It’s Alright By Me

Darius Rucker AlrightShort check-in today because I was up until midnight last night finishing my synopsis and plan to spend tonight away from the computer. Writing is going well – I came up with a new story, pitched it and submitted a two-page synopsis.  Waiting for feedback and then I have a month to write it. My story includes an engineer who designs stock cars, so I’ve been learning about NASCAR from the web and a host of wonderful Twitter folks! I’m hoping to get to Old Dominion Speedway sometime in the next few weeks to check out a race myself.  I’ve been advised to bring earplugs.

Haven’t done much on the learning front – either Holly Lisle’s fab course How to Think Sideways or the Artist’s Way. I think I’ll put those goals aside for now and fit them in the next round. I have been doing my morning pages, regularly and before noon. They’re a wonderful tool for exploring ideas about a story in progress – and unloading all the BS like insecurity, self-doubt, and perfectionism that get in the way of writing.

Recently a writer friend noted that I always seemed so happy and wondered if I was at all discontent. I replied with a litany of things I wish I could have: more time to write and greater productivity when I do. The money, time and energy to pursue all those interesting pastimes I explored but abandoned in the past like rock climbing and martial arts. The opportunity to travel more and a more flexible job for my husband so we could spend 6 months living in Paris, Scotland, or India. (I’m a consultant so my time is pretty flexible. Besides, time in India would probably help advance my project).

You know what was funny about this exercise?  Rather than making me depressed or more discontent, it was cathartic. I felt lighter after putting my dreams out there. I realized none of them were do or die. I’m pretty happy right where I am.

I also realized that few of my wants are unattainable. I mentioned my list to my husband and he started thinking about what he could do to make more travel possible for us. We’re still a long way from 6 months in Paris, but now we’re planning 2 weeks in the fall. Not a bad start!

This afternoon I heard a Darius Rucker song that captured just how I’m feeling: Alright. It’s such a wonderful feeling and a fantastic song. Check it out here. Afterwards, give yourself a treat and head on over to YouTube to check out more of Darius’ music – you won’t be disappointed! (If you think the voice sounds familiar, you’re right. He’s the lead singer from Hootie and the Blowfish, all grown up and singing country).

You check out the other wonderful folks participating in the 2nd Round of Words in 80 Days. They’re all right here.

How about you? Are you content? Confused? Are there things you’d rather be doing with your life? Can you think of ways to make them happen? Try writing them down and sharing them with others – in the comments section!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Carnival of the Blue & Round of Words Check-in

Who doesn’t love a carnival? The sights, the excitement, the sounds. This week I’m honored and excited to host The Carnival of the Blue, a monthly round-up of ocean-related posts from around the web.

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Carnival of the Blue # 48

Seafood at risk: Dispersed oil poses a long-term threat —  Allie Wilkinson

This April marks a year since the Deepwater Horizon spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit were dumped to “clean” it up. In a guest blog at Scientific American, Allie Wilkinson asks: “With all federal waters currently reopened, the question still remains— is the government responding appropriately to ensure not only that the present levels of oil and dispersants are not toxic, but also that those levels won’t build up over time through the accumulation of toxins in the tissues of seafood, contaminating Gulf seafood for generations to come?” Great question – and the answers are far from reassuring. Check out the post here.

Marking the Oil Spill Anniversary In Washington DC — The Beacon: Oceana’s Blog

Oceana marked the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with an event in Washington, DC featuring actress and supporter Kate Walsh (“Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Aaron Peirsol (gold medal-winning swimmer). Also attending was Patty Whitney, a Louisiana resident-turned-activist whose home was affected by last year’s disaster. Couldn’t make it to my backyard to attend? You can watch a video of the event here.

Awesome Orcas All Around — Amanda Banks

Author Amanda Banks describes an exciting encounter with a pod of orcas offshore of Monterey Bay, CA. I’ve only seen orcas close up once (further north of where she was, but also with a group of whale researchers) and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Check out her play-by-play of the amazing behavior and victorious hunt of these incredible animals here.

The Ways of Whales —  Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog: http://daniellemeitiv.com

As a complement to Amanda’s orca post, I’m including one of my own about the evolution of whales, some of their unique characteristics and the threats they face today. Check out the fabulous photos – and a link to a life-sized encounter with a blue whale, the largest creature to ever live on Earth – here.

