Friday, January 29, 2010

One degree of snippets

So, it's gonna be snippets of the day. Yeah, snippets.

The morning thought, from fetching the paper off the porch ...

Yeah, speaking of the weather ... it's really quite exceedingly damn cold out there. It's the wind. Teens aren't toasty, but with wind chill....

And the noonish thought, trekkng to Pilates class ...

Clear, sunny, blue skies ... damn cold. I think it's approximately 1 degree with wind chill. ONE. And, negative this morning.

Afternoon accomplishment ...

Finally sat myself down this week for several hours and studied/prepped to record my demo for Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, so now that's done! Some complicated prep, lemme tell ya. If I fail, I promise I'll report back, 'cause that would just be funny, right? Well, sorta.

Wrapping up with some weird shit ...

Sorry, but true. Finally managed to make it to a Bread & Puppet show tonight, after trekking to their Vermont museum with a friend last year. And my conclusion is ... that's some weird shit. Some cool elements, but I'm not smart enough or out there enough or haven't done enough drugs or SOMEthing to click with that all. Weird shit.

And now, I may just be warm enough to sleep. Except my feet. But they don't really count. They don't need sleep anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weather! Why haven't I been talking more about the weather??

It's snowing, it's snowing!
The old man is ... blowing?

I dunno, my childhood weather songs didn't involve snow.

It's beautiful!
Bit white flakes, drifting down. Winter the way it's supposed to be. None of this 50-degree nonsense. Maybe I can even cross country ski again!

It makes for lovely wintry images:
  • A few weekends ago, the most perfect, beautiful, giant unbroken slab of ice covered the Charles. Not that I'm pleased for it to be so covered, but I've accepted it and have to say, this was beautiful ice
  • Strolling around my little next-door park and around town a bit today, there's a lovely powder-sugar dusting on everything again
  • At the park and outside my window, many beautiful bare branches are lined with snow, and because it's not so cold (well, wasn't earlier, more on that in a sec), many branches have droplets of water shimmering, like perfect little transient jewels
  • Last ooh-aah sight from the day: a flock of trees in the distance on a hillside, dusted with snow, looking like that perfect New England winter postcard
Winter, love it.

But, I will tack on: it's damn/cold windy out there now. Like, tomorrow, all day? Temps showing negatives, *maybe* single digits with wind chill. And here I've been wanting to ski. Hmmmm....

Last news, I'm really too tired to write about, but ... Oficina? She's starting to look like a ROOM. ! A *real* *live* room. Like, with floor space. She's not all complete yet, but there have been furtive little bursts of productivity. Looking for more of that to continue, please!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hope, infused

Just finished watching The State of the Union (live via laptop!).

Thank you, Mr. President, for the infusion of hope. I'd thought it was drying up fast, but perhaps it's all in what you choose to see, where we choose to focus.

I love this president. It's been a long time since I felt that way (I mean, prior to this past year). So many great lines, great points, key reminders.

Feeling proud of my president is very, very novel. I was a big Clinton fan, but it got to where one just couldn't feel proud of him, even while still liking his politics and intelligence.

Pride in president also translates into pride in country, which is incredibly strange to feel. I know how lucky I am to live here, and there's much I love and deeply appreciate about my country, and also much I take for granted. But pride in country ... that's a new one. It's kind of wonderful. A nice note to end the night on. Hoping the morning's headlines don't diminish it, but guess my reaction is within my power.

If you missed it and if today isn't grand and if there's bashing in the news ... go watch it yourself. There's greatness there.

And, there we go, Amazing Grace pops up on Pandora. Fitting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not promising answers

Boy. I have a bunch of swirling thoughts, but feels like they're a bit shadowy and smokey yet to be captured.

Ever have the feeling of wanting to toss the pieces of life up in the air like so much confetti and see where they land, what gets blown away by the wind, what lands on the back of the dog walking by, what lands on your doorstep, what lands right back in your hand?


Well then.

Ever scrape the surface of frozen chocolate ice milk and wonder what lies beneath, slush or solid or liquid?

Not that either?

Ever run your finger back and forth through a candle's fickle flame, wondering at what speed it'll burn, but not really wanting to find out?

I bet you think these will all add up to some deep, masterful, philosophical meaning of life, all tied up in a bow, don't you (except not so much now)?

Not so much. Just thoughts. Not yet baked, still dough.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blood, miracles and curses

Yep, it's a back-to-it Monday.

Looks damp/drizzley out, cars whooshing by outside the window. Sucio's anchoring the couch; I'm girding up for what I didn't do this weekend (s'ok, it happens), and for a week more productive than last. But not all angsty and stressy. No, not like that. Still with the fun. Just also with the productivity.


That was morn. Now 'tis eve. But hey, on the couch (again, not still!) with faithful sidekick Comandante Sucio Montoya alongside. He's Very Carefully monitoring the neighbor-car-breakdown-with-towtruck situation happening out front. He finds it Sorta Scary, but not yet Very Scary.

So, the cool thing about today? That most of you will think gross, not cool? I busted this very ouchy fresh scab off my elbow in boxing class and totally bled down my arm and dripped onto the floor. Hey, it was a *little* cool. I think it's good my mom stopped reading this, she would be very grossed out and disapproving ("Shana Marie! Why are you talking about blood running down your arm? Why didn't you stop until it stopped bleeding? And why are you taking boxing classes? You don't hit people, do you?" [No, Mom] or she'd just roll her eyes and say "gross." (And even if she IS still reading this, she can't figure out how to use comments! ha! I'm safe!).

