Able Was I, Ere I Saw…Oooh, Shiny

 

 

Distractions. You know what they are? A mar on a panorama.

A panorama of productivity, aglow with embers of ideas that are fanned into a flame by motivation. It can be a beautiful sight—unless our attention is diverted elsewhere. Then our motivation evaporates till there’s nothing left of it. No trace, not one carton.

As a matter of fact, even on my way to type this article, I got sidetracked. My mind was filling with clear ideas, which would soon become a cohesive blog post. I opened a browser, with Google Documents as my destination. I mentally rehearsed my phrasing while the home page loaded…making sure I remembered the exact wording I wanted to use, preparing to head to GoogleDocs…and…oh…what was that headline on the home page? *Click.*

Ooh, shiny.

“Able was I, ere I saw…[Fill in the blank].”

So what zaps your momentum? Often, we don’t even realize what does it to us, even when it happens. All we know is that a few minutes ago, we were raring to go—now, we’re listening to a symphony of crickets chirping in our empty storehouse of ideas.

Zeroing in on triggers can help. For example, try filling in the blank:

“I was able to do this before I…”

…Checked social networks? Made that phone call? Folded the laundry? Some men interpret nine memos. For me, it’s handling e-mail. It’s not always a matter of wasting time in worthless activities—every item on that list is a viable task. But some tasks, by their nature, are more mind-numbing than others.

So, are we doomed to distraction?

No, it never propagates if I set a gap or prevention.

The key is in recognizing which activities fuel our motivation, and which ones drain it. Take a few days to analyze your work and thought patterns. Notice what your most productive thought-times are, and what commonly sidetracks you from putting those thoughts into action. Then reschedule the lulling tasks for another time. For instance, if managing your inbox zombifies you, then save e-mail for the hours when you could use a mental break.

And when you determine the times that your idea storehouse tends to runneth over, use self-discipline to focus on that alone. Don’t nod. Say “no” to other requirements till later. And resist the shiny.

Then enjoy the spoils of productivity. Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

I thought so.

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 8:06 pm  Comments (9)  
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The New Media Workshop

 

Photo by Keith Burtis, Magic Woodworks

 

I used to enjoy spending time on the weekends watching “The New Yankee Workshop” with my Dad, who is a craftsman. Today I had an opportunity to see a live broadcast that reminded me of those happy memories. Except here, it’s more than woodworking—it’s also a friend bringing the social media community together through his art.

Artisan Keith Burtis is known for his beautiful woodturning work, which he showcases on his website. In crafting bowls, bottle stoppers, ornaments, and sculptures, he never fails to surprise his viewers by bringing out the hidden personality of wood.

What’s interesting about Keith is the way he blends the age-old craft of woodworking with the modern tools of the internet. He is an active member of the social media community, and recently spoke about “Creativity and the Arts” at PodCamp Boston 3. He also hosts a live woodturning show on BlogTV. Viewers can spend a fun hour watching Keith turn a hunk of wood into a collectors item, while sharing a conversation with him and others through the chat feature. And once the show is over, fans can buy Keith’s work from his MagicWoodworks Etsy shop.

This weekend, Keith is hosting an event that he calls The Woodturner’s Weekend. Through Sunday, July 27th, he will be dedicating his live broadcasts to the achievement of a special goal.

I invite you to tune in tomorrow and join the fun, as an old-world art comes to life in the hands of a new media craftsman.

I’ll see you there!

 

mousewords is moving to its own site soon–Subscribe here!
© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on July 26, 2008 at 9:16 pm  Comments (13)  
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Ok, Geniuses

 

Saturday morning. I emerge into the dining room. My Dad looks up with a cheerful expression. “Aha!” he says. It’s nice to be appreciated, but before I get a chance to feel too smug, he pulls out the newspaper. Oh, no.

Pop: “What was the greatest gift given to America by France?”

Isaac Asimov’s genius quiz. Groan.

Me: “Statue of Liberty.”

Pop: “That’s what I say, too. Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”

Me: “Groan.” (audible) “I need coffee before I can deal with this.”

I continue on into the kitchen. Pop is undaunted.

Pop: “Come on. Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”

Me: “Ernő Rubik.”

Pop: “Ernő Rubik?”

Me: (sarcasm) “Oh, wait, he was famous for the Rubik’s Cube.”

Pop: (Brief grin.) “I think it had something to do with Kipling.”

I shrug and pour my coffee.

Pop: “Who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975?”

Silence.

Pop: “Who was the Soviet leader during the Cuban Missile Crisis?”

I remain silent on this one, letting him have it. He was in the service during the Missile Crisis, after all. Surely he…

Pop: “Gorbachev.”

Me: (Stunned) “Um… Khrushchev.”

Pop: “Ooh, right! Very good.”

Me: “You want to know the impressively intelligent reason I know that answer?”

Pop: “What?”

Me: “When we were growing up, you had that book of political photo cartoons, and Krushchev was in it. It stuck with me.”

Pop grins. Moves on.

Pop: “Who allegedly killed officer JD Tippit?”

I have a vague feeling this is related to the TV show “Dallas.”

Pop: “What country was Leon Trotsky assassinated in?” Silence.

Pop: “During what war did the battle of Jutland take place?” Silence.

Pop: (Looking up at me in disbelief) “Who knows this kind of stuff??”

Me: “What’s worse: knowing it…or not knowing any of it?”

Pop: “We knew the Statue of Liberty.”

Me: “True.”

We continue. We have FAIL. Pop reads the answers. We got the Statue of Liberty right. Oh, and Krushchev. But the Rubicon?

Pop: “Huh. It wasn’t Kipling. Julius Caesar was famous for crossing the Rubicon. I thought he was famous for ‘Nobody sees her like Julius Caesar.’”

Me: (Finally admitting) “I’ve never even heard of the Rubicon!”

Pop: “It’s famous. Julius crossed it.”

Mom walks in the room.

Pop: “Who was famous for crossing the Rubicon?”

Mom: (Blank stare)

Pop: “It’s a river in Italy. Don’t feel bad, I thought it was something Kipling wrote.”

Nobody tell Asimov, okay?

 

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 7:52 pm  Comments (7)  
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Twittering

 

 

And God Spoke through Peacocks and a Cable Guy…

 

Peacock Blue by StacyJMT

 

As I awoke this morning, my thoughts filled with a certain dream of mine. Not the singing-the-National-Anthem at-a-Dodgers-game in-your-skivvies kind of dream. The goal-in-your-heart kind of dream. The one that fills your waking hours, and sometimes seems as unlikely to occur as the Nation Anthem solo.

This was a morning when the dream seemed far from being achieved…mostly because of my own shortcomings, as I see them. It can take a long time to wait for a dream. After a while, waiting becomes the status quo; and it begins to seem as if the dream will never be anything more than its name.

I turned over to take up my Bible for morning meditation. As I did, my eyes fell on a Dasani water bottle on my nightstand. Sunlight filtered through the semi-transparent label, catching my attention with a beautiful blue-green color. I had a passing thought that it would be a lovely color to use in one of my art pieces; then picked up my Bible, said a prayer, and opened to a random page.

Nothing is ever random in God’s universe. I found myself looking at Ezekiel 39:8: “It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.”

A little ripple of shock, followed by excitement, went through my heart. The Lord had heard me, and was telling me that my dream would come true. It reminded me of the Daily Word devotional for this date–”With God, all things are possible.” Even if I couldn’t see how.

So I arose and went about my day. Who knows—maybe, somewhere ocean-deep in my heart, I didn’t really believe my dream would come true. In any case, God must have thought I needed a clearer message. So He sent me peacocks.

Peacocks. Four of them.

I live in the Central California coast—like, in a condo, in the middle of an area that has streets, industry, homes. No zoos. No aviaries. The wildest bird I’ve ever seen here was a white dove.

But today there were four magnificent peacocks taking a leisurely stroll across the deck outside my window. All I could do was stare at them. Peacocks.

With beautiful Dasani-blue feathers.

I watched them, bemusedly, till they disappeared. Who knows where they came from or where they went.

A few minutes later, a cable guy knocked on the door. On a Saturday. And we don’t have cable. However, our DSL is coming up for renewal, and we’ve been thinking of changing to cable. That has been my job, to research the services, and discover which company and which plan would give me the bandwidth speed I need for video conferences. I’ve been distracted with this—I’ve been fretting about it, trying to figure it out, worrying that I wouldn’t get it done in time, doubting that it was even possible to get faster internet where we live.

Suddenly, there was the cable guy on my doorstep. He gave us a flyer that had every plan we could possibly need on it. Told us that they would be installing cable in other condos around us next week. Mentioned that there were no contracts to worry about, no installation fees, no prime-time slowdowns of service. Just effectively answered every one of my questions, dispelled my worries, and took the matter out of my hands, giving me exactly what I hoped for.

Peacocks and a cable guy.

When something that unusual happens, I can’t help thinking that there must be a reason. Within moments, it sank in.

With God, all things are possible.

I may think this dream of mine is way out there, too impossible to come true. But so are peacocks in a condo complex. I may think I need to work extra hard, earn my dream, be worthy enough before it can come true—do a whole litany of tasks before I can have what I want. When all along it’s really a gift of God’s grace, which He will lay on my doorstep at exactly…the right…moment.

Dasani blue. Whenever I see it, I’ll think of peacocks, a cable guy, and God’s clear, eclectic voice speaking to me on a sunny Saturday.

With God, anything’s possible.

Even the unlikely.

 

Photography by Stacy J-M Taylor

 

I’ve Been Named an SOB and I’m Happy!

 

 

I’ve just had the honor of being called an SOB on Liz Strauss’ blog!

Successful and Outstanding Bloggers — They take the conversation to their readers, contribute great ideas, challenge us, make us better, and make our businesses stronger.

I thank all of our SOBs for thinking what we say is worth passing on. Good conversation shared can only improve the blogging community.”

Thanks, Liz. You totally fit the description of a Successful and Outstanding Blogger yourself. :-):-)

 

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