Breathe In, Breathe Out… Check Twitter, Answer Emails

 

Meditation Beach - sig

 

I’m meditating.

Yay, me.

I’ve tried this before but never stuck with it.

Meditation has always felt like a hand-me-down sweater that looked pretty on my older sister but never fit me quite right.

So, recently, I ditched the books and switched on my phone.

That’s right. I’d decided to turn my phone off to reduce stress. Now I’m going to turn it on again (first thing in the morning—fab way to start the day) with emails, calendars, and social media waiting to pop up and bury me in notifications. Why? To reduce stress, of course.

A soft voice is telling me to take a deep breath in…and out…in…and out, feeling the stress melt away as I become mindful of the TEXT MESSAGE: WHAT TIME IS YOUR DR APPT? in…and out…notice your breath rising and falling…rising…falling…TWITTER: SOMEONE LIKED ONE OF YOUR TWEETS! notice where the tension in your body is…WORDPRESS: NEW COMMENT WAITING APPROVAL ON LEMON SHARK REEF!

Cell phones are an odd place to go for relaxation.

Yet, here we are. Or, as I like to say, “It has come to this.” The digital generation where everything you could ever want is waiting on your home screen.

‘Tis true. There’s an app for pretty much everything now (but that’s another barrel of bananas).

There are tons of meditation apps out there ranging in focus (housework, walking, commuting, work, pregnancy…) and price (free, $100/year, $30/year, $3.99 one-time purchase…). With all the choices available, I’m overwhelmed. I’m spending a lot of time sifting through them. I’m having difficulty choosing one. It’s starting to stress me out.

I don’t write about irony a lot but a lot of things I write are ironic.

This is one of them.

First, turning on a device that’s distracting and stressful to become mindful and reduce stress.

Second, trying to choose one in the enormous collection of meditation apps saturating the virtual world.

Yes, I can turn off my notifications when I meditate. Then turn them all back on. Every. Single. Time. Yeah, that won’t happen. And phones ring with, like, phone calls. Yes, I can turn my ringer off. That won’t happen, either. Also, they have handy things like reminders, notes, and to-do lists that screech, “LOOK AT ME! I’M IMPORTANT!” And you have to yell back at them that you’re on your way to Calm and you’ll get to them later and, by that point, you’ve lost your way.

 

“How do I get to Calm?”

“Oh, that’s easy. Go to the corner of Distraction and Stress. Take a sharp right onto Digital Way, where you’ll see notes, reminders, and to-do lists. Pass those and keep going straight until you reach Relaxing Scenery. If you don’t like that space, you can dive into the scum-covered Decision Pond and wade through until you find a new Calm. Good luck!”

 

So. It has come to this.

 

Do you meditate? If so, have you ever used an app? How is that working for you? (Feel free to drop the name of the app in the comments if you like it. Thank you kindly.) Whether you meditate or not, what are your thoughts on using an app for this practice?

 

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How Do You Like Them Apples?

 

 

Scrivener App

 

I was wavering, trying to decide which program to use for my writing.

So, naturally, I wrote about it, hoping readers would help. They did. That post generated quite a few comments. I learned a lot. I also made a decision to at least try Scrivener because I need the organization.

However.

My main problem with it was that you had to download it to your laptop and leave it there. That did not work for me.

Here are some of my replies from that post:

Can you use Scrivener on different devices or only one? iPad, iPhone…?

 Awesome! And, please let [Scrivener] come out with an app. Please! *fingers crossed*

No, no, no! Say it ain’t so. This is my main issue with Scrivener. I’m a total tech floozie, too. (Nice accidental alliteration there, if I do say so myself.) I use different devices and need a program that is available on all. I can’t imagine this isn’t an issue for many writers. Why on earth hasn’t Scrivener…created an app?

Exactly. I use two different laptops plus type a lot on my phone (I know, but it’s convenient if not a bit tricky). I’m going to do the trial but this was my main problem with it. *shouts* “Fix this, Scrivener techies!”

A lot of writers had the same issue. They used more than one device (because, really, who doesn’t?) and/or wrote when they had a second between errands, taking care of kids, work, commuting, sleeping, eating…

Hang on to your hats.

If you haven’t heard, I’m delighted freaking out that Scrivener now offers an Apple app for iPads, iPhones, and any other iThing you want to use it for.

They advertise that you can “Write Anywhere”.

Thank you, Scrivener, we already do.

But now lots of us writers will buy your program to “write anywhere” with. How do you like them Apples?

 

Those of you who use Scrivener, are you going to get the app? Those of you who didn’t (specifically because you used different devices) are you rethinking using Scrivener?

 

Process This

 

Sarah B Process This

 

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for…um…many years. I’m old. Moving on.

I hear from online writer friends, bloggers, and tweeps that Scrivener is the bee’s knees. Some say it’s easy, others that it has a steep learning curve. I don’t have time for that. But, if it really is all that and a bag of chips, I’ll find time to learn it. Because, as we all know, a stitch in time saves nine. (I have never understood this idiom. Surely there are better ways to say that if you do a little work now, it will save you doing more work later. See? That was easy.)

To add nuts to the cookie dough, I’ve just started using Pages. I know. But it was there and I was in need… I’m finally getting used to it and it has some pretty cool templates.

Pages is a shiny new toy, Word is a comfy, tattered old teddy bear, and Scrivener is a bike in the shop window.

I want all of the things!

You see my issue here.

I’m not likely to ever get rid of my ratty teddy bear. It’s comfortable. I know it well. But I do see the lure of a new toy, though that could be temporary. And the bike in the window that everyone is talking about? It’s a must-have yet I should probably learn to ride it (and that could take a long time).

Using three different programs seems excessive but do I whittle it down to just one?

I’m thinking each program could be useful for different types of writing—novels, short stories, flash, blog posts, notes…

If you have a spectacular idea and type it out on some note-taking app on your phone (yes, I have done this), are you able to extend it there or do you have to type it out somewhere else? I’ve always had to re-type it or email, cut, paste, repeat. I want to be able to extend writing where my notes are because, when inspiration strikes, you can be in bed at 2am and you have to write that scene.

I’m befuddled.

There are word processing programs, software designed specifically for writing, and apps for…just about everything.

I want to know (from you writers, not sites trying to sell me something) how easy or difficult these are to use. I want to know if you can transfer documents from one device to another and how many steps are involved in that process. I want to know if you can save these documents as other documents—Pages as Word, Word as Scrivener-ish-thing. What is a Scrivener document called? Anyway, I would love to know all of these things as well as any shortcuts you lovely writers have discovered.

 

What say you, gentle readers? What program/software/app do you use for writing? Do you use more than one?

 

* Edited to add: I’ve seen numerous mentions of Evernote in the past few weeks. Do you have this? Do you like it?

 

“But wait! There’s more!” I know there are dozens of apps out there and I’ve touched on only a few so please do let me know what you use and what works for you. I’ll send you cookies. (Chocolate chip, not electronic tracking data. Although… That would be a cool spy gadget.)

 

** Here’s something amusing for you. I wrote this post weeks ago in Pages and it took me forever to figure out how to get it to my laptop (in Word) and now, as I’m uploading it to WordPress, I’m having formatting issues. And I just love the irony of this. So much. Plus, the Hulk in me gets to SMASH something. Which is always fun.

 

The Dinosaur Ate My Smartphone

 

When did I become so dependent on technology?

 

Dino Ate My Smartphone crop - sig

 

After I got erased and abandoned my electronic devices to a heap on the floor, I had to call people. On a landline. Told them I was goin’ old school.

A few days later, when I got the nerve to pick up my cell phone again, I realized that not only was my email still messed up, my texts weren’t working. I felt disoriented and isolated.

Which is completely ridiculous.

Let me give you a snapshot of my childhood.

No microwave. No CDs. No DVDs. A rotary dial house phone attached to the wall. Yeah, that’s right. You heard me. Attached to the wall. Do NOT get me started on apps and social media because there were no computers let alone cell phones. We had a pet Brontosaurus.

Point is, I grew up without technology. I didn’t even get a smartphone until I was 40 years old and I’ve become so attached to the stupid thing that if I lost it, I’d be crushed. Crushed, people.

After spending four decades without one, I’m utterly, hopelessly reliant on a device I received only two years ago.

How did this happen?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you feel like you’re too dependent on technology? Are you too attached to your smartphone, iPad, or tablet? (Just out of curiosity…did you grow up with or without technology?)

 

Where’d You Get That Photo?

 

All the images on Lemon Shark (and Lemon Shark Reef) are mine. Meaning I took them. With my camera. You’re envious, I know.

Some blogs have a credit under the photo or at the end of the post. Some have a copyright. I hadn’t thought much about it but, when I did, I figured it’s my blog and my photos are on it so people will know they’re mine. Of course they don’t. I’ve even been asked where I got them. ThoughtBubble

I feel like I should credit myself just like I would credit anyone else if I downloaded it. (Part of me just wants props for setting up and snapping pictures to go with specific posts. Pun intended.) For this story about Princess Penelope, I defrosted some frozen peas, picked out the really round green ones, and did a photo shoot on my son’s old toddler mattress. I did. Let’s move on…

Does it spoil images to write on them? I’ve seen poems and quotes but also copyrights and URLs. I wonder if I should leave them alone. On the other hand, mine are window dressing on my blog, not a photo contest entry. Are they really ruined?

Do you copyright your pictures? How? Put a note in the ‘caption’? Write directly on the photo? What do you think of the one below?

 

Asteraceae_1 - Sarah B

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

* After I wrote this Thought Bubble, I found this amazing post by Sacha Black (with a note from Geoff Le Pard) on how to create the gorgeous pictures she uses on her blog. (Notice she puts her URL on the photos.) I tried it on this page and I don’t think it takes away from the photo. Actually, I kind of like it.

* Update: 10/6/15 Those photos with poetry and quotes on them? This is what I was talking about. Sue Vincent posts these on her blog. They are stunning—check them out.

 

Reduce Your Stress by Leaving Your Smartphone ON

 

Whether you’re having a full-blown panic attack or simply feeling a bit overwhelmed, you could stand to get rid of some stress in your life. I just know it.

Many articles I read suggest the same thing: unplug. ThoughtBubble

They advocate silencing your phone, getting rid of your apps, turning off alerts.

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m keeping everything and keeping it on.

Turning all these off makes me anxious. I worry whether that appointment is today and, if so, what time it is and, crap, what if I’m late because we’re playing Boggle. What if I miss that call, text, or email I’ve been waiting for?

If I set my phone up to check my email, guess what I’m not doing? If I set it up to alert me an hour before an appointment, I can be in the moment because I won’t be watching the clock. It gives me peace of mind.

Am I relying too much on my phone? You bet. But, for now, it’s working.

There are times I need a break—I mute my phone or turn it off completely. I get it. I really do. But, sometimes, reducing my stress means not unplugging.

 

Unplugging

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.