Monday, December 5, 2011

Inspiration

Every December I go through the values and goals section of my planner. I have lots of stuff in there...stuff most folks think they don't need on a daily basis. But I do. It keeps me focused. Balanced. Blissful. Thoughtful. Mindful. Prayerful.
So, I thought this year I would share bits and pieces in this blog.

One of my pages is "Personal Heroes". People who have inspired, touched and otherwise wowed me. Famous folks. Family folks. Friend folks. Today I am thinking about Randy Pausch. I remember the first time I heard his last lecture; his name went right into my Personal Hero page. Take some time today and give him a listen, even if you've heard him before. Take some time today to be inspired.

For Randy's lecture GO HERE

Sunday, October 2, 2011

JUST DO IT

"What we think or what we know
or what we believe is, in the
end, of little consequence.
The only consequence is what we do"
- John Ruskin


I used to play women's softball. It was great exercise, a lot of fun and I got to meet new people. Until winning became everything and we purchased "professional" outfits. I like to win as much as the next person, and we should all strive to be winners. But, I didn't like sacrificing my enjoyment on the home-plate-alter. It wasn't my goal to win first place. My goal was, well, as I said, exercise. Fun. New people. I wanted to run and laugh and play and have a good time. I wanted to relieve stress. To forget about my 40 hour a week job. To forget my bank account balance. To forget I had just moved to a state where I knew no-one. Really. No-one.

I soon realized my team was out for blood. And, have you seen a fast pitch in women's softball? There's nothing soft about it when it hits you. I had inadvertently gotten into the NASCAR lane driving a Mini Cooper.

The strategic game had arrived; we were playing the #1 team. They were bad. Not bad players. Bad in the good player sense, the excellent player sense, the trophy winning sense. They had the glare in the stare that would intimidate the Merrill Lynch Bull.

Last half of the last inning, 2 outs, game tied, I'm up. We had a (wo)man on first and one on third. "Bunt" the coach says in my ear. Fear struck at the heart of me. I didn't mind swinging away. I mean that ball came so fast that I didn't even have to swing hard to get it out of the infield. But, bunting? Coach had taught us to wait for the pitch then jump around facing the pitcher gripping the bat toward the tip with one hand and the handle with the other. This stance put my mid-section in direct line with that missile hurling toward me.

The wind-up. The pitch. I meant to jump into the bunting stance, but my body wouldn't move. Strike one. The glare, the wind-up, the pause, the pitch whizzed by. Strike two. Coach jumped up out of the bull (cow?) pen. "If you're just going to stand there, SWING AWAY!!" He didn't have to tell me twice. I swung, hit a line drive between first and second base giving the runner on third time to score.

We won, but I didn't care. I wasn't having fun. From my Coach's perspective, I didn't follow through on my training...I didn't "DO", I didn't take action. From my perspective, I hadn't bowed out when I realized this game wasn't for me..I didn't "DO", I hadn't taken action.

I had let the coach down and I had let myself down. I thought I should quit, I knew I should quit, I believed I should quit. But, I did nothing. I played because others thought I should. I learned valuable lessons that day. Be true to what you believe and take action on those beliefs. Be a DOer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Be A Lion Today

Sometimes I can do no wrong, get an enormous amount of work done, be super creative and end up being pretty proud of myself. On the other hand, there are days when nothing goes right...I mean nothing. My well laid plans go awry, time-eaters pop up at every juncture, no matter how hard I try I can't think of a single word much less a line, a page or a chapter. Or, I can't think of a single attribute to put on my farm flyer or any clever way of advertising herbs and if someone calls I sputter and stammer unintelligible answers. I overthink it. I don't know why that is; only that it IS.

I've discovered the best thing I can do about it is just quit what I am trying to work on and go for a walk up my Missouri mountain. Then get out my Whacky Pack cards. Oh, I love those whacky cards! Created by Roger von Oech they can be a real Kick In The Seat Of The Pants. They operate on the premise that we all have four little gremlins inside us that represent four different ways of thinking: The Explorer helps you DISCOVER resources for new ideas. The Artist TRANSFORMS resources into new ideas. The Judge EVALUATES new ideas. The Warrior IMPLEMENTS new ideas.

