Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fun Calendar Color Coding

I should know this from being a coach. If it's not on the calendar, it most likely won't happen. People like to-do lists and they like to cross things off once they accomplish them. I like that, too, but I also like color coding...

I paid a small fortune this year for a Franklin Planner. (Well, it wasn't that it was so expensive as much as the price went up once I decided I didn't like it) But, it's very chic--bright red leather, smooth to the touch, smells great. I knew I'd love feeling the leather every day and I would have except what I didn't love, or even like, was the daily calendar I chose to fit inside it.

I couldn't see a week-at-a-glance every day and I knew that would make me nervous. I need to know what I've got cooking, even if I forget to look. There safety knowing that I've written my life down someplace and I don't need to remember everything.

So I began the search for another new-new calendar. And I found one at Border's. I checked office supply stores but nothing quite hit me the way this one has. It was love at first sight. It's perfect. Not only can I see a week at a glance, but I can also see the whole month vertically! Isn't that cool?

And, now I've color coded everything. Please don't think that this means I'm anal. Anyone who looks at my home office, in my purse, or the house when my husband is out of town knows that anal would not be a word to describe me, not one bit.

But color coding is fun! And it shows me when I am doing too much of something. For example, I have little yellow squares around my social engagements/appointments, blue blocks around anything having to do with the book, green around any freelance work.

Looking at my color coded week-at-a-glance, the book will be finished in 2120, I will have won the Miss Congeniality contest several times, and I'll be eating Ritz crackers forever.

Once I discovered this, I had some work to do ... but not today (there's that old dog procrastination--not really). I decided to let things sit the way they are, and in February, I will curtail my social activities somewhat!

This new system of color coding is such an easy and efficient way to keep track of my time! And it looks so pretty to see blue, green, yellow, purple, brown on the pages!

Just color me pink :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Old dog learns new yoga tricks...

This morning I went to a yoga class -- one designed for people over fifty and while I'd rather not, I fit into that category. I'd debated and debated whether or not to go, thinking that the class would be too slow for me. But, since it was Friday and I've committed to one class a week (a new year's resolution....) I thought how bad could it be?

I parked the car in the lot, grabbed my purple rubber mat from the backseat, and began speed walking up the meandering path toward the yoga room, almost running over a fifty plus plus woman's back.

Then my judgments kicked in. I decided that everyone looked older and stiffer than me. Certainly I was not as out of shape as any of them appeared. The room was crowded and everyone was clamoring to put their yoga mats near a wall--to hold themselves up I thought.

I paid my fee, unrolled my magic purple carpet in front of a small wall which meant I didn't have to share wall space with anyone else. It would have been smarter for me to be along the same long wall as others because there were a few near collisions with feet in my face and arms slapping across my belly during the class. As I said, class was full.

A very tall man walked in, unrolled his mat, and sat fairly close to the space I'd claimed. He pulled a bolster under his skinny white legs and as he did so, he began to lean toward the left until eventually, in what seemed to be slow motion, his head hit the wall followed by a face plant in the carpet.

Think Artie Johnson on Laugh-In back in the 60's. He'd come on stage riding a little tricycle wearing a yellow rain slicker and hat and fall over--as though he and the tricycle were one object.

Several people asked him if he was okay and he said yes. He didn't look one bit embarrassed. I couldn't help but think if that were me, I'd be red faced and ready to crawl under my mat. Then I thought -- this class is SO not for me.

But I stayed. I stretched and stretched and pushed myself and at the end of the 90 minutes I'd had a good workout.

After class I headed back back to the car. I noticed that my pace had slowed considerably, I felt the sun warming my back, appreciated the lush green plants along the pathway and felt myself standing taller after those marvelous yoga stretches.

And then it hit me.... This was a class of mature men and women who were there to improve their balance and flexibility, not to impress anyone. No competition. No Lycra. No water bottles lined up like birds on a fence. Everyone in sweats, old tee-shirts, comfortable clothing.

Isn't it funny where you learn your lessons? I thought I'd come to class to stretch my body. But instead I learned a different kind of yoga stretch -- a lesson in flexibility of the mind...

We're all here doing our own thing,

regardless of age~

having our own successes and learning
from our own mistakes...
or face plants

Letting go of my judgments allowed a new flexibility and awareness to enter. These old yogis were terrific. My calendar is marked for the next six weeks...same class and I hope, same students, except maybe the guy who did the face plant.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

the query, the summary, and oh--the sloth

I've been working on my query and two page summary, which I thought I'd perfected before the holidays. I sent them to six agents and received three rejections. I sort of panicked even though I knew I'd get a few -- or many.

