Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Getting Late

The year is winding down. I was going to wait til tomorrow to post. Today I was just catching up on some blogs I read when I came across this post from Awareness. Although she wrote it a couple weeks ago I am very glad I waited until today to read it. It very much speaks to how I feel about the close of this year and the beginning of a new year of hope and opportunity arriving in just a few hours. She expresses herself on the subjects of relationships, genuineness, and kindness much more eloquently than I can at the moment. I know it's getting late, but stop by and see what she has to say if you have a moment.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I swiped this meme off another blog. You're supposed to post the 4th photo in your 4th file and then share the story about it.

So, this is Athena, my brother's dog. The picture was taken on 2.14.08, the day he brought her home. I have this picture, among many others because I just made a handmade book of pictures of Athena as a Christmas gift for my brother.

Athena is now about a year old and weighs over 65 pounds. She also has a new "sister;" a chocolate lab named Riley.

I'm not officially tagging anyone for this meme, but if you decide to do it, leave a comment and let me know so I can stop by and visit.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Did You Expect?

I took a few days off for Christmas. The weather is perfectly lovely today. And I got my new furniture delivered. In addition to lots of wonderful things, some great time with family, and the best Gift of all, I also got some other things for Christmas. I got a cold, maybe strep throat, 3 broken toes, a case of hives, and a backed up kitchen sink.
Inspired by the version of the 12 Days of Christmas I was thus writing in my head, and too tired to be creative enough to write it or anything else, I found this.
You know you love it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steadfast Santa

My fellow artist Dianne recently made an art piece using this verse from Robert Frost and Santa. I decided to reinterpret the concept because I liked the theme so much and I am hoping to give the finished product to my Mom for Christmas.

I used Papersource cover weight stock in violet as my background. I just love love love that color. I specked it with a little iridescent white paint. I then printed out the clip art Santa and the verse on regular copy paper. The "snow" is text from the beginning of St. Luke which I gessoed over and sponged off with a little tissue paper. I tore the images and aged them with shades of brown chalks.

This is my 1st real attempt at collage of this kind so I welcome feedback.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Relaxation Part 2

We're all feeling the stress caused by the economy. I've had to work at keeping it from making me into a Grinch myself. I've got a trick or two that have helped manage the stress on my bank account.
I previously said I don't do Christmas cards; there are a couple reasons for this. I don't see the reason to spend time writing out things people will likely toss after the holidays. Not only is it not a good use of my time and postage, it's not good for the environment. (But if you send me a card, or even better, a family update letter, I do appreciate that. As a single person, I just don't have enough news to warrant a more meaningful letter myself).
That being said, as a writer, I do sometimes like to create actual gifts by putting pen to paper. Hopefully these hand made gifts have a longer lifespan and more sentimental value for the recipient than a boxed Christmas card. Spending time making these gifts is also one of the ways I carve out that solitude and reflection time I need to balance the chaos of the holidays.
Aside from giving the gift of your art, also consider giving the gift of your time. This year I'm offering to spend time with my friends, and specifically spend it doing something they might need. Babysitting. Organizing. Filing. Cleaning.
As a recipient, if someone, not that I'm naming names here, but if someone were to want to give me the gift of cleaning my house and doing some general repairs and maintenance, that would be a most wonderful Christmas gift. I'm just saying.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Relaxation

I've noticed an increase in the number of people who stumble onto my blog by googling "relaxing activities." I'm assuming this has to do with the busyness of the holidays and stress associated with the weather, the economy, etc.
So, how do you relax during the holidays? A quick scan of magazine covers at the store checkout counter will reveal plenty of articles promising countless ways to reduce holiday stress. So I was reluctant to address the issue for fear I'd be redundant. But, since we're all stressed I'll jump in with my own thoughts on relaxing during the holidays.
Any of those magazines will tell you that you need to prioritize your list of holiday activities. If the benefit doesn't outweigh the cost in terms of time, energy, and money, consider eliminating the activity. For me, balancing my list is also important. It's easy to spend all my time shopping, or running from party to party. Once I've overdosed on all the social stuff, I can easily retreat into contemplation mode, which is a good thing, but not to excess.
It works better for me if I can plan activities that allow for some solitude, intermixed with church and family gatherings. Because I'm a writer, much of my time is spent, well, writing. So sadly, I just gave up on doing Christmas cards. I maintain contact with my friends throughout the rest of the year, so the additional time writing isn't a good investment of my time when I need my energy for other things.
In a couple days, I'll share some ideas for managing the financial stress around the holidays.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank A Soldier

The folks at Xerox have a neat program. If you go to their site you can pick a card that they will print up and send to a soldier serving overseas. The cards are all drawn by children. You can personalize it with one of several pre-written messages or write one of your own.
Whatever your political views, please consider taking a minute to thank these wonderful people celebrating the holidays away from their loved ones as they honor a commitment our country. Sending a card will literally take you less time than it took you to read this post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This sample of Taize music isn't from my church, but I wanted to share an example of the kind of music we worshipped with at our Advent service tonight. I love the chant style and have downloaded several Taize songs to my ipod. Hope you like it too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Few Fragments

A Charlie Brown Christmas was on tonight. Watching it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. "Tidings of great joy" gets me every time.
I've been thinking more about traditions since I started contemplating my New Year's goals. As I mentioned, I think this year calls for some changing of tradition. I'm not sure what I'm going to do on New Year's Eve yet either. I'm not into big parties and the evening alone actually doesn't appeal to me much either this year. Doesn't leave a whole lot of options. Maybe I'll spend New Year's Day making art.
On a different subject, I watched Boston Legal tonight. I don't watch much TV. In fact, this was the 1st episode of the show that I've seen. I really liked it. The problem is, I think this is the last episode of the show. Go figure.
Well, not much to say today. Hopefully I'll be more profound next time.

Friday, December 05, 2008

More Smiles

The folks at Kleenex have made me smile. At their site, you can make a custom box of Kleenex. And there are tons of options, so it really is custom, not just a choice of a couple color combos. For five bucks you can customize a box of Kleenex. I have no idea why this tickles me so, but it does.
I stopped by Borders today & I was just going to warm up while reading a magazine. I had no intention of making any purchases. Then a the manager announced over the loudspeaker that all candy was buy 2, get 1 free. I couldn't just buy chocolate at Borders so I bought a magazine as well. Was this God speaking over the intercom and telling me to buy chocolate, or was it the voice of temptation attempting to sway me? I decided to avoid making it a theological issue and stock up on post-chemo chocolate. My smile was a bit wry in this case, but it was a smile nonetheless.
I'm looking forward to the local library sale tomorrow. I will get stacks of books, including some gifts, for the price of 1 book at the aforementioned bookstore.
While I restrained myself from making too many purchases that weren't on my list, I saw so many potential gifts that made me smile today. I love those little gifts that just beg to be given to the right person on your list. The trouble is, I see so many of them that once I get one, I'm hooked and before you know it I can blow my Christmas money on people I'm not even supposed to buy for! I try to get my friends and family bought for and then indulge in a few "extras" for the people I don't formally exchange with.
Finally, Katerina was extra cuddly today which is always cause for more smiles.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Makes Me Smile

I've been disgruntled lately. Health, weather, work, people, it's all bugging me these days. I'm working on finding things that make me smile to try to help out with the things that don't.
  • Katerina sleeping in her new, fluffy, blue bed. Someday I'll get around to posting a picture.
  • The folks at LOLcats make me smile. I love that these cats can't spell, have poor grammar, and fail to understand stuff like the laws of physics. But they do have a remarkably sound theological doctrine.
  • When I paused from writing this, I turned to find Katerina at eye level with me, sitting right in the middle of my 7ft Christmas tree.

