Spring in the desert! In fact, it is almost summer – 91 today, and I think we will break down and put the air conditioner on for a bit this afternoon. Went through Saguaro National Park on Sunday tosee the cactus in bloom – always a treat this time of year. I still have lots in the bookmarks for cool stuff on line. So sit back and enjoy!
Hubby and I have always been a fan of Roy Orbison, and he especially of k.d. lang, so here’s the two combined.
I loved this next site, especially since we are planning to move back to Vermont in about a year. New England towns – they sure are gorgeous!
I am not a tattoo person – never have been, but I certainly can recognize art when I see it – even if it is a little creepy……
Swinging hits new heights (sorry, couldn’t resist), but an interesting take on cooperativeness.
Subway art in Sweden – makes transportation into an art experience.
Seriously LOVE the Fibonacci numbers…..check this out!
Incredible pics of icebergs – they’re actually paintings…..
And finally, the utmost in recycling – twist-tie toys!
You are looking at the control room of the last Titan Missile site, south of Tucson, and obviouslynon-working. One of the things i have also been doing over the last few months is writing a novel, of which I have completed nearly 70,000 words. It’s been fun, a stretch, and involves a bit of interesting research. In thinking about how to end the book (futuristic, but I still want it believable), I decided to check out this museum for possible ideas.
What you are looking at on the left is our group in the main launch center of the site. Everything within the control room is designed so that no one person could actually launch a missile. It would require two keys, both placed far apart so that no one person could operate both at the same time…and all kinds of interesting trivia. This site has been preserved as a museum, and the curator is a former commander of the site. The movie before the tour talked about our foreign policy of prepared deterence, which I found ironic in the light of Bush junior’s policy of “with us or against us.”
Here are a couple of photo collages of other pics from that visit. Amazing construction for the day, and sites located in places I hadn’t even known about.
Lower left – escape hatch to the surface, and middle right is the fresh air vent to the interior. Both will potentially figure prominently in the novel. Lower right the steel doors protecting the control room, and middle left the LONG corridor to get to the actual missile.
Now I need to make a trip to the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, plus a few other “border” areas. Now that the consulting work has eased up, I should be able to get two chapters a week done – 2/3 done and want to move along to finish so I can edit (which I seriously love!).
Every year this time I am reminded during Holocaust Remembrance of the loss of millions of lives throughout history because of people’s hate. I’ve got previous posts you can check out about some lesser known facts and people about this time period, specifically the Holocaust of World War II. The mantra is “Never Forget,” but we are, slowly, as survivors pass on and others come into power with hate in their hearts.
Other blog posts:
It’s been nearly a year since blogging, business, and all things related to blogging suddenly lost their interest. Not really quite sure why, but I know I did miss the blogging. I guess it’s just one of those “life got in the way” kind of situations. But I have been doing things.
Recently I’ve been a math consultant, and I have learned a great deal. One, I’m not 50 anymore, and this back to part-time – although full-time days – has really taken its toll physically and mentally. Once again there was no time for any serious art. Even the commission I had been working on took a back seat, and I expect to get back to that in the next few days. In no way would I want to be a math teacher these days, regardless of the level. The amount of stress on teachers has grown to absurd proportions, what with mandatory state tests…and now field testing new tests – and of course spending an obscene amount of money in the process, because heaven forbid we should believe the teachers when they tell us how well students are doing. (Insert deep breath to end rant….) The major test/book publisher/supposed guru of all things education is really evil incarnate. Yes, Pearson, I’m talking about you. These guys have so much control over textbooks, types of testing for teachers, student testing, access to materials that it is ridiculous.
So, about my commission. Thread work on the seven chakras for my yoga instructor. I have three done, and they will become patterns. The ones I am doing are all 24 x 24 inches, and they will surround the walls of her yoga studio. Here’s a peek:
Managed our first trip to the Botanical Gardens this year, and I focused in on texture. Then I used this great app for the iPad called Photogrid, and I made a few collages. Love the app!
More coming as I get back in the swing of life!
Surprise! It’s me….I don’t know for how long, as I am sorting out a lot of personal things, but I do have a huge backlog of things I’ve found on the internet. Mostly I am trying to settle back into a retirement routine after three-plus intensive months as a math consultant. We’ll see how I manage to make my life work again! But now, here’s some great stuff.
Free art books from the Getty Museum – yes, you heard that right! Lots of eye candy here, and hours of enjoyment. Plus free lectures, free movies….lots of free stuff on the site.
