A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘self-discovery

I gave all my money to a cult today.

Well, technically I had lunch with my husband and son and paid the tip with all the cash I had on me, but we didn’t realize that the restaurant we’d gone to was run by the Twelve Tribes.  Which is weird…  I’d looked up their website several times before we went (we live in a very rural area, so finding a decent selection of local eats beyond the local grocery has been a challenge, especially since our favorite pizzeria burned down two years ago), and somehow missed that bit of information.

To be fair to the group, they weren’t hiding anything, on the web or in the restaurant (look up the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill if you’re curious, and before you ask… yes, the food was yummy and the restaurant was beautifully decorated, but no, I don’t think we’ll be going there again, not even for those pictures of the place I’d wanted to take).  I was just somehow dense or blind.

But something about the place felt odd, and after a lot of discussion with hubby (who usually is pretty good at finding out creepy stuff and somehow didn’t either), I looked again and suddenly finding the nasty stuff was easy peasy.

But no matter!  This post, being my weekly ROW80 check-in, is about more than my weird lunch…  it’s about my writing goals and my (debatable) progress.  I could have wished for a more productive week as far as my goals had been planned.  But I accomplished a huge amount of unplanned-for stuff that needed to be done on short notice.

Specifically, I didn’t do much weeding out of extra paperwork; if anything, I added a bunch with all the notes and research that filled this week.  In doing so, I read two books from my research stack, Radium Girls by Kate Moore and The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and got ¼ through The Faithful Executioner by Joel Harrington.  Oh!  I got some incredible answers for some worldbuilding conundrums I’d been trying to figure out.  (And I did get rid of some extra fluff.)

So win in my book…

The rest of my goals need more due diligence this upcoming week.  I did write every day, but only three days involved new story.  My walking schedule was equally sporadic, and often devolved into stepping in place before bed because I missed the goal all day. But best for last… my house-cleaning goal has been a resounding success even with the busy week, with tons of laundry, vacuuming, dusting and closet-clearing achieved. 😀

And I even took some awesome pictures of our week of fog, the mini-maker faire my son was involved in, and some lovely baby horses at a nearby farm, like the two pics in this post.

April 16th seven years ago in a city called Troy

Last week I didn’t quite fulfill my initial goal I’d set for myself.  To recap, this is what I set for myself:

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me (What Am I Doing? 4/3/17)

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Shiny was more than just an adjective but also a state of mind as I tried to describe the cause of my failure.  I can’t say I am better off now.  The ‘new and shiny’ is still demanding more of me than I suspected.  I knew it would be hard to narrow down the list, but…  yeesh.

Still, I think I have come up with something that works as a decent starting point.  Ten things I dream of doing and how I intend to get there… and after that, new goal: to take dream from the list and start working on achieving it.

  1. I want to do something that will help others without causing hassles for the people I love.  This may seem like an odd thing for a dream.  It’s clearly not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  It’s vague, has no defined times, and…  attainable and specific ran right off the cliff here.  But this is who I am.  I like to help, to do things that make peoples’ lives easier…  and I get into all sorts of fluff because of it.  Starting now, I want to figure out better ways to help without also becoming a problem.  Sometimes it will mean saying “No” more.  I bet sometimes I will have to say “Yes” more too.  This is not something that can be given a one-size-fits-all-(or even most) solution, but…  I can dream, can’t I?
  2. April 15th, four years ago on a road called Lower Flatrock

    The storyworld that exists in my head needs to be realized in more than one ‘permanent’ format.  I don’t want to just work on the writing—I need to get through that part, but I also want to develop the skills to also give it form in other expressions, preferably drawing or painting since I have at least half a chance of achieving it there.  I would like to someday make an animation of some of the stories, but that’s not as high a priority as more basic art.  To that goal, I need to dedicate more time to drawing and trying out how to use other artistic media.  I may start joining some of the Boodle’s art classes, as they’ve been wonderful for helping him learn how to use the different tools to achieve his artistic visions.

