#WordlessWednesday Giant Marigolds

Filed under: Wordless Wednesday — Tags: , — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 31, 2011

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New Paths

Filed under: Unscheduled — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 30, 2011

You may or may not have noticed by now that I schedule most posts for 11AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time. That being said, I’m not here right now — I’m in the middle of orientation for my new job. Today’s my first day. I may not be on the floor, doing the tasks in my job description, but I’m getting paid for my time today — so, it’s my first day. If I don’t want to, I don’t have to hunt for a new job. However, even my personnel manager recognized that this is a temporary fix for me. She also said that even overqualified applicants need to pay their bills. I couldn’t be more relieved. I may be overqualified for this job, and my part-time status certainly won’t bring me to the middle class, but a job’s a job. I need to get back into the workforce in order to make ends meet between now and when I can find a full time, first shift job that will afford me a more comfortable living. This will also afford me the ability to be more selective with my job search.

I’m in for a new adventure, indeed. I imagine I’ll have a work schedule at the end of the day, and my son starts third grade in public school on Thursday morning. By virtue of preparation, the new school year will actually start tomorrow night. I’ll be sure he’s got lunch packed and clothes picked out (he’s got a new back to school outfit on the way from family), and we’ll make sure everyone’s tucked in early for an early start. I think he’s most looking forward to recess, and I don’t blame him — my elementary school playgrounds were glorified parking lots, whereas he’ll have all sorts of cool playground equipment to amuse himself while making new friends. Our routines will be changing dramatically during the next couple of weeks, but I know these changes will benefit all of us. Change doesn’t have to be evil. We should embrace change because we’re constantly growing and changing. Our needs change from one phase of life to the next. I’m sure most of us are glad we’ve changed into able-bodied adults who don’t need to cry to express our needs or distress. So don’t be afraid of change. Change is good.

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Realignment

Filed under: Unscheduled — Tags: — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 29, 2011

Despite the fact that I can’t afford to hop on board with Gwen Bell to Align My Website(s), the message isn’t lost on me. I realize that I started this blog with the resources I had back in 2007 — I wasn’t quite willing to purchase my name as a domain at that time, nor did I have the means to do so. Last year I finally purchased MeredithShadwill.com, and I’m glad I did. However, I haven’t made much use of it. Over the past two days, I’ve considered moving my blog to my domain and returning SailorScorpio.com to the fun, playful site it was originally meant to be. (No, that doesn’t mean I’ll be reopening sections of it from the past — I’ll likely do something different with it.)

You see, I have a vision. SailorScorpio.com is a place meant for magic, optimism, hope, and beauty. It’s meant as entertainment for at least myself — should viewers on the web not derive the same entertainment value from it, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit offended. MeredithShadwill.com is a place meant to promote myself, express myself, showcase my work, and give my readers and clients a better perspective of me. Finally, ElectrateEditorials.com is a place of business — this is where you’ll find more details about the services I provide and how to acquire them.

Enter Gwen Bell. Here’s her “this is for you” check list:

  • Want to hear how I transitioned my site from not paying the bills to paying the bills – absolutely! I sent her a hand-written note wanting to hear about this. She’s quite probably only 2 years older than me, and she’s incredibly successful and inspirational.
  • Want to start paying the bills with your own website, and want clarity on how to do that — yes please! I value the need to take a job outside of the home right now to get out of an uncomfortable situation, but I dream, yearn, and ache to make a living off of my passions.
  • Need direction, guidance, a digital mentor, someone with a firm hand and warm heart to guide your website where you want it — That’s pretty much what I’d like. I need some guidance, tips, and recommendations.
  • Want to look closely at yourself and your digital work – It’s definitely time to reevaluate what I’m doing here and with the resources I have.
  • Think you could use a blank slate, or a step back to evaluate things — I think building upon a blank slate’s going to be my best option at this point. I have far too many ideas of the ideal layout(s), but it’s those ideas hindering me. I’m guilty of inaction because I want everything to be perfect and “ready.”
  • Have blank slated/are returning to the web after some time away (say, on a Digital Sabbatical) — Both MeredithShadwill.com and ElectrateEditorials.com are blank slates at this point. SailorScorpio.com is roughly a blank slate — although that “new” background’s probably going to get erased. This blog’s layout will likely get the blank-slate treatment over the next couple of months — except for Sailor Scorpio, she stays. She’s the guardian here. ;)
  • Have spent your creative load on Twitter or FarmVille (no shame, but be honest) and want back in the driver’s seat of your digital life (and your key digital offering, which is your website) – Okay, there’s no FarmVille guilt here. That sort of nonsense drives. me. crazy! No, I do NOT want to help you plant a virtual garden. I’d rather try to cure my anti-green-thumb outside in the sunshine with dirt, worms, creepy crawlies, seeds, and water. However, I do have an unhealthy relationship with social networking. I think a little more guidance on using it mindfully could be in order.
  • Need a secret weapon, not a miracle – Miracles are asking too much. A miracle would be my father-in-law winning the lottery and netting big bucks. The odds of that happening are slim. A secret weapon, however, could give me an edge to build my own success.

