Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Off Switch Magazine's Kickstarter Campaign

It's a warm, rainy day here in Chicago. Lots going on these days... and today is Scott's birthday (his 31st!) so we'll be venturing out for an Italian dinner tonight. Sounds kinda cozy, right?

But I wanted to check in with you all and share this awesome opportunity to help a local, independent magazine. I've written for Off Switch Magazine twice now and have enormous respect for founder and editor Katie Michels' vision. In today's world, publishing a print magazine is a daunting task, but she and her team of contributors have created a beautiful publication.

Now, Katie has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the upcoming Spring issue. The campaign will allow Off Switch Magazine to execute a higher quantity print run at a lower per-copy price, meaning the publication will reach more people!

No pressure at all, but if you love supporting independent publishing, the magazine industry, and creative entrepreneurs, check out the Kickstarter page for more information on how you can help (and the rewards you'll receive if you choose to contribute to the campaign!).

Photos by Kate De La Rosa

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tap into Your Personal Energy Source

I've been thinking about "energy" latelynot physical energy like what you might get from a good workout or a strong cup of coffee, but mental energy. For those times when we get dragged down in the day-to-day, the dullness, the monotony, and we need to be pulled out of the blahwe need a jolt of energy.

Perhaps you could call it a renewed spirit or enthusiasm. But we all have a personal source of this energy. It's just a matter of identifying what makes us feel mentally alive.

I've realized that I feed off the energy of other people when we're sharing a common interest and I'm learning new things. For example, back in grad school, if we had a really great discussion on language and writing, all those nerdy details that only people in a writing master's program would talk about, I would leave class feeling energized.

Or when I meet with other entrepreneurs and we discuss, ask questions, share informationlike last week's coffee date with some local business owners/PowerPlay members or the monthly Business in the City meetingsI feel energized.

Or when I talk to other writers, people who share my interests, and I learn something newlike at Chicago Women in Publishing events or the occasional coffee or dinner with writer friends.

Or when I catch up with good friends and we talk about current news, food, literature, life. These are the times I tap into that energy.

I can find inspiration in many places, solitary places, like books and blogs and a quiet moment of reflection. But for me, energy is a bit different than inspirationit comes from a different type of interaction. As an introvert, it takes getting out of my comfort zone sometimes. With time though, it yields amazing resultsit leads to developing relationships, building knowledge, and cultivating that ever-elusive energy.

What situations or people energize your mind and spirit?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Club: State of Wonder

Well, it's been longer between posts than I wanted. I'm still shooting for my goal of 3 times a week, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. I'll keep trying!

Last Tuesday, we met at E's place for book club to discuss Gone Girl. Gathered around the kitchen table and a feast of salad, homemade lasagna, and cupcakes (cookies 'n' cream with a cream filling!), we caught up and then chatted about the book.

Whoa, what a story! I don't want to give anything away, but we were all wrapped up in the psychology and suspense of it all. I am amazed that the author could come up with such a complex narrative, one that explores the main characters' psychology with such intricacy and contains so many twists.

Overall, we had mixed emotions about the ending, but I posed the question of "What would make a 'good' ending?" for this book. As readers, we want something that gives us closure but in a slightly unexpected way. A story that ends exactly how we predictor how we want it to endis boring. So for fun, we explored some possible options for an alternate ending.

Next month, we will be reading State of Wonder: A Novel by Ann Patchett. A friend of mine gave me this book for grad school graduation last summer, and believe it or not, I just started reading it. But it comes highly recommended from multiple friends, so I'm looking forward to this one!

And thank you for all your great recommendations! We chose a couple of those books for upcoming months... stay tuned.


Amazon.com Review:
Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget. In finding her former mentor, Dr. Singh must face her own disappointments and regrets, along with the jungle’s unforgiving humidity and insects, making State of Wonder a multi-layered atmospheric novel that is hard to put down. Indeed, Patchett solidifies her well-deserved place as one of today’s master storytellers. Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Do You Help Someone Through a Difficult Time?

I've been thinking about this recently. Unfortunately, I know a few people going through a tough time right nowvery different circumstances but difficult just the same.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer because everyone and every situation is unique. But when you aren't sure what to do and words feel empty, perhaps the answer is quiet support.

Be there.
Be patient.
Be understanding.

How do you help someone through a difficult time?

