Tuesday, May 03, 2016

One thing every day

On Bob's days off during the week, he would always call me and tell me what he did around the house, like unloading and loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, vacuuming, etc. I'd always tell him thank you, but you don't have to do all that stuff, it's your day off!

But now that I'm working from home, I understand his motivation. I don't want him to think I'm slacking off, laying around all day reading or playing games on the phone. So when he comes home I give him a rundown, too. Yesterday I did laundry, ran the dishwasher, paid bills, went through another box that I brought home from work, and threw away a bunch of stuff. Then I went to the grocery store to get cheese to make cheese bread. I intended to mix it up last night to bake today, but I didn't. Tonight, maybe.

This morning I ran out and got potting soil so I could plant the begonias that I bought at the grocery store yesterday, and then I had an appointment with a recruiter in the afternoon.

My plan is to do at least one thing every day that moves my business forward. Yesterday I emailed some clients that I hadn't done work for in awhile, and a couple of them wrote back that yes, they did need site updates, and would get back to me soon. I also got a new client out of the blue,* by word-of-mouth recommendation, so Monday ended on a good note, and today I got a maintenance client by posting my info in a Facebook thread.

It's a start.

*I have to post this quote, because it made me so happy. She said, "you’ve come so highly recommended that I’m just thrilled that you have time for me."

Monday, May 02, 2016

Learning something new

A couple of years ago I saw something called Zentangle©, and I was fascinated. But it looked complicated, and I never pursued it.

Then in April I saw an Instagram tag The100dayproject, and it struck me that that would be a good way to get into Zentangle. So I bought the recommended (Sigma Micron) pens and some cardstock, got some books from the library, and started.

There are official Zentangle Tiles, and I have some, but it's like I don't want to waste them. Which I know is stupid, but I didn't have very many. I just ordered some more, so this week I'll probably use them.

The Zentangle process is interesting in that it isn't just doodling, as it may at first appear. There is a definite structure. There is an official size tile (3-1/2 x 3-1/2), official "tangles," i.e., patterns, all with names, and a very definite way of doing things. At first, it seems restrictive, but I've found in this and in other things that there is freedom in structure. If everything is just open-ended, it's hard to know where to start. The blank page is intimidating. So with Zentangle, you take a tile, mark a loose square on it with pencil, make what is called a "string," which separates the square into random sections, and start making your patterns. Once you have filled the tile with patterns, you can go back and shade it with a pencil to add some dimension to it. It is always non-representational.

If you venture out of the prescribed method, you are making Zentangle-inspired art, or ZIA, and if you "tangle" on greeting cards or other media, or do something like a portrait, that's what you're making.

There is also a meditative aspect to it. The method is to follow a prescribed set of steps each morning to create your tile, which puts you in a creative frame of mind for the rest of the day. I've found this to actually be true.

I consider myself creative in that I make things like jewelry, I can sew and knit, but I've never been able to sit down and draw something, and I've always wanted to. Zentangle looks complicated, but by following the prescribed method and studying the process, anyone can do it, like they say, "Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time".

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Currently I am

In an effort to journal more, I was looking at journaling and list-making prompts and saw a bunch of interesting ones, so I think I'll try that for a few days. Here's the first one, a snapshot of what's going on my life right now. (Adapted from an idea on One Velvet Morning a few years ago.)

Currently, I am:

