January 31, 2007
The answer is not always what we think
Yesterday and today I was meditating on a challenge I am going through and a very loving solution was presented. So, now I will work on it with the others I'm working with. Easily things could have spiralled downward and out. Anger between coworkers creates walls, and walls create fear and fear destroys from the inside out. So, the best solution is one based in love and understanding.
January 29, 2007
So much for sleep
It's difficult to get enough sleep, I'm finding when there are project deadlines. Just like finals. Even though we study all semester, it seems like when we get to the final we don't know the material nearly well enough and have to cram. The same is true for projects. Mainly because ours are not well run yet. But I'm working on it. Maybe things will calm down later after my learning curve is past the 60% mark. For now, it's difficult to get enough sleep when I work until 10:45pm. Maybe I can take a shorter day tomorrow to balance things out and rest a little. We'll see.
January 27, 2007
Saturday at Work
Today I went into work for three hours to get some things done. I feel like I'm so far behind on one of my projects and it'll be ME responsible for missing the project deadline. But maybe not. I think I will go in to work tomorrow also. I got a lot done today where there were no other distractions or projects to work on. I also reinforced some of the software techniques I was a little shaky on. It's not enough to get the project done but it's a good start and a boost to my confidence. Now I'm more motivated to go to work again tomorrow to see if I can make some real progress on my project. Regardless of the outcome, missed deadline or not, at least I'm doing something toward the goal. Sot it's good.
January 26, 2007
Flash Fiction Number 6 - This Seat Taken - 2
This Seat Taken - 2
Chris was riding the bus in a seat by himself, just like all the others.
Then he saw a man looking around, struggling with a large bag of groceries and a box full of something.
Chris spoke up, â€œExcuse me, This seat is open.â€? The man looked around, then sat down. Chris and Joe had a lot of fun talking! When Chris got off the bus, he looked back smiling.
Every seat had an empty spot. A new bus rider got on looking for a place to sit. Joe yelled, â€œExcuse me, this seat is open! You can sit here.â€?
Tomato Basil Soup
I love Tomato Basil Soup. Tonight I ate ate out and the soup was awesome. It was very tasty. Tomato Basil Soup is definately one of my favorites! with little chunks, but still really creamy and rich-tasting.
January 25, 2007
To have vision, I have to envision the outcome. This is a key to "Getting things done." I want to accomplish what I was hired to do. By mind-mapping my objective, I can see the big picture much more clearly and can better see relationships. I am using mind mapping using CMAP TOOL. I like this one the best. It's simple and efficient and allows me to move things around easily. But learning how to actually DO mind mapping is the hard part. The key in this is learning and using good linking words. That really draws out ideas.
I started mind mapping on a notepad yesterday, but it took me an hour to transfer it into the computer. Then I printed my mind-map onto a piece of paper and on the way home, I doubled the size of it, with a pen. Now I have to go back to the computer tomorrow night and finish my mind map by reorganizing. I will then take this a step further and define tasks I can accomplish to realize my vision. One of those tasks will be to communicate my vision with my supervisor. The mind-map will also help me to create a well-thought out plan to present.
This is free software you can download. You should download it. I have been applying this technique for a couple years now on everything from religion to bike shop business and it's been very helpful personally. So, what are you waiting for. Go get it. Try it. Let me know what you think.
January 24, 2007
This morning I did some mind-mapping, brainstorming for ideas on how to solve my problems at work. I think I've identified some key ideas that I need to take action on. So now I have something to work on plus a more organized overview of the problem. I started mind-mapping a while ago and really like this graphical way of thinking about relationships between things, events and people.
Sometimes you need to think a thought before you can think it's possible. In other words, one thought leads to another, so without the first thought, another one may never appear. Like a chain reaction. In the book, Getting things done, the author says, "It's about quantity of thoughts not quality at this stage." Brainstorming is fun too!
I haven't applied mind-mapping to writing a short story or novel yet, but I will.
