A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Creating Something from Nothing

Photo Credit: Sharon Drummond via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Sharon Drummond via Compfight

It is so hard for me to come up with inspiration. Sometimes, I need a writing prompt, others just a word or phrase from someone. I was hoping I would have more happening in my life that I could write about. Lately, it seems I have so little. I should be working on my novel. There are so many things that get in the way of that. I have homeschooling, driving my husband back and forth to school (he has no license) and taking my dear mother to her various doctor appointments. I have no problem with any of those activities. That is why my book suffers.
Then, when I do sit down to write on my novel, I am wracked with insecurity and perfectionism. I rewrite every paragraph I write. I really want to be able to write it and leave it – at least until the entire thing is written. I keep adding to the plot, changing characters and deleting whole chapters.
So, I come back to my blog. For some reason, my perfectionism doesn’t interfere here. I write and post – no problem. I will share some important writing resources with you today. In need of a writing prompt or two? Here are some places to get those ideas flowing.

Daily Post
The Daily Post has everything from blogging courses to daily and weekly prompts. I love it. I have used a few of the ideas for my own blog. There are also many articles about how to blog and how to reach a wider audience. They just started their Blogging University this year. The University has a new course – Blogging 101: Zero to Hero.

Daily Compass
The Daily Compass is full of writing prompts as well as spiritual introspection. There is always a question at the end of the posting that really gets you thinking. This is another one of my favorite sites. Many of my posts from January of this year are written from their prompts. Some of them have left me melancholy while others have helped me become a better person. It is well worth checking out, even if you aren’t a writer.

Seventh Sanctum
The Seventh Sanctum is a generator of massive proportions. I have used it for writing prompts, name ideas, character generators and D and D campaigns. It has so many uses. There is the What-if-inator that generates scrambled histories, Quick Story Ideas, and the Symbolitron (that generates story ideas with meaning) – just to name a few.

Rory’s Story Cubes
Rory’s Story Cubes are actual physical dice. Each six-sided die contains several pictures on it. There are nine dice in all. Roll the dice for some interesting story ideas. If you don’t want the actual dice (for fear of losing them), you can also download his app from the App Store or Google Play. I have the app for Android. I love it. I have used it for ideas and for fun. Whenever I am in line at the store or just want a giggle with the family, I pull it out. The kids like making up stories with it.

RPG Character Generator
The RPG Generator by AC Arcana is great for generating characters. I have reviewed this app in my blog before. I even included screen shots.

Well, that should be enough to get you started. I am currently creating pages for resources. I hope to have them up soon. I will have one for writing resources and one for homeschooling resources. If there is anything you think I should include in this list, please let me know in the comments below.

Happy writing!

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Coming Down

Hold On

All through that long ticking up toward the top of the ride you know it is coming—the rush and the swoop that is your reward for laboring up the hill. The vacation after months of hard work. The publication of the words you’ve struggled over. The performance of what you’ve been rehearsing for hours on end.

How has your labor allowed you to enjoy the downhill slope?

via Daily Compass – Inspiration for your spiritual expedition.

For the last three years, I have been a Minister of Children in the Society for Creative Anachronism. It is a volunteer position. During that time, I wrote a handbook, chaired a committee, and added to the office as a whole. There was not much documentation or training for the office. I created that. I worked with countless others to flesh out the office. I have a certain pride in that. I worked more for that office than I did at home or at my paying job. I spent weekends away from my family as well as countless hours at my desk – writing and creating. For all the work I put into the office, I received many awards.

The term of this office was for two years. Because it is a hard office to fill, I held it for three. Finally, this last January, I was able to turn over the reigns to a new officer. It was a truly bittersweet moment. It was lovely to feel the work off my shoulders. I am now able to be with my family without worrying about my other duties. I am confident that my successor will do an outstanding job. But, I am sad to see it end. While in the office, I met so many wonderful people and saw so many happy children. I really enjoyed teaching the children about history and culture. It was a truly joyful experience. I will miss it.

How has your labor allowed you to enjoy the downhill slope?

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Safety Gear

FirefightersIt’s hard to imagine anyone braver than firefighters who will walk straight into a burning building to rescue those inside. Wearing the best of protective gear doesn’t make that bravery any less – only more effective.

