Friday, January 13, 2017

Free Lance Friday....

The joys of being a 'Free Lancer'...

Since I was 'retired' by my doctors eight years ago I have been investigating the ins and outs of  being my own boss. For a while I was a media consultant and web designer for a non profit. Now, as I venture into the world of being a 'professional blogger' I'm reviewing all the nuances and making sure I've got it all covered. I love the joys of 'working' from home, here is a list I have compiled for those considering 'self' employment.

1. I'm going to be straight up about this, you're not going to have a 401k, or benefits of any kind (medical, dental, corporate SWAG)... you're on your own. Do your homework first before cutting any ties and for Pete's sake, don't EVER burn any bridges when planning on a solo career. Fortunately my husband has great benefits through his work place, as well as his Navy retirement, and I have benefits as well from my former employer as well as my disability that I EARNED. (Some people are confused about the disability that you EARN rather than is just handed out to you like it's your birth right. Throughout my 30 year working time I paid into disability, and after my Dr. pretty much said 'you're done' I applied for disability. That's as personal as I'm going to get on that subject, if you want more information on that, e-mail me.)  Just do your home work, period. This is your baby, no one else is gonna raise it for you.

2. Brand it, then Blog. Blog, and blog some more. When I mean brand it, I mean get a logo (make your own, don't steal, that's a whole other can of worms you don't want to deal with as a start up) take pictures of your merchandise and create a catch phrase about the work you do. Facebook, and dare I say this word... Twitter... Get out on the social networks and make yourself known. I use Blogger through Google. It's easy to use and has lots of templates that look professional that you can adapt with a certain amount of skill. Linked In is nice (ahem), but beware, you can be seen, but for a ridiculous price they can 'allow' others to contact you. (They're like an angry mother who has grounded you...I do not recommend them for start ups).

3. It's not all sit at home behind the computer in your jammies, you will have to get out in the 'real world' and network, and meet with others if you plan a client rather than consumer based business. Client based is more intimate and requires more attention, consumer is the shop and ship. Even with shop and ship, you will have to get out there, unless you order your boxes and shipping materials delivered to your home (USPS and Fed Ex does that, not sure about UPS) With clients you will most likely have to meet them face to face. Especially if you have a photography or PR/Social Media  type of business like I have. You're going to have to network for them as don't throw away your 'office clothes'... just make sure they still fit and are presentable. Common sense people, common sense.

4. Be sure to have your I-9 and Tax information prepared come January. See the IRS website for that kind of info. Do your homework, I'm not going to do it for you, otherwise I will charge you... :) 

5. Be on friendly terms with your UPS, Fed Ex Office and US Postal Service people if you plan a shop and ship kind of business. They can make you or break you, be kind to the hand that feeds you. I've seen so many people get that 'They're civil servant' attitude towards their carriers, and well, it bit them in the proverbial tushie. 

6. Before you lay down the bucks for a .net or .com ....research what's out there and what you can afford. Also, be sure that you can either build your own site with a template that you can import to your .net or .com, or have the cash ready to dole out to some out of work coder who needs a job to get through grad school, or to pay their way into Comic-Con to build your site for you. Or better yet, an up and coming Techno-Diva looking to hone her skills. 

7. Network through your friends, but ask their permission first. Don't start posting your brand on their FB page or hashtagging your name all over their Twitter. Baaaaaad idea. That's a bad way to end a friendship, because 9 out of 10, they will tell you to knock it off. I love my friends, I'm just not their political or business platform on my FB page. I have to say this because I've had it happen. I've had the Amway and 'home business'  trolls in my crafting message boards years ago.... they're like bamboo, irritating and hard to get rid of. I tell them once. Politely. Then I push the 'ignore' button. 

8.  Save EVERYTHING! Every receipt from every purchase you have made that's business related... and no, as much as it pains me to say this, chocolate is NOT a business expense. Business related is software and computer hardware that you use to make your business work (No, World of Warcraft accounts do not count), office furniture (ergo chairs do fall under the realm, sparkly chandeliers do not), business lunches and social engagements (with clients, you feed yourself every day and you do not count that as a tax write off do you... no, didn't think so), transportation (if you are meeting clients, and be sure to track mileage, there are smart phone apps to do so), and general 'office supply' expenses (paper for printer, ink cartridges, business cards, not 'twinkle lights' for your home office or Bose stereo speakers...)