January 23, 2007
Health fitness and motivation
After being on my new job for about 15 weeks now, my fitness level has deteriorated drastically. My asthma has gotten worse, I haven't been running or biking or swimming. I also haven't been getting enough sleep. I've also gained weight. It's taken only 15 weeks to wipe out the benefits I gained with the athletes lifestyle. So now I have to figure out how to get started again. The first three things:
1. Get enough sleep.
2. Cut out the junk foods and get back into my healthy, nutritious foods.
3. Cut back on the coffee and mix it up with teas again. Intake less caffeine.
Then start running and biking again, and some tennis with the new tennis partner I found at work. Tennis on Saturday morning. :-)
January 22, 2007
Working late when I don't have to and when I am getting organized and increasing my efficiency is fun and motivating. Sometimes when I have to work late though, It is not so motivating because it makes for a long day when I still have to get up early and get back there. So motivation is dependant on attitude or at least on my motives for doing the work. ie, if it's just for the paycheck it's not as motivating for me. If it's to accomplish a task before the required deadline, it's motivating. So here I am at 9:12 blogging, after just finishing dinner when I got home. Now I'm ready to go back to work with new progress on my goals. So it's all good.
I also modified my Flash Fiction Number 5 story to make the first line better.
January 21, 2007
Falling in Love
What does it feel like to fall in love and how does it start? One exercise in a writing book gives themes and has you write first lines for each theme. One of them is falling in love. I think being in love is like living life verses being born. I don't know, maybe I've forgotten what falling in love was like. Falling in love was so long ago. I must have fallen in love and not just lived in love. I must have gone through a stage when I was not yet deep in love, but getting hooked on love. Several times in my relationships I've discovered new-found appreciation or saw my significant other in a new, exiting light. Was that falling in love again? It could be. Can people fall in love again and again? Maybe instead of falling in love, we are living in love and renewing the excitement and energy of falling in love. Either way it's ok with me.
January 20, 2007
Flash Fiction Number 5 - This Seat Taken
This Seat Taken
Amanda was eating lunch at a table by herself, just like all the others.
Then she saw a man looking around, struggling with a full tray and a boy tugging at his leg.
She yelled, â€œExcuse me, are you looking for a table? You can sit here.â€? He looked around, then joined them. It was fun! When Amanda finished and departed, she glanced over her shoulder smiling.
The chairs across from him were empty. Then he saw a young mother looking for a place to sit. He yelled, â€œExcuse me, are you looking for a table? You can sit here.â€?
(NOTE: If you read this story already, I changed the first line because the old one just didn't cut it. I don't know if I made it yet, because I've been reading about first lines and how important they are and how they should 'grab' the reader and draw them in to the story. My intention in both lines is basically the same, but the second one seems more clear and makes a statement about how everyone is eating by themselves. So I think this new first line is better than the old first line:
1. Amanda was eating lunch. All the tables were occupied, one or two at each.
2. Amanda was eating lunch at a table by herself, just like all the others.
These micro stories get hard to edit at this point, because there are very few words to work with, which is one of the reasons I'm writing these. This exercise forces me to think through an entire story in 100 words and be more concise and expressive in my writing. It's like doing a puzzle - fun and addictive.
January 19, 2007
Three hours to change one paragraph
Several weeks ago we started on a mission to co-write. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Actually it still seems like a good idea. But our short story is almost to the point where we are finding it harder and harder to edit. It's getting closer to the story we really wanted and the changes are fewer. So, tonight we changed the beginning of the story, creating a better first line. And we put a title on our story. Do other writers start with the title? We saved that for the end.
We will work on the story again on Sunday, then try to finish it up and mail it. Hopefully. Most likely we'll send it in, if nothing else than to have a reason to start another story. We can always come back to this one if we had to. But I think it's nearing the finish line.
In a book I'm reading now, one of the traits of leaders is to be "RELENTLESS." The book tells us not to be a manager, but a leader. Who ever heard of the "Manager of the Free World?" or "Moses, you will manage my people out of Egypt?" Haha, anyway, to be a leader you don't have to be a super hero, or be the smartest, fastest, most talented. But you do have to be persistant. Relentless.
January 18, 2007
CAN PEOPLE CHANGE???
