Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Business with Intention Workshop Recap

It's been a month since I attended the Business with Intention workshop.  And now that I'm no longer nannying during the day and school is winding down, my business has moved front and center.  (As part of that, I hope to start blogging more regularly, so that's good news for all of you!)

I've been really pleased with what I've accomplished over the past five months in the midst of a crazy busy schedule.  But I'm interested to find out how much I can do, now that I have time to invest in my writing.

What's making me anxious though?  Not having a regular paycheck coming in.  Even with nannying, I could expect some amount of money every two weeks.  And while I know it is the right decision to let that go, I'll admit, it's stay-awake-at-night scary.  I hope that at some point, once I see how things go, I'll become more comfortable.  If anything else, I suppose it's the ultimate motivation.

I need to rely on what I learned at the Business with Intention workshop, now more than ever.  I want my writing to not only be a source of income, but also a source of personal fulfillment, something that fits into my overall vision for my life.

Today, my second day of working from home, I reflected on my vision for my business. 

During the workshop, I had the chance to brainstorm and imagine where I see Melrose Street Custom Content going, how I want it to grow, what I need to be successful from a business perspective as well as from a personal standpoint.   

My vision boiled down to five main points:

1) Flexibility: with my personal time and with the way my business/writing evolves
2) Variety: spanning across different types of projects, clients, tasks... I need to stay challenged and keep learning
3) Balance: in my days (goes along with the above two points) and in my life (work/life balance)
4) Collaboration: in-person meetings, working together with others, building relationships
5) Confidence: comes from being who I am and reaching my goals

I also looked over my five Next Steps, which I wrote at the end of the workshop day:

1) Come up with a schedule for working from home, but be open to flexibility.  (Working on that now!)
2) Look for new projects that diversify my portfolio and expand my experience.
3) Build in time for personal life and inspiration.  Think of new ways to use my talents.
4) Set up time to meet with people in person (collaborate on work, teach/consult, or social meetings).
5) Keep my goals in mind and refer back regularly.

My home office... lamp from Target (shade not available online), print from Jess LC
My desk... a work in progress!
Here's the little blurb I supplied for the workshop's Alumni Page.  It's a nice summary of my experience:

I loved that the workshop allowed me to carve out time and space to really think about my business. I was able to solidify my purpose and vision, figure out how I want to structure my days, and brainstorm new ideas and ways to grow my business. It was a fun, supportive, and low-pressure environment with lots of discussion and some time set aside for individual journaling. Best of all, Jess encouraged each of us to collaborate with at least two other attendees after the day concluded… and I’m already on the way to doing just that!

Coming out of the Business with Intention workshop, I'm excited to start working with Alyssa of Prosper Public Relations on a freelance basis.  Alyssa contacted me when she found out I'd also be attending the workshop.  She was looking for a content manager, essentially a freelance writer she could tap into when her clients need custom content. 

After chatting at the workshop, emailing back and forth, and meeting to discuss details, we figured out about how we could best work together.  I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to act as Prosper Public Relations's Content Manager on a freelance basis and can't wait to see what else the future has in store.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Need Help? Just Ask

I still can't get over what happened yesterday.  I posted a message on my personal Facebook profile and also decided to use the "invite"  feature on my business Facebook page, encouraging my friends to lend their support and "like" my page.

You see, I'll be done (done! finished! graduation, diploma, the whole shebang!) with grad school in about three weeks.  Let's not discuss how much needs to get done between now and then...  And nannying will be over after next week (aww, I'll miss spending time with my little buddy).

Once that all happens, it's just me and Melrose Street Custom Content... which is super exciting.

So I was hoping to gain some new followers, both to motivate me to keep working hard (have to have something to post about!) and to spread the word.  I admit, I was a little nervous, especially when it came to reaching out to people I don't talk to very often or perhaps haven't had contact with in years.  Good ol' Facebook, right?

I was overwhelmed with the response.

In about 24 hours, I went from 69 followers to 112.

I realize this is a small example, and what I asked people to do was basically click a button online.  But it also reminded me that when we need help, we don't need to keep it to ourselves.  We don't need to struggle through things and try to do everything on our own. 

We can receive help and love and support... simply by asking.  For little things, for big things, and everything in between.  It doesn't mean we're weak...  To ask for help requires strength too.

Often, I may know a friend or family member is going through a tough time or having a bad day, but I don't always know how to help them.  If they can tell me what they need and ask for a favor, I'd be willing to do it.  I'd be happy to help.  And I'm sure when my time came around, they would do the same for me.

Now, this whole "ask for help" thing must be used wisely.  No abusing the system...  But I'm not alone, you're not alone, and we really can be there for each other. 

If you need help, ask.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kate Spade Sample Sale... and a Graduation Gift!

This beauty is heading my way... thanks to a Kate Spade sample sale and my generous parents.  Yay for graduation!

