Monday, March 27, 2017
"Put it in the garage," my husband said. "It will cool down there."
"But we have the snow blower and leaf blower there, filled with fuel and cans of paint. Bad idea, no?"
"Would you rather have it blow up somewhere in the house?" he fired back.
I ran down the stairs and set it on the garage concrete floor. It was still screaming in terror. I ran back into the house. My heart pounded as I thought about the years of photos I stored in the laptop. I ignored my own incessant nagging thoughts that reminded me I should back up the computer. It had been over 400 days since I last backed up the laptop's memory. And then in an instant, because of my silly vanity table writing idea, it might all just evaporate with the computer's processor.
The desk was near the baseboard heater. I had stored the laptop inside the vanity under the mirror top that I flipped open to use when I brushed my hair and put my makeup on in the morning. I never had an issue for the past 14 days. But then again, I usually put the laptop in hibernation mode at night. I must have forgotten to do that the night before. I probably just flipped it shut with the processor running all night. The laptop couldn't run its fan effectively while trapped inside the desk with no ventilation. It was very careless of me. Thank goodness we were home. I shudder to think what might have happened if it kept racing its energy like that while no one was home.
So much for cultivating my little writing corner. I was so excited that because of the desk and dedicated space I had achieved the impossible -- written at least 3 pages every day for the past two weeks. But these are the realities of technology. They may allow us to reach breakthroughs but at the end of the day, if the operator is flawed, the technology will fail. Just this morning I heard about the self-operating Uber vehicles that crashed, not due to their own limitations but due to human operated vehicles in their path.
I hear that typing on a keyboard may soon be obsolete. Think about it. Everyone is texting with their thumbs in shorthand. Many are using voice to text commands. But I find that only my accomplished typing can truly keep up with my thoughts. My handwriting is too slow now to catch every thought in time. My wrist and finger muscles quickly ache after half a page of writing. And yet, the longer I type, the more pain I cause my carpal tunnels so I have to wear those special wrist guards to sleep so my numbing hands stop waking me in the middle of the night. I just can't win.
Fortunately, after an hour, I pressed the power button as I held my breath. Please power back up, please function, I prayed. The screen lit up gray and spun, my hope alive. After what seemed like ages, that familiar intro audio struck its chord. I exhaled.
I immediately hooked up my Seagate Time Machine and backed up over one year's worth of new memories. I was redeemed.
Moral of the story: when inspired by creativity, some experiments fail, but you have to just make adjustments and forge ahead. In my case, I continue to write in the same quaint spot. Now I make sure I shut down my laptop at the end of each night. It needs a deep sleep to go into REM just like me. No more napping at the desk. It could literally be deadly!
Thursday, October 13, 2016
While doing these kitchen chores, I listened to a chapter in a non-fiction book about strategies for changing long standing self-destructive habits. While I am not trying to quit smoking or lose weight or stop drinking, my personal goal has been to be more focused so I can get my housework, work work (for my business) and passion work (my writing) done with more regularity and efficiency.
One thing I noticed about my productive pattern breakdown is that I recently stopped using my daily agenda. Of course without a top 5 priorities list I wander from one activity to the next, whether it is the right thing on which to focus my energy or helping someone in need -- usually one of the kids or a friend who needs to talk -- I have been anchor-less without my agenda, easily falling victim to the next thing that pulls me.
I at least got in my 1 mile walk this morning because the dog needed me. That helped me start my positive pattern for the day. I quickly jotted my to do list in today's agenda and checked off the first two priorities on the list. Getting these 750 words written will be my 3rd priority to check off the list. It's a good feeling.
After this is done, I will tackle the next two items simultaneously as one can be in process while the other is in progress. This leaves me with the 6th priority on my list hanging in the balance for the end of the day, which is very possible, if I can be efficient with priorities number 4 and 5. Already I have a good feeling about also getting to number 6.
However, the only way it will be possible is for me to turn off my phone as soon as I finish this post. You see, the biggest reason I even stopped using my agenda book in the first place has been the darn phone. I trash every opportunity to be efficient by allowing each notification to interrupt my flow. I realize my most productive days are when the phone has run out of battery power and it is nowhere in sight. I can move forward instead of constantly being sidetracked.
Why are notifications so important when I am not expecting most of them? Everyone checks their messages first thing in the morning, especially if they are working against a deadline on a project. Yet I find that almost all of the messages I open could have waited an hour or two or three until I break for lunch. There is no logic in our human need to reach for the phone when it dings. The most important reason to do so is to respond to an urgent call. A call, not a ding. You know, the kind of alert where someone is physically waiting on the other end of the line to speak to you? This is why a school nurse or family member under duress would truly need you to immediately pick up the phone.
I imagine sitting in an office cubicle while all of these type of interruptions physically stop by my doorway. It is ludicrous how many times I allow myself to become distracted during the day.
I am going to try an experiment. I will put my phone call ringtone volume on maximum and silence the notification and other phone volume options. If someone really needs to reach me but I don't respond to their texts right away, I know he or she will call me. This way, I can work without interruption and when I have a natural break, that's when I'll check to see if anyone needs an urgent reply.
All of this technology is very useful but it also has succeeded in making me feel a bit too self-important. Everyone needs me now. No they don't. Time to get back to work in my productive bubble.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Time to dust off our bikes, pump the tires and get moving outdoors, snowflakes or not! As I examined my bike early this morning to assess its conditioning requirements, I was reminded of an inspiring biking encounter I had at a state park, a couple of years ago.
I walked with a friend and our dogs regularly during the warmer weather. We pushed ourselves to keep going even once the temperatures dropped dramatically, even braving ice patches and submerging our boots in deep snow-covered trails.
All year long, regardless of the day of the week or season, we noticed this senior citizen who rode his old-fashioned bike faithfully. He always had his transistor radio on board a basket of some sort, which played some oldies. He hummed or sang along as he passed by. He rode the bike leisurely, almost meandering like he was happy to lose himself in the song and had no particular path or direction to follow.
One very chilly winter day, we saw him outside his locked car door and heard him say over the cell phone that he had accidentally locked his car keys inside and didn't know what he would do.
We decided to offer him a ride home to fetch his keys. I was the lucky driver who took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
"So you must love bike riding a lot to be out here so often, even in freezing temperatures," I said.
"I loved skiing and did it very well for many years. And then one day, I had an accident and was bed-ridden for too long. I swore I would never not move again," he replied.
"I see you here all the time. How often do you ride your bike?"
"Every day I get up, eat breakfast and ride my bike here for 3 hours. Then I stop home to have lunch and come back here to ride for 3 hours more. Afterwards I make myself a nice dinner and then I scrapbook."
What got me was not the fact that he rode his bike for 6 hours a day. It was his structured life. He had lived alone for the past year since his wife had passed away.
"Why do you ride alone? Why don't you ask family or friends to join you?"
"You think I don't have family or friends? I got me lots of them. They live far away and they are always nagging me to move closer to them. But this town is my home. And this is what I love to do. I have the use of both of my legs and I can ride my bike as long as I like as often as I like. I am a very happy man."
"And the scrapbooking?"
"The Mrs took the time to take all of these beautiful photos of us with the kids. She loved to scrapbook. And now I have all the time in the world to finish what she started."
Friday, September 13, 2013
"Why would you need a different shaped pencil?" I asked my 5th grade daughter.
"Because, Mom, your hands get tired from writing and they hurt after a while."
I thought about the fact that I never use pencils anymore as an adult. The last time I used pencils was in a college fine arts class that I took as an elective. I enjoyed learning what grade graphite pencils to use for shading and creating depth in sketch drawings. Several hours passed while I happily focused on my artwork. How liberating it was developing new skills. These days I prefer to use gel pens which glide weightlessly across the page. My hand tires easily when attempting to write more than one page which is why I now prefer to type as I write on the computer keyboard. The only writing I physically do now is the daily task or shopping list.
We rounded the aisle and then my daughter made another request.
"Mom, can we buy me a special binder?"
"Why do you need a binder? It's not even on your school supplies list."
My guess was that her brother, who is in high school and had a much longer shopping list, was in the market for a new binder, so she wanted one too.
