Writers, even though they are not working in an audible way, spend a lot of time thinking about their voice.

I want to talk about the writer’s voice. Our voice, when we write (you write too, so I’m including you) is how we sound.

I personally have worked really hard on my voice. I have a way of writing that expresses my emotion and my personality. I like to bring humor–little nods and asides—into what I write.

You may notice, I’m also really fond of white space.

In the solitary space of writing, where I am alone with the thoughts I am trying to convey, I like to pause. For laughter? Maybe. But also for the ideas to sink in.

I try to introduce ideas that are unusual, a different way of thinking about an ordinary circumstance or situation.

You know what I don’t like? Repeating myself. Just now I am considering deleting either “circumstance” or “situation” because they are saying almost the same thing.

And deleting things that are repetitive means that I write short pieces. I say what I have to say, get it done and we can all move on.

You know what else I do? I talk about myself. The first person is all I ever talk about.

Recently I had to write a rather long piece with no first person whatsoever. I was nowhere to be found.

I found myself wanting to go all A.A. Milne in there, and have asides reaching to the audience. Breaking the fourth wall of writing, to acknowledge that there is in fact a reader, and that reader is in fact reading the shapes of the words on the page.

I suspect this is frowned upon in circles of people who do not use the first person.

There are other ways of indicating that action has taken place, ways that do not require mentioning a party who acts or a party who is the receiver of that action.

Passive voice abounds.

Mistakes were made.

I like to write. I like for my writing to be read. I like readers, and I like it when readers let me know they have read what I write.

The bestseller list confirms that people who read like to read action.

I will have to learn a whole set of new skills if I am to write without referring to myself.

Some people are very insistent on that. I understand that removing the actor and the acted upon means the thing written is less likely to cause offense.

But it’s also a lot less likely to engage.

It might be a new challenge to learn how to be exciting without any action. It’s my voice. I get to use it how I want.

Fewer Facepalms

Before I go to the grocery store, I make a list. Very rarely I will forget and wander the aisles trying to think of what I was missing at home. Even when I do make a list, I often forget to get one or two things on the list. And when I get home I face palm, remembering some obvious thing I had been telling myself to remember all week but had forgot on the list.

We are still out of toothpaste.

In the rest of my life I have started an analogous habit: setting intentions.

What this means is, as I prepare to do something like have a meeting or set about the business of my day, I try to set an intention. Even if it is blazingly obvious, I can set my intention for myself, “Today I intend to focus on each task one at a time.”

Or if I am scheduling a meeting, I can let everyone know my intention:
“This meeting is to talk about an efficient and graceful solution to our problem.”

As obvious as toothpaste.

But as I discovered from my shopping lists, even the obvious things get forgotten. EVER WHEN I AM TRYING SO HARD TO REMEMBER!

Some things which should not be forgotten get lost.

Putting a little thought into it beforehand helps. And even more than just the tradition agenda, which is a list of items, an intention allows for flavor.

Yes, we want to get this or that thing done. But how do I want to feel about it while we are working on it, and how I want it to look when it is done can be expressed with intentions.

It’s a simple thing, but a little fore thought on that can make a big different.

My intention is to avoid the facepalm.


“Come on Veronica. It’s time to do Khan Academy.”

It’s summer, but I want to keep her brain working. And I know she loves math, so I want to keep her skills sharp. We’re working through the 4th grade lessons.

I know I’m not the only one who is uncomfortable with the way Common Core teaches math. We are having fun with 2-digit multiplication right now, and Sal Khan is gently and carefully teaching 3 different ways to arrive at the answer to 57×65

I can understand that when there are 28 kids in a class, one of those three ways will hopefully catch with all the kids. But I know that my daughter has quickly caught on to the way that *I* learned math, and the way I taught her when we were starting this.

So she is bored to tears when the same exact problem has to be solved two OTHER ways. Except I know that the teacher next year will require her to do homework and answer test question for all three ways.

Her mind is stimulated by the math, and not at all stimulated by the two other ways to find an answer she already knows.

HOWEVER! She does take away another lesson. What she figures out in this moment is that there are multiple ways to solve math problems. So as she waits for Sal Khan to finish his boring explanation of arriving at an answer she is already sitting on, she knows she wants in on the fun.

If HE can figure out two other ways to solve a math problem, what can SHE do?

This causes a problem for me. As she is bored with the regular answer she’s been sitting on for the whole lesson, she pokes and twists the math problem again and tries to see if there is another way to do it.

This is exhausting for all concerned. She doesn’t like being wrong and she lacks the skills to be right.

What happens is her brain starts revving so hard trying to reach for that knowledge that is out of her grasp, she forgets stuff she knows, that 5×6 = 30, not 11

And then she gets so mad at herself for forgetting what she knows she knows. She tries to solve the whole problem in one swoop in her mind.

I had to really pull her up short.

“Solve the problem in front of you!”

There was a lot of shushing, and not now, and don’t ask why happening.

Solve the problem in front of you.

“You know, Veronica, this is something I have trouble with too. You are saying in your mind ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ but we can’t solve those things before they happen. And it’s quite likely that most of them won’t happen anyway.”

Hmm. This is a good thing for me to remember. That bridge doesn’t need crossing before I come to it.

Thanks, Sal Khan.

Life Design

I’ve just started reading Tim Ferris’s The Four-Hour Work Week.

I know, it was popular quite a while ago and now might be as dated as Vanilla Ice.

But I picked it up, and am slowly making my way through it.

He says, you may think you want to be a millionaire, but what you really want is to live like a millionaire.

I have a lot of friends who live or aspire to live what is called the “digital nomad” lifestyle. That means, if you have a laptop and Internet you can live anywhere and take advantage of what the world has to offer.

This is not new. That’s what Hemingway and Picasso did in Paris. Paris was super cheap to live in after world war one, and attracted a lot of artists.

People with Internet businesses are finding that they can live much cheaper and better in tropical Asia.

Which is fine, if that is what you enjoy.

My family and I do not want that kind of life. I like having a family, and a community of people right here in my little town.

I have moved a LOT as an adult, and when I moved here I made a conscious choice to stay.

So, if I had all the money in the world, I’m not sure I’d move. And that’s awesome!

I’m not a fan of complacency. But since I’ve found something I really like, I don’t need to change it just because.

I want to live an examined life. I have thought it over, and the benefits of being a digital nomad (as much as I love travel) don’t exceed the value of having my roots where I am.

I have a finite amount of time. How much is not given me to know. But what I have is precious, so I want to do the things I enjoy.

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says that if you are happy, but not aware of how happy you are, you are missing out.

Cherishing the things I’ve chosen is a precious gift. I love my front door, the particular red paint I chose for it. As I acknowledge that happiness, I can relive it every time.

Although I have barely started Ferris’s book, I can see that we agree on some things. Don’t let your assumptions and habits trap you. We are free to design our lives.

But it’s also fine to look at your life and discover you have most of what you want.

That’s a pretty great realization.

she said it

I’ve come back from helping my mother with dad‘s death.

I started my new job at Western University

It was the end of my first day. I was very tired and we had made plans for dinner

It was the end of my first day. I was very tired and we had no plans for dinner

Chris had not one not two but three coupons at Chili’s So we go.

One of them was desert. It was free because it was his birthday last week.

We very seldom get dessert at Chili’s because we are too full but chris and Veronica choose which desert.

She’s very eager to get the cookie sundae. She and daddy dive Into the ice cream

Veronica says “why do I get the distinct impression that you are spoiling me? “

My daughter is well aware that she gets good attention from us, and we delight is giving her things she enjoys