Monday, May 20, 2019

It's HERE!

Kindle edition now available :-)
Grades are in. The semester is officially over, which means I transitioned into writer mode late last week and my shift in responsibilities became official once I put that final grade in. I spent a chunk of my weekend creating promotional posts for my new book, Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff and, this morning, I was sitting at my desk, contemplating my priorities (and this post) when the perfect topic presented itself via email.

The Kindle edition of Know Thyself is available. As in now. The paperback releases next month but, as of today, you can buy my new book! I'm celebrating a little sooner than I planned to, but I am celebrating nevertheless!!

If you're wondering if the release of a new book gets any less exciting each time, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't. Maybe it will when I hit double digits (this book is #7 if you count collaborations/anthologies) or work with a publisher that's less fabulous than the team at OSV, but when you love the project and the people, well, that's about as good as it gets.

Releases don't get any less exhausting either. Luckily, I'm one of those rare writers who loves the promo piece (it helps to be an ambivert), so it recharges me. Still, for a global, big picture person, all the details involved can be overwhelming.

But please don't confuse overwhelmed with unhappy. I have no complaints (just lists -- lots of them!) I am profoundly aware of how very lucky I am to be a writer who gets to see her work in print.

But enough gushing for one day :-) For updates, contests, samples, tips, celebrations and more information, follow me on Facebook, or check out my Organizing by STYLE blog where I tend to post more updates. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Feature: Why Hobbies Matter

I love to read and I love to write.

And I constantly struggle to find time to do both.

It's not as though I'm all work and no play. I find plenty of ways of wasting time, and simply by stopping that, I could probably solve my problem.

An article in the Harvard Business Review reassured me that I'm not alone. Author Gaetano Dinardi confessed to being guilty of falling into the same trap, but asserted that, by spending more time on his creative hobby, he boosted not only creativity but also confidence and perspective.

And those were tools that fed not just his leisure time but his work life as well.

As humans, we are meant to be complex -- to have depth and to be more than simply the sum of our parts. One of the ways we accomplish this is by integrating all the aspects of our lives, but we can't do that if we shut out the fun stuff in favor of 24/7 productivity.

And maybe turning off the television and rediscovering our passions is a good place to start.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

To Delegate is Divine

My chicken did not look like this. But it was good anyway.
(Photo via Pixabay)
Tonight, I did something I don't do often enough.

I delegated.

A crack had begun to form in the foundation of my best-laid plans for the week and I found myself unexpectedly in crunch time. After sticking some chicken in the oven for dinner, I sat down to grade some papers while keeping my eye on the clock and my nose pointed in the direction of the kitchen (figuratively, anyway), monitoring the progress of our dinner-to-be.

After grading a few papers, I headed out to the kitchen to check the meat and put on the sides. And then it occurred to me.

I'm not the only one in this house who knows how to make pasta and vegetables.

So, I calmly headed into the family room where my daughter and my husband were relaxing before dinner and told them I needed some help, putting them in charge of setting the table and making the sides.

Whaddaya know? It worked.

Let me be clear -- my family isn't lazy. In fact, my husband often offers to help and my daughter readily pitches in as well.

It's just that I don't ask.

Instead, I let myself get frazzled and then I feel like a martyr because they're relaxing and I'm working. Tonight, I decided to break that cycle.

And let me tell you, it felt great.

I think this might be the start of something grand.

(P.S. Don't tell my family).

Monday, May 13, 2019

An Oops, a Monday and a Sort-of-a Leprechaun

bremervoerderjung via Pixabay
It's 11pm and I'm just now sitting down to watch the news and write this post. I could tell you that I was busy celebrating International Hummus Day or Frog Jumping Day (yes, those are real things), but neither of those is true. A closer excuse (but one that's still not true) is that I'm celebrating National Leprechaun Day.

The truth is, I forgot it was Monday. My daughter, who spent the last semester in Ireland, is home. (Thus the potential connection to a day honoring leprechauns). It was a gray, rainy day, but, with her home, it felt like the first day of summer vacation. We slept late, binge-watched TV shows and got a few things done -- but not very many. By the time dinner time rolled around, guilt began to set in and I escalated my efforts, but this post got pushed off until after my evening appointments.

It's a little embarrassing to forget about a deadline of my own creation, but between classes being finished for the semester and my favorite kid making herself at home under my roof, that's exactly what happened. I teased her for being a bad influence but, all things (including a very late blog post) considered, one thing is true.

I am glad she is home.

And, if I had today to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Feature: Why Can't You Just Sit Still?

When was the last time you sat and did nothing?