What enables you to protect yourself so that you can help others?

via Daily Compass – Inspiration for your spiritual expedition.

 

I have an affliction. It may seem like a horrible thing to some but it is a great thing to others. It is called “helium hand”. This means that whenever the question is asked “Who wants to do this?”, my hand automatically goes up. I volunteer for just about anything that is asked. My mother has the same affliction. She has this much worse than I do. She volunteers for so much that she is often overwhelmed and stressed. She will schedule too many things on the same day. She will forget that she has other things going on that day and say “sure I will take you.” Her health is suffering from her stress. She has diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure.

I have learned from her experience. I know that I cannot help the entire world. I can only help a select few. I choose who I help very carefully. I also put myself in that group and I help myself. I know that I need to take care of myself and my family. Due to this knowledge, I am healthier and less stressful than my mother. I still stress from time to time, but not nearly as much. I feel there is a fine line between helping and martyrdom. I try to walk that line carefully.

So, what enables me to protect myself so that I can help others? I would say my husband does that. He is my voice of reason. He is my rock and protector. He will step in and say “You cannot do that. You already have enough on your plate.” He is also there when I get stressed. He allows me to rant and vent. Then, he looks at me and smiles, gives me a hug, or just listens.

My daughter is another protection I have. She will say, “No, you sit down and let me do that.” She checks on my mom every day and helps her out. She also does so much around the house and she never complains. She does a lot so that I don’t have to.

My support system enables me to protect myself so that I can help others. And I dearly love them for it.

What enables you to protect yourself so that you can help others?

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Which Side Are You On

From today’s Daily Compass:

A barbed wire barricade could be keeping you safe from dangers outside the fence, or it could be preventing you from accessing a place that you want – or even need – to go. And even when you’re standing there looking at the fence, it isn’t always obvious which one is the case.

When you look at your life, what kind of barricades do you see?

This really does highlight my struggles lately (as well as throughout my life). I see many barricades right now. I have one major goal in my life right now – finish my novel.

It is so difficult to finish that goal. So far, I have 8,000+ words written. Every time I sit down to write, I am distracted.

  • Children ask for my attention
  • Writing blogs (with tips and such) call to me
  • I get caught up in re-writes
  • Writer’s block get control
  • Life issues nag at me

So may things pull me away from writing. There is a barricade inside me that keeps me from writing it. So, I have put it aside for today. But I must write. So I am working on my oft-neglected blog. I thought it might help. A friend told me once that I should write every day – no matter what it is – just to keep the habit up. I will try. My novel weighs too heavily on me. Maybe I need a break from it – not from writing. I love to write. It is so cathartic. I have a writer’s journal (full of writing ideas) and a personal journal. Bot have gathered dust.

I will set a new goal today. Write something every day!

Let’s see how it goes….

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Your Roots are Showing

If you could wash away the sands of time you might be able to see your roots—the things you learned in your earliest childhood, the teachings you gleaned from your parents and ancestors without ever being aware that you were learning.

What of your roots is visible to you at this moment?

My mother has always been a helper. There were times when I even call her a martyr. She helps to an extreme. She never has any thought of herself. It used to upset me that she would give too much. she has had a myriad of health problems – everything from heart disease to breast cancer. She has survived them all. I thought I would lose her when she had her triple bypass. Then, I was afraid when she had cancer. She is now cancer free and her heart is better. But she still continues to give with all her heart and spirit. I have learned much from this woman. I have learned that you must love as if you will never be hurt. Self love should be included in that. One must learn to balance what you do for others with what you do for one’s self. In order to obtain that balance, we must learn to love others as our self – unconditionally. Get to know yourself. Know what your limits are. I do for others but I have learned when to say no. If I feel that I cannot give, then I say no. I do not feel guilty about it either. How can I be of any use to anyone if I am sick or hurt. I must love myself (and others) enough to keep myself healthy. Only then can I give my all and love as I will never be hurt.

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The New Year for Trees

From The Daily Compass:

Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees, begins this evening. You might not think that late January makes sense as a time of beginning for trees, since in many places they are still dormant and leafless. But in a climate like that of Israel, you can see buds starting to form this time of year. It’s still a considerable wait until leaves are out, let alone until harvest, but all of that is implicit in the first little buds.

What buds do you see in your life that might lead to a harvest down the road?

