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Weaving Thoughts Together

Blogging Goals Update

Linda's Anniversary bouquet

Happy Blogging Anniversary Linda! You got me thinking about how my blogging goals have changed since nearly 2 years ago when I established my first one.

I began my first blog to satisfy a Statistics course requirement. The professor asked us to post updates as we explored our statistical analyses.

A dear friend made recommendations for tweaking the blog layout. Although I agreed with her, I felt frustrated and limited by the options at tumblr. She and another great writer friend recommended WordPress. Independent spirit that I am, I stuck with tumblr, and signed up for an account elsewhere; that sat idle as I hoped to figure out how it worked someday.

Then, Leni began a private WordPress site for a group of writers, and made me an Administrator! I got the most comprehensive book about WordPress, and rose to the occasion. I began my own WordPress blog to learn the ropes before I dared to make any changes or suggestions for the group site.

I was in a personal era of writing research articles. The ones that stimulated discussion about social justice moved me to post regularly, so my blogging goal was to aim for publishing an article each week on a social justice issue.

Many people recommend focusing a blog on one topic, but blogging supported my discovery that focusing on one topic is not in my nature. I flit from one to another, as freely as an expert juggler can throw and catch  bean bags. I considered sharing my recipes like PaleOMG, sense of humor like Little Miss Menopause, recommendations for writers like Anne R. Allen, and favorite authors like Chris The Story Reading Ape.

And I have also been writing fiction. My husband enjoyed it so much (and still does — he’s my favorite editor), he asked me to write a story every day for a while, and prompted me with a few items to get me started, like “your grandmother’s grandmother’s diary, a trunk, and an attic”. Eventually, the weekly prompts at Google+ Writers Discussion Group Weekly Writing Exercises replaced his, and I met Ronda.

Last summer, Ronda invited me to join the Google+ Saturday Scenes Community where writers share work that they are developing, and readers give feedback. After I read for a few weeks, I shared a short story that my husband had previously prompted. My commenters asked me about the character and more of the story, and when I discovered that I had answers to their questions, my River Novel began, which I continue to write.

As Linda continues into her second year of her blog, I send her hopes that it will be full of dreamy millionaires who will whisk her off to the French countryside under the stars for orgasmic episodes, as well as more of the same raw insight that she has been sharing. I put the power of my blessings behind her goal,

“May I have another blissful year ahead of me and continue to love what I do every single time I sit at this laptop, with the screen propped open and may I always embrace the feeling of drowning in the emotions that run through my body and it makes me want to type my entire day away just to share with the world what goes on in this almost always crazy, very rarely beautiful, never too broken world of mine.”

Today is My 1 Year Blog Anniversary! | Never.Too.Broken.

Thanks Carrie Bradshaw for sharing your thoughts as you celebrate.

 

Image Credits:
Composite of images from the Public Domain, by Grace Buchanan, Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND 4.0

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Sweating Small Stuff

 

80% of our effort produces 20% of our results

something has to change by at least 5% for us to notice the difference

Consider that less than 20% of our effort might make more than 80% of the difference.

Parroting the Pareto Principle

More than 100 years ago, economist Vilfredo Pareto discovered that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of his peas, and 20% of Italy’s population owned 80% of Italy’s land. Other people have found that this Pareto Principle applies to many other countries, and even the world. People are applying this principle to other situations, like resource management, showing that 80% of a person’s effort addressed 20% of the problems, 80% of the products were produced by 20% of the machinery, etc.

Man_in_pelvis_cloth_lifting_weight Man_in_pelvis_cloth_lifting_weightb~3

Weighing Weber’s Law

Nearly 200 years ago, physiologist Ernst Weber discovered that a weight lifter could perceive smaller differences in weight as the weight decreases. For example, when people were lifting 100 lbs., they usually didn’t notice if you added or removed less than 10 lbs.; but when they were lifting 10 lbs., then they noticed a difference of 1 lb. or more. Thus, he found that it took a 10% change in weight for the difference to be noticeable. Many people began applying this Law to other senses: for hearing, the difference is around 5%, and for vision, 8%.

So What?

I wanted to make the most of my time. I understood that I could be like most, and waste 80% of my time chasing after the bottom 20% of my customers and profit. I wanted to apply the Pareto percentages so that 80% of my time built up the top 20%.

Don’t sweat the small stuff?

Then, I kept coming across the idea that we don’t notice small changes, so I considered stopping chasing the small stuff.

Maybe life doesn’t work well that way.

…It’s all small stuff

When I put the greatest amount of my effort into the smallest things, I excel.

In college, learning 20% of the material took around 80% of my effort. It was the difference between C and A grades. I could have shown up for class and done the minimal required, and gotten Cs, but I chose to master the details to get mostly As.

In other areas of my life, I could have done what 80% of the other people did, and fit in. Instead, I addressed details that others didn’t notice, and excelled.

I propose that 80-99% of life just happens. 80-99% of our bodily functions probably happen on their own for 80-99% of the people. My most essential functions require the least amount of my attention: breathing, circulating blood, dreaming. But greater health comes from attending to the optional 1-20%: expanding awareness.

So, I’m sweating the small stuff: savoring 1% of the music that I hear, 1% of the foods that I eat, 1% of the plants that I see, 1% of the words that I read…you get the idea.

What small stuff do you want to sweat today?

 

 

Photo credit:
“Man in pelvis cloth lifting weight” by Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Amazon Update

You know how I feel about Amazon. I still have a few used items for sale at their website, but will continue to lean toward using alternative websites when I have another item to sell.

