Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2014, Life Writing, Round 1 2014

Play Resumes Slowly: ROW80 Update, 1/29/14

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I’m feeling better, other than a lingering sinus headache and a cough. My energy is returning slowly, and I’m getting back into a more normal routine. It’ll be a few days, yet, before I dig through the dishes, laundry, and myriad details of hometending…I’m trying to be patient with myself and everyone else. For instance, Jim wasn’t sick, but he spent a lot of time repairing our cranky furnace, our aging cars that creak in subzero weather, and doing the errands I wasn’t able to do.

As my energy level returns, I’m rediscovering my playful spirit. T’Pol and Trip are cavorting in my mind, living out brand new stories in my head – and, because they both have their own ideas, of course they’re not living out the stories that will fit neatly into my plan for Story-a-Day May…but that’s all right. Things do tend to feed each other….

Note: The Enterprise videos are a little steamy…if you’d rather avoid that, I understand!

So, what have I been doing?

Daily Writing Frames:

Wild Card Wednesday:

Blogging posts and queues:

  • Posts: 3

  • Queues: Pending.

Play in many ways:

  • Lots of time with the kids.

  • Freewriting on various topics.

  • Reading.

Whatever feels right:

  • I was getting sick. Taking it easy felt right.

Trueborn Thursday:

Editing CD and BBAN; Rereading BAB.

  • CD: Completed rough draft revision plan.

  • BBAN: Continued pre-editing notes.

  • BAB: Pending.

Drafting TBONTB; TSAF; PTD:

  • TBOTB: New words added.

  • TSAF and PTD: Pending.

Exploring timeline and plot tribbles:

  • Listed WIPs and pending projects in chronological order.

  • Sketched rough idea of pending projects.

Flirtatious Friday:

Exploration of whatever kind:

  • Does exploring the depths of rhinovirus count? =)

  • Pre-editing notes for BBAN.

Freewriting on and without topic:

  • Freewriting for blogging.

Family connection and play:

  • No – I was sick. So were they.

Playful re-emergence….

Sharing Saturday:

Answer/make comments:

  • Yes, a couple.

Saturday’s Share posts.

  • Post: Yes.

  • Queue: Pending.

Sharing/social media/submissions:

  • No; I was sick, and my head way too muzzy.

Sampling Sunday:

Reading books/blogs:

  • No books..

  • Quite a few blogs for Sunday Sampler.

Sunday Sampler posts:

  • Yes! First one since November! =)

Playing with short stories:

  • No. The Sampler post was all I had acuity for.

Melding Monday:

Answer comments/make comments:

  • Yes! Caught up at shanjeniah.

Coffee and Conversation posts:

  • Posting: Yes.

  • Queue: Pending.

Writing/Life integration:

  • Yes. Blogging, editing, and my beloveds. =)

Talking Tuesday:

Twitter and Facebook::

  • Twitter: Yes!! I even made a new friend! =)

  • Facebook: Yes.

WANATribe:

  • Yes. Poked about and shared a link.

Other types of physical/virtual connection:

  • Family time.

A freezer door canvas for a creative-type girl I know.

2014 Blogging:

Focus on layout and design aspects of my Blogging Action Plan.

Overhaul sidebar for Trueborn Jottings (it’s the least noxious!). On target.

  • First steps: deleted outdated/unwanted bits.

  • Updated all relevant badges.

  • Considering what to add.

Add all useful bits, templates, links, etc, for each feature to Master Resource File. On target.

Build positive blogging habits – post regularly, build queues, answer comments, and share diversely.

Answer all comments on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. On target.

  • All shanjeniah comments answered (new ones waiting now).

  • All Trueborn Jottings comments caught up Tuesday.

  • February Revision: Answer comments at least every other day.

Return visits to all commenters, as standard practice. On target.

  • Visits ongoing – caught up at shanjeniah.

  • Moving through Trueborn Jottings.

