Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

If you need one more reason NOT to procrastinate, here’s one.

There once was a person -let’s call the person Mr. X- who had a fatal disease. Mr. X spoke of all the things he still wanted to do in life. They were not improbable things – he wasn’t asking to vacation on Saturn. They were fairly common things that can be completed within a month or a year.

Why had he not done them?

  • He was waiting for the right time.
  • Other things came up.
  • He didn’t make them a priority.
  • Other people wanted his time and attention.

So he dithered.  The disease led to hospitalization, where he was even less likely to accomplish his goals. It was difficult for friends and family to watch this state of events.

One More Reason Not to Procrastinate

The story of Mr. X. hasn’t resolved itself yet. I hope he pulls through and can have another chance at those goals. But this story is part of the impetus for this article.

If you need one more reason not to procrastinate on something, here’s one: life doesn’t stop for your plans and your circumstances to become “perfect.”

When we procrastinate, it’s as if we are that kid who’s tagging behind a friend, then bends down to tie her shoelace, expecting her friend TIME to wait for her while she sorts things out.

Nope.

While we dither in the research stage, prolonging a plan, not getting things done, life goes on and we wake up with another month, another year, another decade that is gone. In place of the opportunities, sometimes, are now greater hurdles.

Research is good, but spending too much time in research mode can be a form of procrastination. I know. I do it all the time. When do we know that we are spending too much time in research? I’ll address that below under the heading, “You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless.”

A Possible Solution

To combat procrastination, the other month, I told myself to spend as much time producing as consuming.  A 1:1 ratio, as much as possible. In this way, if I spend an hour doing research for business, that doesn’t count as production. If I let that count as producing something,  research is all that I will do; I will accomplish nothing.

So, if I’m consuming business-related content for an hour, then I must spend an hour producing  something – e.g. content for this website, or an hour editing my upcoming book, etc.

This has worked tremendously well for me. It’s part of what has led to this website running consistently for a month.

Questioning the Perfection in Perfectionism

Lots of procrastination occurs when perfectionists smile wistfully, give a sigh, and claim -with a faint air of misplaced pride- that they can’t stand to start without planning everything to the hilt. Great! But did you accomplish anything? That’s what planning is for – to accomplish the task. Did you do it?

What’s with this notion of perfection that perfectionists bandy about like a badge of honor? Who do we think we are? We are delusional if we think we can be perfect.

Listen and listen well: nothing you have ever done or will ever do will be perfect. Why? Because we are flawed creatures. So anything you or I do will be stained by that fact.

Excelling at a thing is good, but that’s not the same thing as perfection. To excel is to go beyond an implied limit. We can do that. Perfection, however, is basically saying we are flawless, sinless, infallible, and a bunch of other stuff that you and I are not.

When you blame your perfectionist nature for lack of action, you might be admitting to delusions of grandeur. It’s not something to proud of; it’s something that holds us back.

You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless

Let’s be clear: just because a project or task comes from an imperfect person (That’s everyone. Everyone is imperfect.), this does not mean that what you offer is useless.

What you and I offer may not be perfect, but it can be just the thing that you or someone else needs. We might be further along on some aspect of life than another person; let’s not waste time dithering when we could use our imperfect plans to bring about positive change for ourselves and others.

I understand the drive to know every jot and tittle that can or will happen to avoid the pains of life. Planning is good, but you must press forward.  To help you to know when to stop planning and move forward, here’s a brief article on knowing when to stop researching.

Look, I’ve been there. I AM there. I’m battling procrastination on a couple of tasks now (tasks that I might discuss with you later once the fog has settled). I empathize with you. I just want you to reach your goal before an illness (or worse) robs you of the chance to do what could have been done earlier, as it has done with Mr. X.

I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you: You must stop the dithering and ACT. Courage!

