Reflection: Hurricane Irma

Florida was just trounced by Hurricane Irma. She meandered, dragging predictions along with her, but the sheer size of the storm meant impacts for the entire state, regardless of where the eye of the storm ended up.

We live in the center of the state, nearish the panhandle, and about half-way between east and west coast in the peninsula. To see where we are, I took this screen capture of a map of Florida. I apologize if the state lines are a little obscured. Irma photobombed the image.

Screen capture of Gainesville Florida from Sunday, 9/10 at 1:33 pm, depicting large swaths of rain and potential tornado impact areas across the entire peninsula of Florida, and into Georgia

Screen capture of Gainesville on Sunday, 9/10, as Irma rode up the state

Typically when hurricanes come across Florida, the most we get in Gainesville are tropical storm winds. Because of the size of Irma, and the fact that the path in earlier predictions had her riding up the center of the state, we were preparing for worse. We got word on Thursday evening that our Governor was calling for all schools K-12, college and university, to be closed Friday through Monday. As the storm slowed down, it was extended through Tuesday (today). Tomorrow we go back to work at the University of Florida, though classes don’t resume until Thursday.

-Water, food, cat food, medicines all stocked up - Boarded front windows (we have a large bay window next to a 70 gallon fish tank, and some trees we are worried about) - All the laundry done - Photos of everything taken, loaded to the cloud - Cat carriers assembled - Cars gassed up - Generator moved to be easily accessible, gas for generator secured - Cash on hand - Devices charged, and portable chargers charged - Cat medical history and microchip numbers secured from vet - Phone numbers written down in case we lose access to our phones - Everything outside secured/ brought in. - Move car closer to house - Eat down remaining perishable food stores - Pre make some dry goods that we can eat cold (pasta, rice, etc) - Fill tub for toilet flushing in case we lose water - Disconnect computers and move near door (away from windows and the tree-line, ready to snag if we leave - Move remaining hurricane supplies (crank radio, candles, camp kettle) out of bottom of pantry for more convenient access

Our hurricane prep checklist for Irma.

One thing I have always said, and still believe, is that I would prefer hurricanes to other natural disasters (tornados, earthquakes, wildfires) because at least with a hurricane, you know it’s coming. Well, you have a pretty good idea that it is headed your way. Irma is the latest example that you can never actually know what the final path of the storm will be until it is done.

So we prepared the best we could, which was, in my opinion, pretty damn thorough given our location in the state. What they don’t tell you about hurricanes, however, is how boring the lead-up to them can be.

Once everything is bought, and you hunker down, knowing the winds and rain are coming but no sure when, knowing you’re going to lose power, but not when or for how long, all you can do is wait. Well, that and check Facebook obsessively to get updates from others who are hunkering down, and the storm path, and what impacts have been felt already. Of course I had entertainment prepped for when the power went out (writing letters, reading books, critiquing stories I’d saved on my tablet). But dang it if I wasn’t going to save those for the power going out. So Saturday I bought and watched the 10th season of Doctor Who on Amazon Prime, because I still had power, and wasn’t going to waste that entertainment that I would need once the power went out.

Picked up most of the down branches for pickupThing is, the storm came through our area mostly on Sunday night/ Monday morning. My hubby tells me the power went out a couple of times in the night, and the winds were bad. There were sounds like transformers popping, and branches falling, and I slept through the night. Monday it was still raining, a bit, then in late morning it switched to winds, with gusts up to 50 mph, but lessening to 24 mph guts as evening came on. We lost power for a full 30 minutes around 1pm, but I was settling for a nap, and missed that, too.

As the winds died down, we called and texted and messaged friends and family to see how they fared. We are fortunate – the worst we had among our group was power out for a day, and one couple who had two trees down – one from the neighbor’s yard that fell, missing their house, and stopping above their fence; the other clipped the shed in the back yard, but again, no damage to the house.

And so we pick up the small branches that fell in our yard, eat more of the pre-made food, offer our house for those still without power / hot water for showers, and take a breath before we go back to the reports and see what this Hurricane Jose is about.

