Dec 6, 2016

Happiness Project Month 4: Get Shit Done!

Shouldn't today be Show Us Your Books day?  I really wanted to talk books today but since that's not an option, I will instead address this happiness project thing that I have totally flaked on.

Month 3 Update: Self Actualization


Affirmations

I think I said them about 3 times.  I'm about burned out on this aspect, so I'll skip it for the next month.

Resolutions

I only had one and that was to spend 15 minutes a day on at least one of my projects.  Big fat fail.  But I think I know why.  I think it was too vague.  I tend to do better with a specific task to check off each day, rather than "work on ___" or "exercise ___ minutes."

To Do

  1. Sort and purge old photos - I made progress.  Ryan was awesome and let me sift through my physical photos and show him funny old high school memories, which made it easier for me to let some go.  I never take them out and reminisce on my own, so I don't need them, but I wanted to share them with someone before I said goodbye.  So physical photos = done, and digital photos I made it through 2011 and the "old" folder which was everything from before I had my own camera.  The good news?  2011 was the year I thought I might become a photographer and (I think) the only year with hundreds of scenery pictures to sift through.
  2. System for memory keeping - Nope.  In part because I never finished the photos part.
  3. Passive income project - It took me all month to really come up with an idea that made sense to me.  'Cause sure, I can sell templates, but what makes it any different than any other templates you can buy from Theme Forest or on Etsy?  Then I thought of making branding packages which would include logo, business cards, and social media setup, in addition to the template.  This makes way more sense for me, personally, BUT it's hardly "passive" income because people are going to need to customize all these things and, with the exception of a WordPress website, I don't know how to set it up that they can handle customization on their own.
  4. Set up Etsy shop - Again, dependent on the previous step so no.
  5. The book - Decided to let this go.  I waited too long and my idea has floated away.

In Conclusion

My brain has felt really scattered and all over the place this month.  Business really died down after the election (and it took me a while to recoup and get back to it, too) and the house is messy and things are generally a bit blegh.

But I'm starting to feel better and I don't want to be or feel blegh anymore, so I think what I want to do for month 4 is the thing that will help the most to make me feel more content.  And no, that's not the month of "fun" I was originally planning.

Month 4: Get Shit Done!


This will be less interesting to read about, but it needs to be done.  I'm going to tackle the photos again, but I'm going about it a different way.  And I only have 2 weeks to work with because on the 21st I'm flying out to California to spend Christmas with family.

No affirmations, no resolutions, just getting down to business.

To Do


  1. House - The state of my house is often a reflection of my mental state.  I know putting it to rights will galvanize me, so I want to do it first.  A) Reorganize entry closet B) Set up new crib, dispose of old one C) Decorate for Christmas!
  2. Sort Photos - I've broken this down into years and picked days that I know are relatively open to work on this.
  3. Get Photos Printed - Easy enough once I finish the 1st step.  Should be a one-day task.
  4. Baby Book and Scrapbook - Instead of going solo, I'm going to enlist Ryan to help me.  Both for accountability and because it will mean more later.
  5. Finish Digital Marketing Book - I've been reading this in small doses because there's sooo many tips I want to utilize, but I need to just get it done and stop spending every other day tinkering with my website.  Batching.
  6. Make Specific Business Goals - Instead of reaching Wednesday and thinking, "Hmmm, what do I want to work on?" I want to go back to setting goals and planning my week on Monday.
  7. Business "Packages" - I need to think on this a bit more, but I don't think I'll be opening an Etsy shop (because of that whole needing customization thing), but I do want to design examples for a "Website/Social package" and a "Complete Branding package."

That's probably more than enough.  The goal (similar to last month) is to start the new year feeling decluttered and fresh and ready to start mentally preparing for big life changes.  (I have a huge stack of parenting books just waiting for me.)

It's crunch time, ladies and gentlemen!

What are your last minute tasks for the year?  Anything you're in a rush to get done before the holidays?


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Blogger Tricks

Dec 4, 2016

Weekly Wins!

My brain feels completely scattered lately.  I wasn't even going to post this and then I remembered my first bullet point under "biznass" and I still wanted to brag about it, sooo...

The Wins!


Biznass

  • Months after finishing the project and getting paid for it, a client was finally ready to put her website up online!  Naturally the deployment wasn't as smooth as it should have been so I spent a few days troubleshooting and now it is up and beautiful!
  • Followed up with some clients about invoicing.  I absolutely hate doing this so the victory here is following through instead of just taking the loss since the invoices aren't all that expensive.
  • Finished my FB ad campaign (got 16 new "likes" on my page, decided I'm not sure that quantifies as any great success, and probably won't pay more money for that unless those 16 people end up being very engaged and interested fans), and started a Google ad campaign (we'll see how it goes!).

Health

  • After a slow start to the week, got some good workouts in!  A good mix of biking, (light) strength training, and yoga.
  • Did I already tell you guys how amazing my pregnancy workout leggings are?  They're amazing.  The most comfortable things I have ever put on my body.  I wish I never had to leave the house.
  • Have some (very modest) meal plans for this week.  Back to healthier eating! (until Christmas, because Christmas!!!)

Happiness Project

  • Still deciding what to do about this.  I should be switching from "self actualization" to "fun" but I really didn't do self actualization at all and I feel too mentally cluttered to be all, "la la la, let's ignore life and plan fun activities instead."  Maybe I'll do a "get all the shit done before the year ends" month so I can relax a little in January.

Personal

  • Survived a birthing class!  I know, this does not bode well for the actual birth, but oh my goodness.  Do you know how big 10cm is?  Have you seen a demo of an epidural or a c-section???  For the c-section, they cut open the first layer of skin, part the muscles with their hand, and then cut open the uterus.  Watching (even in cartoony simulation form) made me wince.  I know too much!
  • Instigated the next brunch group meetup for later in December.  I'm just barely getting to know these ladies, but we had a ball last time, talking creative topics (and movies and pets).
  • Was frustrated with a couple conversations I'd had with people, realized I was doing my usual "bottle it up and avoid that person until I feel better" BS, and decided to just be straightfoward and tell them what was bugging me.  One didn't respond and one responded much more positively than I anticipated and wasn't awkward about it later.  So overall it's probably a healthier way to deal with conflict than to go hide or fume or pout.

Thoughts and Plans for Next Week (aka This Week)

  • Erm...  I'll let you know when it's over.

What victories did you have last week?  What's in the works for the upcoming week?


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Dec 1, 2016

Quarterly Goals - Winter 2017

Well... this season is just lame.  No better way to put it.

Autumn Seasonal Goals (September, October, November)

1. Try something new each month - Check!

September: ocean kayaking & cohosting kiddie sleepover, October: comedy club, November: massage (technically I've had one before but it was a hot stone massage and I didn't like it.  This was MUCH better).

2. Finish Zelda, Twilight Princess - Check!

And it was glorious!  I can still count the number of games I've played all the way through on one hand, but it always makes me feel accomplished to finish one.

3. Passive income project - Meh

I started...  Yep.  Just barely started.  What happened to November again?

4. Go to archery! - Sort of?

Ryan and I went to the archery club's Halloween party and "volunteered," intending to help with clean up.  They didn't actually need much help but it was nice to chat with some people.  As for actually going and shooting, I don't know, I don't really care anymore if I make time for it.  Ryan's the one with the membership (and expensive equipment) so it's not like I've invested all that much in the hobby anyway.

5. Write 60 pages in story - Newp

Decided to let the story go.  At this point I think I'm really just feeling more nostalgia than actual desire to do it.

6. Toast house training - Semi check

Shortly after making this goal, something seemed to click in Toast's little doggy brain.  We've been gradually expanding her freedom, and she's doing really well!  We started off leaving her out while running errands and moved on up until she was making it for the whole workday.  So far so good!

7. Finish sorting photos - Nuh uh

I have sporadically sifted through a couple additional trip folders, but I'm nowhere near completed.  I fully regret the days when I thought I might be a photographer and took hundreds of scenery pictures.

8. Family scrapbook! - Nada

Um yeah... apparently our family doesn't need to be documented.  There's always Facebook, right?


3/9 - Pa pa pa pathetic.  That's all I have to say about that.

Winter...

Winter Goals

  1. Broaden My Cultural Horizons - I really like the Southern Poverty Law Center's message about education being the solution to hatred and prejudice.  I can't do a whole lot about other people, but I can continue to educate myself, which I plan to do through books and events that are outside my norm.
  2. Attend 1 Networking Event Per Month - My client market (local Delaware businesses) is just not online, so all my beautiful Instagram photos or money spent on Facebook ads is just not going to pack the same punch as actually going out and meeting people.
  3. Try Something New Each Month - Same as usual.
  4. Have a Baby; Don't Freak Out - Yeah, basically this is a reminder to myself that starting February I have no idea what to expect and not to set high expectations for all my amazing accomplishments the following months.  Also I've totally had adopter's remorse immediately after getting both dogs and both times it turned out to be ok and I fell in love with them and can't imagine ever going back and not getting them, so I need to remember that when it gets stressful and overwhelming.

