Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RSS: the Really Simple way to Stay in touch

It's RSS Awareness Day Tomorrow!

Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips suggests various ways to participate:

1. Blog about it: on May 1st write a post or article on your website about RSS. You can just mention that it is the RSS Awareness Day and link to some RSS resources, or you can explain what RSS is and teach your readers how they can make the most out of RSS. You can even write a poem about RSS, there are no limitations here.

2. Use a badge or banner: We will be hiring a company (if you wanna help with the badges let us know) to produce several badges and banners that you can use on your site. You can use them throughout April or just on May 1st.

3. Help spread the word: see the section below.

There are prizes to encourage people to get involved but they are only available to people involved before 30th April. I'm sorry I didn't realise sooner, so I could have let you all have a chance to be elligible, but I didn't look into it all properly until this morning.

I just wanted to do my bit to spread the word because I think RSS feeds are fab! They've made my life easier and I always like to share things that make life easier.

What is an RSS Feed?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or more often, Really Simple Syndication.

For a one page quick introduction to RSS, see here: What is RSS? RSS Explained

As a reader of far too many excellent blogs and websites recently, I have found RSS Feeds invaluable for staying aware of what people are saying, without necessarily visiting every single blog/website every single day.

RSS Feeds are a way of receiving updates to favourite blogs and websites, being able to read them quickly and easily and then connect to the blog or website when I want to look further or leave a comment.

The BBC have a useful article on RSS Feeds and Feed Readers.

How to Set Up an RSS Feed to Your Blog

I thought maybe the best way to start would be to set up a feed from my own blog(s) and I set about doing that this morning. It has taken me all day! But only because I had no idea what I was doing.

Now I've done it, it's Really So Simple after all. It literally takes 5 minutes!

This is how I (eventually) did it, for anyone who wants to try:

(These steps work for a blog on Blogger. See Feedburner for steps to add an RSS feed to a blog on another platform.)

Step One: Burn a Feed

1. Go to Feedburner

* Type: (without the http://)

* Tick: I am a podcaster (if you are!)

* Click: Next

2. Identify Feed Source

* Choose: Rss (rather than Atom)

* Click: Next

3. Burn Feed

* Type: The Title Of Your Blog

* Add (in box): TheTitleOfYourBlog (no spaces)

* Choose: Username and Password

* Click: Activate Feed

Some Options

The next page says:

Congrats! Your feedburner is now live. Want to dress it up a little?

(Note the address in blue at the top of the page - it's your feedburner address.)

* Click: Next

The next page says:

Get more gusto from your feed traffic stats.

(There are options on here you might like to try. I didn't choose any because I wasn't sure what they meant!)

* Click: Next

* Open: Publicize (tab at the top of page)

(Note you can also Analyse, Optimize, Monetize and Troubleshootize ... love that! Will check them out after I've been using it for a while and let you know how they all work.)

Step Two: Set Up Your Feed from Your Blog

But for now, setting up your feed from your blog takes just a few more simple steps (you still with me?):

* Click: Chicklet Chooser (in the list on the left)

* Choose: preferred icon

* Copy: the html code at the bottom of the page

* Paste: in Blogger

(Customize/Add a page element/HTML/JaveScript and then paste the copied html code in the big box. Add a title if you like and save changes.)

Subscribe to an RSS Feed

You have now set up an RSS feed from your blog. Check it out, be your first subscriber!

The first time I did this, it was a case of trial and error (as usual!) so I'm not sure this is the way you should do it, neither am I sure how much of the process was decided by my computer's software (I think I had a Feed Reader inbuilt already, but they are easy enough to download, I think, see the BBC Website), so you may find things slightly different but I think it's all pretty well explained as you go along.

* Click: RSS Feed button

* Click : View feed XML

* Click Subscribe to this feed

* Click: View my feeds

I receive feeds in my Windows Live/Hotmail account and read them in the same place as I read my emails.

Some Really Simple Resources:

More on how to set up an Rss Feed from your blog at the Feedburner Help Center

General information about RSS Feeds on the Feedburner Blog

Spreading the Word About RSS Feeds

I'd love to see RSS Feeds from all the blogs and websites I visit, especially those here on Blogger ... it makes keeping up with everyone much easier, so I hope you try it. (And if you do, let me know, so I can subscribe straight away!)

Or subscribe to some of your favourite blogs yourself.

But I guess, like everything, it's not for everyone. It would be great if you could spread the word though, by mentioning it on your blog, or adding a badge, or maybe writing a poem ...

I really do recommend it as a productivity tool. (As long as you're careful not to over-subscribe!)


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything!

I've been trying to upload pics on here for two days and have finally given up and decided to post this without pictures (or with just the one that did upload yesterday morning!) So most of this was written yesterday and might post yesterday but that shouldn't be a problem ...

*Update* I posted it, but as often happens when I include a picture, Blogger removed all the line spacing! It was a lot to read all squashed up like that, so I am praticising patience and perseverance (through gritted teeth) and trying to re-post it as two posts.

Hope this works ...

Oh dear! Can't believe it's been a week since I've been on here!

No Woman and Moon post today ... but I'm working on it. Sorting through an ocean of research to make individual posts. Having missed a Creativity/Productivity day and a Feelgood day last week, I thought I'd do a catch-up post, with a little bit of everything:

The Moon

The Full Pink Moon

(Just imagine a picture of a beautiful pink moon!)

April's full moon (yesterday) is known as the Pink Moon, not because it is pink, but because it occurs at a time when one of the earliest Spring flowers appears. The Farmer's Almanac explains:

"This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn."

April's Full Moon

Other names for April's full moon include:

The Planter's Moon (Colonial American)
Peony Moon (Chinese)
Flower Moon (Cherokee)
Wildcat Moon (Choctaw)
Growing Moon (Celtic)
Seed Moon (English Medieval)
Awakening Moon (Neo Pagan)

Some great names, hey? Lots of names referring to new growth (more fresh starts!) The Seed Moon is a good time to sew your seeds of intention or desire, perhaps by sewing a real seed and making a wish! (Okay, I know ... but it can't do any harm and I think small gestures like this consolidate our intentions, make them tangible and certainly make us focus a little more on them. Nurturing a plant reminds us to nurture our goal!)

Harnessing the Seed Moon

For ideas to harness the energies of the Seed Moon using gemstones and aromatherapy oils, or simply writing a To Do List, have a look at Trish Hoskin's article about celebrating the Season of Spring. It seems now would be a great time to work on creating a Life List.

The Moon of Geese

But I think my favourite name is that used by the Dakota Sioux:

Moon When Geese Return in Scattered Formation

I adore geese! I have always felt a strange connection to them, the sight or sound of them flying overhead gives me butterflies and always makes me stop to look, or listen if it's dark. They make me smile! But I wonder why "scattered?" Geese are usually so regimental in formation.

Full Moon in Scorpio: a time for letting go

The full Moon this month was in Scorpio, a time for releasing harmful attachments (to people, behaviours or thoughts):

"You are being given one more ritual chance this year to release attachment to old pain and arise like a phoenix from the ashes of burned off karma; freed from narcissistic self-obsession and ready to help others heal their own pain. You have the power to change! Visualize yourself as a snake, shedding its dead skin to reveal gleaming new colors."

Creativity and Productivity

Gmail as a productivity tool

I have been busy being productive for the past week. Well, I suppose it was more a case of building the foundations of productivity.

I have followed the excellent advice of Dave Navarro and am getting to grips with a far-too-long list of email newsletters by gradually transferring them to a new gmail account. I've read a lot about how gmail is a good productivity tool recently so decided to try it for myself. There's a post about my first steps on Freelance Writing Curve and I'll post an update later this week when I've had time to play.

Twitter for creativity and productivity

I've also been a busy bee checking out *other* types of social networking. (People often talk about social networking as something distinct from blogging, but surely the blogging community is exactly that? And that's exactly why I love it so much!) I have joined Facebook and set up a profile on LinkedIn but have especially enjoyed Twitter. The possibilities for having a positive effect in the world are amazing! People share thoughts and ideas, ask questions, swap interesting links and have fun. Connections are formed between all sorts of people and conversations are held that span continents!

It's not for everyone, I guess, but I honestly think it's worth checking out. It takes two seconds to sign up for a Twitter account and works just like blogging, but posts are just 140 characters long and you "follow" people rather than add them to your sidebar links. Try it, say hello to me and ask me if there's any way I can help. I may well not know myself as am such a newbie, but the thing about Twitter is that you can find someone who does know very easily!