Picture of intact house with blue sky, and yard waste at curb

Most of the branches Irma tossed around waiting for pickup

Reflecting in 2017

 

I started last year by completing “Unravel your 2016.” While I didn’t stick to everything, I found the exercise useful, so over the  winter break I completed the “Unravel your Year 2017″ workbook from Susannah Conway. I even managed to complete it before the end of 2016.

Center word Reflect, surrounded by believe/trust/faith, (re)create, release and connect -seen on a daily random generator of simple tasks

I created the word cloud out of index cards to help keep the word(s) fresh in my mind. The Daily Random Generator are small things I can do that help fulfill my goals.

Along with reflecting on the previous year, the workbook takes you through exercises to consider the year ahead along several different axes, as well as finding a word to act as a guide for your upcoming year. As I sat by the koi pond at my in-laws house, I contemplated what word would be meaningful. I was having difficulty selecting, having narrowed it down to reflect and (re)create. I ultimately chose reflect, because for the challenges I’ve faced, and the self-improvements I hope to make, this word means different things.

I was surprised that the next page had me select 4 extra words to support my word of the year. I was skeptical, but tossed (re)create in the first spot. I added a second word, and all of a sudden something clicked, and my heart felt a bit lighter. I considered a bit before adding my third and forth words, and had a sense of contentment I was missing from selecting a single word to encompass the year.

There are many areas encompassed by this collection of words that where I am seeking self-improvement. As a way to not feel overwhelmed by everything that was crowding my mind that I wanted to accomplish, I decided to make a “The Least I Could Do Daily Random Generator.” The list is made of small tasks (I aimed for things that could be completed in 15-30 minutes) that contributed to my goals, and to the values that the words encompassed for me. My current list is 25 items. I roll 2 d10 each morning, and take my number from there. So far I have completed my tasks for just over half the days, but because they are so small, and because they change everyday, I’m happy with how it is working.

1 Blog Post
2 Read a Short Story
3  Meditate
4  Color Something
5  Connect with someone via electronic means
6  Write a letter or card
7  Call political office (senator, representative)
8  Stretch session
9  Write fiction
10 Phone a friend
11 Plan a meal
12 Go through files / things
13 Read from to-read online list
14 Put things away
15 Walk somewhere new
16 Exercise set (20 min)
17 Take photos
18 Tai Chi
19 Puzzle/ word puzzle/ logic/ sudoku – etc
20 Romantic act
21 Random act of kindness
22 10 ideas in 10 minutes
23  1 letter of address book (or 10 entries), whichever is less
24 Watch a TED talk
25 Listen to writing podcast

There are a few other things I’ve done in prep for the new year. One is small tasks I’m trying to complete everyday (with an understanding that doing all of them is probably unsustainable, but I’ll see what sticks) – 15 minutes of cleaning / tidying before bed; adding one moment of happiness into my mason jar; keeping track of spending on a daily budget.

I could go on with my plans, because even 2 weeks in I am still feeling hopeful and motivated about the year. Instead I will end with a visual -another piece of the Unravel Your Year workbook – a visual map of my upcoming year.  I hope you are making the most of your new year.

Image of small icons, including a boat, a giraffe, red hair, the number 40, the word "reflect", multi-sided gaming dice, a stack of games, a notepad and pen, and a book and glasses

A visual representation of things I anticipate happening in 2017.

 

2016 in Review

Every year has its ups and downs, its achievements and its misses. Given this past election season, and the anxiety I harbor about the year ahead, I thought I would take a moment to remind myself of all the awesome in my life in 2016.

Concerts & Shows

This year I attended more concerts and shows than I have in any year of my life

  • March 30th – Attended Ask Me Another show/ recording in Orlando with Karen
  • May 5th – The Play that Goes Wrong – with Toby
  • May 6th – Lush concert – The Roundhouse – with Toby
  • June 3rd – Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory Fun World Tour – with Toby, Ron, Dave, Tessa, Zachary and Leo
  • July 7th – Welcome to Nightvale show Ghost Stories, Tampa – with G.W.
  • December 2 – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – University Auditorium, UF – Allyson, Nick, Lila, Kendra, Carlos, Allison
  • December 11 – A Night with Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, and Jherek Bischoff – Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale – With Toby and Ron

Travel

Places I went – Some for work, some for fun.