Todays card is from the Warrior: PUT A LION IN YOUR HEART. Go forth even if, no especially if you are scared: GO FORTH. Discover what gives you courage to act on your ideas. Find your lion. Let your lion out. Go forth.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Short Story

Check out this story...I think you'll like it: http://aroostookreview.umfk.maine.edu/v6su11/fiction/caselman.htm

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Gift of Sundays

I love Sundays. It's a spiritual day. A day of communing with Higher Powers. Of connecting. Of grounding. Of planning. Of shedding last weeks disappointments and looking forward to next weeks accomplishments. And, as much as I adore and love my gardens, Sunday is my day off from the physical labor and mental helter-skelter of being the Mistress of Green.

I also love to write so Sunday is my writing day. Not just physical writing which I can sneak in on any day, but all the other stuff writers do. Write and read blogs. Check out authors websites. Have dialog with my Muse. Read and work on lessons in my current Holly Lisle Writing Workshop. Communicate with other writers. It's nice to know there are others out there like me. Non-published, struggling, determined, I-know-I-can-do-it folks who have a story in their hearts.

So, thank you for Sundays. It's like a new present every week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Publish A Book

My mentor, Holly Lisle, has authored 30 novels with over a million in print. She has made the astounding decision to stop using publishing houses. Starting with her next book she will self-publish. Wow. Is this a trend? Will authors un-stop the cork and let self-publishing gush through the dam? If you have to do your own marketing anyway, why not get the whole pot of profits instead of a spoonful? Will publishing houses and agents follow the footsteps of the travel industry? Time will tell.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day



To My Mother... Emma Bryant McKee who birthed me, loved me and taught me to make a proper bed, fry fish and never give up on winning the lottery.









To My Grandma Lizzy... Elizabeth Diggs McKee who taught me to love the farm, work hard and cook for a thrashing crew.














To My Best Friends Mom...Lorene Donnell who taught me to make a skirt without a pattern and giggled throughout my girlhood right along with us.









To My Aunt...Vera Carriebelle Hilliard Empie who opens her home and her heart to the world and taught me how to keep Big Tall Betsy at bay.

Thank you all for the wonderful "mothering" you've given me. Happy Mothers Day, I love you all, forever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Big Bucks Authors

James Patterson doesn't use a computer? Wow, guess that leaves the rest of us with absolutely NO excuse for not writing! Click here to check out just how close Stephanie Meyer came to the top.

World's 10 highest-paid authors earned a combined $270 million last year - NBCActionNews.com

Do You Need A Teacher?

I've been writing my entire life. I love to read; I love to write. And, I don't even know how many times I've said after reading a book, hey, this book stinks I can write better than that! How about you? Come on, you know you've at least thought it even if you didn't say it out loud.

And you know your writing is good, afterall look how many of your friends tell you it is. Look how the writers group rave about your characters. Your sister adores your hero and your mother loves your downtrodden victim and your high school English teacher admires your perfect grammar. So you don't need any advise on writing.

The truth is, maybe you don't really want to be published. After all, then you would be bound with public constraints...deadlines, deadlines, DEADLINES. As it is, you write on your own schedule, live in your own world, dance to your own music. No agent is hounding you for the next chapter when you don't have time to finish it; no publisher is telling you to change your villian's dialog. If you want to hold to your status quo, if you want to spend your days dreaming about being a writer instead of being one, then by all means do so.

But, if you want to be a serious writer, THEN BY ALL MEANS DO SO. Take the steps required to change. Need to schedule time for writing? Get out that planner or add an appointment with self to Outlook. Need to polish a manuscript? Revise, again? Send a query? Find an agent? Sharpen a pencil or buy more printer ink? Do it.

