Tidying Your Digital Life: The Initial Assessment

The bathroom is scrubbed. The kitchen is spotless. The curtains are freshly washed. The couch cushions are arranged just so. But what kind of mess is your digital life in?

digital life, digital woman

I didn’t want to talk about this side of tidying until I’d managed to make it a steady habit. I’m good at announcing projects and effectively shooting myself in the foot when doing so because then I never get anywhere. With this one though, I’ve been steadily making headway for about a year now, so clearly I’m not about to give it up.

You might be following my series “The Quest to Tidy” which is all about my adventure in trying to use some of Marie Kondo’s tactics (dubbed the KonMari method) to tidy up my household once and for all. It’s been an on-again, off-again project since late last spring and while my house is not yet perfectly organized, her words inspired another project for me to work on. Digital tidying.

Take just a moment and evaluate your digital situation.

Here’s just a smidge of where mine started: Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: July 2016

It’s been a long time since I was able to do a proper post report around here, but as I am at least currently fully immersed in postcrossing again I have new favorites to share.

2016 July - AustriaFirst up, my very first postcard from Austria!

The sender told me the first time the town of Straßwalchen is mentioned in history can be found all the way back to the year 799, though it had a different name at the time. In the heat we’re having right now, a snow-covered town in Europe seems like the perfect place to escape. Continue reading

On Some Days…

Have you ever had one of those days?

When the librarian, being helpful, directs you to another self-check out, but because she called out to you the only thing you feel is stupid for not seeing it, and as though the stupid has been painted on you like a target everyone else can see.

When after going to McDonald’s (because the only other option for dinner that sounds good is nothing and didn’t Happy Meals fix things as kids?), you realize the cashier in the drive thru didn’t even thank you for your business, and now you feel tiny and loathed for being a consumer that made him do his job. His blank stare when he handed you your receipt was probably because he’s imagining not working at a McDonald’s drive thru and didn’t even see you, really see you, but all the same you feel judged and sentenced in that single breath.

When you calm yourself down from the panic, rising anew, at the prospect of crossing just five miles across town to get home, cars pressing in around you like anxious sharks around a bleeding fish, by telling yourself it’s okay, you can listen to the quiet burble of the aquarium filter as you watch the fish you love at home… only to remind yourself that you got rid of the fish a few years ago and finally sold the tank last year, because every place in your home that could fit the tank is a haven for algae and nothing will live.

When you convince yourself that it’s okay if the librarian thinks you’re stupid and the McDonald’s cashier hated you as a lesser creature than he and the fish are long gone… because after you eat your hamburger you can go sit on the swing set in the park, sweating in the rolling waves of the leftover heat of an August sun, and talk to your friend who always insisted that the world made sense on a swing set, pour your heart out to him as the chains on the swings groan and screech, beg him to make sense of everything driving needles into your heart because on swing sets we have the answers… …and remember that he, too, turned his back on you years ago.

I can’t go sit on the swing set alone.

On those days, it becomes very hard to create.

KidLit Love: Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

This book has three of my favorite things – owls, poetry, and the moon – so how could I not pick it up?

Otto the Owl“Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry” is about an owl who is far more interested in pretty words than he is in doing… well, just about anything owls would normally do. And wouldn’t you know it, all the other owls think he’s weird for it.

This is Vern Kousky’s first children’s book, published in 2015 and suggested for ages 5-8. I think it is a sweet introduction into poetry and would be great for kids who want to make the next leap from simple fun rhymes (Feline in the Bonnet, anyone?) to something a bit more classical without going over their heads. I like that Otto quotes bits of familiar poets like Eliot and Dickinson, but he and some of the other characters make up their own poems too.

Otto the OwlWhen it comes to picture books, the art makes or breaks it for me, and I really enjoyed Kousky’s art in this as well. Though do the other owls remind you of the Fireys from Labyrinth, or is that just me?

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

Thoughts on Rejection

We are now over the hump of the first half of the year and this is right about the time I’d love to be announcing “Guess what? I had work accepted for publication!!” Unfortunately… that’s not the case. And it’s awful easy to feel down about it.

Some rejections I expected. Big publications that accept a very small volume of work. But hey, pie in the sky, right? The answer is always no if they don’t even see your work.

Other rejections I had hoped not to see, felt like I had a better chance of finding placement, but in the end it was not to be. Once again… small volume of work accepted. Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for the editor.

But at the same time my feelings on the matter are still bolstered this year. Continue reading

Getting Back to Postcrossing

Postcrossing‘ is one of my favorite hobbies. I love snail mail and postcrossing helps to satisfy that love, especially in a world where so many people don’t even send birthday cards or Christmas cards through the mail anymore. It’s as easy as uploading my mailing address to the site and creating a basic profile. I request an address from someone else in the world, write them a post card, and once they have registered it as received, someone else is given my address! (Your address is only seen by the people who are given your address as someone to write to. The general public cannot see it.) You never know who you will write to or receive from next.

The nice thing about this hobby is you can easily put exactly however much time and money into it you want. When we hit a rough patch in finances and were saving for some big expenses, it was easy for me to simply stop requesting new addresses and thus put the hobby on hold.

I’m happy to say that I’m actively postcrossing again. I’ve missed it dearly.

postcard from new mexicoHere is the first one received after nearly a year of taking time off…

To be honest, I didn’t even know postcrossers really had meet ups. This one of course had already occurred and this was just a commemorative card they had made.

For me, I think, I prefer to stick to the snail mailing side of things. I think it is awesome any time a group of people can get together over a hobby they share (assuming that hobby is, you know, non-detrimental to themselves or society). But for me when it comes to postcrossing it feels a bit odd. I like the slight anonymity and briefness of a postcard and leaving it at that.

