Sep 30, 2014

Let's Talk Books - Dystopia, Cyborgs, and Self Help

I'd been in a bit of a slump at the beginning of this year, but then the Semi-Charmed Summer Book Challenge really shook me up and got me going again!  (Plus, I was #4 to finish the challenge and was granted the honor of choosing a category for the next challenge!)  Since then, I've read a few books that I loved and want to share.  And there's one book that I didn't love so much and I need to tell someone why!!!

SPOILER ALERT: I'm terrible with spoilers, but I'll do my best not to give too much away.

 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer ♥♥♥♥♥

I love these so much!  It's a dystopian, futuristic fairytale adaptation, with cyborgs, aliens, genetically altered beings, and a few non-traditional princesses thrown in just for fun.  I actually bought this on a whim.  I think there was a Kindle sale and the price for the first one was something like $3.  That was an excellent marketing tactic, because now I'm hooked and will be buying the rest at whatever cost.

What makes these so awesome, you ask?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  I think a part of me is just blown away by how original the story is.  The characters are primarily teenage girls, but the books manage to portray them with a few youthful foibles without making them entirely obnoxious (as is the case in the next book I'll talk about).  There's a teeny bit of romance, but not enough to detract from the story, and overall these are some of the best young adult books I've read.


Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I bought this for a book club that I was super excited to join because the focus is fantasy/sci-fi.  But then I hated it and was sad because most of the other members seem to like it so I didn't end up having anyone to discuss it with.  Here's what makes it terrible:
  1. Teenage angst = lots of pouting and feeling sorry for herself
  2. Teenage boycrazy = lengthy descriptions of beautiful hazel eyes and perfect hair
  3. Teenage first person point of view = total ignorance of any other character's thoughts or feelings
While the idea was interesting (it's like dystopia but in Oz), and turned The Wizard of Oz on its head, it was really dark and grim and not a lot of fun to read.  Couple that with the lack of depth of the main character and there really wasn't much for me to enjoy about this book.


Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews ♥♥♥♥♥

I love the whole Kate Daniels series, so I was super excited when the latest one was published.  The books are set in a futuristic Atlanta, where magic and technology battle (almost dystopian, but more chaotic than anything else).  It took me a few chapters to warm up to the setting, but once I got used to the idea of "our world but different," I fell in love with this story.

The main character, Kate, is a super strong, kick-ass woman on the run from powerful enemies from her past who eventually falls in love with an equally kick-ass male counterpart.  One of the things I like about this is that it's no sappy, unrealistic love story.  They fight, they argue, they struggle to get past certain issues.  It's a much more realistic look at how relationships work in real life - if a bit too Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Another thing I find fantastic - the story doesn't just end with a fairytale wedding.  Their romance happens, and then life keeps going.  The tone of the story doesn't change completely just because after book 3 or 4 Kate is in a relationship.

So yeah, strong female lead, along with other strong female characters, so this gets my feminist thumbs up, along with a fantasy-enthusiast's "Hell yeah!"


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ♥♥♥

This was very strange.  On the surface, it's an unusual, little children's story with some fun illustrations.  I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be some deeper meaning hidden behind the children's story, but I'm not great at that sort of thing.  If anyone would care to explain it to me, I'd love to hear what you have to say!


Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman ♥♥♥♥

I've read another book by Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages, and liked it so much I wrote a post based on the concepts in that book.  This one I picked up because Significant and I were talking about seeing a pre-marital counselor.  Just to discuss the typical issues a marriage runs into and to go over tools for getting past those and improving our communication overall.  Well, it turns out the majority of counselors in our area are either religious, or spiritual in some other way, and we didn't like the idea of seeing someone who would base the discussion on a philosophy we don't actually believe in.

So we gave up on the idea of seeing someone and instead did some research on our own.  This book is one piece of that and, so far, it's doing a good job.  In each chapter, the author discusses a fairly major issue he and his spouse encountered, and how to best deal with it.  He uses examples from his life and some of his clients, and, like his other book, is very down to earth about it.  I haven't finished this one yet, but so far it's been great topics to cover with a potential spouse (or even a spouse).

Have you read any of these and what did you think?  What books have you read lately and would you recommend them?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 29, 2014

Motivational Monday - A Different Approach to Mondays

Motivational Monday - A Different Approach to Mondays | Business, Life & Design

Mondays suck, right?  We all know that.  But do they have to?

I think a big part of the misery of Mondays is our approach to them.  We dread the return to the tedium of work and we miss whatever awesome thing we were doing on the weekend.

So I'm going to make a mental shift. Instead of being miserable on Mondays, I'm going to be motivated.  "Hey, it's the start of a brand new week, and I haven't screwed anything up yet!  This could very well be the week I kick ass at work."  If you're the kind of person who hates peppy people early in the morning or early in the week, you might want to steer clear on Mondays.

To kick things off, let's talk about problem solving.  When I'm unhappy, I'm big on making a plan.  Having a plan makes me feel in control of the situation, and that frequently alleviates most of my stress right off the bat.

I've been increasingly dissatisfied at work.  It has nothing to do with the company - which is fantastic!  It's just that the work I was initially hired to do is pretty bland, and after working on it for a couple years, it's gotten pretty mindless.

At first I just tried to work through it.  Who needs to be happy with their work, right?  But I found that the more bored I became with my projects, the more time I'd spend goofing off doing other things.  This would increase my unhappiness, because I knew my work ethic was lacking and I was producing even less.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this unhappiness didn't make me any more inclined to plunge whole-heartedly back into my tasks.  So I avoided tasks even more, and was even more unhappy with the results of my work.  Essentially, it precipitated me into a downward spiral.

So I thought, "There must be a way to spice things up!"  And I signed up for a programming class.  They've been gradually folding me into IT work here, and it's much more interesting and brain-intensive than my maps.  But... it hit a point where my learning curve slowed, the only way I can continue to learn more is to ask, and that means my coworkers are not working on their tasks, which are probably more important than mine.

The programming class was intended as a solution for that - a way to learn more quickly and take up less of my coworker's time.  And it's been somewhat effective so far.  Although I do still need to force myself to "bother" them and ask questions so my IT projects at work don't stall out.

But with the terrible work habits I've accumulated so far, it's very easy to find other things to do that don't involve asking for help and bothering people.  And that don't involve terrible, tedious map projects.  And I thought I'd reached a stalemate with those.

But then I read this post by Anastasia Amour, which talks about 3 simple steps for improving your job satisfaction.  And you know what?  I knew them already.  But I wasn't willing to take it all the way.  I knew what I needed to do, but didn't have the discipline to follow through.

