#ClimateJusticeSaturday ~ The Art of Re-Imagining Climate Justice

Hello out there, how are you? Are you feeling artistic? Or activistic? Is that a word? Well, I hope you feel good no matter what challenges you face because know what? You can do it!!!

Today I am taking a little different approach to the climate justice topic. In 2014 there has been a meeting of artists in Santa Barbara who creatively took on climate justice. This video shows the results. I hope it inspires you to make your own artwork or changes.

Please follow the link underneath the video if it doesn’t play here on the blog.

video resource: Summer Gray via YouTube

Happy Saturday to you all despite everything!!!!!

Image of harvested field, line of trees in back and cloudy sky

Sharing our Skies ~ Photo of the Day

Hello out there, how are you doing? I hope you and yours are well. Please remember you rock, no matter what challenges you are facing. 

Today I want to share two of my photos of the sky where we live. We are in the UK in North Norfolk. That is in the East of the country where Britain bulges towards the continent. It is a slightly flat area so you can see vast skies and I love to take pictures of it.

Image of cloudy sky and trees in distance
This is the sky where we walk the dog on April 28th, 2020
Image of a field and trees on the horizon with cloudy sky above
And this was a day later

May you have a happy Friday despite everything and feel free to leave me a link to your skies 🙂

#ThrowbackThursday: Fuchsia by Mahtem Shifferaw

Fuchsia May 2020

This was first posted in August 2017:

Fuchsia by Mahtem Shiferraw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t a poetry book that I can just put away after reading it. Mahtem Shifferaw’s use of language is exotic, full of colour and full of life. But life in all its glory and gory.

She explores questions of identity, of experiences of trauma and how to heal from it. These are rich poems that are sometimes not easy to access but sometimes too easy to access and their pain is written on my heart.

It was hard for me at first to get into her use of language and I had to look up several places she refers too as well as several words she used I have never heard of. However, that made the reading experience for me even better. I could learn something!

These poems made my mind work like a thunderstorm to make sense of them but now after a couple of days of reading them, I think it would be better to just experience them and not ask too many questions. Just to enjoy the images conjured, the flow of the language and the feelings her words create in you.

I most certainly will come back to them time and time again.

If you are interested in poetry and like to read authors from other continents than Europe and America than this book is for you.

View all my reviews

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I read this book as part of my Goodreads reading group #supporttranslatedfiction. If you are interested in reading translated fiction then please come along and have a look. We read a book a month and there is a great variety of genres, countries and languages that we explore. This month’s (August 2017) book is “The Rabbit Back Literature Society” by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen. I am looking forward to seeing you at #supporttranslatedfiction!

Mir ist nicht bekannt, ob es eine deutsche Uebersetzung fuer dieses Buch gibt.

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FuchsiaFuchsia by Mahtem Shiferraw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dies ist kein Buch, das ich einfach weglegen kann, nachdem ich es gelesen habe. Die Art und Weise, wie Mahtem Shifferaw Sprache nutzt, ist exotisch, voller Farbe und voller Leben. Aber Leben in all seiner Schoenheit und Grausamkeit.

Sie erforscht Fragen nach Identitaet, Erfahrungen von Traumata und wie man davon heilen kann. Dies sind reiche Gedichte, zu denen der Zugang manchmal nicht einfach aber ein anderes Mal zu einfach ist und deren Schmerz mir aufs Herz geschrieben ist.

Zu Beginn war es fuer mich schwer, ihre Nutzung von Sprache, zu verstehen und ich musste mehrere Male Orte nachlesen, die sie erwaehnt aber auch Worte, die sie nutzt und die ich nicht kannte. Das machte die Leseerfahrung fuer mich aber besser. Ich konnte etwas lernen!

Diese Gedichte haben mein Gehirn zum Arbeiten gebracht wie ein Gewitter, um Sinn in ihnen zu erkennen aber nach ein paar Tagen nachdem ich sie gelesen habe, denke ich, es waere besser, sie nur zu erfahren und nicht zuviel zu fragen. Einfach nur die Bilder, die hervorgerufen werden, den Fluss der Sprache und die Gefuehle, die ihre Worte in Dir hervorrufen, wirken zu lassen.