Do you still send snail mail?

Putting My ‘Tidying’ Hat Back On

Has it really been 10 months since I went on a tidying hiatus and 8 months since I had a small post about the whole process? My goodness! Time to dust off the tidying hat and get back on the train.

A little over a year ago I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. It completely changed how I look at tidying and keeping house. I have not, however, ‘completed’ her course in getting my own house in order. After making great progress last year, I hit burn out in addition to simply too many other things going on in my life that demanded attention. (That’s only partially an excuse. It’s also at least somewhat true.) You can click on the “Quest to Tidy” link to the right, listed under “Recurring Segments,” if you want to catch up on all of the posts written so far.

woman with hat reading a book

How I imagine I’ll spend time when my life is tidied up…

To get myself back in the mindset for this summer project (and probably fall and winter too…) I have been rereading Marie Kondo’s first book as well as starting in on her second: “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up”.

“So, let me ask you point-blank: Are you committed to completing the once-in-a-lifetime special event of tidying up?”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

Probably not quite as committed as she’d like me to be were I one of her clients, and I already know from reading her first book that there are a few things she does I simply will not do (such as pare my book collection down to a single shelf or two of favorites), but I saw the progress I made last year and I know that if I’m a little bit hard on myself and don’t completely give up, I can certainly make a lot more.

Expect many more posts to come (including a spin-off mini-series on organizing your digital life, something Marie Kondo also inspired me to do), but for now I’ll leave you with this very important quote from the brilliant lady herself. It’s good to think on before you roll up your sleeves and take on the seemingly-giant task of tidying.

“The responsibility for mess and clutter lies 100 percent with the individual. Things do not multiply of their own accord, but only if you buy them or receive them from someone else. Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place. If a room becomes cluttered “before you know it,” it is entirely your own doing. In other words, tidying up means confronting yourself. 

In contrast, dirt does accumulate of its own accord. It is a law of nature that dust and dirt pile up. Therefore, cleaning means confronting nature.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

 

*Image taken from Pixabay, creative commons license, user Pezibear

Defining Stress

I’m back from a 2 1/2 week vacation abroad and nearly 3 1/2 weeks off work, and the last thing I’m ready to come back to is stress. Coming home means coming back to responsibilities with house, family, and the day job, not to mention trying to make time for all of the creative tasks I’d like to tackle in my life. Taken individually, those responsibilities are typically fairly easy and often quite enjoyable. Taken as a whole… well, let’s just say that little stressors love to group up like mean kids at a party and together they can ruin all the fun.

I had a great quote sitting in my inbox when I returned home from traveling. “Stress is the difference between who you think you need to be and who you actually are.” (Please click here to be linked to the original article quoted.)

Wow. Wake up call.

think I need to manage everything by myself. I’m responsible for keeping my house magazine-perfect both in cleanliness and style. I am responsible for creating and maintaining a perfect system of organization for everything in my house, both physical and digital. I’m responsible for always having an idea of what to cook for dinner, for always keeping bills in perfect order, and for somehow still spoiling everyone in my life on top of it.

I’m also responsible for finding plenty of time around all of that to read, write, blog, submit my work, and do other creative things like photography, scrapbooking, studying language, and more. I should have time to play the piano and harp (both of which I own and neither of which I’m amazing at largely due to lack of practice). I should also have time to keep up on all of my favorite television shows; it seems everyone else manages to do so. I should have time for networking online, both for fun and for writing (hopefully one day professionally). And I should have time for all of that and more around my 40 hours a week sitting in an insurance office keeping customers happy and maintaining a long list of ‘all the little things’ that run in the background as is expected of an office manager. And I don’t even have kids!

I wonder why stress likes to chase me down…

13346487_10100700628013354_5108511747946529194_n

Now let’s look at who I am. Continue reading

Inspired Asides: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

A lot of things inspire me. Music is one of my biggest inspirations, but quotes, pictures, moments in film, almost anything can inspire me to write or dream. Notice I said dream. I think some of the most important inspirations are the ones that lead us to believe and feel hopeful and energized and empowered, but sometimes those aren’t the same ones that lead to the specific act of creating new work. And that’s okay.

I’m starting a new blog series I’m entitling “Inspired Asides”. Like other recurring segments around here this will not be on a schedule, but I’ve noticed just how long a list I have of things that inspire me and that list is ever-growing. What inspires me may not inspire you, but I want to share it on the chance that it may. After all, I firmly believe that inspiration should never be hoarded.

I want to kick off this series with a video I discovered a few years ago and still love dearly to this day. In 2011, three filmmakers went to Burning Man and filmed an eclectic array of people reciting the lines to Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. The following is the short film they created. It is more than worth 7 minutes of your day.

Do you have something currently inspiring you? Please share in the comments!

Turning Big Dream Goals Into Doable To-Do Lists

Most people use lists at least once in awhile, but they tend to use them for day-to-day goals.

groceriesFor example, I may go to the store with a list that says:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Blueberries
  • Fritos

When I successfully find, purchase, and bring home those things I have completed my list.

When I go to work at the office, I keep a running list for the week and a more particular list for each day. On Wednesdays I run a certain audit and call every customer on it. On Fridays I try to make sure that all customer documents generated over the past week that need mailing are, in fact, in the mail. These are very specific goals I can easily anticipate that take a finite amount of time.

If my housecleaning list says I need to dust and vacuum our main living areas, do up all of the dishes, and clean the bathroom… I know about how long those things take. I can plan the rest of my day around them. I can achieve the items on my list with a pretty high degree of certainty.

The whole point of keeping a to-do list is to maintain focus and therefore achieve goals. But what about the goals not so quickly or surely achieved? Continue reading