Friday, June 5, 2009

Coaching Group Reunion

In February I signed up for a coaching group called "Mastermind Coaching" facilitated by Arlene Rosenberg. We met every other week for 12 weeks as a group and on the off weeks in sub groups. We were eight individuals coming together from different industries, life styles and circumstances -- the self-employed looking to get through the recession, entrepreneurs, would be entrepreneurs, the unemployed (me), and the frustrated at work employed. Under Arlene's guidance we explored where we are now and where do we want to be. What is our vision?

Last night five of the group were able to get together for a dinner reunion and an update on what has happened since out last meeting six weeks ago.

While our lives have progressed -- for some on the paths discussed in the sessions, for others in different directions -- what struck me was the sense of certainty within the group, a sense of being centered. The challenges we each face haven't gone away, though for some they have changed. If you had asked me when the sessions were finished what I got out of the group, I would have spouted off some personal benefits, but I would have missed the core truth. What we came away with is belief in ourselves no matter where life takes us.

The dinner was fun, entertaining, and enlightening. We decided to have another reunion dinner in August, hopefully with all of the alums. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Teen Texting

Over the weekend I read several articles on teen texting with opinions ranging from it's dangerous to forget it, it's teens being teens.

When my youngest daughter was in high school, few kids had cell phones. They carried pagers, and they had a language of number codes for what they said to each other. That was eight years ago.

Today teens have cell phones and text constantly. And when they are not texting through their phone they are instant messaging each other on the computer. I don't find texting particularly harmful, what I object to is the context in which it is done. So I have set a few rules for Ken's niece who lives with us.

No texting at the dinner table
No texting while we are talking to her
No texting in class

This last rule was originally on the honor system and woefully ignored. First only a little (she swore it was an emergency), growing to 80 to 100 in and out text messages during school hours. Those emergencies multiply like rabbits, you know.

Since her having a phone was a reward for consistently going to school and getting there on time -- something that did not occur when she lived with her grandparents, we did not want to take it completely away. My solution was to change her phone service to one with parental controls. I blocked texting from occurring doing school hours. And you know, a funny thing happened after I did that. Her grades went up.

My take on texting? I'm on the side of it's not dangerous, it's teens being teens. However, it's up to us as parents and guardians to lay down the context rules, and then enforce them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trials of Buying a New HVAC Unit

I live in the desert and three months of triple digit temperatures are coming. My air conditioning unit is 23 years old. The unit is still working; however, when you look at it you can't help wonder how long it can keep going. So, when I received an advertisement in the mail for a new HVAC unit with a manufacturer's rebate, an electric company rebate and advice that I could get up to $1500 in a federal tax credit next year, I thought it was time to look into a new unit. I made an appointment for an estimate.

Now, here is where I have to admit I am an impulse buyer, particularly if I like the seller and they seem honest to me. This trait has led to some disappointments and frustrations in the past when big ticket items were purchased. Consequently, my family made me PROMISE to wait 24 hours before I commit to purchasing anything.

Last week I had a salesman come to my house to give me an estimate on a new installed HVAC unit. I liked the gentleman and felt he was dealing honestly with me. He went through all the numbers with the various rebates and credits and presented me with a price I thought to be good. I wanted to sign up for it right then; however, I remembered my promise to my family and told the gentleman I would let him know in the morning.

That afternoon I thought it would be a good idea to surf the web to find out more information about energy efficiency rebates and tax credits. Maybe there was something else I should be looking at upgrading in the house.

I found out the tax credit only applied with HVAC units rated 14 SEER and 12 EER. The quote I received was for a 13 SEER unit, 10.8 EER. No tax credit for that size system. OUCH!

I contacted the gentleman, he said he thought I was wrong and he would get back to me. Within the hour he called to apologize, he had been wrong. His company has offered me partial compensation for the error through additional yearly maintenance rebates. I have called other companies for quotes.

And I have to listen to my family say: "Told you so." Sigh.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hold Your Horses!

I have a mental file cabinet filled with cliches. Cliches like: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" and "You're barking up the wrong tree." There are hundreds of others.

I learned these cliches as I was growing up in the same fashion as I learned to speak. They are part of my rich vocabulary. Too much a part! Sometimes I have blurted out one of these gems with embarrassing consequences, like when I am in a business meeting with individuals whose native language is not English. Somehow my polished argument loses its gloss when cliches are thrown in.

The same is true in writing, though the types of cliches are different. They are written redundancies that have achieved common usage. Here are some examples:

the reason was because - the word "because" is sufficient
on account of the fact that - see above
free gift - a gift should be free!
few in number - doesn't few imply a number?
circular in shape - doesn't circular imply a shape?
disappear from sight - what else are you going to disappear from?
in my opinion I think - isn't your opinion what you think?

Grammarians refer to these as tautologies or pleonisms. To me, these are redundancies that have achieved cliche status in common writing. Edit them for polished writing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Web Designer.....NOT

People tell me I'm "A Jack (Jill if they're PC) of all trades." I'm flattered; however, there is one trade I am failing in and that is Web Designer. I have three websites I'm trying to launch to cover my three passions: writing, project management, and glass art. I am getting them so botched up it's comical. I've hired help, but I'm even getting them confused.

I'm just too impatient. And I know better! I spent several years as a project manager for website development and I know how long it can take. I've been lulled by the claims of "Use this software/theme/tool and you'll be up tonight!" I suppose that could be true if I knew PHP. I don't. So, I gamely plod on (I CAN do this!), how-to-books by my side, web side how-to's up in the background. I'm inching forward. Sigh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

To Edit, To Be Edited

This morning I finished editing a nonfiction book proposal. This project came to me the same day I was told by an editor that the first chapter of a fiction book proposal I submitted needed to be reworked.

The timing of these events has my inner voice (you know, the one that talks to you all the time) talking to me about editing in general.

I genuinely like being edited. My ego is not dented by either line editing or copy editing. It's part of the process to make something good into something great. What I don't like is being rewritten. If rewriting is required, let me do it.

What I've discovered in my career is if someone thinks a sentence or paragraph needs rewriting the actual problem may have occurred in a previous sentence or paragraph. Their reading progression stumbled for some reason and it is my job to fix that uneven road.

Today I am rubbing my hands with glee as I prepare to rewrite the beginning of my novel. Onward!