Tag Archives: success or failure

My Own Pair Of Glasses

A few days ago, I tried to be clever.

When I work away from home, I usually put anything special in my bag the night before and routine stuff before I leave. Every once in a while I forget something in the morning rush.

That morning, just as I came from the bathroom, I saw both my husband’s and my reading glasses lying on the table, his a black metal skeleton with a brown chain, mine grey with a black chain; and neither of us could tell a dog from a cat looking through the other’s pair. I better take my glasses now, I thought, so I won’t pick up the wrong pair in the rush. I put my pair in its case and right away in my bag.

Shortly after I arrived at work, my husband phoned to wish me a fun day – with his reading glasses.

Lessons learned: 1. When trying to be clever, check again what I’m doing. 2. Only my own glasses let me see the world my way.

For lack of something better to do ;) , I thought about how often we see the world through glasses which are not our own…

  • …following shoulds and musts which others have created
  • …not giving in to our intuition, but repeating “how we’ve always done it”
  • …getting stuck with our obsolete beliefs about how things are or should be
  • …defining our goals by comparison with what others do and are successful with
  • …entering the wrong “competitions” with others
  • …lazy thinking, that is not thinking for ourselves

…What are your examples, from your life, of looking through someone else’s glasses. Or in which cases has putting on your own glasses led to joy and success?

Maria

Playful Professionalism

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 14 & 15

Half-time = time for a pie and a hot-dog, and a revision – or rather…

Half-time watering, the Madejski Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 994437

…half-time watering ;)

For more than a week, this blog post title has been going through my head. That it didn’t make it into an article has got nothing to do with research and the often tedious task of finding real-life examples, but a lot with making my mind up…

…and after having made it through the Slump Swamp once again, I’m more convinced than ever that Playful Professionalism is not only possible, but the way to go.

Maybe you, too, know one of those “Playful Professionals” who don’t call their work “work”? Who enjoy what they are doing, even if it’s for a living? Who come out of the drag-or-drop phases of their jobs or projects more motivated than before?

What is considered “professional” is most of all a question of definition; here mine:

Professionalism is not limited to money-making activities, nor a hollow etiquette ritual following step-by-step instructions on “How not to horrify your customers”. It is an attitude encompassing whatever I can do to provide best service, paid for or not, and if it requires me moving beyond my likes and dislikes of the moment then I’ll do it.

Often enough though, I perceive and react to professionalism as if it were a set of rules engraved in granite – shoulds and musts which activate my Inner Terrier, who is quite the opposite of an Inner Schweinehund and starts digging deep tunnels under ground. My struggle with the spelling of the word stubbornness was just a small indication of that.

Playfulness however pulls me up and lifts me onto a different level, lets me explore the realms of non-thought and inspiration while distracting the terrier with a toy.

My conclusion: Pure, serious professionalism sure helps to get things done when the going is rough, but playfulness ensures that I’ve got and replenish the life energy to do so.

Coping with change – part 2

I had three wake-up comments these past two days (thank you all!) which made me look at what I didn’t want to know: I’ve allowed my terrier to take over, again…

My posts of the past two weeks actually show clearly where the problem is: one blog post a day, on which the terrier insisted. (Trisha, my novel is shouting AND doing a breakdance in front of me…) I do like blogging – I’m so happy about having met so many wonderful people through this blog – but those of you who followed from the beginning will remember that I had this issue (with my terrier) before.

I had arrived at an enjoyable and manageable two posts per week, and then came NaNoWriMo and my terrier pushed and nagged at me, making me feel guilty and obliged, provoking me with “You whimp…talking about exploring your boundaries, and avoiding the real challenge…”

Calling me whimp… That Kentucky-fried brontosauros leg should keep my hot-dog busy and quiet for a while – and I’m going to spend my early mornings on the island of “Magnifica’.

Official statement: For the second half of November, I’m waving the White Flag Of Surrender regarding the post-a-day, and focus on writing fiction.

I apologise to all  readers of this blog (and especially the NaNoWriters) who expected more tips and tools on a daily basis – I hope you find that you’re actually doing what you wanted to do in the first place.

