Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Start to Finish

Finish what you start.

If you start something, finish it.

What you begin, you must complete.

All beginnings have an end.

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on 
of an uncompleted task." ~ William James

I am inspired today by these words of wisdom and yet, 
I have a List of Incompletes that clutters and haunts my mind
from the time I open my eyes until I lay down at night.

This blog is one of those incompletes. 
I should post something 
stalks through my brain several times a day, 
stomping around other ideas,
and things to do 
slithering through my head.

I started this blog, 
but I don't post regularly. 

I started organizing my filing cabinet;
it's halfway done.

I began a workout regime;
I haven't worked out in seven days.

I began writing a short story
(several short stories);
words jump off a cliff 
with no end in sight.

I'm seeing a pattern here. 

What if we all finished what we started? 
Establish the blog, organize the papers, make exercise a habit, 
write the darn story.  

Who knows what new beginnings will be waiting on your doorstep 
when you finish what you start? 

New beginnings
with new endings 
that could change
your whole life.

What are you beginning
but not finishing?

Start to finish 
some of the incompletes in your life 
and see what comes your way.

As for me,
I am about to finish this blog post.
Whatever else I finish this week,
I will post here.  

Please feel free to do the same. 



Friday, May 25, 2012

Reading Stack (No Sitting Books!)

My daughter left her reading book at school.

I don't recommend leaving the book you need to read at school. I told her so in many different dialects. Mostly upset, aggravated ones.

I then dragged my butt away from the New Jersey Devils v. New York Rangers hockey game screaming on my TV, and skipped us both to the library.

We were only going to check out the book she needed so she could get her homework done, I swear.

Who am I kidding. I came home with a stack of books.

So this is what I'll be reading for the next three weeks. And I really hope to read, rather than watch books sit, which is what I did last time I brought a stack home from the library.

Watching books sit doesn't get books read. To watch books sit, you use renewal after renewal until there are no more renewals left, and the sitting books have to go back to the library...unfinished.  Unfinished books!  The thought makes me cringe.

So here's my stack:
Beautiful books waiting to be cracked open
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Initially, I read a few blog reviews which sparked my interest. At the library, I found Feed standing upright on top of a bookshelf, instantly recognized the cover, and grabbed it hoping for some creepy distopian flavor. We shall see!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid
I haven't been Ms. Avid Reader this year. In fact, I've started so many books I haven't finished it's quite embarrassing. I'm so behind on all the popular reads in the past several years, not to mention the box office-hyped movies that come from these books. I've heard enough about this one to predict it will make me cry. I scanned the book flap to gather what could possibly come from a bunch of bees. When I read that it's “about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers,” I knew The Secret Life of Bees wanted to come home with me.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Immortal Fire, Book #3 of Ursu's Cronus Chronicles, sat on the shelf next to this one. I still need to read The Immortal Fire to complete the series, but Breadcrumbs is Ursu's latest. Since I'm not ready to experience the end of a fun series, I picked up Breadcrumbs instead. I'll check out The Immortal Fire next time.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
A no brainer for me. I've read every other Dan Brown book and he does not disappoint. Plus, I'm already invested up to Chapter 77 in the paperback version. Since I am in constant fear of ruining the pristine spine of a loaned book, I figured I'd return it to the owner and finish the book on the library's dime. I'll probably finish this one first before reading the others.

Writer's Market 2012
I check out the most current copy of Writer's Market whenever I get the chance, to peruse writing opportunities and gather fresh writing ideas. Not only does Writer's Market provide me with tons of great information, it inspires me.  My pen needs inspiration for the page, as well as my brain for the keyboard. Ultimately, I need to write.

And read.

I need to read.

No more sitting books allowed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Writing Challenge: 250 words per day

In the interest of coaxing myself to write at least six days per week, I have joined a challenge.

*Because lately, {gasp!} I've become the "writer who does not write." 

I almost cringe at announcing this on here, because whenever I disclose my grand intentions, it seems my subconscious believes that's all I need to do. I start out all gung-ho, with ninja-sharp determination, only to fizzle out after all is said and done. I tell the world of my intentions and my intentions start to become just that: words with no action.

Perhaps it is my nature. I have varied interests, and they all compete for my attention. It's a minute-by-minute struggle to stay focused. Recently though, I came to the conclusion I must follow my heart, go where my intuition nudges, allow it to lead me where it wants. To see what happens next should be all the fun.

Lately, my heart screams whispers to write. It whispers to use more of what I have; it suggests I sit steadily working at the dusty instruments lying around my house. It wants to immerse itself in music, try new recipes without hesitation, create without questions, doubts, or indecision. My heart swoons when I'm one with a song, when floured hands create something beautiful and delicious, when words flow and push through the chaos all around me. I suppose I'm interested in putting Barbara Sher's revelation to the test when she said, “What you are really supposed to be doing is whatever makes your heart sing.”

Since I don't do enough of what makes my heart sing, I'm ready to begin this journey. This time however, I will begin with baby steps rather than taking on huge endeavors and then falling flat when fear shows its fangs.

