Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Salon: January 12, 2014

Is it really the middle of January?!  Even in the effort of trying to slow myself down and appreciate each day for what it has to offer, the weeks still seem to zoom by.  But as I reflect on this first full week of the new year, I am pleased with the balance of activities and I look forward to exploring more of the interests in the weeks and months to come.

Today's Weather:  My... what a difference a week makes!  This time last week we were looking at sub-zero temperatures with wind chills approaches -30 degrees.  Today?  Sunny with the possibility of reaching 60 degrees.  Such is the joy of living in the midwest.

What's on the menu:  A family pizza dinner (ordered from the local Pizza Hut... not homemade).  My eldest and her family will be leaving for a magical vacation to Disney World on Friday and will be gone over two weeks, so we need to get our Princess-fix before they depart.  In addition.... we need to put away the Christmas decorations and (hopefully) our son-in-law can help carry them up to the attic....

Highlights of the week:  There were a few highlights this week...which I will detail below.

Teaching Overview:  Classes started this week, and while it was difficult to get back into the routine, it was good to see the students again.  The highlight, however, was the return of several alumni for an all-school assembly and then a more intimate lunch with faculty.  The tables were turned a bit, and the students gave us a report card of sorts, that is, they told us what we do well to prepare them for college, and what areas we can improve.  It was encouraging to hear that my rigor in the writing class pays dividends, as the students felt that they were well-equipped to handle any essay assignment and they were amazed at the vast difference in writing ability when placed in peer edit groups.

Currently Reading:  Since school just started, I had quite a bit of free time this week and decided to use a portion of that time to review all the library books sitting on my shelf.  I managed to read one in full, quickly read another (First Impressions:  Degas, a YA book I used for research), and after skimming the rest, decided that I could return four to the library without reading them in full.

The book I read in full was Refuse to Choose:  Use All of Your Interests, Passions and Hobbies To Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher.  I owe Joy Weese Moll the credit for introducing me to this author and while I borrowed three of her books from the library, this was the one that seemed to hit me where I currently live.

The author identifies personalities who have so many viable interests that they never seem to get anything done as Scanners (I fit the definition ... how about you?)  It isn't that scanners are unfocused, and often it has nothing to do with time management or organization deficits, but rather we are so intrigued with life around us that we are naturally curious to learn more.  She offers some good, practical advice to help us satisfy this need to learn while at the same time (finally) accomplishing projects that we want to do.

Interestingly, she also gives scanners permission to abandon projects that have lost interest.  She says that the passion is gone because we have already gleaned what we needed, so there is no reason to continue.  She advises wrapping the project with some brown paper, tie it with twine, label it, and include a sheet that details what was completed, as well as what is left to be done.  Then place the parcel on a bookshelf entitled, My Life's Projects... or My Autobiography... or My Adventures... anything that helps us realize unfinished projects do not translate to failure, but rather, knowledge gained and joy derived for that moment in time.

In an effort to try to create a balanced reading life, however, I want to read a work of fiction next.  My natural inclination is to read self-help or memoir, but recently I heard a quote that has resonated with me:
Non-fiction gives us facts; Fiction gives us truth.

My brain is full of facts and I need to balance that with truth.  I am considering either New York by Edward Rutherfurd (I read Paris this fall and really adored the author's development of generational stories in a historical fiction work) or.... a short story collection recommended to me by a good friend:  The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham.  Short stories are not something I typically read, but I have no good reason why.  Perhaps I could read both?!

Writing Progress:  Drum roll please..... I actually finished the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel, First Impressionism!  While I wrote more than 50,000 words in November, which qualified me as a "winner" - I still needed to write two more chapters to complete the novel.  And even though I was sick with the flu (twice) and had to prepare for the holidays, I still had a mental block in completing the book (this had nothing to do with being a scanner, by the way... but rather facing fear).

My schedule Wednesday provided me with an unexpected block of time and I decided to put it to use.  It only took about 2.5 hours to complete and I must confess, that the satisfaction I have experienced in completing this project is pretty awesome.

I even formatted the manuscript into a PDF file and printed it off:  all 182 pages.  I hope to spend a bit of time each week in the revision process and perhaps have a copy ready for possible beta readers by spring break.

Weekly Exercise:  I have decided to add a new category to the Sunday Salon in an effort to keep me accountable to this lifestyle goal.  For about two months last summer (until I experienced a knee problem) I walked a 5k four to five times per week and I LOVED it.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and I know my body enjoyed the workout.  But once out of a routine, it is difficult to establish again.