In the past, I have always thought of Erin as being the breadwinner. He would be the one working. I wanted to be a SAHM. That is all that I have ever wanted. I want to homeschool my kids, take care of the house and do SCA stuff. Then, he started school. He looked at all the jobs he wanted and saw that he needed a degree. So, he is now going for his Associates in Computer Science. He will then transfer to a four year college and get his Bachelor’s in Comp. Sci. OK. I can deal with that. In fact, I had decided that I would do what I could so that he could go to school. That has meant me going back to work. I have not worked in years. I thought I had no profitable skills. Then I looked at what I was doing in my spare time (as a hobby). I was creating and editing websites, writing handbooks, creating and editing policies, managing youth officers, creating Excel and Word documents, creating Moodle classrooms, and training youth officers. It seems like I should be able to pull something workable out of that. Now, just to find something I can do in the DFW area. I would like to work from home if possible. But those kinds of jobs are few and far between (or they are scams/pyramid schemes).

Anyway… all this background is really leading somewhere. I promise. So, I looked at all my skills and I set up a LinkedIn account and sent out a resume to Automattic. I started looking for other fallback positions, just in case. I am so scared I won’t get the work. But, I have at least had the chance to see that I have skills. I can see my skills get better as I practice and work. I have done a lot of work these past couple of weeks. I have brushed up on skills that I haven’t used in a while and I have learned new ones. I hope these budding qualities will turn into something great. I can finally deal with the idea of working. I am sad that I have to, but I can do it. I just keep thinking of my husband walking across that stage with his diploma. I really hope there will be flowers that bloom.

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Testing

Generally people think of religion as, by definition, something that you take on faith. And indeed most religious questions aren’t subject to scientific testing—there isn’t an experiment that will prove or disprove the existence of God or an afterlife. And yet, our religious convictions are only really meaningful if they hold up in the context of our lives and our other beliefs, to the tests of whether  they make sense and whether they help us to live better lives.

What religious beliefs have changed for you as you’ve tested them against your life and values?

Today, I am going to do something a bit different. I read the Daily Compass for today and I have thought about it a great deal. But, I have decided not to post my thoughts here. It is just a bit too personal. I first started journaling in high school for my creative writing class. I had to. It was an assignment. Then, I noticed how cathartic it was for me. My dad was in the Navy and we moved A LOT. I had trouble making and keeping friends. There was no social media or email back then. I wrote letters, but I rarely received responses. I kept in contact with one friend through her dad’s ham radio.  But, on the whole, I was by myself. I did not even have any brothers or sisters. So, I wrote. It was very personal and private. Years later, I got married and had kids. My journaling habits went by the wayside. I would go months (or even years) without writing a single thing. I would eventually lose my journal all-together. then, I discovered blogging. I have started several blogs in the past, but gave up on them. I never knew what to write and my personal life was – well – too personal. I am always afraid that I will hurt someone’s feelings. I never want to write about something that will upset someone. I am so jealous of those who can write and not worry about it. Their blogs are so free and great to read. My fear is what kept me from writing about today’s Daily Compass. You see, I am a Unitarian Universalist (in case you haven’t figured that out by now). But, all my relatives are Baptist. I do not agree with them on many issues. I began my childhood thinking that everyone was right. I thought that I should follow what I was told or I would “go to Hell”.  After I got married, I started looking for a group/church/circle who would welcome me for me. I wanted a faith that was open and welcoming. I wanted a faith/religion that was very open and did not judge. I had had too much judging in my family and their churches. Everyone seemed so hypocritical. I wanted something different. So, I attended the First Jefferson UU Church of Fort Worth. I loved it. I felt like I had come home. The people there loved me and I love them. I have since moved too far from that church, but I have found another UU church. I found the church of the Larger Fellowship. It is an online UU church. There are live streaming services every Sunday and Monday. It is open and welcoming. No one is judged.  They believe in a universal salvation and so do I.

Well, it seems like I have answered the Daily Blog after all. And I feel better for it. I guess I just have to be me. Either people will like me or they won’t. I have to quit worrying about it. It is so hard though. I just gotta have faith.