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING

Thoughts on Journal Writing

Thoughts about journal writing

  • The format of your journal is up to you. It can be like a captain’s log (” At 8:00am, I awakened to the sound of bluejays over the Sandish Hills.”); it can be a commonplace book- where all things that inspire you are included; it can be a progress journal to keep track of health, household, relationships; it can be more of a to-do list to help you organize your life with a customizable plan (like bullet journaling – click here for bullet journaling 101); you can even create an art journal and paint, or draw, or create a mixed media book; it can be an historical record for your family. Discover your reason for doing it and plow forward with that.
  • How many journals you keep should be dictated by what you want them to do, plus your own way of writing. There are those who do multiple journals, compartmentalizing their lives – jogging journal is separate from family history journal. There are those who keep separate subjects in one journal -keeping 30 pages for inspiring quotes, then another 30 pages for musing about interesting articles, the next 30 pages might be reserved for ranting. There are those who use one journal, start off with the date and then discuss what happened today, or their thoughts on some subject – a catch-all journal.
  • If you join a Facebook group, or any group, of journal writers, understand that talking about having the most expensive fountain pen or the most fabulous leather journal is more important for some of them than is the act of writing. If you want to collect fountain pens, there is nothing wrong with that. However, assess whether a group that is mostly about conspicuous consumption helps you with your journal writing goals.
  • For those of you who -like me- are introverted journal writers who tend to keep to yourself, and journal write wherever you go, look up once in a while. You might find a fellow journal writer right under your nose. I was writing in my journal while in a waiting room and that was the impetus for a fellow journal writer to strike up a pleasant conversation with me! Who knew?
  • If you journal in public, be aware that some people might think that you are writing about them. Some might be bold enough to ask whether you are or not. It might be best to put away the book at that moment, since you never know what someone will do when they are panicked. This rarely happens, but use your discretion.
  • You do not need to keep your journals if you don’t want to do so. Some journals are meant to carry you through a certain season of life and no further. Some journals might be filled with all the things you dislike and all the people you distrust; re-reading that can be repulsive or unproductive. If you need to destroy  or recycle a page or an entire journal, do so. The thing has served its purpose.
  • If you decide to keep your journals, and they are filled with things that you don’t mind reading, let me tell you what a joy it is to be able to go back and see what you were thinking 5 years ago on this date! Even if you ultimately disagree with the person you once were, it’s still a thrill to see the progress (or a kick in the pants to see how little you have progressed).
  • After a while, some journal writers develop a pre-writing ritual, e.g. setting the tea kettle on to boil before writing, exercising vigorously. Some even have  post-writing rituals. I like to sign the last page of my journal, as if I had just written a long, 140-page letter.
  • Reviewing past journals might leave you stunned. An idea that you think you’ve created recently might be in a journal from years ago; you simply did not take the initiative, did nothing about it, then forgot. It takes a lot not to become discontented at that point, thinking about all the things you could have accomplished between that time and this.  Learn to become a more forgiving person, starting with yourself. (Also learn to strike while the iron is hot!)
  • Too many beginners in journal writing behave as if the thing will be ruined if they make a mistake, need to erase something, or scratch through it. Journaling should be a joy, or something functional for you, not something that produces fear, or seems to intimidate you. Remember that journal writing tools -your journal, your writing implements, your ideal writing environment – are there to serve YOU. 

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

Introverts

Introvert at a Birthday Party

It’s wonderful when people celebrate the day of your birth. However, being the center of attention can be a drain for many, including introverts. So here’s what you can do to endure with grace.

  • Make your birthday a day of giving to someone else. It was awkward the first time I revealed presents to my family after they had given me gifts on my birthday, but I like seeing the surprise on their faces. Plus, if I’m more concerned about them than I am about how drained I am, I’m less likely to watch the clock and grin and bear it until it’s time to go home.

I also plan to create a wider day of giving to the community on my    birthday. In that way, if someone wants to celebrate with me, they can help me give donations to the charity shop, or something. (I haven’t figure out the exact thing, but it’s something on my list to do.)

 

  • Remember that your birthday is not all about you. Even if you are tired and worn out from people, you’ve had your social quota for the day,  remember your loved ones want and need to make memories with you. You are special to them; let them make their memories.

 

  • Just accept the well wishes and the discomfort. If all else fails, remember that this birthday party will not last. And when it’s all over, you can go home and crash. There are worse things in the world than people celebrating the fact that you were born.

Let me know how you handle these things.

Peace,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Overcoming Obstacles

Just Start Already? How?

You might have a goal. You might make plans. You might hear people tell you “just start already,” but if you have internal hangups,  you still might remain exactly where you are despite your plans.

How do you get over whatever is preventing you from accomplishing a goal?

It depends on the reason you’ve held back in the first place.

Although I have given you a way to think about procrastination (Click here to read it.), it’s still not a cure-all. I cannot give you a blanket statement that is a panacea for what’s troubling you. Your problem may have some universal qualities that I can address, but the combination of factors will be specific to you. Plus, how you overcome them might not be the way that others around you have done it.

Still, I’ll give you a few ideas to consider.

Finding the cause of your procrastination often requires a thorough look at your process.

Where in the funnel from idea to execution do you trip up on this goal? Create an environment – physical and otherwise- which encourages you to reach the goal.

For instance, I once had a deep craving for a particular pizza every time I drove near the pizza place. I would stop almost every day and buy one; this did not help my health goals. Instead, I  began to drive down a different street just to avoid that one temptation. Eventually, perhaps months later, I stopped craving it and could drive down that street again without withdrawal symptoms.

Other elements which helped me to drive away from the temptation were (1) making sure that I wasn’t ravenous when passing by that place. I could be hungry, but not eat-the-couch-ravenous, (2) keeping a well-stocked larder at home. Knowing that I had something at home that I enjoyed eating helped me to drive on and reach my health goals.

Finding the cause of your lack of achievement might require deep introspection.

Perhaps some similar incident in childhood still grips you today and you can’t move any further on that goal/idea because your brain still anticipates the pain. It might be time to dig deep and find out.

That introspection might come from professional counseling, maybe one of your online groups can hash out some ideas with you, perhaps family and friends can brainstorm with you, maybe you could avail yourself of a consulting service, perhaps journal writing is what you need.

It’s been my experience that goal-setting and achievement are won or lost psychologically before you even start.

Perhaps today is the day that you dig out the culprit for what prevents you from achieving your goals. Your hangups have been rough on you, so remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Use whatever methods are available to you; they don’t have to be perfect.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

 

Writers to Inspire You Series · Writing

John Grisham, Erma Bombeck on Writing ~ Writers to Inspire You #2

Here are a couple of writers to inspire you.

John Grisham was recently in the New York Times with a brief list of suggestions for writing popular fiction. They are bits of advice that you may have read before, but reminders are good.

Some of the advice is great for non-fiction writers as well, including this:

“A common mistake by fledgling authors is using jaw-breaking vocabulary. It’s frustrating and phony.”