Just got Willa Vaca accompaniment on my other side. Also got a few aggressive paw swipes and some very accusing stares ("That Damn Other Cat is up here, too? Your hands are on the stupid plastic thing and not me??" She's a wee bit demanding).

Anyway. Made it to a boxing class with my favorite instructor in a different location. So of course I got totally lost. It's an ironclad Boston rule: You WILL get lost going anywhere new. You WILL. If you're WISE, you'll PLAN for it. So I totally gave up on class, then miraculously found the place, THEN, double miracle, found a parking spot that would take a credit card (only had 3 quarters), THEN, triple miracle -- some guy comes running up to me at the parking-payment machine and hands me his sticker for 2 hours, as he was only here for 5 minutes (this really never happens in Boston, as a rule). Dang! There can be no doubt that it was my destiny to bleed on the boxing gym floor.

Was a great class, fun to get in a noon workout, then came home and plunged into lists and productivity. Some good stuff. Don't want to say I'm onto a potential good system, because won't that curse me?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend warp

So, that thing happened again -- where I briefly forget I have a blog? Funny/weird/disorienting. I log on today, and I'm like -- Did I not post yesterday? Why didn't I post yesterday? What happened? Not questions any of you are likely to have an answer for (beyond the first one, which I already figured out).

So, feeling fairly spacey, but happy. Been a good weekend, not much downtime. Oh -- pruned trees yesterday, y'all! I did! OK, OK ... I *bagged* the branches that fell from the pruned trees, but I *learned* about tree pruning (a little) and I *could've* pruned trees! And this is mostly exciting b/c it's such an un-me thing to do. So, I'm immediately entertained. Plus, it's kinda cool to learn that it is, at least seemingly, possible to do something you didn't know you could. This was for my boathouse, a work party. It was cold out but clear and sunny, nice to be outside, to be helping the Department of Conservation and Recreation out (they have something like 12 paid employees for the state!? and I think all of four (4!) arborists).

Wound up seeing a movie last night, an exciting rarity for me -- Crazy Heart. It was well done and enjoyable but ... if only sobriety came so easy for folks....

Today brought stade-ing and yoga-ing, then a great Indian late lunch and finally interviewing a fascinating young woman for my friend's nonprofit, something I've been meaning/trying to do for several months now. When the article's done, you'll get a link, promise.

Now I'm worn out and needing sleep catchup. Hope your weekends were grand!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The good/hard. The accounting.

I've begun a little weekly ritual or two (borrowed from Havi Brooks at The Fluent Self, whose blog I've been thoroughly enjoying).

One of them is a little weekly taking-stock, a little review, a bit of a sum-up. I like it because all too often, I feel like the days, and then the weeks, and then so on, simply whiz by in a blur -- sometimes from morning to night will feel like a small eon, the morning a hazy memory that surely happened a week ago. So I like the sense of deliberate remembering, assessing, taking stock, feeling little glows or cheers, or thinking hmmmm, that needs to go better....

So as I look at my list of weekly good stuff/hard stuff ... well, it's kind of a big list.

The good is longer. The weather makes an appearance, as do some of my favorite activities. So do the gatos (total side note: guess what I figured out Willa's middle name is, while in bed this morning? Vaca. Willa Vaca.).

Some of the deeper-level stuff is ... well, there are some good thoughts percolating. Some cool little a-ha moments -- like today, as I think about what I really want to do for cool organizations, it's that, on a simple level, I want to help them tell their stories. Simple, but it's that. Or as I start digging into ideas for content for my new blog and website, I think of this interview series that I would love to do, that I totally could do.

On the hard side? Well. One of the hards is that I'm starting to work on a system for accounting to myself.

One piece of that is looking at what have I done that can directly help with bringing in income. Oh, it kind of makes me squirm. But it's pretty simple. It's pretty important. So, what's the deal?

It's where some of the harder work (for me) lies, but why should it be so? That's an ongoing dialogue.

But for this week, the answer to myself is: nothing. Some saving grace is found in that I definitely did indirect work that will help/support me in bringing in income -- some of it is key.

There's also the accountability of, well, how did I use my time? Am I accomplishing what I set out to? No? OK, was the list too long or the time too unproductive? More dialogue, more learning. At least I've progressed to the point where I know I need a list, and I think the right stuff is on the list.

This stuff, important, but not really so fun. Not so much. We'll see if it gets easier.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How 'bout a list?

