One Life That Shines

Unraveling My Reality… One Memory at a Time

The Day He Left and I Knew He Couldn’t Be Trusted

I don’t know what exactly happened in my parents relationship, I only know the part I could see. I only know of mandatory “family dinners” where the adults in the house didn’t speak to one another, and the only child in the house becoming the intermediary.

Jackie, can you ask your mother to pass the salt?

Jackie, can you give this salt to your father?

I only know these mandatory dinners were only served when everyone finally made it home, which could be late. I know that Dad started working later than ever, and at 15, 9pm seemed quite a ridiculous time to be eating. Especially when dinner had been ready since 7. Always trying to portray a happy, well to do family ~ even when nothing about us was happy. Why bother when no one can see inside our home or our lives? What difference did it make if we all waited until 9 o’clock,  when all of us were in the same place, to eat at a table so they could ignore and glare at one another. What is the fucking point?

Ah, middle class white America. Slap a happy face on, smile for the camera, and don’t even start to let that facade slip. Do what’s expected of you, and pretend your life away.

Except when dinner’s over, your mom heads to the “study” and sits in the dark for hours on end. She sits in the dark in the deep blue wing back chair rocking, and rocking, and cutting and cutting. You don’t ever see that though, no, you only see the results of her actions, and the bloody tissues in the waste basket when you take out the trash. and the scars on her arms.

I only know that this kind of pretending insanity can go on for years… and it all seems so overwhelming, and stifling and out of control but completely controlled at the same time. I only know, it would all be better if he just left.

Or so I thought, and like they say, that’s what you get for thinking.

My Dad left on a Saturday. He came with a uhaul trailer, packed his shit and left. I watched from the second story bathroom window, staying quiet, out of site, always watching. As he was packing, and she was crying, and I was watching, I saw the brake let go on the uhaul and the truck go plumeting down the steep driveway and plunge into the bushes.

Finally. I was needed… I was the only one who saw it, and I could be useful.

Dad… Dad…

Not now Jackie, I don’t have time for this right now.

DAD…the uhaul is in the bushes, it just came rolling down the driveway.

He looked at me like I was the crazy one… the uhaul he parked doesn’t just come rolling down the driveway ~ and I’d been busted ~ he knew I’d been watching. Not that he cared. Not that it mattered. But my cover of being a standoffish non caring teen had been broken. Of course I cared… this was the only family I had, and I had no idea how I was going to manage my life, and what was left of my family when he left.

Once everything was packed into the uhaul he took me aside. He knelt down on one knee so his 6 foot 4 body was almost eye level with me and told me he’d be there for me. Even if he didn’t live in the same house anymore, he’d always be there for me, and if I needed anything, he was only a phone call away.

As I look back now, I can’t believe I fell for that line. He’s out of town more days than not, and he had never really “been there” for me, even when we did live in the same house. But as a scared little girl I really needed the reassurance that I wouldn’t be left alone to deal with the madness that was my mother.

While I believed him in that moment, and felt a certain level of relief, it didn’t last long. My mom began to spiral downward. Time spent in the darkness, rocking in that stupid blue chair increased. In fact, when she wasn’t alone in the dark we were fighting. I was pissed I didn’t have a mother, and my guess is she was pissed she didn’t have a husband. Whatever we were angry at we managed to take it out on one another quite well. There were some knock down drag out fights in those days.

One day another fight erupted, over what, I don’t know. I do know I was bawling. She was screaming, goading me, taunting me, and it finally escalated to the point where a large glass ash tray came flying at my head. Luckily I ducked quick enough to not get hit, but that was it. I knew I couldn’t handle this anymore. I needed to get away. I needed to leave, to run, to escape. The only problem with that is, when you’re 15 years old society doesn’t give you much ability to escape your life. I had no license. I had no way to get the hell out of dodge. The only thing I could think of was to call my dad.

I’m sure I taunted her with the fact ~ what I actually said, I don’t remember. I do know I wasn’t kind. The idea that my dad would save me exhilirated me. I also loved the fact that I knew it would hurt her as well.

Daddy, Daddy! She’s trying to kill me. She just threw a glass ash tray at my head. I really need your help. Please, can you come get me? I’ve got to get out of here.

Silence… I mean, you could literally hear the crickets if you listened.

I heard him take a deep breath and then tell me he was sorry. He just couldn’t do that. As my escape hatch closed in around me, and the world began to spin I heard him tell me that what was going on over there was between me and my mom and we’d have to work it out amongst ourselves.

What?! Take care of it myself? I’m only 15 fucking years old?! Of course, that’s what I think now when I look back on that moment. How could that son of a bitch leave me there to deal with the situation all alone… but that’s not what went through my head then. No. At that point I realized the responsibility for everything would rest soley on my shoulders. Raising myself, taking care of my mom, it would all be on me. I was devastated. I hung up the phone in the middle of his sentence. If he couldn’t rescue me I didn’t really care what he had to say.

I remember standing outside on the front patio as I hung up the phone. I fell to the ground, put my head in my hands and just cried and cried. The weight of this realization nearly crushed me.

As my heart broke and my relationship with my father ended in my mind, my mom came over. Her first words were, of course, I told you so. She knew him, she knew he would never come to get me. She was right… but she really didn’t need to rub it in. As I looked up at her red eyed and broken something changed in her. She sat down next to me and took me in her arms and just hugged me.

