Tag: focus

A New York View of the National Debt

New York City offers a unique snapshot of what it means to be American. After all, Ellis Island recalls the historical arrival of many of our ancestors to “the land where dreams come true.”

Snapshots give a glimpse at something. And many people choose to only share the happy and positive peeks at their world. Such a one-sided view could be the root of much of the selective ignorance that abounds in our country.
My guides in New York reminded me that New Yorkers repeat everything three times. Basically because no one is listening to the announcements. Or each other. That simple fact could preach its own sermon.

One of my guides was quick to point out all the examples of mediocrity. In the four years he’s lived there, he’s found that most of New York is a study in mediocrity. There’s no, “If you’re going to do it, do it to the best of your ability.” It’s more like, “Just get it done already.”

Sadly, I think that’s becoming the American way.

The National Debt Clock

I might have walked by the clock without paying attention. From a distance, it’s just a stream of digital numbers that change in a random pattern.

Our guide pulled on my arm and pointed it out. I had to snap a few pictures because…the number kept going up.

This is a full-frame of the first snapshot I took.

Here is a brief history copied from Wikipedia:

The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total display which constantly updates to show the current United States gross national debtand each American family’s share of the debt. It is currently installed on the western side of One Bryant Park, west of Sixth Avenue between 42ndand 43rd Streets in Manhattan, New York City. It was the first debt clock installed anywhere.
The idea for the clock came from New York real estate developer Seymour Durst, who wanted to highlight the rising national debt. In 1989, he sponsored the installation of the first clock, which was originally placed on Sixth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, one block away from Times Square. In 2004, the original clock was dismantled and replaced by a newer clock near 44th Street and Sixth Avenue. In 2008, as the U.S. national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, it was reported that the value of the debt may have exceeded the number of digits in the clock. The lit dollar-sign in the clock’s leftmost digit position was later changed to the “1” digit to represent the ten-trillionth place. In 2017, the clock was moved again to One Bryant Park, near its original location.

A little bit closer view of the second number: taken maybe two minutes later.

***Inquiring minds want to know HOW MUCH the deficit increased in that short lapse. $4,726,692,000 (nearly 4.75 BILLION in a couple minutes). I wish I was kidding.

Watch it running LIVE here.

Living Outside a Budget

Our government is a poor example of living within its means. Seriously, as much as they tax everyone and everything, there shouldn’t be a problem meeting their expenses.

It’s not like they hand out free healthcare on the corner. Or offer up free college educations to anyone and everyone.

And if you’ve spent any time inside a public school (believe me, I have), you know that the money isn’t being spent there to improve the education of one of our best resources: children.

But, what should we expect? Most people don’t even know what a budget is. Or if they do, they don’t have one. A Gallup poll says only 32 percent of Americans maintain a household budget. That’s only one-third of the millions in our great (if highly indebted) nation.

For more information on this, read the article I reference on debt.com.

There weren’t any statistics on how many of the Americans who had a household budget actually lived by it every month. Based on the free-spending mentality in Washington (DC), I’m thinking it might be another low percentage.

If we want to shake our head at the government’s poor planning, we need to take a closer look at ourselves.

As goes the citizen, so goes its government.

Externals or Internals

The problem isn’t just about budgeting. It’s about priorities.

We’ve become a society fixated on the next new gadget and making everything ultra convenient.

Ten years ago, no one would know what I meant if I said, “Looking for a dog sitter? There’s an app for that.”

Because phones were still NOT all that smart, and not everyone had access to the Internet in their pocket (or purse).

But these days, we don’t even wonder or ponder questions. We just Google it. And Heaven forbid if Google is wrong. It might take a million signatures to verify that inaccuracy.

This mindset makes all the external niceties in life the focus. Where we’re going to eat dinner takes precedence over if we can afford to eat dinner. Or better yet, if we SHOULD go out to eat because it might not be the best for our health.

Internal things like deep relationships are exchanged for fleeting interactions on the latest social media application. Oh, I sent my dad a SnapChat photo on Father’s Day. He knows I love him.

Is that really how we express our internal emotions? Or have we become so shallow that we don’t appreciate the years, and work, and emotion, and sacrifice our parents contributed to our lives.