Deep blue: the color of the wall before me

Um ... "Clubbed to Death" (?): name of the song currently playing on my Pandora "Moby" radio station

One: number of gatos in la oficina with me

60: number of minutes before my acupuncture appointment

Sun: dominant weather feature of the day

A little neighborhood stroll?: fitness activity of the day (oh dear)

Dartmouth: university affiliation of the woman I talked to today about public policy

642: my completely random guess about the number of papers floating around Oficina needing a home, not that I'm discouraged or anything

??: approximate number of emotions I've cycled through today (gee, let's count: relaxed, contemplative, anxious, eager, focused, frustrated, sad, worried, engaged, pleased, content, happy, peaceful, surprised, amused, uncomfortable, concerned, distracted ... and I lose track around there ... there were probably a few more ... welcome to my brain)

3: number of gatos wanting to go to bed (what, I can't be a gato? who says?)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What a difference an election makes

So, this post I actually wrote yesterday, pre-election. And I was so happy happy happy. And I was so 180-degrees NOT after the election, there was no way I could post this. So, I'll post it now, as it's after my bedtime, and I've already used all my brain up doing lotsa hard thinking about content for my web-site-in-the-baking plus my new all-grown-up-and-seemingly-professional-type blog that will be on it, PLUS some other content pieces. Oh, I'll give you details once they've baked and my brain regenerates. It's all part of the top-secret-(not really)-but-actually-straightforward plan to find my right people who will pay me money for what I love to do (and helpfully, am good at) so I can get on with living happily ever after already (OK, so maybe I've already started, that's quite cool by me). Yay!

Now, to reel the hands of time back a day and a half, to happier times....


Guess what?!
I'm here sitting at my desk!
My desk.
Yes, working/writing/typing away ... at my desk ... in my office.

Now, this office is nowhere near ready for a visit from Martha, nor even my mother (although there's really a negligible gap between their skills, for real), for that matter (esp since I just took a bite of cookie dough) ... there's mayhaps a small ton of work to do around me, but it's a start. And at this point, that's what it is, a starting. A beginning. To paraphrase the inimitable Havi Brooks, this is me at my desk. Starting.

I'm comfycozy (to quote another Martha), happy to be here. Willa's perched at my elbow, the ever-helpful personal assistant (Here, let me sit right on top of Pixie the Laptop, that's just what you need. What do you mean, no? Fine, I'll sit an inch away and carefully monitor all activities. Especially that Damn Other Cat, staked out on the towel in front of the radiator. Damn him. The nearby higher perch you built with an orange pillow as enticement? Don't want it.) (Sucio, in front of radiator: This is aaaaaaawesome. The Mean Cat is over by mom, so why don't I just ... [flops over] zzzzzzzzzz.)

Snow is falling outside (!) (!!) (!!!) (OK, I'll stop), and I have a new tall green candle lit in the window, for Oficina (hey, she likes the candles, figure it's the least I can do after dumping on/ignoring her for, what? little over 2 years. yep, got a little making up to do).

I am awash with comfitude and also gratitudeness, for sure. Foresounding sure.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day of dark

I am so deeply sad and disappointed about our election results.

It leads me immediately to worry about the barely holding together health care reform ... and even more about Obama.

And in the aftermath of Haiti, I'm sad and worried about that near-destroyed country.

It all makes me worry about the world. And about who we are, as a state, a country, a global community. About who's winning.

It takes me to the black days when Bush won reelection. I found I simply had to walk away from news and politics until he was gone.

I want to be angry and blame all kinds of people, but it boils down to what it boiled down to after the Bush election/reelection: I am simply out of step with, in opposition to, the majority of voters in this [state], in this case.

And that makes me deeply sad. So much for community. So much for hope. And I fear for audaciousness.

At least for tonight, a night smudged black with disappointment, dripping dark blood from a dead dream.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gooshy cat things ... or, the force of love

Lucinda is singing about Lake Charles and I have a new candle burning and if Willa would just stop ... attacking/mating? the blanket I have wrapped around me, we'd be all peaceably set.

But, oh, the gatos. I'm so charmed by them. Cat-haters can just skip this post.

On to my ferocious hunting jaguar-gatos.

Yesterday, I wasn't the only brave one in the house, tackling objects or projects that required great bravery and tenacity. No. The gatos stepped right up as well.

Willa was the first, ferociously showing her multi-level kitty perch who was boss. Attacking on her back from underneath, even.

And then. Working on sleep, I hear some kind of clattering sound. I mentally shrug.

I hear it again, and think, what the hell? I raise my head, crane it over the edge of the bed to peer at the floor ... "Sucio? what -" as I blearily try to figure out the object on the ground. Then I burst out laughing.

It's one of my crazy pens. Could he be any more a writer's cat? I have a pen that, yes, has feathers attached to the end (sort of like a dust mop, I suppose, now that I think of it).

I had this thing going for awhile where folks brought me increasing crazy pens. That I would use straightfaced at work. Except I tried one time with this super giant pen, and it just kinda didn't work. Like it was really hard to write with.

Anyway, so I have some residual crazy pens. That became discovered in the oficina unearthing currently occurring (it's like an excavation! maybe we'll find a mummy!).

The very, very best part, of course, was Sucio bringing this ferocious creature he had bravely hunted to my bedside. There is just something that KILLS me, like, slays, about cats delivering little objects to me (note: once-living creatures do not EVER count! fortunately the gatos have never done this).

Willa once dropped one of her little toy mice in my backpack, and I was so insanely charmed, I don't think I ever took it out. And they have this little square bag of catnip that Sucio very quickly bonded with and would keep it with him wherever he was sleeping/hanging out -- so in the beginning when he hid all the time, I'd know where he'd spent the majority of his time. After he began getting Braver, and the couch was Mostly Not Scary, it would turn up there most mornings.

So, point here, the delivering of the pen, excuse me, ferocious beast, just melted me, really. I'm pretty sure parents have similar cute little kidlet actions they gush about, this just happens to be mine.

