9/9/2011

Bird by Bird - A business plan Front-end-developer

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Bird by Bird - A business plan

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds,  immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.’ -Anne Lamott

I’m overwhelmed to a ridiculous state. Somewhere along the path of amazing, whilst traveling and producing and speaking, my cart became full of expectations, deadlines and impossibility.

“If you say no too often, Leslie, they won’t ask you back to babysit. Be careful when you turn down a job opportunity.” -Oma Flinger

I was 7 when I started my first business. A friend from down the street and I ran in to the woods beyond our houses and collected rocks, interesting twigs and other “potentially beautiful” items. We ran home, painted each carefully, and set out knocking on every door asking if they wanted to purchase our art for ten cents each. I made about a dollar that day peddling my work amongst the neighborhood.

At 10 I decided to run an in-home daycare for an hour a day at my parent’s house. My mother wasn’t a fan of having 12 children in our small home, so I set up the garage as a small “school” setting and offered to take children who lived near by at a small fee to teach them a play that we would perform at the end of the week. It was a cabbage patch kid reenactment set to the tunes of a record I owned. At the end of the week, parents came to watch the play and praised the sweaty mess of children I directed in the two car garage in Houston.

Having recently decided to take life by the unicorn horn (if you will) and start a new, more amazing, better freelance business than I’d ever had before, I opened up my contacts to accept new work. Happily, Joyfully, Thankfully work flew in the front door, even more than I knew I could take. My mother’s words bubbled to the surface and her years of an incredibly strong work ethic and high expectations of her own life replicated in my own. I took the work, even when the deadlines were smashed together, with travel booking both ends, and said yes to it all.

9/8/2011

At twitlight Balance Parenting

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I hear my family upstairs. There are squeals, laughter, delight. The radio is blaring through the built-in speakers of our bedroom window, opened even though this last August air is chilly. There is chasing above. I sit on the patio as Ben Folds plays via iPhone. I work a bit. I delight in my job. I ponder the day. I drink a good beer.

I once read, “To be in harmony with the universe is to be like floating: Doors open, opportunities arise and you take them without thought.” That is happening to me as of late. Doors seem to bust open. Life seems to beacon me. COME! COME LIVE!

“When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.” -Anne Lamott

I am exceedingly happy at my upcoming opportunities. I am living a day job of merriment. I am watching my children ride their bikes without training wheels and smiling at their accomplishments. I am aging in my own body and appreciating it more daily. I am realizing the future may not be as I always expected but that the universe offers more than I can ever hope or dream. Without being cosmically ridiculous, I can say without a doubt that those who dream big live big.

I want to dream big.

8/12/2011

On darkness.. and light Stories

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One of my favorite episodes of my favorite TV show ever is “Northern Lights” of Northern Exposure Episode 4:3. It’s an analogy of light within the depths of darkness.

Goethe’s final words: “More Light”. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime,  that’s been our unifying cry. More light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon, incandescent… Lights to banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the nigthgames at Soldier’s Field. Little tiny flashlight for the books we read under the covers when we’re supposed to be asleep.
Light is more than watts and foot candles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp under my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead Thou [You] me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead Thou me on. Arise, shine for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light.

We’re entering the darkest time here in the Pacific Northwest. The time where the sunlight dips to unseen beds at 4pm and doesn’t rise again until 8AM. The hibernation of man becomes a reality and people in coffee shops talk about the endless darkness.

We are a collective bear’s den: Nestling down for the winter months, comparing caves and scarves and nuts.

It is during the darkest hours of winter that we seek the Light. To me this is found in humanity. In the imperfect solace of friendships, of community, of tree lightings and holiday festivities. Later we will find this in the houses of those we know: lights of comfort, of discussion: of future plans. This is the time of reflection, of seeking, of finding. And hopefully, as the new year comes upon us, even in darkness, it is a time of light and hope; however that may look in a different new year light.

Forget that “Back to school” preparedness. Here’s a more practical approach

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Right now there’s a lot of people posting about “Tips for being prepared for the school year.”  Let me be the first one to share with you my strategic plan: “How to lose your shit prior to school starting.”

Y’all, it’s how I roll.

Here, in no particular order, is my recipe for a complete meltdown:

1. Plan a trip prior to school starting including long international flights.

2. With 14 hour layovers in Holland.

Missing: French Maid Uniform

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I’m literally on my hands and knees scrubbing our kitchen tiles. It’s my husband’s birthday today: June 18th. I’m listening to him put an IKEA shelf together with the children in the other room. What a way to spend your birthday, I think. Hey honey! Let’s clean the house!

The thing is, this is how we roll. We don’t have a cleaning person so if the kitchen is going to get presentable, I’ll be the one to do it. We don’t have lawn boys to do our yard work for us so if the weeds are going to be pulled, it will be our family pulling them. We have a lot, and I’m not even being dramatic here, a lot of work to do on our old 1963 “well loved” velveteen-rabbit of a house. And if it’s going to be done, we’ll be the ones to do it. Every weekend. For ever.

I have friends with cleaning people, or yard people, or nannies. I have co-workers that run the math for me about money versus time. I’m sure we’re not utilizing our time as efficiently as possible as I theoretically could spend all evenings earning more income with freelance and all weekends farming out our chores while we bond as a family.