So I did it.  I changed the passwords to my personal email, blog, and feed readers to long, horrible things that I don't know but are on my Keepass at home.  So I can get in, just not at work.

What this means for the blog is less involvement, with this blog and reading others (although I hope to keep up during lunchtime and in the evenings).  But I think it's a necessary change.  As much as I love my hobby, it is just that: a hobby.  And I can't use it as an excuse to avoid real world problems anymore.

Downward spiral, I may not have had the strength of mind to quit you, but I had the tools to force me to do it.  And now, watch me work!

How do you avoid procrastination and goofing off at work?  Have you ever been unhappy with a job and how did you fix it?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 26, 2014

Blog Mentoring Network Website - Design Day Friday

Blog Mentoring Logo and Website - Design Day Friday

I know I already talked about this a bit, but I figured I'd give you the process behind the Blog Mentoring Network website redesign.

The Project


You already know all about this, but with the collaboration and new services she was going to start offering, Jana wanted a new look for the Blog Mentoring Network.  She was open to a new logo (which of course meant I jumped at the chance, since logos are my favorite), and she definitely wanted a new look for the site.

The Process - Branding


We agreed to meet in person to discuss things, and I, excited by the potential to do some rebranding, armed myself with a small set of logo ideas.  Jana and I had briefly discussed target market, and brand differentiation, and I knew she was looking for something with a little more personality than her current branding, but still cool and professional enough to appeal to a broad client base.

Color

Jana didn't want to change up the branding too much and risk alienating current contacts, so I tried to keep a similar color scheme and just brighten it up a bit to give it more personality.


Font

The fonts also stayed fairly simple.  All the fonts that I love are pretty girly, and not necessarily very business-like, so I stuck with some basic serifs and sans-serifs.


Graphics

I considered a few different things, mostly images that made me think of networks and groups of people.  I also included a plainer, crest-type image more evocative of the current logo.


First Draft

Jana knew what she wanted right off the bat.  I had barely pulled the logo sheet out and she said, "That one" and pointed at #1.  I honestly don't know if I've ever worked with someone so decisive, and it was an awesome change of pace!  Also, very important, since our ultimate timeline did not leave a lot of room for revisions or indecision.


The Process - Learning Wordpress

I went into this knowing very little about Wordpress, so this project was a great opportunity for me, and also a good kick in the pants to pick up a skill I already knew I should probably attain.

Website Design

As a blogger, Jana is a bit more tech-savvy than a lot of my clients, and she knew exactly what she wanted.  She showed me the Epik theme for Wordpress, and we talked about the Genesis framework and how to implement it.  Despite not knowing the ins and outs of Wordpress, Genesis, or Epik, I decided to give it a go, and we worked out a timeline to get the project completed in the next week before Jana left for her conference.

Learning New Skills

Google became my best friend that week.  Wordpress was not terribly difficult to figure out.  Like Blogger, you just poke around a bit, and there's a dashboard with all the options, so after some digging, you get a basic idea of where everything and what the capabilities are.  Implementing a theme was a different story.

Implementing a Theme

Actually, implementing it was easy - as long as your account matches the criteria (not a freebie), you can add your own themes pretty easily.  But once you click that "activate theme" button, then the fear sets in!

So my first thought was panic.  "Oh shit, where did everything go?"  That gradually subsided over the next hour as I found the new locations of all the widgets and realized they had not been deleted, merely moved to a different location.

Customizing a Theme

This was much harder.  The theme was structured differently than the old site, so the old information was all over the place!    The logo disappeared, replaced by a header was determined to be a certain size, and left-aligned.  The home page that automatically displayed was nowhere near as attractive as the Epik demo.

Some battles we conceded, like the header.  After getting the logo in there without any terrible cropping, the alignment issue had to be let go.  Others I fought, digging into the CSS, and googling extensively, to figure out why the home page was made entirely of widgets (it just is, but at least you can find a page that explains what each one does and what the names are).  I swapped home pages so the pretty front one was displayed.  I changed the background colors of a couple sections.  Small victories.

But after 7 hours of "small victories," the tides of battle had turned and the site was looking more than presentable.  Of course, it was 2am and my sleep-crazed mind didn't realize this until the next day.  (I call this graphic designer's delusion.  Nothing looks good until you take a break and look at it again.  Then your head inflates and you realize how awesome you are.  If not, you probably need to give it another go.  Or have more confidence in yourself.  Either one.)

Final Product!


So we started with something that looked like this.

Before

And now we have a site that looks like this.

After

And I picked up all kinds of valuable skills.  Not bad for a week's work.

Bonus: Blogger vs Wordpress

I know people have strong opinions on this.  I think whichever you were exposed to first is probably easier (in my case Blogger).  But I will say this: I think Blogger is much more user friendly in certain ways (the widgets and the layout adjustments), even though it is ultimately a bit less customizable.  In fact, I'd argue that Blogger is more "customizable" for people who know nothing about HTML and CSS, because you can make small edits to the template without using these things at all.  With Wordpress, you're pretty much limited to the constraints of the theme you choose, unless you know some basic coding.

If you're building a new website and just want a pretty layout, then Wordpress is probably better because there are more options.  OR if you're a web expert, but want a shortcut or don't know how to set up a blogging framework, because you'll be able to dig in adapt things to your liking.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents on the great blogging platform debate.

Do you prefer Wordpress or Blogger?  What skills have you picked up on the job?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 25, 2014

Alright Ladies, Let's Man Up - 7 Stereotypes We Should Let Go

So I read somewhere that our very language is indicative of our gender stereotypes.  Being gutsy or bold is "manly" or "macho."  Being whiny or a wimp is described as "girly" or "like a girl."  And I was on board the indignation train.

But then I read a few posts by other ladies and thought, "Huh.  We kind of do this to ourselves."

I've read several women mention going on dates "for the free food."  A-what?  That is both a jerk move and the fact that you're still expecting a man to court you and pay for all your activities while you're on a date is... uh... well, "girly."  It's a gender prejudice, just like unequal pay, or the old-fashioned mindset that "women should be housewives" but we (as women) seem to be ok with this one.

Why?  Because it benefits women?  Because we want men to be manly and take care of us?

A dating blog that I initially enjoyed has made just a few too many unkind criticisms of dating prospects.  It really bothered me that the mindset here was "these guys are all weirdos."  Um, maybe you're just not compatible.  Those things sounded awkward, sure, but it doesn't sound to me like it was all the man's fault.

