Blogger, Web Developer, Bookkeeper, Krypton Organizer, Fabric Designer, Mom

Who should I be?  All of the above, or just one?  Two?  Hmmmm….

Right now I spend my time doing some blogging, building a few web sites, organizing a weekly Krypton gathering, experimenting with fabric design and other crafty endeavors, helping Todd with his business, and being a mom.  And it’s good.  I like it much better than the “full-time Health Care IT Consultant (and mom)” from days of yore, although the pay isn’t nearly as good and the benefits stink.  But it makes me happy.  Can it also make me some money?  I’m hopeful that it can.

So this week I started an experiment.  I moved out.  I am no longer spending my days ‘working from home’ so to speak.  Now, after I drop the kids off at school, I continue biking on to my office, or ‘studio’ shall I say, where I share my new digs with two amazing friends of mine: a really talented graphic designer who was already working solo in the space, and a project manager with a super creative brain, who is also new to this space.  And I think it is going to be very very good.  On many levels.

office sign

Why did I leave the rent-free comforts of home?  Here’s why…

  1. I needed to be away from house-wifely distractions, such as dirty dishes and laundry.
  2. I needed structure and focus.  I need to focus on projects that can produce income.  Now I dedicate 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday doing just that.
  3. I wanted help.  I no longer want to be the sole person cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning, driving, etc, etc.  That’s not how I want to spend the majority of my time and it’s not the role model I choose to be.  I want each family member to have the opportunity to do what fulfills them, but also to participate in the care and maintenance of our home and lifestyle.
  4. I want to work with other creative people, and not just for the camaraderie, but for the inspiration we can give and receive.  We can share the rent and our expertise.  I think the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself” is completely false.  I believe if you want to do something great, don’t do it alone.

So, what am I going to do at the studio?  Good question.  The plan of the day is that I will focus on two things:  web development and fabric design.  I think it would be so cool to blend technical work, creative work, and hand-made work.  I want use both sides of my brain, and my hands, and the skills I’ve developed over the years, and try new things.

I know I can do the web development, and am currently designing a site for a friend, but the fabric design is foreign territory, so that should be scary and exciting.  I took a textile design class a while back that I totally loved, and recently sent two designs to Spoonflower, an on-line store where you can upload your own designs to be digitally printed onto fabric, wallpaper, and more.  I love the way the fabric came out, but it was expensive – $15.75/yard for the cheapest cotton fabric.  That’s expensive, isn’t it?  So I’m going to try silkscreening it onto fabric I can buy for way less and then see if I can make something out of it, like a pillow or a shower curtain.  We’ll see.  I’m still meeting with my Krypton group, so I am excited to get some ideas and direction from them.

What about the bookkeeping?  I will continue to work for Blackbird Iron, Todd’s business, but I don’t love the work. I’m getting paid for it though, and we’re making good progress improving systems and processes.  Hopefully soon we’ll have things in a really solid place, and then they can find a new bookkeeper/administrator to do the work.

And the blogging?  I love it, and will keep doing it.  I intend to reach my goal of 365 ‘I Nevers’ and I want to keep writing about and making sense of this journey.  Working on my blog is also like a little sandbox for WordPress web development, and I hope to make some improvements to the overall look and feel, and maybe even add a few more features.  We’ll see…

And then there’s being a mom.  I want to be there for my kids after school, to let them run freely on the playground, to have their friends over, to get them to their activities, to help get their homework done, and to feed them healthy meals.  What I’m not sure of is how summers and holidays will fit into this plan.  I’m thinking I may need to get a laptop so that this summer I can still take them swimming at Greenlake while getting some work done on the beach.  We’ll cross that bridge later.

So, I guess the plan is to keep blogging, keep building web sites, keep having our weekly Krypton meetings, start experimenting more with fabric design, stop doing work for Todd, and, keep doing my mom job.  Is it too much?  Probably.  Am I crazy?  Definitely.  But I feel really excited about the potential, and I think that my new space and my new studio-mates are just the ticket to moving in a new direction.

new digs

Krypton Community College

According to the movie Happy (and many others), cooperation makes people happier than competition.  I totally believe this, and got to experience it recently when twelve of us came together to try something new, called Krypton Community College.  Last Thursday was our last class of the first course entitled  Go:  How to Overcome Fear, Pick Yourself, & Start a Project that Matters, from the work of Seth Godin, and it was a remarkable experience.