Monday, December 01, 2008


There's a lot of talk about mindfulness these days. It's particularly popular among counseling professionals. Basically, mindfulness is the practice of staying fully present in the moment. It's often closely associated with Eastern philosophy/religion and Buddhist meditation. As a concept, I see nothing wrong with keeping generally focused on where you are and what you are doing. Indeed, a lot of therapy centers around troubles associated with dwelling too much on the past or worrying too much about the future.
Now, I'm not about to say mindfulness is against the past or future. I'm just wondering if the whole "be here now" phenomenon can be overdone and cause us to lose some perspective in life. After all, I can easily come up with equally pithy statements about learning from the past and planning/anticipating the future. The key is in how we think about our past, present, and future.
Does being "in the moment" translate to handling each urgent matter before you until it's 5PM and you realize you haven't planned so far into the future as to remember your child's basketball game? Does taking it "day by day" absolve you of setting long range goals and taking risks to do something bigger & better?
What about learning from the past? The only way to redeem a mistake is to learn from it. Guilt is healthy if it tells us "Hey, think about that differently next time. You'll feel better if you change how you handle that." Similarly, if worry about the economy and my financial future keeps me up at night, that's not so great. If the same concern causes me to trim my budget and add to my savings and then stop thinking about it, well, that's pretty useful.
I'm still trying to balance thinking about past, present, and future. How about you?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Signs of the Season

I plan to get back to regular posting tomorrow. For now, I'm content to report that I'm back home and nesting my home for winter. The tree is up, with my brand new silver "Grace" ornament. For those of you keeping track, that's the 4th exception to the bears only rule for my tree.
I consider myself to be fairly low maintenance when it comes to personal upkeep. So while it's dismaying that it now takes so many lotions and creams to keep my skin from flaking away and my hair from flying away, the extra pampering is rather enjoyable.
I baked brownies tonight so the house smells good. The only problem is snow is in the forecast. I could do without that.
What do you do to prepare for the season?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

If today was any indication of the week's busyness this will likely be my last post for the week. Everyone have a safe, happy, blessed Thanksgiving.
The students in my creative writing class were thankful for some interesting things today. I challenged them to write about anything but family, shelter, food, all the stuff we know we are thankful for. I so loved hearing their responses. A couple of things stood out. One person commented about things in her personality she is grateful for. At first, you might think this is prideful. But really, she was simply acknowledging her ability to see the gifts around her, as well as her own strengths; all of which have helped her through some pretty tough stuff. Other people talked about things we don't often take the time to be grateful for; things we in fact have a hard time being thankful for.
Think about your job or your education. In junior high school you probably weren't so thankful for algebra. Today, I have to admit I'm having a hard time being thankful for my job. But both education and employment are undeniable blessings not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy. So perhaps we ought to cultivate gratitude specifically for those things we have a hard time being thankful for.
What parts of your own personality were uniquely designed to help you face life's challenges? Which of life's challenges are you grateful for?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Motivational Tools

I recently joined Twitter. I'd like to use it for networking, and as a way to enhance my productivity. My theory in joining it was that the brevity of the posts is appealing, and communicating with others would help keep me accountable in an almost micro-management sense. If I tell you I'm going to write or go do the dishes, I become a little more compelled to do so.
I'm still giving Twitter a shot, but I'm encountering a few roadblocks. One is that seeing the wonderful posts of all my creative writerly friends is actually a little intimidating. By the time I get home from work, people have twittered away for hours about their accomplishments. My little blog posts and couple of hours left for writing and art feel inferior by comparison.
So I'm going to go think about some ways to overcome my inferiority complex. As long as I'm in a true confessions mood, here's me current media line up:

Current music: So Cruel, U2
Current Netflix: Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Season 2
Current read: Not currently reading any books; I am gleaning tons of info from my most recent issues of Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Discipleship Journal.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Changing Traditions?

For the last several years, around this time I start to think about what goals I have for the upcoming year. I take a look at what I accomplished over the past year and where I fell short so I can adjust my goals accordingly. Along with setting specific, manageable goals in several areas, each year I select a Bible verse as my theme for the year.
As I've mentioned before, I like variety in my systems, be it for cleaning, exercise, or general time management. I'm wondering if this detailed approach to annual goals might not suit me at the moment. I do like the Bible verse theme for the year. I'm just at a loss for what to pick for this year. I do want some way to record my hopes & goals for the upcoming year. I'm just not sure where to start this year.
Over the next few weeks I'll be doing some thinking and experimenting with setting goals. I welcome any suggestions regarding how you approach your own New Year's goals & resolutions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Well, Just Watch

Short on time, short on energy, short on patience. And it's only Monday. This is for a friend who had as bad of a day as I did.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Accidental Shopper

Last weekend I'd planned a perfectly innocent trip to the bookstore with my Mom. I go every few weeks to pick up a magazine or two that I don't subscribe to for various reasons. Then my father suggested that we go to the mall and make it an afternoon "family thing." This should have been my first clue that something was amiss in the cosmos; dad wanting to go to the mall should have sent me hiding under the bed. Did I listen to the cosmos? No, I went to the mall.
So, the bookstore at the mall did not have the current issue of my magazine. There was an issue of a magazine I pick up only rarely, so I picked that up. Fair enough. Then I spotted a magazine I like, but never see at my own local bookstore. Vaguely acknowledging the fact that I was heading towards a slippery slope, I grabbed that magazine too.
Now if this bookstore has magazines my bookstore doesn't have, I reasoned they would be likely to have books my bookstore might not have. I just wanted to look at the books on handmade books, for my Christmas list. And one of the books jumped off the shelf and landed in my lap. I didn't mean for it to happen. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it). Figuring it was the cosmos speaking again, I went with it.
Finally, Mom wanted to pick out something to wear for Christmas. As Dad & I waited for her to try on various options, I realized we were waiting under a 50% off sale sign. I tried not to look at the clothes under the sign. I really did. But a flash of my favorite colors caught my eye. At half off, it was a good deal. The parental reviews on the blouse in question were mixed. Still, it merited a trip to the fitting room. Once the blouse was tried on, the parents supported the purchase, agreeing that it looked quite nice on me.
And that is how I spent ten times what I should have spent at the store last weekend. I blame the cosmos.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't Wanna

