Tacking


homeslide1Sailing is one of those activities that I dream of . Maybe it’s  being landlocked in the midwest, but I love the ocean and all things nautical. Except octopus. (Hence the decor ideas for my new office space – more about that later.)

In one of my speaking engagements,  I talked about goal-setting. I used nautical terms to get my point across along with images and youtube videos. Granted, most of the audience didn’t care about sailing and I knew that but by the time I had finished, a few simple terms stuck in their mind and several people sought me out at the end to share with me  that they appreciated it.

Tacking is one of those terms.  Tacking is the heading of a sailing vessel, when sailing close-hauled, with reference to the wind direction. . . one of the series of straight runs that make up the zigzag course of a ship proceeding to windward. . . to change the course of (a sailing vessel) to the opposite tack.  It is a zig-zag course as opposed to a straight line. It is the constant readjustment  of your vessel to reach your chosen destination.

tackThere are 2 ways to accomplish this, through several small zags or fewer larger zags with greater impact.

Small zags would be akin to my monthly adjustments when I evaluate where I am compared to where I want to be. Larger zags would be changing careers, taking a new job.

Life will carry you downstream if you let it. Stuff happens. Disappointments happen. If you let the current carry you along, you will end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Way back when I chose my first career as a cartographer, I had a fascination with maps, mapping, exploring, charting unexplored lands. Still have the fascination,  just not the job. By the way, for those who don’t know cartography is the study of maps, a cartographer is a map maker.  I made maps. I wished for the days of the large sailing vessels and to be an ancient mariner creating those magnificent maps that are adorned with sea monsters and forebodings such as “here there be dragons”. The career choice landed me a profitable career with our defense department with a tidy income and numerous perks. Until the point when I decided to pursue an alternate career choice that turned out to be the biggest blessing and the biggest source of stress. What are you going to do, right? I wouldn’t change it for the world, though.

If you don’t adjust your compass heading,  tack starboard or tack port, you’ll end up dashed on the rocks.

I find myself diametrically opposed however, to certain individuals who  believe –  make a plan and stick to the plan. Keep working on THAT plan.  But what do you do when that plan is snatched from your grasp? What do you do when the company that you have  worked for twenty years decides  they need a cutback? It’s nothing personal, they just need to cut their workforce by 15% and you happen to be on the list? How does that figure into THAT plan?

It doesn’t. That’s when life  has dealt you a bad hand and you can’t even bluff your way into a winning round.

So you adjust, overcome, improvise. Pull up your big girl pants, put on the  steel boned corset and chart a new course.  It’s far easier to make minor adjustments on a regular basis than end up in some strange land where you don’t speak the language and discover that you have lost your way.

Today is that day for me.  I evaluate where I am on my projects and determine my plan of action for the coming month. Last month I started on the massive project of  caring out an office area in our basement.  I shared pictures of the unfinished but mostly clean area. Another project moved into top priority and I lost some ground. The temptation to put stuff in an empty space is too great for some people to resist. I’m not going to name names as I am guilty myself. I don’t even have an office yet,  but I have shelves of my writing related stuff moved in. It would have been so much easier to  get flooring, walls, lighting, and all that painting business done first but it didn’t happen that way.  I needed it out of my kitchen and living room where it was in the way.

Anyway,  tacking to the starboard. The plan for June  on the office front is ramping up  this project and  focusing on existing writing projects. I’m not taking on any additional editing jobs until I get the ones I have completed. I hate falling behind and these will go back to the author  with no charge.  I’ve edited her entire series and I can see growth and improvement in her writing from the first one to this one. This is encouraging to me as a writer and as an editor because it means that my own writing can improve. It also means that it doesn’t have to be perfect to release my babies into the world.  It’s not like the old days when  the only means of publication were the big seven.  It provides a moment of opportunity to tack starboard or port in my writing as well and adjust my course to reach my destination.

Take a few moments today to check your headings. Where are you in comparison to where you want to be? What adjustments can you make in the coming month? year? What goals are you working towards? Do you need to set a new course entirely?

I plan to start  tomorrow on the right foot, the right headings, and make every day count.

Write on my friends, write on!

Til next time,

Ellie

 

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Odds and Ends


Wow, this week has been crazy! Anyone else having one of those weeks? OR is it months?

My TODO list seems to be growing exponentially while the check marks are scarce. Every time I mark  one thing off of the list, it seems three more are added.  I’m beginning to wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or if I have entered a one-way cavern that leads to the pit of hell. Currently, my vote goes for the latter.

How do you dig out from under a mountain of work when it seems to grow daily?  It’s not like I was slacking, I’ve been diligently working on several tasks. For one project, I was greatly relieved that  my supervisor decided that I didn’t have to import everything from Word to InDesign.  InDesign is an awesome software system, but this particular manual has numerous graphs and charts in it.  When importing files,   it doesn’t hold formatting and when you add images to the mix – graphs charts, diagrams – it has ten kinds of fits. (Fits as in temper tantrum fits via digital means.)

However, my relief was short-lived when I found out the conditions of not having to  re-invent the wheel. *headdesk* Thus we come to the point of the story  of where the mountain of work came from.

I am behind  on an editing deadline,  I have an author chomping at the bits to get her book back. I must say, so far this one is the best one yet. I’ve edited the previous books in the series and   there is a marked improvement from the first to this one!

Sales in our resale shop have doubled this past month, which means  more work for me to stock inventory. That is a good problem to have aside from the additional demand on my time.

I don’t know whether to scream “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!” or double up on the coffee and ignore the caffeine addiction. At some point, I have to come up for air to catch my breath but in the mean time, I’m  going as fast as I can.