Do you make seasonal goals?  What are you planning for this winter?


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Nov 29, 2016

Gifts as a Love Language

I've had trouble explaining to people why I don't want gifts for various life occasions.  For example, even before we decided to elope, I was determined to tell our guests, "NO GIFTS."  And we're talking about having a baby party in January (not a shower, because, again, "NO GIFTS").  Someone asked me, "Is it because you want what you want and not what other people will get you?"

That made me feel bad.  Like I think I'm too good for other people's gifts or something, and it's not that at all (heck, at this point most of our baby stuff is secondhand).  I don't want gifts because it feels materialistic and contrived to me.  Gifts is the love language that means the least to me and while I'm happy to accept them from people who I spend a lot of time with and express affection in other ways as well, I don't want to ask for gifts from people who I don't know as well.

I think it feels fake to me because my primary love language is acts of service (and probably 2nd would be quality time).  So if you don't spend time with me and you're not willing to do favors for me, a physical gift just feels pretty meaningless.  And I'm not a huge fan of gifting things to other people for the same reason.  I don't feel like we're "friends" unless we spend some time together.  So how can I ask you to show up to this party and give me shit?  And are you asking me to come to your party/shower/whatever because you want to spend time with me or just because you want my money?

I'm self aware enough to realize this mindset is just mine and not everyone shares it and not everyone has gifts as the last on their list of ways to express affection.  And I'm trying to be open-minded to the idea that to other people, not giving a card for special occasions can be a big deal or that Christmas gifts are expected rather than a perk to an already special day.

But I still can't bring myself to make a registry and then share it with everyone.  Sorry, gift-givers!  It's not you, it's me.

That being said, here's a list of "gifts" I'd really appreciate:

  • An offer to babysit sometime next year
  • Hang out with me AND the baby after it comes so that I don't have to find a babysitter
  • Plan an outing so I don't have to (I get so sick of the endless "What should we do?  Where should we eat?  Does anyone have any ideas?" that inevitably follows a suggestion for a group hangout.  Either contribute an idea, vote for your favorite, or don't say anything. It's like the "yes and..." rule for improv actors.)
  • Spring cleaning.  Do you ever just want to talk to someone while you clean?  I do.  Even if they sit there and don't help, it makes the chores go by so much faster.  I seriously used to cajole Sister3 into sitting on my bed while I tidied my room back in high school so I could chat with someone.
  • Talk books with me.  Super extra bonus credit: read a book at the same time so we can compare notes the whole way.
  • Talk to me about something I posted on the blog.  Far more of my IRL friends and family read than I realize and it always means a lot when someone mentions a blog post.  Plus, a lot of the topics on here are things I'm really interested in or feel strongly about and don't necessarily get to talk about in everyday life.

Notice a pattern there?

And even with physical gifts, there's always going to be some I treasure more than others.  Did you spend time making something with your own hands?  Sure, that's a "gift" but it's also an act of service.  You're speaking my language.  Is it a gift based on an inside joke or something we talked about previously?  There's a tenuous link there to quality time, which adds a whole layer of meaning for me.

I've actually been asking friends and family about their respective love languages, so I can be more thoughtful when I do want to do something nice for them.  If their language is gifts, I'll try to think of something appropriate to buy, if it's quality time then I want to spend more time with them or make more of an effort to chat on the phone, and so on.

Some people just don't know and then I'm stumped (like Sister3, whom I have decided has her own unique love language of food photos).  And some of the languages are harder than others.  Like someone whose primary love language is physical touch?  What do I do with that???  "My gift to you is this hug."  Bahahaha!

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble so I'll cut myself off, but what do you think?

Is it easy for you to accept gifts or do you prefer non-tangible gifts?  Does your love language have an impact on how comfortable you feel giving gifts?  Do you know what your primary love language is?


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Nov 23, 2016

What I Hope People Receive From Me

This was supposed to be posted during Alyssa's challenge, but I got a little, erm, distracted (cough, abolish the electoral college!).  But I still like it and I'm posting it now.

..............................

There are a lot of things I wish I was and a lot of things I'm trying to be, but I know I haven't achieved all of the latter, and I'm not the best person to gauge the former, so I'm adding caveats to my answers for this.

I hope that...


