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I’ve been called many names like perfectionist, difficult, and obsessive.  I think it takdes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good. ~Barbara Streisand

I turned SIXTY this past September.  That’s a big 6 and an 0.  Six DECADES of life.  And I still feel like I’m 17 with the whole world at my feet and eternity to explore it in.  As my birthday approached I became increasingly reflective, contemplating the past and what I have accomplished and musing about how much time I had left to accomplish anything,; whether I could accomplish anything that mattered,  and what I wanted that to be.  What kind of legacy did I want to leave behind?  How could I be the best me I could be?

These musings were very private and personal so they didn’t get written about.  At least not for public consumption. They consumed a great deal of time and energy and as a consequence this Blog and many other things were neglected.  It was a downright obsessive compulsive period that lasted much longer than I would have thought  but in many ways I am glad I took those long months off and engaged in more than a little self indulgent navel gazing.  It was good for me because I realized that I had been shambling  through life like a tumbleweed blown hither, thither, and yon at the whim of whatever breeze blew the hardest.  I need to focus.  I need to narrow down what I will give my precious little available head space  and physical energy to and set some goals.

I don’t usually make formal New Years Resolutions because when I do  I usually set such lofty goals for myself that I can’t possibly live up to them.  But then that leads to vague, unfocused rambling semi-goals  that are seldom really productive.  Every year I do choose a few  new to me things to learn.  Usually something difficult and something not so difficult and something easy. I really enjoy learning to do new things and I have learned a lot of things over my lifetime.  I’m proud of this ability and I’m proud of the many varied interests I have.  I think it keeps me young and my mind alert.  (I may be kidding myself about that part.)  Most of all it means that I am very rarely bored.

However, where I get into trouble is my expectations for myself.  For instance last year I vowed to learn to play bridge and I did learn the basics but bridge is a complicated game and there was so MUCH to learn that I became overwhelmed so I quit.  I wanted to be able to jump into a game with people who had been playing Bridge for years and be competitive.  I was not content to BE a beginner.  And that is my hubris.  I expect too much of myself.  I’m too competitive.

The same thing happened when I decided to learn to crochet before my daughter was born.  I didn’t just want to learn to crochet, I wanted to crochet her coming home from the  hospital outfit and when I was a couple of months along I chose a lovely and not too complicated  pattern. I managed to accomplish learning how to crochet and I did manage to make my daughter’s coming home outfit before she was born but I didn’t learn some things that were essential for crocheting a truly lovely garment.  And my disappointment in my effort led me to quit putting in any more effort to learn.   I couldn’t do it perfectly so I didn’t want to do it at all.  I realize now that it really was too hard to learn more than the basics  all by myself.  What’s more, I wasn’t willing to do the dull practice of crocheting simple scarves and hats that didn’t require complicated turns and counting stitches to get to the point that I could point with pride at what I had made. If I cannot produce a garment that looks as if it had been made by someone with 20 years of experience crocheting then I lose interest.  I want to be an expert in 3 easy lessons.

Of course that doesn’t  happen.  My expectations for myself were and always have been too high.  If I can’t be an instant expert, leftover tapes from my childhood begin to play in my head and I  abandon whatever didn’t come easy immediately.  So this year, late in life, I have decided to learn how to lower my expectations and learn something difficult one baby step at a time and not let my failure to be perfect at doing it right away get in my way. After all, over the years whenever I wanted a new scarf or a hat, I have picked up the yarn and needles and crocheted one and now people see my work and offer to pay me to crochet for them.  I have finally become an expert in scarves and hats. I’ve decided after all this time to learn to be a beginner. Not so difficult things usually comes pretty easy for me so I felt that the key to correcting this flaw in my character was to break something down into its simplest components, to begin at the beginning  and become an expert in one small piece at a time before I allowed myself to move on the the next small piece.

So these are my New Year’s resolutions.

1.  Find a teacher to teach me how to do something difficult the right way and quit expecting myself to be able to learn new things without help.

2. Accept that I cannot become an expert in something until I have finished the business of being a beginner.

3. Put my ability to be obsessive to good use and learn to deal with the boredom of the repetitive details of being a beginner until I have ceased to be a beginner at step one before I move on to step two.

4. Do allow my compulsive nature to jump ahead to what I consider  the “fun stuff”  ruin the process of learning.  Learn to accept “failure” and frustration as part of the process of learning.

5. Relax and enjoy being  the best me I can be.

These are the new things I want to learn this year:

Making good light fluffy cream Scones

The Korean alphabet

Understanding and using Linux terminal  command lines

Oh, and one more resolution:  BLOG about my experiences

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One reason I don’t suffer Writer’s Block is that I don’t wait on the muse, I summon it at need.
Piers Anthony

I haven’t been meeting the post a day challenge very well. <hanging my head in shame> So…one of my excuses is that I’ve been having a hard time finding quality time to write which is ridiculous on the face of it. I don’t have a full time job because of a disability. My days are mostly my own to do with as I please. I volunteer at the Madison Senior Center every day but that takes up an hour to an hour and a half at most. Finding time is obviously not the problem.

