Tuesday, Bluesday

IMGP4519Over the last couple months, I realized that Tuesday is the hardest day of the week for me to focus.

I used to think it was Monday that I dreaded. I muddled through Sunday night: I double-checked the upcoming family and work schedule, sorted through weekend emails, planned the week. But by Monday morning, I found I am often invigorated to start the work week. It’s usually filled with calls, meetings, travel, a few social gatherings.

Then Tuesday hits. Blah. I finally realized there was a negative Tuesday power in my routine. The work week isn’t half over, my energy is sapped. And why, why are there are more Tuesday problems than ANY other day in the week? That is my drag day, filling spare moments in the kitchen, longing to flatline that stress.

I decided–let’s change it! To conquer my Bluesday, I am going to try to change up how I approach that day. I am going to schedule time to work with a friend or at the library, meet someone for lunch, specifically work on a fun, new project, set aside time to write or take pictures, vary my exercise routine. Today’s visit to the dentist does not count.

Hopefully this positive attitude will spike the Tuesday mood, flow into Wednesday and the rest of the week. I think the key to successfully working solo most of the time is figuring the triggers to anti-productive, negative attitudes and behavior. Then change it.

What tricks do you have to break up the week?

The journey continues.

C

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Where Does this Blog Go Next and other New Year’s Resolution Conundrums

I resurrected my blog this year as part of my New Year’s resolution to spent 10 minutes a day (10MaD) to “explore the arts” in 2016. The idea came from an article by Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune. 
My resolution included writing in this blog, my work blog, and taking photographs. You can read about my first blog post about my 2016 plans here. I wanted to also start on a novel, but the time is too fragmented to do much more than flush out characters.
What have I enjoyed? 

  • Verbalizing my opinions and ideas
  • Sharing my essays
  • Writing poetry again
  • Taking personal photo assignment days to improve my work
  • “Meeting” other bloggers
  • Keeping my business site, along with the personal site, current
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • That 10 minutes often turns into 30-60 minutes of creativity.

What has been stressful?

  • Carving out that 10MaD during travel or very crazy days
  • Coming up with new ideas to write about
  • Sharing my ideas and thoughts with friends and strangers, opening myself up for criticism

The next month I will be reviewing the type of content I have added to both my sites this year. What topics resonated? what formats? Interestingly, many more people post comments an my Facebook and Twitter links. Should I keep this site active in 2017? Start something new that focuses on one topic?

 I will certainly keep posting on my business site. I often share those posts with clients, prospects can learn from it, other industry sites have shared some posts, and I get feedback from other database marketing industry professionals. 

If you have any ideas or feedback, I would love to hear from you.

Updating My Blog Design

I didn’t think it would be this stressful, updating the design for my blog. The old look was outdated, with clashing colors and hard for people to share. Time for a new attitude! For the past couple weeks, I checked out other blogs, tested different formats.

What image was I trying to evoke?

Which had a clean design? Uncluttered?

Where could I best highlight some of my photographs?

Which allowed easy and obvious sharing?

Which said ME?

Which formats would best show the work I have already shared?

After searching a variety of sites, I can say that there certainly are a wide variety of WordPress formats to fit many personalities, uses, and goals.

I selected a handful I thought I might like, then ignored that list for a couple days. After a final review, I whittled that list down to 2 I liked. Time to test! I tried one, and it was way too in-your-face. I changed it to the one you see here: Hemingway Rewritten. Spare, lots of white space, like his writing, of which I have become a huge fan over the last couple years.

Once I finalized the theme,  I added the widgets, cover shot, re-organized the columns.

Would anyone but me notice? Would anyone care? And is this representative of who I am, today? tomorrow?

Personally, I like the updated design. I think it easily shows who I am.

Now I wonder–do I like my content? My posts are simple, honest, emotional, reminders. There are short articles, photos, poems, rants, feelings, growth.   Too much? Too little? For now, like Goldilocks, I say just right. Or write.

C

P.S.  The day after I wrote this, I noticed that People.com updated their design.  I wonder how many people and how much time went into their changes?

P.P.S  Feel free to share your feedback or suggestions on the new look.

 

Everyone Has Their Own $h!t

True events–in the space of a few months my dad died, my car was totaled, my husband’s company was purchased, my middle daughter got an extremely bad concussion, then broke her foot, then same said daughter left for college, and just got 6 stitches 24 hours after we dropped her off. Now I have two girls 6 hours away at school as summer fades.

Besides, my dad passing away, I know that many of these ebbs in life are normal—for us they happen to be squished together in a few short weeks . I also know that we all need some ughh and desperate times like these to appreciate the “normal”, the joy, and re-engage with what is important.

To boost spirits through these many tumultuous events, I have started thinking of them as transitions and not endings.  Then I hope that  the inevitable learning will then have positive energy on the other side. I try to start each day with the proverbial clean slate, hoping we are back on the upswing.  We slog through, knowing the days will eventually brighten.

I am aware that many people have worse situations than mine. But, please don’t belittle my life transitions. They are mine; I own them: the tears, the adjustments, the sleepless nights, and the complicated feelings that arise from them.

Daily, I continue to find happiness in the simple, the unexpected, my friends, a bike ride, a movie, making dinner with home-grown vegetables, taking some photographs, reaching out to connect with new people and opportunities, and then receding for a quiet moment.

