Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A recipe for Writing Confidence: 6 Ways to Get There

You know that the best way to improve as a writer is to keep writing. But you also know that on days that you are discouraged, tired, intimidated, or just second-guessing how long it's taking you to break through; that something is standing in between you and your writing confidence. For those days, here is a recipe for writing confidence with 6 easy ways to get there:


1. Give yourself deadlines.

I didn't have to practice putting words out into the world before I felt like they were ready until I worked for a newspaper ten years ago.Writing articles week in and week out, I realized that no matter how my week was going and how I felt about that week's writing; I was consistently writing articles I enjoyed reading a few days later when I saw them in the paper. You can do the same for your blog readers or your beta readers. Set up a regular deadline, hit it, and read the results several days later. It will take practice to see yourself as the great writer you are.

2. Post a favourable reaction to your work where you can regularly see it.

Whether it's printing off an email from someone who was impacted positively by your work or a review from a reader who loved your book on your fridge or office bulletin board; seeing affirming words regularly helps you dispell the negative voices that can emerge in your head. That red pen wielding inner editor is good for double checking, but not so good for fighting procrastination. Building outside affirmations is a good recipe for inspiring you to take regular action and write, 

3. Connect with others who are writing and publishing.

Find others who are where you are and where you want to be. Read what they share about their journey and apply the tips they post. Much of what looks like their individual success is application of collected input from others. No one learns in a vaccum. As you are taking action and seeing improvements to your writing, marketing, or connections; share what you've learned. Seeing what you have to offer helping others is a great confidence booster.

4. Take criticism with a grain of salt.

Notice I say not to ignore criticism. Often we can learn from things others have noticed. The importance is to be discerning. Someone may have a valid point, but a rude or passive-agressive delivery. Separate what is good (noticing what you can use to make your work better) from what you can leave (lack of appreciation for your genre, projected feelings of insecurity, etc.) Good criticism will have information you can apply to make improvements. Bad criticism is simply discouraging and says more about the giver than it does about your writing.

5. Invest positively.

You can invest positively to grow your writing identity. Giving reviews for your favorite books on goodreads.com and promoting articles that were of help to you adds value to others' lives. You know how much you appreciate knowing that a book is a good buy before you invest your hard earned money on it and love to read an article that helps you out without having to go search for it. Make others' lives better in the same way. It will grow your reputation as someone in the know and will help you to see yourself the same way.

6. Be thankful for what is part of you.

Writing is something you are driven to do. Ideas come to you begging to be executed in a way that not everyone experiences. Taking the time to be thankful for that and the joy it brings to your life is a good way to connect with writer you. The process is more than the outcome. Instead of striving for a certain outcome, focus on taking action steps that support the direction you want to be moving in. Progress and growth are not a straight line. Celebrate the whole journey there.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keeping Your New Ideas from Sabatoging Your Current Project

Once you start to work and make progress on your project, it may look like all sunny blue skies ahead. But it is important to make plans for not only in case of writer's block, but also for what to do when that flowing creativity results in too many ideas. The newest idea threatens the one you are slogging through and looks like more fun/easier to execute/more interesting/what have you... If you have been at this for a while, you know following this path means you can land up with a bunch of good ideas and no completed projects.



The siren song of a new idea can spell death for the current project if it is abandoned before it comes to full bloom. That doesn't mean you have to hold off until this project is wrapped and launched before getting into the new idea. You just have to be smart about it. Here is the strategy to both stay the project's course and not lose the new ideas:

1. write it down

Taking the time to sketch it out means you won't lose the inspiration. You can add more ideas as they come up. Just keep the notebook or digital file nearby as more details are sure to come to you as you continue to work on the current project. If you don't get rattled by it, you can just enjoy it as a side benefit of creative juices flowing. And celebrate! You are generating twice the ideas you anticipated.

2. see if you can tie it into a series

Sometimes new ideas arise because you have hit upon a theme that especially resonates with you or the market is timely and references to it keep arising in daily life. Don't worry that you will lose out this opportunity. If it doesn't tie into your current work as a supporting book or series addition, just keep working on your notes. It might be a stand alone series by itself. And given the success model that sees authors of multiple books hit the best seller lists, this is a direction you'll want to develop in.

3. use it as a reward

Working on a new idea when it's hot has the side benefit of feeling like a reward. Working on your current project for a timed set (even 10 minutes) and then switching to develop your new idea for another five or ten is a model that when repeated can have you producing what you need to on your current project while not losing the momentum of the newly hatched ideas.