Let's just call it the force of love.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dust mites, inhaled

I think I ingested enough dust mites today that they're seeping up into my brain. Let that be the official "oficina progress" update (there is an oficina and there is progress ... and of course, there is some yet to come ... but a serious, solid start). Oh yes, and the official word for all this officing declutterification? It is tenacious. Thank you, Sam!

And that was seriously the bulk of the day. There was a related Staples run in there -- colored file folders! Exciting. Working on some kind of way to systemitize all the pieces of paper that have had the upper hand ... until now. But the system, it is still in progress. In the birthing, so to speak.

Listened to more Pandora radio today than ever possible.

And, best, best news of all -- there's a winter weather advisory, and they're saying heavy snow from 5 - 8 a.m. tomorrow! Makes my heart go pitterpatter to read it. Let it not be a lie! We definitely need more snow because what we had is all melting, and where's the fun in that, and the cross-country skiing Saturday was a little, well, grim.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Free your ... space? and the rest will follow?

So this weekend, I'm beginning a homespace -- a Shanaline -- experiment. A trying-to-figure-out putting-in-order declutterification systemification to implement some -- let's not say better, let's say more spacious habits. I'm pretty big on freedom these days, and a space that's more clear not only embodies that, but allows for it.

So it doesn't seem like rocket science, does it? And yet. And yet.

For me, homespace ties back into, oh, at least four separate baggage piles. So, fine, there's all that.

But, on top of that or because of that or in addition to that, or I don't even know what all, there's extra hard. Sneaky hard. Wear-me-down hard. Except it's time to change that, so I will. But it's probably not going to be pretty.

Tomorrow begins the office space, what is a truly cool, great space (huge, gorgeous stained-glass window!) just for me and my work, but somehow it became an afterthought, then a dumping ground, then a huge burden. That recently started lifting; I began to see what it could mean for me; now it's time to let the space do its thing. And I just have to stay out of its way and do some hard (hard) work at habit setting and resetting and consistency. Oh, those sexy, sexy words. Sexy, I tell ya.

Fear not, I'll keep you posted. Not just everything would tell you about the travails of their office organization, you know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Random Friday bucket

So I have a few random thoughts that I'm not sure how or if they'll connect. Let's see, shall we?

First, I have to say my wacky bedroom plant is in the craziest bloom ever. Like, who even knew Filene could or would bloom?? He was relegated to some back school room, left to his own survival wits at school year's end, until Sam brought him to me, and discovered his crazy leany curve fit *perfectly* along the wall of my bedroom. And now he's BLOOMING. In JANUARY. Yep. He's a special plant. The whole house now smells of his flowers. It's crazily hard to describe. The gatos are confused, Willa in particular doesn't know WHAT's up with Filene. So, that's setting the olfactory scene here.

Next, squirrels. A funny moment this morning. I'm leaning against the threshold in my living room, munching my toast, surveying the morning, the general scene. I look up at the window across from me, see a squirrel sitting on the fence post, busily munching on his nut, doing the same thing as me. I crack up.

OH, and squirrels -- I never knew they made sounds!! I'm walking to the park this afternoon to swing and negotiate with my inner child (quite successfully, I might add, thank god she's bribeable with reading), and I hear this weird sound and think ... is that a cat? a bird? a kid? what the hell...? until I'm alongside a tree, it's louder, I look up and see squirrels sitting in the branches, making this semi barky squeaky noise. I'm stunned. The things one learns.

Next up, workouts so great they make you want to throw up. Yes. Just another random for our random Friday bucket here, but I'm in boxing class last night, and it's awesome. It pushes me so hard, at one point I think, "I'm nearly going to throw up." And then instantly, "This is awesome." After class, I thought how half of my possible blog readers would completely get this, no more words needed. And the other half would think something like, WTF? Her workout makes her want to throw up and this is a good thing? And I thought how I was most definitely not always this way. Certainly not as a child. It was rowing that flipped that switch. Rowing that pushed me physically beyond all bounds and taught me to love that, crave that, realize there were so few arenas of life where we could get that. Being pushed hard but in a safe way, doing things we didn't think possible, even if briefly -- just like that, how is that not a miracle? Where right before our eyes, in our own doing, something goes from impossible to possible? This is the striving so hard you come right up to or just past your body's limits. How else will we know where the limits are? How else will we expand them? It's just like the comment about comfort zones a few posts down....

I'll close with a nod to a conversation only one person will get ... a lift of the glass of Sam Adams Winter to graveyards and fish farms and friends you can visit each with. It's a great life and world we have, friends.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The only topic

First, the fluffy(er) -- a p.p.s. to yesterday's post -- Henry Rollins & happy? Don't exactly go together. This I knew. I think my word on his writings is probably more like "interesting" or "intense." Just to be linguistically correct about it all.

Now, to take a sharp right turn to the serious sadness we're all hearing about....

I don't have adequate words or much of value to contribute, but I want to say: Haiti. Oh dear god. This country that's been kicked not just in the teeth but full-on in the face so many times, and now.... I just donated a few dollars because it's something I can do (even in an incomeless state) and probably about all the usefulness I'm able to do, and to do nothing feels too, too wrong.

I had the thought upon first hearing of the massive earthquake -- it's just all so overwhelming, easier to turn away, to feel heartsick, to put it out of mind. But I had the simultaneous thought -- if everyone were to donate just a dollar or two, that would be a huge something....

