Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Perfect all the time

It's been raining here for several days, and it's depressing. The sun is out today, though, after morning rain, and while I'm sure it's crazy humid, as soon as i finish here I'm going to go out for a little while.

The last couple of weeks I've been thinking about planners again. My sister is having cataract surgery, and my parents want to find an assisted living place to move to, so since I don't have to go to a job, I've been taking my sister to her appointments, and then she and I have been visiting assisted living places, then reporting back to my parents on what we find, showing them pictures, etc. I got a little overloaded yesterday, worrying about what I'm going to do with my own situation, but I'm glad to do it, and glad that I'm able to.

I follow a bunch of "planner addicts" on Instragram, who seem to fall into a couple of camps. One group buys the big expensive commercial planners and decorates them with washi tape and stickers, and their notebooks look more like scrapbooks than planners. I understand it, but to me it seems more about making a beautiful page than about planning anything.

The other group that I follow are the bullet journal people. They use a plan or dotted journal and draw their own planner so that it can be exactly what they want or need. I'm kind of drawn to this--there are some beautiful examples out there--but again, I'm sure that while they are functional, most of the buzz seems to be about creating a beautiful page rather than doing any actual planning.

So anyway, the point is, the planner I was using, the Levenger Circa compact daily diary, wasn't working. When the planner is open, the left-hand side is hourly for appointments, and the right-hand side has two columns for tasks, or it can be used for journaling or note taking. But there is no place where you can see more than one day at a time. With all of the appointments that I have going on right now, I needed something different.

I was in Staples one day last week picking up some address labels for a job I'm doing, and wandered through the Moleskine aisle. The 2016 planners were on clearance, so I bought a pocket size soft cover weekly one, and I love it. It's perfect for what I need now. The left-hand side is broken down into the days of the week, and the right-hand side is ruled for note taking. I put in all the appointments on the left side, and the right side is for my notes--this week it's notes about assisted living places--contact person, phone number, location, how much they cost, what they offer, etc. Sometime in the next couple of days I need to make a spreadsheet with all of the information so we're comparing apples to apples.

There's just something about a Moleskine that makes me happy. I love the cream colored paper, for one thing. I just like it so much more than bright white. There's a pocket in back that I'm using to hold business cards until I sit down and put them into my contacts, and an elastic band to keep it together in my purse. And I'm using some of those stickers and washi tapes that I bought when I thought I was going to do the whole hog decorated planner route ...

I always want my planner to be all things to me, to hold everything, and be perfect. But what I'm coming to realize is that there isn't one thing that's perfect all the time. When I was working at my job, the big daily planner was great to record notes, phone calls, etc. Now that I'm working from home, I was finding that the wall calendar next to me was fine to record appointments, and a plain notebook beside me to record time was working fine.

But these last two weeks full of appointments and information needed something else, and this pocket-size planner is working perfectly. It may be something else next month, and that's okay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Figuring it out

For a couple of weeks or so, I was VERY busy in my web design work, I put three new sites live, and all of my clients were very happy with their sites, and I was thinking that things would just continue to go on that way without having to do much of anything, but this week I have no billable work to do, and I've started waking up in the middle of the night again and going over the bills I have to pay and the money that I have coming in, and it's scary.

I've kept busy -- I baked yesterday, and I've planted flowers, and filled up the birdfeeders, and I've been learning Zentangle. We've been helping our parents figure out what they want to do about moving to assisted living. My sister is having cataract surgery tomorrow, which sets off a whole string of follow up appointments and then the other eye, and I'm going to be helping her with that.

I'm glad that I have the time to help my family, and I'm glad that I have the time to do some things around the house like the baking and the flowers, but I need to have work, and it would be great if I could do both, i.e., stay home and do the fun home stuff and also do the fun work stuff. Because it is fun, to me. That's why I started doing it, because I loved it, and I loved my job. But things change, and in order to make a living doing what I love, I'm going to have to do the work myself.

My portfolio needs to be the opening page of my site, not just a sideline (it was a sideline, of sorts, but no more), and I need to redesign it instead of using a standard Blogger template with a few changes. I'm going to have to hustle for clients, rather than waiting for them to come to me. Because they have come to me, but I can't count on that. I'm going to have to hustle, I'm going to have to actually do the work of marketing myself, which I haven't ever really done, because I hate that part. I love doing the work, and I love helping people get a website online, but if I could skip the sales part, I would.

Bob's the salesperson, and he loves sales, and he's great at it. He said what I need to do is go door to door to small businesses in town and talk to them. Oh man, I just don't think I can do that. It's hard enough, always, to email current clients and suggest updates or ask if they have any work they need done. Sometimes they do, which is nice, sometimes they don't, which is fine, sometimes they completely ignore me. Oh well.