  • February Revision: Make at least two return visits every other day, on average.

Resume my regular blogging schedule with Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday posts across the three blogs. Target attained!

2014 Editing:

Complete first revision passes for Chameleon’s Dish and Bounded by a Nutshell; make pre-revision notes for Blood and Breath.

Complete pre-editing notes for Bounded by a Nutshell.On target.

  • Page 426/734.

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue the family room reset.On target.

  • Computer desk nearly excavated; general decluttering.

Spend time daily in my study.Target attained!

  • Yes; not so much when I was sick.

Clean up homeschooling files by February 15. On target.

  • Restructured main file/ Annalise’s files.

  • Added/condensed folders.

Develop new habits that support organization and productivity.

Experiment with play project schedule. Target attained!

  • Details above.

  • February Revision: Continue with Daily Writing Frames throughout the month.

Things are looking up….

2014 Lifetending:

Stretch and find new ways to blend the facets of my life with intention and awareness.

Make plans to meet with at least 1 person from my list; get in touch with at least 2 more to express my wish to reconnect. On target.

  • I left a message with one friend.

Seek out playful new ways to move and challenge my body.

Choose one playful motion for each day in January; do it several times throughout the day, with a spirit of adventure. On target.

  • Reverse crunches; quick steps; skipping rope.

  • February Revision: Choose two actions per day for the m,onth; do each several times each day, with a playful spirit.

Sponsor Visits:

See what the other ROWers are playing with this round!

Posted in Coffee and Conversation, Life Writing

Coffee and Conversation: Refrigerator, Responsibility, Reality

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday again – time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…

Now, each Monday, I strive for that understanding by offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and maybe share something of yours, too..

Okay. I’m guessing at least some of you are sitting out there, asking yourselves what these three words have in common, other than that alliterative ‘R’. Right (I know; again with the ‘R’!)? Well, let me explain… Yes, these photos are of our refrigerator. I took them last week, just after I bought my new Elph camera (it’s BLUE!!!!!!) and just before I got a nasty cold. I took them for a reason, but we’ll get to that in a minute or two, depending upon how quickly you read or scroll.

Sparkly -shiny!

Many parents assign chores as a means of ‘teaching children responsibility‘. Some make it simple and friendly. Some have complex checklists, sticker charts, and the like. When I was a kid, there were no rewards for doing chores. You did what you were told, or paid a painful price. Period. Here, where there are two children, no one has any assigned chores. I know. When I first read about this concept, I gasped too. My mind filled with questions:

Oh, and the Big Question:

Okay, so there’s the refrigerator; and we’ve chatted a bit about responsibility. Reality’s what ties it all together. The reality here is that we don’t assign our kids chores. Instead, my Partner in Parenthood and I do what needs to be done around the house and yard, and we try to do it with an attitude of generosity and service. We ask for help, sometimes – but the kids are as free to decline as we are to decide that doing that last load of laundry isn’t absolutely necessary today, or that we’d rather enjoy an evening at home and order Chinese than go to the grocery store and then cook something.

