What’s on Your Desk?

Aisling's computer desk - 20150901Following the lead by K. M. Weiland (http://www.kmweiland.com/all-the-super-important-stuff-on-this-writers-desk/) and encouraged by my friend Nanette Day and the example set by Jules Dixon  I’m sharing a completely un-staged photo of what’s on my computer desk this morning.

(My current “art desk” is my bed. I have stacks of paper for drawing, plus a silverware drawer insert — $2 from IKEA, but you can find similar ones at Target, Walmart, etc. — filled with pens, pencils, paintbrushes, etc.)

Anyway, here’s what’s on my writing/computer desk and (at least partially) shown in the photo:

1. Computer (bearing a Honeydukes sticker from the Harry Potter shop at Universal Studios theme park), printer/scanner, and monitor.
2. One mic, plus one headset with its own mic.
3. Two pens, four thumb drives, a calculator, a portable hard drive, and a spare USB hub.
4. Two bottles of vits and a glass of water.
5. Lots of papers: My daily to-do notebook, and yellow, lined pad for notes. Notes from said yellow pad.
6. A printed page from my upcoming coloring book, still in progress.
7. Last but not least: A white mouse from IKEA.

(If you’re just desperate to see everything in detail, click on the photo for the 800 x 600 pixels version.)

Since I’m incredibly busy right now, it’s a minor miracle that my desk is this tidy.

I decided to post this since it’s kind of in line with “Real Professional Qualities,” my somewhat sarcastic article from Professional Quilter magazine, March 1986 issue.


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Magpie logic

I’ve been completely redesigning my office/studio this week.

The room is a normal bedroom size, about 12′ x 12′, and it serves two important purposes:  I write in this room, and I create art here.


The writing requires lots & lots of reference books within easy reach.  I write on a variety of topics — mostly related to art, travel, history and/or paranormal themes — and I’m well-known for my exhaustive research using obscure (but fascinating) references.

Writers need to promote themselves and their books.  So, I have stacks of PR materials, including a dozen different styles of business cards, each tailored to a particular audience. I need to access them easily when I get a call from an event or a reporter.


My art is all over the place, sometimes literally.

080401-3treesbush-illus-dsI paint with oils and acrylics.  My canvases can be 36″ x 48″ or larger, and as tiny as 3″ x 3″. It’s easy to lose the little canvases and difficult to store the huge ones.  They end up in boxes, behind doors, in closets, under beds, etc.

I also create fabric art, especially dolls and wearable art, plus quilts.  My paper arts require considerable space, including my basic collage supplies (lots & lots of magazines) and embellishments.

Then there are the one-off assemblages that occur to me at odd moments, which — completed or in gestation — take up space.

Placing all of my writing supplies and all of my art supplies in the center of my studio floor… well, it’s been exhilarating and enlightening.

Magpie syndrome

magpie-black-billedI often think of myself as a magpie, in a way.

Sometimes, I see things that spark a project idea.

More often, that project idea is how I explain to myself why I need to own whatever-it-is. It’s how I justify the acquisition.

This is important: If I stay locked into that project idea and don’t explore other options, that collected object becomes clutter.  Two years later, I have only the vaguest memory of the painting, collage, shrine or doll that I intended to make.  The energy is lost, at least partly in regret.

Don’t let the guilt obliterate the energy of the object, or how it resonates — no matter how quietly — with your creative impulses.

That’s what I’m learning as I open boxes and rediscover half-finished projects and objects that never realized their greatness in completed art.

yorkh1-day1sdswAt least half a dozen paintings were in limbo, waiting for the technique I’m currently developing in my work.  (The photo at right is an example.  It’s barely started, but I love the glow of the houses facing the sunlight.)

Until I hauled those paintings out of the closet last night, I had no idea those paintings were such wonderful starts. With a fresh eye, I can see what works — and what doesn’t — and the energy is surging off the canvas as I admire it.

(I thought they were just bad paintings that I’d paint over, eventually. But, every time I looked at them, I wanted to cry because I could see the sparks of brilliance in them.  I couldn’t bear to paint over them, and now I’m glad that I didn’t.)

Yarn intended as doll hair now sings to me as embellishment wall hanging.

Books that I purchased are falling open to illustrations and phrases that almost glow with inspiration.

This is a very cool experience.

Though I realize this can be an excuse to accumulate clutter, I think it’s vital to avoid the extremes of collecting or purging, compulsively.

I’m also mindful that — from a bigger perspective — if you’re supposed to create a particular work of art, the supplies will probably show up, almost on their own.

However, as I sit here surrounded by art supplies, books and projects, I’m astonished at how precisely my “magpie collection” is fitting into place.  It’s as if I always knew that this day would happen.

It’s a concept worth considering.