The only saving grace  for even halfway getting these irons attended to is my bullet journal.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about  it. My friend Dana has  tagged me in her blog a couple of times  pertaining to  bullet journaling – hey girl!

At the beginning of April I started a new bullet journal in a Leuchterm1917.

SAy hello to my new BUJO! and it's red! Also, this fountain pen is amazing.

SAy hello to my new BUJO! and it’s red! Also, this fountain pen is amazing.

Isn’t it gorgeous? I set up my monthly spread as I had done for March, then quickly realized I  should have made some changes.

April

April

The calendar is ok,  but I put it on the wrong side of the page.  Oh well,  no biggie I just put my tracker on the left.  The next page spread is the month at a glance, and my Photo a day challenge for the month of April which was totally freaking awesome!  I don’t know if you guys enjoyed it but I sure did.  I’ve used dailies since I first starting using this system in January.  I added a monthly todo and monthly goals on the next page, which left a blank page on the facing page. It was blank until I saw a cool thing on Pinterest, so I made this.

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I’ll  color it in with red when I get a free moment or two.

HAHAHA! That’s funny, that’s real funny.

Anyway,  between writing, editing, administrative job, and  room shuffling my entries have been repeated todo lists. A little journaling,  a little artsy stuff,  some washi tape here and there, but most of all the daily reminder of what needs to be addressed.  Here are a few that I liked.

20160527_062306In cleaning up downstairs I found  some of my rubber stamps that I had been missing. They were stuffed into a box and carried downstairs to be put away later. *hangs head*.  The roses in the corners are stamped, the background script is a large stamp.  What can I say? I’m a big kid at heart. I find a misplaced toy and I have to play with it.  The numbered  items (11,12,13) are from a challenge from a bullet journal group, and as you can see, I have way too many arrows to forward items. I got tired of putting a P for partial completion and just left it  open.  If I had an arrow from the day before, it was the first thing I addressed the next day. Well, with the exception of reading that book. I still haven’t read it. It’s still on the to be read pile.  It’s not fiction so it keeps getting shuffled to a lower place in my stack.

Of course, while I had the stamps out, I used them for another craft project – coasters.  These are stamped then handpainted on tumbled quarry tiles. I’ve made several, sold just as many, and have a backlog of orders! Which is a good thing, right? 20160421_093650I’m trying to be positive, hence the quotes and bolded expressions. The next spread, which is the next page after this one is this:20160527_062321

A couple of things I like about this page:

  1. The blue banners that I use for date are  from paint chips. I really loved this color blue –  and I had apparently picked up a paint chip in this color every time I went into Lowe’s or Walmart. I had a bunch! Anyway, I cut them into pieces then made banners. 🙂
  2. My happy little cup!  I really like him!!
  3. My fleur de lies stamp –  found treasures.
  4. The beauty of scrapbook paper –  you can hide your mistakes!  I tried to do some fancy calligraphy writing and  botched it.

Things I don’t like – you see those blank squares? I thought I’d do a doodle a day challenge. It didn’t happen. I got to day `10.  Forwarded arrows. Hate them!

In May, I used pink ink and it was waaaayyyyyy too much pink. I’m talking  hurt your eyes pink.  I did like this page however – 20160527_062421I got to play some while waiting for a phone call.  It was a matter of not starting anything because I knew any minute I could get the call and have to rush out the door. BTW-  got to drive a big honking truck which was COOL!

 

OH, and  on the 13th I made a drastic change.  I went from long thick hair –  20150911_120026to a new style!

 

 

20160516_082823No makeup here, sorry. I guess there should have been a warning.  No that’s not pulled back, it’s gone.  It’s all gone. 12 inches of hair – gone. Plus the amount that she cut after that!

While I’m changing things, I’ve made a  plan for June that is different. I’m going with a weekly spread. We’ll see if I like it or not.  I can always change it back, I’m only doing one week at a time.  I am excited though for one nifty little feature I added –

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You see that box in the middle of the right side? the one that isn’t labeled? I decided to put a word counter there.  I made myself a little chart to track my progress and hopefully keep me on track.

I’ll send updated photos later, and admit my true word count – eep!  I realize this seems utilitarian, but it’s the start. Who knows what doodles or whatnot may find it’s way onto  the pages.

Write on my friends, write on!

Til next time,

Ellie

Revision #32


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For as many years as I have been an adult, I’ve always  implemented a bit of advice my father shared with me during a fishing trip.

He had asked me what my plans were for a future career.  At that time, I was planning to pursue  becoming a psychiatrist. After he explained to me how many additional years of schooling that would require, I decided to change courses. I sometimes wish  I hadn’t but that is neither here nor there. The point is adjusting my course.

“There are several options that are available to you. College has a limit, however. Your scholarship will only cover four years, so make those four years count. Make certain that the path you choose is the one you want. You can always adjust your course but it’s more difficult. It’s always good to evaluate where you are as opposed to where you want to be. If you are on the wrong path, get back on the right one.  If the path you’re on meets with a dead-end, then  look around at  another route or change the destination.”

Those honest words spoken in advice when I was 17 or 18 have stuck with me. I assess where I am,  in comparison to where I want to be. Always adjusting  my course.

When one door closes another one opens. When one path is blocked you must choose or make an alternate route.

It’s one thing to set your heading in a direction, another to check to make sure your ship is running true. Mile markers along the way let you know you’re on the right path or  if you’ve gotten off track.

“Memphis? We should be seeing signs for Lexington not Memphis!”

Set your  course and  head to your horizon.  I’m having to adjust my sails into the wind.

 “The second star to the right, and straight on till morning” 

 – James M. Barrie

I hope you find your dreams, your Neverland where your inner child never ages. It’s where the fountain of youth really lies.  Our outward bodies  will waste away, but the internal spirit lives on, changed and transformed  by each life lesson, our hope renewed and invigorated.  Such a grand adventure in store for each of us!

