Time Travel

Time-travel will be invented yesterday, which means today is tomorrow. How will we handle the possibilities? Will we use them for good or evil? In the end will we wish yesterday hadn’t come?

Living in yesterday can be paralyzing. It keeps you stuck in a moment that is gone, never to be changed, but maybe to be improved upon.

Tomorrow isn’t much better. It’s always there, like a reoccurring dream. Seemingly at our fingertips, but always just out of reach. Can today’s tomorrow be better than yesterday’s?

What about today? You only get one chance to make today great. Isn’t that what they say? It is so satisfying to have the day end knowing that you enjoyed the time in the present. Fulfilling the hopes you had yesterday and being able to briefly relive them tomorrow.

The Struggle

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To tell you the truth, I just don’t feel like it. But I made a commitment and I’m going to follow through. This is so true to form. I’m fast out of the gate and then I lose steam or interest and I don’t finish.

Not this time. I’m going to find a way to keep writing. I’m going to keep my promise. I’m going to put pen to paper an fill the page.

The problem is it seems I have run out of things to say. As I’ve said, I have a list of topics or titles, but they aren’t inspiring me. Yesterday’s topic (which I didn’t post) is a great example.

Being a jack of all trades and whether its good or bad has plenty of angles to write from. Unfortunately, I couldn’t settle on one or one didn’t come to mind. Either way it was a lackluster attempt.

On a positive note and as I tell others, struggle is where the learning occurs. The struggle is where you get better. If it weren’t for struggle, we wouldn’t have good times to appreciate.

What am I learning? First, I am learning how to write, how I write best and the style of writing that best fits me. Writing is about the grind of pushing yourself. Writing is a process.

I am also learning about the process of creating an audience for my writing. At least I think I am. As much as I’d like to think I should post daily, it is becoming clear that weekly is more realistic and in line with increasing my audience. With the longer gap between posts, I may generate more anticipation from an audience.

The extended time will also give me an opportunity to develop my writing. I will have a chance to extend a story line or thought from one day to the next or even longer.

Hopefully the reduced pressure to perform will free up my mind. Knowing that I can choose the best entry from a collection of writings should improve my product and in turn increase your enjoyment of reading the things I have written.

In the meantime, I’ll push through the struggle and keep honing my skills. Now if you wouldn’t mind, leave me a comment of your thoughts or give me and idea of something you’d like me to write about. Your feedback would be much appreciated.

Running on Empty

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I’m in trouble. It’s only day eight of my writing challenge and I’m running out of things to write about. I knew this day would come, I was hoping it would not arrive for another week or more.

There are still a couple of ideas on my list, but they are going to take a little more time to develop. And time isn’t something I;m running long on. At least not with a daily deadline.

The good news is I seem to be able to fill a page with mindless rattle. The truth is I am hoping to do more than mindless rattle. I am hoping to write something meaningful (at least to me). While that is a good goal, I think it’s more down the line than day eight.

At this time a good goal is to develop the habit of writing on a regular basis and grow from there. Let’s face it, I’m not likely to win awards for my writing, so I just need to keep it simple. You know, one day at a time.

Regardless of what my goal is, I still need to fill the page and as you can tell I seem to be able to do it, even on a bad day.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I am falling back on a speaking format from Toast Masters. It’s called table talks. What happens during these sessions is the speaker draws a topic out of a hat and then has two minutes to speak. It’s used as a way to get people used to speaking in front of others.

The key is, while you must start with the drawn topic, you are not required to remain on it. So much like today, I started by telling you I was in trouble and I’m finishing with a tip for how to fill the page on days like today.

What do you know, I’ve filled two pages in my journal and I’m feeling inspired. Maybe I’ll outline some of my other ideas so I can keep filling pages.

To Post or Not To Post

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Something has been on my mind. It’s nothing earth shattering. It’s really nothing extremely important. What is on my mind is, to post or not to post.

Since I’ve committed to writing more and because I have a website to post to, this is a question I have needed to sort out for a while now. What it really boils down to is what kind of commitment I’m willing or want to make to this process.

As things have worked out, I have stumbled on the idea that I post on weekdays and leave weekends free. Not that I’ll skip writing on weekends. That’s still a time I feel I need to write. It’s just that so far in October, my weekend writing has been uninspiring and as a result I didn’t feel compelled to post them.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is the best way to proceed. Posting on weekdays and not posting on weekends. Everyone needs a little recharge. Who knows, maybe I’ll even give myself weekends to not write after the October challenge is over.

Digital, Paper or Pumpkin?

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Last night my wife attempted to complicate my life. While it was well meaning, it was a disaster in the making.

