Back with new stories

It has been awhile (again). I have been busy with various projects and learning and not keeping up with this blog. Once more caught up in finding a unique or particularly creative and inspirational direction.  perhaps a losing battle and most definitely a recipe for writer`s block.  so, leaving that goal behind to see what happens and what direction evolves –  and whether anyone cares.

Stay tuned.  You know, assuming you got tuned in the first place.

Plans

My Father’s Daughter

Missing you on your birthdayDad was born on February 5 so this day is always an emotional one for me.  Dad loved his birthday, which usually turned into a birthday week.  He saved all his birthday cards and every year around the last week of January, he would start to display them around the house, adding more from the collection each day and looking forward to new greetings.  There were always plenty of those; he was much loved. He said not to get him a new one each year but, of course, nobody  listened.  He would have been disappointed if we had.  He hated to get any kind of card with only a quick signature and relished revisiting old wishes. So his collection grew and was much loved.

Those of us who were near, always gathered for his birthday supper and cake.  If any of us couldn’t make it home, we always checked in by phone and he anticipated the calls for days.  He loved to chat and laugh with family members.   In fact, he typically had multiple cakes and meals shared with various friends and extended family.

I miss Dad every day but on his birthday, his loss is especially strong.    We’ll toast his name and light a birthday candle for him today.

I was very close to my father, and by all accounts, am very much like him.  I made this digital scrapbook page to capture some of the similarities.

My Fathers Daughter layout
My Father’s Daughter is a digital layout created with products from scrapgirls.com

Do you have a family member who is very like you – or very different?  Challenge yourself today to write a story or do a layout to compare your personalities.  You’ll be glad to have the reminder and it will mean a lot to your children or grandchildren as it might help them understand why you (or they) act or look as they do.

Reusing and organizing

Organizing and Reclaiming

Well, despite my best intentions, another long delay between posts here.  I’ve not been very successful in my resolve to stop waiting for a perfect topic or direction – or something with some jaw-dropping insight.

Today, back to the my original goal of getting rid of some stuff.  I have decided it is time to par down on my t-shirt collection, particularly since I rarely wear t-shirts except when I am doing some work in the workshop or around the house.  This has not stopped me from collecting and saving enough of them to overflow the drawers and to fill too large containers in my off-season attic storage.  Needless to say, I’m not going to address that all in one sitting  This weekend, I plan to switch the winter and summer clothes and that is always a good time to pare down and regroup.  In prep for that effort, I thought this would be time to tackle the 3-drawers that are stuffed to overflowing in the guest room.

before_drawer1overfilled drawers

One of the reasons that I keep holding on to the accumulated T-Shirts is that most were collected at an event or for an occasion. Most stand as testament to some affiliation or achievement.  As such, it can be hard to part with them and when I have thought of donating them, I think that they wouldn’t really have meaning for anyone not connected to the same event.  As I was sorting through, however, I realized that some still held strong positive memories but many, not so much.  I dedicated an hour to these three drawers, set an alarm, and determined to work quickly (not my forte) and get a start on the reduction.

Here are the outcomes:

Repurposed materials

I decided to cut the logos/images off the T-Shirts that were valuable memories but no longer worn.  I’ll collect them up and make something of them in the future.  Perhaps a quilt or wall hanging.  In the meantime, I drastically reduce the space required AND still have the reminder of the associated event.  I cut the rest of the shirts into strips for rags for the workshop and garden shed, where they will be put to good use.  An unexpected bonus of this approach is that some of the well worn shirts would not last

much longer and this way the most important part of the story is preserved.  I turned this stack of shirts…

before_TShirts1

 

…. to this collection of images and pile of rags.

after_material-rags

 

Improved Organization

I reduced the number of shirts in the drawers dramatically, leaving only ones that I continue to wear when I exercise or do work around the house or garden.

after_tshirtdrawer1

Donations

I put clothes that no longer fit or suit, as well as a number of T-shirts that I realized didn’t really have an emotional attachment but are still in good shape – in a bag to donate  While I was at it, I collected some items already set aside for that purpose and bagged those up too.

Result – 1 1/2 garbage bags of clothes and a bag of bed clothes taken out to the car to drop at Value Village on my next trip to the city.

Time well spent

In just over an hour, I cleared some space in the drawers for the inevitable seasonal clothing change later in the week.   Maybe I’ll put some unused T-Shirts back in rotation – or I might even take the plunge and cut some up or donate them rather than just putting them back in storage.

What do you do with all those T-Shirts from runs, school events or promotional activities?  Do you wear them?  Use them for night shirts? Donate them?  Discard them?  Share any suggestions in the comments.

Start a photo project

In recent years, I have tried to have an annual photo project.  In 2009, I successfully completed a 365 day project with a picture a year, a layout a week.   I finished the layouts and published the book in early 2010.  It was rewarding to complete and it is great to look at all the day-to-day moments.  In the years since, I have done weekly collections in a digital format.

