Launched!

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Happy Birthday! My new site is up, and it feels good to see it live, even knowing it’s a work in progress.

It’s been a joy to work on this project, sometimes diligently, always with a goal of creating a way to give back.

Some of the posts on the site have migrated over from Grace and Life, and after some soul searching, I’ve decided to keep this blog going as well as the new one. This one is more personal, and the place for Riley and Jack photos, recipes, the Sheila side of life.

Story Revisioned is about my story from a different perspective; but hopefully, it will not only be about my story. The vision is to have others posting, sharing, commenting: to create a space that is inviting and nurturing.

Please stop by! I’d love to have visitors, now that the lights are on and the door is open. I’d be honored if you join my email list, and even more thrilled if you share your story and leave feedback.

Last, the Kindle edition of Choose Your Purpose, Love Your Life is up. It will be free from May 26-30. Please download if you’d like, and if you read, I’d be grateful for a review.

See you on the playground!

~ Sheila

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My new Kindle book is done!

I posted about attending a Vipassana meditation retreat last November, and it was such an amazing experience I decided to write about it. Life has been full of ups and downs, starts and stops, and it took a while to get it done. But I finally posted it to Kindle today, and tomorrow and Monday it is free as an introductory promotion. If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, please do so, and it would be even better if you’re able to leave a review. It’s an overview of the experience, designed to share insight into what it was like to sit and meditate for 10 days, the things that were good, the things that were hard, and my personal point of view as a practicing Christian, attending a retreat inspired by Buddhist philosophy.

I also share some of my relationship struggles and the story that prompted me to attend.

My bottom line? It was very worthwhile, and a surprise that I didn’t expect…I had no plan to attend a meditation retreat at the beginning of last November, yet a few days into the month I was on my way. If you’ve ever wondered about taking a time out to do something like this, maybe this read would encourage you to put it on your bucket list.

I hope you’ll check it out!

Here’s the link: Vipassana Meditation and the Sound of Silence

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Checkbook surprise

A few months ago I published a little ebook on Kindle, (shameless plug) and then with the house listed and life turned upside down, I largely forgot about it. Not that I wasn’t interested. But I was overwhelmed, and preoccupied…too busy with craziness at the moment to focus on my budding self-publishing career.

So imagine my surprise when I was balancing my checkbook in September and noticed a deposit from Amazon. The first thought that flashed through my mind was that this was a refund for something I had bought from Amazon. But I immediately realized that didn’t make sense…I buy with my credit card, so anything that was refunded would show up on the card activity, not in my checking account.

It actually took me a couple of minutes to realize…this was a payment to me from Amazon! It was a royalty payment for my book sales!

And it was for a grand total of $20.24.

Alright, I’m not making a fortune here. But do you know what that represents?

And yes, I do understand that self-publishing in the digital world is not quite the milestone as say…having a book hit the New York Times best seller list.

But still…I actually made money from something I wrote, and something someone else bought.

And a few days ago, it happened again. This time the deposit was only for $16.74, but it was there.

And it whetted my appetite. If one little book generates two small deposits, maybe there’s opportunity for more.

Haven’t I been looking for ways to move my income stream to the digital world? And isn’t this income?

Well, so far I could do a couple of fast food meals, or a few rounds of morning coffee. It’s a modest beginning.

But it is a beginning.

Do you ever think about the end of the story? You know, the way movies often start…at the end, showing the outcome of the story, then taking you back to see how it all unfolded?

That’s the scene I play in my mind. I’m not forecasting that I’ll become a famous author, or even a wealthy one. I do have a fantasy that I’m self-funded, and looking back to how it all started…little by little, growing into a steady stream of deposits that support more than a coffee habit.

I’m thinking about other titles…what books do I have in me?

I’ve been curious about the Kindle publishing platform for a long time. I buy Kindle books on a regular basis, and I wanted to walk through the process to experience it…see how easy or difficult it was, see what it would be like to have a book on Amazon.

Well, now I know. It actually works!

Not that I was skeptical. I’ve certainly read enough from others who have published via Kindle to know that it is a legitimate publishing venue, to say nothing of having the powerhouse of Amazon behind it.

And let me say, just to be clear, that I am a hearty and staunch supporter of independent bookstores and printed books. But I am a realist, and I believe there is room for both digital and print books, for online retailers and the brick-and-mortar shop as well.

But there’s no doubt that for someone like me, digital publishing offers an opportunity that I would likely never have in the print world, at least not at this point, not with my approach.

