Q3 Progress Report For 2015 Goals

In the third quarter of this year, I had specifically intended to:

  • Complete a first draft of a planned book on Insight Peer Counseling, based on the S.P.I.C.E3 model;
  • Bike around Pigeon Lake, a 61 km trip over hilly terrain;
  • Learn to fully utilize Adobe Lightroom or travel by RV across Canada;
  • Drink water and not eat food after 7:00 p.m.;
  • Walk or bike most days of the week; and
  • Complete one new photo-shoot each week.

Well I failed to achieve any of these goals. In fact, during this quarter, I gave almost no thought to the goals I had set for the quarter or the year and concentrated instead on other priorities.

My inclination is to write more about this failure than about what I did accomplish. My friend Kathy wrote to me from her journey across Canada and down part of the eastern seaboard of the United States and said:
“You don’t embrace your own strength, perseverance and good judgment (at least you don’t write or talk about it). You aren’t good at congratulating and being proud of what you have accomplished. You don’t own what a helpful, kind, loyal and loving, Grumps, son, parent, partner and friend you are. You are good at criticizing and judging yourself even sometimes for ‘doing the right thing’.

“I’m hoping that this quarter you will congratulate yourself for how you handled the cards that life dealt you. It was a tough one and required tough decisions. You could have caved but you made good choices. You had your eye investigated, Chose not to spend a lot of money on a trip that would have put additional stress on your health and not given you time to enjoy the places and people the way you wanted to. You became incredibly productive, learned new software programs, and developed some publishing skills. You did what needed to be done at home, supported your family and friends in their efforts and made plans to take breaks, respect your loss, acknowledge where you have come, nourish your spirit and not break the bank.  The people in your life are lucky to have someone with these qualities, me included.”

Roadblocks and Accomplishments
My aspiration for this year was to get several books published. My reading about that process led me to the conclusion that I should self publish using the CreateSpace resources and print-on-demand services so I could sell the books through Amazon.

I produced five manuscripts for three sales books, a collection of haibun, and a book on problem solving. I invested considerable effort into the laying out of these books, with the sales books involving very complex layouts. They looked great in MS Word on my Mac.  Then I tried to upload them to CreateSpace. They would arrive there, be noted as having a problem relative to what CreateSpace required but looked terrific in the online reviewer provided by CreateSpace.

I spent an incredible amount of time trying to figure out the problem. I used various forums to no avail. I engaged the free trial for Adobe Acrobat Pro, learned that software and imported the documents from the Word docx files, made some changes in Acroabt and they looked fine there. However, when I tried to save them as PDF documents to upload to CreateSpace, Acrobat would hang-up. I spent considerable time trying to solve that issue, including accessing the Adobe Support in India, but to know avail.

In my investigation of these problems, someone had suggested that OpenOffice TextWriter worked better than MS Word, so I downloaded OpenOffice, learned that software, and then reformatted the documents once again. I did eventually manage to get a satisfactory layout, upload the files to CreateSpace, gain approval of my submissions, and order proof copies of four of these books.

The proof copies had problems, both in the text sections and the covers, which I needed to fix. I did this and at the end of the quarter, ordered second proof copies for the sales books. I’m waiting for them to arrive so I can proof them once again. I obtained feedback from Kathy on the writing in the collection of haibun and have been working on modifications to the writing of that book and I am near the point where I will order a second proof copy for that book.
This process of fixing the problems included learning some new things about Photoshop and changing my design layouts for the covers. I found a way to make the covers fit the requirements stipulated by CreateSpace and think I have effective results.

Because of this extended time spent on the sales books and the collection of haibun, I have not revisited the draft of my book on insight problem solving, and have not yet penned a word for the book on insight peer counseling. However, what I have learned will speed up the publishing process for both of those books.

So in the sentiment expressed by Kathy, I have learned a lot about MS Word, more about Photoshop, how to use the functions in Acrobat Pro, learned from the ground up how to use Open Office TextWriter including solving the problems I was having with page formatting, page numbering and setting up a Table of Contents. I am only moments away from publishing these four books, and feel much more readiness to get the next two published.