Today I got an email from Amazon stating that if I want to sell a DVD with a MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $25 or more, I will have to apply for the privilege, starting in November. “We are implementing this restriction because these products may have a higher risk of authenticity issues. ” That sounds reasonable. After all, I’m in favor of protecting intellectual property rights. But the application process requires a Professional Selling Plan with a monthly fee of $39.99.

Amazon-update

Call me cynical, but I think that Amazon is pushing its sellers into this monthly subscription program  under the guise of increasing the legitimacy of the products that they sell through their “doors”.

  • another reason why I am supporting alternatives to buying and selling through Amazon.

 

Image credits:
Composite of images by Grace Buchanan, Creative Commons License
This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Image Components:
Woman in denim jeans in Paris 2007, by Mark Skipper
I got to pick the film we watched Friday night 🙂 by Lisa Risager
Pirate by Jess
Discarded DVD Cases by Rym DeCoster
Discarded DVD covers by Harald Groven

Sorry, Wrong Number?

cordless phone by televisionThe phone rang. My husband and I were in the middle of dinner and a movie, so we let the answering machine pick up, as usual. We expected that it was one of the dinner-time callers who repeatedly tried to connect with us even though we registered on the Do Not Call list.

“Hey Mom. I’m sorry I missed Mother’s Day and your birthday. I just wanted to let you know I got home safely.”

A huge smile swelled in me because I was delighted to hear from my son, and thrilled that he decided that talking with me was important enough to use a telephone. Sometimes he contacted me on Mother’s Days and my birthdays, but it was never a big deal when he didn’t. I hadn’t heard his voice since he visited five months earlier. His deep bass tones surprised me, like they did when he last visited. I was still used to his boyish tones. I dashed to pick up the phone before he finished leaving his message.

He sounded relaxed, smooth, and genuine. His words seemed to come from a deep place within him. I hoped that this indicated that he was feeling secure and calm. This might mean that the storm of adolescence was relaxing its grip on him as he transformed into a young adult. I felt relieved to not hear the familiar tension and uncertainty restraining the words coming through his throat. His voice may have betrayed the effects of drugs, but he spoke clearly enough for me to feel somewhat confident while I dismissed that worry.

He told me that he was organizing a Freedom Concert in St. Petersburg, Florida. I knew that he had liked driving to the southeastern states during college breaks, so I felt glad for him. I knew that he enjoyed organizing events, and wondered if this was like one of the beer binge bashes that he had coordinated before, or a more respectable festival that promoted one of the nonprofit groups that he supported. He said that he was afraid to tell me about it because he didn’t know if I agreed with that kind of cause. I wondered what the cause might be. Freedom. Concert. When have I ever been opposed to freedom or concerts?

He sounded so cautious, I urged him to send me something about it. He responded with surprise, and said that he would. I told him that it didn’t matter if I agreed with the cause; I cared about him, and wanted to know about what he was doing, whatever it might be. He sounded surprised again when he thanked me.

To drive my point home, I told him that I was really glad that he called, and that I loved him so much. Pause. He said that I didn’t know how much that meant to him. I nearly cried. Poor kid. What had he been going through that such words would make such a difference? He said, “I love you too, sweetie.” My son never called me “sweetie” before. Again, I considered that he was stoned out of his mind, or maybe someone was impersonating him while he laughed in the background.

I felt sad for my son. Poor me. I was so eager to have that kind of conversation with him, that I deliberately chose to take a chance on being wrong about whom I was talking with. I decided to enjoy it, rather than admit my skepticism. My heart wanted the caller to be my son. I wanted him to call me to chit-chat this openly, and find that I loved him more than he realized.

I wanted him to let me know when he had any doubts about being precious.

He asked me how my work was going, and quickly added that he wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. I laughed and wondered what he meant, but just continued to listen.

He told me that he missed me. I let a little skepticism slip in.

I asked about the earthquake that I felt earlier that day. The epicenter was near where he lived. He said that he was still working until 3 in the morning sometimes, so might not have felt it. I wondered what he might have been doing at 3 in the morning when he worked at a store that kept him very busy during regular business hours. More skepticism slipped in. I asked him to tell me about what his work was like.

Then I heard that moment of silence that indicated that his call waiting was signaling him, and he said, “Dad is calling me. I’ll call you back in a few minutes.” This didn’t surprise me at all: my son always responded quickly when his father wanted his attention, and his father always kept phone calls short.

When I let go of the phone, I immediately went to my computer to look up the Freedom Concert. I found that it was raising money for an African Socialist food bank. How sad that anyone would think that their mother would object, to such a degree that he would be afraid to tell her about his involvement in such a project.

My husband and I replayed the answering machine message several times, debating whether it was my son’s voice.

No call back. I wished I had caller ID so that I might have been able to resolve this mystery for certain.

A few days later, I texted my son to ask if he had heard of the Freedom Concert in Florida. He said no. I asked him if he had called me lately. He said no. I told him about the phone call, and he responded, “LOL”. I told him that I loved him, and he said, of course he knew it.

I am writing this for the young man who called me, and for his mother. Imagine how he felt when he heard someone whom he thought was his mother tell him that she loved him; how he felt when I responded to him with an unexpected amount of caring. I thank my lucky stars that I don’t remember ever struggling with expressing my love for my son, even when he didn’t seem to regret doing things that I didn’t like. More than ever, I am savoring that my son and I connect monthly. Texting is keeping us connected better than any other means is likely to.

Imagine if the other son called his mother, expecting her to respond the same way that I did. Imagine that he moved her to say, “I love you more than you ever imagined,” and, “I’d love to hear about the African Socialist food bank.”

Imagine if she rose to his expectations.