...while I can't always match your level of enthusiasm, I do provide some stability when you need a calm force to rely on.

...while I don't always know whether you want support or advice, I provide thoughtful, helpful measures of either when it's made clear to me which you'd prefer.

...while I don't join in on alcohol-fueled fun anymore, my presence is still enjoyable to be around (and the DD services are useful).

...while my emotions sometimes run away with me, I can tell the difference between logic and emotion and let you know when I need space to let irrationality run its course.

...while I do have strong opinions, I can handle dissenting opinions from other people and that you aren't afraid to speak your mind around me.

...while I can be a crabby, judgmental jerk in my own head, I manage to set that aside and treat people fairly.

...while my self help books can be a dull topic for everyone else, I'm becoming a more well-rounded and generally better person every day.

...while I've made my fair share of mistakes and we have our differences of opinion, my parents are proud of me.

...while I'm not perfect and I've got plenty of mistakes left to make, I provide a good role model for my child.

...while Ryan and I are somewhat set in our ways, we will provide a fair explanation of all the options that are out there and not force our child to conform to our standards.

...while this introvert needs some personal space, I manage to be there when it matters most.

...while I tend to babble on about myself too frequently, some of the things I say are useful or entertaining.

What do you hope you are to other people?


Linking up with Alyssa's Back to Blogging challenge.

alyssagoesbang

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Nov 22, 2016

A Letter to the Mysterious People Who Comprise Our Electoral College

Since the election, my attention has been pretty firmly riveted on abolishing the electoral college altogether, but I've talked to a few people about the possibility of the electoral college NOT voting with their states.  "Faithless Electors" if you will.

I thought going against the state majority was contrary to the reason the electoral college was set up, but there is some evidence that that's what at least some of our founding fathers had in mind when they set up the electoral college.  To prevent the average, uneducated American from making horrible mistakes (which at one time I would have said sarcastically, but my opinion of our country and its inhabitants isn't what it once was).

I've never been one to use custom or "what some dead guys thought about this" as the reason to do things a certain way, but I think we're reaching a point where any option available to prevent this outcome should be examined and attempted.  Especially as Trump continues to add people to his administration that are racist, xenophobic, and outspoken white nationalists.  As he builds his tax plan that benefits the wealthy and hurts the lowest income brackets, contrary to all his promises.  As he surrounds himself with the very lobbyists he was promising to clear out.

Basically, the outlook continues to bleaken (not a word but it should be so I'm leaving it), and we need to utilize any solution we can to end this ridiculousness.  Sister2 is currently involved in her own letter-writing campaign to the members of the electoral college and I found her letter immensely compelling, so I'm sharing it here:

.............................................................................................

Dear Electoral College Member,

I would like to personally thank you for your service to our country in this essential role. We as a nation are grateful to you for accepting this weighty responsibility.

In the words of Alexander Hamilton, the Electoral College was designed to ensure that “the office of the president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” The founding fathers foresaw the results of this election and created a fail-safe to protect our nation: You.

The presumed president-elect is unfit to lead our nation. He has neither government nor military experience, which proves dangerous to our national security. One hundred and twenty two GOP National Security Leaders wrote an open letter “united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency,” which cited his “swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence,” among other concerns. Leading economists predict that his proposed tariff policies on China and Mexico will spur a recession in the United States and cost Americans 4.8 million jobs. He has promised to use torture on prisoners and civil liability to attack the free press, both in violation of the Constitution. Before the election, unprecedented numbers of Republicans were dropping support for Trump, and not a single living President endorsed him.

Donald Trump emerged from this election to a deeply divided country. Given his inexperience, it would have been prudent to surround himself with wise and broad-minded advisors. Instead he has appointed alt-right extremists and lobbyists to high advisory positions. Donald Trump is not capable of governing this country fairly or wisely. He is not capable of uniting a divided nation.

The American people call upon you in this unprecedented time to do what is right for our great nation. This situation is precisely what our founding fathers foresaw and created the Electoral College in order to prevent. NOW is your time.

YOU have the power to save America. Choose not to vote for Donald Trump. You can place your vote for a qualified Republican; you can vote for Secretary Clinton; you can abstain. Do what feels right, but you must vote your conscience!

If the Electoral College was intended to solely vote the way of the state’s popular vote every time, then we would simply tally the numbers based on state popular votes and call the election. This is not the case. Instead, our founding fathers purposefully placed living breathing humans with free will in this role. Not only do you have a choice, but you have a duty to the American people.