I know these facts and yet, this is how we choose to do things. We might have the ugliest fireplace in the history of fireplaces but when we change it out, we’ll be painting it together. We might have the hole in the wall from the previous owner but it’s become a lower priority to all the other chores. The children’s bathroom is still broken and I know we’ll get to it eventually.

My four year old son plays “who can pull the biggest weed” with me. We laugh at just how big that root is, or how tall that weed got or watch a worm crawl in the dirt. We let the children wipe up the tables and teach them to take off their shoes when they walk in the front door because mommy just cleaned the floor and will lose her shit if you muddy it up right away. It’s a timeless middle-class adage that the chores come first before play. We try to do both, simultaneously, and listening to my husband show the kids how to put together a shelf and recycle the box it came in, on his birthday, reminds me why I married him in the first place.

When mommy bloggers and brands connect in Seattle

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Last night I drove in to town for the SMC Seattle event my friend Maya put together. I say “Drove In To Town” because home-girl lives outside the city and in the past year has transformed from a Houston-size-city-girl to someone who can’t navigate anything bigger than Wichita Falls.

Seattle

I put the address in to my GPS and my iPhone puts up a message, “Go toward the fucking Space Needle. Then ARRIVE IN SE-ATTLE.” No, I swear it said that. I’m pretty sure my phone called me a moron.

Forty minutes of sitting on a floating bridge head-bobbing to people in cars next to me as we do a dance of this-or-that-lane later, I fight, literally, to arrive at a parking spot that costs more than 5 half gallons of ultra organic milk flown in over night from France. Thankfully I wasn’t even late.

Walking in to the room now shaking and feeling the traffic sweat stains lining my shirt, I find exactly four people I know. No! Five! I met one other girl briefly a few years ago. That counts. There is a large crowd of faces. There are all types of people with vaginas and five - tops - people with the other parts. I find a group of three young men standing in a sea of women. “Uh, you know this is about connecting to MOMMY BLOGGERS,” I offer in case they didn’t realize we’d all have baggage and thought this was some sort of freak-awesome party. I sort of look out for people like that. Setting expectations and all.

8/4/2011

Sticky Notes ADHD Parenting

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I have these sticky notes. They line my computer background, they clutter my virtual desktop, the travel in my portable office. They are text files I keep open to remind myself of my goals, todo lists, small notes. I have one that I keep open nearly all day, every day. It is titled, “People I want to emulate.” 

On this text file I keep a very short list of people I admire and dare to imitate. It’s like my own version of the, “What Would Jesus Do” bracelet.

What would Amanda say to this quest I’m on?

Would Scott Berkun forget to submit a speaking proposal?

I bet Emily Lewis would take the time to code this correctly, without shortcuts.

7/10/2011

On turning seven. Alternate title: HOLYCRAPYOUARESEVEN Parenting

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I remember the day I peed on a stick and shockingly read two lines. I remember the day we found out we were having a girl. I remember the long, difficult struggle of birth and the weeks and months following. The transition to being your mom wasn’t an easy one but those are all memories now.

Toddler LB

I have completely, utterly, hopelessly, passionately fallen in love with you, my daughter, my pixie, my joy, my pride.

You grow every day to be a person I am proud of. You create, you laugh, you rejoice. You show me what living with imagination is. You teach me to ride my bike in the grass because cement isn’t necessary. You invite me in to your imagination of talking horses and pet shops. You warm me with your arms and your impossibly long legs, mygod how did they get so long, wrap around my waist when I lift you for possibly the last time of your life.

Baby Big Sister

7/10/2011

On fifteen minutes Parenting

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Four

“Mamma, will you play with me?” There are three other children at school outside playing under the careful eye of their pre-school teacher. I briefly consider the deadlines, the emails, the phone calls. “Yes, Buddy, I will.” His face lights up and he runs to select a ball from the bin. We play “kick the ball” which could also be called soccer if we were a little more agile.

At first we are tame, kicking softly, rolling the light red ball across the cement in the covered area back and forth from my large feet to his tiny ones. One of us kicks it a bit too hard and the other laughs as the ball bounces off the divider and the wall. We kick with a twirl. We kick with both feet after jumping. We kick until the ball flies over our heads and we giggle. I am there, at the preschool, in the crisp autumn air with my son laughing while the inbox sits and the clock relents.

Finally it is time for me to leave. I hug, I kiss, I smother with so much love I hope he holds on to me forever. I pull away in my car and I see his small familiar face peering out from the fence. He waves, I wave, he blows a kiss and I blow one back. He signs I love you and as I sign it back my eyes fill with tears of gratitude and thanksgiving. Sometimes fifteen minutes can heal even the most busy of todo lists.

Life Impractical

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I live with an Engineer. I work with software developers. My life is a sort of a living excel spreadsheet. If things are to be done, they are to be done in order, logically, after much research and testing.

Only thing is? I am an anomaly.  I picture myself standing in front of The Man watching myself on TV screens of utter chaos being told I’m the One who has to introduce spontaneity.

Introducing The Life Impractical.

A year ago this month I made promises to myself. This came on the heals of my “HOLYSHIT I TURN THIRTY FIVE” moment. Since that time my life has turned an incredible corner. Doors don’t just open, they fly open.

I’ve achieved much of what I ached to do last year: Visit Germany, Outline The Book, Find someone interested enough to promote and publish The Book, meet amazing people in my field, become grounded in the person who carries around this 35 year old body. All these things I am grateful for. But I am also excited about the prospect of what is to come. It has only wetted the appetite I have to BE, DO, LOVE.