Look what we found!

This weekend, my husband was trimming the dead parts off the holly bush, and he discovered a bird’s nest with eggs.
Robin's nest with four eggs

Also this weekend, my friend Bonnie visited and we went to a nearby park, where I took several photos. Here are a couple I really liked:
Wisteria cluster

fern

Any idea what type of fern this is?

Monday bit of joy

In case you’re having trouble remembering that Monday means possibility, have a gander at the latest flowers in my front bed. The girl was very excited to note that they look like hearts!

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Counting up . . . (15 things)

1 Really Cool Thing

I’m on the Andre Norton Award Jury this year! Official announcement

(Hey, look, I didn’t bury the lede!)

5 Things to Put You in a Better Mood

Happiness, confidence, optimism, meaning in life, and success — Eric Barker talks about notes to write yourself to give yourself a boost

9 Things

This actually falls into the series of productivity tools I’ve been talking about. It’s a simple take on the to-do list that I picked up from Jamie Todd Rubin, and he got the idea from the 27 GoodThings blog. Being a paperless ambassador, he advocates Evernote and Penultimate, but you can do the same thing with any notepad. And rather than duplicate his explanation, I’ll just link to his original post. I find this a very useful tool to keep myself (mostly) from trying to do too much on a given day. Getting “9 Things” Done

What interesting things have you found recently?

A busy April day

How’d we get more than two-thirds of the way through April already? Outside, it still looks like late March — forsythia and weeping cherries, magnolia blooms drifting in the wind, but not even a hint of an azalea blooming yet — not even the purple ones down the block that always bloom weeks before our magenta ones flower. The dogwood buds are just starting to lighten up, like they might be thinking of opening, but it’s clear they won’t be blooming before May. Perhaps this year I’ll remember to do a day-by-day shoot of the blooming in progress. (I tend to start and then get distracted about three days in.)

No new pictures yet, though, as all those blooming things are in other people’s yards, and I can’t very well shoot a picture while I’m driving down the street!

The freelance work’s going okay at the moment — I did get an ongoing copyediting gig where I work on journal articles each week, according to how much time I have available. Payment terms aren’t the best; they pay net 60, so I haven’t actually seen any of the income yet. On the plus side, it should be nice and steady. I’m also doing a proofreading job (a book on the Ottoman Empire) for a new client I marketed to earlier this year, and I have a proofreading test I need to finish up for another prospective client.

Writing is mixed, as usual. I have lots of great ideas for deepening projects I’m working on, and I’m making progress on different things, but I’m still working on that making regular time for the writing when the paying work is going well. Currently working on writing a cozy mystery novel (The Corn Maze Murders), an SF novel (working title: Neptune Station), and a fantasy short story (“Ice”); planning another mystery series and an SF novel series; and trying to make time to edit a novelette and a novella that I want to start submitting. Oh! And I have another drabble publication coming up this Friday on SpeckLit.

Family’s busy, too. Daughter’s got dance class, a simple one at the community center that does both ballet and tap. Each Wednesday as it gets to be time to leave, she says she doesn’t want to do it any more — and then she changes her mind when she actually gets to class. (Also, I can’t believe in just about six weeks, she’ll be done with kindergarten!)

The boy’s still playing trumpet in band. Spring concert’s tonight, which means I’m encouraging everyone to eat now. (While I sit at the computer typing, yes.) Should be good.

So that’s life here — busy, well-rounded, fulfilling, and (as always) crazy-making. What’s keeping you busy these days?

Looking at Lift

I’ve been using Lift this year to try to encourage the establishment of good habits. It’s more of a social networking approach to habits. You sign in to specific habits, and others who are trying to do the same habit (30-day plank challenge, for example, or Establish a writing habit) can see your activity and comment on it. You can also comment on your own activities (but not the lack thereof, as far as I can tell — you can’t say why you didn’t exercise on a given day until the next day that you do exercise). And if you link your Facebook or Twitter profiles, you can connect with people you’re already friends with to encourage each other.

The site works on the basic practices of accountability to others (your friends and followers) and of not breaking the chain. Fairly simple and tried-and-true methods. Because of the way it’s set up, though, every day has to be accounted for — if you’re doing an exercise program and it has rest days built into it, those days have to be set into the program from the beginning — which is fine if you’re doing something like working for 6 weeks to get ready for a 5k run, but seems rather less practical if you want something to remind you to run three days a week ad infinitum. For me, Lift seems best geared to things you want to do every day (drink a glass of water before dinner) or something that you’re only working on for a short time.

It excels at training for new habits — for things like developing a specific habit, where you’re working up to it, there’s often coaching involved that helps break down the task into steps and lets you look at the motivation and reason every step along the way. For example, the writing one I did (Develop a Writing Habit) starts with knowing why you want to write, then creating a goal, with various motivational posts along the way.

When you finish a habit’s run, whether it’s 30 days or 90 or whatever, it automatically repeats. Again, that can be useful if you’re just trying to remind yourself to keep doing something on a daily basis. For the writing, though, it felt kind of silly to get the same motivational talks each time.

Overall, I’d say if you like social feedback for getting things done, and if you want to create a specific habit or meet a goal in a specific length of time, Lift can be a good choice for you. I think I’m going to go inactive on it, however, as I’m not really finding it motivating.

April is the weirdest month

Weird for weather, at least, although maybe not the weirdest (it was 70 degrees on December 22). Last week was beautiful spring weather. Weekend temps got up into the low 80s, and then the cold front moved through and there was snow on the grass this morning. The weekend encouraged the flowers, and fortunately, the cold doesn’t seem to have been drastic enough to have killed them. So here’s what’s blooming in the front yard now: Continue reading

Grateful for HabitRPG

I always have a lot to do. Sometimes, I even manage most of it. Long-time readers might even remember I did a series of posts on time management. The problem with schedules, for me, is that they only seem to work if I’m accountable to someone else — appointments, volunteer slots, anthology deadlines are all well and good. But something as simple as trying to create a set order of things to do each day? Not so much.

Enter HabitRPG. Continue reading