Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Juggling, or Time Management

First of all, sorry for the late posting.

UPositive News
Drollerie Press has accepted my short story, "Mr. Wolffe's Side of the Story," for publication in their Little Red Riding Hood anthology! Check out their website, http://www.drolleriepress.com/. I'll let you all know pub date when I get it.

I swear, I swear, I swear, UPositive.com is almost up and running!

My CD, UPositive Life Coaching's Relaxation Technique, is hot off the soundboard! It'll be available for $9.99 (download; plus mailing for hard copy snail mail) on the website. After using the process a few times, your body will remember the relaxed state and you'll be able to reach it in seconds! Thank you, Tom Roady (http://www.tomroady.com/) and Big Bang Theory Studio for the excellent job and friendship!

With the expert help of Lance Yelvington (http://www.cybercountry.com/), the first two videos will be ready for the Website about when it goes live. Each month www.UPositive.com features a creativity challenge (with prize) and a goal attainment tip (May: fun). I hope you'll visit the Website more than once a month, but come by at least that often to enter the contest!

Elysabeth, my favorite cyberperson and great support---if you've read comments on this blog, you're familiar with her---just challenged me to address the issue of time management, or, more artistically expressed, tick-tock juggling. And a very timely topic it is (couldn't resist). In June, I'll be presenting a two-part workshop through the Songwriter's Guild of America (http://www.songwritersguild.com/) on Time Management for Creative People.

I'm not going to give it all away here---not enough time, and I want you all to come to the workshop! But I'll chat a bit about some of the balls that we keep in the air (or try to) and add some pointers. Anything you would like to add, suggest, ask, challenge...please feel free to post your comments!

Similarities between juggling and time management: (1) We all want to juggle lots of balls at once; we all have busy lives, with family, friends, career, hobbies, free time, creative pursuits, health, mundane tasks, meals, sleep, TV, and relaxation (I'm sure I've forgotten things, like dancing and gardening and jousting and Aunt Millie's 80th birthday). (2) We need to start with one ball in the air, then add the next, then the next, then the next....not throw them all up at once and expect them to stay airborne immediately. (3) Sometimes a ball falls to the ground, usually through no fault of our own but due to the force of gravity and the weight of lots of objects.

Differences between juggling and time management: (1) We are human and balls are different from people, responsibilities, and dreams. (2) The people, responsibilities, and dreams we try to juggle are of different weights, or importance; it's much harder to keep unequal objects flying around than to juggle balls of the same weight and size. (3) Sometimes something falls; with juggling balls, that's not catastrophic: with our lives, sometimes it is.

One of the essential keys to time management, and juggling, is to learn your own rhythms. Do you gain more momentum and accomplish more by getting small, easy tasks out of the way first, building success that then fuels the 'big jobs'? Or do you never get to the big jobs if you start with the small ones? Do you accomplish more by tackling the biggest, most pressing task and getting it out of the way when you're still fresh in the morning?

What time of day is your most productive? When do you have the most energy; when is your mind most awake? (This can change over the years, so don't expect it to be same for you at age 21 and then at age 52.) Try to schedule the priorities during that time.

Are there annoying steps that you need to tackle before getting to the good stuff? Can you set up a reward for yourself so those are accomplished? Everything has a sequence; if you're tackling the end of the sequence before you accomplish the middle steps, you're not managing time very well, and you'll end up spending more of it cleaning up the mistakes that are made.

Are there days when you wake up ready to tackle long lists of numbers and other days when adding two plus two scares the bedoodles out of you? Can you take advantage of these variations in yourself and grab the tasks you're in the mood for? (Be careful of objective deadlines---those have to be met first.)

There's a lot more to be considered in managing time, juggling the clock and all the to-dos of attaining your goals. Hopefully, these thoughts and questions will improve how you're already using time!

Comments, thoughts, questions, all appreciated!


Monday, April 21, 2008


This Saturday, April 26, from 9 till 2, is the long-awaited health fair at the Bellevue Y---hope to see you there!

The UPositive Website is, I promise, in the works and almost ready. Can’t wait to send out the announcement about it. An e-newsletter will be coming at about the same time.

Transitions. Do we love them or do we hate them? They’re necessary to get from place A to place B, and when we set goals, it’s important to consider how change occurs.

Preparation is an essential step in any process. The more effort you put into preparation, the more powerful the step when you’re ready to take it. Native Americans, for instance, who practice the Sun Dance start months if not years before getting ready physically and spiritually for the sacred ordeal. The Sun Dance is often done for purification, to rid oneself of the past before stepping into the future.

Taking the time to assess where you’re coming from, what’s held you prisoner, what’s created obstacles to your success before now is essential before planning steps to achieve new goals. Some of those obstacles must be addressed before they rear their ugly heads again, stopping you before you get very far. Including ways to face your inner and outer demons in your planning helps immensely in reaching your goals.

The transition from past to present is rarely comfortable. It’s the in-between. The not-here-anymore but not-yet-there-either stage. It feels narrow and constricting. You’re ready for action but can’t yet take it. You want to break free and jump ahead to race for your finish line.

Remember the turtle who won the race with the hare? Sometimes it's the person who takes the necessary time to do what must be done who wins in the end. Don’t shortcut the process by skipping the all-important transition from what’s behind you to what’s in front of you. Take the time now to assess, and to add what you need to do to avoid past mistakes or problems to your To-DoAble list.

And then---Go for your Goal!!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Happenings and Wonderings

A weekly goals support group begins May 13 at 6 pm. You can sign up and get the details at http://self-improvement.meetup.com/279/
. This is a group for people ready to get past setting goals and move on to achieving them. You don’t have to have creative dreams to participate, but creative goals are very welcome. Please read more at the link.