I've been eyeing a few different KS handbags recently, but the high price tags have kept me from taking the plunge.  Because of the amazing sale going on today only, this bag was $149 (originally $428).  I love the classic look and just know it will be a piece I use for years to come.


You can grab your own Kate Spade steal, but the sale is only through tonight.  Let me know which items you're coveting (or buying!). 

P.S. Kate Spade is a Kansas City gal too...

P.P.S. And for those of you who care to know, I've got two weeks of class plus finals left to go.  So close!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Care Package for New Parents

I'm one of those people who really likes to do little unexpected things for my friends, whether it's to celebrate happy times or help through tough ones.  I sincerely love it.  So when S and R were expecting their baby and the due date was approaching, I started to search around for fun ideas.

I considered making dinner for them, but these days, I'm a little short on time.  And in reading some blogs, I found out that many moms craved good, healthy food and yummy snacks after days of hospital meals.  They wanted food they could grab at any time of day or night to keep up their energy and spirits.

I loved the ideait was easy to put together and helpful too.  S and I lived together for a year in college and for two years in Chicago, so I found it wasn't too hard to identify some of her favorites.  I tried to go for varietya mix of healthy and indulgent, savory and sweet, things that both she and R would enjoy.

Since the blogosphere inspired me, I thought I'd pass this idea along.  And I'd love to hear if you all have other creative ideas and ways to help out new parents!  Here's what I came up with:

Kashi bars
Goat cheese
Boursin cheese
Small loaf of bread
Greek yogurt
Mini loaves of banana bread


Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares
Mint Milano cookies
Bailey's-flavored coffee creamer

San Pellegrino Limonata
Mini bottle of sparkling wine

Bailey's-flavored creamer, Ghirardelli dark chocolate, mint Milano cookies
Greek yogurt, cheeses, a small loaf of bread, crackers, San Pellegrino Limonata
Blueberries, strawberries, and pears
A mini bottle of bubbly to celebrate the occasion
First layer...
And a second layer...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Celebrating Life and Love

Where has the week gone?

Last weekend's events got me through this busy week.  Whenever I needed a pick-me-up, I thought about the exciting, wonderful things that my friends have experienced recently.  It's what life is all about... those moments and milestones that truly matter. 

Here's what we celebrated this past weekend:

A new baby...

Congratulations to S and R on their precious son!  It's so beautiful to see your dear friendsthe ones you've known since college, the ones you've shared classes, apartments, dance parties, bottles of champagne, laughter and tears withbecome parents.

An engagement...

Congratulations to C and A on their engagement!  (Fun fact: these two caught the bouquet and garter at Scott's and my wedding!)  Our impromptu celebration of champagne and margaritasand the opportunity to share in their happinesswas so fun.

A new puppy...

Congratulations to M and S on their new beagle puppy!  My family had a beagle growing up, so I loved snuggling with this little one.  Those floppy ears, that adorable face, those tiny paws, that white-tipped tail... he's so cuddly and cute.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship with Email

Email.  I have a love-hate relationship with it.

Staying in touch with my family.
Easily making plans with multiple friends.
Reaching out to potential clients.
Being able to write out what I want to say and edit it before sending.
Receiving a coupon or sale notification just when I need it.
Sending myself documents as a back-up save method.
Having the opportunity to respond when I have time, not immediately.


Becoming addicted to checking my inbox (and social media and blogs and...)
Second-guessing my wording or tone.
Contemplating how many exclamation marks are acceptable.
Realizing I'm being too wordy (gotta get to the point!)
Determining whether it's appropriate to use a emoticon.
Experiencing paranoia about the meaning of a message I received.
Feeling like I have to write back this minute.

So what do I do about these negative aspects?

I try to close my laptop, step away, and distract myself with another activity (which usually works really well).  Sometimes I even check the clock to see how long I can go without checking (within reason obviously... can't abandon my work or totally leave people hanging!).

I try to remember my mantra from this post on confidence: I am who I am.  Though it can apply to times when I'm taking a leap and putting myself out there, it can also relate to something as simple as emailing.  Once I hit send, others can read what I say and take it or leave it, but I can't be anyone but myself.  So if I want to say something a certain way, add a couple of exclamation marks, be a little verbose, or God forbid, accidentally make a typo... that's okay.  That's me.

I try not to read into other people's emails (this is a tough one for me!).  Everyone has a unique style, whether it be direct or drawn-out, business-like or more casual.  We can't always get our message across the right way in a quick email.  And as I have said before, you never know what other people are dealing with outside of your little electronic exchange.  The seemingly-harsh tone carried in an email may have nothing to do with you.

Maybe these thoughts can help some of you who also experience this love-hate relationship with email...  If you have other tips for overcoming the negatives, I'd love to hear them.


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