I'm hearing far too little willingness to take responsibility for our actions and far too much entitlement about what men are expected to provide to women.  And if this is the way we treat men, is it any surprise that they would respond in kind?  If we box them in a stoic little package that isn't allowed to be a stay-at-home parent, have emotions, and must pay all the time is it any surprise that we associate words like "manly" and "macho" with those things?

I feel like women are trying to, and succeeding at, escaping their own box to pursue their passions and desires regardless of gender expectations.  And awareness and acceptance are gradually spreading.  But we're doing men a disservice by not allowing them to do the same.

7 Stereotypes We Should Let Go

  1. Men can't cry
  2. Women can't be strong
  3. Men aren't good at household chores
  4. Women aren't good at math
  5. Men shouldn't stay home with the kids
  6. Women shouldn't make more money than their husbands
  7. That any individual's behavior can be explained by attributing that trait to the entirety of that gender
Our language reflects our perceptions and opinions as a society.  So if you want "feminine" or "girly" to not be a total exclusion of traits like toughness, or career success, then go out and be the example of feminine or girly you think everyone should associate with the word.  The principle of inertia states that nothing changes without an outside force to influence it.  Be that force.

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Ghandi

In what ways do you defy gender stereotypes?  What stereotypes bother you the most?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 24, 2014

Confessions of a Blogger (more stuff my family doesn't care about)

I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll just write this one post about blogging and then it'll be out of my head and I'll have nothing else to say about it."  Not so much.  Since The Nerdy Girlie is doing this link up anyway... I figure that's a good enough excuse for me.

Here's another round of blogging confessions!

1. I Keep Finding Ways to Spend Money on Blogging


So I told myself when I decided not to monetize that that also meant I couldn't spend money on this hobby.  I still really want to do blogging consultations, go to conventions, the whole 9 yards, but I was firm with myself and said, "No!"  But... then it really made more sense to own my own domain name and that didn't cost TOO much.  And then... there was this really great planner that just happened to be a blog planner, but I could totally use it for other things!

But just look how pretty it is!  None of the other planners could match this magnificence!
What can I say?  Will power is not my strong suite.

2. I Haven't Been Putting Much Effort Into It


For someone who's so eager to throw money into a hobby, I haven't been super motivated to put together pretty pictures or share my posts on social media.  I could claim I'm too busy, but I think that's a cop out.  If I really wanted to, I'd find time.

That being said - I do value the written word far more than pretty pictures.  While another blogger might be very clever and creative, if the post has gifs interspersed with each sentence, I can't do it.  I'd much rather read a block of text.

3. I Have a Sponsor Offer and I Don't Know What to Do


I've been pretty forward about blogging being a hobby and low pressure means more enjoyable.  I definitely don't want to get to the point where I'm writing sponsored posts every week about bizarre products that you guys know I don't really care about.  But... I was considering buying from this company anyway, and now I can get it for free!  Plus they have hardly any restrictions on what I can say in the post.

Brutal honesty: I didn't think the issue would come up since my blog is so small.  Now I have to actually think about it.

4. I Change My Content for My Audience


As much as I like to say it's a hobby, and I do it for me, that's not entirely true.  I enjoy what I write about, but when I started to connect with other bloggers, I saw which posts got a few comments and which ones had crickets, and I changed it up.  Most of the ones I stopped writing were nerd/gaming related, because until recently I hadn't found any community for it.  I intend to remedy that, but I'm really hoping that I can coexist in both communities, rather than losing the one I've already found.

On that note, I kind of wish I was a secret blogger.  I love my family but I would also love to have total freedom of expression, without always worrying, "Who's going to see this?"

5. My Old Posts Make Me Cringe


When I started writing, I was off in a completely different direction.  Hopefully I've improved, but going back and reading the old posts is painful.  I debate about whether or not to delete them, because I don't think they add much as far as quality, but they do show where I started and without them I wouldn't have a "Hello World" first post.

Also, a small part of me is afraid that all this junk I write now will cause me to cringe one day in the future.  We're never as smart as we think we are, and I certainly hope I'll continue to learn and improve as time goes on.  So I guess I'll just have to accept cringing as part of the territory.

What are your blogging confessions?  Do you ever have trouble getting a certain topic out of your head?


Linking up with The Nerdy Girlie.


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 23, 2014

Quarterly Goals - Autumn

Autumn Quarterly Goals | Business, Life & Design

I've seen a few people do seasonal goals, and I tried that out with my summer bucket list (didn't go so well), but I think I did it wrong.  (I've since received some timely advice from Steph which helped me restructure.)

I've got a lot of different things I'm trying to track and I'm not being terribly organized about it.  There's my year-long resolutions, which are tweaked every so often throughout the year.  Then there's short term goals.  And then there's seasonal activities, like my sad, little summer bucket list, that would be nice to do but aren't terribly important.

So I'm going to try out "Quarterly" goals, which is basically seasonal, but I guess in my mind quarterly means it's just an update 4 times a year rather than only goals that pertain to the season.  Semantics.

In the future I'll do an update post, and then a new post for the new quarterly goals, but for this one the update is at the bottom.

Lifelong Continuing Goals


I've broken these guys into 4 categories: Work, Personal Fulfillment, Health, and Social.  Each category also has an ultimate goal, along with the primary motivator for reaching that goal.  These tend to get updated every so often as my priorities change, so it'll be nice to discuss these quarterly.

Work

1. Follow through with daily priorities
2. Spend less time on non-work activities
3. Find ways to expand job duties

End Goal: Be more content with my current work and ensure that it will be relevant to another field if I ever want to switch
End Reward: Peace of mind/job satisfaction

Personal Fulfillment


4. Try something new each month (you can follow along on the Self Actualization page)
5. Cook 2 meals each week
6. Play games and read books whenever possible

End Goal: Be Awesome!
End Reward: Being Awesome! (and also not crazy from never having time to myself)

Health


7. Follow daily routine (schedule for: sleep, exercise, meals, school, and taking care of dog)
8. Exercise every day (doesn't matter how small)
9. Snack less and substitute healthier versions

End Goal: Lose 20lbs (1 lb a week - 180 target weight)
End Reward: Donate eggs (BMI is currently borderline for what they accept - otherwise I would have a fitness oriented goal rather than numbers)

Social


10. Improve conversational skills/be more aware of other person in conversation
11. Be more positive and express appreciation to other people (especially Significant)
12. Make one new friend each year

End Goal: Become a person more likely to attract positive people and surround myself with people who have qualities I admire
End Reward: Having friends with similar values and broadening/enriching my social sphere

Autumn Priorities


These are the things I want to focus on, and if there's a choice between to do list items, these'll be the ones that take priority.

