31 May 2015

Renew your spirit with summer

Puck's last day of school is this week, so when they get back from Monty's house, he'll be on summer break.

We're all looking forward to it, too.

Bo has some exciting activities and crafts planned for the munchkins this summer, we're going to go to the beach as often as possible, and we have a family trip planned for July.

I'm looking forward to getting in some extra time with the munchkins,

But, as often happens with transitions like this, I find myself thinking about how quickly the school year has gone by, and where we were this time last year. Puck was finishing pre-K, and now he's ready for first grade.

He's done very well this school year, and I'm proud of his accomplishments. He's gone from being able to write his name to being able to write complete sentences legibly. He colors (well) inside the lines, and can draw pictures with very good detail. He knows a lot about math and science and language arts and the world around him, and he's eager to keep learning and developing and growing.

Tink has learned a lot this year, too, in trying to keep up with her brother. She can write all her letters and is beginning to sound out words to be able to write them. She has gone from scribbling all over a page to coloring much more in the lines. And she can even read some of Puck's sight words from his kindergarten list. She's closer to kindergarten-level than pre-K, and is ready to be in school "like Brother, but with no lunchbox."

It's been a good school year, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the munchkins are going to learn and do during the next school year. And in the meantime, we're going to have a great summer.

27 May 2015

Why I won't get my Master's degree

Image courtesy of criminalatt at Freedigitalphotos.net
For a while I thought I would get my Master's degree in creative writing. I thought it would be a good educational experience for me, would allow me to network, and would give me the credentials needed in case I decided I wanted to teach at the college level (which was a possibility). I even went so far as to request materials from a couple of programs and peruse them in my spare time.

But I know now I won't get my Master's degree.

My life is on a different path than it was then. I know what I'm doing and where I'm headed, and I don't need a Master's degree to get there. I have the career I want. I don't need further education to get or keep it.

I am living my happily ever after.

Since that's the case, a Master's degree would be a very expensive piece of paper that would hang in my office. Nothing more.

For what I want to do, I could get the same (if not more) from going to a local writer's conference or joining a writer's group or interviewing published authors.

So instead I'll just keep reading and learning on my own, and that will be good enough for me.

25 May 2015

Memorial Day for the War Dead by Yehuda Amichai

Memorial day for the war dead.  Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you.  Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day.  Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist’s mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying 
all through the night under the jasmine 
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”

13 May 2015

Walking in this world....

I finished working my way through The Artist's Way last week, and started Walking in This World immediately after. I don't know if it's recommended to do that or not, but I did. And I'm glad I did.

One of the things I liked about The Artist's Way is that it continually reminded me of why I am a writer, and why I pursued a creative life and career. And the more connected I felt with my writing through the encouragement and insight of the book, the more at peace I felt in my life.

So I decided to just keep going with Walking in This World.

The first chapter is about starting from where I am and doing whatever I can to be creative. It was what I needed for this week.

Many days I get bogged down in where I think I should be with my writing and life and everything else. But I'm so, so much further than I was ten, five, three, one year ago. I've written more words and made more professional connections and bulked up my portfolio and made lots of progress on the coffee house book.

It's okay that I haven't published a book (yet) and that I'm still working toward buying a house and a new car. It's okay that I probably won't retire early and have to work long hours for now to reach our family goals.

Because this is the path that I'm on. No one else. The only race I'm running is with myself, to be better than I was yesterday.

So every day, I choose to start from where I am and keep moving forward.

And that's how I'm going to win.

11 May 2015

I am an expert in....

Last Friday, the lovely Mom to the Screaming Masses posted about things she's an expert in, challenging her readers to identify their own lists.

I think looking at ourselves as experts in areas of strength, we can focus on what we do well and what we can be proud of instead of continually getting bogged down in struggles.

So challenge accepted, MTTSM.

I am an expert in....

  • coffee. I drink it a lot. Like...a lot a lot. And I was a barista at a small, independent coffee house when I was in college.
  • writing. I have a degree in English, and I write to pay the bills. I'd say that qualifies.
  • singing. I was always in choir through school, and I was in the choir at my church in central Illinois. Now my singing is typically limited to either the shower or the car, but I still love singing.
  • organizing. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I organize like crazy. I update my calendar, make lists, rearrange files, and make my work space nice and tidy.
  • listening. I'm an introvert, So quite often, when I'm talking to friends and family, what that really means is that they're talking and I'm listening. I've always been the listener in my group of friends, which is fine. You learn a lot more by listening than you do by talking, anyway.
  • my life. I know this seems kind of obvious, but sometimes people who love me and who have very good intentions think they know what's best for me better than I do. But only I know what's best for my life, and I'll continue to do what's best for me. But thanks for the advice, really.
What are you an expert in?