I was out of town over the weekend so I have missed a post or two. Usually when that happens I have a hard time getting back into the habit of blogging. I almost skipped blogging tonight for that reason. But I started thinking about what I tell my Creative Writing students. I tell them to start writing about how they don't want to write.
So that's pretty much what I'm telling y'all. I'm tired. I have a headache. I have at least a half a dozen idea about future blog posts, but I just don't feel like writing them tonight. I was supposed to go to bed early and I've blown that goal big time. I have a hard time balancing writing with the other duties of life. If it's a night when I need to do other things, shifting gears to writing is hard.
Maybe that's what I need to work on. Transitions. I need to find a way to shift gears without stalling.
Would you look at that? I started out all whining and ended up with a take away- for myself. Hope it was useful to y'all as well. Any idea for transitions between activities?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Rethinking The Sabbath

I've been having some trouble with my Sunday afternoons. Actually, the problem begins before that. By the end of the week I am so tired that I'm good for nothing on Saturday. So I putz around, watch movies, take naps, and do very little.
This means that on Sundays I have to do laundry and all the other chores that I didn't get to during the week. And try to squeeze in some productive writing and art time. I don't like this arrangement because I would prefer to have Sunday be my day of rest. I'm not happy with a "veg out" day substituting for time I could be using to grow spiritually and personally.
Enter Happy Fun Night. Some of you might recall that I recently started experimenting with making Wednesday nights my Happy Fun Night. This was to help get me through the week, as it can be challenging to do that some weeks. I've had occasional moderate success with this. I think it's hard to coordinate a major fun, or social event in the middle of the week.
So, I'm reinventing Happy Fun Night into a Sabbath Night. Reading, journaling, praying, yoga. And because both are a spiritual practice for me, I'm going to include art and writing. I might even let the occasional manicure and bubble bath slip in. I'm pretty sure God will be cool with that.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Few Things

Recently, I suggested that the folks at Levenger might owe me the new True Writer Fountain Pen they developed, plus five bucks. This was on account of how they reduced the price of a different fountain pen by five bucks just after I bought it. Not only did they then make this new pen that they did not see fit to give to me, they actually had the nerve(!) to create an even newer pen that I covet even more. Seriously, I mean, they ought to at least let me figure out how to justify one new pen before they go making another one.
In other news, I joined both Twitter and LinkedIn. It remains to be seen if either will be useful and in what capacity. I've already discovered both are less of a time sink than Facebook. In fact, one of my hopes for Twitter is that it will actually improve my productivity. I hope to use it as a way to "check in" several times a day. If I tell my followers I'm going to write, I'd better write.
Speaking of productivity, I cleaned off my writing desk and I reconfigured my art space. I'm particularly pleased with my art space. I made use of a CD tower turned on its side, a spice rack, an ice cube tray, and various other containers to clear the vast majority of my kitchen table. Now the space is ready for me to get to making some art. So there.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Free Gift

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name
It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that
Changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness
In everything
She's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
She travels outside
Of karma,
She travels outside
Of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear the strings
Grace finds beauty
In everything
She carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips
Between her fingertips
She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stains
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty
In everything
Grace finds goodness
In everything

Grace, U2

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Investments Part II

Last time I wrote about the intangible investments we make. Today I'm going to try to sort out how that applies with how we invest our financial and material resources.
In the main, I have to say that being good stewards of our possessions means saving and giving are two major priorities. Oddly enough, the big choices are easier for me to make than many of the smaller choices I make with the change in my pocket. Give money to the Red Cross when a disaster hits? I find a way to make it work. Cable? No thank you. That perfect Christmas gift for a loved one? Squeeze it into the budget. Perms, manicures, and an extensive show wardrobe? I'll pass. The piece of furniture I'm in love with is on sale, or a friend invites me on a trip? If I'll regret not having it, & it's in the realm of possibilities, I go for it.
But what about the ice cream that's on sale? Or upgrading to some premium personal care products as a treat? Or spoiling my cat with yet another toy because I have to take her to the vet? For some reason, these choices tend to cause a little more hesitation. I don't think that's a completely bad thing because I believe it's my conscience's way of keeping the indulgences in check.
Still, we have been blessed with many wonderful gifts in this world and we aren't called to live our lives deprived of pleasure. Our lives are meant to be abundant. The little things that provide that abundant joy in each of our lives might be different. I buy all sorts of generic grocery products to try to tame the grocery bill. However, as I told someone the other day, I believe life is too short not to use the good Kleenex. And doing laundry is such a chore that I've decided to go on a mission to find the perfect smelling laundry soap. I already love clean sheet day, but it will be even better with the investment of an extra buck or two for just the right scent.
What do you invest in?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


We're all thinking and talking about investments these days. The stock market and the housing market seem to be the focus of many of the conversations I hear. As of late, these conversations aren't terribly positive either. Some of my recent blog posts have reflected on how disillusioned people can become when they invest in things that are superficial, temporary, or unpredictable.

While I don't think anything will adequately substitute for an investment in a faith based spiritual relationship with God, we are creatures of the earth and can benefit from wisely choosing where to invest our resources.

What does your "investment portfolio" look like? Where do you invest your energy? Where do you invest your time? How do you invest your words; the gift of communication with others? What does your investment in your relationships look like? Does the time & effort you spend with people reflect their importance to you? Does you need to balance your portfolio differently to better reflect your values?

Mostly, this is about how we invest our immaterial and non-financial resources. However, I've also recently started thinking about how to balance investments in the material and monetary world. I think I'll save that for another post.


According to the church calendar we celebrate Reformation Sunday today, even though the actual day is not until October 31st. It just falls that way this year on account of All Saints' Day being right after Reformation and then jumping right into advent.
Anyway, I know Martin Luther wasn't perfect, but I believe he did get quite a few things right in terms of his theology and did, in fact, effect much needed change within the church.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther.

  • Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
  • Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.
  • Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.
  • Forgiveness is God's command.
  • God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
  • To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can not do otherwise.
  • I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.
  • The man who has the will to undergo all labor may win to any good.
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Funnies

This morning started out peacefully as my kitten, Katerina, curled up next to me enjoying the last few minutes before I had to get up for church. She was the picture of adorable contentment; a purring ball of gray fur. That is, until her tail tickled her nose and woke her up. Her meow effectively communicated her disgruntled state as she grabbed the offending tail and commenced retaliation.
Try as she might, Katerina's tail would not be subdued. She attempted to stalk off haughtily, ostensibly to give her tail some time to think about what it had done. After a few steps, Katerina looked behind her. To her dismay, that disobedient tail was right behind her! The chase was on. Katerina ran through the house wailing and meowing urgently. Her tail never tired of following in hot pursuit. Every time Katerina turned around to see if she'd evaded it, the darn tail was still there!
Yes, I've heard that some people's pets chase their tails. My cat's tail chases her.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Randomness

Next week is going to be another busy and stressful week. I hope to post a couple of times, but I'm not making any promises.
I have added a few blogs to my list of friends in my sidebar. I found these blogs via networking on Facebook. I'm glad social networking utilities can be used for something other than procrastination and cures for insomnia. Anyway, while my posting is sparse, you might want to visit a few of these sites. These ladies are inspirational and insightful.
"My pen" recently went on sale at Levenger, hitting the price I'd targeted for when I'd break down & purchase it. So, I broke down & purchased it. A week later, they knocked another five bucks off the sale price and came out with a new pen that I'm drooling over! The way I see it, Levenger owes me five bucks and the new new pen. Right?
If nothing else, I hope to have some pictures of Katerina over the weekend and get them posted this week. She might even get a Halloween costume this weekend.
I'm currently reading 1984. I think it's very well written, but it certainly is intense & heavy. I'm stalled on it. I sometimes read two books at once. I think I'm going to have to pick something of a totally different flavor, particularly this coming week. It might be weird to read two very different books at once. Anyone got any ideas?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vocation, Vocation, Vocation

A big part of my job is vocational rehabilitation; I help people develop job skills and identify their particular strengths and interests. It's always annoyed me that the meaning of "vocation" has gotten watered down to mean "job" or "work skills." It's often even reserved for programs like mine that don't exactly measure up to "real" employment.
The meaning of "vocation" has its origins in religion. It refers to specific "impulses, inclinations, or callings" towards a given area of work ( Even if your work is not particularly spiritual in nature, the essence of vocation is finding out what it is you were designed to do.
For example, on my afternoon commute I found myself studying the bus driver. I've seen him before and know him to be a kind, friendly fellow. He gives a bit of extra attention to older folks who need time to get to their seats safely. He's actually told several teens to stop using filthy language because there are women and children on the bus.
Today, a woman and her two young sons got on the bus. Both shook the driver's hand in the handshake that all the cool kids are using these days. The older boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, started telling the driver how happy he was to have made the basketball team at school. The bus driver beamed with genuine excitement and pride as if this was his own son. I imagine that perhaps this boy and his brother might not have very many male role models in their lives. The significance of the bus driver's interest was quite evident.
When we approached my destination, the bus driver asked if I wanted to be dropped off a block before the actual bus stop. It was raining and I have a disability. In the past, he'd observed me walking after I got off the bus & wanted to get me closer to home even if it wasn't an official bus stop.
You don't have to be a pastor, teacher, or doctor to have a meaningful vocation that influences others. A lot of people might view driving a bus as a job, and a not so great one at that. This bus driver has made his work his vocation.
What were you designed to do?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Process of Writing: Counterpoint

A writing friend of mine sent this in response to the video from our agent friend. It provides a different perspective on the process of writing. It's important to be balanced and fair, after all. Again, I hope this is helpful.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Process of Writing

A friend of mine who is an agent sent this clip illustrating the ideal flow of events in the writing and publishing process. I hope you find it useful.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Marketing Lessons

The other day I went to Staples to get a laser pen for my kitten. Naturally, I got home and the thing did not work. So I waited until today when I had some free time to go return it. I was expecting them to try to get me to buy the upgraded model for an extra ten bucks. Of course, having to pay extra for something that actually functions is not a great way to create customer satisfaction, but that's about the only response I expected.
I didn't even get that. They scrutinized the receipt to make sure I was within my rights to even make the return. I've heard of "no questions asked" policies, but these people meant it. They did not even ask what was wrong with the product, or if I needed a replacement, or ask me anything for that matter. In spite of the fact that I told them it was broken, I wonder if they re shelved it anyway.
So I went across the street to CVS for a few things. I didn't expect them to have a laser pen, but I did find one in the office supply aisle. And, instead of being $17.00, it was $3.00. It also functions as a flashlight and a ballpoint pen. Yeah.
Pleased with this discovery, and the extra cash I now had, I accidentally wandered into the pet aisle. I found these cat toys that are designed to look like baby toys. Colorful "teething rings" that are even packaged to convince you that you are aiding your cat through crucial developmental processes. They are called "Petstages." I was completely aware that the whole thing was meant to appeal more to me as a cat owner rather than being particularly better for my cat than the empty toilet paper tubes she chews on. And I bought the darn toys anyway.
Then there's the fact that CVS may be one of the last places to carry Diet Coke Plus in the plastic bottles. Rather than spending $17.00 at Staples, I could have spent $3.00 at CVS. Instead, I spent $11.00 at CVS because they kept impressing me with stuff I didn't realize I needed! If you are going to be in the business of marketing a product or service to people, you need to deliver what you say you will, it needs to work, and it needs to be a good value to the customer. And it doesn't hurt to try to give a little something extra your customer wasn't expecting.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Pianist

I watched The Pianist the other day. (Yes, I know I'm behind the times). If, like me, you've waited to see it, you might not want to read this post due to potential spoilers. Fair warning.

The fact that his passion for the piano in fact saved the main character's life got me thinking about how people survived concentration camps. Viktor Frankl wrote about this very phenomenon in his book Man's Search for Meaning. He said that people who were able to find some spiritual significance, some reason to persevere despite the horrors they faced, these people were the ones who had the strength to survive.
I've been thinking about that in relation to self perception and identity. Many people identify their spouses or their careers as primary purposes for their existence. The passion for who or what they love keeps them going. For other people, it might be a pet, or a hobby, or the pursuit of knowledge.
If your resources are many and/or your trials are few, perhaps nearly anything you select will be able to bear the weight of providing meaning to your life. Even money might be enough to get you out of bed in the morning. But if your supports are few and your troubles are severe, whatever you select as the reason to get up out of bed in the morning had better be able to hold up to some intense stretching and pulling. What will you do when you wake up and the money is gone, the spouse is gone, and the job is gone?
I don't often talk about my faith outright on this blog. This is one of those rare exceptions. I have to say I'm glad that my primary Source of identity and motivation is changeless, doesn't depend on my own good behavior or success, and is big enough to carry the weight of my troubles.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lost In Translation

I just finished the book The Princess Bride. Of course, I've seen the movie dozens of times. Normally, I like to read the book before I see the movie. But I started watching The Princess Bride in college when I didn't have much time to read for fun.
At any rate I was very impressed with how well the story translated between the two mediums. Even elements of the narrator's voice seemed to be portrayed to some extent both in the book and the movie. The humor, tone, and style did not suffer in either method of telling the story.
Contrast that with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Hilarious book. Mildly entertaining BBC TV depiction from what I saw. The movie released a couple of years ago was simply awful. It was just not funny. So much of what made the book work was the voice of the narrator and the movie version just wasn't able to convey the same nuances. Sure, they changed elements of the story but that wasn't the problem. It just didn't feel like the same story without the voice of the author.
Words convey information and tell stories. But it's more than that. Who is telling the words and in what context is important. How the words are shared is also important. Tone and style really make a difference in effective storytelling, and effective communication for that matter.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tossed Salad

