Archive for the ‘next steps’ Category

Taking Your Heart to Heart

When you think of February you probably think about Valentine’s Day, sending thoughts of love to those near and dear to us. February is also Heart Month, a time to focus on our heart, taking care of our heart, loving our heart.

Sure, I know my heart is important, I don’t think anyone would dispute that, but do I do anything about it? I think I’m like most people, taking my heart for granted. I’m young(ish). I exercise, though maybe not as regularly as I should. I try to eat healthy. I drink the occasional glass of wine. But I’m too young to really worry about a stroke. My job isn’t stressful enough to be that concerned about a heart attack. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But that all changed on Thursday.

The office secretary at my children’s school died suddenly after suffering a heart attack.

I couldn’t believe the news when I heard it. The secretary and I didn’t get along that well (I wrote about our encounter one morning), but my kids liked her; they dealt with her every day and she was pleasant to them, usually. My feelings aside, I would never wish something so terrible to befall her. My older kids were upset about the whole event but it did give me pause to think. It reminded me that life is short; no matter what your age, death comes far too soon. There’s always things we plan on doing ‘someday’. This whole experience reminded me that you have to enjoy what you’re doing now; do what you want to do now. It’s one reason my husband is changing jobs, to live a better quality of life and spend more time with his kids. It was a message we passed on to our kids by making time to enjoy things now, take trips together as a family, telling each other often how much we love each other and appreciate each other.

Taking care of your heart emtionally is important, being happy and sharing love, but physically taking care of your heart is key too.

Eat healthy.
Exercise regularly.
Stop smoking.
Don’t do things in excess.

These are just a few things the Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests as preventative ideas on their site The Heart Truth. This is a great site to find out the warning signs and evaluate your risk. Making changes can be easier said than done but the Heart and Stroke Foundation has a program, Heartbeats, which will set out a whole healthy heart plan for you for the year, delivering an achievable step once a week right to your inbox.

My kids are still young. I want to be around a long time to experience everything with them. That means I need to take care of my heart. Taking care of my heart means my heart will take care of mean. That’s not a bad trade off is it.

Happy Heart Month!

How do smashed windows stop child labour

So here I am, trying to work from home and all I can do is read the tweets about what’s going on in the city, my city, as the G20 conference goes on. I’m not really the protestor-type, though I’ve written my share of letters to companies and government officials, signed petitions, maybe attended a demonstration or two in my lifetime, but I understand the desire and need to make your point known on an issue that is really important to you. And what better time to do it then at a conference that will have the world media attention.

When the city agreed to play host to the G20, protests were sort of expected. Many scoffed at the security measures taken in the city in preparation for these protestors. I think we thought it was a little extreme because all we were going to do is yell and chant and march in a group. We’re Canadian, we’re civilized when we protest. We just want to get our time on the news with our sign, get the reporters to quote what our concerns are, maybe get the attention of one of the delegates. I think we were a little naive thinking we’d be immune to the organized protestors that travel the world to cause havoc at these events. Protestors that have no concern or respect for the people whose city they’ve invaded to make their point.

I sit here reading and watching the disgusting behaviour going on in the city, my city. I can’t help but wonder how smashing windows of the shops downtown stops child labour? How a burned out police car protects women who have no rights? How hiding behind a ninja costume stops us from depleting the Earth’s natural resources? How beating up people both physically and verbally solves child poverty and improves education? Perhaps I’m missing something.

Am I missing something? I mean these violent protests have happened before in other parts of the world and they never seem to change anything, why should it be different here? I’m so angry at what’s going on in the name of making a statement on how government and business mistreat everyone. I’m sad that those people who are here to make a stance on a real issue, in a respectable way, are being lost in the chaos. I’m embarrassed that people who aren’t from the city are painting us all as hooligans.

Some people believe that any press, even if it’s bad press, is better than no press, but is endangering strangers and defacing someone’s home (because people do live downtown in our city) really the kind of press that’s going to help any cause?

If you really want to make a stand on child labour then stop shopping at Wal-Mart or buying Nike or North Face. Take your organized power and funnel it toward a protest that is actually going to be heard, at the bank, when profits decrease. If you want to help the world go green, re-educate the masses and don’t buy over packaged products or items made with harmful chemicals. Instead of meeting to determine what elements will cause the most damage on the street corner, talk about how to get other people to believe in your cause, to believe in you and what you stand for and not dismiss you as a fanatic.

Yes, these are harder protest to organize because they take more thinking and re-educating and re-training. But in the end your message will be heard for what it is meant to be instead of a blip on the TV has a random act of violence and destruction with no purpose.

Have the guts to stand-up, face revealed and talk and persuade and work together towards something better in the end.