Hiding the doomsday device: camouflage and venom in stonefish — Zen Faulkes, Neuro Dojo

Zen Faulkes writes about the stonefish one of the most venomous creatures in the sea. Interestingly, the stonefish don’t appear to use their awesome powers for anything – good or evil. They’re ambush predators, so their venom isn’t used to capture prey, but neither is it used to ward of predators. As Faulkes notes, it sounds like a good subject for a dissertation! Check it out here.

Squid Have Mirror Eyeballs — Danna Staaf, Squid A Day

Many sea creatures use camouflage to hide themselves from predators – but their eyes remain a dead giveaway. Squid use smoke and mirrors – ok, maybe just the mirrors – to hide in the open ocean. Their eyes reflect ambient light like a special kind of mirror called a ‘dielectric.’ When the light hits them a certain way, their eyes don’t appear to be there at all! Don’t take my word for it, check out Daana’s post here.

Ping-pong paddle worm — Susannah, Wanderin’ Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds)

Wanderin’ Weeta brings us a video of a tiny paddleworm that hitch-hiked a ride to her home in an empty thatched acorn barnacle shell. I love the music! Who knew that invert biology could be so entertaining. Watch how this critter wriggles to the music. Ok, maybe the wriggling came first, but it’s still fun to watch here.

The fun continues  – just head on over the the blogs listed above and see what these ocean authors have in store for you for May!

What are your favorite ocean topics? Let us know below!

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Round of Words Mid-Week Check-in

My progress has been somewhat inconsistent this week, but still pretty good so I’m pleased.

  1. Writing/revising: my good friend, the talented literary agent Louise Fury, convinced me to take on a cool new writing project (complete with deadlines!) so I’m psyched about that. I’m still revising my WIP and received incredibly supportive and valuable feedback from my new writers’ group. I have yet to do my ‘Morning Pages’ today – and it’s after 9pm. Sigh.
  2. Learning: Working through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel (while I do just that), but haven’t done much on The Artist’s Way. Hope to go on an artist’s date tomorrow – Friday at the latest.  Perhaps a hike?
  3. Blogging: I’m here, aren’t I? 😉 I’m pretty happy with my new Sunday feature – a mash-up called ‘Beachcombing.” That brings me to twice weekly. I’m hoping to add a third on Fridays, but I’m not committing just yet…

Check out everyone else’s progress here.

How are your goals coming along?  Steaming along, dragging your feet?  It’s all good. Let us know so we can cheer you on – below!

Marine Mammal Poster Giveaway

I’ll announce the winner of last month’s drawing soon, I promise!  just haven’t compiled the names yet.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Sunday Beachcombing Booty: the Environment, Health, Writing and More

My son Rafi and I examine our beachcombing booty.

Beachcombing is one my all-time favorite activities. And why not? It happens outdoors, by the ocean and it’s best done barefoot! There’s a certain mystery about it: I can never anticipate what I’ll find and I’m sure never to find the same thing twice. (This is also why I love shopping at secondhand stores).

Beachcombing takes patience, curiosity, and a love of discovery. One time you may happen upon the perfect snail shell; a smooth piece of glass the next. Look carefully and you’ll find a dozen treasures to take home, things you want to remember and show to your friends.

Surfing the web is a lot like this (minus the sandy toes). A lot of stuff gets tossed onto the shores of the Internet – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume. But if you look carefully, there will some clear gems, people and ideas you want to remember and share with your friends. Here are a few of the special bits and pieces I came across this week.

Oceans & the Environment – Much of my personal and professional passion is dedicated to learning and writing about the environment and working to protect it for the future. Here are just two of the dozens of wonderful resources I turn to on a regular basis.

Speak Up For the Blue features the best of the ocean blogoshere, brought to you by Ocean Leaders from around the world. is the brainchild and passion of Andrew Lewin, a marine scientist dedicating his time to encouraging people to speak up for our endangered seas. I am honored to be included as one of Andrew’s Ocean Leaders, alongside such great advocates and personal heroes as Sylvia Earle and the Cousteau family.

Lake Titicaca Frog
The Lake Titicaca Frog: one of the cool and bizarre critters waiting for you at Arkive.org.

Arkive: With my two-and-a-half year old daughter poking her head under my arm as I try to avoid typos write this post, I have to toss in one of our favorite nature sites. Arkive is a collaborative collection of images and information about endangered animals and plants from all over the globe. With photos and videos of everything from elephants to octopus, frogs to eagles, my daughter and I are entertained for hours.

Gardening & Health – Gardening is something else I like to do barefoot. OK, not the serious digging, but I’m often out there shoeless, picking weeds and harvesting greens – or just admiring what’s come up. Being outside toes in the grass is good for you, as are all the yummy things I plant, so I’ll toss some health stuff in here, too.

When I was getting started with my new veggie garden, Kenny Point’s Veggie Gardening Tips was the first gardening blog I read and still one of my all-time favorites. Kenny introduced me to the joys and ease of growing garlic and fall and winter veggie gardening, which is A LOT easier than you think. This year he’s inspired me to plant goji berries – I’ll keep you posted on how they do!  Subscribe to his blog for a free intro to veggie gardening.

rows of garlic - March 2011
The main garlic patch, mid-March. Now the greens are twice as big.

Two very different posts from Mark’s Daily Apple will illustrate why I love this blog. In 6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don’t Just Taste Good) primal eating and fitness guru Mark Sisson describes the health and cooking benefits of six herbs you’ve eaten, and could easily grow yourself. The Mysterious World of Smell examine the power of our most ‘primitive’ sense.

Mark’s Daily Apple is one of the web’s best intros to the ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’ type diet. After 27 years as a vegetarian, and 3 years as a reluctant meat eater, I’ve recently become convinced of the superiority of eating those foods that our bodies evolved to consume: meat, veggies and healthy fats – and eliminating those that are products of recent agricultural history: all grains and grain products.

The result: I feel better than ever, and although I was not overweight to begin with, I’ve lost 5 lbs in two weeks with only minimal exercise (so it wasn’t just ‘water weight’). Check it out. Another good intro to the primal lifestyle is Whole9Life.

Writing & Creativity

Time Management for Writers – Getting More Done in Less Time, by author and blogger Kristen Lamb. As a fellow ENFP, I can relate to her struggle to learn the organizational skills that come naturally to her more detail-oriented husband (mine is the same), and REALLY appreciate the insights and suggestions she shares. I’ve learned a whole lot about writing, online media from Kristen’s blog and even more from her online classes, so don’t be surprised if she shows up on my list in the future. You can find her on Twitter as @KristenLambTX

Writing is an art and the well that all artists draw from is called creativity. Patrick Ross, creativity explorer extraordinaire and the blogger behind The Artist’s Road, tweets as @on_creativity and sends out some really great stuff.  If you’ve missed his gems, you can catch his weekly round up: Creativity Tweets of the Week.

Round of Words: Week Four Check-in

I’ve set three types of goals for this 80-day challenge. You can read the details about them here. Some of those goals are right on track:

  • Blogging: Twice weekly check-ins (Sunday & Wednesday) as part of a weekly Wednesday post, and now a regular Sunday mash-up.
  • Writing:
    • Morning pages (an exercise from the Artist’s Way): and EVERYday, so far. Nnot always first thing, but more often than not in the morning, so that’s something,
    • Daily/Weekly words: Over the past four weeks my writing goals have flip-flopped from revising to writing and back again. After attending a weekend retreat called “In the Company of Writers,” I’ve come back to my original goal of revising the current WIP (work-in-progress): the first draft of a fantasy novel focused on the sea. Since I’m back in revisions I’m going to drop the daily wordcount, and instead give myself a target of doing some revising everyday. I may make that more specific as I get further along – or not.
  • Learning: I didn’t even look at the Artist’s Way last week and skipped the artist’s date as well. Will jump back in at Lesson/Week Four in the upcoming week. Since I’m not creating but revising, my coursework will shift from Holly’s How to Think Sideways course to How to Revise Your Novel. But the goal to do some revising via Holly’s method everyday.

Check out all the other wonderful writers taking the 80-day challenge here.

And you?

How are your writing, revising, blogging or other goals coming along?  How does your garden grow? I’m always looking for new resources and new online friends, so stop by and say hi below!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Taking My Muse on a Date: Round of Words Weekly Check-in

Week Two of a Round of Words in 80 Days, or #ROW80 for those of us who spend waaay too much time on Twitter. It’s been a good week.