My friend LeAnne recently featured singer Micheal Card on her blog. It was a really inspiring interview so I encourage you to go check it out. Several of the themes from that interview are tossing themselves with the salad in my brain. At some point, I'm hoping the whole thing comes together into something meaningful and conclusive regarding my own creative pursuits. Have you ever felt like that? Like you have a dash of something here, and a pinch of something there, and if you could just get the ingredients right you would have this fabulous recipe full of great flavor and nutrients?
This is the time of year I usually get organized and do a major housecleaning. Something about the school year triggers my love of office and organizational supplies. In fact, I tend to like organizing in general when I have a lot on my mind. Given that, I really ought to have a spotless house at this point. But the organizing thing hasn't been working for me as much recently. Perhaps that's part of why my tossed salad isn't coming together. I'm looking for the right combination of the familiar and the new to accommodate the changes. I'm also looking for tricks, rewards, and outright bribes to convince my creativity and organizational skills to get back into gear and start working together.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thirteen Things About Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Having lost a loved one to this disease a year and a half ago I couldn't not write something about this topic. I guess if you want to be technical some of the things on my list relate to cancer in general & not specifically breast cancer. I hope it is useful for anyone with cancer.

  1. According to the American Cancer Society, the chances of a woman developing breast cancer are 1 in 8.
  2. If you know someone with cancer or any serious illness, is a great resource. It offers a free "homepage" with a blog like feature. You, or someone you elect, updates the page & friends and family can be notified when there is news. This cuts down on miscommunication & keeps everyone "in the loop."
  3. I've recently re-discovered how wonderful it is to have people on your "team" who take initiative & make those logistical arrangements for appointments & referrals. If you haven't had to repeat everything from your diagnosis to your biopsy date to the results of your last labs to a half dozen people in 15 minutes, you have no idea how frustrating it can be. Yes, I'm perfectly capable of making my own phone calls. And yes, it's wonderful to not have to rehash the details of my illness over and over again. If you can be this kind of liaison for someone, do it.
  4. I've recently shared about the free video game available from Hope Lab. It's a great tool for young people with cancer.
  5. Schedule something fun for right after tests or treatment. It helps to have something to look forward to. Heck, this is useful for dentist appointments.
  6. These days, many forms of cancer are treated as a chronic illness. Even if your cancer does not go into remission, in some cases it can be managed successfully for quite a long time.
  7. The chance that breast cancer will be the cause of a woman's death is 1 in 35, according to the American Cancer Society.
  8. There are DVDs like this one that teach guided imagery specifically for people going through radiation or chemotherapy. General relaxation techniques are helpful, but why not do something tailored to your exact needs?
  9. In my experience, and mind you this is only my experience, chocolate helps with mild to moderate nausea. Hey, if you need to deal with cancer, you should get to eat chocolate.
  10. Do something creative. Even if you don't consider yourself artistic engaging in a creative activity helps counter the destructive, negative impact of cancer.
  11. There are many well known resources for support and research for all kinds of cancer. When you choose to participate in a fundraiser or other activity, be aware of what the money goes for, is it for research, treatment, or support?
  12. Also, be diligent about researching smaller, more local organizations. Many times these groups offer specialized volunteer services that the larger groups do not.
  13. There are people who will send cards and tell you to call them. Then there are the people who will write their phone number in the cards and tell you to call them. Those are the people you can call if you need someone to go to an appointment with, or to help with errands and chores.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The anniversary of the death of Christopher Reeve is coming up. It just so happens that the Richard Donner cut of Superman II has come up on my Netflix queue. I find it very interesting to watch a different director's cut of a movie I've seen many times before; something we don't often have the opportunity to experience. It has me thinking again about creative choices.
When you read books or watch movies do you stop and think about the roads the creators and editors didn't take? What alternatives ended up on the cutting room floor? Why was one choice made over another? How would the same story look or sound different if it were told by someone else? In one sense, the story is what it is. But in another sense, story making is more fluid, perhaps without the finality we perceive in the end products of books & movies.
I am just glad I don't write fiction because I have enough trouble with the choices in my own life.

The word of the day is architeuthis.
The song of the day is The Space In Between Us, Building 429.
I finished Wind In The Willows & I'm not sure what to read next. Maybe The Princess Bride.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


How come when people make a "new & improved" version of something it usually means it's going to be more expensive, less convenient, and more trouble in general?
Granted, I understand very little about economics, but how come we can spend billions of dollars to bail out people whose job it is to manage vast sums of money, and then when we need to balance the budget we will do it by taking the few dollars left to the very poorest in our society?
How come my cat can keep me up for hours on end by running wild all over the place and then want to cuddle and sleep in the 10 minutes before I need to get up? And how come I don't then listen to her when she tries to convince me to stay in bed and read stories all day?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Next Year Is Here

I orginally posted this a year ago. Now that the Cubs have once again won their division & are headed for the playoffs, I thought I'd repost it. Incidentally, a few posts ago I mentioned having a hard time picking a favorite post. I think this is one of them.

Growing up a Cubs fan had quite an impact on my development. I think I just realized this about an hour and a half ago. Let me tell you what the Cubs have taught me.
Loyalty Sometimes people disappoint you. People are human. Believe in them and come back to them anyway.
Persistence It's OK to be discouraged, but not for long. By the time you've showered & wiped the dust off your clothes you need to be telling yourself "there's always next year."
Have Fun I don't remember how old I was when I found out that not everyone sings "Take Me Out to The Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch, but I do remember I was appalled. How do the rest of you have any fun at a ballgame at all? Seriously.
Sometimes Small is Good They call it "The Friendly Confines" for a reason; it's small. But that's OK. And by the way, we don't need a bunch of cheerleaders or a half time show either.
Support Cubs players, fans, announcers, etc all make an effort to acknowledge the people who help them do their jobs. Remember the people who had your back, the hands that pulled you up, and the shoulders you stood on.
One more thing. It doesn't hurt that the Cubs' mascot is a bear.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Odds & Ends

I have a headache. I meant to post earlier, but life has been getting in the way. I'm hoping that will change a little this week.
My cat still has not learned to do the dishes. She's still young though, so there's hope.
I made a book yesterday, which I am quite pleased with. I originally had other plans for it, but it wants to be for my brother. And one should not argue with a book as that is just a little bit weird. I was going to post a photo of it, but I was pretty wiped out by the end of the day.
So I guess unless you are my brother, this post might be a bit boring. I have other things to say, but my cat's tendency to sleep 16 hours a day is apparently contagious.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Silver Linings