My paintings: Three Trees (Bush Park, Houston, TX)
York Harbor View (York Harbor, ME) – in progress
Photo credit: Magpie – Juha Soininen, Finland


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Why New Year’s resolutions fail

Survey finds that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals. 51% don’t have New Year’s Resolutions and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) December 1, 2004
A survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching company, found that Americans aren’t taking their futures very seriously.

Specifically, 51% of those surveyed do not have New Year’s resolutions. To the contrary, 99% of respondents felt they were capable of accomplishing more in their lives.

So the question remains: Why aren’t we doing something about it?

The survey which was complete by a random group of 104 adults over 18 years of age, also asked respondents to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Years Resolutions or goals. The top 3 reasons identified were as follows:

  • Procrastinating 33%
  • Lack of discipline 24%
  • No game plan 19%

Interestingly enough, 10% of individuals felt the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s Resolutions or goals was “doing it alone.”

Supporting these results, participants were also asked if they felt they needed to improve their lives in specific areas such as personal confidence, family relationships, involvement in clubs/organizations, developing supportive friendships, their physical appearance (excluding weight), weight, financial stability, health/working out, career, and education.

99% of respondents felt they needed to improve in more than one area of life while over 90% of respondents felt they needed to improve in 5 or more areas.

The area that required the greatest improvement was developing financial stability, followed by health/working out, and losing weight.

To summarize, the survey indicates that 99% of respondents feel they need to improve their lives, but only 9% are actively doing something about it.

“We do want more and we all know we can do more with our lives, but 91% of us aren’t doing anything about it. We are an instant gratification society and advertisers count on consumer’s need for instant gratification to keep them purchasing.

“Whether it’s the latest technology, a new home or new car, we thrive on adding that next big thing to our own personal inventories.

“The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn and the average credit card debt per household is over $8500,” said Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist.

Want To Do Something About It? “Planning for the future would bring long term positive results and achievement,” continues Kasper. “Initially, you may feel that you are sacrificing because you are not out on a Saturday spending your paycheck and you are now at home learning a new software program, but only your choices have changed.

“You are taking steps to achieve excellence in specific areas of life and this process becomes a personal growth experience – whether it’s learning a new software package, taking an aerobics class, developing your creative mind through reading, joining a club, or taking a college class.

“You will be healthier and your life will be more fulfilled. You will find immediate gratification because you are developing you.”

Gail Kasper, the author of the recently released time management and life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 6 simple steps to getting on track and living your New Year’s Resolutions and goals.

1. A support system is essential. When growing up, you have your parents to keep you on track. At work, you have your boss. Eventually you must come to the conclusion that you are accountable for your life.

With 10% of individuals indicating that their #1 reason for not achieving a New Year’s Resolution is that they don’t want to ‘do it alone’ and over 30% indicating that they ‘procrastinate,’ it’s time to develop a support system to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

It may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member, or perhaps it’s time to have a “goal planning” party. There are Tupperware parties, make-up parties, botox parties, so how about a “goal planning” party.

19% of individuals don’t “have a game plan” and many times goals don’t get achieved because of our inability to know how to proceed. One brainstorming session where others share their ideas and experiences can propel you to the next level of achievement.

2. Schedule a meeting with yourself. That’s right, schedule a 30 minute meeting… with you! When you decide that you “want” something whether it’s a purchase or a vacation, you are tenacious about it. Isn’t it time to be tenacious about your life? When you meet with yourself, ask yourself this question: where do I want to be 5 years from now? And write down the response. This will give you a clear direction for where you want to go.

3. Have a Daily Planning System. Gene Donohue once said that the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. So get your electronic organizer, daily planner or other method of choice and write down your goals. Writing them down will make it “important” and give seriousness to the task. It will bring your goals to life.

4. Identify the specific date and time to start tasks. Next to those goals, write down the specific tasks you must do to complete those goals. These specific tasks are placed in your daily planning system.

So if next week, you plan to go to the gym, identify the specific date and time you will go. For each task, identify the date and time you will do that task.

5. Design your value system. A value system is who you are and how you choose to live your life. It’s your standard operating procedure. If you are a caring, hard working, honest with yourself, loyal individual – these values will define the process for how you will move forward with your goals. And these values will define the choices you make with your life.

An individual who is “honest with themselves” will not pretend they are working toward a goal when they’re not. They will admit that they have fallen off track and will get back on. A value system is key. It defines you and the steps you take.

6. Celebrate every accomplishment. We are a negative society. We see what we haven’t accomplished, rather than the steps that we have taken. Any effort or energy you give to what you haven’t accomplished will only slow you down. Celebrate every accomplishment, keep the momentum, and look toward tomorrow.

Action creates results!

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy League universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program Make a Decision to Win.Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact: Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 ###

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