Thursday, February 11, 2010

Casa de Spooks

I'm dealing with the issues inherent in being an overachieving dreamer with a variety of interests right now.

I'm struggling, specifically, with the idea of whether or not I should focus all my energy into writing, or if I should keep up with both writing and Heritage Makers (or, as I mentioned the other day, whether or not I should replace Heritage Makers with Pure Romance).

They all have merit. If I gave up on Heritage Makers it wouldn't be because it's a bad business or a bad company - quite the contrary, I like them and the products quite a bit. I believe in what they're doing quite strongly and I think more people should be storybooking.

The trouble is, I have too many passions. That's not a secret. I also love to write. That's not a secret either. I keep coming up with more and more writing ideas and I could conceivably spend all day every day writing or researching things I want to write about. Obviously I have a family to care for and a house to maintain too, but aside from that... I could write. A lot. I want to write. A lot. I'm hindered by time.

One thought is to scale back on the time I've scheduled for Heritage Makers, and add in a bit more writing time to my day. I may try that simply to see if I feel like I'm getting more writing done, and if that satisfies me.

The thing is, I'm not sure how well the two things go together. On the surface, fine. But the majority of the things I enjoy writing about - halloween, horror movies, the strange and unusual, and Adult Topics - don't necessarily fit in with "family values" and "scrapbooking". Yes, you get your weirdos who like to scrapbook from time to time (HELLO, you're looking at one right now, heh), but for the most part my target audience for Heritage Makers is family matriarchs. And a lot of them are more... normal?... than I am. Since I've been working in offices for the past decade or so, I look pretty vanilla most of the time. But now that I'm working only for myself, my wardrobe is slowly changing back to my preferred 'jeans and t shirt', horror shirts, goth-y type stuff. I'm feeling the freedom to be able to do whatever the heck I want with my hair. I'm not sure that the hot-pink hair and the "wolfman's got nards" t-shirt look fits in with the majority of the folks I'm trying to sell scrapbooking stuff to. Yes, I'll always have a small audience and I am happy to work with anyone (I don't judge because other people aren't into the same things I'm into, it's more that I'm worried I'll scare people away, like the one Pampered Chef consultant who wouldn't come out and have a party at my house because she was religious and she found out that I LOVE Halloween). I'm just not sure that it's worth the time and effort for ME to continue. And I guess that sometimes, when I'm trying to market to people that I know will think I'm one of the weird ones, I feel like I'm trying to force myself into a place I don't belong. I'm trying to wear those business clothes that, once again, just never fit quite right, while all the time thinking that I should be able to BE in business but still look however I want. I know that the world doesn't work that way, but I think it SHOULD; I think if you're good at something and passionate about something, it shouldn't matter if you like to wear jeans and tshirts instead of suits, or that your hair is pink instead of brown, or that you have piercings or tattoos. Those things don't mean you aren't the best damn candidate for the job. But, unfortunately, some people can't get past those things.

And yet, I harbor guilt over the thought of quitting too. Heritage Makers, more than anything else I've been involved with, is a repeat-business company. People buy credits for their projects and then you work with them to get those projects completed. People's lives go on, and there are ALWAYS new stories to tell. I have a number of customers with outstanding credits right now. And my upline is all in Utah, so it's not like they're nearby for easy customer service if I jump ship. I don't want to leave anyone hanging. And, like I said, it's a business concept that I truly do believe in - I believe people SHOULD be using their credits, SHOULD be making books about their lives.

But at the same time, I could happily spend all day writing scary stories, watching bad movies and reviewing them, working on my halloween display (yes, I know it's February, hush, I'm already three months behind!!), and just living a Spooktacular life in general.

And this is, really, the issue with my entire life. I LOVE doing stuff. Lots of stuff. Much of it is at odds with the other stuff I like to do. And I just plain don't have time to do ALL of the stuff I want to do. Choosing between things, and making decisions about what dreams to give up and what dreams to pursue, is one of the hardest struggles in my life. It's perpetual, because my dreams never seem to end. I will go through this cycle again and again, and I don't think it will ever get any easier.

At the same time, I'm blessed to have the imagination and life that I do. I am NEVER bored. I don't think I will ever GET bored. And I wouldn't give up my dreams for anything. I lead a fascinating life, even if it is only in my own mind. :)

I don't know what direction I will ultimately end up going with these things. I do believe I am going to rewrite my schedule slightly and devote less daily time to Heritage Makers, more daily time to writing. That's just where more of my passion lies right now.

I'm not giving up on Heritage Makers but I am having what I guess you could call a small crisis of faith, heh. So if you've got outstanding credits with me, let's get together and get them finished and published!

And whatever may happen... here's to the future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Working Hard For The Money

It is true that I didn't hit my self-imposed cleaning goals for January. However, I came very close. I built in cleaning AND decluttering time into my February work schedule, and moved ahead into following this new schedule when the month started. So far, a week into February, it seems to be working pretty well. There have been some challenges, and there will be some tweaking as time goes on (indeed, there already has been some tweaking)... but for the most part I think that what I came up with is pretty sound. I will have to see, as the month goes on, how much I have gotten accomplished and how well I think the schedule is really working, and decide if major changes need to be made at that point.