Pursue your goals,  chase your dreams,  and never give up!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Conflicted Much?


Let’s see . . . where was I? The past few weeks have  had me in a whirl. Life is like that at times,  but then at others, it slows down for a moment or two.

I went back through my planner for the previous month and this month evaluating where I am in my goals. I discovered back in April that I wasn’t doing so well on my yearly goals as I would like to  but,  my daily goals were getting marked off the list.

I have a long way to go before I can boast about my pages, they are for my use not for the beautification of the internet. I am pleased though that I  have made a modicum of success in productivity. I know that I have too many irons in the fire.  I think it goes with my personality.  But the secondary part of me protests at every opportunity.

The  hard driving task master Type A over-achiever barely allows enough time after completion of one task before pushing me to the next while the Party Princess  gets excited about an achievement!  Do you realize what an achievement means?

It’s an opportunity for celebration   .   .   .

“YAY! Party! Party! Party!  I can make a cake. We’ll fire up the grill,  barbecue, and have some people over. Corn on the cob, potato salad, chips, margaritas, mac & cheese . . .  or maybe watermelon!” *Party Princess is lost in thought deciding what to do for decorations, appropriate celebratory foods, games, activities, who to invite*  

“Stop! We don’t have time to arrange a party. We need to move onto the next task at hand.” Taskmaster states firmly before purchases occur.

*Party Princess pouts while giving death glare*

“Well, maybe a small celebration. Just the family.” Taskmaster back pedals to avoid a halt in production and appease the Party Princess as she recalls the last halt lasted several days.

“No party? No decorations?” Party Princess’ jaw clenches tighter.

You can decorate a cake.  Keep it simple. We need to move on to the next project or rather get back to the office downstairs.”

Princess sighs.  “I don’t want to work on the office. You pushed all of my ideas aside to focus on cleaning out the daughter’s room and said I can’t paint.”

“Yet.  I said yet.  We still need to get the wiring done, the  light fixtures installed before the drywall can go up.  Then you can tape, spackle and after that, paint.”  Taskmaster enunciates the words in irritation as she glances  over the  long list of things yet to be accomplished.

Princess  opens her Kindle and begins playing Aquarium game. “NO. I don’t feel like working. NO party. NO work.”

Task master’s head sags in defeat. 

(This is the part where the task master debates the consequences of giving in to the inner child and allowing a bit of celebration. Without the party, the princess will pout, mope and not cooperate with anything productive.  The balance of  time lost in production opposed to time lost due to pouting and the latest shiny make the decision an analytical decision while the Princess solely operates in the emotional realm.  If not resolved, it quickly can cause  the chakras [I know I may not be using that right, but I hope you understand what I mean] to be out of alignment and chaos will ensue. This is a delicate situation.

For those who are new here, I am not truly bipolar or split personality. I am not making light of those things either. Within everyone’s personality are dualities and traces of sometimes a third minor aspect to make you who you uniquely are. My personality goes back and forth between these two.

This was  an easy way to share why I don’t  get more done. Not making excuses because sometimes the Taskmaster wins, sometimes the party Princess wins and sometimes on rare occasions when the moon is waning, the  stars are in alignment, and the jet stream is flowing in a general west to east direction without a major trough, they work together happily.

The rational parts of my brain are screaming to  the task master that if she allows celebrations for the small steps,  the general morale of Party Princess will  be at a higher level thus, production rates will increase.  Party Princess is a fast worker when motivated.  Hence the importance of deadlines!

Meanwhile, while I am  working on a truce between the two I am going over my planner. Some adjustments need to be made for the coming month.  This month has looked like one of my old planners with appointments, meetings, daily tasks and not much else.

The inner child must not feel oppressed while the adulting task master must feel like something is getting accomplished. Take some time to celebrate your small victories because life is a journey.

One step after another, along the path that leads to your destiny. Enjoy everyday life along the way to  get to where you want to be and don’t wait until you’ve arrived because tomorrow is not  a guarantee.