  3. I want to travel because, while the internet has made the world much more accessible, there is a limit to the depth of experience one can garner from 360°images, webinars, and descriptive text passages.  This is a dream in some ways…  my husband is very much a home-body.  It is also a goal that I can meet in limited forms.  Next week I will be on an airplane, heading across The Pond with the Boodle to spend a few weeks exploring England and meeting some fellow writers.
  4. I dream about living in one of those homes that is part retreat, part library, part museum and antique shop.  Sometimes this dream wobbles a bit and I actually am living in an antique shop, one that specializes in old books.  Sometimes the dream involves running a Bed & Breakfast that would have some of these elements.  Clearly I need to refine this a lot more…
  5. Sharing things that I find beautiful with others brings me exponential happiness… I need, in a visceral way, to do this. Since art and beauty are subjective, this isn’t always as easy as I would like, but generally, I have good luck with this.  I just want to keep doing it…. and maybe increase my ‘out-reach’.
  6. I know I am not taking the best care of my body that I can at the moment (as much as it likes to remind me of that fact, I am not giving up my green tea lattes from Starbuck’s though).  So I have other dreams/goals involving fitness and health…  one of them is to run again and do another 5K race, running the thing this time.  Why?  Because I had a dear friend, almost a brother, who loved to run in 5 & 10K races, and he died before we could run together.
  7. I’m putting this a bit further down the list because…  really it’s not up to me, so to speak—it is his life, and he will make these decisions on his own—, but I really want to be able to help my son discover what gives him joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  8. In little things as well as big things, I want to keep a sense of wonder.
  9. I dream of worlds where contact between two people meeting is not abrasive, but soothing.  I want people to be comforted by my presence, and to be comfortable in theirs…  I’d like to find my ‘tribe’.
  10. If we’re talking dreams…  I dream about helping grow our local homeschooling community center into a more self-sustaining resource that involves the community at large in some ways.  I know what I would do if I suddenly had a lot of money… or the skills to help operate such a place.

The Boodle and his Great-uncle measuring fish fry, 2 years ago April 16h

There it is…  I suspect this list isn’t The List. It just is The List For Now.  Seems to me, this is a process that I would benefit from participating in regularly.  So…  to Round 2 for this goal, and onto the goals for the rest of this round, starting with the new goal of ‘the week’.

A Sense of Wonder

Why?  Because it’s the goal I am in the best position to work on now and it opens so many of the other goals.

MOAR!

Posted on: April 10, 2017

Last week I thought I I’d set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for the beginning of this round of the ROW80.  Just a little thing…  one goal, to figure out what I really want to focus my attention on by making a list of ten things I really want to achieve in my life.

My mind of late….

It’s a bit more challenging than I thought.  I found a lot of “this would be so very awesome if I could do it” things, but…  whether it’s because I’ve been in a funk of sorts for a few years now, or because I’ve been too distracted with dealing with day-to-day blargh to want anything except an escape, I just didn’t get it done.

Since we all know that there really is no escape, that leaves a lot of brain-ing for answers that just don’t seem to be here now.  I have worked with the “this would be super awesome” bunch for a few days now, but that’s a huge list, and the processing is taking longer than I’d planned.

I have discovered a few things about myself in this…

  1. I cannot stop myself from discovering and seeing new things—the “Shiny” is all-encompassing.  Even when the ‘new’ things are actually very old (I fully intend to see lots of castles and ruins in a few weeks as we jaunt through England), I feel an obsessive pull to see and discover more.  Or in the words of the web…  MOAR!  Do All The Things really is a thing for me.
  2. All the Things isn’t feasible, but a lot depends on successful navigation of what is possible within the limits of time, energy and physical constraints (money, location, etc.) for me to maintain any kind of mental stability
  3. In addition to All The Things, I also cannot stop myself from obsessively volunteering to help others who share my passion for discovery and finding new things.  (Ask anyone who knows me personally…  I am a (frequently annoying) font of “try this” or “maybe you’d be interested in this” ideas and suggestions for shows, events, challenges, websites, travel info…)

Like many of my friends, I one of those 30 browser tabs open at a time people.  Social media is a dangerous place for me, not so much for the flame-wars (though those can be excellent places for story ideas and character creation) but for the plethora of links and ideas to consider and explore.  The images that inspire ideas…  like these!

Imagine walking these, the cultures of people who lived in such an area through history (keep in mind that whoever posted these photos did overdo the image saturation a bit)…  Copper and thus the Bronze Age in human history, may have occurred because one group of people realized that there were other ways to use the beautiful green stone malachite than for jewelry and personal adornment.  And when did people come up with the idea of making storage containers out of clay and firing them into pottery?

Yeah, I think of some odd stuff…

Life in limbo

At least, that’s how things seem to be lately.  I mean, yes, I’ve been doing things…  lots and lots of ‘things’.  Most of those things involve time and activities with the Kidlet and the Hubby.  And paperwork…  lots and lots of paperwork too.

Emotionally I am in a bit of a funk because I realized (with some chagrin) that I’ll likely never achieve my dream of becoming a citizen of the UK.  Want doesn’t really play a part in it…  I mean, I want to very much.  But logistically, I am not in a position to do such a thing and probably won’t be for so long that the feasibility of such a move goes down the toilet.