New people and places I have found and some random thoughts:

These are just a few of the people I have met and the links they have shared. I will do another post about it with some more links, maybe this week's Feelgood Friday post!

1. Joanna Young (on Twitter) and her blog Confident Writing, full of excellent writing tips and virtual coaching from Joanna and some great guest posts.

2. Liz Strauss (on Twitter) and her lovely blog Successful and Outstanding Bloggers, on which there is a great conversation about the power of words.

Another example of a great comments discussion about powerful writing was passed on (via Twitter) by Joanna this morning (thank you, Joanna!)

3. Denise Willms (on Twitter) and the inspiring WAHM Articles, full of articles on a wide range of topics and very useful resources.

4. Maki (on Twitter) and his DoshDosh blog, full of really useful tips about internet marketing and social media (including blogging.)

DoshDosh shared these fab feelgood links on Twitter last week:

The amazing story of Moon (love that name!), a Syberian Husky who travelled home almost 80 miles across desert and mountains.

The inspiring Maria Ruiz and her work with impoverished children in Mexico.

All of which brings me to ...

Feelgoods and Wellbeing

Reasons to celebrate:

1. It's Spring! Why not try starting a Nature Journal to celebrate?

2. It's Earth Day!

3. The lovely Maddie Moon sent me a meme!

I have to choose six words to describe myself:

Honest, optimistic, stubborn, enthusiastic, feminist, writer!

I put feminist and writer because it made me smile, but if I had to choose two more personality trait words, they would probably be 'compassionate' and 'disorganised.'

(Or maybe 'easily distracted!')

Thank you, Maddie, this was fun! As it's taken me while to post this, I expect most of you have already had a go. But anyone who hasn't, is very welcome to!

A final thought ...

See post below (I hope this works, I get very confused when editing in Blogger!)


Monday, April 21, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything: The Final Thought!

Hey! That bit worked now let's try this ...

(Because there's a pictures, it might make the text squashed. I really must try and figure out HTML so I can maybe stop this happening, it's such a pain!)

A final thought ...

Sometimes things don't go as we want them to, don't work the way we meant them to, don't turn out the way we expected them to.

Sometimes this a good thing. Sometimes, what we end up with is even better!

This is the only pic Blogger would let me upload yesterday. I was trying to capture an amazing sunset strewn across the rooves. I took it and was disppointed with the way it looked so dark and fuzzy and totally unlike the original I had hoped to capture.

But it has a different beauty and when I put it on the computer I decided I really liked how the trees look as if they are merging into the sky, like wet watercolours.

But the best example is another evening photo of a tree which seemed to distort the colour, making it very red and as if there was a problem with the exposure. I really thought there was a problem with the camera on my phone and wasn't impressed at all, but it hasn't happened since and I really like the strange result, it's very atmospheric and spooky! (Will try and post that one another day.)


This is me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn ... if you're on any of them, come and say hello!

If you're not, but want to try any of them, here's where you can set up a profile:




Then come and say hello!

I'm very new on all of them, but if there's anything I can help with, please just ask.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Blogger Appreciation Day

Darren Rowse of Problogger has declared today "Blogger Appreciation Day [UNOFFICIAL]!"

Here's what Darren says: I’ve been chatting with a few bloggers of late who’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps about their blogging - so perhaps everyone could do with a little lift.

Lets spend today doing a few random acts of kindness and encouragement for our fellow bloggers.

We’re in it together, blogging is about collaboration and together going further than we can by ourselves - so why not help another blogger today by shooting them a word of encouragement, a pep talk, a congratulations, an idea to help them improve or some other positive constructive message. Better still, do it publicly on your blog and tell the world about another blogger who you appreciate.

What a fantastic way to start the new week! And I really agree with Darren ... blogging is a collaboration. It's about community and communication and I know I've said it before, but I consider myself so lucky to have met you all on here.

So, here is a HUGE THANK YOU ... or a few, in fact!

Thank you for every single comment, they really do mean a lot!

Thank you for the inspirational ideas you share

Thank you for the fab tips and advice

Thank you for the warmth and humour

Thank you for 'hugs' and 'smiles'

Thank you for your support

Thank you for your encouragement

Thank you for writing such wonderful blogs!

Some Daffodils for you

(The sun shines when I'm with you!)

Have a lovely Blogger Appreciation Day!


Eldest daughter has had rotten toothache since yesterday, so I have to sort that out before I do anything else, but wanted to get this up and let you know about such an excellent idea.

I'll try and come back later and put some links to all the great blogs I know. And hopefully even call round and say thank you in person, I am making this blogger appreciation day here and having a day off from chasing goals ... my only goal today is to pass on Darren Rowse's lovely feelgoods!


Friday, April 11, 2008

All of a-Twitter!

I am Twitterer. (Possibly a twit!)

I have finally entered the "Twitterverse" and sent my first couple of "tweets" (one of which was to promote the new communal blog, Towards 2011, though I think I need some more "followers" to do that really.)

I've been meaning to check out the whole social networking thing for ages and have just joined Facebook this week too. I think I may be the last person to discover it all, but for anyone else who has been thinking, "Must try that!" but hasn't got round to it because they are also thinking, "Don't know how to start, far too complicated, got enough to do already!" ...

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

How does Twitter work?

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service, allowing people to stay in touch by short posts, known as "tweets." These can be posted by instant messenger from your computer, or SMS from your mobile phone, and are delivered by email, IM or RSS. Messages on Twitter can also be exchanged via a third-party application, such as Facebook.

What are you doing?

Twitter is built around the question, "What are you doing?" Answers vary from the personal to the professional, but everything on Twitter is very short and sweet; posts are only up to 140 characters long and profiles are only one line of text, but you can add a picture and your website/blog URL.

Who are you following?

Like Facebook, you can limit the people who see your profile and posts to your own circle of friends (or "followers") and you choose who to follow yourself. You can choose to follow friends and family, or professional contacts, or people who have the same interests as you, or people who say really useful stuff ... like the first person I chose to follow, SallyQ! Sally is definitely a woman worth following and posts on Twitter about all sorts of writerly things.

How do you start Twittering?

Setting up a profile on Twitter is REALLY easy and includes the option to add any friends who are already on there, then when you log in, your home page includes all the recent posts from the people you are following.

Links for Twitterers

Mark Glaser's excellent 'Guide to Micro-Blogging and Twitter' (dated 15th of May, 2007, but still very relevant and very helpful) includes a beginner's guide, useful tips and advice, a glossary and a great list of resources.

ReadWriteWeb has a list of various articles about Twitter, including Sarah Perez's 'Five Ways to Find More Friends on Twitter' in which she explains five useful web apps to help you find the best people to follow on Twitter.

Kathy Sierra, of Creating Passionate Users, has posted some interesting thoughts on the the problem of interuption (and the disruption to creativity and productivity) provided by Twitter and other social networking such as email, IM, blogs, Facebook et al. In her post, 'The Asymptotic Twitter Curve' Kathy provides lots of links to other musings about Twitter and to some possibly much-needed productivity resources. Along with a warning about how addictive Twitter is! Oh dear ...

Twitter is a form of live commentary and as such, even bearing in mind the possible creativity/productivity challenges, it has huge (and very exciting) possibilities. Consider the following comment from Patrick Ruffini, quoted by Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine, in his tribute to Twitter:

"Traditional news operated on a 24-hour cycle. Blogs shortened this to minutes and hours. Twitter shortens it further to seconds. It’s not right for every piece of information. But when it comes to instantly assembling raw data from several sources that then go into fully baked news stories, nothing beats it."

Jason Kottke has written another interesting review of Twitter, which I found very helpful as a beginner. Again, it's dated last year (I'm always sooo behind the times!) but he makes some useful observations and discusses (and provides links to) some of the applications. Here's what Jason said a year ago:

"Twitter is the first thing on the web that I've been excited about in ages. Like years. The last thing was probably Flickr. (Talk about burying the lede.) It's just so damn simple but useful. Again, reminds me of weblogs in that way."

I wonder what he thinks now?

Twitterer or Twit?

Well, I'm off to see if I can figure out how to link my Twitter profile to my Facebook profile ... but that's it! No more social networking for me. While I can see the advantages and am excited about the possibilities, I also recognise the possible pitfalls. And when it comes to time limitations, blogging and article writing are the priorities at the moment. So I'm sticking to Blogger, Facebook and Twitterer (in that order!)

