Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy last day of 2013...

Many of us are bidding 2013 farewell and preparing to usher in 2014. I'm no exception. I've been reflecting on 2013 and the past several years, and thinking about how much my son and I have experienced, what we've gained, what we've let go of, and how we want to move forward.

In 2013, we made our second cross-country drive, saw family, made new friends, lost old friends, and got a second dog. I learned a lot about what I will and won't tolerate for work, and my son began learning more about things that might interest him as he gets older and begins college.

Cupcake Sprinkles Celebrate 8x10 art print by Dawn Smith Designs on Etsy

I know that I will never work in a cubicle again. I will never take a job just because it is available. I learned that sometimes people we think of us as friends don't see us in the same way (do we relearn this one over and over as we go on in life?). I learned that sometimes a toilet gets so clogged you have to give up and call a plumber, even if you can't afford it. Two dogs are both easier and harder than one. Two house guests are both easier and harder than five. A house isn't always better than an apartment.

I've also learned that I have more money than I realized. I just have to pay attention to what I am doing with it. I'm certainly not rich and still feel like I'm only getting by, but I no longer feel down-and-out-broke.

I learned that I'm capable of doing a lot with my time and energy, as long as I channel it in healthy ways that move my son and I forward.

I learned that having a gym membership is really important to me, and I need to schedule time to go. However, I need to pack my bag ahead of time and put it in my car. I thought I had once, and I got to the gym without it!

I'm looking ahead to learning new lessons in 2014, and putting into practice the lessons I learned in 2013.

What were your lessons in 2013?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Unexpected visitors...

Three nights ago, we had some unexpected visitors. While I was at work, someone rang the doorbell.

When my son went to open the door, this is what he found, along with a rather odd message reading, "Merry ****ing Christmas. I hope you **** someone. - Santa":
Weird, right? It was probably just some kids pulling a prank, but I found it upsetting, especially since it happened while my son was home alone. When I got home and saw the note, I called the police (non-emergency number, mind you), and an officer came out. He agreed that it was probably just a prank by some neighborhood kids. He took the visitors to be impounded as "found property" and said that he figured someone would call in the morning upon realizing that their holiday lawn decor was missing.

Bizarre, right?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, and whoever you are with, 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2014 Amazing Business and Life Workbook

I've mentioned Leonie Dawson a couple of times lately, and I thought I'd share my progress on going through her 2014 Amazing Business and Life Workbooks. Although there are two separate workbooks, I've sort of combined them into one big workbook. I'm out of printer ink, so instead of printing out all the pages, I've used the workbooks as a basis for putting together my own big workbook using a binder, paper, and page protectors.

Here's what it looks like so far:

The cover with my primary goals listed on the front.

Collaging "dream pages" on plain paper inserted into sheet protectors in place of dividers.

My fitness/health/body dream page in progress - get fit, eat well.

These are old financial goals. I've pulled together all the random scraps of goals and ideas I've had around the house from the past couple of years. Slowly, I'm going through and reconfiguring them. Until I've got it all reconfigured and ready to work on, I'm keeping those old pages in the binder.

I've been tracking ALL of my spending. I list my spending and income twice daily, and color code it. I'm extremely visual. The goal is to see more green than pink or yellow. Green is for income and necessary expenses. Yellow is for anything due to poor planning - for example, buying lunch because I didn't plan ahead and make a lunch. Pink is for wasteful spending, and seeing this much pink has been an eye opener!

Week by week savings goals. This is going to be tough, and I've got to find a way to cut back spending while also increasing income if I plan to hit these goals EVERY week!

Budget pages for every  month of 2014. I also did one for the current month.