250 words a day is doable.  I began last night and was surprised when I exceeded this word count with one thing remaining: a hunger to keep writing.

Join me, won't you?  

Sunday, January 01, 2012

No Goals for 2012!

My goals and resolutions for 2012 are...

Image Credit:  Michal Marcol
I'm not telling!

In the past, I've shared my goals openly, in detail and with grand intention.

I'm not going to do that anymore.

Why? I came to the startling conclusion over the past year that sharing my goals does NOT help me reach them.

Rather, I've found it does the opposite.

I've learned that sharing my goals actually hinders me. It makes me question myself when I feel myself falling short.

It hands off my secret energy. When I give that away, there's not much left to give so I freeze up; I'm paralyzed. Ultimately, it gives me something to feel guilty about if I don't reach my goal. 

I don't like guilt, so I'm doing away with it this year!

I came across a rather interesting statement the other day made by C. Hope Clark, author and editor of FundsforWriters.com. Rather than paraphrase what she said, I will let her eloquence speak for itself.

“...I believe that broadcasting your goals takes some of the starch out of them, leaving them less exciting. Many writers announce their goals, thinking they'll be held more accountable by making promises in writing and out loud. Keep your goals to yourself, as if you are planning a surprise. Face it . . . if you told everyone around you what your presents were going to be, the feeling of awe when they are finally revealed feels rather dampened.”  ~ C. Hope Clark [http://hopeclark.blogspot.com/]

I couldn't agree more.

So, here's to working on my presents for the year without anyone knowing what they are. I'm excited and energized for all that implies.

It means I'm only accountable to myself, which is how it should be, really. It means I have free range to try, do, make mistakes, and try some more.

If I get there is not the important thing.

Am I doing?

Am I continuously doing, day in and day out?  And then doing some more?

Am I working towards what I value?   What excites me?  What sparks my spirit?

If so, that's all the validation and accountability I need.

Besides, it will be much funner to share the journey, the beautiful screw-ups, the awesome lessons learned along the way.

Cheers to all the stuff we're doing and places we're going in the year ahead!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Chocolate I Have Known

I love chocolate.
It's something I crave from time to time.
Okay, I give. I crave it daily.
Unfortunately for me, losing weight, keeping fit and eating chocolate daily don't jive (and I'm not a fan of dark chocolate), so I found a couple great snacks that satisfy my chocolate urge and don't pack on the pounds. One of these snacks also covers my ice cream craving, so I nipped two birds in the beak with this one!

Jell-O Mousse Temptations
As I was packing my daughter's lunch one morning, I had an urge to pop open her chocolate pudding and inhale the contents. So, instead of doing the unspeakable, I set out on a search for some chocolate pudding that both tastes good and is low in sugar. I found that Jello-O pudding has many low sugar products, but it was the Temptations line that enticed me with it's mousse-like pudding, 60 calories per cup and zero grams of sugar.

It tastes so light and chocolately I knew from the second I tasted it that this was my go-to chocolate friend. My favorite is Chocolate Indulgence, but there's also Caramel Creme, Dark Chocolate Decadence and a new mint flavor called Chocolate Mint Sensation.

Once I stocked up on Chocolate Indulgence I tried to keep it off my kids' radar because I knew once they tasted it they would love it, want it, and eat my stash.

My chocolate pudding! MINE!!

I was right.
Now my daughter wants me to replace her pudding with my pudding. She is as in love as I am. I also read that you can freeze it, and I just may try that too and see how it tastes.

No Sugar Added Fudgsicles
I learned about these when I first researched the South Beach Diet. They have less calories (40 per bar), and of course sugar (2-1/2 grams), than their regular Fudgsicle counterpart. None of the other ricotta infused, sugar-free recipes that South Beach Diet suggests sounded like anything edible as far as I was concerned. I needed chocolate and I needed ice cream. At the same time. I was a little hesitant of them at first, (how good could no sugar Fudgsicles really taste?) but bought them anyway. SOLD. They are just perfect for my after dinner, chocolate & ice cream mind scream that tempts me to my freezer at night.

I am so jazzed I now have two desserts that satisfy my chocolate needs without making me feel like I have to run for fifty hours after consuming.
And yes they are needs.
No need to water it down or anything.

*I am in no way affiliated with either of these brands and receive no compensation for mentioning them. I'm so thrilled to find them and just want to pass along the find!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

February 2011 Goal Update

I'm a little late on my goal update for the month of February. So, let's get right to it:

1. Lose 52 pounds
At one time, I was down 4 more pounds for a total of 16 pounds lost, but it fluctuates up and down and has never made it all the way back down. Basically, I'm weighing the same as I was in January (give or take 1 to 2 pounds).

I took measurements of my body at the beginning of February, but when I went to take them again they were so off from the original (in both directions) that I know something is wrong. I need to learn how to take proper measurements and start over.