Huh?  Let me explain…

It all stared two months ago when I received an emailed blog post from Seth Godin which said he was launching a new project call Krypton Community College.  The idea behind the project was to merge on-line learning with group learning, with a simple premise:  We learn better when we learn together.  I was intrigued, so I signed up to learn more, and a week later I got another email with some details of how it would work.  I would need to sign up to organize a class, then invite 8-11 friends or co-workers to be part of the class, we would meet once a week for four weeks, and make our way through the coursework.  The coursework, based on the previous work of Seth Godin, involved reading blog posts, listening to pod-casts, watching TED talks, writing down thoughts to related questions, and then coming together as a group to discuss the ideas – kind of like a book club.  The course objectives listed in the syllabus were as follows:

  • Come to understand why the brainstorming techniques you are using aren’t working and develop new techniques that acknowledge fear while producing valuable new ideas
  • See the resistance and learn to dance with it
  • Explore the edges of a frightening new idea and bring it to announcement and then ship it…

My lizard brain said don’t do this, nobody else is interested or has time, but I knew I had to.  It was a great opportunity, plus it was free.  So I signed up to be an organizer, drafted an email to twelve of my friends, and, with a few butterflies in my stomach, hit the send button.  I knew I could count on at least two of my friends to participate for sure, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received by everyone else.  But over the next few days I got so many enthusiastic responses.  My friends were excited to try it too.  Hooray!  But now this was real.  (Yipes.)

Eleven people, including myself, were on board to try the class.  I decided to have it during the day – noon-ish to one-ish, because I thought it would be easier to stick to business and to work with people’s schedules.  I invited only people I knew could probably slip away during the middle of the day, and who were either thinking of starting something new career-wise, or had recently embarked on something new.  Then I found a conference room that I could use for free at the Ballard Neighborhood Center.  Okay, we were all set.

The homework for the first class focused on fear and failure, and the assignment was to interview someone who “has brought something new into the world.  It might be a speech, a new product idea, a performance or organization” and there were specific questions to ask about success, fear, mastering new skills, etc.

Before I knew it, “Krypton Thursday” was here and it was time for our first class.  As the organizer I had a syllabus slightly different from the student version.  My version had ideas, touch-points, and activities outlined to help guide me through facilitating the discussion.  I got to class early, and I was nervous.  Really nervous.  I didn’t expect to be this nervous because these were all friends of mine, but I was.  So I Googled, “How to get over nervousness” on my iPhone and the first thing that came up said “Stay focused on your objective” which I really tried to do, but I also called my sister as a distraction.  But soon enough I had to hang up on her because people were arriving and it was time to get started.

Most everyone knew each other, but we still did introductions, and then talked about our interviews.  Everyone had a lot to say about fear and shared so much – not just from their interviews, but from their own experiences.  Before I knew it our hour was up.  Darn it!  I felt like I hadn’t managed our time well and hadn’t accomplished everything Seth outlined in my organizer syllabus.  Like we were supposed to create a list of tactics for dancing with fear. I did not feel like I had done a good job.

But as I had more time to reflect on the class, I realized I was being a little hard on myself.  This was, after all, the very first class and I was new at this.  Plus, a lot of great stuff was discussed even if we didn’t cover everything we were supposed to.  Finally when I got a chance to look at my notes, I realized that even though we hadn’t made a formal list, we had in fact discussed a lot of great ways to “dance with fear”.  So I typed up the list, sent it to the group, and started feeling better about the first class.  Now I was ready for the next one.

Tactics for Dancing with Fear

The focus of the the second class was on things that are broken, and this was really when the rubber hit the road.  We’d moved past the slight awkwardness of the first class, and our discussion had much more of a book club feel to it.  We talked about Seth’s great post on off-roading, then chose something we felt was broken, then brainstormed, or edge-crafted rather, ways to fix it.  We chose to talk about how hard it is to start something new, by yourself, when you don’t have all of the necessary skills to get it done.  Like a researcher who has to manage a ton of data but knows nothing about databases, or an entrepreneur/craftsman who knows nothing about bookkeeping or technology.  We could have talked about this for hours, and our ideas were vast and varied, definitely approaching the edges.  Fun.

The purpose of this exercise was to start thinking about how to solve a big problem – someone else’s big problem – because it’s safer to solve someone else’s problem when fear isn’t a factor.  Seth wrote, “By beginning with the vicarious thrill of going to the edge of someone else’s problem, we open the door to solving our own.”