1. Routine

I've been at my current job for over a year now, and I still arrive at work a different time every day.  I go to bed at a different time every night, and quite frequently I'm sleep deprived, which only makes motivation more difficult.  I think a lot of my other objectives would come a lot easier if I had a more stable foundation to build them on.  So I'm going to focus on following the same sleep schedule each weeknight, and trying to find a comfortable routine for school, exercise, meals, and taking care of the dog.

2. Unclutter

In general, I prefer things to be organized.  And I notice the mess accumulates most when I get new things and they don't have a place.  So I'd like to both optimize the space we have by organizing better, and also get rid of some of the junk we've begun to collect that we really don't need.

3. Unwind

We had a lot of fun over the summer, but we also had a lot of stress.  And most of it was completely avoidable.  I'm feeling really good today, after a weekend trip to the beach, during which we had NO OBJECTIVES.  There was nothing we had to see, nothing we had to do.  It was one of the most relaxing things I've ever done, just to wander around our hotel and the boardwalk.  Then, today, I felt so recharged and refreshed and just motivated!  And I want more of this.  So I'm going to make more of an effort to schedule downtime.

Seasonal Goals

  1. Bake something!
  2. Do something crafty with pumpkins
  3. Sort clothes and make a Goodwill run
  4. Drink all the ciders!
  5. Organize closets (bedroom and hall)
  6. Help Significant put together new exercise bike!
  7. Attend the Renaissance Faire
  8. Organize storage room & basement (ick - this should probably be 3 separate things)
  9. Rehang decorations that fell down (sticky tape not terribly effective) or put them away
  10. Get an A in Programming 101
  11. (I fully intend to add more to these as I see fit, but this is the basic list)

Update on 2014 New Years Resolutions

  1. Think about career goals and make a timeline for them - Check! (result: programming class)
  2. Find ways to make my job more interesting and satisfying - Semi Check (expanded some of my work duties, but the novelty's worn off so it was more of a temporary fix)
  3. Stop slacking off at work - Fail
  4. Set priorities for the work day as well as for personal errands - Check!
  5. Do at least one new/interesting/unusual activity each month (classes, hobbies, crafts, social activities...) - Check! (I'm kicking ass on this one)
  6. Cut back on mindless TV time - Check!
  7. Get up early enough to walk the dog and eat a full breakfast without rushing to get to work on time - Fail
  8. Snack less/eat less of the delicious sugary things scattered around the office - Fail (I was doing alright for a while, but lately it's been pretty bad)
  9. Exercise more and add variety - Check! (back and forth, but back in March I ran a 5-miler, and Zumba was off and on, and now I'm getting into yoga, so... good enough!)
  10. Read relationship and communication self help books and actually utilize the tips from them - Check!!! (I forgot about this one, but I'm on my 3rd "relationship" book, and Significant and I have both used some of the things we've learned; our arguments are like, so smooth these days, I can't even call them "arguments."  More like "discussions.")
  11. Be more aware of other people in conversations - Ehhh... (I don't know. Which probably means fail)
  12. Find things to appreciate about the people around me every day - Partial check (I've kept my list of 5 positive things lately, but I haven't made a point of saying those things to other people)
  13. Keep journal/handbook to track goal progress and productivity - Check (I've kept a goal/priority tracker pretty steadily, but I don't fill it out very thoroughly, so this one is barely a check. I'm thinking about switching it up and using a paper journal instead)
  14. Enjoy it all! - Check!!!
Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 18, 2014

Blog Psychology - the Positive and Negative Impacts of Blogging

The Psychological Impact of Blogging | Business, Life & Design

I like blogging.  But I think the appeal is something a lot stronger than "I like it."

I blog about a lot of issues that I couldn't/wouldn't/maybe shouldn't discuss in real life.  Either it's inappropriate, or upsetting, or I just have beef with something someone said or did and want to vent about it without starting an unnecessary argument.

So I've found blogging to be an outlet and a lot of times I'll get a rush from a particularly well-phrased post, or when I feel like I've nailed the point I was trying to make.  I feel like it's also encouraged me to be more positive in general, and reading other blogs has opened up my eyes to a plethora of positive influences.

What I'm wondering now is whether blogging could be said to have a positive psychological impact, not just for me, but everyone.  When I googled "psychological impact of blogging" the articles that popped up had titles like "Blogging May Have Positive Psychological Effects For Teens" and "Therapeutic value of adolescents’ blogging about social-emotional difficulties" which seems to reinforce my point.

Judging from the articles I found, the only formal or maybe the only conclusive studies were done on teens.  Which is logical, since there have been so many issues with that age group and cyber bullying, and social media depression (the misleading portrayal of everyone else's life as "perfect" and resulting negative comparison).

While I'm glad that not all social media has a negative impact on teens, I'm curious about the adults.  So I asked a few bloggers about their experience with blogging and here's what I found out.

And So Our Story Begins...


People listed all sorts of reasons for starting a blog.  Looking for a creative outlet or hobby was the most common reason, but survey participants also mentioned escapism, keeping track of life events, improving their writing skills, self expression, and potential revenue generation.  A couple even mentioned starting at the suggestion of others.

Note: "Other" will typically refer to one-off answers (only one person gave that answer) or specific things that didn't fit well into a category.  In this case, "other" answers include: starting at the suggestion of others, and joining as an alternative to another media.
  • ʺ... I needed some kind of escape and a possible way to earn money in the future.ʺ
  • ʺ...wanted a creative outlet for my own writing...ʺ
  • ʺ...a place for my family to keep up with me...ʺ
  • ʺ... my English Professor told me if I wanted to be a writer I have to write every day.ʺ
  • ʺ...friends kept urging me to do it...ʺ

But what all bloggers have in common is that, for one reason or another, they stuck with it and blogging has become an integral part of their lives.

  • "It was where I came to vent and relate and just write everyday. 2 years later and I'm still here."
  • ʺ...I finally settled on what I wanted, deleted my YouTube channel, jumped head first into blogging, and haven’t looked back since.ʺ

Bloggers Blog Because


It probably comes as no surprise that community was one of the biggest incentives to continue blogging, along with the pure enjoyment of having a creative outlet.

"Other" answers include: record keeping (for self and/or family and friends), and introspection/personal growth.
  • ʺFor me now blogging is about the connections and the friendships with people I've never really met, which feels completely weird to type/say if I'm being honest.ʺ
  • ʺSounds corny but I love when people tell me they laugh, or get inspired, or feel better because of a post I've written.ʺ
  • ʺI am building friendships and that's all I need to get out of it.ʺ

The Positives


Let's talk pros and cons.  Obviously community is one of the biggest positives, since it's the highest motivator to continue.  An interesting thing was that while creative outlet was one of the bigger reasons for starting a blog, self expression was more prominent as a positive after having/maintaining a blog for a period of time.