~)<

 

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Studying Salvation

From the Daily Compass:

There is no one way to salvation, whatever the manner in which a [person] may proceed. All forms and variations are governed by the eternal intelligence of the Universe that enables a [person] to approach perfection. It may be in the arts of music and painting or it may be in commerce, law, or medicine. It may be in the study of war or the study of peace. Each is as important as any other. Spiritual enlightenment through religious meditation such as Zen or in any other way is as viable and functional as any “Way.”… A person should study as they see fit.”
―Miyamoto Musashi

What practice moves you toward salvation?

OK, so the theme this month is Salvation. But, I feel as if the Daily Compass is a bit repetitive. What do you think? But, I will answer this. I am trying to keep up with the Daily Compass and really think about salvation this month.

I participate in an historical recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA). I have played in the SCA off and on since 1988. I first found it in high school. My friends George and Talyn told me about it. They said there was the really cool place they went to every Wednesday night to hang out. They would sit around, watch knights fight in armor and talk about the middle ages (and other things). I thought I would give it a shot. I really wasn’t doing anything else so why not. I picked them up and we went to the rec center on Fort Monroe (in Hampton, VA). Fort Monroe was open to civilians and it was a beautiful backdrop to the meeting. We arrived at a two story rec center with two gyms and a game room. One gym was full of huge, burly men in various types of armor (leather, steal, etc.). The sounds of rattan weapons hitting steal rang throughout the building. I could hear the grunts of exertion and smell damp leather and sweaty men. The other gym was a little different. It contained men and women in lighter bits of armor. In fact, they looked more like costumes from the Three Musketeers.  They fought with rapiers instead of duck-taped covered rattan. the fighting style seemed more refined and plotted. Instead of heavy bangs, I heard light pings as the blades met. Then, Talyn took me to the game room. In it, there were teens and adults. All were sitting or standing in groups. There was a din of activity. Some were playing pool, some were playing cards, and some were mingling with friends they had not seen in a while. I was introduced to a Chatelain (the person in charge of new comers). She told me all about the organization and what they did. She also told me that if I needed a costume (called garb) or feast gear (medieval-looking bowls, plates, etc) to let her know. Her job was to make sure that all new people had what they needed to have fun and enjoy themselves. She told me about events that would be going on and the various local get-togethers. It was so much fun that I came back the next week, and the week after that. I was given a beautiful dress with bell sleeves, a plate, a bowl, and silverware. I went to my first event (that experience I will save for another blog) and I was hooked.

Later (Spring of 1990), I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas. I found the group there and got back involved. I have been involved ever since. When I move, I find a new SCA group. The people are amazing.  My parents (and other non-SCA people) just don’t get why I do it. Some think I am nuts. I started out with this group and I have stayed with this group because of the people. I love them and I love the historical study. I have even taken on a Kingdom Youth Officer position (Minister of Children). In this position, I manage the Ministers of Children for all the local groups in Texas and Oklahoma.  It is daunting sometimes, but it is worth it.  I am a workaholic anyway. Since I have no work I can do from home, I do my SCA stuff. I plan youth activities for events, I contact my local officers, write reports, file, create presentations, update our website, write and teach classes online (gotta love Moodle), and write code (for said classes and website). It is a lot of work, but I love it.  Whenever I get stressed or upset, I turn to my SCA work. It is my balm, my cushion, my salvation.

I accept a service award from Their Majesties.

I accept a service award from Their Majesties.

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Picking Up Trash

From The Daily Compass:

Wouldn’t it be great if each of our lives came equipped with a truck with a giant suction hose to suck up the garbage that collects around us and ship it out of town? Resentments—slurp! Fretting over things we can’t change—slurp!  Petty frustrations—slurp! And off they would go, leaving clean streets for us to drive down.

What would you like this spiritual garbage truck to vacuum up and take away from your life?

My biggest problem is worry. I stress over everything. I worry over making ends meet. I worry about being a good mother (especially over that one), my parents’ health, my volunteer obligations, my job…. And did I mention bills? I really try not to but it is very hard. I have stomach aches a lot. I work every weekday. I drive over 1000 miles a week. I am away from my kids all the time. I want to home school but I am not able to teach as I would like. I am never home. This is my biggest worry. I worry that I am not doing right by my children. I hate not being home. I really hate making only $1800 a month and putting $1000 in the gas tank. I could do better at McDonald’s. I really want to find a job I can do at home. So many of those jobs are scams though. I have tried being a secret shopper and I have tried doing freelance work online. Neither of those jobs pays enough or uses my skills to the fullest. I love to create websites, write, and organize. I also love people and socializing.  But I just can’t find a job that will let me shine. That is, until recently.

Whenever I find a product/service/company I really like, I check out their website. Then, I see if they are hiring. Granted, I am usually looking for a job for my husband, Erin. He is better at coding and the like. But he is rubbish at customer service. His social skills leave a lot to be desired.  I am the opposite. I have great customer service skills but only HTML/CSS experience.

Anyway… as part of my New Year’s resolution, I have started a blog and kept it going. I found WordPress through my freelance work. Plus, I had used them before and liked them. So, I started a blog and all was well. After a week or so, I looked at their site (www.wordpress.com) and saw that their parent company, Automattic, was hiring. I thought about Erin and how he needed a job. (He is going to school right now and is trying to find work that will fit his schedule.) I saw a position that caught my eye – Happiness Engineer. I looked more at this position. It looked a lot like this:

 

Happiness Engineer

Our software and services are far from perfect. When things go wrong people are not shy about asking for help. As a Happiness Engineer helping those people is your passion. The position is a mix of education, bug-hunting, and feature testing. Every day you’ll help make our products more understandable to the people who use them.

Being a Happiness Engineer requires:

  • Patience and grace.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Working knowledge of WordPress, HTML, and CSS.
  • A knack for taking technical language and making it understandable.
  • A passion for solving tough problems and proposing elegant solutions.

The WordPress.com and WordPress.org forums are fantastic places to gain the experience required for this position. If you are already active there, let us know! Send a link to your forum profile and we’ll check it out.

Transforming publishing on the web is no small task. We are looking for people with the right mix of compassion, writing skills, and technical knowledge to get the job done. If that describes you, then we would love to chat.

 

WOW! This really made my day. It sounded like the job was created just for me. I have all the skills and then some. So, I wrote out my resume and sent it off today. I really hope I can at least make it to the interview stage. That would be so wonderful. *fingers crossed*

OK, so I would like a garbage truck to come and take away my stress and worry. That would be awesome. I do mean that in the way the word should mean (full of awe). I don’t mean hot dog awesome. I found a blog post while searching for a quote. I read it and I shed tears of “I know what you mean”. In it, Lori Deschene describes an incident that occurred with a friend of hers. Her friend sounds exactly like me. (I won’t spoil the blog for you. Go over and read it.)  I wish I could be more like Lori. Maybe we could all use a bit of her wisdom. I leave you with a quote from her blog.

“Every time we use the present to stress about the future, we’re choosing to sacrifice joy today to mourn joy we might not have tomorrow.”

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Neighbors

– From the Daily Compass:

A neighbor is just a random person who lives near you, someone who gets their mail  at about the same time you do. It’s the most arbitrary connection in the world. And yet Jesus put “love your neighbor as yourself” at the heart of his description of religious life. The person we are called to love is anyone we come in contact with whether we have reason to like them or not.

Who have you treated with love recently, simply because they were there?

I am an independent contractor. I work for Star Delivery Service. In turn, I run a route for MWI Vet Supply. I take vet supplies and I deliver them to vets and ranchers. This job requires driving over 250 miles a day. It is also exhausting. But I like the people I meet. I treat all the vets, ranchers, and staff with love. I do this just because they are there. One of them once said “You are always so happy and cheerful. How do you do it everyday?” I am not always happy and cheerful. But, they don’t need to know that. I smile at everyone and I laugh (even when I don’t feel like it) with them. I do this because my bad day has nothing to do with them. It is not their fault if I am having a bad day. They certainly don’t deserve my wrath or unhappy outlook. So, I give them kindness and love in return. I do this with my co-workers as well. I leave home life at home and I have no baggage when I walk in the door. What happens at home should have no bearing on my job. So, I walk into the warehouse with a smile and a hello for everyone. Sometimes, this takes an extreme amount of patience and grace. I have a mom who is a breast cancer survivor, volunteer work that drives me crazy, and the nutty traffic of Dallas/Fort Worth. It is enough to drive me nuts. But all that goes away when I cross work’s threshold. I start each day with a clean slate. It helps me to stay upbeat and it certainly helps my work performance.  Who will you love today?

 

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