I don’t talk about it too much. A mantra I say to myself often is that “Everyone has got their shit.” And it’s true.  But sometimes a gal has to vent. Or explode. So I say it, then move on.  And laugh when I can.

C

17 Ways to Cheaply Escape the February Rut

Mid-winter in the midwest. Humdrum. I am ready for a few changes at the start of the second month of the new year.

We get so caught up in our daily schedules, they become rote and we exist instead of live. How can we make small changes to improve our curiosity and mood, separate the hours, the days? Here is a starter list I created of simple, no cost or inexpensive ways we can entice more enthusiasm out of the lengthening but still cold, grey days:

  1. Drive a different route to your every day destinations.
  2. Move furniture in your house, either around one room or swap furniture from one room to another. Or buy a few new pillows, swap out your artwork or photos on display.
  3. Paint a neutral wall/room an inviting color.
  4. Cook one new recipe each week for a month.
  5. Start a jigsaw or crossword puzzle. Color.
  6. Try a new class at the gym or online exercise video.
  7. If you can, change up where you work. A different office, library, coffee shop.
  8. Clean out your closet. Donate unworn items to charity.
  9. After completing #8, find new combinations of your existing clothes to wear.
  10. Order something new at a coffee shop or restaurant.
  11. Invite over an eclectic group of friends for an evening of fun. Ask them to bring a board game, appetizer, or bottle of wine to share.
  12. Go to the movies during daylight hours. Eat popcorn for lunch or dinner, preferably with M&M’s© mixed in.
  13. Read a book from a new genre for you, free from your local library or neighbors.
  14. Dance or sing out loud! (alone or with your kids or friends, no judgement allowed)
  15. Walk or bike outside somewhere new, on a clear day. Forest preserve, a beach, a neighborhood not your own.
  16. Smile and say hi to a stranger. Better yet, start a conversation with them.
  17. Visit a local town center or city you don’t really know. Chicago has lots of free museum days in February, if you live nearby. Combine with #10 above to learn it’s flavor, literally.

Get out of the winter rut I know many of my friends and I are experiencing. Just pick one item on this list and do it! Feel free to comment with other ideas you think would be fun to try.

C

Family Dinners, Changing

Wisps of melancholy embrace this house. Tara, our eldest, returned to college this morning, after the Christmas break.   This sensation is a familiar one, the unbalance after the five of us have been together for some time and one of us is…gone…vamoose…. and that incomplete feeling returns. We sense it in the days before her departure, as some pull away and go silent,  others embrace every free moment.

It might be the realization that after today, the next time we will all be together will not be four months. Sad, but true. It’s a scene I know is being mirrored across our neighborhood and around the country. I often wonder if other families feel this separation even before it happens, how they respond.

Since our kids were young we have always tried to enjoy at least 4 nights of family dinners each week. That can be difficult, with work-sports-theatre-homework-travel-friends-life. But oftentimes it’s the only time we are all together uninterrupted for a conversation, to plan our upcoming schedules, a vacations, discussed politics, argued about religion and current events, laughed, and often welcome a friend or two who join us. We often joke that we could make a comedy TV show about our family dinners.

This last week home for Tara was unusual, since it was finals for our other 2 children, coupled with illness running rampant through the house.   So while we cooked and ate together, it was not the usual meals with all 5 chairs filled, lively conversation. But we tried.

I know that creative, calming, curious, time is important to all of us. I am especially aware of what these dinner have meant to bring and keep us together when one of the comments this morning was “bummer that we didn’t get to have family dinner for the last couple nights. ”

I know that as the days go on, the mood lifts, changes as we embrace the new energy in our house. While we miss Tara, we know that she is thriving at a school she loves when she isn’t with us. And this is the passage of life. And soon enough, we will be only 3 at the table. The fact that we all want to enjoy our family dinner time together says as parents—and children—we must be doing at least something right.

C

Purging House and Office

This year I dug deep to prepare for the neighborhood garage sale.  Not an annual participant, we had done some remodeling so there is much to purge this year—furniture, linens, lamps, grandma’s clutter from forgotten drawers, scads of stuffed animals (though the girls found some of their old treasured friends too), dusty books, unused sports’ gear, mismatched kitchenware.  It feels great to lighten the load, then hopefully end up with a couple dollars for each of us, donating the remnants.

I think it’s time to do the same swap out, clean up for my business.  After 20+ years of doing similar work, including consulting for 14 years, I have been itching, wanting to change up my job, my clients, my days.  My weekends are incredibly full, but by Sunday night the Monday-morning-blues are already invading my brain.  Not the way to run a business.

Most of my clients are innovative, smart people who run their own publishing/media firms, and I have grabbed wisdom and insights from each of them.  While I have my own firm, watching these leaders makes me covet owning something tangible of my own.  I am so fortunate to have worked with some incredible people,  as their businesses grow, products morphing as the times change.

I have consciously lightened the client load this year, and the freedom has allowed me to delve deeper into my current clients’ projects.  It has also given me a smidge of time to re-evaluate my work process, the projects I enjoy most, and what work I can outsource to others.  It’s been rewarding, it’s been exciting, it’s been frustrating, and it’s made me think—it’s time to make some more changes.  Purge the clutter, invite the new, embrace the changes, overcome the fear of branching out. It will take time to implement new changes and ideas, but with some time, planning and hard work it will hopefully happen.

It’s my business.  I think that anyone who has their own business should find it inspiring, play to their strengths, remove the dust, keep it fresh. Doing the same for too long causes complacency.  C