  • Hattiesburg, MS- IRDay (April)
  • London, Paris – Concert and vacation (May)
  • Orlando, FL  – ALA Annual conference (June), FL- Scholarly Communications Interest Group conference (June), visit friends (Various)
  • Alaskan Cruise with Melson family (July)
    • Seattle
    • Juneau
    • Skagway
    • Glacier Bay
    • Ketchikan
    • Victoria, BC
  • Indianapolis, IN – GenCon (August)
  • Columbus, Ohio – USETDA conference (September
  • Bok Tower Gardens, FL – day trip on Homecoming holiday (October)

Books Read

Over on Goodreads, I set up a challenge for myself to read 40 books. I met my goal, and you can see Goodreads’ summary here. It’s a very pretty visual. There are some books I feel are worth highlighting:

Learn and Grow

  • Attended Mindfulness Retreat weekend in January
  • Attended two Writing The Other masterclasses, transcribed a third
    • Writing Native American Characters: How Not to Do a Rowling!
    • Writing Deaf and Blind Characters
    • Writing for Trans and Non-Binary Narratives
  • Read from a banned book at ALA for Banned Books Week series videos
  • Walked with PFLAG in Pride Parade
  • Attended UF Quest conference
  • Became board member of PFLAG
  • Attended PFLAG Transgender symposium

Celebrations and Connections

  • Treated myself to a spa day in January for my birthday
  • Visited friends who live in England when they were in Orlando
  • Attended Toby’s godson’s HS graduation party
  • Attended Bobby and Lee Kirby’s wedding
  • Attended Stephani and Vince’s wedding
  • Attended Birthday lunch with Tempest
  • Went with Allison to get her tattoo
  • Went to the 30th anniversary showing of Labyrinth in theaters for Karen’s birthday
  • Went with sib to start the legal name change process for them
  • Hosted Thanksgiving for my family
  • Visited Toby’s family for Christmas

Random Tidbits

  • Attended the UF home Gymnastics season
  • Attended several UF home Football games
  • Started office hours as IR Manager – Fall term
  • Early Voted
  • Got rid of a lot of paper in my office – scanned a bunch then recycled
  • Created shelf / necklace holder
  • Created art for Amanda Palmer, gave it to her, and got a kiss on the cheek in return

Live at 1:45 12/31; I’ll come back later and add photos.

Tagged

State of the Christy

There have been many things keeping me occupied of late. Most notably is the time I’ve been putting into watching the TV show Elementary. I had been slowed, at first, by the time it took to get discs from Netflix, limited to only 4 episodes at a time, but  when I first started with the show, I also put my DVR to record all new and rerun episodes. Now I have most of the show that way – but finally, today (after watching about 10 episodes this weekend) finally hit a dry spell where I missed episodes, and must once again wait for discs (though only 2) from Netflix.

I also have resumed reading fiction lately. I re-read the first three books in the Glamourist Histories, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I just got the fifth/ final book in the series, Of Noble Family, and felt I wanted a refresher. I’m currently taking a break from that world to read another new acquisition, Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. Prior to these, I was mostly emerged in non-fiction this year, including Moody Bitches, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the “KonMari” or Spark Joy method), Clean Cuisine, and The 3-Day Reset.

Today I took a break from both indulgences in media, an begin to apply the KonMari method to go through my clothes. So far I have made it through my tops, pants, and skirts (though really I deferred on these, because I found I didn’t really connect with any of them, but was not feeling in a skirt kind of day, and didn’t want that to impact things). There are some articles of clothing that I’ve been holding on to because I remember why I liked them when I bought them. Taking that extra step to hold each item and thank it for it’s service, for the joy it has given me over the years, has made letting go of things that have survived other such culling efforts easier.

After a Month of Letters, I have done my best to keep up correspondence with those who had written me. I am a little slower with turn-around, but have been increasing my stock of pretty stationary, and one other letter writer even sent me my very own fountain pen.

At work, well, I’m exhausted of April, and have been since Monday.

“But Christy, it was still March this past Monday.”

Exactly.