When I decided to relax and just be me on this website, the tech talk pretty much dropped. I’m not a techie; I’m just fascinated by what it does to culture. The content is now more true to who I am. Writing is fun again.

Check out the short Grisham column at the New York Times.


Erma Bombeck is a humor writer who gave me many laughs as a child. My favorite of her books is When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home. The dinner roll observation- you know, the idea that the rolls are so similar on a guided tour that you begin to believe that the tour guide packs up the rolls you don’t eat at one hotel and serves them to you at the next one. Bombeck claims that she secretly carved the date in one of them to test the idea.

Here’s an early ’90s interview of Erma Bombeck, who discusses her writing process with the University of Dayton. Bombeck says,

” If you’re a professional writer, you write. You don’t sit there and wait for sweet inspiration to tap you on the shoulder and say now’s the time. We meet deadlines.”

This is something similar to what we discussed the other day about Roberto Blake and being prolific with your content and not allowing the idea of perfection stop you from writing. As you practice and tweak as you go, you will find that the writing improves, your ability to communicates something useful is more consistent.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. Check out other inspiring writers

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Scanner

The 3 Phases of Excitement (According to Barbara Sher)

We’ve discussed scanners before – people with varied interests. (You may also know them as hummingbirds, polymaths, multi-potentialites). When a scanner is interested or excited about something, she/he has unstoppable energy and enthusiasm and can’t wait for the idea to be realized.

Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose who coined the term “scanner,” says that we should be aware of the 3 phases of excitement. (This might apply to you even if you’re not a scanner, by the way.):

1.  Initial Excitement – In phase 1, you think your idea is pretty good to the point of elation.*  Barbara Sher says that when you are deep into this honeymoon phase with your idea, write it all down, record as much of it as you can. Not outlines, but details that you will still understand in the future. You’ll need this information later.

2. The Crash into Cynicism / Resting Phase– This second phase sees you thinking that the idea is now rubbish. Who are you to think it would work? You think that you must stop doing this unrealistic stuff.  “When you crash, try to understand that you have crashed because you’ve expended too much energy,” says Sher.

In this phase you’re gathering more energy. Be aware that this phase might last a day, a week, months or years. Be patient with yourself.  Barbara Sher suggests you let this period occur for as long as it needs to do so.

3. Re-igniting the Excitement –  At some point, you become interested in your idea again. This third phase resembles the first one. However,  this time you’re not flying so high. You’re also not crashing into cynicism. Go back to the details that you’ve written down in the first phase. It is in this more reasonable phase where you -finally- get things done.

I personally would not like that resting period to last too long; I want to get stuff done. But then, that might be my problem – pushing things that shouldn’t happen yet. What do you think?

Check out the video of the author on a casual walk in the woods discussing this topic: Barbara Sher on 3 Phases of Excitement .

 

Peace be with you,

Deborah

*Random Trivia: When the fictional character Anne Shirley says, ” I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation; it’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset,” she’s talking about phase 1. That’s a reference for all the fans of Kevin Sullivan’s film version of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books. Watch the scene here.

BLOGGING · Brain Drops · Productivity · Vlogging

Roberto Blake on Being Prolific and Why Steve Jobs Should Have Been a Vlogger

One of my inspirations for publishing a blog post 6 days per week is Roberto Blake -a daily vlogger and graphic designer who discusses entrepreneurship regularly. His Medium post on Your First 1000 Pieces of Content (Read it by clicking here. ), discusses how to become an influencer through being prolific.  I have a long way to go before this website and its adjacent platforms has 1000 pieces of content. However, enjoying the journey is half the fun.

Also of interest is this video where Blake says he wishes Steve Jobs had been a daily vlogger. His argument is that we could then study his early moments closely as Jobs struggled to create Apple Computers and revolutionize accessible communication. The idea, I suppose, is to inspire the rest of us to tell our story , document our journey, because this information can be useful to other people.

You and I have talked about this recently, about how your stories can be a gift to the world (click here to read it). You don’t have to be the founder of a legendary company like Jobs, to be useful.

Blake goes on to say that quantity (being prolific) can produce quality eventually. Practice helps. I would add, that quantity can produce quality if you are paying attention to results and tweaking to make a better outcome as you go along.

What do you think about quantity producing quality eventually? And do you think Steve Jobs should have been a daily vlogger? That’s debatable. I think some of his legend is partly because he was enigmatic.

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. We’ve already discussed how Seth Godin – another person known for daily creations -creates his blog posts every day. Click here to read that explanation.

P.P.S. Out of all the people that I would have loved to have seen with a Youtube channel, it’s Orson Welles. He was always frustrated about the expense of films and the fact that you needed, as he said, an army of people to get the job done. The director of Citizen Kane could have elevated the craft of internet videos with his experience and imagination.

Brain Drops · Goal Setting · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

The Baby Steps for Your Goals are an Amuse-Bouche (And Other Thoughts about Goals)

Thoughts about goals. Let’s bullet point them for clarity.