Ich werde zu diesem Buch sicherlich immer wieder zurueckkehren.

Wenn Du in anderssprachiger Lyrik interessiert bist und an Autoren, die nicht nur von Europa und Amerika stammen, dann ist dieses Buch richtig fuer Dich.

(Dieser Link ist in englischer Sprache) View all my reviews  

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Es ist in englisch sprachigen Laendern nicht so hoch angesehen, uebersetzte Literatur zu lesen. Deshalb habe ich ein Lesegruppe gegruendet, die speziell Buecher liest, die von anderen Sprachen uebersetzt wurden. Das ist in deutschsprachigen Laendern nicht so notwendig, da Uebersetzungen besser angesehen sind als hier.

Ich habe diese Buch als Teil meiner Goodreads Lesegruppe  #supporttranslatedfiction  (englisch sprachig) gelesen. Falls Du an uebersetzter Literatur interessiert bist, dann schau mal vorbei. Wir lesen jeden Monat ein uebersetztes Buch und es gibt eine grosse Auswahl an Genres, Laendern und Sprachen, die wir entdecken. Diesen Monat (August 2017) lesen wir  “The Rabbit Back Literature Society” von Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Ich konnte bisher keine deutsche Uebersetzung finden). Ich wuerde mich freuen, Dich bei  #supporttranslatedfiction zu sehen!

Book review “Morgawr”/ Buchbesprechung “Morgawr”

First posted in 2012:
Morgawr (Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, #3)Morgawr by Terry Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Morgawr is the third book of the trilogy “The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara“: 30 years ago a expedition of elves tried to follow the dream of a seer: To find the fabled “magic” of Parkasia a far away island never visit from anyone from Shannara before. The expedition never returned. The only one found is the battered body of Allardon Elessedil’s brother. This triggers a new expedition with Druid Walker Boh as leader.
The second book describes the discovery of Parkasia and all its dangers. It also shows the pursuit of the expedition by the Ilse Witch who tries to destroy Walker Boh and gain the magic of Parkasia. She does not succeed but got changed through the power of the Sword of Shannara while Walker dies. Unknown to all of them the Morgawr the former mentor of the Ilse Witch and a sorcerer of great power has followed them too. He wants to destroy the Ilse Witch as she has become his equal and wants to gain the magic of Parkasia. What he does not take into consideration is her change which gives her allies. Even though she is traumatised by knowing the truth about herself and has retreated into her own mind she helps the expedition to get away and destroy the Morgawr. She will become the successor of Walker Boh and create a new Druid council.

The Morgawr is a solid Terry Brooks novel but for some strange reason I could not get as close to the characters as I did with the “Heritage of Shannara” Characters Coll and Par Ohmsford, Wren Elessedil and Morgan Leah. Of course there is Walker still which I found the most interesting character in both trilogies as he struggles so much with his heritage of being a Druid. It is a bit disappointing that he had to become what he once despised: A Druid who seems to play with the lives of those who follow him for the sake of saving the world. But this was expected somehow and at least he found some peace in the end.
With the whole Trilogy of the “Voyage of the Sherle Shannara” I was disappointed as well because it was a whole new story and did not show how the lives of the characters of the trilogy before went on. That was why I wanted to read “The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara”. Maybe that was the reason why I skipped a lot of the book just to find out how it ends. The end I like though 🙂

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Zuerst in 2012 veroeffentlicht:

The Morgawr ist das dritte Buch der Trilogie “The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara”: 30 Jahre zuvor war eine Expedition von Elfen dem Traum einer Seherin gefolgt, um die fabelhafte Magie der Insel Parkasia. die noch von niemanden von Shannara besucht wurde, zu finden. Die Expedition kehrte nie zurueck. Nur der geschundene Koerper des Bruders des Elf Koenigs Allardon Elessedil wurde gefunden. Dieser Fund fuehrt zu einer weiteren Expedition dieses mal gefuert von Walker Boh.