A freezer door makes a happy canvas…

We try to impart a sense that we are all a part of what makes life here at our house peaceful or chaotic, that we can each contribute to the welfare of all. Sometimes, it looks like we’re not succeeding, as clutter overwhelms us. Dishes and laundry gather so fast, I wonder if they’re breeding. And then, I get up one morning, and the front of the refrigerator is gleaming – and so are my nine-year-old’s eyes. “It was dirty, so I washed it,” she tells me. A little later, she shows me how she organized all the coupons and receipts, and put our four Claudia magnets in order, to make a little magnet biography. Somehow, the clutter seems – not so chaotic. Those receipts strewn across the floor? Well, she’s been studying those, lately, along with reading bills and bank statements. Sometimes, she just reads quietly; others, she has questions and comments. And that interest in interest might have led to the organizing, in the way watching her dad clean the fridge a few weeks before might have led her to notice it was getting grubby again. I could have coerced her to wash the refrigerator. Partner in Parenthood could have growled while he cleaned it. Would she want to do it then? Would there be tears and yelling and threats and punishment? Would it have been worth it, for something that might take ten minutes of my own time? I guess that depends. More than responsibility, I hope my children will develop a growing awareness of the needs and preferences of others, and the generosity to help as they can. I hope they will possess the judgment, to see things like dirty fridges, or that frazzled other mom at the grocery store, and know if and how they might help (frazzled moms in stores seldom want to be confronted, but giving their child a sheet of stickers,a little bottle of bubbles, or a game of peekaboo can work wonders!). I want my children to feel loved, valued, respected, and worthy of kind gestures. I want them to bestow those same things upon others. If I had assigned her a list of chores, she might think of that checklist as her job. Once it was done, she might not even consider looking around her, and deciding to make something better because it could be fun, and she was willing to do it. If I used a reward system, she’d probably be looking for her payoff. For sure, I would have missed that glowing, I-thought-of-this-and-did-it-all-by-myself-because-I -wanted-to face, and the pleasure of that surprisingly sparkling surface – and my life would be a little less shiny today. Instead, she got the pleasure and pride of accomplishment and service, and I saw her grow into more of my hopes, without force or any payoff but the kindness of her act, and our gratitude. You might call me crazy, but that’s worth the clutter that comes with chore-free and happy children, to me. Did you have chores as a child? Do you assign them to your own children, or would you? Have stories of cheerful service to share? I’ll replenish your cuppa; let’s converse! =)

One real live girl, just as she is…
Posted in Life Writing, Sunday Sampler

Sunday Sampler for January 26, 2014: The Happiness Edition!

 Assorted lovelies for your reading and viewing pleasure….offered up on a pretty blog platter!

I love learning and stretching my perspective; I love sharing what I find with others, and learning and stretching more in the process.

I offer up this virtual Sunday paper, filled with things I have read and enjoyed recently, in the spirit of learning and sharing.

This week, I’m thinking a lot about happiness, so I thought I would share some happy links, to tickle your funny bone, delight your fancies, and feed your joy! =D

You’re welcome!

I hope I’ve helped to fuel your happiness! Now, go on out into the world and spread that good stuff around! 

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2014, Life Writing, Round 1 2014

Infectious Play: ROW80 Update, 1/26/14

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Three weeks into the round, it feels like someone here has been sick nearly all of it. This session, I’ve been gifted with a nasty head cold. It’s breaking today, but the last three have included chills, aches, sneezing, and sinus pressure that had me bundled up and shuffling through the house like I was several decades older than I am.

I went with the flow; not moving around much when my body was insisting repeatedly that it wanted to meld itself to my bed. Social media suffered, as I was too muzzy to focus, On the other hand, I did delve into several of the niggling little PendingsI hadn’t started yet.

And, today, we’re all feeling better. Hopefully, we get a break from the rhinovirus stampede!

Note: My Wednesday post will include my January progress toward my 2014 goals, and some adjusted goals for February.

And now, a peek at what I’ve been up to (besides sneezing and huddling under piles of blankets and my cozy sweater!)

Play Jar Update:

  • I completed no new slips this week; between the kids and I, we had sickness here pretty much all week.

  • Thus far, I have selected mostly longer-term projects. There are also some very short-term adventures awaiting, so my count will increase quickly, when I pull these.

  • My count stands at 4/80 complete; 6/76 in play.

My Play Jar – filled with potential fun!

2014 Blogging:

Focus on layout and design aspects of my Blogging Action Plan.

  • Overhaul sidebar for Trueborn Jottings (it’s the least noxious!). Pending.

Tidy my Master Features Resource file. Target attained!

  • Everything not relevant deleted or moved.

  • Add all useful bits, templates, links, etc, for each feature.

Build positive blogging habits – post regularly, build queues, answer comments, and share diversely.