  • Sometimes it takes a while to understand who you are and what you want because you are unique; there is no blueprint for you. If you do not happen to be that person who has known all of her life that she wanted to be an astronaut, then give yourself some slack. Nobody has ever lived YOU before.
  • Sometimes it takes a while to understand who you are and what you want because you have been told what you SHOULD want, where you SHOULD live, where you SHOULD send your children to school, what clothing you SHOULD wear, etc. Those are what I deem the “shackles of the shoulds.” Perhaps your brain has not yet been unchained from the shackles, and that’s why you aren’t living the life you want…yet.
  • Always throw a “yet” in there. It gives your brain an open door to possibilities. Watch Carol Dweck’s TEDx Talk on “The Power of Yet” by clicking here.
  • But the above is no excuse for not trying. They are just reasons that you might be stuck every now and then when pursuing a goal.
  • Make a plan for what you want and how you will achieve your goal. Perhaps you’ve always wanted a garden; perhaps you would like to give away millions of dollars in scholarships; perhaps you have health issues to conquer; perhaps you want to fly to Korea and finally meet your favorite pop star. Whatever it is. Make the plan; have daily steps -daily, I say- which map your behavior from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Your daily baby steps towards the goal might feel like annoyingly small steps. (That’s one of the “dirt sandwiches” of pursuing anything.) However, they provide a glimpse of what your life could be. Enjoy the glimpses; they are an amuse-bouche of what’s to come if you keep going.
  • Now, let’s say something happens, and the opportunity you wanted is no longer available. Figure out – and this all goes back to your plans in the first place- what drew you to make that plan. What is the essence of what you want? Is it possible to find that essence elsewhere?
  • The great thing about knowing what you want is that you are willing give it a go, even if you die still trying. You are going in the right direction, and that journey might have to suffice.

 

Some thoughts for the day.

Peace,

Deborah

Poetry · SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) · Unchain Your Brain · Writing

SARK has an Inspiration Phone Line!

Y’all!

I know I’ve been talking about the author of Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper a lot lately – SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy)- but I just had to let you know. This author has what she calls an “Inspiration Line,” a phone number where you can call and be inspired by something that she says.

I was flipping through the book and there it was on page 87 under one of her writing prompts. The number is 415-546-3742, if you want to call it. That’s a San Francisco number; whatever your rates are to call it will apply.

It seems as if SARK changes the message monthly. Currently, it’s  3 minute 10 seconds which includes

  • An intro to who is SARK
  • Then a recitation of a poem by John Donahue called “For a New Beginning.”
  • She then wishes us all well.

I really love the last bit of Donahue’s poem:

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

I’m speechless! What a lovely poem. And what a lovely thing  for SARK to do for people who need a quick mental pick-me-up.  She’s using every medium possible to be of use to people. I would never have thought of using a phone line for my business or personal development outreach.

Have you ever called the Inspiration Line? What did you think?

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Writing

What is Your Ideal Journal Writing Environment?

What is your ideal journal writing environment?

Journaling has been such a personal endeavor for me since childhood that I never considered that others might do it any different way than I did. I didn’t think too much about how anyone else would do it.

Since joining various journal writing groups online, I’ve found a variety of ways in which people journal and where they journal.

  • Some enjoy journaling in the same spot every time.
  • Some like to sit in a corn field, or up a tree, or near a river, or on the beach, or while looking a mountain.
  • Others would not dream of writing without a table.
  • Some prefer a coffee shop.
  • Others prefer the comfy coziness of home.
  • Some prefer to write while waiting for the oil to be changed in their automobile, or while the children are playing in the park.
  • There are joint journals where everyone can contribute to the book, so they keep it in a common area, like the living room.
  • Some write in the kitchen while the tea kettle is boiling.
  • Some cannot get started until they have a bouquet of colorful pens nearby.
  • Others refuse to write without a fountain pen.

I like to write anywhere and at anytime. My lap is my desk. If a thought strikes, I must record it in some fashion. Sometimes the most handy thing is the voice recorder on your phone. You say the thought aloud into the phone and later expand on it in the journal.

Sometimes, in childhood, I would journal in the closet with a flashlight until someone called my name for dinner.

Your environment must be conducive to how you like to write in your journal. Your instruments must be convenient to use or you are less likely to write.

Sometimes you cannot think straight enough to write until the dishes are washed and the house is tidy. At other times, the dishes can sit and soak while you pound out an idea before you forget it.

If you are just getting started journaling, perhaps your preferences are not yet set. Don’t worry; you’ll find the setting that is perfect for you if you don’t give up on it. Tweak and tweak and tweak. (And enjoy the process of tweaking.)

What is your ideal writing environment? What have you done to create it, to make it a reality? Perhaps you can journal about that.

Peace,

Deborah

P.S. If you’re have been procrastinating on journal writing, click for this article on how to think about procrastination and how overcome it.

P.P.S. This might be useful to you. Click for Journal Q and A, Part 1 which addresses 3 common fears which prevent many from starting or continuing journal writing.

BLOGGING

Blogging and Fitness [Links]

If you are a blogger, desk worker, or person who sits a lot, here are some links to tips on how to improve your health while at the desk or in the office.

I have not yet found a blogger who specializes in fitness for bloggers. (When I do, I’ll let you know.) At this point, you’ll have to search for “desk job exercises” or “desk job fitness.”

Tips include raising your knees and tapping your toes on the lip of a trash can, soccer drill fashion.

Tips include buying a treadmill desk and biking to work.

Tips include doing burpees during certain plot points in your favorite show at home.

Tips include pacing during a phone call and schedule a walking meeting.

Sincerely,

Deborah

 

Overcoming Obstacles · Writing

Your Words and Stories Are a Gift to the World (According to SARK)

I’m in the midst of reading SARK’s Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper. It’s one of those books about writing which causes you to pause and digest the meaning. Sometimes for days.