At least I get to live there vicariously for a few weeks at the end of this month.  🙂

But dreams of England aren’t the only things I’ve considered.  Dreams of story are too.  Trying to find them again, trying to reconnect to worlds that seem to be happy to fade into a distance of paying bills, planning budgets, driving, shopping for heavy-duty archeology trowels…  and other people’s stories.  Oh, that last one is actually a killer.  I once thought I needed to read and see what others were writing and doing to fill my head with ideas and options, but… no.  The more I immerse myself into the worlds of others (often without much enjoyment even), the harder it is to connect with my characters.

They’re like cats that way.  They don’t take snubs well, and they don’t seem to get the idea that I’m just spending time elsewhere so I can be a better writer of their stories.  I’m not even sure they care if I write their stories, just as long as I am dutifully enthralled by them.  There’s a reason I used to think that Alanii’s alter-ego with feline.  He’s corrected me on this matter many times, but…  my cats are more like puppy-dogs than he is.

Which is why I took so long before setting out my ROW80 goals (today is officially the first day of Round 2 and I am just getting around to writing this post up)…  I am still not sure what my goals are.  I know how to set my goals, how to make them S.M.A.R.T., but I don’t know what I actually want to focus on or even achieve these days beyond get the “next thing done”.  There seem to be so many next things, that I am driven to distraction just trying to get through a day.  And when I do have those free moments that I once would have used for Those Five Sentences, I don’t write…  I space out.

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me.

Giddy Goose

Posted on: March 6, 2017

One of my husband’s nicknames for me is “Silly Goose”.  I forget when it started, perhaps after I started calling him “Punkin”.  All I know is he has called me that so much, I don’t remember him not calling me that.

Today though—well, yesterday, I was more of a giddy goose.

I’ve been steadily making progress on my trip to England (I’ve started calling it that because it really is just England this trip, no side trips to Wales or Scotland (though we will be at Hadrian’s Wall for part).  I’m not sure a three-hour layover in Dublin really counts as being  in Ireland, and even then, the Republic of Ireland is an independent European country.  So, England it is.  I really hope we can do this again sometime soonish so I can add in the rest of this wonderful group of islands (I really want to head up to the Orkney Islands one of these days too…  oh, and through the Mediterranean countries and…)

Anyway, one of the little hurdles I was waiting on just arrived yesterday.  My English Heritage membership package arrived yesterday (when I was in the UK last, I fell in love with English Heritage stuff, the sites, the discounts…  even the Dandelion and Burdock Root soda [I drank a lot of that stuff, and I don’t drink soda most of the time]).  The new handbook is gorgeous!

Isn't the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

Isn’t the new handbook cover lovely? My favorite colors!

I may be getting a bit silly with my planning.  Last night I was trying to get a rough calculation of how much petrol I’d likely be using for the trip so I could budget it in to our plans.  Since the rental cars (yes, two, so I can actually get some sleep on the trip) are going to cost us more than the airfare, it makes sense to make the decision work in my favor.  You should see what I have planned for those car days 😉

Does this mean I haven’t been really working on my other goals?  Well, sort of, yes.

I have been working on my classwork, trying to get as up to date as I can in each class because FutureLearn’s new policy for its free classes goes into effect tomorrow, and I have another class to start then.  This means, I may have to actually set aside the three I am working on so I can dedicate all of my attention to finish this new class (which actually might help my other classes) in the time allotted.  Or…  depending on my experience, I might wish to actually get the certificates.  I want to get them eventually.  I’d just like to wrap up a few more before I buy those (being here in the US, it’s easier to do one bigger transaction than a bunch of little ones).  *shrugs* Who knows?

Plotting and planning for the Boodle’s B-Day is also in the works.  He wants a ‘calmer’ day out (if one can call games at Dave & Buster’s calm) with friends.  He’s also asked for a day with one of his best friends from an old  school at a park and getting ice cream.  It sounds like a great idea to me.  I really enjoy time with his friend’s mom too, and because of our schedules, I almost never see her these days.

My stories, however, seem to have stagnated…  I can get a few words here or there in my play pieces and my fanfics, but anything “serious” (which translates to anything I’m actually trying to plan out) seems to be stuck.  I’ve been reading an article in the most recent Romance Writer’s Report(s) called Know Your Code with suggests that certain personality types write certain ways, based on something similar to Briggs-Meyer personality types.  So far what I’ve read feels very much like me.  The question then becomes “how to make this ‘work’?”; I love the way I feel when I am writing, but life has this way of sabotaging the best of sensations….

The nice thing is I’ve been finding ways to bring back in some photography.  This past Wednesday while the Boodle was at swimming, I took advantage of the great weather and played around with camera on my cell phone while the sun was setting.

A sunset over the YMCA parking lot

I like the banner-like feel of the shot, but I think I miss using my Canon G5.  My hand is steadier.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve got plans to work on for next month and the upcoming “new” Round of Words (we’re already in week 9, can you believe it?).  I’d like to make some progress before I get on an airplane.