So I’m grateful for the incentive that two little deposits in my account have given me.

And I’m doing a little daydreaming about the end of this story.

Here’s the other thing. I’m sharing this to say, if I could do this, so can anyone else. The digital world is amazing…levels the playing field in so many ways, and opens the door to creativity and determination and ambition. Like a little engine that could, I hear myself….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

And you can too! See you on the playground!

Here I go!

I’ve been in a bit of an upheaval in the past few weeks. My house is once again on the market, which feels good. I’m hopeful, fearful, wondering about next. But this also gives me a lot of motivation and incentive to tackle some chores that I’ve been avoiding for a while now…the dreaded sort, pulling out and evaluating everything with a view to: KEEP / DON’T KEEP and SELL / DONATE. Or worst of all: WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS????

There are a lot of questions to answer, and work that I’m still doing..will be doing until I’m literally heading out of town. And that’s good too. Busy keeps me going, productive, and positive. And who knows how long it will take to sell? I don’t want to jinx myself, but you never know about these things.

I’m trying my hand at a few new things. I decided to use my Alaska experience as a bridge to a new adventure, so I’ve written a short e-book, So, You Want to Move to Alaska? Hot off my keyboard today. I self-published on Amazon’s Kindle site, and whether it sells two copies or two thousand, it was a good experience for me to work through. It takes a day or so to show up on the Kindle site, and I’m excited to see how it looks in final form. I see they offer an option for updating, even after the initial publication, so that reassures me in case I find a typo right away. Even after proofing, it seems like there’s always something missed.

I understand that non-fiction books are a good source of ongoing income…the more you work at putting titles out, the more chance you’ll make sales. The price is low…$2.99, but the idea is to make up in volume what you lose in the per-book sales amount. I’ve got a second title already in the works.

Anyway, the process is free. I wouldn’t say it was painless, but I think I’ll be able to do a second book much more easily now that I’ve been through it once.

My little Kindle book!

I’m also launching a YouTube video channel. Or at least I’m working on doing that. I’ve got a camera in hand, and I’m sorting out the process, and content.

I’m also changing the focus of ReVision Me. I had initially thought I would use that site as a business platform for writing and editing, focusing on healthcare documents…policies, strategic plans, etc. But I find my heart isn’t really in that. I’m still working in that world for my day-to-day income needs. But now I think I’ll focus the concept of ReVision on women my age…maybe men too, eventually, but it seems safe to begin with the gender I know.

In taking stock of where I am in life, I realize, for what it’s worth, that I could be a poster child for AARP. I’m 53, female, vibrant, energetic, looking to renew and extend my working life. I have a multitude of interests outside of work, I have extended family and a wide range of life experiences. I love the digital world, and I think I have something to offer.

I know there are already a lot of sites that cater to women, and even women of my profile. But I have a voice too, and I want to use it. So, I’ll be updating some of the work I had done on ReVision Me to bring it to a new focus. I set it up on the WordPress.org platform and will likely have affiliate advertising to help sponsor the site….another new adventure.

And last, I’m thinking about Etsy. Not sure how I can be part of that marketplace, but I’m intrigued, and I have been for a while now.

My challenge is to focus, and to look toward a new launch. Waiting is always the hardest part, isn’t it? Maybe if I’m busy enough it won’t be too too scary.

Love that Kindle!

If you haven’t checked out Amazon’s free Kindle books, you’re missing out on real treasure…everything from classic novels and non-fiction to obscure how-to guides; from essays on religions and myths of ancient civilizations to philosophy and poetry; from naturalists’ and historians’ guides to children’s literature. There’s something for everyone, instantly down-loadable, free, and accessible through pretty much any digital device you can think of. Amazon offers free Kindle applications for PCs, Macs, phones, tablets, and of course, you can purchase the Kindle device if you prefer that route. Best of all, whatever you download will appear on any of your Kindle apps. Purchases update wirelessly, so no connecting of everything. It’s like magic.

Another fun thing I stumbled across, accessible through links on Kindle, is Open Library and other resources for free downloads, or for free lending services. See here. (Scroll down to see all the links.)

If books aren’t enough, this link offers access to archived internet pages.
Learn more.
Also here. Found this by following a digital path from Amazon. I love that this company shares this kind of information, and it’s just one of the many reasons I’m a huge Amazon fan.

I’ll never completely give up buying “real” books, because sometimes there is a book so beautiful, or so meaningful, that I have to have an actual printed version in hand. But with all the availability of digital downloads, and the wealth of free material, I can fill a lot of reading time catching up on classics I never got around to in school, or exploring obscure works that catch my interest.

