Drive Write: Support Structures

Drive Write podcastDrive Write: Episode 15 – Support Structures

This week I’m talking about personal support structures. In particular, I’m expressing appreciation for everything my wife does to help me perform on my creative projects. I’ve been reminded of just how much having a teammate and partner means during this past holiday season. She was overseas for the past several weeks and it has been difficult to balance all my personal projects against family, parenting and the day job.

Let me know if you’ve had similar experience or challenges in the comments. And definitely let me know if you have any tips!

Feels Right

I received the most wonderful text from my wife last week. She is traveling overseas and her text to me was that it “felt right” for her to be where she was. It may seem strange that “feeling right” about being away from home is a good thing. But it is. In this case it is, at least. In fact… it’s awesome.

I’ll tell you why.

My wife is a physical therapist and a thumpin’ good one. She’s good at a LOT of different aspects of her job. But what she loves most is hands-on sports therapy.

And that’s what she’s doing right now.

She’s the physical therapist for the US Nordic Ski Team and is traveling with them on the World Cup circuit. Her job right now is to keep the team competitive and healthy during the run-up to Sochi and the Winter Olympics.

When she sent that text, she was standing at the finish line in Oberhof. The team was absolutely killing it. The text read, “I’m in heaven here, feels right to be here.”

It is an amazing feeling to help your spouse and best friend find that one thing they love to do more than anything else. To help them chase that one thing. And then to engineer life such that it is attainable.

It’s a damn good feeling.

It’s been a long road. Two years apart for the masters degree. The risk and expense of owning a company. The clouded indecision of selling one. All-nighters and long weekends away from the family for the doctorate degree. It all adds up.

“Feels right to be here,” is the payoff for all of that effort. It’s worth it.

Somewhat selfishly, I take a fair bit of personal pride from having helped make this happen for her. And it’s also got me thinking.

So many of our decisions in life are based on the expectations of others. I mean, we tell our kids that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, right? At least we tell them this here in the U.S. And it’s probably true. Well… just so long as whatever they want to be includes an education financed on debt, mortgages, multiple car payments, insurance out the wazoo, and dual 8am–5pm incomes that provide both health and retirement plans. Sure. They can be whatever they want to be.

I think a much more heartening message is to let your kids see you do the things you love. And I’m not talking about things that are simply fun. I mean things that are truly and deeply rewarding. I believe that actively pursuing the things you find fulfilling will keep you happy and engaged around the home. They make you a better person to be and to be around.

Let your kids see the effort and dedication that it takes to accomplish meaningful work. Let them see the sacrifices that need to be made. And let them see that those things are worth it.

Hell. Let everyone see.

Sure… it might not be “proper” to forego the stereotypical American life. It might not be common to pass on the big salary or public sector benefits. Proper is fine. Common is safe. But when Zuzi comes home and I ask her how her day was, I don’t want her to sigh having slogged through one more weekend-obstructing day. But that’s the script, right? That’s what we’re supposed to do.

I’d much rather see her smile and hear her say that what she is doing feels right. How could you not want that for your spouse? Or for yourself for that matter?

I do.

And I most certainly want it for my wife and kids.

Merry Christmas 2013

2013 was full of family, friends, fun and firsts for us. There were many trips, visits and gatherings, each of them treasured and too many to mention here. Instead for this year’s Rogers family update, we’re going to call out some personal accomplishments.

In May, after many years of effort, study and all-nighters, Zuzi completed her post-professional doctorate in physical therapy from Texas Tech University. To fill her newly-regained free time, Zuzi has become a physical therapist for the Nordic US National Ski Team and will be traveling worldwide to keep everyone healthy and competitive on the road to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Andy finished the rough draft of his second novel and is neck deep in planning the third. He and the kids made up a bedtime story about stretchy, underground creatures called Droblar. The kids wanted to see the stories that they listened to each night and Andy started drawing again for the first time since high-school. The story is now unfolding online as a weekly webcomic.

Lucas (7 years old) spent the entire summer hiking Slovakia and Alaska and now continues exploring AK in his beloved Junior Nordic Program. This fall, he entered the Ignite enrichment learning program at school and is loving it!

Eva (4 years old) is riding her bike and learning how to read. She’s already mastered her online kindergarten math program and is starting in on the first grade lessons. Also, to make her mama proud, she is picking up skiing really fast – both nordic and alpine!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all from the Rogers family.

RogersChristmas2013

Take that, Cancer!

Movember 2013November is in the books and with it would normally go my accumulated months worth of face fuzz. This year? Not so much… and not so fast.

In case you don’t know and are wondering why the hell I’m talking about my month-long growth of facial hair, Movember is part of the worldwide war on cancer. Men are encouraged to grow out their mustaches and/or beards during the month of November. This is both a show of support and a campaign raising money to fund a variety of cancer battling programs.