Then I came to realize in a way I hadn't before that this query and two page summary business are the two things, (at the risk of sounding Sarah Bernhardt dramatic), that will make or break my success in the literary world...

at least with my novel, Nineteen Darby Way

If I can't provide a whale-sized hook to interest the agent and she's
she won't continue to read. Neither would I, I suppose.

Yesterday, even though I had a gazillion things to do, I managed to really hammer away and hone in on what I think needed to be said in the summary.

Today, I had to write an article for the paper which was so fun, partly because it's about the Paws to Read program at two of the local libraries, and partly because it kept me from doing 'the work.'

I hit 'send' to my editor and found myself looking at other writer's blogs, skin care products, and searching up and down the 680 corridor for a yoga class. The thing about the yoga class is that I have information being mailed to me about a yoga class in Walnut Creek that sounds perfect. I could have waited until I'd done at least some work on the query.

Then, when I finished that pseudo important task, I put my 'favorites,' back on my toolbar. They'd mysteriously disappeared. I can now procrastinate by reading others blogs with ease again!

I do enjoy watching how I try to trick myself...and I will not let myself feel guilty, not one bit.

So, to all my writing buddies faced with the same problem ~~~
Go into procrastination WITH GREAT GUSTO! Enjoy it, play in the muck, and when you're finished, get right back to work!

We all need a little break from our 'should' list every now and again...

and again...

and again...

Ain't life good?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas Dog Bones

Last year at Christmastime, I whipped up a few batches of dog bones to give to the dogs Jake played with at the soccer field nearby. I bought little doggie bags with pictures of brown pups with black ears, threw in a bunch-o-bones and tied a nice festive bow around the bags.

Jake had been underfoot hoping for a few scraps since I began baking so I gave him a little treat. Jake weighs in at ninety pounds. He's a big boy with a very hearty appetite. He stood still at the kitchen sink with his treat in his mouth, savoring the flavor, dropped it on the floor and gave it a really good sniff. Finally, he picked it up, walked over to his bed, laid down, and lopped his hefty paw on top of it. And there the bone stayed. I grew tired of waiting to see how long it took him to actually eat it. I left the room.

The next day, I brought the bags to the soccer field along with some extra treats and began to distribute them. I was a bit concerned and with good reason. Jake's playmates reacted the same way he did. Every dog put the treat in his mouth, stood still, dropped it, gave it a sniff, picked it up and found a little spot to lay down and looked at the treat. Eventually they were all eaten.

Aren't dogs supposed to eat everything? Even things that make them sick?

The dog moms and dads tried not to laugh, but it was funny and eventually we all had a good laugh. I was a little embarrassed, but really, did it matter? It must have...just a tad...

because not to be outsmarted by man's best friend, this year I found a recipe in the newspaper for doggie Polenta-Parmesan-Parsley treats. These were going to be soft. I wasn't about to try anything with the hard factor of a golf ball.

After breakfast on Christmas morning I began spinning the golden magic. I added polenta to boiling water, like magic it began to thicken. I stirred and stirred. I added the Parmesan and parsley. It smelled pretty good. I spread olive oil in a glass pan and then spooned the mixture into it and put it in the refrig. An hour later, I took it out. Soupy. I put it back in. However, time was of the essence. We were on our way to my daughter's house for Christmas brunch and I wanted to take their dog, Maggie, a few treats.

I pulled the polenta out of the fridge at the last minute, grabbed the cookie cutter and cut Christmas trees. By the time we got to our destination--about 40 minutes away--the trees had turned to bushes, rapidly deteriorating to flat corn tortillas.

I gave Mags a hug and brought her into the kitchen. I tried to pick up a treat off the dish, but it slipped through my fingers, sort of the way an egg might. Maggie wasn't the least bit deterred. She licked my hand, the plate of bushes and seemed to be quite happy. I felt this was a semi-successful outcome.

As soon as we got home I raced into the kitchen like a woman possessed to check the polenta. (you'd think I would have had more to worry about since we were having company for dinner, but no, the Polenta-Parm-Parsley was foremost on my mind). It look great! But where were the the morning tree cut outs? The polenta had slid to one end of the pan. Undaunted, I once again pressed the tree cookie cutter into the polenta. I tried to pick it up without the benefit of a spatula. So soupy. It stuck to my fingers like loose cold oatmeal, but still not solid. As an eternal optimist, I gave it another hour. Finally, I had to admit that we all have talents, but dog treats isn't one of mine. I threw half of it out and gave the rest of the mush sans trees to Jake, who seemed relatively happy to lick it up.

Next year I'm buying squeaky toys at the pet store.