Wednesday, January 23, 2013


“Only a person can want to go on living, or have plans for the future, because only a person can even understand the possibility of a future existence for herself or himself. This means that to end the lives of people, against their will, is different from ending the lives of beings who are not people. If we want to put this in the language of rights, then it is reasonable to say that only a person has a right to life.”

          Dr. Peter Singer, Rethinking Life and Death
Such is ethics today:
Unborn children are not persons.
Mentally disabled are not persons.
Anyone diagnosed with dementia is no longer a person.
Now put this in economic terms and only persons deserve to receive government assistance. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Beginnings, Again...

If you are not a writer, feel free to substitute whatever goal you have been contemplating in the past five years. And Enjoy a Great 2013.

Guest Author: Moira Allen 

If you're like a lot of writers, chances are that you've greeted the New Year with a pronouncement along the lines of: "THIS will be the year that I FINALLY________ (fill in the blank)."  Get that novel started. Get that novel finished.  Enter that contest.  Send out those queries.  Write that story.  Get published, somehow, somewhere.  Take the plunge.  Start writing.  Start writing MORE.

Or perhaps the resolution is personal: Join the gym, lose weight, tackle the clutter, get control of the finances, mend a relationship.  Chances are, there's something in your life that you want to start, finish, or change.  (If one of your resolutions is to join the gym, here's a hint: Wait until March.  That's when all the OTHER folks who resolved the same thing in January have given up, and you can get to the machines without waiting in line.)

Now, I've made no secret in past editorials that I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions.  In fact, I firmly resolved, back in December, NOT to write an editorial about New Year's resolutions!

See how easy these things are to break?

What made me decide to weigh in yet again on this perennial topic was that key word in the first paragraph: "Finally."  I've used that word myself quite often, year after year.  This, I tell myself firmly, is the year when I finally get the website designed for my new book, update my Victorian site, finish the second draft of my novel...

The problem with the word "finally" is not that it's so, um, final.

In fact, quite the opposite: The problem with the word "finally" is that it suggests a process that hasn't been final at all.  We say "finally" in the hopes of bringing to an end a succession of "finallies" that have never come to pass.  I wouldn't be telling myself in 2013 that this year I will "finally" finish my second draft if, in fact, I hadn't NOT been finishing that draft for quite some time.  You don't say "finally" if you've been putting something off for a week or two.  You say it about something that you feel you ought to have been doing for, quite possibly, years. 

In short, we say "finally" not because a resolution is new, but because it is old, and getting steadily older.  Whatever you're saying "finally" about this year, chances are, it's not the first year you've said it.  And yet, for some reason, it still hasn't gotten done.

If we take a good, hard, honest (and painful) look at our history of "finallies," it quickly becomes apparent that saying "finally" does not actually make it so.  If it did, we wouldn't actually have to say it at all, because we would have already done it (whatever "it" is) by now.  "Finally" just serves to reinforce the guilty realization that we HAVEN'T managed to do whatever it is yet, probably for at least a year, and quite often for longer. 

So what are we to do?  Give up on New Year's resolutions altogether?  Throw in the towel and declare that "it" just isn't meant to be?  That's just a bit TOO final!

As I look forward to 2013, I've come to realize that before I can turn my "finally I will" goals into "finally I have" achievements, I need to do a bit of looking backward as well.  It won't help to resolve, yet again, to do something that I haven't managed to do before, unless I can figure out WHY I haven't done it before.  WHY has this project dragged on for three years?  WHY haven't I completed this task, followed that dream, overcome that obstacle?

If you're bracing yourself for a prescription of soul-baring therapy, relax.  Sometimes, granted, the "why" may be related to deep-rooted issues.  But quite often it's much easier to track down.  Sometimes it's rooted in being just too darn busy.  (I have yet to meet someone who sighed and declared, "Wow, last year was just my most relaxed, laid-back, do-nothing year ever!") 

For me, one of the biggest problems with being able to do three tasks in the amount of time that used to be required to do one is that, now, we are EXPECTED to be able to do three tasks in the time it once took to do one. Today's time-saving technologies may have made some tasks easier, but the end result has simply been a multiplication of tasks. 

Unfortunately, our mental processes are a bit slower to catch up; we remember when we were easily able to accomplish certain things in a day, or a week, or a month, and can't quite figure out why that isn't happening anymore.