Even though it took me 2.5 hours to get to work yesterday, and even though it took twice as long as usual to get home, and even though my kitten waited until a week after her 1st vet visit to get sick, yesterday was full of brief moments where I suspect I was entertaining angels.
While my usual bus was extraordinarily late due to local flooding, the bus that is scheduled to arrive 2 hours earlier arrived just as I got to the bus stop. So my whole commute was at least spent on the bus. The usual driver is a bit cranky, but the driver of this "earlier" bus was very nice. And with not many passengers daring to brave the roads, it was generally quiet enough for me to read & think.
Although a bus never showed on the way home, the cab dispatcher suggested a highly efficient train route rather than what would have been a ridiculous fare with all the waiting in traffic. And the cab driver who took me to the train station charged me only a typical flat fare rather than letting the meter run as we hit traffic and experimented with side streets to take the proverbial scenic route to the train station.
And while I did have to drop another wad of cash on pet care, she's already doing better and isn't too mad at me for taking her back to the vet. The vet was also very nice to both of us.
So, despite the fact that I didn't get much work done yesterday, I didn't get dinner until 9PM, and my body still hurts from dealing with all the public transportation, I feel pretty lucky. After all, my place isn't flooded, I don't live in Texas, and the sun was shining today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Quote For Today

I've mostly been relaxing this weekend, but now that it's Sunday night I've decided to get it in gear and do all the housework & other stuff I didn't have time to do this week. One of the things I need to catch up on is writing. However, I think I'm going to do most of that writing in my journal tonight. Maybe I'll share some of it later.
For now, here's a quote I came across the other day.

"If I knew you and you knew me: we would love one another regardless of who I am or who you are."
Eric Butterworth

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thirteen Things I'd Rather Be Doing

  1. Writing about all the great conversations I've had this week.
  2. Finishing my brother's birthday present (only 2.5 hours left, not gonna happen).
  3. Sitting on my balcony doing a whole lot of nothing.
  4. Watching my latest Netflix movie.
  5. Taking narcotics for pain management.
  6. Eating chocolate (you know that had to make the list somewhere).
  7. Napping/playing with Katerina.
  8. Making a book.
  9. Talking with my best friend.
  10. Working out. Seriously. I have not had time. I want to. Really really.
  11. Reading. Since when do I not have the energy to read?
  12. Playing my video game. The latest scenario takes a long time & I just can't right now.
  13. Crossing everything else off my list that prevents me from doing the aforementioned things.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just A Quick Hello

I haven't totally forgotten about the blog. I was just out of town for a long weekend. I also have a long week coming up, so I'll probably only post a time or two over the next several days.
Regarding my previous thoughts on nature, over the last few weeks, I've found several 4 leaf clovers. I'm not particularly drawn to them and I don't particularly buy the whole good luck thing. I also wasn't particularly looking for them. I've noticed that's when you tend to find that sort of thing.
My cat has been sleeping all afternoon. I think she's going to want playtime at 3:43 AM again.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thirteen Bloggie Things

  1. This is my 2 year blogging anniversary.
  2. This is my 226th post.
  3. I've had over 3,700 visitors to my blog since it started.
  4. That might not sound like much, but I'm happy with it since I don't do much of anything to promote the blog.
  5. In fact, most of my visitors are friends and family.
  6. I started the blog as a way to get back into writing when I finished grad school.
  7. Blogging has helped me write with more consistency since I finished school.
  8. Many people find my blog by searching for "relaxing activities."
  9. I tried to find a favorite post, but I couldn't. The one on "Identity" might come close.
  10. But the post I like best could change tomorrow.
  11. People also stumble across my blog looking for bibliotherapy.
  12. Or quotes.
  13. Out of the last 100 visitors, a visitor from the Philippines ranks as the one who lives furthest from me.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Forest For The Trees

I recently talked with a friend of mine about trees. We share an affinity for trees for similar, but not identical reasons. There's just something about trees that is just reassuring and solid. They've seen a lot of history. Unfortunately, the same thing I love about their resilience and the reliability of their presence is also the same thing that also causes me to take them for granted. They're always there. Mostly, I notice them when they change with the seasons, which always gets me thinking about how they survive the cruelest of winters to come back every spring.
This conversation got me thinking about other things in nature that I'm drawn to. There are certain things I love that I (and most people who know me) am completely aware of. Lilacs, rainbows, anything having to do with spring. But I bet there are things in nature and in life that I'm drawn to without even realizing it. I'm going to make an effort to discover some of these things.

Current Music: This Is Me (You're Not Talking To), Randy Travis
Current Read: Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thirteen Random Things

  1. One of my favorite bloggers, Lee over at Little Nuances is back online. I'm quite happy about this and I hope you'll check him out.
  2. There's this quote that I'm loving as of late. I just can't bear to put it on my list of faves next to the stuff by Mother Teresa and Emerson. "They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But that's only if you twist the blade and lift up."
  3. I'm really starting to dislike emergency rooms.
  4. I found a new text & graphics tool, similar to Wordle. This one searches google images and blends them with the text you enter. Not sure about the applications because of copyright issues, but it still looks like fun.
  5. My friend Paula posted pictures of the bears in her yard to her Facebook page. This totally made my day. I can't wait to go to Alaska!
  6. Now that the Olympics are over, I need to seriously consider getting back to working out. I couldn't very well go work out over the last 2 weeks. I had to watch those athletes!
  7. I found this great video game for people with cancer from Hope Lab. It's quite a lot of fun. Except when your character dies. There ought to be some counseling involved if your character in the game where you are fighting cancer doesn't survive.
  8. I'm stalled on my current reading project.
  9. Let's not even talk about my current writing project.
  10. Furthermore, Netflix has effectively stalled my movies for the upcoming holiday weekend. I'm media deprived.
  11. Did you know the leaves start to sound different late in the summer even before they change color? Seriously, if you listen they rustle more and just sound more autumn like.
  12. The Anti Cruelty Society has a program where they temporarily house animals in crisis situations including domestic violence.
  13. It's really hard to come up with 13 random things when I haven't written in a while.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

13 Favorite Gifts

  1. A couple of Christmases ago I got a custom made poster for my brother, showing the night sky over Chicago on the day he was born. This was special for him because his birthday is on September 11th. His reaction was priceless.
  2. The Christmas before last was a very sad one for me. A good friend of mine sent me Kleenex.
  3. The first Christmas with my college roommate I got her a Disney movie she said was her favorite. She laughed until she cried when she opened it because it was one of those things that she'd just never get for herself.
  4. I love the dictionary my aunt got my for my 8th grade graduation. The inscription makes it even more special.
  5. Along with that I love the thesaurus my brother got for me.
  6. Another aunt got me a postal scale so I can mail manuscripts without having to go to the post office. More than just office equipment, she invested in and validated my efforts at writing.
  7. Several years ago I gave 90% of my beanie baby collection away to my young second cousins. There were many children and many beanie babies; pretty much the kind of fun Christmas is all about.
  8. My ipod. Just about the only big ticket item on the list. It really improves my quality of life to be able to have portable music.
  9. The tooth fairy gave me a great teddy bear when I got my wisdom teeth out.
  10. I looked for a long time for the perfect bear for my kitchen (I need at least one bear in every room). When I was on a random shopping trip with a friend we found a Smokey the Bear. He got it for me just because.
  11. I've given a bear to each of my friends when they have a baby. That's fun.
  12. An old friend lost her childhood toy in a fire. I went on a mission to find a replacement in antique stores. It was so worth it.
  13. The ornaments my mom gets for my Christmas tree, because she supports the idea that only teddy bear ornaments are allowed on my tree.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gold Medals

Once again I have a random stream of consciousness going that I'm not sure will amount to anything coherent. Last night I was at a meeting, so the lack of posting wasn't related to my lack of organized thought.
I'm loving the Olympics. The gymnastics, diving, and swimming are my favorites. Though I'm not quite sure why we have both volleyball and beach volleyball.
This week I gave my Creative Writing group the assignment of creating their own category of competition and handing out gold medals. Without exception, my group members gave out gold medals for merit in some area of relationships. Perhaps it was someone they directly interacted with and benefited from; a parent, a teacher. Other times it was simply someone they admire for how that person relates to others. Someone who has been a role model or demonstrated dedication towards helping others. I have to say I was proud of my group members for acknowledging that compassion, honesty and other relationship characteristics are more deserving of medals than speed or physical strength.
As an aside, my friends LeAnne and Crystal, along with Awareness, have posted some excellent thoughts as of late. Stop by and visit them for something a little more substantial than when I'm writing at the moment.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Do you ever wonder if God understands everything about what you go through? Some people think He'll understand about the big stuff, but sometimes it seems like the day to day stuff we deal with is fairly inconsequential. We kind of treat those things as though they are simply things we just have to deal with on our own.
I'm sometimes guilty of falling into that trap myself. The other night I was reading the Psalms and these verses reminded He gets even the "little things."

"My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say ' O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
truly I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest'...
It is not enemies who taunt me-
I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me-
I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company...
My companion has laid hands on a friend
and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer that oil,
but in fact were drawn swords."

Friday, August 08, 2008

What Is There To Say?

About a year and a half ago I experienced the loss of someone I was very close to. Many people were very supportive of me during that time. Since then, I've experienced other losses and I've learned a great deal, some through the support of others and some in the absence of that support.
Now one of the friends who was so supportive during my time of grief is mourning a loss of her own. And despite everything I've read, everything I know about loss, and the countless acts of care and concern I've experienced from others, I do not know what to do or say. I cannot think of anything that would do justice to the kind of friendship she has shown me in my times of need. I cannot think of anything that can for one second diminish the helpless, empty pain of her loss.
There is hope for the future. And that does not change the fact that now is hard.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

13 Things About Happy Fun Night

  1. I've got a disc of Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends to watch tonight!
  2. I'm thinking of downloading this very cool video game targeted towards people fighting cancer.
  3. The Olympics start in two days and I'm very much looking forward to watching.
  4. I've got the AC off and the windows open for the first time in days.
  5. I still have some Dean's chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream for dessert.
  6. I've also got some delicious bread someone from work gave to me.
  7. I have lots of podcasts to catch up on.
  8. The train tracks by my house are now designated a quiet zone at night.
  9. I'm actually starting to feel like I might want to get organized.
  10. I'm actually starting to feel like I might want to write.
  11. The book discussion has started off well.
  12. It's less than 3 weeks before my friend comes back to work.
  13. Everything feels better after a really good thunderstorm.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Assorted Thoughts

Normally when I come back from a conference I take a day or two to metabolize all the information that was presented. So that's why I did not post yesterday as I usually try to do on Mondays. I'm still pretty lost in my head, so this isn't going to be the organized reflection I was hoping to write. I toyed with the idea of just posting the word salad in my brain and asking you to make sense of it, but I decided to try to make it a little more put together than that.
  • My brother says social networking applications are basically a big time sink. To some extent, I agree; but we all need a bit of something to sink our free time into now & again. Today I read an article on reasons to Twitter. Two reasons stuck out for me. One is that you are limited to posts of 140 characters. It forces you to write tightly. The other reason is it also forces you to think about what you do on a more "moment by moment" basis. Twittering puts your daily activities in a virtual fishbowl. So might the "time sink" actually lead to better choices for how to spend your time?
  • A quote I heard at the conference this weekend "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist." This really resonates with me & I've shared it with a few people which has led to some great discussion. Maybe I'll post more about it later.
  • I'm re-reading Walking On Water by Madeline L'Engle. If you follow this blog at all, you know it's one of my favorite books. Every time I read it, I get a new insight. Last night I read how artistic choices are choices of love. Both love and art are creational (is that a word?) and relational. And at times, confrontational. She says, "In a day when we are taught to look for easy solutions, it is not easy to hold on to that most difficult one of all, love." Later, she speaks of writing a novel as a risky venture many of us would step away from when it "demands a conscious falling through the window, a journey through the looking glass." Yes, I can see the connection between art and relationships.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

13 Questions

  1. Which handmade books should I take to the conference?
  2. Did I take my medicine tonight?
  3. Why won't my insurance pay for the test I need?
  4. Why is Dean's Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream so good?
  5. Why do so many people come across my blog by googling sad search terms?
  6. Is my blog sad?
  7. How should I dress for the conference tomorrow?
  8. What questions should I ask for my book discussion group?
  9. Why do people say things they don't mean?
  10. Is next week's meeting going to be rescheduled?
  11. Will a magic house fairy come & clean my home while I'm gone?
  12. Will a magic work fairy come & do all my paperwork while I'm gone?
  13. Am I forgetting anything?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conference Time

I'm attending a conference later in the week, so posting will be light for a few days. I forgot how much work it is to prepare for a conference. It's a whole different experience than the everyday routine. I'm hoping it will be inspirational and informational. I'm also treating it like a vacation, which I desperately need. I'm splurging on the hotel. Maybe I've even splurge on room service. I'll report more about it when I get back.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ain't That Just Life Sometimes?

It's Friday. I've had a long day, a long week, and I have a headache. So what do I do under these circumstances when I need to blog? I raid the Youtube files for something entertaining. Have fun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things To Do

I know this is a relatively boring TT, but I'm multi-tasking here. I've got a busy week coming up, so today's TT is thirteen things I need to do this week.
  1. Get ready for a conference
  2. Clean the house
  3. Make a book
  4. Go to the doctor
  5. Answer about a dozen emails
  6. Keep a play date with a friend
  7. BFS meeting for church
  8. Write an article for church newsletter
  9. My nails
  10. Laundry
  11. Call the student loan people (I keep forgetting this one)
  12. Finish reading a book for a book discussion
  13. Blog (OK, so I can cross this one off my list)

Monday, July 21, 2008


There was a magician at the mall this weekend. He wasn't really doing magic tricks. He was just standing in the middle of the mall making balloon animals for kids. I was drawn in by his skill with the balloons and with the children. He kept track of every request, be it a blue teddy bear, a pink & purple butterfly, or a yellow flower. And all requests were filled in the order they were received. He never lost his patience and he never made a mistake. You could see how happy he was to see each child's face light up as he handed over his finished product.
An allergy prevented me from taking part in the joy of balloon animals as a kid. So watching this was an opportunity to vicariously live out a part of my childhood. And it made me happy.
I think that was the magic part.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I orginally posted this a little over a year ago. It's worthy of a repost today.

