- Ann Schwarz
- I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
This time of the year naturally lends itself to the assessment of all that has happened over the past twelve months. Many of us look back and think about whether the year has been good or bad. Some of us see the passing of the old as a relief and look to the new with hope for better times to come.
Reflecting on this season of reflection made me wonder about where the term hindsight came from and if we use the term correctly. It's fun sometimes to look up common phrases and see where they originated in our language. Some aren't even used properly.
The word hind can actually be defined as either a noun or an adjective. If you use it as a noun you are using it to describe a deer, specifically a red, female deer. The word is used as a noun in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 5:19) in quite a suggestive manner. ;)
If you use hind as an adjective you are referring the the backside of an animal or the posterior.
The origins of the word hindsight originally referred the back sight of a firearm. It's wasn't until later in the 19th century that it began to be referred to in a way meaning that our understanding or recognition of the realities or possibilities of a situation were improved after its occurrence. Thus the phrases hindsight is 20/20, or everyone's a genius in hindsight, came into being.
This does seem to be the case as we reflect on our year as it gets ready to pass into the annuls of memory. But don't let your hindsight bog you down in regrets. Instead, make a point of learning from what could or might have been then move on. The new year is still full of possibilities. If you go into it with a positive attitude and a determination to be proactive, things will at least start off on the right note or foot or whatever phrase you want to use.
I wish all of you a happy holiday season and a very healthy and prosperous new year. See you in 2015!
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
We all have days like this where we've planned for our day to go one way when something else happens and not a single one of those plans seems feasible any more. How does that saying go? "Man plans while the gods laugh," or something to that effect.
Despite my efforts to live in the moment doing so brings its own set of frustrations and limitations. For me living in the moment right this minute is adding more stress than it is helping.
This might be because I know that today I must go to the grocery because we are getting low on essentials, one of them being toilet paper. However, I also have a sick kid at home who might have a strep infection again. Apparently, the strep bug is really bad this year. My daughter who I suspect might be sick with it again hasn't had any problems with this since kindergarten when she had her tonsils out. The fact that she might be sick with it twice in three months is a bit worrisome. Added to that concern is the insistent need I have to go to the store at some point today to buy toilet paper, chicken noodle soup, bread, and milk and you can see why my mind is having trouble focusing. You see even living in the moment doesn't help when you face sudden derailment and planning ahead seems laughable. So what do you do when you're stuck? You do what you know you can accomplish moment by moment and trust that somehow things will slowly work out the way you need them to.
My first order of business today was to get an appointment for my daughter to see the doctor. Once that was accomplished I ate breakfast and worked on my next order of business, getting some much needed reading done and out of the way while I let my sick kid sleep. She got some much needed rest to help her feel stronger when I have to take her out of the house to see the doctor and I got a task accomplished that I'm working under a deadline on for later this week. Why you may wonder does a writer need time to read when writing is their job? Reading is often a big part of writing. In the case of today it is instructional for two reasons, first it will help in the research I'm going to need to focus more on in the coming months for a novel sequel I'm going to be starting soon. Second this particular book I'm reading also happens to be the work of a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, and reading work by masters of that caliber can't help but give me ideas on ways to improve my own writing craft. But I digress. After I got some reading done it was time to wake up my girl child and that was quickly followed by the need to feed her. One hopeful sign that she might not have strep (because I'm still hoping she doesn't despite obvious blistering in the back of her throat) is that she isn't feverish and she hasn't lost her appetite. I guess technically those are two hopeful signs, but hey I'll take both, thanks.
After I got her fed and set to work on finishing her homework I got my own lunch, took a rapid assessment on what I absolutely must get at the store sometime today, and then let the dogs out. While playing a short game of fetch with one of my dogs, who demands that as part of our lunchtime routine, I gathered my thoughts on what to write about for this very blog post, which I am now working on. And that is a rundown on how I've managed to focus under unexpected circumstances beyond my control. Do I regret that my blogging may have to count as my writing for the day? Yes. But I knew that December would be a hard month to accomplish a lot of writing in, any way. I factored that in to my goals for the month from the get go. Despite my efforts to live in the moment each day, I still can't help but set goals for the week and the beginning of each month on what I'd like to accomplish. Doing so helps me on days like this. It helps keep this temporary derailment in perspective as a small bump in the road. Tomorrow my daughter will hopefully be feeling better and be able to go back to school. And perhaps we won't run out of toilet paper if I'm lucky until then. If not I guess I'll be gathering my thoughts while pushing my shopping buggy around the store later tonight hoping to find inspiration in the everyday adventures I face as a novel mom.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
|First selfie with my new phone|
My son recently observed that we seem to be slowly upgrading our lives. After over a year of saving we managed to buy a newer minivan this spring. Then we got a smart TV with plans to get a better DVR with our dish provider eventually. And finally after over 10 years of faithful service our cell phone's microphone went out on it so our old Nokia phone had to be replaced with a newer model. We got a smarter phone.
