December 8th – “The work of your hands will take center stage today.”

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A friend lent me her copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, so I spent the last 24 hours using my hands to tidy up my house.

Having a clean and organized environment is super important because it helps me be more productive and calm. When I start a new project, I like to take time to clean and rearrange my space to suit the particularly assignment at hand. Every project deserves its own environment for creativity to flow.

Don’t get me wrong, my work space doesn’t stay cleaned the entire time. In fact, it progressively gets messier as I get into what I’m doing. That’s okay! It’s actually good because it means that I’m really focused and not distracted anymore! Hooray!

I’m starting a new writing project, so it’s the perfect time to put my hands to work by cleaning.

The tip I followed from Kondo’s book was to clean and organize by category, not by room. This makes sense because it’s faster to do one type of chore, rather than switch gears by doing a variety of chores. For example, cleaning the kitchen entails: washing dishes, mopping floor, organizing cupboards, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning the refrigerator. That takes hours and I usually lose steam before I can finish the job! It’s much more efficient to do all the dishes in one shot. That means gathering up all the mugs that I have lying around in my living room, work space, and kitchen. Done!

Cleaning by category is also more pragmatic than cleaning by room. If you have guests coming over, would you prefer to only have your living room cleaned, or all the floors in your house vacuumed? Perhaps you will be more convinced if I give you a more extreme example:

My indoor/outdoor cat, who usually does his business outside, likes to poo in the house when it’s raining. He doesn’t like getting wet in the rain, so he leaves surprises for us all over the house. Would I rather clean my bedroom (where I’ve cleaned up some of the cat poo) and have poo lying around in my living room and kitchen OR clean up all the cat poo from every room? I think you’ll agree that it is way better to NOT have cat poo in ANY room, than have a clean bedroom!

After cleaning up the cat poo, I focused on two things:

  1. Laundry
  2. Papers and Books

Laundry was easy because it’s something that I do every other day. I gathered up clothes from my car, the bedroom, the hallway, living room, and even kitchen.

I did the same with my books and papers. This process was a little harder, but more interesting because I had to go through the items more carefully to see what could be recycled, donated, or re-shelved. It was amazing how many half-filled notebooks, scraps of paper, junk mail, and books I had lying around.

Here are some before and after photos of my entry way:

In my mess, I rediscovered one of my favorite books. A Language Older Than Words is a memoir by Derrick Jensen. It’s amazing how he’s able to weave personal struggles and politics into a story that every day readers can appreciate. I particularly recommend this book if you want to understand the dynamics of violence.

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November 20th – “It’s a good day to accomplish your goals if you don’t let yourself let go of them first.”

It’s easy to give up on goals.  There’s a million excuses one can make, but sometimes certain goals are not worth having.

To be honest, I don’t really care about (career) goals at the moment. As a former over achiever, I’m happy to do less and accomplish less. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down and smelling the flowers for a change.

I was ready to let go of today’s goal of submitting a job application that I felt lukewarm about. However, my horoscope advised me not to and I already ignored my fitness scope for the day. I didn’t think it would be wise to snub ALL my predictions for the day. I’ve already learned the hard way!

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With that out of the way, I worked on my second predication of the day.

Power comes from being open to new ideas. When confronted, don’t resist. Consider.”

It was too late to go out in the world today, so I started on Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle. It’s a collection of short stories and it didn’t disappoint.

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In “The Rock In the Park,” two kids help a family of centaurs (NOT pictured above!) who are lost in modern day Bronx. Using a magical brush created from hairs from the centaurs’ tails, a boy draws a map which will lead the centaurs to Mexico where their fellow centaurs have already migrated to for the winter.

The story made me wonder about all the things that I miss when I’m “too busy” and not paying attention. For all I know, there could be centaurs, unicorns, and other magical creatures hanging around my jogging trail at night. I’m not outside often enough to know what really goes on out there. Heck, they might be there right now, and maybe I just can’t see any of them!

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October 11th and 12th – “Get all your ducks in a row prior to launching a new project…You may need to take a step back to see what’s working and what isn’t.”

I’m beginning to think that these horoscope and zodiac readings really are signs! Once again, they pretty much say the same thing. I’ll have to start keeping a tally of how often the two match up.

This week, I investigated ways to get published. I did a pretty thorough internet search, but as usual, the results were varied and gave me more information than I could handle. Oh, how I love and hate you internet!  I did find some “good sources” (i.e. writers who have published more than a few books with well-known companies) and they provided some deep insights into the world of popular publishing. While I appreciated their suggestions, I realized that I was more discouraged than encouraged to know the ins and outs of professional publishing!

Writing and publishing are two very different things, and it helped me see that I needed to work on my material first before worrying about the challenges of marketing or working with a publisher. Eventually I would have to deal with all of that, but for now, I should get all those ideas out of my head and onto paper.  One of the things that I will work on is reading more. The more you read, the better your writing gets. I’ve experienced this first hand and know others who can attest to it as well. I do read a lot now, but lately it has been more of short articles online than books. If I want to write a book, I better start reading books!

I have many unread books on my shelf like Hegel’s Philosophy of History,, but maybe that’s not the best place to start. I like philosophy, but I think I would need to take a class or two (or TEN, let’s get real) to be begin to understand dense works like these. I’m also more interested in writing about popular culture for a larger readership.  This book below caught my attention last week:

What Philosophy Can Tell You about Your Cat edited by Steven D. Hales

It’s actually a collection of essays written by different authors, but it’s still useful to see how these different perspectives can work together to form (or not form) a cohesive book. It is philosophy-lite , so I think I can handle it. From the chapter I previewed online, it’s a great book for cat lovers, but might not be a friendly read for a dog or horse person. Be warned dog and horse lovers, you might find this book offensive!