Every day when I turn on my PC I open up my word processing program to a blank page or something that is already in the works with good intentions of filling it up with words but somehow my day just seems to get frittered away with this and that and everything else. At the end of the day there’s very little on that page and some days, most days, there is nothing at all. What’s up with that?

I know that I am capable of producing from 5-6 pages a day—not that I want to devote that much of my time to writing these days but I’ve done it before and have written two books. So what’s the problem here? Why can’t I write? Yesterday I paid attention to what I was doing with my day and reflected on the times when I was actively writing. I realized that I’m not making the writing a priority. I let myself get distracted by too many other things that claim my attention and help me dither away the day.

So I made a vow. Starting today I will not do anything but write (and the dishes for when I need some thinking time) for the first two hours of the day after I’ve made coffee, brushed my teeth, brushed the sleep snarls out of my hair and washed my face. Good intentions…

When I turned on the computer and open up my “homepage” on FireFox, four tabs popped up. The Wisconsin State Journal, my web based Email start page which is National and International news, WordPress Freshly Pressed, and FaceBook. All four of them are HUGE time sucks. This morning I glanced at the headlines on WSJ and right away I saw an article on State Medicaid Reform that I wanted to read; I have 9 new emails; there were three new alerts on FaceBook; and of course, WordPress has a whole new crop of interesting blogs just begging to be read. There is simply no end to the things that fill up my time on the internet. No wonder I “can’t find time” to write.

Old habits die hard. I caught myself clicking on the article about Medicaid that I really “need” to read in the WSJ but stopped, forced myself to open up the online dictionary and thesaurus I use as well as my personal blog on WordPress and to firmly close all four of the other tabs that will entice me away from the writing. It was painful. At this hour of the morning (4:30 am) my brain and my fingers are barely functioning and I’m too used to waking them up with fascinating but useless trivia along with copious amounts of coffee and cigarettes.

Well that WSJ article on Medicaid probably isn’t useless trivia. I use Medicaid. I want to stay informed about what the Republicans are up to when it comes to “reforming” (read dismantling) the social programs in this state but whatever… If I had allowed myself to read that article I would have been off on a chase of other articles pertaining to Wisconsin state politics, dithering away the day.  

And then there are the household chores. Not that it’s all that hard to entice me away from housework but I do make my bed and do the dishes and try to get to a few of the myriad of other chores that simply must be done for me to feel at home in my own apartment every day. I just took a short break to think and went out to the kitchen the dishes. On the way I noticed I had made the bed but hadn’t tucked my pillows into their shams and the laundry cart is sitting over there full of laundry that I intend to do this morning. The dog who is not as early a riser as I am (thank goodness) will need to be walked soon. The kitchen floor needs vacuuming and mopped. And by the way, when I was washing my face and brushing my teeth, I noticed that the bathroom sink is in desperate need of cleaning.

It’s all too easy to get pulled away to do those things when my brain has decided to go on strike and the writing comes hard. Staying on task has been a major problem for me lately as well. I am easily distracted by whatever crosses my path at the moment. Not so hard this morning because I am trying to stay aware of what lures me away from the writing but without that attention to the present I might have wandered away from the keyboard to fill a bucket with hot water and pine sol and not come back for an hour or so if at all.

But hey, here it is 5:20 am and I almost have two pages written about my tendency to procrastinate when it comes to writing and I’m left wondering: Is this just another form of procrastination?

 

Barbara Gavin-Lewellyn  

 

 

 

 

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Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

Colin Powell (1937 – )

Can I just brag on myself here? Give myself a big old pat on the back and say job well done? Or am I just being way too full of myself?

I don’t cry anymore when this happens but boy the first six or seven times, I bawled like a baby because it was such a balm to my err…OK, soul. Whatever it is that makes a human being a unique individual. Alright I’ll admit it, it strokes my ego and my ego really needed stroking as far as my writing is concerned.

I have trouble finding my words sometimes. The technical term for this is aphasia. I seriously have a big problem holding a conversation because I cannot say the words I want to say. Same thing with writing but it doesn’t matter if I sit here half an hour trying to find the word or concept that I am trying to express. It doesn’t matter if I just wander away and do something else like wash the dishes or read a book and come back two hours later. No one knows.
When it kept happening I started putting tic marks on the wall. It’s like being a 1st or 2nd grader keeping track of the As you get. It’s probably a little silly but to me those tic marks are huge accomplishments.

The Isthmus Daily Page quoted my Blog about “The Death of A Salesman” in “Living in the Edge of Madness.” That makes fourteen tics for the Isthmus Daily Page, five tics for Dane101, and two tics for Madison.com.

And if that’s not enough to make my head swell, I got a shout out from one of the top guns of the Blogging For Hope, Rich at Copywrite, Ink (cool name, huh?). He says I made him laugh. <big ole goofy smile>

Thanks everybody.  I hope the thrill never wears off.

B

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href=”“>Bless the beasts and the children
The Carpenters

There are so many ways we can abuse so much in this world. We can even abuse the planet itself as Al Gore has pointed out in his Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I am not a Christian, I have made that very clear on several occasions in my Blogs but I believe the myths human beings tell to explain their occupation of this planet are powerful. The Christian creation story has a compelling message that I think that Christians and non-Christians alike can take a valuable lesson from regarding our role as stewards of this planet and its inhabitants.

