Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm Expanding

Cup of the Day
 I am now a member of the Whole Living Daily Challenge Community at and have added a few blog posts there.  I have also applied there to begin two new groups; In Between for those of us who are at the in-between stage of life where we care for and support those both younger and older in our family group, and 50+ and Counting for those of us who are 50 years young, and beyond, who want to stay active and enjoy life. Both groups are awaiting approval and I'll keep you posted.

Although I have not created a whole new blog and these do not directly fit into my business plan, I do feel this fits into my overall life goals. I will continue to add blog posts and if the groups are approved, I will spend some time with those as well. And in reality, since life is not, or should not be, compartmentalized, I guess this really does fit into my business plan. Not only am I writing more and expanding my reach, I am also seeking to find ways to stay balanced and healthy so that I can work my business and enjoy all aspects of my life. So it fits.

Hey, there is that 'balance' word again. No, I don't mean balanced as in all things being equal and even, but rather balanced as in giving attention, at some regular interval, to all things that are important. I still like the visual example of juggling where you are working with many different balls, and you focus on just one at a time.  To me it is like being in the moment. There are many aspects (juggling balls) to my life, and I can not pay attention to all of them at the same time and do any of them well. Remember the plate balancing acts? Well, I used to be the person who was struggling to keep all the plates balanced at the same time and running back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and .....well you get the idea. No more of that. It is exhausting, and for me, not a healthy way to live.

So I am doing something everyday, expanding my reach (adding another juggling ball), adding another blog post here; and today I will be reading other people's blogs, working on choosing my first photo gift/stationary designs, and doing other photography related things.

Momentum is a beautiful thing and I feel mine picking up again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm Hatching a Plan

The say it takes 21 days to make a habit.  Well, I need to get back into the habit of doing something everyday for blogs and business. So I intend to give myself a 21 day challenge. 

I am considering whether or not I need to have a specific focus or will be content with a splatter effect. I may just go for the splatter effect, just to get it started.  I do have one issue though, in 14 days I am going to be away from my computer for a week or so and it will interfere with my 21 day challenge. 

So, here is my plan; I begin my personal 21 day challenge on Monday, November 22. 
I will define my challenge then.

As for today, I joined an online blogging community at Whole Living. I am a member of the Whole Life Action Plan Group. Well I think I am.  I am waiting for an "approval" email. 

Now, if I can just get my computer to keep working. It froze up on me today and some very loud "alarm" went off.  I may be looking at a new computer. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catching Up-or Picking up the Pieces


It is a cold, blustery day here in the Midwest. I got a call early this morning that the offices where I work are out of power and I don't have to come in until 10:00am.  It was nice to get a little more sleep and to now sit with coffee in hand, watching the autumn colors blow outside my window.

It has been awhile since I have looked at, much less written, on my blog.  And although I won't write much right now, I just wanted to let my readers know I am still here. Since my father's passing earlier this month, I have been spent time with memories, getting caught up at home, at work and helping my mom catch up, too. With this brief, but most welcome gift of time,  I thought I would take a few minutes to do a little catch up inventory for blog and business. 

A few things fell by the wayside over the last month and hold some lessons learned. Even though most of these are directly connected to my dad's illness over the past year and the sad events of October, I believe that some of these hold lessons that would be true, regardless.  I take on too much too fast.  A recipe for disaster. And because a lesson learned is really not helpful unless there is a plan for applying the lesson, I will include my plan, too.  And I am stopping at three.

-I totally forgot about and "flunked" my two online courses for photography and online writing.  I flunked them only because I did not finish them by the deadline.  Two online courses were too much with everything else I was trying to do, not to mention working a fulltime job.
Lesson learned; don't be so eager that it becomes too much and nothing gets done.
So, I will take them again.  This time, I will just take one at a time.  My deadline; hmmm, not sure with holidays approaching, but will have signed up by year's end.

-All my plans to get designs into an online store stopped, as did creating more designs
Lesson learned; I don't need a full line of product to begin and to open an online presence. I just need to begin with a few good choices and get the account/store created.
Choose four designs, then open a Cafepress shop by year's end with photo gifts and stationary.

I stopped doing something everyday.  That's ok, the lesson here is sometimes there are more important things in life.
No regrets, I was where I needed to be. Begin again, today. Do Something Everyday!

Now, to be fair, I have done something over the past few weeks. I was very pleased and honored to have created my dad's memorial service program. I worked hard with my new software to get it just right and learned a lot about the Serif PlusX4. The heart that went into this project will be a good standard to hold the rest of my work to.

And so today begins a new day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Determination Pays Off, Thanks Dad!

