A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) Goals for Round 1 of 2016

ROW80LogocopyI’ve learned through a lot of different experiences that writing down my goals and being accountable helps me achieve what I’m after. So with the new year, I’ve decided to join Row80. It’s claim is that it’s “A Writing Challenge that knows you have a life.” You set goals for 80 days at a time, with weekly check-ins. Weekly check-ins work well for me. Enough to keep me moving without being too overwhelming in reporting. The first round 1 of 2016 begins today, January 4. And I’m jumping in.

Much of this first round of 80 days focuses on editing projects for others and planning activities for my own writing, which will emerge as writing goals in Round 2. My other goals include figuring out the shape I want my blog to take, determining the other creative outlets I will pursue, and becoming more settled in a new home. Specifically, I will target the following:

Finish Accreditation Editing  (DEADLINE: January 30)
This project is going well. Ten of 15 chapters pretty much finished. The other five are well under-way. I have a meeting next week to finalize the recommendations. Then I can finish.

Finish Co-Authored Paper  (DEADLINE: January 11)
I’m waiting for my co-author to respond to my last take on the revision. This is relatively low-stress at this point, since we are largely in agreement about how to incorporate recommended revisions.

Finish planning courses and upload materials to website
I have to update my assignments and projects for Intro to Criminal Justice, but the Intro to Sociology will take a little more effort. I haven’t taught this course in a few years, and it’s a hybrid course (a few in-person meetings and the rest online).

Post on blog 25 days in January
I hope to publish something on my blog every day, but it’s better for me to exceed the goal than to miss it by one or two days. The January posts do not fit a specific theme. In fact, there is no real plan other than to experiment with all kinds of things, and see if anything sticks. Which leads to the next goal.

Create  a Blogging Plan
I am not talking about looking for a niche. I’ve made peace with the fact I don’t have to write about one or two topics and leave out things that don’t fit those topics. I admire people who have niche blogs, but as long as my life remains as eclectic as it is, I can’t expect my blog to be different. I’ll be looking for a couple of focal points for my life, but not necessarily for my blog. Still, I want to have a plan for publishing with a list of possible post topics and a rough schedule for doing so.

Read Draft Novels (TBA)

Work Out a Weekly Schedule
With all the various activities I need to do in a week, I need to schedule routine activities like grading, course prep, tutoring review, writing, and personal time. No reason to waste thinking time on remembering and scheduling these activities over and over.

Finish Jack’s Quilt
I’m ready to start the machine quilting. I want to have the quilt delivered to my grandson and then post pictures online (my daughter-in-law wants to be surprised), so no posting until the quilt is delivered.  😉

Piece the back of Kate’s quilt
My daughter has given me until her 30th birthday to finish it, but I’m going to see how many months ahead I can manage to beat that deadline. (She’ll be 29 the lst of March.)

Get back into regular music activities
I got a call about scheduling some dates to play at a church nearby, and once I get back into it by working with them, I can be on a wider sub-list. this is one of those two-birds-with-one-stone kind of things. I want to brush up on my skills, and earning a little extra money will be good. Who knows, I may even pick up a couple of piano students.

Determine longer range goals
I want to make this year really focused toward specific goals, but I haven’t yet really defined what those will be. The first half of Row 1 is going to be focused on creating a plan that will carry me through the year.

I’m sure there will be adjustments as I go, but this seems like a good place to begin. I’m off and running!

