Monthly Archives: June 2012

One task begets another

I dedicated this week to housecleaning my internet presence–updating my website with a new design and different colours, changing the format of my newsletter, and, because people were having problems with my blogger subscriptions, I also changed my blog host to WordPress . Do you like the new look?

Initially I didn’t set out to do all of that. In the beginning I simply intended to spend a day de-cluttering my website. But then I started playing with different colours and motifs, and when I began to like the new designs I was coming up with, I decided to revamp the whole thing page by page. Working on the newsletter page finally motivated me to figure out how to use Mailchimp to design and send out email newsletters. And while writing up the newsletter, I wrote a blurb about my blogs and the problems some subscribers were having with my blogsite. Then and there I decided to change my blog host.

So my website cleanup dominoed into a huge learning curve with the Mailchimp site which in turn dominoed into another learning curve with WordPress. My brain felt full!

Personally I enjoy this kind of work, and when I get into it I become a bit obsessive about finishing it all. Most days this week my husband would come home from work and find me pretty much where I was when he left for work–sitting at the computer playing with fonts and colours. You could say that I spent most of my week on the computer. Whew!

But I am happy with the results. I love my new website design, am thrilled with how easy it is for me to now design and send out my newsletters, and I have hopefully eliminated the subscription problems with my blog. I am, however, looking forward to a computer-free weekend!

Ah, the life of a writer…guess I’d better get back to my writing now, huh?

Do you ever have a task that snowballs into several other tasks?

P.S. This week I was a guest blogger on “Blogging Authors” blogsite, where I described one way that I’ve increased my writing productivity.

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Sisterly Pride

As I write this, I am still in Canada and visiting with my sister for a few days. She recently moved to a beautiful new townhouse in Cobourg, Ontario, right on the lake. As a pastry chef, she creates delectable cakes and pastries and amazing works of edible art. Until this move, she operated her business, Decadent Cakes, from her home. But now, in her new hometown, she has taken a significant step by moving her business off-site, renting space in the back of a chocolate shop and café.

I was excited to be given a tour of her new work kitchen, all rigged up with an industrial oven and stainless steel worktable, and shelves and shelves of equipment. On the door leading in to her “happy place” is her Decadent Cakes sign, announcing to anyone who sees it that here is where she works her magic.

She has an order to fill today, a strawberry-chocolate birthday cake and four dozen cupcakes, so we couldn’t just sit on her patio drinking tea. I was happy to tag along to her work. She didn’t want my help so I’ve brought along my computer, writing a bit, watching her work, tasting bits of cake and buttercream.

The idea of running a pastry business is a vision she’s had in her mind for years, and as I sit here with the aromas of chocolate and sweetness wafting in the air, listening to her hard at work, I realize that I am sitting in the midst of her dream. With hard work and determination, she has made that dream come true. I am so proud of her.

Do you have a dream that you are on your way to fulfilling?


Filed under sylvia may, The Unraveling of Abby Settel

Celebrating Accomplishments

I am presently in Canada to visit with our kids and my sisters and friends. But we came at this particular time primarily to attend our youngest son’s university graduation.

Initially, he did not want to go to the convocation. It would be boring, he said, remembering his sister’s from a few years ago. The university could mail him his degree; we didn’t need to fly over for the ceremony. But I insisted. It’s an important achievement, I told him, and we needed to recognize his hard work and celebrate his accomplishment.

So there we were yesterday, in the auditorium, along with so many other proud family members watching their graduands march in and take their seats. It was definitely a special “mom moment” for me to see him in his gown, climbing onto the stage with a proud smile on his face. I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears.

But Stuart was right. For the most part, the convocation was boring, with a number of speeches and more than a hundred people receiving their degrees. The man sitting beside us fell asleep! But each one of those persons wearing those gowns had earned their moment of recognition and I was happy to sit through it all. After the ceremony was over my son remarked that he was glad he’d participated in it. “Even with the boring parts, it was a good way to signify the end of that phase of our lives and the start of the next one,” he said. “And it felt good to be a part of it.”

This was a major accomplishment for our son and I’m very glad we were there to officially acknowledge it. But don’t you agree that we should also celebrate the smaller accomplishments in our lives as well, the ones that often go unrecognized? Not with a ceremony, of course, but by simply recognizing that we’ve achieved something. Such as finishing a project. Or clearing off our to-do list. Or sticking to an exercise regime.

Life is all about doing. And when we attain a goal, however small, we need to give ourselves a pat on the back. What have you accomplished recently?

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A Mother’s Influence

This past Sunday, I volunteered at a mother-son brunch for Passports to College, an organization whose mission is “to collaborate with and successfully connect students, parents, schools and communities to college.” The mother-son brunch was held to award the KEO Memorial Scholarship to the winner of their second annual essay contest.

I, along with another writer and a teacher, judged the essay contest. The topic was: “Journey to Manhood: Describe the extent to which your mother has influenced your current condition and life choices for your future.” The entries were varied in writing style and content, but every one of the young men who submitted an essay had a unique and powerful story to tell. Their accounts made me stop and think about how my mother had influenced me, and I wondered what my own children might write on this topic. Reading the essays, I found it gratifying that these young writers seemed to understand the sacrifices and dedication that parenting involves.

Of course, as judges, we were not informed who the authors were. But it was wonderful to see all the handsome young men dressed up and sitting with their families, knowing their stories without being aware who wrote which one. However, while standing on the sidelines, I could see who had written the winning paper when it was read aloud. I noticed a mother beaming and nudging her son, who was grinning and blushing throughout the reading. When his name was announced, his mother wiped her tears.

Volunteering for this worthwhile event affected me in various ways. As a writer, I was encouraged by the quality of writing produced by these seventeen-year-olds. As a mother, I was touched to read and witness the bonds between mother and son. And as a daughter, I reflected on the ways my mother impacted the adult I have become.

What would you write on this topic? How has your mother influenced your path?

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