One of the sentences which stands out to me is this one on page 49:

All of our words and stories are gifts, to and from the world.

I paused and thought. Is that true?

Something in me recoiled. Is it true that ALL of our words are gifts? Some words cut like a knife. Some words make you feel as if someone has chopped of your right arm.

But then, searing words can be a gift too, if you search for the benefits of the situation. If nothing else, biting words coming your way suggest that perhaps you should remove yourself from the situation. After words come action, you see. So even biting words have their use- as a warning from those whose company you might not need to keep.

Still, I think I see what the author is saying.When the words are meant to be helpful, the fact that they are a gift to the world is more obvious.

For example, I recently suffered through a strong bout of IMPOSTER SYNDROME. It happened just as I planned to launch something that I have never had the guts to do before. So I asked my group if anyone can share a story of conquering Imposter Syndrome.

A story. I was asking for a story.

Why? Because I was hoping to follow in the footsteps of people just like me. I had hoped to make their story of success my story. There is something powerful in seeing or hearing someone else conquer what seems insurmountable for you.

I thought too of my own article here on this website – Why Your Blog is Necessary. To sum it up, I say in that article that your blog is necessary because the marketplace of ideas is bare without you. Someone might need to hear from you. You never know who can use your story right at that moment. So stick your neck out and say something.

I needed to take my own advice.

I ended up agreeing with SARK after all. Your words and stories can become a gift to the world.  Someone might need to see your shoe prints where they would like to tread. What’s your story?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. This goes back to what we’ve discussed earlier – What is your primary gift to the world?  Your gift could be words.

Introverts

Bill Cunningham, Fashion Photographer | Introvert in the Spotlight #1

I discovered Bill Cunningham -fashion photographer for the New York Times-  about a year before his death in 2016. His documentary –Bill Cunningham: New York– is fascinating. He lived a single life and a singular life. Although I don’t recall anyone straight up saying in the documentary that he is an introvert, Cunningham seemed to live the life of one.

In an article for the New York Times, Cunningham says,

“I STARTED photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.”

Career-wise Cunningham found something that he liked; he stumbled upon fashion photography when someone gave him a camera. How can an introvert in a social world like the world of Fashion (with a capital F) be comfortable? I think the answer is that he found a little cubby for himself in the industry.

His employers gave him a great amount of autonomy – something introverts tend to need. He would shoot runways, but he was also fond of street style – photographing what people wear around town.

He would run around New York City, not necessarily talking to anyone, but observing trends, photographing patterns of sartorial behavior, investigating style and delighting when people bring a little brightness to winter with a pop of sky blue, heralding the spring.

His face absolutely lights up as he describes fashion, when he says that you do not know what people will think to wear next. That’s when I realized Cunningham must have been something like a birdwatcher, except the birds are human and they change their plumage every day. The possibilities are endless.

I appreciate Cunningham’s attention to male fashion –  you can still see his archived weekly trend-spotting videos at the New York Times website. Male fashion, to my untrained eye, does not seem to change much. But Cunningham finds the subtleties, and appreciates the boldness of youngsters paving the way for a revolution in male fashion – something I would not have noticed. Cunningham’s attention to detail quietly draws your eye to what you would not have seen.

Check out the documentary, tell me what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

 

 

BLOGGING · Writing

How Seth Godin Writes A Daily Blog

Stumbled across this Hubspot interview of Seth Godin – a bestselling author known for books and lectures on marketing. He’s also known for a daily blog which he has written since 2002. It’s the latter that interests me the most.

How does Godin find the time to write blog posts every day?

  1. His blog posts are of varying length. Sometimes a sentence, sometimes 700 words. [This suggests if he only has a sentence worth of thoughts to give, he does. He doesn’t wait to be inspired further.]
  2. He sticks to a subject that he thinks about a lot, and has thought about for a while. It seems to just flow.
  3. He doesn’t use images; it’s all about the words. [You do not necessarily need a big production or to make it complicated to be useful.]
  4. He uses spare time. 90 seconds, if necessary. [Use what you have.]
  5. He made the decision to do it and then committed to it. [The question then becomes not “Should I blog?,” but “How?”]

What I gathered is that it is the streamlined nature of how he blogs that helps him publish every day. After that, it’s habit. Check out the interview. See what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

JOURNALING · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Here’s One Way to Savor a Moment

Use your five senses to help create vivid memories and savor your moments.

Ask yourself the following:

What do I smell?

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What do I taste?

What textures do I feel?

 

It has been my experience that slowing down to think these questions and answer them helps to remember the moment a bit more. I usually ask about 5 things that I see,  5 things that I hear, and so forth. This is to give myself even more moments for instant recall.

I do this all the time anywhere – at weddings, family reunions, funerals, or just on a lovely morning in quiet. I want to remember the atmosphere. I also tend to write down the resulting observations into my ever-present journal.

There was a trip to Virginia wherein we stayed in a cabin near a lake. I still remember having early morning quiet time on the pier, watching fisherman in small motor boats, feeling the sun rise and warm my face in the cool morning air, hearing the pages turn in my journal. It was a beautiful moment and I remember feeling grateful to be alive.

How do you savor a moment?

Peace,

Deborah

 

Unchain Your Brain

Casey Neistat and Orson Welles on a Creator’s Job

Casey Neistat addresses someone who states, “You’re a filmmaker; stop vlogging.” His answer is one that can be useful to any creator, whether filmmaker, writer, blogger, painter, etc.