Among my goals for ROW80 is to work through Julia Cameron’s creativity rediscovery program as detailed in the The Artist’s Way. Each week there are specific assignments as well as tools that carry over from week to week.

One such tool is the artist’s date. I think of it as taking my Muse on a date. Like all relationships, it’s important to spend time one-on-one with your creative self. What you do is up to you but there are two ‘rules’: take around 2 hours and go alone.

Last week, I took a trip to the local art supply store. I’d passed it regularly for three plus years but this was the first time I’d ventured in.  Whoa, was that an education! I discovered some very deeply-held beliefs about my own lack of artist ability and remembered childhood attractions to certain art materials (including cray pas and colored pencils).

I bought some things that caught my fancy and put them, along with some materials I’d been squirreling away, into one of my dad’s old art supply boxes. (Yes, my father is an artist. Yes, it occurred to me that that has something to do with my insecurity). That stuff will come in handy during a future artist’s date.

This week I took my Muse for a walk. On Friday morning, I had a doctor’s appointment around two miles from my home. I took the bus there and walked home through Sligo Creek Park, one of the many streams that feed into the Anacostia-Potomac river system.

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The walk was about 2.5 miles, and took an hour and a half. It was a gorgeous day: high fifties, sunny with a slight breeze. I stopped whenever the mood struck and took pictures (in the slideshow above). Along the way I helped the park by pulling up any garlic mustard I saw. It’s a terribly invasive plant – bad for the park but yummy when sautéed for my lunch.

So that was one goal achieved this week. And the others?

Writing:

(1) Submitted my application for the writer’s workshop – Woo Hoo! While on a roll, I also sent in page one of my manuscript to “American Author” a first-page live critique done by agents and editors at the Washington Romance Writer’s retreat (coming up at the end of the month). Not for the faint of heart – thank God its anonymous!

Now that that is done, the 3000 words/week goal kicks in.

(2) Morning pages – not always morning, but more often than not, and everyday. I’m working on a new program to get more restful sleep, and wake earlier. That should help me get up before the kids, and get them done before chaos is unleashed (usually between 6:30 and 7:00am in our house).

(3) & (4) Blogging twice a week: doing by my regular post on Wednesdays (including the mid-week check-in), and adding the Sunday check-in. Next month I’ll add another blog day, if I can work it in with my 3000 words. Those are words of fiction – the blog doesn’t count.

(5) The Artist’s Way. I’m starting week three, so that’s going well.  I haven’t completed all the exercises from last week but that because some require a bit more thought. Overall, it’s going well.

(6) How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers: I’ve re-read the first two lessons, and I’m working through the assignments. I love it! I have an idea for a flash fiction contest, and I’m hoping that doing HTTS will inspire me.

There are dozens of folks participating in a Round of Words in 80 Days. Among them are these two fabulous women: Kerry Meacham, who is Desperately Seeking Sanity, and Robin McCormack, who counts the many ways she is fortunate starting with My Two Blessings. All the other amazing writers who are on this 80-day journey can be found here.

Marine Mammals Poster Giveaway

This month’s giveaway is an out-of-print NOAA poster of Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Every comment left in the month of May equals one entry. Every link or reference to this blog on your site equals two entries. The drawing will be held on the 1st of May, so start your entries now!

Danielle Meitiv is an oceanographer by training, an advocate for all things marine and a writer of science fiction and non-fiction. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Brave Blue Words, and Danielle Meitiv.

A Round of Words in 80 Days: A Writing Journey

Where Can Writing Take You…?

Someone on Twitter was fab enough to point me towards this amazing 80-day challenge. As my husband can attest, I’ve very goal-oriented, and respond better to external prods than internal ones. That’s unfortunate for some who is self-employed, and particularly difficult for a writer.

Although it has it’s critics among professional writers, I LOVE NaNoWriMo because it provides that push. But I couldn’t handle it more than once a year. And while it’s a great way to get a lot of ideas down in a short time – ideal for my style of first drafting – it doesn’t do much to help me develop consistent writing habits.

That’s where A Round of Words in 80 Days comes in. This brand-new challenge, started by Kait Nolan, will kick in four times a year. Someone on Twitter pointed me towards it the day after it started, and I’m in! The timing was perfect because I’d already made a bunch of commitments to myself and my writing. What I lacked was accountability, and that’s what this challenge provides.