For the third class, however, we would be discussing our own ideas on fixing something that is broken, and the purpose of this class was to understand what it means to commit.  First we talked about not giving up and making it through “the dip“, and then we broke into two smaller groups, giving each person a chance to share their project idea.  What I loved about this exercise was the excitement and support everyone showed for each-other’s projects.  This wasn’t just a lot of saying, “Love it!  Great idea!” – this was real feedback and hard questions that came from a place of caring and experience, and that’s when it hit me:  we need to do this type of thing regularly.  This is important.  We need to support each other and share our experience and expertise, no matter where this Krypton Community College might go.  Again our time was over too soon, and just one class left.

The last class was all about “The Shipit Journal” and filling it in.  The premise behind the Shipit Journal is that if you write down, in pen, what your project is, and when it will ship, it becomes real.  It becomes a statement.  It becomes important.  Good intentions aren’t enough.  You need to get uncomfortable early, make hard decisions with rigor, and “conquer the voice of the lizard brain” – the resistance.

I asked everyone to print out the document but not to fill it in yet because we would be doing that in class.  But just how were we going to do this?  The document was 26 pages long and there would be eleven of us.  Turns out there were only eight of us on this last day – real life had kept some away – so we broke into two groups of four and chose one journal to focus on in each group.  Again, the support, expertise, and having other people make you talk frankly about your fears seemed invaluable.  We only tackled a few pages, but some very important pages.  It was surprising to me that people really wanted to work on other people’s journals.  But quickly it became clear how much you can learn about your own project when working on someone else’s.  And oh shoot, again time slipped away from us, and it was time to wrap up our final class.  I couldn’t believe it was over.

So now what?  We had such a great group, I’d hate to lose momentum, and I think we still have so much to offer each-other.  So I’m considering two options, and think we might do both.  The first is to continue working through the Ship It journals – one at a time – for whomever has a project they are ready to get busy on.  The second is to continue with the next courses offered by Krypton Community College.  They were just released, and although they are not based on the work of Seth Godin, they look really interesting.

So even though the first class is over, I can’t help but feel that this is just the beginning, that things are just getting started, that things are going to get really interesting around here.  I hope so!  I have a project of my own that I want to try, and after hearing what other people’s projects are, I want to see them ‘ship it’ as well.

Thank you Seth Godin for lighting this fire!

I Never…

Did you ever play the game ‘I Never’?  It’s typically a drinking game, where a group of people gather in a circle and one person starts by saying something he/she has never done before like, “I never dated a guy shorter than me”  or “I never jumped out of a cake before.”  Then if anyone in the game has done this thing, he/she takes a drink.  If nobody in the circle has done it, then the person making the statement takes a drink.  Then the next person goes.  Got it?  I haven’t played in a long long time, but recently I’ve been playing my own version of the game.  Actually, it’s more of a challenge than a game, and it doesn’t involve drinking.  Here’s how it goes:

Every day I do something I’ve never ever done before.  That’s it.  And every day I write down what my ‘I Never’ was.

Why am I doing it?  Well, it started It as part of my ‘Alchemy Mastery Program‘ where we were given some homework to do, and we had to chose one item from a long list of exercises.  I decided to try the one called ‘Practicing Fearlessness’ which entailed pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone every day for a week.  I decided to do it by doing something I’d never done before every day, and I decided I would start on the day I became a velvet painting – something clearly out of my comfort zone.  That was over 40 ‘I Nevers’ ago and I just can’t stop.  I love it.  I love it so much, that I’ve decided to track my ‘I Nevers’ on my blog.  So I’ve added a menu bar and an “I Never Log” tab, where you can see a list of the ‘I Nevers’ I’ve done, with the most recent at the top.

Something I didn’t expect when I started this project was the enthusiasm people have for this idea.  Some of my friends are doing it with me.  The kids and their friends are full of suggestions, like:   “You should go bare foot all day!”  “You should wear your bra and underpants on the outside for a day!”  Nadine and Miles have accepted this new aspect of my life, and are totally supportive when they are subjected to it’s side effects, like when I didn’t talk for a day, they were my voices, and this week we are all eating gluten-free.  And then the other day when I was talking to the kids about drinking Miles said, “Getting drunk is on my I Never list for life!”  Ha!