Write on my freinds, write on!

~~~~

Ellie

Communication


In order to have a successful partnership, communication is essential. This applies to personal relationships as well as professional.  After 30 years of marriage, you’d think that  a husband and wife could communicate well. Wrong! Isn’t it ironic that the communication we once had  seems to have filtered down to a few grunts, assumptions, and preconceived notions?

We aren’t the same people we were 30 years ago. A lot has happened in that time. Births, deaths, conflicts, romance, celebrations, and life.  Everyday life can wear you down until you have little energy remaining for the people that are most important to you. How did that happen?

Very simply, you lose sight of the bigger picture when you are in the trenches. Head down, dealing with the current situation, one after another, time after time, and life continues to go on until you finally look up and don’t recognize your surroundings. Don’t panic,  adjust your internal GPS and  your course accordingly.

It is the same with business relationships.  Communication is essential. There are a few basic rules that you need to understand to interpolate the  communication.

  1. What is the business relationship? Boss/employee; business partners; coworkers; manager/employee;  contractor/subcontractor.
  2. Which role are you in the relationship? 
  3. Do you  communicate accordingly with  the other person/people involved? 

You are responsible for your words and actions, not the other person.  You are responsible however, for your responses and reactions to the other person.

 

By now you are scratching your head wondering what it is that set me off this time because if this isn’t your first rodeo on my blog,  you know that something lit the fire burning inside my gut. Crude I know,  but I’m feeling rather gutted at the moment.

Well, you’re right. I’m having trouble coming to terms with a couple individuals with whom I have relationships.

The marriage is an ongoing daily thing and thanks to  a third party counselor, we’re doing better. But this really isn’t about  that.

It has everything to do with Business dealings.  One of which is with the spouse.  I view this as a partnership, each responsible for different parts of  our business.

I am the creative force behind  our business. He is the analytical one that keeps me tethered and  aware of our meager budget.  We are working together  in this area but it’s still not running as smoothly as we’d like.

I am marketing and public relations while he handles research and development.

I am the planner. He is the analyst that provides charts and graphs for feasibility.

I provide general labor while  he provides all things computer related and  physical labor for larger things.

All of these roles are necessary, and for the most part are divided fairly equally. If you keep in mind that he gets all of the heavy lifting. Hmm, well maybe I should balance that a little by providing treats at the next board meeting.

This is a fairly new venture, so it’s understandable that we need to work out the kinks.

 

There is a second relationship that  really has me on edge. This relationship is trying my last nerve.

How do you relate to someone who doesn’t have the same view of roles within the relationship? How do you communicate with someone who  acts like they are a dictator  and repeatedly  refuses to listen to anyone else’s input?

Communication is a two-way street, or at least it is supposed to be.

I’m having a real issue with this arrangement because my ideas and their ideas are not meshing.

  1. This is not a dictator/subject relationship.  This is not a manager/employee relationship. This is supposed to be a  mutual contracted agreement.
  2. Do NOT talk down to me in a condescending tone as if I am a moron. I am not. Do NOT talk to me like I am some clueless idiot  that is your subordinate. Just because this particular job does not require certain technical skills does not mean that  it is not possessed.
  3. Do NOT lecture me on  not fulfilling my parts of the job when  the parts that you are NOT stating are not defined. If additional tasks are needed they need to be spelled out and defined, otherwise I will proceed according to what I know and what was designated in the arrangement.
  4. Bossing people around does not make you in charge. Bossing people around that are supposed to be team members just makes you a Bitch. And not in a good way either.
  5. Do not belittle your fellow team members. You don’t have to go to happy hour with them to do your job.

How many can relate? I’ve been the employee many times when the supervisor or manager treated others poorly. I’ve also had supervisors that I greatly respected. You know the biggest difference? They treated others as valuable individuals validating their efforts.

The above situation  has me at my wit’s end. But it also pushes me to strive harder in our own business.

Nobody likes to be talked down to,  or treated like they don’t matter, or made to feel belittled. NOBODY!

While I continue to work out my struggles in this, I can’t help but wonder . . .  someone who treats others like this has to feel horrible inside.  I try to live my life by that age old rule –  treat others as you would like to be treated.  There is no crime against being nice. However, some seem to view it as a weakness.

It’s not a weakness at all.  It requires great strength and integrity to face a person like this without engaging in the same poison that they are spewing. Karma, the law of reciprocity,  or whatever you decide to call it is  a bigger Bitch than  you can dish out so be careful what you’re dishing.

 Remember the Four Agreements: 

  1. Be impeccable with your words. Speak with integrity.
  2. Don’t take anything personal. Nothing others do is because of you.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Ask the questions, communicate, avoid misunderstandings.
  4. Always do your best. Always – even if you don’t like the “Boss” or coworker.  Do. Your. Best. Because at the end of the day, you have to live with your conscious.

 

 

Shift


Today is the day.

The counter has  a few hours left on it, at which time I will be hitting the road to retrieve my eldest spawn – I mean daughter.

The past two days have been grueling; fighting a migraine with a to-do list a mile long, storms raging through the area, power outages, (hard to vacuum when there’s no electricity) all while the clock ticks away.

Every item of mine that was in the room is moved. If you don’t count the bed, dresser, bookshelf – all of which we paid for. You understand that our kids don’t see it that way though, right? Last year at this time she  gave us fits because we gave her mattress away when she went to college.  The mattress that we bought for her, for a full-sized bed, that had a “nest” indent in the middle when  the younger daughter got the bigger room, and she would get the twin bed for the 3 months out of the year that she was home. Technically we didn’t give it away.  The guys hauled it off when we got the new one for the other daughter.

She has already started in about we need to buy her a futon.  She’s 21,  if she wants a futon she can buy it herself.

There will be a lot of shifting  over the next several weeks. She will have to adjust to our schedules. She will have to maintain her room to a certain level of cleanliness. (Oh, trust me. I’m far from a white-gloved inspector) She will be expected to pull her own weight around here which means helping out with household chores once again.

I absolutely love her to pieces,  but she’s about to get a slap of reality.  My wonderfully talented and gifted daughter has decided that she’s not going back to school. With one year left to achieve her degree, she’s quitting. So, it’s time to enter the workforce.  She doesn’t seem to understand that she’s basically pushed her timeline forward by a year without the benefit of a degree.

Her student loans will come due in six months. We aren’t paying them for her.

She doesn’t have a car and expects to use ours to get a job. Problem is, that car has 200000 miles on it.

At 21, making adult decisions she will get to experience adult consequences.  You know, you try to  help them avoid the same problems that you’ve had to deal with, but they don’t see it.  As parents, we want the best for our kids.

We want them to do better than us and we try to shelter them from the same stupid mistakes that we’ve made. But those mistakes help us learn  how to do things better, how to manage our lives. Is it  a good thing then to shelter them from experiencing them?

There will be a shift on our part to help her but not coddle her. She’s not 2 anymore. She’s 21. I don’t want to be an enabler, and I don’t want to be harsh.

This is new territory for all of us. God give me strength – and wisdom. I need lots of wisdom.

With anything new, it’s a learning curve. Learning a new software. Learning a new job. Learning to live with your adult child when they’ve been on their own for a while. There will be snags,  rough spots, and testing of boundaries. But at the end of the day, our daughter is back home safe and sound with us and we won’t be worried about what she’s doing. We may be praying for answers and the patience to not engage in senseless arguments but we will know that she is alright.

colorful sunset

The future is full of opportunities, possibilities, and the road to success. Whichever road that may be.

As I sit and enjoy my last few hours of freedom, I mean quiet. . . . . I can’t wait  to have her home but I am still anxious about the next few weeks. My family means everything to me. This wasn’t in my outline for life. But then again, the best stories have sudden twists and turns.

I know this one is going to be good.

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

 

Multiplicity versus Singularity


I’ve been struggling with a concept for  some time now.  Thanks to my friend Misty, I think I’m beginning to see the fog clearing.

There has been much talk in the writer community about branding, creating a distinct logo to identify yourself from others. I see my peers with fancy designs,  symbols, something they identify as setting themselves apart from the crowd. Meanwhile, I am standing back here scratching my head,  I don’t get it.

One author has a Celtic symbol with a phoenix, another has a Celtic knot, one has  ruby-red lips dripping blood, one  has a dragonfly, another a fairy. . . I don’t identify with just one symbol.

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If I had to pick just one image,  I don’t think readers would “get” one of those twisted trees standing on the edge of a cliff weather-beaten  but still standing.

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A geode comes to mind because inside a plain-looking rock are fascinating treasures. But again, this seems rather singular. I’m not a one or two-dimensional person. There are numerous facets to who I am. I don’t just write in one genre, but many. I don’t  think a single symbol defines the multiplicity of aspects that go into my craft.

 

I look at authors I read –  George R.R. Martin; Stephen King; Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, Hemingway – shouldn’t your writing set you apart from others?

Do you think that C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien discussed  logos amidst the elf discussion?

“Why don’t you just use a blasted elf for your logo? Everything you  write has elves in it.”

“I suppose you’d use that stupid Lion. Like that hasn’t been done a thousand times. I suppose you could use your  lamp-post. OH but wait, that’s been used as well.”

“Stop mocking my lamp-post. Why wouldn’t I use Aslan? He is a symbol within himself. The allegorical king of all kings.”

“For heaven’s sakes man, move on.  Can we just get back to the writing? I want to delve into the beginnings of my wizards.” 

“Ugh! If it’s not elves it’s wizards. Fine. But first, let’s have a spot of tea.”

However funny it might be,  I honestly don’t think they discussed logos.

But then again, I seem to be an antiquated element within my profession. I’ve worked for years on my craft. I’ve written more words than many of the published authors  out there. I believe in quality first. Yes, so much to the point of perfectionism and setting my work aside because I see every flaw, every  spot where I could do better.

One thing that was very difficult for me in the publishing process with Eclectic Bard Books was the cutting of the umbilical cord.  I had a deadline. I spent grueling days going over my prose — fine tuning, changing, and rewriting —  It came down to crunch time and I knew I had to jump.  One of my fears was confirmed with one reviewer calling me on the “rushed” chapters. I wanted another week to rewrite them,  add to them and have them fully baked.  I knew they lacked some oomph, but that deadline was fast approaching.

It did teach me  however,  that at some point, you have to take a deep breath and jump. Let it go. Release it to the world  to enjoy, tear apart, or ignore.  This fueled my passion in a way that I had been lacking. I’ve since taken a few of my previous works from their dusty storage bins to assess how much work they will need before being released.

I’ve worked on being a better writer. I’ve worked on crafting a good story.  I’ve learned  about the elements that make a good story, how to string my sentences together, and how to do so using good grammar. Maybe  not always great grammar, but most often it has to do with my poor typing.  Yes, there are mistakes in my work as there are in most author’s works. Yes, There is always room for improvement.

I am a storyteller, a creator of fictional worlds, a teller of tall and short tales. Basically, I make up lies.

How is it  that we have moved past appreciating  quality works such as Lord of the Rings, The Illiad, Wuthering Heights to  indulging in trashy novels such as Twilight saga and it’s Satan spawn, 50 Shades? In what society do some of the descriptions and phrases of these texts sound sexy?

“Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.” – Dark and deadly? Does it emit some toxic secretion? No thanks.

“My inner goddess. . .” – this phrase is used so many times it isn’t even funny. My inner goddess says be original or  go home.

“How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.” – yeah, kind of like a festering splinter.

OK, enough about those.  Back to my point.

Quality work should be the first step in branding yourself.  Why have a platform that declares – I WRITE CRAP! What sets you apart from other writers?

Hopefully a unique voice.

Hopefully, a unique style.

Hopefully, a standard of excellence.

Be a BADASS writer that breaks the rules, pushes the boundaries, explores new horizons, dares to be themselves in a world of copycats.  Work hard, do your best, and be yourself! I’m a one of a kind original masterpiece! A masterpiece that has  many colors, nuances, voices, and some deep caverns that have yet to be explored.