Like NaNo, there’s no prize for sticking with it, and no penalty for failure. No problem. I can provide those myself 🙂 I do guilt really well, and I bought myself some great fingerless gloves, and a tablet for winning NaNo.

Round Two! April 4 – June 23, 2011

Round Two starts on Monday. I thought about why Round One was less successful than I’d hoped, and wrote about it in this home-stretch post. With eighty more days of wisdom under my belt, I’m ready to tackle Round Two.

Here’s a summary of my Round Two Goals, with more details below:

  1. Writing: 600 words/day, 5 days/week + daily morning pages
  2. Blogging: 3 posts/week = Sunday check-in, Wednesday post with a check-in, Friday post.
  3. Learning: one lesson/week of the Artist’s Way + some part of the How To Think Sideways course material/week.

1. Writing

My goals will evolve over the next few weeks, as I settle into my next writing project. I’m in a bit of a weird space: I’ve finished one novel, and want to revise it, but feel like it really needs to breathe a bit. So, for now I’ll put it aside, with the expectation that it will sneak back onto my goals list when I’m ready for it (probably before). Consider yourself warned!

In the meantime, I plan to start something new.  What, I have no idea – or rather, no end of ideas, which is usually my problem. But whatever I decide on, it will require regular writing, so that’s what I’m going to aim for. I’ve given myself daily goals, but outside of NaNoWrimo, those have been only marginally successful. I’m often not able to write at all on Fridays and Saturdays, due to family and religious constraints (I don’t use my computer on the Jewish Sabbath), and end up feeling like I should make up the time later.

This time around, I’m going for a weekly goal. I like the flexibility: I can do it all in a few chunks or spread it out over a number of days. I know near-daily writing is said to be ideal, and I will strive for that. But knowing that a few days of interference (read: life) won’t totally set me back will help me stay with the goal for the long run.

I will also commit to daily morning pages, as described (prescribed!) in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (more on that below)

Weekly writing goal: 3000 words (600 words/day, 5 days/week), plus morning pages

2. Blogging & Online Check-ins

Thank to a wonderful class given by social media maven Kristen Lamb, I’ve put a lot of time into revamping my blog, and recently increased my schedule to 2x a week (Wednesday and Friday). So, one goal will be to maintain that schedule of regular posts.

I realized that part of my downfall during Round One was skipping out on the twice-weekly check-ins (Sunday and Wednesday). For the next eighty days I’ll add a brief Sunday check-in to my blog schedule (bringing it to 3x/week). The Wednesday one will be included in my regular post.

Weekly blogging goal: posts 3x/week. Regularly-scheduled posts on Wednesday and Friday, ROW 80 check-ins Wednesday, and Sunday.

3. Learning

I am new to writing. The whole idea of giving time and energy to creative expression is new to me. And what any newbie needs is the opportunity to learn. So, I’m going to establish some learning goals for the next three months.

Many people have recommended The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It includes a 12-week program for discovering or recovering your creativity.  I’m working on the latter, and will use this round of ROW 80 to pace myself, one chapter/lesson per week. Daily morning pages – three longhand pages written as soon as you wake up – are one of the critical tools of this program.

I am also taking an online self-paced course by Holly Lisle called “How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers” (HTTS). I stopped progressing through it when when I started wrestling with revise versus write on my current novel. (I’m also enrolled in her “How to Revise Your Novel” Course :-)) I want to get back up to speed on HTTS, but since it varies from week to week, I’m not going to set a specific goal of one lesson a week. Instead, I’ll commit to working on the course material at least once a week.

FYI: I like Holly’s courses so much that I’ve become an affiliate, which means that I receive a commission for everyone who hears about the course from me and signs up. If you think you’d like to take them yourself, please click on one of these links so I get the credit for the referral. Thanks!

How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers

How to Revise Your Novel

Learning goals: one lesson/chapter of The Artist’s Way, and some part of the HTTS course material each week.

Wish me luck! You can check out the other participants’ goals here.

Danielle Meitiv is an oceanographer by training, an advocate for all things marine and a writer of science fiction and non-fiction. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate of Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Brave Blue Words, and Danielle Meitiv.