Das zweite Buch beschreibt die Entdeckung Parkasias und all ihrer Gefahren. Es zeigt auch die Verfolgung der Expedition durch die Ilse Witch, die Walker Boh zerstoeren und die “Magie” Parkasias an sich reissen will. Sie ist nicht erfolgreich wird jedoch durch die Macht des Schwertes von Shannara zum Guten gewandelt beim Tode Walker Boh’s. Unbekannt fuer alle hat auch der Morgawr, der Mentor der Ilse Witch und ein maechtiger Zauberer, die Verfolgung aufgenommen. Er will sie zerstoeren, da sie ihm ebenbuertig geworden ist, und so die Macht ueber die Magie Parkasia’s an sich reissen. Was er nicht bedenkt ist die Tatsache, dass sie sich veraendert hat und damit Verbuendete gefunden hat. Obwohl sie durch die Wahrheit ueber sich selber traumatisiert wurde und sich in ihren eigenen Geist zurueck gezogen hat, hilft sie der Expedition, zu fliehen und zerstoert den Morgawr am Ende. Sie wird die Nachfolgerin Walker Boh’s und wird den neuen Rat der Druiden gruenden.

“The Morgawr” ist ein solides Terry Brooks Buch aber komischerweise konnte ich den Figuren nicht so nahe kommen, wie denen in “The Heritage of Shannara”: Coll und Par Ohmsford, Wren Elessedil und Morgan Leah. Natuerlich ist da immer noch Walker Boh, den ich immer als die interessanteste Figur in beiden Trilogie angesehen habe, da er so sehr mit seinem Erbe, ein Druide zu werden, zu kaempfen hat. Es ist ein wenig enttaeuschend, dass er so wird, wie die Druiden, die er immer verachtet hat. Aber irgendwie war das zu erwarten. Am Ende zu mindest findet er etwas Frieden.
Mit der ganzen Triologie “Voyage of the Sherle Shannara” war ich auch enttaeuscht, da sie kaum etwas vom Leben der Charaktere aus der vorherigen Trilogie zeigt. Das war es, warum ich “The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara” lesen wollte. Vielleicht war das der Grund warum ich grosse Teile des Buches einfach ueberlesen habe, um das Ende herauszufinden. Das Ende hat mir jedoch gefallen 🙂

View all my reviews

Quote by T. Pratchett on living

Beating Cancer While Blogging and some Good News

Hello out there, how are you doing? I hope you and yours are well. I also hope you always have your favourite hot beverage to the rescue when life gets challenging. And a friend or family member too. 

For all those who don’t know me yet: In January, my doctors diagnosed me with cancer. I spent February and most of March at appointments to find out how bad and where it came from because it was “unsuspected” as they said. It turned out to be breast cancer (two tumours, one of which was the primary one). 

At the end of March, I was lucky to have an operation in which they took out both tumours, and my lymph nodes as five of them were affected. The fear is that the cancer has spread to other parts even though the hospital hasn’t found any other tumours yet. I should have started chemotherapy last week but could not because I developed an infection. I got antibiotics and see the doctors on Monday the 4th of May to find out if I can start or not. 

For a couple of months now, I am figuring out how I can beat cancer besides the treatment I get from the hospital. I assume that I have better chances if I do not give cancer too much attention, and do something I love to keep me occupied. And I love blogging. So I do it as much as I can.

You can see it on my “Bee Wordless” Blogger blog: Originally, I “just” wanted to do “Wordless Wednesday” posts. However, one of my missions is to spread some kindness, and one of my passions is photography. I try to take a daily photo and share it with family and friends on WhatsApp with a little message that I think of them. This habit made me think; I could do that on one of my blogs too. So I did, and you can find the latest here

Another one of my passions is poetry. In 2014 and 2015, I did a project to write a poem a day, and it somehow became a habit later on. I share some of them on a fellow bloggers blog (find them here on Carol Anne’s “Therapy Bits”), and they are popular. Which made me think: “Why shouldn’t I spread the joy further?” Again, so I did. Now, I am not superwoman and can write daily poetry posts on two blogs. That is why I re-purpose some on my Weebly blog “The Bee Creates“.