SIGH.

I am indeed a dying dinosaur amidst a hoard of lemmings.  The push is to get something out there, anything. Make a logo that people can associate with your name and build your platform!

FINE

You want a logo?

You want some symbolic image that people can associate with my author name?

Here you go!

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Now Excuse me while I get back to writing. I have some changes to make  on Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening from my beta reader’s comments.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

The Countdown Has Begun


Have you ever had those days (weeks) when life is a whirlwind that leaves you dizzy and unable to recall exactly what you’ve done?

Last week I shared what I’ve been up to. Aside from admitting my lack of cake decorating skills for the Han Solo cake,  it was all about the office space.

I have a confession to make. Well, two actually.

  1. Next time we are having ‘stormtroopers in a snow storm cake ‘ aka chocolate cake with white frosting.  It tasted good but black frosting  stains teeth and everything else.
  2. I have to shift my efforts for the office space to clearing my stuff out of my daughter’s room.

 

The ZenDen  is still  going to happen,  unfortunately  though I have hit a snag.  A snag in the form of a time crunch. My plan was to get everything completed downstairs and then move stuff. After several days of clearing, moving, bagging, tossing, head shaking, fighting off the overwhelmed panic, my back  said that  it had enough. I’ve scheduled a visit to the chiropractor out of my normal sequence,  but it isn’t for another few days.

So, . . . we move our daughter back Thursday night. This Thursday night. Like . . . 2 days from now. The ZenDen still looks like this:

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Wait,  I did move a couple of those boxes out of the area. The one in the foreground,  the ones on the little rocking chair, and  the box in the wire frame cart. Also,

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all of those books have been moved, as well as the stuff on top of the shelf.

That’s the point when my back said, Whoa Nelly! This was about the same time that the hubs and I had a discussion about the area.   You see, I get these ideas, I get excited, and I’ m off and running. I worked up my color scheme,  decided on the flooring that I wanted,  had my little floor plan designed. It was all good!

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It doesn’t show up well on this photo, but the main color  is this Bermuda Bay  (It says Big Surf on the photo, but I found the exact color I want and it’s called Bermuda Bay – a different brand) on the left. The sand color on the bottom will be the wall where the  map of the Caribbean is currently. The navy blue and red in the sails will be accent colors as will the black and of course, sail white.   He looked at me with  an expression that said,  Have you lost your mind?  

Look, I know  not everyone will get my color scheme. I know not everyone would choose this.  It’s my space – my office/craft room/private retreat. I selected my flooring choice, a plank vinyl that will go down right over the concrete floor. It looks like gray weathered wood, kind of a cross between the weathered pier and driftwood. I thought it was perfect.

My husband? Not so much.

Then there were the light fixtures. I found one that was perfect. It looked like something that would be on the Nautilus. Then I looked at the price.  Ummmmm, no.  I will need 4 lights after evaluating the area. I thought we could do two but I think 4 would be better.

Then we had a disagreement about  the dimensions of the space I was carving out.  He had  in mind something along a 5′ x 5′ space.  I don’t think so. I was livid.

After several minutes of discussing function and space issues, he  realized that I was including my craft stuff which is currently located on the other end of the basement.  We came to some semblance of an agreement. My dimensions are more along the lines of 14′ x 8′.  By then I was  tired and we needed to address our daughter’s room.

Most of my notebooks, pens, files, and all office related items were in her room on the writing desk that I was planning to use. My  belongings are now in a box . . . in the basement . . .   along with the rest of the  stuff down there. This evening  vacuuming, stripping the bed, and cleaning out the closet are the  items on my checklist.

I need to take some more items to our resale booth, but  getting her room in a welcoming state has to come first. If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read –

Once we get this addressed, my attention will return to my office. Then I can begin organizing and clearing out the years of accumulated stuff. I have to admit, at this point minimalism looks pretty appealing.

Sometimes it takes a spark of inspiration to ignite the fires. We’ve been stagnated, overwhelmed with the years of accumulated stuff.  His Grandmother passed away, we got stuff. His uncle passed away, we got more stuff. His great-aunt passed away, we got even more stuff. My father and mother passed away and we got still more stuff. I have to admit, I’ve been stagnated with this inundation of stuff. As if it wasn’t enough to have to deal with our own stuff, we have stuff given to us to add to the mountain of stuff.

Yes, we really do suffer from stuffitis. It can be paralyzing. It is also stifling. There is a psychology to clutter, and it’s not pretty.

If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read – Space Revisions and Personal Space,  about creating my own zen den, my home office/craft studio/retreat/paradise.

 

 

 

 

By the way, the kitty litter thing is working. The musty smell has diminished in the basement. We’ve also increased the intervals at which the dehumidifier runs. The decor theme and reveal will be postponed, sorry.

My oldest daughter announced to the world that she is not planning to return to college after her junior year by posting a picture of her first tattoo, a compass to signify the new direction of her life. I have misgivings about this new direction. But, she’s 21 and has to make her own decisions. (This is the one that is moving back home.)

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These were her words: “As a symbol of my changing courses in life, I got my first tattoo today. It’s a compass that will be a constant reminder of where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Even if I’m not sure where that may be.”

I still have a ton of work to do before we  make the drive to  get her on Thursday. 2 days. 47.23 hours from now.  25 of those hours are already scheduled. I suppose if I forfeit sleep I could get it all done. If I did, then I would  be in a foul mood akin to a badger. Bear would be too kind.  It is what it is.

On the bright side, I have  8 topics on which I can blog about – all briefly mentioned in this post. Those should serve for inspirational fodder for a while. You know,  just in case my well runs dry sometime in the year 2024.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Space Revisions


Happy Star Was Day! May the 4th be with you!  We are celebrating with a Carbonite Han Solo cake. Well, I envisioned it looking like on Pinterest, but . . . not even close. Chocolate cake, ganache between the layers, white buttercream frosting tinted grey, black details. Umm, the general shape is right. Maybe I should have just bought that Darth Vader cake pan. Never the less, we are eating it.