What has your mid-month or mid-NaNoWriMo revision revealed about your novel and the process, or about new habits – or yourself?

Maria

PS: Apart from the comment notifications with the three wake-up calls there was another, related, message in my email inbox, from Glen Allsopp (ViperChill.com), whose informative and insightful blog posts I look forward to. Glen’s newest post covers the whole gamut of procrastination & habits, and purpose, process & results.

“The Post on Productivity I Wish Someone Else Had Written” is definitely the longest blog post I’ve ever read – and enjoyed all the way to the last full-stop. And: Thank you, Glen, for investing so much time and energy in research and writing! :)

Excerpt:

“There is not a productivity method in the world that can help people as much as they can help themselves.

That’s it. Nothing too flash or (admittedly) interesting. It probably doesn’t make you very excited for the rest of this article either, so let’s hype it up a little. I elaborated on how I came to this conclusion with a friend and he sent me this email a few days later: 

[screenshot]

And now, if you’re interested, I’ll elaborate on it for you.”

“If you just kind of want it, don’t expect anything more then just kind of wanted it results.”

My word count Days 14 & 15: blog: 1086 – novel: 0

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only

The Slump Swamp

ein zweihändiger Dunk

Image via Wikipedia

The Second NaNoWriMo 2011 Mid-Weekend Review

Oh I love the simplicity of my novel wordcount this week: a fat, round O. Concerning the blog post wordcount I’m getting more and more confused about which day it relates to…

On the positive side, this week I’ve done several thousand knots (real ones, not speed) on a macramee project for a friend of mine, made a shoulder wrap as a birthday present for my niece and knitted one whole sock – in other words, I used the procrastination method to finish some things on which I had procrastinated before ;)

I just found this gem on lifehack.org: How to Procrastinate Productively- I’m so glad I’m not alone…

I’m not tired, but my brain still wants time-out from any sort of reading and writing – hence my crafty activities, and the delay with the blog posts. At the moment it’s only my stubbornness that makes me sit at the computer (and don’t ask how many times I corrected the spelling of the word “stuvvornss”).

How are you doing? Have you taken a plunge into the slump swamp or done a wordsprint slam dunk?

(In case you’re looking for something to procrastinate with, say “plunge into the slump swamp or done a wordsprint slam dunk” aloud, three times, as fast as you can :grin: )

Maria

My word count Day 12: blog posts: 0 – novel: 0

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies :) – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either – you’ll find it easy to compete with me at least… ;)

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Coping With Change

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 11

Huh, had I thought my spontaneous commitment to a post-a-day would turn me into a prolific blogger, I’d need to think again (and let’s not mention the still more or less fictitious 25k).

Two days ago, my brain went on strike. The best I could do was to upload one of my emergency posts: Why?

Yesterday, after having written a longer comment (a tip for learning a foreign language), life took over…

… and I admit I was about to skip this post as well, when I realized that I could do exactly what I do with writing: Mark The Gap or problem for revision – and go on as I feel appropriate right now.

What I intended to do

In October already I took notes on my blog post for 11th November, to post on the 10th: Remembrance/Veterans Day, A Minute For Peace, and in some parts of Germany the official beginning of the German Carnival Season (Why in November, when carnival marks the beginning of lent? Well, you need a few months to organise the fun, of course…). I was looking forward to the challenge of linking these topics, but not so much to the research involved (as I wantedthe article to be).

In case you’re curious how the carnival fits in with war and peace, here a few of my  bullet points:

  • “carne vale” = “good bye, meat” = the beginning of the spring fast, a physical and spiritual cleansing (“detox”, in modern English)
  • driving away the evil winter spirits by going over the top (the Basler Fasnacht (“fast night” = “Eve of the Fast”)
  • to minimize going over the top, carnival is usually organized in troops, with floats or without, and at least in Germany, Switzerland and Austria occasionally in army-inspired uniforms, (some dating back, as far as I remember, to the times of Napoleon Bonaparte, e.g.  Rheinish Carnival in Cologne)
  • conclusions??

