Monday, February 23, 2015

The A to Z Challenge - Stream of Consciousness Writing Prompt

Are you involved in the April A to Z Challenge? What is your theme?

I am starting my work on the upcoming A to Z Challenge for bloggers. That means I have to share my theme so that I can begin to compile what I will be publishing in the month of April and I need your help!

The A to Z Challenge is an opportunity for bloggers to push themselves to produce articles for their blogs which further advance their brands for loyal readers, networked partners, and future followers via a theme. It's also a great way to meet other bloggers and share readers.

Okay, so my blog is about making progress, whether it is with my writing, my career as a technologist, or my own personal and spiritual growth. Therefore, my theme will be "The A to Z Stream of Consciousness Writing Prompt." I will take one word as my seed, and without any filters, I will produce anything and everything on my mind in a stream stemming from that root word (unedited) and I will publish those words on my blog each day until all letters of the alphabet have been used.

Send me a word and I will add it to my list. I need one word for every letter of the alphabet, so please don't be shy! Post your word in the comments or send me an email (diane-carlisle at comcast dot net). There are no restrictions for your suggestions either. :)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Memorial to my Husband - Mr. Universe

This is my first post in February. I know I've been pretty consistent in posting at least once per week, if not more, but my life has been turned upside down recently and I am taking some time away to recover from the passing of my husband of 27 years. You all know him as Mr. Universe, the love of my life, and the master of everything that is my world. I guess you know why it has been hard for me to jump back into the swing of things, but here I go.

The best way to share with you is to share my message as it appeared to my closest friends and family on Facebook shortly after Tim passed on February 1st:

I want to thank you all for your support and words of encouragement. I'm reading your prayers, every single one. I just didn't want to respond until I had more information to provide, especially to those who did not realize that Tim had been ill. Tim had a soft tissue sarcoma 5 years ago and they successfully removed it. His scans had been clean for 4 years. However, about 3 years ago, I discovered a pinhead sized melanoma on his back. They removed it successfully and we thought nothing more of it. 

In August of 2013, during a routine scan to ensure the earlier sarcoma had not returned, they found some spots on his liver which turned out to be a spread from the melanoma they had removed years before. They gave him a prognosis of 6-9 months (without treatments). We elected treatments. 

In the meantime, we created a bucket list and traveled about having the time of our lives. He passed just like he wanted to, with nobody fretting over him and nobody being sad. I realize it's not the best way to learn of someone's passing, but it's how he wanted it.

I hope in respecting his wishes for as much privacy as I could possibly allow him, I deserve to at least share his story now that he has passed. 

Thank you! 

Please visit Tim's memorial site and leave your blessings. He made his life in the same manner as he viewed the world and he had no regrets, as can be expressed in this photo I took a few short years ago. It is how I will always remember him.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pick a Word Blog Hop

This is a stream of consciousness exercise. Please join in the fun, or not. If you join, don't feel like you must edit your post if you can help yourself, but visit other participants by taking their links and leave comments!

My word is chopped.

I picked this word out of the air, maybe because I was watching that Food Network show. Kids were competing, like 9 year-olds, using KNIVES! What the hell. Can someone say liability? I just saw a kid cut herself in the chopped kitchen. Am I over-reacting? Why do I choose a word which needs hyphenating and why do I choose words I don’t like to spell…like hyphenating. Sucks. And why did I even picked the word chopped anyway?

What can you do with this word except describe something that gets divided in two or more things, smaller things, smaller meaning lesser. Lesser meaning not more, so if I want more of something, now I have less because I chose to use the chopped and get lesser. Unless of course I keep all parts and glue them back together. My logic sucks, but as promised I have to post this shit, cuss words and all. This is embarrassing and I should never have decided to do this assignment.

Can I get something positive from this word chopped besides this chubby cute kid who just missed an opportunity to win 10 thousand dollars? Oh, yes! It’s the dessert round, now that’s freaking positive as hell. I’m getting another beer and watching this. Kids making dessert has to be better than my writing about the word chopped.

This is my stream of consciousness writing assignment. Please don’t judge me!

Join this linked assignment by adding your own stream of consciousness  work. Pick a word,, any word. Then write your post and share it here. Deadline has not been set yet, but if you spam this blog, you might get chopped!!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

3 Types of Unbeatable Settings

I know I’ve probably harped on this before and I’m sure there are novelists out there who have used these types of settings, but I’ll go a step further and explain to you why they work for me. Remember, I’m the reader here, so I should know, right?

Put an ordinary man in an extraordinary place. 

Think about this for a moment. An ordinary man works in a third world country providing humanitarian aide to the natives. It is his passion and all the children love him, the men respect him, and the women shy away because he exudes virility and a superior masculinity. You, as the novelist, do not have to work that hard to show anything more about this character.

If you had an ordinary man in a setting where everyone else were ordinary, you would have to transform this character into an extraordinary one in order to stand out, or else what’s the point of this character anyway, right? Sounds like too much work to me and it doesn’t feel authentic.

Take me somewhere for the first time.

I’ve read plenty of novels with settings on beaches, cattle ranches, grand estates, and beautiful islands. I’m sorry, did I put you to sleep there? Why must romance involve beautiful sunsets, roses, and champagne? If you put me on a beach, the dominant sound of waves will ruin it for me, even if we’re supposed to be on the shores of some Caribbean island, unless you have other things going on too!

I want to listen to classical Malhum while walking through the streets of Morocco and biting into a sliver of B’stilla. Put the traditional settings out of your mind. Take me somewhere I can experience for the first time, and if you want to get more into the details you can even share the savory and sweet tastes of your pastry by describing it to me! MmMmm.

Pick an event, any event!

A carnival, a national football game, a political campaign, a wedding. Why do these work? Because it’s easy to hear, smell, see, and touch almost everything imaginable and the writer doesn’t have to work as much. Every beach has water and sand, but a carnival has rides, games, funnel cake, and people walking around with stuffed animals larger than their kids.

If you never had a wedding, here’s your big opportunity. You can make it as extravagant as you like and not have to pay a dime. Everyone loves a wedding. I know it’s been done over and over again, but not by you, right?

Do you have favorite settings that draw you in EVERY. SINGLE. TIME?

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Making Progress with Strategic Communication

My first discussion post for Strategic Communication class asked how we viewed communications in the past and to reflect upon the materials provided by our instructor. Which perspective did we find most helpful to our understanding of strategic communication? You all know me. I can't resist using personal experience in any challenge. This is about progress, so why not?

When Hatch (2013) mentions Malinowski’s photograph of the anthropologist observed by the natives (p. 39) it struck me as funny and reminded me of another photograph I had found years ago. In my photo, one guy is digging a hole. Joe, according to his name tag, is surrounded by several folks with similar name tags, only each of the observers has a title rather than a name, with “manager” on the end of their titles or “lead” at the front: Operations Manager, Lead Technician, Total Quality Manager, Facilities Manager, Heavy Equipment Manager, Lead Gopher, etc. all surrounding, watching, and pointing at Joe, the hole digger. Ironic? How many managers does it take to dig a hole? Zero. Just hire Joe.

This guy has no name.

I think I’ve been kicked around over the years with having a boss clearly focused on the modern organization theory and driven by the contingency theory in organizing teams, to having a new boss who might be a fan of the postmodern perspective. I’ll explain:

My old boss owned a software company and when he put me to work on a project team, I always found myself faced with clients having insatiable appetites for sabotaging my work. Though failures on my part, each project was a successful outcome for my boss, because he had predicted my failure. He would swim in terms such as risks and constraints, assumptions, deliverables, and return on investments, all things measurable.

In my blind desire to be successful, I didn't realize my boss had not placed these same criteria for success on other analysts, so I quit playing his game and played like the others, refusing to provide him with time-wasting flowcharts, timelines, and graphs. Soon enough, I was taking on projects, reaching out to clients, and making successes (completing goals and objectives I had set for myself).

The old boss has since retired, taking with him his mask of the grand narrative. I can relate with the postmodern perspective much more because of my painful experiences dictated by the tyrant.

There is no right way to do things and by the time you’ve grown accustomed to your comfort zone, someone comes along using new terminology for the same things you’ve been working on for years, but now you’ve become seated in your ways and management isn't happy. They want change. The newly employed use fancy words explaining the same symbols of the past and management is in awe.

The emerging discourse, through hidden meetings where veteran employees are excluded and new employees become heroes, plays out until someone at the top realizes there is a communication problem which if left alone could likely embarrass the organization as a whole.

It came at a meeting and was announced that our CEO made this perfectly clear. The word “dashboard” is not to be used in any context when introducing our new portal to members. He insisted there is a public profile and a personal profile. Why not the new flashy “dashboard” terminology the new guy used the other day? Because we are not implementing a DASHBOARD, it’s a personal profile page!

How much does communication or lack thereof play a part in your successes and/or failures?

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