Are you on Twitter?

Who do you follow, who follows you?

What are you doing?


Sunday, April 6, 2008

New Moon, New Starts, New Blog

Women and the Moon: The Crone

Well, I've written the first of my series of moon posts, Women and the Moon (Part One): The Crone Moon.

But it's not here.

It's here! (Or scroll down, to the post dated Friday the 7th of March.)

It has posted on the date I started and first saved it, I think. There's probably a way to move it, but I haven't discovered it ...

IWD: Towards 2011

It made me laugh that I now have a post that, besides crones, talks about the new women's blog ... weeks before aliqot and I came up with the idea for it! We started Towards 2011 in response to the lack of information we could find about International Women's Day which was started in 1911.

A blog by women, about women and for women (but not to the exclusion of men), Towards 2011 is a way of promoting the centenary of International Women's Day in 2011.

It's a very new blog, but aliqot has already put up some great posts, one of which triggered a conversation about wolf-whistles!

Check it out and leave a comment, or a suggestion about anything you'd like to see or do on there. We'd love to hear from you!

Aries New Moon: The Freshest of Starts

The moon was new at 4.55am this morning and it's in Aries, the youngest sign, a time of new beginnings and enthusiasm: "Aries asks us to live life fully, to try something new, to love and to be brave and independent."

Maria Vaiana explains why this new moon of all new moons is so exciting:

It’s helpful to view this day each month as your “fresh start” date. The dynamics of each New Moon are astrologically different and every month there will be an opportunity for a fresh start in a different area of your life.

This month, the New Moon occurs in the sign of Aries. Aries is the sign of the zodiac associated with new beginnings and individuality so it’s easy to understand why this lunation has me so excited for everyone. It is the ultimate yearly pass to start afresh! In fact, it's time this month to be a little selfish and focus on you!

I want to encourage everyone reading this to understand the significance of this lunation because you truly have the most amazing energy behind you to begin the new path you’ve been thinking about recently. It’s time to act and this lunation promises to give you the courage and independence you need to focus your actions on deliberately achieving whatever it is you desire.

The most powerful time to act will be in the two weeks following this New Moon and everyone is sure to feel the positive transformational energy in the air thanks to the beautiful trine this New Moon makes to Pluto, the planet of regeneration and rebirth.

What you will find thanks to this lunation is a new-found clarity on what it is you really want. Along with this clarity comes a burst of inner strength and conviction that will prompt you to use your assertive energy to boldly explore the new trail waiting for you.

And Lisa Dale Miller has this to say about the new moon for fresh starts:

Aries is all about adventure and the indomitable spirit of the adventurer helps open us to trying something different; something you think isn’t you… but might just be. Reinvigorate your lust for life. We have all become so fearful and risk-averse. Go on an adventure, be spontaneous, or just do something wild and crazy. There is a time and place for play, and this is the New Moon to remember that all work and no play make us very dull people!

Aries says, “I can!” with a level of faith that only an innocent child who has not yet failed can muster ... your heart and mind must be centered in an open attitude of excitement—“let’s go,” or “I can do anything,” or “I can be anyone,” or “the world is my oyster,” or “life is an adventure!”. This is a New Moon that asks us to take a leap of faith and do the impossible. This a New Moon to come at who you are with a sense of wonder, magic and first-time awe. Go find out who you are and what you want; you might just be surprised.

Have a very Happy New Moon!


On a very personal note, this may seem a little strange here, but ...

A Dedication to an Amazing Woman in my Life

A wonderful friend of mine has just been told she has a very aggressive form of cancer and is unlikely to see the next new moon. She is only just fifty so although barely crone by age, she has always been crone by spirit! She has guided and supported me through many difficult times and shared many beautiful moments with me. She has been a 'second Mum' to my girls since Youngest daughter was born. Wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and phenomenal woman, I am dedicating my post about crones to her, with love and appreciation. x

Eldest Daughter thinks I should "wait" to do this, but I know how much my friend wants her life to be celebrated, rather than her death to be marked. She is being incredibly brave and positive, which is why it seemed fitting to include this note here.


