Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lessons From Dad: Always Do Your Best


Well the first snowstorm of 2014 has melted away, just in time for the second one to hit sometime tonight. It's not supposed to be as bad as the last one, so I'm not expecting a lot of cancellations. And that means I need to get a little more productive during the time I have.
I seem to have this problem of overestimating the things I have time to do. Most of the time it doesn't matter – I do what I need to and don't stress about the fact that maybe I could have done more, or done a better job if I'd had more time. But sometimes it does matter – like when I'm writing a book or grading student homework.
One of the lessons my father taught me was to never accept anything less than my best effort. Dad was a perfectionist. His handwriting was clear and precise, his photographs were worthy of publication in magazines, and his written communication never left any doubt as to what he meant. 
I think I need to take pride in the way I do things. I've finally got most of the house straightened up so that I don't have to panic when the kids say they're coming to spend the night. I have most of my stuff organized enough so that I'm not spending a lot of time looking for something that I just had in my hands five minutes ago. And I like to think that the crafts I make are done to the best of my ability. But there are other areas of my life that need to get more attention – my health, for example. I need to exercise more, and eat less junk. I have a tendency to grab a candy bar when I'm working on a project and need a break.
So here's my dilemma – do I stop taking care of my house and my stuff in order to take care of me? No. The better solution would be to reorganize my time. I really don't need to know what everyone is doing, where they are, or what they think. I don't need to have the highest weekly score on Words With Friends or Scrabble. And I don't have to answer every email message as soon as I get it. Am I going to change overnight? No way. But I guess I can maybe start to cut back. Author Margaret Wang offered a couple of great strategies: set a timer for a certain number of minutes when you are doing the "for fun" stuff – social media, games, etc. and stick to it! And turn the internet OFF when I should be writing.
I guess this is going to be what I'm going to work on this next week: limiting my online time. Maybe I'll get more done. I'm supposed to get edits back on a story that was submitted last fall, so I will probably be buried in what writers call the Editing Cave. I'll have plenty of off-line stuff to do. Will I have the tenacity to keep from opening up my browser for all but five minutes of each hour when it's so easy to just leave it open? I've got to try. Will report back later. Wish me luck!
Anyway, I have some writing news to share – a short story I wrote for Astraea Press was accepted for their Valentine Anthology! Operation Rhombus will be included in a book with stories from nine other authors. I'm not sure what the title of the anthology will be, but I'll be sure to let you know!

Sewing: I managed to finish another few quilt tops. The little triangles for the quilt on the right were cut out and given to me by author Cheryl Sterling just before she moved to Hawaii. This probably isn't what she envisioned when she cut them, but I hope she approves.

Reading: I finished reading One Red Shoe by fellow MMRWA member Diane Burton. What a wild ride! So glad I decided to read it. I'll post a review soon. Next up: The Wrong Target by Sherry Gloag. She's going to be here next Monday so I hope I have time to finish it!


  1. First, congratulations on your short story being included in the Valentine anthology. And thanks for the shout out for my book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Your dilemmas sound so familiar. I always misjudge how much time it will take me to do something. Worse, I get so wrapped up in whatever I'm doing that I don't get to other things (like housekeeping and laundry, etc.) Setting a timer is a great idea. I've heard it before, plan to do it but don't. I think I'll try it this week and see what happens. Good luck on your efforts.

  2. I enjoyed today's post. We share the same distractions (internet word games), shortcomings (not enough exercise, too much junk food), and crafting passion (quilting!) so I could definitely relate. Congratulations on being included in the Valentine's anthology. I'll look forward to reading it.