My mom refuses to replace her cell with a sleeker, smarter model. She's afraid a smart phone might be smarter than her. I have to say I'm a little concerned about this myself.
As I navigate through the menu on my smart TV I realize that the booklet that came with it only tells me what the buttons on my remote do. I actually have to do an online search to figure out how to actually use some of those buttons. And as for all the apps. I have no idea what most of them are or why I even need them. So my husband and I deleted some of them.
On my new phone, the best features so far are the easier texting, the camera, (which I've had fun playing with) and the fact I can play clumsy ninja on it. But just the other day my husband had to turn on the voice activated search engine figure out how to do something with it, I've already forgotten what.
|1st pic with new phone of my hubby|
Anyway, I can't help wondering if all this newer technology is really upgrading my life or just making me into a drone. I don't want to become one of those people who isn't engaged with others when I go out and about. I wait in restaurants to be seated sometimes and look around to find most everybody is looking at their phones and none of the people around me are talking to each other. But I'm fairly confident that I haven't fallen into that trap yet. Last night when my family and I all went to run an errand my husband asked me if he thought we needed to bring our cell phone. I told him nope. We'd both forgotten to pick it up before heading out the door.
My children are more in danger I think of becoming tech addicts than I am. Which is why neither of them have TVs in their rooms or their own cell phones yet. The phones can wait until they're in high school.
At the end of the day, I don't know if my smart devices are smarter than me. I hope they aren't. But if they are, I hope we figure that out before they do...
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
|Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net|
Last week was a whirlwind. My son came down with strep throat right before the Thanksgiving holiday and my one and only female dog came into heat. I spent all day Tuesday de-germing my house before company arrived and I didn't have time to search for a single new recipe to help contribute to the family Thanksgiving meal. Despite all of this we had another amazing feast and my sister came through for me by finding a new and delicious way for me to fix and cook brussel sprouts. My little dog got over her silliness just in time for us to travel for the long weekend and I think all of us enjoyed being together at my parents' house.
None of us went out on what I guess people are calling brown Thursday now. One of my sisters is boycotting the practice of stores being open on Thanksgiving day. Something I did vehemently opposed last season when this was starting to take a foothold. I've been listening to reports this week about whether this practice is helping retailers or not, but I'm not really hearing anything conclusive about it. If you have an opinion or information about this please share it, I'd been interested to hear whether this trend is likely to continue. I will say that it has made black Friday a much less crazy shopping experience. Those of us who ventured out Friday morning (not in the wee hours,but at a much more reasonable 6:30 am) didn't have to wait in line to check out or be jostled for space in the store aisles. The parking lots were busy, but not full and all the people both shopping and helping to check people out were pleasant and calm. I don't know if this is because all the craziness happened the evening before, or if people are relying more on online deals and shopping and staying in with their families over the holiday weekend. Either way, between the little bit of shopping I did Friday and this week with cyber deals all week long, I've got a good start of finishing my Christmas shopping. That's a good feeling. While I do hope that retailers would stay closed on Thursday, I think they're really getting smart about spreading out their bargain pricing over the whole week of Thanksgiving instead of just one morning or day on Friday. Something which makes it easier on the consumer and makes everyone much calmer and saner.
Overall, November was a pretty good month. I did stick with it on my NaNoWriMo challenge and....
|Banner courtesy of NaNoWriMo|
As for December, well... I've been thinking about that the last few days. I still have a couple of resolutions to keep before the year ends and a new one begins. The first and most important that I plan to stick with this holiday season is the live in the present resolution. I'm going to try very hard this month not to get caught up in the stress and hyper-anxiety traps that lots of us succumb to this time of the year. I'm going to take this month to reward myself on my discipline from last month by reading a lot more and writing a little less. I want to take time with my stories this month and not worry so much about how much I accomplish but more on what I achieve quality wise. I also need to try and fulfill my other resolution and read Persuasion by Jane Austen. Though, if I don't get that done this year, there is always the first of next year during the long cold month of January. I'm looking forward to binging on Hallmark movies, one being Mr. Miracle which is based on Debbie Macomber's book that I'm reading right now. The other thing I really love about December is that it's the happiest mail month of the year. Well it is if you aren't a mail carrier, for them I suppose it isn't as happy because of all the extra packages. But not only do you get presents in the mail, you get cards! This is the only time of the year (besides my birthday) when I really get excited about the mail because you actually get cards in it and not just bills or junk. My son gets excited about this with me. So bring on the Christmas and holiday cards. I'm going out today to get my Rudolph stamps to help spread that holiday cheer into the world, as I drink my hot chocolate and watch Hallmark movies of course. :) Happy December everybody! May this month be filled with joy, good food, and happy mail.