I am going to use the King James 1611 Bible because I love the majesty of the Elizabethan Language. I don’t think it makes much difference which translation you use. This part of the story of “In the beginning…” is pretty clear.

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

This story is centuries old. It was almost certainly passed along as an oral tradition long before it was ever written down and there were many versions before it was recorded in this beautiful 16th century iambic pentameter. The main point that I want to dwell on here is that HUMANS have DOMINION over everything else in the world.

Dominion. That’s a strong word to use. We were to dominate or rule over all the animals and all of the fishes in the sea and the fowl that flies and all the creepy crawly things too.. We have complete charge of everything else in the world. The creator god gave it all to us. If you believe in this creator God I don’t see how you can fail to believe that you have been commanded by God to take care of his creation.

If you are a disbeliever perhaps you could take a moment to reflect that these supposedly primitive people back in the dark recesses of time recognized that it was OUR duty to take care of this planet. They believed that an almighty force, a supernatural being they believed to be the creator of everything around them, gave THEM the power to rule over everything. They recognized their status as the beasts highest on the food chain and understood the moral responsibility that that implied. Can we do any less?

Taking care of this planet and ALL OF ITS INHABITANTS, right down to the most seemingly insignificant species of fly in the muckiest marsh in the backwoods of nowhereville is essential to our own well being. This is it, folks, this is all we’ve got. This planet and its inhabitants depend on us to be good stewards. WE MUST STOP THE ABUSE!

Each of us can stop the abuse by choosing our own particular interest and taking a proactive part in being good stewards. Humananity has been thoughtless and cruel for far too long. There are many, many causes that need to be taken up and battles that need to be fought. You might find the destruction of our rain forests to be particularly reprehensible or you might have issues with substance abuse in your life or you might want to take up the cause of making sure that everyone spays and neuters their pets. There is something for everyone to do.

I have a particular interest in preventing child abuse. How do you prevent child abuse? You can make a determined heroic promise that you will never ever abuse a child and I will truly believe that you would never WANT to do that. But if you were abused as a child I would bet that the odds are better that 50/50 that you will abuse your own child in some way, shape, or form if you do not seek professional help.

Don’t believe me? Check the statistics on the ‘net.

I did. I hate the fact that I did. But I did.

I hit my children when I was angry. I said terrible things to them. Things that no mother should ever say to her babies. Eventually it got so bad I HAD to seek professional help because I was horrified by my behavior. I was horrified but I couldn’t stop. I was out of control.

I had to admit that I needed help if I was going to to end the cycle of abuse. If you are a parent who is in the position I was in, please, seek help. You can get help through your local Child Welfare Services, Domestic Abuse Crisis Lines or family doctor. The professionals you turn to will understand. You will not be punished and your children will not be taken away from you if you come forward. YOU are NOT a bad person but your behavior can and must change.

If you were abused as a child but don’t have children yet, PLEASE, seek professional help. Not only for your own sake, for the sake of your future children.

If you see a child being abused or know of a family where children are being abused DO SOMETHING. The child abuse hotline is 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4253) You can also help by getting involved in Child Abuse Prevention organizations

Make a decision to stop the abuse. Choose Hope.

Bless the beasts and the children
For in this world they have no voice
They have no choice

Bless the beasts and the children
For the world can never be
The world they see

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

Light their way
When the darkness surrounds them
Give them love
Let it shine all around them

Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from a storm
Keep them safe
Keep them warm

The children
The children

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Tomorrow is the big day. BlogCatalog intends to make history with bloggers around the world Blogging for Hope and against abuse. The Guiness book of Recoods is at stake here. And you can win a prize!

To be a part of this just grab a logo, link to blogcatalog and write about stopping abuse. Substance abuse, animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse. Republican abuse ;^>. Whatever stikes your fancy. I’ve got my entry written and ready to roll. you can read it here tomorrow. Write on everyone.

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B

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Sometimes I hit a dead zone where I can’t write. I sit in front of the computer and nothing happens. This can go on for days on end. Weeks can go by and nothing happens. My fingers refuse to move.

Before I had a word processor, when I was doing all of my writing with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper because I could not type well enough to write with a typewriter, I would get into these horrible struggles with the obsessive compulsive need for my handwriting to be perfect. If I didn’t like the way I wrote even one single word in a sentence on a piece of paper I would have to start all over again and rewrite the whole damn page.

Then I got a computer and I did not have to worry about making spelling errors. I could edit as I typed in real time and move words around if I did not like where they were or change them to other words with the flick of the wrist and suddenly I was free of all the shackles of my perfectionism. My OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) became my best friend!

But now I get Brain Brown-out. The dead zone. Maybe I just need to recharge my batteries.

B

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This came from BlogCatalog. Join Bloggers all over the world Blogging against abuse. Any kind of abuse. Child abuse, animal abuse environmental abuse, employee abuse, substance abuse… Whatever. Blog about it. Help stop the abuse.

 

B

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