4. test it out

As you develop it, give your new idea some test runs by writing a short scene, posting an article or blog post on the topic, or discussing it with your fellow writers and beta readers. Taking it for a trial run lets you see if it is an idea worth pursuing and how much interest there is for it.

5. prioritize it

Not every new idea will make the cut and go long term project. That's ok. Keeping a running list with time frames and markets for them (agent submissions, short story contests, guest blog posts, linked in articles... etc) means you will spend the appropriate amount of time on each project according to its purpose. If you use vision boards, mapping out each project on one bulletin board (virtual or not) is a good way to keep an eye on each of them.

Let me know if this touches on your experience with new ideas. Do they help you or harm you when it comes to your production?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

10 Ways Personal Reflection can Break Through Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block can strike at any time, but it does not have to be the duration you may have experienced in the past. When something isn’t working in your writing session, you may not know immediately why that is, but you can take it as a sign to take a moment and reflect. 




That reflection can break you through in these 10 ways:

1.       It can reveal favorable and unfavorable situations.

In times of busy-ness and stress, it becomes harder to write on demand. This is because exhaustion is crowding in and when you sit down to think, everything on your plate rises at once and becomes overwhelming. No wonder it’s easier to do a mindless chore or a writing assignment you have less stock in. In contrast, you can think of times when writing has been a delight and thoughts arrived so fast you barely had time to write them down. What was that setting and those circumstances? Introducing those elements to the schedule you’ve taken the time to strip down to the essentials will reconnect you with your muse.

2.       It can identify sources of inspiration for you.

Reflection makes connections between what serves as inspirational process for you  -- things like taking in arts and culture, reading, being in nature, and spending time in great discussions & points out what takes it away – stress, tiredness, and spending time without inspirational input. You can adjust your intake accordingly.

3.       It can break down self defeating thoughts you are giving room to.

When you speak out loud the things you are thinking you will quickly see which are unkind. The unkind thoughts to others we are more quickly repentant of, but the ones to ourselves we can be guilty of letting slide for far too long. Unless you are channeling that angst into a character study in which you are okay with your readers privy to all that, it will serve you much better to identify and shut down the negative self talk, and come up with a fictional account of why your character is feeling the way he or she is. It will be a much faster process without the inner naysayer around.

4.       It can make room for creative thought.

Creative thought comes through play, and spending time spinning “what if” into a proper yarn. It takes time and it is worth it. Through creative thought your story line will take a new direction and excite you. That will buy you more writing time. It’s not hard to make yourself write when inspired.

5.       It can rejuvenate you and connect you with your why.

Reflection is a deep breath of intellectual fresh air. The things you know to be true bump up against that which you’ve been taking in from the world and reflection brings them out in new ways like discussions, allegories, and artwork. If artists didn’t take time to reflect, they couldn’t give to the world like they do. Write and share what you have to share.

It can give voice to what you want to say.

Reflection brings to the surface things that you have been dwelling on. One of the best pieces of interviewing advice an editor ever gave me was to ask the questions I myself wanted to know. Usually everyone else is wondering too. Research the things you have been spending time on. The same approach can be taken with fiction themes to explore, settings and cultures you enjoy, etc.

7.       It can counteract your excuses.

When you are reflecting on the falsehoods you are telling yourself, also be on the lookout for excuses. Excuses fight against your underlying intent. Finding out what your excuses are means instead of being confused as to why you are out of time, tired, at day’s end, and still don’t have any writing done; you will have an action plan to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen tomorrow.

8.       It can remind you of past successes.

You know you can make your writing happen because you’ve done it before. When a story poured out of you, a reader connected with you, an audience member laughed, or someone left a comment on your blog – that experience can be repeated again, and again, and again. It is a possibility every time you introduce your writing to the world.

9.       It can birth your vision.

Writing brings your observations, dreams, insights, and stories to the world. It also can serve to impact your day to day living as you build a readership and develop your platform. Earning from your interest in writing buys you more time to explore it. It can go as far as you care to take it.

10.   It can clear away the distractions.

Distractions are part of our everyday experience, but reflection removes them consciously from thought process and makes room for focus. Focus can be used for story developing, scheduling, planning, and content producing.

The next time you are experiencing writer’s block, think of reflection as the tool that can beat it. You already know what you know. Take the time to remind yourself of it and your writing time will benefit from the investment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Ways your Writing can Benefit from a Bad Day

Of course we'd all like perfect days in which to do life and in which to fit writing. Because shouldn't one make sure everything is going smoothly before trying to fit in something else? I don't believe so.