Answer all comments on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. On target.

  • Some comments answered on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was a sick day.

Return visits to all commenters, as standard practice. On target.

  • Three visits each made on Thursday and Friday.

Resume my regular blogging schedule with Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday posts across the three blogs. Target attained!

Somewhat aerial view of writing and editing in progress…fueled by coffee!

2014 Writing:

Complete rough drafts of To Be or Not to Be, The Stars Are Fire, and Perchance to Dream.

Complete rough draft of TBONTB.On target.

  • 947 new words/one scenes written.

  • Chapter Fifty-Nine in progress.

Draft two more novels in the Trueborn double series, as NaNo projects.

Freewrite on the ideas I’ve had for the unwritten portions of the story. On target.

  • Sketched out basic sense of what the unwritten books will encompass; picked two as tentative 2014 projects.

2014 Editing:

Complete first revision passes for Chameleon’s Dish and Bounded by a Nutshell; make pre-revision notes for Blood and Breath.

Draft rough revision plan for Chameleon’s Dish, using Rock Your Revisions. Target attained!

  • Added fine polish punch list, which completes the rough plan.

  • Created a ten-point Pre-Revision Action Plan.

Work through the Pre-Revision Action Plan by March 1. On target.

  • Completed Point #1; reread pre-revision scene notes.

  • 1/10 points completed.

Complete pre-editing notes for Bounded by a Nutshell.On target.

  • Page 400/734.

Revise all poems for QOMIS, until satisfied with the results.

Read poems aloud, highlighting for revision.On target.

  • After some searching, I found the 31 poems and the Scrivener file they belong to.

  • 2/31 poems completed.

Editing in progress has a pretty new home in an old ammo box.

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue the family room reset.On target.

  • Computer desk nearly excavated; general decluttering.

Spend time daily in my study.Target attained!

  • Yes; cleaning and creating.

Clean up main documents files. Target attained!

  • Spent the few minutes needed to finish this.

  • Clean up homeschooling files by February 15. Pending.

Develop new habits that support organization and productivity.

  • Begin collecting info for second quarter homeschooling reports; due March 15. Pending.

Experiment with play project schedule. Target attained!

  • Keeping largely to the Daily Writing Frames. Considering some February tweaks.

Research small business establishment /administration.

Read at the Small Business Administration website.On target.

Vivid blue loveliness!

2014 Lifetending:

Stretch and find new ways to blend the facets of my life with intention and awareness.

Select and complete projects from my Play Jar.On target.

  • Details above.

List people I want to connect with this year.Target attained!

  • I now have a brainstormed list with 16 names on it.

  • The list will grow.

  • Make plans to meet with at least 1; get in touch with at least 2 more to express my wish to reconnect. Pending.

Seek out playful new ways to move and challenge my body.

Choose one playful motion for each day in January; do it several times throughout the day, with a spirit of adventure. On target.

  • Skipping rope, moving firewood, t’ai chi breathing pose, seated torso rotation (mellow session due to illness.

Sponsor Visits:

See what the other ROWers are playing with this round!

Chameleon’s Dish pre-editing notes.
Posted in Life Writing, Saturday's Share...

Saturday’s Share: Choosing Happy Now

 

Aglow with happiness – right now.

 

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

Today’s Share explores the art of creating happiness in our lives, rather than waiting for it. It’s inspired by this lovely blog post offered by retired psychotherapist Kassandra Lamb.

There’s a space in our little house – a cubby, more than a room. It’s a tucked-away nook, yet it’s still close to the main living areas, and I want it as my writing space.

For years, this space has been a catchall. Feral felines, art and science supplies , holiday decorations, and assorted other bits and pieces of a busily learning family with diverse interests living in a small house without attic or basement have all made their homes there.Until recently, the clutter seemed insurmountable, and I felt defeated every time I passed what was intended to be “my” space.

It’s different now. It is my space, and I occupy it happily, even though the list of what I want to do is still daunting, and will take time and effort to achieve.