"Because, Mom, I want to file my papers in there. You know, so I can be organized."
It was unnecessary but she had a good argument. Her school papers always piled up on the kitchen desk and they became my problem.
"Let's make a deal then. If I buy you the binder, you will hole punch your papers as they come in the house and file them in your binder."
She spent the next ten minutes looking for just the right binder. A blue sparkly one with green borders caught her eye. It was four dollars more than the average binder but I figured anything that would help inspire her to keep order was a good thing, so I obliged.
"Mom? Can we buy those plastic page protectors that you used for your writing portfolio? I want to start my own art portfolio."
Ever since that day, whenever she has had free time, she has sketched and colored drawings and inserted them into her special binder.
I found her desire to be comfortable when writing and her need to organize her work inspiring. She took pride in her work and wanted to feel good about it. I thought for a moment about what I might want to do differently so I can also look forward to my tasks with more energy.
Last night I zipped through the halls of our beautiful, new, state-of-the-art Waterford High School. I stopped in at each of my son's classrooms to meet his teachers and hear about their expectations for the year. I felt a great sense of pride knowing that our tax dollars were well spent. Everything about the evening, from the confident and encouraging words of our new Principal Mr. Hauser, to the design and layout of the building, to the newness of the furniture, to the impressiveness of the technology and resources available to our kids, inspired me. I felt the sense of promise that our kids must also be experiencing as they go from class to class. Even the teachers reflected an appreciation for their new tools and a positive outlook on the year.
It made me think back to my school years, when life was a fresh piece of sketching paper, waiting for me to draft some lines and fill in sections. I used an eraser every now and then when I found myself veering in the wrong direction, but I forged on.
We are here to help guide our children as they become who they will discover they want to be. But they are also here to remind us that we can keep using pencils and erasers too, even if we don't have to. I guess that's why we buy ourselves the latest electronic gadgets. There is still much to learn and new skills to develop.
I've been working on my first book for three years now. I'm not done yet. Once I finish the manuscript there will be even more work to do that I have never done before; editing, publishing and then finding a market for it. The unknowns are scary but exciting too. Maybe we are all works of art in progress and it's time to just draw some more lines.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
|Mac as a feline.|
I admit it. I dressed up my dog in a makeshift Halloween costume last year. But I did not spend a penny to do so. I had leftover material from almost 10 years ago sitting in a dusty box. It was a glorious piece of wild feline spotted fleece. I happily cut it up and made a cape for him so he could match his "sister" who wanted to be a cheetah last year. I couldn't resist. Look how adorable they were in the photo, with matching pumpkin baskets to boot!
|Everyone needs a sidekick on Halloween!|
My point is that my dog is an important member of my family which is why we decided to include him in our Halloween family fun last year. It didn't seem fair to leave him home. The incessant doorbell and knocking stressed him out. He loved walking anyway. Why not see what he thought of all the people dressed up in costumes visiting each home? He did not typically take walks in the dark, let alone see that many people outside at that hour.
Mac is notorious for wanting to chase anything that speeds by him. He can't help his Sheltie heritage. He wants to herd kids, bikes, cars anything else that isn't moving in some kind of order. But on Halloween evening, no one was in a rush. Masked characters strolled together in herds. This comforted him.
Mac learned that if he sat while everyone patiently awaited for someone to come to the door, the homeowner might notice him and run back into the house to find a more appropriate treat for him. Ah, yes. There was something in it for him too. He was also in costume, so after a couple of oohs and aahs, he happily accepted a lovely dog-bone shaped biscuit or two.
|Halloween costumes from the 1970s.|
Perhaps this year will be different.
Amidst our nation's financial woes, industry trackers and market researchers say there will be a bright spot in our economy this coming Halloween. Among many other colorful characters, we can expect Captain America, Iron Man, the Avengers, Obamas, Mitts, and perhaps some more super hero canines.
Halloween savings tip from my good friend Michelle: It's not too late if you would like to place your children's costumes from last year online on eBay or Craig's list in order to fund this year's costumes. Or, consider trading costumes with your children's friends who attend a different school.