did a guy come up with idea? I'm thinking there are more romantic places than this for a Valentine's Day connection.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My new planner. Isn't it pretty? For the guys, there are more manly looking themes, ;0

Okay, as absurd as it sounds to my organically organized friends, my new planner is making all the difference in my progress. In keeping track of what needs to be done, where I need to go, who to call/ email. I can set aside time to write and establish goals on a daily basis. And I jot down tasks I completed that weren't on the list so I see where the time goes.

For the last several years I've just made lists. EVERY where. I'd have a partial list on my white board, on my recorder, on my writing notebook, on the back page of a workshop, by my chair, on a sticky note by the other computer, or on the little notebook in my car or mail truck. Needless to say these never made it onto a consolidated list. And I forgot most of them as soon as I wrote them down. Hey, it's the truth.

A writer said to me, "This is something, I never understood. How (or why) does a planner lead to accomplish more than without?" She's not a prospective customer of Day-Timer or Franklin Covey, lol. If you can keep all this in your head and organize your day without it, you're luckier than you realize.

Another writer said, "It works because it focuses the mind. You're not wasting any brain power on trying to remember everything and worrying that you're forgetting. Instead you know exactly what you need to be working on and when, and don't have to fret that you're missing something."

That's it!

So I set up my planner. It's awfully pretty, much more so than on the website. Here's a picture I took of one of the monthly pages and the facing page.

This view is of my setup. I fudged the pages to take the picture but you can see on the left I have things to do, bottom left anything writing oriented as well as communications/phone/email, the appointment/schedule section I use for scheduling sprints, classes, crawfish hauls, or to jot down stuff I did during that time that I didn't have scheduled (in case I want to see where my time went).

Big plus: As you can see I'm using the journal page on the right for my minimum words per day - approximately 350. If I do it through November I'll have an additional book written! &;-)) This is in addition to my current project and really just to get me started.

(Now if it just had an arm twister in it to drag me to the treadmill. I DID list it though on the little page/bookmark thingie on which I wrote tasks I need to do Every Day. As a matter of fact, exercise is on there three times!)

Something else I started years ago was the Custom Notes in the back. I purchased the A-Z address tabs and some extra six hole punched note paper. Here's an example: under C, I put a sheet called Computer classes for any thing that comes to mind. I also have one under S for Story Ideas, C for Character ideas, B for Buy later ;).

And last but not least the lovely leather binder I got on clearance to tote it around in.

Like the old James Brown song goes, doo, doodle, doodle doo. I feel good. I knew that I would, yeah.