What changed? I did.

  • I looked at it differently: It’s easy to see our lacks, sometimes – especially in a culture that reveres an airbrushed, idealized, magazine centerfold version of perfection. When we can see the possibilities as well as the problem, we give ourselves a path to create our own visions. For me, something changed when I realized that it wasn’t all the fancy accessories that attracted me to home organizing magazines, but the tidiness, order, and invitation the spaces radiated. I don’t need a large bankroll to create that! =)

  • I allowed myself to fantasize. It’s fun to envision something being exactly the way we want it to be. Giving myself time to imagine all I would love to do with my little space – enlarging! Chaise lounge! Bow window! Attached bathroom! – lends shape and substance to my approach, and makes me happier, besides! =)

  • I didn’t let fantasy dim my reality. When we get stuck in our fantasies, the reality we live in can seem grimy and bleak. When we identify the desire that fuels the fantasy, we also open ourselves to ways we can satisfy that longing. A window isn’t a possibility right now – but what I want is a sense of openness and brightness in the small, windowless space, and that’s something I can create. =)

  • I identified small steps I can take now. Okay, so our budget and subzero temperatures make a window out of the question, today. But brightness and openness are what I’m really looking for. I brought in reclaimed items, like the wooden ammunition box Jim and I bought in Flagstaff, Arizona, in the early days of our relationship. I bought a turquoise lampshade for the pretty little graffiti lamp I won at last year’s NEUC, which reminds me of people I love and don’t see as often as I’d like to. I added a wicker basket and a cute painted pottery cup. Those bright rolls of wrapping paper will make a cheery vista out of a currently large and drably yellow bulletin board. When we find little things we can do with what we have, we invite ourselves to be happy in delightful new ways – without waiting! =)

  • I committed to the process. I can’t change the entire space in a day – it is going to take a lot longer. But I can devote a few minutes every day to creating a space that delights and nourishes me. Those minutes add up, and, with each tiny change, we can give ourselves a little sizzle of joy in the growing changes we’ve wrought. =)

  • I gave myself permission to be happy, right now. If I set my heart upon my fantasy, and decide that that’s what I need to be happy, or to use the space, I’ll spend a long time disappointed – which I did, already. It was a waste of time, and not much fun. Now, I use my space daily, and actively look for ways to be happy with it as it is in each moment of the transformation. If we let ourselves enjoy the journey, the destination becomes a pleasant conclusion to a happy excursion, rather than the permission slip to finally be happy. =)

Making these changes has given me a happier life; one where I can see color and radiance in the small, everyday things, and one where simple choices and changes pay off in happy dividends.

Do you have a list of things to do before you can be happy? Some destination to reach in order to find happiness? Why not be happy, right now, right where you are?

Happy makes more happy. I’d love to hear your stories or ideas, and see your happy photos. Why not tell me about what makes YOU smile, what little changes are paying off in big happy grins?

After all, Saturdays are for sharing! 

Posted in A Round of Words in 80 Days, A Round of Words in 80 Days 2014, Life Writing, Round 1 2014

Scattered Play: ROW80 Update, 1/22/14

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Hello! Two and a half weeks into Round 1, and I feel the first stirrings of coming change. How about you? If you’ve set new goals for the new year, are you cruising along, or considering adapting?

None of my changes will be major; more a matter of things that aren’t fitting in with my life-as-it-is, timing-wise. I’ll be tinkering with ideas, and I’ll announce any changes with my last January update, a week from now.

This session has been a bit chaotic. Annalise and I were sick from Friday till Sunday – this was her second cold in as many weeks, and, although she’s feeling better other than a lingering cough, her sleep patterns are off, and that makes it harder for me to sleep, and to predict when I can work.

The cold spell has been sporadically frozen our water pipes, so it’s a bit of an adventure every time someone wants to use the water!

Still, some things have gotten done, and many more are in progress – and, hopefully, we can all be well and warm for a while..