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome 2016

weekendcoffeeshareIt’s Sunday, time to gather with family and friends and catch up on the week’s happenings. Check it out at Diane’s page.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I only have four more days left in Iowa before heading back to Michigan to start up the new semester.  It’s been wonderful to be here with David and his sister, even if one of her dogs can’t decide whether to play with me or bark at me.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’ve made good use of my time here. The revisions of my co-authored paper are moving into the final phase, and the editing job I’m doing for an accreditation site visit are moving along.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m finalizing my plans for my two sections of Introduction to Criminal Justice and a hybrid section of Introduction to Sociology. This hybrid course features five in-person sessions at the beginning of the semester and another five (including the final exam) at the end. All the stuff in the middle is done online. I’m enjoying the chance to create something that will get students excited about sociology while having the freedom to try new things.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that in addition to the work I need to do for my own projects, I’ve been helping Dave with the sorting of papers and belongings, arranging for furniture pick up, and making the place a little more cozy, so his sister can really call it her own, now that Mom has been gone nearly two years. If Cathy’s tests at the end of January go well and the cancer doesn’t require any major surgery or treatment, Dave will be back in Michigan in February. Fingers crossed for all of us.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finally got my sewing machine figured out and I have machine quilted nearly half of my practice quilt. I’ll be able to start the actual quilting on Jack’s quilt very soon — maybe even tomorrow!

I’d also tell you that My Weekend Coffee Share is going to double as a JusJoJan post. Head over and check it out.  🙂

jjj-2016

The Pause That Refreshes: SoCS

It’s time for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which means I’m also going to get a post in for Just Jot it January. What I like most about this happy coincidence is that I like getting a two for one in a post, AND SoCS posts usually end up being something I never would have written otherwise. So it’s a great surprise. If you’ve never tried it before, you should check it out. It can be really fun! So here is today’s prompt from Linda.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “pause/paws.”  Use one, use both, use ’em any way you’d like. Have fun!

When I saw this prompt, I couldn’t help think of the Coca-Cola commercial with the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” (OK, so I date myself.)

Refreshing or not, it’s time for a pause. Following the holidays, and all those reindeer paws and Santa Claus and shopping and festivities, a break is what most of us need. There is something to be said for that week between the holidays when people comment about not knowing what day it is because schedules as we typically know them during the rest of the year simply don’t exist. Many of us can just move through those days and catch our breath. The pause might actually be refreshing if it weren’t for all the hoopla leading up to the holidays, along with the reality of heading back to reality as soon as we recover from our New Year’s revelry (if we partake in such revelry and IF we’ve recovered by the time said reality sets in).

Still, the pause is something we look forward to, often hoping in vain that we will be more organized, less stressed, and full of contentment and good tidings. For many, the pause itself is an illusion, as we trade the crazy schedules and expectations of the holidays for the crazy schedules and expectations of the day-to-day routines we manage through the rest of the year.

One of the great things about Taiwan is that I was able to step out of the holiday tradition as I experienced it all my life. I experienced a different kind of pause because of the cultural differences. Although Christmas will be a holiday of sorts in 2016 in Taiwan, it wasn’t during the six years I was there. I have actually taught classes on Christmas Day, and Christmas Eve, and the days leading up to New Year’s (although that day was a holiday for different reasons). It isn’t until exams are finished and graded, and final grades submitted, that the holiday pause happened.

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The semesters in Taiwan are 18 weeks long, and while classes start a week or two later than they do here in the States, they don’t finish until the first or second week of January. Sometimes exams can sneak into the third week. THEN we have our semester break, with a three to four week break before the second semester starts following Chinese New Year. 2015 issued in the Year of the Goat.

In some ways, the preparations for festivities surrounding Chinese New Year are the same as the Christmas season for those who celebrate it. People plan their meals, clean their houses, pick up gifts. But in other ways, there are major differences. Where you celebrate each day of the Chinese New Year is proscribed, depending on how close you follow the ancient traditions. And while many people look forward to Chinese New Year’s Eve dinners based on the male’s family, and the reunion luncheons and dinners the following day based on the female’s family, it’s the same level of stress and activity that we experience on this side of the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to various Chinese New Year’s celebrations of various kinds, and I found that the sense of pause and catching one’s breath wasn’t really there. On the other hand, for someone like me, who only accepts a few invitations and picks up gifts for the hosts of the events I attend, the season is one where I can at least catch up on projects I’m behind on, even if it’s not a true pause. But occasionally, I was able to steal away hours and sometimes a few days to truly pause and recharge my batteries. It was during those semester breaks in Taiwan where most of my quilting time happened. I later learned to sneak it in other places, but CNY worked for me. I suspect though that it was largely due to the fact that it wasn’t MY holiday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing in Taiwan resulted in a huge shift in the way I approach Christmas. During my six years there, I sent greetings to family and friends, but aside from grandchildren, I didn’t do gifts. I invited students over to the house for a meal. I let them put up the tree, and we exchanged small gifts and ornaments, and they asked questions about the way Christmas was celebrated in America. But aside from that, it was business as usual, and we worked these gatherings around classes.