[This represents the gap - to be filled in next year, maybe...]

Schränz-Gritte, Carnival of Basel / Switzerland

Carnival in Basel/Switzerland - Image via Wikipedia

What you get instead

…is a real-life, real-time example of how I write…and how I strive to live: adapting to internal and external change – not by simply caving in, neither by letting myself being pushed around by shoulds and musts, nor by giving up, and not any more by beating myself up, but by choosing how to go on now, “after the fact”, and staying open for revision, sooner or later.

“Commitment”, “self-discipline”, “pushing through the barrier” are great helpers – as long as you like them and believe in their value. After almost 40 years of allowing them to get the better of me (and having developed a distinct aversion, not to say allergy, against pressure) I have, for the past 10 years, turned from struggle, building up resentment, self-punishment, self-reward  and the “that’s how it is -there’s nothing I can do about it” of the 16 basic desires connected with intrinsic motivation:

  • If I don’t like it, I can choose again (that is I stop to ask myself what learned from this experience, then let go and move on)
  • If it’s one of those things where I feel “I haven’t got a choice” (there always is one alternative: “to do or not to do”) I go with whatever leads me towards the life I want to live – if I still don’t like it, hard luck, I’ll do it anyway
  • The result is the reward – the only one and the best one
  • I choose consciously which desires I give in to – or not

Instead of fighting or cajoling my Inner Schweinehund* (and wasting a lot of money on sausages) I open the gates and let him run wherever he wants, and get on with what I want to do NOW :)

By the way, embracing change get’s a lot easier with practice – and can even turn into fun ;)

Maria

*In German, referring to someone as a Schwein or Sau (female pig) can mean that person is externally dirty, but also (perhaps even more so) dirty-minded, foul, mean, lazy.

The Schweinehund was originally simply a dog that guarded the pigs = “pig”herd dog. During the 19th century, “Schweinehund” found it’s way into student’s language as an insult, referring to someone who is lazy and/or a coward.

Der innere Schweinehund would be that part of us that keeps saying “nah” or “later” and finding or making up excuses…

My word count Day 11: blog posts: 860 – novel: a big Zero – with : for eyes and a D for a grin :grin:

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies :) – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either ;)

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only

Pain and Pleasure: Life’s Incentives

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 7

This post is inspired by Elizabeth’s Mirth and Motivation article “Musings: The Road To Forgiveness…

“What do you prefer: pain or pleasure?”

If this were a survey question, my guess is that most people would choose “pleasure” – or laugh at the silly question. Who in their right mind would want to choose pain?

But how many times a day, a week, a year, during our life, are we doing exactly that?

Sure do we have a right to feel hurt, upset, insulted, humiliated, cheated on, missing out. We need to experience illness, loss, grievance, sorrow, fear, anger, disgust. These emotions make up an important part of our growth process as they help us develop kindness, tolerance, compassion and understanding – towards and of others and ourselves.

Yet, how often do we choose to let our emotions go and move on…and test what we’ve learned, in practice? Isn’t it more like we insist on our pains, nourish them by repeating (at least in our minds) painful incidents over and over again? How often do we pass our own unhappiness on to others, think of revenge, or deal out disguised digs?

Those fleeting moments of triumph or temporary tension relief have our egoic Me-Selves believe we’re doing the right thing, but, honestly, does this strategy make us happier?

How about experiencing AND overcoming them, and – by finding our own individual solutions – contributing alternative ways of handling problems to the Pool, knitting the network of community?

Pain: The stick for our donkey

Conflict causes pain – and pain causes us to move.

If conflict didn’t cause some major or minor emotional, mental or physical pain to Me-Self, what would actually make us look for alternatives, for solutions to our problems?

As long as we hurt we find it difficult to focus on our desires, to define what it is we want, but we certainly do our best to get away from the pain, to stop it.