We can't control whether all of the conditions are ideal, but we can control how we respond to any conditions we find ourselves in. Responding with creativity is the best way to turn things around. And a bad day often makes the best creative fodder.
Here are the 3 ways your writing can benefit from a bad day:

1. It gives you believable characters.

A bad day makes you able to empathize with your characters. No one's life is perfect and writing about perfect lives is boring. We know what we know, but we also write about people different from ourselves. We need a broad range of experiences to give to these characters to bring them to life in order to resonate with readers. If one of your developing characters now gets put into your bad day situation, you can think through their response to it and work it into the storyline. A believable character is one who faces situations we can see ourselves facing and has human responses to them.

2. It can serve as a good read for someone else.

For your own benefit, writing your bad day onto paper serves to give you some distance. For others, it can be entertainment. Whether you write it humorously or poignantly, it can serve as a good read for someone else (who may well be escaping his or her own bad day) Good for you -- helping your readers out! A great story is one you can sink into. Readers who have this experience will be back for more.

3. Your writing will benefit from a production boost if you use it as a distraction technique.

Sometimes you'll need a break from whatever was going on that made it a bad day. Writing is the perfect fix. Getting into someone else's story is the exact opposite of minding your own business and it's a great break from reality. Your word count will thank you.

Sometimes a little rain is good for your art in a way that nothing else is. Benefit from it and then move on and have a great day tomorrow.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

3 Ways to Make Sure Your Writing Fits into Your Daily Schedule


Working on your writing project is important to you. Important enough to follow productivity advice and schedule it in to your calendar like you would exercise or anything else you want to make happen. But what happens when the inevitable happens and something has to give. You look around your schedule and it seems the least risky category to shortchange. And that's true -- if putting roadblocks in front of your writing dreams doesn't spell risk to you. If it does, you'll be looking for an alternative. I have three:

1. Look for something else to bump first.

Especially if you are at the start of your project and haven't invested the time in that you have in other day to day items of your life, it may be an easy decision to skip writing. Once you start investing in your writing in terms of time and effort, it shows up higher on your mental to do list. It requires a re-think. Just because you've always checked your email three (or more) times a day, does that have to happen today? Perhaps you can take one of those times out, make something easier for dinner, short shrift a chore or put an errand off until tommorow.

2. Make sure you're being realistic about your scheduling.

 If emergencies often come up, you may benefit from building some more margin in your schedule. Margin is the space in which you plan realistically (so you don't have to speed to get to your appointments on time) and leave a bit of extra wiggle room for the unexpected (a train, a long line, your child forgetting their lunch). Virtual coach and author Michael Hyatt has a free ebook on  creating margin that is well worth the read.

3. Do whatever you can on your project no matter how small. 

When you come up to a day that's especially off the wall or a schedule you are struggling to reduce, don't lose hope. Remember that small incremental change can still completely change your life, begin daily writing practice, and produce a book. Be as kind to yourself as you would a friend and use that saved emotional energy for the writing.

Your writing deserves to have top billing in your daily schedule. You have a message, a story, or insights to share. You don't have to be leading the ideal time abundant life to make that happen. These few tweaks to your day and tommorow will be another story. And with practice and progess, next year even more so. Remember your top priorities. Don't let what's happening today determine if you will get to them. Make your top priorities your top priorities.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

bliss


It's that weekend again.
Writing fires have been lit, both literally & figuratively.
We have camped out until it's time to come back to the real world.
But first we will have our notebooks, and laptops, and endless cups of tea...

Here's what the weekend is all about

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some Words if you want to Sneak in a Writer's Retreat in Every Month Without Your Family Noticing

 I like to leave notes for myself. At my house if it's on a wall, it's either one of two things: a photograph or some words. Here are some of my favorites. ABOVE: the best to-do list
 ABOVE: my about to be graduated high schooler's grade 1 lines for being noisy at lunch ;) The rowdiness I worried about then is a smile-at-the-memory now.
 
 ABOVE: spread the love, joy, peace, perseverance...
 ABOVE: my little sister brought this back from Ireland for me. It's among my favorite reminders.
ABOVE: this is as true to me today as it was when the boys were little: "Don't wait to make your son a great man. Make him a great boy" Investing love and answering the "why" questions intentionally when you think they're too little for it to make a difference and you will see the results when you've forgotten about the exhausting effort.

