My husband had to travel to Orlando, Florida, on business this January. He had the brilliant idea that I could join him, making for a nearly half-price vacation. I could not pass up the opportunity to spend a few days in the tropics during the middle of the Colorado winter. We stayed an additional three and a half days after his business was completed.
We both wanted to see the Florida Keys, and figured this could be our once in a lifetime chance. We did not have the time for a leisurely trip. Still, it was worth the drive. Here are ten things that we both found enjoyable, amusing, or amazing during our all too brief Florida vacation.
1) We live at 6000 plus feet. Watching our GPS in Florida, at one point the elevation went below sea level. We were still securely on land, but our elevation read negative three.
2) The town of Celebration, Florida is a confection of a place that we suspected had little real substance, but it was fun staying there for a night. My husband’s coworkers had a good chuckle over one of the top attractions, a water fountain. We stayed at the Bohemian Hotel.
3) For breakfast in Celebration, we sat on the tiny balcony to our room drinking coffee and eating cranberry muffins while admiring the exotic vegetation growing around the small lake behind the hotel.
4) After staying in a resort hotel, we decamped for a modest chain hotel to save a few bucks. The room cost almost the same as our meal that evening. This was a good way to save money, but it was quite a shock to the system. Still, it was worth the sacrifice to sleep cheap and eat gourmet. And the hotel had a fountain, too.
5) In Colorado, the best fish is fresh caught trout, and we are not great at fishing. All the ocean fish we get has traveled a great distance, so it was a treat to have fresh fish almost every dinner. At Jetty’s Restaurant in Jupiter, Florida, I had mahi mahi, and my husband had salmon, while sitting on a dock looking at a lighthouse and a yacht. The Key Lime Pie was fabulous.
6) We saw a sign the next day for a farmer’s market in Palm Beach. Our growing season ended in October. It never ends in south Florida. We spent an hour or so strolling around, amazed by fresh vegetables in January. We wished we had more room in our suitcases for all the wonderful arts and crafts we wanted to take home.
7) From Palm Beach we drove to the southernmost point in the continental USA. The Overseas Highway is a road that goes from island to island, or key to key. Was it frightening to drive over the ocean on a narrow bridge? Not during the pleasant weather we enjoyed, but I can imagine that rough seas and stormy skies would make it challenging. In this photo, you can see the old railroad. If you've seen the movie True Lies, there is a scene where part of the abandoned railroad is blown up.
8) That evening in Key West we had dinner on a dock. The sun set over the ocean as I had, you guessed it, mahi mahi.
9) The resort hotel in Key West was our big splurge, and the main reason we shopped at WalMart for our breakfast and lunch food. I felt like we’d snuck in through the servant’s entrance. We sat on the balcony sipping cheap wine we smuggled to our room and watching palm trees dancing in the evening breeze. The next morning we saw the sun rise over the ocean. Those moments were worth the expense.
10) I'll spend an entire blog to share my photos and experience just of Hemingway House in Key West. My husband was admirably patient during the tour of the non-air conditioned old house full of poly-dactyl cats.
What lessons did I learn from a workplace renovation that I applied to my writing life? I give my light at the end of the tunnel realization at Writers Who Kill on January 25.
I received an "Excellent" rating at the Mysteries and My Musing blog by fellow Colorado author Ariel Heart.
Jacqueline Seewald interviews me at Author Expressions January 17. I share some experiences I have in common with my protagonist Morgan Iverson, and what I did to fight rainy day boredom during my childhood summers in South Dakota.
January 17: http://authorexpressions.blogspot.com/
I write about coincidence on my January 14 guest post at The LadyKillers blog. Is it possible to plan to be in the right place at the right time?
By this time, many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. With this comes a sense of despair and self-blame. Why try? I’m just going to fail. The New Year’s Resolution has an undeserved mystique. Resolutions are merely goals. I break them down into four keys.
1) Keep your goals in front of your face. Do you remember last year’s resolutions? Probably not, if you didn’t write them down. Don’t make verbal resolutions. They are easy to forget.
2) Set quantifiable goals. A vague “I will be a better person” is a set-up for failure. How will you determine whether you achieved this? “I will visit Auntie in the old folks’ home once a month” or “I will volunteer X hours this year at the food pantry” can be measured.
3) Include methods for achieving your resolutions. Getting in shape, writing a novel, or advancing your career sound great. How are you going to get there? Joining a gym or running club? Taking a creative writing class or joining a critique group? Going for a certification in your field?
4) Don’t define a setback as a failure. If your resolution was to start an exercise program, and you haven’t yet, this is not a fail. It is a delay. Start now.
Write down goals that are quantifiable, and include a defined route to achievement. Here is how I put these keys to work in my writing.
The Spreadsheet – I have an Excel file I name Writing Log 20xx, updating it for the current year. There is a tab for each month. I save it to my computer desktop. Every time I work on my fiction, blog, do promotional work, or volunteer with a writing group, I open the file so I can log those hours. If I am working longhand, I jot my time at the top of my paper, to be logged later.
With a spreadsheet, you can see at a glance when you are productive, and when you are slacking off. By the way, I did a similar spreadsheet a few years ago when I decided to run a marathon. I kept track of the miles I ran, the time, gym workouts, and race stats.
My writing log satisfies the quantifiable part of goal setting. I also have an annual goal list. Write X number of short stories, finish a novel-in-progress, submit X times, attend a conference. As I achieve a particular goal, I strikethrough it. By keeping my log on my desktop and using it on an almost daily basis, I keep my goals in front of my face.
And the setback part? Sometimes I set too many goals, or life interferes with serious business that must be attended to, like illness in the family. I don’t count that as a failure. At the end of the year, I evaluate my goal list. Did I reach too high? Was part of my goal (like making a sale) out of my control?
I did finish my first marathon, but not before the official cutoff time. I evaluated my goal, and decided my training program was more suited for a 5K runner. I was lazy. The next year, I upped my miles and hours, and stuck more closely to a defined training program. I finished within the cutoff time. Not a lofty goal in the wider world of athletics, perhaps, but achievable considering my age and fitness level.
What if you’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot with this year’s resolutions? You can adjust your list, or scrap it. Start a new one. New Year’s Resolutions should not be a perpetual failure tradition. Think of them as tools to guide you to achieving your dreams.
Subscribe to this blog: