Aug 022017
 

Recently, I visited The American Writers Museum in Chicago and brought my son along for the ride.

One of the first exhibits we saw was the Children’s Literature Gallery. There is a beautiful mural painted on one of the walls along with ample seating and a bookshelf filled with children’s books. There is also an area where you can listen to Langston Hughes’ poems.

There is also an area dedicated to L.M. Alcott’s, Little Women.

Across from the Children’s Gallery is a room filled with plants! This temporary exhibit is called Palm: All Awake in the Darkness. It is dedicated to the life and work of poet W.S. Merwin. At the end of the exhibit, there is a pile of blank, white paper and pencils with a sign urging each patron to write a note. These notes are to be sent to Merwin to be planted underneath newly planted palm trees in his Hawaiian garden. This made my son and I feel connected to both nature and Merwin’s work. We wondered if a palm tree would be grown from our words. We loved this exhibit.

Afterward, we entered a room with a long hallway. There were interactive, glowing, rectangle tiles aligned on a wall. This exhibit was called the Surprise Bookshelf. My son was immediately drawn to the wall and began turning the tiles. Some were filled with more information, while others smelled like food. It was very interesting.

On the opposite side, there were portraits of writers. When you turned the tile, one could read more information about each writer including an excerpt from their work. One could spend hours here.

Here is something that has crossed my mind more than once:

Most artists find process fascinating mainly because we all do it differently and writers are no different. This area of the museum is dedicated to the mind of a writer. It is genius.

It’s been a long time since I used a typewriter, but when I sat down, I remembered how to set the paper and the margins. My son was fascinated by these ancient typing machines. He even requested one! It’s true what they say, everything old becomes new again.

I love this quote:

I found The American Writers Museum both interesting and well-put-together, which is why I recently purchased a membership. I urge you to all check it out if you live in Chicago or are in the Chicago area. It is fantastic!

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May 032017
 

For Spring Break, my family and I made our way out of Chicago and down to Key West, Florida. The weather did not disappoint as it was gorgeous!

While there, we stopped at the famous Hemingway House, which quickly became my favorite author house after the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion in Salem, the home made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The House of the Seven Gables. You can check out more information about our visit here: http://jr-williams.com/blog/?p=659.

As we walked through the Hemingway house with our fantastic tour guide, I couldn’t help, but feel Hemingway’s energy. Everything from the furniture to the typewriters, to the chandeliers, to the porch, to the cats screamed beauty and excitement. Check out some of my photos below:

Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer really loved the house and it was evident throughout each room and the grounds, but the pièce de résistance was Hemingway’s writing room. I wanted to rummage through his books, sit in his chair, and type a letter on his typewriter, but I wasn’t the only one because the entrance was closed off by wrought-iron doors.

All in all, I found Hemingway and Pauline Pfeiffer’s home incredible. It’s definitely worth touring if you make it down to Key West.

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Jan 092017
 

 

Every year, I re-evaluate my life’s goals. I take into account, where I am, what I’ve done, and where I want to be in the future. I think about my health, my family, my career, and my friendships. This type of evaluation becomes more essential the older I get. If I know where I’ve been and I have goals, then I know where I’m going.

This year, there have been some losses and health scares in my family. These situations have made me realize that I must make better health choices to get my body and mind to its optimum state.

I also believe that being healthy goes beyond the physical and that I need to be as mentally healthy as possible. This is why I am learning how to take things as they come, surround myself with supportive and positive people, and think before I speak. I will also put out supportive and positive energy. I will be more appreciative of the happiness that surrounds me.

I love being able to witness the good that surrounds my family and friends. I love it when they not only what they want, but what they deserve. This year, my husband received his master’s degree, my son received an excellent report card, my sister went back to college, and my brother helped my parents move to North Carolina to be closer to him. They are all pretty happy, which makes me happy.

Watching my family succeed is motivating because if they can do it, then so can I. They make me feel invincible. I am determined to sharpen my writing, editing, marketing, and design skills. I will utilize these skills to be as successful as possible this year.

The older I get, the more I realize that time is one of the most important currencies in my life. I will not squander it away as I have done in the past. It is important to be selective about who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on. This year, I will spend more time with my family, on my work, and on myself.

I know how easy it is to lose your way. This is why it’s important to set goals with time limits and take action.

Here are some questions you may want to answer to help you with your own life evaluation:

  1. What did you want to accomplish last year?
  2. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? If not, re-evaluate if you would still like to do it this year and create a list.
  3. Think about what you wish to do this year. Where would you like to be? Create a specific to-do list with a plan of action complete with deadlines.
  4. Then take action. Like they say, there’s no time like the present.

This is your year and nothing will stop you. You can do it. Good luck with all of your goals!

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Thoreau

Happy New Year!

 

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Dec 212016
 

A few weeks ago, my family and I were at the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) to view the Christmas Around the World exhibit. The Christmas trees are decorated by volunteers and “represent holiday traditions from cultures around the globe.” They are quite beautiful and something you really need to see with your own eyes to believe. The amount of work that goes into decorating each one of these Christmas trees is quite remarkable.

While walking through the museum, we also stumbled across an exhibit called, The Art of the Bicycle. This exhibit examines the history of the bicycle and pays close attention to its design elements, which were meticulously folded into the construction and practicality of the bicycle over the years. This exhibit was equal parts fascinating and whimsical.

Check out my photos below for more:

If you’re in the Chicagoland area, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry to check out the Art of the Bicycle exhibit. Happy Holiday’s everybody!

