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This is my first entry on 100words. This year I’ve been trying to write on a daily basis. Mind you, I do write. I write email responses to a fairly large number of pen-pals. I post on various forums. What I don’t do is write towards an obvious goal. I try to use prompts to stimulate the old grey cells, but only once have I been moved to write something as a result of a prompt. Once it happened, I read an interesting word on a list on 43things.com. I haven’t learned yet how to force myself to write daily.
100 words go fast! I am looking forward to writing 50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo in November. Will I be able to do it this year? The last few years I haven’t even started. When faced with -50,000 words and a blank word document, I froze. So this year I’ve been preparing for it. Like a swimmer practicing for the Olympics. I have a good idea, in my opinion. I have some good software for outlining and plotting. And I’m reading a book specifically about preparing an outline that is almost a first draft. So come November I’ll be ready.
One place I’ve been writing is my blog: maria8airam.blogspot.com. I started that in January with the goal of writing daily, but the most I’ve done is write a few times a month. Another place I write almost on a daily basis is 43things.com. It’s a wonderfully motivational site full of supportive people that are also doing some good things. Oh, and I’m going to send in an entry in the feature article category to this year’s writersdigest.com competition. I might also send in a short story. So far I’ve got about 800 words but I need at least 200 more.
I saw the word solipsist on a list of favorite words on 43things.com. It flipped a switch in my creativity. I just had to write about it! The entire blog can be found on maria8airam.blogspot.com. I’ve included the poem below.
in a world of their making.
No worries have they
to plans gone astray.
But let the outside intrude
as it inevitably would
and the solipsist
on the blame, abnegating.
I think this word stood out because I had recently come to the end of a relationship with a gentleman that is very much a solipsist.
It all started rather innocuously when I decided to take some time off during the holidays in spite of not having anything specific to do. My intention was to rest, relax, get in touch with some old friends and possibly get a few things done around the house. As I was wandering about the internet looking for something new to catch my interest, I found 43things! Now, I am a ferocious list maker. Until a decade ago, my life was totally run by lists. I've made a point to leave room for spontaneity since then, but still I love lists!
Not wanting to overdo, I created just one "thing": "Be more social". Basically I am more comfortable in front of a computer screen than in a room full of people. One or two good friends and I'm fine, but any more than that and I feel uncomfortable. So I will learn how to feel comfortable in a room full of strangers. Just as an aside, I do fine when the gathering is work related. I have no problems wading into a room full of strangers if I am the "systems programmer". If I’m just me, then I’m a bit lost.
Another "thing" I added to my list on 43things is “plot a novel for the 2007 NaNoWriMo” which I’ve already mentioned. I have taken steps this year to get ready. Write something everyday. That's one thing I've learned from all the books I've read about writing. Write everyday! Keep a list of interesting observations and potential topics. Find interesting words to describe the things you see. Write! Write! Write! As to the story for the NaNoWriMo, should I start by deciding what genre to write in? Should I decide first on a location? Or should the main character come first?
My first love in reading is science fiction, but I love fantasy and a good "whodunit" also. I am leaning towards the mystery novel at the moment. Of course, it could take place in a fantasy realm, but I think I should keep it simple for now. I will place it in Miami and maybe the "it" will not be murder. I fight politics at work; it would be cathartic to work it out in my novel. I love solving puzzles. So a political mystery where the puzzle isn't who murdered whom but what is actually happening behind the scenes?
One morning I had the most disconcerting dream, but I’m getting ahead of myself. In my senior year in High School I did my yearly English term paper on Lucid Dreaming. Since I attended a Fundamental Baptist school, my teacher was not impressed. He disapproved so much that he managed to lose my term paper and gave me an “F”. Again, I digress. In the January meeting of my Metaphysical discussion group, I volunteered to prepare a discussion on Lucid Dreaming. Having been dreaming lucidly for almost 30 years, I thought it would be simple enough. Now I’m not sure.
When I was younger I would “wake-up” in my dream almost every single night, the result being that I taught myself to fly in my dreams. I followed the simple steps written in a library book whose exact name is lost in the cobwebbed archives of my mind. It was simple and entertaining; it was also a great escape from the daily stresses of life. Having a bad day? Take a nap and go flying over a beautiful countryside. I even have a place that I’ve “created” in my dreams. It’s a huge valley surrounded by very tall snowcapped mountains.
In my dream world, there is a community of ogres that make the mountains their home and protect the valley just by the fear that their existence generates. The valley is green; full of trees and plant life. There are ponds and creeks throughout; there’s also a wonderfully misty lake in the very center surrounded by the densest forest of the tallest trees. There is also an abundance of animal life. Many of them speak English fluently. Well, you get the picture! My dream world was much more inviting than the real one and it was totally under my control.
As the years passed, I have more ties to the real world, more reasons to be awake and less time to sleep and to dream lucidly. In a general sense this is a good development, but as preparation for my discussion group, I thought it wise to “practice” so to speak. Since I had stayed up until midnight for the New Year’s Eve countdown and had a free day, it was the perfect opportunity to sleep late and “awaken” within my dream. It worked! My dogs woke me at 6:00 A.M., the time I normally wake up in the morning.
I let the dogs out and gave them their morning biscuit, a treat they associate with love and world peace. I ate a banana to avoid a drop in sugar level, and went back to sleep. I found myself visiting a friend; a rather important and close friend, yet one that lives far enough away that I cannot visit regularly. Not to mention that we are no longer seeing each other, that may be another reason we don’t visit. Our daughters were all there, and it wasn’t even his house, but under the circumstances I was happy to be there.
Abruptly I realized I was dreaming. When I mentioned that fact to him, he seemed quite happy about the idea. We sent the girls outside to play; an unusual thing to do since the youngest is 13, the oldest 20, but it was my dream. The doors were locked and things were going very well indeed… and then he disappeared. Just *POOF* and he was gone. No amount of trying on my part brought him back (quite symbolic, by the way). The fact that I was in total dishabille did not keep me from getting up and searching for him.
The house was dark and deserted, all the windows shut, curtains drawn and doors locked. No one was outside either. Then suddenly a van full of people pulls up at the front of the house. They were wearing their best Sunday clothes. I head to the back room to get my clothes and there’s another group of them wandering around back there. Interestingly enough being naked didn’t bother me. I was angry that they had intruded on my dream. A short discussion ensued where I was informed that I was breaking a whole series of rules by controlling my dreams.
Then I was lectured quite seriously and sternly on my lack of respect for the hard work that these people had put into creating my real dream, the one I had so nonchalantly pushed aside in order to dally with an old lover. Suddenly in the middle of the lecture, I realized that I had not gone flying in a very long time, so I flew out the nearest window (yes, it was now open, dreams are like that!). The leader shouted to me to watch out for the electrical wires and that was the last I heard from them.
After flying around the neighborhood for a while I did try to get to my valley, but I woke up instead. It was almost 11:00 A.M. The good news is that I was able to dream lucidly again when I attempted it. The bad news is that I still miss my friend. I thought I was doing very well getting over him. The guilt in the dream is easily explained by my twelve years of attended various religions schools. The Metaphysical group meeting went quite well. I was even interviewed by a reporter for a newspaper article on Lucid Dreaming.
My mom’s been an Avon representative for 40 years. She received her "recognition" for 40 years of service in 2006. Unfortunately, she could not attend because she was in the hospital at the time. In 2005, the "powers that be" at Avon decided that the paper orders were too cumbersome and time consuming to process. I can understand that completely, but Avon representatives in their 70s and 80s, like my mom, were put into a difficult position. They had the option of processing their orders through fax or the Internet. My mom chose fax because she doesn't have a computer.
Also she didn't want to bother me. To use the fax, Avon provided some forms (like SAT tests) that had to be "coded" and transmitted. The lines on the form were a yellow color that is difficult to see. Because her eyesight is so bad, she took the forms, and a black marker, and drew a black line over every yellow line. Since she has never taken a standardized test, (like the SAT) she had no idea that she was "marking" every box when she did that. The first order that was delivered using the fax order method was huge!
She had to sort out the real items, and then call the manager to get the rest of the items picked up and returned to Avon. The manager found nothing wrong with her fax forms! When the second order came in the same way, my mom asked me to look at it. The problem was obvious but apparently only to me. Although I explained, she kept using that method and the orders kept coming in with many additional items. The manager got tired of picking up the boxes and told my mom to process the returns herself over the internet.