As I look back on my life, the moments she got to be the hero have always been her best.

 

What If Easy Could Be Epic?

There’s a lot of talk around the circles I find myself in… creating something Epic, creating Art with your work. These are two terms that can be seriously intimidating. I mean, ART? EPIC? They are huge and scary and because they are so big they definitely must be hard. Right?

Over the weekend I was doing some thinking. I  had some realizations. I was able to really pinpoint who I want to talk to in my business, and the vision for my business. While I was thinking about these things I realized this simple fact.

I have the ability to teach people how to do complicated and often confusing things in a way that is easy to understand and take action on. I am also able to do it in a way that allows people to feel like THEY CAN do it, and get started.

Yeah, I do that. In fact, it’s really easy for me. I don’t really have to think about it much. I don’t have to work very hard at it. It’s kind of a natural born talent, if you will.

Well, I started this whole blog because I wanted to create art. I wanted to be EPIC and felt that I couldn’t do it on the platform I was already on… you know, I only explained complicated subjects in easy to understand and take action on ways over there. It was easy. I enjoyed it. I mean, I actually really LIKE doing it. So that of course can not be art, and certainly can not be epic.

Or can it?

This morning I was thinking… what if (bear with me here)

What if… the things that come naturally to us, and we love to do, and are easy for us to do…

our natural born talents are our ART?

What if we’ve been pushing these things away because somewhere in the back of our mind we believe easy can never be art, or epic, but what if, in fact, it totally could be.

I started thinking what if art is something wonderful that comes naturally to you, that not everyone else can do? What if the real art in life is taking the things you love and are good at, and expressing them to the utmost of your ability?

What if that was really art?

What if epic was doing something so amazing with the natural born talents you were given that it attracted the attention of the people you were talking to and they loved it! It made them happy. It made you happy, and it even made you *gasp* money?

Now I’m not saying the creation of epic shit is easy… no, it takes time, and effort, dedication, persistence and work. BUT what if you were doing all that work, and putting in all that effort around something that comes naturally to you… would it seem like work then? What if we stopped trying to hole ourselves into some outlandish version of what we think we should be and just truly expressed who we are?

I am beginning to believe that the whole “work” thing really comes into play when I am not being true to myself and I start trying to push down my natural born talents, tell myself they just aren’t enough,  and make myself do and be things that  I think I SHOULD do, because I think that’s what art SHOULD be, or epic SHOULD be.

When are we going to give ourselves a break, and just start loving who we are, what we do, and start doing what we do well, so fricking well that the world can’t help but notice…

I think that would be epic.

How about you?

image credit: epicbeer

This Week’s Extraordinary ~ Snowed In Edition

Overcoming Fear

Funny… I was a little nervous scared to death to publish my first post this week. You know, I’m usually all motivational, and helpful, and when I go on a rant and get all pissed off it’s generally in the back ground or on skype with a friend. I come back once all the hot mad is out and write a nice peaceful little post about what it was I was so riled up about.

However… I’ve made the decision to be me on this blog. ALL of me (including the angry not so happy parts that my mom always told me would make people not like me). So I posted it. And it felt really good.

I got some great email responses including one that led me to this fantastic video of Gary V. The writer said the post reminded him of this video, and I can see why. It’s 15 minutes long, so if you can set aside some time (after your work is done of course lol) it’s worth the watch.

Then as the day went on I started finding all these posts about FEAR. :) This one from The Middle Finger Project brought me to tears and had me thinking through the rest of  the day.

The post was written by Kelly Diels. I admit I didn’t click through on all the links in that post. However, later in the evening Fabeku tweeted a link to the first chapter of her book called In Concert with Fear that was mentioned in the post. I clicked through and read it and was quite amazed. Good stuff, good thinking and beautiful to look at too.

And this newsletter from Natalie the Suitcase Entrepreneur continued the thinking.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Universe works.

As I am facing something… no matter what it is… if I’m open to it, the Universe will bring things to me directly, in perfect timing that will  help me work through what’s going on. It’s really quite amazing, and I’m glad I’ve got such amazing resources as the ones listed above.

A much needed laugh

As the week wore on… and the snow piled up… and school was cancelled again and again and again… this tweet from John Morgan had me laughing out loud ~ seriously so that the fam was looking at me like I was a nut. (which by that point I probably was.) If you click the image it will take you to a good laugh.

 

 

 

After a good laugh I was able to get back to work (for about a minute).

Entertaining a preschooler so I can get some work done:

I realized I was going to have to go searching for a little help to keep Hanna busy so I could get my stuff done. I tweeted I was about to lose my mind and my fantastic twitter followers came to my rescue.

Valerie from the Family Fun Blog tweeted me some ideas ~ including bring some snow in and let her play with it inside (was too dangerously cold to actually go outside) We’ve done that before so she tweeted me a great link to build a first sewing basket which I thought was fantastic. I ended up looking through her site ~ which she somehow manages to update daily (wow), and got a bunch of cool ideas, and started feeling a little less anxiety filled.

