Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Sit Down and Shut Up

I have realized that the universe sends us lessons when we need them. And I should always follow along…

I have been taking an online workshop on self-hosted WordPress and the Genesis theme and extender plug in. It is my hope to some day move my little ol’ blog to a self-hosted site where I will have even more freedom to play. (Don’t get me wrong – WordPress.com ROCKS! and anyone looking to start a blog should definitely try the free version first.) But as with anything, I need to grow and spread my wings.

So, being a complete newbie to so much of the computer world, I did what I always do. I found a class and some books and have thrown myself into it. (I am a total nerd at heart!)

The universe must have though this was a grand idea, because a few days before I was going to just dive in, sign up with a hosting company and see what happens, I found a message.

This message came in the form of an opportunity to take a website design workshop for FREE. All that is required of me is to do the work and provide feedback so the instructor can better gear his course toward the absolute beginner.

SIGN ME UP!

So, I am a few days into the project and am loving it. This teacher is awesome and is breaking it all down into easily doable steps so we don’t get overwhelmed. I will be sure to share his site and course here when we are finished and he begins offering it to the public!

The hardest thing for me to do when learning something new and different is always to tell my inner critics to sit down and shut up. The little voice giggling in my head saying “who do you think you are to try” needs to be reigned in. I think we all have times in our lives when the brain imp comes out to bamboozle us into quitting too soon (often before we even try). I am here to say that if you ignore him, he eventually goes to a dark corner and sulks, leaving you to get on with the work at hand.

Finding this gentle nudge from the universe in my Facebook feed reminded me of some other instances of the not-so-subtle shout-outs from the powers that be that I have mentioned in my blog. Please feel free to click back through memory lane and learn the lessons that I did – our inner demons can be tamed. It is something I work on daily. But I am starting to learn.

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

The Luck of the Irish

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and in light of the fact that a two-day state of emergency due to three feet of snow has left me behind in my work…

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Raising Mighty Girls

March 8th is International Women’s Day. It was first observed in 1909 in New York and is now a holiday in many nations around the world. It has typically been a day for people to protest and strike for women’s rights around the world. While some people look at this as an activist’s dream, or a reason to march, or a divisive thing, I like to think that it is a day for us to celebrate strong women everywhere, a day to highlight women lifting other women up.

Why is it that so often girls spend more time cutting each other down instead of building each other up? I don’t recall learning to be a cutthroat competitor in grade school, but I do remember that it was far too easy to get caught up in the gossip and biting comments made about other girls, either as a participant or a victim. This goes
way beyond not having books with strong female characters and I am left wondering if there is something in our DNA that makes many girls view other girls as competition rather than friends.

I think it is important for us to instill a sense of inner strength in girls and women the world over. But it is even more important to instill a sense of sisterhood. And I am not saying that in a ultra-feminist-let’s-march-on-Washington kind of way. We don’t need to put on pink hats and put down men in order to be strong and support each other. As I type this, I worry that this will spawn some political debate and I want to nip that in the bud. That is not what this post is about.

I came across a video this morning on Facebook. It was originally posted by a page I follow and love – Rebel Girls. The creators of this page have published a fabulous book titled Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. You can check it out here. Their mission is to empower girls to grow up to be strong women! Anyhoo… here is the video for you to watch – I found it eye-opening.

This post is about teaching girls that they truly can do anything they put their minds to. And I think it’s important that they have equal representation in children’s books. I am not sure though that the disproportionate number of books that either don’t have girls at all or have girls who are too dumb to speak is not as glaringly obvious as this video makes it out to be.

I don’t think all princesses need to be replaced with female scientists. Yes, many princesses in kid lit are portrayed as wimps waiting to be saved by a man, but there are many who use some female ingenuity and courage to change their lives themselves. After all, didn’t Cinderella’s fairy godmother get her to the ball in the first place?

Another page I follow on FB, and share many posts from is A Mighty Girl. (They also have a great website full of inspirational toys and books for girls, FYI!) They, too, want to empower girls to grow into extraordinary women. I am not ashamed to say that even as I approach 50, I am still inspired by their stories and posts.

One of my favorite books as a kid was Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. It was about two girls who save themselves.  Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series is my hero. Though she is often referred to as bossy, she is also considered to be much smarter than either Harry or Ron. Matilda, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, Esperanza Rising, Ella Enchanted, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, The Hunger Games — There are many books out there that show us what strong girls are like!

For those of you trying to raise strong girls, or trying to find your strong inner girl, here are some links to reading lists of children’s books with strong female characters!

Top Read Along Books Starring Mighty Girls
Cool Girls of Children’s Literature
Early Chapter Books with Fierce Female Characters
50 of the Best Female Heroines in Middle Grade Books
Telling Her Story: 60 Books for Women’s History Month

What do you think? Do you feel girls are well-represented in the books that are written for young readers? What are some of your favorite kids books with strong female characters?

 

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

When Wishing Isn’t Enough

I know I am not alone in this. Have you ever had a dream that seemed too big? Too far away? Or maybe it was just a project that seemed insurmountable?

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How did you tackle it? Did you run at it wildly or take it step by step? Did you even try? Or did you let the size of it crush you before you even began?

A few years ago, I realized that a writer’s chances of being noticed and picked up by an agent or publisher are slim. There are so many writers, and so many manuscripts, and only so much of the big publishing companies to go around. So, I decided to self publish.

This freed me from the endless inquiries and book synopsis headache. But it opened up an entirely different and equally overwhelming list of tasks, many of which I had no idea how to do. I spent many months researching how to format books, publish on Amazon, print on demand, marketing and so on.

And I almost gave up before I started.

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My head spun with all there was to do and I felt the weight of knowing I was the only one who would do it. I had no team – no cover designer, no editor, no tribe. My team consisted of me, my husband who believed in me, my family and a select few friends who I had confided in.

After letting the size of my dream weigh me down for a few weeks, I decided to attach it one tiny step at a time. I created a document in my computer and called it “Big Dream.” I started with the huge goal that I wanted to accomplish that year – self publish my book.

Then I broke it down into monthly tasks and weekly tasks. I made sure to remind myself often that these deadlines were fluid. If something didn’t happen the week I initially planned it, I would simply move it to another more realistic week. I knew that life and my day job would interfere sometimes. Some weeks I accomplished little more than doing two blog posts and googling editors. But it was still checked off the list.

That was key to making it work. I had to make each task something I could break down to the tiniest steps. Looking at a week’s assignments of research paperwork for establishing DBA and email two editors for price quote  was a lot less stressful than if I had just put establish DBA and find editor. The next week might read file DBA, choose and editor.

It may sound like I was taking things way too slow, but at the time I had so many other things going on in my life that if I hadn’t made the steps this simple they would not have gotten done. I think that is the trick. I had to make the step so simple that there was no way my inner critic could derail me. I couldn’t convince myself there was no time to do it because it was a quick task.

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No one other than me saw this list. I was free to move things around as I learned more about what was involved and needed to be done. If my day job got nutty and I needed to take some time off from chasing the dream, I allowed myself to rearrange things, and ultimately push out the launch date. Most importantly, when this happened, I forgave myself.

This method of attack helped me to climb the mountain. And in the process, I learned what I can do, what I can learn to do, what I need to find someone else to do, and who to call when I get stuck.

elephant

I wrote a bit about this process here, “Time, Space and Distractions – AKA Easy Excuses,” and here, “Eating the Elephant.” And I bring it up again now as I contemplate Book 2, and my husband faces an elephant of his own. Baby steps, hon. Baby steps. 🙂 You’ve got this!

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

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