The goal is to kick cancer’s ass so hard that its breath smells like boot leather. Men around the world are helping to swing that metaphorical boot one scraggly snot mop at a time.

So for the last few years, I’ve lent the support of my own greying cookie duster.

I don’t normally wear a beard. My wife’s not the biggest fan of being stabbed in the lips every time I sneak a kiss. Still, she’s insistent about my participation in Movember. We’ve both lost friends to cancer and know people who struggle daily against the disease.

When December rolls around, I usually take the beard off and rush into the holiday season with pale, bare cheeks. This year, I’m keeping the ‘stache around for a couple extra weeks.

A good friend is having an eleven-inch tumor removed from his kidney in a couple days. The beard is my show of support for him and his family through the surgery.

It’s my way to tell cancer to piss off. From Hell’s heart, I wave my mouth brow at thee! For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath through my soup strainer at thee!

Good luck in surgery and recovery, Phil. We’re sending our thoughts and prayers out to you and the family.

Drive Write: Writing on the Road

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 9 – Writing on the Road

The past six weeks have had me at three conferences in as many states. I’ve traveled from Alaska to Texas, back to Alaska, down and over to South Carolina, back again to Anchorage, up north to Fairbanks, and finally back home to stay.

Whew…

Somewhere between coming home from Charleston and leaving again for Fairbanks, I recorded this. It’s a collection of my thoughts on writing while on the road and how to keep productive. I don’t know about you, but planes, late nights and strange hotel rooms don’t necessarily inspire me to great volumes of writing. However, I’ve found a couple defensive measures that keep me in the game. I hope you find them valuable on your travels.

If you have any travel tips for writers, please share them in the comments. Safe travels and get your words in! =)

Scholastic Book Fair 2013

The surveys are in, the results are tabulated, and we have the flavors du jour for this year’s Scholastic Book Fair.

Scholastic Book Fair is a pretty big deal in our house. My seven-year-old goes on and on for weeks about which books might be the best pick-ups of the year. Ninjas had a strong showing in 2012. Zombies got their grey, pallid foot in the door with Steve Mockus’, How To Speak Zombie. But last year’s clear winner was Pokemon.

(You can find last year’s results here.)

Well… it all came down to a few tense moments late on a rainy Friday afternoon. Decisions were made and forms were scribbled. Now, I’m proud to give to you all the results.

Drum roll, please…

Scholastic Book Fair 2013

The winners of the 2013 seven-year-old Scholastic Book Fair Selection Committee are:

As you can see, the undead are still clinging to life (figuratively). However, the clear winner this year – and with a dominant performance – is LEGO, claiming two of the top three slots.

We’ll be watching next year to see if the blocky little figures can rival the staying power of the walking dead or if they go the way of Pikachu and friends.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got kids and if they picked up anything sweet from the Scholastic Book Fair.

The Droblar Are Coming

Unless you’re very, very new to the site, you probably know that I’m working on a graphic novel for my kids. I’ve decided to publish it as a free webcomic online at Droblar.com. The plan is to launch Droblar on Tuesday, November 5th. From that point on, I’ll update weekly on Tuesdays.

Where I’m at right now

The Droblar are coming!I’m still playing with the process of digitizing the artwork. Currently, I draw the comic in pencil on paper and then ink it by hand. From there, I scan the inked artwork into a cheap Photoshop knockoff for coloring and type setting.

Needless to say, it’s not the best system and I’m certainly not taking advantage of the best tools.

So!

Later this month I will receive a shiny, new MS Surface Pro 2. I will name her Igor and she will assist me in bringing my abby-normal creations to life. She’ll have a swanky, touch-sensitive stylus, a fresh install of Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro, and a steep learning curve.

My goal?

Master the derned thing as quickly as possible so I can settle on a coloring/typesetting process. If I can avoid shelling out the $50/mo for Adobe’s CS suite, then… uh. Good!

I can see now why artists need kickstarters for their projects. If you want to do something well and on a schedule, it takes planning and a budget. Go figure… o.O

So that’s where we’re at. Igor should show up toward the end of the month. Until then, I’m drawing deeper into the story. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get faster. And I’m trying to tell a better and better story.

Cheers and stay tuned!

-Andy

Rainy Day Angry Birds

Today was a rainy Saturday.

It put me in mind of another rainy Saturday from a couple weeks ago. Alaska has enjoyed a record-breaking, beautiful summer, so it’s difficult to make weather complaints with a straight face. However, a couple of weekends have given us an excuse to stay inside to take care of  home chores.