Believe it or not, idleness can improve not only our state of mind, but our productivity as well. And daydreaming, a side effect (so to speak) of idleness can also spur creativity.

Admittedly, it's a tough sell in our productivity-driven society because when we look like we're doing nothing, it's tough to convince ourselves -- let alone anyone else -- that we're making good use of our time.

But doesn't it sound lovely?

Personally, I think this weekend is a perfect time to give it a try. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab my calendar and pencil in some time to do nothing.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

7 Things That are Different 7 Years Later

kale via Pixabay
On Monday evening, I went to a reception to celebrate the retirements of several of my former teaching colleagues. It was wonderful to see so many of the people who made school a place I wanted to go every day. I'd maintained regular contact with a few and sporadic content with a few others but there were others I hadn't seen since I retired. I got to do a lot of catching up, but perhaps the question I got most often was, "how long have you been retired?"

Seven years next month. Frankly, it surprises me as much as it surprises my former colleagues.

Three years ago, I wrote a post called "4 Things that are Different 4 Years Later." Today, I want to piggyback on that post, citing 7 things that are different 7 years later.

My job description. I went from a clearly defined job description (school counselor) to one that's a little less defined -- and that gives the writing part of my work an opportunity to be on equal footing with the educational part.

My schedule. While I still follow a schedule, my workdays are much more flexible than they used to be. The line between work and leisure is blurrier, but my work days also start later, making them a better fit for my night owl temperament.

My role as a parent. When I retired, my daughter was finishing eighth grade. Now, she is finishing her junior year in college. I went from finally getting to be a stay-at-home mom, albeit to an adolescent, to being an empty-nester.

My friendships. As I said at the top of this post, I've kept in touch with some of my former colleagues -- some personally, some via Facebook and some via occasional chats. Still, these friendships have shifted, as friendships do, for a variety of reasons. Some of my old connections have faded and new ones have arisen as well.

My family. My mom, who was one of my biggest cheerleaders not just while I was making my retirement decision but on a day-to-day basis as well, succumbed to cancer two years ago. I'm glad she got to see how things changed for me and how happy I am in my second career. I'm also glad that my dad is now close by and a regular part of our family life.

My writing remains a big part of my life, and has expanded to include a new nonfiction book and regular writing gigs that include writing on assignment and supplying work to publications on a regular basis.

My blogs. This blog predates my retirement but, when I retired, I began to take it more seriously and post on a regular schedule. In 2015, I started my Organizing by STYLE blog, which led to Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff, due out next month. They've become as much a part of my writing regime as anything I write for publication.

It hardly seems that seven years have passed since I retired from the job that played such an important role in my life. And the changes that have slipped into my life over the past seven years have done so gradually, weaving themselves into the fabric of my life, making it richer. As much fun as it was to look back on Monday night, it's also fun to look forward.

Who knows what the next seven years will bring?

monsterkoi via Pixabay

Monday, May 6, 2019

Almost Time to Flip Flop

stux via Pixabay
My schedule is about to flip flop and I couldn't be happier. Then again, how could anyone be disappointed in something that involves flip flops?

I love teaching. And if I had any doubt about that whatsoever, it disappeared when I retired from 27 years in education only to seek out more teaching opportunities. Initially, I sought them out as an additional stream of income and as something to keep me occupied and busy. Then, I landed a teaching position at the local college -- one that grew from a single class to a full-time job. But, as the plaque my husband gave me the first summer after I retired says, "If I don't want to, you can't make me. I'm retired."

And I want to. Teaching inspires my creativity and feeds my need to connect with other people. It also feeds the helping persona inherent in my personality (some might call her bossy...) and ingrained in my identity through more than a quarter of a century as a counselor.

But I also love writing. And during the school term, it's sometimes difficult to find enough creative energy for planning and preparing lessons and planning and preparing manuscripts. And so now that the semester is almost over, writing projects are once again taking their place at the top of my priority list. I'm looking forward to being able to spend entire days focused on all of the aspects of a writing career -- submitting, promoting and, of course, the writing itself -- for three glorious weeks.

Wait. Only three weeks?

In three weeks, summer session will begin. Though it's less overwhelming than fall and spring semester (one small class, compared to three classes roughly three times the size of a summer class), it will also need its place in my calendar. In addition, my daughter will be home.

And my book comes out in June.

Never a dull moment around here. Luckily, the flip flop in my schedule fuels the writing spark much the same way as a trip to the beach recharges my spirit. Coupled with longer days and my family all under one roof again, I'm ready.

Bring on summer.