A Happy New Year to All!

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

Kathy_Mary New YearHappy New Year everyone!  Ringing in the New Year with family and friends was so much fun.Now that the festivities of 2012 are over and another year begins, it’s time for some serious work.  I need to make a decision – either quit blogging or write about something I’m passionate about so people will want to read what I have to say.  Does that sound self-centered?  Maybe so, but as far as I can tell, I’m missing something…and I’m determined to find out what that is. AND, I’m NOT a quitter!

 I’ll be starting a new blog soon, keeping this one related strictly to health, diet, exercise, nutrition, etc.  My new one will be more personal/family related.  Separating them will help me focus on what this original blog was intended to be about.skinnymom

 I wrote two “New Yeary” type blogs yesterday, hoping they’d be uploaded before I left for our celebration last night.  Unfortunately, I was unable to finish them before I departed so I thought I’d post both today.  When I searched for them in my computer, they were missing.  I don’t know what happened but I was extremely disappointed; that’s an understatement.  Bloggers knows how long it takes to write, edit, upload pictures and so forth.

 ???????????????????????????????The problem is I wasted precious hours looking for the files rather than just starting from scratch.  Getting frustrated, I scrapped the whole idea and decided to make a nice turkey dinner for tonight.  This would be the last night for me to enjoy any soon-to-be off limit foods, so I had some fun getting Tom ready for the oven, complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans and gravy.  My daughter invited a guest over and we had a delicious meal to celebrate the first day of the new year!  All was well again.

Tomorrow I’ll begin the Beachbody® TurboFire® Workout with Chalene Johnson’s program.  It will be intense but I’m hoping to get more out of it than I did with the prior Biggest Loser program.  The workout looks grueling but I’m determined to do it for 90 days and will be posting my progress daily, along with any other health-related tips, recipes, etc. I come across in the meantime. TurboFire

 My plan is to lose some weight, inches and improve my overall physical health by March 31, 2013 – just in time for Spring.  I’m saving some Christmas cash to buy new spring clothes by then – hopefully in a smaller size!  I’m outing myself – making my goals known to more than just my family and friends so I’m responsible for the outcome.  I’m raising my glass tonight to MOTIVATION!  With a little bit of luck and a lot of resolve, I can succeed.

 Best wishes to all for a Healthy and Happy New Year!

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Wonderful Team Member Readership Award

wonderful-readership-award

Last week, Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen nominated me for the “Wonderful Team Member Readership Award!”  I was ecstatic!

Unfortunately I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, nor how I should respond.  This was the second person that nominated me for something; I apologize that I did not act on the first.  My excuse is I was new and naïve…until now! 

I sincerely appreciate Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen for nominating me for this award.  I am extremely grateful to all of my “fans” who make awards like this possible.  If it were not for the “Likes” or “Comments” I’ve received on my pages, I’d feel like a virtual blogger in a haystack!

To all of you who have taken the time to read my posts, I offer a great big, warm

THANK YOU! 

wonderful-readership-award

So now, here are the rules for the award, which are fairly simple to follow:

Nominate 14 other blogs to receive the award.

Here are my 14 recommendations (in no particular order):

Keeping it Real Mom – Life of a Real mom with Real challenges

Bucket List Publications – Lesley Carter is Adventurer Extraordinaire

Rebecca 2000 – For those who go where no one dares

Dianne Gray – Acclaimed Australian author

The Jenny Mac Book Blog – Artful Young Adult writer

All Seasons Cyclist – Any and all things Cycling

Fiammisday – Fabulous fashions for mom and baby

To Be Aware – Self Awareness and Fulfillment

i Game Mom – Educational applications for kids

Watch Out World – Food, crafts and fun in the blogosphere

Patrick Latter – Wondrous Canadian Hiking Photography and more

A Lot On Your Plate -Ccreative & practical tips, recipes, and more

The Better Man Projects –  One man’s heartwarming motivational journey

Mix It Up and Make It Nice – Great baking and hosting blog

THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU!!!

Burning the Midnight Oil (and a cookie too!)

Writers ClockThe semester ends December 15th.  I see my Professor for the final time on the 12th.  If I don’t complete the class, I can’t graduate.  Am I ready???

 Hell, yeah.  At this stage of the game, I feel I did my best.  Did I procrastinate?  Yes, well, sort of.  Did you ever get an idea for something you REALLY wanted to write about and once you began, decided you didn’t like the topic after all?  Hence the procrastination.