Aside from the typo (!)... this quote is inspiring. via

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tell Me About... a Good Book You've Read Recently

My book club is meeting next week, and we'll be planning out our next few month's selections.

Rather than poke around and check out the "best of 2012" lists (okay, I might still do that)... I figured all of you might have some amazing recommendations! I really love to get personal book recommendations because even if someone has different tastes or interests than mine, it's not a total shot in the dark.

Our group consists of women in their late 20s and early 30s. We've read a range of books so farfiction and non-fiction, realistic and fantastic, classic and modern. But most are in the realm of mainstream/bestsellers with a broad appeal.

Please, please let me know... what's one of the best books you've read recently? I can't wait to hear what you've enjoyed.

Happy weekend, friends!

via (and no, I'm not ready for a Kindle...)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013



Anyone else feeling a little off-balance? Overwhelmed? Paralyzed? From some of the blog posts I've seen this week, I don't think I'm alone in this feeling.

The start of the new year brings a lot of expectations. And to be honest, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I'm a perfectionist. If I can't do something perfectly or completely, I find myself avoiding it and putting it off. Yet, it's still on my mind.

I want to be kind to myself, but sometimes I feel like that just allows me to slip into this paralyzed state of inaction, which then becomes something that looks like... laziness.

I want to listen to my heart and head and body, but sometimes I'm not sure what they are saying. And sometimes they seem to contradict one another.

This uncertainty affects my business, my body, my home life. How do I figure out when it's okay to sit back and give myself time and space? How do I know when I should push myself outside my comfort zone?

This balance between pulling back and pushing forward is something only I can determinewith time and patience. I think I struggle with it now more than ever because I'm working for myself and in charge of more aspects of my life (which is quite different than being in control!).

But I'm working on it. I'm learning. I'm listening closely and being kind to myself and pushing myself to do things even if I don't feel ready or comfortable. I'm figuring this out as I go...

How do you balance the pull and push of life? How do you know when to take a time-out and when to push yourself harder?

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Mindset for 2013

On Wednesday, I bundled up and took a walk outside. During the holidays, I hadn't worked out, so it felt good to move. The sun was shining, and it was just me and my thoughts.

I felt like I should have been reflecting on 2012 or setting intentions for 2013, but for some reason, I didn't want to look to the past or the future. While I was walking, it came to me clearly: I just want to be happy, to feel happy.

I don't mean it in a selfish or hedonistic way, as if I can eat all the cupcakes I want and give into any shopping temptation. That's not true happiness. That's short-term and feeds into immediate gratification.

After all, sometimes, happinesscontentment, peace, joycomes out of doing what we don't want to do. Sometimes, going to the gym, eating healthfully, working hard, and getting up early doesn't feel good initially, but the result of being strong and healthy and productive ultimately does make me happy.

Cheers! (Can't wait to use the champagne glasses I got for Christmas!)

My mindset for 2013 is to think about the bigger picture, to consider how each thing I do contributes to my life as a whole and how it impacts my family, my career, my health. Will it make me happy in the long-term?

I think this mindset will help me grow, stay positive and present, and focus on what's really important in the coming year. And hopefully it will bring more joy to my life and to those I interact with.

What do you want for 2013?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Better Business Writing in the New Year

Hello again and happy new year! After a couple weeks of celebrating, relaxing, and catching up with friends and family, it's time to get down to business.

And one part of businessa really important partis communication.

As a business owner, I have full responsibility for all forms of communication that come from Melrose Street Custom Content. The website copy, emails, social media posts, updates here on the blog, and every project and article I produce are up to me. And as a content consultant, I'm working with other businesses to help them shape their own content strategies and make their business communications stronger.

But no matter what job you hold, your words hold the power to inform, educate, persuade any audience you look to reach.

We've all set goals and resolutions and intentions for the new year. Have you considered how you want to develop your writing? How about your professional communications?

On that note, Sarah and I have settled on a theme for January's newsletters... Resolutions. After all, isn't it time to invest in your writing? Each week, we'll be sharing tips on how to strengthen your business communications, so youand your wordswill pack more punch, get people's attention, and make an impact.

If you haven't signed up yet, join us as we work to start 2013 off on the right foot. Sign up for our Create.Compose.Communicate newsletter here.

Head over to Sarah's blog, Inspiration-Driven Life, for her take on our Resolutions theme.


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