I have slipped somewhat on my healthy eating plan, but I always jump right back on track with my next meal. I'm not hitting an average of 3 times per week exercise, so my consistency needs work. On a postive note, I have been walking a lot more, taking stairs whenever possible and keeping busy on my feet as much as possible versus sitting on my tush all day.

March outlook:  Become consistent with exercise, at least 3 times per week. Walk daily. I will lose 4-8 more pounds. Take measurements again the proper way and re-evaluate after one month.

2. Enter my writing into at least 12 contests (1 per month)
This month, I sent my poetry to 2 seperate contests. The point is not to sit around hoping for a reply or a win, it is to get myself into the habit of writing and releasing. My initial goal here is to boost my writing confidence by continually sending my stuff out into the world.

March outlook: Incorporate daily writing practice, even if only 15 minutes a day. Entry into at least one new market.

3. Become more fluent on the guitar
Boo! I've hardly played this month! I can't figure out why. When I end up sitting down with my guitar, I love it. Not sure why discipline to practice everyday is so hard to come by....

March outlook: DAILY practice!!!

4. Read at least 24 books
I enjoyed Number the Stars by Lois Lowry so much in January that I decided to seek out another by the same author. The Giver by Lois Lowry did not disappoint. Once again, this is another book I'm embarrassed to admit I had never read, but now that I have, I believe it sets the benchmark for all distopian novels. Was it easy to imagine happening in our time? Yes. Was it suspenseful and full of wonder? Yes yes. Was it full of interesting, intellectual characters? Yes yes yes. Loved it.

I also checked out Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Of course, it was the title that captured my interest. Unfortunately, the title was the only thing. Basically the book told me the reason I am fat is because I eat meat. I kept reading hoping to glean some facts I could use in my day to day life. It told me to eat fake cheese and butter. No thank you. Then it began to detail, blow by disgusting blow, how poorly animals are treated. I almost threw up. I'm sure that was the scare tactic the authors intended to turn readers into full-fledged vegetarians, but it merely managed to intensify my need to research the claims further. I liked the authors' "no-nonsense" approach, yet their way of getting a point across to the reader was borderline insulting. In conclusion, I didn't walk away with anything remotely useful from this book.

I've begun to read The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene but haven't finished yet. This is a book I should probably purchase because it's a reasonable guide to follow for healthy eating. It also introduces an exercise plan that utilizes levels as a way to work towards your ultimate goals. This is a book I want in my home library.

I'm also a quarter the way through The Vampire Armand which is Book #6 in The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I will provide a review when I'm done reading.
During February I also read my fair share of e-newletters, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

March outlook: Finish The Vampire Armand by Anne Rice. Finish The Best Life Diet and let it motivate me to exercise! Make another trip to the library and read at least 2 more books.

5. Make $1000 per month for extra income
I didn't earn a cent this month. However, I think I have a better handle on how Ebay works. I also got Paypal up and running and am ready to post my first item in March.

March outlook: List something on Ebay. If it sells, list again. Work on marketing my writing.

6. Get out of credit card debt
With all the work I've been putting into my apartment, and the poor economy effecting my husband's business, my credit card debt situation is still the same.

March Outlook: Organize paperwork and call consumer crediting counsel to get some assistance.

7. Spend under $150 per week on groceries for my family of four.
Much improvement this month. One week I spent more than $150, but the rest of the time I was able to keep it well under that amount. Our average spending for groceries in February totalled $139/week. This  includes toiletries and other non-food items. I've had to learn to go without and make do more than once. We also ate out twice this month for a total of $43. These two times were a treat. Limiting our trips out to eat takes immense discipline but we appreciate, and look forward to, our trips out that much more.

March outlook: Work on menu planning so cooking dinner is not such a chore. Shopping is more pleasant when I know ahead of time what I need, and it helps me better utilize coupons and save more money.

8. Get my foot in the door someway, somehow working in a library and/or bookstore
No luck here. I look daily, but I haven't found any openings.

March outlook: Keep searching!

9. Get all my pictures organized and labeled, both print and digital
I have managed to get some organizing done on my computer. It's a step in the right direction. The first half of February I was still knee deep in apartment renovations, namely reorganizing and cleaning after getting new paint and carpet. My print pictures are all in one place at least. This month I displayed some framed pictures that were in storage. I want to swap out others and get my print pictures better organized.

March outlook: Continue getting pictures on computer labeled and organized. Swap out some framed pictures to start fresh.

10. Post to my blog AT LEAST once per week, preferably more.
This did not happen in Februrary. My last blog post was so disheartening that I wanted to give it the space it deserved.
March outlook: Get posting!

11. Get my husband on an airplane, and finally visit Chicago 

Didn't happen this month. But now I have my daughter working on daddy too. I just know he doesn't want to disappoint us! Even if we don't get him on a plane, I see a road trip by car or train in our future.

March outlook: Gotta make that money...one of our biggest obstacles to travel right now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Goodbye White Stripes

Today is a sad day for music. 

One of my favorite bands, The White Stripes, have officially announced their break up. 

You will be missed.  Thanks for all the music you've given us over the years.