Are You Directionally Challenged?

I once directed my husband to my sister’s house.  We didn’t have her address and my husband had never been to her house.

“That looks familiar. Turn left here. Oh, I’m pretty sure we passed the subway, went right, then crossed through the light…”

We ended up on the south-west side of the city instead of the north-east side.

My husband, who by then should have known better than to listen to my directions—I turn right when I should turn left and vice versa—finally stopped at a pay phone. Remember those?! My sister gave him the street address and directions. With those in hand and without getting lost, he drove right to her house.

To this day, my husband still listens to my directions. Trust is such a wonderful thing. 🙂

I come by my lack of direction skills honestly. Every year, when my Dad took us on vacation, he drove through Calgary on his way to Penticton. Back then, there was only one route through the city. It only changed if there was construction and a detour.

And yet every year, my Dad got lost. We’d end up in one of the residential sections, until my Mom took navigational control and directed Dad back to the main highway and out of the city.

These days, when I want to go somewhere I’m unfamiliar with, I do the following:

1. Address in hand, I head for Google Maps.

2. Locate my destination, preplan my route, then study the surrounding streets in case I mess up.

3. Print off the map, highlight the route, and write down the instructions.

5. Quiz my guys. Any traffic circles? Oops, need to find an alternate route because traffic circles confuse me. According to my mom, they confused my dad, too. Overpasses, merging lanes, or anything else out of the norm? Check, check, check.

When it comes to writing, I need a road map, too. I’m a panster at heart. I love to sit down and bang out the story. But by the time I type THE END, I’ve taken so many detours, the story is lost in a muddle of side trips. Even worse, the story has no structure.

These days, I do some extra planning. I have the end in sight and a general map of the story to guide me. Before writing a scene, I preplan it, using colored sticky notes for the different characters. I can immediately recognize when I’ve taken a wrong turn and I can fix it before I end up writing a totally different book than the one I started to write.

Or before I end up writing garbage.

By the time I type THE END, I’m happy because the structure is solid and I know the edit stage is going to be manageable.

So do you know your left hand from your right hand? Are you directionally challenged like I am? Or can you navigate on the road as easily as you can navigate your way through your story?

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

The Ultimate Guide to Procrastination

These days, I’m meeting my writing goals, but it wasn’t always so. You see, I’m a procrastinator at heart and when the writing gets tough, I go do something else.

1. I loathe shopping for clothes and avoid it until my slippers are in tatters and my t-shirts are frayed at the edges. As long as I’m writing, who cares? But at the first sign of a stubborn scene, I head for the stores and Shop-Till-I-Drop.

To prevent this escape, put all debit cards, credit cards, and cash in a glass of water and stick it in the freezer. If you chose to shop instead of write, you’ll have to watch the ice melt before you can access your cards or soggy cash. This may take hours. In fact, if you use a big enough glass, it could take all day. Before the day is up, you’ll be bored by the melting ice and dying to get back to that stubborn scene.

2. Have you ever struggled with a messy first draft, found yourself mesmerized by the dust particles floating in the sunshine, and discovered it’s the perfect time to dust, vacuum, and wash everything in the house? You even have the energy to move all the furniture so you don’t leave a single speck of dust behind. And by the time you’re done, you’re delighted with your dust free house and too tired to resume work on your manuscript.

Except…the next morning, you sit down in front of the computer, glance out the window, and notice those dust particles are STILL floating in the air.

Next time you get the urge to banish the dust from your house, save yourself the back breaking work of moving furniture and keep your butt on your chair. If you must, stare at those dust particles. Watch how they dance in the sunshine streaming through your dirty window. Then ignore them because let’s face it. Dust particles win the housekeeping war every single time. In the long run, you’ll be further ahead if you tackle the messy first draft instead of the mess in your house.

Now, let me tell you about the ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATOR INHIBITOR, my new secret weapon to keep my butt on chair and my fingers moving across the keyboard.

I’ve started goal setting with my eldest son. It turns out the overwhelming guilt of motherhood helps me produce words because I know if I slack off, my poor example gives my son permission to slack, too. Simple, isn’t it?

So what are your favorite procrastination techniques? And how do you keep yourself from procrastinating in the first place?

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

 

Are You A Cooking-Cleaning-Gardening Machine?

Whenever I come across The Good Wife’s Guide, I always wonder what life was really like for the women in the 50’s. Did they actually greet their husbands at the door with his favorite slippers and drink in hand? Or did they — the moment he walked into the house — shove the screaming kids into his arms so they could take a much needed break?

