Monday, November 21, 2011

"What Mess?"

I am thrilled to announce I have another publication under my belt. This time in Stories For Kids November 2011 issue Volume 6

Here is the link and you can at least see my name in print

Each small step, leads to each small victory on the way to my goals.

Feel free to comment on your small steps, victories and goals.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Could be the Answer to a Portable Reader for Kids

Could it rival a Kindle?

Wish I had thought of this when my kids were young, or better yet when I was young.

Maybe I'll make one for myself now.

How about you? Feel free to comment and/or follow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October is....

As most of us are aware October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a serious issue that deserves our full support and awareness. And at the end of the month we celebrate the eerie, spooky and sweet with Halloween.

But did you know October is also Eat Country Ham Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Popping Month, National Apple Month, National Pretzel Month, National Pickled Pepper Month, National Pork, Seafood, Pasta, Sausage, Carmel and Cookie Month. It is also World Chocolate Awareness Month, which I am not sure what that means. Am I to be aware of Chocolate, in the world? But more importantly, do I eat chocolate from around the world?

Ironically, October is also Hunger Awareness Month.

And let your teenagers know, October is also National Sarcastic Month.
Only one month, not all year like my teenagers assume.

For the writers, I found October is American Magazine Month and the third week of October is Teen Read week.

October has a few special days for writers too.

October 15th is National Poetry Day.
October 16th is National Dictionary Day, Noah Webster’s Birthday, and School Librarian Day.
October 18th is Oprah’s Book Club Anniversary started in 1996.
October 29th is International Internet Day.

So go ahead celebrate October in a myriad of ways, meanwhile I’ll be waiting for October 24th to celebrate National Crazy Day.

Feel free to comment on how you might be celebrating in October.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Curvy, Swerving Journey

I wish I had learned years ago that the path to a goal is seldom a straight line.
I was mistakenly under the impression that it was and whenever I was forced off the road to my goal, I would fall prey to feelings of failure. And those feelings quickly led to “What’s the Use.”

But over the years I have come to embrace the far more realistic expressions

“it is the journey not the destination” and “enjoy the process”.

Of course this is not always easy, but the connection with other writers has helped me to learn the value of the curvy, swervy road. By reading blogs, participating in loops and forums, joining chats, and committing to numerous online classes, and even a couple real-time in person classes, I have learned that very few of us enjoy a straight line path to our goal.

Ten years ago attempted to write and publish, but I was quickly derailed. And my many previous attempts at weight loss have always focused on getting to the goal weight, never enjoying the process.

But with all the support, knowledge and help that is available at the touch of the keyboard, any time day or night I no longer feel alone or like a complete failure. Reading and connecting with others who are struggling and succeeding one day, one moment, or one line at a time reminds me that is all that I have to do. And in doing so I have learned to accept that each swerve or curve in my road to my goals offers opportunities -- for growth, for change, and for more learning.

I set out a year and a half ago to write and then get published a romance that had been simmering in my mind. The path I embarked upon has been anything but straight. But instead of giving up with all bumping, winding, curving, and twisting I accepted that this was my road. Each time I felt thrown off course, which was often, I checked in with what was and wasn’t working, listened to my creativity and now have three children’s fiction stories published. Talk about going off course, but who is to say. My road may yet lead to a romance published, but if not, that is okay.

So thank you, for your blogs, emails, forums, chats, and online support, because without them I might not have accepted the roller-coaster ride my journey has become.

Feel free to weigh in on the path that is your journey or the process you are embracing as you work toward your goals.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beat the Heat - Lower-Calorie-Than Ice Cream Substitute

In my quest to get published and my quest to get to my wedding weight I have had to be creative,
in both arenas.

This blog I thought I’d share with you a lower-calorie-than ice cream substitute that even works for my husband (a huge ice cream fan) and my teenage son.

Take individual fat free yogurt containers and throw them in the freezer.

Yoplait now has inspired flavors including Cinnamon Bun, Red Velvet Cake, Black Forest Cake, Cherry Cobbler, Key Lime Pie and Boston Cream Pie.

A few short hours later the yogurt is solid and can be

chipped away,



dragging the dessert eating experience out. Especially nice when watching TV.

Cold, sweet, individually packaged and a healthy alternative to dessert.

And for the more budget-conscious. I also buy the larger tub size fat free yogurt and using the small Gladware individual containers, spoon some in and free these. You could also add your own fruit to these if you want.

So no more 1/2 gallon later, wondering where that 1/2 gallon of full fat ice cream went.

Feel Free to share any of your creative, lower calorie substitutes?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Be Kind to Writer's and Editor's

I was doing some research and found out that this month, September is
Be Kind to Writer's and Editor's Month. How cool is that? Our very own month where others should be KIND to us. It's nice to be thought of.

We share the month.
September is also Pink Flamingo Month, National Potato Month and Save the Tiger Month.

But back to our writerly pursuits, September is also officially
Adult Literacy Month and Read-A -New Book Month.

