What those dreaded technology upgrades can teach us about life’s changes

Do technology upgrades drive you crazy? What if they could teach you about how you react to change in your life? In my latest column for Catholicmom.com., I draw connections between how we react to technology change and the curve balls that life can throw at us. Here’s a tease …

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Recently I posted on my beasone.org blog about big changes coming to my site (I have totally revamped it with a fresh new look and lots of extras). Even as I was gushing on and on in my post about how “this will translate into a more enjoyable experience for you,” I thought about how much I dislike website upgrades.

I could hear myself grumbling: “Why change it; I like it just the way it is!” “I can’t find my favorite posts!” “Where is the contact information; I want to complain!”

tech upgrades

An ungracious response

I remember a few Christmases ago when I had asked for a new iPod, specifically telling my husband that I did not want the then-new touchscreen technology. I just wanted something that played music and held more of it. When I unwrapped the box on Christmas morning I saw an iPod. With touchscreen technology. I did not react with grace and you know you’re being a jerk when your own kids call you out on it! Yet within a week (after profusely apologizing) I was hooked, having discovered apps …

Sound like you? Click here to read on, and offer your comments on how you feel about change.

Three ways your smart phone can strengthen your faith

This is from my recent Tech Talk column on Catholicmom.com. Portions of this article were taken from my upcoming book, River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times, from Ave Maria Press. It is available  on Amazon.

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You and your smartphone are tied at the hip. Emails, phone calls and Google Calendar reminders direct your day’s activities. What if that same smartphone could help you develop spiritual discipline? Continue reading “Three ways your smart phone can strengthen your faith”

A room of one’s own: what if your “room” could be portable?

What happens when you get the urge to create?

  • Do you retreat to a music studio to write a song?
  • Do you go to your specially designated study to write?
  • Do you paint your latest masterpiece in a light-filled studio?
  • Do you shut the door when you enter your room?

Why do secret hideaway places draw us like magnets?

I wanted a room of my own when I first discovered Louisa May Alcott as a kid. There was an illustration of Louisa in her special room where it was quiet and she could think. When she had finished writing her latest poem or story, she could indulge in her other favorite passion, running, by racing out the door to her room that led outside.

drawing by Flora Smith from The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard
drawing by Flora Smith from The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard

Getting away from the noise

Louisa’s family was noisy; quiet and privacy were hard to come by. Journals were a community affair with the parents writing notes in the margins. Louisa’s father Bronson often encouraged the children to read from their journals during the evening meal. Louisa was criticized by her father for writing too much about herself.

No wonder then that Louisa spent much of her life seeking out rooms of her own.

Finding a separate space

I used to think that a separate space away from everyone was necessary in order to create. A busy household with younger children makes finding quiet time difficult. It’s even more difficult when your home is too small to afford a separate space.

This was when I began to learn that any space could be a room of my own.
The physical space was not the key; it was the rituals you established that created that space.

512 louisa writing in the appletree
illustration by Flora Smith, from The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard

With that kind of mindset, a room of one’s own can be portable.

You might think it’s a waste of time to explore tools and work routines.

It is time well-invested. In the end, it saves time.

Why?

It took me hours, days, weeks, even months to figure out what worked for me. I searched diligently for those t00ls, those routines that would catapult me away from the world into my creative “zone” in an instant.

Now I snap into my “zone” with no effort at all, wherever I happen to be, so long as I have my tools (which for me are the Nook and my iPhone – see previous post) and routines.

My room is portable.

I can set up anywhere, anytime, in quiet spaces and noisy ones too. The rituals and tools I use act as a trip wire, sending me into my head for a delicious time of writing.

ADDENDUM: I just found this post about other writers and their own “rooms” – check it out at www.penheaven.co.uk/blog/getting-down-to-writing/

What tools do you use to create? What are your rituals that help you to create?
Where is your room?

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Writing a Book on a Nook – collecting all the pieces together in a compact package

As this blog is about collecting and connecting all the pieces of a life together into one flow, I realized I needed to add another interest to this blog: technology. I love technology and have ever since I started on my first Mac back in the 1980’s. I’m a PC person now but I have the iPhone, 2 iPods and a Barnes & Noble Nook. I was holding my iPod when I heard Steve Jobs passed away and I shed a tear.

nookA great example

As a practical example of collecting pieces together, the Nook is my favorite example. You won’t believe what I require of my Nook and how it delivers!

Why I love the Nook

I have had a Nook for a few years and I love it. The backlighting and adjustable size of type and line spacing is perfect for my failing eyesight. It’s so convenient having most of my favorite books in one tablet that I can put in my pocketbook and take anywhere. As I have gotten into writing I began to long for the capability to write and save files on it.

With last year’s upgrade, I am not only writing on it, I am writing books on it. And I have all my research on it too.

Write a book on a Nook?

nook1How can that be done? Better yet, why would anyone want to do that?

In my dreams I had several things I wanted a tablet to do for me. Rather than invest a large sum in an iPad (which is rather heavy to carry around), the Nook provided a very affordable alternative along with its lesser  size and weight.

I probably spent around $350 total including the tablet, cover, keyboard and apps.

What do I ask my Nook to do?

  • Provide a word processor that saves Word files so I can write as much as I want and edit too.
  • Provide a means of transferring files easily back and forth between the Nook and my computer.
  • Have every piece of research I have done on the Nook.
  • Give me a light-weight, smaller tablet that I can easily take with me to the library.

How can a Nook do all this, you say?

You’d be surprised …

It begins with the right apps.

office suite professional 7Office Suite Professional 7 provides me with a paired-down Microsoft Word version of a word processor. It is easy to use and gives me the perfect place to jot down notes as I read, journal or actually write chapters for my books. I balked at first at the $14.99 price tag as that seemed high for an app, but it was worth every cent.

ES File ExplorerAnother “must” app is the ES File Explorer. It allows for the easy organization, management and the transfer of files to and from my laptop. Since the Nook has Wi-Fi capability, I can back up files to DropBox on my computer through ES File Explorer (and also from Office Suite Professional 7).

A blue tooth keyboard is a must.

nook with keyboardI bought the Poetic KeyBook Bluetooth Keyboard Case and while it’s small, once you get used to its size, it works very well. The blue tooth connection is easy and the fact that the keyboard is wireless means I can have the keyboard in my lap and the Nook on a tabletop if I want to. This is especially helpful when I visit the library.

The Nook’s capacity to hold a mini SD card (plus knowing how to make PDF files) is the trick to holding all of my research.

I scanned numerous pages out of books into PDF files so that I can have all my notes in one place. When I go to the library, all I need to do is bring my Nook to have all my research available at the press of a button.

The Nook doesn’t weigh much nor does it have a large footprint.

That makes transporting it a breeze. This was important to me as I often travel from Central Massachusetts to Cambridge and the libraries at Harvard University to do my research. This requires travel on the subway and a certain amount of walking. It is much easier to get there without a heavy laptop in a bag banging against my body as I walk!

I can pull out the Nook literally anywhere, sit down and write.

It’s my electronic notebook. Because I’ve learned to associate writing with the Nook, it puts me in the “zone”; I can immediately fixate on the job at hand. Only one app can be open at a time proving to be just enough of a deterrent from checking email and Facebook. I have my iPhone nearby if I want to get at an online dictionary quickly or check out a fact or theory on Google.

A great reminder

The Nook is a wonderful physical reminder of how wonderful life can be when have all the pieces are gathered together into one place and work in harmony.

Now if I could just live my life like that all the time, I’d be all set! It’s a work in progress.

Have any of you used a Nook, Kindle, iPad or other tablet in this way?

Let’s swap stories.

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