ROW80

ROW80 Check-in Back Among the Living

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I have checked-in.  April was a tough month for me.  It began with a mysterious sickness that lasted over three weeks, and ended with a trip to see my parents that was dispiriting and extremely uncomfortable.

So far in May, I’ve been trying to prepare for shoulder replacement surgery, getting ahead of the day job so that things would go well during my 2-3 weeks out.  Then I found out last Thursday that my surgery on the 21st has to be rescheduled. While I am bitterly disappointed, I should be able to get things back under control since I am ahead of the game in the day job.

So how have I been doing on my goals?  I’m fine on some, and far behind on others.  I’m concentrating on the half-full glass.

Writing:

Write one hour three times this past week. No, but I’m going to strive to meet this goal.

Community:

Visit my assigned blogs twice a week. I missed a week or so, but I am making it up the next two weeks.

Reply to all comments. No, but I have scheduled times to bring me back on track. I plan to catch up on my sponsor posts and guest post comments as well.

I did not reach the goal of non-blog related posts on Facebook or Twitter.  I plan to schedule these posts as well. 

Clutter:

One hour three times a week at home going through paper detritus of modern life. Done!

One hour three times a week going through electronic files–rename, delete, archive. Done! Luckily, both these tasks can be accomplished with less than full brainpower.

I also pulled, cleaned and put away all my winter clothing. I am in the process of cleaning and putting away my summer clothing, although the weather is quite volatile here lately, and I regret putting some of my winter clothes away.

Health:

Walk. Seriously. 30 minutes a day. My best lately has been three days a week.  My shoulder is a bother when walking, so I’ve taken it easy.

Follow-up on all the health issues.  I have followed up on several health issues.  There is only the surgery and one other problem to address.

Family day, no working and time with family, one day per week. Yes. Except when I was out of town on business, I spent every Saturday with my family.

Reading:

Update Goodreads at least every other week. Nope.  I need to put this back on my radar.

List and report on what I’m reading, even the dry, academic stuff. I haven’t been reading much academic stuff lately,  I’ve been up lots of nights, and read non-stop through many of them.

 For Wednesday’s check-in, I’ll list what I’ve read this past month or so.  In the meantime, please go encourage some of our participants here.

ROW80

Call for help

Some of you may know that I am involved in a writing challenge called a Round of Words in 80 Days, often shortened to ROW80. I have been a sponsor in ROW80 for most of the last year and a half.  Another sponsor is in a tough situation right now–her husband is in the hospital, neither he nor she can work, and the situation is getting more difficult by the day.

Details on various ways to help her out are here.

ROW80

Chasing Success

Eleanor Roosevelt, power of dreams
From Brainy Quote http://www.brainyquote.com/

In the interesting juxtaposition that often happens in life, I ran across this quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt on the same day that my academic writing group had the following topic: What does success mean for you in the context of your Work, not of the employment or study within which you do that work?”

For most academics, research ends up taking the back seat to the more immediate demands of the job: syllabi, grading, office hours, and less so, committees, administration, and University or College service.  Thus, for most of the group, “Work” equals “Research.” For me, part of “Work” is my scholarly research, but a large part of it is the “off-the-clock” writing. I do find myself chasing success in the day job, which has its merits but is not fulfilling in the same way that my Work would be. I guard against falling headfirst into that rabbit hole by reminding myself that the day job does not reflect the “real me,” but merely something that I do well that pays reasonably well

The existence of public and private selves has set up a dissonance in my life, analogous to the harmonic resonance that shatters crystal. I’ve never been good at keeping the “important, but not urgent” goals in the forefront, finding myself far more persuaded by the “urgent, but not important” that pays my bills. I tend to say, “when I have a sabbatical,” or “when I retire,” which is less and less satisfying.

I’m finally to the point where my fear of failing is less than my fear of never trying.  As for my  ROW80 goals: slow and steady wins the race. I keep falling down, but I keep picking myself up, more importantly.  Excelsior!

What does success mean for you?

Please go visit some of the participants here. We’re headed into the dreaded middle of the challenge, which is almost as boggy as the middle of a WIP.

ROW80

ROW 80 check-in February 3, 2013

A delightful retreat from Wonderful Rooms

My husband sent me this picture, knowing that I would love the confluence of books and trees.  I dream of a writer’s cabin in the mountains that would have this feel.

First I must give my mea culpa, since I disappeared off the face of the earth for two weeks. I am behind on my sponsor visits, but plan to make them up in the next 24 hours.