 I have books and magazines and copies and notes all over my desk.  Organized chaos!  I’ve been sitting at this desk for weeks amidst numerous interruptions. Marys Desk

 I needed a break…just a little one to clear my mind.  All I could see was the clock winding down…tick…tick…tick… What to do???  Bake some cookies, of course!

 cookiesBaking always inspires me!cookie tins

 I did something I normally don’t do, but in an effort to save time, I put two batches into the oven at once.  Halfway through I rotated them, top and bottom, so they would bake more evenly.  Big mistake.  The older pan on the bottom baked the cookies too fast.  So much for inspiration.

 When I removed the pans from the oven, I noticed a third of the cookies on the bottom tray were burned.  I don’t remember the last time I burned a cookie, it’s been THAT long.  And we know who always gets to eat the burned ones, don’t we??  It didn’t matter though because even the burned ones, albeit a little hard, tasted scrumptious.burnt cookie

 With that feat accomplished I was able to get back to the task at hand – finishing my assignments.  Dinner will take care of itself, meaning if my husband is really nice (and hungry), he’ll get take-out for us.  Steamed vegetables sound delightful!

 I’m getting sidetracked.  I have few more paragraphs to write, lots of editing and by midnight (nothing like pushing the envelope) I’m in the home stretch.  My fate will lie in my Professors’ hands.  Here we go!

 “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” ~ John Quincy Adams

A well-known writer, Jessamyn West, penned, “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.”  I couldn’t agree more.  When writers are in their “element” they become isolated from the real world, if only temporarily.

 I mentioned to someone recently that I can’t think clearly unless there are no distractions around me such as the television, radio, someone talking on the phone or involved in conversation nearby.  They responded with “really?” as if they have no problem trying to write while surrounded by noise.  I consider myself a pretty good multi-tasker, however I cannot devote my full attention to writing with any background distractions. 

Sometimes the need for quiet is overwhelming.  It is during these times I find meditation helpful.  The following is a quote I happened upon recently which succinctly sums up my thoughts on the topic:

 “The unusual thing about quiet is that when you seek it, it is almost impossible to achieve. When you strive for quiet, you become impatient, and impatience is itself a noiseless noise. You can block every superficial sound, but, with each new layer extinguished, a next rises up, finer and more entrapping, until you arrive at last in the infinite attitude of your own riotous mind. Inside is where all the memories last like wells, and the unspoken wishes like golden buds, and the pain that you keep, lingering and implicit, staying inside, nesting inside, articulating, articulating, through to the day you die. (p. 240)”  ~ Hilary Thayer Hamann, Anthropology of an American Girl.
Okay, the ending is a bit extreme for the present moment.  The point is sometimes we need to take a break if our creativity is to be of any consequence.  Therefore, I’m off to my quite space, just for a little while, hoping to emerge renewed and enlightened.

Shakespeare Would Have Been an Awesome Blogger

Hamlet’s “To sleep, perchance to dream” can be restated as “to dream, perchance to blog” for me.  I’ve mentioned before that every 20 minutes or so, I think of several topics I’d like to write about and by the next hour, my daydreaming leads me down other avenues.  So today’s question is how, exactly, does one decide what to write about in a (daily) blog when their interests are numerous and extremely varied in content?

 I’ll resort to a tip my oldest brother gave me several years ago.  He recommended I keep a whiteboard and pen in the rooms I do my best and most fervent thinking in.  I figured it would be easier just to carry around my pocket tape recorder; after all, I carry around a cell phone most of the time so I thought it would be convenient.  Older brothers are indispensable for a reason…they are usually much more intelligent and mine certainly is!  It was way too much trouble to drag the recorder around, only having to replay it and write down what I recorded in the end.

The whiteboard idea was brilliant but I didn’t have one handy, so I began with notebooks in each room.  That worked a little better until I decided to purchase little whiteboards I could scribble on and erase rather than have MORE books laying around.  So now I have a several methods by which to jot my thoughts and feelings down.  Now what was I saying?

Oh yes, what do people ultimately blog about if they only wish to write one blog item per day.  The answer can be as simple as writing about the most important thing they thought, felt or heard that day.  On the other hand, the decision could be complicated, involving research, statistics, measurements, etc.  The bottom line is, unless you have a specific blog, such as one for recipes, quotes, tech information, travel, fashion, etc., the subject you choose is entirely discretionary.  That’s what makes generic blogging so much fun.

Also taking the advice of my brother and another individual, when I write down thoughts as they occur, I can organize them into which topics are easier to write about and which ones would be more time consuming.  Organization, which is critical in writing anyway, also makes it easier to select topics for following days.  Then, depending on how busy I am during that particular day, I can select the issue that suits my availability.  It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

I’ve wanted to blog for many years.  At first, I thought only celebrities, the media and businesses did it because there was an end return involved.  Obviously I was mistaken and am happy there’s an open forum to write about anything.  Although still a novice, I’m getting practice and it’s giving me stricture.  Some days, I feel I have nothing to write about because either my day was boring or I was too busy to think.  But there’s always something to say; whether or not people will enjoy reading it is another story.  I’m not sweating that part though.  I’d rather blog than write college essays and that’s my topic for another day! 