Need to take a writing course? It's hard to turn loose of your hard-earned money. I know. But sometimes we just need a kick in the seat of the pants. I can't tell you how many times I have agaonized over whether or not to take a course...to actually fork out money to have someone tell me how to write.

So, a while back I took the plunge. An author that I read quite often offered writing courses so I checked it out. Holly Lisle. I really like her books; I liked what she had to say about writing; I liked her emails that kept me up-to-date on stuff; I liked her no-nonsense style; I liked that she is an actual, working, published author; so I took the plunge.

I subscribed to How To Think Sideways. And, I have not been disappointed. I like the name of this course and I love the course. Holly Lisle is a font of ideas and energy and commitment to the craft. She's a good teacher, she cares. She continues to write her own books and brings you along for the ride. She shares her success and her struggles. I love everything about being in Holly's "group". I think you will, too. Check her out.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Peach Keepers

Well, I finally downloaded Peach Keepers to Ellis Bell....my Kindle. Have just barely started it, but it promises to be scrumptious, juicy and just sweet enough. Spring always lures me outside with whispers of sweet breezes and birdsong; no matter, Ellis Bell can come along. In fact, she goes most places with me; tucked into my hold-all bag. I use odd moments squeezed in between "real" tasks--waiting at the doctors office, waiting for hubby in Home Depot, waiting for the chicken water to fill--to chug a few more chapters. It's my version of between-meal-snacks.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Reads

I recently discovered Good Reads through a friend and I love it. It's a readers haven.

Readtopia.

A readers bliss.

Not only am I a compulsive reader, I'm OCD about keeping track of what I read. It's like a golfers score card. I set my par at the beginning of the year and laboriously keep track of my books. Then I read and think over my list occasionally. In the shower I may think about Seth Godin's "Poke The Box" and evaluate how I am applying it when I don't want to write my newsletter. When I'm wallking my dog up on my mountain Pressfield's "War of Art" reminds me that just because I don't FEEL my muse right now, she's still there.

Revisiting books I've read countless times is like hearing from old friends and I remember them while I'm planting rows of garlic. My paperback dog-eard, margin-scribbled, marker-colored copy of Tony Robbins "Unlimited Power" and Gabaldon's pristine don't-bend-the binder-I'm-buying-a-signed-copy-when-I-win-the-lottery "Outlander" are two of my all-time favs.

This morning when I fed the chickens I thought about Sarah Addison Allen's brand new "The Peach Keepers" and made a note to download it into Kindle. Her magical, whimisical characters will be just the thing when I can't sleep at 2 a.m.!



Good Reads is a grown-up, computerized cyber version of my yearly book list. Forget about a page in my planner; now I have all sorts of book lists--read, to read, to buy, whatever-- and can pull up the cover, description, reviews, author bios & interviews, suggestions all at the stroke of a key.

Book nirvana.

Give it a try. Loose yourself for a few minutes. Take a break. You know you want to.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hwilc is Hwilc?

We have a standing joke in our family. My husband is brilliant. (That's not the joke). He's an engineer by trade and training; a farmer by will. There is nothing, nothing he cannot design and build. Yet, he cannot spell. No, I mean it. He cannot spell. I cannot see how to assemble and install a speaker component system. He cannot see how to spell continent. It's a trade off. Which brings me back to hwilc is hwilc...which is which. Which is one of our oldest words and has migrated through 64 spellings. To our 8th century progenitors hwilc won the spelling bee. Is it any wonder that brilliant folks like my sweetie cannot spell. Have you ever pondered the rules of spelling? (I think about words a lot!) There may as well not be any rules considering all the exceptions to the rule. The conundrum is this: hwilc person in my family consistently wins at Scrabble? You guessed it. My husband. It's one of the great mysteries of life. Go figure.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Go Ahead: Revery

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
- Emily Dickinson (© The Trustees of Amherst College)

Revery: absentminded dreaming while awake; preoccupation with something to the exclusion of all else