Several days on either side of last weekend were spent at a library conference in Seattle.  Flying across the top quarter of the country in January is tailor-made for flight delays, insomnia, and general ill-will on my part. Having conference meetings on Saturday and Sunday for which I cannot take compensatory time off makes me grumpy. I did get to see my niece who moved to Seattle a year ago, which exorcised some of the grumpiness.

Writing:

  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states. Only partial success  In addition to whatever form of jet lag I had, several work-related things came due this past week.  Sigh. On a happy note, I did write the first draft of a guest post that is due the end of the month. Yay to an organized me. *throws confetti*

Community:

  • As a sponsor, I will visit blogs twice a week. No success here, but I have time blocked out to catch up.
  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.  Still more to do, but time is blocked out for this task as well.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  This one was easy, since I was grousing all week, and would have been horrible company.


Exercise:

  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening. Success for the most part. I walked miles on end in Seattle, and in intervening airports, so I took one evening off upon my return.
  • I will continue to use the stairs. Done.
  • I will look into the gym at work.  The thought doesn’t appeal, but it is handy and cheap. Still in the planning stages. I barely managed to eat lunch at work this past week. Sigh.


Personal:

  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read.  I got nothing read in Seattle, but finished Alison Goodman’s Eona, and created a list of books by people I know through WANA and ROW for the next few weeks of reading.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best. Only partial success on this front. I’ve had some contact with some friends, but nothing in depth.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month. Partial success; we certainly spent several hours in airports and airplanes together!
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids. Done.

Please go encourage someone on the Round; all their links are here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in Change is a’Coming

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, University at Albany, academic podium, snow,winter, campus
Academic podium in snow, January 2013

My husband took this picture out his office window; the snow of a few weeks ago has melted for the most part, and this snowfall has renewed the clean whiteness that enchants the landscape.

Kristen Lamb’s blogging course is shifting into high gear, so there will be many changes to this blog over the next few weeks. I am trying to put everything in this self-named blog, but need to transfer some of the posts I don’t want to leave behind.  I also have a growing list of posts I want to write, and will have to adjust my goals to fit some time in for them.

Also, I want to thank Claire at Word by Word for alerting me to Mslexia magazine.  Although I will probably have to content myself with the digital version, since I live in the States, I was very excited to find out about it.

Writing:

  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states. Total fail.  I struggled with insomnia this week, a heavy schedule of work commitments, and a stomach bug that arrived just when everything else left my plate. I want to work on this article; I need to work on this article, and I am beyond frustrated with my inability to get to it.

Community:

  • As a sponsor, I will visit blogs twice a week. I missed Wednesday’s posts, but plan to visit today.  Partial fail.
  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.  I replied to the latest set of comments, but there are more to do. Partial fail.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  Done.

Exercise:

  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening. I did well at the beginning of the week, but had to work Thursday night, and that threw me off.  Partial fail.
  • I will continue to use the stairs. Done.
  • I will look into the gym at work. I did visit, and got the times and prices of lockers and towels.  A slow start, but a start just the same.

Personal:

  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read.  This past week I finished Mastiff, the third in the Beka Cooper series, and started and finished Eon by Allison Goodman. I started Eona, which is the second book in the series.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best. I had lunch with Eden on Friday, which was very nice.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month. Partial fail; a stomach virus hit me yesterday morning and is proving hard to shake.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids. Done.

Please go encourage the participants here.  We have a varied, interesting group.

Renegade Reflections, ROW80

ROW80 Check-in Chops or Not

As often is the case, I found many interesting posts this past week. Cate Russell-Cole pointed me to More Love Letters, which appeals to my love of writing on paper, as well as paying it forward by sending words of encouragement to those who need them.

Lena Corazon pointed me to Chad Carver’s post on imperfection.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism all my conscious life, so I found Chad’s take on imperfection a interesting and fruitful one.

I’m beginning to think I should have a post of links every so often, since I follow so many wonderful bloggers.  That may well become one of my blogging goals. I’m still struggling through Kristen Lamb’s blogging course.  I tend to feel inadequate (what else is new?) and my previously supportive family has suggested an evaluation of my life goals.  My main problem is that I can see their point, much as I wish I didn’t.  But for now, excelsior remains my mantra, along with “strength, courage, and wisdom,” which I completely stole from Lena Corazon (with her blessing, mind you).