A sample of my sections, all based on Leonie Dawson's workbooks. Each section also has subsections which are my goals. Under each goal, I am breaking down action steps month by month, week by week, and in some cases day by day.
I've only been using these workbooks and working on my 2014 binder for a few weeks, and I've already seen major changes:

  • My spending is more conscientious—I've resisted fast food and Starbucks temptations several times thanks to having the binder with me all the time and knowing I'd be logging those expenses and coloring them pink!
  • I've exercised more consistently by using workouts I've printed and put in the binder (see the picture above of my fitness/health/body dream page).
  • I've eaten better by planning better, and thus my jeans are fitting better!
  • I've made strides on several business goals, and am working on my business stuff daily instead of procrastinating and being too scared to do anything about it!
  • I've made more sales on Etsy than usual.
Overall, I'm loving this process, and feel more hopeful than I have in a long time. I feel my goals are more achievable because by writing them down and listing action steps, I've made them REAL.

Check out the workbooks HERE.

**Please note, I do have an affiliate relationship with Leonie Dawson. However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE her workbooks and highly recommend them!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tame that e-mail inbox...

I cut the messages in my e-mail inbox from over 600 to only 128. 

I was overwhelmed with not only the amount of e-mail I was receiving, but also by how many emails were in my main inbox. I couldn't find specific messages easily when I needed them, and a chore that should take minutes every day was consuming an hour or more at times.

It kind of made me want to scream...

Can You Hear Me Yet by STILphotography on Etsy

Last week, I decided to tame my e-mail inbox. 

I started by doing the following:
  • changed my spam filter settings;
  • review the spam folder once weekly, instead of daily; and
  • evaluated mailing lists I was subscribed to, and unsubscribed from any I wasn't excited to see in my inbox or that I hadn't used/read/looked at in at least a monththis alone cleared out a ton of e-mail!
After completing those three steps, I committed to focusing on individual topics each time I open my e-mail. For example, only dealing with personal correspondence or sorting through e-mails for deals/sales on shops/vendors I like, or focus only on work related e-mails. To make that manageable I did the following:
  • I created subfolders for specific topics and sorted almost all of the messages I wanted or needed to keep into those subfolders.
    • Examples of my subfolders: Amanda Genther**, Apartments, Financials, Freelance, Friend#1, Friend#2, Friend#3, Continuing Ed, Etsy/Half/Ebay, Leonie Dawson**, Michelle Ward**, Tutoring, Writing Submissions.
    • I also have a few hidden folders for things I need to keep but don't need to look at very often.
Once or twice per day, I sort new messages into those folders WITHOUT READING the new messages unless they are urgent.

Then, when I have time to dedicate to ONE CATEGORY of messages, or one topic, I go through that folder ONLY. As I go through that one folder, I also decide what to take action on (save/keep, what to print and then delete (so I have a hardcopy only), what to forward, what to respond to, etc.) and then I DO THAT ACTION.

I've gone from obsessively checking my inbox to now only checking and sorting new messages once or twice per day (total: less than five minutes of my time), and tackling one folder every day or two (with time varying depending on my goals). Most days this simple task has freed up anywhere from an hour to three or four hours! (Seriously, I was spending that much time just on e-mail! Ridiculous!) 

I now have a lot more time every day for my son, our dogs, fun, and working on my own interests.

**These three ladies are solopreneur goddesses! I love them, and hope you will check them out!  (Please note, I do  have an affiliate relationship with Leonie Dawson, but even if you don't purchase anything from her, I really do encourage you to follow her because she has tons of wisdom to share!)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spay and neuter your pets!

This isn't the post I had planned to write this morning, but as I was driving home from work (night shift!), a little dog ran out in front of my car! Thankfully, I saw the little guy, but it sure scared me! The little guy ran across a hugely busy street during rush hour. I turned around and went to try to find him (or her?), and he darted across the road again! I found him scrounging around by a dumpster and tried to get the guy to come to me, but he darted away again with his little food treasure from next to the dumpster. He was so cute, but dirty, and terrified when I tried to approach him. The sweet thing obviously doesn't have a home. He took off again, and I wasn't able to find him again. :(  If you have a pet, please neuter or spray the little boy or girl!