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Aug 102016
 

About a week and a half ago, I was in NYC with my family and we stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a day of fun. While there, we saw the exhibit, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” It is about the place where old-school fashion techniques meet technology. It is also about how one technique isn’t better than the other, rather, how both traditional fashion techniques and new techniques in fashion using technology can complement each other. What I found most fascinating about the exhibit was watching the production of the pieces, the hand-beading and stitching, and the intention behind each piece. Great stuff!

Here are some of the most striking pieces I saw:


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If in NYC, I urge you to check this exhibit out. It is quite beautiful.

I find that viewing beautiful things inspires me to not only find the beauty in life, but also to bring this beauty into my writing and other creative projects.

Happy creating!

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May 132016
 

Every couple of years, a family member or friend gets me a gift which I love and this makes me so happy I could burst.

This year, I received a 24-pack of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and I have to say, they are quite nice. So nice, that I have begun drawing again.

This is the Prismacolor Tin:

Prismacolors Pencil Tin

And these are the perfect colored pencils:

Prismacolors Pencils

Pretty, huh?

I have already started drawing and hope to do some more in the near future. Keep creating y’all.

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Nov 062014
 

I just had a piece published by Chicago Literary Map.

If you haven’t heard of Chicago Literary Map, you should check it out. Here’s what it’s all about:

“Beyond the bright lights and cityscapes, stories unfold. Some are true, others are fiction, showing you a side of the city that often goes untold. Chicago Literary Map is charting the text and putting it in the palm of your literary-loving hand.

Navigate Chicago on a new level, guided by the voices who have been, where updates bring new vignettes from around the city.”

Rad, huh?

Please check out my piece called Ohio Street.

If you’d like to more about the creator of CLM, Stephanie Plenner, please follow her on Twitter: @splenner. You can also follow Chicago Literary Map here: @literarymap.

Your turn. What was it like where you grew up in Chicago?

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Oct 072014
 

My life is always changing, which means that the space around me is always changing. After my first update, I worked on my office closet again and here are the results.

I stated that I wanted convenience, space, lighting, and color. I think I have achieved all of that and more.

Here is my current space:

closed and open closet doors

And here is a close-up of the interior: office closet
Here is what I did to achieve my dream space:

For convenience, I had an outlet put into my dining room and it is wonderful. I no longer have to avoid cords sprawled across my floor.

For space, I purged a ton of paper. I still have one small bin that I need to go through, but everything else is in files on my desktop. Sure things need to be separated, but at least all of that paper is out of the way.

For lighting, I used a clamp lamp, which can be moved around anywhere. It’s a great tool to have. I couple that with my overhead light above and it works beautifully. I believe that a workspace needs plenty of light to be functional.

For color, I added a city scene that my son made and put up photographs and desk toys. These pops of color are like tiny pieces of happy energy that help me focus.

For organization, I added a DIY combination cork/dry erase board. I made it using an old cabinet door and a pack of square cork and dry erase tiles. I used stamps and white paint to make patterns on the cork, which gave it a little bit of personality. I love my cork/dry erase board and use it every day to keep track of ideas, to-do lists, and important reminders.

I also organized my writing books by color. Organizing books by color makes your space look well put together. Try it yourself.

The best part about my office closet is that there is a place for everything and when I’m done, I can just close it up and join the real world.

May you find your perfect work space in your home as well!

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May 062014
 

I’ve been working on redoing my closet office for the last month. I intended on creating an office that had ample space, light, color, and convenience and I’ve got most of it done.

Ample space: In order to create the space I wanted, I had to purge. I got rid of many file folders, moved three storage bins filled with holiday decorations to my storage space, and gave away several plastic and wooden bins which cleared up some space.

Lighting: I purchased a clamp lamp, which I found at Home Depot to light my space.

Color: I put up some new artwork and photographs to give my space pops of color.

I was going to purchase some new bins, but I had plenty and I didn’t want to clutter the space.

Convenience: My dining room does not have a single outlet. This is an issue since my closet office is located in my dining room and I will need to plug in my lamp, computer, and printer.  I am going to have one put in. After this is done, I shouldn’t have any issues while working in my closet office and it should be very convenient.

Check out my before and after photo’s so far:

Closet office before and after

The “green man” artwork was inspired by Keith Haring and made by my son at Easel Art Studio in Chicago.

As always, this is a work in progress. Stay tuned for more.

 

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Apr 022014
 

When I began freelancing, I didn’t have a computer. I’d write out all of my short stories and novel ideas in notebooks. Then, I’d take them to the nearest computer/coffee shop where I’d spend hours transcribing. I thought I was spending my time and energy wisely, but looking back, I wasn’t as productive as I should’ve been.

I should’ve been writing, not transcribing, but I didn’t have a proper tools or workspace. It’s easy to talk yourself out of being productive when you don’t have either.

It took me a few years, but I now have what I need: space, a laptop, software, books, a coffee maker, a routine, and the ability to say no.

This works for me, but every once in a while I dig a change of scenery. Unfortunately, I get easily distracted at coffee shops and bookstores. This leaves me with my current workspaces. I have three desk areas, but they are all very small.

Here’s what I need: space, light, color, and convenience.

Here’s what I need to do: purge and purchase new matching supplies.

When my workspace is unorganized, I find that I am mentally unorganized. I am going to fix my workspaces. My timeline to get these workspaces complete is in 1 month.

I will show before and after photos of my workspace on Monday, May 5th. Stay tuned.

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