I'm off to put the pink flamingo on the lawn, have a potato and start a new book.

How will you celebrate this prestigious month? Feel free to share.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Lines and First Bites

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading of first lines lately. I have taken several workshops on Beginnings including Hooks, Lines and Sinkers with Lynette Labelle, Great Beginnings with Lynn Kerstan, and others. At a Margie Lawson workshop last month she spent time sighting examples of well-written first lines.

We all know how important that first line is to hook your potential reader, agent or editor, so I have become a collector of inspiring first lines.

And in keeping with the theme of this blog, my quest for publication and my quest to get to my wedding weight, I realized that first lines are a lot like first bites. The more delicious they are, the more I want. At least with books I can satisfy the craving without gaining weight.

I also read recently that all the taste of food is held in the first three bites. The idea being I should be able to stop after those three bites. Not as easy as it sounds.

Luckily with a tantalizing first line, first paragraph, and first page I don’t have to stop. I can keep reading, just as the author enticed me to.

So here are some samples of my favorite first lines. I hope they inspire you too.

Risk,Dick Francis
Thursday, March 17, I spent the morning in anxiety, the afternoon in ecstasy, and the evening unconscious.

Ten Big Ones,Janet Evanovich (2004)
The way I see it, life is a jelly doughnut.  You don’t really know what it’s about until you bite into it.  And then, just when you decide it’s good, you drop a big glob of jelly on your best T-shirt.

(I had to add two more bites (I mean lines) because they were so delicious.)

Lord Dragoner’s Wife, Lynn Kerstan
19 June, 1814
The house at Clichy, old and somewhat dilapidated, did not look to be the residence of the woman who had all of Paris at her feet.

Going Overboard, Christina Skye
Carolina Sullivan needed a man’s body desperately.

Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby
They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan (2007)
The sick and depraved had voted: death by stabbing.

Dangerous Deceptions, Lynn Kerstan
Jarrett, Lord Dering, rode his astonishing good luck the way he rode an enthusiastic woman.

Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler (2001)
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

The Spiral Path, Mary Jo Putney (2002)
The trouble with reality was that it was so dammed real.

Feel free to comment on your feelings concerning first lines and first bites.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sluggish Metabolism and Sleepy Muse

I know that to reach my two goals of being published and being at my wedding weight, I’m going to have to be disciplined. Saying NO to addictive (to me) carbs and NO to (watching the food channel) makes me soooooo hungry (go figure). I also know that if I keep doing certain positive behaviors, like getting on that treadmill every day. Like writing some new and fresh writing everyday, that after 21 days (or so) the positive behavior should become a positive habit.

So has this been happening for me? In some ways -- yes. But some days, getting on that treadmill is just as hard as day one. And facing the keyboard and my WIP is even harder than the first day.
So I have a developed a Plan B. Mix it up. Change things around.
Write in the evenings instead of first thing in the morning some days. Walk outside instead of on the treadmill some days. Try yoga. Write at the library. You get the idea.

But nowhere does my lifestyle require mixing it up more than my diet.

My body is extremely adaptive. I blame my ancestors for this. I can try to tell myself that it is a good thing my body can sustain itself on less calories than most. I would have survived the famines of yesteryear. But today, there is no famine. And this ability of my body to adapt and live on less is not so welcome.
So, when the scale gets stuck -- Plan B. I mix up the number of calories I have on different days. I mix up the types of foods I eat on certain days. I even mix up the times I eat. I know I need to keep my metabolism guessing.

And I have found that I need to keep my writing motivation and my muse guessing too. Instead of working away on first draft for months until completed. Or revisions for weeks until I know the text by heart, I now mix it up. A little of this, a little of that. Some revision today. Some first draft. Some plotting on a new idea. How about a little work on a short story? I know other writers who play with different genres to keep the motivation from stagnating and muse from hiding.

Now I don’t let this mixing it up stall me into never finishing anything. As I get close to completion I will put the other projects aside and finish. I enjoy that sense of completion, even if it’s just one step of a project. But then when I am done with that step, or get stuck, Plan B - mix it up again.

My Plan B may not work for everyone, but it seems to be working for both my weight loss and my writing.

How about you? Do you mix it up and how?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's All About the Baby Steps

My Road to Publication has not been a simple, straight line.  And neither has my road to weight loss.  As you know these are my two goals.

But today, in the spirit of celebrating all the small victories on the way to dreams,  I present the link to my first published piece.

Even though it is only a magazine.  Online.  And for kids.  I was paid!

As was stressed in the movie  What About Bob  it's all about the baby steps.  So hopefully this is the first  of many successful baby steps on the way to my publication goal.

I owe it all to what I've learned through RWA, FFNP, Savvy Authors, Children's Writers, Just Write and the many, many blogs, links, chats and forums I've visited.

So thank you everyone.  Have a glass of bubbly with me.

