Monday, December 31, 2012

May I Have a Do-Over?

File:February calendar.jpg
Image found here.
I hinted at a couple of other things happening in my 2013 and here we go with the few more things.

First and foremost, I passed my Medical Billing & Coding course.  In fact, I passed it with an A.  Pretty exciting, right?  Well, I took the course final exam after I had already taken the certification exam and, in spite of that solid A I earned I failed the certification exam.  Now, I could get into the pedagogy and break the course’s curriculum and design point by point.  After all, I do have a degree in education so I sort of know whereof I speak.  However, the point is moot.  I failed the certification exam and now I have two choices:
  • Take the exam again in 2013
  • Give up altogether
Doesn’t seem like much of a choice, really.  But the 2013 code books will cost me another $170 so I’m going to try to just use the 2012 books I already have, knowing that I will probably end up getting some answers wrong because my books will be outdated.  I have registered to take the exam again on 16 February and if I do not successfully pass this second time then I will use my birthday money to buy the books and take the exam a third time.

I am understandably very disappointed by this turn of events and chose not to tell anyone because there were so many good things happening over the Christmas holidays that I simply refused to put a pall on anyone else’s experiences.

Shira
The same day I was successfully failing the exam, my daughter, Shira, passed her driving test.  She is now a fully licensed driver and getting her ducks in a row to get a car.  This will open doors for her, allowing her to seek employment beyond the limits of the very limited public transportation where we live.  I am thrilled for her and I know it was difficult for her to work through the years of fear her father had planted in her mind when she was too young even for a learner’s permit. 

And two days after I took my certification exam, two days before I would know whether I passed or failed, Marc took the GRE and is well on his way to going to graduate school, with plans to study Japanese translation. 

Marc
I am so proud of both of them for moving their lives forward in directions that will open doors of opportunity and empower them.  How could I possibly do otherwise?

A few weeks ago I posted about my giving Body By You a try with a promise to update on a weekly basis. Then the RAM collapse of 2012 hit followed by the holidays and I just gave up trying to keep up with things for a while.  But a new year is almost upon us/me and I will renew my commitment to the program.  I was finding it good if not altogether challenging.  I went to the forums to see what information I could find there and so far there really isn’t any community support designed for this book but I suspect that the author’s marketing team are on it.  The book is due to be officially released with the new year and I assume there will be a place on the fora, a folder specifically for the women who are using this book and looking for change.  

My hope is to update about once a week, some details about my exercising, maybe the occasional recipe Rob and I have tried, or other things that I feel might be interesting.  Of course, I can only try to follow through on this as, when I initially considered making this a part of my 2013 I assumed I would have passed the certification exam and not have to think about studying for it any longer.

So 2013 promises to be full and I may have to put off some things, like the scrapbooking on weekends, because I’ll be studying (again) for the certification exam.  And because of the studying, I may or may not be as consistent I had hoped to be with my blogging with the new year.  Writing, however, has been put on the back burner as I attempt to learn how to code and I have taken this a step further.  Knowing that I will be reading my many accumulated books, some of which are on writing, I have filed away all of my writing.  Rather than continue revising and rewriting what has already been written and remains unpublished, I’ll start afresh, perhaps write something new, something interesting enough to others that it will not only be read but published.  In 2012, I managed to earn $500 with my editing skills.  It would be nice to earn that much with my creative writing.

My priorities are in place and, if failing the certification exam was a surprise (and believe you me, it was), then I’ll just have to reprioritize until I really can say I have taken the exam and it is behind me.  In the meantime, pardon me if I feel like I’m running in place.    

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Closing In on 2013

For years, my mother bought
me this diary and
it is still a personal favorite.
I am looking forward to 2013, as I’ve expressed more than once before.  The past year has been a challenging one and I always assume that whatever the previous year’s experiences may have been the upcoming year will be a change.  Not necessarily a change for the better.  Different will suffice.

