Black Hills Woman Magazine | From the Editor

From the Editor
Tracy Bernard

A few years ago, I added a simple concept that has enriched my life many times over. Plussing. The premise of plussing is to simply squeeze the most fun and happiness out of my life. Basically, I look at a situation or opportunity and ask myself “how can I make this even better?” For example, I noticed that when my extended family got together for holiday meals, the topics remained fairly superficial. Lots of talk about the food, plans, etc. So borrowing an idea from one of my friends, I wrote out questions on a slip of paper and placed one under each plate. The questions were things like, “if you could have one super power, which would it be?” or “if you could have dinner with anyone, living or passed, who would it be?” The conversation was very interesting. We learned a lot about each other and had a great time.

Another example of my attempts at “plussing” was at my recent book club. We each take turns choosing the book and hosting the gathering. In December it was my turn. I could have thrown out a meat tray and some vodka and we would have had a lovely time. We always do. But to amp things up, I decided to contact the writer, New York Times Best Selling Author, Aleatha Romig, and see if she’d be available to Skype with us. Of course, it was a long shot but why not try? And to my surprise, she emailed me back and said she’d love to. Talking with the author really added another level to our conversation and everyone had a great time.

I first learned the word “plussing” from a documentary I saw about Walt Disney. He used to review the work of his animators and pin-point flaws and areas that they could improve. He called it plussing. At first, it was just something I adapted at work but then I started to think of it more big picture and carried it into other areas of my life. I can honestly say that I have had richer experiences because of this concept. If it is something you think you might like to try – here are some tips.

  1. Plussing starts when you think you are done. The minute you think you are finished with a project or planning an event, stop and think about how you can make it better.
  2. Keep it simple. If the idea is too grandiose, you are less likely to follow through. Leave the big stuff for bucket list items. Plussing is about everyday opportunities.
  3. Make it fast. Plussing shouldn’t take long or reinvent the wheel, after all, you thought you were done, right? Emailing that writer took me less than five minutes.
  4. Whatever it is, the notion of it should make you happy. That’s the whole point. If what you are considering fills you with dread, abort.

Of course, these are my guidelines but make it your own and do what works for you. With plussing, the sum of it all is adding enjoyment to your life.

An Evening with Writer Aleatha Roming

Book ClubWhen you get a chance to Skype with a New York Times Best Selling Author and you publish a magazine, you write about it. It was amazing to be able to ask her about her career, her process, and her stories. Like most successful people, her achievements come from passion (she used to dream up her characters while performing her dental hygiene job), unfortunate circumstances (the 2008 market crash), hard work (she publishes a book every four months), discipline (when the writing flows, she doesn’t stop – sometimes for 18 hours straight), and a nice dose of talent.

Apparently, I’m the only one on the planet who thought you can pick a book in the middle of a series and have it make sense, but that’s what I did. I chose book 4 in her Infidelity series because of its high star ranking on Goodreads. Luckily, everyone liked it and aside from a couple spots, we were able to follow the storyline and characters without much problem. Yes, I took a nice ration of ridicule for that, including from Aleatha. Lesson learned. Several members of our book club have gone back to read books 1, 2 and 3. They now affectionately refer to Aleatha as “that darned Aleatha” because they can’t put the books down and aren’t getting enough sleep.

A big thank-you to Ms. Romig for being my partner in crime in plussing an evening with some very special women. I can speak for the group by saying we highly recommend her latest series – but, please, make sure to start with Book 1, Betrayal or you’ll find yourself entrapped in a book that has more story.

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