The beauty thing about being a writer is that you can string together your own words for others to be inspired by. If this is your leaning, you are in luck. GIVEAWAY for my blog readers: 1 year subscription to the everyday writing coach newsletter (like a writer's retreat in your inbox every month) email everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com with 1YEARFREE in the subject line. You can ask your writing questions as well. New FAQs will be featured every month.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

When Your Calendar is Filled with Fill-You-Up Stuff.

This quote resonated with me this week. It's been a week of sharing ideas: learning from the online learning communities in the online workshops I am participating in, putting together the soon to be released Everyday Writing Coach monthly newsletter (details coming soon), meeting with my conference planning team-mates in preparation for this great annual event, and doing an author reading at the Writing and Publishing event for FVRL in Hope. Nothing is more exciting than exchanging ideas, no matter the topic. And best of all, these exchanges and relationships are available to everyone. Take a look around and see who can use your information and whose you can use. It's worth your time.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

more season

 it's been a great weekend. in the middle of it, my seventeen year old and I brought some Santa fun to a local library. the kids were so sweet. definite believers among them. one little guy was so star struck he didn't get the courage up to wish Santa a Merry Christmas until he was walking away ;)
 speaking of the season, the cards have started arriving. my favorite was this one from japan. a sweet student who stayed with us this year sent heart warming wishes and some great pictures he took
 I had dinner with some girlfriends this past week where I was gifted this great purse. it screamed holiday party to me (it could have been the oversized green ruffles ;) so I took it to the work shindig d and I went to last night. fun dinner (don't tell our moms, but d even thought it rivalled home cooking -- it was amazing) and dancing (important to balance all that food consumption) and staying overnight to sleep in and have breakfast in peace. that was pretty amazing too.
I have been putting up a few more Christmas trinkets. this one was 75cents at a local thrift store. (my favorite kind)

I am re-reading this book and listening to this. inspiring. and giving the season context. which I love.
this week has one work day and then holidays in which to write and read

Friday, October 17, 2014

celebrating other people turning 30 and growing up

my little sister turned thirty this week (not the blond one, but the one who has always signed her cards, "your little twin") and my mom, my sisters, and I are heading to the city to celebrate. because it is my day off I started it with a Netflix documentary. it was surprisingly poignant and worth the watch,a definite tribute to sticking with marriage and family, one of the reasons I like career coach blogger Penelope trunk as well. Read her latest punch to the gut post here. today promises to be a pack the bags with new thrift store duds and get out of town kind of day. should make for some good material.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Holy Puttering

 I remember the first time I came across the mundane coupled with the spiritual -- my friend Sylvia had called me up mid-day a few years ago and had said I'm not sure why, because everything seems great, but I felt the Spirit call me to pray for your family while she cleaned her floors. It turned into a couple of hours of scrubbing and spiritual intercession. And I was amazed (and if you know me -- you know I cried ;). First of all, because the timing was impeccable (as God's tends to be) and secondly because I had always been under the impression that the spiritual and the mundane needed to be kept in separate spheres due to the holiness factor of the one and the physicality of the other.

But now that I know better, and have witnessed the power in the coupling of the two (going into that mind space regularly means it will start to happen when you are in the middle of your everyday which is a powerful way to live -- knowing you have a spiritual backing), I have enjoyed puttering in early mornings, while praying for every thought and need and anxiety in my life and in the ones around me -- everything from my nuclear family to facebook friends to people in the news.

needless to say, I am thankful for her call that day
 The puttering of today: hanging picture frames near the ceiling (which isn't hard to do in a quirky old farm house with a great variety in wall size) and the planning of a chalkboard wall in the dining room to turn this:
into this:
source: http://bashooka.com/inspiration/chalkboard-typography-arts/

little c is now officially at camp. quelling my mommy nerves with editorial work and student hosting. and planning a little novel writing for later in the day.

Monday, February 10, 2014

ribbons, biscotti, and the power of a child's heart


we've been whipping up homemade biscotti. my favorite recipes bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, and then are toasted for 10 minutes. our recent bakes were peanut butter chocolate and banana chocolate (much better than banana bread I have to say)
little c likes making lists of wants and finding ways to finance them (and he doesn't think small -- the list that hung on the fridge most recently featured a projector and a doorbell for his room) so when he was touched on compassion sunday (our church hosted one a couple of weeks ago) and signed us up to sponsor a little girl in india, I shouldn't have been surprised that he would find a way to finance her sponsorship. immediately his list came down, and he started sourcing couch cushion change and doing chores around the house, then he decided when it was adding up rather slowly, that if he skipped the 2 hot lunches at school this month, he could contribute that $10 too. and he's been eyeing the family Netflix account as a possible contribution. I have to say, as an adult that likes her perks (starbucks, magazines, etc), it's been pretty humbling. "Jesus did say, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