My first Christmas back in the States has been more of a pause than it would have been before my time in Taiwan, but as I reinvent myself in 2016, I have a feeling that Christmas will take on a new look as well, a space in time where I can truly pause and recharge my batteries and live in the moment of the season without getting wrapped up in the unnecessary trimmings.

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This post is part of SoCS and JusJoJan. Join us. You can check out the rules and the other participants for either or both of these events Linda’s blog.

Invitations: A Time to Say No

Some initial thoughts for 2016

When I visited A New Perspective Perhaps earlier today, it got me thinking about the struggle I am having as I begin the new year. As I work out the final details of my intended approach to the new year, the invitation in the post called out to me.

Can you feel the promise and excitement a new year brings? Empty slate. Blank pages waiting for you to fill them up. Get started!

Invitations like that have always called out to me, so today’s automatic response was no surprise. And while the invitation is a good one for a lot of people, I have finally come to realize that it’s not good for me. Based on what I’ve learned about myself in the last couple of years, I FINALLY know that when I see this kind of invitation, I have to run the other way.

At the urging of a friend, this was the year I sought out a doctor who might be able to check my depression diagnosis, and lo and behold, things are a bit more complicated than that. After treating depression for over 30 years, I now know that I have not only accompanying anxiety, but a dose of hypomania for good measure. It took a couple of attempts, but I found a doctor who was willing to listen to what I had to say. It was especially gratifying because in Taiwan, most doctors are good with English, but still, it’s not their first language. Still, the new diagnosis seems to fit me much better and has helped me move toward a life that feels less overwhelming and stressful. I’m fortunate that I don’t have a full bi-polar diagnosis, but in hindsight, I can see that much of my enthusiasm for anything shiny that passed before my eyes or mind was the result of a lack of filter that led to an overfull calendar and a recipe for exhaustion and disaster.

Although an adjustment to medication was a good start, I had to recognize that I could no longer continue life the way I had been. And that means that I have to think twice and consider which opportunities I can realistically pursue, and which I have to let pass me by. I find this to be a huge learning curve that involves a lot of trial and error. It also has pretty high costs when I make an error.

Still, here I am. Entering 2016 with the realization that I need to make a more concerted effort at scaling back without losing my dreams. But more than that, it means discovering what are real dreams and what are just sparkly distractions parading by as dreams.

So, the overarching theme is from the quote I posted on Wednesday, “Make peace with your broken pieces” by r.h. Sin. In the next few days and weeks, my goal is to determine what that means and how I can move forward to find the goals and intentions that will lead me toward my authentic dreams. In the process, I will be gentle with the broken pieces and make peace with them.

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So instead of taking a running start at those blank pages waiting for me to fill them up, I am going to take it slow and write more intentionally and leave lots of white space to create a story and a life with breathing space and where I can uncover what it really means to be me.

Stay tuned for some of the tools and ideas I will use along the path of learning to listen to my own wisdom.

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This post is part of Linda Hill’s Just Jot it January. That means, I’ll be attempting to Just Jot (something every day in) January. Maybe you’d like to join in.

jjj-2016

 

Three Things Thursday! Looking Back

It’s Thursday, and for me that means I’m going to participate in Three Things Thursday. Except instead of sharing three things that made me smile this week, I decided to share the three biggest smiles of 2015. There were also some tears, but most of them were good tears. So, in chronological order, here we go.

First, after six years of university teaching in Taiwan, I returned back to Michigan to re-start my life back in the U.S. I left behind lots of friends in Taiwan, but I will always have a wealth of warm memories to keep me connected.

