It’s All About Taking Time…

THERE WAS A RECENT POST ON FACEBOOK that has me thinking (oh, that can be a very dangerous thing, y’know…). Thinking very seriously about where the digital social media is taking us — and that we seem to be following it without a thought.

We spend so much time on the internet and our phones. On Facebook, texting or sending out tweets to friends and followers. We gather up Friends and Followers as if they were a prize — the more the merrier. Liking the posts and comments made by Friends. Tweeting and retweeting. Facebook has made Liking almost mandatory if you want to keep seeing your Friends’ posts. So, it’s become a habit to Like a Friends post, just so they will stay visible.

Sadly, even I have been caught up in the frenzy on Facebook. When I first signed up with this new social media, it was to monitor my middle-school aged daughter, who pleaded with me to have an account when it became the rage. Then I let it go dormant for awhile after she came “of age”, but realized I could use it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family that were not close by. A way to communicate without having to spend money on postage. A way to peek into and follow their lives, where once I was not able. I made sure to limit my Friends (under fifty at first, then one hundred) to keep it manageable — so I could spend quality time visiting their pages, interacting. Later, I decided I could possibly use it as a tool in my business. I created a business page and began opening the doors to Friends in the writing and art world, and found I was collecting Friends of Friends, too — and then, even people I didn’t know directly or indirectly. I became Friends with total strangers, which is not a bad thing — if done with caution, and some have become good friends that I have met in person.

As time has passed, I found that I spent more time clicking on Like than commenting. I gave up on my Friend limit and am horrified to find that I have at least 226 Friends. I know some of those Friends are nearing four-digit numbers for friends (shudder). How on earth can we make personal interactions with so many? Somewhere along the line, personal interactions fell to the wayside. I guess I could justify the number by realizing a fairly high percentage are “business” contacts that don’t require constant visits, just an occasional nod of the head now and then. I do keep closer tabs on some of these business Friends. I need to go in and look to see just who I have as Friends and figure out how I’m going to keep a more personal connection with everyone.

I haven’t even begun to connect with the Twittersphere…I mean, I do have an account, but I’m not spending much time there. Just an occasional tweet here and there. I have a Pinterest account, too. Again, I’m having trouble justifying the time needed to keep it going.

For awhile, I tried to not just Like a post or comment, but rather take the time to interact. To make comments. And I did find it more enjoyable. But, as time has gone by, it has become exhausting due to the number of Friends I have. I’m finding myself slipping back into old habits — simply Liking a post or comment, rather than saying anything. At first, I justified it because I didn’t have anything to say, other than I liked what was said or posted…and why clutter up their page with meaningless conversation. Then, time became an issue. There’s so much to do (in my life outside of the digital world) and it seems like I have too many Friends to keep up the personal connection. Now, I’m almost back to square one and wondering what to do next.

It’s not just Facebook. I have a smart phone that gives me way too much access to everything…emails, Facebook, texting and of course, phone calling…guess I’m an old-fashioned kinda girl and all this technology is — well, daunting is the wrong word, but I’ll use it for now…it’s not like I feel like a ‘techno dinosaur’ with the technology. I know how to use it. How much do I want and or need to use it? Just how ‘in touch’ with the world do I want/need to be at a moments notice? Wouldn’t once or twice a day suffice?

Are you getting frustrated with the constant, easy-access of all the social media too? Let me hear from you. Tell me what you think.

So, for now I’m going to just let things settle for a bit, think about what’s happening and ponder over some choices. I need to stay ‘in touch’ because of the line of work I’m in, but to what degree? That’s what I’m going to need to decide.

Maybe I’ll just go back to the real world and do face-to-face connections. The old-fashioned way…

How do you handle all of this technology?

 

 

Mucking About

“MUCKING ABOUT: BEHAVING IN A silly or aimless way, esp. by wasting time when serious activity is expected…”

That’s what the dictionary has to say about it. I’ve just started (and not completed) four blog posts. I’d say I’m definitely mucking about, especially since it’s now Friday and I’m supposed to have something for you. Now. Yet, I keep “mucking about”, not finishing anything. My thoughts do seem aimless — well, aimless where writing is concerned. My mind is definitely elsewhere. I have ongoing, ever-evolving lists rolling around in my mind right now and I cannot concentrate on writing a decent blog.

You see, tomorrow — that’s Saturday, 23 August, I have my very first book signing at a real book store. (wheeee!) I’ve never been so nervous. I’ll be up in Gilroy at the Barnes and Nobles’ “brick and mortar” store — the closest big-box book store since all the stores in Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula closed down (very sad, indeed). All that is left are a few little boutique book shops, some with new, or new and used or some with only used books. So, from 2-4pm on Saturday, I’ll be signing books, chatting with BN customers and passing out book marks. (There’s a little treat for anyone that buys either or both books.)

