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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Switching Gears

Here we are once again. Another week has passed and I am a little bit older, and none the wiser. I wasn’t sure that I would do a post this week because the computer gods frowned on me and my computer crashed. Talk about that be a major “Oh, the hell no!” moment. What is worse I was in the middle of writing. I was typing along happily and the call of nature, well called. I go off to take care of business, and on my return, find my computer had decided that it didn’t want to work anymore for the day. I guess it wanted a break from my crazy writer’s life and a vacation at the computer guru’s shop.

I know you are thinking well, what did you do in the event of such a catastrophe, I did what anyone would do. I started looking for some way to finish what I had been doing before everything went sideways. I started thinking how I could get another computer in the middle of the month when I am broke. I started looking through old purses thinking maybe, just maybe I was in such a hurry to change out the old one and start using the new one that I might have left a few dollars hiding away. Yeah, no such luck. So never one to admit defeat I started looking through my credit cards wondering if I could squeak out just a little more money from them. As you may have guessed the credit card gods hate me too.

I know, how am I logging in a post and no I didn’t use my phone? Call me old fashioned but I have trouble writing anything but tweets, and likes. I don’t even use Facebook on my phone. In my mind, my phone is just that a phone, not a mini computer where I can do almost anything I do on my big computer right in the palm of my hand. I have broken down and began to do my banking on my phone and have my insurance cards magically appear on it for when the officer pulls me over to ask me why I was going so fast. He just laughed when I said I have a computer emergency and needed to see Dr. Fix-it. Hey, by making him laugh I got off with just a warning so don’t knock it. After leaving my baby with the computer guru, I was heading down the road to Walmart to see what they had cheap in the way of computers when I remembered the pawn shop. Now I usually forget things like pawn shops and second-hand stores. As cheap as I am, I still always seem to give my money to my home away from home, yes that would be Wally World.

Well, I made a quick right turn into the pawn shop parking lot before I could change my mind, and went inside to see what they had in the way of cheap computers to hold me over until Dr. Guru repaired what was causing my baby’s illness. I walked around until I found where they kept the computer’s and had a look at what they had.  First off, I am picky in the fact that I only will use an HP computer.  Tablets are different, but for laptops or desktops; it must be HP so that meant that half the computers they had were stricken from the list to choose from. Next, as I said before I was broke, I had only so much to spend. That took out half of the remaining list. I was left with two to choose from. When I looked at the prices and what they could do, I opted for the least expensive. After all, I have no idea what it is going to cost me for my baby’s vacation away from me. So here I sit pounding away on an HP Stream Notebook. So far it has taken care of my writing needs, my gaming needs not so much. I shall live without my games, not happily but that’s okay too.

So that is how my week has gone first loading my writing programs on the wee computer and then downloading all my other programs I can’t live without.  Oh, and building my bookmarks from scratch because my list is downloaded on a disk and this computer has no disc drive. Oh, woe is me.  Once I did all of that I finally found time to sit and write.  So, for those readers who are nice enough to read both my blogs, today is a twofer day. You get The Cat’s Eye Chronicles and Glimpses of My World all for the price of one.  I posted both blogs today. One late, the Chronicles usual date for release is Friday’s and this one today instead of Monday. Once I have done all of that, I get to go chase down at least one cat to get a cute picture for my daily photo blog. Here kitty, kitty. I hope to come to you next week from the big computer but either way, I will be back. Ya can’t keep me from writing, it’s what I do. So, I’m off to try to catch some cats doing something picture worthy and I want you to remember to live life fully and laugh often.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Out of Focus

In this busy world of today, it is easy to lose focus on what is important. I find myself losing sight of my goals, and then my focal point is obscured by the daily happenings of everyday life. Do you find you have the same trouble?

This has made me go deeper into why we lose sight of our goals. Why it is so easy to just give into the daily grind. Why we need to fine tune our habits to be able to reach for what we want in life. How we can use practical applications to help us make those goals attainable. 

I thought that it’s a lot like when we are trying to take the perfect picture. We choose our subject, line up where we want that subject in the picture, and then work to bring it into focus to highlight the best feature. Yet when we try to move to capture the perfect shot, the picture goes fuzzy, it has gone out of focus. 

I found this true of myself this week when I realized I had stopped setting my focus. The picture of my future had turned fuzzy because I had been moving along with what life had to throw at me instead of stopping to remember my goals.

What made me thinks of this is that when I began writing my book, I set goals to where in the process I wanted to be. I made the goals of by what date I wanted each step in the process to be done.

I also began making quarterly goals. These I would write down and place in my journal so that each day I opened it to write, my goals were right there in black and white, well in whatever color ink I chose to write them in, but you know what I mean.

As I began researching the ways to accomplish your goals, I found many resources to help you reach your goals. In one I found the person wrote about the concept of making and achieving their goals. In the article, it said that setting goals affected the outcomes in four ways. The four were Choice, Effort, Persistence, and Cognition. So, I decided to take each one and apply it to the goal of finishing my book and getting it published.

First, let’s look at Choice. Goals narrow the attention and direct efforts toward the relevant activities needed to reach the said goal. It gives you a focusing point, where you are less likely to do non-goal oriented activities.

So how did I use choice? I made the conscious choice to become a published author. I made the choice to put it at the forefront of my daily life. To live and breathe my book until I reached the goal of publication.

This leads me to the next concept. Effort. What was I willing to do, what effort was I willing to make to reach the end conclusion? 

The effort of sitting down in front of my computer every day and writing was a habit I had to develop. Before I made the choice to write my book, I wrote whenever the mood struck me. Because I hadn’t made a conscious choice to write my book, I had nothing to make me put the effort into my writing.