See? Perfect fit! And as further proof, I don’t even have a few C-notes (okay, fine, right now I’ve got some spare change — we’re being honest here), I don’t want a designer because I enjoy designing it myself (also, I’m married to an excellent designer), I don’t need hand holding, and I’ve been playing with websites since the days of Angelfire (remember Angelfire?). I fully encourage you to jump on board with her while there’s still a few spaces opened.

Keep your eyes out for changes. It’s all about embracing change and transformations around here.

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#Trust30 Dreams

Filed under: Trust30 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 28, 2011

Dreams by Michael Rad

Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down your top three dreams. Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

Here are my top three dreams, in no particular order: 1) buy a house with at least 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a pool, and enough land for a fruit and vegetable garden, a private picnic area, and room for the kids and pets to run around; 2) become a successful English consultant, spending my days tutoring, writing, and editing, all while paying the bills in full and living comfortably — NOT paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet; and 3) maintain good health. Above all else in the world, these are the top three dreams I’d like to live.

What’s holding me back from buying that dream house? Why, money, of course. I’m actually smitten with this house because it meets all the criteria, plus it’s ridiculously inexpensive. I first saw it listed at $289,000 earlier this year. Now, $259,000 is still above my budget, but a girl can dream. In order to purchase a home, we need to save for a down payment and net enough income in order to pay for the mortgage. Saving and netting more income is easier said then done, too. Unexpected expenses keep popping up, and income has been tenuous at best. Finally returning to the workforce should help alleviate some of these issues, but getting passed the following hurdles should increase our chances to fund this dream.

What’s holding me back from becoming an English consultant? At the end of the day, I need to take responsibility for not getting things accomplished. I don’t necessarily have to let other people’s drama come between me and getting work done. I tend to shy away from asking for help, too. I simply need to assert myself more often and go to the library or some equally out-of-sight-out-of-mind location where I can concentrate on the details of my business. To advertise my tutoring services locally, I’ll have better luck with low-tech marketing strategies, which require a certain amount of ink and paper. Ink and paper cost money, so there’s that money obstacle again. Speak up, earn money.

What’s holding me back from being healthier? I’m uninsured, I don’t have enough room to grow my own garden, I don’t have enough money to purchase tons of fresh produce, and I’m not as assertive as I should be with regards to exercise. Insurance and food = money. Asserting myself in order to get exercise = speak up.

While I’d absolutely love to snap my fingers and make money working for myself, I know that I’m not done working outside of the home just yet. I also need to bring out my voice more often. Over my lifetime, I’ve become more assertive in some ways, yet I still need more work in that regard. However, I will again reference the fact that I fought hard for my HBA2C, and my fighting paid off. Some days I’m a stronger fighter than others, but some times I just want to relax and live peacefully. I get tired of fighting. Right now, I can’t afford to stop fighting. I need to fight until everything works out the way I’ve dreamt it should. It’s time to roll up my sleeves, get some work done, make some money, and fight my way to happiness.

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#Trust30 Invent the Future

Filed under: Trust30 — Tags: — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 27, 2011

Invent the Future by Cindy Gallop

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now.

Eight in the morning, the sunlight peeks through the curtains, gently urging my to begin my day. I roll out of bed, switch on the kettle, and begin preparing breakfast. I sit down with my family to eat something healthy and delicious while sipping a steaming mug of tea. A quick glance at my to-do list and calendar motivates me for the day’s tasks and events. I pour some water and take my vitamins. I get dressed and cleaned up for the day, spend about half an hour to an hour tidying up around the house, then sit down with my laptop. I check social networks, email, Google reader, etc. for about an hour before moving onto some exercise or meditation. All my house-keeping issues are in order by lunch time. I prepare another healthy, delicious meal for lunch and ensure that I’m half-way to my daily water quota. After lunch, I’m off to tutor a student/ write posts/ edit copy/ consult with clients/ work on my books. My passion for words inspires my work – and fills my bank account. After spending my afternoon working, I prepare a family dinner. We sit around the table, nibbling salad, protein, starch, veggies, and fruit. The kids tell us about school/ friends/ whatever’s alive inside of them that day. We clean up and gather for a family activity. By nine, I’m writing my nightly pages, processing the day’s events. I take a shower and get ready for bed. At eleven, it’s lights out – bliss!

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#FoodieFriday Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Filed under: Foodie Friday — Tags: , , , , , — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 26, 2011

May I forewarn you: I have an ego when it comes to my chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been baking them since I was 11 years old, and I’ve had years to perfect my recipe and execution. My cookies are renowned among friends and family. But of course, sometimes I need to switch things up a bit. I enjoy brownies particularly for the texture of the bar, and I’ve made my chocolate chip cookies as bars once before. I enjoyed the heft it added to the cookie’s texture (of course, my hips don’t appreciate that extra heft, but it’s all about balance, kidlets). So Tuesday evening, I decided I wanted to make a cookie bar to celebrate my husband being home from the hospital and my in-law’s 42nd wedding anniversary. I made a couple of adjustments to my regular cookie recipe, starting by halving the recipe to fit an 8×8″ baking dish.