Our job as creators is to further define the medium. Our job is to create the new cliches, not adhere to those that were defined by generations past.

Watch the video here: “What’s Your Motivation?”

It is an answer similar to a statement given by filmmaker Orson Welles,

“I passionately hate the idea of being ‘with it;’ I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.”

What do you think?

Sincerely,

Deborah

Motivation

Your Many Ideas Have a Golden Thread

Hi,

It’s Deborah.

I’ve talked about my previous businesses before [See Content Revamp Article]. But I did not tell you this.

One of my previous business ideas, one that predates this website- was that of online used bookseller. There are 5 elements to such an enterprise – Sourcing, Sorting, Storing, Selling and Shipping. The first one -sourcing- didn’t work for me since I lived too far away from the books I wanted to sell, shrinking the profit margin. It was just all down hill from there.

After 6 months, I realized it was not the business for me. In a rare moment of accepting sunk cost, I stepped away from it.

However, part of what drew me into the business was being a matchmaker between readers and the information they might find useful.  It was honestly a thrill knowing that a person made the decision to get something they wanted and I made it available.

After closing down my shop – It was called Clay Books, for a reason lost with time.- I realized that my blogs do all of this matchmaking without my having to check for silver fish, dust mites or mold.

I bumped up the time that I spent on my blogs. My early blogs eventually zig-zagged into the website you are reading today.

Why an I telling you this? Because I learned something.

I learned that the thing you were drawn to, but ultimately turns out not to be for you, has something to it that you thought would be useful. What was that something? These could be clues to what you want and who you want to be.

An experience does not need to be a waste of time, it does not have to be completely sunk cost if you can glean a lesson out of it, if it can help you put together the puzzle pieces of your business (or your life in general).

Now,

call me bookseller,

call me blogger,

call me online consultant,

but ultimately, they all mean that I am a matchmaker between reader and content.

It has taken years to really understand that and then not stray from that. It will take many more years to cultivate this into a business. But, that’s my golden thread. What’s yours?

Peace be with you,

Deborah

Introverts

An Introvert on the Career Schmooze

Long ago, a mentor said to me, “Deborah, to gain the career you want, you must schmooze.”  I interpreted schmoozing as going to functions that you do not like, where there are powerful, or potentially powerful, people in your industry and ingratiate yourself to this group.

As an introvert, highly-sensitive person, and chitchat avoid-er, I was never really comfortable with schmoozing.

A local leader in my industry invited a select few university students to his house for dinner. Guess it’s time to schmooze; I accept.

Turns out I misheard. The dinner party is actually cocktails by the pool -one of those gatherings where you stand around and pontificate over a glass of Merlot.  I did not anticipate this scene. (1)Chitchat is always awkward and (2) dinner would have given me something to do.  Now, my teetotaling self must stand there with a glass of water trying to be interesting. Already I’m uncomfortable and want to go home.

However, I recall my mentor’s words – Schmooze, Deborah. Schmooze!

I remain at the party,  but I stand next to the Gouda tray, hoping to blend in to the nearby ferns, I guess. One of my classmates sidles up to me -a classmate who is clearly on his second glass and who has never said more to me then, “What’s the homework?”    Holding forth about his career, he says, “Yep! I do not like [our industry] – it’s boring, it’s tedious, I can’t stand it.” ” But this,” he says, sweeping his glass in an arch towards the house, the pool, and the cheese,” is why I’m doing it.”

Sip.

At that moment, I stopped feeling awkward and contemplated what I had just heard. This young man was going into a career that he already knows he does not like, just to have a pool that he will not have time to use. The industry that we were headed into works you with long hours; he would only have to time to brag about the pool at work, not actually use it. Not only that, once he earns the physical object he wants,  he is still left with the career that he hates.

Maybe that’s why he felt the need to imbibe, to get away. I felt an enormous wave of pity towards him. “Isn’t there any other way to buy your pool,” I thought, “than putting yourself through a career that is clearly torture for you?”

Hours later at home, as I contemplated the scene again, I realized I had also tortured myself by staying longer than I should have.  Years later I realized that I had done a disservice to  myself  by  being in denial and remaining in an industry and a culture that I did not like.

I say this, fellow introvert, not to discourage you from accepting invitations, but to learn from my mismanagement of self.

Sure, we all do uncomfortable things, that’s a part of life. However, many introverts still complain about networking. I posit that schmoozing might not always be the problem for introverts on the career hunt; sometimes the issue is in not knowing what is important enough to us to be worth the discomfort.

Going to that party was an attempt to boost a career that I did not want. (But I had not yet admitted that to myself.). Therefore, staying at the party past my comfort was not worth the time.  I could have used the time to build a different career in another, more organic way.

We’ve talked about dirt sandwiches before on this website. Every lifestyle -whether introverted or not- has something unpleasant about it, what I call a “dirt sandwich.”

For an introvert, that might mean the unpleasantness of networking to find a job, or suffering through initial chitchat to find compatible friends. Whatever your dirt sandwich may be, you must decide this: For what are you so hungry that you do not mind grit in your teeth to gain or maintain that life?

Everybody must decide this, not only introverts. It’s just that the dirt sandwiches differ with each person.

For introverts, maybe the job which requires so much networking isn’t for you, even if you are good at the job. Perhaps the psychological and emotional cost of entry for that career is not within your emotional budget right now. Perhaps your mind is trying to tell you to go in another direction and you are not listening.

Perhaps more introverts should ask, “What would I like my life to look like?” Answer that, and networking  becomes just another dirt sandwich – nothing pleasant, but nothing quite so major as it was for me at that party.

Since that party, I have reinterpreted schmoozing as being around like-minded people. It has been my experience that when you become excited about a job or career -one that you really want-  you might be nervous at first, but you plow right through, even if it comes at the high cost of social interaction. And sometimes it’s actually fun -Imagine that!- because you are discussing topics that are interesting to you with people who share that interest.

You learn to create a budget for networking, psychologically. That might mean that after networking, or interviewing, or whatever-ing, you decide to journal about your progress (or however you decompress). Before a meeting, you might have butterflies in your stomach, a frog in your throat – basically, the whole animal kingdom in your gut- but you push through it, because it gets you closer to that life you want so much.

Let me sum it up. To introverts on the career/job hunt:

  1. What would you like your life to look like?
  2. Does that job/career get you closer to that life in a meaningful way?
  3. Make sure to budget -psychologically- if that career you want comes with the high cost of schmoozing.
  4. Schmoozing is a little less aggravating when you’re working towards something meaningful to you.
  5. (Oh yes, and don’t try to do this alone, if possible. Have someone who can commiserate with you -whether that’s a career coach, friends/ family, or the nice people on your Facebook group.)

Peace be with you,

Deborah

BLOGGING · Motivation · Productivity

David Bowie on an Artist’s Popularity

There is an illustrated interview series on Youtube called Blank on Blank. One of the interviews I’ve recently run across is of rock star David Bowie on the subject of popularity and your own artistry.  What he says might apply to writers/bloggers, as well.

“An audience appreciation is only going to be periodic at the best of times. You fall in and out of favor continually. I don’t think it should be something one should be looking for. I think you should turn around at the end of the day and say, ‘I really like that piece of work,’ or ‘That piece of work [is terrible].’ Not, ‘Was that popular or wasn’t that popular?'”

This goes back to what we’ve said before about social media likes and what to do if you experience anxiety over becoming less popular in your art, or when someone unsubscribes from your blog.

The idea is to have a sense of purpose beyond being liked, and that’s what Bowie seems to say here. Making the best work you can should be enough; the rest is gravy.

Peace,

Deborah

REVIEWS

Wreck This Journal [A Review]

Dedicated to perfectionists all over the world, the Wreck This Journal challenges book lovers and journal writers not to hold every book as precious and un-fool-around-able (or, at least, not this book).

Wreck This Journal is an art journal with prompts. With page-by-page instructions, such as “Rip it up,” “Drag it,” and “Climb up high; drop the journal,” this book seeks to make you uncomfortable enough to become creatively destructive. “You may begin to live more recklessly,” it promises (or threatens, depending on how you view such a thing).

You are writing (or stomping, or placing sticky things) on 224 pages of a lightweight, travel-friendly journal that is small enough to fit in your purse, but not your pocket or clutch.

This review is of the 2012 black edition. Apparently, there are several other editions with different covers, and, presumably, different prompts.

My casual perusal of others who have used this journal, including the reviews on Amazon, suggests the people who love this journal, REALLY LOVE IT! They proudly showcase finished Wreck It Journals tied with rope and stuffed to the gills with who knows what kind of adventure.

I purchased this one back in 2015. My memory of it was that it was not for me. I struggled to find a purpose for it in my journal writing life since it did not encourage introspection, recording history,  and other things that I do with journals. I remember it as being pointless. I did not pick it up again after a couple of days.

However, after reading my main journal from back then, I see that the Wreck This Journal had its purpose in my life, even if it was only for a couple of days. It influenced me to think outside of the lines in my usual journal. According to my main journal entry, I credit the book with influencing me to draw in my journal (Gasp!); trace the outlines of other journals in my main one (What?!); ignore the lines (Horrors!). All of that ultimately led to being open to changing date headers, and including more pictures of my family.

So thanks, Wreck This.

You might like the Wreck This Journal if…

  • …you like journal prompts.
  • … you have enjoyed (or would like to start) an art journal.
  • …you are a perfectionist when it comes to books, and you want a way to stretch out of your comfort zone without ruining the books you care about.
  • …you don’t mind your fountain pen bleeding through (which you won’t because you are meant to ruin the journal).
  • …you wish to take your journal with you. (It’s travel-friendly.)

The Wreck This Journal might not be for you if…

  • …you cannot stand when anyone dogears a page.
  • …you find prompts unnecessary for how you journal.
  • …you want more meaningful, introspective journal prompts.
  • …you don’t like the idea of wasted paper (some instructions include ripping things and tossing them away).

 

Do you have a Wreck This Journal? What do you think?

Sincerely,

Deborah

P.S. You might also find useful this double review of the Q&A 5-Year Journal and the One Line A Day 5-Year Journal.

 

Writing

An Archeologist’s Blog about Burying Books

Book lovers! Here’s an odd little blog to read – Burying Books. It’s all about stories of people who placed books in the ground and covered them up, sometimes retrieving them.

Motives vary – neglect, artistic drama, hiding it, penance for allowing their writing to take them away from loved ones.

The blog, which has not been updated since 2015, is purportedly run by archeologist Gabriel Moshenka of The University College London. He writes,

“This blog is for one of my many research interests: buried books.  I love books and I own an awful lot of them.  The idea of burying books in the ground seems rather odd and interesting.”