Continuing on yesterday’s post-Personal Space, I’m sharing about creating my own zen den, my home office/craft studio/retreat/paradise.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on  a room design, don’t you think?

NOPE! I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I can get lost for hours on HGTV. I love to watch the shows where they redefine their space, carve out a more functional usage, and  make it scream my personal space. I guess you can say this has been a long time in coming, fueled by my obsession with the Property Brothers, Chip and Joanna Gaines, and my Pinterest boards for home designs and DIY crafts. That combined with the need for my own space.

Like most of our friends, we live on a limited budget. In order to have funds to do home projects, sacrifices have to be made in other areas. The food budget has been tightened. I make a weekly menu with nutritious meals, plan my shopping accordingly, and don’t buy junk food. We average $125 a week for a family of four adults. (My kids are no longer kids,  but adults –  eek!)  The weekly amount of 25 to 30 dollars saved has added up over months, so now we can buy supplies to renovate. We are not going to take on debt in order to do this,  so we use the limited funds that we have.

Where do we begin?

With a plan of course.

20160502_090310It’s crude, I’m not an architect. It’s a place to start.  A brief key: outside walls marked with bolder grey. Rectangles in outer line –  basement windows. Yellow highlighter – light fixtures; x-ed out is existing that will be changed. Areas marked with hashed lines are storage – either closets or shelves. Currently, the bolded grey lines are the only existing walls.  The exterior concrete walls, the office space that my husband enclosed when he was finishing his degree, and  the wall against the stairwell.  I went through five plans before arriving at this one.

We start with a general open concrete space, filled with 20 years of accumulated  stuff, poorly or not at all organised.  The washer and dryer will stay where they are,  the water heater will need to be moved and secured to an exterior wall because of potential earthquakes, where currently it sits a foot from the furnace/central air unit. The four dark dots down the center are support posts, which are immovable.  They are bigger around than a standard 2 x 4 wall, so  they will be incorporated into  a wider space  the width of a bookshelf, or storage shelves.

As you may notice, I don’t have measurements. We’ll address those as we get there. You know, when we can actually start  improving the area.

On the exterior of the  existing office is our current pantry area, aside from the shelves against the wall, it’s disorganised.

His office is going to become our private den area. We have a lovely leather love seat, antique table, and bookshelf (of course) for this area.   Our adult oasis.

Eventually, we’ll get the rest of the area claimed,  but for now, it’s a 3 step process:

  1. My office
  2. The private den
  3. functional and tidy laundry area

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This is the current state of my office space.  I’ve moved  the equivalent of a truckload of  fabric, craft stuff, seasonal clothes, and various things that will probably end up at Goodwill.  The file cabinet is full and the bookshelf needs to be emptied. The cabinet area below the books is also filled with books.

The shelf above the freezer will be emptied and moved, and the freezer will be moved to the pantry area. The storage behind the stairs will remain as it is for now. OK, maybe I’ll replace the  animal print with something to match my envisioned decor theme.

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The remaining items that need to be moved – more tubs of seasonal and kids clothing; craft stuff, a child’s rocker, the grow light – once upon a time we had plant starts for our garden. I’m considering keeping it and adding some greenery to the area, but still undecided.  I’ll take down my map,  but I think I’m still going to use them. I have maps of Hawaii, Bahamas, Caribbean,  Puerto Rico, Isreal, and Europe. OH, and I have a framed old world map with the  sea monsters and Greek gods on it! I am considering aging the other maps,  tearing  and burning the edges, then having them framed. I also have a topographic map of the ocean floor, I just need to find it in all this junk. My degree is in cartography, and yes I like old maps, new maps, astrolabes, and compasses.

The single light fixture will be replaced with two. I know on my little sketch that I have four (indicated with yellow highlighter) but I think 2 in this area will be sufficient. Funny story –  while looking online for light fixtures, the first one that I came with looked like light fixtures that might have been inside the Titanic so I’m like oh yes , these! Until I saw the price. $159. a piece. I wouldn’t get very far into this if I selected those.  Maybe down the road, but not now. Instead, I found some for $19.99 a piece so even if we go with four, it’s affordable.

Outlets and light switches will need to be added to the walls. The back section of the office will be shelves for storage, and a table for crafting/sewing/sorting.

I’m pretty stoked about this project and have been working every day on clearing out the area. I have come across a couple of problems. First one,  which resulted in the five revisions of floor plans was that  in order to put a bathroom in the basement, we’d have to cut through the floor and add a clean out. We decided that was a bigger and more costly problem than we wanted to address.  Scratch the  original plan with the bar, kitchenette, and spa/resort deluxe bathroom.

Second issue –  the musty basement smell.  I have checked every area that I possibly can. There is no visible evidence of leaking. We have a dehumidifier, but there is a noticeable musty smell. There is a floor drain next to the furnace, which I sprayed a bleach solution on then scrubbed. Other than that, I see no mold anywhere either. Never the less, the smell. . . .so I researched online how to remove the smell. Aside from spraying any known leaks with a bleach solution,  there were two other suggestions. Place open containers of regular charcoal around the space. The second one was to place shallow bowls of cat litter around the area.

I’m doing both today. I’ll let you know if it works. Hopefully,  it will help. I’m thinking that some fans for circulation might help, as well as green plants. While  hubby plays handyman with the electrical and drywall, I am plotting my paint and decor scheme.

I get easily overwhelmed with the amount of work. It has taken me a full week of moving stuff to get it to this point, and there is more to do before we can do any real construction.  I have spent probably an equal amount of time moving stuff as I have standing and staring at the monumental task before me.

I need a sense of order, an organised and dedicated space of my own.

Stay tuned  as we continue to carve out personal space. I’ll share some in progress as well as the big reveal when it’s all finished!

Coming soon –  home decor theme/decor reveal! 

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Personal Space