My focus this month is preparing for the upcoming IR Day at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I am presenting a poster and a 1-hour session. Other recent progress has been made in my policy review, and in my outreach to get new materials (mostly from Undergraduate students – who are poorly represented in the Institutional repository) into the IR@UF

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Last week I went with a friend, Karen, to see a live recording of Ask Me Another. I geeked out over this. It was a fun show, and it was cool to have faces to go with the disembodied voices I normally get on the podcasts of the show that I download.

Finally, I have  recently have gotten excited about writing again. In fact, I am writing this blog post as an warm-up to a story I want to write. I am participating in a writing session with other writers via google hangouts.

So overall the state is mostly positive, if tired. I am finding my way back to my word for the year, intentionality, though that is something I would like to be more aware of on a day-to-day basis.
And I know this post is a bit rambly, but that’s how my mind is right now, and rather than put off posting yet again, I figured an unpolished/ unfocused post might be what I need to be able to move past the guilt I associate with not posting in a while.

wallpaper of PPG Christy with a cat

A Power Puff Girls avatar created at www.powerpuffyourself.com

Tagged

About writing and reestablishing momentum

It has been a long time since I have written. A really long time. Like since the writing retreat I’d attended last year in September long time. Hell, I’ve barely journaled in that time, and after seeing the massive quantities of paper that I recycled after scanning in my old journals, that is saying something. And you have probably noticed a lack of major activity here on my blog. Another victim of my writing funk.

I am finally at a place where I can look beyond the “I’m not writing” thoughts to get to “Okay, well what do I do to fix that”?

During my funk I would go and look at different writing challenges – mostly flash fiction prompts, and then not do anything about them. I would talk with my friends who were also writers, and tell them that I hadn’t written anything. As guilty as I felt during those check-ins, I had accepted “not writing” as my current state, and so I didn’t do anything. Some of those days were so bad that I backed out of even attending the online meetings, because I couldn’t handle the guilt and I knew that I wasn’t at a place where I could change it (hello depression, so frustrated to see you).

Then with the new year came a plan. In a forum created for participants of an online workshop I had attended (and students of subsequent iterations of the course), the instructor mentioned Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin, and how there was a new version, and did anyone else want to do the exercises in it, and report back each week.

This was it, I thought. I read the first chapter, and posted the first exercise two days late, but darn it, I had written, and shared actual words on page.

I was one of two to post. And no one even mentioned week 2. I read the chapter, but didn’t do the exercise.

Fast forward to the end of January. I saw people on Facebook starting to post about A Month of Letters in February. I’ve tried two previous years, and was going to let this one pass, but on February 1st I saw a friend who I had never associated with writing ask for people she could write to. She was my husband’s friend from high school, and I didn’t really know her well, but I wanted to encourage her, so I thought “Why not.”

A Month of Letters aka #LetterMo

A Month of Letters aka #LetterMo

So I updated my LetterMo profile and wrote my first card that night, failing right off, because I had missed sending anything out the Feb. 1. But I didn’t care. Over the month I have started to hang my hopes that the act of writing cards to friends and strangers would help reconnect me with a daily(ish) writing habit.

And it is working. It isn’t fiction, but I’m writing.

This week I have also resumed listening to some writing podcasts, making an effort to catch up on both I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses. In the last Writing Excuses case I listened to, the hosts were talking about the momentum of writing, and how it is easier to remain not writing if you are not writing. I think the letters have helped kick me past that initial momentum hurdle.

Today I actually logged in to a different online meeting, designed for people to have a few minutes to chat with each other interspersed with 1/2 hour writing sessions. I was late, and they were in the middle of a session when I logged in, so I did exercise 2 of Steering the Craft. It is currently the second timed writing session, and I have written this blog post, remembering that there are other people besides those on the initial forum where I got the idea that I can use as an accountability stick.

Steering the Craft - Ursula K. Le Guin - 2015 edition

Steering the Craft – Ursula K. Le Guin – 2015 edition

Below I am posting the first two exercises from Steering the Craft.  They are not great works, nor are they designed to be. They each focus on a different writing tool or technique, and they are very much homework like. But look, I’ve written!

Exercise1

Exercise2