What if…nothing is impossible? Great inspirational video. If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.
Street art from interesting objects, like legos and yarn, and nothing is photoshopped!
Guys in kilts….does it get any better?
The absolute power of a photograph – iconic photos that tell moving stories.
Fiber art and Game of Thrones….but of course……
I want this log cabin….right now, somewhere green and quiet……
Stills from I Love Lucy – several episodes are still some classic favorites.
A retirement community in Germany recreated some famous movie scenes for a calendar – definitely worth a look!
Enjoy your week!
This is exactly how my brain feels today….more than overwhelmed, as I just started a new part-time job that is full-time for the first three months…….so it means wardrobe changes and a bunch of other things, and the usual work isn’t getting done….and I am surrounded by loose ends….which is how many of us feel a lot of the time.
I do have a solution I have used….it was going to be Day 6 in the series….it’s just that Day 6 took a while getting here….
Anyway, welcome to The Brain Dump.
My middle grade students would say I could bring any topic at all back to dinosaur poop and pee. But the Brain Dump is different, and it’s highly useful. I’ve been doing this at least once a month (sometimes more) for the last year, and it has really helped me organize myself. I find that as I start planning for this coming year, before I can do my backplanning (last post), I’ve had to do a serious brain dump and keep the paper close at hand for other loose ends that float to the top.
The idea of a brain dump is to sit with a blank sheet of paper and list everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that you need to do, whether it is urgent or not. Don’t worry about order, don’t worry about whether things go together, don’t whether about if it’s several weeks away. JUST WRITE IT DOWN.
The advantage to this is to give your brain a break and a rest. Once you take everything that you are trying to keep straight in your brain OUT of it, you don’t have to worry about remembering it all. Now it’s down on paper, and you don’t have to keep thinking about that particular task, and the next one, and three more after that. It’s incredibly freeing and sets you up to be able to make sense of what needs to be done to accomplish goals.
Here are two examples of a couple of sheets I started with on January 1, as I plan out my month and my first quarter, as well as some longer-term objectives. I collected past sheets that still had items listed, and I started a new sheet with some of the newer items arising as a result of the new year.
Nothing is in any order. There are things on here I still haven’t gotten to from the previous year. But that’s okay. My main goal is to free up my mind from worry. I want to have everything laid out so I can use these lists to organize. I realized yesterday as I was working on one particular area, that I really couldn’t just go into the backplanning process without doing this. Now, keep in mind this might not work for you, but I urge you to try it and see if you can relax a bit about getting things done without forgetting them. I keep my page handy for about a week, so that if something new comes to mind – like renewing the trade name this year – I can easily add it to the list.
Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t a daily or weekly list….this is strictly a list of everything floating in your brain. You want to free up that space without having to worry about the detritus – important or not – floating there. What I end up doing is looking at the master list and choosing what’s critical for the coming week. Your mileage may vary.
I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?
Sometimes life gets in the way……actually, a lot of times daily life intrudes on our best of intentions. It has happened to me in designing this series, and probably many of you right now are having life get in the way of your organization. I chose the picture on the left because life certainly got in the way of the creature fossils 1200 million years ago – and still today there is a remarkable work of beauty as you walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Just go with it. Just. Go. With. It. It’s okay. Life happens along the way. When I was writing the backplanning blog, I sketched out the plan to complete my marbling book. Once I got hired for a new part-time job that is ten days a month, I realized I would have to change some of my plans. Again, It’s. Okay.
What’s happening with your planning and organizing is that you are becoming very aware of what you would like to do and the time restraints on you. Most of the time we just make lists of what we want to get done, but we really don’t understand just what the actual time allotment is. So I want to introduce you to the 80-20 rule, as it can apply to organization.
I think most of us are familiar with 80-20. Think about the 80% of things that are really important to you. Then think about the 20% of things that are not so important…..and now think about how much time you spend…….do you spend 80% of your time on the things that are most important to you, that will move your business ahead, that will increase your creativity? Or…..do you get stuck doing a lot of the 20% things because you feel you should?
Stephen Covey (2004) said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” The 80-20 rule can guide us in determining how to use the very limited and precious resources we have of time, energy, and money.
When you look at what you will do backplanning on, on what you will spend your time and effort on this year, think about the benefits…..will you be able to spend 80% of your time, energy, and money on the things that matter most to you. Backplanning for me on the marbling book is a place where I want to spend my time and energy. The book will be a potential source of passive income, once it is finished. I have decided to go with a different publishing platform, because I simply don’t have the time to learn a new coding system, even though the publisher is fabulous, and I don’t have the money to pay for them to code. So I will work (probably) with Create Space so the book is available on all epub platforms, and not just iBook – even though I know that platform now. This is a worthwhile priority for us, so I will spend the time. Taking an online class in science fiction will no longer be a priority beyond skimming through the basic notes and making a list of what I would like to read in the future. I do not want to give up my time to read several thousand pages in six weeks. Not worth my time – although it would be interesting – but it will have to wait till a later date.
Some links on the 80/20 Rule:
So what do you think? Thoughts? Insights? Share! I’m interested in how you are organizing yourself.
So did you dream yesterday? Want to hear from you, so let me know in the comments. I chose today’s picture for a reason. In the midst of cluttered minds and prickly daily events, every now and then we get a bloom of an idea and begin to run with it. Organization can seem overwhelming at times – we can even become obsessed with getting organized – kind of like falling into a cactus bush and then having to pull out all of the thorns – you just can’t stop till it’s completely done. (Ask me how I know this….).
Here’s my dreaming from yesterday – goals for the New Year of 2014, with no monetary limits in my dreaming.
trips to Kauaii, San Diego, Northwest, Yosemite; marbling ebook published; seasons patterns completed; chakra commission completed; at least three more commissions obtained; licensing work through The Artrepreneur; better blogging this year (at least 100 posts); complete saving most of the money needed for our move east in 18 months; better correspondent with friends; complete at least three Coursera classes; finish all the Craftsy classes I have downloaded; weight loss yet again (maybe 25 pounds for the year); learn about my new part-time job; at least two silk classes with the textile artist in Jerome; get good at my dyeing fabrics; work on rayon scarves with dyeing/marbling; monthly lunches with my second mom; Friday dinners with my sister/friend; attend Road 2 California (missed it last year); finish novel DC12 and start next volume, and hopefully get the first one published; celebrate 38 years of marriage with my honey.
Now I will keep adding to this list for the next month or so, so I can let a lot of these ideas just simmer in my brain. Simmering is good; put something away and let it ferment – it leads to all kinds of interesting other paths.
Now for the next step: THE CONCEPT OF BACKPLANNING
You did your dreaming….within all those dreams are goals for this coming year. Now comes the time to put planning to work. I’ve used this system for decades – literally. I’m sure someone came up with the idea before, but to my knowledge no one else calls it “backplanning.” Because…..you plan backwards. It seems counterintuitive to how we usually plan, but this method pretty much guarantees you will finish on time, without that last-minute unpleasantness crammed in to a few days. In fact….you could be early.
What I also like about this system is that by the time you are done, you have a plan in front of you that looks extremely practical, manageable, and something that doesn’t scare you before you even start.
One thing to keep in mind – your goals can be any length, from a week to a year. I’ve used this method to plan getting ready for a trip in two weeks to presenting a middle school musical in 9 weeks, to my yearly goals. For the school musicals, I started with a 9-week calendar that was determined by opening night. Then I started backing up important dates, until I had actually scheduled auditions.
What I want you to do next is skim through this calendar, top to bottom, and bottom to top. There’s room built in for snow days and other things that might come up, plus keeping in mind the attention span of middle schoolers. And, I feel it’s do-able for me, the director.
Friday, May 2 – afternoon and evening shows, strike set, cast party
Thursday, May 1 – afternoon opening, evening show
Wednesday, April 30 – dress rehearsal
Tuesday, April 29 – tech rehearsal everything
Monday, April 28 – tech rehearsal, lights and set changes
Friday, April 25 – run through all acts, costumes and props
Thursday, April 24 – run through all acts, props
Wednesday, April 23, run through all acts
Tuesday, April 22 – Act 3
Monday, April 21 – Act 2
Friday, April 18 – Act 1
Thursday, April 17 – all musical numbers from all acts, concentrated
Wednesday, April 16 – Act 3
Tuesday, April 15 – Act 2
Monday, April 14 – Act 1
Friday, April 11 – Act 3
Thursday, April 10 – Acts 2 and 3
Wednesday, April 9 – Acts 1 and 2
Tuesday, April 8 – Act 3 finish blocking
Monday, April 7 – Act 3 blocking
Friday, April 6 – Act 3 blocking
Thursday, April 5 – Act 2
Wednesday, April 6 – Act 2 blocking
Tuesday, April 5 – Act 2 blocking
Monday, April 4 – Act 2 blocking
Friday, April 1 – Act 2 blocking
Thursday, March 31 – Act 2 blocking
Wednesday, March 30 – Act 1
Tuesday, March 29 – Act 1 blocking
Monday, March 28 – Act 1 blocking
Friday, March 25 – Act 1 blocking
Thursday, March 24 – Act 1 blocking
Wednesday, March 23 – Act 1 blocking
Tuesday, March 22 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone
Monday, March 21 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone
Friday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone
Thursday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone
Wednesday, March 17 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone
Tuesday, March 16 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone
Monday, March 15 – Act 3 music main roles
Friday, March 12 – Act 3 music main roles
Thursday, March 11 – Act 2 music main roles
Wednesday, March 10 – Act 2 music main roles
Tuesday, March 9 – Act 1 music main roles
Monday, March 8 – Act 1 music main roles
Friday, March 5 – read-through
Thursday, March 4 – read-through
Wednesday, March 3 – cast announced
Tuesday, March 2 – auditions singing
Monday, March 1 – auditions acting
Mid-February – order scripts, pay royalties
Yes, there’s more behind the scenes going on before we even begin, but those pieces don’t involve a cast of 80 children. I need a schedule I can work with, students can take home for parents, and teachers will know when classes are disrupted.
