Well, sometimes things happen. I had my Christmas vacations very carefully planned: I wanted to so some readings, do some art, relax and prepare myself for 2013.
However I had to go to the hospital on January 2 and stayed there till last Monday because of a rather nasty abscess in my appendix. On Monday I could leave the hospital but I am still on antibiotics. I am still trying to get my strenght back.
I learned two important things:
- Never take your health for granted. Health is a present we have to be thankful for every day.
- Accept your weaknesses and focus on healing. That is something I am not very good in. I tend to become impatient, even angry with my body. Why is it me? Why in my vacations? Why? Why am I still weak and getting out of breath after having walked for such a short time? These questions are utterly out of place. I should rather ask myself what are the steps which are good for my body? And I should focus on the things that work.
When I tried to go online today I got the message that there was no connection to the remote server. Of course I called the support from my provider, but the result was rather sad – my modem is broke and will have to be replaced.
I am writing these lines in an internet cafe round the corner where you have to throw in coins for every 20 minutes you are online. Well it sure makes you to focus on what you really have to do online. No following interesting links, no browsing. I just try to do online what I really have to do.
I hope that I will get the new modem in a few days, and that I will be able to write regular blogposts soon.
Less than two days, and it will be Christmas Eve. Here in Germany, gifts are given on Christmas Eve (The German word for it is “Heiligabend” – the Holy Evening/Night.). The shops close at 2pm, and usually you can see many people rushing through the stores in order to get last minute presents. The 25th and the 26th are holidays, and the shops have closed.
Whereas last year we had loads of snow in Berlin, this year the weather is rather mild. On the one side there’s something beautiful in the earth being covered by snow on a Christmas night, but on the other hand here in Berlin the snow very quickly becomes muddy and sloshy, and when it is below freezing point you’ll get the streets and boardwalks covered with ice. Last December we had many people who slipped and broke arms and legs, and that’s something I am not very keen on. So on the whole I prefer the current mild weather.
I wish you, my dear readers, a Merry Christmas wherever you may be. Have a great time with your families, relax, enjoy the company of your dear ones!
Two days ago I gave myself a very early Christmas present and bought the new Kindle. I have been following discussions and reports about e-readers for quite a while. I am a “heavy” reader, and I devour my books very fast. That doesn’t matter as long as I drag my books into my flat like a wolf drags its prey into its lair and read them at home. From time to time I have to go through my shelves and weed them out in order to get room for new books.
But: My reading speed is a problem when I go on holidays. I take one book with me on the way to my destination and come back with at least two or three because otherwise I would have been terrribly bored in the time between.
I also like to spend some time in nice cafés, drinking a cup of capucchino or latte macchiato and having a read. In this case I have to take one of my bigger handbags, simply to be able to carry the book I am reading.
So I could not resist when I passed a shop on Friday which sells the Kindle for 99 Euro. I took it home with me and on Saturday I charged the battery – which took a shorter time than I expected. Now I had to register with Amazon. I have internet access at home, but no Wi-Fi. So on Sunday I had to look for a place with Wi-Fi. I found one. As the 99 Euro Kindle has got no touchscreen the registration was a bit time consuming but in the end I successfully registered and downloaded a sample of an e-book.
I read the first chapter of the sample, and I can say that I was drawn into the story in the same way as with a “normal” book. I am glad that I bought the Kindle, and I am looking forward to further e-reading.
For the last two weeks I scheduled my activities on the weekend, beginning with Friday after work and ending with Sunday. That is, I divided my free time up into blocks – for my creative activities, for blogging, for doing my shopping, for doing my household chores and for leisure activities.
Here are my experiences
- Time is limited. That sounds banal, but before that I always thought “Wow, now comes the weekend and I’ll have loads of time.” At the end of the weekend I was disappointed how fast the time went and how many things I could not do. Now, with going through the day, hour for hour, I realized that time was limited.
- Focus, focus, focus! I now focus on household chores on my Saturday mornings, and I really have the feeling that I can get a lot of things done between 11 and 1.30 pm. No internet after breakfast, like I had been doing many weekends and then suddenly noticed that the time had come to get something to eat, and then: who wants to swipe floors after lunch?
- Leisure time is necessary! Well, there is a difference between photoshopping and blogging and reading a history novel. I noticed that I had spent many weeks without looking into a fiction book or a journal, and I missed that. Now I schedule my reading time and enjoy it very much.
- There is always an exception to the rule. I must admit that I don’t always follow the schedules. But I do this consciously, and I know the consequences, and I am not disappointed afterwards.
Mind you, I am not saying that everybody has to schedule his or her free time. I am only describing why it has become necessary for me!
I’ve got a shop on Zazzle, and I am a member of Google+. I am also on Twitter, and on Facebook, and have been using those two for marketing too.
I have been tweeting the products scheduled all over the day, and as I used Hootsuite I could see whether any of my tweets were clicked on. As far as I could see, the number of clicks was very very low. In addition to that I myself find it boring to tweet just one product, even if the tweets are sent all over the day. And if I find the process of tweeting boring – what about the readers of these tweets?
I am using Google Analytics on my Zazzle shop page, and I can see that I am getting a few clicks via Facebook. Facebook has the advantage that you have a thumbnail of the product. Thus people can see what the product/design looks like, and I think this is important. So I will keep on presenting new products on my Facebook Fan Page.
This week I began to experiment with marketing on Google+. One thing I did was to speak about the design or the art on the product – not the product itself (everybody can see that it is a mug, a mousepad, or poster, as Google+ also shows the thumbnail). And the other thing is that I tell the story behind the art/design. Why did I take this photo, and what does it show? How did I feel when I took it? With graphic design it is a bit more difficult, but I think that each piece of art and design tells something about ourselves, our feelings, our attitude towards creating things.