Then, the busyness continues (even more so) on 24 August, Sunday, as I spend an entire day (9-4) in Aromas (I’ll be there at 7am setting up) at their annual Aromas Days, doing more of the same — book signing and chatting, answering any questions about my books. But this time, I’ll have a bit of my art work to show off (for sale) as well, so hopefully all of that will keep me busy…but not overly busy.

There is one more event, but not until 27 August at 11am, at the San Juan Bautista Library, rubbing elbows with patrons and the SJB Library Axillary members. Depending on the time, I’m hoping to have time to do a reading from one or both of my two books that are now available, but at the very least, there will be time to answer any questions about the books.

If you live in the area, please come by either of the events this weekend, or the one on Wednesday at San Juan Bautista’s Library. I’d love to take some time to chat with you. Honest!

Blogging for today is pretty much consisting of an infomercial. My apologies. To make up for the blatant plugs, here’s an excerpt (it has not seen the red pen of a final edit yet) from the latest Secrets Beyond Scymaria series (book three), The Scymarian:

… he was ready to attack them if necessary.  But they advanced no further.  Weapon at the ready, he slowly moved forward, his mind racing with questions and strategies.  The music that surrounded him put him at ease once again, but his defensive stance remained.  He stared curiously at the three women and one boy standing before him.  The smaller woman, a girl not much younger than he, stood behind the other three, protected.  Very slowly, she raised an open hand, perhaps to show she had no weapon.  She raised her other hand in the same fashion.  He could see nothing concealed. Scanning the hands of the others, he saw they had no weapons. He had an advantage over them, perhaps.
He brought his stick to his side, again using it more to lean on than as a protective weapon. The pain at time was searing, but he tried to ignore it.

As Amy stepped forward, in line with the others, she could see he stiffened slightly.  She paused, not wanting to frighten him.  He relaxed to the music again.  Slowly, she stepped in front of the rest, bringing her outstretched and weaponless hands to her sides as she came forward.  She was now outside of Rocky’s protective cave, face to face with her would-be assailant.  The others remained just behind her, shielded.
She spoke softly, with an even tone, “I’m not going to hurt you.  I am unarmed.”  She paused to see his reaction. He cocked his head to one side for a moment, not taking his eye off of her.  Trying desperately not to reveal the fear welling up inside, Amy drew in a deep breath, expelling it slowly and steeled herself, to console this would-be friend, “I –I want to help you.  Do you understand me?”
She waited for an answer, or some other clue that he understood her.  When there was no response, she continued, “My name is Amy.  I don’t come from this world.  I am from–” she paused again.  She really didn’t know how specific she should be, since his people had been trapped for so long and probably had no recollection of where they originated.  Quickly, she made the decision to be very general.  “Um, I am from Earth.  Do you understand that?  Not from here.  From the other side.”
She saw a flash of recognition in his eyes when she mentioned the other side.
While she spoke, she kept an eye on him.  She had observed his frailness from the safety of Rocky’s interior, but now, as she stood before him, she could see he truly was nothing more than skin and bones with only the faintest outline of thin muscle barely holding him together…..

So, I hope that appeases you for another week. The story is still evolving, and once it passes over the red pen of my editor, I’m sure there will be further changes. Please feel free to pass this on to friends, either via Facebook, or as a link in an email.

Until next week, may your days find purpose, filled with unexpected blessing and joy.

 

 

Movement

WHAT IS MOVEMENT? THE DICTIONARY has plenty to say about it: (noun) 1) an act of changing physical location or position or of having this changed; the general activity or bustle of people or things; in a particular place; the progressive development of a poem or story; a change or development in something; the quality of suggesting motion in a work of art; 2) a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas 3) music a principal division of a longer musical work, self-sufficient in terms of key, tempo, and structure; 4) the moving parts of a mechanism, esp. a clock or watch.

When I think of movement, the first thing that comes to mind is everything in nature surrounding me: the breezes create a rustling movement in the trees; wave action in the fields of grass and on the oceans; breezes catch hold of tops of waves, creating the brushed effects of tiny droplets of salty water misting up and away. The magical shooting stars as they flash across the sky, dissolving into nothing; the slow, ever changing sunrises and sunsets; the graceful gait of a deer loping across the field; the scurrying of squirrels, hopping from tree branch to branch; the birds soaring along the unseen currents in the air. (Have you ever seen a bird in flight, in slow motion—any bird, whether the tiny hummingbird or majestic condor? To watch the intricacies of their movement is amazing. Truly amazing.)

It’s all God’s handiwork, things that are pleasing to our eye, for us to delight in.

There are other ways to look at movement.

