In This Issue
2) Susan's Musings - Friends In High Places
3) Featured guest: Jess Hartley
This fun, creative lady wears many hats, or I should say costumes in her pursuit of all that interests her. She is a popular writer, editor and developer in the role playing game industry. But there's more--read on to find out her secrets to success as a dilettante.
A very, merry welcome to you. Glad you could stop by and I hope you are doing well, enjoying longer days and full of good energy to do all those things you love to do and to pursue your wildest dreams.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, I love hearing from you and about you--what you are doing, what you want to do, what challenges you are encountering in your personal journey to becoming a successful dilettante.
Susan's Musings - Friends In High Places
I have a confession to make -- I have done some pretty rash, and some might say stupid, things in my life. Yet I have tended to breeze right through it all without damage to life or limb. I have always had an eerie feeling of being protected or watched out for.
Several years ago, while living in Seattle, I somehow found out about a woman named Susan who was a psychic and on a whim, I called her up and made an appointment for a reading for myself and my mother who was visiting me.
On that sunny afternoon, we arrived at a rather upscale house in a suburban neighborhood and were greeted by a pleasant housewifey-looking lady about fortyish, I'd guess. After leading us to a bright, cheery family room, she said that before we got started on the readings she wanted to talk to us both about a strong feeling/message she was receiving before we arrived. She said one of us had a collective of male angels watching over her and, this is the weird part, the name of this collective of angels was Sparky.
And I knew it was me. It all made perfect sense. I had always felt their presence, sometimes strong and sometimes soft. Sometimes a gentle tap on the shoulder warning uh-uh don't go there and sometimes a slap up along side the head strongly suggesting I reign in my adventuresome ways and do it now!
Okay, you guys may all think I am nuts and this is just my sub-conscious guiding me or something. But I know I am now, always have been, and forever will be - Sparky's Girl.
Featured Guest: Jess Hartley
My guest today was a life-long native of the Pacific Northwest until she recently found herself transplanted to New England, where she lives with her husband, youngest daughter and a menagerie of critters in Western Massachusetts. She’s a well known writer and speaker in the role playing game community. In her spare time she sews, crochets, knits and creates other fiber crafts; cooks, bakes and researches recipes; reads, writes and watches science fiction, fantasy and horror; attends conventions, and occasionally finds time to sleep. Read on to learn how she manages to do it all and still come out laughing and enjoying the ride.
SH: Jess, how did you come to enjoy the successful dilettante life you live today?
JH: Wow, that's a rather huge question, isn't it? I think that every choice a person makes contributes to the place they find themselves in at the present. I've always been interested in a wide variety of topics. My parents frequently told me "You can do anything you put your mind to," and, in part because they believed it, eventually I came to believe it too. After a rough start in my early adulthood, with the help of a great partner I set upon the path that would eventually bring me here.
When my daughter was born about 12 years ago, we decided it would be best for the family if I stayed home with her. Until she started school, my dilettante dabbling was mostly domestic—cooking, preserving foods, crafts like cross-stitch and crochet.
Even then I was an avid gamer, seeking out both card games--Magic: The Gathering was my addiction--and role-playing games. I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, researching various historic periods and recreating clothing, camping gear, recipes and jewelry, as well as performing, writing poetry and singing.
When my youngest was ready to start school, we were faced with some choices. We'd become accustomed to living on one income, so we didn't absolutely need me to go back to work, but I would have gone crazy without some sort of a challenge to fill my days. So I took a look at the things I enjoyed and was good at, and decided to begin writing. That lead to many more interests and activities, which eventually brought me to today.
SH: What tools are most effective in helping you to balance your multiple interests?
JH: I don't sleep any more. No, just kidding, although sometimes it feels like that. In truth, it's more a matter of concentrating on the things that I really enjoy and cutting out most of the rest.
I don't watch television except for the occasional time when it's more of a social activity with the family. I've learned to avoid obligations that aren't important to me and my family or friends, rather than saying yes automatically to everything I'm asked or invited to do.
I often multi-task -- knitting or crocheting while visiting with friends or traveling, reading while waiting for appointments or while I'm "on hold".
I've developed a pretty frenetic pace--I get things in and get them done as efficiently as I can. Simplifying helps, as well as trying to be organized and picking up after myself as I go along, rather than
coming back to do clean-up.
I'm very fortunate to have a family that supports and encourages me, not only in word, but in deed. If I'm on a deadline, my husband's there lending a hand with chores or taking over meals, and my daughter is very good about helping, too.
SH: How to you manage your time? Do you make a plan?
JH: I'm not a good long-term planner. It's just not how my mind works. I'm better at "line it up and burn through it" type task management, so I tend to break things down into little projects that give me a sense of accomplishment.
On longer projects, I find mile-markers help. For example, on a 20,000 word writing project, it's less daunting if you can see you've just passed a 5% marker (or 20 or 65) and it's easier to keep going.
I'm also a big believer in lists and using technology as a tool to stay organized. I use Google Calendar to organize my conventions, meetings, deadlines and other important dates. And lots and lots of Post-it notes.
SH: Who has most influenced you as a successful dilettante?
JH: My parents and my family. My folks have always told me that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to, and gave me the support and encouragement to try new things.
My husband, wonderful man that he is, has only accelerated that. I would not be the person I am today without his love and support.
SH: What advice would you like to share with our readers?
JH: Be prepared. Good and bad things happen to everyone. Take care of your life so that you aren't as badly effected when the bad things happen and you can take fullest advantage of the good things.
That means pay your car insurance, rather than going to that concert, if it's an either-or situation. Balance your checkbook, so you don't have overdrafts. Maintain the basic stuff, and you'll have more time, energy and opportunity for the extras.
Take care of your body-- eat your veggies, walk every day and be happy. It's your life - tend to it like the precious thing it is.
Jess Hartley is not only an avid role playing gamer, but also a freelance writer, editor and developer in the gaming industry. She is a novelist and creator of Forsoothly Spoken, a regular feature in Renaissance Magazine (www.renaissancemagazine.com), which also publishes many of her articles and book reviews. She is a speaker at many conventions in the industry where her topics range from comic book secret identities to the pros and cons of working in the gaming industry.
2006-07 Susan Henderson, All rights reserved.
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