Sunday, January 23, 2011

Time Management At Its Best: "The Pickle Jar Theory" by Sandy Klim

In the November-December 2010 issue of Going Places: The Magazine for Today's Traveler, there is an article called "The Pickle Jar Theory" by Sandy Klim. Since I try to balance my time in between all the different "hats" I wear, I pulled the magazine closer to learn how to balance those "hats."

Klim wrote, "There are thousands of plans, programs, techniques and tips for time management, and yet it remains one of the most elusive components of our daily lives. The Pickle Jar Theory helps you visualize your priorities, as well as the amount and size of tasks that can be done realistically on a given day."

Basically, the Pickle Jar Theory works with four steps. Klim organized the list nicely in the article. She wrote, "To plan your day, imagine a large empty pickle jar." Then,

1. Add three or four large rocks to the jar.
2. Add a small handful of pebbles to the jar.
3. Add a handful of sand.
4. Fill the rest of the jar with water.

Why these steps? And, why in this order?

Klim wrote, "If you were to put the water and sand in first, and then your pebbles, very few of the large rocks would fit."

I understand, when planning my day, I need to determine my priorities. The three or four rocks represent objects that are "high priority." The last element, the water, represents "family and personal time"--even though it is the last element, it is still a priority and a large one at that. My jar needs balance. It cannot have large rocks and no water, likewise water with no rocks.

How do I not become overwhelmed with organizing my Pickle Jar? At night, I will go to bed without thinking about rocks, pebbles, and sand that didn't fit. From my pillow, I'll be comforted with the thought that the water will automatically be in my Pickle Jar.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tryon Daily Bulletin and Converse College

Hello All,
The Tryon Daily Bulletin, aka The World's Smallest Daily Newspaper, has posted the "Letter to the Editor" I wrote to the community of Tryon, North Carolina. The letter is about the experience I had while residing in Tryon, NC for the Converse College low-residency MFA program. If you are interested in reading the letter, you can find it at under the OPINION section with the title "Tryon Perfect Experience."

*Kate, thanks for the recommendation.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To Compose in Words: An MFA

Much like the conductor lifts his hands towards an orchestra, the director of the low-residency MFA program at Converse College, lifts his hands towards the writers-in-progress. Rick Mulkey a practicing poet, husband, and father is the man behind the program. His right-hand is Melody Boland, a knowledgeable asset for students, faculty, and staff. She keeps the program personal; which is priceless in a low-residency program.

Who are the Faculty?
They are strong writers, readers, and teachers. Just what an MFA student needs, knowledgeable guidance and mentorship.

Who are the students?
We, because I am one, are writers-in-progress. Some are promising poets, fiction gurus, and some are creators of creative nonfiction.

There is a way to do it better--find it. - Thomas Edison

If you are a writer-in-progress, and want more, more than just words on a page. If you want a life-changing experience--as I can attest to. Look into the low-residency MFA program at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC at and ask for Melody.

Deadline for Applications: Feb 15, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tryon Horse

In Tryon, North Carolina a horse symbolizes the town. I found the image of this white horse with black spots and a red halter almost everywhere I went during my MFA residency. It was present on liquor store flyers, brochures on sites to visit, and as a statue downtown--not far from the Nina Simone Plaza. While I immersed myself in all things literary, I discovered this Tryon Horse aka Morris with a hat size of 21 following me to Elmo's (home to a tasty rueben sandwich), then by NaNa's kitchen--where I devoured homemade green beans with boneless fried chicken. So, I asked myself, why the horse?

I opened the brochure entitled "Historic Downtown Tryon Walking Tour.". Inside, I plunged into the history of Tryon--the town known as "Nearly Perfect. Always Tryon." Morris, the first horse, "was built as an advertisement for the 1928 Harmon Field horse show. Drawn by Eleanor Vance, it was built by 17-year old student and master-builder, Meredith Lankford. Secretly called "Eleanor" by Lankford and his buddies to honor their teacher..." Eventually the name of the horse changed to Morris. Today, he presides downtown over all of Tryon.

I asked myself: Is there more to this story? Is there more to the image of a horse? What does this have to do with the people?

Historically, Tryon, North Carolina became a location of great interest for three reasons. First, for resorts, to offer horse rides and hiking on Hogback Mountain. Second, for health reasons, because of the tuberculosis scare occurring during the 1880s. Tryon offered mild winters and cool summers. Third, agriculture promises of orchards and vineyards enticed many.

I know I will go back. I will eat at Elmo's and NaNa's Kitchen. The haunting melody of Nina Simone will hover by my ear. I will gaze at Morris--the town guardian. I will feel nearly perfect.