What else did I do to show effort? I began to keep track of what I accomplished daily in the form of word count tracking, hours set aside to write, I made it a daily goal that I needed to do every day. By doing this I had a tangible way of seeing that my efforts were showing some sign of completing the writing of my book. That is how I have reached the word count of over fifty thousand words as of this last month.

We have come to an important word in this quadrangle of words. Persistence. Why is it so important? Persistence is important because, without it, you will let everyday life invade your resolve. You must persist in your goals making it less likely that you will have setbacks in pursuing your goal.

How do you persist? How do you remain in focus? I like to think it is my own dogged stubbornness that helps me reach this. I set my mind on the goal when I made the choice to pursue it. I sat down every day and put in the effort it takes to get what I want. My book published and out where the world can read about what I created in a “What If?” moment.

I set not only a goal of finishing the book. I set daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
By using persistence those goals get accomplished.

I had lost focus a bit in that I realized I had not set any quarterly goals for not just one quarter but
two. Here we are just beginning the third quarter of the year and I keep feeling I slacked off. I was
persistent in my goals. I did keep making my daily and weekly goals but in the madness, that is life, I lost focus and who knows what more I could have accomplished if I had persisted in making my
quarterly goals.

The last word is Cognition. I never would have thought of this when applying it to goal setting. Cognition, lets' look at the definition.
a. the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
b. a result of this; a perception, sensation, notion, or intuition. 

The mental action or process. By making my choice to write a book I began a journey of understanding the process to get it done. I made the conscious effort and persisted in learning how and what I needed to do to reach the conclusion I had set as my goal. 

I looked for ways to change how I did things and in so doing, I gained cognitive awareness of all the aspects I needed. I found that by sticking to a schedule, making those daily, weekly, and quarterly goals that I had formed a habit. Most people think of creating habits as a chore. I never knew by being aware of what I wanted that in doing it my cognition of the idea changed. I learned new behaviors to accomplish what I wanted to do.

Funny how I began the day with the knowledge of what topic I wanted to talk about this week. That of how by missing making my quarterly goal list I lost focus on what I set out to do all those months ago. I never knew that I would be forming new habits, or that the satisfaction I gained each time I struck a goal from my list would in effect make me work harder to doing what I needed to do.

In closing,  I can say that there is a new list of quarterly goals resting in the pages of my journal. And to add a little extra push. I have used the sticky notes app on my computer to post a note with those goals right on my desktop. By doing this as soon as I open my computer that list is waiting for me to accomplish it and strike it off the list.

Do you make goals? Are they daily, weekly, or in some way different? How do you remind yourself of those goals? And do you reward yourself when you accomplish the big goals? Let me know in the comments. Now I’m going to go work on my daily list. Remember live life fully and laugh often.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Living Life to It's Fullness

As I sit here writing this post I think about what I want to write this week. It has been a pretty uneventful week, most of which I spent sleeping thanks to the wonderful pain medicine my doctor prescribed me for an unexpected flare-up of gout. You just have to love walking around feeling fuzzy for almost five days. The good news is that my gout has subsided back to where it came from.

Now comes my next thought, I hate saying I have gout. You’re probably asking me why that is and
for truth,  I don’t have an answer except that it makes me feel old. When I hear the word I always conjure a picture of an old man sitting with his foot up on a stool, a cocker spaniel puppy draped across his lap. His foot is swaddled in bandages, and there is a cane propped up against the wall nearby. He is a jovial old man. One who has spent his life enjoying it in abundance. He is a little pudgy, with a rounded belly that reminds me of Santa laughing with his bowl full of jelly. His eyes are bright and alert, with a wire set of spectacles resting on the bulbous end of his nose. A fire burns merrily away next to him in the fireplace by his chair.

Yes, I know I am a bit crazy, but there you have it. I don’t think of me even at my young age of fifty having gout or for that matter all the other afflictions that hit me as the hands on the clock ticked by, moving the years forward. I don’t want to be thought of as old, even though if you ask my niece, she’ll say I’m older than dirt. When did this happen, did I miss a memo or something?

In my mind, I still feel the same as I did years ago. Sure my body doesn’t move as well as it used to, but whose does. My excuse is that I have lived and worked almost every day of those years, all the long hours, lack of sleep and apathy seem to slow me down after awhile. As each year passes it feels like your body stiffens just a bit more, ready to have some relief that never seems to arrive. Now I have pictures of people bent into grotesquely shaped pretzels as they age, floating across my mind. What was I talking about again? 

Oh, that’s right. Gout and how it makes me feel old. I know you can get this at a young age, it happens due to excess. Too much red meat, wine, and all the stuff that makes life more appealing.
What caused mine you ask? A choice cut of steak cooked over an open fire, grilled to perfection by my dear brother last weekend. The first thing my doctor asked was if I had any red meat recently and I actually felt naughty for admitting that I had. When did it become a crime to enjoy a good steak, with you paying a penalty with your body. Getting old sucks.

So now I am going through a revitalization of my lifestyle. Getting rid of those things that cause more harm than good. I am taking a long hard look at my diet, at my activity level, and even my stress levels. I’m trying to make changes that will extend my walk on this planet we call home. I want to stick around to see my smart ass niece and nephew grow up and realize maybe us grownups weren’t too crazy after all. Most of all I want them to remember me for being alive, not some broken down, worn old woman. I want them to know that I appreciated my life enough to make the changes to ensure that I would be there for them.

I guess the essence of my story today, is that it’s a fact of life that we are all going to get old. What we have to decide is if we are going to accept the mindset of an old person, and grab our rocking chair and cane. Or are we going to live “La Vida Loca” as the song goes? Live the crazy life. I don’t know about you but crazy sounds a whole lot more fun. How about you? Which would you rather do? Let me know in the comments what you do to stay young. Until next week remember always live life fully and laugh often