Prioritizing for Success:

Scott Dinsmore pulled out another fantastic post this week… if you don’t know, he’s a huge fan of Warren Buffet and tells a really interesting story about Buffet in this post… as well as giving away a great workbook to help you prioritize your success.  It fits together with the goals workbook I mentioned from him last week… so if you haven’t gotten started on that yet, grab it and the new one and get started!!

Inspiration from a Pro

One of the lastposts I want to share this week is one from Jonathan Fields called That’s what  Pros Do. I was really impressed with this post for a couple reasons… the first is kind of selfish. I totally see myself in his activities. Which gives me one more little boost that I am becoming a professional. :) The second reason is I think it gives a great outline of just how much work a business like this can entail. It’s not going to be a one or two items a day life. You really have to bust your butt and I think this post showed that quite well.

Now, of course, not everyone is going to want a business just like Jonathan’s but I think you’ll get the point that it’s going to take some work to be a professional online business owner.

What you watch matters:

The last post I want to share today snuck in this morning… if I hadn’t been completely waylayed by an entire family this morning I would probably have posted this much earlier as I usually do and I (and you) might have missed this one. See… things really do happen for a reason.

This last post is from David Risley (who if you recall in last week’s post I mentioned I thought of some people who I would like to model myself after ~ David is one of them. He runs a business almost exactly like the business I want) So I read him all the time, and now I’m digging out podcasts and interviews and trying to learn as much as I can about his process, and how he got where he’s at. This post provides some great insight. It’s about  which blogging statistics  you should watch and what the statistics you do watch say about your business. I was kind of excited to see I was watching the things he watches, but I’m not doing such a great job of tracking them… so that’s a place I can improve.

Couldn’t hear a podcast (to save my life)

I’d love to tell you I have some great podcasts to share this week… but alas, with a very noisy family here I haven’t had a chance to listen to anything. I’m hoping to get some new interviews listened to. I’ve got a few in the queue as well as a couple videos I want to check out.

Hope these posts lead you to some inspiration… if you saw something inspiring or extraordinary I haven’t included please share it in the comments. :) I’d love to take a look.

 

 

What a Construction Company Owner Turned Farmer Can Teach You

Over 50% of small businesses fail. This is the story of one.

This small business started off as a partnership. Two guys who started putting in sprinkler systems in high end neighborhoods. One guy realized there was a lot of competition in the sprinkler business, and not a lot of profit margin and decided they should take their business bigger. They should expand.  He started thinking that if they did some of everything they’d make more money and be able to reach more people.

When you try to talk to everyone you talk to no one.

So they expanded. When asked what he does he says “I own a construction company”. He’s pretty proud of that fact. It’s a pretty cool thing to say. You know what people say to him when he says that?  ”Oh”. It’s a fact that he owns a construction company but it doesn’t let anyone know if he does something they need.

He ended up doing a lot of remodeling, and built a new road/driveway for a guy. He built some steel buildings ~ (oh yeah, at this point the partner had flaked and left town, and the guy left was determined to do it all on his own). Then one day a neighbor asked him a question… she said, “Do you do roofs?”. He said, why sure. I think a metal roof would be perfect on your house, and I know a distributor that can help me get that roof on your house for less than a shingle roof.

Done. So he started putting a roof on this lady’s house. Next thing you know, another neighbor is driving by and stops to ask him if he’s got time to do another roof. While he’s doing that roof a few miles away someone else sees him and asks him to do their roof, and the next and the next.

When you can say I do this… whether it’s putting on a roof, or building a steel building, people know if they need that. They also know if anyone they know needs that too. They can raise their hand and say “oh yeah, that’s me… I need you.”

Who are you calling? Who needs you? Do you know? Do they know?

This construction company comes across a great deal on some machinery. It’s pennies on the dollar. The owner thinks new machinery will help him do more jobs. He thinks he’ll be able to diversify and take on bigger jobs. Bigger jobs with bigger profit margins. Against some good business advice he invests a large chunk of change in this machinery.

Now he’s got himself a dump truck, a bulldozer, a semi, a skidsteer… he’s ready to rock and roll and pull in the big bucks. Only problem is, now he’s even more diversified, he’s calling even more people’s names who can’t hear him because he’s not talking specifically to them and now he’s got all this equipment that has to be tagged, insured and paid for.

That good business owner now has a couple other things as well. He’s got panic, and guilt. He’s just spent way too much in a business that wasn’t profitable to begin with, now he’s got to hustle and he feels like he’s drowning. This business is no longer fun for him. He hates getting up every morning. He doesn’t even want to think about it. AND he has to get out there and hustle for business and he hates that. He’s got to make payments that jobs just aren’t covering. He’s got to take care of his family, and he can’t.

Spending money you don’t have doesn’t make a business better, it just makes it more in debt.

This good construction guy has hustled up some business. He is working on a roof, on a busy road, and when he’s done, he leaves. The roof looks great, it was a crazy roof ~ lots of angles, and corners. He did a great job though… but now, unless someone talks to the home owner and asks who did her roof no one will know. This fantastic roofer didn’t leave any way for people to know this was his work. No sign, no cards left, no big sign on the truck stating his name and number.

If people don’t know you do what you do, how can they hire you?

A simple metal sign placed in the yard would have let people know this was his work. It would have been free advertising, right there with a gorgeous roof for proof on a busy highway.

What are you doing to let people know you do what you do?