YES. For yourself and others, you have to believe it or it won't work. And I think most people want to believe it. And everyone involved has to believe it. It is possible to change. I think again that one of the first questions we should ask is "WHY?" With purpose we can change. The simple answer is YES, we can change. We can and we do.
January 17, 2007
Let's have some purpose
In the book I'm reading right at this moment one of the first and key things we need to ask is "WHY?" are we doing this. What is the purpose? When we ask why and constantly ask why, then many other things get set into motion. For instance the question of "Why are we having this meeting?" determines what you do in the meeting. Seems simple and logical. It also helps to focus our activities. Sometimes it's easy to forget our purpose and get sidetracked on things that have little or no impact on our objective. Sometimes that's ok, but if you want to get things done, it helps to ask why.
January 16, 2007
Prioritizing work tasks
Setting priorities is a constant effort at work. One person commented that "Resources" should not be setting their own priorities. But in every job I've been in, resources do set their own priorities, because invariably they get pulled in many directions, working for many different project managers or are involved in several 'teams' working with others and have obligations to those purposes as well as the projects they have for their own boss. Let's say your Project is to build a house. One of the resources that have to be scheduled for your project is an electrician and another one is a sheet-rock taper. These people don't usually work on just one house and you as a project manager probably don't oversee those other projects they work on. So you are stuck with the priorities these resources make. They may not always make good decisions about their priorities. But they still prioritize what they have to do. So how do you influence resources outside of your direct influence, especially when you want them working on your project and they are pulled in another direction that's taking too much time? I haven't figured this one out yet. Obviously you want to have someone help that person balance their workload and be able to help you get your project done on time. But wanting isn't enough. It seems that with some resources, whoever screams the loudest gets their project worked on first and the resource gets frustrated and everyone gets mad at the resource. It would be nice to have an 'ober-project manager' that oversees all projects and helps make sure the resources are being well used and that their workload is evenly distributed so they can meet the needs of all of the projects they are working on. But too often there is no such person, especially since each project manager is given a project and told to run with it, and they have no influence on the other projects going on that use the same resources. There may be a department manager, but they shouldn't be putting everyone on the same level either by directly managing the priorities of the resources and the project managers. Besides, some of those resources are outside of the department. Like the Electrician. I think where this is leading is that a strong project manager with a performance goal would eventually look for and find resources that can get the job done when it needs to be done. But then again, the project manager is often told which resources can be used for a given project. They may be screwed before they even start. Obviously any Project Manager with a performance goal would choose the most effective resources if they had a choice. And any resource with a strong work ethic theoretically wouild also would want to be on the teams with the best track record for producing results. Do you think? And those resources have to be good at prioritizing their work to be able to handle that kind of team.
I'm still thinking about how often resources prioritize their own work. It happens a lot. Is it a good idea? Maybe not in the short term, for getting your project done, but in the long term, they will get better at prioritizing and they will produce some good results. Provided that the resource actually cares.
January 15, 2007
Some writer's links to check out
January 14, 2007
Flash Fiction Number 4 - Mission Complete
(Flash or micro Fiction - 100 words)
Commander Wilson was selected for the mission that would save Earth from certain defeat. It was falling apart and people were dying. Reluctantly he accepted because he was the cause. He couldnâ€™t allow himself to destroy the future.
Equipped, he stepped into the time machine and sent himself back. He should have died 2000 years ago. Driving the blade in deeper, he felt the cold spread. It wasnâ€™t pleasant. But his death, here, now, prevented his future catastrophic choices. Time must proceed unhindered!
While he still could, he recorded his final message and sealed the container. â€œTime restored, mission complete.â€?
January 13, 2007
Flash Fiction Number 3 - The Water Muse
(Flash or Micro fiction - A story in 100 words)
The Water Muse
Betta's water was skanky and his fins ravaged with ick. He had no space to swim. Death was all around him. He did not hope for much.
But they did come for him. Shrouded in darkness he closed his eyes and waited. Suddenly a net closed in on him, and it was instinct that made him writhe, as if pained.
But then Betta was swimming again. There was room to spread his fins! He shimmered in the light; flowing blues and greens. His fears were unfounded. Smiling, he heard the words, â€œOh what beautiful colors!â€? And his spell took hold.