For the purpose of this project, a creative outlet refers to any hobby, writing or otherwise, that allows the participant to utilize creative energy.  Self expression is more about being heard and communicating your thoughts to others.  Basically "I wanted to write" vs "I wanted to be heard."

"Other" answers include: creative outlet, introspection/personal growth, record keeping, and revenue.
  • ʺThere is so much genuine conversation and connection in this community and I love it and the relationships that I have created through it.ʺ
  • ʺI find it fascinating to connect with like minded individuals who are experiencing some of life's similar situations and moments and just breathe deep in the knowledge that I'm not alone.ʺ

If other bloggers are anything like me, when they started, it was without awareness that the blogging community even existed.  The fact that it does is one of the absolutely amazing and fulfilling things about blogging, but it can also be one of the downsides.

The Negatives


The accessibility of the internet is definitely a mixed bag.  As one blogger mentioned, connecting with like-minded people can ease feelings of isolation or loneliness.  However, that connection can also bring us into contact with the negativity of others and competition, which accounted for the highest part of blogger's dissatisfaction.

Negativity is pretty self-explanatory, but competition is more complex.  Bloggers expressed both the expectations of others, and their own personal expectations as a source of discontent.  External expectations refers to pressures and criticisms by other bloggers, and personal expectations refers to feelings of insufficiency, comparison with others, and feeling the need to compete or "keep up."

"Other" answers include: blog maintenance, closed community/not friendly to non-bloggers, and finding a life/blog balance.
  • ʺ...it still bugs me that people get so up in arms about every little thing.ʺ
  • ʺ... the stress of comparison with other bloggers who have more followers or take prettier pictures or get ALL THE FREE STUFF.ʺ
  • ʺWe bloggers put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in the blogging world."

Impact of Blog on Overall Happiness


To finally get to the point: with all those negatives and positives, does blogging have an impact on bloggers' overall happiness?

Change in Happiness

More than 3/4 of the surveyed bloggers reported feeling happier now than prior to starting a blog.
 

Did the Blog Contribute?

Less bloggers reported a direct impact from the blog, but the majority felt their blog contributed in some way to their overall happiness.  There were also those who felt the blog contributed in both positive and negative ways, which either evened out, or had an ultimate positive yield.  No one reported feeling less happy after blogging.

  • ʺI have stress in my life because of blogging that wouldn't be there otherwise, but it's introduced some great opportunities and people into my life, and I really do enjoy it.ʺ
  • ʺI do notice that I sometimes am more intent on ʺcapturingʺ life -- probably for the blog. This can be both a blessing and a curse so I'm all about trying to find the perfect balance.ʺ
  • ʺBlogging has pushed me outside my comfort zone and with each new experience or time I write and get positive feedback I have become a lot more confident in myself and comfortable being myself.ʺ
  • ʺThe fact that people care about what I have to say is a real confidence booster!ʺ

So Was This Conclusive?


Not entirely.  It was a tiny, not-very-scientific study with only 11 participants.  But, allowing for the small sample size, it tells us these things:
  1. There are positives and negatives, but the end yield per individual is positive or neutral(Hypothesis: those who found it to be a negative simply stopped doing it.)
  2. The blogging community is the biggest contributor to both sides. (Community = people.  Simply put, some people are great and some people suck.)
  3. The good outweighs the bad. (I'd like to apply this to people as a whole, in addition to the blogging community.)
  4. We can remove 27% of the drawbacks by letting go of our expectations and the pressure we put upon our selves.
  5. We can remove 54% by not caring what the negative portion of the community has to say or what they expect of us.
Blogging is what you make of it.  So let's get out there and meet more awesome, like-minded people, forget about the "rules," and get the most out of our blogs that we possibly can!

My Lovely Research Participants

Thanks everyone who was able and willing to participate!  This has been a fascinating and inspiring project.

Amanda @ The Lady Okie
Who I read for her wit, general good-heartedness, and awesome Blog Talk series.
Amanda's Favorite: How to Start Running: Pt 1
 Who has the cutest new baby and likes to keep it real with family stories and thoughts on life.
Who I don't think really needs an introduction.  She's kind of a thing.
Helene's Favorite: I Read Your Blog
Who, along with her husband, entertains me no end while hitting all the right serious topics.
Kelli @ Just Beachy
Who is probably the most genuine blogger I've "met," and isn't afraid to break a few rules!
Kelli's Favorite: When a Blog Dies
Who is too cute for words and always makes me laugh.
Who has an awesome mix of sports and girly, and gives us some great blog and design tips.
Sarah's Favorite: The Devil Wears Ziplock
Sarah Christine @ Sarah Christine Style
Who gives us fashion with a healthy dose of thoughtfulness and positive self image.
Who won me over with her no-nonsense practicality and her common-sense hausfrau tips.
Steph's Favorite: The Art of Saying No
Taylor @ Daily Tay
Who provides my daily dose of humor and understands that dogs are people, too.
Trish @ Trish List
 Who gives us insights into personal growth, frugal finds, and truly cares about building community.
Trish's Favorite: What Would Shakespeare Do?

One Last Note on Community

I was absolutely blown away by how awesome everyone was!  Of the 15 people I asked, 11 people not only responded but filled out the survey within a week or 2.  I was a bit over-ambitious with this.  I even sent it to the The Bloggess and she ACTUALLY RESPONDED!  She declined very politely and I still can't believe she even bothered to write back.

I know there's a negative side to blogging.  There's a negative side to everything.  But this experience has been nothing but positive for me, and I really appreciate the community that I've found.  Thanks, everyone!

Does your blog impact your overall happiness?  What would you ask to improve the study?

 
P.S. Want to put your 2 cents in?  Feel free to take the survey:




Note: provided answers are based on the feedback I got already, but don't feel constrained!  Answer however it makes the most sense to you!
 
Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 17, 2014

When the Cat's Away - 5 Things to Enjoy About an Empty House

Momma's back, to help me out with a post! And we're talking solo time.


My husband is out of town this week, and it reminded me of all the reasons why it is good to be alone in the house once in a while. Here is a countdown of my top five…

Momma's List of 5 Really Good Things About Your Spouse Going Away for a Week


5. The Hallmark Channel

My kids used to razz me about watching dumb movies on LMC (Lifetime Movie Channel), but recently I've discovered there is a channel of even sappier (read "more enticing") movies and shows! But I can only watch when I'm alone in the house or my husband will make retching noises at me.