Isn’t it interesting how starting something new grows into something else, and ends up being something totally unexpected?  That’s how I feel about my ‘I Never’ project.  I thought it would be a fun assignment for a week, but now I see it as a powerful tool to help me move forward, or at least to help me recognize that I am moving forward.  I thought it would be hard, but usually it’s not.  I think that if I didn’t even try to do something new every day, I could probably, at the end of every day, pinpoint something new that I did.  Couldn’t everybody?

But there’s trying something new – like a new movie or a restaurant – and there’s trying something new that makes you lean in, that challenges you, that moves you out of your comfort zone; a zone that can sometimes feel quite small, with no distinct borders, and with a lot of amazing stuff on the other side.

The ‘I Nevers’ on my list are varied – easy, hard, fun, not that fun, intentional, and spontaneous – but they are all things I want to do.  They are not huge and they are not, on their own, life changing.  They are just small steps that are moving me, one day at at time, into the unknown, to the new place I want to go.

You should try it too!

And, just for the record, I have both dated a guy shorter than me (friends called us Boris and Natasha) and I’ve jumped out of cake.

Balance

I’m still looking for it.  I used to be severely out of balance.  I’m a little better now, but I still have a lot of work to do.

finding balance

Before I quit my job to take on my new role as a trophy wife, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.  I hated my brain-sucking job, which I kept trying to fix, but I felt stuck as the one who could make the most money, the one to provide the family with good health insurance, and the one with a good retirement fund.  Maybe if I had loved my job it would have been different, but I never felt like it was what I was supposed to be doing with my life.  On top of that, I had taken charge of managing our family:  managing our schedules (to the minute), our finances, our kids, and our home.   And while it seemed like I was doing everything right, it felt like I wasn’t doing anything well.

So I quit my job, and the balance quickly shifted.  It made a lot of things better, but far from perfect.  Moving away from a highly regimented lifestyle takes some getting used to.  Having a lot less money to spend (or save) takes getting used to.  Being around your kids a lot more takes getting used to.  We’ve adjusted pretty well, but the one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet is how to best manage my free time.

For six hours of the day, from 9am until 3pm, the kids are at school and I am left to my own devices.  Those six hours always fly by, and while I don’t sit around reading magazines or watching daytime TV, what exactly am I doing with all that time?

I like to joke that I’ve become a trophy-wife, but let’s face it, I’ve actually become a housewife.  Letting go of my old job was a huge release, and I don’t regret it for a second, but I wanted this transition to be more of a sabbatical than a permanent move to stay-at-home-mom-dom.  I wanted to use my time wisely so I could figure out my true creative self, and harness that into a meaningful career – one that allows me a much better balance between my family and myself.  Instead I have this perpetual low-level anxiety that I’m not making any movement; or worse, that I have no idea of what I should be moving towards.

I’m actually surprised at how comfortable I am being home alone every day.  I thought I would be lonely, but I love it.  Although the house talks to me constantly and says things like:  “Fix me!”  “Clean me!”  “Organize me!  “Weed me!”  And I obey.   But now it needs to stop.

For the past few weeks I’ve been tracking my time in an excel spreadsheet, color-coding the blocks of time.  Green is time I dedicate to kids/family/home.  Orange is time I dedicate to helping Todd’s business.  Grey is time I spend doing things just for me – working on ‘The Suzanne Project”.  Yellow is neutral time – time with the family, relaxing, having fun.  Here’s what last week looked like:

Notice there isn’t too much grey?  Notice all that green in the middle of the day?  That needs to change.  To me, this would be a more ideal week:

Ideal Schedule

This ideal is not something to necessarily adhere to; it’s just an idea of what could be.  It’s a way of thinking about my day differently, and organizing it to maximize ‘Suzanne time’.  It’s too easy for me to fall into old patterns of feeling like I always need to be taking care of everyone else.  Taking better care of me will only benefit everyone else.  Right?  I also need to let go of feeling like I need to figure out exactly where I’m going.  I have a feeling that if I just allow myself time to focus on this journey, that a direction will begin to appear.

So I better get started maximizing this time I have for myself, because school gets out in 23 days, and all that ‘Suzanne time’ is about to disappear.  That’s when I’m gong to really have to let go and enjoy the freedom that summer has to offer.

Happy Mothers Day!