Here's my plan -- you're supposed to put them in writing, right? By the end of May I'm going to have my plan figured out, have my website updated, have new business cards, maybe postcards, maybe Facebook advertising, something like that to grow my business. Then the month of June will be to get the ads placed, get the postcards sent, whatever I decide I need to do.

The first thing on my to-do list today, though, is to go get coffee.

Monday, May 09, 2016

A case of the Mondays

I'm trying hard to be positive about everything, and I mostly am, but today was hard. I went out to my parents' house yesterday for Mother's Day, and while they're doing pretty well, we've started talking about finding a place for them where my dad won't have to worok so hard, and they won't have to be so afraid of falling, and where he doesn't have to worry about getting Mom down the steps and into the car if she needs to go to the doctor.

And there is worry for my/our future as well. I was actually laid off from my job in April, it wasn't a choice that I made myself, so I've been having to scramble around and figure things out. I do have a lot of freelance clients and I'm trying/hoping to increase that business enough that I can work from home, and I think I can, but it's scary.

Today was hard, I'm not sure why. Maybe just because it was Monday.

I worked, and I went out for awhile and got a few groceries, then came home and sat out in the backyard with a book and a pre-made Margarita. Our neighbors were sitting out in their yard, too, listening to the baseball game. I couldn't see them through the fence, but could hear the radio, and it was really nice. I'm a little embarrassed about the state of the yard, but oh well. I bought a lot of flowers and planted them in pots, and that will do for this year. I'm not much of a gardener, but I thought since I'm home this Spring, I wanted flowers. And now I'm crying again, and I don't know why. Just stress, I guess. Just Monday.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

One thing every day

On Bob's days off during the week, he would always call me and tell me what he did around the house, like unloading and loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, vacuuming, etc. I'd always tell him thank you, but you don't have to do all that stuff, it's your day off!

But now that I'm working from home, I understand his motivation. I don't want him to think I'm slacking off, laying around all day reading or playing games on the phone. So when he comes home I give him a rundown, too. Yesterday I did laundry, ran the dishwasher, paid bills, went through another box that I brought home from work, and threw away a bunch of stuff. Then I went to the grocery store to get cheese to make cheese bread. I intended to mix it up last night to bake today, but I didn't. Tonight, maybe.

This morning I ran out and got potting soil so I could plant the begonias that I bought at the grocery store yesterday, and then I had an appointment with a recruiter in the afternoon.

My plan is to do at least one thing every day that moves my business forward. Yesterday I emailed some clients that I hadn't done work for in awhile, and a couple of them wrote back that yes, they did need site updates, and would get back to me soon. I also got a new client out of the blue,* by word-of-mouth recommendation, so Monday ended on a good note, and today I got a maintenance client by posting my info in a Facebook thread.

It's a start.

*I have to post this quote, because it made me so happy. She said, "you’ve come so highly recommended that I’m just thrilled that you have time for me."

Monday, May 02, 2016

Learning something new

A couple of years ago I saw something called Zentangle©, and I was fascinated. But it looked complicated, and I never pursued it.

Then in April I saw an Instagram tag The100dayproject, and it struck me that that would be a good way to get into Zentangle. So I bought the recommended (Sigma Micron) pens and some cardstock, got some books from the library, and started.

There are official Zentangle Tiles, and I have some, but it's like I don't want to waste them. Which I know is stupid, but I didn't have very many. I just ordered some more, so this week I'll probably use them.

The Zentangle process is interesting in that it isn't just doodling, as it may at first appear. There is a definite structure. There is an official size tile (3-1/2 x 3-1/2), official "tangles," i.e., patterns, all with names, and a very definite way of doing things. At first, it seems restrictive, but I've found in this and in other things that there is freedom in structure. If everything is just open-ended, it's hard to know where to start. The blank page is intimidating. So with Zentangle, you take a tile, mark a loose square on it with pencil, make what is called a "string," which separates the square into random sections, and start making your patterns. Once you have filled the tile with patterns, you can go back and shade it with a pencil to add some dimension to it. It is always non-representational.

If you venture out of the prescribed method, you are making Zentangle-inspired art, or ZIA, and if you "tangle" on greeting cards or other media, or do something like a portrait, that's what you're making.

There is also a meditative aspect to it. The method is to follow a prescribed set of steps each morning to create your tile, which puts you in a creative frame of mind for the rest of the day. I've found this to actually be true.

I consider myself creative in that I make things like jewelry, I can sew and knit, but I've never been able to sit down and draw something, and I've always wanted to. Zentangle looks complicated, but by following the prescribed method and studying the process, anyone can do it, like they say, "Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time".