January 11, 2007
Things that can't be controlled
How much time and effort do we spend trying to control things that can't be controlled? How much do I not even recognize what I have no control over. Or that I should not even try to control in the first place. My objectives at work for instance, are independant of other people's performance. If a coworker has a poor work ethic, they will eventually have to face their own music. My job is to create something better. A poor work ethic is not part of who I am so I cannot go wrong by working hard, being honest and being creative.
God give me the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change and the wisdom to not even go there.
January 10, 2007
Fear or Stress, which came first?
I was wondering today which came first. Fear creates stress. Stress creates fear. Also I asked myself which came first, motive, motivation or action. A motive or desire creates the motivation or energy to then act on the desire. The action creates motivation to fulfill a desire and can lead to other desires or motives, which lead to action, leading to motivation to do more. Deciding which came first isn't really as important as recognizing what my motives and fears are.
For instance, on my new job, which I started about twelve weeks ago, I asked myself what my motives are in this job, what is my intent? here they are:
To be employed.
To be challenged in my work.
To do real work, make a difference in the field I am working in.
To increase my skill levels in several key areas, including regaining lost skills.
To stay employed.
Now what motivates me to work these desires?
Fear of being unemployed and not being able to pay my bills and support my family.
Fear of being seen as incapable of doing the job.
Fear of not being smart enough, fast enough, wise enough to handle the job.
Fear of not being valued for who I am.
Fear of not making a contribution to society.
Fear of failure.
Ok, enough of the fears,
I was unchallenged in my previous job and know that no innovation comes from no challenge. I wanted to put myself in more challenging positions, under pressure to see what I could create. I am still motivated by solving problems. Without problems to solve, I am less creative. In art too, there is the challenge of presenting a vision using whatever media I chose. The creative process depends on answering questions and figuring out solutions to problems. Need is the mother of invention. Not the other way around. Where there is a will, there is a way. Where there is a need, there can be invention and creation. I am having a blast defining need right now at my new job and coming up with ideas to solve them. It will be fun to look back and see what I've done this time next year.
In my previous job, my work did not really matter. I had to find a more productive use of my allotted time. I wanted to create something more than rules for others to follow. I also wanted to educate myself more on the inner workings of our societies infrastructure, and what better way to do it than drawing and design it? Solving real world problems in tangible ways. It's fun and useful.
So, where do I go now? Get more motivated by doing...create new goals, motives, desires. Get creative.
January 9, 2007
Inspiration as Energy
Why do I read so much? I read daily. Much of what I read simply confirms things I've thought about. Sometimes I am truly inspired by the things I read. Let's say by some "uncommon wisdom" about a certain topic. What does it do to me? I find inspiration in some of the most unlikely sources, but inspiration by any other name is still inspiration, and it's energizing. Like a flow of energy that transcends our physical conditions, not just coming to us through our minds but by how it effects us through the mind and the heart. Now I am recharged and ready to go back to work tomorrow to learn more and get my tasks accomplished. Inspired.
January 8, 2007
What to do when unprepared for this
What should I do when I realize that the problem I thought I was facing turns out to be nothing like the problem I thought I was facing? What I am doing is learning. It is really cool to be in this position. Many years ago I would have cursed it. Now, though, I am amazed at the learning opportunity that popped up in front of me. So, I am studying not only project management, but also teams. Because they are related. One thing for sure, just being a team doesn't make it effective.
January 7, 2007
Flash Fiction Number 2 - Dog Found
In This month's issue of the Writer, there is an article by Harvy Stanbrough titled, Sharpen your Skills with flash fiction. He said, "Once you've become hooked on this form, it will be difficult to stop." He was right. It's fun and challenging. And there are a lot of people doing it. I found a lot of examples on the internet and books for sale with short-short story compilations. So today I wrote my second Flash Fiction piece, again at exactly 100 words with a title of less than five words. It is fun and challenging figuring out how to convey the same meaning with fewer words.
I nailed a big sign in the front facing the street. â€œDog Found, callâ€¦â€?