craft of the day (I have been alternating sewing and story weaving all day): I am a believer in the difference it makes in jeans to cut out the pockets and sew them closed. try it (you'll need a special jeans weight needle for your sewing machine) the ones I did today (amazing $2 Rock and Republic recent find) had super cute logo-ed lining I thought would be fun to try and make into ribbon. 
steps for the interested:
1. cut both pockets in half to make 4 strips.
2. fold and pin into desired ribbon size
3. sew along both sides leaving ends open so that they can be fitted into one another
4. fit each end into the next and match up the stitching
5. finish the ends
6. tie onto something you want to jazz up


Friday, October 25, 2013

Making time for the sentences that change your life.

There's a reason for one pot suppers. they save time.

I've just finished Nora Ephron's "I feel Bad about my Neck" and I loved it. had I not been given it by a friend, I might not have read it, having heard previously that it was about the physical side of aging and going on and on about it. but it wasn't. it was clever and funny and honest and had more depth than I was expecting.

as I finished it, I realized (part of this was tripping over the books beside my bed) that I read a lot of books. Just this week I posted on Facebook that I had finished my book club read (Monday meeting so I read it over Saturday and Sunday) and then went on to list the two I was reading after that.

My friend sue suggested goodreads which I clicked on and which looked fascinating, but I worried it would cut into my reading time. plus, I have such a substantial wishlist going on at alibris that I probably don't need to run across more to wish I'd read.

I like to own and collect books -- which is why at least one shelf in each room is full of them. and I'm married to a reader so he doesn't mention to the book sprawl and in fact contributes to it himself. which is huge to me. when I was a teenager, I dated a few boys who were not readers and knew we would never last.

there are many things I do to maximize reading time. I don't spend time nagging my boys to clean their rooms other than to throw their laundry and the missing towels down the stairs. (our room salso consist of an unmade bed and discarded reads so d and I can't talk) I speed clean ( I figure that doubles as working out which saves more time for reading ;) -- but not the boys' domains -- they do that when they need to

I also don't spend time recreational shopping either online or in real life. I have a few main stops I rotate through for the practical stuff, but most of my expenditures seem to be on non-fun like commuting gas and more groceries. sourcing those take up enough time -- my reading time would be severely cut into if I added more errands.

you won't understand this devotion unless you are similarly held hostage by reading addiction and compulsed by also a writing addiction so that nearly every thing you read and thing you experience finds it way into a scribbled note somewhere. perhaps that's why people sign up for goodreads when they already have a plethora of other social networking sites and not enough time already -- it's community.

timer beeped. blueberry scones coming out of the oven. (not usual for me -- baking also cuts into reading time -- usually my middlest takes care of it) they will perfect accompaniment to another read as soon as I tackle enough to do list to warrant it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September notes

 my camera card is MIA or I'd show you the fledgling bits of homemaking my nesting sister is inspiring -- hard to believe but this last week I made both applesauce and pickled beets.
 I did over little c's room for him while he was at this great camp and it is a cooler version now that he's home -- not that I blame him -- us kids spent many a Sunday afternoon dragging our bedroom furniture all over the place ;)
Speaking of fledgling, I've been driving around with this driver -- surreal to me that we are already here at this stage.

came across this video which I found very thought-provoking and is in line with the few other parenting tomes I love such as grace based parenting and parenting adolescents. Dr Gabor Mate explains how to give your kids security and confidence and stay an influencing force in their lives. (the takeaway: three cheers for the staples like family dinners, family vacations, and simply hanging out. you want your kids to bond first with you and then engage with the rest of the world in confidence and strength.)

I am looking forward to this writing weekend. Join us -- we're counting on a marriage of fun and productive.




Friday, May 17, 2013

Discovering Purpose over a Platter of the Good Stuff

I've been thinking a lot about purpose. And it keeps coming up. (Ok, part of that is which books I keep buying) But even when I'm having it float around in my subconscious, other people bring it up. Because it's not just me thinking about it. We all are. Like last weekend when I was having a girls night in with my friend Jen (the sort of foodie you'd be lucky to know so that you can expect a charcuterie & cheese plate when you stop by at the last minute), talk floated from fluff (where admittedly it stayed for a long time -- this is weekend decompressing after all ;) to the big stuff like searching out your purpose in life. It makes sense that having purpose (which boils down to finding people to serve and help and seeing this life in terms of big picture living -- ie. most things are not worth sweating. people before things, etc. ) makes you happy. Go ahead -- look around you -- the most positive people have a good sense of this. And the good thing about delving into this during the busy seasons of life means it can be an organic shift in how you live your life and you won't land up in a quieter season feeling like "what was the point of all this?" Because you'll know. And you'll know your place in it.
recommended reading: this, and this and for parents this
I'd love to hear other about other great books on intentionally living. Feel free to share them in the comments.

