Friday, December 31, 2010

Book reading, and time spent.

Against a friend's advice, I counted how many books I read this year.  Jamie said counting them would make me compete with myself.  Well, I got curious, so I went through my journals for the past 2 years.  I was surprised and pleased to see that I had read 78 books this year. 

Then I counted last year's reading list.  89.  Considering this is the last day of the year, there is no way I can match last year's count.

So the excuses ensue. 

Last year I read 35 Trixie Belden books.  They are quick reads so they shouldn't count the same as one Jim Bishop Dresden Files book. 

I reread some favorite books last year.  Rereading is quicker than a first read.  (By the way, I have no idea whether this is true.)

Counting books doesn't account for the magazines I read this year, like the Smithsonian.  Of course, I don't enumerate magazines, so I have no idea how many magazines I read.  And, honestly, didn't I read magazines last year too?

So whatever my reasons, my book count this year is less than last year's.  Regardless, I have read a lot of books the past two years.  

And that answers a question that had been bothering me.  Why don't I accomplish more? 

I started a stained glass piece early this year that I still haven't finished.  Now, part of that is that I was making it to sell.  Since I have had so little luck selling the pieces I have already finished, the incentive to finish this one has diminished.  On the other hand, I have other pieces I want to make and can't start them until I finish this one and get it out of the way.

I have the beginnings of an idea for a novel.  I've even written a couple chapters.  But I can't seem to find the time to work on it.  Now I know part of the reason why.  I'm too busy enjoying the fruits of someone else's labors to labor myself.  I haven't been willing to devote the necessary time to finishing my own story.

I think another part of this obstruction is that both glass and writing take a lot of time.  Creating a glass piece is also a little painful.  I usually end up with a stiff neck from leaning over the glass and cuts on one or more fingers after a session with the glass.  But I do love seeing the sun shining through the finished piece.

If I can sell neither glass art nor books, is it worth the effort it takes to create them?  This is the quandary that has me taking refuge in the written works of others. 

I love to read.  I always have.  I always will.  But I think my resolution for 2011 is to spend less time reading and more time creating. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How often and what to blog?

I find myself thinking about things I could have, should have blogged when I am driving home from work, far from a computer.  And generally the things I think about are in the past.  Why can't I think about blogging when the news is current?  I know no one but me will know that a conversation or happening didn't actually occur today.  But it seems like cheating to write about the past.  Or maybe I need to rethink what a blog means to me.

Tis a puzzlement.  (Is that how Yul Brynner said it in The King and I?)

So here are a few things that happened within the last two weeks:

Angel caught kennel cough.  The wheezing frightened her and I would pet her and make soothing noises.  So it was gratifying when she started wheezing and came running to me for comfort.  

All year I told myself if I got an annual bonus I would give half to a local charity.  (Wild Horse Ranch Rescue).  Giving them money brought me more pleasure than anything I could have bought for myself. 

With the half bonus I had left, I paid off my new washer.  Out of the rest I was going to buy a Kindle.  But when I looked at one, I realized I really like books.  I am not ready to give up paper.  So I gave that money to my vet for their fund for needy animals.  And that felt really good too.

The same day, I read The Bloggess column where she offered $30 gift cards to the first 20 people that really needed it.  When she ran out of gift cards, other readers offered to help.  Over $40,000 was shared with people in need.  I cried reading the comments. 

I am in a very good place right now, very happy, healthy, able to pay my bills, grateful to be able to share some of what I have. 

Have a happy New Year.  I hope 2011 brings you joy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pros and cons of my work world

Today I sat down and did the pluses and minuses of working for my company.  Don’t get me wrong.  I wasn’t deciding whether to leave or not.  I like the work I do and I like the people I work with.  

I was trying to justify why I stay.   I wanted to make sure I wasn't staying because I am too lazy, or too afraid, to leave.  Are there true reasons to stay? 

It bothers me that the company seems to aspire to be like every other company in their market space, even in areas where they are actually better.  We are told that our benefits, or workspace, or whatever, are industry average.   On the other hand, the company talks about aspiring to be an industry leader.  Upper management hasn’t seemed to figure out that you cannot lead and follow at the same time.   

The lack of logic is disturbing. 

And they somehow think that rewarding everyone equally is logical.  It is unsettling, and demotivating, to give everyone the same raise regardless of whether they worked their behinds off, phoned it in, or barely escaped termination.  How does that inspire an employee to put in the extra effort the next year?

So I compiled my list of good and bad.  It was enlightening. 

I realized that what I like about the company has been determined at the local level, before the big corporate takeover.  There is the flexible work schedule that lets me come in at 6:30 and leave at 3.  There is the ability to work from home one day a week (which I don’t take advantage of, but is still nice to have).  There is the casual dress code that allows me to wear jeans and sneakers to work every day.  The understanding of my desire to have a cubicle by a window and to do the type of work I enjoy and am good at.  The hiring of people who work well together and are not prima donnas.  Compassion for people who have families and situations that sometimes require attention during a work day. 

The only good thing on my list that comes from the corporate level is the plentiful vacation time.  And Corporate is planning on mucking that up in the next year or so. 

So now I know what keeps me here.  And I am comfortable with those reasons.