Chaotically Building …

Daily Writing Frames:

Wild Card Wednesday:

Blogging posts and queues:

  • Posted three posts; one per blog

  • No queues yet.

Play in many ways:

  • Lots of time with the kids.

  • Gaming.

  • Freewriting on various topics.

  • Reading.

Whatever feels right:

  • See above.

Trueborn Thursday:

Editing CD and BBAN; Rereading BAB.

  • CD: Scene revision pass notes.

  • BBAN: Continued pre-editing notes.

  • BAB: Pending.

Drafting TBONTB; TSAF; PTD:

  • TBOTB: New words added.

  • TSAF and PTD: Pending.

Exploring timeline and plot tribbles:

  • Pending.

Flirtatious Friday:

Exploration of whatever kind:

  • Gaming.

  • Reading.

Freewriting on and without topic:

  • Freewriting for blogging and Trueborn stories.

Family connection and play:

  • Hanging out with sick children.

Sharing Saturday:

Answer/make comments:

  • Yes.

Saturday’s Share posts.

  • Post: Yes.

  • Queue: Not yet.

Sharing/social media/submissions:

  • Not really; I was sick.

Sampling Sunday:

Reading books/blogs:

Sunday Sampler posts:

  • Nothing this week.

Playing with short stories:

  • Selected and read section of Galapogos for next exercise.

Melding Monday:

Answer comments/make comments:

  • No; tired and Jim’s weekend.

Coffee and Conversation posts:

  • Posting: Yes.

  • Queues: Not yet.

Writing/Life integration:

  • Yes. Less time writing; more time with beloveds.

Talking Tuesday:

Twitter and Facebook::

  • Twitter: No

  • Facebook: Yes.

WANATribe:

  • Not this week.

Other types of physical/virtual connection:

  • Workout and shopping with Jeremiah.

In touch with the sparkly spirals of life….

This feels like a good point to stop listing every intention, each update. Instead, I’ll update only those I worked on each session, as well as any new intentions I set.

2014 Blogging:

Resume my regular blogging schedule with Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday posts across the three blogs.On target.

  • Coffee and Conversation: It’s All About Balance

  • 1 / 4 weekly posts complete.

Inspirational play…

2014 Writing:

Explore gestatingStar Trek: Enterprise fan fiction novel concept, as well as Last House story collection concept, in the form of short pieces or flash fiction, during April and May.

Create basic timeline for Enterprise fan fiction (2014 Story-a-Day May). On target.

  • Created a rough timeline for both POV characters.

Bounded pre-editing pass.

2014 Editing:

Complete first revision passes for Chameleon’s Dish and Bounded by a Nutshell; make pre-revision notes for Blood and Breath.

Complete pre-editing notes for Bounded by a Nutshell.On target.

  • I am currently at page 340/734.

Complete Deep Revision process with my three short story WIPs.

Using Kurt Vonnegut’sGalapogos, do Part 3 “Comfort Zone” exercises for “ASOR”.On target.

  • I’ve selected the section I will use, and have read it silently and aloud.

Taking care of business…playfully!

2014 Hometending:

Continue physical and virtual hometending plans – resetting rooms, cleaning files, and inhabiting my study.

Continue the family room reset.On target.

  • More computer desk excavation; general decluttering.

Spend time daily in my study.Target attained!

  • Yes; writing, pre-editing, and prettifying!

Develop new habits that support organization and productivity.

Experiment with play project schedule.Target attained.

  • Details above.

2014 Lifetending:

Stretch and find new ways to blend the facets of my life with intention and awareness.

Select and complete projects from my Play Jar.On target.

  • 4/76 slips in play.

Seek out playful new ways to move and challenge my body.

Choose one playful motion for each day in January; do it several times throughout the day, with a spirit of adventure. On target.

  • Stair stepping; flies with 15 oz. cans; yoga Tree pose.