I turned to Partners In Health, a local nonprofit that's done a ton of work/good in Haiti (as detailed in Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains); I've also seen appeals from Oxfam and Heifer -- I know all are worthy.

I'm sharing/offering simply out of a need to acknowledge, and on the selfish level, I do feel better for knowing I've done something, however small, with a small donation and by talking about it. In such an interconnected world, there's something terribly wrong-feeling about how disasters elsewhere can mean nothing to many of us, beyond uncomfortable news. I mean, what if an earthquake just devastated D.C.? What about the international response to us after 9/11? It's a fact of life, of my life, certainly, that tragedy near and far is all too easy to tune out. And there's something about that increasingly not sitting right with me -- which means putting some conscious thought to how I'm choosing to react.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meet the new boy in my life

Mauricio. No, he's not a plant. Nor some other inanimate object I've named. And he doesn't have a tail. Geez, am I so known?

No, Mauricio's a (real) person. Shy, but I got a few comments out of him, a smile or two.

True, a mini comic of a superhero worm saving his fellow worms from a scary swooping bird sure helped things along.

But I managed to note he's a fan of mini Oreos and Cheetos, and he did politely ask if he could wash his hands after getting a good orange cheese(ish) coating on his fingers.

We've got a start.

Hey, I've been on far, far worse first dates. I get a weekly lunch date with him, so I figure I can work on gradual conversing; he didn't much seem up for it today. But apparently he went running after me because he forgot to say goodbye (I said bye to him, but he was distracted by the return of fellow students).

Like I said, I've been on far, far, far worse first dates. I think we've got a shot!

Note: Boy creatures, whatever their age, sure are tricky.

And, it's now snowing a litte itty-bitty bit. This makes me happy.

Speaking of happy, tonight I heard Gretchen Rubin speak about her new book, The Happiness Project and blog/web site by the same name. She undertook a year-long project to look at happiness, see if she could increase her own. The large-scale reaction she's getting says a lot about the resonance there. Brookline Booksmith, the awesome indie bookstore that hosted -- and I just spilled minty tea on myself -- will that help me smell minty fresh? -- anyway, bookstore that hosted wasn't so very big and it was packed, like, people standing up the stairs, myself one of them.

Impressions? She did seem happy, not in a bubbly or gushy way; she was funny and had some interesting insights. Like, the effects of clutter on inner calm and happiness ... hmmmmm. Most of her insights she shared tonight focused how she on got to know/accept herself (her first happiness commandment: Be Gretchen) and on making concrete steps for happiness changes out of abstract concepts.

p.s. And I scored a used copy of Henry Rollins' Black Coffee Blues AND a cool postcard of a Burma Buddha's hand. Happiness indeed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My "state-of-my-world" address

Think it's been a while since I managed a "state of this new world o mine post-job" update. Generally, I'm so very immersed in the state of things, that come nightfall and blog musings, it can be the last thing I want to talk about. And yet, it is a very key reason for this blog, and I know I have folks out there wondering and worrying (OK, and hoping too).

So, where are we?

I've decided supporting myself with freelance writing and editing is what I want at this point, so consequently it's what I'm pouring my energy into (good choice, right?). Everything I'm learning is telling me I'll do better with a niche market, which is less overwhelming anyway than trying to serve any/everyone. So, I'm angling for two niches, related yet different: healthcare and fitness/wellness. Healthcare is the initial one I'm working on, since it's my most recent realm of employment and I know I have solid career interest there. Healthcare is still quite big, so Boston-area orgs will narrow it, allow me the potential of direct human interaction, and still allow a big field. Within that, public health and nonprofits are what snag my heart and interest, a pretty good combination. (And there's still further narrowing to do within "public health," which I suspect will be my near lifelong interest in reproductive/sexual health ... global health/developing countries and policy/health access/disparities are bubbling around, too.) So, my networking/find people efforts are focusing there. Grantwriting is also a potential interest, need more information about that.

Another "find people" area for me is other freelancers who are succeeding -- I clearly have a lot to learn on the "business" end of it all, and am hoping to find folks willing to share some of their perhaps hard-learned lessons. There's a vast universe around this online, which is both helpful and overwhelming, and sometimes impersonal.

So that's one whole chunk of time and energy. Another is creating a website (after all those domain name posts, no, it wasn't for naught!). I DID register as at least a start (there are a few other favorites bouncing around in my head, I can always register if I feel strongly enough/think of a purpose for them). I have some folks helping me here with the hosting part, and my plan is to use a WordPress template as a cheap, easy, non-designy way to just get a presence up (perfecting can happen, well, endlessly, but after). I even have a template in mind, pondering whether it's right for my audience, tho I like it very much, will need to see about customization. So, NOW all I have to do is create content to fill it. Right. Have a sketch for that, the main pieces are a little about me, contact info, testimonials/case studies as I gather them and samples of my work.

My other realm of focus, which feeds into the others but helps give me a clear plan are a few coaching and marketing resources I'm using -- online/audio/call-in courses, with specific "action steps" and homework that will feed into my website and a professional blog (I'll keep this one for ranting and babbling, fear not). A very cool thing with one of the resources has been an online community of small business owners, many creative and tech folks, so that's been great for support and help.

I also am doing some editing and writing of the pro bono variety thus far, but it's nice to have some concrete projects and is a good reminder this is stuff I love and am good at....

