Posts Tagged 'distractions'

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… 😦

Slowly Returning

single rose small

 

I think.

At least that’s the plan.

I’ve been “on staycation” for about two months now, with posting here pretty sporadic.

A lot of stuff has happened. Most recently the shingles came back to my eye, and for the last three weeks I’ve been dealing with that, complicated by the fact that I seem to be reacting adversely to the antiviral the doctor wants me to take.

We had a wedding here of one of “our own,”,that is one of the members of our local congregation, a young lady who happened to be one of the students in my Sunday School class, and went on to become one of my dear friends.

Friends and family came in for the event, and such things always cram a lot of things into a very short time, where you spend days after recovering, not only from the simple exhaustion of late nights, longish drives and lots of talking, but having your head and heart full of wonderful moments that surface in a disjointed parade of memories afterward. (See my Introvert post, Static and the Need to Recharge, about needing to “process” the sudden high-volume of “deposits” that have been made into your soul)

At the same time as this was happening, my hubby was away elk hunting, and I had full charge of walking Quigley. (I don’t usually walk him every day — we take turns.) Hubby returned successful, so then we had, well, A LOT of meat to deal with. YAY! (We were completely out of wild game and I detest store-bought hamburger, and am not much fonder of ground turkey…) He did most of the work, but the kitchen and refrigerator were commandeered for about a week, I think, which was… distracting at a minimum.

Then there was the matter of my car failing its emissions test, twice, and various  trips to the repair shop, until finally it was decided that we could get a waiver on the whole thing. And all of this pretty much happening concurrently.

So it’s not really been the most “restful” staycation, and it’s not like I’ve had nothing to do but play… though I have managed a bit of that.  In fact, I actually went on 2 Artist’s dates!  And  yes, a month ago or so, I picked up the next Artist’s Way book, Vein of Gold, and started working through it…  only to stop not far in as the Lord took me off in another direction… but that, I think, is for another post.

In fact, I’ve already written a good deal more than I had thought I would. I just wanted to take a tiny step back toward regular blogging, and here I’ve got a full-sized post already. 🙂

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

Facebook Envy

All right, I’ll confess: I’m not a fan of Facebook. Yes, I appreciate my husband’s drawing my attention to various updates of mutual friends (some of them more my friends than his) or family members. Sort of. Mostly…

But overall, the way it’s set up, the sheer number of people you end up “interacting” with (I use the word  with reservation), the superficiality of it all… not for me.

Especially not for me is all the “liking” and collections of comments on posts and… oh, my.  No.  I could see that my flesh would have a field day there. It could be immensely stimulating, sure, but not in a good way, and it also holds the prospect of being very distracting and even debilitating.

The other day a friend was telling me how one night when she was very tired, she checked her Facebook account to find a conversation between two “friends” that, in her fatigue and in the (unnoticed) ambiguity of the conversants’ words, she took to mean something that wasn’t meant at all. It wasn’t until the next day that she found out the truth, and in the meantime, her Facebook experience had not been pleasant.

I doubt that is an uncommon occurence.  I know I could easily fall into such a misunderstanding and waste hours fretting or feeling condemned or condemning myself. I know my weaknesses and I know my flesh is not improving, even after all these years. I know this not only from actual, experiential evidence, but because the Bible (2 Co 4:16)  tells me that my “outer man is decaying day by day.”  (“Decay” – diaphtheiro – means to putrefy, rot, grow more corrupt). Hence the need to renew our inner man…

Turns out I’m not alone in my Facebook weakness. A recent German study has determined that at least one third of Facebook users  end up with negative feelings after browsing. The primary cause of their negativity is envy: they become jealous of their fellow Facebookers’ perceived happiness and accomplishments, and discontent with their own, which seem much less than other people’s.

An msnbc article on this study, “Is Facebook envy making you miserable?” reported  that the number one cause of discontent among Facebook users was viewing the wonderful pictures of other people’s vacations.

“Oh, if only I could go to the Caribbean, I would be soooo happy. If only I could have a perfect family Christmas like that, then I would be content.

Really?  I’m of the opinion that if you’re not happy or content where you are right now, you’re probably not going to be happy in the Caribbean or content in the (nonexistent) perfect family, because the problem isn’t  where you are, it’s what you think.

But I digress. After vacations, other causes of envy are the accomplishments of others, and the social life of others.

All this in addition to the ever-present opportunity to compare how many Birthday greetings, comments and “likes” their postings get versus how many their “friends” get. And if the numbers are not good enough, they are sad. 😦

That’s one of the reasons I’m not on Facebook. I know I would be tempted to do the same. Besides, the Bible tells us not to compare amongst ourselves, that to do so is to be foolish. (2 Co 10:12) And Facebook’s structure inevitably invites just that.

In fact, while all this comparing drives some of us to 😥 , others are moved to concoct their own glorious reports in retaliation and one-upmanship.

Yes, the German study found that this whole problem of envy and comparing drives some users to overstate the fabulousness of their vacations, happiness, social lives and accomplishments! Furthermore,  the areas of overstatement seem to be gender based. Men, says the study, tend to oversell their accomplishments, whereas women , their appearance and social lives.

None of which surprises me in the least. We are, after all, a fallen race, living in a fallen world, and if there’s one thing our sin natures delight in, crave, lust after, it’s being lauded and approved.  (Well, some of us have sin natures like that. Others would rather have power, or pleasure, and who cares what others’ think? They’re probably not among the one third that suffer from Facebook envy, though.)

The downside of all this is that people who are left feeling resentful and lonely from their Facebook experience soon stop using it, or at least use it less. One of the researchers wondered if Facebook was reaching a saturation point in some markets because of this and would soon begin to decline in popularity…

If you want to read the actual article on the study, it’s here.

Now: A Reprieve from Distraction?

Christmas Cactus blooms

Well, I had another week/weekend filled with distraction, but the Christmas stuff is almost put away, and the colonoscopy went well. There is no cancer there.  My oncologist had recommended I get checked sooner than the usual 10 years on account of the endometrial cancer.

And this time, after the screening, my gastroenterologist recommended a recheck in 5 to 7 years, which is actually the period of time he considers the longest anyone should wait between screenings, even if Medicare doesn’t agree…

Anyway, I have an eye appointment next week, as well as a trip across town to pick up a sunglasses clip that was inadvertently not included with my new glasses when I went to get them… and then maybe… just maybe… I’ll be appointment-free for a while and able to get back to some semblance of regular work on this book.

So far it seems to have been a veritable magnet for distraction.

I know. I’ve said that before. But surely at some point I’ll be left alone to get the work done, right? Right?

Please, Lord???

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.


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