This construction owner listened to someone with a little marketing experience and started his company with the letter A, you know, so it would come up first in the yellow pages. However, he never took out that yellow pages ad. He refused to create a website, or put ads up on Craigslist or in the local directory. He just didn’t think that would work, and he couldn’t really afford the yellow pages.

If you don’t tell people you exist, no one knows you exist.

There were many ways this construction business could have gotten the word out. They could have created a website, they could have gotten a sign to go on the side of their trailer and trucks. They could have put an ad in the local paper, they could have gotten yard signs to leave on finished job sites. It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to get the word out that you exist, but if you don’t do it… well if no one knows you exist, you get no customers.

The owner also let his fears get in his way. He was worried if he advertised he’d get more business than he could handle. He’d have to schedule jobs out ahead and he didn’t think it was right to make people wait. He let his fear and his thoughts about how it “should” be get in the way of his business success.

What are you doing to let people know you exist? What fears are holding you back from doing what it takes to let people know you are here?

The biggest problem though was that this construction company was afraid to ask for money. This small business owner had the idea in his head that he couldn’t possibly ask customers for money up front to cover the cost of materials. The owner somehow got it in his head that he just couldn’t possibly do that. It was pushy, made him look bad, the customers would cancel the job… he had a ton of negative scenarios running through his head. He would end up putting the cost of materials on his credit card, and then the job would run long, or something would go wrong and more materials would be needed, and low and behold at the end of the job there was never enough money to cover the credit card payment.

So he’d hustle to get another job and the same scenario would happen… over time the business was more than not profitable, it was costing him money every time he went on a job.

Ask for the money.

If you don’t create something or recommend something that’s going to bring some profit your way, you can only expect to fail. That’s what a business is after all… an exchange of money for something. But you have to have something to sell, and you have to be willing to ask for the money.

The thing about this is, if this business owner hadn’t been so hard headed, if he hadn’t been so scared to try something new, he might have succeeded. Just because you think something is the way it is, doesn’t mean it is, or has to be. You have to be willing to take risks. You have to be willing to try new things that may fail, but they may succeed beyond your wildest dreams. If what you’re doing is not working, and you’re unwilling to try something different just pack it in today.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This business owner realized a few things over the course of running his business. A few of these things were pretty important to know when undertaking a customer based business.

1. He really doesn’t play well with others.

2. Having customers is pretty similar to having a boss.

3. Tooting his own horn is really not his thing.

4. He really didn’t like construction all that much, even though he was wicked good at it.

Well… it looks like those realizations make owning a construction company not so much fun. This business owner, an entrepreneurial genius to the core decided to call it quits with his construction business. He was miserable and getting angry and frustrated more and more every day. He decided to close the doors to this business. He was down, but he wasn’t out. He found something that was much more in alignment with who he was, the strengths he has, and the things he loves. He’s now a farmer, well he’s working his way to being a farmer. Hard solitary work. Long hours alone in a tractor… just the way he likes it, unless of course his daughter decides to come on a ride along. :)

He’s much happier now. He doesn’t dread going to work each day. In fact, he heads to work and comes back home in a good mood, and reads more about how to make this farming thing work as a new farmer. He’s excited again, and ready to get out there and start over.

So I guess this is the last lesson we have to learn from this construction owner turned farmer… if you hate what you’re doing it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a boss. It’s still just a job (that you now probably put in twice as many hours at, for less pay and no “security”). If you’re going to work for yourself you might as well find something you’re good at and that you love. Life is too short to spend your days being miserable, especially if you own the business.

 

image credit: Mostly Dans

Why How Much Money I Make Has Nothing To Do With You…

Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman who had just downloaded my Squidoo Christmas Cash blueprint report. It is a blueprint of how I go about creating profitable lenses on Squidoo. But, the email wasn’t about the blueprint, no, in the email he wanted to know if building lenses was going to be worth his time. To identify this worth, he demanded that I tell him how much money I make with  Squidoo (and NOT from teaching people how to use Squidoo). He knows people don’t like to talk in specifics, but this isn’t a legal question… just tell me how much you make.

He’s not the first… and I’m sure he won’t be the last.

However, yesterday I was offended. I replied to him and asked him how often in real life he walks up to people he doesn’t know and demands they tell him how much money they make so he can see if something is worth doing.

My email went on, but here’s the crux of it.

How much money I make ~ has absolutely NOTHING to do with you.

Here’s why.

I’ve put in the time to learn the techniques, to learn good keyword research, to learn how to build links, and I’ve busted my ass to do those things and do them well.

I don’t know you from Adam… and I have no idea whether you will be willing to do  those things or not.

How much money I make reflects completely on who I am, and how much money you will make reflects on who YOU are.

There is no overlap.

I received a reply shortly after I sent my email…

Geez…  is all he said.

It appears I have offended his sensibilities asking him to be accountable to himself, and for his actions. Go figure.

You see, here’s the thing. I have taken the time to learn these things, and I quite freely give people a TON of the stuff I have learned to hopefully lessen their learning curve. So if you’re asking me how much money I make ~ you’re asking the wrong fucking question.

You should be asking things like:

What can I do to get my page to number 1?

What can I do to better connect with my community?

What can I do to pick products that will convert?