So. That's where my time is going these days! Comments, reactions, see any gaps/opportunities?? Let's hear it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday micro-lessons

Which started thusly:

I love watching steam from my morning's tea, today brown-sugared Awake, in a mug fashioned to look like it has an exterior of hammered copper. I tell myself it's the ultimate in power mugs -- forged through a cauldron, seared by glowing tongs ... and fired by Starbucks.

And wandered its way to this concluder (not to imply a downer day, just had some flailing, and apparently some repeating lessons):

Today feels like it might've lasted a week. Not so sure why, just that this morning feels like a distant memory. Know how days can do like that sometimes?

Lotsa Pandora listening today, used Norah Jones as a starting point, has worked for a day's mellow, pretty music (thanks, Paula, for the inspiration!).

Today's micro-lesson, which doesn't feel terribly ... no hang on, scratch that clause, I'll stay with the thought. The micro-lesson, that I suspect keeps repeating 'cause I'm not quite learning what I need to, is about re-entry -- even small-level, like after a weekend (and even into a relatively unstructured week with work mainly of my own making). So, I sense this lesson might more usefully tie back to leaving-off points -- ways to make it easier to re-immerse and maintain momentum, in other words.

Spent the morning with a friend who's headed outta town for a few weeks, had a lovely time, some great interweavings of supportive insights, then it was noonish, and then I kept getting sidetracked with phone calls and little pieces of things. Then it feels almost impossible to hit the metaphorical ctrl-alt-delete sequence and just START because it's afternoon ... and what? I don't know, just that I start feeling flail-y.

Think when I ease away from my lists I start to lose my way, then am back at that same starting point -- that there are 10 million things I could do to progress, OK cool, so I can and sometimes do start doing, and sometimes it works OK, but more often (or, sooner or later), I'm questioning priorities and not feeling that groundedness in how I'm progressing.

Why are these simple, simple, simple seemingly self-evident truths so hard to learn/retain?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Comfort zones ... and beyond

A full day. A stadium tour (OK, one loop repeated 40 times due to snow interference, but it was the same length as a tour), a few hours XC skiing at Great Brook in Carlisle (from which I am now the proud recipient of a season's pass [cheap!] and my own equipment, on sale from last year's rentals, so now I can ski freely!), a few hours laying down first sketches of a book, pretty stunningly cool, and now my own words-on-the-page time, accompanied by Pandora's "early blues" selections and brown-sugared mint tea.

All of which somehow leads me to ... comfort zones. Fascinating little places. Much more fascinating when we step or get pushed beyond them, notwithstanding the ensuing levels of discomfort, whether slight or excruciating.

Skiing in NH last weekend, I was pushed outta my comfort zone by some steep, icy hills and night skiing. My reactions? Fear, not fun, don't like, fear, loss of control, fear. Today, inadvertently, we wound up on a trail beyond my friends' comfort levels, and I found myself on the other side of discomfort, able to observe it more dispassionately, while reflecting from recent memory how it feels on the other side. My prior discomfort made almost everything today feel safe and doable, or allowed me to easily find solutions to flow around any obstacles or paths I chose not to take.

Psychological comfort zones can be even trickier. Conversations delving into friends' upbringings, childhood memories, some hard pivotal life points remind me that we each have our own thresholds into our interior rooms of comfort and discomfort. Rooms filled with moments that might seem small when they begin, like just ... a moment ... but turn into much, much more. Small turning points of profundity. That fling us from our comfort zones. Maybe we know it in the moment, or maybe we only know discomfort (a cush-sounding word for what can be an extreme emotion -- kind of like "disappointment" -- sounds mild, but when you're in its throes, it has sharp, metal teeth). But these moments' irrevocable etchings mark us, leave us altered.

One of the cool things from early blues recordings? The hiss of record static.

The gatos' take on comfort zones? Sucio is frequently jolted out of his, perhaps by a leaf blowing by. And yet. And yet. My marshmallow cat reached an unthought-of pinnacle with his new but ongoing bedsharing -- who would've thought he could've summited that peak? And he proudly, contentedly frequents the bed now at all hours.

Willa's comfort zone is in the center of attention, on top of anything you might be looking at, talking about and/or touching. Right now, she tries to lie on my lap, blocking the screen. She settles for the junction of my leg and the couch, while trying to encroach her way onto the laptop, my arm, anything, but more, more please, more attention, more hands, more petting. But she finally, ultimately relented and let a new interloper into her space -- grudgingly, grudgingly even sharing her human. Comfort zones? The gatos blew them away.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dreams and gang members: it's all in a day

Spent the afternoon placing the first strokes of an outline around a cool new project that's burbled up with some friends. The project is theirs, but since it involves the words (the words! love the words), I'm getting to play a role as well. A brand-new kind of undertaking for all of us, with deep meaning, good beginning clarity, fantastic dreams for it to fulfill ... seems to have all the right ingredients for a great project.

Oh, and heard perhaps one of the best comments *ever* (OK, so sometimes I exaggerate) from a friend of mine. We were talking about XC skiing (outing tomorrow! post-stadium ... stadium as warmup, we'll see if I deeply rue that plan) and winter activities and my attempts at skating, which led to my then-roommate's funny comment about the intent look in my eyes when I skated (he of the effortless, backward and every-which-way skating), to which I protested -- it's survival! I have to deeply think and pay attention otherwise I might DIE! So in relating this story to my friend, also a rower, she made the comment that it was probably just my "exercise face" -- and how when I was rowing I got a same look as well, which she characterized as making me look particularly badass (not sure I think that's true but think it's pretty funnycool) and THEN she says -- yeah, when you're rowing, you look like a gang member. When I was finally done howling, I told her that was perhaps the best quote about me *ever.*

Here's to new projects and those intent gang-member faces that emerge when we don't even know it's happening....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Oh, the planning ... and the wisdom

Light snow is drifting down, lovely.

