In Eureka Springs, Arkansas, that is! It was one of those moments that was corny and goofy, but so memorable! And what a great conversation starter, right?
I was in Eureka Springs for my annual trek to the Ozark Creative Writers conference, which is held the second weekend of October each year. The conference is good, like a family reunion. But this is the best kind of family reunion, because you can ditch your family and go shopping! Which I did. Twice.
The first day my favorite stops were the Paper Odyssey, where I bought way more handmade paper than I will ever use and a couple of dog stamps that can sit on the shelf in my scrap room next to the other rubber stamps that I never use. But, hey, I was doing my part to support small business. Then I went to Happy Things, one of the coolest toy stores I've ever been to. Part of the reason I go in there is to pet Rudy, the standard poodle that sports dreadlocks. She sits on her throne of red velvet accepting the adoring strokes of her public like a queen. When I go away, I miss my puppies something awful, so I grasp at every opportunity to pet other dogs while I'm out, further cementing the suspicion of my own dogs. They're sure I'm a traitor, and when they sniff my jeans when I get home, they know I've been petting other dogs. They're right.
The second day I went shopping I was lured into climbing up a flight of extremely narrow wooden stairs to the second floor by a little wooden sign that proclaimed "Moon Rocks!" My current work-in-progress is a sci fi, working title is Lunacy. So who can blame me for taking that sign as a . . . ahem . . . sign. In that little shop with the creaking wooden floors (I wonder if they thought that through . . . a ROCK store on the second floor? Hope they don't find any big meteorites.) I met Steve and he showed me some of the meteorites they've found, including one that was traced to the moon, close to one of the Apollo landing sites. There's a slice encased in plastic and they let you walk on it. Hence, you get to "walk" on the Moon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I have a T-shirt to prove it. And a card with a smidgen of moon dust encased in a tiny little pocket. It's inspirational. For me, anyway.
What inspires you to write? Anything you display near you as you write, put in your pocket and rub? Hmmmm . . . bet my friends who write erotica will have fun with that question . . . :o)
I am pleased to share my space today with Ericca Thornhill. We've known each other for years, and I am proud to count her as a friend and am honored to have her as a critique partner. Her first book has been contracted by The Wild Rose Press, so I asked her to share a few words with us about her work. Ericca, welcome aboard!
Lori, thanks for inviting me to post on your blog, it's quite a treat.
I really enjoy your writing, so it means a lot to me to get a chance
to write to your fans!
Do you remember the days when writing was just fun to do? My sisters
and I would spend time in our room writing plays, with a part for each
of us. Once my sister got a diary with a beautiful brown binding and a
little key, and we took Mark Twains' Adam and Eve story to new lows,
with the humor of middle schoolers. We illustrated our story as Adam
and Eve learned to live with the dinosaurs.
I think that most writers start this way. Writing is in our blood,
it's something that we do for fun. I never knew that I was a writer,
isn't that strange? I thought that I was a reader, and a drawer, and
a scientist. If someone had said to me that I was a writer, I would
have wondered what they were talking about. Even though I submitted
to the school literary journal, I wrote for fun, I never thought I'd
try to make it into anything.
And as I grew, great insights would fill my mind, and I'd stay up all
night writing novels. It only took me about five novels to make me
realize that I was a writer. I guess that sometimes things are so
obvious that you can't see them clearly.
And now as I write, the frenzied midnight writing sessions and middle
school humor has calmed down a bit. I've re-learned a lot of those old
rules that I never paid attention to in high school, and reached
success by looking for what the Wild Rose Press wanted. Changing from
a nonwriter to a writer has changed how I write. But I never stopped
Our lives are in transition. The munchkin just started her senior year in high school, and we're starting to feel the flow from family to empty nesters. Which leads me to my vision - what I want my life to be.
In 5 years, I will be a Registered Paralegal, with a published book. At least one of my credit cards will be paid off. My Jeep will be paid off. Our living room carpet will be replaced with laminate flooring. Our daughter will be graduating from college.
In 10 years, I will be in an office (as opposed to a desk in the middle of space as I am now). I will be a published writer. All my credit cards will be paid off. Our daughter will be self-sufficient. Travel will be part of our lives.
In summary - I want to be a strong, independent woman with an organized home that is an oasis of peace and tranquility. As we get older, I want us to be able to travel. I want us to continue to support our daughter in whatever she chooses to do (and that means that over the next year, we need to prepare her for the transition from high school student to college student). For the first time in my life I have a job that I enjoy, so it is my desire to continue in that job - nice, steady paycheck, work I like, work that makes me feel as though I am contributing to the greater good, surrounded by co-workers that I respect. As the years fly by, I hope to create a second source of income, one that can contribute to our current financial goals (pay off those danged credit cards) and can continue to supplement our income when we retire.
All in all, my vision is to continue to work as a paralegal, earning the designation of Registered Paralegal, while maintaining our home in an organized, peaceful manner. I will create a second business from writing and creating, preferably melding the two. My main focus will be home, my main role is wife and mother. My work as a paralegal and a writer will complement those roles.
My vision of the future is a tad fuzzy at times, but that gives you the general idea. What is your vision for the future? What do you see in the crystal ball?
As I continue my goal of figuring out my life, I realized the following:
I am a mother and wife who uses my talent for writing and creating to inspire and encourage others. I value my family, learning, financial responsibility and productivity, and respect others based on how they treat those who are weaker, poorer, and more vulnerable. I strive to live in a way that reflects my values, being authentic to myself.
To create your life mission, ask yourself these questions:
What roles do you play? (what hats do you wear?) What talents do you have? How do you want to use your talents? To what end? What do you value? (think big) What traits do you find attractive in others? Who do you respect and why? Think about what your best friend would say about you when she's talking you up, then finish this sentence: I strive to live in a way that . . .
I'm not sure what is going on with me, but I have been thinking about goals quite a bit here lately. Perhaps it is that my life is half over. Perhaps it is that my daughter is starting her senior year of high school. Perhaps it is that I feel my role shifting from mother to self.
Whatever it is, it's confusing.
I believe goals are dreams with deadlines. And I'm afraid I'll never be able to reach all my goals if I don't sit down and give it some serious thought. More planning = better results.
Surviving this mid-life crisis requires that I truly plan. I believe this plan is somewhat like a business plan. I need an Executive Summary.
Mission Statement: I am at my best when I am rested and prepared. I will honor my talent by creating. I value family, learning and social responsibility. Simplicity is the key to finding happiness.
Hmmm . . . it's a work in progress. It's a start. What is your mission statement?
Goals are simply dreams with deadlines. For years I have marked the beginning of the year by setting goals, reviewing my values, thinking about what I want to accomplish. I love the nuts and bolts, the joy of seeing my plans on paper, in black and white. My dreams come true on the pages of my day planner, unfolding and taking shape almost of their own volition.
That's all fine and good, but now I find myself with dueling goals. These goals have taken on a life of their own, taking shape in my mind, jockeying for space in my brain. So many goals, so many dreams, I don't know where to turn. I don't know what to do next. And perfectionism rears its ugly head as I keep telling myself I'm not ready to do X until I do this and such. There are so many things I want to do, so many ideas boiling in my mind (and it's a rolling boil - nothing soft about it).
I want to take the PACE exam so I will be a Registered Paralegal.
I want to write a handbook for paralegals.
I want to write a handbook for lawyers using paralegals.
I want to write short stories.
I want to write a journal for writers.
I want to write a novel.
I want to do copywriting.
I want to earn my masters degree.
I want to teach (online? college? adult ed?).
I want to do agility training with my Schnauzers.
I want to teach Zumba.
I want to blog about DIY in manufactured housing.
I want to serve on another design team for scrapbooking.
See my problem? That's what I want to do right now. Off the top of my head. How do you take all of those "I wants" and turn them into manageable goals? How do you weed those goals out? Pruning goals seems so cruel. And, oh, so frustrating! This is a perfect example of opportunity cost. If I pour my energies into making one of these goals come true, the cost of lost opportunities is huge. Yet by not choosing a goal and working towards it every day, I am choosing to accomplish nothing.
It would be so much easier if I had more hours in the day. Even then, I'm not sure I could accomplish all I want to accomplish! What about you? What are some of your "I wants"?
I registered my daughter for her senior year tonight (and that leaves me wish such mixed feelings!), but that's not my point. As I filled out the information section, the field marked "position" next to employer was blank. Although I've been a paralegal for years, every time I write that title, I feel proud. I am a professional, have taken classes, constantly learn more and take pride in my work.
When I moved to a new city many years ago, I took a job as a receptionist at a law firm to make ends meet. And I fell in love with the field of law. I looked into getting my paralegal certificate, but the attorneys I spoke with advised against it, saying that it wasn't necessary, that attorneys in a small town didn't need paralegals.
Boy, were they wrong. I'm proud of how far I've come, and I'm proud of what I bring to the table. What I do is important.
Why do attorneys need paralegals like me? How do I benefit my supervising attorney?
Time management. Being a successful attorney is all about time. Billable hours. Those hours can be managed between the paralegal and the attorney so that the work is completed on time and efficiently.
Improved client relations. Attorneys often get caught up in 2 problems: legalese and not enough time. The paralegal can act as an interpreter between the attorney and the client, and can respond to client inquiries when the attorney can't. Complaints to the Bar are often about a lack of communication. The attorney doesn't have to be the only one who communicates. Often, a paralegal can return the call and find out what the client needs, keeping the client happy.
Time off. Attorneys, especially solo practitioners or attorneys in small firms, feel they can't take time off work. After all, no time in the office means no time being billed. But if you have a paralegal that is good, he or she can keep the office running in your absence. I once had an attorney out of the office for an extended period due to a medical issue. I took great pride in the fact that a lot of people commented that they barely realized she was gone, because I was able to draft documents for her, deliver them to her for review and get work out the door.
Are you a paralegal? How do you think you benefit your supervising attorney?
Today I was taking trash out when I heard planes. I looked up and saw two planes, both that looked distinctively military. One was larger, a jet, and the other was a prop plane, I think. They were flying in formation, the larger plane in the lead with the smaller plane just behind and to the right. They looked a lot like this link that I found on YouTube: 2 planes
It reminded me of what I saw a few months ago. I was walking the dogs about 9:30, and three planes flew over, in a perfectly straight line, in the same path as the planes today, from north to south.
And that reminded me of a night many, many years ago, on a dark night on a gravel road outside of Warrensburg, Missouri. My then-husband and I saw something and stopped. Overhead, the stars were blocked out as something huge flew over just above us. I'm fairly certain it was the Stealth bomber, which we found out about some time later. At the time, we thought it might have been a UFO. Such a romantic, intriguing idea.
I wonder what they were doing . . . my writer's mind is fertile, and I have so many questions. Have you seen planes in formation, or something in the sky that made you wonder?
We (we being my kiddo & I) escaped to Florida on vacation a couple of weeks ago. It began as a mother/daughter trip, then we invited my uncle & cousin along, then my parents. My cousin wasn't able to go, but the rest of us embarked upon our journey two weeks ago today. It was a good trip, with the highlights being, in no particular order, seeing Harry Potter's Wizarding World (more on that in a moment), experiencing Blue Man Group, petting a penguin, and meeting an astronaut. We left on a Monday, came home on Friday. The perfect amount of time - we were all still happy, all still having a good time, but were just starting to miss home (admission of guilt: I really missed my little dogs . . . missed my hubby, too, but REALLY missed my dogs!).
Looking back over the week, I realize it was money well spent. Airline tickets, rental car, hotel, food (Joe's Crab Shack is my new favorite place to eat), admission tickets (seriously, there is a LOT of money going thru the gates at Universal Studios) and souvenirs add up to a LOT of money. But the memories are priceless. The experiences were amazing. And that is the value of vacation: experiences. We need varied experiences to enrich our lives. They don't have to be once-in-a-lifetime trip-around-the-world experiences - they just have to be different from your normal routine. Even if you can't afford a "real" vacation this summer, treat yourself with new, exciting experiences.
Need some ideas?
Watch a movie you wouldn't normally choose.
Read a book you wouldn't normally read.
Eat at a new restaurant.
Drive a different route to work.
Spend a Sunday doing NO work - I mean NONE. Sit on your deck and read, or watch all those episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation that are taking up all the space on your DVR (surely I am not the only one . . .).
Feel free to add some ideas of your own below.
(P.S. Harry Potter rant follows. Getting into Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure was expensive. And I hate rides. They make me sick. My kiddo has a medical condition and can't ride roller coasters. If you don't ride rides, Islands of Adventure is a giant waste of time and money. If you're like me and go purely for Harry Potter, yeah, it's cool to see Hogsmead. Going through the castle is interesting. But they could've done SO much more with that place. Maybe a couple of stores actually set up to look like the real stores instead of like dollar stores. A flying broomstick would've been a fun touch. Perhaps a rail station to take you from one end to the other. A store where you could buy pens and scrolls. I looked all over for connections to the books - maybe an autographed book. Nothing. Waited in line over an hour to get a wand at Ollivanders, only to find out that the 2 minute show only let's ONE person get a wand. Everyone else gets to stand shoulder to shoulder to butt with the gazillion other people who want a cheap wand that doesn't even begin to warrant the spending of $39. Thought a goblet might be a nice souvenir, but was sorely disappointed in the cheap plastic one with LED lights blinking in the base. OK, rant over. Proceed.)
I'm starting to prepare for the empty nest that I'll be faced with next year. Still can't believe that my baby is a senior in high school. Nearly 17. Dang. These past 17 years have flown by. But I digress . . . one of the things that I think will help me cope with her going off to college are my hobbies. They keep me busy.
I'm a writer. I love to write, have for years. One of my short stories has been accepted for publication in The Storyteller this summer, which thrills me to pieces. I've had one other story published, and it took first place in their People's Choice (fiction) award! It would be so cool to do that again. I also write web copy for a riflescopes company, which has been a blast. I get to research for my fiction writing and use that research to write non-fiction copy, and get paid for it. Very cool.
I'm a scrapbooker. I have a studio, which I love escaping to every now and then. For me, it's about recording the stories of my family, my life. I imagine my grandchildren looking at those albums, the albums being passed on for generations. Of course, they'll probably get tossed some day. Nah - someday I'll be a famous writer and those scrapbooks'll be worth a mint! (don't tarnish my dream, just go along with it)
I'm a runner. A very, very slow runner. But I run 2 miles three times a week. It' been great. I love the feeling of freedom, lacing up my shoots and going out, just me and the road. And the occasional coyote. One scared the bejesus out of me tonight. Yikes. Unlike those who run with an iPod, I run with nothing - that's a great time to noodle ideas, to think about my characters, and indulge my competitive side (though let's face it, I'm only competing with myself . . . at my last race, I was beaten by an old couple WALKING).
All these hobbies take time and compete for attention, but together they make me complete. Is it too much? Nah. There just aren't enough hours.
What are your hobbies? Do you ever think you need to give one up, or is there one you want to take up?