Monday, March 24, 2014

One Year Ago - Cook Islands

One year ago, at 7 in the morning local time, we landed on a tiny island in the South Pacific called Rarotonga, one of the 15 Cook Islands.  After a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles aboard Air New Zealand, we were ready for some solid ground (although Air New Zealand does offer free dinner AND breakfast AND free wine).

We found solid ground and the humidity.  We welcomed both!


Welcome To Paradise

Photo Courtesy of JC Imagery

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

10 Ways to Find Writing Motivation

Some days I can sit down at a computer and the words come flying out of my fingers, onto the keyboard displayed on the screen like lightning .  They are perfection exceeded and there is no stopping the flow.  Until I realize that I should have left for work/practice/dinner/picking-up-the-kid-at-school ten minutes earlier.    

Other days (usually when I have all the time in the world to write) I wander around the house with my brain filled with - - nothing.  Bone jarring, air sucking nothing.   

Writers know those days.  Those days when getting our thoughts down for prosperity just seems like a hurdle to the moon.  Nothing seems to be happening in the lobe above my shoulders and precious uninterrupted times a-wasting.

You can jump this hurdle with an array of odd-ball things to get the juices flowing.

1.  Take a walk.  Nothing says “turn on the brain” by turning it off.  I wrote three blogs last week just by taking the dog out to do his business.

2.  Take a shower.  Again, no distractions.  You can’t see the dishes aren’t done, the bed is unmade, or the pile of laundry waiting for detergent and water and agitation.  This blog got “written” while the conditioner set and I lathered up the armpits. 

3.  Know your carrot.  Or chocolate.  Or music.  Have one thing that you only do while sitting down writing.  Mine is the ipod.  It is filled only with music I listen to while writing (ironically the song right now is Matthew West’s “Do Something” “If not now, then when?”)

4.  Write during a certain show/game.  Wait, what?  Hear me out.  During football season, I am a writing fiend.  This is because I can write in spurts while they: line up, replay the play (over and over and over) and have commercials.  I am completely unproductive during the month of February after the Super Bowl on into mid-March when soccer season starts.  Right now I am waiting for the Sounders game to start in an hour and a half.    

5.  Pick a dreaded chore.  Then you have to chose whether to do that chore or write.  Mine is washing the dog.  Which means I have to actually catch the dog to get him in the sink. This means the kitchen sink has to be clean.  Which means unloading the dishwasher.  See, I’ll take writing over washing the dog any day.  And if I do go through the dog-washing motions, at least the dog smells better.

6.  Get a job.  Or volunteer.  No seriously, if my day is wide open with NOTHING, it is so much easier to procrastinate.  I teach which means I don’t have to be anywhere 8-4 in July and August.  September through June all I can think of is uninterrupted days of writing.  During those two summer months, I get the least amount of anything creative done.  Go figure.

7.  Read a book.  Or a blog.  Or the news.  Especially if it’s crappy.  Nothing like the competitive I-can-do-this-better motivation.

8.  Steal time.  My husband is, right now, three hours away at a wholesale tree sale (don’t even ask) and my teenager should be up doing her own chores.  Instead, I let the ducks and chickens out four hours ago and I’m “letting” her sleep in.  It’s 11:00 am.  I figure I have another two hours before she wakes up.  I have had this plan in the works for four days now.

I had to put up with THIS to be able to carve out writing time.

9.  Look at your notebook/lists/scraps of paper (everywhere).  As a writer I come up with a lot of my ideas in the car on the drive to work (dammit) so I write those down on any piece of paper I can find (receipt anyone?).  Consult these.  It was a good idea once; it probably still is.

10.  Set the timer.  Once I have an idea ready to go, I set the timer.  One hour is my max attention limit.  Again, that competitive streak kicks in as I try to race the clock.

Bottom line, find what works for you.  It doesn’t have to make sense - sense is overrated anyway.  Then don’t bother defending it – just do it.

Or you can dream about this and know that the only way to get there is to get off your butt and earn money!
Or maybe that's just me!
Photo credit:  JC Imagery

Monday, March 17, 2014

Do You Know Me...Or No? - Knowing When To Be The Unacknowledged Parent

I was in the car driving my teenage daughter to golf practice.  I was on my way to work.

"So, are you going to know me, or not?" I asked.

"I don't know yet," my fifteen year old freshman replied.

She wouldn't know until she got to golf practice.

Where my job was taking the golf team photo for her school yearbook.

Photo Courtesy of JC Imagery

Our lives often go like this.  As photographers, we take pictures at our local school(s).  In the past two years we have been the team and individual photographers for her middle school and, now, to her chagrin/delight, her high school.  This means we are smack in the middle of her "peeps", usually telling players how to stand, what to do, etc.  Sometimes pretty bossily (ever tried to get the attention of 35 high schoolers?  - you've kind of got to turn on the "eyes-on-me" loud teacher voice).  This can be mortifying for your own teenage kid.

Hence, the "so are you going to know me or not?" question.

In Middle School, a lot of the kids knew we were her parents.  By the time we started taking the team photos, she was an 8th grader and we had been around for two years at sporting events.  She kind of ran with the fact that, yes, her parents were the photographers.

Then came high school; a whole different animal.

She is a freshman, which means she's already at the bottom of the totem pole and didn't want anything that would make her different.  And now her parents were going to be, not only with her peers, but telling them what to do.  Her anonymity was either going to be abolished or maintained depending on her actions that day.

The pressure.

I get the pressure.  As the daughter of two teachers, when someone learns my last name, I always wait patiently (yeah, not) for their reaction.  Was this a student who loved my teacher parents or hated my teacher parents?

While we only see these players for 10 minutes a year, the human race is fast to form opinions.  If I come across too bossy/firm, players could look to my daughter with pity or scorn.  If I am not bossy/firm enough, I run the risk of ending up with a crummy photo.

Rock and a hard place.  Total balancing act.

It was her choice and I would respect her decision either way.