I know that the reason for regular ROW80 check-ins is not to brag about our accomplishments (okay, not solely), but also to share those less than stellar times when we are floundering and need the support of our fellow ROWers to get us going again.  Still, I somehow managed to avoid three check-ins in the past two weeks (one at Many Worlds and two here) because I felt I had nothing to report.

I wasn’t writing, and somehow, I’d begun to equate words on the page as the only marker of actual progress I could use.  Which is (of course) very silly on my part.  I was doing a ton of things, above and beyond the normal stuff of daily life.  If anything, I’ve had to become extra creative to fit in those normal things…  a few dishes here and there while waiting for my hot water in the morning, sort a few clothes and move a load for folding out on my way downstairs…

Thursday and Friday I was “at college” with my son as he was invited to participate in a  set of workshops* with the drama department at Hudson Valley CC and Shakespeare & Co. for their Northeast Regional tour.  A mini-homeschooling conference on Tuesday, car inspection and repairs on Wednesday, dental visits on both Monday and last Thursday, and on and on…

Oh, and I have managed to get back to some writing-related stuff.  The classes I am taking on Ancient Portus (not so much the Maritime Archaeology one) and the American South (global view) have provided a great deal of fodder for my stories.  Time Team episodes have given me a deeper realism of the past and what skies might look like, smells, even how the water might be…  We like to romanticize the past by imagining things were so much cleaner and purer (or how much more violent and dangerous) things were.  At least in fiction, especially, there seems to be a sense that we do things so very different than we used to.

Then we have to consider facts like the Tiber river had become so polluted during by the 2nd C BC in Rome that there were purification rituals for the river itself (and an increased need for well drilling), that the slag heaps from ancient iron smelting were stacked so high in some places they made their own mountains (and became a source of iron in WWI), or man-made hills of discarded pottery in Italy…  just think of the trees that had to be cut down and burned for those kilns and furnaces (making charcoal uses an insane amount of wood in its own right).

So, yeah…  I’m getting some definite ideas about the world in more stories, smells, sights, textures.  And I even managed some newish words last night.  Yay!

*For the record…  After Friday’s 3½ hr session on clowning, I have acquired a great respect for the control needed for any comedic actor as well an awe at the passion the Boodle brought to his parts.  He’s an amazing kid.

I have bad habit I’d really like to break.

I tend to react, often quickly, often with great vigor, and…  often without much forethought.  In other words, I tend to overreact, fly off the handle and not think before doing so.

So very much not a good habit.

Some of this comes from the fact I’ve felt rushed to make decisions all my life.  We live in a world where instantaneous responses are demanded for more and more daily affairs.  A product of technology perhaps, though I didn’t grow up in the era of cellphones and email.

Hopefully his son got some letters from Dad

That said…  I often dream of those days when people would travel for days to carry a message from one person to another.  Imagine a note from a Roman Centurion to his family.  Some news would be missed in the weeks and months between letters, little events such as his son’s first steps would not be so vital to record in a letter as a count of the wool gathered from the sheep this past season or that Citizen Maxanimus had offered to tutor the young child for the small fee of two hens.

Today however, messages are traded back and forth at the speed of conversation.  Some people type better with their thumbs than they do with all their fingers combined.  And many of these people can’t use a pen except to scribble their name on some official forms or an electronic pad at the store.

With that kind of communication speed, it’s easy to expect near instant answers to every question that can be asked.  Extra company is coming over…  Can you pick up two loaves of Italian bread on the way home?  Oh, and XXYY can’t eat gluten, so can you also grab some rice?  (because, of course, company that didn’t plan to come until the last minute expects a feast when they arrive) Or the fear of relationship trouble … Are you mad?  You didn’t call this morning (because we need to call our dates the first thing we wake up or we clearly don’t like them)

Don’t we ever take time to process things anymore?  Is it so wrong to simply have a cuppa and maybe a dish of fruit and cheese or some snacks as opposed to a full meal when unexpected guests arrive?  Or to say…  “Oh, I didn’t know you were coming.  I was making X, but I can put that in the fridge for tomorrow if that doesn’t work and we can go to Smith’s Restaurant tonight.”

Yes, some decisions need to be made on a moment’s notice.  But we live in a world where every decision seems so urgent….  And I am not good at it.  I like to think my ideas through.  I panic.  I get frustrated.  I snap…

I’d like to change that about myself, but…  it’s not easy to do.  The best way I’ve discovered?  Refuse to make so many instantaneous decisions.  Demand time to let the ideas and possibilities simmer.  Something I have learned in my near-half-a-century of life is that there are second and third and fourth (and more) chances to redo those poor initial reactions.

Thankfully!

Some cool links on decision-making:


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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