Writing:

  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states. Yes.  I spent a lot of time getting back into the research, but it was necessary.  Then the effort was in reading through the text, cleaning up the structure and diminishing the holes in the argument.

Community:

  • As a sponsor, I will visit blogs twice a week. Yes, and here’s a list:

http://www.laurengarafalo.com/something-new-for-2013/

http://emilyjeanroche.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-round-of-words-in-80-days-goals.html

http://julieglover.com/2013/01/06/christmas-gifts-and-row80/

http://melaniewritings.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/430/

http://dammitwomansays.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/a-round-of-words-in-80-days/

http://storypassages.com/2013/01/04/rigging-the-ship/

http://annstanleywriting.wordpress.com/row80-round-number-one-for-2013/

http://www.thevirtualpilgrim.com/?p=944

For the first check-in and for the mid-week:
http://www.doreeanderson.com/1/post/2012/10/holidays-are-right-around-the-corner.html

http://www.jenpowell.com/blog/valentines-witches-thrills-and-romance-past-and-present-plus-row80-check-in/

http://slaybelle.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/rw80-checking-in-looking-good/

http://musecraftonline.com/?p=716

http://wordsbydesign.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/hump-day/

http://rantravewrite.com/row80/#checkin

  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.  Not yet, but I hope to do that today or tomorrow.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  Done.

Exercise:

  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening. Only a couple of evenings.
  • I will continue to use the stairs. Done.
  • I will look into the gym at work.  The thought doesn’t appeal, but it is handy and cheap. Um, not yet *blush*

Personal:

  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read. This is an easy one. I’m on a Tamora Pierce kick right now.  This past week I finished Bloodhound, the second in the Beka Cooper series, and started Mastiff, the third in the series. I read Tamora Pierce with my sons when they were about 9 and 10, and I still love to sink back into her world.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best. I spent some  time chatting with some online friends a bit over a week ago–this week sped by, so I need to work more on this goal.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month. Not yet.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids. Done.

Please go encourage someone on the list of participants.  A friendly word, especially at this early stage, may help someone continue to work at their goals this Round.  You’ll find them all here.

ROW80

Round 1 Goals for 2013

The following are my goals for the first Round of a Round of Words in 80 Days in 2013.  What is A Round of Words, or ROW80, as  participants like to call it? It is a writing challenge that “knows you have a life.”  Click here to read more about it from the creator of the challenge, Kait Nolan.

2012 was a tough year for a lot of people, including me.  I found myself having trouble fighting my self-doubt and staying on track, often thinking, “Oh, what’s the use? I’ve not got the chops for this anyway.”

This round I have to concentrate on non-fiction, finishing a couple of articles for the day job, since I have an annual evaluation coming up in March.

Writing:

  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states.


Community:

  • As a sponsor, I will visit my assigned blogs twice a week.
  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  


Exercise:

  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening.
  • I will continue to use the stairs.
  • I will look into the gym at work.  The thought doesn’t appeal, but it is handy and cheap.


Personal:

  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids.
Renegade Reflections, ROW80

Dona eis requiem

My ROW80 check-in is at the  bottom of this post.

I tried to post Friday evening, when I first heard about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I just wanted to express my sorrow for all who lost loved ones, and my admiration for the teachers who protected the children to the best of their ability.  I found I couldn’t write anything, drowned by anger, despair and fear.  

In the interim, others have expressed themselves well about teachers here and here.  

My sons, not surprisingly, had very different reactions to the news.  My oldest refused to watch the news coverage, and has buried himself in studying for finals, music, and video games.  My youngest wanted to talk, although at some point he also made me turn off the news, saying I had cried enough for one day.  He pointed out that the media was feeding into the attention seeking that often motivates these killers, by talking about the numbers of the victims, later giving their names, mentioning the killer’s name and background.  

More unsettling to me, though, was the post that Myndi Shafer  pointed to, in which a mother talks about her struggles with a son with violent tendencies.  The pendulum has swung too far.  From the fear of institutionalizing  people who do not fit into someone’s idea of normal, our society robs parents and loved ones of any recourse until after these people have done something criminal. I have no answers, but I hope the inevitable rhetoric will look at these issues as well.

ROW80

I don’t have much to report.  I have finished rough drafts of two articles for the day job.  I don’t have much of a break for the holidays, so my holiday spirit has taken off for the hills lately. I’m trying to make up for it by working more so that my colleagues can take some time off.  I’m throwing ideas into files, but not feeling the muse’s vibe much these days.