1/2 stick of unsalted sweet cream butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup of canola oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/8 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp natural cocoa powder (NOT dutch process — save that for drinks and syrups)
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 ounces (half a bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease an 8×8 (or 9×9) baking dish. Melt the butter. Whisk together melted butter, oil, and brown sugar, making sure to break up any sugar clumps. Add granulated sugar, and whisk in the egg. Add vanilla and cocoa powder, and whisk some more. Add the salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk. Then add the flour. Whisk until combined. If your whisk isn’t up to the challenge, you could also employ the use of your hand or stand mixer. Once you have a cookie dough, stir in the chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough evenly in your baking dish. Baking in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool completely — patience, grasshopper! — for roughly half an hour to an hour. Cut into bars, and dig in! Eat them straight up, with a glass of milk, or with a warm cuppa. Enjoy!

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#ThankfulThursday Part-time Job

Filed under: Thankful Thursday — Tags: — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 25, 2011

On this day, I am thankful to announce that I’m now gainfully employed once again. It’s a part time job in food/ retail, and the personnel manager has already recognized that I’m overqualified — but she acknowledged that even overqualified applicants need to pay their bills. She’s absolutely right. I’ve got bills to pay just like everyone else. While it’s only part-time, I’m choosing to view it as more time for me to find tutoring clients, write, and align my websites. And today, I’ve got plenty to be grateful for. Gwen Bell’s offering a spectacular deal* on doing just that — aligning my websites. Nearly every item on her “this is for you if you” list spoke directly to my situation and visions.

Things are going to change for the better. I’m going to get back to reading Ashley Ambirge’s ebooks, and I’m going to make this work. In 2012, I’m going to set an income goal, and I’m going to pursue it full force. First I need to pay for my overhead. Then I need to pay my bills. I’ll need to replace my paychecks, and I’ll need to start meeting goals. I expect that by 2013 I will be well on my way to making this dream come true. I will become successful before my 30th birthday. Today is a great day to be alive.

*I may not make it in time to reap the rewards of this deal, but it’s the thought that counts here.

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#WordlessWednesday

Filed under: Wordless Wednesday — Tags: — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 24, 2011

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#MindfulMonday Focus

Filed under: Mindful Monday,Mindfulness — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 1:33 am August 22, 2011

Brenda Della Casa recently shared some things she’d overheard, including this: “Do not focus on the now.  Focus on where you want to be, the life you want to be living.  That might help you make better decisions now.” I’ve spent the weekend ruminating over these very wise words. I regularly try to balance living in the moment with daydreaming of what I want. However, a more mindful way to daydream is to sit down and creatively brainstorm. Imagine that ideal life. What are you eating? Where are you living? Who’s with you? How do you spend your days? What activities and adventures do you put on your calendar? Imagining these details can seem a bit overwhelming, but having a clearer picture of what you want out of life can give ideas for baby steps to get there. If you can change one small thing every few weeks or so, you get one step closer to your ideal lifestyle that much easier.

We can’t necessarily make our lives suddenly near-perfect overnight, but we can take steps to make the life we have now closer to our ideal. I’m not waiting around. I’ve already been making changes that I’d like to keep — daily writing, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthier diet, and getting regular exercise. I know that in time other aspects of life will fall into place if I apply myself and take steps to change it. Now if only sleeping better would hurry up and fall into line — but I’m applying myself and making the effort. Adults need bedtime, too, but it’s up to us to enforce it.

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#Trust30 Come Alive

Filed under: Trust30 — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 11:00 am August 21, 2011

Come Alive by Jonathan Mead: “Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.

Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

If I had one week left to live, I certainly wouldn’t be tearing my hair out searching for jobs that might not fulfill me. I’d much rather spend that last week having picnics and playing board games with my family. I’ve been preparing to re-enter the workforce, preparing to be a business owner/ freelancer, preparing to get back to life as I once knew it. Obviously, I can’t just stop the former two items, but it’s time to stop expecting a “return” to normalcy. Things can’t go back to the way they used to be. That’s an etched mark on the timeline now. It’s time to stop waiting for the life I planned and start living the life I have. (Loosely paraphased from an Honest Tea bottle cap via an old friend.)

This past week, I began writing manageable to-do lists — items I knew weren’t contingent upon variables like illnesses, family issues, and the like. I resolved to do everything in my power to eat healthy breakfasts and lunches, mind my snacking, and get moving. The sense of accomplishment alone made up for any unexpected dilemmas that I faced this week. These simple goals can help me to feel a sense of accomplishment on a daily basis, rather than stressing over the long range planning. It’s all about baby steps. As Marla Cilley would say, it didn’t get this way overnight, and it won’t get fixed overnight.

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