We humans do a pretty good job, lumbering along on our two feet. I’ve seen footage of runners in slow motion, of vaulters and other athletes as they perform. Dancers preforming as they float across their stage. When you realize what is involved in forward motion, it is pretty amazing that we are able to put one foot in front of the other. Really.

Where movement for most is a rather mundane, ordinary daily occurrence, there are some that struggle with that seemingly simple task because of physical disabilities. Disabilities that cause pain with movement. Disabilities caused by unresponsive limbs, due to nerve damage and disease.

I have discovered over the course of this last year, that an amazingly high number of my friends on Facebook are dealing with some pretty severe issues with pain and other health issues. It has put my pain problems into perspective. Seriously humbling me. Keeping me from complaining (most of the time). Feeling blessed that I can and still do so much (yes, my body talks to me during and/or afterwards, but I can do plenty of things to keep mobile) without having to pump my body with medications beyond Tylenol and an occasional Aleve to function, or require mechanical devices to move me. For me, movement is a good thing—it may hurt (sometimes more than I’d like to admit), but osteoarthritis needs movement to keep the joints from locking up. I thank God that I am still self-sufficient, capable of doing so much. I am blessed that there are so many more good days to bad days. And I pray for those of my friends less fortunate than I am, for them to garner all they need to get themselves through their days.

It’s easy to ‘not see’ many of these sometimes invisible or semi-invisible disabilities, to discount or become impatient or irritated with individuals that may not be moving quite a fast as the average person—unable to keep up with a group, or they might be a bit grumpy at times (but nobody is perfect)…or perhaps even ignore those that are obviously incapacitated in some way because it is uncomfortable to watch or see.

Personally, I root for those with disabilities. It takes a strong person to move forward in life, making each day count while dealing with their personal obstacles.

It’s way too easy to have a “poor-me” attitude. I discovered this early on in life. In my junior year of high school, I had a friend that was blind and another friend that was deaf. This concept of ‘disability’ was all very new to me. At previous schools I’d attended, individuals with disabilities were “hidden” from the mainstream student body. At this mid-west school (and as an adult, I applaud their progressive stance in the 1960’s), disabilities were not hidden—but I digress…that’s a story unto its self.

Blind from birth, my friend was a very capable young lady. She didn’t let being blind get in the way of learning, getting through her daily life or making friends. Once, when we went to a concert to celebrate my birthday to see Paul Revere and the Raiders—now, I’m really dating myself, I didn’t think twice about inviting Jan. It turns out she had more fun than any of us because she was able to just sit back and listened—taking in the incredible music, while we were distracted as we all jockeyed to see the musicians over the people in front of us. The funny thing is, we were up in the nose-bleed seats, so we couldn’t see much anyway.

My other friend’s deafness, I discovered quickly, was her crutch. Though not completely deaf, when she did poorly in her studies, she complained she couldn’t understand or see what was on the board, that the teachers kept turning so she couldn’t read lips. Complaining instead of trying to find solutions so she could do better. (Before you rag on me about the fact that the teachers should have done more—yes, they could have, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.)

I loved them both, supported both, and have learned some valuable lessons from all of my friends, (past and present, both on and off of the internet): taking life as it is served up (with all the ups and downs) and making the best I can with what I’ve been dealt. Enjoy what I have, not complaining about what could or should be. Be an inspiration to others. Help others when and however I can. Loving and accepting people where they are now in their journey.

Count my blessings. Praise God. Celebrate life.

How do you want to spend your life?

Until next time, may your life be full and blessed.

 

An Excerpt

I’M NEARLY READY TO TURN IN my manuscript to my editor for the first of his critiques (I keep saying that, don’t I? I keep getting sidetracked—teehee)…but before I do so, I thought I’d give you a taste of how the third book begins (in the unedited form). In it’s final form, it should be ready for publication by late Fall, 2014 if everything falls into place as planned.

I did have another post nearly ready when my website ate it (is that like when the dog eats your kid’s homework?)—I should have it reworked and ready for next week—so, to take it’s place, what follows in an unedited excerpt from The Scymarian:

Secrets Beyond Scymaria: The Scymarian (book 3):

The new morning brought renewed hope. The sun, still low in the sky, just beginning its ascent coupled with an unusually warm breeze, flowing from the northwest, created excitement for everyone. An excellent Saturday. As Amy stepped out on her porch, she could see Ty, already sitting on the swinging bench on his porch. She waved and grinned as she took a long deep breath, savoring the warm woody breeze brushing against her face.

Ty jumped from the bench, leaving it to its cockeyed swing, returned her wave and thought, Good morning, Amy. Still able to read my thoughts? He stood there, staring at her, concentrating.

She smiled, cocked her head curiously, but no reply. He shook his head, sighed and heavily trod down the steps, punctuating each step with a pause, until he reached the bottom.