One of the things I’ve committed to doing in 2013 is to read the books I’ve accumulated (I mention some of the creativity books in this post here) over the years.  Too many books cluttering my never enough bookshelves.   The plan is to not borrow any books from the public library that are not either artistic/inspirational/crafty or children’s books.  I want to still borrow books because the public library relies on funding that is based on how many books are borrowed.  In an effort to continue supporting my teeny tiny local library, I figure I can have the “best” of both worlds—read the books I have on hand yet borrow books from the library.

I’ve created this pinterest board with a nearly complete list of the books I currently have on hand.  Nearly complete because there are boxes blocking access to some of the books and there are many more books that remain unpacked.  But these are most of the books.

I’ve also shared how, in 2013, I’ll be reading through the Bible (again) with someone I care about a great deal. 

The past year has been difficult, especially as I try to find ways to connect with those I care about most deeply.  Reading the Bible is one small gesture.  We will mutually benefit from the experience and, for me, the most important part of this will be the opportunity to enhance a relationship that matters a great deal  to me.

To that end, I invited my daughter to join me in something as well.  We’ve agreed to work on our handwriting, to improve our penmanship.  I borrowed several resources from the public library and found this one book:  Write Now by Inga Dubay.  Unfortunately, it is out of print so we will have to borrow it multiple times, returning it and practicing and then borrowing it again.  There seems to be a real gap in such resources with basic handwriting resources designed for children and then calligraphy but nothing really in between meant to just help an adult write more legibly.  This book seems to fit the bill quite nicely and my daughter concurs.

We’ve agreed to do the following:
  • Write one page a day
  • Scan one page from the previous week’s practice and email it to one another
  • Once a month, send one another a quote or something similar to write
That last one will be put into play later in the year.  At first, we will be doing enough just practicing our form, writing rows of letters and such.  It is a simple thing and often it is the simple things that make connecting all more precious.
If you care to join me, if you wish to practice your own penmanship with the hope of improving, please leave a comment.  
Which brings me to the next project for 2013.  This year for Christmas I gave each of my children an empty jar.  (I also gave one to our neighbors, sent some slips of paper to Love, and shared this with just everyone and anyone on facebook, google+, and pinterest.)  The idea behind this is to take an empty jar and, beginning with the new year, every time something good happens you write it out on a small slip of paper.  Then, on New Year’s Eve, you open the jar and read all of these slips of paper you have collected during the previous year. 

Needless to say, I love this idea or I wouldn’t have shared it so promiscuously. (And yes, it is not a coincidence that I'm making sure to share it here too because I really want everyone possible to at least think about this idea, and maybe, just maybe, find it as enchanting as I.) After all, 2012 may have had its disappointments, like my mother flying to be with my uncle before he died during my one and only visit, and my step-sister's mother dying, as well as a widowed aunt-by marriage.  But it also had some wonderful moments as well.  In April, my son officially adopted his step-daughter and in October the adoption was finalized. 

I became a grandmother.


My son also visited us for the holidays and, because Rob did not go home to see his family, I had most of my immediate family here for Christmas.  In fact, at one point when I was lying down, I could hear the laughter of my children, the voices of their bantering with Rob, and I thought to myself, “I could die right now and do so perfectly content.” 

Contentment, even for a moment, is a wondrous thing.

So there were these good moments and maybe some pouting disappointments and even some palpable grief but the year is coming to a close and I am not licking my wounds.  Rather, I am looking forward to the new year and, as I’ve already shared, making plans. 

Now where were we?  I said I would be:
As if that were not enough, I’ve agreed to do a few other things.

My son Marc took his GRE in 2012 and has a projected score of 311/340.  I don’t know how the projected score relates to the actual final score but I think it’s safe to say that he’s pretty much locked down any chance of his going to graduate school.  In the meantime, he’s in Chicago and will be filling his 2013 jar.  But he’s also agreed to watch some Netflix instant streaming movies with me.  Oh boy!  We’ve agreed to watch 2 movies a month and touch base with one another, share our thoughts and feelings about what we watched.  Not unlike a book club only using movies/Netflix.
Consider this an open invitation.  If you have Netflix and would like to join us, I would love to do so.  Yes, my son and I will be watching 2 movies a month but, given an average of 4 weeks per month, that leaves 2 weeks open and we could do this as an online thing.  Leave a comment if you’re interested.
Rob and I are also finding ways to build our relationship.  We’ll be exercising.  Together, no less!  We’ll also be watching movies/dvds together, learning a foreign language together, and we’ve planned monthly game dates with local friends and family members.  Second Tuesday of every month with a request to have RSVPs by the preceding Sunday so we can plan a potluck.  (That way, even when we don’t have enough money to have everyone here, we can make sure everyone has something to eat.)