So check out The Good Wife Guide below and tell me which item you’re most likely to follow and which one you’re most likely to ignore.

The Good Wife’s Guide

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

7. Be happy to see him.

8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

10. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

11. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

14. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15. A good wife always knows her place.

Which is The Good Wife Rule you most often adhere to? And which one do you most often ignore? My reply will be below in the comment section. 🙂

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

Why Is My Face Red?

We all suffer from it, that infliction known as embarrassment. At the moment it occurs, our face turns red and our body flushes with a heat that can only be compared to a hot flash.

Each time I get caught in an embarrassing situation, I believe I’m the only one this has ever happened to, and yet common sense tells me that’s not true. So I did a pole of a few of my blogger friends and they were more than happy to share their most embarrassing moments with me.

Lisa Hall-Wilson: I Can’t Believe I Said That and Biking In Panties

Susie Lindau: My Most Mortifying Moments

Jenny Hansen: Embarrassing Blonde Moment and No Porn On The Job

August McLaughlin: Sweaty Impulses & The One That Got Away

My most embarrassing and painful memory occurred in grade eight science class, when a racy little note got passed around from student to student and finally fell into my hands. It was something about sex, which I read, of course. As I turned to pass the note to the boy behind me, our teacher – well known for his cruel and inhuman ways to torture his young students – snatched the note from my fingers and silently read it.

The room went quiet. It was one of those just-kill-me-now moments, although that particular phrase hadn’t yet been invented. After a few tense seconds, during which I braced myself for the inevitable emotional pain of his punishment, the teacher decided I should stand up and read the note to the rest of the class.

It should’ve been so simple. After all, half the class had just read the note and had been fortunate enough to escape our teacher’s detection. While I turned a brilliant shade of scarlet and read the note aloud, the teacher and my classmates roared with laughter.

Can I blame them? Heck no. There’s something so funny about witnessing someone else’s embarrassing moment. Caught unaware, we laugh in reaction, and it’s only afterwards that we consider how our laughter might have affected the person involved.

Of course, it’s all part of being human. There was the time I came out of my first ever massage, only to trip over the curb and land on the street on my butt. There was another time when I asked a former co-worker when her baby was due, only to discover she wasn’t pregnant at all.

Will the embarrassment ever end? Will I someday learn to pay attention to where I’m going or what I’m saying? Not likely and maybe that’s a good thing, because if we can’t laugh at ourselves, is it fair to laugh at others?

So now it’s your turn to share a moment of sheer embarrassment. I promise not to laugh too hard.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

A World Without … Books?

Sometimes I think about how awful it would be to live in a world without books. Usually it’s a result of watching TV and seeing old footage of people burning books.

But then I reach for my Kindle, admire the towering digital-to-be-read pile that awaits me there, and forget about my concerns. After all, even if every print book on the planet disappeared, we’d still have our digital copies to read and pass on to future generations. Right?

Thankfully, Jan O’Hara’s recent Tartitude blogawakened me to the truth and the worst possible scenario. No power = no ereader.

A world without books of any kind?

This realization comes while I’m in the middle of decluttering my house, so that in 30, 40, or 50 years, my boys won’t have to dispose of our treasures (or what they like to call our junk). I’ve been parting ways with my beloved books, something I haven’t done since we packed to move to this house 19 years ago. At that time, every book I set into the box to give away broke my heart.

This time, though, I’m a little older and a little tougher. With every box I cart out of the house, I tell myself that eventually all books will be in digital form and I’ll be able to buy them for my ereader.

But now my overactive imagination has taken over and I’ve decided it’s less likely I’ll have to fight zombies in the future than do without books.

So what would I do if I got rid of all the print books in my house and the power went out … permanently?

My first thought is that I’d find pen and paper and write stories to entertain myself. My next thought is … what if there is no pen and paper either?

Ack! I’m a lousy verbal storyteller, unlike both my boys who can tell tales off the cuff. I’d start and stop and think, then want to edit every word uttered. Best to leave the verbal storytelling to those who are good at it.

And so, to alleviate my bookless fears, my decluttering has come to an end. The shelves of books and stacks of magazines will have to remain where they are until my boys are moving their dad and me into a much – much, Much, MUCH – smaller living space.

Till then, I’ll hold my long time friends near and dear to my heart because let’s face it, even a three day power outage could cause a diehard reader without a book to go into withdrawal and shock.

So while you all prepare for the upcoming Easter holiday, I want you to take a break and answer these questions. Have you ever thought about giving up your stack(s) of print books? Or do you think zombies will attack you before you ever have to live in a world without books?

Happy Easter everyone!

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

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