It's my day off so I am digging into Good Books, hitting at least one thrift store, puttering around the house, and planning this summer's publications (it looks like my collection of short stories and a book on working motherhood will both be hitting e-book format). Happy long weekend to you, fellow Canadians.

having the friends over that inspired this bbq back for more this weekend.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Supermom dismantled

I have long been interested in what it takes to be society's supermom. And I fight against the buy-in and see women around me feeling the pressure of the same. It's not the magazines and social networking that present the ideas and the ads that are to blame, but our acceptance and insecurity that all areas are equally important to excel in and all things to be juggled. Which makes sense because we know how imporant parenting is and we want to do it right. But what if we are not focusing on the right things?
I am convinced that the measure of our supermotherhood should be our niceness. Not the lay down and let the family walk all over you nice, but the golden rule kind: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do To You. You know, the kind of niceties we easily extend to our co-workers, committee members, and fellow playgroup mothers without a thought, but are somehow more challenging to extend to our families.
 In the vein of The Love Chapter,  (which says  "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ")
Even if we actually do all the crafts we pin to pinterest,
And manage to juggle extra projects at work without dropping a playdate.
Though we have the seasonally prettiest houses on the block,
And stick to our weight watchers points,
while pulling off amazing themed birthday parties,
Though we record every recital and sporting event in scrapbook layouts,
and help in the classroom,
and bake goodies for after school snacks,
and keep spotless houses.
Even if we get up early and stay up late to make sure no balls are dropped,
and though we read the newest tomes on parenting,
stay on top of laundry,
put a family dinner on the table every night,
serving only locally grown organic fare.
Eschew plastic toys, making handmade things ourselves instead.
Though we stick to our budgets,
cut coupons,
and wrap all the presents by December 1st.
Even if others are impressed by our efforts to keep it all together,
but we cannot keep the snap out of our voices when the kids derail our plans,
and fail to have time to talk with them about life's most important themes,
we have surely missed the point.

( just visualize a 15 year old covered by his often voiced publication ban of his likeness lurking in the background)
 a writer who likes to keep it old school
 i am not the only one stockpiling goodies
Contributing sources:

1 Corinthians 13
"Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" - Judith Warner
"Grace-based Parenting" - Tim Kimmel
the Dec 2 golden rule message
one of my favorite movies - "I don't know how she does it" starring SJP
a conversation with my friend allison on our best attempts to get things right

Saturday, October 22, 2011

why we fall for comfy fall marketing

latest quick projects. a canvas inspired by things spotted on my recent trip to granville st with heidi. -- because it's for a kid space. it's brighter and less polished than the original. but i love the motto. and because i cut up an ill fitting tee to make it wear worthy, i was left with fabric strips to bracelet up (it looks super cool next to chunky bling)

the middlest has the best comfy slippers in the house
a week where writing was done everywhere from the car to scraps of papers tucked in novels. anything but something regular.
the fall has been like that. some day job and parent volunteering at the kids' school, the middle schooler's rehearsals for his youth group's upcoming play, the middlest and little c keeping busy with their friends swapping one friend for another until i am sure they are seeing each other more than their blood relatives. it's been steady and not a day has been like another.
d and i have been homebodies when we can for most of the month. until last night when we got together with friends and apparently had a lot of catching up to do. i still didn't regret the 4 hrs 10 min sleep (i count it because i'm thrilled i at least logged that) even when i had signed up immediately following to take the kids to free family movie day at the local cinema (those 3D glasses make for some good sleeping anyways)
the rest of the saturday is chugging on as per usual -- birthday boy middlest celebrating with friends. me logging some organizing and laundry folding time around their noise. waiting for d to come home so we can be tired together and hang out in our pjs.
i want to be rested to properly enjoy rest day.you know a stack of reads is waiting