What did she do? In a harmless text message to our family, she proposed a November writing challenge of writing on a pumpkin. Again, well meaning and innocent. In fact, I think it’s a great idea. Just not for me.

While I think writing the things you are thankful for is a tremendous idea, I also think using a pumpkin for my canvas is a hurdle I can’t jump. You see, I struggle over whether I should write on paper or go digital. Adding a third element could put me into writing paralysis.

Much like my battle between pen and pencil, the paper or digital war is real. Once again this is the push and pull between the old versus the new, the shiny object or the tried and true. And to tell you the truth, I enjoy it.

I enjoy exploring and pondering the possibilities of going digital. Analyzing is one of the things I love to do and the use of electronics gives me that opportunity. Not only do I get to think about paper over computer, I get to investigate all of the applications available to me digitally.

Add to the apps available to use is the hardware to use them with. Do I punch the keys on my laptop or swipe the keys on my phone. Maybe I use the speech to text abilities in most software or I use my iPad as a writing table and stroke a stylus across it’s screen.

Regardless of which newfangled tool I I use, the possibilities seem endless. For a guy like me hat is a blessing and a curse.

My solution to this dilemma has been to use both. How? Well, I currently write my thoughts on paper (hence the struggle between pen or pencil) and then I rewrite them and post them here on my blog. What a great compromise for me.

By using both formats I avoid the dreaded crush of doing nothing. I also get to continue my search for the perfect way to compose my thoughts.

Who knows, maybe I get inspired and write on a pumpkin too!

Holding Back

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As I’ve stated before, I’m really good at starting and I’m really bad at finishing. Being aware of this flaw has put me in a position to make a change. The place/time I plan to do this is during the October Challenge.

I have to admit the so far it’s not been easy. I have this incredible urge to explode. You see, the deal is I want to write. Not only is this a goal, it currently is a driving sense of urgency that I’ve had to consciously hold my self back. That’s not easy.

The ideas are gushing out of me. Thoughts are oozing from my grey matter. I want to fill my notebook with the written word. But I must hold back this demon, the monster I have failed to defeat in the past. I can’t allow myself to become consumed with writing.

That is the crux of my problem. I become consumed with things. I want to devour as much as I can. I gorge myself on the feast of the new, to the point that I eventually become overwhelmed and then crave the next new thing.

Not this time. I see the beast lurking around the corner, waiting to spring out at me when I’m weak. I am aware of my desire to consume my time with writing and nothing else. Not this time.

This time I’m holding back. I’m taking notes but not expounding. I’m being intentional but not addicted. I’m pacing myself by stopping when I’ve completed a new passage, leaving myself hungry for more.

And when that new dawn rises, I am ready to tame the beast once again. Repeating the process that has gotten me this far.

Pen or Pencil?

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I have a question for you. Pen or pencil? Seriously, pen or pencil? As I write more, I am torn by the decision over which writing utensil to use.

Some of you are probably asking, “You mean Mr. Technology doesn’t practice what he preaches and do his writing digitally?” Fair question, because I struggle with that as well. But for the sake of this discussion let’s table that thought and focus on the old school. . . pen or pencil?

I’ll start by making the case for using a pen. A pen is permanent and requires a certain amount of attention to detail. If you make a mistake, you can only scribble it out. However, what a great feeling it is to write something in pen and look at an unblemished page. Take about euphoria!

Pens come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and inks. A person can express themselves simply by the pen they choose: ball point or fountain, gel or not. Each makes a statement.

I love the way ink flows from a nice pen. It’s poetry in motion as the ink oozes from inside the cylinder. Nothing compares to the smooth feel of ink as it releases on to the page. I just love it.

But a pencil, now there is a no nonsense tool. Lead, wood, rubber. Nothing more, nothing less. I know, what about mechanical pencils? That too, is a different discussion.

I truly love the way a pencil scratches across the page. Almost as if there isn’t a care in the world. Get out of my way, I’m coming through.

Make a mistake? No problem, just erase it.

When it comes to a sense of accomplishment, a pencil is hard to beat. First, the more you write, the duller the tip becomes and you know your making progress.

As the tip loses it’s edge, a simple turn of the shaft restores the sharpness in a fine choreography of form and function. Learning the right time to spin your pencil becomes an art form all its own.

As your pencil tip wears out, you simply sharpen it and watch as the wood is slowly whittled away. Nothing says “job well done’ like a short pencil. And you know there is that magic length that makes a pencil feel as if it’s been custom made for your fingertips.

As you can see, it’s really not that simple. Pen or pencil? Each has it’s fine points. Each has it’s flaws. Such a hard decision to make. Today, it’s pencil, tomorrow who knows. Regardless, I’m excited to be struggling with the decision, because it means I’m writing more.