There is something more, something else, which I choose to withhold for now.  I’m clearly inspired by 2013.  Are you inspired as well?  What are you plans, your intentions, your hopes, wishes, expectations, goals for the new year? 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading the Bible Because . . .

16 2 Do Unto Others
Image found here.

I know someone who has been struggling with her family’s faith and her own lack thereof.  Social media seems to be exacerbating the situation.  The things we would not say when sitting with family at a dinner table ends up being shared promiscuously online.  One family member shares a Christian meme and another shares it or shares another and then the skeptic shares a science related meme.  So one family member feels offended and does the “mature” thing by unfriending the "Doubting Thomas" who then feels hurt and says something inspiring another family member to justify what they are sharing as a sincere expression of faith, etc.

Thankfully, there is a lot of love and, as the Bible says, love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  There has been reconciliation between the family members and all is well but there are delicate and hurt feelings on all sides.  I suggested to this person that she might want to read the Bible for herself.  So few Christians do, after all.  Rob and his mother were oblivious to what translation of the Bible they read and both were raised in the church.  I’ve had many Christian friends who have never successfully read through the Bible although most claim they have tried.  Tried and failed because it’s too hard and some of the parts of the Bible are so boring.

So this person and I will be reading through the Bible, cover-to-cover, in 90 days, give or take.  I say “give or take” because we’re allowing a little space to maybe read it in four or five months rather than three but I had reasons for wanting to do it in less, rather than more, time.

One, there are parts of the Bible that are tedious to read even when you believe each and every word is a direct inspiration from God.  But when you do not believe this or hold any skepticism about this, these sections become unbearable.  Faith in what you are reading can be a strong enough reason “why” to keep you reading when you are suffering through these sections.  Where there is no faith, however, it becomes easier to bog down in “Why am I doing this again?”

Two, reading quickly allows for making connections where none would have been made otherwise.  If you read something in January and then, in October, read something else, you may not remember what you read in January well enough to make the synaptic connections that come with critical and intelligent thinking.  However, when you are reading only through March (or April), it is easier to remember that bit you read in January and the recollection can be better related with the more recent reading.

Three, I’ve read through the Bible in three months’ time before and I was not aware that now it is “a thing” complete with special Bibles and programs in churches and . . . well, you know, it apparently is oh so trendy.  That isn’t really the reason for me to suggest it, however.  Frankly, having done it before, I remember really enjoying the experience.  Also, I don’t really want to spend an entire year reading the Bible.  When another person I knew and I decided to study Catholicism, I read through a Catholic Bible in six months’ time and that was mostly because I was 1) doing it with her and I loved her enough to read the Bible again and 2) I was curious about Catholicism in general and wanted to read the “Apochryphal” books.  It was an interesting experience but it didn’t result in my eagerly picking up the Bible again when I was done.

My hope in reading the Bible this time is to help someone for whom I care a great deal to come to terms with a few things about her own faith (or lack thereof) and her family’s beliefs.  Perhaps she can see how expressions of faith, made by sincere believers, are meant to be a mitzvah, a blessing, a gift.  After all, sharing something you love with someone you love should be considered an act of love. 

Feeling safe is important and, for this person, reading the Bible with her family members wouldn’t be an option because they would feel compelled to help her “see the light” and read the Bible the same way as they, believing as they do and interpreting it through their faith rather than having an openness for discovery beyond doctrine and familiar teachings. 

Not that she is completely oblivious of church teachings because her family sent her to a Christian school and her step-father occasionally preaches.   They are Methodist and I am not.  We won’t be studying the text.  We won’t even be interpreting the text.  The purpose is to just read it, to become familiar with it.  If she wants to take it deeper, we can always do that later but, for now, a quick read through is all either of us is interested in doing.

As for the translation, the family’s church officially uses the Revised Standard but I recommended the New International which I feel is easier to not only understand but to appreciate.  And that is all she wants to do, to break through the feeling that she’s having other people’s faith shoved down her throat.  If I can help her build some bridges, that would be an honor for me. 


And who knows?  Maybe by the time we finish reading the Bible everyone involved will figure out how to use the filter and mute features in facebook because a lot of this drama could easily be avoided if everyone showed a little compassion and consideration.  But that's how I interpret the Golden Rule.  Treat others as you would be treated.  Sometimes this means saying nothing.  Sometimes this means speaking out.  Never does it suggest that you should say what you want to say, knowing that the other person not only does not want to hear it but does not need to hear it.  And therein lies the problem because sometimes people think they know what someone else needs and feel justified in doing what they do.  But I'll write more about that in another post, I'm sure.

Image found here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unwrapping the Christmas Break

Well, between my laptop deciding to implode on me and finishing up the certification course and taking the certification exam before I took the final for the course, immediately followed by Christmas which included my son Marc coming into town for a few days, you can imagine how wonderfully crazy things have been. 

Okay.  So maybe the preparing for the exam and taking the final after taking the exam was not wonderful.  It was stressful and frustrating while also being a clear statement of my expectations for bigger better things in 2013.

My friend Pia sent me this quick text this morning:  I love reading about the joy your family brings you!

That is how I am feeling.  Marc arrived on Sunday and we’ve been enjoying him to the fullest.  He and Matt went out to buy Bibi a Christmas present and, on Monday morning, Joe came over and I had the pleasure of making our traditional Christmas Eve breakfast—Egg Nog Cream of Wheat.  Rob doesn’t like it because, truth be told, you really have to like egg nog to like this but it was fun to have my boys here, starting our Christmas Eve off with a family tradition with only Shira missing.

Shira came later on Christmas Eve and helped amuse Marc as I continued to prepare for the big day.  I was still making the numbered gift tags and I’ve decided that in 2013 I’m going to work on making something more permanent using scrapbooking techniques and maybe some holiday cards from previous years.  Doing this will save me the bother of making new tags each and every year.

Each and every year

(By now you’ve noticed I’m already giving myself a reading challenge and promising myself to use my scrapbooking resources.  I have more commitments coming.  I'll write more posts soon.)

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is pizza and Rob made some really good ones, making sure that Shira and Marc both had their favorites (spinach white pizza and sausage, respectively).  I was truly satiated by the time we were done.  Then we watched How to Train Your Dragon which Rob and I had already watched and enjoyed very much.  The “children” both liked it as well.

I was up after midnight and Rob was up later still but that didn’t keep us all from being up earlier than Joe, Erin, and Brianna, apparently.  Not that it mattered.  I still wasn’t ready when they showed up.  I should have enlisted some help but I have it all settled down into a routine that doesn’t require a lot of thought from me. 

My not being ready allowed time for everyone to settle in before we began unwrapping gifts, most of which were for Bibi but too many were also there for me and Rob.  Nothing too much but enough to make me feel badly that I couldn’t not give my children more. 

They deserve more.  Much more.  Always more.

Of course there was a moment where Bibi was frustrated and another when she cried. We expect these things to happen.  Especially when she’s had so much happening from one day to the next.  (Bear in mind, on the day my laptop left my side, we took her to Build-a-Bear where we spent the money my mother to us for the purpose of her choosing a gift for herself and some outfits and such.  That was a Tuesday and her birthday was the 16th, a Monday so we had a birthday with gifts and cake.  Then there was birthday with Erin’s family and Christmas with Erin’s family and then more Christmas so this poor child was understandably overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and exhausted.  Heck!  I was exhausted for her.)

Once again, I simply must say that the year I came up with the idea of doing a buffet rather than cooking was a brilliant move on my part.  I shall never regret that decision.  We had cheese and pâté, cookies and mints, fresh fruit and nuts.  When Thomas arrived with a box of chocolates, we added that to the buffet.  When Adam showed up with his adorable girlfriend, we settled down to play some board games.  Apples to Apples and Munchkin.

This year, everyone stayed fairly late in spite of the fact that Erin had an early start to her day.  In spite of her needing to be at work at 4am, they were all here after 10:30.  I was up until midnight, cleaning dishes and such but the place looked remarkably clean, all things considered.  You cannot imagine how chaotic things were.  It looked like several things exploded but, by the time everyone had gone, it honestly didn’t look that bad. 

The best gift I got?  Well, I’ve inserted images of the things I received but the best gift of all was having my family all here.  I wanted Rob to go home this year to see his family but, when I knew Marc would be here for Christmas, I was grateful we couldn’t afford to send him home for the holidays.  Selfish person that I am, having him her—with Marc, with Shira, with Joe and Erin and Bibi—made my holiday as perfect as perfect could be. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RAM-a-lam-a-ding-dong

Is it redundant for an Aries to have problems with her RAM stack in her laptop?

How many problems?  Well, we stopped looking after over over 3,000,000 were found.  Which explains why my poor laptop felt compelled to do crash dumps.  Even when I was, you know, in the middle of something.

So the problem should be solved within a couple of days but . . . yeah.  Hard to study for a certification exam I'm taking on Saturday and access my online course without my laptop but there you are.  No worries.  I was already freaking out.  I think I've gone past that into numbness.

In any event, BBS and I've post-dated some posts for my book review blog so I won't be completely silent although I will be elsewhere.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Scrapbooking? Where Do I Begin?

First, stuff stuff and more stuff
I've been saying that I need to start using some of the scrapbooking stuff I've accumulated over the years. Some of these I started collecting back in 2002. And I haven't bought anything new in the past five years. So you're pretty much looking at a five years shopping frenzy.

In this first image, there is one large album (12x12) and six mini albums (6x6).  There are some rubber stamps (alphabet, sun and moon, even paperdolls!) and whole punches (mostly borders and corners) and lots of ephemera like charms, mini file folders, and other things I can use to collage some elegant pages.  Oh and there is even a mini-mini-scrapbook that's a mere 4x4 and paperback so not quite as intimidating as the fancy schmancy albums.
Almost all the pretty paper!

And that's just for starters because I also have papers.  The large album from the previous image is thematic: A Year in the Life album.  It came with these fancy sheets that you can see lined up on the right-hand side of the table.

The other papers are mostly thematically connected. You can see papers that look like old fashioned wallpaper while others look like damask and the colors easily work together because they are designed to do so.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the 6x6 mini-albums above all have papers that are complementary to the book's cover!  So you can probably add a bunch of papers that are 6x6 to the above.  Or you can just pretend that I don't really have that much after all.  As you can also see from this second image, there are borders and picture frames.

Still more pretty paper.  
Here is my other collection of papers where I found some more mini-mini-albums.  And there are two flapbook kits with a tutorial sheet that should carry me through step-by-step.  I have no clue what I'll do with them.  And some of these pages are thick, textured, absolutely luscious.

So what am I going to do with all of this?

Honestly, what I want to do intimidates me.

Having so many supplies is also intimidating.  But I can't pretend that, whatever it is I think I want to do, I have more than enough to start.  Sure I may start creating a page and want a layer of something different, a piece of ephemera I don't already have, some velum or embellishment that would truly finish a page and give it the effect I desire.  However, it is far more likely that I can make enough of a beginning to get a solid foundation set down for myself, something to which I can gradually add over time.

Overwhelmed, absolutely.  I'm hoping that having these photos in front of my eyes, I will be more inspired than intimidated.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Body By You by Mark Lauren with Joshua Clark


Last week I started using Body By You by Mark Lauren with Joshua Clark.   Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about my progress, gradually sharing quotes and other information about the program. 
Essentially, Lauren breaks down his program into five essential moves—lower and upper body, chest and back.  Each of the five movements works more than one group which is arguably better than using equipment that isolates one muscle or even muscle group.   

Only five moves?  How is this a program, you ask?  Well, you start out where you yourself are and progress through the same type of move but at varying degrees of difficulty.  You’ve probably seen people do inclined pushups where their feet are up on a bench making the simple push-up all the more difficult.  But if you cannot even do a push up, rest assured that is not where Lauren has you start. 

This is definitely one of the book’s strengths because, after doing a self-assessment, you start where you are and, doing the prescribed exercises, you decide whether you are ready to move to the next level, need to take it down a notch, etc. 

Furthermore, the book boasts that no equipment is required.  You use your own bodyweight to build muscle mass.  This is pretty much true, although we immediately came upon a couple of problems.  Of course, the few problems we immediately saw are nothing compared with the problems I already had going into this.
  • Would I be able to do the exercises, given my vertigo?
  • Would this program be effective for a woman of my age? 
Of course, I am not one to shy away from finding a way to do things in spite of any complications and that I am writing this post, saying I started using this program a week ago, suggests that whatever problems there are, I’m working through them.  And since I plan on writing about this for the next few weeks, I’ll leave some of the details for future posts.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Death Number Ten

Lyn Cima married my mother's brother, Augustin (Guy) Cima. We lost touch with her when he died and today I received an email with a link to her obituary. It sounds like she led a good life an was surrounded by people who loved her very much.

photoLyn (Carter) Cima, 75, formerly of Gurnee, died in Greenville, Maine on October 20th. After her husband was killed in a car accident in 1971, she obtained a law degree at John Marshall Law School and raised their six children as a single mom. She was an active member of the Lake Forest Friends (Quakers) Meeting. Lyn, the daughter of John and Mary Jane Carter was born in Camden, New Jersey and attended the University of Chicago at age 16, where she met her husband, Augustin Cima. They married in 1955. She vehemently opposed the war in Vietnam War. She marched, refused to pay war taxes, boycotted Hostess and edited the newsletter for the North Shore branch of the WILPF. She was a Draft Counselor during those turbulent years, and was arrested drawing attention to the Army's illegal surveillance of anti-war citizens. (Charges were dropped.) She joined the Lake Forest Friends Meeting and convened its Peace and Social Concerns Committee. Lyn was among the early organizers of PADS, Lake County's still-active community effort to feed and shelter the homeless. Until recently, she taught literacy to adult students and was honored when her student won Illinois' Spotlight Award for Literacy achievement. Her daughter, Kathy, remembers, "Mom was an intrepid warrior for peace and justice and had a special rapport with younger children who were drawn to her warm personality and Mickey Mouse sweatshirts" Lyn practiced law in Waukegan until 2001 when she retired to Maine. She is predeceased by her grandson James, and survived by her children, Chris, Steve, Tom, Kathy, Jeffrey, and Becky Bardosy, brother, and four grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 8 at the Lake Forest Friends Meeting House at the corner of Old Elm and Ridge Road. 
Published in Chicago Tribune on December 2, 2012

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Along With the Reading Challenge

Self-Portrait by Shira
The other day, I wrote about some of the things I want to do in 2013 and one of the things I listed is a personal reading challenge.  Before that, I wrote about how many books on creativity I've accumulated over the years.  Then I approached someone near and dear to my heart about what, if anything, she might find interesting of the things that are of most interest to me in 2013.  Amazingly enough, one thing actually piqued her interest (I know!) and we'll be doing  . . . something.  Not sure how we're going to work it out just yet but we agreed on something.

Dovetailing on this, I've also approached some friends of mine about another idea I had, one that I'll likely be discussing in more detail later.  It has something to do with this book, which I bought for my friend Pia as part of her birthday gift package.  I'll be sharing more about Pia in the near future.  Oh boy!

Anyway, I love this idea and, if I could afford to do so, I would buy this book for all my children, one for Rob, our mothers, my other friends, and, needless to say, myself.  But I can't afford to be that generous so I managed to find an alternative.

Now I just need to see if anyone is interested in joining me, not that it will preclude my doing what I want to do but, as we all know, sharing something you enjoy (or at least think you will enjoy) with someone else makes it all the more enjoyable.

But more about that later because I had intended to discuss a challenge I'm creating for myself and it begins with this clutter of books I borrowed from my local library.  (Rob took the picture and you can see my fingers, an ARC, and even a green apple in the upper part of the photo.)

Scrapbooking books I borrowed from the library
I own a few scrapbooking things I've picked up over the years.  I had planned on creating something for my children to give to them before they moved out but then I was working ridiculous hours and never really had time to myself.  Friends going through divorce, friends going through breakups, friends going through deep depressions, and taking my children to and from their jobs, managing a relationship with a guy who simply would not go away and eventually convinced me to marry him all added up to my never making time for this project.  

But not anymore.

You can expect book reviews for all of the ones in the image, obviously.  (BTW, some new reviews will finally go live on Monday.  Yaaaaay!)  You can also expect another photo so you can see the stuff I have accumulated over the years.  Admittedly, some of it was bought as a gift for someone who chose to leave my life.  But some of it was absolutely bought with myself and my children in mind.  

Regardless, I have created a second challenge for myself and I'll share more about it soon. More coming?  I keep saying this don't I?  Well, that's as much because I'm trying to get all of my mental ducks in a row (and my mental ducks are downright manic) before I officially define what it is I hope to do in 2013.

So let's see . . . I have committed to three things over here and will be doing fun things with my darling daughter and am hoping to do something with my friends and family . . . and something with all my scrapbooking stuff.

Oh boy!  

Are you as excited about 2013 as I am?  
How are your plans for the holidays panning out?  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Have a Writing Superhero. Do you?

Oops.  I thought I had set this to post at 5am today but I clearly didn’t set things up correctly due to some puppy related distraction. It was Romanov’s birthday after all and distractions are his best trick.

Write It!  Wednesday#3 asks:  Who are your writing superheroes and why?

writer Janice Erlbaum
Image found here.
 I had no problem thinking of my first and foremost answer:  Janice Erlbaum.

I've known Janice a long time.  How long? Well, keep reading!  Her first book, Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir, tells the story of her leaving home as a teenager due to the problems she was experiencing at home.  This memoir was followed up with Have You Found Her? about her experience volunteering at the same shelter where she had spent her adolescence and her relationship with a remarkable young woman who became like a daughter to her.

Photo
Image found here.
But these two books were not her first publishing experiences.  Her poetry also appears in Aloud and Verses That Hurt.  And I know she is still writing, still approaching the page each and every day.  Anyone who has read her memoirs knows that her flawed life ends in a good way.  When I went to NYC, I visited with her and she always has so many wonderful things to say about everything.  She carries a wealth of joy, even when she is writing about extremely painful things.  

It takes a lot of strength to relive a painful past.  That courage is evident on her blog where she recently shared about her mother's death.  So much strength.  So much honesty.  Too often at her own expense.  

Thanksgiving 1985
What I love about her blog is how often she admits to the same doubts that most authors experience.  But she's been published.  Not once. But more than once.  She's been featured in anthologies and even had two memoirs published.  I mean, how many other writers can say that?  Of course, there's also the knowledge that she's plugging away at more.  I don't know what her next story will be--whether it will be another memoir or a novel or some more poetry.

Janice is my hero.  There are other writers I admire.  Maybe I'll make time to write about them too.  Someday.  Today I am celebrating Janice, for her strength, for her honesty, for her compassion, for her joy.  