Have we lost the ability to daydream? I've often thought Americans are so bent on getting ahead that we have devalued down time and now I can prove it. I intended on using this little gem of a poem by Emily Dickinson on my farm blog (RCVfarm.blogspot.com) because of the clover and bees since I have both in abundance. When I typed in the poem, the word "revery" shouted up at me in bold, red letters. (Was that Bill Gates idea?) And, we all know what those red letters mean. When I clicked on it, Bill gave me a list of words: "Revelry, reverie, revere, revert". Even "every". But, no revery. Revery has been obliterated from the dictionary! But, wait a minute. Revery has not been obliterated, just changed. The powers that be changed the spelling to "reverie"; sorry Emily. Still, I think it is indicative of our opinion of daydreaming. We put it in the category of teeth grinding and snoring: "hey you, STOP IT"! Personally, I take great stock in "revery" and do it with great frequency. Especially when I'm up to my elbows in clover. I think you're on to something, Emily.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Good Books

All done with Stieg and, as usually happens when I "power read" three novels in a row, I am SO ready for non-fiction. I found two that look interesting. One I already had on Ellis Bell (my Kindle): Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen M.D. It's all about brain imaging--using an old technology with new applications: SPECT. Dr. Amen discovered how the brain is working when we concentrate on various things thus concluding that what was once thought of as merely behavioral issues (obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety problems, depression, aggression, even violence) are in fact brain function problems and can be "fixed". Even if you have no interest in behavioral disorders, it's fun to read about what part of your brain "lights up" when doing specific tasks.

The second book is "Poke The Box" by Seth Godin. OMGSH, I love this one. It's a procrastinators start button. It's informative and motivating. If you need a kick to get off your behind and get going, this book is for you. Personally, when I get motivated I feel a little spark begin in my chest and spread throughout my body like warm honey; this book does that to me.

I made a monumental discovery this week. Since moving to the farm, Ellis Bell will not connect to "WhisperNet", that mysterious beam of energy that puts me in the Amazon Store. So, I took Ellis with me on my daily jaunt up the hill; wha-la, instant plug-in. I had such a good time reading the Kindle blurbs of books and browsing in the cyber store and, yes, purchasing a couple.
As always, I'm putting Poke the Box and Brain on my instant Amazon connect on this blog, so just give it a click to read all about them.

I love useless trivia, so today I leave you with this: it takes 3000 cows to supply one season's worth of footballs to the National Football League. I wonder what part of my brain is shining? Life is Good.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Research Reading...What Fun!

I'm trying to read (and write) as much as I can while the snow flies, as I will be in the gardens before too long. I'm a johnny-come-lately to Stieg Larsson, but am enjoying his books nonetheless--wish I'd found him while he was still living. I love it that his plot twists continue to surprise my Broca; I hate wading through all the Swedish names of people and places. I love the intricacy of the mystery; I hate the background chapters for the network of characters. I just finished The Girl Who Played With Fire and realized that it was the second of the trilogy. So, now, I decided to finish the series by reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, then go back to the first, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I am invested in the characters and wanted to stay in the stream of the plot. I love that they are smart, smart, smart but could the numbers theme have been just as effective without ALL the verbiage on, well, math? I mean Fermat's theorem, Pythagoras equation AND Euclid's discovery? I enjoyed it to a point; but I consider myself innumerate so I could have survived on less. Since my book Domus is a series, I try to read different kinds of series to broaden my horizons, so to speak. So, I'm off to charge my Kindle. Life is Good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dragon Tales

It's always fun to find new like-minded folks. Since I'm waist-deep in Domus revision, I loved this quote: "Never interfere in the business of dragon, for you are crunchy and taste good with Ketchup." Claudi

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For All Intents and Purposes

I get so frustrated with politicians. Has common sense evaporated or otherwise some way left the scene? What is so hard about running a country "within our means"? I say let housewives and homeowners, the bakers, the bikers and candlestick makers of America write and administrate the national budget. We know better than to spend money you don't have...it always comes back to bite you. America's budget, for all intents and purposes, is a work of fiction.