What can I do to create content that converts better

What can I do to create better headlines that get people to read my stuff

Do you see the difference? These questions all have something to do with YOU, and the things you can control. They have nothing to do with me.

Please, stop putting people on a pedestal. It doesn’t matter if someone makes a hundred dollars a month or 10 grand ~ what they make has nothing to do with you. It is not at all indicative of how much money you can or may make.

What you’re willing to do to start building your business. What you’re willing to do to start  getting traffic to your site. What you’re willing to do to start building trust with your community.

Those things are the indicators of how successful you will be, of how much money you may make.

What are you willing to do? How far are YOU willing to go?

Those are the questions you need to be asking…

Not how much money I make.

 

image credit: Gudonark

Extraordinary Personified

Every week as I’m cruising along the internet I end up finding some really extraordinary things. Whether it’s a blog post that really touches me, a tweet that makes me literally laugh out loud, a tool that finally does what I’ve been trying to figure out how to do, I find all this great stuff. I generally tweet it to share it with other people, however, if you’re not on twitter during that 10 seconds you probably miss it.

I think part of being extraordinary is being able to see other people who are as well. So I’m going to take Fridays now and share my weekly examples of Extraordinary Personified.

This week I found a LOT of good stuff. It was a week filled with AHA moments, thanks to a lot of the things I’m going to share today. Please take a moment and look at the things I’ve found extraordinary this week. In the comments please, share with me the extraordinary things YOU’VE found this week. I’m always on the look out for wonderful things.

Extraordinary Posts

This week I read some really incredible posts. Some of them inspired aha moments, and other inspired an entire manifesto I’m working on! Here’s some of my favorites ~ and they may not all have been written this week, I may have just read them this week. (well one last week, but since I started this today, I have to share it with you anyway!)

@CorbettBarr is raising the bar for us all. His post last week titled Write Epic Shit was a turning point for me. As I read it I could feel a sense of  release, and relief and began to really step into this site more and more and allow it to be all that I had originally intended it to be. It’s fantastic.

I could actually link to every post Corbett’s written in the last couple weeks, but we want to leave space for some other people. I do want to mention one other post of his. The First Rule of Building a Thriving Online Audience. This post was a flat forehead moment for me. It was the moment I realized I had a dream, a vision for this site when I started it, and I’d mushed it down so it wasn’t as bright and shiny as it could be. This post is what made me change the tagline to this site and really step into what I want to do here. I wrote down all the questions he asked in this post in a notebook and I’m working my way through them as well as the guide from the next fella in line.

The next 2 posts on the list come from a blog I recently found and have immediately fallen in love with. The straightforward writing style, the way he mixes fitness and his interests into business. I love it. I first hit his site through a link from Corbett to his Goal Setting and Get Results Handbook, which I have printed out and I’m working through.  However, it was the post he did this week On Modeling the Impossible and How to Do Anything that created a true epiphany in my business. I realized I’ve been building my community by drawing in readers, however, I was doing a lot of reinventing the wheel. I didn’t have someone who I could look at really see what they were doing, and not doing to create the success they’ve had.

This realization led me to a couple things. It led me to identify some of the people who I admire in this business and would like to model elements of how they run their business. It also led me to realize that listening to podcasts and interviews with other people ~ learning about other people is not a waste of time. In fact, it’s probably a very important piece of the puzzle that I’ve refused to engage in all these years. I’ve been so nose to the grindstone, do my work, that I just didn’t realize how much easier it could be when you follow someone who’s already where you want to be.

This led to me listening to a LOT of podcasts the last half of  this week. :) I got a new mp3 player for Christmas so I loaded it up, and while I was outside playing with Hanna or doing the dishes, or spending time on twitter I would listen. Here’s a few that really made me think and gave me some great AHA moments.

Extraordinary Podcasts

You all know I love Charlie Gilkey. I use his planners and read just about everything he writes. It was a pleasure listening to him as well. I had numerous Aha moments during his conversation with Srini (from blogcastfm.com) about Turning your blog into a real business, networking and collaboration

I also listened to a podcast with Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness ~ who is new on my radar. I love his site because he takes such a huge niche as fitness, and has made it specific to very specific people. I love his enthusiasm and his writing as well. This podcast was a great reminder about creating community as well as calling people by name.

I also really enjoyed the interview with Tyler Tervooren from Advanced Riskology about building a rabid fanbase. It really drove home the idea that you’re going to alienate some people, and that’s ok. I definitely recommend it.

Extraordinary Projects

I’ve only got one project this week ~ but it has captivated me. I have subscribed to the site feed and look forward to getting my email every evening to see what’s going on with this project. Kristy M Hall has decided to create a piece of artwork using a jar every day of the year. Not only does she create the jar, but she puts it out in the world, somewhere. This is where it gets really fun and interesting. People are FINDING the jars. They come back to the site and report their finding, where the jar is now and other information about the experience. It’s like a treasure hunt, and art all rolled into one. There are some jars that are missing and haven’t been reported yet, and there’s one fella who’s out there actively searching for the jars. It’s very fun to watch,  and the jars are amazing. I’m astounded by Kristy’s ability to create every day, and stick to it. You can follow the project at 365jars.com.  You can also follow Kristy on twitter.

Extraordinary Twitter Folks

I’m following all the people listed above and want to highlight a few more really interesting folks this week. Here’s a few you might like to take a look at and follow.