Summer reading lists? In addition to the best sellers, you might want to see what you’ve been missing that is just slightly more dated…Amazon offers almost 16,000 free titles here and if that isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are lending library options that offer free access to books for a limited time before you “return” the book, all done digitally…don’t ask me how, I just follow the links and click.

Enjoy the exploration! It’s entertaining to browse the lists and links, and to accumulate a personal library that’s on hand any time you find yourself waiting in a line, vacationing at the beach, or having a restless night. With all the options, a good read is as easy to find as your laptop or phone. And all those titles you always meant to read? Well, what are you waiting for?!

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Find of the day

So today was disappointing. May 2nd, and instead of a beautiful sunshiny day (like last Thursday…a warm postcard of a day in Ketchikan) it was chilly, rainy, gray. I had turned the heat off earlier in the week, but today, I had to flip the switch back on. It was just too cool in the house to be comfortable. Not the way to welcome May!

I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself this evening, and in a bit of random surfing, I ran across a site that celebrates the little things in life. Hey, that’s what my blog is about, at least some of the time. The truth is, it’s about whatever I want it to be about. Because, that’s right, it’s my blog. I read some of the posts, and each one brought a smile to my face. I felt my sunny side up coming back. Just because the day outside is dreary, that doesn’t mean I have to be down.

I looked around to choose what to celebrate now, this very minute. Hmmm…nothing jumping out at me…

Ok, how about this? I’m uploading Riley photos to Flickr, getting ready to make a photo book of her first year of life. Looking back at the photos is an amazing review of her little face, her rapid growth, her changing smile and emerging personality. That’s a good thing!

Or this? Made a cake, chocolate, with cream cheese frosting, and after giving away most of it, I still have a decadent piece saved to treat myself for the next few nights.

Or this? My hair has grown long enough I can pull it up in a pony tail, and my bangs are long enough that I can pull them back…ok, I know this is only of interest to me, but it’s a small personal triumph.

Or this? I’m downloading books left and right on my Kindle. What a kick!

Or this? Did a good deed Saturday. Made me feel good all the way to today!

Or this? Listened to great music all afternoon on Pandora.

Or this? Ticked off several to dos last weekend and feel ready to start the week.

Or this? Added the link http://1000awesomethings.com/ to my blogroll. Take a peak for yourself. Can’t vouch for all of the content, but it seems like a great source for celebrating the good and the small. As Julie Andrews sang, “these are a few of my favorite things.”

Well, well, well…May is looking up. How about you? You don’t have to find 1,ooo things to celebrate. But how about one? Or two? Have a good time listing your own awesome things.

Kindle

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Amazon Kindle

I finally got a Kindle. I’ve had the Kindle app on my iPhone for quite a while, and have actually enjoyed using it. I wasn’t sure, initially, if reading on a small screen would be good or frustrating. I’ve primarily used my phone app for reading when I travel.

But I took the plunge, and boy, do I like the full size version. It has taken a bit of adjustment. The functions are not built into a touch screen, so after scrolling from page to page on the iPhone app via touch, I’ve had to retrain myself to use the page buttons. But overall, it’s been an easy transition. I love that it arrived in my mail box already set up for me and with all the books I had previously downloaded to my phone app already synced. My device knew me by name, before we had even been properly introduced! It was a small thing, but oh so fun, to power up and find everything installed and immediately ready to use.

And I’m off this week, taking my new slim friend along. It looks like a book in it’s new case, fits neatly inside my purse, and I’m excited to use it while I’m traveling, knowing I’m not draining my phone battery, because….I might not make it to the next outlet before my phone dies. No, no, that’s just my phone phobia at work. I’m never  really in danger of that. But what if??

I’m rapidly becoming technology woman. I have my little netbook and the charger for that. My iPhone and the charger for that. My Kindle and the charger for that. Oh, I’m so modern! See kids, I told you I was a cool mom! Or maybe I just love gadgets. Anyway, without a gaming product to my name, I have an impressive number of ways to take advantage of any electrical opportunity.