It's curious that that phrase--for all intents and purposes--was first coined by none other than the infamous King Henry VIII. Now, there's a politician. Disagree with him and you were apt to be baked, boiled or beheaded; acts he performed regularly. Fortunately, I think my head remains intact. So, I will continue to roll my eyes at wasteful government spending and, for all intents and purposes, it will be done in vain.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Way We Wish We Were

Well, the snow is piled high and the chicken water is frozen so as promised I am deep in what I hope is the final revision of Domus - A Faery Tale it struck me. Don't you wish you could "revise" your life like we do our writing? Boy, I do. Beginning with that fake I don't know the answer when I stood at the 3rd grade black board doing a math problem. Why did I ever think I had to do that? And when I decided blondes have more fun. Thanks for nothing Clairol. Not that I didn't have fun, just that I look better with my natural dark hair. Ok, so there are still a few blonde streaks along with the gray. And, how about that Dodge K car? What was I thinking? And a calamity begging to be revised is my decision to open a freezer full of food that had been unplugged for two weeks. We live and learn.
On second thought, perhaps I'm glad we can't revise our lives. Just think of the experience we would be missing. The events that have shaped us and given us keen judgment and insightful discernment. So, back to the world of fiction where I can change things at will. But, I'm leaving Lichen with his rakish ebony hair and brilliant green eyes. Or, is it jet hair? Or ace-of-spades hair? Outer-space black? Dark-of-the-moon? Coal-pit....crude oil...cast iron...

Monday, January 3, 2011

An Open Letter For My Children

As is my annual year-end habit, I have been spending time in retrospect and in so doing opened up some old journals. I was not particularly interested in 1984, but the bright red of the journal caught my eye. Nestled inside interesting info from the past captured my attention far longer than I had anticipated; my dog, Cassie, grew restless and Jack and the Mables, my chickens, crowed and cackled for their supper. A brittle newspaper article, a heartfelt letter from my daughter, a play bill from a school production. And then there was this list. Typewritten on my old manual Royal titled simply “Summer Rules” it succinctly lays down the behavior I expected from my three teenagers. (OK, one was a preteen, but close enough.) I can still see the rolling of eyes and hear the heavy sighs burdened with silent martyrdom.
These rules and others like them were never meant to smother the life out my teenagers world, as much as they may have thought otherwise at the time. The intention was to raise responsible adults, pure and simple. I wonder what my children will think and feel when they read these rules. I hope they’ve gotten over the “mean mom” comments, I know I have, but I would like them to remember, especially now that they are getting the rolled eyes and heavy sighs from their kids. Hmmm, what goes around, comes around. If anything, this list may serve to show my grandchildren that the rules they are asked to live by are not so bad!

SUMMER RULES 1984

FRIENDS Please do not invite friends in the house when parents are not home.
If you go to someone else’s house, their parents have to be home.
Let us know WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO BE.
No last minute over-nights.

TV
TAKE TURNS deciding what to watch---check schedule in cabinet.
Two hour MAXIMUM daytime TV –this means before 7 PM.
No late night TV except by special permission. Remember, you are on vacation, but Dad and Mom are not.

TELEPHONE
Sorry, 5 minute limit. IF YOU BREAK THIS RULE, YOU WILL BE GROUNDED FROM THE PHONE.
Please ask friends not to call before noon.

ROOM
Continue to make your beds daily and keep your room tidy. YOU CANNOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL YOUR ROOM IS IN SHAPE. SO DO IT AS SOON AS YOU GET UP.

YARD
You MUST keep the lawn mowed! Don’t worry, we’ll take turns.

FOOD
We will continue to have lunch at noon and supper at 4:30. We are going to take turns fixing lunch, check schedule in cabinet. You may decide the menu.
CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS IN THE KITCHEN.
You will also take a turn at suppertime chores. Check schedule.