@ProlificLiving ~ Amazing insights into Yoga ~ great yoga videos, very inspiring to be more.

@VtFarmGirl ~ transplanted from the city to a dairy farm. (A girl after my own heart). Fun and lighthearted, food, and life related.

@DaveUrsillo ~ business and personal development. Friendly and outgoing.

@SoUncivilized ~ sustainable living, and a great article about worm towers. :)

@SarahRobinson ~ Teaching me how to escape mediocrity. Starting her 28 days to Getting Your Shit Together challenge Febuary 1st. Can’t wait!

Extraordinary Tools

I have to add this category today because this week a tool came out that has solved a problem I’ve had for a long time. I’ve had a facebook fanpage, but I find it very difficult to use because there’s no way to be notified when people interact with you on your page. Well that’s over now. Now there are Hyper Alerts. All you do is create an account, tell them the url of your fanpage and they will automagically send you an email every time someone participates on your page ~ in real time. :) woot.

Well that’s what I’ve got for this week. I’m sure there’s more, and I’m going to start writing them down through the week so I don’t forget anyone. I’d love to know what you found that was extraordinary to you this week. I’m always on the lookout for amazing folks so please share in the comments area. :) Thanks!

image credit: Beverly and Pack

 

The Control Freak’s Guide to Working with Freelancers

At some point in your business you’re going to realize there’s something you just can’t do. It may be creating graphics for your website, it may be installing a piece of software you just don’t understand, no matter what it is, it will happen. When it does, you’ll have to find someone out there in the big old internet to do it for you.  When you find just the “right” person and you hand over the reigns to whatever it is you can’t quite do you’re probably going to freak out.

There may be minor anxiety spells or all out panic attacks, there may be unprovoked lashing out on innocent nearby family members, there may even be uncalled for working out ~ in an effort to get rid of some of the excess anxiety energy you’ve got going on.  While those are some of the ways to release some of this yucky I don’t have control over this piece of the puzzle energy ~ they probably aren’t the best ~ well working out’s probably good, but sheesh, who wants to do that. :)

There are ways to handle handing over the reigns of your super awesome business pieces to someone else without losing your cool.

When you finally find your Mr or Mrs Right freelancer make sure you talk to them. If this is your first time hiring someone else to help out in your business act like it isn’t. (at least in your head) It’s super easy to make up all kinds of crazy bullshit in your head when you focus on the fact you have no experience whatsoever doing this. Act like you do it all the time.

Just because this is your first time doesn’t mean you can’t ask for what you want and what you need. Not only for the project at hand, but for your mental well being as well. It might seem scary but go ahead, channel your inner Donald Trump. You own this business… you can ask for what you need. The worst that can happen is they say no ~ and maybe that tells you this isn’t the right person for you to be working with after all.

So what is it you need to ask for?

It depends on what the project is, but let’s look at hiring someone to do something artistic for you. This could be a header, or a new theme, or even just an image to put on your website. Artsy stuff can be tough because you may have an idea how you want it, a picture in your head how it’s going to look ~ and that’s hard to get out of your head and into the artists head. I mean if you could just draw it, you would right?!

So try to explain in as much detail what you’re looking for. The color, the feel, the layout. Make sure you know in YOUR head, what are must have elements.  Also identify in your head what is flexible and where the artist can run with something. The thing that rocks the socks about artists is that well, they’re artists. They have all kinds of awesome arty tricks up their sleeves, things you, as a rockin’ business owner ~ but non artist know nothing about. It’s important to let them have a little room to work ~ so they can create you something completely awesome.  AND it’s super important you know where you’re going to draw the line between what you want and their artistic awesomeness.

State this line clearly in your first conversation. No, it’s not bitchy ~ really it’s not. It’s you being clear so you can walk away from the conversation without heart palpitations. The clearer you can be with the artist the easier it will be for them to wave their art wand within your lines to create something you’ll both be happy with.

Timeline.

Set a timeline, deadline or whatever you want to call it. Make sure you and your freelancer know when this needs to be done, finished, in your hands complete. Do not say “oh around the middle of the month” when you need to launch your awesome thing on the 30th. The middle of the month may look different to you than it does to an artist. Give them a date, a time. I’d like it by the end of the day on the 15th. This way if the 15th comes and goes you know you stated yourself clearly and you don’t have to feel “bad” when you say to them ~ “Hey, where’s my stuff? I thought we agreed on the 15th.”

Communicate.

You’re getting ready to hand off this project ~ it’s something big, or something little, but it will no  longer be in your hands. You will sit around fretting about whether the freelancer is really working on your stuff, or whether they’re taking a nap or drinking Tequila until all hours of the morning instead.

Talk to your freelancer about their process. How do they work, how does the project move to completion. This will help you better understand what’s happening on the other side of the computer screen.

In line with this communication thing, set up check in days. If  you’re going to sit there wondering, freaking out, creating minor or major anxiety attacks for yourself wondering if it’s really getting done ~ set up check ins. Ask your freelancer to send you an email every couple of days to let you know how things are going.