Yesterday was all about me!  Well, kind of, not really all about me, but a perfect Mother’s Day none-the-less.  The kids made me breakfast in bed (iced tea, strawberries, carrots and hummus, peanut-butter filled pretzels, and trail mix), Todd cooked amazing ham and cheese Belgian waffles for breakfast, and served a delicious salmon dinner.  We hung out with his mom, went to Miles’ soccer game, the skateboard park, and Golden Gardens, and I got to have a nice long chat with my mom and dad.  It was so nice to have a mom-appreciation day!  So today I thought I’d write about being a mom…

Becoming a mom was a struggle for me, and it was six years before I finally had the baby I longed for.  Now that I have two kids and I’ve been a mom for almost nine years, I realize that that struggle was just the beginning, and that being a mom is a constant struggle.  For me I think the biggest struggle is finding the right balance in my life – between kids, husband, career, and myself – and I’m constantly making adjustments, striving to find that perfect balance.  Jumping out of my former life was a major attempt at recalibrating that balance.

On top of that, it’s a constant struggle to know what’s best for my kids.  (What school should they go to?  What TV shows, movies, and songs are okay?  How much screen time should they have?  How much sugar should they eat?  What activities should they participate in?  Should I let them climb on the carport roof?  How far should I let them out of my sight?)  It’s a struggle to get them to listen to me.  It’s a struggle to answer their questions. (What does ‘gay’ mean?  Where do you go when you die?  What will happen when I go through puberty?  Am I fat?  Why does everyone else get to drink soda?)  Often the biggest struggle is just keeping my sanity, which, let’s face it, I often lose.

Yet so many of us still yearn to be moms.  And like most moms, I look at my kids and think they are the most perfect and beautiful beings on the planet, even though they have vicious mood swings and are masters of manipulation.  I would never stand for that behavior from a partner or a friend or a coworker or a boss, but from my kids, it’s just part of the process.  And it makes me stronger, smarter, more patient and understanding.  And, unlike the others, I know that they love me back unconditionally.

Deep down I also know that it’s not the decisions I make for them regularly that are so important; it’s how I live my own life that matters most.  I am clearly the product of adventurous, organized, people-loving, house-proud, non-soda-drinking parents.  My kids probably will be too.  And I see now what a relaxed and trusting mom I actually had, and how I strive to be like that.  I had never really thought about it too much before.

Nobody tells you what a struggle it is to raise kids.  Do they?  Or does it just fall on deaf ears until you have children of your own and go through it?  But nothing worth doing is ever easy, so as I continue my soul-searching, and my quest for a more meaningful life, I need to remind myself that I am actually doing something really meaningful.  That raising my kids to the best of my ability is probably the best thing I’ll do. And if I can find something else that complements that purpose, well then, that will just be the icing on the cake.

Happy Mother’s Day!

mom, nicki, me 1971

Reading my favorite pop-up book, ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’, with my mom and little sister.

Anxiety Strikes

A few weeks ago I started having these weird little episodes.  For just a couple of minutes my mind would go off to la la land, weird thoughts came in, and my whole body felt tingly.  That’s the best explanation I have.  Usually it would happen in the middle of the day when I was home sitting on the heating pad (because I’m too cheap to turn up the heat during the day) and working on the computer.  But then it became more frequent, like when I was cooking dinner, or talking to Todd, or on the airplane on my way to Palm Springs.

I tried to explain to Todd what was happening, but my poor description frustrated him, so I tried searching the Google.  Based on my search results, I was either having drug flashbacks, spiritual visions, or panic attacks.  I chose panic attacks.  Because on top of it all, I got a cold sore on my lip, and I’ve just had this kind of low-level nervous feeling going on.  Hmmmmm.

It’s now been eight months since I quit my job.  And it’s been a really great eight months.  But recently there have been a slew of emails going around about signing up the kids for summer camps.  Last year when I asked my friend at work if she thought I would really quit my job, she replied with conviction, “Yes!  Because you haven’t signed your kids up for any summer camps yet, and by now they are all full.”  She knew.  And here we go again.  Do I sign them up for camps, or not?  If I don’t sign them up, then it’s mommy-camp all summer long and I won’t have time for anything else.  If I do sign them up, then where is the money coming from to pay for it all?  But more importantly, why haven’t I figured out my life yet?  Why haven’t I executed ‘the plan’ and embarked on something?  What is my problem??!!!

Well, I’ve been busy.  Busy doing what?  Well, writing in my blog, taking care of the responsibilities that Todd and I used to share (like making meals and buying groceries), shuttling kids around, hosting play dates, volunteering, building web sites, and doing the bookkeeping for Blackbird Iron, to name a few.

I was on the phone with a friend the other night, and she said to me, “I’ve been thinking about your panic attacks.  And maybe what you’re doing right now is actually what you’re meant to be doing – being a great mom.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.”  That was so nice to hear, and of course she’s right, but…

That anxious feeling is my body telling me something.  It’s making me uncomfortable for a reason.  I think it’s saying “Get on with it!” and I need to listen.  So yesterday I got out all of my notebooks, with all of my scattered notes and ideas, and started typing them up and organizing them into separate files on my computer.  There’s some good stuff in there, including some cool quotes I had jotted down.  It was a totally fun and therapeutic exercise, and I loved reading all of the quotes, which I thought I should share.

So I installed a plugin on my blog called “Quotes Collection” and started inputting all of the quotes.  As you can see, they appear over there in the right margin, just under the search box.  There are currently 80 quotes in there, but I will continue to add them as I come across ones I like.  If you have any good ones to share, please let me know, and I would love to include them.

So what about the summer camp situation?  Well, the kids say they don’t want to go to any camps, but I know that as summer wears on we’re going to start to get on each other’s nerves.  So I’ve signed them up for three all-day camps so far, and I’ll continue to look for some half-day or other inexpensive options.  And now that I have met some stay-at-home mom friends from school, hopefully we can share the load.

As far as the panic attacks go, I haven’t had one this week at all. So hopefully I’m on the right track.  Oh, that reminds me of a quote:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. - Will Rogers

CarolinaWholeHealth.com

For the past month or so I’ve actually had a paying job (woo hoo!), creating another web site.  Again I worked with my friend Sonya at KB Design, used a WordPress template as a starting point, and I have to say, I really enjoyed the whole experience.  My client was my friend Maureen who I met through the ‘Dragon Ladies‘ circle.  She is a graduate from Bastry University who just moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to start her practice as a naturopathic doctor.  Besides being an overall wonderful person, she was so great to work with, and I wish she could be my primary care provider.  Even if she can’t be my doctor, I love all of the links and information on her site, especially on the ‘resources’ page.  Check it out:  http://www.carolinawholehealth.com.

Developing this site with Maureen and Sonya was a great learning opportunity for me, and so different than creating Todd’s Blackbird Iron site.  Todd’s site was a lot more about imagery than information, and was actually a little more complicated to pull off because of that.  Working on Todd’s site I didn’t worry about how long things were taking me or how much it was costing.  And I worked autonomously:  writing the copy, choosing the photos, and making design decisions.  With Maureen’s site, on the other hand, she sent me all of her copy and was very involved in the design and overall user experience.  She needed links to external services like MailChimp for newslettters, Bookeo for scheduling appointments, YouTube to embed a vdeo, and Emerson Ecologics for ordering supplements.  And she wanted a mobile-friendly version of the site.  Plus, she was on the other coast, with a three-hour time difference, and a very busy schedule.  Yet she was the perfect client:  savvy, confident, nice, and appreciative.  How lucky for me!

So besides getting to learn more about creating Word Press sites, I’m also getting a lesson in freelancing.  Now that we are wrapping things up I need to think about things like training, invoicing, and maintenance.  And how to get my next job!  Maybe I should be my own next client?  Hmmmm…

If you happen to live in the Chapel Hill area, or know anyone who does, make sure you refer them to Dr. Maureen Dunn at www.carolinawholehealth.com.  Thanks!

Favorite Photos from 2012

I always like to have pictures in my blog posts, but I had a hard time finding any photos to include in my last posting.  So today I thought I’d post mostly pictures – some of my favorite photos from 2012.  Here they are:

TOP TEN FAVORITE PHOTOS FROM 2012

  1. I took this one walking home from school.  Miles likes to see his distorted reflection in the metal button you need to push to cross.
    Miles at the crosswalk
  2. Miles spent most of his time in the pool at our friends’ house in Florida.
    Cannon bal
  3. I just love the colors, poses, and angle of this shot at the beach in Alabama.
    Alabama beach fun
  4. I took this one playing a game on my iPhone with Nadine, while Miles scootered at the skateboard park.  The game is, while one person closes her eyes the other takes a picture of something nearby.  When she opens her eyes she has to guess what the picture is of.
    macro flower
  5. Nadine and her BFFs in Rosyln, WA after getting some gorgeous face painting.
    Nadine and her BFFs
  6. Miles and cousin Max sailing.  They call themselves “M Power!”
    M Power sailing
  7. The guy in this picture just cracks me up.
    Ballard trick or treating
  8. Todd as Andy Warhol?
    Todd as Andy Warhol
  9. Beautiful fungi in the forest.
    Mushroom photos
  10. Nadine’s first attempt at riding a giraffe at school.
    Nadine riding a giraffe unicycle

Reflections, Intentions, and Predictions

After what seemed like a very long holiday break, we are slowly getting back to our normal routine.  While I am still trying to figure out my life and a more regular routine for me personally, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on 2012, and set some intentions for 2013.

