Archives for October 2010

My 2010 Halloween Costume: Ninja!!

I got the inspiration for this year’s Halloween costume from a parade in Modesto, California. I’ve dressed up as some silly stuff in previous years, so I wanted something cool this year. And there’s not much cooler than a ninja! Here I am showing off my ninja costume:

Me in my ninja costume

(Click to see a full-size image.)

I tried to be authentic. Check out the details of my costume and shuriken:

Me in my ninja costume

(Click to see a full-size image.)

The best part about this costume is that when kids ring our doorbell, I’ll go into stealth mode. They’ll never even notice as I silently drop to the ground behind them, pad up on split-toe tabi boots to drop candy in their bags, then fade into the shadows. I’m looking forward to trick-or-treaters this year. And I can even use the costume after Halloween to slip up behind spammers.

Thanks to the ninja parade for inspiring my ninja costume this year!

New 30 day challenges: Get my finances in order. Write a novel.

Alright, I’ve decided my next two 30 day challenges. In October, I’m going to get my finances in order. Follow along with me to talk about money, hatch plans, and carry them out–it should be fun!

Then in November, I’m going to write a novel. Yup, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. There’s all kinds of reasons not to do this:
– I have good reason to believe I’ll write a sucky novel. My high school English teacher gently recommended that I stick to technical writing instead of creative writing.
– Also, I have no training/experience with creative writing.
– And I have no idea what I’m going to write.

But who cares? I’m doing it regardless. The thirty days will pass either way, so I might as well get a novel out of it. Or more likely, a novella. The NaNoWriMo folks shoot for 50,000 words, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t write that much.

I don’t know whether I’ll make the novel public or private. I’m leaning toward private. 50,000 words is ~175 pages in 30 days. That’s going to mean a lot of dialog on stilts and campy plot. The goal for me is to do something creative, but I see no particular reason to heap embarrassment on top of that. While you’re learning about NaNoWriMo, you can join in the fun if you want! November will fly by either way–why not try something new for a month?

And yes, I will be using Google Docs to write my novel. It has two things I need: auto-saving, and a word count function. Okay, three things, because you can do comments and formatting and weird fonts and colors and pictures and hyperlinks and stuff. And who knows, maybe I’ll need that? Who says a novel has to be just *words*?

If you want to join me and write a novel too, sign up at . Go do it right now, before you forget.

30 day challenge: meditation

I just finished up a 30 day challenge of spending 15 minutes a day meditating. I tried everything from traditional posture to sitting outside to lying on the ground. I experimented with keeping my eyes open vs. shut, breathing, counting and listening. My favorite was cat meditation, which is when you meditate with a cat lying on you, kind of like this:

Emmy and me

There’s something about a relaxed cat that really helps me relax too. Cats are zen masters.

Meditating was harder than I thought, in a few ways. First, it was difficult (impossible?) to turn my brain off. I’m accustomed to using my brain all the time, every day. I don’t like to turn my brain off. I definitely struggled with that all month. Someone recommended counting, for example counting leaves on a tree, as a way to help. That worked very well, but it also felt like counting was keeping my mind busy rather than clearing it out.

Also, it was surprisingly hard to carve out the time to do it. I ended up missing about six days altogether, partly because of some travel during the month. I think the fact that it wasn’t my favorite activity also played a role.

But I learned a few things, too. I became much more aware this month of how little irritations can snag your attention and pull you down. A few deep breaths would often help me get some distance from the irritation.

Am I glad that I meditated this month? Absolutely. But for now, I don’t plan to maintain this habit going forward, or at least not every day.