Of course this takes far more time than just typing the url of the product. But when I did this today and the day before I deeply enjoyed it. It wasn’t boring at all for me. And I hope that people like the stories I am telling about me and my art and eventually may consider buying the one or the other products…
Those of you who have been following my blog posts for some time know that two years ago I had set my focus on squidoo and that I managed to write about more than 60 Squidoo articles (to avoid the rather strange sounding word “lenses”). I wrote about classical music, about artists like Michelangelo and Goya. I presented my Zazzle products in several articles and then – I got a kind of Squidoo burnout. The pressure of having to produce one article after another had been just to great, and me and Squidoo went different ways.
After some time I managed to write the one or the other article, but my love and my passion was somewhere else – on the fields of painting, drawing, graphic design and Zazzle. Some days ago, however, things changed. I am on facebook, and a member of several groups which focus on promoting their Zazzle products and supporting each other. Suddenly there was a new group called Squid-Doers – people who wrote articles in order to promote their products. This group is full of supportive, motivating and kind people, and voila – my attitude towards Squidoo – and writing – has changed! I have just thrown a look on some of my “old” articles, and I had to grin and say to myself: “You’ve done a good job there. You could have done better with this or that article, but in general, you’ve done a good job.” And something inside me is prodding me to do it again… I don’t know where to take the time to do it, but ahhh, I’d like be squidoo-ing again…
For anybody who wants to have a look at my articles: Here’s a list of my articles.
I’ve subscribed to Havi Brooke’s blog “The fluent self” and one of her blog posts that made me think a lot was the one about “The Book of You“. You’ve got to read that blogpost yourself, but what I took out of it was to very deliberately notice the effects that things I do have on me. I actually write some of them down in my daily journal.
I’d like to share two entries with you. The first is: I need about eight hours of sleep. Some people need less hours to feel good the next day – not me. On Tuesdays I usually go to my English Friends’ club which is an informal meeting at a Chinese restaurant. Most of the people I meet there are freelancers or people who can go to work later. So they usually stay till late in the evening. Many times in the past I felt obliged to stay longer than I thought was good for me, with the effect that I felt lousy next morning when I had to get up early, and sometimes even overslept. Last Tuesday I decided to try an experiment – would getting home earlier and going to bed earlier really help? Well, it did! I got up next morning without problems, didn’t feel lousy at all and the day went well. So ! now know: Getting eight hours of sleep is important for me, it does me good, and I will try to get them as many times as possible.
The second thing I learnt this week by experimenting was: The pomodoro method is good for me. This method consists in putting up a timer for 25 minutes and to focus on a certain activity for that time until the alarm clock rings.25 minutes are one pomodoro, and of course you can do as many of them as you like. I applied this method today at work, and felt good with it. I was productive, and I had the impression that I spent the work day the right way. Actually I am doing it now while writing this blogpost. I am using a chrome extension called “Timer tab” at home, and on work I used the e.ggtimer.com.
Have you ever thought of writing a book of you? And if yes, what would go in it?
It is Soccer World Championship time! Well, it is Women Soccer World Championship time. When we had Men Soccer World Championship last year in South Africa all the restaurants in Berlin were showing the games on public tv, and the people were waving black-red-yellow (golden) flags, and wore t-shirts with black-red-yellow stripes.
None of that yet. Ok, the soccer stadiums are nicely filled with people, but you could still get tickets. The games are on German TV (in the early afternoon and at 6pm local time), but I’ve got the feeling that the numbers of people who watch the games on tv are – limited. Many people, especially men, don’t consider women soccer to be “proper” soccer.
I just watched the game Brazil vs Australia. Brazil won 1:0, but the Australian women did a good job. It was a game worth watching. But: It was a typical women soccer match.
Men soccer is something different, with more close fights, more body contacts, more tackling. I think the important thing is not to expect women to play soccer like men, which does not mean that women soccer is “bad” soccer. The way in which both – the Australian and the Brazilian women treated the ball was amazing, as well as the way they passed it.
I now look forward to the match between Germany and Nigeria on Thursday evening European time. I will watch it at some good friend’s home. I will use public transport on the way to my friend and on the way back, and I wonder whether there will be people waving flags and wearing t-shirts in the colours of Germany. Let’s see…
In my last February post “Looking ahead to March” I wrote about my art plans saying that I wanted to do some horse drawings, get used to my graphic tablet and finish the digital painting of a crane. Now, at the end of this month I’ve got to say:
- I did some horse sketches, and I showed them on this blog. One you can see here, and another one here.
- Regarding the graphic tablet: Well, I got more practice on it, but still there’s nothing yet worth presenting to the public.
- The digital painting of the crane is still unfinished.
But I learnt a lot this month:
- I learnt how satisfying it can be when you return to something you did a few months ago and enjoy doing it again. I loved to pick up my copics again and colour the horse. I so loved it that I consider doing the crane with them first (The only thing is that I’ve got no grey copics, and I do need grey for the crane!)
- I learnt also how satisfying it can be to put the focus on another software – in this case Inkscape. At the bottom of the post you will find a result of playing around for half an hour with the programme without thinking about the result. It just happened to be.
So what about April?
Maybe a bit less planning and more “do as you feel” art? More playfulness? I wanted to focus on planning my art activities because I thought that I had to organize my learning processes. A revolutionary thought now comes to my mind: Even if I don*t organize or plan my art activities they wll happen. Art and creativity are an important part of my life now. The important thing is not to ask “What do I have to do in order to learn this or that?” but to ask “What did I learn when I did that and that?”
I would be glad to hear your opinion on this!