Mine will be diet soda.  After all I'm still working on my other goal, getting to my wedding weight.

Feel free to comment on your baby steps, your small victories, and even how you celebrate.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rebel With or Without a Cause?

I have a closet rebel living inside me.  I was a good kid, you know the type, plays by the rules, does her homework, boring.  Of course it’s much more exciting to be a rebel.   And lately there’s a rebel that’s been sticking her nose in the way of my two goals, to become a published author and to get to my wedding weight.  Doesn’t she want to be a thin, published rebel?
As I get closer to my goals, it gets harder and I have to  command myself to do a lot of things my little rebel would rather not.  Like...
I have to write each day, and 1000 words.  
I have to exercise.  
I have to drink lots of water.
I have to stay away from empty carbs. 
But in reading Linda Spangle’s 100 Days of Weight Loss I found out that when I say those three little words  “I have to”  I am inviting in my rebel, who shows up and wants to do the opposite.  
It’s easy to recognize my rebel.  She's the one that wants to have a Carmel Frappacino instead of decaf coffee with skim milk.  The one that wants to check emails instead of writing.  The one that wants to watch The Biggest Loser instead of exercising.
So how do I deal with the rebel?  I get tough.  I bully her.  I chastise her.  But lately that hasn’t been working.  She digs in her heels.  Then I try and be nicer, offer rewards.  But she is a rebel and when I say apple she says pie. 
Spangle offers a different approach, change the words.   Instead of I have, I choose to.
Seems small but my warped rebel brain couldn’t argue too much with this.
Spangle says, “I choose to puts you in charge and affirms that you want to see results. It eliminates the harsh, parental self-talk that makes you feel oppressed or rebellious.
So I intend to try it out... 
I choose to write 1000 words first.
I choose to walk 45minutes on the treadmill.
I choose to submit my short story to three suitable publications.
So what do you choose to do with your rebel?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Multi-tasking - Good or Evil?

I’ve been trained as I’m sure many of you have to be the consummate multi-tasker.  
For me it started in my teens doing homework while watching TV.  Then as a wife and mother, multi-tasking became a necessity and took on epic proportions.  But lately, much has been blogged about multi-tasking and writing.  Most contend it is not a good idea, to surf the internet, check emails, facebook, read and comment on blogs while sitting with your WIP (work in process) open.
And then, of course, multi-tasking and eating, is a big No No.  Many diet gurus expound on the virtues of focusing only on your food while eating.  I’ve heard, I should set the table with my best china, put flowers in a vase, soft, instrumental music in the background, and preferably eat alone.   
So my two current goals of being published and getting to my wedding weight do not seem to support multi-tasking. 
Instead, I should - Be present.  Be aware.  Concentrate on only one thing at a time.
Nice life if I was on vacation, or lived in a monastery. 
But I recently found Linda Spangle and her books.  
In 100 Days of Weight Loss she says,   
“You don’t have to completely avoid doing anything else in order to stay conscious around food.  But you do have to pay attention to your actions.”  
She goes on to say  “If you choose to eat while you’re watching movies or TV,  just don’t become oblivious to your food.  Instead, learn to divide your attention between the TV and your plate.”
She calls it awareness training.  
So if I can do this with food and eating, can it be done with my WIP and writing?
I think it can.  And when I analyzed what I was doing at the computer while attempting to work on my WIP,  what I found was surprising.  I would check my email, or look up a website, usually unrelated, when I was at a small stuck point in my writing.  My muse, my brain, my creativity needed a little percolating time.  Then I would go back to my WIP and continue to write until I would get stuck again.  I would percolate by checking blogs, commenting, and then go back to my WIP and writing.
Before, instead of computer searches, I use to get up and usually search for something to eat or drink to get unstuck.  Not good for the diet, or the writing.  So I realized I am actually being more productive and eating less as a result of staying in my chair, and at the computer. 
And as long as I don’t become oblivious to my WIP sitting open and waiting, I think I can safely divide my time between internet and writing, just like I can divide my attention between conversation with family and the food on my plate.
So I will continue to work on my awareness training because I don’t plan on checking into a monastery anytime soon.  
Feel free to weigh in.  Do you split your attention?  And if so, is it good or evil?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

That Dreaded P Word

No, not Plagiarism... Plateau
I have two ever-elusive goals, mostly because I have yet to embrace the Zen of Just Being.  They involve writing and weight loss.  And after months, okay years, of pursuing the goal to be published, and to see the scale at my wedding weight, I now find myself facing the dreaded P word.
Plateau, as a noun, has a rather serene definition:  an area of relatively level high ground.   Okay, I could tell myself that’s where I am.  On a beautiful vista looking over the landscape of my accomplishments thus far.  
But since I am on a pursuit toward an end, the P word, as it applies to me works more as a verb.  And that definition is not as serene.  
To plateau:  to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.  Yeah.  That’s more like it.  
The scale won’t budge and the words won’t flow.  I’m plateauing.
Which leads to the even bigger F word... 
Of course,  country and western wisdom says that I should just keep trucking even though the digital number on my scale refuses to move, for weeks now.  And my new words have shrunk to zero, as I revise the first chapter of my WIP for the umpteenth time.  But instead, I rant, rave, curse.  
Why, oh why is this happening?  
I am still exercising, dieting, writing, taking on-line classes, so why has my forward motion ground to a shrieking halt?
It’s inevitable and there are explanations.  So I reassess and really look at what I’m actually doing.  Looking to see if I have loosened my grip on the effort it really takes to accomplish my goals? 
A nibble here, a taste there.  A glass of wine on the 4th.  Reading blogs and surfing the internet in the name of research, instead of actually writing on my WIP.  And listening to that ever present, nay-saying critic in my head, instead of the wise guru on my shoulder.
I need to adopt a strategy to deal with plateauing.  So I vow to shake things up.  Relieve some of the monotony and boredom in my diet with new low-cal vegetables and foods.  Increase my exercise intensity, with short bursts of running on the treadmill.  And to write first thing in the morning before checking emails, blogs, websites, and even my classes.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to see my way through this stage of plateauing so that it doesn’t lead to an avalanche.
And I’d love to hear how you deal with your plateaus, or plateauing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The New Three Rs

In my quest to be published, and the pursuit of my wedding weight, (stop shaking your head), it’s good to have big dreams.  I have stumbled, okay crashed into a new set of the three R’s.  
Write, Resist, Run.
Writing, although not exactly an R, but having been used by our education system for years, I borrowed it.  Anyway, the first R, writing means, 
Every day I must write.  Something.  Anything.  Preferably new, creative, wonderful, and with perfect grammar.  There are those big dreams again. 
As luck would have it, I am taking a workshop with Devon Ellington, Write in Company with Savvy Authors, which I would highly recommend by the way, not just the workshop but any of Devon’s workshops.  Anyway, the main premise, of Write in Company, along with many other jewels of knowledge, is to write 1000 words each and everyday, no matter what.  
I thought, that’s nothing.  I can do that with my eyes closed.  I have taken Candace Havens, Fast Draft, done May Bootcamp, how hard could a simple 1000 words be? Ha.  It had to be on one project only!  And new words!  And there’s the rub.  I like to flit around, revising, writing, revising, and of course stalling.  I was stuck about 2/3 through my current WIP.  So sitting down to get those 1000 words I crashed into the second R.
As luck would have it, I had just finished reading a fantastic book recommended by another wonderful, successful author and workshop leader, Shirley Jump.  
The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.
I love that title.  Most people who aren’t artists think art is so cozy and creative, and comes down on fairy dust.  Steven Pressfield knows better.  It’s a war.  A battle.  And he calls the enemy, guess what, Resistance. 
As luck would have it, in my weekly yoga class, the theme was,  yes you guessed it --  Resistance.    We had to hold a pose, longer than usual, okay really long,  until our muscles and mind let go. 
Which brings me to the third R - Run.
My typical response.  Just get the hell out and never come back, to the yoga class, to the workshop, to my WIP.  But the coincidences were piling up.  I’d paid for the workshop, the yoga class with my teenage daughter beside me, oh yes, and there was that almost finished WIP. 
So I squirmed and wormed and pushed back against the resistance, like the yoga instructor, Devon, and Steven Pressfield said I would.  In the end I just had to acknowledge that second R, and like Nike says, Just Do It.  So I did.  Wrote the words each day no matter what, held the pose, ate the vegetables steamed... 
I’d love to say that miraculously the resistance went away.  No such luck Resistance is a tricky devil.  It circles around, comes up with new strategies, hits when I’m weak.  So each day, I name it for what it is, the enemy and come up with my own battle plans.  And sometimes that is simply to name it, ignore it, or breathe through. 
I’d love to hear how you handle the 3 Rs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feeding the Muse -- Literally

Most days you can find me happily clicking on over to my fellow writer’s blogs.  Partly a delay tactic, not wanting to face the scene, or the character that won’t tow the line, or even worse, the blank page.  But usually I bounce on over for any ounce of inspiration, knowledge, or camaraderie I can glean.  
But lately,  too many of you have been talking about feeding your muses, literally.   
As you may know, my two current goals are simple - to lose weight and be published.  Okay, you can stop laughing now.  But for the very same reason I cannot watch the Food Network, I am having trouble reading your blogs.  
Brownie blondies, red velvet cupcakes, and Godiva chocolates seem to be the  decadent delicacies your muses crave of late.  
My mouth waters.  My stomach grumbles.   
Sure some of you expound poetic about going out into the world, your travels, your shopping expeditions,  trips to art galleries, or browsing quilt shops, to fill your creative well.  But too many times I’ve come away from the screen chomping at the bit.  Not to get back to my work in progress, as I’d hoped, but to get to the kitchen to find anything chocolate, even the years old canister of unsweetened cocoa.
And then low and behold one of you, Christine, has a whole Friday blog devoted to my biggest vice of all -- wine.  And affordable wines.  How cunning.  
And another batch of you ply your muses with equally sinful margaritas, cosmos, and appletinis.
What is a starving (I mean, dieting) writer to do.
I’ll tell you.  I bite the bullet -- with  sugarless gum.  
There’s a new one called Dessert Delights.  My current weight loss center, swears by the stuff.  So I armed myself with every flavor -- Strawberry Shortcake, Mint Chocolate Chip, Key Lime Pie and Orange Creamsicle before I even opened my work in progress.
I popped four of the mint chocolate chip sticks, never mind that I’m only allowed three per day, and that one barely registers on my taste buds.  I figured, even if I chew the whole pack, it’s better than going out to Winn Dixie and buying the half gallon of the real mint chocolate chip that I knew my muse really needed.
So I opened the page to that stuck scene.  I chewed and sucked every flavorful taste I could from the wad of gum.   I  blew countless bubbles with the feeble attempt at dessert, and thirty minutes later, with the flavor all gone, I’d typed two full pages.  Somehow I’d managed to feed, or trick my muse, for the time being.
So until I hit that magical goal weight in the sky, Dessert Delights is all my muse is getting.  I may have to mix it up, have all four flavors at once.  And I plan on emailing those Extra folks, the makers of Dessert Delights and asking them to please hurry and market a margarita flavor, or a nice Merlot.
So feel free to comment on how you feed your muse, as long as you don’t mention food or alcohol.  
Next time:  Calorie counts and word counts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Writing and Dieting -- Wishes and Dreams, or Goals?

I only ask because currently my two main personal goals involve these two activities, that at times seem particularly mutually exclusive.  
Goal number one or two, really it wouldn’t matter which I achieved first -- is to lose weight.   Get back to my svelte, but ever elusive wedding weight.  I know sounds more like a wish or a dream rather than a goal.   Believe me, I’ve been calling on the dispenser of wishes, rubbing every lamp, urn and tea kettle I can find.   But that genie hasn’t shown up yet.  So I continue to work on it in other more taxing ways.
Then there’s my other goal -- to be published.  I know, now you’re thinking I’m likely delusional.  So you can see why I rub pottery, or stainless steel.  I need that genie and those three wishes he doles out.  Even though I mention only two wishes, I mean goals, I need the last genie wish to insure the more wishes clause.  Because, let’s face it, even if I lose the weight and get published, I’ll likely need to do it again.
But I do tend toward practicality at times, so besides rubbing coffeepots in antique stores I've been writing down these two goals.  Over and over and over.  Every morning.  
Wayne Dyer, and all those other “Secret” gurus say this guarantees my success.  I’m not sure how.  I hope it’s not just the calories I burn writing “I am a slim, trim successful, published author.”  That couldn’t be many calories, and only adds eight words to my daily word count. 
But seriously, I know I have to do more than just write the goals down.  And I do.  
I post these wishes, I mean goals, all over my life.  You know the drill -- sticky notes on the car dashboard, the mirror, the fridge, the cupboard, computer, in my wallet, on the toilet seat.  Because,  each time I see one it's supposed to reinforce my commitment to the universe.   I just wish someone would reinforce the glue on those sticky notes.  I’ve found those less-than sticky notes on my shoe, in my hair and once in my bra, don’t ask.
So far the universe hasn’t noticed my commitment.  In the meantime, I’ll keep rubbing the teakettle,  and for good measure I keep putting out the word count, learning the craft, walking on that treadmill and avoiding all things delicious.
I’d love to hear what you think?  
Next time:  Feeding the Muse, literally.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Could I be a Vampire?

Many of you have probably taken those aptitude tests offered by colleges, high schools and even private institutions, but do they really work?  Can they really provide insight into that deep and dark secret as to what would be the perfect career?
     Worth the time and effort?  
     Sounds vague doesn’t it.  That’s because that’s what most of these tests offer.  Vague answers with vague options, some almost bordering on the ridiculous.  
     I once took a very expensive career aptitude test when I was thirty years old and looking for a career change.  One of my top five options was astronaut.  Yes, seriously it was.  And this was almost twenty years ago when the space program was much smaller.  And oh, I am a woman.  And oh, I was living in Canada at the time, with no space program to speak of.  
     Twenty years later I have yet to hear of anyone getting a career option they would actually consider.  Probably because the tests are old and don’t take into account the changing world.  They are too limited in what they actually test, your aptitudes.   And most likely are too general in their corresponding answers to those aptitudes to be of any value. 
     Should you take one?  Sure.  Why not?  Especially if it’s free.  But be sure you take the results with a big whopping tablespoon or two of salt.  
     But on your own, most of you probably know what you are good at.   What things come easily to you, and what things you could never stand to do.  This is a good start.
     Consider how many people want to be lawyers based on the fact they say they can argue well.  If this were all it took to succeed in law every teenager should become a lawyer.  But these same people will tell you they hate paperwork, reading or and don’t consider themselves good at detail work.   All things necessary in the law profession.
     Let’s consider some questions you could consider on your own that might help.

1. How many hours a week do you want to work?  You mean I have to be at my place of employment every weekday by 9am, sit there until 5pm in a cubicle with no windows?  Yes.  Even after that expensive and impressive engineering degree is earned.  But there are jobs out there with more flexible hours if that’s what you are looking for. 

2.  Do you want to sit at a desk all day?  Or do you want flexibility to work in different locations or at home?  Lots of careers today can be done from home.  That works for some people, self-motivated types.  Others might need the structure of getting away from the TV, couch, or fridge.

3. Do you plan on staying in your city, state or country?  So many people say they want to leave their hometown or state when they graduate college and if that is the case consider where you want to go and look for a job that is either needed in the place you plan to live or will give you flexibility to work almost anywhere.

4.     Do you play well with others?  I know you’ve heard this since kindergarten, but consider this in your career.  Do you want to work as part of a team?  In a large company?  Or a smaller company?  Or even on your own?

5.     Do you handle authority well?  Either telling other people what to do or being told what to do?  Now we all have to do some of this some of the time but consider in your career that you may have for 20, 30, 40 years of this.  How much of either bossing, or being bossed, appeals to you.

6.     Do you mind wearing a uniform, lab coat, or suit?  I guess we could all get 
         use to this and make it work, but for some (fashionistas) it may be a deal breaker?

7. How much vacation time?  Are sabbaticals available?  Or does everyone work through lunch, vacation time and sick days.  Believe me there are plenty of jobs like that.  Not necessarily a negative, but at least you should consider it going in.
These are all simple, generalized questions that you can consider and apply to that career you have chosen.  Or use your answers when evaluating a possible career choice.  Of course, you may not find the perfect career that fits all your criteria but you will have thought about them and know going in what you are willing to give up.  
 Get to know yourself.  Be honest in your answers and if the sight of blood makes you gag, might want to reconsider the medical profession, or being a vampire.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Career Forever and Forver... 'til Death Do Us Part

Yes, that does sound terminal, even horrific.  But never fear it’s not all that bad. As you know, forever and forever for death do you part,  doesn’t always work for the many couples that say those words in front of many witnesses in a church, so it reasons that they may not be true for many when it comes to career choice.
      Of course it would be nice if we chose our career and became that doctor, lawyer or engineer and lived happily ever after doing doctorly, lawyerly and engineer type things all our life.  But life isn’t that straightforward.  Yet, that myth of choosing one career and doing it until you retire or die which ever comes first still looms large.  
      Life isn’t static.   The world and its vast array of situations are constantly changing, including your own situation and it’s best to realize that early on.  
      Marriage, children, divorce, death of a loved one, sickness, natural disasters, bank collapse, company lay offs, all these horrible things happen on a fairly regular basis and believe it or not, they can affect our careers.  We would like to pretend they don’t.  We would like to pretend we will pick the perfect career and we will be exempt from all of the above.  But that rarely happens. 
      Today many people find themselves on their second, third, or even fourth career path.  A lot of women experience this after raising a family and coming back into the job market.  But that will be the subject of another day.
      So for now let’s use this constantly changing world to your advantage.  
      A career does not need to be a once and for all, set in stone decision. 
      Remember the example in my last post of the job of teacher.  It was easy to see how that career path could easily morph into several different paths, coach, principal, guidance counselor, government official and still remain a viable.   So you want to use that to your advantage early on.  Even as early as picking that college major.
      I hate to bring this up, but not all four year college degrees guarantee you a job worthy of all the time, money and energy you spend at your esteemed institution.  Yikes.
      Does that mean don’t go to college?  Of course not.   For most of you reading this  it means that you will need more than that four year degree.   And if you are one of those doctor, lawyer or MBA types you already know that.  
      But for all of you, why narrow the your career field the moment you enter college?  You don’t need to.  Stay flexible and maybe you won’t end up doing six years, or eight to get the four year degree you want or need to succeed out there.  
      For you further education types, get the perquisites necessary for your chosen pursuit and then branch out and explore some other options with your course selections.  
      I have stated that there exists in many colleges a degree that allows you flexibility and exploration while still getting that four year degree in four years.  And they don’t advertise it much because colleges make more money the longer you stay - changing your major, changing your mind, revising, deciding.  Don’t give your money away. 

      Many colleges offer  - Interdisciplinary studies, or some even let you make your own degree.   And these may work even for you doctor and lawyer types.  
       It used to be called a well rounded education.  Make your education plans with more flexibility so you’ll more options, now and in the future.  Don’t be pigeoned holed into a major because you think you have to.  You don’t.  Look at what’s required on that medical school, or law school application.  You may be surprised that you could get the prerequisites and still have some interesting off shoots just in case, your first plan  doesn’t pan out.  And you never know you may strike upon something else you truly enjoy when that Organic Chemistry grade comes in too low.
So try to stay flexible as long as you can.  It may save you tons of time, money and energy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Open Up the Box

Okay, so exploring career options appeals to you as much as an ingrown toe nail.  

And let’s face it we all want to get them, whoever your them is, (teachers, parents, guidance counselors) off your back.  So you listened to my advise in the last post and you picked a career.  And maybe you’ve even selected one of the three careers I have listed at the top, doctor, lawyer or engineer.   Look, you say, it keeps everyone happy and you don’t have time between baseball/soft ball, SAT testing, ACT testing, prom, graduation and a social life to surf the net, ask people, and figure out another option.  Everyone’s happy you say.  Maybe, for the time being.  But let’s use that chosen one to open up the box a little more.
We’re going to use an over-simplified example with everyone’s favorite -  the enviable career of teacher.  Now I am not a teacher, so don’t condemn me just yet.  But I do think all those vacation days are to die for.  Still, I know many of you will groan and say, teacher?   I never want to set a foot in another classroom as long as I live.  Okay, that’s fine.  Here’s a way to use even the negatives associated with a career to step outside the box and broaden your career options.
So using  the top 5 reasons -  Why you would never want to be a teacher. 
1.  You don’t want to deal with little kids
2.  You don’t want to be stuck in a classroom all day
3.  You could never speak in front of that many people
4.  The pay sucks
5.  You want to be the boss
Okay, number one, you don’t want to deal with little kids, I hear you, all those birthday cupcakes, field trips to the zoo, and stickers to handle.  But don’t rule out the teacher thing yet.  There’s  High School teacher, adult education teacher, how about college professor, no little kids.
Okay, you say maybe but being stuck in a classroom all day would feel claustrophobic and stifling.  Then consider physical education coach.  You get to be outside at least some of the time, or in a large open gym.  No suit and tie. 
Then Number 3.  Could never speak in front of that many people even kids.  So  how about guidance counselor.  You sit behind a desk with only one or two chairs in front of it.  I’m not sure what exactly a guidance counselor does, but your own office, no grading, and still all those vacation days.
The big one.  Number 4.  Pay sucks - maybe, but you might be surprised.  And you could use all those vacation days to write a book, be a fishing guide, etc. and if you calculate that into your wage you could be earning some big bucks.
And lastly - number 5.  You want to be the boss.  I understand this completely, so  how about Principal or even School Board Superintendent.  Often these positions are filled by teachers maybe with a little more education but still teaching degrees often.  
So even the dreadful job of a teacher can be used as a spring board to open up some not so horrible possibilities.  
And if you are charting a course toward a career in education there are still a boatload of options available should you decide to switch it up.  Yet, you would not necessarily have to go back to square one.  Saving you time and money on your path to your career.
Now, being the young, bold, creative types, you can see how easily you can come up with a host of other options related to any one career.  
Broaden your scope on the career you might have selected.  You might be surprised with what you come up with.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Make a plan... Select a Path... Pick a Goal

Sounds so ominous.   So permanent.   So much work.  
        Okay hear me out.  So you’re undecided, or maybe you have decided on your career, college, major, etc.   Either way a plan is necessary, and anyone who has made one will tell you, it takes some of the pressure off.  And less pressure is a good thing.  Really, it’s not that scary.   You do it everyday.  
        Example: you want to hang out with friends.  You first decide  “Hey I want to hang out.”.  Then you text.  Then you decided where to hang.  Then decide how you’ll get there.  Drive (borrow car, mom drives - yuck), walk (Ha Ha), bus (Go Green).  Lots of decisions made there. 
       The only reason the bigger plan like career, college or courses seems to be harder is because you’re afraid you’ll pick wrong.  Yikes.  I’ll be a dental hygienist for the rest of my life, and I’ll become bulimic if I have to look into another mouth.
       It’s not that drastic.  Your plan will not be written in indelible ink on your forehead, unless you want it to be.  Think of the plan as more like a guideline, a possibility.  
       Back to the example:  you decide on the place to hang out with friends.  You go to the mall.  You get there and only one other person shows up.  Not so great, unless it’s the guy you’re secretly crushing on, but even then it’s awkward.  So you text some more and find out the movies is where people are.  You hop in a car (hopefully you don’t have to call mom back), get on a bus (Go Green) or walk (Ha Ha) with your crush to the movies.  Not so hard.  A little more work but it’ll be better when you get there.
      That’s how you can look at your plan for college, career or your major.  Sometimes it’s better just to pick one.  Of course, if you’ve been following the blog I hope you’re exploring lots of options, but go ahead, select the one that appeals to you the most.  Remember it’s not tattooed on your low back, unless you want it to be.  Don’t even worry who the plan will appeal to or offend, teachers, guidance counselor, parents, grandparents, or friends.  More about that later.  Just pick one. I guarantee once you select something will feel so much better. 
      If you have two, or even three ideas in mind that’s okay.  You can pick all three. 

      Back to example:  you didn’t know if you would go to mall, the movies, or somewhere to eat, when you started out but most likely you had to get in the car (with mom), take the bus (Go Green) or walk (Ha Ha).  Then when you got there, looked around, you changed your plan.  And got back on the bus (Go Green).  But at least you’re out of the house.  Do you see?
      So for now....  make a plan, select a path, pick a goal, or two or three.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Do what you love...

I’m sure you’ve heard this more than once  in regards to choosing your all important career.
        Sweet.  I love to play X-box, hang out with friends, eat and sleep late.
        When you find that job let me know, I’ll apply.  
        Not many careers offer that job description.  For those of you creative enough, you may find this job and hopefully it pays enough to keep the electricity on for your X-box.
        For the rest of us doing what you love is an anomaly.  It simply doesn’t apply to most jobs or for most people.  
        Let’s take a look at that coveted Medical Doctor career that so many of you entering college seek.  So using the phrase above, do what you love means.... that many of you, who want to be doctors, would love to spend time with up to twenty to thirty sick or in pain people everyday.  Deal with disease and death most of the time.  Battle insurance, malpractice, and governmental health care policies.  Hard to find what’s to love in that job. 
        So let’s revamp the saying.  Instead of do what you love, let’s try... 
        do what you like.  Well, that’s not much different from the love.  
        How about... do what doesn’t fill you with dread every morning when the alarm goes off.  Getting better.  
        How about...  do what you would be willing to do at least eight hours a day, five days a week and hopefully get paid enough to pay for the pizza you plan to order when your friends come over.   Now we’re getting warmer.
        Seriously though, there aren’t many people that say they LOVE THEIR JOB, and are being completely truthful.  So what’s the answer.     
        Someone entering college told me he was looking for a job that pays well enough so he could do all kinds of fun things on the weekend.  A job that doesn’t leave him so stressed out he can’t enjoy those fun weekends.  A job with enough vacation time to travel and do other cool things.  Sounds like the right idea to me.  And if you could have more days off, longer vacations, and the big bucks it could be the perfect job. 

       Something to think about next time someone say  “oh just do what you love.” 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I want to be a dinosaur....

That use to work.   Probably from the time you could talk until you lost your front tooth.  Then about first grade things got serious and the dinosaur answer didn’t work anymore.  I’m talking about the answer to that question you’ve heard millions of times, okay an exaggeration, but you know the one.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

It started out simple enough.   You remember the scenario, most likely in the grocery store.  It goes something like...  “Oh what a cute little boy/girl.   And what do you want to do when you grow up.   If you notice the be now changed to do, so dinosaur doesn’t work.  Fire fighter was good.  Police Officer worked.  Teacher.  Or Nurse. Chip N Dale dancer/stripper not so much.  

Then things got trickier.  Starts around the time you enter high school.  You’re standing around after Uncle Phil’s funeral with a plate full of gooey casseroles and a plastic glass of kool aid, in a too tight suit and  Aunt Flora has to say....  What a nice young man.  So tell me what do you want to do when you finish high school?

Okay.  You finish chewing trying to think, even though the tie is cutting off circulation to your brain.  Going to college always works as an answer.  But that could lead to which college and where,  which could bring up the heated discussions of family alma maters.  Would fire fighter work?  Probably not.  Not enough pay.  Too dangerous. Hardly worthy of college or your family legacy.  The Chip N Dale answer might get her to leave.  You stare down at the cup of kool aid and wish they were at least serving Red Bull.

Way back in the dark ages there use to be the most politically incorrect rhyme known to man that went Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief.  I tend to think of that when I hear the answers so many young people still spout when asked the dreaded question.  What do you want to do when...  Why?  Because most of the time I hear Doctor, Lawyer and Engineer.  Even though I don’t know what a Tinker is if you at least recited that rhyme you’d have more options available. 

Where’s all that creativity education is supposed to impart.  Where’s the imagination.  Where’s all that information that’s supposed to be floating around in this information age.  

Okay, maybe you don’t answer with one of the three listed at the top of the blog.  Good.  You’ve taken the first first step.  I hope you don’t say, the next most popular thing I hear....  I want to do something with computers.  I never do the eye roll even though almost every job known involves a computer today, and if it doesn’t probably will in the future. 

This blog was started to simply help point out that there is an almost infinite amount of answers to that question  “What  do you want to do when you grow up, graduate, etc.  So I hope you begin to consider opening up the box that contains those answers.  How? 

You ask the questions .  Ask people.  Anyone, anywhere.  What do you do for a living?  A living -- serious stuff. Or if you’re ready to do something on the computer... google.    Interesting careers.  Bizarre careers.  Well paying careers.  Least education careers.  Sports careers.  Any of  a million other options.  Okay, another exaggeration -- but maybe not.