* * * * * * * * * *
Here I just want to introduce this idea of backplanning. I’m going to take one of my goals – the marbling e-book – and do the backplanning right here (it will motivate me, as well as make it seem like we can do this……) Note that I start with the day I want to actually publish, and then I work from there.
June 1: submit final copy for publishing
Last week in May: complete review, checking spelling, layouts, sizes of pictures, videos
3rd week in May: make any final changes to layout of the book
2nd week in May: resources section completed
1st week in May: any appendices added
Last week in April: stories from other marblers chapter completed
3rd week in April: write chapter 11, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
2nd week in April:write chapter 10, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
1st week in April: write chapter 9, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
Last week in March: write chapter 8, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
3rd week in March: write chapter 7, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
2nd week in March: edit second three chapters
1st week in March: write chapter 6, pics and video on the weekend, marbling; send requests to other marblers for stories/techniques to include in the book
Last week in February: write chapter 5, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
3rd week in February: write chapter 4, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
2nd week in February: (silk classes in Jerome); review/edit first three chapters
1st week in February: write chapter 3, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
Last week in January: write chapter 2, pics and video on the weekend, marbling
3rd week in January: write chapter 1 and introduction, pics and videos on the weekend, marbling
2nd week in January: hubby starts photographs; videos on the weekend, marbling
1st week in January: (right now) – plan photographs and video needed for each of the 11 chapters; determine publishing platform (I’ve already eliminated one because I don’t want to spend the time coding each page)
* * * * * * * * *
So – now I’ve done that,and I am basically at today. I’m not comfortable with the schedule, since I am starting a new part-time job. I don’t know which weeks I will be working full time, so I know now that more time needs to be built in to this backplanning. I am going to delay publishing until the end of June, and that gives me four weeks as a cushion for the writing, especially within the first month as I am learning the publishing program.
Now - REMEMBER – this isn’t set in stone! You’re in charge – if you need to adapt, feel free. I will keep you posted as to how each month works in this schedule.
Your task – take one item from your list of dreams, and try this. If you want to travel, start with when you want to go and work backwards – scheduling the trip, packing, saving the money – you get the idea.
Please leave comments for us on your thoughts, if you have done something like this, other variations you use. Let’s build from each other!
I was looking through pictures to see about something appropriate for this third day of the series, and I stumbled upon one of my favorite sculptures from our trip east in July – the Broom and Dustpan at the Denver Art Museum. What a perfect way to look at a clean sweep of the least year and a new start for this coming year! Remember that you can start this series ANY TIME you want to. So…on to day 3!
Dreaming the New Year
Now it’s time to think about this coming new year, regardless of when you consider your year to begin. When I was teaching, September was always the beginning of the year, not January. With retirement, my new year is the end of May. So you can do this at any time of the year, for however long a time period you want. Start with a month or two, or go for the whole year. If the process works for you, then consider doing a five-year plan. I promise you that this whole process really works!
First, though, you need to DREAM. If you need help in dreaming your goals, check out Dale Anne Potter’s website. She offers a lot of positive ideas for getting goals accomplished, and she has great resources. So does Alyson Stanfield, author of “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!”
I’m asking you to do away with limits on your thinking. No worrying about how much money you need, whether you think it’s actually possible to accomplish, or any other roadblocks you might place in your path. This is dream time. A year from now, what would you like to have accomplished? Just DREAM. Don’t limit yourself! And…don’t make it just about your business.