09 May 2015

32 things for 32 years

Sometime last fall, a mom blogger I read posted a birthday post like this. It was one item for every year of her life, and it was interesting. So I decided to steal her idea for myself. Enjoy!
  1. I've been working on this post since late last year.
  2. I'm getting married this year.
  3. I had planned to propose to Bo, but she beat me to it.
  4. When I turned thirty, I told people it was the second anniversary of my 29th birthday.
  5. I've since let go of that, and I embrace my 32ness.
  6. When I feel frazzled or overwhelmed, I have the tendency to organize (update my calendar, make task lists, etc.) to help calm myself.
  7. Once I have lists, I use them to keep me on task; I try to take just one item at a time until everything is done.
  8. I keep an editorial calendar to help me plan out my blogging about a month at a time.
  9. But I often switch posts around as blog-worthy things come up in my life, career, and reading.
  10. I have a big desk-size calendar I use only for deadlines, editorial calendar, and days off so I have a monthly overview of what I have to do without taking up too much room in my book.
  11. I often have a movie or television show on while I'm working during the day so it's not overwhelmingly quiet.
  12. I find myself far less interested in TV than I once was, and listening to music more.
  13. There are four tattoos I want/plan to get: a quote in Gallifreyan on my left forearm; a semi-colon on my right wrist; ART HARDER on the inside of my left bicep; and Take no heed of her.... She reads a lot of books. on the inside of my right bicep.
  14. I don't journal as often as I'd like, especially when work is busy.
  15. My daily wardrobe is highly influenced by my target market for work, which works because that's what I'm usually most comfortable in.
  16. However, I'm working toward a more polished base wardrobe in which everything is coordinated so I can pick anything out of my closet and have it work, especially for client meetings.
  17. I'm terrified of heights, but I like to fly. It's scary when I think about the fact that I'm flying and up so high, but once we're up in the air, I'm usually okay.
  18. One of the reasons I eat a plant-based diet is because my body doesn't like animal products and lets me know through its reaction.
  19. I want to become a certified Reiki practitioner.
  20. I'm moving my career from freelance work to an official business.
  21. I have tried (and failed) several times to give up soda. Still trying.
  22. It would be harder for me to give up coffee than soda.
  23. I like tea, but don't drink it nearly as often as coffee.
  24. I have always been more of a night owl, but am working very hard to switch to being an early morning person. I like the quietness of early mornings when you have the whole day ahead of you, full of possibility.
  25. I did a life audit toward the beginning of this year, and it has drastically changed my life and perspective (for the better).
  26. I always try to keep a notebook with me or nearby because I frequently feel the need to jot down some thoughts or ideas.
  27. At the beginning of this week I finished going through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It was my third attempt, and my first completion.
  28. I like meditative music, and I'm trying to move toward listening to that type of music while I work (instead of turning on the TV and listening to it).
  29. I also really like folksy/indie music, like Harpeth Rising.
  30. I listen to music on a first generation iPod Nano. It's green.
  31. Sometimes I still struggle with my demons from high school and college. But I have an amazing support system to help keep me headed in the right direction.
  32. I truly feel that I am living my happily ever after.

08 May 2015

Yesterday's meeting

Bo and I had an important meeting yesterday morning.

We went to the beach.

We were able to rearrange our work schedule a bit so we could spend a little time in the sun, wandering on the sand, listening to the water, reconnecting with nature.

It was exactly what I needed.

I've been spending a lot of time working lately. Earlier this week I had an 18-hour day due to deadlines. I needed to get away from the office for a while, so the time yesterday morning, even though it was brief, was perfect.

I can't wait until the next trip.

04 May 2015

And with that, work expands

I'm spending a little time training a new coworker today.

Bo left her previous job, and is now working with me as an administrative manager. In addition to handling a lot of the paperwork-y stuff, she's going to be doing a lot of wonderful things that will help things run more efficiently and help me get more work done faster (which means more time for trips to the beach with the munchkins!).

She's not really working with me yet. More of a helping-out-on-a-volunteer-basis sort of thing for now. But we anticipate her officially starting in June.

That being said, it's nice to have someone else to lean on for some of this stuff so I can work on other things. It makes me feel much, much more productive, and I have someone else who gets to see, first-hand, some of the chaos that comes with what I do every day.

Freelancing can be isolating, especially since my clients are all online. I spend my day on the computer emailing and researching and writing. Now that Bo is working with me, I have someone to connect with, get feedback from, and talk to.

I'm really happy about it.

I'm really happy about the direction my career is headed.

It's going to be a damn good year.

03 May 2015

Renew your spirit with a party in Pixie Hollow

We celebrated Tink's birthday on Saturday. She's four. She's ready for school now. Because she's a big girl with big girl dreams.

To celebrate her birthday we made a big tree in the corner of our living room with butcher paper and leaves of construction and poster paper. We hung paper fans as flowers. It was Pixie Hollow. Tink wore her costume wings.

We made peanut butter roll-ups for lunch (because that's how fairies eat their sandwiches) and cupcakes in flower-shaped cupcake papers (because fairies make their cupcakes in flowers).

We watched movies and played games and opened presents and Tink got all the lipstick (chapstick) from Dantyelle.

It was a great day.

Happy birthday, Tink.

01 May 2015

FSOG blogging series: an update

I'm...still reading the first book.

I'm taking substantially more notes than I anticipated I would, so it's taking a little longer to get through than I thought it would.

But I'm still reading and working through it.

I originally intended to write up the first review when I was about halfway through the book, but I think I'm going to do the whole book at once.

In the meantime, I'll...keep reading.