Friday, April 4, 2008

The Informal Book Club

Well I didn't need to look very far for the inspiration for a Friday Feelgood! Not strictly wellbeing in topic, but I want to share something with you all that I have loved doing.

My wonderful Mum gave me a letter when we went to stay last week. (Thank you, Mum!) It's called 'The Informal Book Club' and is a fantastic way to share books. Each person who receives it sends one book they have enjoyed to someone whose name is provided (someone they're likely to know, as they will be a friend of the friend who gave them the letter.) Then they forward the letter to six friends. In this way, for the cost of posting one book plus the price of six stamps, each person involved will receive 36 (THIRTY SIX!) books from 36 very different people.

I've sent my book (a small book of quotes about happiness, to a friend of Mum's who I know, and who I think will enjoy it.) I've forwarded the 6 letters to friends and I'm so excited to see what arrives through the post!

Plus I'm interested to see which book my Mum will get from my 6 friends.

I would have loved to send it to blogging friends (though would have had a very difficult time choosing only six!) so thought I'd share it with you on here and then perhaps you could start your own.

This is a copy of the letter as received from Mum:

The Informal Book Club

This is an informal book club. There is no money involved so it is perfectly legal and it's fun.

Please send a book or audio book that you have already read (and enjoyed) to the person listed at the bottom of this letter.

Copy this letter and send it to 6 friends, but DO NOT SEND THEM A BOOK. Attach my address label to each of the six letter. It is helpful if you provide your own address labels with the letters you send to your friends so they can just attach one to each letter they send.

You should receive 36 books. it will be interesting to see what they are and where they come from.

If you cannot do this, please let me know so that I can ask someone else. I have been told there is seldom a drop by anyone because they only have to send one book. Most recipients will be readers and book lovers.

Thank you and happy reading!

Please send a book to:

My Mum's name and address ...

(Label attached)


Mum also gave me 6 copies of the letter with her address labels and printed 36 labels out with my address. So as a way of showing my appreciation, I enclosed a sheet of coloured writing paper in each of my six letters, with a note asking my friend if they would mind slipping it into the book they chose to send.

On each coloured sheet of paper, I had written a short note ("Thank you, Mum ... you're a star!") or a quotation about mothers.

I had such fun with this and will spend the next few weeks actually looking forward to the postman arriving, for a change. Maybe even (if I'm up early enough!) opening the door and greeting him with a big smile and a "Thank you!" Which will maybe brighten his day too ...

Yes, an all-round feelgood thing to do!

Have a lovely weekend!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring Fever and the Last Full Moon of Winter

Suffering the effects of Spring Fever?

Liz Fuller of More Than We Know has been writing an excellent series of posts about the negative symptoms of Spring Fever and how to deal with them.

I haven't been suffering at all from lack of focus, which is unusual for me. (And I'm not entirely sure where the recent bout of focus has really come from, but I'm happy to go with it!) I'm certainly not suffering from boredom (Liz's final symptom, unposted as yet), but then I never suffer from boredom ... I wish I had the time to be bored, sometimes. Comparison-itis? Again, no. And again, this is something I often suffer from. But I've been too focused on doing what I'm doing to find any time to make comparisons. I'm generally impatient, not with people but definitely with things.

But the thing I relate to most in Liz's series of posts, is the restlessness of Spring Fever.

I always feel restless in Spring. Ready to be doing things, rushing hither and thither like the birds building their nests. Bouncing erratically around the place with no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going, like the lovely newborn lambs in the fields. Mad as a March hare, to be sure.

But this year, perhaps because I already feel I have built up some momentum in one direction, the start of Spring has simply given me a boost of energy and excitement.

I've always loved the fresh energy of Spring, it's so full of hope and expectation and the miracle of new life. I love 'unwrapping' the garden in Spring: clearing the leaves and twigs and overgrown grasses from flowerbeds, to find small green shoots peeping through.

Spring is all about energy and action, the very word carries an energy, like the 'spring' of "Springing into action."

The change of weather brings a change of clothes, brings a change of outlook/mood.


How many times did I hear something yesterday along the lines of, "Bloomin weather! I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt yesterday and I've had to put my coat and scarf on again today!"