4. Things Stay Clean

If I clean the bathroom, it stays clean for days!!

3. True Laziness

I can lounge around as much as I want. My idea of a perfect day is one in which I never have to change out of my pajamas. You know the Bruno Mars song? That one? "Nobody’s gonna tell me I ca-an’t…"

2. Unimpeded Self-Delusion

If, in the midst of all this laziness, I am overtaken by an incredible burst of productivity and, say, refill all the liquid soap dispensers in the house (as I did today), there is no one to intrude any reality onto my shiny false bubble of self-congratulations.

1. Ice Cream for Dinner

'nuff said.


And here's my countdown

Jenn's List of 5 Really Awesome Things About Being Home Alone


5. Ice Cream for Dinner

Or breakfast.  I have to second this as an alternate meal option.

4. Singing

Loudly and off-key.  Usually I go with something from Les Miserables.  If I get really into it, erratic arm flailing plays a part.

3. Dog on the Bed

Lately Significant has banned Luke from the bed at night, and I understand, because somehow that 60 pounds of dog spreads out into a big dog puddle and pushes us to the edges.  But when it's just me, I can avoid the pangs of guilt when his big, brown eyes are staring sadly up at me each night.

2. No Bra

If it was just me and Significant, I probably wouldn't bother, but having a roommate means feeling compelled to keep things a bit more constrained.  Alone time = comfort time.

1. Quiet time

I grew up in a fairly quiet house, and I had a room to myself for a good portion of childhood.  So I truly relish it when I get chance to soak in the silence and sift through my thoughts.

I have a first runner up, too: Not Sharing.  There's this awesome, fuzzy blanket on my couch that my mom gave me for Christmas, and I'm almost territorial about it.  I call it "the fuzzy" and it has magical warmth and sleep properties, and I hate when someone else is using it and I can't.  I know I could probably ask them to trade with me, but then I start feeling too silly and irrational, so I don't usually.

Do you like alone time?  What things do you enjoy about having the house to yourself?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 16, 2014

An Announcement and an Inflated Ego

So the timing is kind of funny for this, because I just had my interview with Trish posted yesterday and there was no mention of this.  But in my defense, the interview was planned out a while ago, and this business project just sprouted up!  Sometimes an idea is so good you just have to run with it.

What project is that, you ask?  (trumpet fanfare)

The Blog Mentoring Network!


This business is Jana's brainchild, and the mentoring part of it has been around for a while.  (It's actually a really fantastic idea - pairing experienced bloggers with newbies, at a very low cost, so everyone can get some one-on-one attention.)  But she's expanding her repertoire to include coaching and blog design services.  As you may have guessed, that's where I come in.


Together, Jana and I will be offering coaching/design packages, and if you're interested, or you know someone in need, feel free to check those out here.  Even if you're not interested, go admire the website.  I learned Wordpress for this, and installed my very first theme, so yeah.  I'm insufferably proud right about now.

Sneak peek:

Blog Mentoring Network website

(Side note: The CSS gets hella complicated when it's a blog post wrapped in a child theme, sitting on a framework, hosted on a content management system.  My goodness!)

We also have a brand, spankin' new blog button, so if you have any interest in doing a swap, let me know!

Blog Mentoring Network

Do you have a side business?  What job would you take if money wasn't an issue?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 15, 2014

Going Back to School... as an Adult

Going Back to School... as an Adult.

I'm taking a Programming class.

It was supposed to be an online course, which would be the most efficient way to get supplementary training for some of the IT stuff they're teaching me at work.  If you read my somewhat rant-y post about businesses not giving a crap about their customers, then you know it wasn't going well.

Well, I've resolved it, mostly, by transferring into the Wednesday night class.  Same professor - but being in person cuts down on all the communication issues.  She's a super nice lady, so I don't want to say any more negative things, but I'll be honest - she probably shouldn't be in charge of the online class.  Knowing programming doesn't automatically mean you know how to set things up for online students, or how to use the web portal, and the school should probably ensure that their teachers are qualified before sending them off to do online education.  /negativity

Anyway, back to night class.  I figured it wouldn't be so bad returning to my old haunts.  I'd be almost 10 years older than the youngest, fresh-out-of-high school students, but there should be some older students too.

Then I walked into the class.  Only 5 or 6 students were already there (college students don't go to class on time!  Silly me), and they looked YOUNG.  Particularly the fellow I ended up sitting behind.  It was a bit of shock when I saw his face.  "Is THAT what college students look like now?  How old have I gotten?!"

The age gap widened further when one of the giggling young men in the back corner called out the instructor's name, "Uh, Ms. Jones?  I have a question."

"Ms."???  I had automatically called her by her first name in our emails.  Whoops.  No disrespect intended!  But after getting used to a business environment, and finally feeling like an adult, it doesn't even occur to me to call someone Mr. or Mrs. Whatever.

But I can vaguely remember getting out of high school and being so accustomed to the Mr./Mrs. mentality that even when the college professors instructed us to use their first names, I would forget and use the more formal last name.  It was a weird age, wanting to be taken seriously, but not feeling like a "grown up."  I digress.

As I was attempting to come to grips with my unexpected ancient-ness, other students began filing in.  Other adults.  I heaved an inward sigh of relief.

At some point, "Ms. Jones" explained that she had given us an extra 30 minutes at the beginning for questions, so not everyone would come in right at 5:30.  Ah, so the first students there would be the full time students - the kids.  The adults were probably all too glad to get an extra 30 minutes in between their full-time jobs and night class.

We went around the room and did introductions, which at first felt unnecessary, but by the end I was glad, as it had given the newly transferred students, like myself, an excuse to make eye contact with everyone and learn a few names.  We had to introduce ourselves, explain why we were taking the class, and say what our major was.

When we got to the youth in front of me, he explained that he didn't have a major, as he was still in high school and he was taking this class as an enhancement to his high school curriculum.  Aha!  Mystery solved.

After that revelation, it was pretty easy to settle in and forget all about feeling out of place.  After all, if a high-schooler can fit in, so can I.

P.S. I have an interview on The Trish List today!  I got to make up my own questions - go marvel at my creativity

Have you taken on-campus classes as an adult?  Did you find it harder to be respectful of the teachers?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 12, 2014

A Sketch and Some Hints - Design Day Friday

Blog Mentoring Logo - Design Day Friday

Finally, finally Friday!  Today I'm going to do something a little different.  I've got a sketch for you, hastily drawn to appease the Design-Day Friday gods, and also a hint about a project that I'll be unveiling on Tuesday.