Once my dog endured hip surgery when hit by a car. And another time a night in doggy jail. This loving creature fell asleep, curled up at my feet.
But beauty didnâ€™t transfer well to the owner pounding on my door. She snarled, â€œHow dare you keep it! It comes back on itâ€™s own!â€?
â€œBut his safety,â€? I stammered. She yanked it out the door.
I stared after her, cheapened by the scolding. My choice will stand higher, but I feel sorry for the Dog Found.
Flash Fiction Number 1 - The Fortune
My first attempt at Flash Fiction of 100 words. That number mainly because I could not see how I could slash any more off and still have the story I wanted. It's kind of corny I guess but it works. It took me several hours to write and re-write this. I think it will be easier the more I do it.
Jason Grobachâ€™s fortune read, â€œYou will become very wealthy.â€? But sitting in crazy Aunt Mitchâ€™s remote village, no sign of the inheritance he came to retrieve, he doubted it.
Searching for clues, he read her journals but found only her friends and neighbors. They loved Mitch, and she loved them. â€œLife is the process we share,â€? she wrote. Life was in her blood.
Jason returned to his old job renewed, moved by the lessons of Mitch; by his new friends. Though he never found the money he dreamed of, the fortune was true. A life well-shared is worth much more.
January 6, 2007
Last night we had our second co-writing session. For several hours we rehashed and revised our short story. It was hard work. When we were done we were mentally exhausted. So we printed out a fresh copy of the story and this morning are going through it again. Now we are on the fifth or sixth revision! It is truly amazing to me how we can still find things we don't like about our own writing after reading it and revising it so many times.
One process we have settled into for co-writing:
One person reads a paragraph out loud to the other. The person reading becomes the official recorder of changes for that paragraph. Both of us has a copy in front of us, but when a person reads, and then changes are made, they reread the paragraph with the changes. The copy in front of the listener becomes useless then. Besides, the listener is playing the role as editor and has to really listen, not read.
Another thing we started to do is print out a copy after our session so we can go read it privately and make comments, notes and revisions to discuss later. Neither of us actually change the story without discussing it and running it by the other person. Sometimes we find out our changes are not really that good and by bouncing the idea off the other person, it changes form into something better. Do we disagree on changes? Yes.
When we disagree on a change we leave it and move on to the next part. Sometimes we go back and hash it out or leave it until our next session. Sometimes we need to just think about it for a while. Maybe there is a better way of expressing what we mean. Conveying meaning is not always so easy as putting down some words.
January 4, 2007
I need friends
I get notifications from a few "meetup groups", which I signed up for recently. This is a cool concept, connecting people with like interests. This particular softare sends notices of new members who recently signed up. When you sign up you state why you joined the meetup group. Today I got a notice about a new member. By chance maybe, it was one of my friends. His reason for joining? "I need friends."
Good reason for meeting up with others.
January 2, 2007
Recovery Energy and Motivation
Recovering from an illness, we gain energy. With added physical energy I was more motivated today. Obviously. At least it seems obvious because it's almost a no brainer. When we are sick we generally feel lethargic and don't 'feel like' doing anything. But when we are well, we naturally have more energy to do more. That doesn't necessarily equal more motivation but the rise in energy levels is motivating. As I have experienced, another way we can give ourselves a rise in energy levels without getting sick and recovering, is to exercise regularly. Another way is to eat healthier foods. Even when and how much food we eat effects our energy levels. That's an area I'm still working on.
January 1, 2007
I am sick today
Sickness saps motivation. I have had no energy to do what I thought I should have done today. It started coming on yesterday and today I could hardly move. One advantage however is that I finished reading another book and I started researching 'Point of View' techniques for short story writing. Mostly I laid on the couch reading and sipping hot lemon tea. Our older cat was in heaven having somone to keep her warm all day by laying on my stomach. And then the dog curled up at my feet and I felt pinned down. I had a box of tissue by me, and I read books.
This week I will be reading books on Writing, then back to fiction again. I have a whole bunch of fantasy books I got over the holidays to read so it will be fun reading them. Being forced to slow down and take it easy isn't all bad. Maybe we don't need to be motivated all the time.