Second, my grandson, Jack was born in September to son, Tom and his wife, Megan! Even though I haven’t seen him since his arrival, the pictures his parents post never cease to take my breath away. I will make it a point to see more of him (and them) in 2016.

Third, my oldest son, Doug, married the love of his life, Jessica. I am blessed to now have all of my children married to people who so totally love them. At the wedding, all of my children were together for the first time in ten years. Two of the spouses were unable to attend, but we found a way to include them (to be posted at a later time). Doug and Jess’s wedding was a true delight, and I so enjoyed seeing Jess become part of our family and meeting her family as they welcomed Doug into theirs. The wedding was a true delight, and we’re already planning a trip to visit them next year at this time.

Of course, there were many other wonderful moments in 2015, and many of them will continue to unfold in 2016 and beyond, but these are the three events that stood out this year.

I wish everyone a 2016 filled with family, friendship, and just the right amount of challenge and inspiration. Happy New Year!

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If you want to join in Three Things Thursday, head over to Nerd in the Brain and check it out.

10 Lessons 2015 Can Teach Us in 2016

Stephanie has listed ten 2015 lessons to take into the new year. I want to share them with you and remind myself. Thanks, Stephanie!

Stephanie Verni

DSC_0814 What path will you take in 2016?

It’s the last day of 2015, and as I tell my students in classes, sometimes when something comes to an end, it’s a good time to sit and reflect and write about things you’ve learned from it—or how you have grown from it. In this final post of 2015, I thought I’d touch upon some things that we all know are true, but we sometimes forget to initiate or appreciate. Therefore, what follows is my reflection on 2015, on lessons that were reinforced for me, and that no matter how old you get, there is power that comes from living and learning.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new; we all grow from new experiences and trying new paths.
  2. Age is just a number. You can still be fabulous even as the number of your age changes.
  3. Family is the most important thing…

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Building into the New Year

buildingromelogo-final3The last of my Building Rome posts for 2015. The list making really does help. When I get off track in making progress on what is necessary and important, having a list and some accountability as a result of posting that list have helped keep me focused on days when it would be easy to sidestep some of these tasks.

Even though it was Christmas week and even though I’m with my husband only for three weeks, I have made quite a bit of progress this week. Largely because the time I do spend on work is very focused on specific tasks identified at the beginning of my time here in Iowa. Let’s start by looking at what has been crossed off the list this week — literally.

Recap of the week of 12/21:

EDITING PROJECT

  • Set a chapter by chapter plan for completion
    • Week of 12/21: “Chapters 7, 8, 9”
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapters 10, 11, 12”
    • Half Week of 1/4: “Chapters 13 and 14”
  • Prepare a list of recommendations for reduction of length
    • Week of 12/21: “Chapters 1-7”
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapter 8-11”
    • Half week of 1/4: “Chapters 12-14”

WRITING

  • Review notes for article revision (NEW) started
  • Draft revised sections (NEW)
  • Write two thank you notes to students I tutor
  • Create a blogging plan
  • Map next writing project

TEACHING

  • Revise syllabus for Intro to Criminal Justice Course
    • Decide on focus chapters
    • Update assignments
    • Set up discussions in new format
    • Set up additional group activities
    • Change quiz format
    • Finalize course calendar
  • Create syllabus for Intro to Sociology course
    • Create assignments
    • Finalize course calendar
    • Set presentation dates
    • Review newer edition of textbook (2 1/2 chapters, more time consuming than planned)
  • Create Modules for the 7 weeks of the online portion of the course
    • Set sample Module with discussion and writing tasks (started)
    • Determine how many total modules are needed
    • Outline Modules for 4 Chapters
    • Week of 12/21: Complete 2 additional modules (after sample)
    • Week of 12/28: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Week of 1/4: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Map out release dates for modules

QUILTING

  • Stop trying to piece a back for the practice quilt; buy a piece of muslin
  • Prep practice piece for machine quilting (nearly finished)
  • Practice machine quilting
  • Machine quilt Jack’s quilt
  • Sew binding on Jack’s quilt
  • Take a few photos!

