My #presspublish experience

In all the years I’ve been living in the greater Tacoma area (it’s almost to the point where I can say decades, plural, and wow, I think that means I have to admit I am officially old…ish), I’ve never been to Portland. So when mom forwarded me the info about Automattic’s Press Publish conference on March 28th, attending seemed like the perfect excuse to finally correct that error. We got in on Friday afternoon and had a few hours to bop around before the Longreads event on Friday night (where I met some lovely folks and listened to some fascinating stories). Mom, dad, and I had a fabulous lunch at Kells Irish Pub and then headed up the street to Powell’s books.

(Portland, you are a charming city, but if I lived any closer, I would go broke in Powell’s.)

Press Publish was a fun conference. I’m not a huge conference person, so for me, the single day was part of the draw, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized, about halfway through the day, that I was feeling energized by all the engagement. (Even when I’m having a good time and/or learning a lot of fun things, conferences exhaust me, which is part of the reason why I’m not a huge conference person.)

The highlight of the conference for me was Kathy Cano-Murillo (the Crafty Chica). I’m not particularly crafty, but I do feel pressed for time between work and all the things I want to accomplish at home, so a lot of what she said resonated, particularly her advice about how to decide what opportunities to choose (translated into my head as projects to choose): “if it’s not a ‘hell yes!’, it’s a no.” Which is perfect! It acknowledges that there’s all this cool and exciting stuff, and yes, in a perfect world, I’d be able to do ALL the cool and exciting things, but I don’t live in a perfect world, so I have to choose. And I tend to agonize over choices and make them much harder than they need to be. The “hell yes or no” criteria is a perfect way for me to skip all my dithering. Hell yes is an immediate gut feeling. Most of the time, I end up going with that gut feeling, but only after (attempting to) logic my way to it, and all that logicing (it’s totally a word!) time is time I could be spending producing something I find cool and exciting. So thanks, Kathy!

(Also, while I may not be particularly crafty, I am not immune to the magic of a glitter floor. PEOPLE! A GLITTER FLOOR! Maybe someday…)

I’m glad I took last Friday and yesterday off work, because I came back from Press Publish so inspired for a writing project that I spent yesterday at my local library researching folklore. My gut has been hell yesing this project to the Nth degree for months now, but I still haven’t logiced (also totally a word!) my way to it. So I’m cutting a deal with myself. I’ll stick to my revision plans for Camp NaNoWriMo’s April session, but once I make my revision goals for the day, I get to indulge in my gut project.

Photo 101 Day 2: Streets & Establishing Shots

Today’s Photo101 assignment is a street shot:

Today, let’s focus on a street. It can be a quiet road blanketed in snow, an alley near your apartment covered with murals, or a busy street where pedestrians weave between cars and motorbikes…

I’ll confess, I didn’t take this photo today. I had every intention to wander around photogenic downtown Puyallup after work, but I ended up with a last-minute appointment, so there went that plan. I’ve always liked this road shot from one of my visits to to Mt. Rainier National Park (“my” mountain, mom, not yours 😉

This was taken on a visit where I looped around to the Stevens Canyon entrance. I love the tunnel blown through the rock. The park has breathtaking views, so breathtaking that I can (mostly) ignore certain stretches of the drive where there’s no shoulder and no guardrail, and wow, mountains are steep. Who knew? (I am not cut out for the world’s more dangerous roads.)

Three Things Thursday

I found Three Things Thursday through one of my mom’s blog, Retreading for Retirement. It sounds like a fun exercise: “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life” and include a link back to Nerd in the Brain’s current Three Things Thursday post.

So, here are my three things:

1. The Walking Dead

More specifically, discussing The Walking Dead with a couple of my coworkers who are huge fans of the show. I’m a bit behind the curve. These coworkers have been trying to get me to watch The Walking Dead since the first season (it’s currently in its fifth season). I snagged the first two seasons on sale over the weekend, dug in on Sunday and am currently in full marathon mode.

And every morning when I get into work, I report my progress (and my reactions) to my coworkers. (All right, some evenings, I can’t resist texting them.) It’s been a long time since I’ve been actively fannish and even longer since I’ve been actively fannish with people I know offline. It’s so much fun!

2. The weather

It was 61 F today when I went walking after work. (Sorry, Northeast folks.) As I said yesterday, February is usually my roughest month, but so far, it’s being very, very kind to me.

3. L.A Confidential

L.A. Confidential is one of those movies I pop in on a regular basis. It’s stylish and brutal, and I have a soft spot for James Cromwell and Kim Basinger. Mom loaned me the book, so now I get to do one of my favorite things: compare the book to the movie.

It’s a walk in the park


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

When I was a kid, my dad and I used to go bike riding on the weekends. It was our father-daughter bonding time. As I got older, school and swimming took up more of my time, and then I went to college (well) out of state and stayed there after graduation.

Now that my parents are retired, they’ve moved up here to Western Washington. Now I meet my dad once or twice a week when I get off work for afternoon walks. I’m enjoying this version of father-daughter bonding time more, I think, than I enjoyed our bike rides when I was a kid. For one, they’re still a novelty. For two, my dad is good company. It’s fun interacting with him as an adult.

And for three, we live in the age of camera phones. I take a lot of photos on our walks. Allow me to present a couple of my favorites:

Puget Sound from Titlow Park

A view of Puget Sound from Titlow Park.

Fall day at Snake Lake

A fall day at Snake Lake. The path is so inviting…

mushrooms for mom

The obligatory fungus photo for mom.

Getting Big, Hairy, and Audacious

One of the hashtags that I often see pop up in my Twitter feed is #MondayBlogs, and one of the posts that caught my eye on Monday was BHAG or be SMART, Creatives? The Answer is Yes by Paula Reed Nancarrow. Like so many other people, I sat down and came up with resolutions and goals for 2015, and I’m already failing at some of them.

Except I’m not. I feel like I am because I’m not being as productive as I want to be, but I’m conveniently forgetting that my productivity goals are where I’d like to be, not where I am now. If I was already hitting them, they wouldn’t be goals, and I wouldn’t need the intermediate step of experimenting with different time management techniques to figure out what works best for me. (That is my task for January and February: track my time and try different things to see what helps and what hinders my creative output.)

Paula Reed Nancarrow’s post helped me crystalize some of my thoughts about my personal and creative goals for this year. I’m familiar with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed). One of my previous managers at work drilled them into my head, and making SMART goals has helped me with my writing the past couple of years. Now I’m in a position where I want to up my game. I want to write cleaner first drafts so the second draft isn’t so daunting. I want to write faster so it doesn’t take so long to get through a first draft. I want to write at least an hour each day so I can learn to write faster and cleaner.

ready to edit

This year, I’d like to give those highlighters and pens a workout.

And most importantly, I want to balance my writing with my other interests. I want to have the time to keep up my daily walks, read more books, and play with my food.

I’m struggling with the balance. Part of why I’m struggling is because I don’t know how to SMART it up. Now I don’t need to. In the post I linked, Paula Reed Nancarrow mentions having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). That’s my balance. Like her, I want to be a Time Lord. Well, no. I want to be a plate spinner. Or a juggler. Basically, I want to be able to manage all the things that give me satisfaction so I’m happy and both producing and consuming things I love.

Thinking in those terms has me looking over my “failures” so far this month and realizing they’re the first steps towards something big. And looking towards where I want to be–what I want to be–is helping me convince myself that I do indeed owe myself an audacious goal.

Do you set goals or resolutions? How do you manage your to-do list? (Or is it a to-do list of doom?)