Archive for the 'Distraction' Category

Three Small Things

The problems with the email continued on from my last post, as I vainly sought to get the default mail program of Windows 8 to actually handle my mail. Remember in my last post on these matters, I had called the GoDaddy helpline about the failure of my new website url to take me to a login page. The guy on the phone saw at once that something was pointed in the wrong direction and quickly pointed it in the right one. Solving the problem.

If only I’d hung up then.

Instead, he suddenly asked me why I had the email account that I did. It was way too much for what I needed, way too complicated. “Why did they give you this one?” he asked. Well, at the time I was consumed with why was the webpage login not working and my email was far from my thoughts. When I told him I didn’t know (actually it was that I couldn’t remember) he quickly moved to reorganize everything so that I could save $30 and not have these extraneous unlimited business emails complicating things.

Several days later, after trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get Win8 Outlook to receive and send karenhancock.com emails, the memory of  WHY I had gotten the other package drifted up from the shadowy, convoluted corridors of my brain: because the other package came with IMAP and was compatible with Windows 8 while  the new one was not and would have to be used only as a web-based email program.  I’d forgotten all about that when I called to find out about the webpage url, and thus allowed the sales rep to “help me” by setting me up with an email client that doesn’t do IMAP and isn’t compatible with Win 8 Outlook. This despite the fact that every one of my three email clients are called Outlook. Talk about confusing!

Anyway, a tiny element, forgotten, caused the entire ship to turn in a direction I’d originally wanted to avoid.

It wasn’t the only one. Last Thursday, my hubby had left on his hunting trip and right before going, made sure there was air in all the tires on my car and everything was good.  Two hours later I came out with Quigley to drive to the park for our evening walk, and discovered one of the tires was flat. Flat as a pancake flat. Rim to the ground flat. I stood there staring at it in disbelief.

But from the start Quigley had been in a panic to get going, and now his insistence overwhelmed me and we started up the street. Or rather, we ran. As we did, I acknowledged that the earlier, very soft dropping he’d left in the back yard (which he never does) had indeed been a harbinger of worse to come.  We ran up the street until I found an acceptable spot for him and he let go. The entire rest of the walk was all about that.

So in addition to no car I had a sick dog. Well, Fast Balance GI to the rescue. At least for the dog. It’s a dark, thick paste of good bacteria and other stuff that you have to squirt into the dog’s mouth while he tries to escape. As big as he is, Quigley has to get three doses of it throughout the day. After the first dose, I had to close the door to his kennel or he’d run in there to hide as soon as he saw me with the tube. In the end, it did the trick, though, thank you, Lord!

Next day, after a neighbor helped me change the tire, I took it down to Discount Tire. They could find nothing wrong with it.  However, when they had filled it back up and put on the valve stem cap, they could hear hissing. So they took the cap off, handed it to me and told me what had happened, but that all was well. The tire was Fixed!

Well, it didn’t seem very well to me. Why would the cap being on cause it to leak? Was there something wrong with the valve stem? Did they give the cap back because they only fix flat tires, not valve stems?  I didn’t know but thankfully my husband returned early — Sunday night in fact.

Turns out a tiny o-ring that was supposed to be inside the cap, up at the top had fallen out, allowing an inward/downward pointing extrusion in the cap’s top to press on the valve and let out the air.

How weird is that? Another very tiny thing, that completely changed the direction of not just one day, but several.

And well do I know how frequently that can be the case with computer issues. In fact, as I’ve been writing this, I was trying to back up my database on my hosting service server, so I could do an upgrade, but of course there was an error and so…

Since I haven’t really done anything with the website yet, choosing to do some research first, it may not hurt to skip the back up part and just do the update. Or maybe I’ll just do more research…

I probably don’t need to mention that during all this I’ve done NO work on the book… 😦

Chaos

blowing rain

My computer crashed last week. I decided to just go down to Best Buy and get a new one. Which I did. Actually I bought an all-in-one first, brought it home and immediately realized it was too big and heavy for my set-up. So the next day I brought it back.  Got a new tower with Windows 8

****SIGHHHHHHHH*****

I even had the Geek Squad do a data transfer so I wouldn’t have to do it. I thought it would be well worth it not to have to hassle with trying to figure out how to get the stuff off my old computer myself.

<<<desperate, hysterical laughter>>>

No hassle? Are you delusional???

I should add that the weekend before this I filled up our older top loading washer full of sheets only to have it stop dead. That was Saturday morning.  So I spent Saturday bailing water and researching washing machines, and then Stu and I went to Lowes and bought one. Of course it is nothing like the machines I’ve used all my life and necessitated an entire instruction book full of detailed directions to follow lest you ruin the machine, destroy your clothes, fill your washer with gunky fabric softener… did I mention that it was a new High Efficiency machine specifically designed to be used with a Downy Ball which are available “everywhere?” Not.

So first order of business after getting the machine into the house was to track down a Downy ball, if I didn’t want to have to time every wash load for the precise moment the fabric softener needed to be added. That’s what I did on Sunday and Monday. I could find none in Tucson. Had to order some online.

On Tuesday afternoon my computer crashed… so I bought the new one, then, as I said brought it back and exchanged it for the tower, and…

I only like old things!!!

I was told that the new one with the office program came with an email program similar to the one I had been using. NOT. I’ve been trying for days to get it set up and failing. (And thus had no email because of it) Today my hubby called in a friend who has a business doing this and he couldn’t get it to work either.  In the process I tried to contact my ISP, except they were down both phone and chat, but I could “contact them through email” as they suggested. I finally managed to get on a chat and the woman changed my password and I retried with that. Didn’t work.

So now I’ve been sent off to my webpage hosting service, only to discover they, who trumpet their 24/7 availability, also happen to be unavailable by chat or phone, but hey, I can leave a message and they will email me! Not. I tried logging on and couldn’t even do that.

Then I read reviews about them and was horrified at all the bad ones. Now I want to sever ties with them ASAP, but that would mean I’d have to find a new web hosting service (actually I’ve been thinking of trying to integrate my website with WordPress) (but that would mean I’d have to think about how I would do that) And anyway, what would that do to my email address which comes through the web hosting service?

I set up all this stuff over ten years ago. Not only can I remember little of the details, it’s all changed anyway.

Just to add spice to the mix, I also had doctor’s appointments nearly every morning last week, two of them lasting hours. But! I do not need a hearing aid!  And I do not have skin cancer! And further, the shingles relapse in my eye has dramatically improved. So I can’t complain there.

 In addition to all that, hubby is retiring NEXT FRIDAY and only found out about it last week. He’d planned on waiting another month. No, he wasn’t being urged by his employers to do so… he was just in a different benefits program for the first year of working for the company ages ago now, and then switched to a second and in order for both to be applicable, he has to retire earlier than he expected.

On top of all that… here comes the computer mess. I can at least do Bible class!  And write this post. But for the moment, no email. I could go with the Outlook that comes with Windows 7, or switch to Gmail… but how to get the domain name put into it is something I’ll have to research further.

And all this just exploded at the end of last week after I’d had four days of very consistent work on Sky.  But. I know my times are in my Lord’s hands, and that He knew all about this in eternity past and even chose it as part of His highest and best for my life so I shall try to focus on that, rather than, what-am-I-gonna-do? I have no idea what I’m doing, and don’t even know where to go for help!!

As proof of my Lord’s care, however, is the fact that for the last two weeks Pastor John has been teaching on the importance of us knowing what it means for us to be in Christ and enjoying all the blessings that come from that. Focus on that not all the craziness of life. We have been told we will triumph in Christ.

Okay, off to walk Quigley.

Freedom!

freedom128

Continuing the story of what I’ve done to manage my environment…

Having taken care of most of the problems around the house, I turned to my biggest distraction of all — the Internet.  The thing that is sitting right there as I type.  Where I can hit a wall, and be sitting there staring at the screen, struggling to find the words I’ve lost and suddenly my hands are opening the email, or worse, Internet Explorer. Drudge… Powerline… The Diplomad (my favorite)… One link leads to another… and another…

And before I know it an hour passes and I’ve done nothing except sit there, getting stiff, getting tired of sitting, getting tired of reading and when I finally drag myself away from it, whatever I  was working on is now Far, Far Away.

I have tried before to deal with this problem — going so far as to pull the plug on the modem just to deny myself Internet access. But it’s in the other room, it’s a pain to get up and do it, a pain to have to go back and plug it back in when I’m done, then wait for it to go through its rebooting process.  And that’s if I don’t manage to drop the cord behind the cabinet it’s sitting on. Or forget to replug it entirely.

Plus it cuts off my hubby’s computer from the Internet as well, meaning I can’t use it when he’s around. And sometimes when I plug it back in, the connection doesn’t come back right, so then I have to reboot the whole computer.

And, even with all that, it’s too easy to get up and go in there and plug it back in, when I really, really don’t want to work.

Well, I did some research on distractions faced by work-at-homers or “telecommuters,” as they’re officially called, and in the course of that discovered the most amazing software.  It’s called Freedom. It works with Macs and PC’s and with only a few clicks you can protect yourself from Internet access for whatever time you desire to set up — from as little as 15 minutes, all the way up to 8 hours.

During that time the program is deliberately unresponsive but if you’re really set on regaining your Internet access all you have to do is reboot your computer.  (Which is a little more involved than going into the other room to plug in the cord) If you stick with it, though, once the time you’ve set it for has elapsed, a little window appears announcing that your Freedom session has ended and giving you the option to start another, or quit the program.

I’ve been setting it for three hours every morning. It’s awesome. I love it!  So easy to use and along with turning off the phone ringers and answering machine sound, has created a little pocket of uninterrupted time I can actually work in.

Everyday last week I came into the office and worked a minimum of 4 hours.

That hasn’t happened in I don’t know how long.

The program’s downloadable online and costs $10. Takes almost no time to download and install. If you’re having trouble staying away from the Internet and want to check it out, click HERE.

Managing Your Environment

According to the book Overcoming Writing Blocks, the first area  for a blocked writer to deal with is managing her environment.

Creative concentration has the power to make your senses especially acute and abnormally sensitive to the slightest stimuli. When you’re concentrating successfully, this heightened attention enhances your thoughts and the words flow onto the page smoothly and powerfully. When you’re blocked, however, your attention perversely gravitates toward the slightest distraction in your environment…

…You feel victimized by your inattentiveness, because you find yourself guiltily inviting interruptions, knowing that they give you a welcome break from the frustration of being stuck.

I can attest to the truth of this observation!

Distracting elements of your writing environment can play right into the guilty inviting of interruptions. The OWB authors recommend, therefore, that you do as much as you can to eliminate them.

So, the first thing I did was to get rid of the distracting clutter, not just in my office but in the entire house.

For example, I keep my stamping supplies on a waist-high shelf in the bedroom, which I have to walk by every time I want to get something from the bedroom desk (for me, it’s pens mostly, but also sometimes my journal, or even something I left there earlier when I was eating breakfast — like a timer.) Walking past that shelf of supplies would far too often draw my eye to a card in progress or entice me to stop and flip through my  “for later” files…  the next thing  I knew, I’d be doing something with a card, when I was supposed to be writing.

So, operating on the premise of out of sight, out of mind,  I got a piece of fabric and covered the entire contents of the shelf. It’s done wonders.

I used the same principle with the guest bed in the office, which had all sorts of projects and things I planned to fix or get rid of, and piles of notes and articles to go through for potential blog posts, research tidbits, or stuff for future reference.  I put the projects and fix-it things into the closet, put the piles of papers into a folder unread, and shoved it into my file cabinet, tossed the catalogues and took the bags of cast-offs to Goodwill.  At last the bed was clear!

I recently got a new serger. This sat in its box by the wall near my desk, reminding me daily that I needed to get it out and use it, even as another voice warned it would take too long, I didn’t have time, it’s a new thing and I don’t know how to use it and you know how THAT always turns out…  Well I don’t need the guilt and mental arguments, so I covered it with another piece of fabric, and now I no longer even look at it.