  • Very light workout; stair stepping, 1 mile on recumbent bike.

Sponsor Visits:

See what the other ROWers are playing with this round!

My kinda playground….

Posted in Coffee and Conversation, Life Writing

Coffee and Conversation: It’s All About Balance…

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

 

It’s Monday again – time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my familywas driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own…

Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding by offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and maybe share something of yours, too…

I believe there are many things we can learn from those around us – and that this includes the children in our lives. Kids, in the act of their living and growing, offer many lessons to those who are paying attention.

Annalise has always had a knack for balance – with her body, with the way she creates, and in the way she lives her life.

I, on the other hand, have a tendency toward clumsiness, of being a bit off-centered, of leaning too far to one side of the other, and losing my balance in the process.

In general, January seems to be an out-of-kilter time for many adults as we set resolutions, evaluate our lives and find ourselves wanting, and dive headlong into the project of making ourselves better, stronger, thinner – or any number of other “-ers”.

I gave up resolutions a couple of years ago, partly because I watched the way my children approach their own challenges. Maybe because they’ve never been in school, they don’t tend to look to the grownups in their lives to tell them what goals to set, or how to approach them. They decide what they want to improve, and generally already have some form of plan before they even mention it to me, if they do.

They approach their goals playfully, with open minds and a willingness to make some mistakes and fumbles along the way. That frees them up to be more daring than I tend to be; because, for them, failures are a way of learning what not to do, rather than the waste of time and energy they’re often viewed as, in the adult world.

Joyful balance!

Last week, I took Annalise to the Childrens’ Museum at Saratoga, a local attraction she’s been wanting to revisit for a while. It’s set in a big old Victorian house, with the lower level open and largely devoted to the world of nature and travel, and the upper level filled with rooms outfitted as a diner, a bank, a schoolroom, a fire station, a grocery, a post office, and a construction zone.

A given of our lives is that when there is a chance to build at any event, Annalise will eventually be there, constructing her fantasies.

And, when she’s building, there will be risktaking – and there will be her intuitive sense of balance, guiding her sensibilities and choices, too.

It took her about 3 minutes to construct the fort above, using foam blocks. It’s worth noting that she didn’t falter, and no blocks fell until two younger kids came in and she let them help her destroy it. I watched, and took some pictures, my breath catching each time she chose to balance a block on its points – which, to me, looks haphazard and completely unstable.

And yet, the fort never fell – her instincts were more reliable than mine. She began with a good strong foundation, then took a risk or two on the second level, but with support on each side. There’s a symmetry even when her risks get more frequent and expansive in the top two levels.

So, what can we learn from the way my daughter builds a soundly balanced and fanciful structure?

  • Reasoned risks can be supported by a sound foundation. Friends, habits, learning, practice: these can be the strong base upon which we balance, as we prepare to stretch and take chances.
  • Risktaking is best if approached with an understanding of the goal. Annalise knew, from the start, that she wanted to build a fort, and an image of what that fort might look like. She took her chances within the parameters of what she wanted to create. We can do that in our own lives, if we know what it is that we are trying to build or create.
  • Don’t take every risk that comes along. Annalise measured the risks she took along the way, starting with only one or two, and building as she had a better sense of how her structure was evolving toward the goal in her mind. Risks are less risky if we pace ourselves and give a little space and time to see how things turn out before taking more chances.
  • Take risks with confidence and joy. Annalise knew she could build, and she understands balance. She tends to narrate her play, and, while building, she often referred to the her fort and choices as “structurally sound”. It made her happy to build what she envisioned; she didn’t come to it out of obligation, but out of a desire to create something that hadn’t existed before. We can take a page from her if we make choices from a place of confidence and knowledge, and if we carry a delight in the act of creating.

How do you approach balance and risk? Do you like structured balance, or our you willing to take chances? Have you learned something, or found inspiration in, the play of a child? I’ll offer up a treat and some hot beverages, and let’s converse! =D