In two hours on two Thursday evenings in June, you can improve your getting-things-done-in-a-24-hour-day skills. The Songwriter’s Guild of America has invited me back to present a second seminar: Time management for Creative People. Details and early registration are through calling Kimberly at (615) 742-9945 or email her at

Individual coaching sessions are available in May and June. You can email me at
UPositive55@aol.com for more information.

www.UPositive.com, I am assured, will be up and running in the foreseeable future. There’ll be a celebration party at Starbuck’s in Belle Meade when that happens. Invitations forthcoming.

I’m Curious
I'm wondering if there isn't some parallel reality where all fictional characters, past, present, and future live: to write, all we need do is reach up into the storyether and grab someone, then sit them on the keyboard and let them tell what happens.

I’m not sure how else it happens---the magic of fiction. Where does the dream that evolves into a murder mystery originate? Or the character that grabs onto your awareness and refuses to let go, following you to Kroger’s and insisting on Cheddar cheese instead of the Gouda you usually buy? How are you suddenly watching a love scene on the wall of your shower when only a moment ago you were rinsing shampoo and reaching for the conditioner?

It isn’t only words or characters, either. I once attended a piano recital in Lincoln Center and found myself watching a 24-person cast of classical ballerinas dance an entire love story on the domed ceiling. I don’t even know how to begin choreographing this, and can only imagine that those who do know how experience this glory regularly. How wonderful to watch a tulip in the breeze and translate it to human movement. Or to smell garlic simmering in Aunt Katerina’s kitchen and translate that into an abstract sculpture.

Creativity is endless. There is always something new under the sun.

So I wonder why some people are open to these creative intrusions, or ready to reach out of the everyday into the imagination for them?

There are some who wander with connections to imaginary characters and are diagnosed with schizophrenia; others awarded with grants and prizes. What makes the difference?

What do you think?


Monday, April 7, 2008


There are those defining moments in our lives that, though short in duration, effect us at such a depth that we are changed forever. Through twenty years of psychotherapy practice, I’m convinced that most of these moments occur in childhood; we spend the rest of our lives either proving them true or false, whether or not we remember the situations or have defined the messages we took from them. But these moments aren’t limited to childhood---they can occur at any time in our lives, turn us onto a detour, change our world-view, values, politics, religion, creativity, goals.

Recently, I remembered one of these moments from my childhood. At about eight or nine, I absorbed a message about the monetary worth of my creativity, actually, of my work in general. When the memory rose to the surface it wrenched me open; tears spewed from my gut; my self-definition lurched from its usual place within me a few degrees east (or maybe it was west). The tears didn’t last long, but the depth of the catharsis produced immediate, positive effect.

What have those moments been in your life? What situations have you been in that defined you as a creative being in the world? What moments valued or de-valued your creative esteem? How important have these moments been to your growth and success (or how much of an obstacle to your success have they been)? Did it make a difference when you realized or remembered or otherwise brought the memory to surface awareness? How have these moments affected your creative productivity?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mourning Time

First, let me apologize for not posting this yesterday (Monday). Hopefully, it’ll be the exception to the self-imposed rule.

Second, let me assure you this blog is not about death, but about rejection, about small failures.

Yesterday I learned that a short story I’d submitted to an Internet writing contest hadn’t won. It wasn’t an important contest to me, and I didn’t think I had much chance right from the start. But when I learned the story had lost, like many other times my writing has been rejected, I felt a letdown. Someone had put a pin in my balloon of hope.

The stoics among us---even my Inner Stoic---says, “The best thing to do is turn around and send it out somewhere else.” Which I fully intend to do, but not right away.

The words “my story lost” uses the same word as “I lost my grandmother X years ago.” However we explain the difference to ourselves, the word is the same and our minds hear it in a similarly way. Just as I took the time to mourn the “loss” of my grandmother, I think it’s important to take some time to mourn the loss of our works “losing” a contest, a judging for inclusion in an exhibit, the loss of a job opportunity we hoped for, the loss of an advertising account.

So how do we do it and move on? How do we get over it as quickly as possible so that we can send the story out again, or enter a photograph in a showing, or apply for the next job on our list?

Anyone reading this who knows me, can guess that I’m going to include the Right Brain in the process, as well as the Left.

I’ll share my process, and I hope all my readers will share theirs, also.

Rant and rave. (Right Brain) “Those stupid people! They don’t know good writing when they see it. Probably the dude’s brother won!” I allow this for about five minutes, no longer.

Calm myself down and remind myself about the contest specifics. (Left Brain) Often I realize in retrospect that maybe my story didn’t even fit their requirements. (In this particular case, although they said only a short reference of any kind to Australia or something Australian would suffice, all three winners wrote in Australian---which is a very different language than American, with references in every sentence, dialect, location, setting, etc.)

Next, I read the winning entries. (Left Brain) (I thought one was extremely well-written, although it was supposed to be a mystery and though it contained a crime, there was no mystery to it at all; the other two seemed to be different versions of the same story, written similarly, but bursting with Australianisms.)

Then I comfort myself with all that I’ve learned. (Right Brain)

I wait at least 24 hours, sometimes 48 hours, before revisiting my own story. Then I reread it, looking for ways to improve it---not for that contest but for its own sake. (Left and Right Brains working together)

Finally, it’s time to move on. Either send that story out again or put it aside and get to work on something else.

I’ve given myself time to vent, allowed my inner angst a little bit of space so it doesn’t have to take a whole lot when I’m not looking, I’ve learned something about contests (at least that one), read a good story, hopefully improved my own story, and moved on.

I’ll never know if my story wasn’t chosen because it wasn’t well-written, or because it didn’t have enough Australia in it. But now it doesn’t matter.

How do you deal with rejection and “loss” in your creative life? In striving for what you want even in the non-creative arenas?