Really, a phone call only takes a second. And it even uses fewer keystrokes than sending a text message.

Putting Numbers In Perspective

Let’s face it, our mind cannot even comprehend a billion dollars. Most of us believe a million would solve all our financial woes.

Our biggest personal debt is probably a home mortgage. I choke at my nearly $200K one, but my oldest son owes closer to $450K. In that case, a million dollars wouldn’t even pay off that bank once Uncle Sam took his cut.

But what about tens of trillions of dollars? Or HUNDREDS of trillions of dollars? That’s how much money the United States of America owes to its debtors.

And we can’t fathom how much that is or where that money will come from or how it will ever be paid off.

Here’s a little comparison in something we might understand better: Time
113,052,009,072,912 seconds would be 1,308,472,327 days. Which translates into 3,584,855.69 years. Still can’t fathom it?

Using the worldwide average life expectancy of 70.5 years, this 3.5 million is equivalent to the lifetimes of 50,849 people.

Makes me wonder if it will take that many lifetimes before our country can pay off this debt.

And still, the national debt counter continues to rise.

New Year New Focus

Another New Year is here. Welcome 2017. What did you do with 2016? Hide his body in a calendar of HOT firefighters?

You all know what it means that we’ve started a new year. This author will choose a new focus.

Reviewing What Came Before

In 2014, I decided to BE THE CHANGE. This happened after July 2013 changed everything for me. How?

I graduated from college and committed to writing full-time.

Yes, there was a connection. It’s not easy to walk away from a guaranteed paycheck into the jungles of publishing.

The hard knocks I took that first eighteen months of full-time, professional writing did a number on my confidence. Which led to…

My theme for 2015. My posts were all about learning to have a positive attitude. Because, let’s be honest, the world is swamped with negativity. If you just go with the flow, you will become a huge downer.

And there are too many downers out there already.

So I went against the flow and took a friend’s advice to “accentuate the positive.” It’s pretty amazing what can happen when the two words you choose to focus on for 365 days are positive and attitude.

And that positive outlook carried over into 2016.

Do I need to remind you what happened this year? How about this?

#365DaysofGratitude

And a sample of what that looked like…

D52

And what it morphed into once a brand building expert set me straight…

Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.
Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.

These yearly focus words or phrases have been building blocks in the new life I’m carving out of the old one that held me stale and stagnant for forty-some years.

My decision to be the change I wanted to see in the world is a perfect foundation. What better architectural framing to use for the changed life than a positive attitude. And if you’ve experienced it, you know there isn’t a warmer, more welcoming color for the walls than gratitude.

So where does that leave me for 2017?

Looking Toward What is Yet to Come

It’s time to clean up the scraps around the building site. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those nails, lumber scraps, and broken boards that didn’t make it into the finished project.

What does that look like in my new life?

Banishing fear.

nofearthemememe

Yep, I’ve been talking about this lion over the past few weeks, and now I’m confronting him head on.

This year, I’ve even adopted at verse from the Bible to fortify my position. I know not every reader here ascribes to the Bible as God’s Word and the guidebook to truth, but I hope you’ll bear with me. I promise not to go all Bible-thumper on you.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment” 1 John 4:18

And to start things off right, I have to face down a fear. Tomorrow I’m going under for my first ever surgery. I know 50 years without s surgeon’s knife and now this.

Don’t worry, it’s “routine.” I should be back up and running in no time. But I appreciate all the positive thoughts and prayers.

This year while I’m sweeping out the shiny new space I’ve carved for my dream of author-ship, we’ll be looking fear in the face. By the time this year ends, I hope love will have relocated fear to some continent far away.

Won’t you join me on the journey to a life lived by love without fear?

What’s your goal for 2017? Do you have a word or phrase you like to build around?

Bring on 2016 and My New Year’s Theme

Can you believe the year is 2016? What happened to 2015? Didn’t I just post something about my focus for the year?

Apparently, it’s been twelve months or 365 days since that amazing post.

Remember how my focus for 2014 was “be the change you want to see”?