So my mother called me. I took some time to learn the Avon website, and basically put my foot down. No more fax orders! I would process her orders through the internet. Then the returns started. Box after box of items had to be processed one at a time through the EZ-returns page. What is the item number? What campaign was this item ordered? Find it on the list. It's not on the list, what campaign was it really ordered? Specify a reason for the return. Create a "shipment". Create the UPS label, print it and pack up the box.
And then take the package to the local UPS store (great place by the way! UPS is wonderful). Sometime during that process my mom had a bad fall and spent about five weeks in the hospital. Since the Avon orders are sent in two weeks in advance, she had orders for the next campaign already. So I had to coordinate the delivery of the current order so I could deliver the products to her customers. Send in the next order so her customers wouldn't be left without their gifts or whatever. And basically keep things running while she was convalescing.
For two campaigns she did not send in an order, but the manager kept her account active because of the situation and her longevity with the company. Unfortunately, the returns continue to this day. Now it is not because she is making mistakes, but because customers change their mind or do not like what they order or ordered the wrong size. I'm sure this is all a normal part of dealing with retail merchandising but it's just not an area I'm interested in working in. Alas, I have no choice unless I want to abandon my mom in this quagmire.
I heard about Creative Visualization when I was considering a management job. It was a goal of mine to reach by the time I was 30. I thought I was a bit young, but the opportunity was there and I really wanted to take that next step. As usual, I had to search around for books to help me. Along with the books about actually being a manager, I ran across a comment about Creative Visualization. I bought a book, read it and sat down to put it in practice. That was in 1988. I’ve been using it ever since.
Whenever there’s anything happening that requires a decision (of course, after I have done all the proper things to determine the correct course) I will stop and picture myself actually living through the various options, and even more importantly picture myself after I’ve done them. Especially at work, I will picture myself in a meeting explaining why I did things that way. Will I be embarrassed if it fails? As I explain it do I feel like I did enough leg work ahead of time to reach the optimal solution? Or do I feel like I could have prepared better?
It also has the benefit of reducing stress. Basically I am putting myself in a “meditative” state. If you do it after you have filled your brain with all the facts, even if you don’t consciously remember them all, and then it can be similar to dreaming in that your brain pops up with ideas seemingly out of nowhere. True meditation is different from creative visualization in that you are must clear your mind of all thoughts. I took a Zen class on Barnes and Noble University about three years ago. As a result of that, I began meditating daily.
When my daughter and I were meditating together, we cleared a spot in the living room and sat on cushions facing a wall that is covered in a natural light oak. And the light through the west facing window made interesting patterns on the wall. The dogs were quite interested on this new activity. At first they walked around us and sniffed us, the cushions, the wall, everything. Soon they were sitting with us facing the wall also. It was very comforting to have them there. I guess since I’m the alpha dog, they felt they had to do the same.
Today is the first day of my vacation. I’ve nine whole days plus 13 hours to do whatever I feel like doing. It’s my birthday gift to myself. I worked a lot of overtime during the first three months of this year. As usual, that affected the rest of my life. Everything, except my children, has suffered because of it. My priority for this vacation is my health: to catch up on sleep, stick to my diet and get some amount of exercise each day, but those are my only goals. Everything else will be aimed at relaxation and enjoyment.
My first morning, I woke up at 11:30 am. I had gone to bed at 10:00 pm, so that is a good sleep! The dogs woke me twice during that time to be let out, but I have no trouble falling back to sleep. Being on-call for work, and having two babies taught me that lesson well. Friday night, I watched the second half of “EarthSea” and had a nice dinner of London broil, rice pilaf and some broccoli and carrots. I was quite relaxed when my oldest shows up with a little dog she picked up on the street.
“Princess”, as she dubbed the dog, was wandering on the street, and jumped into Katie’s car when she opened the door. Princess stayed in my bathroom for 30 minutes while Katie went to buy a doggie carrier and supplies. Luckily, she is going to live at my ex-husband’s house until the owners or a new home is found. Saturday I watched the Risa episode of “Enterprise” and did some writing on a new short story. Then I took a nap! (Sleep is the priority). At 5:00 pm, Emma called and woke me so I could get ready for our evening.
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