Or, perhaps in our case, something other than home chores…

birds1

supplies1

Zuzi was out of town for something. Taking care of her World Cup athletes or shooting ducks or something. My plan was to take the kids out for a hike. The weather was not cooperating, though. And so we found ourselves at Toy-R-Us and then at Lowes in preparation for our “alternate weekend plan”.

construction1My kids both have iPhones. They’re old ones – specifically, they’re mine and my wife’s old iPhone4s – and they only get them on long drives and plane flights. Still, they love their phones. And Angry Birds is one of my son’s absolute favorites.

We like to get the kids outside as much as we can. Half of our yard is buried in garden and berry patches. I figured that the kids would glom on to an opportunity to combine one of their favorite sessile pastimes with our summer-lives out in the garden.construction2

To that end, I give you… the Rogers’ Family Live Action Angry Birds Game.

Easy to make with a small assortment of tools and anything that keeps kids moving and outside is a good deal in my book.

Cheers…

builded1 launch1 construction3 launch2

Enjoy your weekends… =)

A Writer’s Apology

Dear Body,

I owe you an apology.

I know. I know… I do this a lot. But this time, as with every time, I really mean it.

I’ve figured a couple things out. I know that you’ve been trying to tell me these things years, but sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake. I’d like to blame Facebook, the demands of an adult American life, or those jokers back in Washington, but we both know it’s just me. I’m ready to own up to that.

Regarding sleep…

For instance, I know that you need more than four hours of sleep. Preferably, like… in a row. You want twelve? Heh… I’ll tell you right now that twelve ain’t gonna happen.

Sleep’s a tough one for me to give ground on. I mean, if I had my way, we’d skip the whole sleep thing entirely. Just laying there, wasting time like a lump. Still, I’m not (usually… always?) an unreasonable guy. You want twelve. I want zero. I suggest a compromise. I think we can work something out.

Do me a favor? Let’s touch base about 10pm. If we do this daily for a couple weeks or so, I think we might be able to figure out a middleground that we both can live with.

Regarding exercise…

Also, I remember Ashtanga.

How many times have you told me, “I can’t imagine not starting every day like this.” You weren’t just talking about the good ol’ days of month after month of two-hour yoga practices every morning. Yeah, I know those were good times for you, but you said the same thing after three clumsy sun salutations on a random and bleary-eyed Tuesday last November.

“Every day,” you said.

Every.

That’s a pretty tall order. Let’s be honest here. We both know that sometimes the wife and I like to open a second bottle of wine. Right? Those nights when we collapse in a heap of parental-laundry-garden-volunteer-camping-career-vacuuming sludge on the couch?

Be reasonable. We aren’t going to be working on our handstands at 0 dark 30 after those nights. But, I think I can jigger things around on my end enough for you to at least touch your toes a couple times. Again. I’m sorry. We can work something out.

I remember Crossfit, too.

Ok, before you get excited, I’ve got to put my foot down on this one. The gym schedule? Yeah… not going to happen. I’ve got three other schedules to work around. More, actually, if we still like our friends and feel like we’re doing important work at the office. No pun intended, but WODs in the gym aren’t going to work out.

But, hey. Hey! Don’t just throw your hands up and walk away from everything. Let’s figure this out.

Look. We still have the gymnastic rings that you wanted in the living room. We both know that you don’t hit your head when you do box jumps in the kid’s playroom. I also happen to know for a fact that the pullup bar is languishing on the floor in the Man Cave.

Don’t be so all or nothing on this. That’s no good for either of us. It’s going to be a few years, but we’ll get back there. And when we do, I promise that we’ll give all those twenty-somethings a run for their money. But until then, I’ll try not to hog all of the awake time.

Regarding food…

This is good. I like this. We should do it more often. I know you’re willing, but I’m stubborn and I get distracted. There’s one more thing that I want to talk about, though.

Fuel.

I know what you need. Actually, these days you make it pretty darned clear what you like and don’t like. I shouldn’t go shoving just any old crap down your throat. Please understand that I do feel guilty about it afterward. I know that’s no excuse, but if you’ll try not to embarrass me after the occasional indulgence, I promise not to poison you slowly.

The silver lining on food is that we do pretty good as long as I’m not screwing up the whole sleep thing. Can we agree to focus on sleep first? If the food part doesn’t sort itself out, we can always take more drastic measures later. Deal? We good?

Ok.

So, yeah. I’m sorry.

Really I am. And, even though it’s probably not the last time you’ll hear me say this, I’m going to do better.

Hiatus for Family Adventures

Hello from Lipsovsy Mikulas, Slovakia!

I’ve been vacationing with the family and, despite having plenty of time to write, Internet access is intermittent, at best.

I’ll put up a Sunday Sketch for the week and try to put up a post or two about our family adventures in Slovakia. Posts will be more regular once we get home in three weeks.