So in October I decided to join a local gym in the hopes that walking inside on a treadmill would take away the excuse of not walking outside in the cold.  And of course... the day after I joined, I came down with round one of the flu... which turned into round two... which segued into the holidays.. which led me to the first of the year.  So last Saturday I joined the rest of those who made healthy resolutions, and went to the gym once again.  I walked about 2.5 miles in thirty minutes, a good first day effort.... and then Sunday I stubbed my toe, which sidelined me yet again.

I am determined, however, to return to the summer level of activity - and then to maintain it.  I am determined to begin walking in an official 5k a month - starting this spring when the weather is warmer.  And the only way I will attain this goal is if I put it out here for others to read.  I may not be accountable to myself, but I am not about to lose face in front of the world.

So this week.... I will once again go to the gym and get on that treadmill for the first time.

Artist's Date:  Good news:  I actually completed my first planned Artist Date yesterday.  A good friend of mine and I treated ourselves to a "day in France"  We began the morning by having breakfast at Chez Elle, a lovely creperie here in Kansas City that provides good authentic French food in the perfect ambient setting.

We then had tickets to the Impressionism Exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins museum.  The exhibit featured artwork as well as photographs that depicted the change in the cities and countryside from approximately 1860-1880.  I had seen the exhibit in October, but it was nice to revisit the collection and share personal insights and reactions with one other.

The Alliance Francaise partnered with the museum to offer a Day in France experience.  The pastry tasting and wine tasting events were sold out, but we chose to register for a class in French Travel (a brief discussion of sights to visit in Paris and Bordeaux) and another class on The Destruction and Transformation of Nineteenth Century Paris.  Both of us truly enjoyed the latter class and could easily have spent a few more hours learning from this passionate instructor.

Craftiness:  Now that I know I am a scanner.... I do not feel quite so guilty reporting no activity (again) in this area.  Yes, I did "shop" for a few more dies to download from the Silhouette website, and yes, I did take advantage of the Archiver's sale and purchase some decorative paper to use in card making activities... but I did not actually create.

I am learning, however, that I need to schedule this time - put it on the calendar - and then honor the commitment.  And... I need to define the underlying fear that prevents me from pursuing this creative outlet.  I am not quite sure if it is because I cannot play without a specific purpose (quite possibly....) - or if it is because I don't think I am creative enough (quite possibly..) - or if it is because I am afraid if I start I won't want to stop.  All these are silly, I know.

Photography:  And... I could just do a copy-and-paste from above and put it here.  I love photography ... I love learning about the technical aspects of photography ... I love learning about the creative and compositional aspects... I love taking pictures of memorable moments to savor for generations to come.  I am constantly reading blogs and books on the subject, and I can spend hours on Flickr and 500px studying the images and the exif data associated with them.  But for some reason I don't pick up the camera and practice.

Again, there is some mental block that prevents me from doing what I know I need and want to do.  And I am determined to overcome it ... some day.

What's on the Horizon:  This past week was jam-packed for me, typically two or three calendar activities per day.  I am hoping that this week is a little more subdued, with time to stay home and write, read, craft(?) and revise.  Getting into a regular routine would indeed be a highlight.


  1. I'm afraid I, too, am a scanner. I like how this author reframes the projects we go into with such enthusiasm and then quickly abandon. It seems honest to think of it as knowledge acquired.

  2. Our weather has been crazy too. We had a warm front come through. It brought horrible thunderstorms and 4.5 inches of rain in less than 12 hours. Yesterday was a horrible day!

  3. I don't think I could keep up with all you are doing. What energy!

  4. I think I'm a scanner too as I scanned your post ;). As for reading both the novel AND the short-story collection, as a monogamous reader myself, I'd recommend against it, especially since Rutherford's book is a tome. But that's just one commenter's opinion. :)

  5. I enjoyed Barbara Sher's Wish-craft a couple of decades ago ... this one sounds really good, too.

    I've always been a scanner. It amazes me when I see the layers upon layers upon layers of information that I put on my computer over the years, gigabites' worth, about various subjects that I've been interested in.

    But in the past six months or so, I've been trying to curb that tendency.

    Not that being a scanner is bad. It's a wonderful way to enjoy life, IMO. But I also hope to become a published author, and so I really do need to curb my tendencies and focus my time on that ... and only a couple of other things besides ... scrapbooking being one of them.

    I have now completed three scrapbooks for 2013 and am embarking on #4, the final one that encompasses September-December.

    It was an eventful year. ;)

  6. Photography: just take photos -- I take more than 1000 a month with just my phone! I never leave home without at least one camera.

  7. congrats on completing your rough draft. good luck with it!