Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Welcome Back!

Thanks for stopping by for my Welcome Back blog post. It's been about 2 months since my last post. Way too long. Where have I been? Buried under layers of life. I started a new job in the school system and joined a health club with my kids. These, and the never ending daily concerns, have absorbed much of my time. While trying to get used to a new schedule and working outside of the house again my writing was put on the back burner. Not an excuse, I know.

This week is Spring Break for us and I plan on using it to get my writing self back in gear. So far it's gotten off to a good start. This morning I was challenged to a Word War on Twitter (yeah, first time back on Twitter in a long time too). I wrote a little more than 500 words in an hour. Certainly not a record setting writing session, but this was a great kick start to get me back into my story.

I've also taken some time to update my blog today. New background, added links, new ways to follow, and even a new post! *Whew*

Have you been feeling the urge to make changes or restart something you've let slide lately? I'd love to hear from you and please let me know what you thing of my blog improvements.


Kristin : )

Friday, February 18, 2011

Follow Friday Top 5 - Feb. 18

It's Friday and in the Twittersphere that means it's time to pay some respect to some of your favorite people (or should I say Tweeple). I don't always find the time to do this. There are so many great people I could spend all day listing them and still not do them all justice. So, this week I had an idea. I started hitting the Favorite button for any blog post that caught my eye. Out of those I chose 5 that really spoke to me. Here they are, as originally tweeted, not in any particular order. If you're on Twitter I recommend you follow these people, if not I hope you consider following the blogs they either write for or promote. You won't be disappointed.

@batpoet RT @nicholebernier Risk-taking, & the courage to flip & flub. Lessons from "Julie & Julia".. Great! by @StephanieEbbert http://bit.ly/fnXXT4

@simplywriting Gender Bending: Writing a Different Gender than your own - http://bit.ly/hdu4ks

@linda_grimes Good morning, Twitter. TGIF! Been attacked by any Doubt Monsters of Doom lately? http://tinyurl.com/4l8jkfy

@randysusanmeyer Got talismanic objects, writers? Yup. @ThereseWalsh on our superstitious natures on Writer Unboxed. http://bit.ly/f1ZvGg

@simplywriting RT @BubbleCow: How to Grow Your Writing Career - http://ow.ly/3Y6dl

It was not easy choosing only 5 out of all the great blog posts this week. I hope you enjoy and if you know of another great post please let me know about it.


Kristin : )

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Steven Pressfield

Today's post is a good one for anyone trying to make big changes in their lives and feeling like you're continually hitting an invisible wall. Steven Pressfield's The War of Art is an eye opener and a helpful guide to overcoming the obstacles that get in our way.

Pressfield puts all of life's obstacles into one easy to identify category. He labels it all Resistance. Resistance takes many forms, but the result is progress toward your goals is hindered, halted even. There is only one way to fight Resistance; you have to sit down and put in the work to achieve your goals.

Resistance is that pesky voice telling me not to exercise today because I look tired or the weather is bad. It really doesn't care about me; it simply doesn't want to see me reach my goal of getting healthier.
Resistance also comes in the form of loved ones. Every time I sit down in front of the computer to write someone in my family will have a mini crisis or need to locate something only I seem to have to knowledge of where it could be. There are days when I swear they have all sat down together to create a schedule to make sure that every 15 minutes I am reminded that I have 4 children and a husband who have a bad case of the Mr. Magoos and legs that do not bend at the knee. (Really, you're standing at the fridge with the door open and asking me if we have mustard?)

Besides the form taken, there's not much difference between inner and outer Resistance. Both types don't want change (either consciously or subconsciously), both types do everything to resist it. This is understandable. Humans are mainly creatures of habit and we love residing well within our comfort zones. The thought of change, the idea of propelling myself into the unknown of the publishing world is scary for me, so why wouldn't it be for my loved ones?
Fear is the life line of Resistance. It depends on it; feeds on it. So, how do you stop Resistance? I've been trying to figure this out since my first book was published. Steven Pressfield pulls Resistance, in all its forms, out of the shadows and exposes all of its dirty tricks. He also said something that really resonated with me. Fear is always there, you're never going to find a way to completely remove it, especially when you are truly invested in an idea, project, or life changing venture. He said to stop wasting energy and time trying to stop fear and focus on the work. The person who can sit down and do the work despite the fear changes from an amateur to a professional. Resistance does not like professionals because it has less power over them.

I know that I want to be a professional writer. Yes, I want to be published again, but more so I want to give life to these stories I have piling up in my head; give voice to these characters who have for some unknown reason put their fictional futures in my hands. I am in many ways still an amateur with so much to learn about writing and publishing. After reading The War of Art I know I have the heart of a professional and I know that I can reach my future goals by doing one important thing today... I have to sit down and do the work.

I bought an electronic copy of this book and read it on my iPod. Print additions are also available. Visit Steven Pressfield's website for links and information about more of his work.
Thanks for stopping by,
Kristin : )

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Volunteers Needed!

Hi and thanks for stopping by. Today's post is about a very important topic: Volunteering. I will be sharing what volunteering means to me and ways to get me and my kids more involved.

For a while I've been in a rut with my writing and in my social media efforts. Not a complete block, but certainly a hurdle. Recently I've taken some time to step back and try to figure out what's going on. Why am I having such a hard time sitting down to write? Why am I having a hard time connecting on line? What I find is that I do a lot of thinking about me, tweeting about me, my dog, my family, my ups and downs. I spend too much time thinking things like, What should I tweet about today? What should I talk about on my blog? What can I write that will open more publishing doors? I know that to get myself out of this rut I've got to stop focusing so much inward and look outward for a while. What better way to do that than to volunteer?

Volunteering has always been a part of my life. I've often given my grandmother credit for instilling many of my morals and values but it was my mother who made me see the importance of volunteering. As a single mom of four, on and off welfare, and working constantly she had all of the reasons in the world not to think of others, to be bitter about the cruelties and unfairness that life can dole out. But she wasn't, she took life as it hit her and always reminded us that no matter how bad it was for us there were people who had less, who suffered more. This mind set is one of the best gifts she has given me. It taught me to be thankful and to believe that everyone has the power to help someone else. Even if you have no money or vital service to offer, you have time.

I have tried to pass this gift to my children as well. Every year, on the weekend nearest to Halloween I would dress the kids up and we would spend an evening stationed at a doorway giving candy to children who lived in a shelter. On Easter weekend we went back with candy filled eggs to hide in the center's courtyard. Both events added up to less than 2 hours of time and the price of a few jumbo bags of candy, but the smiles on those kids' faces and the gratitude extended was priceless. My kids would leave feeling good about helping others and a better perspective about life. Of course, it would wear off over time and I would think of something else to do. After winning a good amount of money at Bingo (yes, Bingo) I called our local food shelf and asked what they needed most for food donations. I grabbed my kids and the list and went to Sam's Club. The food we delivered was probably gone in a week but the memory of it lives in my kids. My oldest was just talking about it the other day. He also reminded me of the time I made him volunteer with me at our local community college. We helped transform a vacant courtyard into a beautiful playground for the children of students and staff of the college.

Lately I have slacked. Life got crazy, my kids had a million things going on, I had a whole new world of publishing to figure out, and a new 4 legged family member to keep up with. The reasons (excuses) are endless, but the the result is finding myself in a rut of thinking only of me and what personally affects me, my family and friends. I need a refresher in volunteerism and it certainly won't hurt my kids to come along.

My plan:

I'm going to revisit past efforts. Decide which ones work for us now and which do not. Just like everything else in life, volunteering evolves as our circumstances change.

Let the kids have more say in what we do. My older boys were game for anything I came up with, but my younger children are more immersed in technology. It's going to be harder to get them excited about unplugging and getting out in the world.

My goal:

Take time each month to volunteer at a different place or cause.

Teach my kids that they can make a difference in some one's life or help a worthy cause make big differences in many lives. Also to expand their perception of the world.

Remind us all to be thankful for what we have and that we always have something worth giving.

My personal goal:

Push my own limits and volunteer in areas outside of my usual comfort zone.

Record my experiences here on my blog as a journal for me and my kids to look back on. I also hope this venture into volunteering inspires more people to get out there and give a little.

There are so many people, groups, organizations, and institutions that would benefit greatly from volunteers and so many ways to help. I am looking forward to seeing where this adventure will take me. I hope that you stop by again to find out.


Kristin : )

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memoir Monday: A Diverted Post

It's time for another Memoir Monday. I usually review a memoir written by a writer or artist. I love reading and sharing what helps them creatively and productively. Today's post is a little different. I received an email from a local writer (Thanks Kate Rothwell) and thought it would make a great Memoir Monday feature. It's a collection of authors and their writing rituals posted on the blog on http://www.mastersdegree.net/. I hope you find it as interesting (and odd) as I did.

"20 Acclaimed Authors and Their Unique Writing Rituals"

Have a creative, productive week!

Kristin : )

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Day!

Hi, brrr... It's cold out there. Come in, put your feet by the fire. Here's a cup of cocoa. Do you take marshmallows? Now this is how you enjoy a good snow storm :)

This picture of my kids' playhouse during Storm Benedict reminds of Robert Frost's poem.

Of course I was not on a horse and Frost did not have to airbrush lawn furniture out of his picturesque poem. I don't think I did that bad if you don't look at it too long. Ok, look away.

Winter Storm Benedict paid a visit to Connecticut and dropped 2 feet of snow. Yes, 2 feet! I have been tweeting about how funny Scout is in the snow and thanks to some much needed reminders from a Twitter friend (wink @MarshaEpstein )I finally have a few pictures to share. Above my son Spencer takes a break, but Scout is still eager to run. Below Scout plows her way toward Spencer and my daughter Megan and then does her best super snow dog impression. I think she actually caught some air there! Look at those ears and her smile! lol

Today is another snow day (3 inches + freezing rain) and those evil weather people are predicting another foot (A FOOT!!) of snow for Friday. I'm charging my camera now for more pictures and stocking up on the hot cocoa.

Do you have any snow pics? I'd love to see them. Leave me a link in the comments and I'll check them out.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay warm.
Kristin : )

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Zodiac Signs - Old Memories Shine.

Happy New Year everyone! I know, I'm a bit late, but in my defense it's a new year ALL year. :) I've taken some time off to focus on writing and family. It was a great break. So, what brought me back today? The new zodiac dates!

Now I'm not one to rely on star positions to plan my day and don't read my horoscope. I don't believe in finding my way through life using someone else's predictions and assumptions. I have many friends and family that do not or can not start their day without reading theirs. Whatever works for each of us, right? So why, when I heard that the Zodiac dates have changed, did I feel like someone had taken my internal ID and crossed out a big part? I'm no longer a Gemini? I'm a Taurus??? What? No, this can't be right.

Why was so shocked? So bothered by something I've never fully believe in? I really had to think about this. Why did it matter? What did being a Gemini mean to me? Why was it such a shock to loose something I didn't think I truly owned. Then it hit me. The first thing I associate being a Gemini with is my grandmother (RIP). She was a proud Gemini, among other awesome attributes.

On her wall, right beside the refrigerator, above the occasional chair that her blind chihuahua repeatedly walked into, were these wooden plaques. I'll never forget them. One was dark brown with the symbol of the Gemini, which was basically the Roman numeral 2 (II). Under that was all of the personality traits believed to be embedded into every Gemini in the free world. I always had a hard time believing that. The second plaque was lighter wood and simply said...

Gemini: Jack of All Trades. Master of None.

Under this was the picture of a man juggling many things with his face all twisted in concentration or constipation. I was never quite sure. I remember asking my grandmother what that meant. I could not understand why she would want this hanging in her kitchen, or anywhere. It seemed so negative to me. I saw a man who couldn't do anything right. Not a Jack of all trades, just a Jack Ass who couldn't juggle. But still, my grandmother loved everything about being a Gemini; the good, the bad, and even the Jacks. She would read "our" horoscope every morning and even got me interested in how our signs were depicted in the constellations. That part of it still amazes me, although the way our ancestors connected the star dots was quite imaginative.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the idea of not being a Gemini anymore bothered me. It's not that I feel I'm going to be changed today by it. But it will change a part of my past. It takes away, or changes something that I shared with a very special person, something that meant a lot to her. She unconsciously made it important to me. I've caught myself asking strangers if they were a Gemini because of something they said or did. I would immediately shake my head at myself and then think of Gram (and how much closer I'm getting to morphing into her). This morning, the thought of losing my standing as a Gemini felt like I was losing a connection to her.

A small consolation to this constellation chaos is my grandmother's sign would also change. Her birthday is May 31st and mine is June 15th. We would both be Tauruses. I wonder what she would think of this. Would she have been more like a bull in her life? As if she could have been stronger. Would she have taken life by the horns and have taken no BS from anyone? She already did that.

I guess this Zodiac change doesn't change anything at all. My grandmother, whether a Gemini or a Taurus, was the person who taught me what is important in life: family, friends, full belly laughter, dancing without music, singing off tune, helping others, and doing the best you can for the people you love. No sign in the stars or hung on a wall changes that.

I can't help but wonder what kind of plaque Gram would have hung if she had known she was a Taurus. Probably something along the lines of a bull saying, "If you can't pick up your own BS stay out of my pasture." I may have to make this sign for my kitchen!

Thanks for letting me blog this through. I'd love to know what you think of the Zodiac signs changing and the added 13th sign, Ophiuchus. I can't even pronounce it. No wonder it was booted from the pack eons ago ;)

If you want to read more about the new Zodiac signs here are a few links.

Happy 2011! May the new year bring all your heart desires :)

Kristin :)