Here’s what I came up with in my brainstorming for last year:
a second online gallery carrying my artwork; publication of the book with my art quilts in it; a line of stencils for mixed media; two ebooks on marketing; an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics ; finish the ebook for a friend ; licensing some of my digital designs; at least four new patterns developed and available; at least three teaching gigs around the country; visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City; a trip to Kauai in the fall; visiting the Maritimes this summer; entry into at least two fiber/art shows; increase by 25% each the income from Ebay, the website, Etsy, and Cafe Press; another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article; additional writing and work done on my website; a visit with my foster son; visiting the old homestead in New Jersey; seeing my college buddy again; staying healthy; blog posts at least four times a week; articles in two art/quilt-related magazines; monthly lunches with my second mom; weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend; at least once a month something art/music-related to see; outdoor cactus garden established; and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend.
Here’s how I did:
a second online gallery carrying my artwork (done); publication of the book with my art quilts in it (coming in June 2014); a line of stencils for mixed media (nope); two ebooks on marketing (got one, second in the works); an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics (just a tutorial); finish the ebook for a friend (done); licensing some of my digital designs (in the works); at least four new patterns developed and available (developed, not completed for sale); at least three teaching gigs around the country (did two, got one already booked for this coming year); visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City (done); a trip to Kauai in the fall (nope); visiting the Maritimes this summer (nope); entry into at least two fiber/art shows (nope, but not a priority any longer); increase by 25% each the income from Ebay (done), the website (nope), Etsy (done), and Cafe Press (nope); another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article (first article was a bust, not very cooperative, never got print sheets, not worth the time and effort); additional writing and work done on my website (nope); a visit with my foster son (YAY); visiting the old homestead in New Jersey (done – and in New York); seeing my college buddy again (nope); staying healthy (pretty much); blog posts at least four times a week (nope); articles in two art/quilt-related magazines (nope); monthly lunches with my second mom (done); weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend (done); at least once a month something art/music-related to see (done); outdoor cactus garden established (nope); and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend (nope).
In retrospect, a lot accomplished, and some of the “nope’s” are not priorities any longer. The math person in me looks at 17 out of 30, a percentage of 57%. OVerall I’m pleased, because some other things got accomplished that I wasn’t anticipating, so a good year!
Your list can be as long or as short as you wish. Please do not try and limit yourself, even subconsciously. I have found the key in planning is to shoot for the moon. You’ll get a lot farther into the atmosphere than if you try to keep yourself grounded on earth.
Also, DO NOT FEEL OVERWHELMED with this list! In the next installment, I’ll be sharing the idea of backplanning – something that I have used throughout teaching, especially when I was doing theater. Backplanning makes everything seem absolutely do-able – I promise.
Feel free to share your dreaming with us. Some of us might get inspired by something you mention and decide to include it on our list. Let a comment and tell us what you’re dreaming about. You’ll head in to the New Year feeling very positive about what you’d like to accomplish! When I introduce you to Backplanning, you’ll realize you can accomplish what’s on your list. Now go and DREAM!
Here we are at Day 2 of Getting Organized. Did you congratulate yourself on what you accomplished this past year? I always do, because even though we may think we haven’t done much, and then we are amazed at what we actually did do. Here’s a link to my year-end review from last year – which happens in May for me, because it marks the start of what I accomplished during my retirement year. Here’s a sample of one from Celestine Chua, who runs the Personal Excellence blog – she’s got some cool things she does.
Now for Day 2.
Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out on paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals. WE’LL LOOK AT THIS SHORTLY. Recognize what you didn’t get accomplished for the year – I never did get my seasons patterns finished, and that is such a big loose end. Think about them, and then LET IT GO!!!! A perfect activity for letting go is New Year’s Eve!
One key piece here is to not beat yourself up about what didn’t get accomplished. Even though I slowed down this year, I still made deadlines I set for myself. There just weren’t as many of them. What was a priority for me DID get done, so you are on your way to prioritizing tasks, even if you didn’t realize it.
Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list. Get a blank sheet of paper, title it “Accomplishments of 2014,” and keep it where you work – desk, studio, whatever is easy access for you. Then as you finish something, WRITE IT ON THE LIST! A small thing to do, but oh, will you feel good about yourself this time next year!! If you look at the blog post I linked to here, all of those were taken from the list I kept. Real easy to write about it when the time comes.
That naturally leads us to Step 4.
Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let us celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it! Leave a comment about what you’ve done, send me a link to your blog of accomplishments, and let’s celebrate in the next couple of days what we’ve done. I’ll share responses on this blog.
PS – this series is going to become part of my new marketing book, a large expansion on the one I’ve just published, Niche Marketing – Planning, Marketing, and Selling Your Unique Items. The new book will be on a platform for all ebooks, not just iPads. This is your chance to get into print bu the end of next year (a great marketing credit, by the way). I’ll be looking for individual stories and ideas to illustrate the various points I make, so you have a chance just by making comments on the organizing posts. So write to me!!
Two days left in the year – a perfect time to think about what has passed and what is to come. Here is part 1 in a series on organizing yourself and your business.
Part 1: Reflecting on What Has Come Before
It’s the end of the year: fiscal, calendar, it doesn’t really matter. Most of us are already thinking ahead. Lots of ideas, plans, and probably a sense of “how can I ever make this all happen?” We can get bogged down in so many little spots, and ultimately we think we haven’t done anything. Or…we have so many ideas and no sense of where to begin to actually make this all happen.
If that’s your mind frame right now, then this series is for you. Step by step, let’s help you plan out the coming year so that it seems both manageable and practical. The best part? You can do this planning whenever you want; you don’t have to wait for an official beginning. You just start, whether it be an individual project, a month, or the whole calendar year.
Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress. THIS IS YOUR JOB FOR TODAY!! We forget some of the things we’ve done that are sometimes very small, but they lead to much bigger things in the future. And….we never give ourselves enough credit for what we did do, mainly because we think it’s too small and insignificant. Start celebrating now! After all, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve…….
Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out on paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals. WE’LL LOOK AT THIS TOMORROW.
Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list. I’ll show you examples of how to actually do this.
Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let us celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it!
YOUR JOB TODAY – Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress.
Interested in marketing advice? Check out my new book on iTunes: Niche Marketing – Planning, Marketing, and Selling Your Unique Items.
One of the most restful places in Tucson for me is the Tucson Botanical Gardens. There is this metal sculptural fountain of various kinds of cacti that is so spectacular. I don’t know how many times I have snapped pictures of it; I never tire of the photos, and it is fun to manipulate them on the computer. Surprisingly I’ve only been there twice this year, both times in the spring when most of the gardens are in bloom. It was also a time of severe depression and sadness. I think the family deaths from last year began to finally catch up with me…anger primarily, and then sadness.
The depression stuck around for a long time, and I realized I needed to get a different kind of medication. I would sit and play solitaire for hours on end, not doing any sewing or anything beyond the basics. One of the side effects – on the good side – was the fact that I completely slowed down. I spent most of the winter and spring in first gear, and sometimes it felt like reverse. Vacation was wonderful, but coming back to a long siege with pneumonia derailed me again. I had a couple weeks before Thanksgiving I felt like I was at least in fourth gear, getting a great amount done, but then the sadness struck again with Thanksgiving, as it always does at this time, commemorating my dad’s sudden death 39 years ago. It was harder to get over things this year, but I am slowly working my way back into fourth gear.
It has also helped to have an endocrinologist who actually felt my thyroid, determined there were problems just from my symptoms, and then had tests and an ultrasound done to confirm everything. It will take a while to get better, but at least, after nearly two decades, I have a doctor who is willing to listen and try alternative approaches.
Overall this year I have not felt productive, not like the last two years of retirement have been. And yet I have made deadlines, the business has had the best year ever, and my own skills continue to improve. So I have to look at that and ignore the fact that some days nothing got accomplished except getting dressed. As is my usual self, I am looking forward to the new year and new projects, finishing some old one, enjoying the 60s (turning out to be a pretty good decade), navigating Medicare and health care, and not feeling guilty when a day passes and all I have done is read a book – or write on the novel.
Last January I only had 200 blog entries to go till I hit 1000, and then I basically stopped writing. I’ve done very few entries this year, and I’ve also read very few blogs this year. Part of me feels guilty, and the other part of me is lashing me with a wet noodle and saying “stop it – no need to feel guilty.” So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it……
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the day, we need to pause and give thanks for the wonders in our lives. Our friends, our families, our health. Let’s think wider than ourselves, and lend a hand where needed. We are headed into a crazy time, and it should be about so much more than shopping. We can be the change we want to see, we can make a difference in one life at a time. Nothing is too large that we can’t approach it a piece at a time. May you have joy, love, and peace throughout the coming season…and beyond.