Our little girls:

If you find a stray, please take them to a no-kill shelter so they can get spayed/neutered and possibly find a new home.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Realizations and ramblings...

I am tutoring the cutest little 8 year old girl. She is struggling with reading, and it has been a pleasure to see her working hard to improve her skills and to learn to ENJOY to read. Since reading is my favorite activity, this brings such joy to my heart! However, I realized that the combination of my great tutoring skills (not bragging - my families tell me I'm great!) and a motivated student means my job is really to put myself out of business!

Pillsbury peppermint sugar cookie dough smells great, tastes terrible (although my son likes the taste).

Watching cooking clips on Hulu is probably not the best idea when a) I've just cleaned the kitchen, and b) I'm ravenously hungry!

This person makes me smile every single day. I can't believe he's only 9 months away from being a legal driver (assuming he passes his driving exam).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Non-Family People I'm loving right now...

I haven't been blogging in a while. I've just been working, sleeping, working, sleeping, and taking care of my son and dogs in between.

Over the past few weeks, I've been working hard at breaking down a schedule for non-work, non-sleeping, non-child and non-dog care. I've been carving out bits of time to start some drafts of blog posts, to get started on an e-book art history project, and other non-traditional work and fun stuff.

While you patiently wait for the next great thing from me (it's coming, it's coming!), I wanted to share a few non-family people that I love.


First, I encourage you creative types, or anyone trying to escape the traditional 9-5 job situation, to check out this video series by one of my very favoritist of all people, Michelle Ward from When I Grow Up Coach. The series is called Grown Up Gigs, and I love it!  I hope someday to be one of Michelle's guests!
http://www.whenigrowupcoach.com/gug/ by Michelle Ward
I absolutely love this series, and I've gotten so many great tips about how to guide my own creative business ventures, how to stay sane while planning to leave the 9-5 behind, and just overall inspiration for how to live a better life.


Next, check out my beautiful friend, Marianne Bland, and her amazing cityscapes. She manages to capture San Francisco in a way that always fills me with awe.  Her work reminds me so much of Edward Hopper. Seriously, her work is amazing. Marianne took part in a project called Heroes & Hearts in San Francisco too, and as part of the project, she painted a giant heart that was on display in the city by the bay (I just had to throw in the rhyme).
https://www.facebook.com/marianneblandart by Marianne Bland
I love Marianne's art, but she's also been a great friend, and so supportive of my own endeavors. Check her out on Facebook, but also check out her website.


Finally, I adore Ms. Leonie Dawson. She is a creative biz genius, and has managed to keep growing her business even while being super duper sick with hyperemesis gravidarum (which I had during pregnancy with my son 15 years ago, so I know just how miserable Leonie is - giganto hugs, Leonie!).  Leonie runs the Amazing Business and Life Academy, and I can tell you that in the few short couple of months I've been a part of the Academy, I've been seeing lots of positive changes in my creative biz life, and in my personal life. Some changes have been little (taking a couple of minutes every morning to stretch and center myself for the day ahead) to larger (exceeding my earnings goal each month for my creative biz - seriously! Every month I've gone past my goals!). 
Check out the Academy HERE. It truly has been life changing!

My favorite benefit of the Academy though is available even without taking the jump into the Academy - the Amazing Biz and Life Workbooks.  These workbooks come out annually, and I just got the 2014 editions.  I snagged both the Life and Business versions, and combined them to make one huge workbook! They are such great tools to sort out what's important to you, what you thought was important but isn't, and to make a plan to get those things that you really want to go after. Check them out!

Seriously, these workbooks are fantastic! Get them HERE.


I hope you will go and visit these three fantastic women, and that you will love them as much as I do! They nourish my creative soul.

**Please note, the links for the Biz Academy, and the Biz and Life workbooks are affiliate links, so I will receive a little bit back if you choose to join the academy or purchase the workbooks. I really do believe in them though, and I hope you will check them out regardless of the affiliate status!