Come Away With Me 2020 Badge
Come Away With Me 2020 badge

But the project I am most excited about is “Come Away With Me” here on my WordPress blog. Over the years I have taken part in several music blog projects from “Song Lyric Sunday” to “Love Is In Da Blog“. While most bloggers shared the music they’ve always liked, I became bored and wanted to discover music from other countries. YouTube had suggested some exciting Scandinavian artists to me, which made me wonder what sort of music other countries are listening. So I started to blog about them last December on “Music Monday“. Later on, I re-named it “Come Away With Me Musical Challenge“. For the next couple of years, I am going to write about a musician from a different country every Monday. I’ll also share some video’s to get an idea about the country we visit. You can even take part with your blog if you like.

I am not sure, if all these creative endeavours will get me through cancer treatment, but I feel it is definitely better than feeling sorry for myself. One thing I do not want to miss either in my blogging is JoAnna’s Good News Tuesday. That is why I am going to share a Good News Story for the end of this blog post.

I am looking for alternative ways to support my cancer treatment and this story made me think a lot:

video credit: eCancer via YouTube

This post takes part in “Good News Tuesday” inspired by JoAnna on “Anything Possible”. I found this story over at YouTube. Please head over to JoAnna and find more uplifting news.

So, I let you go to whatever is up at your agenda. Take care of yourselves and be kind not only to others but also to yourself. Happy Tuesday despite everything.

Come Away With Me To Ireland and Beating Cancer

gif source: Giphy ~ Yellow Star Wars writing saying: “May the Fourth Be With You”. It looks like you are flying very fast through a starry univers in the background

Hello out there, how are you coping? I hope life is treating you well, despite everything. If you feel overwhelmed, remember you are not alone. We all feel like this, and you are in my prayers daily.

I am a bit embarrassed. Last week I told you I start chemotherapy and then didn’t. I got an infection and the doctor decided to wait a week. They gave me antibiotics, and they seem to work. So today, I am not writing; I stared chemo because when I am writing this, I do not know if I start or not.

How am I coping? Ok at the moment but the week before chemo should have started was a hard one. The best husband and I tried to figure out how to deal with shielding. The advice in the UK is that everybody who has his or her immune system compromised should keep to their own. So, in theory, I should stay in one room on my own and just get out to the bathroom when no one is around. Not possible in a small house like ours.

Image of a young woman having her hand on her breast. Several glas candle holders and a shadow which appears to be a monk
Image by Grae Dickason from Pixabay

So we compromised. I will wear gloves and something over my nose and mouth at all times. The best husband already strips down when he comes home, puts his clothes in the washing machine, and has a shower before we come close. He also disinfects everything he took with him that can’t be washed. And we will clean all surfaces after use as best as we can. And we don’t worry about the virus because if we do, we certainly catch it. That must do.

Otherwise I occupy myself with reading, blogging, TV, light housework and every now and then some gardening. Since my operation I have only been out of the house to go to the hospital and go for a walk in the morning. I just fully started this last week because tiredness is one side effect of chemotherapy which can be counter acted with light exercise.

And I started to learn Dutch via Duolingo and to improve my French with reading books in French. I found out that you can translate foreign language books with google translate if you highlight what you need to have translated on google books. That is ingenious. I read a sentence and try to understand as much as I can. Then I look it up with google translate. I know its translations aren’t always perfect but its better than using a dictionary.

image of a dilapidated hut in an Irish coastal landscape
Image by Christian_Birkholz from Pixabay

Not to forget my ” beating cancer” project ” Come Away With Me.” This week I am rather excited because our journey leads us to Ireland, one of my favorite countries in the world. I was lucky enough to travel around the republic of Ireland ( Northern Ireland is part of the UK) in 1992. I can’t believe that it is nearly 30 years ago. Ireland was a different place then. More rural and, of course, the conflict in the North made everything more difficult.

I had met my first husband when doing a gap year and luckily he liked travelling. So at the end of said gap year we decided to visit Ireland a place I always wanted to see basically because the rumour went there are many people with red hair. I don’t remember seeing many more than otherwise but it was a wonderful journey. We went from the West of Germany by car to Belgium and from there too via ferry to Dover in the UK. We then manoeuvred our way around London to Fishguard in Wales. Again a ferry and two days after we started we managed to end up in Ireland’s Roeselare.

Colourful houses in Kinsale
Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay

Our plan was to go around the coast of Ireland and camp, which worked very well. What stood out most for me were the people we met. In Kinsale, a young woman asked us for money, but she didn’ just wanted to beg. She sang us a song. A shopkeeper told us that the Irish prefered Germans to the British because they fought the Brits in the war. I found that rather strange to hear, but it also made me feel welcomed because German tourists didn’t have the best of reputations.

We met two German students in Waterford. After chatting for a while, they figured we were camping and never had stayed in a B&B, so they offered us to stay with them. So we did. But it was night by the time they took us o heir house in the middle of nowhere. Literally. I got somewhat scared bu just at that moment one of them said:” Don’t worry, we live entirely remote, we are not going to kill you,” and all of us laughed.

Image of a ancient lighthouse called the beacon in Baltimore Ireland
Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay

And then there was that pub in Baltimore, I think (yes there is Baltimore in Ireland 😉 ). It had a music festival on, and a band of three were playing. Their expressions were severe, like they were playing for the government. Suddenly a patron stood up, grabbed an accordion, sat down with them, and played as fast as them with exactly the same expression on his face. You can’t make it up.

Ireland’s pub had to shut down at 11pm in those days. So the landlord called for the last orders at a quarter to 11. Then he asked the audience to close the curtains behind them and the concert went on until 1am. It was awesome! Oh, and we were in Hollywood too :-). That lies in the Wicklow Mountains by the way 😉

I know that Ireland today is a different place than then but I am still very fond of the country and hope to have the chance to visit it again with the best husband (Jeremy Clarkson voice) in the world. And to give you an idea how the country looks like a video by Wandering Wolf and their journey around the island.

video credit: Wandering Wolf via YouTube

Ireland is renowned for its musicians, and at least when we were there back in the day, there were musicians everywhere. It was brilliant. The band I have chosen today is called TOUCAN and consists of 10 musicians all from the county of Munster but different towns. They brought out their debut album last year and are on tour on and off. Conor Clancy and Martin Atkinson, the founders of TOUCAN, played together at a house party in 2015 and thought about creating a band. But it didn’t hit off until recently when they started to play live shows. But find out more at ILoveLimerick and their page. And now to one of their songs without more words.

video credit: TOUCAN via YouTube

Come Away With Me 2020 Musical Challenge Country for Monday April 26th, 2020

I am taking a somewhat random route around the world, but sometimes it makes sense. Next week we are going to visit Great Britain. Find out about interesting musicians from the UK on the Culture Trip page.

As for the suggestions to take part:

  1. Join in! No matter where, when and with what. You missed the first week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
  2. Send us the link! The ping-back option does not always work so please leave a link in the comments of the post on the day you take part. Or leave it at the “Come Away With Me 2020 FB page
  3. Tag your post either with ” Come Away With Me Musical Challenge”/ #CoAwWiMeMuCh” / “Come Away with Me 2020 Musical Challenge” o/“CoAwWiMe2020MuCh” / . You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure. If you add #blog and #music with your hashtags it will get you more readers.
  4. No matter which music or country the prompt favours you create with it whatever you please. This is supposed to be a fun challenge and no chore.
  5. I post a prompt for the next week with every “Come Away With Me 2020 post” I write.
  6. If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
Come Away With Me 2020 Badge
Come Away With Me 2020 badge

Just one more thing before you go: The hospital that is treating me is fundraising for a dedicated breast cancer unit which would allow same-day diagnosis and better premises for patients and staff.

Please, if you can spare a little money hop over to their Just Giving Page and give as little or much as you can. Or share the page on your social media. Your support means a lot to me! Thank you very much.

Thanks, my dears, for staying with me until the end. I appreciate your presence. May the fourth be with you 😉

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image of a wooden goyne heading into a wave

#ClimateJusticeSaturday: Climate Justice Now! How?

Hello out there, how are you? Please do not forget that you rock no matter what challenge you face currently. You can do it. I believe in you!