Another common issue is failing to realize how long a task may take.  Often, I'll sit down to "quickly" catch up on my e-mail, and surface, blinking, a couple of hours later, wondering where the time went and feeling as if I've accomplished nothing at all.  Of course, in reality, I've probably reviewed someone's submission, sent out a couple of ad contracts, answered two or three questions, filled an order or two from Amazon, posted a new directory listing on my pet loss page (and, thank you, Dawn, gotten sucked into a round of "Horrible Histories" on YouTube).  But since all that didn't relate to my "goal" for the day, I feel as if the day has passed without "accomplishing" anything.

Sometimes the problem lies in the time we spend solving OTHER people's problems.  My sister retired last spring, and decided to embark on a new career venture.  I didn't realize just how much time I spent in assisting, advising and general hand-holding until I backed up my e-mail archives; now, at least, I know where my summer went!

Looking back at my some of my "finallies" for 2012, I realized that there were, in fact, some pretty easy explanations for why these tasks still  hadn't been accomplished.  Burnout, boredom, over-scheduling, and the inner editor have all helped contribute to seemingly endless postponements.  Looking forward again, I don't know if "knowing" this will ensure that, in 2013, those tasks will actually get done.  But I do know that if I attempt to proceed WITHOUT knowing what has caused me to bog down in the past, "finally" will just be another way of saying "not a chance!"

-- Moira Allen, Editor

Moira Allen is the editor of ( and the author of more than 350 published articles. Her books on writing include Starting your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Post Christmas bargains?

Think Twice, Spend Once

You’ve heard the saying; "measure twice, cut once." One wrong measurement can be disastrous in the pouring of foundation for a new home, not to mention the unplanned time and cost of labor and additional materials needed to correct the problem before the walls can go up. This basic mantra can be used throughout the holiday shopping season, with a minor change: "think twice, spend once". When we are rushed to find gifts for everyone on our list we may barely think once about what we are purchasing. Instead maybe we should take a bit more time to re-think purchases for loved ones and consider the thought that we'd really like the recipient to receive.

I once held a garage sale with a friend and we were selling a brand new small electric tool that I won. My husband told us to sell it because he already had one. My friend and I priced the new tool at about half of its retail price. Early in the day a gentleman wanted to buy the item, offering less than half of what we had priced it at. I countered with a higher price saying it was still a good deal since it was brand new and in the package. He bargained some more with his reasoning and saying to me "but I don't need this." My friend and I laughed and simultaneously said "then don't buy it!" He apparently just wanted it if it was a bargain, even though he had no use for it.

How many items have you purchased during past holiday seasons or this year just because they were at an "unbeatable" price, whether you needed them or not? How many times have you bought multiples of an item for the same reason? How many of those items have actually ended up stashed in a closet because you changed your mind or the return date has past?

Before you get too far down your shopping list this year, chase after too many sales, and waste too much of your precious time, take a few minutes to create the best method to help you think twice and spend once. While shopping for gifts think once about your selection. Before heading to the checkout line, take another loop around the store, thinking twice to reevaluate whether your choices "will do" and if they are the "best" fit for the recipient and your budget. If not, there's nothing wrong with returning an item to the shelf, rethinking the alternatives, or starting with a new idea from scratch. Apply the same scenario to your online shopping. You can put lots of things on your cyber wish list but take some time to think twice and only after that exercise should you feel confident about moving them to your official cart and commit to the credit card charges that will show up on your bill in January.

Take a shopping buddy with you if it’s hard to make decisions when you’re out. Not only can your friend give you a different perspective on your selections, but like Jiminy Cricket in the Pinocchio story, they can help remind you to "let your conscience be your guide".

Your conscience should also be your guide as you think twice about buying “stuff” as gifts. Do your part to be “green” this season and give a gift of “time” by hunting down unique gift cards for fun local restaurants and theaters. Every time I receive and glance at an unspent gift card in my wallet I think about the person who gave me the chance to do some future “me shopping” and find the “perfect” gift. What about some of the thousands of memorable digital photos that are still trapped in your smart phone or desktop computer, just waiting to be shared with the family and friends that are in them? Printed and framed photos may be a thing of the past, but I’ve never heard of a recipient wanting to exchange one for a better fit or a different color.

The answers for a delightful holiday season are not found in any store or on a website. They might just be found by “thinking twice and spending once,” be it your money, your time or your physical and mental energy. Think twice, especially about the good things of the season, and you will have a head start on the good things that the New Year will bring.

 ~ Cheryl Ford

Upcoming Classes and Seminars

Topic: Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life
Date: January 5, 2013
Time: 1:30-2:00 pm
Organization: Seattle Remodeling Home Show
Place: Washington State Convention Center
Address: 800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101

Investment: Cost of Admission to Remodeling Home Show