To that end, and I didn't plan on talking about this right now but it seems to fit... I need to decide if it's a good idea to try to add one more thing to my plate. Off and on, over the months, I have considered becoming a Pure Romance consultant. If you don't know what Pure Romance is, it's one of THOSE home parties. You know, the happy-fun-time ladies-only parties? Yeah. Those. They're lots of fun, and they seem to be very popular, and they're right up my alley, and I like home parties, and folks that do them consistently seem to make decent money doing it. Those are all pros for it. The cons would be - I have to spend time on yet another business, AND I have to build in time for having home parties. That's a fully hands-on (heh heh) business. You pretty much don't make the cash if you aren't out selling the goods. I have a couple friends who are consultants, and there's a sale on the consultant kits right now, and I was talking to them tonight and getting myself all revved up - until I looked at my schedule and realized that having parties doesn't exactly fit into it. You see, I pretty much work until 11 pm each day. My time is scheduled from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, and while some of that 'work' involves things like cleaning my house, making dinner, and taking care of my children, the rest of it revolves around Heritage Makers and writing. Those are the two things I decided to focus on right now, the two businesses I decided to build. It's hard for me to reel in my enthusiasm for my other ideas... I want, for example, to start building my Not House On The Rock house, or to open my B&B, or to start selling Pure Romance, or whatever. Most of my other dreams can be built on the success of these first two though, which is why I've been able to reel myself in and try to be patient on those other fronts. The Pure Romance doesn't exactly fit in with everything else. It's a separate dream, one of those "this would be totally fun!" dreams.

So, in looking at my schedule, something would have to give in order to accommodate it. Do I want something else to give? I'm not really sure. I don't want to give up my writing; I love it, and I'm excited about it, and I wish I had more time to do it. I love Heritage Makers, though that's been really slow going (largely because I haven't, until this month, really put time aside for it or really had a concrete plan going in order to promote it and work on it with my customers). I think that if I was going to do Pure Romance, I'd have to give up Heritage Makers. I'm not sure that's what I want to do. I don't want to do it to replace anything, I just want to do it because it would be fun. But I think a lot of things would be fun, and I just don't have time to do them all. That's a tough reality for me. I'm going to have to spend some time thinking about which of those I really want to do, and which of them I think has the most long-term potential for me.

So, aside from that tangent... I've been working pretty hard. I made a deal with myself that I would treat these things like a regular job and stick to this schedule Monday-Friday. If I need to take a night off, then I have to pick it up over the weekend. So basically I'll give myself two days off a week, and I'm aiming for Saturday and Sunday, but since I work for myself I can be flexible.

Now, as to the 'money' part of my post - yeah. I'm not actually making any yet. :) Well, I do get a commission from Heritage Makers, so that's not entirely true - if I'm selling things, I'm making money. But as far as the writing goes yet, my payoff is merely your love and adoration. I'm hoping to see some money from it in the near future, but for now I'm still laying the foundation. Building fans (i hope!), getting my name out there, blogging, networking, all while I work on short stories and novels, in the hopes that one day they will be published. It's been a while since I sat down to work on stories, and I have to say I'd forgotten how much harder it is (at least for me) to write fiction than to write about whatever's on my mind. Blogging, for me, is EASY. I just sit down and words spew from my fingers. I can write about what's on my mind for hours. Crafting a good fiction story is a lot more work! I have great ideas, I have ideas ALL THE TIME, but turning them into something cohesive and fun that other people want to read is another matter. I'm not complaining, I love it, all of this is great practice and it's fun and this is the best job I've ever had (it's also currently the worst paying job I've ever had, but I'm confident that will turn around one day). It's just a bit amusing to me, how easy it is to write like this and how much harder it is to make things up.

So, that's my story for now. As far as the house goes, we're in the process of tackling the laundry room right now. I've promised myself a horror movie marathon as soon as the basement is clean, so that's good motivation. Oh! I've built exercise into every day too. I'm hoping to see some health payouts from that soon. The one thing I'm struggling with, health-wise, is calorie tracking. I'm terrible about doing it. So if anyone wants to bug me daily, or even several times a day, to keep track of my calories, please feel free. I definitely need to make that a habit. Money, we're just trying our best to pay down debt. We took a somewhat impromptu trip to Memphis in order to pick up a car my husband bought last weekend, and that was a little bit of a hit in the pocketbook, even though it was fun. We still struggle with impulsiveness and with making good FRUGAL financial decisions. The old "two steps forward, one step back" method. The eternal optimist in me keeps whispering that I'll sell some bestsellers this year and none of that will matter. The realist's voice gets overshadowed pretty frequently. I need to work on bolstering my inner realist. :)

But overall, we're in pretty good spirits most of the time, things are moving along quite nicely, and life is good.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mom Need Young Cook. Pool Boy Too.

So someone found my blog by using the search term "mom need young cook". I don't think my kids are quite ready for their first official job yet, but I'm sure they'd give it the old college try! Just give us a holler, we'll see what we can work out.