 “Nothing makes time pass or shortens the way like a thought that absorbs in itself all the faculties of the one who is thinking. External existence is then like a sleep of which this thought is the dream. Under its influence, time has no more measure, space has no more distance.” ~  Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Writing Challenges

One of the most disturbing challenges a writer faces is interruption; even a burgeoning one like me.  There were three topics I was inspired to write about today, yet all of them fell to the wayside when I answered a telephone call.  Upon spotting the number on my phone, I could easily have let it descend into the hellhole of voicemail.  However, my parents didn’t bring me up that way.  At that moment, I realized my intense thoughts would have to be put on the back burner, searing in the recesses of my mind, until I accepted my position as a loving, caring family member and answered the ring.

There is a funny thing about being disrupted though.  You never know what to expect.  Granted, many times the talk is frivolous and painfully time-consuming but sometimes, when you least expect it, you can actually learn something. 

As the youngest of a large family, I am used to and expect interruptions.  I cannot gauge which ones will be morbidly agonizing at the time or quality of context or those which will illuminate me.  Often I expect calls from one of my siblings to be an ordinary, friendly conversation.  When another calls, who is often more remote, I fear the call bears bad news.  Nevertheless, in the midst of writing, any call can be an agonizing distraction.

What do you do when a friend calls when they “should know better” than to distract me during specific hours of the day.  I’ve been a salesperson and know that all calls are important.  Are writers so self-absorbed that they should eliminate all contact when they are in “their element”?  Maybe so, but how could anyone expect others to live their lives that way?

I don’t have an answer.  I’m still testing the waters in the realm of writing.  Most of my deepest, most dynamic thoughts come from when I’m alone, even if it’s only for a few minutes before I get a chance to record them.  I’m trying to find a balance between doing what I’m expected to do as a woman, wife and mother and writing and to be honest, it isn’t easy.  So many others I’ve read about have had similar difficulties but they seem to excel.  I’m latching onto their coattails for confidence and know somewhere, there is a reason to continue writing.

“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”  ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Frustration, Fun and Fulfillment

This morning, instead of being excited about the events planned for Homecoming Weekend with my daughter, I was reminded how badly I felt when I unintentionally let a friend down many years ago.  The situations were completely different; the emotions were almost identical.  I had been diligent about writing daily, expressing my thoughts on a myriad of subjects, eager to put pen to paper yet yesterday vanished without a single sentence.  I feel I let not only let myself down but disappointed those who are gracious enough to peruse my daily musings.  “Get over it, I’m not that important” I said to myself.  But you know what, if I don’t think I’m important, how can I expect anyone else to take notice? 

Luckily I was able to get a grip and get back to business.  I’ve read of the importance of writing daily and I can attest to that.  On any given day, no matter where I am, I have a jillion thoughts swirling around my head like a gyroscope.  It’s essential for me to put them down somewhere, paper, computer, anywhere, just be sure to note it for if not, I may regret not remembering the pertinent details of my thoughts.  And we all know where thoughts lead.  The imagination is a beautiful gift if nature, meant to be indulged.

The fact is that our long trip was emotionally tiring, I suppose from monotony.  Arriving at our hotel room at 3am, I was physically ready for bed but my mind was not.  After checking my emails, my eyes started to close and off to bed I went.  I woke in time to get dressed, grab a bite at the hotel breakfast bar and on to campus to finally see my daughter for the first time in a month.  We had a wonderful time, culminating with a nice dinner out with her and her roommate.  By the time I got back to the hotel last evening, I was emotionally tired but decided to check my emails before starting some serious writing.  Reading emails, checking FB, Twitter, and all the other media I’m subscribed to was like wading through quicksand.  I couldn’t even finish reading everything; I was so tired I just went to bed, waking frustrated. 

No pity pots for me. Today is another day.  It will be full of pleasant and exciting things.  We’ll visit our daughter, run some errands, maybe do a little shopping, watch a ball game and have a nice meal.  This evening, we’ll attend a Star Gazing activity planned at the Observatory.  I have my trusty pen and pad by my side as well as camera to capture all the noteworthy moments.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.  Now that disillusionment with my own abilities has quieted, I can look forward to a wonderful day.  No more regrets or excuses.  I know what I have to do, what I want to do and what I need to do.  Andiamo!

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.”  ~ Jim Rohn