It may seem crazy ~ and you may feel that’s revealing a little too much of your crazy ~ but I guarantee you, these little check ins will allow you to keep moving forward with the pieces of the puzzle you DO have control over. It’s really easy to stop working on the project because the piece someone else is working is so crucial that if it isn’t done, or isn’t done “right” the whole project will have to be put on hold or started over. Yeah, it’s easy to go there, so just ask them to check in. Ask them to let you know the project is moving along.

Updates.

This runs along the lines of communicating with your new freelancer. Ask for updates. If it’s art related, ask them to send you a peek of what’s going on. This way you don’t have to feel scared it’s not going the way you want. You can see if it is, and if it’s not you can ask for changes in the early stages where it will still be possible ~ and not cost you any extra money.

If your project isn’t art related ~ but it’s more concrete ask them to send you some numbers. What have they done. This way you can feel good knowing things are getting done, and you can go about your work.

Payment:

Talk about how and when payment will be made for their services. Also make sure you know what will be extra and how they will talk to you about it if they see something’s going to go over. Also make sure you talk about what happens if you don’t like their work ~ or it isn’t what you wanted in the end. Do you still pay? Do you pay half, a quarter?

The money, especially if you’re a new business owner with not a lot of it, can cause some extreme anxiety through this process ~ especially if you haven’t set it up so you’re hearing from your freelancer regularly. It’s really easy to start making stuff up in your head… don’t. Be clear from the get go, so you know exactly what will happen, and how. :)

How to do this without coming off as a total control freak crazy person.

Well… :) Just kidding. Be nice about it. Speak politely to the other person. Talk to them like you would talk to a friend. It might even help to tell them you’re a bit of a control freak, and this will help keep you off their back during the process. If you let them know how much you appreciate the work they’re doing for you, and be nice about it, it will be ok.

I think you’re probably being harder on yourself than they are to tell you the truth.

So there you have it, the control freak’s guide to working with freelancers. The first time you do it is the toughest. It gets easier from there, and the more you’re able to hire out the parts that would take you forever, the better. Your time is much better spent doing what you’re good at than trying to learn how to do everything so you don’t have to give up control.  Take a deep breath, and hand over the piece to someone who knows what they’re doing. It will be ok.

I’d love to hear any other tricks or tips you have for not losing it when working with freelancers. Please, feel free to add your tips to the comments section and share them with the class. :)

image credit: Her Wings

 

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How to Blast Out Roadblocks

You’re here and you want to get there.

In between you and that place is a big fat roadblock.

What do you do next?

Do you try to figure out how to go around it?

Do you try to figure out a way to blow it up so you can go through it?

Do you sit and wait for someone else to come and move it so you can get by?

In your entrepreneurial life there are going to be many, many roadblocks. They will come at you in every way, shape and fashion.  Some will seem like no problem and others will feel almost, if not completely,  insurmountable.

Your success depends on how you navigate the roadblocks.

When you work in a job… you don’t really have to deal with roadblocks. That’s not what you get paid for. Someone, probably higher up the food chain, has to do deal with them, they have to solve the problem, and then generally they’ll hand you the solution.

However, when you own your own business you have to become a master roadblock breaker. You have to be able to overcome not only the roadblock, but the thoughts and feelings you may have when you come face to face with one.

You’re cruising along on a project… easy peezy. BAM. Roadblock.

Roadblocks don’t only block your forward motion by their very nature, they also block your forward motion because they almost always bring up emotions. Frustration, irritation, doubts about your ability or depending on the roadblock even doubts about your self worth.

It’s the emotions that can sometimes prove more devastating than the roadblock itself. Most roadblocks can be navigated fairly easily ~  you can find someone to help, create  a work-around ~ get your project back on track. However, those emotions ~ the things that come up for you when you hit those roadblocks, those can be a little trickier, a little stickier. They can stay around even after you think you’ve dealt with the roadblock and you’re moving again.

They show themselves in crazy little ways ~ thoughts that flash across your mind, time wasters that call to you, procrastination, doing things that aren’t really “the work” so you feel busy and can talk  yourself into believing you’re doing what needs to be done. These are the tell tale signs of roadblock emotions.

If you’re like me you just smush them down, and get back to work. Solve the problem. Blow up the roadblock. Get back to work. Get back on schedule.

While that can be great for getting projects done… it still leaves all that stuff smushed up inside you. And… when things get all smushed up inside you for long enough they have to come out. And it usually ain’t pretty.

It may be a blow up at someone you love. It may be just a complete feeling of  apathy. It may show up by you getting the flu. Our minds and bodies are amazing things. They will make you stop and take a look at something no matter how hard you refuse. The harder you fight it, the harder your mind and body will fight back, until you find yourself debilitated so you physically can not keep going. Well… lookie here, time to get some thinking done.

So what do you do?

I am a huge advocate of taking action… but sometimes that action has to be on a level that isn’t as easy to see. Sometimes that action requires silence and contemplation. I suggest when you hit a roadblock, get started looking for the work-around. Keep working at it, but if you find yourself having an emotional reaction to the situation ~ it’s probably more than just a simple roadblock.

Take some time ~ this is coming up for a reason. If you don’t figure out the reason now, you’ll continue to have situations arise that bring up this feeling or issue ~ until you work on it.  So take some time ~ I’m not talking like a month… but take 5 or 15 minutes. Sit with your feeling and ask it what’s up. Ask it what it needs from you, why it’s here, what it’s trying to tell you. Then shut up and listen.

Yeah, listen. Just be quiet, sit quietly and let your body and mind speak to you. They will let you know what the deal is. When they do thank them. From there you can objectively look at what’s coming up and why. You can look at it critically and ask questions to find out if it is valid, or true, helpful or possibly was put there at a time in your past when it definitely helped out but now no longer serves you.

If you take a few minutes to look at these things now, you’ll feel a lot better. Your mind will work better, and you’ll find that roadblocks that relate to this issue don’t come up as often, if at all. It will create a smoothness and ease to your work.

Like I said, I’m all about do do do, but while doing is great, forcing ~ not so much. Work with your body and mind and as you do they’ll help create a space in your business, and in your life, where roadblocks are no longer necessary.

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Does It All Match Up?

When you’re getting started in your online business you have to think about a lot of things. Sometimes we get to looking at individual pieces, well, individually. We think each piece looks great, feels great, but the problem comes in when we put them together and they don’t send the message we’re hoping to send.

This can happen with lots of little pieces, our blog title, url, tagline, theme, what’s in the sidebar, how many ads you have on your site ~ each of these may look and sound and feel wonderful on its own, but how do they fit together, how do each of these pieces express you and your business purpose when they come together?

As a business owner you want to make sure that your message is being portrayed in each piece of the puzzle, so you create a unified message with your site.

Let’s say you’re creating a site that helps people choose the perfect gift for their loved ones. You are going to review gift ideas, and help people find innovative and unique gifts. You’ve got your site name, you’ve got your tagline, they’re both on point ~ they talk about helping people find unique gifts for the people they love.

However, you’ve got this dark colored theme that is a beautiful theme, but it doesn’t send a message of light hearted gift giving.  It might be time to reassess what visual cues and messages you want to send with your theme.

Themes can completely enhance or detract from your message. While I don’t suggest you spend forever trying to choose a theme and mess with it forever, it is important for the theme you choose to create a feeling when people first see it, a feeling that is congruent with what you’re doing.

If you have a very serious site ~ you’re talking about important, serious stuff… you probably don’t want a theme that is filled with balloons and cartoon characters.  While it may seem obvious ~ when you’re talking about serious stuff you want a serious looking site ~ it’s sometimes easier to forget that happy, friendly topics deserve a theme that portrays that emotion.

If you’re trying to create a calm, supportive, capable feeling for your site and business you may want to watch how many things you put in the sidebar. Having too many distractions and things to try to focus on at one time can completely unravel any calm you may have created with the colors, theme, title and tagline.

Have you taken some time to think about the feeling you want people to get when they land on your site? You’ll only have a few seconds to achieve it, so it’s important to be clear within your own mind so you can make sure each and every piece of your site and your business helps you portray that feeling.

The feeling someone gets in the first few seconds they arrive at your site is crucial. It’s the first impression, and it’s a lasting one. Today why don’t you go to your site ~ land there with the eyes of a first time visitor. See what you see, what you don’t see, how you feel, what message do you get? This is all in a very fast couple seconds. Better yet, why don’t you have a friend or customer do it for you… let them take a look and tell you what they see. What they see is probably going to give you a better idea than what you might see ~ because you’re so invested and you know what people are supposed to see. :)

Once you get a couple opinions you can look at the pieces and see if you can tighten up your pieces so they immediately tell people the story you’re trying to tell with your site.

 

image credit: Aunt Owwee

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The I Don’t Have Time Lie

The other night I was in bed trying to fall asleep and I’d recently read an article about using LinkedIn for your business.

I heard myself think… “I don’t have time for LinkedIn”.

And then I heard myself think… “UM, yes, you do. Why did you say that?”

Then we got into a little bit of a discussion about the lie “I don’t have enough time”

By the time we’d dug through the layers and hashed it out here’s what we came up with.

I don’t have time is an easier thing to say than “I don’t know how” or “I’m afraid.”

I started thinking back, thinking about times I’d told myself “I didn’t have time” for something, and when I dug into it I found it was really just a cover story for something else that didn’t feel all that great. It’s so much easier ~ and people are so much more willing to buy “I don’t have time”. You don’t have to feel vulnerable or risk your feelings with I don’t have time. Hell, no one has time. People get that.

Do you think people would understand and be open to hearing I don’t know how to work LinkedIn? How about I don’t know how to make it work in my business? Or I don’t even know if it has a place in my business, and I’m afraid to waste a bunch of time and realize I was wrong?

Yeah… while it may be the truth, I don’t think most people would risk saying that out loud.

THUS.. the I don’t have time lie.

So… I’m wondering… what about you? I realize there are people who have much less time in their world than I have. So maybe you really DON’T have time… but do you have an “I don’t have time” lie you go to when you just need an easy excuse?

Do you know it’s a lie? What would happen if you did?

Once I got honest about my feelings around LinkedIn I was able to make some solid business decisions about whether I should or shouldn’t use it. It wasn’t based on fear… but on reality ~ and my business. Now it no longer lurks in the back of my mind. When I see articles about LinkedIn I don’t get that clenched up (I’m hiding from fear) feeling in the back of my throat. I can read it or not read it, because I know where LinkedIn fits in my business plan now.

How about you? Please, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the little lies we use to make life easier (and or hide). Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

image credit: karindalziel