OTHER

  • Enjoy time with Dave
  • Enjoy more time with Dave
  • Fill out paperwork for sub teaching (just in case) (NEW) started
  • Order planner (NEW)
  • Get hair cut (NEW)
  • Get photos of Dave and me together NEW)

Updated list for the week of 12/28:

This list includes all of what I’m still working on for the duration of my time in Iowa, but I’ve prioritized them to target those that are most important (and, in some cases, most easy to let slip by).

EDITING PROJECT

  • Set a chapter by chapter plan for completion
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapters 10, 11, 12”
    • Half Week of 1/4: “Chapters 13 and 14”
  • Prepare a list of recommendations for reduction of length
    • Week of 12/28: “Chapter 8-11”
    • Half week of 1/4: “Chapters 12-14”

WRITING

  • Continue reviewing notes for article revision
  • Draft revised sections
  • Write two thank you notes to students I tutor
  • Create a blogging plan
  • Map next writing project

TEACHING

  • Revise syllabus for Intro to Criminal Justice Course
    • Update assignments
    • Set up discussions in new format
    • Set up additional group activities
    • Change quiz format
    • Finalize course calendar
  • Create syllabus for Intro to Sociology course
    • Create assignments
    • Finalize course calendar
    • Set presentation dates
    • Review newer edition of textbook
  • Create Modules for the 7 weeks of the online portion of the course
    • Set sample Module with discussion and writing tasks
    • Week of 12/21: Complete 2 additional modules (after sample)
    • Week of 12/28: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Week of 1/4: Complete 3 additional modules
    • Map out release dates for modules

QUILTING

  • Practice machine quilting
  • Machine quilt Jack’s quilt (BREAK INTO STEPS)
    • Outline the bears
    • Stitch individual blocks
    • Stitch borders and
  • Sew binding on Jack’s quilt
  • Take a few photos!

OTHER

  • Enjoy time with Dave
  • Enjoy more time with Dave
  • Finish filling out paperwork for sub teaching (just in case)
  • Get photos of Dave and me together
  • Draft a list of goals and intentions for the new year (NEW)

Weekend Coffee Share: December 27

Dave in Iowa 235If were having coffee, I would be treating you to the beverage of your choice at Elly’s Tea and Coffee. While I’m in Muscatine, IA with Dave, Elly’s is on my list of places to visit more than once. It’s located downtown, and it’s easily accessible by a bus that stops less than half a block from the house. When getting off the bus, it’s about a four-block walk. Yesterday, I went there with my computer and spent a large part of the day, 9 until almost 2:30, with a lovely lunch from their selection of sandwiches and soups of the day.

I’d also tell you that I will get back there for one more day there before leaving Iowa on the 7th. In that post, there will need to be a lot more photos than the ones that I’m including here. But hey, coffee shops.  🙂

Dave in Iowa 249

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that today marks the halfway point of my visit here in Iowa. I’m glad I allowed this much time to be here, because this stretch of time is giving me a real fix for the schedule that awaits me when I return home. Dave and I have had a lovely time together, and we still have another 11 days ahead of us.

I’d also tell you that Dave and I have been doing a lot of talking, planning, and doing to facilitate finishing what he wants to get done here, so he can return as early in the new year as possible–hopefully in February.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that in addition to the time with Dave and his family, and the projects he and I are working on, I am making progress on several of my projects while still having time to just enjoy my time away. I will be making another Building Rome post tomorrow, and I’m quite pleased with what I’ve managed to cross off the list this week.

For example, I’d tell you that the lap-size quilt I pieced in order to practice machine quilting is nearly basted. After practicing on it, I will be ready to take on the quilting for Jack’s quilt. I am hoping to quilt and bind it before returning to Michigan. I’d cross my fingers, but it’s hard to quilt with fingers crossed.  🙂

babies are us

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m trying to get comfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing where I’m going to be living. My depression and anxiety are not in hiding as I had hoped, but they aren’t taking over my life at the moment. In fact, I am optimistic about spending some time this weekend putting together some goals and intentions for the new year, or at least for the first quarter of the year. In the process, I will keep breathing and keep enjoying the small moments that make me grateful for the time I am spending here with Dave.

Dave in Iowa 229I’d tell you that I’m looking forward to having the majority of the new year spent with Dave, even if we don’t know exactly where we’ll be spending it.

And I’d wish you all kinds of wonderful surprises and love-filled moments in the new year.

 

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Run over to see Diane and join in if you’d like. It’s great sharing coffee, tea, or other beverages of choice as we catch up with one another.

 

A Festival of Socks (SoCS)

It’s time for SoCS, in which Linda Hill drives us crazy inspires us with a prompt and we just go at it without planning and editing. For example, this week’s prompt:

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “socks.”  Use it any way you’d like. Enjoy!

9T4zKxAbcI could easily have made this a Christmas-themed post because there is a family Christmas stocking story, but I am going to save that for another time. I have another family story about socks, many more socks than ever graced our pseudo mantle, so that’s the story I have chosen for today.

The story starts with a confession. I am not very good about getting laundry put away. OK, what I mean is that when I was the mother of four children, I didn’t always get my laundry put away–I’m much better about it now with the much-reduced volume. But back to those earlier days. Between work and kids and going to school myself, sometimes laundry always got crammed in among lots of other activities. Luckily, the washer and dryer were on the main floor, even if it wasn’t an area that was fully heated.

So putting clothes through the washer and dryer could happen without too much fanfare, but that putting away stuff needed some streamlining at time. There was lots of general sorting with everyone taking their own things and putting it wherever they put it–not something I wanted to get involved with micromanaging. Even underwear wasn’t too challenging. But the socks–those threatened to be my undoing.

I’m not sure how the sock population grew to be so large, and so varied, but there were many colors, many ribbing patterns, with multiple sizes of the same color, with similar ribbing. Sorting all of these socks as they came out of the laundry became a rather overwhelming challenge. In retrospect, it seems rather crazy, but that’s the way the sock challenge appeared at the time.

So, the socks just ended up taking over a laundry basket of their own. When we needed a pair of socks for someone, we went through looking for two that matched for the particular person(s) in question, and the others just stayed there. Which would have been fine if the story ended there, but every time socks came out of the laundry, they always joined the party. And it seemed like no matter how many socks showed up, they didn’t always have a partner. I mean the parallel universe (with the portal in the dryer) can only hold so many socks, can’t it?

Before I eventually simplified our sock-controlled lives with just a couple basic sock sizes and colors, we tried on a few occasions to rein in the sock chaos. These afternoons of desperation were disguised as an event we referred to as “The Sock Festival.” There were three main elements to this event. Full participation of anyone who had entries in the sock basket (meaning everyone); the basket(s) of unsorted socks; and some kind of bribe special refreshments to celebrate our achievement.

I have to admit to blocking out a lot of the details of the event. And I’m not sure my children have any memories of the event, fond or otherwise, but by the end of our hour or hour and a half of sorting, each member of the household had a pile of socks matched up with their partners that were then taken up to be put into drawers. Full advantage was taken of the opportunity to eliminate any socks that had holes, giving me the false hope that we had once and for all conquered the problem, and now we could stay on top of it. But that didn’t really happen until we did the aforementioned simplification. Of course, by that time, the oldest ones were managing more of their own laundry (and socks).

The kids are all in homes of their own. In general, I stay away from socks for my children and grandchildren. But I may or may not have bought some half-price fluffy warm socks for my daughter this year. But since her father-in-law bought day of the week socks for my grandson, Logan, I have confidence that my daughter is not as sock-challenged as I was.

As for me, I keep my sock collection to a minimum. My husband, on the other hand, not so much. But since he’s willing to do laundry, I no longer have to worry about socks and the parallel universe.

 

 

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