It’s Saturday and time to check out what climate justice activists have to say. It’s time to change our lifestyle and behaviour more than ever and Jill MacIntyer Witt has a How-to on offer. Here is what TEDx is saying about her on YouTube:

“We need everyone everywhere doing everything all the time. Jill MacIntyre Witt has made it her lifelong passion to connect others’ behaviors to protecting our planet. Her master’s project is a Climate Justice Field Manual, a how-to guide for action, downloadable at climatejusticenow.earth. Jill is a brave Climate Reality Mentor for Former Vice President Al Gore. She’s traveled to Paris for COP21. She coordinates successfully many environmental actions in Washington State with her community and the Lummi Nation. The time to join the movement is now and how is up to you. Jill is a professor of Physical Education at Western Washington University and studied at University of Queensland and California Polytechnic State University. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband. She is raising two young women who are equally as passionate about taking care of Earth. #climatechange #climatejustice #activism #climatejusticenow, #TEDx, #TEDxVail2018, #TEDxVail, #TEDxVailYES! “We need everyone everywhere doing everything all the time. Read more here

I think much has changed since Summer 2018 when Greta Thunberg started her Friday’s for Future and since April 2019 when Extinction Rebellion started to show us how urgent changing is. And even more, now that a new virus is changing our lives in ways we could not imagine just a few months ago.

But there is still so much to do and if you need some encouragement listen to Jill’s Tedx Talk from 2018.

Please follow the link underneath the video if it doesn’t play here on the blog.

video credit: TEDx Talk via YouTube

Let’s do it together and save this planet!!!!!

Happy Saturday to you all despite everything!

#Poem on Friday ~ Human Being

Hello out there, how are you? I hope you and yours are well and safe. Please take a moment and breathe and remember you rock. Might there be a hidden blessing in these difficult times? My blessings are with you.

Human Being

Human being not doing

Remember your roots

Remember peace

Remember harmony

Remember….

Human being

Happy Friday to you all despite everything!

#ThrowbackThursday: Randy Ingermanson on Organising your Writing Day

This post was first published in August 2017:
Today I share an article with you that I found rather interesting in Randy Ingermanson’s Newsletter, that I receive every month:
  
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Organisation: Attacking your Day!

Getting stuff done is a matter of attacking each day like it’s an obstacle course in a mud run. Because that’s pretty much what it is.

You can attack your day any way you like, based on the way your brain is wired and your own personal style of getting stuff done.

Today I’ll toss out for your consideration the way I attack each day. If you see some ideas that might work for you, feel free to use them or adapt them to your own way of doing things.

As I’ve noted in previous columns, I manage my tasks and projects in Evernote. (A “task” is something you can do in one sitting. A “project” is a collection of related tasks that may take days, months, or even years to complete.)

Evernote is great for keeping track of all my pending tasks and projects. Each task or project can be in its own “note” that can be assigned to a “notebook” of pending tasks or projects. When they’re completed, they can be moved to a new notebook of completed items.

However, for keeping track of what I actually did in my life, I keep a work journal in Scrivener. Scrivener is a word-processing tool in which you can work on many text files, folders of text files, and folders of folders, as a single project.

I have a 2017 folder at the top level which contains a folder for each month. Each month’s folder has a text file for each date, and in that text file, I track what I planned for the day and what I actually did.

Scrivener has a very nice template feature. You can create text file templates that are structured exactly the way you want them. I have a template named “Daily Plan”. Every day when I sit down at my computer, the very first thing I do is open my work journal and add a new text file to the current month, using the “Daily Plan” template. Then I fill it in, based on what current tasks and projects I have pending in Evernote.

My thinking is that a Daily Plan needs to give you context on the big picture of your life. So my Daily Plan has some standard things to remind me of exactly what my big picture is. Here are the five items that show up in my Daily Plan:

  1. My Life Theme
  2. My Learning Project
  3. My Monthly Habit to Build
  4. My Plan for This Quarter
  5. To Do List

Let’s talk about each of those in turn.

My Life Theme

You should know what it is you want in life. When you die, what do you want people to say you achieved?

You need to spell this out in words. A simple statement that reminds you every day why you’re here.

My preferred way to do this is with a sentence that goes like this:  “I want to be the best ____________ on the planet.”

Fill in the blank with whatever’s appropriate. If you want to be the best writer of Amish vampire science fiction novels on the planet, then fill that in. That’s a nice tight niche. (A friend of mine seems to already owns that niche, so find your own.)

My Learning Project

I’m a strong believer in continuous improvement. In constantly learning some new topic to the level of mastery or at least a high-intermediate skill level. Every month, I choose a new learning project. Sometimes this carries over to the next month.

I like to have a reminder of my current learning project in my Daily Plan. Just to remind me of What This Month Is All About.

Some months, I abandon the learning project if it seems to be going nowhere. But other months, I keep at it the whole month.

Your learning project can be anything you want. This month, I’m studying a book on nonlinear dynamics. Yes, really. No particular reason, other than it explains lots of things about the way the world is, and because it’s math and I like math.

I suspect you’re not so interested in nonlinear dynamics. No worries. Find something you are interested in and GO GET REALLY GOOD AT IT.

My Monthly Habit to Build

There’s a sense in which you are the sum of your habits. The truly exceptional people I’ve met all seem to be people who work hard at creating habits that make them better people.

They don’t rely on motivation, which is nothing but a damned fickle emotion that will only carry you for about three days, if you’re lucky.

They rely on habits. When your motivation is dead, your good habits will carry you through without effort, because a habit is by definition something you do routinely, without thought or effort.

Every month, I choose a new habit to build. This may be a new exercise habit or a new work habit or a new leisure habit. Whatever. It’s something that I want to do every day that will make me a better person.

In the best case, it takes about a month to build a new habit. So ideally, you can build twelve new habits in a year. In theory, that would be incredibly amazing.

In practice, it can take longer than a month to really get a habit rooted in place. But it’s worth it. If you were to create even six new habits each year, in five years you would be an amazingly different person.

My Plan For This Quarter

I wrote about the value of creating a quarterly plan in this e-zine in October, 2016. The title of the column was “How to Keep Focused”.

I strongly believe this is a powerful way to keep you on track. Every quarter I make a new list of a few projects that I want to achieve in the coming quarter. I’ve learned not to get too aggressive in this plan, because that gets discouraging.

Once you make a quarterly plan, you need to keep that in front of you. I do this by writing it up as a text file in Scrivener. Then I embed it in my daily plan using a Scrivener Link.

Every day when I fill in my daily plan, I see a link to my quarterly plan. I can click on that and a small document pops up to remind me what I’m trying to get done this quarter.

That serves as a constant reminder that I need to keep making progress. Small steps every day, or at least most days, will get you there.

To Do List

The very last item in my Daily Plan is a skeleton To Do List. This is actually not a list of tasks, but a list of projects, and it’s normally filled in with the three big things in my life.

The first of these is writing. My Daily Plan tells me I need to be writing two hours every day. That’s my quota. Once in a while I miss the quota. Most days I make it. Some days I exceed it. Writing every day is a good habit to build. In my journal, I track how many hours I worked and what my current total word count is on my project.

The second project I work on (almost) every day is my day job. Most writers I know have a day job. Mine is demanding and intellectually challenging, and I like it that way. It also puts bread on the table, and I like that too.

The third project is labeled “Total World Domination” which has the coolest label because it has all the things I have a hard time getting done. Administrative stuff and web stuff and marketing stuff and yard stuff.

It’s not that I can’t do these or I dislike doing them, once I’ve got started on them. What I don’t like is starting them. I have a high “activation energy” as one of my biochemistry friends puts it.

I usually write in several subtasks under Total World Domination to let me know the things I’m going to work on today. Usually this is not a long list, but I want to know the high points.

The Automatic Journal

It can be useful to know what you did on any particular day in the past. The way to know what you did is to keep a journal. My Daily Plan is not just a planning tool—it also gives me a pretty good idea of what I did on every single day since I started keeping it, which was in 2013.

There’s no extra work involved here to keep a journal. I just keep the Daily Plan, labeled by its date, and I automatically have a journal.

Homework

  • Do you have a daily habit of making a Daily Plan?
  • If not, do you want to make a daily habit of making a Daily Plan?
  • What tool would you use to make your Daily Plan? (I use Scrivener, which is cheap and very powerful, but you can use anything you want. A paper notebook would work just fine.)
  • What time of the day would you create your Daily Plan? (Yes, in the morning, obviously, but what exact time in the morning, and what will prompt you to create it?)

That’s it. Don’t just seize the day. Attack the day.