Then I set to work clearing off my desk area, filing papers, throwing others away, and piling my scattering of notecards into their proper categories.

I’m trying to develop the habit of putting things away rather than leaving them out to “remind me” to do them later. Because sure as anything they’ll remind me in the middle of when I get to work on Sky.

Finally, I figured out how to silence the ringers on the phones, and have taken to turning them off for several hours in the morning, along with the volume on the answering machine. It can still take calls and record messages but I no longer have to listen to the entire sequence right in the middle of my writing time. I’m even covering the machine with a folded towel so I can’t see if there’s a message or not til it’s removed at the end of my writing stint. (Plus having the towel on it reminds me to turn it back up when I’m done.)

With that I’d pretty much taken care of many of the distractions that present themselves in my periphery. Only one remained, but it was the most insidious: the Internet.

Stay tuned for part 3…

Trivial and Urgent vs Important but not Urgent

Another bit from the John Cleese video I posted yesterday. I found this to speak directly to one of the things that has most bedeviled me:

“It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent (like pondering) and it’s easier to do little things we know we can do than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.”  ~ John Cleese in his talk The Origins of Creativity

Reprise: Why I Turned off the Comments

In view of my references yesterday to this decision — made in June of 2007 — I am reposting it here today.

Why I Turned off the Comments

Thursday, June 14, 2007

In a phrase, because God told me to. In rather stern and shocking terms. I know that sounds wacky, but… guess I’ll just have to sound wacky.

It has little to do with the quality/nature of the comments themselves and everything to do with my motivations and the fact that I am too easily led into the wrong ones. When I started this blog it was something I was doing as unto the Lord, something I believed He was moving me to do for His purposes and not my own. But then came the comments and my own predilection toward fretting about them. Writing something, posting it, then wondering if anyone said anything. Worrying about what people might think of certain topics, and then sometimes hesitating to write what I was feeling led to write. And then, regardless of what I wrote, checking a bunch of times to see if anyone had left something — when I was supposed to be writing. If no one commented, then I might feel dismayed, and that in turn disrupted my mood and confidence for writing, and pretty much annihilated whatever concentration I had before I broke down and checked.

In short, it became a distraction. To make matters worse, the absence of comments would often lead me to start surfing, reading blogs, even checking Amazon, heaven forbid. And if none of that yielded anything, then I would fall into unending repetitions of the entire process. The upshot was… I wasted a lot of time with it all, last year and now. The Lord pulled me through it last year — got the book done in spite of me — but now that I see it happening again, I am convicted of the need to make a change. And I have to say that so far I’m pleased with the peace and the ability to focus that has been restored to me because of this.

I’ll admit that at first I was afraid of offending people because, after all, the accepted, generally publicized reason for a blog is to get out there and start conversations, generate all this cross linkage, interact with readers, draw a lot of attention. Turning off the comments would stop all that and possibly chase readers off. Ultimately though I had to bow to what the Lord was telling me to do and not worry about that. If that’s what happened/happens, so be it. It’s not my intent to offend, and if you wish to comment on a blog post you can always email me through the address in the profile in the side bar. You might even generate a new blog post with your emailed comment!

With WordPress, I’ve not turned off the comments, because I haven’t had the same problems with them that I described in this article. The other stuff though — the likes, the idea that I must go and read other blogs, the supposed requirement of all the cross posting, and etc., so far that’s been the stuff of distraction for me. So, while I’ve not turned off the comments, I have turned off the function that sends an email to me every time someone “likes” a post (an email which then encourages me to go to their blog out of gratitude and leave a comment or like in return).

It’s not that I’m ungrateful, just that I don’t have time or as, Sherlock Holmes recently put it in the new show Elementary, not enough “attic space.”

LOL.

I’m Back

Quigley wearing free dog antlers from PetCo

Quigley wearing free dog antlers from PetCo

Hi everyone!  And a happy 2013 to you all!

Yes, I’m back. Not necessarily back from physical travels, though we did get over to Southern California to visit the kids and grand-daughter, as well as my 92-year-old stepmother. I am back from that, and also, apparently, from my recent and unexpected blogging silence.

I have no explanation, other than that I had neither  motivation nor words with which to generate a blog post for almost a month now. I haven’t even kept up on my emails. In fact, I’ve done very little on the computer since last I posted, except for Bible Class.

Part of that was the shingles and the fact that it was hard to even look at the screen for a while. Plus I had a regimen of eye drops and pills to take there at first, and kept going back to the doctor for them to gauge my progress. This, added to Christmas preps, demolished my normal routine, which had been suffering anyway. I was also consciously trying to avoid the computer, not only to rest my eyes but in hopes of getting a handle on my addiction to reading blogs and news articles.

Pastor John spoke about this awhile back, how reading the things on the web — things invariably from the world — mess up your mental attitude and make it harder to go back to your work — in his case, studying the Word and preparing his lessons, in mine, working on the book. I had already noticed that effect on my own, but didn’t really give it the attention it deserved. I thought it was just me having no discipline as opposed to information and enticements from the world registering with my sin nature, which in turn agitated for “No More Struggling With that Lame Book! Who’s going to like it anyway? It’s not going to be any good, and you have no discipline…” or…. “You’re just not into it today. Tomorrow will be better. Why not take a break now and go do something else?”  To which I answered “Okay” far too often.

Or… “But I really want to find out what happened/why he did it/more on this subject! I’ll work on the book later…”

On another day, in another lesson, he talked about how sometimes God will shut us down in the operation of our spiritual gift in order for us to realize that it’s His power that’s doing it, not ours. That really resonated as well, but I haven’t really been able to get my arms around it all enough to write about it in any way that makes sense.

A third concept that keeps floating through my awareness is the fact that all this with the blog… specifically the call to do a post 5 days a week, was really more than I could handle and actually write a book, too. Add to that the notion that since this was supposed to build my readership I should be trying to do posts that people would like, and keep track of the numbers and all that… and it only piled on more pressure. And, I see in retrospect, drained energy away from whatever it is in me that comes up with my stories.

Long ago I had determined that God was not calling me to be a marketer — He would do the marketing, and the promoting and publicizing, and my job was to concentrate on writing the book (which He would also do, but that was where I was to focus my attention, not the other stuff).  He told me that in a very vivid and compelling way, and I immediately obeyed and stopped thinking about the marketing.

But the world is relentless in promoting its positions, and after ten years, I became infected with it again. Maybe I had grown enough, I thought arrogantly, that I could handle it now. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to at least try it out, see if it was what I was to do. After all, everyone else is doing it.

No. Not what I’m to do. All the things they suggest one do to build a readership distracts me from my calling. It takes away my time, changes my mental attitude and focus, really seems to mess me up when it comes to my primary calling, which is to write my novels. I learned that once, but as with so many things, forgot the lesson and went back to try it again.

If I’m honest, I have to admit I like the idea of me doing stuff to get folks to read my blog and books. Well, no, actually I don’t like it at all, at least not the actual doing of it. I just like the idea of having some control over it and that’s probably the main issue right there. That I’m going to control things, when God’s the one in control.

Anyway, I’m not going to be doing five posts a week, but 4, and that may not be all the time. I’m not going to be trolling about various strangers’ blogs to see if I might “like” them. I might like them, but I don’t have time to read them. I’m not going to be going out to comment on other folks’ blogs, like they tell me to, in hopes they’ll visit my blog and like it. I’m not going to be trolling about on the internet looking for good ideas for content that will bring in a lot of readers.

I’m going to go back to what this all started out as: me writing my book, posting thoughts that spring primarily out of that and my life and lessons and research. The book comes first. The blog second.

And if the world thinks that’s dumb, I’m okay with that. If I only have six readers, I’m okay with that, too. As our recent lessons on spiritual gifts have taught me, God is the one in charge of the results of my gift, not me.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised (or unknown), God has chosen, the things that are not (ie, humble) that He might nullify the things that are (ie, proud), that no man should boast before God.”   ~ 1 Co 1:26 – 29


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