A little back story: this week has been a little rough, and a little jam-packed (really ever since we got back from vacation).  So last night was the first night I was able to get caught up on sleep.  Consequently, this morning is the first that I was able to get dolled up before work.

Since I'm anticipating a weekend also packed full, and most of those activities are design-centered, I reverted to a practice of mine from high school.  When I wanted to be artsy and productive - I always wore all black.  I'd put on a butt-ton of makeup, usually involving purple lipstick and black eye shadow, put my hair up in a practical bun, and get to work.  I no longer own purple lipstick, but the rest is the same.

Why does this help me?  No clue.  But here's a sketch of how I feel at this moment.

Jenn's power outfit
Now, for the hint.  It involves this logo...
Blog Mentoring Network logo
And some things Jana (from Jana Says) and I will be working on this weekend.  Stay tuned for Tuesday's announcement!

P.S. Jana is the first blogger I met in person and it was awesome!  It makes me wish DE was more of a bustling metropolis, so there would be more local bloggers.  But... suburbs are nice too.

Do you have a "power outfit"?  What do you do to feel more productive?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 11, 2014

Metablogging - 7 Blogging Things I Worry About

Metablogging - 7 Blogging Things I Worry About

Sometimes, when we play D&D or some other tabletop PRG (don't worry, this really is about blogging), Significant will turn to someone else and say, "You should do this" or "Don't do it that way."  But that's not how game-play works.  You're supposed to "be" your character.  You can describe how they're acting or what they're doing, but you can't strategize with other players about how to handle situations, you have to just react the way you think your character would.

This is called metagaming.  I accuse Significant of getting "meta" whenever he tries to give me out-of-character advice, because even if it's helpful, it messes up the flow of the game.

I don't know how much this applies to blogging, and hopefully it doesn't interrupt the flow too much, but I think about blogging a lot.  It's a hobby that I enjoy, and am always looking for ideas, tips, and ways to improve.  I also spend more time than I should worrying about things I'm doing wrong.  So naturally that comes out in a blog post every now and again.

So let's get Meta!


Blogging things I get angst-y about...

1. Scheduling

I know consistency is important.  I like connecting with you folks, and I feel I get more interaction when I post regularly.  So I try really hard to stick to my Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule.  But then sometimes there'll be a cool link up, or I'll have an extra idea that I don't want to waste one of my "good days" on.  It might be irrational, but I get worried that those extra posts will make my schedule more confusing and do more harm than good to my readers.

Relevant Posts:

2. Speaking of Consistency

So I've got my post schedule, and I have my social media sharing schedule, but I don't share EVERY post to Facebook.  I feel like Facebook is mostly my relatives, so they'd be less interested in posts like this one today, and sometimes the posts are about more controversial/sensitive topics.  It's out there if they want to find it, but I'm not necessarily going to put it right in front of their noses.  But then again, I only know who about half of my "fans" are, so maybe I'm hurting myself by not putting the juicy stuff in front of them.

3. Social Media

So I've gotten much more into Twitter and Pinterest once I realized that's where most of the other bloggers were.  And it's fun!  But Twitter is rapidly becoming my brain dump spot, and I'm not really sure what to do with the Facebook page.  It mostly gets ignored unless I find something interesting that's related to business or something of local interest (you know, because family).  I don't want to post the exact same things on each site, but now it's like Twitter is my personal account, and Facebook it's a pseudo-professional page for my graphic design business.  Generally, they're diverging in 2 different directions and I can't decide which to take.

4. Branding/Identity Crisis

Originally the blog started as a "get to know me" add-on to my graphic design portfolio.  Starting this year, I've completely left that behind, and have been reveling in the sheer fun of saying whatever the heck I want.  So now I need to decide if I'm a graphic designer with a blog, or a blogger who designs.  If I ever manage to make that decision, then maybe I can streamline my social media.

5. Sponsorships

I mentioned in another post, 6 Reasons to Stay Small, that I don't plan on offering sponsorships, and that includes sponsored posts.  But there are lots of blogs I like and admire and I link to their stuff pretty regularly when it's relevant to what I'm writing.  So how do I go about making sure people know I'm not just saying stuff because I'm getting paid to?  And when I recommend something it's because I genuinely like it?

Relevant Posts:

6. Internet Trust Issues

I've read a couple posts about blogs dying and the author disappearing.  Readers who were really invested are saddened by this, obviously, and wish for more closure, or an update post to know what happened.  But there's the other side of the coin, where bloggers fake deaths, or tragedies, to garner sympathy from readers.  It's gotten to the point that any sob story you read on Reddit, 3 comments down there's already people poking holes in the story.  If you had a real tragedy would anyone even believe you?  Or would you just end up on GOMI, getting bashed for your "lies" or your "karma whoring"? (Reddit term, for the uninitiated)

Relevant Posts:

7. Competition

Despite not seeking revenue (for now) for blogging, the spirit of competition still occasionally arises.  Sometimes I write a post and think, "Damn, this is spot on!"  And sometimes I'll write something I think is ok, read another post that did it better, and feel down because mine's not as good.  And this is totally ridiculous and unnecessary, on my part.  Wanting to improve at a hobby is fine, seeing other hobbyists as competition rather than potential friends is just dumb.  (although I suppose they could be both.  Friendly competition is a thing, right?)

So in the spirit of non-competition, I'm including all the posts I've enjoyed that are related to these topics.  If you've got something that fits one of these categories, let me know and I'll add it!

Relevant Posts:

What blog things do you worry about?  Do you think the term "meta" is fun or obnoxious?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 9, 2014

Men vs Women - We're All Just People

Maybe it's all the feminism posts I've been reading.  Or the #YesAllWomen movement before that.  Or the zealous passion with which The Mary Sue keeps reminding me to view our TV shows and movies with an analytical eye that notices how the women on screen are portrayed.  Whatever the case, I think differently these days.

I used to think it was funny when someone said something like, "You know a man invented __, because it inconveniences women in __ way."  Or to poke fun at perceived gender differences.  "Haha, women are so irrational."  "Men are so emotionally dense."

Remember the Crazy/Hot scale from that one episode of How I Met Your Mother?  I thought that was pretty funny.  Especially when Ted was starting to think, "Uh oh, this girl is going too far into the crazy area" and then she whispers something in his ear which ups her "hotness" and he instantly changes his mind.  Silly men!

It was probably in one of The Mary Sue articles that I saw the first negative reference to that.  About how the message overall about women isn't that great.  I didn't really want to hear it.  How I Met Your Mother is good, wholesome fun!  Nothing wrong here.

But a coworker sent me this video.