ALbum cover for 2009 365
Album cover for 2009 365

I’m planning to do a similar project this year but am still playing with themes or a unique hook.  I want to incorporate my keep-the-stories efforts but still deciding how.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Photos are a great way to capture everyday moments.  The routines of your day can be interesting or entertaining in years ahead and I am always amazed at how often I look at photos and think, “Oh, I’d forgotten that I used to do that all the time.”  If you have children, they will look back at the images and marvel at their daily activities.  OK, it might take them awhile to appreciate it but eventually, they’re sure to get there.  A year-long photo project can take as little or as much time as you want and can be focused or random.  The details are up to you.

There are plenty of places to find inspiration for a photo project – 365 days – 52 weeks – 12 months – 4 seasons – or a particular person or object through the year.  Many of related sites have challenges or opportunity for sharing.  Of course, you can start any time of the year -it doesn’t have to begin on New Year’s Day, although that is a favorite launch date for many people – it might even be a resolution – but it is not the only option.  You might prefer to start on a birthday or anniversary, a milestone change or any day when you are expired.

Don’t worry about having a fancy camera or lots of equipment. If you don’t have a DSLR, use a point and shoot or the camera on your phone.  Just get out and take pictures.

If you need inspiration for your own photo project, you might like:

digital-photography-school.com/start-a-personal-photography-project

http://captureyour365.com/

http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/project-365-take-a-photo-a-day/

Do you plan a 2018 photo project?  What will your project be?  Do you expect to keep the fame form all year or will you change it, for example, making each month slightly different?

Telling your story with social media

Whether you have business or personal stories to share, the best time to reach your audience is when they are active and using the tools.  So many things are posted every hour that a post will quickly get lost in a flood of messages and be missed if people are not active for a long period of time.  Consequently, timing is an important element of social media strategy.

It used to be said that the three most important things in business are Location – Location – Location.  That is not true in the global world of social media and these days it might be said that the most important things are Timing – Timing – Timing.  Below is an interesting graphic with guidelines about when to post in various social media to get the greatest level of engagement.  The source is on the bottom of the graphic.

Share your stories when you can most effectively meet your intended audience.  Of course, these times just offer guidelines and don’t account for different time zones.  You might have to post your message to reach several time zones.  Also, it would make sense to try to asses the validity with your target audience, which might have different usage patterns than the average.

More tomorrow – probably between 1 and 4 pm AST.

 

What do you think of the times indicated?  I was surprised that Twitter traffic fades so early in the afternoon – I would have expected it to be busy late afternoon and early evening.  I seem to get lots of tweets at that time of day.

Do you have favorite times that you have found especially effective for your personal or business messages?  What tips do you have about timing of your social media postings?

10 Resources to help you tell your story

writerquotes_Patterson

How you choose to tell your story can be as individual and unique as you are. Here are 10 resources that might help you to write or record stories that keep people reading or listening.

1

One of my favourite sources of inspiration these days is Ted.com where there are short (average around 15-16  minutes) but powerful presentations on any topic.  There are also playlists to help you get started or choose talks around a particular theme.  Here is a good place to start for storytelling:  TED Talks Playlist – 6 talks on How to Tell A Story 

There is sure to be some inspiration in these entertaining and informative presentations

General writing tips

2

Want to write fiction? Here is step-by-step process that you could also apply in your own stories.
http://www.storyjumper.com/main/starter

3

Writing tips that are helpful whether you want to write biography or fiction.
http://goinswriter.com/writing-tips/

4

Quick tips for telling your story – public speaking or otherwise.
http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu/how-tell-your-story-impact

5

Reasons you should tell ALL your stories.
http://michaelhyatt.com/tell-your-story-the-good-and-the-bad.html

6

Resources and tips for preserving your life story.
http://www.your-life-your-story.com/whatandwhy.html

Oral history and digital storytelling

7

A not for profit organization dedicated to preserving oral histories for Americans of all backgrounds.
http://storycorps.org/about/

8

Helen Bartlett offers plenty of links to sites with digital storytelling resources.
http://electronicportfolios.com/digistory/

9

Center for Oral History and Digital StoryTelling
http://storytelling.concordia.ca/

10

For an extensive collection of literary resources, you might want to visit the Great Writers Inspire blog.

These are just a few of the wide and seemingly endless variety of inspirational sites and books.  Please share your favorites in the comments.

Preparing to ‘let it go’

Letting go

There are some stories that we need to let go.  Or more accurately, some related baggage that should be discarded.  It’s important to keep the lessons but unproductive, even unhealthy, to cling to all thoughts of would’ve, could’ve or should’ve.

You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

This is a tough one for me. I’m always reviewing, reliving and reprimanding myself over things that almost certainly are minimal or forgotten by others involved.  My husband, who is much more able to put things behind him, has come to accept that I do not easily move beyond a perceived error. He once told me that the difference between the two of us on that front is that I always think that I can still fix things. Pretty insightful really (he doesn’t have to know I said that). That idea definitely gave me something to think about as I strive to become [more of] a free spirit unfettered by regrets.