Now, have you tried the Apple Pencil?

Day 1

How did I get myself into this? I innocently sent my blog post to my family and the next thing I know I’ve committed to writing a “journal” entry everyday for the month of October. Leave it to Alex to come up with a challenge for the entire family.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited and glad to have a reason to write daily. I mean I have been wanting to write more. It’s just that I now feel a little pressure to produce. And in typical Brian fashion I’m fast out of the gate. I already have 4 or 5 blog ideas ready to go.

I have no trouble starting something, it’s the finishing I struggle with. But I have confidence this time. I trust my new process will provide results, I just need to trust the process and know that when day 21 or 22 comes around I’ll still have something to say.

Finding My Voice

It’s not what you think. I’m not searching for a way to advocate for myself, I think I’m adequate at that (although there is always room for improvement). No, what I’m talking about has more to with my desire to write more and finding my focus.

Again, it’s not what you think. Focus in the sense that I find a topic or genre to write about. A focus on a style. While I can always use more focus as in concentration, I’m really in need of a voice.

The question now becomes, how do I find it. Believe it or not, I have thought about the best way to make that discovery. Up until now my approach has been two-fold; 1) choose one, 2) fail miserably. I think the reason I have failed to write more is I continue to think I should pick one topic (like education) and write about it.

Why has this approach failed me you ask? Again, two-fold; 1) to many topics of interest and 2) I worry about the privacy of my classroom and the students in it. The result has been blank pages and frustration.

Another reason I feel this method has failed is my self doubt. I think, ‘Who would want to read what I have to say?’ I know, have more confidence, until I have an audience no one is reading and until I write nobody can read what I have to say.

In the interest of brevity, let me tell you what I have landed on as a solution…write more. Stop worrying about having a focus other than writing more. I believe by writing more, I will naturally ‘find my voice’ and as a result good things will happen.

Added to the writing more and as a way of spurring creativity, I am also employing a couple of strategies. One is to use a picture as a starting point and write based on what I see. This has the added benefit of encouraging me to do more of the other thing I want to more of, photography.

Also, to help my creativity, I will think of a title and use that as a spring board. I used this tactic to write this post. This also allows me to have multiple ‘topics’ by creating a list and not getting overwhelmed by blank page syndrome.

Finally (so much for brevity), like my previous post, I can just choose a specific topic and just write.

Regardless of how I get there, In order to find my voice, I need to write more to give me a creative release.

The New iPhones are Here!

Every year at this time I get excited. That is because this is the time of year that new phones get announced. There is the Samsung Note, the Google Pixel and my favorite, the Apple iPhone. I love shiny new things and I love electronic new things.

I’m not exactly sure why these things get me so pumped. I mean, after all, it’s not like I have to have the newest, latest, coolest, greatest next gadget to perform my job. Or that I don’t have a perfectly reliable and functioning iPhone (in fact I do). When it gets right down to it, my 7 plus is still awesome…but it’s not new and shiny.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the latest technology. From the wrist calculator to a Palm Pilot, I always imagine myself having it in my hands, doing the most incredible things. Maybe it’s the endless possibilities that draw me, or the simple tactile act of holding them in my hands, or maybe it’s the quest of new knowledge about the new “toy” that drives me wild.

When it comes to phones, there are multiple things I desire. From the Samsung Note, I dream of the stylus and the great notes I could take. The Google Pixel has an amazing camera and the “clean” Android experience. With Apple, it’s part ecosystem, part camera and part it just works.

In reality, when it gets down to it, my current iPhone is still awesome. It takes great pictures, it has good battery life and it does all of the things I ask it to do. But it’s not new. It doesn’t have two or three cameras. It doesn’t have a stylus. It doesn’t have a dazzling display. It doesn’t shoot 4k video.

The question becomes, does it need those things? Does it need the prospect of doing and being all of the things I imagine, or does my dull, perfectly functioning (and at one time the latest, greatest) 7 Plus still get it done for me.

In reality, I probably will never become an award winning photographer. Or an outstanding cinematographer. Heck, I still have home movies I have never watched and pictures in boxes that haven’t been opened in years. But deep down inside, I want to. I want to watch those home movies, catalog those old pictures and create amazing things.

Just like I want to write more, I want to look through a lens and see art, or at the very least the possibility of creating it. Just like my writing, in order to ‘create’ more, I need to do more. Do more photography. Do more video. Do more editing. Do more everything.

Now that I think about it, that sounds strenuous. Or at the least, time consuming. Time is limited and I do seem to waste a lot of it.

So what’s the verdict? Do I need that new shiny object? No, I don’t need it. To tell you the truth, until I show a greater propensity to create more, I really don’t need it. But I do want it.