Thursday, August 18, 2011

those crazy girls who swear off shopping

i've become one of them

a long time ago i borrowed the book animal, vegetable, miracle (about a family who goes a year without shopping) from my soccer friend anne. and it resonated with me (not so much that i was willing to forgo buying everything, including growing all my own food, but still there was something appealing about it -- for the interesting and more everyday aware life it provided) add to that all the bloggers who were tracking their month without spending and i started giving it more thought. so i did it. here's how it went:

1 month no spending. conciousness experiment, savings booster. (allowed -- groceries, gas, necessities and experiences but not STUFF)
day 1: started on the middleschooler's 14th bday, already had his gifts but nothing to wrap them in. settled on sketched on lined paper, turned out cuter than store bought wrap.
day2: finding the hardest expenditures to give up are the little ones -- no mini reno supplies, magazines (even thrift store ones), dollar store makeup
day3: dreamed that i had gone out shopping -- panicked upon waking up (clearly this is deeper seated than i thought ;)
day6:forgot and invited a friend to go thrifting, she couldn't so i avoided trying to get out of it after the mis-invite, having a writing and home renovating surge of creativity (glazed the kitchen cupboards using stain and rags i already had on hand) tackling my magazine obession by reading DIY blogs
day7: surprisingly, the absence of the shopping distraction has spilled over into constructive long term planning and short term bill cutting (brainstormed and reconfigured hundreds of dollars of budget room in only a couple of days) everything from banking fees to digital cable holiday pause. sent e-cards to friends when i thought of them, bartered to get what i wanted.
day8: i've never been a fan of telling the kids when payday is -- like setting them up for a paycheque to paycheque mentality -- so we never have. so they still haven't clued in that we're through week 1 of no spending
day9: yesterday i feigned errands and went to the library by myself and read an hour's worth of new magazines. i also keep having book buying urges so i have pulled out the books i have bought in the past for their acclaim or interesting covers that didn't grab me from first read and am attempting them again with fairly good results
day10: a friend asked what i plan to do without my regular thrifty chicks sourcing. i said i have a bit of a stockpile to rotate through and plan to purge my personal stock as well. started doing some of that for today's listings.
day11: looking through catalogues and magazines usually enables me to write long lists of things that i want to acquire, a third of the way through this experiment, i'm finding i'm less interested in doing the lists. also, delaying gratification has been better for life planning across the board (less impulsive decisions and better thought out ones that are more efficient)
day12: i'm finding the spending i am doing is lifestyle based -- the kind i usually try and cut back. the truth is stuff can be acquired by recycling (today's project was a wreath using supplies i already had on hand, in this month i also tweaked the closet with an old shower rod, and made a new valance out of old curtains)what i have and tweaking hand-me-downs, but spending on doing things and entertaining -- that's where memories are made and abundance is felt.
day14: when talking to friends about books (and keeping in mind my dwindling pile of reads), i thought of joining the quality paperback book club. if i wasn't on the 30day plan, it would be an impulse even though it doesn't line up with my plan to cut down monthly spending committments (lower bills etc). but i usually wouldn't put the two together. on the plus side, i am having a way easier time not throwing in doo-dads, makeup, or magazines into the shopping cart when grocery shopping so the pantry pickings are that much better.
day15: cut flowers on the table beats another knick knack for feel good factor
day16: good for my magazine compulsion, i inherited a few stacks of decor magazines from my aunt. while reading the color for my upstairs library occured to me (a light lemonade) so i painted test strips with blended acrylic and wrote the "buy the paint" date on the calendar. lesson: delaying gratification hones the look you really want. i always pass on the magazines when i am done and my girlfriends do the same.
day18: a friend with a newly reno-ed house gave me her discard can of paint, (she didn't like the way it turned out) a few shades darker than the yellow i had first conceptualized for the library. as i was painting it (not shopping makes more time for house fixing), i realized that same space has been painted with others' discard paint by me two times already -- both times the results were less than i had hoped. third time's the charm.
day19: there are many items i put on my list that i researched with the intent of buying them at month's end, that i land up crossing off. had it not been "no spending month" this month, they probably would have been impulse purchases. lesson: delayed gratification means having a better picture of what i wanted. often that meant something more specific to me or an experience i could treasure longer than the thrill of new stuff.
day20: resurrecting an old promotion for the online store (enter a coffee gift card draw with your donation) means a steady stream of new stock for thrilled customers. also, my reorganizing stock (i had to move it out of the library area in order to paint) and relisting meant older stock un-noticed the first go round also sold.
day24: my book wishlist is growing, (specific ones i've read reviews on) but i haven't run out of reads like i'd feared i would -- friends have lent me good ones and i found ones i have previously bought but not read (i am not a library checker-outer -- i always accrue the giantest of fines that would have been better spent funding the dream library d and i want -- the kind with the tall ladders and too many books to count)
day26: not buying stuff meant filling my time in other ways -- i took the kids to the ocean, a new waterpark, hosted girlfriends and playdates and sleepovers. i also have worn more of my jewelry i had already but had not worn and found new ways to wear outfits i already had but consistently wore the same way.
day30: organized the boys' backpacks, shoes, in house school supplies, and found out where we still have to fill in the blanks. love that we don't have a big shopping tradition as a family -- more time for memories that don't take place in a mall ;)
post script: loved this experience more than i thought i would. more for the efficiency realization (using what i have, saving the shopping time), shopping purposefully, and for spending on experiences a bit more of the time.