A fun little, slightly morbid past time, especially when the books are buried with people. Of course, you’ll find the story of a recent discovery – The Faddan More Psalter,  a book dating to the year 800 which was found in a bog in 2006- as well as stories from the past,  like Dante Rossetti’s retrieval of poems  that he regretted not publishing.

Head on over and see what you think.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Organize Self and Home · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Is Your Home a Museum of Grief?

Author Elizabeth Gilbert has a thought-provoking question which might help you and me de-clutter and grieve at the same time: Is your home a museum of grief?

Do you hang on to mementos and journals that make you cringe every time you see them? Are you crestfallen every time you step into your storage area and see all the unfinished projects you could have-would have-should have done?

It might be time to let go. The things that are not helping you reach your goals, the items which drain your energy are taking up space in your house and in your life. Space that can be used for the people and things that you love.

Last year, I began to give away, recycle or toss all the things I just haven’t gotten around to doing, or the things that caused me unhealthy grief to keep.

The hardest part for me was ridding myself of a few rejection notices that I had received for internships in school many years ago. I had carefully organized, alphabetized and labeled the rejection notes in a binder with other old school papers. I think the idea was to have them in case of a documentary about my life after I had become a successful screenwriter. It would make for great drama.

I finally tossed them and I haven’t missed them for a second. I don’t know why I kept them. I suppose formal institutions were a part of my identity, even the unpleasant parts. I did keep the one acceptance notice which, combined with my hard work that summer, lead to another summer internship the next year. You only need the one acceptance to begin.

A problem area for me has been THE OUTFIT! The Outfit is what I wore on the evening that a person whose company I enjoyed first called me “gorgeous.” Circumstances are such that we’ve since parted ways, never really knowing each other, but the The Outfit remains a stronghold. As if keeping it will bring back an opportunity. It won’t. But somehow I’m attached to it. I carried it around for nearly a decade before I finally gave it away to charity last year. Have I missed it? Every now and then, but for the most part, no.

Is your home a museum to grief? What ideas do you have to de-clutter these kinds of items? Do you have any prevention ideas?

Still need help? Find great de-cluttering ideas from Taylor over at Home Storage Solutions.

Introverts · Tech Thoughts from a Consumer

An Introvert Celebrates Texting

The texting culture– where people expect that you will send a text message via your cell phone instead of the usual phone call with your voice or video call- has been a big boon to introverts.

Some introverts tend to feel rushed or drained by face-to-face or voice-to-voice encounters, especially if you catch us when our social quota is depleted for the day. The 24/7 connected-ness that cell phones and the internet have brought throughout society could have proved to be the worse thing that happened to us this century.

However, a texting culture allows for our way of life as introverts. With texting, you have time to think through your response before sending it. You can respond an hour later, if you like. You don’t have to come up with something witty or clever right now, as you do on the phone or in face-to-face encounters. If you’re drained from being around people all day, you can rest and then text. You don’t have to make a decision right away.

You have time to ponder.

You have time to breathe.

You have time to just… be.

And the thrill of it all is that this is now the NORM, people! The NORM! Not only introverts are doing it. Today, it’s almost weird to call someone – whether introverted or not- when you just wanted to send a smiley face emoji.  Do you realize how exciting that is?

[Side note: Texting also gives you a visual record of the communication, which makes my inner historian shriek with joy. I have now started to print out some especially memorable texts and affix them to journals.]

People might rail against the downfall of humanity, that we’re not calling like we would have in the 20th century. And maybe they are right, in some respects. But really we are doing what our ancestors did – sending letters or homing pigeons- only faster and with more of a likelihood that the message will arrive at the destination.

For once, introverts are not the odd ones who wish to write out a response instead of talk. We have it so good right now. Savor this moment!

Peace,

Deborah the Introvert

JOURNALING · Writing

Journal Prompts -After Listening to a Music Album

Have listened to a music album recently and wish to write about it in your journal? Here are a few prompts to get you started.

Journal Prompts for Listening to a Music Album

  1. Name the album. Why did you choose it?
  2. Is it your first time listening to this album? If you listened to it before, what spurred you to listen to it again? What prompted you to listen the first time?
  3. Who is/are the artist/ artists?
  4. When did you first hear of the artist?
  5. What was your initial impression of the artist? Has your opinion remained the same? Changed?
  6. How would you describe the genre?
  7. Do you have other albums of this artist? Which ones?
  8. How does this album rank with that of this artist’s other albums?
  9. How does this album rank, in your opinion, with that of other artist in this genre?
  10. How do you think future music will be consumed? – we’ve had records, CDs and now digital downloads. What is next?

 

All the best,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What is Your Primary Gift to the World?

Author of The Introvert Entrepreneur, Beth Buelow, asked on Facebook the other day, What is your primary gift to the world?

Of course, you do not need to be an introvert nor a businessperson to answer this question.

The primary gift that yours truly brings into the world seems to be that of Chief Appreciator or Curator. I’m no expert on anything; I rarely have one identity in any situation. (Hello. I’m a scanner/hummingbird/multi-potentialite.)

But if I stumble across something fascinating or useful, I’ll point to it. Basically, my life at its most fitting is show-and-tell, it’s appreciating stuff created by someone else. How to develop this into a business is quite a process. I’m glad that you’re along for the journey.

What about you? How would you answer this question?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah