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.

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.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Things Unsaid

I didn't mention, in my post about our Thanksgiving, that Romanov had another seizure.  He has them whenever he throws up or perhaps the vomiting is the first step in what follows.  Either way, he started heaving and I hustled him outside because the last thing Bibi needed to see what Romanov go into convulsions.  Matt immediately understood and took charge of distracting Bibi.  Once he was outside and I had managed to get Rob's attention from the leaf blowing, I came back inside to close the blinds.

Yesterday I found out that my step-sister's mother died.

Janice and her mother, Joan
There have been nine deaths this year and there's still another week and month to go before the year is over.  I am going to try to find a card that will express at least some of what I'm feeling right now.