First, let me say I appreciate all of my readers and followers. You have no idea how thrilling it is when a reader hits like on a post, especially one that I felt was good. Or the elation when I get a new follower, not to diminish all of my followers.  Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder why anyone would bother to read what I write or why  you would choose to follow me. Then after a while, I shrug my shoulders and decide not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I greatly appreciate that you would  use your time to read my words.

Why do bloggers blog?  For me, it’s because I have something to say. Something that I feel needs to be shared. Some do it to make money. I need to figure out how to do that – how to make money while doing something I love. You may see advertising on my blog –  I don’t know.  If so, I don’t make a dime on that.  I suppose it’s just part of the deal for having a free blog. I personally think WordPress is amazing,  so if they decide to  rent space on my free space I can’t very well argue with them.  If I don’t like it,  then I’ll go buy my domain name.  I have to make a profitable income before justifying that.

Why does a reader choose to follow a particular blog? Because somewhere in the rants and raves, the reader connects with what the blogger says.

I occasionally scroll through  new blogs, different blogs, something new and fresh.  I can relate to a few food blogs because you know, food.  I might find a particular article on a sports blog interesting but I’m not going to follow a sports blog. I read a lot of writing-related blogs  for new ideas, motivation, and to help me improve my craft.

My blog is a place for self-expression and creativity. The fact that it has attracted readers is at times dumbfounding to me, at times  ridiculously motivating, and at other times the only thing that keeps me moving forward and not sit in a corner and cry.

I’m not big on airing my daily struggles. Yes, I have them and have on occasion mentioned them, but my view is that these struggles do not define me. Our struggles are real, they shape us, mold us, strengthen us to become who we are,  sometimes better, sometimes worse. Succeeding despite obstacles  gets me motivated.

A particular blog that I follow is my niece, mostly sharing her vlogs about her gastric bypass surgery. I’m so proud of her, she’s been amazing and has reached a great amount of success. I’m not interested in listening to the other weight loss surgery patients sharing their testimonies.  I’m sure that they would have some interesting things to say,  but I don’t want to spend my time doing that.  This one is my niece – I’m sure you can see my interest.

So, in evaluating my blog  –  what have I done that is successful? what have I done that failed? what could I do better?  what posts do my readers like the most? –  it’s up to me to decide what to post and what not to post.  Occasionally I rant. Hopefully, it’s not more frequent than I think it is.  Occasionally it’s random bits of fun because we all need a bit of silliness, a smile, and a dose of happy. Most of the time it’s something writing related.

I spent part of last month reviewing past posts to see what was most liked,  which ones were fails, and where should I go from here.  The photography A to Z challenge was fun!  I hope that my readers enjoyed it. There are a couple of benefits to photography:

  1. I decide what to take pictures of, for instance,if I want a certain image for a post, I can do it/stage it myself.
  2. I don’t have to worry about copyright infringement or someone suing me over an image that I shared  and didn’t profit from.
  3. Something that I find interesting to photograph may prompt an entire story or flash piece.
  4. Knowing that I am not a photographer I can have fun and don’t take myself too seriously.

The photography challenge  gave me the chance to review things and assess what next. Part of me wishes there was a canned monthly blog challenge somewhere that I could just  go to and  read the assignment and say – Oh, today we are posting about topic A, tomorrow, topic B, and so on. That wouldn’t be  very original though, would it? If that were the case, then you could go to any blog and get the exact same thing with slight variations.

It’s kind of like Pinterest. You can look up any topic, scroll through various ideas until you find one you like. For instance – home office/designs and styles. My daughter is coming home from school next week for the summer and possibly longer. (With only one year left to obtain her masters, I think it’s a really bad decision. She’s 21 –  time she experiences the repercussions of her decisions.) I have to move my desk from the shared space in her room since she will be here full-time now. (See what I did there? Nice segue way, eh?)

Where? Where am I to go with my stuff?  I haven’t had a real office area. I set up the desk in her room and to be honest  the desktop became an instant catch-all for my stacks of books, research information, notebooks. . . yes, it’s a mess.  I  reverted back to setting up my laptop on the kitchen table. Which means that I have to clear up my stuff every single day and move it off of the table for meals.

This is disruptive to creative flow.

A brief period of pondering led me to the conclusion that I have nowhere to go with my stuff.  The hubs wants it off of the table, the daughter wants it out of her room, and I want my own space!

 SOLUTION: make my own space.

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How do you carve out your own space? By tapping into an underused resource – our basement. Up to now,  our basement has been a collect all repository for stuff. All sorts of stuff.

We have a small home. Our kitchen does not have a pantry. It has  traditional kitchen cabinets. We made an area in our basement that is a walk in pantry. Unfortunately,  the pantry contains mostly nonfood items at this time. The laundry area is determined by where the water connection is. But the rest of the basement is unfinished and untapped.  I’ve been furiously cleaning the mess down there. I’m embarrassed to admit the accumulation of  stuff.

  1. I have a yarn problem.  I have filled 1.5 large plastic storage tubs with yarn.
  2. I have a fabric problem. I have  filled 2.5 large tubs with fabric. Oh, and my sewing machine is broke.
  3. Books – oh dear lord, the number of books. I can’t blame this one on the hubs, he only has one shelf of books. I need at least 3 more bookshelves to house my books. More like 4 or 5. SIGH –  maybe I can part with a few of them. OK, ten. I can let go of ten.  Instead of a wall, maybe I can get him to build me a wall of built-in bookshelves.  NO –  I can let go of ten. Maybe I can start with one.  But which one do I sacrifice?

Anyway, I’ve been working and the time is quickly slipping away before my daughter returns home. I know this is a little different  than what I usually share, but . . . this is my blog. There are other aspects to life besides dealing with what the next part of the story is  or how to manage time.

Having your own space is a necessary thing. Part of my clutter problem is that I don’t have a place for my stuff.

Isn’t it ironic,  that  this very obvious  condition becomes apparent to me as I start to put myself first? Or at least occasionally?  I cherish the personal space of my blog.  I plan to make my personal office space my retreat, my  fortress of solitude, my getaway, my zen garden.

NO, I’m not putting sand on the floor. That’s just silly. I’ll share tomorrow about the cat litter on the floor, though.

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How do you define your space? Do you have a place that you call your own?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie