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Thursday, March 31, 2011


Remember last week I told you about that list of "Important but not Urgent" things I stuck on my calendar and completely failed to do because of other "Important and Urgent" things that got in the way?

Well, it seems when you keep such a list, a time does come when you can get to it.

This work week has been quieter, and I've completed three items on that list, and started another. I finished two items ahead of deadline and caught up on one on-going task that had gotten behind. The bonus? I didn't have to stop and think "what should I do now?" I had the list right there and I picked tasks to fit the time available.

I don't pretend for a moment I've mastered this skill, but it is nice to enjoy the gratification of checking the box, even if only for one month. Makes that mountain of sand seem a little more solid.
I'll aim to compose one of these every Friday afternoon for work. The list for the rest of my life I'll make Sunday evenings. I try to keep work and life as separate as possible.

It would probably help to continue writing that mission statement. Then I'll know where my priorities are and thus what's truly "Important but maybe not Urgent."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The One Day...

So the one day I don't blog in the morning is the one day Mom notices.

That's not true. My blogging has been sporadic for a while now. Because I'm getting a life. A writer's life. That's good, but it does mean my mornings aren't quite what they were. Plus, even for me, four blogs are a lot to juggle. I know you all think I'm hilarious, but it takes effort to be this funny. I can't just go to the store and buy some funny.

What a great idea. A funny store. Write a short, Kat. Name a character after me.

I got some great news today, but I'm going to be mean and make you wait to hear it. I'll probably write it at NAF. You'll need kleenex 'cause I'm going to make it extra sappy and sloppy. Vaulter's made me cry often enough. Turnabout's fair play and all that.

Is that enough, mom? I need to finish Kat's Finding Angel.

Love you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best Laid Plans

It's gray in Kansas, and cold. Not as gray and cold as this time last year, but enough to make it hard to wake up. I hate being cold.

I added a "follow by email" button to my blogs. Since I've been a bit sporadic lately, and since I'm guessing the email notification includes the post so you could conceivably read it on your phone (not while driving, please), it seemed a no-brainer. I don't know if it tells me you've signed up or not. Let me know if you like it.

Last night did not go as planned. I had a plan and got side-tracked. By people.

Stephen Covey says when you organize your life according to higher, guiding principles as expressed in your mission statement, you are better able to prioritize your energy into important things. He considers people important and nearly impossible to schedule. chuckle. I'm learning to agree with him.

Rabbi Lapin said impatience with interruptions only proves my arrogance, not my competence. I was interrupted several times, but I felt no impatience (not last night, anyway). I love the people who interrupted me. We got some things done I hadn't planned. I inadvertently started a Bible study. We'll see how that goes.

I guess my point is a little lost sleep for one night won't kill me.

Just don't push it, folks. Sleep-deprived turtles are grumpy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

What A Week

In my study of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I encountered the concept of "Important But Not Urgent." Stephen Covey included charts for me to study, but the basic concept is planning ahead prevents crises and increases overall efficiency.

Well, I'm trying. I made my list at the beginning of the work week of Important But Not Urgent things. I've got it on a sticky note on my calendar. I keep looking at it, thinking "this is what I'm doing next."

And then someone hands me something else to do right now. By "someone," I'm referring to various bosses.

How can I be proactive when other people are planning my work life?

I'm not whining. I really want to know. Am I supposed to stay late at work without overtime pay to get my list done? Should I modify my list? How? How do adults handle such things?

'Cause that's what this proactivity stuff is all about, really: being an adult. I always thought I was. Boy howdy, have I been wrong.

Here's a bigger, meta-question. Has this happened all along? Is this my work life and I've just never bothered to notice? Since I've been trying to change my mindset, what I seem to notice more and more is a sense of falling behind, of trying to climb a mountain of loose sand. I can't get any purchase.

I'm hoping this feeling is illusory, that I am making progress, however small, which will ultimately lead to some kind of aha moment.

What I fear is a growing sense of the eternal nature of work. A pile of tasks continuing to infinity and beyond. That's enough to make me want to drive into a parked bus.

Oh well. I like my job most days. I'm guessing these are growing pains and I'll stretch them out eventually. Besides, it's Friday. I'll have a whole new set of Important But Not Urgent things to work on for the weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I ate myself stupid on chicken fajitas last night, and all I want is to crawl back to bed and sleep the rest of the day.

Alas, my job has other plans.

At least I can eat some fajitas before I go. I have about 3 pounds of meat and vegetables to polish off before it goes bad and kills me. I wonder how long that takes?

Hope I don't find out. No one at NAF will believe any death notice about me now, no matter how seriously it's written.

All part of my plan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To Eulogy or Not To Eulogy

Considering the positive response over at NAF, I should blog about my humorous fictional death more often. Funny is more fun to read than whiny.

Technically, I didn't fulfill my assignment. Stephen Covey wants me to write a life mission statement and he suggested starting with a eulogy. What would I want people to say about me after I've taken The Long Step?

It's not an easy assignment, mostly because it requires me to project 60 years into the future and ask "what would I do?"

It would be simple to make stuff up (hence the NAF post), but if this exercise is a prelude to a personal mission statement then I could conceivably be expected to begin doing things that would result in the stuff mentioned in the eulogy. I'm pretty sure that's the point of the exercise.

So it's all well and good to mention I used a portion of my book profits to start Heaven's Cat House, a not-for-profit cat adoption agency, but how on earth would I do that? Well, I'd have to actually make a profit on a book, so it's possible I'm getting way ahead of myself, but if I did, then what? Is that what this goal of reading business/marketing books is for?

This is the kind of pressure I tried to escape by just "killing" myself early. Then I can leave unfinished stuff and not worry about it.

Plus, my fear is even 60 years in the future the best thing someone can say about me is "she was a great Farmville neighbor." I've been assured, however, Farmville won't last that long. That's a thought to make me weep into my oatmeal.

But, to end on a funnier note, the "bike into a parked bus" incident is real. I was in my early 20's and the last bike I'd ridden braked when you back-peddled. Didn't help a bit as I rolled down a hill toward a bus. By the time I figured out the brakes were on the handlebars, all I did was practice some of those Newtonian physics by propelling my unbraked self forward into the bus. I limped away from that particular humiliation (under the wide-eyed stares of the 200 camp youths I was counseling) with two severely jammed fingers, a knot the size of an apple on my thigh, a wrenched back and a lump on the back of my head where I hit the pavement after bouncing off the bus.

Okay, maybe that's only funny if you're really sick. I have to admit, had I been watching, I would have  laughed until I wet myself. Feel free to chuckle away. I won't tell.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So Much Funnier Than What I Had Planned

I intended to talk about the contest I entered this weekend, my first for 2011. You know, the Hill's pet food contest where they're paying $10K for the best pet weight loss story? I submitted my 144 word essay Saturday.

Since I won't hear back from them unless I win, though, this would have been a fairly boring post.

Thankfully, Holly Heisey posted this link on her FB page this morning. These guys are officially my favorite bromance, mostly because they're real.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Star Wars.

Turn the sound up (unless you're at work) and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When I told My Dear Friend about my New Year's goals, she gave me that look. Yes, we were on the phone, but some looks don't require visual contact.

"You're not going to be able to manage that," she said.

"I'll be fine," I assured her. A note of condescension may have crept into my voice. "I don't have all the same responsibilities you do. You'll see."

She may be right.

I haven't picked up a fiction book since I finished The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson in January. I'm plowing through The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but technically, I should have finished that in February. My first serious attempt to write on Past Ties this month was last night.

I'm not making it.

I'm not quitting, either, and I'm leaving my goals as is. For now.

What My Dear Friend knew and I failed to anticipate is all the stuff life can throw my way. The nieces are more involved in stuff, and that means more concerts, recitals, plays and whatnot. No sports, thank you, Lord. I don't think I could do that even for them. I love you gals, but I can't think of a single sport you could practice that would entice me.

Well, gymnastics was okay. I just couldn't sit on the floor because I kept gasping and startling the team. My bad. So sorry I can't handle watching tiny bodies barely evading horrible, neck-snapping, life altering potential injury. I'll work on that.

The Kansas legislature is back in session, so some attention must go there. Responsible citizenship takes time and effort. I am learning to be a responsible citizen.

But none of those things were happening last night. I could check off goals with abandon. With the TV off, devotions finished and 30 minutes of book reading out of the way, I sat down to write. Then I paused.

I've thought of a short story idea I could post either on RT the FB page or at NAF, so I was torn between starting that or working on Past Ties. Which one?

Or, I could check out the new Splashdown Books writing event Avenir Eclectia, which on first notification freaked me out no end, but upon further reflection sounds a lot like what I used to do before I wrote books (I believe that is now called fanfic, but I could be wrong). Anyway, a little, bitty part of me thinks submitting a short story there could be fun, and I want very much to encourage that part. Seems like a publishing-seeking writerly thing to do. But if I'm doing that, I'm not writing on Past Ties and I need to do that if I want to make my deadline.

What to do, what to do? 

I set the distractions aside and wrote on Past Ties. I'll add the short story and Avenir Eclectia to my to-do list and plan time for them. With the TV off, I make progress on my list. It may be slow but it's steady.

That's why I'm keeping my goals. I may not accomplish them in quite the time frame I expect, but I will accomplish them. One month at a time, one goal at a time, one priority at a time.

It's not so different from leveling up in Farmville, really, and I've been doing that for almost a year.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Operation Rolling Thunder

Have you heard of this? I know it's bigger than just our city, and I think it's bigger than just our state.
Churches take one day a month, and populate that day with members who pray for half hour slots. The result is a continuous layer of prayer coating your city, state and our nation.

Prayer focuses on seven key areas of life: family, government/military, church, media/entertainment; arts, business, education and health care. You can see the complete list fleshed out at
Churches in our state have jumped in (and, boy howdy, do we need it in Kansas. Topeka has a 666 zip code) and fantastic things are happening.

The power of prayer is real. God's people turning to Him daily in intercession for the world changes everything. Why do you think Tribulation follows the removal of the Holy Spirit?

This is my third year of this kind of scheduled prayer. It's not hard, and you can incorporate it into your daily devotional time if you have one. I believe it is making the difference in our state. God will perform miracles when His people pray.

If thunder isn't rolling in your state, pray anyway. Tell a friend and pray in conjunction.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst." -Jesus.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Did Life Get So Busy?

At one of the numerous meetings I'm attending this week, I heard the lament about when life would slow down. Slowing down has not been my experience. Seems to me, life only speeds up until it finally flings you out into the grand abyss of death.

I could be wrong. But I'm not.

March has not slowed down. I have stopped all TV watching during the week. That's helped.

The nights are given to meetings. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed My Lamb's choral recital. I enjoyed The Flash's band concert (I'm not lying. I really did). I found listening to Jack Cashill about his most recent book Deconstructing Obama quite interesting, and my autographed copy sits on my stack of books to read for the year. I don't know if I will categorize it as "marketing" or "business." Probably "business" since he's a professional writer and I can learn from his style. It is most certainly not fiction, no matter what the liberal media would tell you.

My 30-30-30 plan is suffering. I'm getting devotionals in, but they weren't actually part of the plan.
Writing on Past Ties has happened only in my head. "Walking" is from the car to wherever and back, which would be fine if I were parking because I park in the boondocks. Those with whom I carpool, alas, do not. Except for Tuesday when we couldn't find any close spaces and had to park two blocks away. That was good.

I could start taking a book with me to get my 30 minutes of reading in, a habit I've lost over the years, but I can't read in the car and I think it's rude to read when other people are in the room not reading.
Yes, it's odd I would find that rude, but I do. I have learned a few valuable social behaviors. Not many, but a few.

I have managed to get a little more sleep than last week. I could up the sleep quota by putting the cats back in the basement but I have so little time with them at the moment, I'm afraid what schemes might be devised down there in the dark. Better to keep them close while I can.

Once again, time moves on and leaves me behind. That's my way of saying this is all the post I can manage this morning. Another meeting tonight, but this one involves food. Huzzah!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rolling In Dough

Cooking failed to interest me as a child. Other than the end result, that is. Oh, mom tried to teach me, but I would have none of it. When I entered college life, she gave me a helpful notebook filled with all the life skills I refused to notice earlier called Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? In reality, she was one hour and one phone call away, but the point was clear.

My college roommate cooked with what I will call practicality. Did you know just about anything can bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and come out edible? I learned how to have a meat, vegetable and starch ready at the same time. I even learned how to make macaroni and cheese so delicious and unhealthy you could die just looking at it.

When a family friend showed me how to make stew, my cooking career launched. Casseroles, soups and stews are even easier than baking chicken and create a week's worth of meals instead of a single sit-down. I don't use recipes, just ingredients, and I like the results the majority of the time. Especially when I remember to add salt.

A few years ago, I got hooked on the show America's Test Kitchen (now owned by Martha Stewart and called something else I can't remember). I learned the difference between cooking and baking.

In cooking, you can throw ingredients in a pot and as long as you don't cook out the color of the vegetables get passable results.

Try that with baking and you will get a mess.

Baking is all about chemistry. This ingredient reacting with that ingredient to create this effect. Beat X amount of times. Too few and it falls apart. Too many and congratulations! You made a rock. 

I am not a baker. The only oven in my house is a toaster oven, and I use it mostly with store-bought bagels.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure.

Maybe I'm saying life is a kitchen, where sometimes you cook and other times you have to bake.

Maybe I'm saying I would rather wing it than measure it.

Maybe God made both ways so all personality types would have a chance to both enjoy and hate food preparation.

Mostly I'm saying, "I'm so sorry the cream puffs didn't turn out, my lamb. I hope you're able to salvage the second batch, and we'll try it again when we have more Crisco."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

No Inspiration Today

Except for Farmville topics, which you can check out on my other blog, Virtual Buttercups.

Last night was a late night, and tonight looks the same way. Two cups of tea are not helping, either. I may need a White Chocolate Mocha slim latte with a shot of cinnamon this afternoon. See, I've
learned cinnamon masks the bitter coffee taste as well as ice cream does. I suspect that's a bad thing, considering how expensive coffee shop coffee drinks are.

We'll see if Momma Turtle reads this today. heh heh.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A New Month

Ralene over at Faith, Hope & Suspense started a 3-in-30 task where you set 3 goals and accomplish them in 30 days.

My goals this year are not quite so time-specific, but I am taking the opportunity to incorporate a few lifestyle changes this month. If I practice them well in March, I may continue into April.

I call it the 30-30-30 plan. Thirty minutes of walking, thirty minutes of reading and thirty minutes of writing. Just occurred to me I need to add 30 minutes of Bible study. Hmm.

I've combined walking and reading so far because it's too cold and messy to walk outside. I can read on the treadmill.

The upside is I choose what I'm doing in that 30 minutes. I can walk inside or outside. I can read business books or fiction books (both are necessary for me the writer so I don't feel guilty about either). I can write on my WIP or something else, as long as I'm writing. I'm sticking with Past Ties.
And I choose when I do these things. So far, it's been early evening when I would normally turn on must-be-stupid TV and drool for a while.

Why tell you this?

Because today's schedule is weird, so I have to go do my 30-30-30 now instead of tonight. Which is my way of saying sorry about the less than inspiring blog post. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Learning Curve

Have you heard when you learn a new skill, all your original skills get worse for a while? Something to do with energy expenditures, change of focus, reorganizing brain matter - something like that.

Well, February was one long dropped ball as far as practicing new skills go.

TT: That's the right phrase, isn't it? When you throw a football and the guy at the other end of the field doesn't catch it? I don't know why I keep trying to use sports metaphors like I understand them.

But, practice makes perfect and perseverance is what makes practice possible. I have goals. I haven't shared them all with you, dear readers, but I wrote some down. Taking Dave Ramsey's advice, I even made them somewhat specific and measurable. Not too specific and measurable. When I started to experience petit mal panic attacks, I backed up a step and called it "good enough."

But my intention with March is to continue those goals with one important difference.

I will start now. Technically, I started yesterday, but February is very short.

See, I waited in February. The month was stretched out in front of me, looking all far away and open for business, so I didn't take the starting seriously. Then, as tends to happen with life, time contracted, and I'm left at the end with nothing to show for it except a truly exceptional Fill Zone score.

I don't want a repeat of February in March. Difficult, since March is a repeat of February plus 3 days.

Last night, I left the TV off. I exited FB and read a chapter of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, my next business book, while walking on my treadmill. I completed the daily devotional for the class I'm taking at church. I wrote some on Past Ties. And I ended with a little time for Bubble Spinner during a friend's phone call (curse you, Mindjolt! Why must your games be so attractive?).

It is a start. Last night, I saddled my donkey and reaped a tiny benefit. Good for me. Now I must do it again. One day at a time, one goal-step at a time, one skill-set at a time.

Today is the first day of the rest of my month. I will use it better.

And, yes, I'm fully aware Murphy waits around the next hour to trip me up in my perceived success. I will ignore him. When you miss a meal, you don't give up eating. If I miss a step, I will not stop walking.