We had intended to bike around the lake before the summer ended, and to make this achievable, we were extending the length of our daily rides. I was comfortably up to biking 18 km around one side of the lake and back, and had suggested that we bike the 36 km to the village on the other side of the lake, have someone meet us there, have lunch and then ride back in their vehicle. The day we picked for this turned out to have very inclement weather so we chose not to do this ride this day. However, Dianne wound up being very busy working in the city with her part time job and we stopped doing the ride preparation. As a result, the ride around the lake never happened.

Again, in the sentiment expressed by Kathy, I did do many rides in training that were longer than I had done before. I got to the point where I felt comfortable on these longer rides, and enjoyed the exertion and endorphins. I feel very positive about my ability to do the ride next year after another period of preparation when the weather allows me to start riding again.

We had planned an RV trip across to Ontario to visit Ray and Nancy, join them in some canoeing on the small lakes in their area, do some bike riding and hikes, and see the changing colours of the leaves. We had intended to leave and travel further east through Quebec on the way to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. From there, we would decide whether to drive through the north eastern portion of the United States or just come back through Canada.

As we were preparing for this closing up of our lake property for the winter, I was also dealing with considerable stress over getting the books into print. During a swimming excursion with my granddaughter, we were roughhousing in the pool and I noticed something change in my right eye. I thought I could see a piece of seaweed floating in the pool, reached for it and realized that what I was seeing was in my eye.

A  visit to an optometrist informed me that the vitreous fluid in my eye was separating from the surface of my eye and creating floaters. The white flashes I was seeing were the result of this process of the hardened vitreous fluid pulling away. It was explained to me that this is a function of age, as the fluid hardens over time, and when it does, it pulls away. The danger is that this can cause retinal tears or separation from the surface of the eye ball, and it appeared that I did not have this problem.

I accepted this conclusion and in telling others about what had happened, stirred up some angst in one of them who had experienced a similar problem, had gone to the emergency eye clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and had immediately undergone eye surgery to repair a detached retina. I explained that I had seen an optometrist who said all was okay, and she indicated she had done the same, and heard the same before deciding to go to emergency. She pleased with me to go.

I went, spent most of a day waiting to be seen, was extensively examined, and learned that what the optometrist had told me was the case in my situation. They said I did the right thing in coming in to see them as I wasn’t completely out of the woods yet, and they scheduled a follow up appointment at the end of September. That appointment confirmed that nothing bad had happened since but that I should return if I get any more flashes, more floaters, or experience a curtain moving over any part of my vision. I’m having small flashes as I write this so who knows.

Anyway, back to the planned trip across Canada. My eye issues were disturbing for me and I just didn’t feel comfortable driving away when I might need care. Gas prices were up, the value of the Canadian dollar was down relative to the U.S. dollar, and my book issues were still very much unresolved, so I chose not to make the trip. This allowed me to settle emotionally and to make significant progress on my books, and to save some money. In the sentiment expressed by Kathy, I made the right choice.

More briefly, I am still haunted by my need to troll for food after 7:00 p.m. and usually succumb. I have felt almost no creative urges to get out my camera and go outside and shoot pictures. I have thought about it while driving past the wonderful fall colours that emerged mid-September, but have not taken a shot.

Although I managed to do something physically active most days during July, August, and September (including walking for fifty minutes, riding for an hour and a half, building several brick patios, moving some heavy blocks from the back of the yard to the front, and shoveling three tons of dirt and gravel), I became more and more sedentary as I worked at my computer to get the books done and finished the quarter well up in weight and in a state of substantially less physical fitness.

I don’t see a way where I could apply Kathy’s sentiment and put these failures in a better light. I suppose I can take responsibility for making the choice that the work sitting at my computer was more important to me at this time than getting out doors and walking or riding.

morning frost
yellows and oranges
flicker in the slight breeze