You have a chance to take a bold and principled stance and change history for the better. This will be your legacy: you saw a clear and present danger to America and you stood up to protect our great nation. We are forever indebted to your service.


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Nov 21, 2016

30 Week Pregnancy Update & Thoughts

What's this?  A non-political post?  Yes, friends, I have finally succeeded in thinking about something else.  I know, quite the accomplishment.

So you know what else is crazy?  I'm 3/4 of the way done!  Definitely starting to get excited now and definitely feeling pregnant.  We've had baby movement since about week 22, which makes it both more real and surreal at the same time.  I've had a few of these moments, "Whoahhhh, my body is, like, growing another body."


Clothes

I like my pregnancy clothes and I like looking pregnant (though I feel cheated by my lack of pregnancy boobs - I was quite looking forward to that particular physical change).  I remember the first couple months when I was so sure that I wouldn't be showing up until the end and now I laugh at that naivete.  What did I know?  (For the record, I am 100% sure that the entire process of parenting will include more laughing at my past misconceptions.)

Cravings

There was a solid week where I wanted olives all the time.  I'd eat them first thing in the morning right before starting my breakfast smoothie.  Delicious.  Another week I came home with old bay boiled shrimp even though I normally hate the stuff (old bay, not shrimp).  Ate it right from the package.

What it's Like

Physically I mean.  I'm sure everyone's so different emotionally that there's no point in describing that part.  Mostly I don't feel too much different.  As excited as I was to feel the first few movements, you adjust to that pretty quickly and I mostly don't even notice anymore unless the baby does something weird.  Like every once in a while it'll roll over (or somersault or something) and that kind of feels like someone's shoving a giant marble against my stomach and turning it.  There's other days where I'm achy, inside and out.  Sometimes my skin hurts or is itchy and sometimes my insides feel hollow or scraped out, kind of the way you might feel after a bad period or after puking all night long.  Which is kind of funny considering I'm the opposite of empty!

None of which is to complain.  I realize I've gotten off really (really, really) lightly with the symptoms so far and I am immensely grateful for that (knock on wood that the sciatic pain doesn't resume immediately after writing this).

The Serious Stuff

In another vein entirely, I've noticed that even as I feel "more pregnant," I find my brain moving onto or back and forth between different topics more easily.  It's become more a fact of life than something that needs to be discussed and pondered over.  I've been keeping busy with my happiness project and business projects and generally running my butt into the ground at a time when other people might advise me to relax, enjoy the last few months of non-parenthood, take a babymoon with my husband, etc.

That sounds nice and all, but something's driving me to keep picking up the pace.  I think it's partially an irrational feeling that I need to get as much "done" as possible before the baby comes, since I don't know what life will be like at that point, but I think the other part stems from a fear I've always had about being a parent.

I don't want to lose who I am.

I told my mom this and she laughed at me and I've since (mostly) made my peace with it.  Yeah, my blog might change, yeah I might be a dull conversationalist for a while, and yeah, I'll probably be obnoxious on Facebook with 20 versions of the same picture that I think are all exquisitely unique and special.  But I still don't want to stop living.

I recently needed a photographer for a client.  I'd taken photos for him in the past and, frankly, it was subpar work and I don't want to be responsible for (and charging people for!) work that I'm embarrassed by.  "No problem!" I thought.  I know tons of photographers - previous classmates who'd built their own freelance businesses.  I messaged around and I could not find a one to take on this client, because they'd all gotten married and had kids and didn't have the time.

Now I'm not here to denigrate anyone's choice to stay home with their child (or cut back on their workload), but it still shocked me.  These women chose a field that they loved (or so I thought - I could be wrong) and they poured their hearts into these businesses, and then to give it all up?  I love my business, and I can't imagine myself without it.  I want to think I have room in my heart and schedule for work and a baby.

It reminded me of one of Sheryl Sandberg's points in Lean In.  She talks about women leaning back to make room for family before they even have a kid.  She mentions how incredibly difficult it can be to leave your child to go back to work and if you've leaned back and missed out on opportunities, then there's not a whole lot to entice you to return to a job that is probably less satisfying than it would have been if you'd stayed fully engaged.  She advises you to instead "lean in."

So I guess that's what I've been doing.  Leaning in to life and work and trying to make sure that there's plenty of both still waiting for me on the other side of motherhood.  Both for me and my child, because I want to provide a multi-faceted role model for him/her.

If you've been pregnant, what weird symptoms/cravings/aversions did you have?  If you haven't, is there anything about pregnancy you're curious about?  AMA!


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