Greetings to all from a basement out here in the middle of Minnesota! Happy sabbath, happy 7th Day of Christmas, and an early Happy New Year’s.
I hope this missive finds you and yours feeling hearty and hale in the waning hours of 2022.
It’ s been a lovely day for us thus far. Awoke to slightly sunny skies, and temperatures north of 20 degrees. Had coffee and pancakes with the family (because we’re in the winter months, I like to season the pancake mix with healthy shakes of cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon), and read the last devotion in the Upper Room (a pocket-sized devotional spanning two months put out by the Methodist Church), the final entry from A Year With CS Lewis, and the liturgy for “Saturday’s Table Blessing” from Every Moment Holy.
After, I took Rosie for a walk/trudge around the big loop in our neighborhood. It felt good to get out and about on a jaunt with her again. Prior to a span of heavy snowfalls and deep freezes, I was real good about taking a daily walk, and that, combined with the foot travel I do at work, lead to fairly active days. Since the weather took a turn for the worse, I haven’t maintained my walking regiment, leading to a lull in exercise for both Rosie and me. Might be about that time to dust off the ol’ exercise bike, and do away with the excuses.
When I got back from the walk, I finished shoveling off the second half of the driveway…there wasn’t a lot of snow, not enough to break out the snow thrower, but I wanted to clear it all the same to avoid driving over it and packing it down further. Inside, I found the kids watching a National Geographic documentary series on the animals in Disney’s Animal Kingdom zoo. I sat down with them, and learned how they care for rhinoceroses, socialize hippos, and assist baby gorillas who may be experiencing developmental delays (they actually bring in child development specialists).
Audrey made taco soup for lunch with fire roasted tomatoes, the perfect meal after a chilly walk. Though the kids are beyond the napping age, we all partake in a quiet time of sorts in the afternoon. On Saturdays I usually like to read during this time, and though I have quite a few books on my TBR pile (currently working my way through Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and The First Binding by R.R. Virdi), I decided to instead unbox the mechanical keyboard—a Keycrhon K2–I acquired with a gift card I received for Christmas (currently plonking away on it to scribe this missive).
With the exception of an old iMac keyboard I use with my work laptop, it’s my first mechanical keyboard. I’m pairing it with my iPad, as the keyboard comes with Bluetooth 5.1, and so far I haven’t experienced any lag (something some reviewers identified as problem). The K2 is a 75% keyboard, which means it has all the keys you’d find on a full-sized keyboard, minus the number keypad. So far the typing experience has been a lot of fun. The keys have Gateron Brown switches which create a nice tactile experience. I’m looking forward to moving away from the old chromebook I used for most of my writing 2018-2022, back to the iPad-Bluetooth keyboard-Scrivener set-up I wrote most of my thesis novel on.
Speaking of writing…
As always, it’s been a minute or two since my last post, and as always, it’s mainly due in part to a lack of dedication I suppose. If I had it together a little more, I’d be posting weekly missives regaling you all with the news fit to print from my life. I’d also be consistently writing more in general. In the new year, I’m hoping to make a go at writing more frequently, and on a regular basis. Those of you who’ve read my posts for awhile have read this type of declaration from me before. I know, I know. It’s kind of ridiculous. But I have to keep at it, and not self-flagellate with guilt. I read a quote by Daniel Jose Older that said something to the effect of writing when you can, and not giving yourself a hard time about the time in between. These are wise words to keep ahold of, and at the same time, I can do a better job of recognizing and making use of time when I have it.
Sometimes, I think I try to go gangbusters on my writing output, and eventually burn out after the first month. Last year I clocked just over 5,000 words during January, and then things sort of fell off during the subsequent months. What’s the magic number? A certain number of words per day? A certain amount of time per day? I struggle with a daily word count, because if I’m outlining or planning, it’s hard to count anything written during that time toward the daily word goal. Perhaps, the time limit works better. How long? I like to think about entry points versus exit points. Perhaps I’d like to get to the point where I’m cranking out 30 minutes of solid writing time every day, but if I’m being honest about my current habits and writing stamina, I need to start smaller. Do I begin with daily 5 minute writing sprints? Hit that for a week, and then up it to 10 minutes? Makes sense to me. Good plan? Good plan.
Last year I wrote about John Spencer’s SLIME method for setting process goals (He uses this method with his students in the classroom, as well for his personal goals), planned and set goals, and had every intention of writing updates about the goals throughout the year. How well did that turn out? I’ll save you the trouble of going back and checking. Not so well.
All the same, I thought I would take another crack at it this year. I don’t have all of them sorted yet, but I thought I would begin with S. In the SLIME acronym, this focuses on which goals/habits/projects I want to start in the new year. With regards to writing, this might technically fall under the I (improve) part of SLIME, but given that I don’t have a daily writing habit, I’ll keep it in the S. So, I’d like to start writing every day, using the time metric described above. In addition to fiction (I have this middle grade novel I’ve been noodling with), I’d also like to write a weekly update here on the website. Wouldn’t necessarily have to be anything lengthy every week, but just something. If I were to give myself a structure, I suppose I could work on fiction related writing M-F, S, and a blog post on Saturday.
The other endeavor I need to start as soon as possible is the renewal process for my National Board Certification. This is certification I added to my teaching license back in 2014, and it expires in 2024. I can begin renewal two years out. I haven’t made much headway yet, and I need to have it submitted by late May.
Some of my goals in the L (Let Go) category will help with my Start goals. The time I can dedicate to more fruitful practices can generate from a better stewardship of my time. I’d taken steps in the spring and summer to unplug from social media, and while that’s a good thing, it didn’t go quite far enough. Time spent on social media just went into looking things up on the internet, watching clips on YouTube, and spending way too much time scrolling through news doom cycle. I finally put a stop to that yesterday, by disabling Safari on my phone. If it’s not there, I can’t tumble down that rabbit hole of passivity.
More on the other SLIME process goals in future posts.
Overall, we’re doing well out here. It’s been a delightful Advent and Christmas, and I’m looking forward to the new year, ready to march into 2023 with high hopes, because isn’t that what advent and Christmas are all about? Doesn’t the world need more hope? One of my favorite Christmas songs is “O Holy Night,” and it’s really only because of one set of lines in the first verse:
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining
‘Til he appeared, and a soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
These words are so good, and they perfectly encapsulate a people, a world hoping for a Light in the darkness.
That feels like a good note to end on. I’ll write more next weekend (if the S in my SLIME process starts off on the right foot) with some updates on the other process goals, as well as how this year’s One Act season is going.
Thanks kindly for reading! It’s much appreciated. Take care of yourselves and each other.