Take, take til there’s nothing. Nothing to turn to. Nothing when you get through. Break, scatter pieces of all I’ve been. Bowing to all I’ve been running to.
Where are You? Where are You?
Did You leave me unbreakable? Leave me frozen? I never felt so cold, I though You were silent. And I thought You left me for the wreckage and the waste on an empty beach of faith. Was it true?
'Cause I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You?
Scream, deeper I want to scream. I want You to hear me. I want You to find me. I want to believe. But all I pray is wrong and all I claim is gone.
I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You? Yeah, Yeah, I, I got a question. I got a question. Where are You?
Where are You?
Where are You?
Where are You?

Silence, Jars of Clay

Monday, July 14, 2008

Find Cheap Gas!

I didn't think I was going to post today because I am well aware that yesterday's post was about 3 days worth of blogging in one go.
However, I ran across this link at a fellow blogger's site. I checked it out & while not all cities have current information, many of them did. And within each city, gas prices fluctuate 6-10 cents per gallon. That's not even taking into consideration the fact that many people travel through several communities each day. So it might be worth it to look up cities near you and see if gas is cheaper a block or two away from where you usually travel.
The site is Gas Buddy.
Happy travels.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stabilizing the Narrative

I had a fascinating conversation this weekend, about 45% of which I actually understood. Who knows what would have happened if I understood the whole thing. We talked about ontology, psychology, postmodernism, art, and physics. It all started when I mentioned how the therapist part of me and the writer part of me have been been coming together and I've discovered that A) they want to work together more, and B) they want to be supported by others in those efforts to do so.
In the world of counseling, we call this validation. Well, my conversation partner began explaining what he knows of cognitive science and ontology (he's brilliant). He talked about how most of us refer to the self in terms of internal, private experiences and roles that don't change much. Then he said some stuff I didn't really understand. Then he said something I sort of understood about science often trying to account for change when what we really ought to be doing is accounting for stability. He explained stability as a relative concept and said some more stuff I didn't much understand about postmodernism and how it messes with our own ability to be change agents in our lives because of something about relative reality.
Then he said the reason we talk to people or tell stories at all is we are all trying to stabilize our own narratives. That I understood. In my head and in my core. The meaning of stabilizing one's own narrative is so much deeper and more complex than simply seeking validation. Thinking of your life as a narrative, when the plot line takes a twist, the story becomes destabilized. Who we are is in large part reflected back by the people around us. If our roles, interests, or our very lives are altered, what do the people around us reflect back? Can a parent who has lost a child still be friends with the other parents from the block? It depends on if both sets of parents can absorb that change in the narrative. If you decide to move, change jobs, or change relationships, will you be successful? A big part of the answer to that is finding ways to support your narrative.
Who we are even changes as a result from little things like losing weight or changing hobbies. And the people around us can feel destabilized by those changes rather than being able to absorb them. (What do you mean you don't want chocolate? You haven't written in how long?).
As the self changes, it looks for some force around it that has very little relative change. Big changes for the main character of your life (who is also the author: you) mean big changes for your story. I don't know as much about fiction as I'd like, but I do know that the story falls apart when there's a wild plot twist that isn't absorbed by the dialog, characterization, setting, or pacing of the narrative. The tricky part so far seems to be that to get the narrative to stabilize and balance the change for the main character change may need to occur relative to the other components of the story, all of which are elements in their own stories and the stories of others as well.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gone Fishing

Well, maybe not fishing. I'm not so fond of fishing. But I am taking a vacation from blogging this week. In the meantime, stop by some of my friends' sites and see what they're up to. I'll see all y'all next week.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Home of the Brave

What come to mind when you think of the Fourth of July? Among the many answers I get from my weekly creative writing group, freedom and independence are always popular responses. We have gotten so used to exploring these common themes around the Fourth of July that the writing exercises lose freshness; they begin to all sound similar and familiar.
This year was different for me. I spent a lot of time this week with someone I consider to be very brave, which got me thinking about that quality that our national anthem proclaims we're all supposed to have. I've done a lot of thinking on the subject and I have more questions than answers at this point.
What makes a person brave? Is it something we're born with, or is it developed through circumstances? Can a person who isn't brave learn to be brave? Being brave is likely to lead to bigger challenges where more bravery is required. How do you measure bravery? If being brave is going to lead to bigger risks, how do you overcome that fear? People who are brave often have their thoughts focused on something bigger than the fear, which supplies the energy to the bravery. What do you do when the fear is bigger than the bravery?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Works For Me

This is another TT inspired by one I saw a week or two ago on another blog. Here are thirteen things that work for me. That is, they make my life easier or more fun, or just better in some way.

  1. Netflix. It makes more sense for me to pay for the movies that I want rather than an excessive number of cable channels I don’t want.
  2. Happy Fun Day. After a recent post on the dreaded Monday syndrome a certain reader who shall remain nameless suggested that I plan something fun for Wednesdays. Wednesdays have since been named Happy Fun Day.
  3. Peapod. Even if shopping was a little easier for me, I think I’d still use Peapod because I really like saving the time and energy it takes to shop.
  4. Magazines. I recently re-subscribed to a couple of publications after letting them lapse. I’m so happy I did. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why I was having trouble in the “what to read” department. I needed my magazines.
  5. My ipod. To borrow from tobyMac, I just love my “portable sounds.”
  6. Google Reader. In an effort to simplify my online life, I signed up for this service which lets me catch up with all my favorite blogs in one spot.
  7. Exercise. I feel better in general and better about myself when I exercise. So why don’t I do this more often?
  8. Life Journal. With all the different kinds of writing I do I really get a lot of mileage out of my computer journal. Sometimes thoughts flow better when I’m typing.
  9. Shelfari. I love keeping track of the books I read and meeting new people who share my interest in books.
  10. Variety. For a long time I tried to find the perfect way to use my quiet time. I’d work with one idea for a while and then get bored with it. I finally realized that it’s not the activities that are the problem. I just need to switch things up a little once in a while.
  11. My friend Dianne just wrote about a new favorite tool on her blog. The Pocket Mod is a free online template system for day planners. I’m already wondering about some of the possibilities this has for book art.
  12. CS Lewis. I’m feeling a Lewis mood come on, despite the utter failure of my efforts to see the latest Narnia movie. Check out this quote of his I recently discovered. “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith, but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”
  13. Fireworks. Fireworks just work for me. I am hoping I get to see some this year.