9.  Get your own e-mail address, do not use your home/personal one, and ABSOLUTELY do not use your current employer e-mail address (had someone do that at my former job, and it became his former job, I have to say this, because it has been done) and not with a 'cutesy' name, keep it along your 'brand' and professional. If you're marketing a hard line of survivor equipment no one is going to take '' seriously if that's your business e-mail address.

Well that's all I've got for now on this Friday. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Turn it up Thursday!!!

Turn up the volume of your favorite playlist and come check out the latest and greatest crafty goodies here! For the past three weeks Heidi Swapp and her crew have been teasing me with pictures of the new Heidi Swapp planners due to hit the shelves of independent and online sellers sometime in February. CHA is just around the corner and there is sooooo much good stuff coming out, these beautiful planners being my favorite. To be honest, I really wish they would have hit the shelves in December, so I can start off the new year... anyhow...

Here is the large size planner showcasing the new Magnolia Jane paper line look. It has the same great features as her past planners with added tab features such as goals and other fun stuff in the back of the planner.

The personal size is just bursting with color and is an amazing addition to her new line! 

These planners, unlike the the others, will not be sold directly from the big box stores. Michael's will be carrying them online and with a limited quantity so check their site every day, they will not be carrying them in the store. This batch of lovelies will be sold to independent and online stores. I have already spoken with It's all About the Scrapbook in Dixon and they will be checking them out, as well as my favorite online store and they will be carrying them as well. 

Also, among these planners Heidi will be debuting her new paper line Magnolia Jane that also boasts some FABULOUS Washi tape to go along with it. Yes, I'm a little obsessed with Washi as of late, but who isn't???

Speaking of which Michael's has 60% off all their storage right now, which means those really cool Washi organizers are 60% OFF!!! They also have a great 50% off any regular priced item, and once again they are offering 60% off ALL HAPPY PLANNERS!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Welcome to Self Care Sunday!

Today begins one of my new weekly features, self care Sunday. Self Care is exactly as it sounds, taking care of one's self. We all come from different walks of life,  and with life comes stressors of all kinds... work, health, family, relationships (with yourselves and others). As we are just finishing up the holiday season we are now in recovery mode, DUH, the holiday season is stressful. Even when life is going great. This year mine was a little trying, dealing with my first Christmas without my beloved Grams. Mine helped raise me and was my best friend. Up until the early January of last year we talked every day on the phone. The holidays after a loss are hard, and I didn't realize it until this year. I was depressed and in denial about it. I thought I was ok... if you consider ok crying at the drop of a hat and just totally emotional. It wasn't pretty, and I'm glad to be done with the season... now time to heal, grow and move on. 

Self care comes in many forms, spiritual, physical and mental. With physical self-care we take care of and pamper our bodies; skin care regimens, soaking baths, and better eating. Spiritual self-care we take care of our 'heart and soul', feeding it spiritually with sacred scriptures of our choosing, prayer and meditation. We build sacred altars for prayer and meditation, and yes, Christians build altars. Sacred spaces offer solitude and peace from the outside world. Whether it is a corner desk in your home, or an actual prayer closet. Find and create yourself a sacred space. Mental self-care, that for me is taking care of my mind. I have bipolar disorder and PTSD, and  I am in recovery. My self care regimen for my mind is getting myself to meetings, following my medication regimen properly with my psych meds, and knowing my boundaries and maintaining them. I know when to say NO, and when to avoid situations that are stressors... ie. big crowds, invasive people and toxic people. 

Self-care is not being 'selfish', it's taking care of you so you can be your best for the world around you. A better spouse, mother, friend... and you are refreshed in all three aspects of self-care. Every Sunday we will explore a facet of self care and show you how to be your very best. 

Today my self care is staying home and resting, I have the flu and I'm just kicking back and letting my husband take care of me. I'm blessed to have a life partner that does laundry, cooks and cleans, because we're partners in life. We share the load, and take care of one another when the other is down. I've got my laptop and bottle of water and bed desk... oh and a drawer full of DVD's and a Roku player.... 