Yes, but it is only just Spring, only just April. The weather yesterday (crisp, breezy, damp) was just about right for this time of year. I think we've been lulled into a false sense of security recently, by mild winters and early springs - plants flowering earlier, earlier lambs ... there were lambs in fields before the end of January in Derbyshire (albeit with little snuggly coats on!)

The March Full Moon, which fell less than two weeks go, was known as the Full Crust Moon, the final Full Moon of winter. (See below for more names for March's Full Moon.) The Farmer's Almanac explains that, "The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night."

Mind you, I suppose a lot depends on where you are - Derbyshire is not very far from North Yorkshire, but there is a distinct difference in the temperature, the wildlife and the botany.

Ways to make the most of Spring:

1. Assess the goals/intentions you started the year with, and how far along the path towards (or away from) them you have come.

2. Spend some time in Nature. Take long walks, go birdwatching, help out on a local farm, or simply spend some time contemplating the wonders of Spring, the way in which everything that has seemed dead for months is now beginning life again.

3. Grow some flowers in your garden or on your windowsill. Bring a bunch of sunny daffs inside or put some in a pot on your doorstep.

4. Spring clean. Your house, your desk, your mind, your expectations, your life ... dust down anything that could do with some new life breathing into it. Shake things up a bit.


More from the Famer's Almanac: March's Full Moon is also known as the Full Worm Moon "as the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter."

NASA's Imagine the Universe! lists the march Full Moon, as the Sugaring Moon.

krcool@hiwaay has a long list of Full moon names, including:

Fish Moon (Colonial American)

Sleepy Moon (Chinese)

Windy Moon (Cherokee)

Moon of Winds (Celtic)

Chaste Moon (English Medieval)

Moon When Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow (Dakota Sioux)


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Month, New Blog, New Beginnings ... New Woman!

Welcome to April, the month of April Fool's Day, of the arrival of the cuckoo and the swallow, of showers and flowers.

"April showers bring May flowers" ~ Old English Saying

The first Sunday in April is known as 'Daffodil Sunday' after a Victorian tradition of picking daffodils and taking them to the local hospitals to be distributed among the patients.

What a lovely idea! I didn't know about this ... does anyone do it today?

The 19th of April is Primrose Day, named after Benjamin Disraeli's (mistaken) favourite flower.

All the above information is from the wonderful people at Woodlands Junior School. Check them out for a great list of April anniversaries, or a comprehensive guide for each month, or for tons of useful education stuff, in fact!

I have planned April.

In writing. I have dates and general 'to do's in my diary. I have writing deadlines (in blue), meetings and other deadlines (in black) and bill payment due dates (in red) on a calendar next to my workspace. I just have to set alarms on my phone to remind me. I have also written a monthly To Do List, from which I am writing a (succinct) daily list.

Having read 'Time Management for Creative Professionals' by Mark McGuiness of Wishful Thinking a while ago, I have finally got round to putting his advice about 'buckets' into action. Buckets are the places we keep information; "physical or virtual containers where you capture important information, demands and commitments so that they can’t ‘leak’ away and be forgotten. You should have as few of these as possible, but as many of them as you need."

My Buckets are:

My Diary

My Calendar

My Phone

My Monthly/Daily TO DO Lists

And I have started a Monthly Writing Goals Notebook (my fifth bucket) and listed every blog post, every article, everything I need to do this month to set up a website for student parents and everything I need to do in April for an ebook I'm writing.

Goodness, I'm feeling uber-organised (it can't last for long!), which is just as well, seeing as I now have a fifth blog to write for!

It's not my blog, though ... it's OURS!

In response to the distinct lack of information we discovered about International Women's Day (despite the fact that it will have existed for 100 years in 2011), aliqot and I have started a communal blog, called Towards 2011, which we hope will become a collection (perhaps a 'conversation') of widely-varying perpectives from all kinds of women.

I say "aliqot and I" but the truth is that I have done nothing yet! The amazing aliqot has set it up, added me and Leonie (who I'm really looking forward to reading, as she will write about women and jazz), and posted loads already ... I have some catching up to do!

Thank you aliqot, you're a star!

I'm really excited to be a part of this as I think it's important to raise awarness of IWD, a day to be celebrated with appreciation for the women who started it in 1911, women who were "campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination."

And I'm really looking forward to being a part of the conversation about it all today!