 
And for whatever reason it's not funny this time.  Maybe it was the added sections.  Maybe it was the exactitude with which the chart-draw-er places women into tidy little categories.  Maybe it was the "No woman is less than a 4 crazy, so the crazy axis will be from 4 to 10."

Whatever it was, this really rubbed me the wrong way.  Maybe I'm getting overly sensitized to it and I can't take a joke anymore.  Or maybe I'm finally sick of us trying to trivialize and categorize each other into neat little types when what we really all are is just human beings.

Do you think the video is funny or obnoxious?  What cultural issues has blogging or social media raised your awareness of?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 6, 2014

The Little Things - Business Tweaks

The Little Things - Business Tweaks

I get really excited when people change up their blog designs.  New stuff to look at, new colors, new ideas for me to poach off of.  Good stuff.

I've noticed people do it one of 2 ways:
  1. Total overhaul, well-announced beforehand, with completely rethought out layout and branding
  2. Sneaky little changes
The sneaky changes are fun sometimes because it's like a memory game.  When Steph changed her background I was all excited, "Green argyle!!!" but had no memory of what it had been before the switch.

I'm kind of in between these two.  I don't really have big changes I want to make, because I've been gradually editing as I come to understand blogging better.  But I'm still super excited about the little ones.  You can't announce those right?  Wrong!

3 Little Changes That I'm Overly Excited About


1. Added Section Titles

They're bold and make each section really distinct.  Also uncluttered a bit and added a search bar.  I've been trying to collect some of my favorite posts on other blogs, and without a search bar it is really hard to find something from a few months ago!

2. New Website Wording

It was time for my graphic design website to reflect the new direction I've gone in as a blogger.  Before it was super formal and said "we" even though it's a 1-woman company.  Now it's real, it's me, and there should be no surprises from anyone about who exactly they're working with.

3. New URL!

I finally bought the url that matches my blog name!!!  I debated about this for a long time, because Business, Life & Design is really not that catchy or exciting.  Finally I decided to keep it how it is, because it reflects the type of content I post and because it goes well with my business name - Jenn Wells Design.

Here's hoping that my new URL, www.BusinessLifeAndDesign.com, is a lot easier for you guys to find!  (and that Bloglovin sees this post and agrees to swap my readers over)

I know it's almost a month later, but I'd like to give some credit to the Blogstaycation for the changes (especially the website - that was a fair amount of work).  I'd been pondering them for a long time and that extra kick in the butt helped immensely.

What motivates you to make changes?  Do you like to tackle one small task at a time or make huge overhauls?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 5, 2014

Design Day Friday - Sorta...

Design-Day Friday?  Whaaat?  Did I say I was going to do that EVERY Friday?  That might have been optimistic.  Silly me.

I make a lot of resolutions.  I tend to do better on the ones that are once a month as opposed to once a week.  Like my self-actualization activities, which are going pretty strong.

Another thing I've noticed about bloggers in general is that we all tend to post at the beginning when we're searching for motivation for whatever the goal is.  Or if it's not a goal, then we blog about the possibilities of whatever exciting venture we're taking off on.  But the follow up is a little more shaky.

And that makes sense!  Who wants to blog about not following through with something?  Or something that seemed exciting and then just didn't really go anywhere?

I do!  (Good practice for later on)  So let's talk about the resolutions, goals, and activities that fizzled out.

Un-Blog-Worthy Activities, Goals, and Resolutions


1. Affirmations

At some point I noticed I was forgetting to say them more and more frequently.  And when I did say them, they didn't inspire me with the glow of my own virtue and/or encourage me to alter my behavior.  And maybe it's just one more chore each day and it's ok to let these go.

2. Summer Bucket List

I just checked back in with these.  Holy crap.  You'd think, even with forgetting about them, I'd do one single thing that was on my list of "it wouldn't be summer without..."  Nope.  Here's all the things I didn't do.

It Wouldn't Be Summer Without...
  1. Camping
  2. Extra Gaming!
  3. Canoeing or Kayaking
  4. Playing in a Sprinkler
  5. Wine Tasting
  6. Beach Days
  7. Flying a Kite
  8. Spending Time in the Sun - Seriously, I can't even say I've done much of this.
  9. Having a Water Balloon Fight
And here's a couple I actually did.

This Summer I Want To...
  1. White Water Raft
  2. Run a 5k or 2 - Just one, but hey!  It's something.
  3. Take Luke to the Beach - We did this!  It was hilarious, and he tried to eat the water, and... oh wait.  That was last summer.
  4. Do a Painting and Wine Night - Had a great time with this one!
  5. Pirate Booze Cruise
  6. Have a Fancy Picnic!  With wine and cheese and fruit.
  7. See a Show
2 out of 16.  Pretty epic fail here.

4. Girlfriend Social

I only briefly mentioned this (#6 in my "Guiltless Pleasures" list), but I had such high hopes for it.  I mean online dating worked out really well for me, so why not finding friends online?  (I keep calling it "friend dating" but you know what I mean)  I've talked to a couple people and then the conversations just died, and along with them my hopes and dreams.  Kidding!  But without being melodramatic, I think it's back to square 1 as far as making friends being a lot of work and there not really being an easy solution.
 

3. Design-Day Friday

Now this isn't dead just yet.  But in my head I was planning to do it EVERY SINGLE Friday, and if I was short on time, or didn't have any designs to show, I'd just do a sketch or a doodle.  Obviously I'm struggling a bit with that.  But I'm not quite ready to give up on that one yet.

With that in mind, here's a little something I put together for my client, the DMV Trifecta, for his preseason football predictions.  Even more exciting, it's up on his blog.  (Love, love, love seeing my stuff in use!)


Normally I talk about the design process, but this was a one-draft, no-revisions-needed kind of project (I know!  That never happens!) so there's not a whole lot to tell.  I used the font that's we ended up with in the logo project, plus Gill Sans for smaller print.  He provided the Excel sheet with all the information, and the colors were predetermined, so all I did was give them a bit of a gradient to make it pretty and kept the whole thing simple and masculine.

Graphic Designer Tip

I did learn something though!  If there's any other graphic designers who want to laugh at me - I was under the impression that you could not save your InDesign files "for web."  So if I was doing anything for a website or web graphic, I was always very careful to use Illustrator or Photoshop.  I was wrong, and thank goodness for that!  Because trying to set up all that text in Illustrator would have taken FO-evah!  (Note: Generally speaking, Illustrator is best for vector drawing, InDesign is best for big blocks of text, and Photoshop for raster images and photos)

So yep.  Design-Day Friday.  Still a thing.  For now.

What are some resolutions you had that didn't go anywhere?  Do you ever blog about things to try and force yourself to follow through?


Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design