Happy Sunday... take care and see you on the flip side.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Saturday Craft Room Day!!!!

Tomorrow is going to be craft room day! Pretty much purging stuff I don't need from the room in preparation for the overhaul in the coming months. I'm excited, because with this overhaul I'll have a dedicated space for crafty demo videos and a new space for sewing and sewing supplies. One of the goals for me this year is to learn how to sew. My husband, David, already knows how to sew... me, not so much. But that is going to change this year. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Self Care from the Inside Out....

For me life has gotten too sweet.... and for someone with an addictive personality, it has become a real huge issue for my well being, both physical and mental. As we leave the wake of sugar behind us known as the Christmas food season, we find ourselves in January, upset, overweight, stressed out, not sleeping and feeling quite hung over...with out the aid of libations. It's the sugar ladies! Plain and simple, white, crystal, sweet, and addictive.... let me rephrase that....sugar comes in many forms. High fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, white refined flour, pasta, potatoes, fruit juices.... all of these can wreak havoc on your body, especially if you are a diabetic like myself.  They are hidden everywhere like little ninjas. 

This year, I am throwing down the gauntlet and reigning in my sugar addiction as part of my self care plan. Last year was a health disaster for me, and I am lucky to be alive. Five stents, 3 heart attacks, seven angio grams and the big whopper, double bypass surgery at the age of 44. Yeah. I don't smoke, never have, but I was exposed to second hand smoke as my parents smoked. I've been sober a little over 21 years. My problem was I switched one addiction for another and WHAMMO! Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean you off of it. I went through rehab over 21 years ago and it wasn't pretty. This, the sugar detox, is going to be brutal. All that sugar in my system, combined with the uncontrolled diabetes has taken it's toll on my cardiovascular system. I am sick of being sick... so I am taking action. Come next week I will be living a sugar free life.... for 21 days that is. What I will do afterwards remains to be seen. I am participating in a 21 day sugar fast with my husband. My wonderful cheerleader is joining me on this journey. I am using the 21 Day Sugar Detox book by Diane SanFilippo which can be found on her blog Balanced Bites. The program has three levels and the recipes are simple, tasty and easy to prepare! I even modified a recipe, from the Buffalo Chicken egg muffins, and added spinach, shallots, onion, garlic and cheese instead of the Buffalo sauce. They came out wonderfully! Sacrifice is never easy, but this book really explains the ins and outs of sugar and it's pull.  You can get it on her website and it is also available on Amazon. 

So here's to some self-care... from the inside out.... I am looking forward to better health, and a better life as a result of this new facet of self care. Any of you wanna come along for the ride. Visit my message board and check out the Three Week Sugar Challenge! 

Vision Boards and You!

I remember doing these in high school after returning from Christmas holiday break... vision boards. My creative writing teacher was all about the vision boards, urging is to plaster our deepest most heartfelt dreams on poster board for all to see. For a teenager that was a rather daunting experience, given that the teenage girl can either be your best friend, or a relentless bully. That winter of 1990 my vision board was full of pictures of babies, stethoscopes, University of FL brochures, and nurses caps... I wanted to be a neonatal nurse, and go to University of Florida to accomplish that goal. Twenty seven years later my board is now covered with goals for this year which include leaning how to sew, going to the gym at least three times a day, and blog every day. Life sure has changed for me. What does your vision board look like? They're pretty easy to put together, and you don't have to be an artist or creative to do it, you just have to put YOU on that board and what you want. 

Here's a list of supplies

1. poster board
2. some magazines of your liking to cut out pictures of things that represent your goals
3. markers or stickers
4. vision.... what do you want for 2017?

Don't be afraid to list. Don't be afraid to put down what you REALLY want! This is your board and your dreams for this year!  

I spent a lot of time when I was young telling people what they wanted to hear, living a life that wasn't mine, but theirs. It took getting sober and lots of therapy to get me where I am today, and that is happy, joyous and FREE! If you are ready to cut your hair and get a nose piercing, DO IT! If you're ready to start writing a book, DO IT! If you are ready to go back to school, DO IT! You are never to old! It's only too late when you're dead. I can attest to that one, as I am thankful to be alive after last year. Be brave, be YOU!