(also realized i love the 30 day format and all it's applications -- organization, increased writing, exercise... it gets addicting)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

hallmark has nothing on little c











who else could whip up a father's day card equal parts hysterically funny and tearjerkingly sweet?


it is good that he has such gifts


because they offset the six year old tantrums that he is also occasionally gifted with





in a similarly mind wiping way, d and i finished up our uninterrupted movie au deux to discover little c and the middlest mid chess game (little c is so intrigued with the game he is likely to walk up to old men in starbucks and suggest game strategy, which while embarrassing is also very line 1 above)






you really can't properly have one without the other.





less than 12 hours til the next writing session. (i might be forced to address the weird life stage in which one realizes she is the mother of a teenager writing exams. i'm sure her delusions of teenagehood being a mere second ago will make for good entertainment for others. it's all about the common good after all ;)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

sorting the mess out by reading in the middle of the night


wishlist tray from anthropologie

i grew up with a supermom. she would balk modestly at that label, but she was the epitome of what current culture looks up to -- high powered job, neatly dressed kids, clean house, dinner on the table and a loving and supportive husband. but, thank goodness, she has always been forthright with me about what it takes to "have it all" 110% of yourself, too blessedly close to burnout (the truth is, you can't. not all at once and you will always have to make individual choices to get there, oftentimes sacrificing things not considered popularly important -- hobbies, time for oneself, etc)
so there was no mystique to me.
and i married someone like my dad. someone who took for granted i'd work like his mother did and supported my dreams as to what that would look like and what i would do.
but what i underestimated, especially this last year, when my youngest was safely ensconced at school, was my dream of that coming together into something utopian.
what i wanted was what the majority of women want. something fulfilling and well paying while the kids were at school so i could resume what i want as much or more than professional success during the hours they're home -- to revel in being their mom and then after they went to bed -- hanging out with the man i fell in love and made this life with.
but it was something that was hard to discuss. there is a general cultural feeling of exhaustion -- of how "this is just modern life" this rushing around and biting the heads off the ones we love, and never quite getting the balance right. but just like a recent discussion with girlfriends in which i said i refuse to settle for friendships that are as deep as a puddle, i felt conflicted about the work life i was moving towards.
it's not that i am without options. i have a decent chunk of university coursework to transfer, a supportive spouse, and the model of many great women around me, a mother who did working motherhood exceptionally well, parents who respect my professional choices, and a bulk of bills to pay to make earning a supplementary earning for my family motivating.
but as i looked closer at the women i respected professionally i didn't envy the look of their everyday. and that was hard both to see and to fail to discuss. working motherhood is so polarized that it is the conversational equivalent to the breast vs bottle debate -- no one wins except for the ones who stay out of it ;)
so the last year was spent realizing i am happier with a whole host of unimpressive part-time jobs done from home that support the life i want than to rush the workplace gun and regret it later. (career transition has been postponed 3 more years by which time i will have been at home 17 years and still able to do work i love over 25 years after that DV)
what i realized a while into it, is that while modern day men have been raised to see women as their equals, they in their support of us might talk us into a faster workplace inclusion only to the surprise that family life isn't as cushy as it once was or that we as women are resentful in having to do the bulk of the second shift at home. (not because our modern men won't pitch in but because of the popular opinion that we have higher standards for what the finished job looks like ;)
so it was with great pleasure i consumed danielle crittenden's "what our others didn't tell us: why happiness eludes the modern woman" it offers, like the best books not across the board solutions, but an insightful helpful intelligent sorting of priorities and politics.
is it possible that someone somewhere might think i'm a ridiculous throwback? most likely ;) but i am convinced it is a better life than the one we think we have to settle for -- a lack of investing in the things we know deep down that matter, and a rushing to the next stage of life without savoring the first.