Apparently I Can Only Do One Thing At a Time. Maybe Two.

In the woods near my house Photo Credit: Doree Weller

In the woods near my house
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

So, as you might be able to tell by the title, I’ve been having some trouble with multitasking.  I’m getting a lot written on my novel, and I’m almost done, which is super exciting to me.  However, I have not been blogging.  Or doing stuff in, you know, my real life.

I wrote a while ago about how I needed to go on a technology diet, to leave space for creativity in my head when I was being quiet and not occupying it with Candy Crush or checking Facebook.  I was somewhat successful with that.

I’ve found something my muse has liked recently, and that’s taking walks in the pool.  I’m always on the lookout for exercise I enjoy, and since I hate exercise, that doesn’t happen often.  I used to go on hikes with my brother, but since I moved out of Arizona, that doesn’t happen anymore.  😦  I hadn’t found anything to replace those weekly hikes, and I had put on a few pounds.  I tried walking at home, but I hate the humidity, and I hate feeling soaked in sweat.  I joined a gym that had cycling classes and yoga, and while I liked them, I got bored with them after awhile.  Then I broke my finger and couldn’t do yoga anymore, so I quit.

We have a neighborhood pool, and it’s hot here in Texas, so one morning, I decided to go out and walk the pool.  I walked for a half hour, and during that time, I had lots of ideas come to me.  My characters started speaking to me, and I came up with scenes that my book had been missing.  (The only problem is that I have to remember them when I get out of the pool.  Taking a pen and paper in with me doesn’t work that well.  Not that I tried it.)

I love that I’m super productive with my book and getting some exercise.  I just wish I was good at doing more than one thing at a time.


Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

-Marcus Aurelius

I recently witnessed an argument in my writer’s group between two people I respect tremendously.  They got into an argument because the critiquer was absolutely sure that they were right about their opinion on what they were critiquing.  The critiquee got understandably upset and insulted.  Unkind words were exchanged.

It’s important to keep perspective on things and remember that your truth is not everyone’s truth.  And while you’re entitled to your opinion, it’s best not to jam it down someone else’s throat.  Strong opinions make the world a more interesting and diverse place.  Being sure that your version of the truth is the “right” version does not add to the world; it subtracts.

Go forth and be kind this week.

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.”
-Robert Brault

Feel Good Friday

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A guy tries to give money to a homeless man, and the man takes it, but then asks if the guy will just talk to him for a little while. The video made me tear up.  It’s true that people just want to connect with one another, and that’s more important than anything.  Take 3 minutes and watch the video.  And remember, whatever else you think of homeless people, they’re still just people at the core of it.

 A woman overhears a hurtful conversation between a mother and daughter about a plus sized tank top.  The woman buys the item in question, and her selfie goes viral.

Grey Muzzle Rescue is a rescue run by one man, set up to take in senior dogs who otherwise might not find a home. There’s an article, and a 13 minute video. Well worth watching to brighten your day.

A man overcomes homelessness by knitting bears.

A child confesses that he worries that people won’t like him because he’s gay, and he gets many responses from strangers reassuring him.  It’s nice to see people come together in acceptance and kindness.

Being Insensitive

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house.  (Not a Black Widow) Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Random spider, chilling in the woods near my house. (Not a Black Widow)
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m insensitive.

No, really, I am.  Or at least, that’s what people tell me.

It’s just that I have really thick skin, most of the time.  It’s hard to insult me; you have to work at it.  As a result, I have to try to remember what others find hurtful, and I’m not always good at it.

Part of the reason I love Facebook is that it shows me what other people get upset about, and helps me to be more sensitive.

Part of the reason I hate Facebook is because it shows me what other people get upset about, and makes me wonder: WHY??

Case in point, a few months ago, people got upset because Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans made a joke during an interview for the Avengers that Black Widow (the fictional character, not to be confused with the real person, Scarlett Johansen), was a slut.  The interviewer asked them about “shipping” (potential relationships for those of you who don’t know the term) with Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Hulk.  Because we all know that if a woman is friendly with a man, she must want a relationship with him, right?  But I digress… They joked that she was a “slut” and a “whore.”

People got really upset about it, and of course, both actors apologized.

I have many thoughts about this, and no real conclusions.

First off, is “slut” and “whore” really the worst thing a woman can be called?  We turn it into this big feminist thing, and while I don’t ever condone putting women (or anyone) down for personal choices like sexuality, if we refuse to be stigmatized by those words, we remove their power.  There’s no real equivalent word for men (at least not that I can think of).  Once upon a time, “bitch” was a put down for women too, but many women have usurped it and made it a power word.  I think it’s time to just start shrugging off stupid people who judge sexuality.  She’s a slut because she makes choices about her sex life that you don’t agree with?  Whatever.

Second, it’s a fictional character.  I mean, I get that the way we talk about and portray fictional characters really does impact how we think about real people.  I’m a writer, so I get it.  But, let’s assume that these are pretty nice guys.  They were joking around about a character in a movie, and probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  Actors aren’t writers, and I have to wonder if they like getting asked about how their characters think and interact as if they’re real people.  I never get tired of talking about characters like real people, but I don’t act; I write.