2012 was a crazy and very unexpected year of change.  At this time last year I was miserable at my job and feeling overwhelmed with responsibility.  The thought of quitting my job hadn’t even entered my head yet.  For the first quarter of the year I was still trying to fix my job and understand my purpose there.  Then in April something happened with my boss that was the catalyst that drove me to jump.  At first it seemed like a hopelessly depressing situation, but then it became completely liberating.  I’m my own boss for crying out loud!  I thought.  Why am I wasting my time here, struggling to be compliant, struggling to fit into a really unhealthy culture, instead of doing something that fulfills me and provides value?

So I started to think about what I wanted out of life, stopped complaining about the things I hated, stopped feeling stuck, and started doing the stuff I wanted to do.  I decided to stop thinking of my self worth in terms of how much money I was making or my position at work, but in terms of the quality of my life.  2012 was the Year of the Dragon, a year of empowerment and big changes according to Chinese astrology, and I have to say it really was for me.

2012 REFLECTIONS

So here is my top ten list of the things I did, and learned, in 2012:

  1. I joined a “Lunar Manifesting Matrix” group with some friends (we call ourselves ‘The Dragon Ladies” in honor of The Year of the Dragon, and because it’s easier to say).  It’s kind of a spiritual/woo-woo thing, but mostly it’s a group of women helping each other reach our fullest potential.  I learned that I actually am a spiritual person, in my own way.
  2. I quit my job!  Apparently we can get by without my salary.  And thankfully Todd was incredibly supportive of my decision.  My quitting scared him at first, but he understood my need to be happy, and things have only got better between us.
  3. I spent an amazing summer with my kids, and adapted to a life less hurried and less scheduled.
  4. I started a blog, and discovered I really like to write.  It’s scary to think that what I write is out there for anyone to see and judge, but besides a diary, isn’t all writing like that?  Plus, writing provides me with clarity and makes me notice the world around me better, or differently I guess.
  5. I took in a lot of inspiration with all kinds of books, movies, articles, blogs and TED talks.  I went through a big stack of books this summer, and I have another big stack next to bed right now.
  6. I spent a lot more time with my kids, their friends, and at school.  Every afternoon I spent an hour or so on the playground.  While they ran around with their friends I chatted with the other parents.  I now feel much more connected to the community at school.
  7. I launched the Blackbird Iron site for Todd and have taken over a lot of his bookkeeping.  I learned a ton about setting up WordPress sites, and managing the books with QuickBooks.
  8. I joined the North End Flower Club.  This is a group of ladies (mostly over 60) who meet once a month in my neighborhood to share gardening wisdom.  They are so nice and so welcoming and so knowledgeable, and it feels really old fashioned, in a really good way.
  9. I focused on my family’s health more.  The kids got an earlier bedtime.  I made healthier lunches.  We rode to and from school every day.  Jumping provided me with the time I needed to make these adjustments.
  10. I took a much-needed sabbatical that I’m still on.  Jumping is allowing me to step outside of my regular life, slow down, be introspective, be inspired, make new connections, and re-assess the lifestyle I want, and what’s’ best for my family.