The Allegorical Portrait of Elizabeth I with Old Father Time at her right. Death is looking over her left shoulder while two Cherubs remove her weighty crown. so she became princess but not queen

The Allegorical Portrait of Elizabeth I with Old Father Time at her right. Death is looking over her left shoulder while two Cherubs remove her weighty crown. so she became princess but not queen (Image and caption via wikipedia)

The donkey’s carrot: Pleasure

Great pleasure can be derived from hurting others, paying back and paying forward the pain we have received. Addiction to this puny feeling of triumph (and the illusion of power and control that comes with it) is what turns little bullies into big bullies, makes them join up with their likes, and attracts others who crave a dose of this wonderdrug.

On the positive end of the pleasure spectrum there is warmth, a comfortable chair, a good meal, a chocolate bar, a new pair of shoes we don’t really need, a hot cup of tea after a brisk walk in the rain, a good conversation or a fun night out with friends, to enjoy what we are doing,…

…and we think we are happy. Well, we might be, occasionally, but pleasure is not happiness, only a temporary reward. Seeking pleasure does not solve our problems, it only indicates the choices we made.

Dukkha and Happiness

Whatever is felt is within suffering.
Gautama Buddha

The First Noble Truth often is translated as “Life is suffering.” Many people new to Buddhism tune out as soon as they hear this. But the Pali word dukkha also refers to anything that is temporary, conditional, or compounded of other things. Even something precious and enjoyable is dukkha, because it will end.
Barbara O’Brien

Happiness is “non-dukkha“: overcoming, lasting, independent, unifying – the ultimate reward for detaching from Me-Self and its notions, and returning to our true I-Self  :)

Pain & Pleasure & Writing

I’ll skip the pains and pleasures OF writing – you sure have figured them out for yourselves. ;)

But there’s another writing aspect, one where your experience of pain and pleasure comes in handy: Moving the story forward by exposing your characters to pain and pleasure. Without problems and obstacles, fears and rewards, where would there be conflict, choice and change?

Here some ideas – and great unstuckifiers, especially in the loooong middle part – on how to make your characters suffer…and grow:

  • give your characters superficial desires to lead them astray
  • not only the villains cause problems – let your characters make the wrong decisions, and have them deal with the consequences
  • when your characters begin to struggle harder, let them dig an even deeper hole for themselves
  • to make things worse, let them – despite their best intentions – drag others with them, and feel the guilt

The problems don’t need to be giant: A long series of wrong moves has a great cringe factor ;)

You are looking for biggies, though? Use your writer’s imagination to exaggerate: A cranky kitten turns into an angry tiger – dirty socks on the floor become an ongoing struggle worthy of Sisyphus – the weeds and slugs in your garden are the jungle in which your MC gets lost – too much chocolate makes your MC dangerously complacent,…

Hey, that’s life! Detach and keep smiling the Inner Smile ;)

Maria

My word count Day 6: blog: 884 – novel: 1250 (5 pages)

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies :) – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either ;)

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NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 5

The First NaNoWriMo 2011 Mid-Weekend Review

I’m beginning to have second thoughts about mixing a-post-a-day with writing a nove (even though I lowered my novel-goal to 25k)…but I’ll stick to it, for this year – maybe it gets better.

The problem? Basically, writing a blog post takes not more time than writing fiction… but my novel is first draft, and nobody will read it as it is.

My posts are published right away, which means revision, perhaps finding images or quotes, linking everything, formatting, editing and updating a few times because I keep finding flaws or forgot to add the right categories and tags. I should have thought that after 50+ posts this would be a routine procedure, but it’s still slow – and all those details eat a lot of my writing time. – My choice, my problem = challenge to find a solution.

“Magnifica” develops slowly, but I’m still satisfied with how it goes. The new scenes are interesting to write because I look at my characters from a different angle this time.

What also helps is my last year’s experience – mainly that I’m not worried anymore about getting stuck, and up to now it didn’t happen. I’m also much more relaxed – having practiced all year round how to switch my mind chatter off is paying off now: no total immersion, no early burn-out symptoms, getting other things done as well, and turning on writing mode within a couple of minutes.

It flows gently, but it flows.

How is it going for you? Have you met with specific problems or surpassed your expectations?

Maria

My word count Day 4: blog posts: 0 – novel: 750 = 3 pages

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies :) – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either ;)

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only.