My son actually told me today that he's getting a job when he turns 18. I said "aren't you going to go to college?" "No!" he tells me. "That's too much work!" I told him that, depending on what he wants to do when he grows up, he might HAVE to go to college to learn the job he wants to do. Or that he might need to go to a specialized school to learn his trade. Or that he might not NEED to go to college, but that it's generally a good idea to go to college no matter what because you learn more and you usually make more money at your job if you have a college degree. "Well I'm going to need to go to pastry school," he tells me. "Because I want to make cakes for a living when I grow up!"

So, my intrepid googler, you may have come to the right place.

crushing graham crackers for cheesecake crust

Kids' Room! Still Clean!

So Leslie took up my invitation yesterday and asked to see my kids' room. The trouble there was that I promised to post it after 9pm last night... and my kids were already in bed. Going in and turning on lights to take pictures and video wasn't exactly an option! Today was crazy-busy and I'm just now getting to the pictures and the posting, but I promise that this is how the room looked when they went to bed last night. I am pleased to say that they are STILL cleaning up their toys every night before bed - we've turned it into part of the routine and it just hasn't been a problem. Yesterday some of Oksana's toys ALMOST went in the garbage (yeah I'm THAT mom) because she wouldn't come away from the computer and clean up when I asked her to... some things actually went into a garbage bag before she rescued them and put them away, so I'm hoping that's all it will take for them to know I am serious and that won't be a problem again.

As I've mentioned before, it's a small room, and with two of them AND all their toys (since we don't have a separate play area either) in there, organizing it has always been a challenge. The key was finally finding the right combination of kid-friendly storage bins to hold the STUFF. And also building an extra shelf on the wall (we already had one, but needed two). And, finally, GETTING RID OF STUFF. We still have a LOT of toys; probably too many - but I got rid of excess, of stuff they have grown too old for, of stuff that I decided was dumb, of stuff that we just didn't have room for. If you're afraid you're going to purge a favorite that you didn't KNOW was a favorite - bag the stuff up and put it somewhere unobtrusive (a closet, the basement, the garage) for a week or two. If the kids don't miss the items during that time, they're probably never going to notice the stuff is gone. And off to Goodwill it goes!

Moving forward, my plan is to purge the bins when they get full - but I'm going to have the kids purge them. Stuff is limited to the size of the bin in which it belongs - if, for instance, their dress-up bin overflows, it's time for them to decide which items they want to give away. If they HAVE to keep it all, then they can designate a second dress-up bin, BUT that will mean some of their other toys have to go. That's my plan, anyway.

And now, a photo tour!

The view from the doorway:

To the right is the shelving unit holding all of the larger stuffed animals. Directly across from the doorway is the dresser; clothing inside, books and games on top. Across and to the left is their bunk bed. Directly to the left, almost invisible from this angle, is one of the Sterilite-drawer towers I put together.

Next to the door:

The stuffed animal shelving unit and the other Sterilite-drawer tower. Every drawer is labelled; every toy category gets its own drawer, and every item they own has a place. This has proved crucial in keeping the room clean.

The dresser:

Clothes and pull-ups inside. Books and games on top. Oksana's dollhouse on the floor. It is an awkward place for it; it works for now but I have to move it every time I want to get a pair of pants for her. I'm hoping to find a better place for it once we move the kitchen out of their room.

The bed:

Their bunk bed is from IKEA. I love it; they love it. It's not as tall as a traditional bunk bed and I feel safe having them use it. Oksana's mattress is on the floor so we don't have to worry about her falling out of bed. Having a bunk bed is a HUGE space saver in the room; I really love it.

The kitchen:

Big, awkward, but it's a really nice set and they and their friends play with it all the time so it stays. I'm going to move it downstairs soon. It's one of the most awkward elements to their room right now. It's double-sided so I can't even push it against the wall.

The closet:

Drake's stuff on top, Oksana's on the bottom. Shoes on the floor. Shelves below each hanging rod so each kid has a place to store long toys (like foam swords) and their multitudes of bags and boxes.

The last wall:

A small toy chest that came with the house, and we still use it; a hanging IKEA dragon that holds small stuffed animals (beanies and the like); our reading chair; the other Sterilite-drawer tower. Two more bookshelves high up on the wall.

And... looking out the door from inside the room.

That's Pepper. Pardon her glowing eyes; I'm not a very good photographer (yet, anyway). My dogs follow me from room to room, expectantly, all day, every day. That's why you see them in so many of my pictures.

A video tour, if you'd rather watch that instead. I struggle taking pictures of our rooms because they aren't very big and I don't have a wide angle lens or a fisheye lens or whatever lens people use to get a good view of rooms. I always feel like the pictures just look really awkward. Which is why I always do video too. But I don't plan out my videos so my narration is, well, awkward (lol). Don't miss the part where my mom calls me in the middle of filming, that was great. I'm such a pro.

I'm in a hurry because I'm going to be late for TOPS, so I didn't proofread this at all, so if you see anything that doesn't seem right or sound right or isn't spelled right, be a doll and let me know? Or just ignore it politely, whatever you prefer! Thanks!


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