I've known her a long time and loved her almost as long as I've known her.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Responses

Every year we buy
a Siberian Huskies calendar
The other day I shared this form I created to get some ideas for myself and a sense of where others were/are in their own hopes for 2013.  I even posted about it twice on facebook although it was limited to only family and those friends who are like family.  The third question asked if those who responded wanted to know what my own answers to the questions are and both people who responded with an unqualified "yes" so here are my answers.
1) Read more of the books that are cluttering my many bookshelves and get rid of the ones I do not want to keep.
2) Find a way to connect with the people I love on a level that is meaningful to both of us.
3) Lose 10 lbs.
4) Spend time exploring my creativity
5) Earn more money than I did in 2012 ($500 in 2012) 
There were other things like getting rid of some of the clutter in my life--clothes I don't wear, the piles and piles of things around the house, and a lot of that will be done if focus even on one thing.  Finding a job would help me earn more money and relieve a tremendous amount of the stress I feel on any given day.  Lose 10 lbs has been on my list of things to do "this year" since I gained 20 in 2007.  Still haven't done it.  So when I narrow it down some more, this is what I have.
1) Earn more money than I did in 2012
2) Reconnect in a meaningful way with the people I love
3) Read the books on my shelves
Now, to look at the top three.

Photo courtesy of 401k on Flickr
Image found here.
1) Earn more money than I did in 2012
I will be taking the certification exam on 15 December which I am hoping will open some doors.  I haven't had any interviews this year so the last two weeks of 2012 will be spent once again revising my cover letter, revising my resume, and trying to make myself look good on paper.  Every month I am unemployed makes it that much harder to even get to the interview stage of things.  I've applied to retail stores and even tried to get some holiday temporary work.  Nothing.  I can't give up, however.  We have bills and I now owe as much as I did in my student loans as I did when I graduated, thanks to my not being able to pay them for the past few years and the interest accrued.  I literally feel like my life has fallen back at least a decade.  But I know I worked myself out of a hard corner once before and I know I can do it again.  So finding a job takes precedence because it has an impact on everything else.  And, while it seems so superficial to put this as the #1, the truth is that having some form of steady income would allow me the means to share my life with others more fully.  I would be free to buy gifts or, better yet, the materials I need to make gifts.

This novel is about
the power of connection
2) Reconnect in a meaningful way with the people I love
I continue to feel that relationships matter and I keep trying to build deeper connections with the people I love.  I tried this with former friends by reading what they were reading and this year I encouraged a friend of mine to take some online courses which I hoped would help her learn some skills that would empower her.

Even here in my blog, you can see evidence of my reaching out to make connections.  Last year's failed attempt at creating a reading challenge, my participating in the Banned Books Group on goodreads, and a few other feelers that I let ripple out.  I discussed some of my ideas with the people in my life and their responses were tepid, at best.   As I set aside ideas that were unfeasible or that others saw as problematic, I was able to narrow down a few things in my own mind.  The key, of course, is in the word meaningful which means I have to find something that matters to me but will also matter to them.

Recent events have definitely thrown this into a harsher light.  Of course, the other significant word in there is love because I feel a lot of my energy the past few year has been given to people who have proven themselves to be unworthy of my love if only because they devalued themselves or me.  When it comes to relationships, I've always preferred quality over quantity and I've learned in the past two years that when you try to take relationships to a deeper level the superficial people tend to fade away.

There are two people in particular with whom I would like to relate with more deeply, not including my family.

One of the many books
I own I haven't read
3) Read the books on my shelves
This seems like such a superficial item to have on my top three.  Like most bibliophiles, I have accumulated a ridiculous number of books over the years and I don't get around to reading them.  Many of them are on different aspects of creativity so choosing this actually is like choosing #4 from the initial list as well.  I mean, how could I read a book on drawing without exploring my creativity, right?  Or one on writing poetry?  Inevitably, some of these books will serve a double duty and all I need to do is stop being distracted from what I own by what is out there waiting for me to read.  But I still want to utilize our public library so next year I'll be limiting myself to very specific types of books which I'll borrow from the library and my goal is to read the books I own and/or can get for free in some other way.  From the library I'll borrow children's books and maybe an occasional art book.  Other than that, I will be culling my reading from what is already on hand.  Or loaned to me by friends and family.  Or given to me as gifts.

So these are my answers to the questions.  Over the next few weeks I'll be taking small steps to clarify the above, to set things in motion, to get some momentum going before the new year officially begins.  If you are inclined to answer the questions, drop me a comment so I know you did.  Just follow the link.  

I am looking forward to the new year and expect it to be a wonder-full one.