Third, why do we care so much about potential romantic involvements in movies?  I mean, if a man and a woman in a movie seem to really care about one another, people start speculating that there’s something romantic going on.  Men and women aren’t ever allowed to “just” be friends, as if friendship isn’t an important enough relationship to “just” be that.  I know we want our fictional characters to be happy, and that means that we want them in a fulfilling romantic relationship, but the fact is that people can be friendly without romantic interest.  And what is “flirting” anyway?  These days, manners and basic courtesy seem to be mistaken for flirting.

Fourth, the fact is that guys joke about women, saying things about them that they’d never say to them.  Women do it too.  When we sit around drinking our margaritas, we say things that we’d never want our significant others to hear.  And if they did, we’d want them to know we didn’t mean it.  Actors just happen to get much of what they say captured on film, so they’re not allowed to make jokes in questionable taste.  If they do, it’s a BIG DEAL.

Fifth, and this kind of ties on to my last point… people don’t mean everything they say.  If I had a camera on me every time something stupid popped out of my mouth, I’d probably have people protesting me.  It’s not that I mean what I say all the time; it’s just that sometimes the brain-mouth filter doesn’t engage in time and something comes out of my mouth that even mystifies me.  I’m like, “Where did that come from?  I wasn’t even thinking that!”  Or in the words of Adele, “Just ’cause I said it, it doesn’t mean that I meant it…”

We all say things, and we’re all insensitive sometimes.  I think it’s time for us to stop being so damn sensitive to what everyone says and does.  People do stupid things sometimes.  They say stupid things.  Let’s take the sting out of insults, and take back our power.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

If not allowing others to make me feel inferior makes me insensitive, so be it.  I can live with that.

So, What’s Next?

Altun Ha, Belize Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Altun Ha, Belize
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This is my 4th year doing Blogging A to Z, and I enjoy it more every single year.  It has never felt like that much of an accomplishment to complete it, but this year, I visited a lot of blogs, and a lot of people stopped posting partway through the month.  A few people stopped posting pretty early on, or never started, so I guess it is an accomplishment after all.  It just never occurred to me to not do it once I started.

I met lots of new folks this month.  Thank you to everyone who visited, and thank you to those who are planning to stick around for awhile.  My regular posting schedule is 4 days a week, and I’m going to get back to that next week.

On Motivational Mondays, I post something short, usually a quote withy my thoughts on it, to set a positive tone for the week.

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a random wellness topic.

On Throwback Thursdays, I review an old book.  Everyone gives new books love, so I encourage love of old books.  They’re just as good, and often better.

On Feel Good Fridays, I post links to positive news stories.

While that’s my regular posting schedule, I do sometimes write random posts on other days.  You never know what you’re going to get around here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Z is for Zentangle

My first Zentangle

My first Zentangle

I’ve always wanted to be able to draw, but I’m awful at it.

A few weeks ago, I talked about having to Google “how to doodle.”  That’s a true thing.  I did that.

But because I don’t follow directions well, it wasn’t very helpful to me.  I did figure out how to sketch a few specific things.

I like the idea of drawing.  Even though I’m not a visual thinker, sometimes it’s nice to just move a pen or pencil on paper for something other than writing words.  It helps me think.  I can only make so many hearts, spirals, and squiggles.

One day, while I was Googling “art journals,” I found someone who talked about Zentangle.  Zentangle is a form of doodle art that involves sectioning off small squares of paper and making repetitive shapes.  It’s so easy that anyone (even I) can do it.  Even though it’s simple to do, it looks like real art. Making repetitive shapes does exactly what I wanted it to; it gives me thinking time.  I tend to think best when I’m doing something else, but it’s a fine balance to find something that doesn’t take too much concentration.  Sometimes when I try to get into thinking time, I get too interested in what I’m doing, and I forget to think about what I wanted to think about.

There are lots of Zentangle books and tutorials online.  Even if you’re not the least artsy, I suggest giving it a try.

Y is for Yet


Flower on Cozumel, Mexico Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“Yet” is an amazing word.  Whenever something hasn’t happened in my life, something I want to happen, I just add the word “yet,” and it transforms the non-event from a disappointment to a possibility.  For example, take a look at the two sentences below.

I haven’t had a novel published.

I haven’t had a novel published yet.

The second sentence is much more promising.

The only difference between success and failure is how many times you’re willing to try.  Most people don’t succeed at anything important on the first try.  They practice, they perfect, they keep trying.  Giving up means you never get to use the “yet.”

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I didn’t fail.  I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.” This quote is sometimes used with different numbers: 100, 1000, 10,000.  The number doesn’t matter.  Even if it’s 100, it’s still a lot. The point is that he was only successful because he didn’t give up, and we don’t remember his failures.  We remember his name.

If he had given up at any point, we wouldn’t know who he was.  Someone else would have “invented” the light bulb.

That’s the point.  Whenever someone is successful, it looks easy.  Because they did it.  So it’s easy to forget that there was a process between failure and success.

JK Rowling succeeded as a novelist because she kept trying.  So did: Stephen King, Richard Adams, John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott, and many others.

My point is that whenever I start to get discouraged about something in my life, I remind myself that failure is just success I haven’t had yet.

X is for Xenolith

I both dread and get excited about the “x” part of the challenge.  Dread because coming up with an “x” word is hard.  Get excited because it gives me a chance to learn new words.  I think “xenolith” is one of my favorites.

Xenolith: n. – (geology) a piece of rock of different origin from the igneous rock in which it is embedded

In case you don’t know what igneous is, it’s rock that’s formed from cooled lava.  I actually knew that because I’ve always kind of had a thing for rocks.

View from the South Rim Photo Credit: Doree Weller

View from the South Rim
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

The first thing this made me think of was the Grand Canyon.  I wondered, “Does the Grand Canyon have xenoliths, and can this be a way for me to talk about that amazing place?”

Yes, as a matter of fact, it does.  And I can.

Beyond the sheer coolness factor of the Grand Canyon, it’s a great place to learn about science.  When I stood at the top of the South Rim, I had trouble wrapping my mind around the sheer magnitude of the canyon.  It looked more like a movie set than something real.  The colors are amazing.  I took about a million photos there, but a picture doesn’t begin to capture the reality of it.

The park has Visitors’ Centers that illustrate the different layers and how they believe the canyon was formed.  It has a model of the different layers of rock, and how these layers formed.  It always amazes me when I can stand in places seeped in history.

According to the National Park Services website, the Grand Canyon is getting bigger.  The natural processes that formed the canyon continue to be in effect today.

One of the reasons I love places like this is that I can almost hear the echoes of the past.  Places like the Grand Canyon wake my brain up better than a dozen cups of coffee, and get my creative writing juices flowing.

What makes you feel your most creative or most alive?

W is for Water

Austin, TX Photo credit: Doree Weller

Austin, TX
Photo credit: Doree Weller

I love water.  I love being near water, in water, and drinking water.

There’s nothing nearly as relaxing to me as listening to the waves of the ocean.  During the years I was in Arizona, I missed that sound.  I love when it rains hard; the sound is relaxing, and it makes the world look softer.  After the rain, greens look greener, and everything smells cleaner.  I love sitting outside during rainstorms, if I can be in a place where I’m not getting drenched!

Every year, I used to go to the beach with a girlfriend.  The first year we went together, her vision was that we would sit on the beach and read.  That was an inconceivable waste to me.  I made a beeline for the ocean, where I could drift and float in the waves.  While I like sitting near bodies of water, its much more fun to go into it.

The first time I encountered the stream near my house, I took off my shoes and socks and waded in.  It was cold, but felt great on my feet.

In V for Vendetta, the scene that always touched me was after Evey gets out of captivity, she goes out during a storm, tips her head up to the rain, and says, “God is in the rain.”  I love that quote, and I’ve never been quite sure why.  The only thing I can figure is that rain feels very spiritual to me.  Not just that, but rain makes me think in poetry.

What are your feelings on water?

V is for Value

"The best things in life aren't things."   --  Art Buchwald

“The best things in life aren’t things.”
— Art Buchwald

I’ve always been cheap.  I don’t know where I got it from; my parents are generous, and they’re both spenders.  Growing up, I always wanted to save my money.  I never wanted much other than books and paper to write on, so it was easy for me to keep my money.

As I got older and started working, I bought things for myself occasionally: CDs and video games.  My mom always bought me clothes because, left to my own devices, I’ll wear things until they fall apart.

I stayed cheap, and I didn’t see anything wrong with it.

My attitude started to change after I heard this quote:

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

-Warren Buffett

Something bothered me about that quote the first time I heard it, and it stuck in my head for a long time.  I eventually started to realize that I had an attitude that was “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

I noticed that the tank tops I bought from Wal-Mart for $3 would shrink and become misshapen after one wash, but the tank tops I bought from Old Navy for $9 would last me for years, pretty much until I got stains on them that I couldn’t get out.  I noticed that cheap kitchen tools would stain or break, but the higher quality ones would look good and function well for a lot longer.

I realized that it was silly to keep buying low quality stuff over and over, to need to replace it constantly when it would wear out.  Not only is that not good practice from a financial standpoint, but it’s bad from an environmental standpoint too.

These days, when I buy something, I ask myself:

1.  Do I need this?  If I haven’t been missing having whatever it is, it’s not a need; it’s a want.

2.  Will this bring me joy? Sometimes I don’t need things, but they make me happy enough to justify buying it.  For example, I don’t need a new CD, but I do love hearing Taylor Swift tell me to “Shake it off” or the haunting energy of Imagine Dragons.

3.  Will it last?  I try not to buy things that are going to break or have a minimally useful life.

In the end, it’s not about stuff anyway.  The things that are really valuable aren’t things and don’t have a price tag attached.  My favorite souvenirs from travel are pictures, and music and video games are best shared with friends.

I’m still cheap.  But at least these days, I’m smarter about it.  That’s a valuable lesson.