He turned to face Amy, you can’t hear me, can you?

Amy continued to watch him. She lightly flew down the steps, barely touching them as she went. Before he could get to the sidewalk, she was there, waiting. Staring intently at him for only a moment, Amy flashed a smile as she reached over, tousled his hair and snatched his hat. Before he could react, she was flying down the street to the park, laughing all the way, holding the hat close to her. She could hear him as he followed close on her heels, shouting for her to return his hat, laughing almost as hard as Amy. As they approached their park’s entrance, Amy slowed momentarily, glancing behind her and realized that Ty was within reach but had yet to grab at her. Scrunching her face, she turned back to focus on entering the park. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a figure climbing out of a car. Her laughter caught in her throat when she realized it was the professor. No! No…not now!

My amazing cover artist is working hard to create an awesome cover for me—I’m guessing I’ll get to see it fairly soon. I’m definitely anxious to see it. I’ll make sure to let you get a sneak peek, but just a peek…

Hope your week is filled with hope. Have a blessed week ahead.

Wandering Mind…

SOMETIMES, MY MIND WANDERS (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). It’s how my creative side works, so I try to never squelch the process. Recently, I almost posted something on Facebook, but decided to hold it for this weeks blog, because as I contemplated the original thought, the more I thought this would be a better place for it.

The simple post idea grew into one of my ‘personal musings’. So, here goes:

Breakfast finished, sitting on the back porch on a cool, grey morning. It will change. The forecast is for 80 degrees today. I look forward to it. But for now, I will enjoy the still morning.
Listening to the jays calling out between each other, morning doves and rock pigeons (at least, that’s what I call them. They look like ring-neck morning doves on mega doses of steriods with their beautiful grey feathers and white ‘collar’, but sound like pigeons) cooing in the distance and faint—very faint echos of a plane overhead. Off to my right, an occasional ‘chirp’ of a hummer as the buzzing of its wings makes its presence known.

The air fluctuates between stillness and gentle gusts, stirring the cool morning air. My chimes, all over the yard, resonating as the breezes and the chimes play tag.

I bought and hung a new, much deeper toned triangular chime at Costco just before I left on my trip (oh, my—that was over two months ago, already!) It rests under the eaves edge, so it doesn’t pick up just any breeze that passes through. I finally heard it for the first time the other day and cringed at the discordant tones. I even contemplated taking it back. I wanted ‘pretty’ tones, not the harsh, clashing noises it was making. But today, I heard it again, playing, intertwined with the other sounds—the other chimes, the singing of birds and the discordance somehow fit together nicely. Pleasing, even if a bit jagged around the edges.

Isn’t that how life is: all warm and fuzzy, rolling along smoothly one minute, then some jarring life experience blocks our way, making any forward progress nigh to impossible to proceed?

We can choose to give into it—turn around and go back; fight it—ending up bruised and scarred from the battle, losing momentum or even forgetting where we were headed in the first place; or we can go around it—no matter where it may take us, finding the original path just beyond its borders.

Going around it allows for discovery of other things along the way. New experiences to enrich our lives. Lessons learned. Perhaps, even strengthening us for the next obstacle.

A good example (though on the benign side) is one of the many experiences my daughter and I had on our first trip abroad: inevitably, as we drove through countryside into towns, we would get lost. In almost every single town. Without exception. Had my husband been with us, it would have caused him to become extremely agitated, making for unpleasant company. It was just the way he chose to respond to situations. My daughter? Well, she (the navigator) was getting frustrated because it felt like we were constantly getting lost.

Lost. What is it to be lost? The dictionary says, “unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts”. Were we really lost? I think not.

I chose to look at our recurring ‘situation’ differently, in a lighter, more carefree view. In this Old World, so very new to us, everywhere and everything was a wonderful experience waiting for us to discover. Even wrong turns produced awe-inspiring views to soak up. So, why be frustrated? When life pummels you with lemons, make lemonade, right?

Make the most of what you are given, whatever it may be. Incorporate it into your life and enjoy it. Live joyfully. Be thankful.

I lost my husband of thirty-plus years. Devastating. Life-altering. How does one live joyfully with that circumstance?

I could have been angry and/or saddened (well, I was—both—for a short while) that I was now alone in the world, without my life partner to support me, to confide with, to enjoy life with. But I chose to sidestep the grief and anger, to allowed myself to grow. And flourish. Growing in ways I would never have with him by my side. Flourishing, trying things I would never have thought to try while my life-partner was there to lean on.

Creating a new path.

One for me to explore—with all of its ups and downs, delights and challenges, enriching my life day by day. I know, with God’s help (He is always at my side), that I’ll do more than just ‘get through’ each day, I’ll become a better person than I was the day before.

Living joyfully. Thank you, Lord!