What does Friday bring?
  • A website to create (checking out WordPress templates for design, found one very promising ... wanna see??) and content to pour in (OK, and maybe create first)
  • The networking/finding local healthcare (and secondary, fitness/wellness) communications folks to talk to for some clarity about freelance/communications needs and usages and successful models and rates and ... you know, stuff
  • Secondary networking, talking to freelancers who are making it, for whatever gold I can mine
  • Continuing to flesh out my ideal customer (so I know who I'm talking to) -- she needs a name!
  • Progressing on Remarkable Marketing Blueprint/Freelance X Factor courses, which involves creating web content, dreaming up a professional blog to connect with my right client folks, some audio listening
  • A good Pilates class

Yeah, that seems like a start.

And, a few random furthers from my day:
  • Corn tortillas remind me of childhood, comfort (especially heated with butter!)
  • I may be starting to have a Serious Problem with the brownie kids' Clif bars. Seriously.
  • It's good to know that when at a wine bar, me being the non-wine-drinking, and you're in a situation where you just DON'T feel you can in any remote charming way pull off a "no, no, I really don't drink wine ... yeah, I know, I lack class like that..." that asking for the sweetest port they have is bearable. Whoo-hoo, discoveries. Kinda like sangria, minus the fruit. So, less good than sangria. But tolerable!
And with those words of wisdom, I leave you. Got any words to share back?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Streaming consciousness

The morning

The morning, beginning.

Gatos on the bed, purring, a good start. Willa's kitty fury appearing contained. Sucio's wavering bravery, appearing to hold. Until it gets Scary.

6:40ish, light dawning (yep, branches illuminated against the sky).

House meandering.

Pixie P'dough, cracking open. Interneting, starting; Yahoo, annoying with its arbitrary closing of my open emails (my list! grrrrr).

Tea kettle, making boiling noises, hissing as it scalds its way out of the kettle, over my newly replenished and favorited Awake tea.

A taste of a new addiction (damn you, Anna), Fran's gray salt caramels, dear-god good -- apparently Obama's favorites. But of COURSE our President has amazing taste.

The working

More words seem to be burbling, so I take my tall white-with-raised-red-hearts mug (inherited from Ralph when he left NH) and Pixie, migrate to the living room, open the half wooden shutters, wrap a slightly turquoised baby-blue blanket around me, plunk down on the couch. Listen to the increasing traffic outside my window on Washington Street. Think about work and income, about the writing and editing I want to do, about finding my right clients, about whether my tea is getting too strong.


There was a whole interim of brain and computer activity, it's just not getting recorded right now/here.


The closing

Lucinda Williams' Essence to quietly close the day.

Back on bed with gatos, sprawled on stomach, tapping away with some long finger reaches incorporated. Much buzzing in my brain. With this new endeavor I'm beginning, I feel like I'm back in school again, but the stakes are much higher. There's tons of information rushing by, it's a matter of figuring out which to grab, and then realize when I'm doing too much grabbing and need to do more of the doing, then selecting the most important of the doing ... repeat repeat.

Floating outside myself, it doesn't seem so terribly difficult ... and yet.

And yet ... would I trade this for doing anything else right now? I don't believe I would.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A day late, a ... brain cell short?

So, this funny thing happened yesterday.

OK, not *that* funny, like don't go find Kleenex because you're about to cry with laughter, but very minorly funny ... last night I seemed to have up and temporarily forgot about my blog!

OK, I *warned* you it wasn't that funny. Perhaps rather than funny, it was surprising. Like when parents sometimes forgot to pick us up after school? Or when we totally, entirely blank on some key thing we needed and intended to do? Maybe even that we were looking forward to?

I think the point is somewhere around here:

Since starting this blog, I've been quite aware of its wordy existence, happy to have it, glad it's here, wanting to nourish it, enjoying its near-daily presence ... it's almost become a sidekick on this new journey of mine. And yesterday I even started a post in the morning, as I often do, fully intending to come back to it after boxing (boxing! awesomeness!) last night.

What happened instead is that I soaked in the tub so long, I think my brain cells floated away (a little enjoyable, really). Then after peeling myself off the bottom of the tub, I realized -- right, food! And then I tunneled into my new cozy-cave escape, a novel about 16th century India, full of palace intrigues and love stories. So very much like my day-to-day life. And then I went to bed, and was drifting-offly thinking about Sucio's entertaining frequent daily flips from "purr, purr, flop hard against me, knead, drool, purr" to "oh crap! it's Scary! RUN!" and is often the case with my random thoughts, my corner brain thought, "right, store for blog" and then I cried out, "crap! my blog!"

I was bummed for an unintentinal missed post, but I WAS already in bed with lights out, and you know how that goes (an earthquake would've been like, oh, ground's shaking, huh ... tho a fire would've roused me, for sure).

