Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Whether you're celebrating with someone special or practicing some self-love by taking yourself out to dinner and a movie, I hope you have a wonderful day today!

I often wonder how traditions start and what keeps them going. I'm pretty sure the chocolate and flower industries as well as Hallmark are responsible for the success of Valentine's Day. Consider the facts: over 1 BILLION Valentine's Day cards are sent each year. Lest you think they're all the same boring stuff, there are over 1,300 different Valentine's Day cards of which about a quarter are humorous. I like funny cards but sometimes I want romantic. Romantically funny?

As for the chocolate industry... ah, apparently on V Day (Not to be confused with V-J Day. Not to be confused with BJ...nevermind) anyway, on Valentine's Day, 36 million boxes of chocolate will be given as gifts. Which is good because American women say they'd prefer to receive chocolate over flowers. I am not one of those women. Give me chocolate roses and I'm perfectly content. So, does this mean that chocolate is the new gold?

Cards? CHECK!

Chocolate? CHECK!

That leaves roses. How about 110 million roses (most of them red, of course) will be distributed on this romantic day. How about them apples? Er, flowers? And something I find even cooler is that about 15 percent of those flower orders are sent by women to THEMSELVES. That is some awesome stuff.

I will leave you with two strange Valentine's Day bits of trivia:

1. Valentine's Day was originally associated with the mating of birds.
2. In Victorian times, it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine's Day card.

These days I think it's bad luck to FORGET to sign a Valentine's Day card.

Have a sweet and wonderful day no matter how you spend it or who you spend it with!

Happy reading,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Focus On One Step At A Time


I have the worst habit of over-expectation from myself. I think if I can do five things, then really why not ten? And if I make ten, why not fifteen? As you can see, it's a self-perpetuating cycle of potential destruction. When things don't get done, I get grumpy and often feel like I've let myself and others down. However if you ask "the others" they are likely to tell you I'm doing a great job and shouldn't be so hard on myself.

It's actually something I'm aware of and have been trying to break but it's slow going. However, the other day when I was loading the dishwasher, I was hit right in the face with a clear reason why it's important and more effective to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. It really wasn't anything earthshattering -- it was a dirty frying pan of baked-on, caked-on eggs that led to this epiphany.

You see, we have this awesome and great dishwasher with all sorts of features like sanitize, jet clean, power wash and normal. But each time you add something to the cycle, it takes more time for it to run (Ah, a parallel!).With this dishwasher, adding more things could mean it runs for four hours. That's not cool. I didn't want it to run that long and the only item in need of super cleaning was the egg pan.

I grabbed a scouring sponge and started attacking the pan. It's one of those heavy duty, copper bottomed aluminum pans without teflon. That means everything sticks to it (unless you use an entire stick of butter to cook in) and getting it clean takes an act of Congress. So there I am scrubbing all over the bottom furiously. Swipe. Swipe. Swipe. Nothing is really happening. Oh sure, a little bit is coming off here and there but not enough to make a visible difference. I could feel my tension rising and I was getting grumpy. At one point, I threw the sponge down and let fly with a few choice curses. Then I took a deep breath and picked up the sponge again. I looked at the pan and saw a spot on the edge that really wasn't all that bad. While I waited for my calm to return, I scrubbed the spot. A couple of swipes and it was gone. Poof! Just like that. I moved to another small spot and had the same success. Well, it didn't take me long to figure out that if I concentrated all my efforts on one small area I was getting excellent and fast results. I focused on spot to spot to spot and within five minutes the whole bottom of that pan gleamed like it was rolling off the showroom floor.

I was rather astounded especially when I equated the experience of washing that pan with tackling my various projects whether it's writing, cleaning, exercise or planning a wedding. I'm super impatient so I think casting a wide net will get me better results. Less time and energy, right?


This whole week since the "Pan Incident," I have practiced focusing on ONE thing at a time.  To my delight, I found that it works really well in many areas. Laundry doesn't count though. You can't really focus on doing laundry and nothing else until it's finished or you're  going to be staring at the washer then the dryer for a very long time. Which would make me even more tense because I'd be thinking of all the time I'm wasting that I could be using to do something else!

I haven't perfected focusing by any means. I still flit from project to project but at least now I'm becoming more attuned to focusing on the right now project instead of letting my mind wander to what I'll be doing next. This amazing trick really showed itself well last night when I sat down to plot Enticed, book four of the Sexual Magic series. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to happen in the book and who the characters were. When I sat down to put it to paper, I tuned inward and listened to what they had to say and did nothing but that. Within two hours I had the entire book plotted, character sketches drawn and even found a rather awesome bad guy quite unexpectedly. All from focusing on one thing instead of nine.

I think I like this focusing on the small stuff idea.It's working so far!

Happy reading,