If you have read the previous post, the title and picture make sense. I may not have perfected this yet, but I got it figured out.  Thanks again, dad, for the determination to do the best I can. I will keep working on it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Challenge and Grace

My father recently passed away. I took this picture from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan on my way home that day. Over the past week, I have learned a lot more about my father, about what kind of man he really was. Like most of us, he was somebody different to everyone. It sort of depended on how he knew them.  

As I have listened to stories from friends, family, coworkers, etc., one thing that has been consistent is his nature as a person.  There are many words people have used to describe dad; smiling, generous, quiet, outspoken, strength, determination, teacher, coach, handsome,...In general, most people have described him as a man of  character, someone they looked up to and were proud to have known him.  I couldn't agree more. He was the best father a girl could want and was always there for me and my brothers and sister. I could go on and maybe I will talk more about dad from time to time.

For now, the nature of dad that is at work here is his desire to see everyone do their best at whatever they have chosen to do. And once they have given it their all, to let go, and know you have done the best you can and be proud of that.

I chose to create his Memorial Service program on my new desktop publisher. I never thought this is what I would be working on when I purchased my new software a couple months ago. I have a vision of how the program should look. And I am proud of the work I have created so far. It is complete, save for the last page.

I am having a devil of a time trying to figure out the layering components of this software. After having revised that page multiple times, it was time to go to the printers. Time is a factor here. The printer will use what I have created so far, and make the last page work the way I would like.

We little knew that morning
God was going to call your name,
In life we loved you dearly, 
In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide,
And though we cannot see you,
You are always by our side.
Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

I want the beach picture, with a small inset of the picture faded, and the final layer is a prayer/poem that was chosen by the family that will be placed inside that faded inset. It should have not been so complicated to figure it out, but for whatever reason, it was. Now it goes to the printer to finalize my vision and I let go of the process. I gave it my best shot and I am proud of the work I have done.

You can bet that I will persevere (and with a smile on my face because dad is watching over me, encouraging me) to learn how the layering aspect of my software works. Someday, that picture and prayer will be framed over my fireplace looking just like I want it to.

Thanks dad, for the encouragement, and the courage to try. You taught us well how to work hard, play hard, live hard, and love hard; and to create a live well lived.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hmmmm, Comfort Food

Coffee and chocolate!
Two of my favorite things.

Here is a little snapshot of the very rich and very sweet cake balls that my 7 year old granddaughter and I made the other night.

1 box cake mix- prepared and baked
1 can frosting- I used about 90%, which was too much for me. Next time I'll use less.
sprinkles, nuts, powdered sugar

Break the cake up while still warm, add frosting, chill, roll out into balls, and roll into yummy stuff!  Easy.  I guess you can also dip them in melted chocolate, etc.  We kept it simple. 

A great idea worth repeating.  Thanks Madi!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Midwest Autumn and Time for Soup

Autumn Soup Pot

No Business Today
Aahhh, the sumptuous aroma of homemade soup cooking on the stove. This post has nothing to do with business. It is all about the day to day of life. Life has it's ups and downs and twists and turns. One thing I know, is that doing something real, something normal and everyday, can help me get grounded when life has other ideas in mind.

Autumn Chill
I have been away from home a couple days visiting family. Today, I spent a few hours catching up and cleaning around the house.  The last few days have been quite lovely weather, but today is very chilly and the sunshine has given way to clouds. I just checked the temperature in the house and it is 61 degrees. I have been waiting for this time of year when the weather turns colder to do one of my favorite cold weather things, make a big pot of soup or stew. And today, was the perfect day for something real, something normal and everyday, like soup.

It's All About The Soup
I went with a basic chicken soup today and it smells heavenly.  First, I sauteed some garlic in olive oil and many herbs. I don't have amounts to share with you, just a shake here and a shake there of herbs; thyme, rosemary,basil, marjoram, sage, basil, and 1/2 a bay leaf-oh, and a little salt and pepper. Then I added in two chopped up chicken breasts. Once they were browned, I added a sliced onion. When the onion was cooked through, I added a couple cups of water. Continuing on with the non-recipe, I decided to add some corn and diced carrots. Then I added in a can of mushroom soup with a can of water. Oh, and I decided to add a splash, or two, of some chardonnay. Later, I will add some cooked long grain and wild rice. My husband is picking up some fresh  bread to go with the soup. 

My soups never turn out the same way twice.  And they have almost always turned out delicious. It is a creative process that I love in the autumn. There is something so reassuring and comforting about having a simple pot of soup or stew on the stove on a cold, dark, fall or winter day. Hmmmmm, yum.  I can feel the warmth and reassurance of it already.  Actually, I can smell it.

A Simple Supper
And For Dessert?
My granddaughter is staying overnight and she wants to make cake balls!  Never heard of them, but after a little surfing for a recipe, they look simple enough. I wonder what yummy, decadent combinations of cake, frosting, toppings we can come up with?!

Stay tuned, I'll let you know how the cake balls turned out.