Today’s challenge

Strive to let go of stories that hold you back by prompting feelings of anxiety, anger, jealousy, regret, envy or any of a myriad of other draining emotions.

Take what  learning you can from the experience then let go of the rest.  Admittedly easier said than done but start today to find ways to begin that next chapter.

  • Get a realistic picture of the situation that you are reliving, one that is not focused only on what you did / didn’t do and wish you hadn’t / had done.  Name at least one positive outcome or lesson or identify some progress that was made toward a goal.
  • Name the event so you can catalog and let it go (some strategies on how to do that next time)
  • Describe the event / situation. Try to be objective. Use as much or as little detail as you like.  This can be just for you or something that you choose to share.
  • Identify what you did wrong (by your reckoning) AND what you wish you had done differently.  Sometimes you might want to check your perception with others.
  • Try to objectively consider whether it would truly have resulted in a ‘better’ outcome, with ‘better’ meaning one that would not have caused you to have regrets.
  • Consider how other parties would feel about the situation Try to be realistic. How did they react? Would they even still be thinking about it? It is quite possible that they didn’t notice or place the same value on what you said or did.

With practice, you’ll soon be able to do these steps quickly.  Although it might be difficult, try to check your perceptions with others at least occasionally to help develop more realistic assessments.

Next time – strategies for helping move past the lingering negativity.

Organizing digital photos

Growing photo collections

It is increasingly easy to amass huge selections of photos and then find yourself spending long hours flipping through looking for a specific memorable image or trying to find one to illustrate a particular post or article.

I long ago lost count of how many images I’ve shot digitally.  PLUS I am of an age that I also have 20+ years of negatives and prints that I have been scanning to create printed  albums as a supplement to all the online collections.  My thinking is that getting the pictures in albums allows me to reduce the number of negatives and duplicate photos.

Making a system

Not long ago, I took advantage of a sale from a scanning service and had more than 1500 prints scanned, which was a big boost to digitizing my collection of old family photos.  Adding those images to my digital records is a good reason to review and update my filing system.

My own photo filing system is in serious need of review and refinement. Every time that I go to do a layout or gift project, I’m spending way to much time trying to find a certain picture that I have in mind, or waiting to be inspired by the right image for a project idea.  I have set a target to complete 4 of the photo books on my  to publish  list by the end of 2017.  To do that effectively, I need to streamline my process so I can spend time designing books rather than searching for the right photos.

Whatever system that you develop has to include backups.  It is devastating to lose pictures.  I speak from experience as last year I lost the better part of two years worth to a system crash.  I don’t like to think about it.  sniff.

Taming the image monster

Here are a few organizing tips for tackling your digital photo collections:

  • Plan a file naming structure that will make it easy to find images. For example, I used to organize by date but found that filing only by date didn’t work too well for me because I very rarely look for pictures on the basis of date. Consider a date AND a name in a consistent format that works.  If you do use a date format, year-month-day is the most effective way to keep chronological order. I still include the date but now put it at the end of my file name so images sorted by name are grouped by event first.  For example, Cathy1stBirthday-2017-06-02
  • Label all new pictures as soon as you uploaded from the camera.
  • Empty your camera card frequently, depending on the volume of pictures that you take.
  • Avoid edits when first uploading. Do that on separate editing session.  One exception, some people prefer to do simple batch edits on all photos at once.  For example, if the pictures were all in a poorly lit environment, you might want to do an action that corrects light on all photos before you file them.
  • Add keywords / tags to each of the pictures so they can be searched in different ways. Avoid copying the same picture into multiple files.
  • Batch changes – rename groups of files rather than one at a time.
  • Discard duplicates and near duplicates. Pick the best example of a series of similar images and discard the rest. Try setting a limit to a maximum for any venue or event.  Be selective.
  • Save pictures that tell different parts of a story – be sure that there are wide views, close-ups and pictures to provide context. Within reason, of course (see previous tip).
  • Avoid unfiled or miscellaneous photos to help minimize numbers of images ignored or forgotten.  Decide now to file.  You can always change later if it isn’t working but put everything somewhere.
  • Tackle a big organizing project in small bits. For example, work for a defined period of time or number of images sorted. Set a timer and move on when target is reached. If you open a file looking for a picture, label any identified pictures in that folder QUICKLY.  Don’t be sidetracked but do a quick rename with event and date.
  • Do new photos first and work back to the older pictures.
  • Do not feel that you have to work in a particular order if you are doing older pictures.  It is OK to work out of chronological order,

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely [to the White Rabbit], “and go on till you come to the end then stop.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I would love to hear your strategies and tips for photo organization.   Please share any tips or resources.

What are your goals for photo management.