Love, love, love: Guest post on NTFFC

Something about February brings out the love. Yes, Valentine’s Day plays a part in that but love is more than just a specific day in the year. My February book review post is up on Allie‘s site No Time for Flash Cards and it’s all about love. I review a collection of my kids favourite books about love, all sorts of love. I hope you’ll pop by for a few recommendations. And if you have a favourite book of love you like to share with your kids, I’d love to hear about it.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Next Steps – August 3/09

I knew this day would come, just not this soon. I’ve been looking over my next step list and have to honestly say I didn’t accomplish much. Actually, I didn’t accomplish anything that I wanted. Being out of town and getting sick certainly didn’t help much. So I’m taking last weeks unaccomplished list and moving it into this week:

  • Work on Chapter Book material – When I write, I like to write by hand so I want to set a goal of writing one to two pages a day for my story. Also I need to avoid editing any work I do write (that’s one way I knock myself off track, editing before I’m done)
  • Reading research – I think I need to find some chapter books that deal with serious topics and read them as a reference (not sure how I’ll find this list yet)
  • Review additional magazine story – I have another story I’ve written for a children’s magazine. I’m not sure if it works, but I need to revisit it and see if I can make it work or if it should just be scraped

Hopefully I’ll be more successful this week.

Next Steps – July 27/09

Another week has passed since my last Next Steps list for working on my writing. But first, how did I do on last weeks next steps:

  • Submit my magazine story – Yup, I licked the envelop and sent it off. Now I sit and wait and pace and check the mailbox. Fingers crossed for the next six or so weeks. But it’s done.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I wrote a brief synopsis of my story, as well as a chapter outline. I also started to write descriptions of the main characters in the story. I was so excited I started to write the first chapter too.
  • Reading research – I haven’t done a very good job of this. I’ve been taking out picture books for my kids to read as part of the library’s Summer Reading Club. There are so many chapter books, but I think because my story idea deals with death I need to find books with a similar feel. So no Captain Underpants.
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – And this I haven’t done at all. I have found someone, an author, who’s offered to read it, but it’s based on her availability so this might have to wait a bit.

So moving forward into the next week:

  • Work on Chapter Book material – When I write, I like to write by hand so I want to set a goal of writing one to two pages a day for my story. Also I need to avoid editing any work I do write (that’s one way I knock myself off track, editing before I’m done)
  • Reading research – I think I need to find some chapter books that deal with serious topics and read them as a reference (not sure how I’ll find this list yet)
  • Review additional magazine story – I have another story I’ve written for a children’s magazine. I’m not sure if it works, but I need to revisit it and see if I can make it work or if it should just be scraped

A shorter list this week, but perhaps more writing will be involved.

Next Steps – July 20/09

It’s been a week since I first outlined my Next Steps for working on my writing. So let’s see, how did I do with last weeks tasks:

  • Renew my library card – Done. I reserved a few writing books too (Hopefully I can pick them up this week)
  • Finalize magazine stories – I’ve revised one story, ready to send out. The second story, after reviewing it, I’m not sure if it works still and I’m not sure if I can make it work.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript – Done, now I need to run it by a second pair of eyes for feedback.
  • Research the difference between Easy Reader/Chapter Book and Middle Grade Book – I’ve been reading and thinking about my story idea and I think I’ve settled on the EA/CB route.

So I’m feeling pretty good having completed the tasks I set-out for my first week. I’ll also admit they weren’t the hardest. Now we’re starting a new week and with that a new set of Next Steps:

  • Submit my magazine story –  Write a cover letter and submit the story to the children’s magazine for consideration.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I have a synopsis and now that I’ve decided to go the Chapter Book route, I want to develop an outline for each chapter.
  • Reading research – I need to take out and read a whole collection of Chapter Books
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – I’ve revised my picture book manuscript which needs a new set of eyes on it. I should also investigate critique groups too (I’m a member of SCBWI but have never really taken advantage of my membership).

So another week and another set of tasks. I’m always good at starting something, let’s see how good I am at continuing it.

Next Steps – July 13/09

So I’ve had some time to think about my writing/blogging dilemma (and I’ve received some great feedback and advice from people too). Instead of pitting one against the other, trying to sort out what’s more important, I’ve been thinking of ways to better use them to support each other.

One of my problems with my story writing, I think, is I don’t have any sort of deadline. It’s one of those things that gets done when it has to but if something else comes up (with a deadline) then that writing gets put aside. And the more I put it aside, the easier it gets to not pick it up. So, starting now, I’m going to set myself deadlines for my writing. And to make sure I follow through, I’m going to post them here, on my blog, every Monday. See. See how I’m using my blog to help my writing? Clever? Okay, maybe not. And this might not work, but I’m going to give it a try.

So here’s this weeks Next Steps:

  • Renew my library card. I can’t believe my library card has expired. I spend so much time there and seem to take out a lot of books (so my library fines indicate) but I’ve been using the kids library cards. I tried to reserve some writing books, which you can’t reserve with a child’s library card, and was told I couldn’t until I came in to renew my card. So that’s first on my list, renew my card.
  • Finalize magazine stories. I’ve written two stories for two different children’s magazines and have done nothing with them. I need to review them and finalized them and send them out.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript. I need to revise and get some comments on a picture book story I’ve been working on.
  • Research the differences between easy reader/chapter books and middle grade books. I have another story idea that I really like, but I’m not sure if the material is too much for an EA book. Need to get a better handle on determining which route to go.

Okay, there it is, spelled out for me (and anyone else who’s reading). Hopefully by next Monday I will have accomplished these and be ready to set a new list of Next Steps. Wish me luck.