So, bottom-line takeway, strange to have even briefly forgotten about my trusty sidekick here that lets me flow my thoughts out to you who care to read them. Fortunately, Fine Lines is a *very* forgiving sort, and was ready and waiting this morning.

All those who're fit to insure ...

The major story from yesterday was this:

Well, I have health insurance again. Or, nearly, guess it takes effect on the 1st (something I know well from my member handbook revising days!). You Network Healthers reading this, just SHUSH. Doesn't matter I used to work for a health insurance company ... that insures people without income ... NO connection to me there! Ha.

So, in what I choose to believe is a marvelous twist of fate, I now qualify for one of the state-subsidized plans I used to market. Very interesting to be on the other side (a NH side note: yes, the process is pretty easy, but the Connector website is certainly not intuitive to actually enroll).

More with the swings!

And the minor story was:

Going a little stir crazy in the afternoon, I realized I needed to get out. So, it was a return to the swings in the nearby park again. The swings! I love the swings. Oddly enough, I was the only one on them on a snowy-grounded weekday Boston winter afternoon. I also got my fix of winter branches against the sky (happy sigh), got to see a woman determinedly XC ski around the very-small Griggs Park loop....

And I have to say, swinging on a weekday late afternoon reminded me anew of what a very, very good life (my apologies to the minimalist style guides of the world that advocate eliminating "very" from our writing vocabularies) I'm getting to lead here. I'm increasingly convinced the key is to figure out how to continue leading it, as in, getting myself to self-supporting sustainability with freelancing. Yes, that's not a new goal, been the same one for a bit now, just a goal I'm increasingly sold on, at least for the now of it. It's just the minor figuring-out-of and the doing of ... but a lovely life might be boring without a challenge, right?

All right, I'll go work on more profundity and productivity in my day to share later. Exciting, right?

And the showering, the showering remaining very key, fear not. The gatos are fastidious, you know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rose tea on a wedding day

Today a dear friend gets married, one I date back to high school with. I first wrote him a letter my freshmen year of high school, sitting in the dining room of my dad's house, my childhood home, looking out over the hills and surrounding avocado groves. He was in boot camp in ... Missouri, was it?, soon to be on his way to Germany. Nearly 24 years ago.

Early January of a new year, the calendar turning to a new decade, and a sacred ceremony joining two people -- all transitions, admittedly of different sorts, but all new starts.

Reflecting on the past year, the past decade, all that they may have presented and challenged and gifted and offered and granted us -- the important part seems to be extracting the helpful lessons, often painfully learned, so we don't have to repeat those. And all the gifts and wonders and joy, I think it's to acknowledge and be grateful for those, and to look for more to fill our lives with.

Wedding a life partner marks a different transition, both hopeful and yet also a solid leap into a concrete new, beyond the wispiness of hope. But the same reflections and past lessons and future aspirations and welcoming of joy and gratitude all have key roles to play.

There's also a bittersweetness to each of these transitions, as they mark the passage of time and of changes. Old ways and lives now gone, part of the foundation now.

As I ponder my morning tea choice, looking through my black teas, it seems fitting to reach for rose tea, feels right for a wedding day.


Tonight's tea is Early Grey, bookending this morning's rose, marking the rose-to-grey (to dark) transition of the day, providing a comforting tang of citrus combined with the sweetness of sugar.

After a two-hour training at Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic this afternoon, my eyes are slightly crossing. Yes, I already know how to read (!), but the training focuses on reading textbooks, specifically the accompanying charts, tables, graphs, photos ... not so simple to clearly convey to someone listening who can't see what you see. But they of course have a good, simple system -- you just have to think about them differently, draw them with words instead of relying on their visual selves.

I would rather read fun novels and the like, of course, but I gather a lot of the reading requests are for textbooks, and the majority of requests they have to turn down are for specialty scientific/technical subjects that they don't have specialized readers for. So, that's a bummer. Tiny reminder this isn't actually about reading MY favorite thing, right? Next week I record a demo and if I don't fuck that up, I get to become a regular reader. Yay!

More to come on Operation Find Freelancing, too much with the mental for right now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Returning to rhythms

Ahhh, home again. The holidays, well celebrated, ended; fun travels, seeing family and other loved ones, also complete. Winter, well established -- hello, lovely snow and the fun you bring (first xcountrying of the season this weekend in New Hampshire!).

Time to settle in, enjoy the cold and fluffy white stuff, perhaps learn to make soup, dig in to Operation Find Freelancing.

Nice to have time to just be at home alone -- with the gatos I mean, of course -- time to unpack from two trips and rushed living in between. Unbelievably nice that I don't have to go to work tomorrow in a bad-fit job.

So that's where I am. Nice to be back typing here again. Hope you are enjoying a similar comfy resettling and a looking-forward-to the good stuff the new decade holds for us.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy welcome to a shiny new decade

It's a new decade! Following a blue moon. Good stuff abounding already.

Wanted to wish everyone a happy/yay new start newness.

Did not expect to have a few days of silentness upon my return, but didn't expect all the scurrying. Fun, good stuff, but scurrying. Lotsa. Lotsa airporting, coming and going and delivering.

And now, tripping off to New Hampshireland for time with lovely friends, good cooking and eating, and some x country skiing! Not sure what Internetage will be like, so could be a few more days of quiet.

May it be a wonderful new year and decade for you!

The gatos are still bedsharing, which means anything is possible in our wonderous world....