I hope that everyone is still going strong into the final days of this Round, and look forward to seeing all of you in the next Round.  If you have a chance, please visit someone, or two, in the group here.

 

 

 

Renegade Reflections, ROW80

Midlife Woes


Last Sunday, I wrote in the check-in the modified goals:

  • I commit myself to being a better sponsor for the rest of the Round;
  • I commit to spending half an hour a day writing something;
  • I commit to re-acquainting myself with Cinderella, (which for the moment, is what I am calling my writing)

So, how am I doing?

  • I have gone back to comment on the folks whose blogs I missed earlier. Check!
  • I have spent half an hour a day on writing.  True, for several days, it was the research article, but I write non-fiction as well as fiction. Check!
  • Cinderella and I have chatted; I’ve persuaded her to put down the poker.  I’ve explained why I have neglected her lately, as she seems to understand.  My muse is going nuts, throwing all sorts of ideas at me, some in dreams, some out of the blue, and some hard-won, but I’m glad to take them all, write them all down, and let them simmer. Check!

 

I will not claim that I am back on the wagon for good.  I’m still in the throes of mid-life crisis, with the ship yawing wildly in the oncoming waves.  It’s hard to see progress when the deck is rising and dropping in an uneven rhythm, knocking you on your butt every other minute.

I will say that mid-life crisis does tend to offer myriad opportunities for blog posts and savage short stories, as long as I can laugh at myself, so all those opportunities are going into the stockpile as well.  Dante wrote his Commedia at the midpoint of his life; what better precedent could I follow?

Please go encourage someone here.

Renegade Reflections, ROW80

Writing as Cinderella

Have you ever had to follow your own advice, when you don’t want to, because you will look hypocritical otherwise?  In the last Round, I wrote my inspirational post about not disappearing, even when you have fallen off the wagon, which is an apt description, since I should stand up  to proclaim, “My name is Elizabeth, and I am unable to stick to goals and timetables,” much like in an AA meeting.

Yes, I have had reasons to disappear. My brother ended up in the emergency room last Monday with pneumonia. His oncologist thought he’d have to operate last week to ease his breathing, but by the end of the week, my brother was breathing better, pulled off the “nuclear war” antibiotics, as he put it, and the surgery has been slightly postponed.

Also, I’m up to my nostrils in the blogging course, and have some draft posts in the hopper. I’ve been doing a lot of housekeeping of electronic files, paring back an overgrown inbox, planning for the arrival of my new boss in January, who will want to know what I’ve been doing with myself these last eight months.  I have entered the full marathon of new committees and supervisory assignments as well. One task force meeting was two hours away, and lasted from 10:00 to 3:00, effectively torpedoing one work day. I’ve been working assiduously on the article based on my Pierpont Morgan research trip.

However, I’m just not feeling much of anything this week. Flat, hollow, meh.  The topic of the week for the academic writing group was whether our writing is an ally or a foe.  One of the participants, Z, gave a compelling description of writing as “a prisoner of war.”

This image struck me, because writing has always been my ally, my confidante, my friend, something that understood me when my colleagues did not. Perhaps because I have worked in many non-tenure-accruing environments, I have always been a bit odd in enjoying writing, since many of my colleagues chose such positions in order to avoid writing.  In my current day job, I have quickly become known as a “great editor,” when I am really just a bit more practiced and efficient in my writing, and abhor institutional doublespeak.

Even among graduate students, a group that one would think would embrace writing, I’ve known many bright, engaged, thinkers who lost themselves when handed a compass and a canteen and told to journey forth into the great Dissertation desert.  Some, if not most, of their failure is due to mentoring or lack thereof, but there are many who just discovered they didn’t enjoy writing.

If I am honest, I have often thought of my writing as Cinderella, something that is largely ignored, forgotten, sitting in the ashes of the fireplace, but hard-working and able to shine if given a bath and some attention. However, I am guilty of pushing my writing back into the fireplace as often as not, complicit in keeping it ignored and dull.  I fall far too easily into the “It’s urgent, it must be important,” trap, as well as cancelling appointments with myself, or shorting goals because others are always more important than I am.  I should not be surprised that Cinderella sometimes refuses to work with me, sulking in the corner, or worse, picks up the poker and cuffs me upside the head with it.

I commit myself to being a better sponsor for the rest of the Round; I commit to spending half an hour a day writing something; I commit to re-acquainting myself with Cinderella.

The end of the Round is nigh; please go encourage someone in the group.  The blog hop link is here.