Back to Kindle: I can see upgrades coming in the future. I would love the view to be in color. I would personally prefer a touch screen. But like any technology, it’s a work in progress, and you know when you buy in that there will be updates. It’s nice when new versions are digital downloads and don’t require a re-purchase of the hardware. But even that is just part of the package that comes with all the amazing function of this technology. I look at the list of books I’ve downloaded and the ones on my wish list. To take even a small number of books traveling would quickly fill my carry-on. Then there’s always the dilemma…keep a book forever, gathering dust on a shelf, or donate it? Now I can have the best of both worlds. I’m not adding to a stack of books in my physical space, and I can keep any of the downloaded books as long as I want. Or, if I decide to delete, it takes a moment and the push of a button. Pretty easy recycling.

Amazon offers thousands of books in digital format. You can purchase the latest New York Times bestsellers, blogs, magazines (although the magazine offerings are quite limited, from what I’ve seen). You can also download, for free, many of the “classics” that have been digitized and are copyright free. It’s a nice bonus that many books that I either read long ago, or always wanted to read, are available at no charge.

I haven’t cleaned out all of the books I’ve accumulated over the years, although I’ve thinned the collection. And I will surely continue to buy books in the traditional format on occasion…some books demand physical expression, for the color, the graphics, the presence of a book. But I suspect that the times I feel the need to purchase a “real” book will be fewer and fewer.

This isn’t really meant to be a review. There are thousands of reviews of the Kindle on Amazon’s site if you want technical information, pros and cons. This is just a personal endorsement of a favorite pleasure that has been repackaged for ease of access and portability. Reading has always been my first choice of a private pass-time. And now, in this format, one small item in my purse can take the place of a whole library. Pretty amazing. Pretty wonderful!

I LOVE technology!

Now don’t get me wrong…I don’t understand technology…or at least, I only understand a very little bit, around the edges. But I appreciate it so much!

I live in Ketchikan, Alaska, currently, and before moving here I spent two years above the Arctic Circle, in the small town of Kotzebue. My husband and I moved there for what I call our “empty nest” adventure. Well, four years later, the Alaska experience continues. And every day, I’m reminded of how big a role technology plays in my life.

AT&T, the company my cell service is with, had a tower down in this region over the weekend. I kept staring at my iPhone Friday night and Saturday, which was registering “no service” instead of the normal component of full bars. I don’t have long distance service on the land line in the house, so I was literally cut off from family…but oh, wait, I still had internet access, so I was able to email and send messages via facebook that my line was temporarily down…just so no one would think I had fallen off the face of the earth when I was telephonically silent for 24 hours. Rob is out of town, so he wasn’t here to talk to either. Fortunately my service was restored late on Saturday, so I was once again able to be in touch with the world by cell.

Then there is my recent venture into the world of blogging. I decided that I wanted to give this a try, but knew nothing about how to start a blog. I went online and found a couple of books on Amazon that sounded like just what I needed. I ordered, read, launched my site, and voila! I’m a blogger…not a very experienced one, but I’m learning. And a fascinating world it is. You can do the whole thing for free, if you want, and all the really hard work, the coding, is done for you, behind the scenes. Of course, I’m sure if I want to develop a more sophisticated blog or even a web site, I’ll need to learn a lot more. But the current technology makes it possible even for people like me, who don’t know html code from Morse code, to get started.

And I haven’t even begun to sing the praises of the internet in general. I get most of my news online…the benefit being that if a story looks interesting, I can read all I want. Or if the headline looks scary, I don’t have to click on the link. I love controlling what comes to me. And ebooks…who knew it could be enjoyable to read a book online?! I thought I needed the actual book experience, but while I can still appreciate a beautifully illustrated and bound book, I’ve had no difficulty adjusting to reading books online. Yay for Kindle!

And the online services! Let me just say here and now that if you are not taking advantage of online retail ordering, banking, all sorts of accounts management, and social networking, you are missing the biggest time saver and convenience in modern life…better, in my opinion, than microwaves and sliced bread.

So, although I don’t know how it all works, I love that it does. And that brings me back to Alaska. This is a remote state, much of it inaccessible by road. There are many communities that you can only reach by ferry or plane. Alaska is short on roads. But with internet access, cable, cell phones and jet planes, there is little that you can’t get, even in the bush communities. (Well, you can’t get much restaurant variety or a mall experience, but you can order online and at least connect with the outside world.) Talking with long term residents who have spent a lifetime in this state, hearing their stories, I can only imagine what it was like to live here when the main connection was through snail mail or expensive phone calls.

So here’s a thank you to all the brilliant minds who have invented the things I now consider life necessities. My husband says I have a relationship with my phone, and its true…its a lifeline that I would be lost without. But judging from the number of people I see walking around with phones in hand, I’m not alone…I have a lot of company.