Looking back on 2012 I have to say, it’s been an incredible year, and we all seem happier and healthier. Jumping was scary, but the minute I did it I released so much negative energy and emotion.  It’s still a little scary at times, but overall it feels really right.  And I am kicking off 2013 in a way better mind-set than I did with 2012.  So, on to this year…

2013 INTENTIONS

I think my motto for 2013 is ‘no more crap’:  no crappy job, no crappy lifestyle, no crappy spending, no crappy food, or furniture or appliances or clutter or toys or TV shows or health/beauty products or clothes or wastefulness.  The list goes on.  But the Dragon Ladies would say “Don’t talk about what you don’t want, say what you do want.”  So here’s my top 10 list of what I want in 2013:

  1. I want us to earn more than we spend, but not kill ourselves doing it.  I’m hopeful that Blackbird Iron will have a great year, but I also know we can spend less, so I need to get better at budgeting.  I also hope to bring in some dough this year and I actually have a freelance job I’m working on now – another web-site – so I’m off to a good start.  And I have a few other ideas I want to explore.
  2. I want to be crafty and make things by hand.  I hope to get ‘craft club’ started again, we plan to be in the Fremont Solstice parade again, and I would like Todd to teach me some metalwork.
  3. I want us to eat healthy fresh food.  I plan to expand my vegetable garden to the side yard and hopefully get some chickens and fresh eggs.  And I plan to consume a lot less refined food.
  4. I want to expand my creativity and get better at writing, drawing, and photography, so perhaps some classes are in order.
  5. I want to spruce up the house and de-clutter.  I dream of going through the house, room by room, and clearing out all of the crap and making small improvements.  It’s also time to spruce up our kitchen and dinning room, which desperately need the floors refinished and a fresh coat of paint.
  6. I want to spend time outside with friends and family – skiing, camping, biking, exercising and just playing.
  7. I want my kids to have lots of time playing with their friends, exploring, learning new things, figuring out what they are good at and what they enjoy most.
  8. I want to make less of an impact on the environment by riding my bike, avoiding unnecessary packaging, composting, installing rain barrels, scaling back, mending things, shopping locally, repurposing, reusing, upcycling, etc, etc.
  9. I want to continue my sabbatical, execute “The Plan“, and choose an endeavor to focus on.  And it’s time to make and hang up my big ‘inspiration board‘.
  10. I could only come up with 9 things, but those seem pretty ambitious, so I think I’ll stop there.  Wish me luck!

2013 PREDICTIONS

It feels like the world is changing, which of course it always is, but I also feel like a paradigm shift happening, like our culture and our values are being recalibrated.  And it’s totally exciting, but maybe also a little unnerving, trying to figure out how to stay relevant and do what’s best.  So, just for fun, I thought I’d see what ‘the experts’ are predicting for 2013.

Chinese New Year begins on February 10th and rings in The Year of The Snake, the ‘water snake’ to be more precise.  Here’s what I learned about what to expect in a water snake year.

Like a snake, the year will be very changeable and unpredictable, but handle it well and you will only be stronger and better off.  And while the year brings lot of change, beware of impulsive decisions.  Attention to detail is also a snake trait, so you may find yourself noticing things you haven’t before.  Snakes dislike noise or excitement, so focus on some quieter pursuits and relaxation.   You can read more here.

My Chinese astrological sign is the horse, so for me the year of the snake is supposed to be filled with opportunities (because of my energetic nature) and dangers (because I’m often impulsive).  The opportunities are supposed to be in business (yippee!) and the dangers are to my health (yipes!).  To find out what year you were born in, and what to expect in 2013, you can try this site or this one.

My zodiac sign is Scorpio, so I thought I’d also check to see what 2013 has in store for Scorpios, and I really like what I read.  According to astrology.com “Transformation, metamorphosis, passion and sexuality are all heavily pronounced this year for you.”  And “The force for rebuilding your life from its very foundation is doubled.” And my favorite, “Trust that whatever you’re putting your passionate energy into this year will indeed build out to something lasting and beautiful.”  Find out what’s in store for you here.

Sounds like it’s going to be an exciting year!  I think it’s going to be amazing.

BlackbirdIron.com

Woo hoo!  Blackbird Iron + Design finally has a website.  Check it out.  They’ve been in business just over two years, and have been able to get steady work without one, but they were always saying “We really need to get a website out there.”  Well say no more!

I always wanted to build their website, but when I was working full time it was really hard to find the time in all of our schedules to make this happen.  But after our friend Sonya at KB Design created the logo and business cards for them this summer, we decided to work together on creating the web site.  I think it worked out pretty well.

Sonya picked a WordPress theme, then created two design options in PhotoShop, and sent them to me.  Then I worked with Todd and his partner to pick the design they liked best, write the copy, and pick the photos to be included.  Then I put it all together and built the site.

I think it was a really smooth process, and so great to work with Sonya.  I hope we can do more projects together.  Anyway, check out the site when you have a chance.  I’d love to hear any feedback, good or bad.  Thanks!

Blackbirdiron.com