Then I decided to get an attitude adjustment in 2015 with a little “accentuate the positive” encouragement.

positive-attitude quotespositive

As the year sped toward completion, my creative brain began plotting how to make my campaign epic in the new year.

Enter Thirty Days of Thanksgiving.

You saw the posts on Facebook, right? What a great way to introduce the American holiday held the fourth Thursday of November.

You know, Thanksgiving Day. It’s my favorite of all the holidays (and it’s not because of the cornbread stuffing).

All this thankfulness got me thinking. Who can list all they are thankful for in a single month? It would take a year or more to even scratch the surface of how blessed we are.

A year of thanksgiving, then? My mind churned the title through its many layers of imagination and editing.

In the end, I settled on 365 Days of Gratitude.

Such a nice ring to that, don’t you think?

Which means, of course, that there are 366 days in 2016. You know because it’s a Leap Year.

Why can’t the Earth make it’s way around the sun in 365 days? Why does it have to take 365 days and six hours? That means we have to add an extra day every four years. It messes up the perfect synchronicity that is February and March.

Wait a minute!

I’m practicing the attitude of gratitude in 2016. Let’s try a new vein of thought here. I’m thankful for February 29.

However, I’m not changing my Twitter hashtag. I want my posts to reappear in years to come when anyone happens to search #365DaysofGratitude.

Maybe this thing will go viral. People everywhere will express their gratitude for the everyday things we take for granted. You know like waking up. Having air to breathe. Walking to the sink to turn on water for a refreshing drink (not everyone in the world can do this, you know).

What would the world be like if every single person
displayed an attitude of gratitude?

Join me in sharing your appreciation this year, and let’s find out.

Feel free to follow my hashtag on Twitter. Retweet the daily graphics I’m making and sharing. Make some of your own. Share them everywhere.

For example, this is today's tweetable meme
For example, this is today’s tweetable meme

Let’s start a revolution of gratitude.

What are you feeling grateful for today? Could you come up with 365 366 things for which to express heartfelt gratitude?

Attitude Update

#BePositivein2015 is my annual focus. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve been barraged with posts having this hashtag or something like #Positiveattitude.

Does that mean I haven’t said a negative word all year? Or that all my thoughts have been positive and uplifting?

I won’t dare God to send a lightning bolt my way by responding to those questions.

Obviously, I’ve had a few negative moments hours days. Who can live in the midst of this tumultuous world and not experience a few BB shots to their outlook?

Not-So-Positives

Overall, 2015 had offered many positive changes in my life. Of course, change isn’t easy, even when it’s expected and desirable.

If I could compartmentalize my life, it would fall into five loose categories: Physical Health, Spiritual Health, Family Life, Writing Career, and Social Outlets.

In every category, I have experienced change and growth in 2015.

positive-attitude quotespositiveWhen we’re talking Physical Health, growth isn’t necessarily a good thing. But I have – put on the pounds that is. Now that summer is here, my 30-year class reunion is mere weeks away and a special vacation is planned for January 2016, I need to cut myself down to size.

I work out because it sends endorphins into my system and works as an antidote to the depression that plagues me (especially during gray months). However, my eating habits have become horrible.

A plan for improving this is in place. Starting today. (So if I seem grouchier than usual, blame it on the lack of chocolate, which isn’t on my eating plan.)

My Spiritual Health always resembles a roller coaster ride. And we all know how I feel about roller coasters, so this isn’t a positive thing. I’m working on it.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know the Family Life compartment has been spewing into all the others. There are changes (and there will be more when my son gets married in January). I haven’t handled some of them with good grace. In fact, for many weeks this area has become nearly a negative in my world.

Finally, the Social Outlets have been nearly non-existent for several years. Since I started working from home, really. I am building relationships with other writers, but I’m in sad need of other friendships.

Positives

Wait! What about my Writing Career?

That has been the one bright spot in my world since my first acceptance letter in November 2014.

It isn’t all sunshine and sparkles, though. I’ve recently recieved two rejections for short stories I worked diligently to perfect before submitting. One of them, a YA sci-fi historical, really made me feel proud. I’ll be seeking a home for it elsewhere.

The YA romance wasn’t as polished, but the subject matter is gravely important. I intended to run a blog series about the antagonistic issue in the story – Non-Suicidal Self Injury (often called cutting) – to raise awareness – and prime my audience for the story.

How are rejections positive? They mean I’m finishing projects and putting them out into the world. That’s what professional writers do.

I also had a short story accepted. I’m not really free to talk about this until the official release comes from the publisher. You can expect an entire post dedicated to it once that happens.

Looking Forward

I’m still trying to focus on the positive. I hope it becomes a lifestyle for me.

At the moment, I need your help. I’ve exhausted the seemingly endless supply of upbeat quotes about having a positive attitude.

Do you have words of wisdom along these theme to share? Maybe you’ve been inspired to stay positive by someone else’s words?

Please share these in the comments below. I will make memes of all and share them via Twitter. If the words belong to someone else, please credit them.

If you don’t want your wisdom plastered around the Twitter-sphere, mention that in your comment. But please, PLEASE share the hope with me.

What to Write Next: Blues Writer Style

Writing Blues

I’ve got the blues. Since sending my two fiction books to beta readers in late January, I have been floundering for true writing direction. Fiction or nonfiction? That is the question.

Let’s face it, most people who dream of writing, dream of writing a knock-out, impossible-to-put-down novel. They want to weave the perfect story with stellar prose, memorable characters and gripping plot.

Most people don’t think, “I know how to strip wooden floors. I should write a book about that.” (By the way, I don’t know how to do that – even though I have done it before. I call it selective memory.)

If you claim to be an author, people don’t expect you to list nonfiction titles when they ask what you’ve written. Nonfiction is so stuffy and boring. Why would anyone volunteer to write a textbook?

Sure, only a few nonfiction titles have achieved amazing notoriety. “Who Moved my Cheese?” is one little pamphlet that comes to mind. Although, everyone is familiar with the line of “for Dummies” books.

I have steered clear of nonfiction because of the research involved. I finished my Bachelor’s degree in July of 2013. Long before that day, I reached my research quota. And I’m not really anxious to dig in again.

However, I do have several book ideas that would be classified as nonfiction. If you dare, take a peek into my brain to see what other ideas I have.

Things I have considered in the past twelve months

  • A Bible study on women’s ministries – as in wife, mother, sister, teacher
  • A collection of short stories
  • A series for young adults set in a post-apocalyptic setting
  • Dragons from another realm falling into our modern world
  • A memoir-style self-help book about grieving
  • A shifter romance for an anthology call
  • An alien-cowboy story
  • A romance involving an invisible boyfriend
  • Dark Biblical tales for young adults
  • A journal from the perspective of Mary, mother of Jesus
  • Magic as an allegory for Spiritual gifts
  • How to dispose of a body (for a short story written during NaNo)
  • Focusing on New Adult romance
  • Writing for an interesting fantasy collection called The Legend
  • Writing only fantasy
  • If writing for young adults is the right path
  • A short story about betrayal
  • A story about one poor choice ruining a lifetime dream
  • Poems for the blog
  • Story lines for a young adult romance
  • And a million other things – that I can’t remember just now because it’s making my head throb

Things I have started in the past six months

  • A series for young adults set in a post-apocalyptic setting
  • A short story about betrayal
  • A story about one poor choice ruining a lifetime dream
  • A memoir-style self-help book about grieving
  • An alien-cowboy story
  • A romance involving an invisible boyfriend
  • Dark Biblical tales for young adults
  • Brainstorming plots and characters for four different stories or novels
  • A novel based on a short story written during NaNo

Things I have finished (sort of) since January 1, 2015

  • A journal from the perspective of Mary, mother of Jesus
  • An alien-cowboy story
  • A dark Biblical tale about a demon possession
  • A beta draft about dragons and teenagers with special abilities
  • 60 blog posts

Things I need to focus on NOW

  • Editing the dark Biblical tale which will be published in October
  • Finishing the romance involving the invisible boyfriend (it will make sense, I promise)
  • My next project

What should my next project be? You’ve seen the list. What do you think would be a good investment of my time – AND find a market with my readers?