  • Reading "Chaos Choreography: an InCryptid Novel" by Seanan McGuire
  • Playing Neko Atsume (iPhone pseudo-game)
  • Watching "Bosch" on Amazon Prime Video - Series based on Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch police procedural mysteries
  • Listening to "Once a Crooked Man," by David McCallum - audio version read by the author (and it's quite wonderful)
  • Trying to win the lottery (Okay, not true. Bob is trying to win the lottery, always.)
  • Cooking (Baking) Artisan bread
  • Eating Panera Bacon Turkey Bravo (half sandwich left over from last night's dinner) and Cheetos Mix-Ups, Xtra Cheesy Mix
  • Drinking Scooter's Mocha Blender, extra shot of espresso, no whip
  • Pinning Bread recipes
  • Tweeting Nothing. I hate Twitter.
  • Knitting Studio Cowl from Ravelry
  • Sewing nothing at the moment, but did fix a pocket on one of Bob's work shirts last night
  • Doing nothing.
  • Going nowhere.
  • Loving Vera Bradley's Petite Red Bandanna Paisley print
  • Hating the current usage of "ask" as a noun, i.e., "List the client asks"
  • Discovering that I enjoy making bread
  • Enjoying the beautiful Spring weather that came early this year
  • Thinking about
  • Feeling slightly guilty about my huge sock yarn stash
  • Hoping we win the lottery
  • Celebrating winning the lottery (in my dreams)
  • Smelling bacon being cooked in the restaurant next door
  • Thanking Bob, for buying me Cheetos Mix-Ups at the store last night
  • Considering ordering some fancy printed Post-it flags from Amazon
  • Finishing basically nothing. Second sock syndrome.
  • Starting making notes for a possible new book
  • Wishing for KnitPicks Options Short Interchangeable Needle Set. Oh, what the heck. I went to the site to get that link, and they were having a sale, so I ordered them. You only live once, right?
  • Looking forward to upgrading my iPhone in April
  • Wondering why my stomach is always upset. Stress? Gallbladder-less-ness? Lactose intolerance? It's a mystery.
  • Making me happy right now Cheetos Mix-Ups. :)

Planner Angst

I'm having some real planner angst this year. I don't remember ever having this much trouble. I think it's because I'm walking so much farther to work now. Just three blocks, but I used to be able to get out of my car and walk about a car length to the door, so it didn't matter how much I carried. Now I'm much more aware of it.

I started out with my big leather zippered Franklin Planner that I used last year, but it's just too heavy to carry around all the time. And whatever I'm using, I want to carry it around all the time. So I ordered an open binder, same size, and after a couple of weeks I felt the same way about it, just way overkill, too much, too heavy.

So I tried a smaller planner, the "compact" size I think it was, and I tried a one page a day layout instead of the two-page, and it was sort of okay, but just not enough room to write. I've always used the two page a day version, with an hourly schedule and a to-do list on the left, and a completely blank (lined) page on the right for notes and journal. So one lined page wasn't really doing it, and there was no dedicated to-do or appointments section, so everything was just one big, crowded page.

So next I tried going to a blank notebook -- a Levenger Circa notebook -- for a couple of weeks. I love the Circa system, with the discs instead of rings, and I love the Levenger paper. I enjoyed the blank pages, but I felt like I had no structure at all. I started getting really anxious about it. I think one of my problems is that I started following a bunch of "planner addicts" on Instagram, with all of the Happy Planner stuff, etc., and stickers and colored pens and flags and tabs, and I liked it, but it's just like WAY too much pressure. They are beautiful, but for me personally, I don't want to spend my time decorating pages, I just need a place to write everything down. If it's cute, it's a bonus, but I tend to get tired of any kind of decorative stuff, so really, plain pages are better for me.

There is also a lot of chatter about bullet journals. I was tempted, and almost bought a dotted Moleskine, but rationality prevailed and I put it back, knowing myself, and knowing that I wouldn't keep it up. I don't want to have to create the framework, I want it already created. And I know that I'm not creative that way, i.e., I would put way too much pressure on myself to be perfect, and it wouldn't work out, and I would abandon it.

For awhile I was considering looking at spiral-bound planners just so I had a whole monthly spread, but that was making me anxious, too. I was going to go to Barnes & Noble and see if the calendars were on sale, and if they had any left. But I've looked before, and never really found anything I loved. Although if I got something that cost $5 and ended up not using it, it wouldn't be that much of a loss.

After a lot of soul searching (you would think we were talking about world peace or global warming or something, not just a place to write stuff down), I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy the Levenger Circa Smartplanner System for 2016. It's not perfect, but maybe nothing is. The layout is one week on two pages -- the lefthand side is boxes for the days; the righthand side has Weekly To Do, Weekly Goals, and a half page blank space titled "Notes." And the beauty of the Circa system is that if I need/want to write more, I can just insert a blank lined page.

I also got a pretty cover to replace the plastic ones. It was ridiculously expensive, but all the Levenger products are. They are great quality, though. I love their paper.

So far I'm liking it. The daily boxes are pretty small, but I think it will work. My system is evolving -- in the daily boxes I put events like birthdays, holidays, vacation days, anniversary days, etc., along with any appointments, along with reminders of things that absolutely have to be done on, or by, that particular day, such as paying bills, making phone calls, etc. Normally, i.e., with a Daytimer type of planner, I would write a daily to-do list, and anything that didn't get done that day would be moved/repeated on the next day. I kind of like that, but what I'm doing now is going with the Weekly ToDo, and it seems to be working okay, particularly because it is visible on the same spread as the daily reminders.

I haven't used, or figured out how to use, the "Weekly Goals" column. I'm just using it as another place for notes or lists. The open "Notes" area isn't really very big, but it's working okay, and like I said, I can slip in an extra blank page if I need to.

I also need to come to grips with the fact that I don't have to carry everything around in written form all the time, since I do have a phone that contains my contacts, several list and journaling apps, i.e., plenty of places to record things. It still kind of makes me nervous, though.

Just the latest iteration of my ever-evolving planner saga ...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Year Ahead - 2016

Overall Theme for the Year: Six of Pentacles.

This card fell out of the deck as I was getting ready to do the reading, and I always pay attention when that happens.

The card shows a merchant handing coins to a beggar, with another waiting to receive his own. The merchant holds a scale. This card can represent charity, as in offering help to those who need it, or can indicate receiving charity or help. Can symbolize a willingness to ask for help -- emotional or physical as well as monetary, or the need to take actions that allow help to come to you. Generosity.

January: The Devil

As I started shuffling the cards, I saw that I had left The Devil card in the tin. While I would normally use the same logic that I applied to the Six of Pentacles, in this case I didn't want to give The Devil any extra focus. However, after I picked up the card and shuffled it back into the deck, I ended up picking it first anyway. So it must be important.

The Devil can represent situations that are unhealthy or unproductive, negativity, self doubt, obsessive thought, ignorance. Illusions, mistakes, lies, the absence of light. Clinging to people or situations that can harm or chain us. The beings at the foot of the devil are chained, but the chains are loose, and it appears that they could escape if they wanted to. So it can also represent the liberation of the imprisoned spirit. The absence of light indicates that there is light elsewhere. We can free ourselves from our obsessive thoughts and find the light again if we choose.

Cards are from the Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot Deck.

Word for the Year

For the last couple of years I've joined the group of people who choose a word to guide their year, going through Susannah Conway's Find Your Word course. Two years ago my word was "Believe," and I chose to apply it to believing in myself, believing that I could be successful in my various businesses and in my life, and I think it helped. I kept the word in front of me and tried to keep it in mind as I went through the year.

Last year, I had a hard time choosing a word, and ended up with "Shine." I thought that I would devote the year to being a shining person, to being the kind of person who makes others happy, who lights up the room. I wasn't totally convinced of it, but then, in the first week of January, Bob collapsed with an aortic aneurysm and ended up in the hospital for almost two months. "Shine" kind of went out the window and I was back to Believe -- believing that he would recover and come back to me, and he did. He "believes" that the reason he survived was because of my "belief" that he wouldn't die. I'm not sure about that, but whatever we did worked, and "Believe" served me well.

There are some things in my life that I need to let go of and move beyond. So I thought maybe "Release" would be a good word for this year for many reasons. Release the thoughts that keep you tied down, release the obsessive and oppressive thoughts, just let it all go. Or maybe "Breathe," something that I have to remind myself to do quite often. Then I thought, "Grace," and I knew that was it.

Grace has always been a quality that I have tried to emulate, but perhaps not very well recently. So, Grace. Not as in graceful, although I could use that reminder, too. But more grace-full, i.e., full of grace. A little card that I keep in my planner -- and have no idea where it came from -- reads, "In matters of higher feelings and attributes, including mind and moral character, the person who relies on his heart achieves grace.

I kind of think that it goes along with the January card -- The Devil -- and Release as well, as far as letting go of the chains and thoughts that keep you from achieving grace. To let it go, to live my life in a manner that lets me, and everyone that I come in contact with, to soar. Another good word. But this year, it's Grace.

Bob and I were both off Thursday through Sunday for the New Year, and it was a wonderful break. We didn't really do anything, just hung around the house, ate good food, had some conversations, read books, watched movies, just had a really quiet and peaceful start to the year. Exactly what we wanted and needed.